Reading Terminal Market

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A blog about what's happening at Reading Terminal Market.

“A Dozen Reasons Why Even Oyster-Eating Newbies Should Get on Board with OysterFest,” by Carolyn Wyman

OysterShucker

Reading Terminal Market’s annual OysterFest has become a destination event for oyster aficionados around the Mid-Atlantic.

The festival might seem less obviously appealing to someone who has never eaten a raw oyster, either because they don't patronize restaurants that serve them, don't find the idea of eating raw oysters immediately appealing or are unsure and embarrassed about how to eat them.

But none of those things need be barriers to your attending OysterFest 2017 on October 6. Read on to find answers to these issues and nine other good reasons why you should attend.

  1. Oysters are delicious. “The freshness, the saltiness – eating an oyster is like being transported to the sea,” says oyster grower and eater Lisa Calvo of Sweet Amalia in Cape May, N.J., one of 12 oyster brands to be featured at OysterFest. Brent Cossrow, vice-chairman of Reading Terminal Market's Board of Directors and partner at Fisher & Phillips LLP (Lead Sponsor of OysterFest) loves oysters' flavor, texture and direct connection to nature. "Even as a child I was captivated by the idea that you would open the shell and there would be the food. It's that simple and wonderful."
  2. Oysters are nutritious, containing lots of protein, iron, omega-3s, antioxidants and vitamins and minerals -- especially zinc -- packed in a mere 9 or 10 calories.
  3. Eating raw oysters is easy for oyster virgins who follow the following simple tips from the experts: Start with small milder-flavored oysters like ones from Cape May then work your way up to the bigger, chewier ones, raised in or near the ocean, with their stronger flavors.

           "Texture is the thing" in a lot of food aversions, according to Jane Kauer, a Philadelphia-based anthropologist (and Market            shopper) who studied picky eaters at the University of Pennsylvania. And some people will see raw oysters as slippery                  and slimy.

           One technique to combat that advocated by neuroscientist Darya Rose of the Summer Tomato blog is to think of foods                  that have a similar texture that you do like: say, the wonderful grilled onions that are put on steak sandwiches at Carmen's            and Spataro's and By George's, or over-easy eggs served at the Down Home Diner or the Dutch Eating Place.

           Still can't imagine yourself eating raw oysters? Picture another person eating them from several different "camera" angles            is a technique drawing on feelings of empathy and identification that has worked at overcoming food aversions for some              hypnotherapy patients. The circumstances in which people first encounter a food can also affect whether they respond to              a foodstuff positively or negatively and Reading Terminal's OysterFest is a fun time with beer.

          The experts are split on the use of toppings like cocktail sauce, horseradish, lemon and mignonette (a sauce of shallots,               vinegar and pepper) that will be available at OysterFest. David Braunstein of Pearl's Oyster Bar, the oyster maestro of                   OysterFest, thinks it can be as useful as cream and sugar is for coffee-drinking beginners in getting people acclimated to             new flavors. But Calvo believes (and Cossrow agrees) that you should "just go for it" more or less plain. As chef/TV food               show host Anthony Bourdain says: "Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."

          As for oyster etiquette: Use the supplied cocktail fork to separate the meat from the shell, but simply tilt the shell into your             mouth to eat, so as not to miss the flavorful liquid (so good that it's called liquor). Braunstein recommends chewing even               the smallest oyster once or twice before swallowing, also to extract maximum flavor.

  1. Oyster-eating is not dangerous for normal, healthy people. That old rule about only eating oysters in months with an R in them is related to summer algae blooms and attendant toxins and dates back to when oysters were mainly harvested in the wild. Today most oysters are farmed in an industry that's heavily regulated for food safety. So eating oysters in R months is now mainly important because oysters fattening up for the winter are plumper and tastier. And OysterFest is being held in an R month!
  2. Eating raw oysters could make you seem brave and exciting, at least to people who haven't read above point numbers 3 and 4.
  3. Oyster-eating is sustainable eating at its finest. Oysters actually clean the water as they filter it for foodstuff. Their beds also create a habitat for many other sea creatures.
  4. Oyster-eating could help your sex life. Though the science to support the widely held belief that oysters are an aphrodisiac is scant, oysters do contain a lot of zinc (see number 2), a mineral linked to testosterone production.
  5. Oyster-eating is trendy, almost as much as craft beer, the compatible consumable featured at OysterFest. And who doesn't like beer? Oysters’ current popularity also means that …
  6. There’s no better time or place to enjoy oysters. Cossrow points out that oysters are an indigenous Delaware Valley food now in the midst of an incredible resurgence and revival by artisan growers, many of whom will be at represented at OysterFest.
  7. OysterFest benefits a great cause. Proceeds fund after-school cooking and nutrition programs for kids from the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia and the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center in North Philadelphia.
  8. OysterFest is a great value, considering that the average price of a half-dozen fresh-shucked oysters is $16 or $17 and of a craft beer, $5 to $7, and that OysterFest is all you can eat or drink.
  9. OysterFest is an education. Although West Coast oysters tend to be sweeter and creamier; and East Coast ones, brinier; there are subtle variations in flavor depending on the aquatic environment where they lived and when they were harvested. And so, Calvo says, an event like OysterFest is "a wonderful way to taste a wide spectrum of oysters and figure out what you like” in the company of oyster lovers and grower reps equipped to answer your questions.

OysterFest featuring 12 oysters and 12 craft beers for $50, Fri., Oct. 6, 7-9 p.m.  Tickets go on sale on September 1st at https://readingterminalmarket.ticketleap.com/oysterfest2017/

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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“Introducing City Kitchen’s Busy Chef Tess, By Carolyn Wyman”

cheftess

There’s probably no other place in town where you can find more food experts than at Reading Terminal Market, and the Market’s expertise quotient went up another notch when Chef Tess Connors was hired to manage the Market’s City Kitchen demonstration kitchen in November.  Since joining the Market family, Tess has had a hand in almost every free tasting, cooking class, cooking demo and shopping tour at the Market (both managing guest chefs and often literally standing behind City Kitchen’s stove or counter).

 

So who is this new public face of cooking education at Reading Terminal Market?

 

A Staten Island, N.Y. native who has cooked a lot of Creole and Cajun cuisine and has two degrees in emergency management -- meaning she’s well-equipped to deal with the Market’s Saturday afternoon crowds?

 

Chef Tess looks up from the cabbage she is chopping for that afternoon’s Thursday tasting and smiles at the question. Then she says, “Emergency management looks at food in a scientific way. It’s about food distribution, vendor relationships, food safety and figuring out where the gaps are. All of which is relevant to a big public market.”

 

This might make Connors sound like an academic or a food policy wonk. But she also boasts a list of hands-on cooking jobs long enough for someone twice her 37 years. It started when she was a toddler helping her grandmother cook a week’s worth of from-scratch meals for the family in a single day, and included stints at the prestigious Mohonk Mountain House resort and Le Bouchon, both in New York’s Hudson Valley, and three years cooking for passengers and crew of the Delta Queen Mississippi paddleboat.

 

“When you start young, you can get a lot in,” she explains. “But at this point in my life, I was looking for something where I wouldn’t have knife-in-hand 24/7.”

 

Her RTM City Kitchen position provides that variety in cornucopia abundance. The job encompasses scheduling the Market’s relatively new free Thursday noontime tastings  and sometimes planning and cooking them too. The Thursday of our meeting she was prepping peanut noodle and Asian coleslaw salads designed to highlight the fruits and vegetables but also some of the Asian grocery items at O.K. Produce.

 

Tess also assists with the free merchant cooking demos that are offered every second and fourth Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., sometimes as sous chef, sometimes just narrating the merchant cooking action, as when Bill Beck did his Mardi Gras food demo and “we joked about how the two New Orleans experts in the Market are both from New York!”

 

Chef Tess also conducts the free Market shopping tours that take place the other two Saturdays of the month at 10 a.m. (not to be confused with the Market- and food-history-oriented Taste of Philly Food Tours led by yours truly every Wednesday and Saturday at the same time). Chef Tess’ tours are focused on helping people shop the Market’s fresh food purveyors to create at-home meals and cater to the interests of whoever shows up. Since the tours started in earnest in February, they’ve addressed participant concerns about money and prep-time (or lack thereof) and a wide variety of dietary issues.

 

She shows the time-pressed the many pre-stuffed fillets and roasts and pre-marinated meats at Market meat, fish and poultry stands and points out that a place like Downtown Cheese doesn’t just sell cheese. “They also have olives and crackers. So though you can, you don’t have to go to 17 stands to pull together your cocktail party.”

 

She also teaches City Kitchen cooking classes, including public ticketed ones offered several times a month. Among upcoming summer ones: a Father’s Day feast of fried chicken and barbecued pork and a shrimp boil inspired by her time in the South.

 

“Not everyone in a cooking class wants to be there,” she learned while working at the Langlois Culinary Crossroads school in New Orleans. That’s where she also learned “how to make them fun for the people that got dragged along,” by telling stories, offering helpful kitchen tips or just giving permission to not work/just hang out.

Early Philly food favorites include pizza. Generally speaking, she’s been impressed by “the authenticity of the Italian food here” versus in the South. And yet, Chef Tess is not a fan of the city’s defining Italian sandwich.

 

Speaking of the cheesesteak’s mushroom, steak and pepper variations, she says, “It seems to me to be a case of trying to get a lot of variety out of very limited options” [i.e. bread, meat, onions and cheese]. This is something to straighten her out about when you see Chef Tess in the Market.

 

Meet Chef Tess at City Kitchen, Avenue D and 8th Avenue in the Market, from noon-1 p.m. this and every Thursday for a free sample at Tasting Thursday (today of grilled Giunta’s sausages); at the Father’s Day cooking class from 1-3 p.m. June 18, city-kitchen.ticketleap.com (to reserve and buy tickets for this and other City Kitchen classes); on the next shopping tour at 10 a.m. July 1; and at the next cooking demo (featuring summer barbecue ideas from the Head Nut and Giunta’s) at 11:30 a.m. July 8. Or contact her at 267-534-4707 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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“Celebrating Cinco de Mayo with 12th Street Cantina, the Market’s Original Mexican Food Stand,” By Carolyn Wyman

ambosandspicychickensalad

When 12th Street Cantina opened in 1982, it was the first and only Mexican stand in Reading Terminal Market and also one of the first and only Mexican restaurants in the whole city.

 

At that time Mexican food was so rare in cheesesteak-land that owner David Fetkewicz simultaneously started a Cantina wholesale Mexican foods importing business, in part to supply his stand.

 

As the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo 2017 fast approaches, there are a plethora of Mexican food options around town, including national chains like Chipotle and Qdoba. But few are as fresh, fast and affordable or offer the range of options as 12th Street. (On May 5, these options will include a special short rib taco special and complimentary cactus pear punch.)

 

Stand founder Fetkewicz had prior restaurant experience in Colorado but his wife, Michele Leff, had earned an MBA with the idea of becoming a business consultant until one day Fetkewicz burnt his hand while making caramel for flan and Leff jumped behind the stand. That was the start of a culinary adventure that has grown and expanded into a high-volume, off-premises catering and a corporate café management business. But almost everything sold at the stand is still made fresh in Reading Terminal Market, says 12th Street executive chef Jon Jividen.

 

The pulled pork on their taco bar is seasoned with onion, whole chipotle chiles, garlic, bay leaf and a blend of Mexican seasonings and cooked for five hours (rather than pulled out of the freezer and defrosted as it might be at a national chain). The chicken is breast meat marinated in achiote paste and other spices and then baked.

 

“Because we make everything right here, we know what’s in our dishes,” says stand manager George Ambos. As a result, vegans and celiac-sufferers can dine here without fear: Most dishes are gluten-free and can be made vegan simply by asking stand workers to hold the cheese.

 

“People who have trouble with onions: That’s a bit harder,” Ambos admits.

 

The taco bar moved from the back counter to front and center during one of two recent stand “freshenings” which also introduced new decor and tweaks to the steak and fish taco recipes: Both are grilled and the latter gets lots of Yelp props, as does the naked burrito bowl (the menu describes it as “the burrito you love without the tortilla”). Their guacamole and tacos were singled out in two of the stand’s four Best of Philly magazine awards.

12thstlunchline

 

Ambos answers questions about what to get with questions. “If people are really hungry, I’ll recommend an enchilada. If they’re checking out a lot of places in the Market and just want to try a little something, I’ll recommend a taco. If they’ve got to get in and out of here in a half-hour, a burrito or a salad.”

 

These dishes are actually just one of three aspects to the 12th Street business. The stand also sells Mexican grocery items and takeout, the latter from a side refrigerator case. It contains some of 12th Street’s more unusual dishes (the popular grilled shrimp and asparagus salad with cilantro vinaigrette, and the spinach and corn casserole are two for-instances), as well as offerings unique to Puebla, the place in Mexico where the Cinco de Mayo celebration of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over French forces began (such as 12th Street’s chicken mole enchiladas).

12thstreethotsauces

 

The “grocery shelf” on top of that case is the place for Cinco de Mayo do-it-yourselfers  Even many standard supermarkets now carry queso fresca cheese but 12th Street also has the much harder-to-find queso cotija and oaxaca, as well as masa flour, chorizo sausage, and blue corn, wheat and spinach tortillas. Or leave your Cinco de Mayo party food preparation to 12th Street’s on-site catering operation.

 

The stand started out doing a lot of takeout: Today most offerings are eaten on-premises, says Jividen. This could partly be because of the other thing 12th Street offers that’s in the Market at peak hours: Its own seating.

 

12th Street Cantina, Avenue B and Ninth Avenue, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 215-625-0321.

 

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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Easter Shopping Guide at The Market

rtm eblast masthead april2016

 

Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and you probably didn't have to wear a jacket outside this morning. That can only mean one thing- Easter is right around the corner! 

Sunday, April 16th is Easter- so after the kid's are done with The Great Reading Terminal Market Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday stick around The Market to get your shopping done. Below is a helpful little guide to finding everything you need to make a delicious traditional Easter meal. Enjoy!   

 

Meats:

Ham: Giunta’s Prime Shop, Halteman Family Country Foods, La Divisa, Martin’s Quality Meats & Sausages, Godshall’s Poultry (turkey ham)

Lamb: La Divisa (every cut of lamb), Giunta’s Prime Shop (shanks, legs, chops, whole lamb), Martin’s Quality Meats & Sausage (chops, shoulder, racks, legs, lamb sausage), Halteman’s (chops, shank, leg)

 

Produce, Herbs, & Condiments:

Iovine Brothers Produce, Fair Food Farmstand, OK Produce, Condiment (mint salsa verde for lamb), The Head Nut (spices)

Lamb-Shaped Butter: Hatville Deli, Condiment

 

Eggs:

Fair Food Farmstand

 Godshall’s Poultry

Hatville Deli

Iovine Brothers Produce

Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer

 

Desserts & Candy:

Termini Brothers: Easter Bread, Ricotta Pie, Hamintash Easter Basket, Chocolate Covered Easter Egg Cake

Flying Monkey: Short Bread Easter Egg Cookies

Pennsylvania General Store: Personalized Chocolate Easter Eggs, Easter Baskets, Chocolate Easter Bunnies

Beiler’s Bakery: Hot Cross Buns,  Rabbit-shaped Bread

Sweet as Fudge: Chocolate Easter Bunnies, various candies

The Head Nut: Various candies

 

 Cooking, Baking, & Table Top Necessities:

 Amy's Place: Basters, Cheese cloth, Fat separators, Meat thermometers, Measuring cups/spoons, Parchment paper, Twine, Roasting/Baking pans, Easter cookie cutters, Cookie sheets, Tart pans, Decorating bags and tips, Butter dishes, Gravy boats, Ladles, Table linens

Contessa's French Linens: Table Linens

 

Happy Easter, from the Reading Terminal Market family to yours! 

 

 

 

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Passover Products and Recipes at the Market

Monday, April 10th marks the beginning of Passover, and all around the world preparations are underway for the eight-day holiday, especially for the Seder dinners the first two nights. 

Here are a few freshly made Passover items you can find at the Market:

Hershel’s East Side Deli: Kugel (Potato, Potato/Kale, Potato/Broccoli, Potato/Carrot), fresh horseradish, homemade gefilte fish, brisket, spinach and matzo-stuffed chicken, Matzo ball soup, coconut macaroons, flourless apple cake, and flourless brownies (baked goods from Homemade Goodies by Roz)

Condiment: Fresh white and beet horseradish and homemade Charosets

We also have a few recipe suggestions to make your week delicious, and of course, all of the ingredients are available in the Reading Terminal Market!

 

Ingredients:

Meats & poultry: Giunta’s Prime Shop, Godshall’s Poultry, L. Halteman Family Country Meats, La Divisa Meats, Martin’s Meats

Produce & fresh herbs: Fair Food Farmstand, Iovine Brothers Produce, OK Produce

Olive oil: Jonathan Best, The Head Nut, and The Tubby Olive

Wine: Blue Mountain Vineyards

Honey: Bee Natural, Jonathan Best, Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce, L. Halteman Family Country Foods

Orange Juice: Iovine Brothers Produce, Jonathan Best, Lancaster County Dairy

Nuts & coconut: Iovine Brothers Produce, OK Produce, Jonathan Best, The Head Nut

Coconut oil, vanilla extract, chocolate, & cocoa powder: Jonathan Best, The Head Nut 

Eggs: Fair Food Farmstand, Godshall’s Poultry, Hatville Deli, Iovine Brothers Produce, Jonathan Best 

Maple syrup: Pennsylvania General Store, Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce, L. Halteman Family Country Foods

 

brisket

Braised brisket is a common entrée for Seder, and we think this recipe from NY Times Cooking will be a real crowd pleaser: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017312-brisket-with-horseradish-gremolata?action=click&module=Collection+Band+Recipe+Card&region=The+Centerpiece+of+the+Passover+Table&pgType=supercollection&rank=1

