Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread houses have been a tradition for my family since I was a two year old who had to stand on a chair just to peak over the edge of the kitchen counter and who did a better job decorating herself with icing and candy than she did decorating the gingerbread house. Despite all the hours we’d put into decorating gingerbread houses over the years, however, we hadn’t been to a gingerbread house competition until this year. While our own gingerbread house – a farmyard theme this year – was not ready to enter into the competition, we enjoyed looking at the various entries. Most were the cute but rushed work of scout troops and young families, a few were truly beautiful, and all were full of Christmas spirit. Below are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fall 2012 Issue on Issuu!

Our beautiful Fall 2012 issue is up on Issuu! Many thanks to all the contributors who made this semester's issue possible.

Check it out here:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

News Feed: A Round-Up of the Week's Top Food Stories

• SHAMELESS PLUG: Check out Penn Appétit's Fall 2012 issue! An online link/pdf will be available on Monday. Physical copies can be picked up in Kelly Writers House, Van Pelt, Huntsman, 1920 Commons, Williams, Houston Hall, and the High Rise Lobbies!

• Christmas is coming early: Crumbs Bake Shop is planning a soft opening for Monday, December 10, at its latest 133 S. 18th Street location

What’s a Foowich? Midtown Lunch reviews the latest food truck to take Philly by storm

• LaBan concedes that Pizza Brain is more than just a "funky slice shop and a North Philly hipster prank on the world"

Stephen Starr is opening a larger version of El Vez in New York City

• Campus favorite Hummus Grill is expanding to Center City

• Holiday shopping: The New York Times Dining section has compiled the best gifts for food lovers

• Food writer Josh Ozersky (founding editor of Grub Street) asks: is Yelp really for morons?

• Hate noisy restaurants? You're not alone! A Today Show report shows some reach a stunning lawnmower-comparable volume of 90 decibels

• Foodies, start panicking now: a new study shows you lose your sense of taste with age

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Night Excursion: Le Bercail

After conducting a rather random search for something cultural to eat on Friday night, my friends and I came across Le Bercail- a Senegalese/French ethnic enclave. This new restaurant is located on 45th and Baltimore in West Philly. Housed in a converted duplex, it truly is a gem in the rough.

The food is absolutely amazing and inexpensive. The majority of the entrees are $10 or below and the portions are very generous. Le Bercail serves Senegalese fried rice and chicken, fried okra, chawarma and many other options. I highly recommend their Dibi viande entree, which consists of grilled lamb with a choice of rice and beans, cassava couscous or fried plantains as sides. I ordered this dish with rice and beans, or “riz aux haircots” in French. The lamb pieces were generously seasoned and very tasty. I could have ordered the rice and beans by itself and been just as pleased with my meal. My friends ordered Dibi viande, chawarma with chicken, and grilled chicken chops. My friend noted that her grilled chicken chops were also well seasoned and her side of fried plantains tasted delicious.

However, a major downside to the restaurant is the service. Our server was very inattentive even though there were very few patrons present. If you’re willing to look past the poor service for some incredible food, then I suggest you try the restaurant. In my opinion Le Bercail would be better fit for takeout based on the prices and the service.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

11th Issue Launch + 5 Year Anniversary + Potluck TONIGHT!


EVENT PROGRAM: A few words from past Penn Appétit editors Emma Morgenstern (C'10), ; gallery show of Penn Appétit artwork; readings of Penn Appétit articles; potluck and mingling. Lots of copies of Fall 2012 issue to go around.

We'll be celebrating the launch of the issue and the magazine's five-year anniversary with a potluck at the Kelly Writers House. It's going to be a really special event; all of Penn Appétit's past editors will be back: Emma Morgenstern (C'10) (magazine's founder!), Elise Dihlmann-Malzer (C'11), and Alex Marcus (W'12). We'll also be setting up a gallery show of Penn Appétit artwork, and we'll have readings of some of our sweetest and funniest pieces. Plus, you can get a copy of our issue.

