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Preview: Inquirer Columnist - Craig LaBan

Dining Critic Craig LaBan

The Inquirer's Dining Critic

Published: Fri, 26 May 2017 16:03:00 GMT2017-05-26T16:03:00Z

Copyright: Philadelphia Media Network

Korean classics served without shortcuts

Fri, 26 May 2017 16:03:00 GMT2017-05-26T16:03:00Z

A proper bowl of soondubu arrives at the table looking like a volcano, a roiling red stew that also holds cloudlike scoops of silken tofu inside the mini-cauldron of its blazing-hot stone bowl.

Frumpy Golden Russet apples make for a gorgeous cider at Big Hill

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:53:19 GMT2017-05-26T15:53:19Z

At La Maison, meals based on the chef's mood

Thu, 25 May 2017 17:24:13 GMT2017-05-25T17:24:13Z

There were chickens clucking in the backyard of La Maison when I arrived at this 300-year-old stone auberge in bucolic Coventryville. A woman on her way to dinner paused outside the front door to inhale the aroma of a pot of herbs.

Clam chowder for Camden charity is worth the detour

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:01:12 GMT2017-05-25T16:01:12Z

When I passed the unexpected vision of the crisp yellow awnings and cheery flower boxes in front of tidy CK Cafe, I promptly did a U-turn to check it out.

Time to say a fond farewell to Little Pete's

Thu, 25 May 2017 03:40:06 GMT2017-05-25T03:40:06Z

In sign-of-our-time news, this is the final week for Little Pete's near Rittenhouse Square, that 24/7 diner institution on 17th Street that's going to be razed for a new hotel. I just went for my last Little Pete's meal, and the folks there were nostalgic

Di Bruno Bros.' Abruzze cheese spread takes a powder

Tue, 23 May 2017 13:12:41 GMT2017-05-23T13:12:41Z

With the richness of powdered cheddar, a vinegary tang, and the surprisingly punchy heat of garlic and habaneros - the flavor resemblance to the spread is uncanny.

Meet the 2017 Brewvitational's expert judges

Fri, 19 May 2017 21:01:17 GMT2017-05-19T21:01:17Z

With nearly 80 beers on the table for blind tasting at Brewvitational VIII, 12 experts were assembled for the panel from across the region's beer world.

Elegant, earthy Gilles Gelin Fleurie proves Beaujolais is for drinking all year

Fri, 19 May 2017 05:11:52 GMT2017-05-19T05:11:52Z

This wine, made from vines that average 45 years in age, has a deep ruby hue, aromas of stony earth, ripe berries, and an almost lush burst of dark cherry fruit that has a sparkle of cracked pepper on the finish.


Fri, 19 May 2017 00:30:08 GMT2017-05-19T00:30:08Z

LA MAISON 1470 Old Ridge Rd., Coventryville, 484-680-2631; This early-18th-century stone house in historic Coventryville is both the residence of Martin and Janet Gagné and their 24-seat restaurant, where rustic French tasting meals are served three nights a week. The multicourse $90 menus (and smaller $42 Thursd

Lagers, Saint Benjamin, and a public fest at Reading Terminal rule Brewvitational 2017

Thu, 18 May 2017 18:01:31 GMT2017-05-18T18:01:31Z

There was a complete deadlock for the first time ever at the Inquirer's annual Brewvitational competition for local craft beers, with two completely different styles of brews vying for the top new-beer prize.

Here's what Philly's best local beers taste like: The 2017 Brewvitational champs

Thu, 18 May 2017 17:01:16 GMT2017-05-18T17:01:16Z

Twelve expert judges crowned three champs in two categories: lagers and new beers of 2017. And the public named its favorite flagship beer. Here's what you can expect in your mug.

Meet Beeramisu, the beer dessert of your coffee stout dreams

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:36:40 GMT2017-05-18T14:36:40Z

Beeramisu, an otherwise traditional Italian tiramisu layered with Vietnamese coffee stout instead of espresso, is a perfectly delicious beer dessert fusion metaphor for two immigrant cuisines that have helped keep South Philadelphia vital.

Rooster Soup Co.: Doing good - with room for improvement

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:34:13 GMT2017-05-18T14:34:13Z

This 50-seat slip of a subterranean restaurant done up with retro diner stools, two-seat booths, and orange neon is already generating $500 a week to feed 200 people in need.

Most local beers ever for Brewvitational judges to consider

Thu, 18 May 2017 04:42:20 GMT2017-05-18T04:42:20Z

Judges sipped 79 local beers to pick winners in this year's categories of "New Beer" and "Lager".

A tie and a double win — both Brewvitational firsts

Thu, 18 May 2017 03:49:59 GMT2017-05-18T03:49:59Z

It was bigger. It was Brewvi-er. It was open to the public!

Philly's best flagship beer is from Jersey? Vienna Lager from Double Nickel wins Brewvitational popular vote

Thu, 18 May 2017 03:49:41 GMT2017-05-18T03:49:41Z

Close behind in the public vote, two other breweries tied for second as runners-up: Conshocken Brewing Co.'s Type A IPA and the decadent Double Chocolate Milk Stout from Lancaster Brewing Co.

The Schug-A-Rita: A margarita with an Israeli kick

Thu, 11 May 2017 21:19:24 GMT2017-05-11T21:19:24Z

A Mexican drink with a kick of Israeli spice at an updated American luncheonette? The Schug-A-Rita is no surprise, given the Rooster Soup Co.'s Zahav DNA. But it's also perfect for the multi-culti menus of 2017.

Cheese of the Month: Chabichou de Poitou, an ancient French goat cheese with many textures

Thu, 11 May 2017 03:22:00 GMT2017-05-11T03:22:00Z

What's so good about a proper Chabichou is that the taste of good goat's milk is always pure and prime - like a breezy day on the farm in spring.

Sushi with ambition at B2 Bluefin in Bala Cynwyd

Sun, 07 May 2017 11:57:44 GMT2017-05-07T11:57:44Z

As I stepped into the midst of a boisterous happy hour in the corporate sleekness of B2 Bluefin in Bala Cynwyd, it occurred to me that sushi in America has undergone one of the most dramatic image makeovers of any food I've ever seen.

Res Ipsa: All-day Italian deliciousness in Center City

Thu, 04 May 2017 20:22:41 GMT2017-05-04T20:22:41Z

The Latin phrase res ipsa is, apparently, a legal term that means "the thing speaks for itself." Hmmm . . . that's interesting, because over the last few months, I'd been thinking it meant either "house of the awesome Egg McMuffin makeover" or "my favorite new Italian BYOB."