Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cheesy, and nothing to do with NASCAR

So we really do try to tread lightly when it comes to the varied and sometimes tortured pronunciations we hear of some of our flavors. Most people can get carambola out without a hitch, though there are the infrequent "cuh-RAM-bowl-uh" outliers. Moka is inexplicably challenging for a surprisingly large contingent. And most of the brave folk who try to get all the way around nocciola stracciatella stumble somewhere between the third and fourth C.

But I'm always pretty flummoxed when people struggle with mascarpone. Granted the "mar-scuh-pone" crowd is well represented all across the nation, but I've actually heard "muh-SCAR-ponee." I really, really hope the degree to which I was taken aback and a little confused wasn't apparent on my face. We try with our utmost to be welcoming, and recoiling in horror to that one would have been maybe a little off-putting. Trust that your baristi are not going to pounce all over your pronunciation unbidden--we're here to help, but we're not looking to embarrass anyone.

 It's kind of a shame that so many people mispronounce it (for the world: "MASK-ar-pone") because it is delicious. If you're not familiar, mascarpone is a fresh sweet cheese made from cream and native to the northern part of Italy. It's smooth and rich and one of the fundamental ingredients in tiramisu (other fascinating fact: tiramisu by no means qualifies as a "traditional" Italian dessert since it only dates back to the 1960s or so). Around these parts, you're most likely to find it in our apple mascarpone gelato, because sweet creamy cheese and local heirloom apples are delicious.
Here's today's batch, adorned with Jackappletern? Not sure what you'd call it, but this time of year might be our kitchen staff's favorite since they can go nuts with the garnishes.

Absolutely you should at least take a stab at the Italian names of our gelati and sorbetti, but if you'd rather stick with English it's no thing. Even we struggle with some of them. I'm good with zabaglione and caprifoglio, but I know better than to try to get my Germanic jaw around cioccalato mille foglie.


Happy Happy Halloween to everyone!!!!

Too old to trick or treat?  Not at Capogiro, you aren’t.  We’ll give you unlimited samples no matter how old you are.  Costumes are encouraged but not necessary!

We don’t like tricks but we’ve got plenty of treats!!  You can be sure that we will be in full stock of our favorite fall flavors like Pumpkin Gelato, Apple Cider Sorbetto, and Pear!  Our steamy hot cider is also waiting for you behind piles of Caramel Corn, Beer-Pretzel Caramels, and Whoopie pies.  The soup is hot too!!

Our case looks more cute than spooky with all of those fruit-o-lanterns our kitchen staff has been carving every morning.  

We hope you’ll come for trick or treating for plenty of halloween flavors tomorrow!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Don't let your gourd down!

It's actually out! It's not yet what I would term "cold," despite seeing everyone scrabbling around the sidewalks the last few days bundled up like the next over-blown Hurrpsnowpacalypse  is allegedly bearing down on the city. I'm always left thinking, "It's like 53 degrees out. What are you going to do when it's THIRTY DEGREES COLDER?!", but I'm maybe excessively climatically unsympathetic. 

But it is finally getting to truly be fall and the best thing about that is that our gourd-geous (gonna be a couple more of those) fall flavors are going strong. We're getting the best longneck pumpkins that Lancaster county can provide us, which means it's time for our yearly reminder that the zucca gelato does not, as a matter of fact, taste like pumpkin pie. It tastes like pumpkins, and they're pretty great all on their own. Riding along with the pumpkins is the acorn squash--a little more savory, which makes complete sense when you consider that acorn squashes are more closely related to zucchini than they are the pumpkin end of the gourd family. Which is curious to me since most zucchini dishes leave me gourd out of my mind. 

And since it's apple-picking season, we've given some of the cows afternoons off so they can go harvest fruit to press into cider. It makes the cows happy and gives us the opportunity to make you cider sorbetto with clove and hot apple cider, both of which you can find regularly in all of the Capogiros. But we're CapoPenn and we like things boozy, so come see us and we'll put some booze in your cider. 

So my other favorite thing about the weather finally turning cooler? I can bust out my cycling gloves again. Bright, screaming neon green fingers! Very effective for, uh..."signalling" at my fellow travelers. Anyway. Come see us! Spiked apple cider really is great. And remember: the pun is mightier than the gourd. (Told you there'd be more.)

Attack of the Pumpkins!!!!

Fall is in full swing folks, we’ve got soup, we’ve got cider, and we have scary little pumpkin dudes on top of our beloved sorbetto.  One of my favorite things about the fall season is how festive people get.  Halloween is clearly the best holiday of all time, it really brings out creativity and youthfulness in everyone.  Our kitchen staff gets particularly inspired, spending every morning carving out those delicate little guys.  I can’t emphasize enough the dedication of our staff to the little things that make Capogiro great.

I did mention apple cider right?  We serve it hot and spicy in a mug and fresh and frosty as a sorbetto!!  I personally love the beverage, but our Apple Cider with Clove is really one of our best sorbetti.  The clove is really pronounced, and the apples are fresh from Lancaster, making an explosion of fall in your mouth.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

If Only the Salem Villagers Were Gluten-Free

Tis nearly Halloween, and that gets me thinking about witches and vampires and blood and guts naturally. My guts, I'm becoming more and more certain everyday, are PRETTY sensitive to wheat products.  To quote Louis CK, "You're not supposed to have to cancel sh** because of what you ate."  I won't elaborate, but having celiac disease or an intolerance to wheat can be a huge bummer to say the least. Forget conventional baked goods. No birthday cake for you. No sticky buns. No pizza. Luckily we have a bunch of gluten-free soups and hummus with veggies for me to snack on at work. But let's get back to the witches and vampires.  Everybody knows the major bullet points of the Salem Witch Trials story. A couple young girls start acting crazy. The adults pressure them to admit their dalliance with the "Devil's Magic." A few months later hundreds of women are accused of witchcraft. Ya know, science. What may be less known is the hypothesis that these young girls may have been poisoned by ergot, a fungus found in wheat and rye. Eating ergot contaminated food can lead to LSD-like delusions and hallucinations, along with muscle spasms and vomiting.  BUT...if you've ever seen the Exorcist, then you know the Devil likes to make you puke.  So, I don't know, they were probably guilty.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wherein Jay gets a bit on the soapbox about food again.

Look, it's totally true. I've made peace with it, even if those around me maybe haven't altogether.

I'm picky. About food. But not in the way that you're thinking! I'll try just about anything, and my comfort zone is really, really broad. I like things like oysters and offal and powerful cheese and super-funky foot-smellin' sour beers.

But there are some things a lot of people in my circles swoon over that don't do it for me at all. I've never been blown away by sashimi. Mushrooms almost always leave me clammy (there's something really off-putting to me about their texture). And Just no with the salmon. As I'm typing this, it's the only food I can think of that I'll put my foot down about. Like, will not order it, will not try someone else's.

I know, I know. I'm actually one of the first people to rail against eating by dogma and limiting your palate. But I like to think that I've reached the point where I've tried all of these things in various preparations and can conclusively say that they're not for me. I like fish! A lot! And will try pretty much any new fish that I haven't had before at least once. Fugu? Sure, I like life on the edge as much as the next guy. Angler fish, knowing that it looks like this?

Yep, sure would. But really was concretized for me one day when I was running a kitchen in Seattle. It was the afternoon and I needed a dinner special and had a ton of salmon on hand (in Seattle! who'da guessed). So I asked the waitstaff for suggestions, and they all said a salmon quesadilla. "No way," I thought. "That much super-heavy oily fish with a bunch of cheese? Never sell. Also GROSS." (I think cheese and seafood have no place being put together in the same dish, but that's just me.) I just about sold out of salmon that night. Must have made at least twenty of them, and argued with my gag reflex the whole time. Seattle, man. You can't throw a demitasse in that town without hitting some salmon dinner special. Town's nuts for it.

All of which brings me around to pears. I don't really like pears, and I've tried them any number of ways. Like mushrooms, it's a textural thing: the grit. And I really like apples, so you'd think I'd dig pears. But! Now I've found a sound botanical reason for why they don't do it for me: sclerids! Pears have a much higher quantity of "stone cells" than apples do, and since a lot of times you can't actually tell an apple from a pear just by looking at them, this is the real differentiator. 

