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These Are the People In Your Neighborhood: Jeb Kreager

September 8, 2014

Late Summer in Philadelphia is a time of distinct transition. The days grow shorter, the ales get darker, Iggles jerseys come out of dormancy, and the region’s great Fall festivals start to dot the calendar. It’s very possible that the most intriguing of all the great Philly seasonal happenings is the Fringe Festival. Curated and organized by FringeArts, this 17 day celebration of dance, theater, visual arts, music and spoken-word performance is bigger and better than ever in its 18th(!) year of existence.

We at Hog Island Press are especially stoked this year, as in the midst of it all we had the chance to catch up with Jeb Kreager – all-around rad guy and venerable star of the Philly theatre scene for nearly 2 decades. Jeb originally moved to Philly in the late 90s to start New Paradise Laboratories, a “decidedly non-narrative and imagistic” modern theatre company. He’s since built a fascinatingly huge portfolio of acting work, including hundreds of stage and screen productions both near and far. He’s also done a far bit of TV – including parts on Boardwalk Empire and Law & Order: SVU – and now splits his time between Philly and NYC.   

Jeb is currently back in town working on THE ADULTS – his 15th show with NPL. THE ADULTS has been described as a a definitive highlight of the 2014 Fringe Festival (where it is currently making its world premiere), so be sure to catch a show at the Painted Bride before it closes on September 14. Read about it here, get tickets here. Take it away, Jeb!

Hog Island Press: These Are the People In Your Neighborhood - Jeb Kreager

Who are you?
I’m Jeb Kreager. An actor, theatre maker, writer, carpenter, amateur chef, sports nut, former (but also forever) Philadelphian.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
You meant sandwichES, right? When I’m in town, I know I’m gonna eat at least one of these:

1. The burger at Royal Tavern (Gouda and bacon and long hots oh my, perfect grind, great bun); Royal was my local for years and years; it also garners special points for being my “first date” burger with Julia…

2. The Veggie hoagie at Chickie’s makes me think (at least momentarily) that I could live without meat.

3.The Baby Momma bagel sandwich at Gleaner’s Cafe (I lived around the corner for about 6 years – I got one at least once a week).

4. The coconut “BLT” at Memphis Taproom (probably the best vegan sandwich I’ve ever eaten, and the most amazing transformation of an ingredient ever).

And I know it’s not a sandwich, but if I’m near 9th and Washington – no matter the time of day, even if I’ve just eaten – I get carnitas tacos at Veracruzana. My fave Mexican in the city.

Of all the unique indigenous food products in this town, which are you fondest of?
Scrapple. It trumps pretzels or water ice or cheesesteaks for me;  there are regional versions of those everywhere.  Scrapple was – still is – kind of a mind-blower. I’d never seen it before I moved to Philly – I had it for the first time at Silk City right after I found my first apartment in NoLibs. Never wanted anything else with my eggs ever since.

Who are some of your favorite Philly writers?
There are a lot of writers I’ve loved in my life so far with Philly roots (and not just the ones on your HIP shirt): Noam Chomsky, Michener (I used to read more). I like Jonathan Franzen a lot, and I used to be a big poetry guy – William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound were favorites. They both went to Penn. Or met at Penn. Or something. I think.

Tell us about some of your favorite stages and theaters in Philly.
New Paradise Laboratories has been my artistic home for almost 2 decades (I co-founded the company with college friends).  Our work is decidedly non-narrative and imagistic. Our pieces, by and large, premiere at the Live Arts/Fringe Arts festival (and our new show, THE ADULTS, runs now through September 14th; get tickets here!).

One of the reasons I’m proud to say I’m from Philadelphia is that the community is strong and its artists support each other;  I love the wide spectrum that Philly theatre produces. On one hand, you have NPL and Pig Iron and Applied Mechanics and Swim Pony and Berserker Residents and other individual artists who make new work from scratch.  Then there’s Theatre Exile and 1812 Productions and Flashpoint and Quintessence and InterAct and People’s Light (most of whom I’ve worked with a bunch) who do a good mix of ‘socially relevant’ work, newer plays, classics, comedy, satire and dark stuff.  And the companies that Philly is probably best known for on the national regional theatre scene – the Wilma (great mix of classics and new work), PTC (our spot for recent Broadway/Off-B’way hits and my favorite space in town – I hope they get their $$ situation figured out), the Arden (they choose great plays, two versatile spaces, incredible children’s programming), Walnut Street (classics, musicals) – all the bases are pretty well covered. 

