Philly Fashion Week: The Menswear Shows

Happy Friday Friends - are we all recovering from our National Drink Wine Day hangovers from last evening? I can't say I drank much wine (shocking, I know) but I did however, have the pleasure of attending this:

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That's right. Philly Fashion Week is a thing. And it's sponsored by Geno's steaks. Yes, the cheesesteak place. Is there anything more Philly than that? Honestly, probably not. I was sitting front row (clock me in my glasses, clearly taking a selfie in the photo above) for the menswear shows - so I got an up close and personal look at all the designers (and models) had to offer.

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photo by Senia Lopez

photo by Senia Lopez

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The show started strong, with a showing by Aye Hommes menswear, accessorized with Philly's own D. Leak Bowties. What I particularly enjoyed about this collection was the consistency of the visuals from one model to the next. The black rabbit-ear domino masks were a nice wink and nod to something a bit naughty, which was well suited to their other accessories (D. Leak is famous for his all leather neckwear.)

I was also particularly fond of the second collection in the show, BWC Garments. Short for Built With Craft, BWC showcased a unique line of colorblocked sportswear in pieces that I could actually see myself wearing. I had my eye on one two-tone oxford shirt in particular. Duh.

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Having been my first experience with Philly Fashion Week, I have to say, I was impressed merely by sheer volume of participants alone. Throughout the evening, I saw 7 different collections from a variety of designers ranging from eveningwear to swimwear and everything in between.

Don't worry if you missed out - follow my story on Snapchat @mogblog to see the rest of last night's shows. See you there. x

How to Get a Great Haircut. Every time.

Happy February, friends! Can you believe spring starts next month? I can, seeing as it was an unseasonably warm 55 degrees here in Philly yesterday. And with the higher temps, and the dawn of a new month, I figure, there's no time like the present to freshen up my look. And there's few things that make me feel better than a crisp, new haircut.

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Problem is - few things can make you feel worse than a wonky, bad haircut, either. Amirite? