You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Snap and Szechuan--What have I been up to?

Sorry to all of you, my loyal readers, for the times recently that I've deflected your questions of, "When will you be posting a new entry?!?!" with "uh, soon." It's not so much that I've been busy experimenting in the kitchen or eating out lately--it's that I've been busy working. I recently got a job making pizzas at Snap Custom Pizza ( in Ardmore, PA. 

Snap, which opened last Monday (March 24th), is the creation of the owner and investment team of Peace-a-Pizza (, the locally-started pizza chain that now has multiple locations in the Philadelphia area. Snap Custom Pizza replaced the first Peace-a-Pizza location in the storefront looking out on 4 Station Ave, Ardmore. The space was completely redesigned with a rustic look in mind, using refurbished and polished wooden tables and cast metal piping for light fixtures. A small piece of the dining area can be seen below. 

The ambiance of Peace-a-Pizza was not the only element that was completely redesigned--the concept and menu are completely new. Essentially, Snap's concept could be thought of as that of Chipotle's--but with artisan pizzas. We set you up with an 11-inch personal pizza and you get to flood that pie with a wide array of sauces, cheeses, meats, vegetables, and condiments, all for one fitting price of $7.49. If you can't seem to handle the pressure of putting together a pizza yourself, we've put together 8 signature pies that we're sure yield scrumptious combinations. Below are some of the original creations my co-workers and I have come up with whilst taking breaks from serving customers: 

Come in to Snap Sunday-Thursday 11AM-9PM or Friday-Saturday 11AM-10PM! If you're lucky, maybe you'll get a pizza made by a TeenwithTaste!

Continuing--if you read the title of this post you realize we've only talked about half of what we were supposed to--I had an amazing dinner at Traditional Szechuan (No website--yes, it's that authentic) at 935 Arch Street in Philadelphia. T.S. is a true Szechuan restaurant where the menu probably has more written in Chinese characters than it does in English script. The waitstaff spoke little broken English, and most of the customers were not curly haired Jewish boys like I am. This made for a truly one-of-a-kind meal.

The menu had surprisingly few markings denoting spice: Szechuan food is notoriously hot, wielding a spice unseen in most other types of Chinese cuisine. Our waitress tried her best to hint at which foods we should and shouldn't order, some being just too spicy for our white people taste buds. We had the Garlic Chicken, Ma Po Tofu, and the Szechuan Beef Hot Pot (all below) among other appetizers and well crafted, delicate bowls of wonton soup. 

Across the board our dishes were delicious and intriguing; we had never tasted anything quite like these plates. Each bite of my hot pot brought a new fiery whirlwind of power on to the tip of my tongue. If I had any complaint, it would've been that my beef wasn't well prepped--I tasted a few too many bites of gristle and fat. However, I can't imagine that fat wasn't what made my broth taste thick and delicious. Maybe a more careful cooking/trimming process would've done the chef well.

Additionally, the menu was a hefty four pages long, showing us that we really could continually come back again and again with new experiences every time. We saw may regulars order a dish dubbed the "ChongQing Spicy Chicken," that appeared to be chicken and chili peppers presented on an elaborate aluminum foil tower. We were warned not to try it--and thus shied away--but I really couldn't stomach going back without giving that dish a shot. 

Finally, I managed to bake a little bit after one long work day. I had a cookie craving, so I whipped up a batch of these dark chocolate and sweet coconut cookies. No recipe this time...let's just call it a secret recipe ;). 

I hope to post again soon! I have plenty of culinary adventures left to show to all of you!