chef profile

Philadelphia: the inside track

Not just the birthplace of the nation, Philadelphia has a dynamic food culture, a booming arts scene and cool to spare. Philly native Nell McShane Wulfhart shares her insider guide.

Home-grown style and sips

Photo by stokpic on Pixabay

Shopping in Philly runs the gamut from classic (at Macy’s in the historic Wanamaker building) to cutting-edge, with local fashionistas producing one-of-a-kind lewks. Bonus: clothes and shoes aren’t taxed! Check out Fishtown for boutiques like Toile, which sells clothes by up-and-coming Philly designers. And it’s not just about fashion – the neighbourhood is home to remarkable local distilleries. Skip the duty free; instead pick up award-winning Bluecoat Gin at Philadelphia Distilling and micro-batch herbal liqueurs at Rowhouse Spirits.

Garden city

Fairmount Park, a sprawling series of woods and hiking trails, is one of the largest urban parks in the nation, and makes a fabulous afternoon nature excursion for the whole family. There are gorgeous smaller green spaces too. Rittenhouse Square (known in summer as ‘Rittenhouse Beach’, thanks to the hordes who sun themselves on the grass) is right in the centre of town and hosts farmers’ markets and art fairs. Tiny ‘parklets’, stocked with just a few chairs and tables, are hidden all over town.

Foodie paradise

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Philly’s food scene is booming, with over 2500 restaurants to choose from and the likes of high-profile chefs such as Jose Garces building restaurant empires here. Head to his Amada restaurant for exquisite Andalusian tapas paired with adventurous Spanish wines, or try sophisticated modern Israeli food by Michael Solomonov at Zahav. Also look out for the city’s dozens of tiny BYOBs with sophisticated menus and affordable prices – book a table at Will, where chef Christopher Kearse sends out French-inspired seasonal plates including scallops with garlic flower buds and monkfish tail in a lobster bouillon.

Go hard or go home

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Philly fans are infamously passionate, and the city’s nine professional sports teams keep emotions keyed up year-round. Tailgating in the parking lot of Citizens Bank Park or Lincoln Financial Field (the two South Philly stadiums) with portable barbecues and coolers crammed with beers before a big game is an unmissable part of the local sports experience, though cheering on the Eagles (American football) or the Phillies (baseball) with hyper-enthusiastic crowds isn’t bad either.

Rock(y) on

Rocky is the quintessential Philly movie, but Trading Places, The Sixth Sense and many others were filmed here – not to mention National Treasure, which sees Nicholas Cage running around from City Hall to Reading Terminal Market. Check out the spots that made it onscreen with Philadelphia Movie Sites Tour, or stick with the hometown hero on a self-guided Rocky journey. The imposing and historic Eastern State Penitentiary offers tours, too – it was the asylum featured in Brad Pitt hit Twelve Monkeys.

Cultural fix

Photo by skeeze on Pixabay

An extraordinary 3600 murals and counting (including tributes to city history and beloved local groups like The Roots) have turned the city into an enormous, bright open-air gallery. More traditional work can be found in the two world-renowned museums on the Parkway: the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (snap a photo with the Rocky statue while you’re there), which give New York and Washington DC, just one and two hours by train, respectively, a run for their money. History buffs must make time to visit one of the city’s newest attractions, the Museum of the American Revolution which brings the past to life with immersive galleries, astonishing historical works of art and Revolutionary-era weapons.

Dream on

Bed down at the fresh-from-a-redesign Logan hotel, which has its own art collection and is just a 15-minute ride from the airport, with direct flights from London Heathrow with British Airways. The LEED-certified Courtyard Philadelphia South at the Navy Yard has a cool futuristic vibe; plus, it’s walking distance to the stadiums. And, there’s old-school glamour in abundance at the chic Warwick which is surrounded by the city’s most luxurious shops.

Book your trip to Philadelphia

Words by Nell McShane Wulfhart

Header Photo by 12019 on Pixabay

Strawberry Moon - (Trixya/Vatya) - spacespice

Just another Hollywood lesbian AU. Trixie is a struggling music artist finally discovered by a sleazy Hollywood manager; however, his Russian trophy bride (along with her small-waisted young lover) complicate and confuse Trixie’s rise to the top as a legend, icon, and star. 

A/N: This is the brain-vomit first outing in an AU that will be two or three parts long? Fair warning, this is heavier on Trixya than Vatya. (But I’m a slut for Vatya, so there will never be enough.) Also, I’m not a Russian fish; so, if any of these phrases are totally and completely wrong…I apologize. 

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Name: Jehan Powell

City: Atlanta, Ga

Specialty: Guyanese and Caribbean Cuisine

Name of Company:  Jehan Can Cook

Soul Society 101: Being from Guyana, what is you favorite dish to cook?

JP: I don’t have a favorite dish because I am truly of lover of all food.  

Soul Society 101: What is your favorite time to cook during the year?

JP: I love cooking year round but if I had to pick I would say the Fall.  There’s something about the cooler weather that inspires me to get into the kitchen and create!

Soul Society 101: What are some of you favorite restaurants in NYC & ATL?

JP: Some of my favorites in NYC would have to be Negril Village, Cabana, Serendipity 3 and Max Brenner; I love ethnic food and I’m a certified chocoholic.  In Atlanta I love 4th and Swift for a romantic night out, Murphy’s for the ultimate brunch and Studio No. 7 for small bites and art.   We can’t forget dessert, so I would have to say Café Intermezzo, which is a dessert lover’s paradise.