Come! Bring friends and food. Comfort food is a good way to go, as that's our theme, but feel free to bring whatever you want.

Trip to Old City: Fork

“It’s like a theater,” says Ellen Yin of her buzzed-about restaurant, Fork, to a flock of spectators from Penn. Every day Yin, her new chef Eli Kulp, and the rest of their team put on a show, usually to a full house.

Like any seasoned producer, Yin thought carefully before she drew back Fork’s curtain in 1997. She selected a business partner, studied the competition, brought financial backers on board, and negotiated a promising location.

The acts at Fork are inspired by the set: a vast, high-ceilinged dining room that Yin speaks of warmly. A few months back, server and artist Tony Demeles outfitted its two center-stage walls in matching murals, tableaus of ghostly saplings, rusty shadows, and sunshiny streaks. Yin calls the space, “Vibrant, forward, and contemporary,” just like the fare dished up in house.

Man of the hour Eli Kulp is busy breaking duck legs behind the scenes. If Yin is Fork’s entrepreneurial producer, Kulp is its visionary director. He looks like a football player, but handles a tangle of radicchio like it’s a baby bird’s nest. His shtick is age-old technique meets space-age science meets aesthetic uplift.

This afternoon, as is his style, Kulp’s killing a number, plating duck done three ways for his now-drooling audience.

Word of mouth is that the Chinese-inspired dishes they tasted five minutes later were both delicious and economical: meatballs made of leg and drenched in sauce made of liver, jewel-toned prosciutto cured, dried, and sliced playbill-thin, cross-sections of breast. The money note is the breast’s skin, which melts on your tongue like candy.

The students scrape their plates clean and have to break from salaciously licking duck fat off of their fingers because Kulp has reemerged from the wings. This crew deserves a hand.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Comfort Food: Chicken Pot Pie

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe is:
Chicken Pot Pie

Each of us has that one dish that evokes feelings of warmth, home and comfort. Just one bite will make you feel as if your wrapped in five warm blankets, instantly soothing your angsty soul. For me, that dish is chicken pot-pie. A hearty creamy blend of tender chicken and vegetables topped with a flaky and buttery crust makes for a meal that simply oozes coziness. Whether you’re creating comfort for one in a single bowl, or doling out relief to many, chicken potpie is a true taste of home-away-from-home.

-Amanda Shulman

The Recipe

4 cups chicken broth
4 chicken breasts
½ stick salted butter (4 tbs)
3 tbs flour
½ cup heavy cream
8 small potatoes, halved
1 cup baby carrots
1 vidalia onion, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen peas
garlic powder
1 pre-made pie crust
1 egg, beaten

Pour the chicken broth into a large pasta pot. Put on high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the chicken breasts and turn down the heat to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, until the chicken is extremely tender. Remove the chicken from the broth with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate to cool until able to handle. Shred the chicken with your hands into large hearty chunks, set aside. Keep the broth on a high simmer.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small saucepan melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly until a thick caramel colored mixture is formed. This is your roux. Once the roux is a thick sticky mixture, whisk it into the broth. Once fully mixed, add the cream, continuing to simmer. The mixture should be a milky white color and should be thick and creamy. Bring to a boil. Once boiling drop in the potatoes. After 10 minutes, they should be pretty fork tender. Bring down the heat to a simmer and add in the onions and carrots, cook for 10 more minutes. Stir in the chicken and peas. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Pour the entire mixture into a greased casserole dish.
Roll out the pie crust and lay it over the filling, pinching the sides at the edges. Brush the beaten egg over the top of the crust (will make it nice and golden brown). Cut 4 slits in the center in a design to let the steam escape. Sprinkle the whole crust with salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crust is golden and flaky. Serve yourself and your friends big spoonfuls.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Oh my god, my stomach hurts. No, it is not food poisoning. No, I do not have a stomach bug. Despite all my upcoming finals and pesky presentations, I make time for what matters most: experimenting with and obsessing over desserts. I just ate ¼ of a loaf of banana bread, several different types of baklava, many, MANY brownies, gelato, and a quarter pound cookie. Dessert night rules. Recently, I have been trying to find the perfect whole-wheat banana bread recipe. Baking with whole wheat is often a huge pain, because it does not act like white flour, and most types of whole wheat flours carry with them a weird bitter taste. However, I recently discovered white whole wheat flour at Trader Joe’s.