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
Coffee out (I have favorite shops all over the city – Rival Bros. in Fitler Square, ReAnimator in Fishtown, Elixr in CC, a bunch of others) and then maybe a jaunt down the Schuylkill – the ongoing development of the River Walk and Kelly Drive and the Water Works is just awesome. Then maybe see what’s happening on the Parkway – I’m a big museum guy. Right around then, it might be time for a drink. I love the happy hour at Loco Pez – it’s a great deal and everyone who works there is friendly even when it gets slammed. Couple cheap drafts and a plate of cheap, delicious nachos and I’m ready for the evening. I see a lot of live music here – I have many friends in bands and in the concert industry, so sometimes I get to tag along and pretend I’m a VIP. And because the bulk of my close buddies are here, the night should end at one of their houses. A nightcap (rye whiskey for me, thanks), some music on the Victrola, several laughs… sounds good.

You spend a lot of time in NYC – are there any glaring misconceptions that you find New Yorkers may have about Philly?
That Philly is far away. It’s pretty easy and cheap to get back & forth – I’ve done that trip a couple hundred times – and if you travel at the right time of day, you can get from the BFB to Midtown in 1:40ish.

I’d also say there’s a sense among (some) New Yorkers that Philadelphia is an inferior arts town. It’s not, it’s just smaller. I sometimes joke that the distance is greater in the southbound lane because it’s hard to get NYC theatre folk to get down to Philly to see a great show, but I have Philly friends who go up to New York for shows a lot. And there’s a ton of theatre and dance up there. And a lot of it is great. But a lot of it is really bad. And bad theatre isn’t better just because it’s in New York – in fact, maybe it’s worse, if we’re dealing in perceptions. The quality of work in Philadelphia, percentage-wise, might even be a little higher than New York – the body of work is just smaller.

You can take 3 Philly-related albums on a roadtrip. What are they?
The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, Ween’s The Mollusk (New Hope counts, right?) and EITHER Coltrane’s A Love Supreme OR Bowie’s Young Americans. Is that cheating? [Editor’s Note: No this is not cheating. In fact it’s the opposite]

Got a favorite local watering hole in Philly?
Got a couple – kind of depends who I’m visiting and when.  I miss the bands and the sweat, but The Khyber is a mainstay.   I’m a beer guy, so when I’m in West Philly we usually hit Local 44, and Kraftwork when the venue is Fishtown. Still love Standard Tap. And it sucks the next morning when you have to wash your sheets and hit the cleaners (and I’m not even a smoker) but there’s something about The Glinch that takes me back to the old bars I used to go into with my pop. Pure old school.

What’s your favorite HIP design? 
GRAVY – I get props for it wherever I go. Even in New York.

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Thanks Jeb! (Lookin’ good in that Way You Goin? number, btw.)  Friends, don’t forget to check out THE ADULTS now through September 14th at the Painted Bride. Until then – enjoy your life, love your neighbors, wear Hog Island Press.

These Are The People In Your Neighbourhood: Justin Healey

May 8, 2014

It’s been often said that there is no place in the world like Philadelphia, and we largely agree. Philly is the quintessential American city, but yet there is no other city in America quite like it. We’re a population that wears our traditions and history on our sleeves, and we don’t necessarily care what anyone else thinks about it. We’re proud of who we are, but for the most we lack the soul-fatiguing egomaniacism that some other large American cities seem to foster.

Lately we’ve been wondering if there might be kindred spirit city out there – maybe even on the other side of the planet. Somewhere that embraces life, family, sport, tradition, and rock & roll with equal vigor. Another culture that stands up for what they believe in while also knowing not to take themselves too seriously. You see, Hog Island Press has recently made friends with some pretty rad folks from the continent of Australia, and what we’ve come to learn has us wondering if it isn’t a Philly parallel universe of sorts.

One of the Ausies that we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know is Justin Healey, an Australian tour manager and logistical ace from Melbourne. Justin has provided safe passage and thoughtful coordination to many bands touring his continent and beyond, all the while serving as a fine cultural ambassador of all that is good down under. He’s a Phillies fan that’s worked on a Queensland cattle ranch, and he’s introduced rock stars to koala bears. In short, he’s good people. Justin recently took a few minutes with us to talk about Test Cricket, The Dead Milkmen and combining Vegemite with scrapple. Without further ado we’d like to introduce the 1st international edition of the Q & A – take it away Justin:

hip_justinhealey

Who are you?
I am Justin Edward Healey, from Castlemaine Victoria Australia.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
Pat’s Cheesesteak with Wiz, mushrooms and jalapeno’s. Next time I visit I plan to find a better sandwich.

