March 20, 2006

Reading Market

Although I have a small tendency to speak of Philadelphia in a somewhat slighting fashion, I'll concede that Reading Market is pretty amazing. I'm in Philly every other week (normal base of ops is Washington D.C...esque, by which I mean Northern VA) and going to the market on the weekends with Aaron is pretty much a ritual at this point.

Because I love food. And man, is there a selection - an extraordinarily inexpensive and quality selection - to be had at Reading.

We'll use my visit Saturday as an example. After parking in the garage at 12th & Arch, we headed in to find something for lunch in the warren of Reading's vendors and stalls. Aaron usually likes to stop at Profi's Creperie for a banana-filled crepe (very light and fluffy), but I can't really deal with crepes at lunch when I want MEAT. So instead, we ran by the Down Home Diner for "Grandma's Meatloaf" with slaw/mashed potatoes and some fish and chips with a warm remoulade and field greens. Pretty inexpensive ($20 for everything including drinks, soup, and an extra side of home fries), and the menu said something about how Down Home's insistence on the freshest ingredients and preparations meant that they kept absolutely no freezer and no refrigerator on the premises, especially as they can get all they need from the surrounding market itself. Pretty cool.

After that, it was just a short trek across market to The Spice Terminal to pick up freshly ground spices and herb mixes. I stopped by Terralynn's soap stall along the way for homemade soaps, too, because I really can't resist artisanal anything. And I like smelling good.

But anyway! Spice Terminal for hot chili powder, italian seasoning, pot herbs, herbes de provence, garlic powder, and some Earl Grey Tea, and then I hit both of the larger produce vendors (O.K. Lee and Iovine Brothers for spring salad mix, habanero peppers, green mangoes, and sundry other fruits and fixings.) and then Harry Ochs for a pound and a half of flank steak. (I got tired of hotlinking things.)

Oh, and though we didn't stop by, if you're ever at Reading you SHOULD go try the Pennsylvania Noble cheese from Green Valley Dairy (website here: Green Valley Dairy). You can order it online too, which is great for me, but it's worth trying first. Organic, grass-fed (depending on the cheese, you can kind of taste the grass) cows combined with cheesy...artisanship...yeah. Let's just say I can go through a half-lb in a couple of days.

Best thing about the market is that it's FRESH AND CHEAP. Seriously, my planned menu for Saturday (Marinated flank steak, pan-seared with fried eggplant and field greens topped with portobello mushrooms) ran about 15 bucks total. So, there you go. Try it out.

Here's the recipe I used for the marinade (mostly made up, although slightly influenced by Dave Lieberman on Food Network, as I was originally thinking I'd do a dry rub, but eh.)

equal parts:
hot chili powder
garlic powder

enough (and equal portions) - should be just enough to make the previous ingredients adhere to the surface of the meat.
soy sauce

1-2 habaneros, thinly sliced (depending on how hot you want it)

I let mine marinate for about 4 hours, because I went to play World of Warcraft and take a nap. But pretty much whatever works.

Then, I pan-seared it on both sides in about 2 tbsps of olive oil (E.V.O.O ::smacks Rachael Ray::) for 5 minutes on each side. I prefer mine super rare - almost tartare-rare, so you might want to go a little longer. I think grilling or a grill pan would be preferable, but you know. You work with what you have.

Anyway, that's it for now. Tonight, I'm attempting Korean BBQ - bulgogi, specifically - for 10 people, and if all goes well, I'll post a little bit about that later too.

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