I initially believed it was some marketing BS, that “white whole wheat flour” was just white flour, but in fact, it is whole wheat, and it is good. Really good. Regular white and whole wheat flours are milled from red wheat. White whole wheat flour is milled from white wheat. It does not have the typical whole wheat taste, but it still has its properties. I do not know the specifics, but, basically, white flour has had the bran and germ from the wheat removed. This makes things made with white flour lighter and fluffier than things baked with whole wheat flour, but it also makes the flour itself much less nutritious! So, when I’m making something like banana bread and want to pretend that I’m being healthy (healthier at least), I use whole wheat flour.

I have tried several whole wheat banana bread recipes, but this one takes the cake. Or bread. Whatever. This whole wheat bread is the closest to white flour banana bread as I've ever had. Yum. Of course, it benefited from my chocolate layer technique, but so do all the banana breads I bake, regardless of recipe. I also ignored all the stuff about the millet, because I don't have time to go find some!

So without further ado, here is the recipe:

Crackly Banana Bread
(From Smitten Kitchen)

3 large ripe-to-over-ripe bananas
1 large egg
1/3 cup (80 ml) virgin coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
1/3 cup (65 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 to 1/3 cup (60 to 80 ml) maple syrup (less for less sweetness, of course)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) white whole-wheat flour (or flour mixture of your choice, see Note up top)
1/4 cup (50 grams) uncooked millet

Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In the bottom of a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until virtually smooth but a few tiny lumps remain. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, syrup and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.

Here are my pictures of me putting pieces of the chocolate layers in and a picture of the finished product. I forgot to take a picture until like 30 minutes after it came out of the oven, and by then my housemates and I had almost finished it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Comfort Food: Spaghetti and Garlic Bread

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe:
Spaghetti with sausages and meatballs and a side of garlic bread

On a cold winter’s day, there may be nothing more comforting than indulging in a bowl (or plate, depending on your style) of hot spaghetti with sausages and meatballs. As a young girl, I remember the delight of watching my mom prepare the meal. She would effortlessly sprinkle spices into the pot, creating a rich sauce perfectly accented by the Italian seasonings and red wine. But, spaghetti nights were not completely filled with sheer enjoyment. For, I remember how disgusted I was with the prospect of touching raw meat to form the meatballs! Whenever I helped make this dish, my mom would always tease me while she prepared the meatballs, holding out her meat-encrusted hands with amusement. I, however, would focus on the chopping of ingredients or on the sautéing of the sausages or meatballs, desperately trying to avoid glancing at the meatball preparation. Yet now that I’m away from home, I’ve had quite a craving for my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. If I can only get over my fear of forming the meatballs, I’ll be good to go! Below is my mom’s recipe for spaghetti with sausages and meatballs. The spaghetti normally lasts my family of four two days. I always think that the second day is the best, since the flavors of the sauce have been able to marinate together. So, even if you only have a little bit left after the first night, keep it! My mom also really likes spicy food, so this recipe can tend to be a little on the hot side. If you prefer less spicy spaghetti, use sweet sausage rather than hot Italian sausage (Andouille is particularly delicious!). You can also omit the red pepper. But, I highly recommend trying the spaghetti as is—sometimes, a bit of spice is rather nice! Also—we always have our spaghetti with garlic bread! I’ve included the recipe below as well.