Cricket, Australian Rules Football, or Rugby?
All three. Test Cricket – none of the other variations of cricket are as pure to me as 5 days of test cricket. I know it’s confusing to explain a game that goes for 5 days, but its the tactical grind and the teamwork that it takes in Test Cricket is second to none. Aussie Rules is a brilliant game. Whenever I’ve taken people to a game for first time they instantly become fans. The atmosphere, the crowd, the high scoring, and the skills are better appreciated seeing the game live. The look on someones face when they first see the size of the ground, then the reaction when the team runs out onto the ground when they witness the first goal or mark (“mark” is the term used when a player catches a ball from a kick). It’s a fantastic day of entertainment.

Do you find that other Australians have any pre-conceived opinions of Philly? How accurate are they?
Oh no doubt, – I get “Why Philly?” all the time. Australians tend to only know of Chicago, LA & NYC, so they think of Philly as the place where Rocky & It’s Always Sunny is filmed. Therefore they just think it’s a town with dive bars and loud talkers like Charlie. It’s pretty naive to be honest. You get the odd person with some knowledge of Cheesesteak, but no one ever knows of the origins of a Hoagie.

How would you compare sports fans in Melbourne vs sports fans in Philly?
Very similar. Melbourne has 2 radio stations dedicated pretty much solely to Aussie Rules. On television there is a Pay TV station totally dedicated to AFL, a weekly Football-only newspaper and the two main newspapers in town are obsessive about the game. Because the town has 7 teams in the national league allegiances are divided, but fans of Collingwood, Carlton, Essendon & Hawthorn (only because they are good at the moment) are one-eyed (parochial). But nothing compared with the reverent fever of an Philly Eagles fan. Eagles fans are a very rare breed. In Melbourne when you meet someone or start a new job the question always comes up, “Who do you barrack for?” This means “Who do you follow?” Barrack is such a Melbourne word. I really like geographic specific words, like Hoagie in Philly.

AC/DC, The Saints, or Nick Cave?
I grew up where AC/DC was played to spur us on pregame for football or basketball, so I became sick of it. Then in my 20s I worked at a bar where AC/DC was played too often on the jukebox, so I became even more sick of it. I have kinda become desensitised to how great a band they are,  but the early albums with Bon Scott are just brilliant. The first record with Brian Johnston, Back in Black, was a massive party hit in my teens. Brian’s voice is so perfect for the rock & roll that AC/DC play. I never liked the Saints (yawn fest), though Bruce Springsteen was opening some of his Aussie shows recently with the Saints song Just Like Fire Would. It sounded great, and shows that Springsteen puts thought into the places he is playing. Nick Cave is a genius, and inspiring for different reason than AC/DC.  I’ve seen Nick many times and his shows are always great. I think we may need to add these acts to the list of Aussie bands: Hunters & Collectors, the band that gave Eddie Vedder “Throw your Arms Around Me”.  Hunters were a weird kind of collective – the bass player owned the PA, the front of house engineer was always in press shots and they were a brilliant & volatile live band.  Painters & Dockers were a brilliant, kinda punky party band. Part comedy part political.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
I usually stay with friends in Fishtown, so the day starts with 5 minutes on the toilet checking my phone and looking out the window over all the row houses then I shower. I then walk down to ReAnimator Coffee for a long black espresso. Maybe I should embrace the percolator coffee, but that’s just un-Australian.

I continue walking down to the L, and if I am in the mood for scrapple I go to that diner New Acropolis on the corner of Girard & Frankford. Scrapple & fried eggs on rye toast and a coffee. Just needs Vegemite to spread on the rye toast to be the perfect breakfast. I usually pick an area to visit and wander around, search the thrift or other stores.  I am have a pretty noticeable Australian drawl, so I often just get caught up in a conversation about Australia and what it’s like. After a day wandering around the best thing is to head on down to South Philly to the ball game. Nothing like a game at CBP, or if it’s football season then off to Lincoln Field to see the Eagles fly.

Who’s your all-time favorite Phillies player?
Cliff Lee seems to thrive on playing on the minds of hitters, he wants to be challenged. I like his non-committed approach to media interviews, it’s like he’s saying. “I pitch, watch me pitch and thats all that I need to say.” On the mound he controls the tempo of the game, he will decrease the time between pitches then walk off the mound and stretch out to unsettle hitters and opposition managers. He wants the hitters to swing because he trusts his stuff and the percentages are in his favour if the batters are swinging.

