I spent this past St. Patty’s Day in Philadelphia. My boyfriend bought a car last week so we took it down to Philly for the day. My navigation wasn’t always on point and we got lost a few times (on the way home he picked up a navigation system). However, I totally blame the heated seats for my lack of focus. They’re so relaxing. They can lull me to sleep before we even pull out of a parking lot. After several wrong turns I did the responsible thing, hard as it was, and shut off the heated seat feature. After that I found our way into downtown Philadelphia no problem.
Initially, we were looking for a thrift store he’d read about near South Street when we stumbled upon a massive record store. Having recently purchased a record player, Reed was quiet excited to check out their selection. After I scoped out the place and saw how large and unorganized their jazz, soul, and opera sections were I knew he’d be there for a while. I left him sorting through dusty bins of records to wander around the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, I’ve recently been reintroducing myself to the weights at the gym. My legs were horribly sore from my workout on Friday so wandering around wasn’t good. With each step every muscle from my hips down to my calves cried out in pain. Maybe that was also part of the reason the heated seats felt so nice. Since it was St Patty’s day, I thought it would be a good time for an afternoon beer. I got an outside table at the corner bar near the record store.
The people watching was fabulous. In the Northeast it’s been a freakishly warm winter and St Patty’s day was no exception. Where everyone found sequin covered, kelly green, booty shorts, I don’t know but they were out in force. It was like the cast of the Jersey Shore had taken a road trip up to Philly to celebrate. In span of an hour I watched one shoving match, two turned ankles (its tricky to walk on cobble stone streets in six inch green stilettos), and one public urination. I was clearly way behind the rest of young Philadelphia having my first beer at 3pm.
After Reed finished at the record store we were going to go the flower show, which was supposed to be amazing until I double checked and they’d closed the show last weekend. So instead we drove out to Mica. Mica was just awarded one of the ten best new restaurants in the country by GQ so we weren’t sure we’d be able to get a table. Since the flower show hadn’t worked out, we were very early and at 5:00pm they were just able to squeeze us in.
Everything we had was excellent. Reed had coco bean soup with medjool date, shaved bacon and thyme; shitake mushroom ravoli with madeira, and smoked beef hanger steak with beets, cippolini onions, and horseradish. I had a winter greens’ salad with Asian pear, chives, and marcona almonds, risotto with chestnuts, black truffle and mascarpone, and Lancaster county chicken with sour cherry, fingerling potatos, and lardons. Out of everything we both agreed my chicken was the best. The waitress told us that they cooked the chicken in a sous vide so it would be hard to achieve similar results at home. In the meantime I’ll have to experiment with recipes combining chicken, sour cherry, and bacon because the flavors went really well together.
What I liked about the radicchio salad with pear and almonds was that it was easy to prepare and the mixture of bitter, sweet and salty flavors. For more substantial salad you could add a crumbled blue cheese like Cabrales or Roquefort but as an appetizer I liked it as is. Any mix of lettuce works as long as you balance a mild lettuce like musclun or green leaf with a bitter one like frisee or radicchio. The pea shoots are great if you can find them. I couldn’t so I added more of the other lettuces. Lastly almond oil is great here if you have it, if not, go with olive oil. If you have another nut oil just switch the almonds to match your oil type and you’ll achieve a similar result.
Radicchio Salad with Pear and Almonds (serves 2)
(Active time: 10 minutes)
- 1 cup mesclun salad mix , torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup frisee, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 cup pea shoots, torn into bite-size pieces (I couldn’t find any)
- 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
- 1/4 cup marcona almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup ripe Asian pear or Bosc pear, chopped
- 1 tablespoons white wine or sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons almond oil or olive oil
Combine mesclun, radicchio, frisee, pea shoots, chives, almonds, and pear in a large bowl. Pour vinegar into a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Toss lettuce mixture with vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
*This salad pairs well with many main courses because it’s a light salad with clean, bright flavors. It would be nice with grilled salmon for a spring afternoon lunch or Roquefort stuffed pork chops for a heartier winter dinner.
-My Radicchio Salad with Pear and Almonds recipe was inspired by Mica’s winter greens’ salad with Asian pear, chives, and macron almonds.