Category Archives: Food Policy

Guinness Believer Tasting Lands in Philly

My friend Tarun and I were lucky enough to attend the Guinness Believer Tasting last night at the World Cafe in Philly.  When I first received the press release for the event, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical.  Described as a “unique multi-media event led by a Guinness ambassador,” I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But after attending the packed  event, I can wholeheartedly say Guinness has made a believer out of me.

The evening began with a lesson in pouring, in which the audience got to pour their own pints of Guinness Draught.  We learned that it takes one minute and 19 seconds to pour the perfect pint.  For the perfect pint, tilt the glass at a 45 degree angle and fill the glass about halfway, pulling the handle towards you.  Once the foam settles, straighten the glass and fill it to the top, pushing the handle away from you, until the head is proud of the rim (meaning that the foam curves just over the glass, but doesn’t spill over).

Following the pouring lesson, our Guinness ambassador came out to start the show.  Both he, and the show, were quite entertaining and informative.  We raised (several) pints, chanted slàinte!, and learned about the history of Guinness.  Some interesting facts: Arthur Guinness, the founder, signed a 9000 year lease for the brewery at St. James Gate in Ireland, which is still the location of the Guinness brewery today.  And to those who’ve heard that Guinness is like a meal in a glass, apparently 12 oz of Guinness only has 125 calories.

We also sampled 2 other Guinness brews.  The Guinness Foreign Extra Stout was rich with a decadent chocolate flavor, reminding me of a more refined version of chocolate sodas from an old-fashioned soda fountain.  The Guinness Black Lager was lighter, with a heavy coffee flavor and slight bitterness from the hops.  Both were new reincarnations of the classic Guinness Draughts that I’d never tasted before, and I really enjoyed both brews.

The Guinness Believer Tasting was certainly a success in Philly, and it may be coming to a city near you soon!  Next week, they will be heading to Washington, DC, and to Chicago the following week.  Best of all, this event is free to all; just make sure to RSVP in advance.  Join Guinness enthusiasts and rookies alike to raise a pint in your city–slàinte!

Philadelphia Mobile Food Association Rolls Out

It’s not often that The Unpaid Gourmet has a breaking news story, but I am happy to report one today.  The Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PMFA) officially launched on Tuesday, hosting their first general meeting at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  With over 100 people in attendance, the meeting was quite a success and offered a glimpse into the opportunities and challenges facing Philly food truck owners.  Prior to the meeting, food trucks Lil Dan’s, Smoke Truck, Sweet Box, HubBub Coffee, and Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream congregated outside the school and sold gourmet fare to curious students and passersby (pictured above).

Though food trucks and carts have been ubiquitous in Philadelphia for decades, they have surged in popularity over the past couple years nationwide.  But today’s food trucks aren’t your typical roach coaches or street meat.  Today’s food trucks are sleek and new, retrofitted with modern kitchen equipment and painted with flashy designs.  They offer high-end, gourmet fare ranging from Korean tacos to wood fire oven pizzas to cupcakes.   And they broadcast their locations via Twitter and Facebook, so diners can easily find out where the trucks will be.

Operating a food truck, however, is not always easy.  Food trucks have faced opposition in some cities from brick and mortar restauranteurs, who claim they are unfairly taking away customers.  Zoning restrictions and scarce parking also limit where food trucks can go.  But often the most difficult part is navigating outdated municipal regulations for everything from permits to health inspections to how far away you can park from the curb.  PMFA was created to address these issues by bringing together the collective resources, expertise, and voices of local Philly food truck owners.

At Tuesday’s inaugural meeting, PMFA founders Andrew Gerson and Daniel Pennachietti explained the organization’s goals and benefits of membership.  Its goals include creating new market opportunities for food trucks in Philadelphia, advocating against unfair legislation and zoning restrictions, and providing business advice and mentorship to developing food trucks.  They also discussed developing alternative eating spaces throughout the city, where several food trucks can congregate, and hosting events like a Philadelphia food truck week.  Membership benefits include access to PMFA events, business advice, and participation in advocacy efforts.  (Click here to view a recording of the meeting.)

Having only recently incorporated as a nonprofit, PMFA is still in the nascent planning and recruitment stages.  But it seems like the organization is on the right track, especially given their representation by Penn Law’s Entrepreneurship Clinic (full disclosure: I am a student at Penn Law) and support from The Food Trust.  Similar food truck organizations have formed in other cities as well (like LA, NYC, and DC), so it’s about time Philly started its own.  The inaugural meeting was well-organized and well-attended, as was the food truck gathering prior to the meeting.  Let’s hope these mobile events are just the beginning of good things to come from the PMFA.