Don't get me wrong, our pear sorbetti are legit tasty--here's the Bosc pear sorbetto, which is currently makes my list of top 22 flavors:

I mean, that's pretty much the Platonic ideal of a pear, yeah? Lookin' good, Bosc.

And listen...all this stuff? Totally just my subjective preferences. Most of my friends go nuts for serious sushi and sashimi; it just doesn't do it for me. And given all the vegetarians in my family, if I didn't eat the occasional mushroom we'd never be able to share pizza again (truth: I pick them off and feed them to the dogs). And pears? Yeah, I dig the pear sorbetto. Wanna know a secret? Match it with a shot of whiskey. Or keep an eye out for the pear and Wild Turkey sorbetto if you're not actually in the mood for a drop o' the pure. But their days are numbered, so you should maybe get in sooner than later! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paw Paw has arrived (it's not papaya!)

I have been at Capo13 for about two and a half years now and have stumbled upon this flavor tag numerous times and wondered what it is.  Even in all this time here there is still a fairly large sized box of flavor tags that I have not yet had the opportunity to taste.  We have made so many flavors in the last (almost) 11 years and not all of them are possible to bring out every year.  There just are not enough days in a year!!

Anyways, I have seen the Paw Paw tag numerous times while searching for other labels and wondered what this strange fruit could be like and today when we got our fruit delivery I finally got to see some!!  To start I will say they are far from the prettiest fruit I have seen in our kitchen but they are not the ugliest either.  They are kind of a drab brown on the outside and are kidney shaped.  They smell amazingly sweet and I can't wait until the kitchen whips them into some tasty sorbetto so I can get my first taste. 

After doing a little bit of wiki reading I found it is related to the Cherimoya which we had here last summer.  The Cherimoya is also known as a custard apple and tastes very much like custard and apple.  The paw-paw is very similar. The paw paw is the largest indigenous fruit in North America.  They have a wide range, growing from Ontario to Florida and as far west as Texas. 

And this is what they look like with foliage:

Stop in and try something new!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One of these things is not like the other (and there are only two things)

It's something we run into pretty regularly--a first-timer will come in looking for vanilla and maybe we won't have it that day. Then they'll notice our fior di latte and ask, "hey that's pretty much vanilla, right?"

I hate to sound strident, Our fior and our vanilla really, really are two different beasts. And pretty frequently when I get the "pretty much vanilla" question, my response is something along the lines of "Well, there isn't actually any vanilla in it, so."

They're both delicious, of course. Sure we'd likely be tough to pin down on a "signature" flavor, but the fior is probably it. It's the foundation of everything else we make, of course. It's simple, it's clean, it's representative of the earth it's coming's great, obviously. And our kitchen staff got a nice peak on it today:

And then our vanilla (which we don't have in the case today or else I'd have a picture of that too, natch) is so good because we start with the fior (see above) and add in the best vanilla we can find (in a variety of forms that I'm not allowed to tell you about). When we make vanilla, we're going to make you some VANILLA. So often (and this is why I generally don't like vanilla anything in frozen form) when you submit yourself to someone else's doesn't actually taste like vanilla anything. It tastes like weak milk and boring. Our vanilla gelato is...I'm going to go with redolent. You know you're getting real vanilla, not some imitation extract.

So really this comes down to another instance of where, if you come in with a flavor already in mind before you see what's in the case (or check our website, of course), you may well be disappointed. We'll always have our fior di latte, of course. So that's something you can rely on! But our vanilla is almost as special as our fior, so it's presence is a bit fleeting. We'll always have 20-some other wicked good flavors though, so get out of your comfort zone a little and maybe try something new. Like tahini! Totally under-rated, that.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hot Apple Cider

One of the most sure-fire signs that Autumn is finally here is the arrival of Hot Apple Cider at Capogiro.   Though for the last week it has felt like the middle of summer all over again Cider has finally made it's return to Capo13 to vanquish the warm weather I was not prepared to handle this last week.  While the warmth was lovely I am ready for sweater and pants weather and the accompanying hot apple cider to warm me up!!

I remember being edu-ma-cated by Ned Flanders years ago when the Simpsons ran into the Flanders clan on a trip to a local cider mill in an autumn themed episode.  If you weren't sure how to tell the difference then the following video explains the visual queues.

