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June 10, 2014 / erostositko

Restaurant Review: Laurel

Being a devoted fan and loyal follower of Top Chef since it premiered, I was excited when Philadelphia’s own Nicholas Elmi took the honor as season 11 winner.

My husband and I recalled the time we met him on our first anniversary at Le Bec Fin, where he was the executive chef at the time. Since Le Bec’s closing, Elmi moved on to working at the short-lived Rittenhouse Tavern, and in late 2013 opened up his own BYOB, Laurel, in South Philly.

Initial reviews of Laurel were great, and once Elmi won Top Chef, it became nearly impossible to get a reservation. My friend Joann called in February and got a reservation for a Wednesday night in late April. I wasn’t even in on the initial plan, but thanks to a last minute cancellation, I got to go.

The evening started with a call from the hostess asking if we would like to sit at the Chef’s Table. “Sure!” we replied. It was a somewhat chilly night, but the table out back was cozy with the addition of heat lamps. We had to walk through the kitchen and saw Chef Nick and his staff in action.

The a la carte menu is only available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Laurel only offers a 7-course tasting menu for $75 per person.IMG_1197

Here’s a rundown of what I enjoyed, and all of it was exceptional. I especially loved the gnocchi, which Elmi made in episode 10 because it was his daughter’s favorite dish. The highlight of our evening was a few minutes before and after dinner, when the personable Elmi sat with us to chat and answer questions. If you can get a reservation, Laurel is a must-visit restaurant.

1st Course: Torn sea scallop with green apple, sea lettuce, and yuzu

2nd Course: Ricotta gnocchi with pancetta and sourdough garlic crouton

3rd Course: Seared wild striped bass with ramp yogurt, kohlrabi, and lemongrass

4th Course: Caramelized white chocolate pudding with plum, malt and puffed grains

January 7, 2014 / erostositko

3 New Openings

The Plymouth-Whitemarsh-Conshohocken area has been abuzz recently with three new restaurant/bar openings. From rustic Italian to cozy pub to full-scale brewery, all are great additions to the dining scene. Read more…

November 27, 2013 / erostositko



This year for Thanksgiving, my husband (who is not a dessert person) haaaaad to have pumpplecake. He just had to special order it, which means I had to drive to Center City on the day before Thanksgiving in a rainstorm to pick it up.

So, what is pumpplecake?!? That’s what everyone’s been asking. This “turducken of desserts” is a two-layer cake made by Flying Monkey Bakery in the Reading Terminal Market. One layer features an apple pie baked into a vanilla cake, and the second layer is a chocolate cake with a pumpkin pie baked inside. These two layers are sandwiched together and topped with vanilla buttercream. Read more…

September 27, 2013 / erostositko

Fall Festival Time

As far as seasons go, Spring is definitely my favorite. Fall itself is not so bad, but I can’t shake the feeling of the impending freeze of Winter that’s to come. One great thing about Fall is the abundance of festivals.

Whether you’re looking for family activities, or to drink some good beers with friends in the city, suburbs, or down the shore, there really is something for everyone.

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August 29, 2013 / erostositko

Review Roundup: Radice, Mica, and Cantina Feliz

Since moving to the suburbs, we’ve found many of the dining out options are not just good, they’re downright delicious. Here’s another roundup of some of the places we’ve come to enjoy.

Radice. Pronounced “Radeechay,” this modern Italian restaurant in a strip mall in Blue Bell popped up on my radar after Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig Laban gave it a three-bell rating. From woodfired pizzas to homemade pastas, you won’t find chicken parm on the menu here. Read more…

July 23, 2013 / erostositko

Fig & Gorgonzola Appetizer

The other day I was in Trader Joe’s and found fresh figs in the produce section. Two whole pounds of them for $5.99! I wasn’t sure what I was going to create, but I knew it would involve gorgonzola cheese, so I bought that also.

After googling “figs and gorgonzola,” I came across some interesting ideas. My version turned out to be a very tasty appetizer that’s quite easy to prepare.


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July 8, 2013 / erostositko

Dining Out With a Toddler…and other lessons from the first year of motherhood


No shirt, no shoes, no problem.

It’s been nearly a year since my last blog post. A year filled with lots of excitement, joys, challenges, ups, downs, firsts and lasts.

We experienced Julien’s first smile, first tooth, first taste of rice cereal, first birthday, and more recently, my last day of work, after almost 14 years as a healthcare journalist. It’s a bittersweet time, as I will miss my colleagues, but I look forward to having more time to devote to this blog, and my other endeavors, including my gig at Dairy Spot, the blog of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association. If you love cheese, yogurt and/or ice cream, check it out!

To sum up the last 12 months, here are some of the things I’ve learned in the first year of motherhood: Read more…