 

skillet roast chicken with fennel parsnips and scallions

Roasted chicken is also a popular choice for Passover, and this recipe from Bon Appetit made our mouths water: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/skillet-roast-chicken-with-fennel-parsnips-and-scallions 

kugeltzimmes

Let these two sides from Martha Stewart round out your meal: Potato Kugel Gratin http://www.marthastewart.com/967964/potato-kugel-gratin, a modern take on a classic, and traditional Tzimmes (a compote made from sweet potatoes and dried fruit) http://www.marthastewart.com/318407/tzimmes

chocolate macaroon cake

Don’t forget about dessert to finish the meal!  This decadent chocolate macaroon cake elevates the common coconut macaroon to a whole new level: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/chocolate-macaroon-cake 

We hope these recipes and ready-made products help make your Passover a little more delicious.  We would love to hear your favorite Passover recipes, so please share them with us on Facebook (facebook.com/readingterminalmarket) or Twitter (@rdgterminalmkt).  From all of us at Reading Terminal Market, Chag Sameach!

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“Gluten-Free Fair Fun at the Market’s New Fox & Son,” By Carolyn Wyman

FoxSon

It’s a little early in the year for a Shore boardwalk stroll or county fair excursion but you can go there gastronomically right now at the Market’s new Fox & Son.

 

It’s the first gourmet corn dog restaurant in Philly, if not the world, and the only stand in the Market to be totally gluten-free.

 

You might expect the owners of a stand featuring corn dogs, cheese curds and poutine to come from the Midwest or Quebec, where these kinds of fair foods are king. But it was actually more of a strategic decision by co-owners Rebecca Foxman and Zeke Ferguson, both Pennsylvania natives formerly of the Market’s Valley Shepherd cheese stand, and Foxman’s former culinary school classmate, Kevin Kwan, originally of Seattle. (The stand name is a portmanteau word formed from Foxman and Ferguson’s last names.)

 

“We didn’t want to compete with what other vendors were selling,” Foxman explained. “We also wanted to make things that were easy to produce in large quantities with high quality.”

 

Quality? Corn dogs? That phrase might seem oxymoronic if your only experience of this food is from the supermarket freezer case (quite possible, if you’ve always lived on the East Coast). But Foxman says people who have enjoyed fresh-made ones at county fairs who stumble on the stand squeal with delight.

 

Anyone who has enjoyed one of the grilled cheese sandwiches at Valley Shepherd’s MeltKraft stand-within-a-stand has already experienced Foxman’s ability to elevate a humble dish. Fox & Son does this for corn dogs with Dietz & Watson (pork and beef), Hebrew National (kosher), Kunzler (turkey) or Lightlife (tofu) franks but also with sauces and add-ins not found at the typical fair corn dog stand. The Sweet Potato corn dog has real mashed sweet potato incorporated into the corn batter. The cheese in the housemade queso sauce adorning the Cheddar Jalapeno dog has been aged for three years.

 

These are two survivors from a spreadsheet of more than 40 corn dog ideas and recipes the partners tested and/or discussed. (One corn dog incorporating scrapple got scratched because of preparation difficulties; a fish-sauce-containing Asian corn dog loved by all three partners was deemed too esoteric to sell big, though Ferguson says it may yet show up on the menu as a special).

 

Although it’s rare to see corn dogs or funnel cakes on a local restaurant menu, they’re familiar to many locals. Not so cheese curds, which require more explanation, says Foxman. She compares them to mozzarella sticks: “If you like fried mozzarella sticks, you’ll probably like fried cheese curds.” Custom-made for them by Chester Springs’ Birchrun Hills Farm, the curds are also sold fresh by the pound and atop hand-cut French fries with gravy to make the classic Canadian poutine.

 

The cheeseburger fries (topped with ground beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion and the Big Mac-like sauce Royale) sell even better.

 

Also on the menu: chili, funnel cakes, fresh-squeezed lemonade, organic soda, and cole slaw. The latter is a peanut-butter-containing style Foxman fell in love with while on a food scouting trip to the Texas State Fair in the fall. But Foxman’s menu favorite are fries topped with ranch powder. Despite their simplicity or perhaps because of it, they’re “very addictive,” Foxman says.

 

Fox & Son is not the only Market stand with hand-cut fries (Dutch Eating Place, Down Home Diner and Molly Malloy’s are others) but it is the only stand where they’re guaranteed to be gluten-free (because they are made in a dedicated gluten-free fryer). This has made Fox & Son a magnet for celiac sufferers, who have comprised as many as half of the stand’s early customers.

 

“We’ve actually seen tears,” says Foxman, not of dissatisfaction but of joy from people who for the first time since their diagnosis, see the whole world of fried food opening up to them once again.

 

Fox & Son, Avenue C and 4th Avenue, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 215-372-7935, www.foxandsonphilly.com.

 

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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“Mardi Gras Celebrating the Big Easy Way with Beck's Cajun Café,” by Carolyn Wyman

becks1

This is the time of year when most Market merchants catch their breath after the busy holiday season.

 

But for Bill Beck of Beck’s Cajun Cafe, Christmas and New Year’s are just the ramp-up to the equally busy Mardi Gras time.

 

Between the retail business at Beck’s stands at Reading Terminal and 30th Street Station and catering Mardi Gras parties, February 2016 was “totally crazy,” Beck recalls.

The week preceding this February 28 promises to be equally crazy, if not crazier, due to several Fat Tuesday promotions.

 

First are his King Cakes, a Mardi Gras specialty yeast bread tradition at Beck’s and elsewhere that are flavored with cinnamon and decorated with colorful icing named for the kings who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. The sheet-size version of this cake must be ordered ahead and contains a hidden plastic baby Jesus. (New Orleans tradition dictates that the baby finder is king and must host next year’s Mardi Gras party.)

 

This year Beck’s stand is also offering Mardi Gras party bags by pre-order featuring a mini king cake, a wedge of muffaletta and New Orleans brands of potato chips and root beer for $10.95.

 

Beck will also be helping Mardi Gras party do-it-yourselfers with a free demonstration on how to make gumbo (and the roux at its base) in City Kitchen on Saturday, February 11, at 11:30 a.m.

 

The Market’s expert on New Orleans’ cuisine is actually a Long Island, N.Y., native who  traces his love of Cajun and Creole cooking to road trips to the South he took with his grandparents as a kid. Beck also notes how New Orleans cuisine is a mix of French, Spanish and Italian, “or pretty much all the important cooking traditions” he’s used in his long career as a chef.

 

That career includes stints at Steve Poses’ Frog Commissary as well as his own Pompano Grille on Fifth and Bainbridge, a 1990s-era Cuban restaurant which earned Beck several Best of Philly awards from Philadelphia Magazine and two invitations to cook at New York’s prestigious James Beard House.

 

Is it any wonder, then, why Market management was receptive to his 2009 pitch for a New Orleans-themed stand?

 

Within three years, Beck’s Cajun Cafe had won a Best of Philly magazine award for  Sandwiches in Reading Terminal Market -- impressive considering all the wonderful sandwich competition in the Market.

 

The award specifically referenced Beck’s po boys, muffaletta (like an Italian hoagie but with a spicy olive topping) and signature Train Wreck, featuring andouille sausage, salami, Creole mayo and Cajun spices in addition to the traditional cheesesteak’s bread, meat and cheese, and which Beck boastfully describes as “what a cheesesteak wants to be when it grows up.”

 

Other stand best-sellers include giant fried balls filled with mac and cheese, the jambalaya and perhaps surprisingly, alligator gumbo (whether as a dare-me food or because people like the slightly sweet, slightly gamey taste of its alligator sausage, Beck isn’t sure). And he says nobody doesn’t like his bread pudding. Or, he clarifies, “Even people who don’t like bread pudding love [its] vanilla whiskey sauce.”

 

The all-star menu is the result of trial and error. Boudin (rice and pork) sausage, barbecue shrimp and whole crawfish boil are some past stand flops: the shrimp because the traditional New Orleans barbecue shrimp recipe he made had white sauce when Philadelphians were expecting something closer to what's used at The Rib Stand; the crawfish, he thinks, because of its “mud bug” rap (all he knows is that he was laboriously picking the meat from those critters and serving it in pasta salad, etouffee and po boys for days).

 

Not that Beck is through experimenting. After Mardi Gras, the cafe will undergo both a decor and menu “freshening”: Food additions will include a short rib po boy which Beck describes as an “upscale take on New Orleans’ famous debris” or beef roast ends, sandwich. New for breakfast are omelets (with or without gumbo topping) and brioche French toast topped with a praline sauce.

 

As for what he will be doing on Mardi Gras: If he’s as busy this year as last,  “Probably nothing. Definitely not partying,” he says.

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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“Winging Your Way Around the Market in Time for the Big Game,” by Carolyn Wyman

Chicken wings were one of the cheapest things sold at Godshall's poultry stand when it opened in the Market in 1916. At that time and for many decades afterward, people only bought chicken wings to make stock or to feed animals, if they bought them at all.

Now chicken wings are among the priciest parts of the chicken at Godshall's and anywhere else chicken wings are sold, all because a Buffalo, N.Y., bar ran low on food one night in 1964 and decided to try serving chicken wings with hot sauce. Hence the wildly popular Buffalo wing appetizer was born.