-Katie Behrman

The Recipe

Ingredients (meatballs)

One package ground sirloin (between 1 and 1.5 lbs)
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, chopped, one to put in meatball mixture and one to sauté
½ c seasoned breadcrumbs
¼ c milk
1 carrot, chopped (optional)
½ med onion, chopped
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper for meatball mixture + ¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper to sauté
1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt ¼ tsp basil (dried)
¼ tsp oregano
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to sauté

Directions (meatballs)

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl and form mixture into balls with bare hands(around 12-15).
Sauté 1 clove chopped garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, and ¼ tsp black pepper in frying pan until fragrant. ADD meatballs and cook over med-low heat around twenty minutes (don’t handle the meatballs too much as they can easily break. I find it helpful to rotate the meatballs about every 5 minutes—when the side has been browned). The meatballs do not need to be fully cooked, as they’ll cook in the sauce.

Ingredients (spaghetti sauce)

Meatballs (see above)
One package Hot Italian Sausage (or sweet if you prefer)
2 29 oz cans tomato sauce (Hunt’s is good)
2 14.5 oz cans stewed tomatoes, Italian style
1 small can tomato paste
around 6 leaves fresh basil, torn
1 tsp red pepper, crushed
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
½-1 onion, chopped
one red and one green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ c – 1 c red wine (cabernet sauvignon) (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea or kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Directions (spaghetti sauce)

Cook sausage in frying pan while cooking meatballs in another frying pan, around twenty minutes. After sausage is cooked, transfer to a plate with paper towels and dab away the grease. Then, slice sausage fairly thick.
Begin sauce. In a dutch-oven, sauté garlic, pepper (1/4 tsp) and onions in 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat until onions are translucent, around three minutes. Add peppers and cook an additional three – five minutes, if desired.
Add tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, oregano, basil, bay leaf, red pepper, tomato paste and red wine to the dutch-oven. Season to taste with salt and pepper. ADD sausage and meatballs to the sauce.
Simmer covered on med-low heat around thirty minutes (the longer you simmer, the longer the flavors will have to blend together!).
Serve over thin spaghetti or vermicelli (cooked according to package directions).

Ingredients (garlic bread)

1 baguette
½-1 stick butter (softened)
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
Drizzle of olive oil
Fresh basil (optional, though encouraged)
Parmesan cheese (optional, though encouraged)

Directions (garlic bread)

Cut bread horizontally (so that there’s a top and a bottom).
Add garlic to softened butter and mix with fork.
Spread butter mixture onto bread.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Bake at 350F or broil wrapped in tinfoil until golden brown.
*Note: You can never have too much butter, air on the side of decadence!

Comfort Food: Macaroni and Cheese

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our bloggers' favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe:
Macaroni and Cheese

Something magical happens when you combine pasta with cheese. Pasta itself is yummy and cheese is one of my top food groups, but a marriage of the two creates my favorite comfort food- mac and cheese.

Like any other die-hard macaroni and cheese fan, I don’t discriminate between the fancy and cheap stuff. I was the girl who got far too excited about mac-and-cheese day in the elementary school cafeteria. I spent a sizeable part of my childhood winters contentedly eating Annie’s Shells and Cheddar by the bowlful, and still perk up at the sight of its iconic purple box. In my opinion, mac and cheese is just as good in a paper bowl as a glass dish- both White Dog’s savory lobster mac and cheese and Boston Market’s gooey cheesy mac rank close to heavenly on my list. And I will admit, at late hours of the night, even Wawa mac and cheese has something to offer.

Until recently, mac and cheese was something that was prepared for me, and I had never attempted it myself. However, with a kitchen of my own this year, I decided with my friend, a fellow mac-and-cheese aficionado, to try making some of our own. We found a Martha Stewart recipe on the popular food blog SmittenKitchen, and the results were incredible.

We knew we had found something special, even before the mac and cheese was done, upon sampling the cheese sauce. My friend and I would have been completely content simply eating the cheese sauce from the pot- the combination of milk, butter, Wisconsin white cheddar cheese, and pepper was unlike anything I’d ever tasted.