One other – ok you’all ready for this – John Mayberry, Jr. Why? Well he looks so relaxed when he pulls the ball, connects early in his swing and sails it over left field hard and low. I am partly saying this because for three years I have been saying to friends he is gonna have a break-out year. I really hope it’s this season. He could easily have a 25-30 HR season if he just settled and concentrated every time he was in the batters box. As I write this he is in the batters box and Larry Andersen just said it’s been over 100 innings since John has hit a HR.

Got a favorite Philly band?
Dead Milkmen – hilarious cheeky, precocious. They were the go-to band when getting ready to party in my late teens. In 1991 I was in Seattle and they were playing. I went to a record store buy tickets but they had sold out. So I immediately went down to the venue, The Off Ramp as I recall. It was around 4.00pm in the afternoon so I figured soundcheck would be on, it was so I walked in and watched. When Rodney Anonymous asked who I was I replied, “I’m Justin from Australia. I just got here, tickets are sold out so you’re putting me on the guest list.” Dave Blood and I went out had some dinner, Rodney had me saying phrases to listen to my accent and I drank a lot of their rider. I later sent Dave Blood some Schnell Fenster cds. He was a fan of The Swingers, a New Zealand band that had a hit in the 80s and members went on to form Schnell Fenster. RIP Dave.

What are some special itineraries or Australian “can’t miss” spots that you try to show touring bands when time allows?
In Melbourne I try to take bands or crew to an Aussie Rules game if the season is on. In Brisbane it’s usually Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. They can hold a koala, snake or small crocodile and have a photo taken. Staff at the Sanctuary really look after bands. In Sydney bands always want to go to either see the Opera House & Sydney Harbour bridge and take a tourist photo. Sydney’s harbour area is truly spectacular. One of the best looking city views in the world, hands down.  In Adelaide I tell bands to walk through the Adelaide Central Market. It’s a very small version of Reading Terminal Market that has a great cafe called Zuma Caffe – great fresh salad “Rolls” (what we call hoagies down here) and a Caesar salad that is excellent. In Perth, it’s Cottesloe Beach to grab some Fish ‘n Chips with a few beers to watch the sunset.

Got a favorite HIP design?
Don’t Worry Be Charlie.

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So awesome, thanks for reppin’ us at the Sydney Cricket Ground (during a Sydney Swans vs North Melbourne Kangaroos, no less). And hey, we’ll be sure to introduce you to another Philly sandwich or two this Summer. Until then – enjoy your life, love your neighbours (no matter what continent they may live on), wear Hog Island Press.

These Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Andrew Erace

January 17, 2014

Hog Island Press makes no secret of its affection for East Passyunk. It’s truly a neighborhood that loves you back – one that has not only embraced its ongoing cultural revitalization, but has encouraged and grown with its new population and businesses. There’s a refreshing level of respect between the new residents and the old guard here, and it’s no revelation that one of the greatest common grounds between almost everyone is an appreciation for good food. In the heart of it all stands Green Aisle Grocery, a small but mighty shop (Philadelphia Magazine’s Best Gourmet Market of 2012) that embodies a lot of what we love about Passyunk Avenue: a progressive business with roots in old South Philly – and a mind towards the future. Founded by brothers Andrew and Adam Erace (both also locally-sourced) in 2009, the attention to detail – and regional and sustainable foods – is inspiring. Andrew recently took a few moments to hang with Hog Island Press:

The Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Andrew Erace

Who are you?
My name is Andrew Erace, a native South Philadelphian who is passionate about food, real estate, traveling, and my city. My bro and I started Green Aisle Grocery, a local food boutique on East Passyunk Avenue, a little over four years ago.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
Nothing like a John’s Roast Pork with sautéed spinach and sharp prov.

Can you share your best Philly hidden culinary gem?
Growing up in South Philly, my parents used to take my brother and me to Mancuso Cheese Shop for mozzarella balls since it was around the corner from my grandmom’s house. But in the summertime, Mancuso makes South Philly lemon water ice with the rind in it. Just can’t find it made the way Mancuso does. Additionally, iced tea water ice from Italiano’s down on 10th and Shunk, which sadly did not open in 2013 (fingers crossed for 2014), is stupidly good. It’s like you’re eating a frozen Arctic Splash – sweet, yet refreshing.

Of all the unique indigenous food products in this town, which are you fondest of?
There are very few things that make me happy to eat as much as a real pretzel. For those who have been in South Philly for a while, the now-defucnt Federal Street was the best around, but now Center City Pretzel on Washington Avenue is the only game in town. These guys are crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside. If you get them warm out of the oven, even better. Coupled with water ice from above, they are the quintessential Philly snack.

