Taste Spotlight - Fall 2015

By Adam Erace | August 19, 2015 | Food & Drink

The latest in Philadelphia dining news.

Distilling Success

La Colombe DistilleryÕs coffee-laced sipping rum: Òa rum for the bourbon drinker.Ó

La Colombe Distillery's coffee-laced sipping rum: a rum for the bourbon drinker.

Philly has long been a beer city, but we’re in the throes of a huge distilling movement right now, with recent launches that range from Vicio Mezcal from Dock Street Brewery’s new spirits arm to Bear Trap, an herbal digestivo by Kensington’s Rowhouse Spirits. La Colombe got into the booze game with its caramel-y coffee rum, Different Drum, which you can buy by the shot or bottle at its Fishtown café. And Rob Cassell, cofounder of Philadelphia Distilling (and its cobalt-bottled flagship Bluecoat Gin), has moved on and created New Liberty Distillery, also in Kensington, a combination distillery, school, and private event space; spots like Stateside and The Fat Ham (sbraga dining.com) carry its Kinsey label of whiskeys.

Liquid Gold

September is National Honey Month, but chef Corey Baver of Paradiso and Izumi, on East Passyunk, knows keeping bees has yearlong benefits. With his wife and business partner, Lynn Rinaldi, Baver keeps six hives on Paradiso’s roof. “That’s 350,000 bees,” he explains. “They help pollinate our rooftop garden and supply us with a complex honey.” A similar setup at the Sofitel hotel produces a nectar used in cocktails at its Liberté lounge. In Old City, The Franklin Fountain crafts honeycomb ice cream with honey from the roof of its throwback candy store, Shane Confectionery. One lick and it’s easy to see what all the buzz is about.

Kitchen Confidential

There are cookbooks that you page through, admiring pretty pictures and glancing at recipes. Then there are cookbooks that you devour. Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking is the latter. (Which is not to discount the vivid photography, by frequent Philadelphia Style photographer Michael Persico.) Within its pages, you’ll learn the secret to Solomonov’s famous hummus—it’s all about the tahina—as well as the chef’s personal stories of tragedy and hope. Page-turner doesn’t quite begin to describe it.

In the Navy

Lo Spiedo at the Navy Yard.

Lo Spiedo at the Navy Yard.

Years from now, we’ll look at a fully realized Navy Yard—rich with retail, restaurants, businesses, and homes—and wonder when the tipping point was. It’s now. Where once there was only the Urban Outfi tters’ cafeteria (still a good option for lunch), these days you can fi nd Marc Vetri’s Lo Spiedo (lo-spiedo.com) and a branch of Port Richmond’s beloved Mercer Café (with Tacconelli’s pizza) (mercer cafephilly.com) as well as a thorough food truck lineup that includes favorites like Poi Dog (poidogphilly.com) and Robeks juices (robeks.com). Add in an upcoming park designed by the architects of New York’s High Line, and you’ve got a destination in the making. 4747 S. Broad St.

Return of the Foo

Susanna Foo’s namesake restaurant, which opened on Walnut Street in the late 1980s, introduced Philadelphia to her gentle blending of Chinese and French cuisines. Its closing in 2009 brought a tear to many an eye, but now diners can rejoice when Foo and her son, Gabriel, open SuGa in Center City this month. More intimate than its predecessor in size, design, and culinary conceptualism, SuGa will focus on contemporary Chinese fare: small plates, cold buffet items, and hot dim sum-like nibbles such as her famed dumplings and stuffed flatbreads. “Big plates and formal dining, people don’t do that much anymore,” says Foo of the Radnor restaurant she opened in 2006 and closed in June. “I want to concentrate on one place that is family style, which is the Chinese style anyway.” 1720 Sansom St.