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Inquirer Columnist - Rick Nichols

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Published: Thu, 23 May 2013 07:05:00 GMT


Not quite authentic Pa. Dutch
The cover art on the brochure for Shady Maple Smorgasbord - Lancaster County's largest - features a stainless-steel buffet trough reminiscent of an Army mess hall's and an aerial photograph that gives a taste of the dimensions of its Walmart-sized parking lot.

From a dying industry, the sweet smell of food start-ups
Her apron smudged, Tegan Hagy could be found one day last week in her usual, if rather unlikely, haunt — a second-floor kitchen space she shares with a cupcake baker in the echoing vastness of the old Globe Dye Works at the edge of Frankford's postindustrial boneyard. She is the city's only — though far from its first — maker of bean-to-bar chocolate bars (hers are PhillyLoveBars), sourcing and roasting her own cocoa beans, one 145-pound bag at a time.

Rick Nichols: The resurrection of Bartram's Bitters
Had you stumbled upon the well-scrubbed crowd in the tented courtyard at historic Bartram’s Garden one evening last week, you could not be faulted for thinking you’d discovered a country wedding reception under way beside the old medicinal herb beds. The scene offered requisite trays of passed hors d’oeuvres (a pale sliver of pork over white bean puree seemed popular), and punch bowls scented with strawberry and lemon, and busy cocktail stations.

Rick Nichols: Sweet: Shane's candy store finally looks ready to reopen
An entire Christmas season has gone by. And a Valentine's Day. And, no less dismaying, an Easter since the Berley brothers began their clean-out and stubborn, nearing-the-finish-line reclamation of Shane Candies, the faded Old City stalwart.

A calendar for the ages
We have grown accustomed to - no, make that attached to - the calendar on the wall of our kitchen that reproduces the vintage drawings from something called Album Benary, an archive so foreign to us that we have long assumed (wrongly) it was of Italian extraction.

On the Side: Ripening too early for ancient rhythms
We find ourselves on the cusp of an ambivalent May, the first, fragile blush of spring already fading - a special breed of Jersey broccoli rabe, so tender it can be eaten raw, finished; good-bye, too, to the feathery, early dandelion greens (saluted with their own annual banquet in Vineland), gone.

On the Side | The steak kings take a bow
At the Bridge Cinema, 40th and Walnut, the royalty of cheesesteakery was on hand Saturday morning for what was billed as "the exclusive world film premiere" of This Is My Cheesesteak, hot from the editing monitor in Ben Daniels' dorm room at Syracuse University.

Hoagies the way they’re supposed to be
I have come to pay homage at the unadvertised shrines of true hoagie art deep in South Philly's rowhouse warren, far from the Wawas and Subways and their bubblegum bread.

Where’s the beef? Still at Nick’s
Inquirer Food Columnist