Who’s your favorite chef in the city?
Man, that’s a hard one because so many chefs are putting out incredible food these days. I would have to lean toward Mike Solomonov, mainly for the fact that he brought something unique and different to Philly. I could eat that fried haloumi as my app, entree, and dessert among other things at Zahav.

How has owning a gourmet food shop on Passyunk Ave changed your perspective on the region?
Since establishing Green Aisle, my eyes have been opened that much more to all the local artisans, farmers, and purveyors in the Philly area. Philly has always had somewhat of a local food scene, but the diversity of products available today is greater than it has ever been. The passion to which these operators produce, harvest, and cook is truly remarkable.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
Let’s take a random spring Saturday. Start with brunch. Anywhere. If I could eat brunch out every day of the week, I would. Recently enjoyed Honey’s and Jerry’s Bar, but can’t go wrong with the usual suspects of Morning Glory, Sabrina’s, Green Eggs, Hawthornes, et al. Followed by a walk around Center City to burn some of the meal off. CC has become so diverse, so I am always intrigued just seeing all the different types of new Philadelphians. Maybe do some shopping at the Rittenhouse Farmers Market (where we happen to have a stand) and the stores in the area. By that point I would be hungry again, so Monk’s for mussels and beer is a usual stop for me when I am on the west side. If the weather is nice, hit a 4:00 PM game at the Bank. Although the Phillies are not the most entertaining to watch these days, there are very few outdoor events as enjoyable as a baseball game. Since I am back down in the hood, grab a late bite at SPTR, Industry, or if I feel like something more formal and can get a table, Le Virtu, Laurel, or Fond on EPX. Drinks elsewhere or dancing up at Silk. May work up an appetite, so a Melrose #25 (cream chipped beef) might be in my future. Bed.

You can take 3 Philly-related albums on a roadtrip. What are they?
I’m a big R&B fan and growing up in Philly in the 90s, it was difficult not to like Boyz II Men. Brings me back to grade school days, especially their II album, so for nostalgia purposes, this would be coming with. John Legend was a student at UPenn and really got his career started here, so I would def take take his freshman CD, Get Lifted. He seems like one cool dude whose coattails I would like to ride. And lastly would be some type of compilation of Philadelphia soul/dance. My parents were big disco junkies, which somewhat trickled down to me, so this music was pretty popular on rides to the shore as kids. An International Records mix with the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, The Intruders, Phyllis Hyman, and the like would make for some good highway singing. Funny enough, all of these are represented in my car right now.

What’s the first thing you’d do if you were mayor of this town?
Since I am an Urban Studies grad, I always look at changing Philadelphia from a real estate development/city planning standpoint. If there were no budget constraints, I would push to bury I-95. Philly is too disconnected from the waterfront, which is one of the biggest assets of this town. The Delaware River was neglected like the ugly stepchild for so long, although recent efforts to bridge the two together have been encouraging. I also would bulldoze the Gallery. This boxy mass that lacks any type of curb appeal is one of the main reasons Market Street has been an unfortunate status quo for so long.

You travel a lot. What do you find to be the the first Philly meal you seek out when you return home?
When I am away from Italian food too long, I begin twitching. It’s in my blood, so my comfort food staple has been a veal parm and spinach from Marra’s Cucina on the Avenue. Also been grabbing a Gennaro’s tomato pie to-go probably too often.

Got a favorite HIP design?
I am biased because of my SP roots – East Passyunk tee all the way.

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Thanks Andrew! From Green Meadow Farm’s bacon and cage-free eggs to Rival Bros. Coffee, from Trickling Springs Creamery Organic Milk to Border Springs Lamb Sausages – Green Aisle has you covered. Craving Zahav’s hummus or meals-to-go from Ekta? You can get it here. Little Baby’s Ice Cream? Yep, they’ve got that, too. Need a great new bitter for that fancy cocktail? Mix it up. And these items are just the tip of the iceberg (yes, they sell lettuce and lots of other kinds of fresh produce, too.) But hey, don’t take our word for it – do yourself a favor and check them out yourself sometime… you’ll be glad that you did. Until next time – enjoy your life, love your neighbors, wear Hog Island Press.

These Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Albert Yee

December 8, 2013

In this day and age where everyone seems to be a photographer (including us – shameless Instagram link here), those with really pro chops can sometimes find themselves underexposed. With that in mind, we are super psyched to offer a snapshot into the world of Albert Yee, a true professional photographer and food connoisseur who makes his home in South Philly. Albert crushes it on the regular, so be sure to check out his work. Take it away Albert…

Hog Island Press, Albert Yee

Who are you?
I’m Albert Yee, a freelance photographer, friend to many, brother to two, husband to one. Originally from Flushing, NY (grew up in Westchester County), I’ve been living in Philly since 2004 and have slowly inched further south (started at 16/Pine and now in Passyunk Square) with each move. I spend a good deal of time photographing the region’s beautiful family-run farms and have made some wonderful friends along the way. I’m also 1/5 of Gravy Gallery & Studio, a photo gallery in Fishtown/Kenzo. Each month, we show the work of some of Philly’s rising photographic stars during Frankford First Friday. My wife and I founded what was the first non-pro food blog in town: Messy and Picky. It’s very infrequently updated these days, but we’ve met so many wonderful people through it and so many great meals as a result of it.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
DiNic’s Italian style roast pork with sharp provolone and horseradish; I’m 50/50 on ordering broccoli rabe depending on my mood. It’s a mountain of house-marinated and cooked-overnight pork. So tender, so good. While the line can be daunting at lunch time, it’s worth it. Best thing is that you’re in Reading Terminal Market, which means you can go across the main seating area and get a Flying Monkey Bakery treat for dessert afterwards.

What’s your favorite thing to eat in Philly, non-sandwich?
These days, I love heading to Artisan Boulanger Patissier just east of Passyunk Ave. on Mifflin St. I fell in love with the place soon after moving to the neighborhood. Andre and Amanda are putting out the best French pastries I’ve had in town; it’s very hard to make a proper croissant and they really do it right. They make lots of other very great things: creme-filled beignets, cronuts and almond toasts among them, but I really love the simple brilliance of their croissants.

Can you share your favorite Philly hidden gem?
Right in the Italian Market is a little shop specializing in a single thing: a 100% corn tortilla. All there is in Tortilleria y San Roman (9/Carpenter) is a giant tortilla maker, sinks and a deep fryer – along with a shelf of staples and a mini-fridge with cold sodas and Mexican cheeses. For $2.25, you can walk away with a kilo of fresh, pillow-soft corn tortillas. How many are in a kilo? About 4″ worth. They make for easy tacos for lunch or dinner or just snacked on throughout the day. They also make fresh tortilla chips and stuff them into bags so devoid of the protective air that you get in a super market bag of chips that you can bring a big bag of it to a party and only put a dent in the densely packed goodness.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
Wake up and head on over to Artisan Boulanger Patissier for a breakfast croissant. Bike aimlessly through town, maybe discover a new (to me) neighborhood. Grab lunch along the way – if it’s cold, some noodles from Nan Zhou in Chinatown or Pho 75 (bonus: futbol on the TV all the time) on Washington Ave would hit the spot. If it’s Wednesday, head over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for free entry after 5p. Meet my lady at 1/2 priced happy hour at Devil’s Den with their amazing rotating tap list. Head home to cook dinner with ingredients from our friends’ farms we’ve picked up at market or if we’ve got some extra dough, head on over to Southwark for a delicious locally-sourced meal with delicious drinks poured by my favorite barman, Kip. Relax and watch whatever series we’re obsessed with, currently it’s West Wing and Homeland. If it’s warm out, take a late night bike ride with loops on Oregon Ave (it’s a 3 mile loop from river to river) and through Center City when the streets are empty. Fall asleep while plowing through whichever book I’m currently reading.

Who are some of your favorite current Philly artists and photographers?
Philly’s got some great photographers that I’m lucky enough to call friends. Right in my neighborhood is the superstar ambassador of all things Philly Zoe Strauss who has been killing it for over a decade now. Also in the hood are Colin Lenton and Matt Stanley (who also share studio space up in Kenzo/Fishtown) and they’re making great portraits out in the field. Longtime friend Laura Kicey has traveled across the country and to Iceland producing wonderful landscapes and portraits. So many more, but I’ll stop there for now.

What are some of your favorite regional road trip destinations?
The farmlands within a 3 hour drive of Philly are stunning: the beautiful rolling hills up past Scranton, the apple orchards north of Gettysburg in Adams County, the dairies mixed into over developed Chester County. Most of the farms are happy to have visitors with a bit of notice. You can learn so much by spending some time on the land and talking a bit with the farmers. Why no cherries this year? Why does the cheese taste grassy? How does kohlrabi grow? I also love, love, love Pittsburgh.