When I took my first bite of the final product, I knew I had found my new favorite. It was honestly one of the best mac and cheeses I’ve ever had. How such simple ingredients could yield something so delicious never fails to amaze me- every single person who I (begrudgingly) offered it to instantly was hooked. The white cheddar was smooth and creamy, and the kick of pepper kept the cheese from dulling my taste buds. The entire combination was pure comfort.

I’m tempted to say this is one of the finest mac and cheeses I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. I'm also not a super experienced cook, and this was so easy to prepare. I have a feeling when I’m home for winter break, this is going to replace Annie’s Shells and Cheddar as a staple. This savory, gooey, cheesy dish is simply too good to pass up.

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

Serves 12
Note: When my friend and I made the mac-and-cheese we adjusted it to four servings. We used pre-made breadcrumbs, omitted the nutmeg, and used packaged crumbled parmasean cheese. The first two changes were completely acceptable, but in the future, I'd definitely recommend using fresh grated parmesan instead for improved melting and a smoother texture.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Comfort Food: Clam Chowder

In conjunction with Penn Appétit's comfort-food themed Fall 2012 magazine, we are featuring a few of our blogger's favorite comfort foods, along with their cherished recipes.

Today's featured recipe is:
Port Townsend Clam Chowder

Everyone knows that clam chowder is considered a quintessential New England food. However, like most Northwesterners, clam chowder played a large part in my childhood too. The begginings of clam chowder in the Pacific Northwest can be traced to the sucessful Seattle seafood-joint Ivar's Chowder House, opened in 1946 by folk singer Ivar Haglund. The restraunt was so sucessful, in fact, that Haglund's song "Acres of Clams" is now Washington's unofficial state song. Now Ivar's clam chowder is sold everywhere- you can buy a bowl while watching a Mariner baseball game or while riding a ferry boat across the Puget Sound.

As delicious as Ivar's clam chowder is, I'm partial to my grandma's recipe that has been passed down to me. In the 1960s my grandma would make her chowder from clams that my grandpa, mom and aunts had freshly dug from Marrowstone Island, across the water from their home of Port Townsend, WA. Nowadays, however, my family prepares it with canned clams that you can find at any grocery store.

-Elliott Brooks

The Recipe


3 Tbsp butter
2 yellow onions
1/2 lb. bacon pieces,chopped
1 large potato, cubed
1 cup chopped clams
1 pint (2 C) heavy cream or half-and-half or milk
Clam nectar (steaming juice) or commercially bottled clam juice or potato cooking water or milk as needed
Salt and pepper to taste


Brown bacon pieces and reserve.
Drain all but 1 T bacon fat from skillet add butter and saute onions slowly till golden and well cooked.
In saucepan place potatoes and cover with cold water.
Bring to boil and slow boil 20 minutes or until soft.
Add potato to onions, add bacon, clams and cream.
Dilute to taste with clam nectar.
Heat but do NOT boil.
Season to taste.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

News Feed: A Round-Up of the Week's Top Food Stories

Mobile Eats: Penn student reviews Pure Fare Food Truck at 40th and Locust for Midtown Lunch

College Life: The WALK blog has a guide for the best hangover foods, on and off campus

• According to their Twitter, Kung Fu Hoagies is in...Vietnam and Cambodia! Don't worrythey'll be back at their normal 38th & Sansom location next week

SHAMELESS PLUG: Check out Penn Appétit's Editor-In-Chief Eesha Sardesai's travel guide for Santa Fe, New Mexico in Saveur

• More changes at the Reading Terminal: Basic 4 Vegetarian Cafe is closing it's stall after 31 years

• Two Eat Philly go behind the scenes at Shane Confectionery and Franklin Fountain 

• Whacky Food: NPR's food blog taste tests a "butter and sugar burger," inspired by a menu item in Singapore

The New York Times is asking readers to share their recipes for holiday sweets; three will be published in print in the December 19th Dining section!

Afternoon with a Haute Dog Artist

Hawk Krall has arranged a hot dog experiment. He’s put water on the stove and Russian dogs out to thaw on the counter. There’s a pink Molochnie Frank, an orange Vienna Sausage, and a rust-colored Parowki Cieleco-Wieprzowe.

