Sunday, April 29, 2012

Farmicia, Philadelphia

When we went down to Philly for the Farm and Food Fest earlier this month, I had no intention of doing a restaurant review as well, but when we decided to have dinner at Farmicia, I changed my tune. Jeff, Andrea and I had a delicious meal with beautiful, fresh food. I even found something to fit my dietary restrictions.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jeff and I gave up meat for Lent again this year. Eating vegetarian for forty days is no problem for me any more. In fact, the majority of meals we've cooked since then have been meatless as well. I could go a long time without running out of delicious vegetarian meals to try. Unfortunately, it tends to be a problem when we travel. Nice restaurants tend to have fairly limited vegetarian options. Generally there is only one, and it relies heavily on mushrooms or eggplant - two things I don't like. One of the reasons we chose to eat at Farmicia over some of Old City's other impressive dining options, was that it had a more extensive vegetarian menu. For once, I had options, which was lovely. And we were not disappointed in any of our choices.

Once we had ordered, we were quickly served from a selection of breads from Philly's Metropolitan Bakery (from which I had purchased a multigrain loaf earlier at the convention center). The sourdough was perfect - crispy crust, tangy interior with just the right amount of salt. It came with some lovely herbed butter at the perfect spreading temperature. Good quality bread is the best way to start any meal, in my opinion.

Jeff ordered light - just an appetizer and a salad - since he had sampled a lot of cheese earlier at the Farm and Food Fest. His appetizer was a jumbo lump crab cake with green goddess sauce, baby greens and fried potato sticks. Now, I am not normally a fish person, but I think I'm developing a taste for crab. I tried a bit of the crab cake and thought it was amazing. It had large, soft chunks of quality crab meat with little filler. The herby dressing complemented the crab beautifully and the potato sticks were a great topper - in fact, they may have been the most flavorful fried potatoes I've ever tasted. I could have eaten a plate of those alone. And I definitely regretted not ordering my own!

For his entree, Jeff ordered a salad of crab meat and Asian pear with greens, almonds, lemon-mint dressing and creamed avocado. The crab meat was just as high-quality and tasty as in the crab cake appetizer. The avocado cream managed to be creamy without the oiliness often associated with that fruit. The combination of the texture and sweetness of the Asian pear, the crunchiness of the almonds, the soft salty crab meat and the sharp and acidic dressing was surprisingly good. In retrospect, I almost can't believe that these things would go together at all, but Jeff definitely enjoyed it at the time, so they must have!

After carefully considering the vegetarian options, I decided on the mega dose of vegetables and grains - the vegan version. When I asked the server what that consisted of, she listed several hot and cold vegetable salads. There were two things I really didn't like (namely mushrooms), but she assured me that this was a flexible dish and the kitchen would sub out anything I didn't want. When that pile of veggies was finally placed in front of me, I knew I'd made the right decision. Clockwise from the top, I had: a selection of veggies, potatoes and tofu sauteed in olive oil; rice pilaf with hominy; white beans; a garden salad; vegetable crudite; and a cold lentil salad. I thought the garden salad was a bit overdressed and some of the sauteed veggies (particularly the broccoli) had too much salt, but other than that it was awesome. After a day of picking at things I shouldn't have eaten (namely cheese and gelato), I was thrilled to have such a nice selection of protein-, vitamin- and fiber-filled dishes in front of me. I particularly loved the sauteed veggies, which were perfectly crisp-tender, and the lentil salad, which had a nice acidic dressing (if I remember correctly). It was a lot of food, but a lot of beautiful and healthy food. I was munching my veggies well after my companions had finished their entrees, but I was doing so very happily. I can't wait to go back and try the dish again. Now why can't every restaurant be so veg-friendly?

For dessert (yes, I managed to have room for dessert), Jeff and I shared an apple and dried cranberry crumble with vanilla ice cream. The crumbs were fantastic - warm and gooey like an under-baked cookie. The apple slices were soft but still firm and deliciously sweet. The cranberries added a nice tang, and the cold creaminess of the ice cream was the perfect complement. It was brought to the table at the perfect time - the crumble was hot and gooey but the ice cream was spoonable but not yet melty (even after posing for pictures). It was the perfect birthday treat (at least, that was how I justified the saturated fat splurge!). At the end of the day, you know we were satisfied customers because all our plates were licked clean. Farmicia will definitely be seeing us again.

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