Category Archives: News

Snowmageddon 2014

imageToday’s snowstorm felt like déjà vu, since it seemed like yesterday the first Snowmaggedon struck DC.  I remember trudging through Tenleytown to Whole Foods with my roommate, and cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen.  I remember watching an epic snowball fight in Dupont Circle.   And I remember blogging about it all right here.

In reality, of course, it’s been four years since the last Snowmaggedon.  My life is very different now from what it was then. For starters, I am no longer an unpaid intern or law student.  I graduated from law school last year, and moved away from Philly–my adopted city for the last three years–back to DC.  I now work as a lawyer and have gradually been adjusting to the big-law life.  I feel like a different person and much more adult than when the last Snowmaggedon hit, and when I first started this blog.

Yet there are some things that are still the same.  I am back where it all started, in DC, and am excited to find a dynamic and vibrant restaurant scene that, like me, has grown a lot over the past few years.  I still have an insatiable appetite and deep love for food.  And even though I’m now a salaried employee, I’m still the Unpaid Gourmet at heart–and will still be on the lookout for unique and affordable eats and “not-so-cheap but worth it” meals.

I hope to continue sharing my dining adventures and experiences with you, readers, on this blog.  It may have taken Snowmageddon to bring me out of hibernation, but I promise there are lots of good things–both old and new–to come this year on the Unpaid Gourmet.  Stay tuned, and stay warm!

Legendary Korean Fried Chicken Back at Meritage

Holy sh*t!  That was my dear friend Pauline’s reaction when I told her that Meritage, a charming restaurant and wine bar near Rittenhouse Square, is bringing back its now infamous Korean fried chicken.  Since Chef Ann Coll debuted this wondrous concoction back in 2010, it’s become somewhat of a cult favorite in Philly, especially given its sporadic appearance on the menu.

Perhaps to keep up its elusive reputation, Meritage will only be offering the chicken on Thursday nights.  The deal includes a platter of the sesame-ginger-garlic-onion-marinated, twice fried free range chicken, plus two sides, for only $16.  To wash it all down, cans of Sapporo will be on special for $5.  And if you’re still hungry, Korean short rib tacos will also be available.

Full disclosure: I have yet to try the chicken that I’ve written so glowingly about in this post.  But I’ll definitely be heading to Meritage soon, before this tantalizing special disappears (again)!

500 S. 20th St. (20th & Lombard)

Philadelphia, PA 19146

(215) 985-1922

Meritage Philadelphia on Urbanspoon

(Photos courtesy of Meritage)

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.

Goodbye, DC!

That’s right, folks. I am both sad and happy to announce that I will be leaving  DC in a few days and hopefully taking this blog with me. I’ll keep my destination a surprise for now, but here’s a hint: it’s always sunny there.

I can’t believe how fast the past 10 months flew by, and I’m eternally grateful to the friends, fellow food bloggers, dining companions, and readers who’ve made my time in DC so memorable. From discovering the best gyro ever, to surviving Smowmageddon, to hunting for Easter eggs at the White House, it’s truly been an amazing time in my life–and I’m so glad I could share it with all of you on this blog. I don’t think I’ll be able to tour the world in 1 day, bump into former Top Chef contestants, or top the meal of a lifetime in my next city, but hopefully I’ll be able to find a dining scene as vibrant and special as DC’s.

And with that, I’m signing off for the week. Til then, happy eating!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons