Monday, April 7, 2008

More Burgers, plus Cupcakes and Bacon Chocolate! Oh MY!

by Xani

This past weekend I took a moment out of my whirlwind life for a whirlwind trip to Philadelphia. In less than 24 hours I was able to knock another burger off the list, visit the cutest grocery store EVER, achieve a culinary dream, drink in the lap of luxury, and visit an old favorite haunt.

The first meal of the day was at Rouge, a see-and-be-seen type of place on Rittenhouse Square in Center City. You know its a hip spot when there is a 45 minute wait at lunchtime! No matter-- we strolled around the square, did some window-shopping and were finally seated at a table by the open windows overlooking the square (great people and dog-watching!). Ordering was easy-- a bottle of Prosecco and of course I had to get the Rouge burger, served with melted Gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and fantastic pomme frites on the side.

Yummmm...! I was super-excited to eat this burger. It was obviously "classy" (served on an actual plate instead of a greasy paper bag) and when it arrived at the table it looked absolutely perfectly cooked (medium-rare, of course). The fries were great, but not quite as good as a friend's order of Truffle Parmesan pomme frites! Note to self: next batch of duck/goose fat fries MUST be covered in Parmesan and truffle oil! I give the Rouge burger 7.5 burgers out of 10. Great grilled bun and toppings, and high quality beef, but the burger itself was slightly under-seasoned for my taste. Also, it was $17! I know I was paying for the plate, the view, and the experience, but I can get better flavor at Five Guys.

After lunch we decided to hunt down some cupcakes! After EP's experience with NYC cupcakes I wanted to see what Philly had to offer. We ended up at nearby Grocery Market and Cafe, which is one of the cutest places EVER. Sort of like a Superette for the very rich and refined, everything at this little corner shop was ultra-gourmet. They had a selection of five different cupcakes, so we got one of each!

Chocoholic and Coco Loco

Little Lolita, Plain Jane and Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Grocery also had a great selection of fancy candies, including Vosges chocolate bars. I was way too excited to see their rare and elusive Mo's Bacon Chocolate bar (with Applewood smoked bacon + Alder wood smoked salt + deep milk chocolate) available for purchase! I quickly snatched one up, and a friend picked up their Red Fire Exotic Candy Bar (Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon + dark chocolate). We took all our sweet treats back to a friend's room at the Ritz Carlton and had a mid-afternoon cake and chocolate tasting... NORMAL!

This was sooo fun and delicious. First the cupcakes: unfortunately three out of five of the cupcakes were chocolate cake-- not my favorite. But they were pretty tasty and delicious. Chocoholic was just that-- super-rich chocolate cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. Peanut butter and chocolate (the name speaks for itself) was pretty good, and Little Lolita was chocolate cake (boo) with with AMAZING goat's milk cream cheese frosting with chile toffee peanuts. I definitely preferred the Coco Loco (mmm coconutty) and the Plain Jane (vanilla cake, vanilla icing and delicious crunchy nonpareils) over the chocolate varieties. And if THAT wasn't enough sugar, out came the chocolate bars:

Oh Mo, how I've longed for you...

Bacon-y sweet perfection

Surprisingly spicy

I'd been dreaming about trying the Bacon Bar, especially since experiencing the fantastic Maple Bacon ice Cream at Craft a few months back. And, I gotta say, it is damn good. It's pretty salty, and the bacon flavor is mild, but it works so perfectly with the deep milk chocolate. Yum. I'm hoarding the last few squares and allowing myself one little nibble a day! The chile-dark chocolate bar was interesting as well. More cinnamon-y than spicy at first, it has quite a kick at the end. I would love to try some of their other bars, but at nearly $8 a piece its more of a once in a while indulgence...

We soon fell into a prosecco and sugar-induced coma, until it was time to wake up and drink and eat more! First, drinks at the Four Seasons before dinner at The Continental Midtown. The Continental (the original location is still open as well) is an old favorite place of mine and I've been there many times over the years. Anyone who is visiting Philly and wants a fun, funky atmosphere, great drinks and affordable, delicious food should definitely check this place out! It was packed so we enjoyed some cocktails at the bar (get the Buzz Aldrin for something sweet, or the Pickled (extra spicy) if you've had enough sugar for the day), then were seated upstairs for dinner. No pictures this time kiddos-- but I highly recommend the shoestring fries and the Continental salad. Don't miss the house-made cotton candy for dessert!

So, that's my trip to Philly in a nutshell. It was a much needed escape from real life, if only for 24 hours. Hope to return to the city of Brotherly Love soon!



  1. Yes, let's bust out that truffle oil next time! Sounds like you ladies had an indulgent weekend - so jealous!

  2. holy crap, has my sis/ur cousin Stef seen this bacon chocolate bar??

  3. oyez. I have tasted the mo's bacon and all it's glory. I was so excited to see you mention Vosges! They are based in Chicago and I have a weird connection because my friend was their (her now) very first employee. So I first tasted her chocolate like 10 years ago. Husband gets me a box of Vosges truffles every year for christmas. The bars are great but the truffles are to die for (IMHO) my favorite is Black Pearl (also available as a bar) dark chocolate w/wasabi(!) and dark sesame seeds. Very mild and delicious. A friend recently gave me some hot chocolate and I have to tell you it was a revelation. (No Swiss Miss this!) I also get the catalog regularly and there are so many tempting treats in there I haven't tried yet....

  4. You can also get the bacon bar at Ma Petite Shoe on the Avenue in Hampden if you're ever in want for another.

    They are sooooo yummy!


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