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I thought I may have mentioned this place before, but it appears as though I haven’t.  Johnny’s Hots is a little sausage stand on Columbus Blvd across from Penn Treaty Park.  Lately, I’ve been stopping by for lunch on the way to pick Madeline up from school in Fishtown.

For $3.50, you get a perfectly lunch sized sausage sandwich, and the quickest service you could possibly imagine.  Seriously, your food will come out before you’ve even finished paying.  It’s somewhere between a hot dog and a hoagie in size, which is a perfect lunch size.  You won’t be stuffed, but you won’t be hungry.  I’m a sucker for sausage, and anything hot*, so there is really no way I couldn’t love this place.  But their hot sausage is really great, and so are the rolls.

And this morning I discovered their breakfast sandwich(s).  Give me a couple more before I close the book, but after just one, I’m ready to declare it the best breakfast sandwich in the city.  Fried egg, American cheese, and a hot sausage.  Its mind-blowing.  Honestly.

*That’s what she said

Twice now, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a nearly perfect bar snack at Cantina Dos Segundos.  Their mexican hot dog is only on the special menu, so I hope it’s not a temporary thing.  Because for $3, you get a grilled hot dog, topped with all sorts of delicious slop, including queso blanco and jalapenos.  Its simple, its messy, and its amazing.  The place itself can be hit or miss, but they have a great happy hour, and with this treat, its worth a visit.

Is there anyone as excited about this weather as I am?  This is beer drinking weather.

I had the rare pleasure of getting out last night to the Foodery for a man date.  It was my first chance to really rock my Beer by Bike wool jersey.  And first time for my cool weather gloves too.  Sure, it was only 4 blocks away, but give me a break!  I wanted to gear up and ride!

I enjoyed 2 wee heavies in light of the cooler weather, Duck Rabbit’s and Geary’s.  Duck Rabbit consistently impresses me, and this was no different.  Well balanced with a gentle bitterness.  The Geary’s was perhaps more traditional with a syrupy sweetness, cloying and boozy.  And I must say, I think I prefered it’s malt assault.  I don’t know much about the brewery or their beers, but they are from Portland, ME.  Yet another reason to go visit that town.  Put it on my list.

Grey LodgeIn the end, we weren’t able to get out to Philadelphia Distilling.  It would have been nice, but their tours were all booked.  But look for a ride up there in the (near?) future.  We did, however, take the short ride up to the Grey Lodge, which many of us had never been to before.  Tucked deep in Mayfair, the heart of Northeast Philadelphia, it’s just far enough away that it flies largely under the radar.  Unless of course you’re a beer geek, in which case you probably know if its amazing beer selection.

Stone 2009

This infamous beer selection is what lured us there, and it did not disappoint.  Troegs Nugget Nectar on handpump, Saint Somewhere Pays du Soleil, and the star of the day, Stone’s 2009 Vertical Epic, a smoky hop bomb disguised as a belgian porter.

It was a beautiful day, and the ride was lovely, if shorter than usual.  We mostly split up for the ride home, some heading north to Montgomery county, some back the (real) city, and I rode up to the parents place in Langhorne.
The best section of my commute

I mentioned it in the last post, but I figured why wait?  I wanted to plug my new favorite coffee spot in the neighborhood, El Cafeito.  Tucked away on the corner of 3rd and Cecil B Moore, it opened up a little under the radar, or at least under my radar.

I’ve been there several times now, and I can safely say that the coffee is good here.  I’m fully willing to admit that I am a coffee snob, and I get really pissed when a coffee shop doesn’t have good coffee (I’m really sorry Rocket Cat, you’re a great place, but…).  I was sad when The Latte Lounge closed; despite the name, they had the best coffee in Northern Liberties.  One Shot was my recent go to place, and they make a decent cup, but for some reason I was never sold.

But El Cafeito pours La Columbe coffee, which is good provided its prepared well.  Which it is here.  And they have the aforementioned mallorca pastries, along with other sweets and sandwiches.  All in all, I’m sold.  Go there, buy coffee, try a mallorca, and stop putting up with poorly prepared coffee.

I got back Monday night from Puerto Rico.  My sister Laurie got married there on Saturday.  I can’t say that I specifically wanted to visit there before, but I was excited to go.  Being that Penelope’s due date was 2 weeks prior to the wedding, we had planned on just me going down months ago.  I was certainly sad that I have to leave all 4 of my girls at home, but was excited to explore the place alone.  Unfortunately, a Friday to Monday trip with a full day of wedding activities didn’t leave much time to explore.  I was able to get out a bit though.
View from the roof deck

I really wanted to experience as much of the food as I could, so that’s the first thing I did.  My first meal on the island was a total score, a heaping plate of Arroz con Pollo, with a full chicken breast, rice and beans, and fried plantains.  My english-speaking-only and culinarily conservative family gawked.  The Americanized offerings were very very dull in comparison.
Calle de San Justo