That's why you can now not only buy fresh chicken wings at Godshall's and Guinta's in the Market but also already cooked ones for lunch or dinner or parties at Dienner's, Franks A-Lot and Keven Parker's. Sales of wings rise during the fall football season and the holidays but fly out of the Market in the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday (i.e. right now).

Dienner's only sold whole rotisserie chickens when the stand opened in the Market in 1980.  Its first wings -- also rotisseried -- followed two years later and soon became best-sellers. Wings now account for about three-quarters of stand sales.

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"They're portable. That's the way people eat today," explains third-generation family owner Anthony Dienner. About 60 percent of Dienner's wings' business come from only two flavors: the original rotisserie and the smoked (Anthony's personal favorite). The rotisserie are flavored with both a dry rub and a wet sauce before being cooked for about two hours. The smoked sit overnight in a dry coating before being cooked in a smoker containing hickory chips for a similar long time.

Fried and the spicy ranch-flavored San Antonio round out Dienner's whole wing menu. The Thai chili is the most popular of three party-style fried half wings the stand introduced alongside Memphis sweet and honey Buffalo just four months ago.

As its name implies, Franks A-Lot mainly sold hot dogs when it opened in 1982. But it probably should be called Wings A-Lot based on sales cited by employee-turned-owner Russell Black.

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Franks A-Lots' first wing was honey barbecue. Introduced in 1991, it's still the stand's most popular. Franks A-Lot cook Lana Santoso says they go through 1,200 pounds of wings a week to make this flavor alone. The wing is baked in a confection oven then seared on a stovetop "to enhance the barbecue flavor," Black says.

Their fried and Buffalo wings are Santoso inventions, introduced within the last four years. The fried are redolent of garlic and reminiscent of the salt and pepper wings popular in nearby Chinatown. The Buffalo is really a Buffalo/barbecue sauce hybrid and so only mildly spicy.

As at Dienner's, you can buy Franks A-Lots wings by the pound or as part of platters with sides, including, in Franks A-Lot's case, the unexpected salted cabbage and the Black-lauded cornbread. Cornbread is, in fact, only one of two side dishes regularly featured in the spiffy display case that tempts Reading Terminal Shoppers walking down Avenue C.

Food Network personality Robert Irvine called Keven Parker's fried chicken wings (not to mention his fried chicken thighs, breasts and drumsticks) "the best thing I ever ate" on the food channel's show of the same name in 2012. Irvine praised the chicken's "salty crispiness and spiciness" as well as its "juicy, soft flesh." Based on owner Keven Parker's grandmother's recipe, the chicken marinates in a spicy wet sauce, then is coated in seasoned flour before deep-frying. The wings are sold as part of a meal dish with one side, or per piece.

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The Market also offers help for wing do-it-yourselfers.

The aforementioned Godshall's carries whole chicken wings in two sizes: the jumbo ones many grocers carry as well as smaller fryer ones co-owner Dean Frankenfield gets from a farm in Maryland that many of his customers covet. On the other hand are the sizeable minority of Godshall's patrons who prefer to make their game day appetizers with whole turkey wings. Godshall's will cut any of these wings to order for free.

Guinta's sells both whole and cut (into "party-size" flats and drumettes) fresh wings but also 4-pound packages of wings marinated in Buffalo sauce. Just take and bake. The "boneless wings" sold at most butcher stands and restaurants are actually refashioned chicken breast meat but for special occasions like the Super Bowl, Guinta's actually debones chicken wings and fills the resulting cavity with either prosciutto and Italian spices or blue cheese and hot sauce to create a unique appetizer that stand owner Rob Passio says "taste phenomenal."

Passio gets the hot and wing sauces he uses from Market merchants and so can you.

Condiment's fresh-made sauce offerings include the traditional Buffalo as well as several styles of barbecue. In addition, stand owner Elizabeth Halen says her rosemary-heavy Italian, hot, spicy sweet chili and peanut sauces could make "excellent, nontraditional wing flavorings."

If you're looking for a hot sauce to plug into a Buffalo wing sauce recipe, the shelf behind the cash registers at The Head Nut are lined with dozens of varieties. That stand also carries Wing It, Stubb's, Hoboken Eddies, Guy Fieri and (the beer-containing) Yuengling brands of dedicated wing sauces. Jonathan Best stocks Cholula, Crystal and Frank's hot sauces (the latter was reportedly used on the original Anchor Bar Buffalo wings) as well as Moore's Alabama steakhouse wing sauces.

If you're trying to figure out amounts of wings to buy for a party: Market wing sellers generally agree that you will need 4 to 8 whole wings per person if no other hearty appetizers are served; and 2 to 3 per person if the wings are just one of several meat offerings on the table. (Double that if you're buying half-size party wings.)

