Argentine treats; fried-chicken update

20130409_craig_600

Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of April 9, 2013:

Craig LaBan: Lots of good things to discuss. Like these alfajores from the Argentine-influenced cafe called Gavin's, on Pine Street right next to the Schuylkill River park . . . spending a lot of time in the park lately, 'cause my son is doing Little League. I hadn't planned on these gorgeous alfajores - cookie sandwiches rolled in coconut and stuffed with dulce de leche. One of my favorite treats in town.

And, speaking of baseball, I'd love to hear early comments on the latest star addition to the CBP concession lineup: Federal Donuts. We already have a fresh road map for the park's substantial selection of craft beer, courtesy of Lee Porter's Chocolate Covered Memories blog. He reprises last year's comprehensive guide with an updated beer-by-section PDF. Lee talks about the expanded Alley Brewing Co. beer garden section, the addition of Allagash, Ommegang, etc. to the selections. Can't wait to explore!

Reader: I had FedNuts on Friday at ballpark . The donuts were pretty great for not being fancy. The "spicy" chicken was a winner, the regular lacked salt. But come on, chicken and a donut from the FedNuts crew for $9.50 or a bud light for $7.75?

C.L.: You can hardly buy a bottle of water for much less. Sounds like a decent start for FedNuts. Let's see how the Aramark crew is handling the subtleties of batter and chicken by the all-star break.

Reader: I'm a vegetarian, so the newer, healthier choices at CBP make me happy! I did, however, have a bite of the honey donut at Federal Donuts. It was reminiscent of the apple cider donuts you get at fairs in the fall.

C.L.: Last week KFC dropped the bombshell that it is going to go largely with boneless chicken soon (as opposed to the classic bucket of breasts and thighs, etc.). Now, I'm no KFC fan. But it's an interesting harbinger of mass-market eating trends to come. And so, for those in the "pro-bone-o" crowd who still crave the flavor of a drumstick, I put together this list of local favorites that still fry real birds, in no particular ranking . . . .

Classic soul food-style:

Corinne's Place (1254 Haddon Ave., Camden): The last of the cast-iron pan-fryers.

Henri's Hotts (1003 Black Horse Pike, Hammonton): the chicken may be better than the 'cue.

Deborah's Kitchen (2608 W Girard Ave.): Marvin Harrison's aunt's take-out place; the smothered turkey chops are great, too.

"New Style" fried chicken:

Federal Donuts (multiple locations). I prefer the dried seasonings over the wet ones. Try the Shabazzi, za'atar, buttermilk ranch, coconut curry

Alla Spina (1410 Mount Vernon St.): Maple-glazed fried chicken with mozzarella curd poutine.

Soho Café (468 W Cheltenham Ave.): the Korean fried chicken lounge that started the local "K"FC craze, in particular, inspiring Federal Donuts.

There are many, many others, of course, so . . . discuss!

Reader: Jones has really good fried chicken!

C.L: Yes it does. Mine wasn't meant to be comprehensive, but Jones was one of the first places in town to take a fresh look at the art of chicken-frying.

Reader: Meritage has great Korean fried chicken.

C.L.: Yes it does, absolutely. Meritage's may actually be the best KFC in town right now - but it's so sporadic, it's hard to put on a must-go list. Best to check with the restaurant first.

Continue Reading