I also spent some time eating mallorcas.  Something between a doughnut and brioche, heated in a sandwich press, and served sprinkled with powdered sugar.  They are great on their own.  But served with fillings is when they really shine.  Jamon, queso y huevo.  Yes that’s right, ham, egg, and cheese.  On a doughnut.  Uh-mazing.  I know that El Cafeito at 3rd and Cecil B has mallorcas (which are great and the place is great, it will have its own post someday), but I’m going to try to convince them to emulate this sandwich.  Breakfast bliss.
Pico and me
I spent 2 nights in Old San Juan, and 1 in Isla Verde.  Which means that I really didn’t get to see much of the island at all.  This was made doubly infuriating as the rest of my family hopped on a bus to head out to the rainforest, El Yunque, while I got a cab to the airport.  But this small taste of Puerto Rico has just wet my appetite.  I want to head back with the entire family in tow, see the rest of the island, eat Mofongo, speak mas espanol.  I’ll keep it on the list.
Isla Verde

Honest Tom’s Taco Cart at 33rd and Arch.  French pressed Stumptown Coffee.  If you don’t know what that means, you owe it to yourself to find out.   Its still not the same as a cup from Stumptown in Portland, but its good enough.  Stumptown remains the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.  With the notable exception of  coffee roasted, brewed, and poured by myself in my own kitchen.

After hearing loads of good things about Que Chula es Puebla, we decided to take the family over for dinner last week.  We live a block from Taco Riendo and Las Cazuelas, so good mexican isn’t hard to find around here.  And with Dos Segundos and El Camino Real, it would seem that the burrito needs in this area are well met.

I, however, would disagree.  I remember years and years ago making a weekly trek down to South St to a place once called Sausalito’s.  They had amazing and simple burritos,take out or eat in, no frills and no pretense.  For a vegetarian (at the time), it was perfect.  Fast forward to the present and migrate northwards: where’s a boy to go for a simple burrito?  Places around here, while delicious, are sit down, get a beer and a platter type joints, taste the authenticity and experience the service and nightlife*.

Enter Que Chula es Puebla.  Its the second (that I’m aware of) mexican place at this location.  The first one turned Lois off by the addition of celery in her veggie burrito, and we never really gave it a second chance.  Que Chula, however, deserves a second chance.  Soon.  The menu is the kind of Spanish dictionary that makes this recent meat eater want to work my way through the entire thing.  That might actually become a goal, we’ll see.  Perfect portions, chips with queso blanco and salsas, reasonable prices.  This is indeed the place that we’ve all be waiting for.

Well, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic.  The ambiance is cold and dull.  There is no music, no soft lighting, no separate dining menu.  But honestly, that’s whats so great about it.  So lets get a six pack of fizzy yellow Mexican beer, scan a paper take out menu, and feast on all the treats that cows and pigs and beans can provide to us, by way of Que Chula.

*I’m purposefully leaving out Pura Vida, a wonderful place that gets far too little respect, and far too little patronage from me.

Lois and I went to check out the new place from the owners of the Good Dog, The Swift Half on Sunday night.  Alas, we found it to be not yet opened.  Oh well.  Check out the menu though!  Beer and cheese please!

I really need to think more about how I plan things.  And I need to take more pictures.  Because yesterday was awesome, and could have been awesomer.

I took the kids down to South Philly for the grand opening of the new location of Bella Vista Beer Distributor.  My first error in planning was thinking that it was at Ellsworth St, 6 blocks or so below the actual location at Fitzwater St.  And then deciding to park at 9th and Dickinson, so that the girls could have a nice walk.  Yea, that was a bad decision.  As was letting Maruke fall off my shoulders, just grabbing her ankle in time to avoid a serious head injury.  That was a bad idea.

The grand opening, however, was a good idea.  The bad planning part was that I didn’t plan on staying there all afternoon.  There was at least 10 or 15 breweries pouring, and it was totally free.  Marni and her 2 girls met us there, and eventually Lois rode on down also.  I had a chance to try a couple beers.  The clear winner and stand out was Voodoo Brewery’s Black Magick Stout.  Wow!  A 15-16% Russian Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels.  Fresh at a year old, it was smooth, sweet and really boozy.  Rather profound, I must say.  I almost went in and bought a case (sans labels, as the brewer said it wasn’t even really supposed to be released yet).  But then I thought about the walk back to the car and decided against it.  Probably the best decision of the day.

I also wished that I had taken some pictures.  The new location is gigantic, though the abbey and bell tower was a bit of a let down.  I probably shouldn’t have actually thought that there would be a playground-like monastery with a 2 story clock tower; but I’m a sucker for my own inflated imagination.  I didn’t really even make a dent in checking out the entire store, so another trip is definitely in order.

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