AVENUE OF THE EATS
In recent years, East Passyunk Avenue has become the place to dine out in Philly. With restaurants like Will BYOB, Le Virtù, Fond, Noord and Laurel all just steps from each other, it’s no wonder this strip has acquired a big culinary reputation. The annual Flavors of the Avenue event gives hungry visitors a chance to sample a lot of what East Passyunk has cooking all on one afternoon. Bring your appetite to South Philly on Saturday, April 26, to sample bites from more than 25 area chefs, including Top Chef season 11 winner Nick Elmi. The festival runs from noon to 4pm and admission is $30 (V.I.P. and early-bird options available). Buy tickets at visiteastpassyunk.com. East Passyunk Avenue between Tasker and Morris. —Joy Manning
With grill season upon us, burgers, steaks and sausages loom large. But there’s another healthy, local option for spring cookouts: bison, from Backyard Bison in Coopersburg, just south of Allentown.
Farm owner Rod Wieder has been raising the bovines since 1999, distributing mainly through farmers’ markets, currently in Phoenixville, Oakmont, and Emmaus. Bison raised for meat are never given growth hormones (unlike cattle) and are usually antibiotics-free as well. Their meat is leaner than that of cattle, but that doesn’t translate to less flavor.
“People are surprised that it’s sweeter than beef, and is neither wild nor gamy,” Wieder says. “And it’s more tender. Bison have shorter muscle fibers, so they don’t need to be fattened up.”
Wieder sells all the familiar cuts, including grilling favorites like rib eye, New York strip and filet mignon, as well as burgers, three kinds of hot dog and 11 varieties of sausage. Keep in mind that because of its leanness, bison cooks more quickly than beef and can get tough when overdone. —Mike Madaio
685 Crowthers Rd., Coopersburg
THE BATTLE OF THE BREWS
Thirsty beer lovers, mark your calendars: On Sunday, April 27, Dock Street hosts its 3rd Annual West Philly Homebrew Competition. If you’ve been tinkering with a recipe you think can take home a prize, you can enter the fray by dropping off samples by April 24. Selected beer makers will need to bring a full case of their suds the day of the event. Admission is $10 and includes beer samples. Find out more at dockstreetbeer.com. —J.M.
DOCK STREET BREWING CO.
701 S. 50th St., Philadelphia
If your experience with tahini has come mainly out of a black-and-orange can, get ready for a major homemade-hummus upgrade. Amy and Shelby Zitelman, along with their Israel-based sister, Jackie, have started the Philly-headquartered Soom Foods to bring artisan sesame butter stateside.
Their tehina (the word Israelis use for tahini) is made from toasted white humera sesame grown without GMOs in Ethiopia.
“In Israel, this kind of tehina is called ‘tehina golmi.’ It’s a slang term that means it’s premium,” says Amy. To the sisters’ knowledge, there is no other sesame butter made from these top-quality seeds available to the U.S. market. The flavor profile is rounder, roastier and a bit sweeter than you might expect. Shelby says this makes the young company’s product very versatile in cooking—it goes way beyond hummus and falafel. The sisters stir their sesame butter into smoothies, oatmeal and soups, where it makes a healthy sub for cream. But their favorite tehina trick? It’s the secret ingredient in their exceptionally rich carrot cake. —J.M.