Krall is a graphic artist and a recovering chef. He’s all looseness and liberation: a surfer personality who looks like a young Santa. The stove and counter in question are inside of his row house on Rosewood Street, eighteen blocks east of the Schuykill River.

He takes a step back from the franks, stretches his arms wide, and adjusts his spectacles. These Russians could possibly be the well-made, time-honored, natural casing dogs he’s been looking for.

Krall is the hot dog guy at Serious Eats, a food blog with one hundred contributors nationwide. Every week, he finds a new wiener to celebrate through writing and illustration. His cartoons have been featured locally – at Pizza Brain, the nation’s first pizza museum and tube steak haven Hot Diggity – as well as nationally – in Every Day with Rachael Ray. Last August, he hosted a hot dog demonstration at Audrey Claire’s Cook. Label-shedding aside (he’s quick to say the real hot dog authority is living incognito in Jersey) Hawk is a true frankfurter connoisseur.
In Memphis, he found a split dog cooking in one hundred year old grease. In Portland, he found a quarter pound frank being stuffed on site. And in the summer of 2010, Krall drove across South Carolina in pursuit of the best southern dog, only to stumble upon it at a strip mall.

Of course, the hot dog man can’t afford to hit every stand in the nation. But he’s got informants in meaty places who are excited to tell him about their finds. They alert him to rare breeds, like dogs sold in baseball stadiums. A few years ago, Krall heard about a stadium frank slathered in peanut butter and sprinkled with chocolate chips. He couldn’t get close enough to taste it, but his review of it blew up online. “It’s all like gross food, yeah!” he says. “Those are the ones people go crazy about. The editors are like, ‘Do another one of those.’”

The fridge beside the cold dogs is bursting. There are three kinds of pickles, a slew of slaw, a multitude of mayonnaise bottles, and mustards to make your mouth water.

Krall drops the franks in now boiling water. As they cook, he shows off his studio, a happy, cluttered exhibition of his own work and the work of people he admires. His desk is stacked high with Serious Eats wiener cartoons, which he sells on his website as prints and t-shirts.

Krall selects a Coney Island dog illustration and points to a spot where the ink line runs too thick. “I would fix that now,” Krall grins. “I wouldn’t just leave it there.”

While Krall likes food, he loves illustrating. A Jenkintown native and the son of an art director and freelance painter, Krall always knew he was going to be an artist. His mother brought her nine-year-old to Penn’s Landing and Reading Terminal Market to draw. “My mother,” Krall says, “Taught me how to draw from life.” The process taught Hawk everything he knows, but it wasn’t all fun and games. “It was serious,” he says. “It wasn’t like ‘Oh good job, Hawkey, you drew something.’ It was like, ‘You need to fix that perspective.’”

Krall’s adolescence and twenties were Anthony Bourdain meets Robert Crumb. He worked at restaurants – Pizza Hut in Jenkintown at sixteen, Tillie’s in Brooklyn during college, North Star in Philly after graduation, Brasserie Perrier for five years after that – as he refined his illustrating technique - reading the great underground comic artists of the sixties, studying illustration at the Pratt Institute, freelancing whenever possible and coming into his own anarchist, satirical sensibility.

That was back when he had a mohawk. Now, Krall puts the Coney Island illustration back on his desk and jumps down the stairs, two at a time, to his experiment. The Russians are ready, and it’s time to taste them, both plain and with toppings. Turns out they’re delicious, by far tastier than your average super market find. So in a week Krall will post another feature article on Serious Eats, this one endorsing Net Cost, the Eastern European store in northeast Philadelphia where he found these natural casing dogs. A Serious Eats fan will comment on the blog, thanking Hawk for the information. Maybe someone will request he make a Vienna sausage print. Regardless of what the future might hold for Krall, right now he’s chilling out, riding waves of creative inspiration.

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