As for cooking tips: Franks A-Lot's Black recommends making your own wing sauce, like he does. "It's not that difficult and you'll know what's in it." To achieve the "crispy skin and moist interior everyone wants" in a home oven, Anthony Dienner recommends starting out at a low temperature and increasing it later. "If you turn it too high too fast they will dry out." He also recommends "adding moisture in any way you can" -- like putting a tray of water on a low rack.

For those who need more precise instructions: Halen will be posting wing recipes at Condiment Super Bowl week. Or pick up Wing It!, a cookbook of "flavorful chicken wings, sauces and sides," by Robert Quintana at The Cookbook Stall. Or go to http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/02/the-best-buffalo-wings-oven-fried-wings-recipe.html

for what is probably the most popular wings recipe now on the Internet.

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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MLK Day of Service

MLK Volunteers long

Reading Terminal Market would like to thank everyone who helped make our MLK Day of service a huge success! We were able to make 2500 sandwiches for volunteers at Girard College. 


Thank you to our volunteers:

American Board of Internal Medicine
Global Citizens
Liberty Communications Services
Pepsi

 

Thank you to the vendors who donated all of the food items needed:

Beck's Cajun Cafe
Carmen's Famous Hoagies & Cheesesteaks
Condiment
Dienner's Bar-B-Q Chicken
DiNic's
Down Home Diner
Dutch Eating Place
Hatville Deli
Halteman Family Country Food
Head Nut
Hershel's East Side Deli
Iovine Brothers Produce
Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer 
Meltkraft
Olympia Gyro
Pearl's Oyster Bar
Spataro's Cheesesteaks
Tootsie's Salad Express

 

Thank you for the in-kind donations from:

City Kitchen
Coca-Cola
Foods Galore
Sysco

 MLK action

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A New Year & New Ways to Experience Shopping At RTM!

New Shopping Experience Blog

 

 

We’ve made many changes and updates in the past year to help make your shopping experience at Reading Terminal Market easier and more exciting. Below are a few things we hope you take advantage of in this new year!

 

$4 Parking

We partner up with two garages to offer $4 parking for up to two hours! Bring your parking garage ticket into The Market with you and get it validated by any merchant when you spend at least $10. When you go to pay for parking, your cost will be reduced to $4! No need to hassle with finding an open parking space and paying a meter while you do your grocery shopping! We’ve got you covered! After two hours regular parking rates apply. The two garages' locations are listed below:

Hilton Garage (located at 11th & Arch Streets)

Parkway Garage (located on 12th and Filbert Streets)

 

FREE Shopping Bag Concierge

Arms tired? Let us hold your bags for you while you continue to shop around The Market, or feel free to explore the city bag free!

On Saturdays from 9 am - 6 pm, and Sundays from 10 am - 5 pm we offer refrigerated and dry storage for your purchased items. The best part is- it’s completely free! The Shopping Bag Concierge is located behind The Head Nut. Be sure to ask the Concierge about Saturday curbside pickup!

 

FREE Recipe Cards

Located in Center Court next to the statue of Philbert the Pig you’ll find an array of seasonal recipe cards that we encourage you to pick up. The cards include the necessary ingredients for each recipe, which vendors you can find those ingredients at within The Market, and a step-by-step recipe to make these delicious dishes! We’ll be changing out the cards seasonally, so be sure to check back often.

 

Ask the Experts on Facebook LIVE

On Fridays at 10:30 am we’re LIVE on Facebook with a different expert merchant each week. We have a conversation with the lead expert of each store and highlight how they contribute to the uniqueness and diversity of The Market, as well as their expertise in their particular products. We encourage viewers to ask questions live during the interview and we can answer them as the conversation progresses. If you’re busy at 10:30 am on Fridays, no problem! The videos live on our Facebook wall and can be viewed at any time.   

 

FREE Chef Tours: Shopping with Chef Tess

Every 1st & 3rd Saturdays learn how to optimize The Market for the ultimate grocery shopping experience! Chef Tess takes you around The Market and highlights merchants & food items that are relevant to your interests. Learn how to pick and prepare meals using your favorite foods. Be sure to show up a little early, as tours are first come first serve. Meet in front of City Kitchen, tours starts at 10 am (located next to the Rick Nichols Room & The Head Nut.)

 

FREE Tasting Thursdays

Every Thursday from 12:00  – 1:00 pm visit City Kitchen (located next to the Rick Nichols Room & The Head Nut) and join Chef Tess for a free sample of the specially picked food of the day. Each week will feature samplings of products from a different merchant. Past Tasting Thursdays have included items such as  house-made pâté, leg of lamb, crab salad, seasonal winter soups, and spiralized vegetables. 

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