Category Archives: food

Moshulu: once sailed the ocean blue

There was a time when this great ship, with soaring masts and sails, braved raging seas and circled the world.
Today it sits anchored, moored, tethered, docked, in Philadelphia.
There are tides where it floats but the ship is stagnant.
I know how it feels. It serves as a lesson.

Its example while on its face tragic and stifled, is not all that bad.
There are perks to actually reaching a destination.

moshulu banquettable

A life of adventure offers scenery and change, but usually the accomodations are quite sparse. Spartan even.
It is not till a traveler arrives that abundance can be enjoyed. I mean, why go anywhere if you don’t want to be where you end up?
The Moshulu once capsized off the coast of Norway. I think it is doing much better today.

If you are going to sit still you should do it in a nice place.
The Moshulu has agreat view of the Ben Franklin bridge and the city lights that reflect in the water after sunset. Not too shabby.
I’ve eaten there. The dessert is worth whatever they charge-
but the price of dinner far outpaces the food.
Sometimes I wonder if the ship ever wishes for the days when Eric Newby was a young deck hand, or are white table cloths better?

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Tommy DiNic’s: winner of the nation’s best sandwich

I don’t know the metric used by the travel channel to decide what is the United State’s best sandwich, but I do know I’m in love with the one that sandwich

Now the best place to get a Philly cheese steak is in Philly, but the best sandwich in Philly is a sliced pork.  There are a couple places to find a good one, but the one that won the big prize is in the Reading Terminal Market.DiNics counter

The place is called Dinic’s and you order the sliced pork with broccoli-rabe. Yes, broccoli. With provolone. Don’t hate, just order it.makin sandwich

Once the sandwich is ordered, and assuming you aren’t already seated at the counter, turn around an order a birch beer from the stall across the isle. If you haven’t ever had a birch beer, repent.birch beer


If birch beer isn’t your thing, go one more store over to Herschel’s and order a celery soda. They call it a “cel-ray” soda, but its the same thing. clean and sharp… goes good with broccoli.


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There is No Escaping Consequence

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. It is a natural law. Not a suggestion but a law. A ball dropped from a tower will fall, and an object at rest will tend to stay at rest till acted upon by an outside force; laws.newyearsfoodtableHolidays with family and friends are wonderful, but as is the case with most things wonderful, they do not happen without work and some sort of inevitable aftermath. The bigger the party, the more work there will be before, and surely, the more work there will be after. Many will eagerly give advice on how to deal with the work, I will not. It is enough for me to say it exists and is inevitable. No matter what you do, it will exist.afterpartyYou could pay to have someone else clean up, ignore the carnage and let it sit for a day, or maybe ask everyone to stick around and lend a hand. Fine solutions but they are all just methods of dealing with an existing fact. For every good party or meal, there is an equal and opposite chairsNow in all such things a person can choose to set  plan in motion but they cannot choose what will actually happen. You can send out invitations but you cannot force someone to show up. You can bring your kids to the party but you cannot guarantee that they won’t drop a plate on the carpet. messBut you should always take the chance.

You control the controllables the best you can then throw the dice. You enjoy yourself then deal with the aftermath come what may. Otherwise a holiday is just another day. Otherwise there are no great times spent with good company.

Just make sure you are prepared to scrub the carpet.

Forrest Gump says life is a box of chocolates. I say it is a party.

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People at Penn: People Live here

Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know till you learn you don’t know it. That is ignorance. Not knowing and not even knowing you don’t know.

College is about informing one out of a state of ignorance right? I recall last semester, about three weeks in, a friend of mine, one who had obtained his post graduate degree a long time ago, asked me the question, “So what have you learned in grad school that you didn’t already know?” I had to think about that one for a minute. All these months later, here is my answer:

“I now know what it is like to eat in a student dining commons.”

Hill House dining hall

That’s right, I attended two different schools during my undergrad, and to my knowledge I had never actually stood in a student dining hall. I recall USU had a student union, which had a Taco Bell, which had a 50 cent menu, which meant I ate there, but that wasn’t this. I recall the U of U had a union… really I’m lying, I have no idea what they had but I’m assuming they had such things, I just never went there. That brings us to Penn and grad school.

My guides to college culture

To sum the experience up, I would say it was not unlike eating in the food court of a shopping mall. It was rather unremarkable. Horrible food would have been remarkable, as would great food, it was neither Here is a tidbit that is remarkable.

In the history of American higher education, if we look back to the beginning, students on campuses have on more than rare occasion risen up in unrest and oftentimes violence. Why? For various reasons, Vietnam, civil rights, concert tickets, but one motive has caused protest more than any other. One cause has driven students to proactive protest and disobedience more than any other.

Bad food in the dining hall.

I have now tasted history.


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Holidays with Family Part 1: Food

I see a gym membership in my future.





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On Immigration

If this is the result of immigration…

Cinnamon, vanilla, rice, and almond... yes please. Trust me on this one.

 then LET THEM COME! The southern end of the Italian market is no longer Italian and I am 100% fine with this. Thanks to affordable horchata concentrate I am on my way to Texas to make a speech, “Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!”