On this road trip, you can take 3 Philly-related albums. What are they?
1. Boyz II Men: Cooleyhighharmony
2. Melody Gardot: Worrisome Heart
3. Nicole Atkins: Neptune City (South Jerz counts as Philly, right?). [Ed. Note: Sometimes, though it usually depends on why you’re asking.]

What’s the first thing you’d do if you were mayor of this town?
Mayor Yee would do his best to take from the rich and give to the poor, but first, I’d have to take a polar bear plunge into one of the rivers to officially baptize myself as a Philadelphian. Being from NY, I don’t think I’d be accepted as a “Philadelphian” until I was actually mayor of this town.

Got a favorite HIP design?
Love that golden Park Space t-shirt. Parking in South Philly is a special task. There are no rules except for [not] moving somebody’s lawn chair or cones. Park in the median of Broad St, double park, triple park. It’s madness.

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Thanks Albert! Next time we meet I need you to explain to me just how kohlrabi grows – maybe we can discuss it over a roast pork at Reading Terminal. In the meantime, Hog Island Press would like to wish you all a very merry holiday season. Until then…

Grazie, Inky!

December 5, 2013

Hog Island Press in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/5/13

These Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Mike Geno

September 2, 2013

Mike Geno is truly a connoisseur of the finer edible things in life, and his vast knowledge of gourmet dining and ingredients rivals that of most industry professionals. But Mike is more than just a food-obsessed Philadelphian… he also happens to be one the most talented and prolific fine artists in the city. His oil paintings of meats, cheeses, breads and sushi are staggeringly beautiful – wonderfully executed compositions that may just change the way you see and appreciate the delicious subject matter. We at Hog Island Press have long been huge fans of Mike, and we recently had the opportunity to get to know him a little bit better. Bon Appétit!

hogislandpress_mikegeno

Who are you?
Just a food-obsessed artist that somehow managed to combine two things I love and make a living at it. Some people may know me by my meat art or my local food art and some by my more recent cheese portrait series. I’ll have a local “Rittenhouse” show in Metropolitan 215 Gallery this December which will feature food art (paintings and prints) based on my main dealers um, er, I mean “suppliers”:  Zama sushi, Di Bruno Bros. cheese and Metropolitan Bakery’s bread.

What’s your favorite Philly sandwich?
There’s so many great ones for various levels of indulgence, but my ecstasy in sandwich form is clearly the Gustaio, from Paesano’s. It’s the perfect storm of flavor.

Can you share your best Philly hidden culinary gem?
Hidden? Absolutely not, but I’d be willing to bet most people in the city haven’t discovered the tiny cheese-bistro in Old City; Wedge + Fig. That place is truly a gem for foodies and cheese enthusiasts alike.

What’s your favorite Philly slice?
I fell hard and fast in love with Pizza Brain in Fishtown. My current crush is on their “Kira Tierston”: aged mozzarella, smoked bacon, red onions, garlic and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
A perfect-weathered day where spontaneity plays a large role in what turns out to be a fun bar and food crawl throughout the city. I love that about Philadelphia, it’s a walkable/eatable city!

Who’s your current favorite chef in the city?
I can’t answer that for a number of reasons. I organize a foodie group that occasionally tries out newish restaurants and that’s allowed me the pleasure of meeting a number of incredibly talented chefs. Also, I’m gearing up for a new series of paintings that will require some help and cooperation from Philly chefs. If I can pull it off, I’ll be exhibiting various dishes by them (and therefore including them) at the James Beard Foundation house where I have a show scheduled next March/April.

I’d feel more comfortable naming an unsung hero chef rather than a restaurant owner. Jack Goldenberg is a young chef that’s working at one of my favorite restaurants, Farm and Fisherman, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a few of his pop-up dinners which always blew my tastebuds away. He’s also got a depth as an artist, thinker and urban farmer that makes him a fun person to hang out with.

Of all the great indigenous food products in this town, which are you fondest of?
Pretzels. I always knew, even before puberty.

What’s your favorite painting currently on display in a local museum?
Embarrassingly, I never seem to answer these type of questions in a way that ever satisfies or impresses my audience or interrogator. As a painter, I am always in awe of Eakins beautiful skill and painterly passion. So a short answer would be any of his work.