Soul Society 101: What is unique about food from Guyana?

JP: What’s unique about Guyanese food is that our native dishes are heavily influenced by a combination of many different cultures.   Indian roti and curry, British queen cakes, Creole inspired Soups, Amerindian Pepper Pot and Chinese Chow mein are all authentic Guyanese dishes.  We are after all known as the Land of Six People.

Soul Society 101: What are some of your goals for cooking career?

JP: I would love to grow my blog Jehan Can Cook and expand my culinary career beyond my wildest dreams.


Shrimp Curry

3 lbs white belly shrimp(small shrimp)
½ of a lime
3 scallion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thai chili pepper
1 tsp salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp canola oil

Curry Paste
2 tbsp + 1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp cumin
1 tbsp crushed ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp water

Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl with enough water to cover and the juice of ½ lime.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes; rinse.  Add scallion, pepper, garlic and salt to shrimp; mix.  Set aside for 15 minutes.  While the shrimp marinates, add canola oil to a deep frying pan over medium heat.   In a small bowl add curry powder, cumin, crushed ginger, garlic and water to form a paste.   When the oil is hot, add curry paste.
Cook curry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning.    Add Shrimp to curry and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.  Add coconut milk and ketchup and cook for an additional 5 minutes.   Remove from heat and garnish with additional scallion.  Serve over rice or with roti!

If the sauce is too thin, remove the shrimp from the sauce with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Cook the sauce until it reduces, for an additional 5 minutes.  Once the sauce has reduced, add the shrimp back to the sauce.  Removing the shrimp prevents overcooking it.  Nobody likes rubbery shrimp!

Caribbean Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin and Corn

2 cups Caribbean Pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut in 1 inch cubes
2 ears fresh corn
3 cups white sweet potato (boniato), peeled and cut in 2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 wiri pepper
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp margarine
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup coconut milk
Chopped parsley


1. Hold the 1 corn upright holding the pointed tip, using a knife, cut the corn downwards, 2-3 rows at a time.    Repeat until all of the corn is cut off the cob.   Next, using the back of the knife scrape corn cob to remove the milk bits.   Set aside.   Now cut the second ear of corn crosswise into 2 inch pieces.

2. Set aside. In a large stock pot over medium fire, melt margarine.   Add onions and cook for 3 minutes until soft.   Add garlic, thyme, bay leaf and wiri pepper then stir.  Cook for 2 minutes.   Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken thighs then add to pot.   Cook for 5 minutes.   Next add sweet potato, cut corn with the milky bits and chicken stock, bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  

3. Add pumpkin, corn on the cob and coconut milk.   Cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove chicken, shred when cool enough to handle.   Add shredded chicken and dumplings.  Cover pot and cook for 5 minutes.  Do not peep!  Remove from heat and add chopped parsley before serving.

Chef Profile: Bilal Attar

Chef Bilal Attar is the creator of the (in)famous Speakeasy burger and other indulgences. WeEatBeirut sat down with him at the bar and discussed his passions, his aversions, and of course, booze.

External image

How’d you get into food?
It was a hobby, it was the first thing I ever did. While I was a child I used to play in the kitchen all the time. I grew up with food and food grew on me. The first word I said was minanu. (What?) McDonalds! Everytime I saw the big M I started jumping. My second word was labneh and my third was mom.
When did you start cooking at Speakeasy?
Ever since they opened
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
That’s a trick question. The menu was made out of my favorites. I’ll say the trio sliders.
What’s your favorite thing to cook?
You cook at a bar. How does alcohol factor into your food?
I’m not drunk! Since I’m known for my twisted fusion food, alcohol has contributed a lot. I had mixed and mashed a lot of alcohol into my recipes, so I ended up working in a bar. It was by choice. The alcohol came before I worked in the bar as part of my secret ingredients and hidden flavors.
How do you rep your day3a?
I don’t have a day3a, I’m from Texas! The heat in the texmex shows up in the food. If you can’t stand it don’t eat it.
If you had to pick a meal that embodies your personality what would it be? What is chef on a plate?
That’s a trick question. I would say waraq 3aynab (stuffed vine leaves). You spend the whole day making them and rolling them and cooking them with pleasure and you put your heart and soul into them and they grow up. And then each one, when you eat it, everything stops for a second while you chew it and then you have another one and you have another one of those moments. When you see people eat waraq 3aynab they’re humming and that for me is happiness.
Thoughts on pork?
It makes things yummy if you don’t tell anyone.
What will you not eat, ever, under any circumstances?
Seafood because I’m allergic to it.
How do you like your steak cooked?
Well done.
Favorite restaurant in Lebanon besides Speaks?
If you’ve lost me you’ll find me at McDonalds. I’m addicted to McDonalds, I have to eat it every day.
White or brown meat?
Sauce or no sauce?
Wet or dry?
Let’s play word association. Tell us the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear:
BRATWURST: No comment.
TOUM: Can’t have enough of it.
ASIAN: Short.
AL DENTE: Perfection.
What have you got planned for the future?
I want to publish my book, Cooking With A Touch of Glam. It’s an upscale cooking book that shows you how to cook with style. You learn how to make fancy meals – or at least meals that look fancy - with simple things. Presentation, presentation, presentation.
Second, I want to start doing cooking lessons in Beirut for executive women. Sometimes we have those businessmen traveling and their wives are bored at the hotel all day and so come along learn how to make a meal.


Albert Roux - Atholl Hotel [Scotland]

+ The bit about simplicity just made my day