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Around Town, Continental

I once lived in a place with a population of somewhere near 30,000 people and 10,000 chain restaurants.  Eating was convenient, reliable, and plastic.

I do not miss those days and I do not miss Appleby’s.

What I do miss is disposable income. Upcoming opportunities have inspired us to put the clamps down on the budget, which would normally put the clamps down on adventurous eating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Lunch crowds, corporate reps talking shop over salads, fill booths around the windows.  I take my date upstairs to sit in the hanging baskets on the inside balcony, it’s too hot to sit outside.

As we scan the menu we skip the apps, ignore multiple entrees, and focus mostly on the column to the right.  Ordering in such a fashion will likely force us to miss whatever dish the house does best, but if you choose the right house, things will work out just fine.

Why go “nice” while spending less, which means eating less, when Chili’s exists?  Because any wise investor will tell you that it is not how much money you put in, but where you put it, that matters most. Perhaps these ventures are not investments in meals but something more important.

Creme brulee and steak are nice, but time with her in a place we like, is better.


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Yerba Mate

When observed over time, little details become prevailing themes.


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Around Town, Bobby’s Burger Palace

I refused to watch Mr. Flay’s new reality show, but I cannot refuse his food.  I would normally say the last thing America needs is another chain burger joint, yet I have been converted.

In n’ Out, Checkers, Crown Burger… naw, I still like Crown Burger, will not only be forever relegated to the backseat in my book, but they are no longer even on my map.

Chopped sirloin, arugula, and goat cheese equal bliss.  Add to it a side of sweet potato fries, a dark chocolate shake, and I am falling off my stool in a happy stupor.  Mock my burger for trying to be too froo-froo or shee-shee, or pinkies out, say anything you want, just make sure to take small enough bites to leave room for some crow and your foot.

Surprisingly affordable, very convenient, and worth having to buy larger pants.


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Around Town, the weekend

After ten years of marriage and two kids, my wife still likes me.

I’m not quite sure how this initial like was achieved, I vacillate between blaming it on blind luck or superior sales skills, but despite how I got it, I intend to keep it.  Doing this requires a combination of changing diapers, running errands, and taking her on dates.  In our home all three are necessities.

We once belonged to a babysitting co-op with a bunch of associates in a more “uh-hm… safe”, part of town.  It worked out great as when it was our turn to watch a rabid pack of 2 year olds on a Friday night, no one would show up.  This inequity would normally be to our advantage but the arrangement soured due to the lack of dining options in this so called safe haven.  Since this period of our life I have successfully avoided Applebee’s and hope to extend this streak for years to come.

We now pay for a babysitter.

Having abandoned the suburbs, we now brave the notorious crime infested streets of Philadelphia on our Friday nights. 

A distinguishing feature of the notorious inner-city is the candy store… or wait… how bout what looks like a candy store but is really a soap store.  Yes friends, all these treats are really body washes and bubble baths.

Not only are our weekly ventures tainted by falsely advertised treats, but the mean streets become even scarier when we realize they are lined by restaurants we cannot afford.

Mrs.Hammas is street savvy and can find the safe spots.

Max Brenner is one of these.  They have food, but we came for the dessert.  I went for chilli spiced hot chocolate and she went for chocolate pecan egg rolls.

The food was food, the company even better, and because we are ten years older than when we started this nonsense, the evening was over before ten.

For the younger set, the morning after can oft mean regret.  For me it means ballet practice.

Littlehammas 1.0 has a deep-seated desire to be a princess ballerina scientist.  Never one to hinder ones climb to greatness, we have obliged her in these pursuits.  These endeavours have brought me in touch with another type of inner city street hoodlum; the ballet mom.

Now in the past I have been around the relaxed parent who chuckles at their kid’s mistakes and smiles as they stumble through pretend lessons… not at this place.  Intimidated by their thuggery I nod faux agreement as they complain that the teachers feet are not properly visible due to her pant length, squabble over how skill levels are measured, and then shrug off how the Nutcracker after party comes with a $10 “chaperone” fee.  Littlehamas 1.0 is six years old.  It’s amazing how the streets target our youth.

Having rescued Littlehamas 1.0 from these treacherous mobs, we stumbled upon a bike gang.  Not biker, but bicycler.

These bikers weren’t the new harmless youth, they were old school.  Old school like tweed and argyle socks.

Another staple of the ghetto, er… city, is graffiti.  This unauthorized painting of other people’s property is done to claim a territory and serve as warning to those who are out of their own turf to beware.

In Philadelphia this problem has gotten so bad that it has spread to the inside of people’s homes.  Not only is it on interior walls, but hooligan graff-heads are taking credit for other’s artwork.  Pictured is proof, as I caught the Mrs. signing her name to  one of my pictures.  Is nothing sacred?

Its rough here in this town.  I’m not sure how much longer we can last.


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