Instinctively though, the first thought that came to mind was completely different yet equally proud of being a Philadelphian. Years ago while in grad school, I had the pleasure of taking a good friend, who I have an enormous respect for as a artist and designer, to the PMA for the first time. She’s Scottish and it was her first visit to Philadelphia. It was Fall of 1999 and we came across a new acquisition of a Charles Burwell painting. I didn’t know Charles then but knew of him and his work.  Despite being a huge Duchamp fan, she seemed most impressed with the design brilliance of Charles contemporary painting and I felt more proud of that than anything else we viewed that day. I continue to enjoy his work as much as ever.

You can take 3 Philly-related albums on a roadtrip. What are they?
OMG. Hmm. well… considering my inherent need for balance I think it would include the nostalgic indulgence of H20 by Hall & Oates because my older sister played that repeatedly so much I knew every lyric (which I’ve yet to purge myself of). I’m also a sucker for melody. Second, I’d have to include something a bit more gritty, like The Roots. I’d have to round it out with something in between like Dr Dog.

Got a favorite HIP design?
My go-to tee shirt for the summer of 2013 has been the YOUS t-shirt!

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Thanks Mike! Also thanks to Di Bruno Bros. (who’s Italian Market location is still the center of Philadelphia’s culinary universe) for letting us hang out for a few minutes. Don’t forget to check out his show in December, and keep and eye out for Mike’s work other places around town, too – like a fine aged Gouda, it just keeps getting better and better. Sweet dreams are made of cheese…

These Are The People In Your Neighborhood: Jason Killinger

August 20, 2013

If Hog Island Press had to sit down and draw up a short list of its favorite Philadelphia Artists/Musicians/Harbingers of Human Harmony/Flip-Flop Wearers, few – if any – names would rank above Jason Killinger. You may know him from his bands Birds of Maya and Spacin’, you may know him as the accomplished visual artist that he is, or you may just know him as the Director of the Killinger Community Center. Regardless, one thing is likely: if you know this guy, you probably love him. We caught up with Jason for a Q & A after returning from a Spacin’ Summer Tour in Europe…

Hog Island Press, Jason Killinger

Who are you?
My name is Jason Killinger. I’m a Philadelphia artist, designer & musician. Unless you mean ‘Who are you?’ on a deeper level, then I suppose I am the universe expressing itself as specific point of consciousness or something like that.

What’s your number one Philly sandwich?
Johnny Brenda’s Burger. I think it might be coated in butter. You’re going to need to drink a couple Kenzinger’s to clear out your arteries.

What’s your favorite thing/place to eat in Philly, non-sandwich?
I don’t really eat out too much. My favorite thing to eat is either my wife’s baked macaroni and cheese or her spinach, walnut, apple, goat cheese salad. You can’t go buy it but you can email me for her recipe or a dinner invite.

Care to share a local hidden gem?
Fleisher-Ollman Gallery during a weekday afternoon. They show really interesting art and usually you have it all to yourself at that time.

Describe your perfect day in Philadelphia.
Wake up to birds singing, Walk around East Kensington. Maybe go to a coffee shop. Pack a lunch and go for a hike out by the Wissahickon or throw a frisbee at Penn Treaty park. Walk to the Philadelphia Record Exchange. Then have friends over to play music or listen to records.

What’s the first thing you’d do if you were mayor of this town?
Convert vacant land in North Philadelphia into citizen owned and operated agriculture. Train out of work Philadelphians in Permaculture.

What’s your all-time favorite Philly artist?
The legendary Jack Rose!

What are some of the most memorable shows you’ve played in Philly?
Birds of Maya at Kensington Picnic and Pi Lam Human BBQ are two that come to mind – and they are the A and B sides of the new Birds of Maya record. The last Spacin’ show at Little Berlin was a good one. There was an indoor mud pit next to where we played and you could paint with mud on the walls. I wish that was an option at all shows. I suppose it is.

Who’s your all-time favorite Phillies personality?
CHOOCH!

Got a favorite HIP design?
I dig the LA & Franzke shirts. Those guys are righteous and deserve their own shirts. The new Save PA’s Forests shirt is great. Seriously, save PA forests. The Pennsylvania ‘COMMON-wealth’ is being rapidly converted into ‘PRIVATE-wealth’ thanks to the gas industry puppets who are running our state. Also, We Are Eno… of course.

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Thanks Jason! Full-disclosure, we have been known to collaborate with Mr. Killinger a bit in the past, most notably on the We Are Eno shirt and with Eyes Habit. Needless to say we are quite fond of the dude. But hey, do yourself a favor and keep an eye out for the next time Spacin’ or Birds of Maya are playing live. Both bands are well-worth your time, and will most likely propel your evening (life?) in most righteous trajectory. Until next time…