The main difference between juice and cider is the way it is processed and filtered which does make visible identification a pretty solid way to tell the difference.  The Massachusetts government website even has a pretty great explanation on it too.  Basically apple cider is made by crushing apples into what is essentially an apple sauce consistency pulp which is then placed between two filter clothes and compressed until all the juice comes out of it.  It is bottled at the stage.  Apple juice is further filtered to remove any particulates and paustruerized to increase it's shelf life.  Not that this is a terrible thing but i do love the fresh flavor of cider over juice myself. 

Stop by and ask for a hot cup of cider!  We even have nutmeg and cinnamon for you to add to your own personal taste!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No f'real we're a great restaurant town!

Hi. Hi! Are you mayhap British? Because Adam Erace, one of our favorite Philadelphia food writers, shouted us out in The Guardian today. We're goin' international!

Mostly his point was that Philadelphia is a rippin' good restaurant town, and I totally couldn't agree more (stipulating that my opinion is far more humble and far less educated than his). My sister and I are still kicking around restaurant options for her birthday, and it's sort of like the best kind of window shopping, knowing that ultimately we (read: she) will eventually settle on somewhere we can go have an actual dining experience.

I'll admit that I'm maybe a little more spoiled and unappealingly blase about dining experiences. Between being in the industry for as long as I have and being pretty dedicated to seeking good food with a certain regularity, I've maybe been exposed to fine dining more than most. Which holy cow sounds incredibly pretentious to type out like that. But I also just spent half an hour trying to find the picture on my phone of my favorite ribs ever (they were at Southwark and you should definitely go there if you haven't yet) but that picture seems to have disappeared. So here's instead here's a picture of the most Philadelphia dinner special ever:

courtesy of Han Dynasty the last time we all got it together sufficiently to clear our schedules enough to get out for a managers' dinner (the picture of the ribs would have been way better, and for that I'm sorry).

So yeah! You could totally use Erace's piece at The Guardian as a guide to where to go eat. It's a pretty good list! So is Philadelphia Magazine's list of the 50 best restaurants in town, which is always great fuel for debate. But go out and eat! You can for sure make a good (great even!) meal at home, but eating a well-made meal with people you care about in a special place is important, too. (And then come see us for dessert.)

        Aaaaah...bay leaf.  You really know how to tie disparate flavors together into one unified force of yummy.  I just enjoyed a bowl of Cream of Tomato with Chicken and Orzo (see Sean's post below).  The ingredients list is a paragraph long. All real stuff though. No hydrolyzed vegetable proteins or MSG or BPA like you can find in most canned soups.
        Real shredded chicken (not that cubed dark mystery meat), tomato, onion, garlic, paprika, cayenne, some basil, salt and pepper obviously, and that beautiful bay leaf.  He's like, "Hey, cayenne! Take it down a notch. You! Tomato! Stop being so acidic." Yes, the bay leaf is a he, and he's not shy.  There are a few varieties of bay leaf all capable of accomplishing similar feats. Be sure when you're looking to flavor your soups, stews, and rice dishes with him that you remove him before serving because he does bite back.  Not pleasant.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


It's finally here!

I look forward all year to soup season.  There is nothing quite like a cup of soup on a cold day to fill up you tummy and help keep you warm.  I realize we are in a weird brief back-to-warm-weather week but I'm still souper (haha) excited for the return of my favorite kind of food in the cafe. 

Today we kicked it off at 13th with Ginger Butternut Squash soup which is not only delicious and dense and filling but it is also VEGAN!!  So nearly everyone and anyone should be able to enjoy it.

Later this week we will also be serving Tortellini with Wild Mushrooms, 7 Herb Bistro Chicken, Cream of Tomato with Chicken and Orzo, Fall Harvest Veggie, Sweet Corn Chowder, and Sweet Cherry Tomato!!

This is just what to expect in the coming week.  This year we have a ton of new soups and will be changing it up regularly.  If you have a favorite soup let us know and we'll see what we can do to bring it to Capo13!!

Disclaimer: Not all of our soups are vegetarian or vegan so if you have any dietary needs just ask the staff and we will be sure to check the ingredients of that days soups for you.  We will do our best to regularly have veggie and vegan friendly options!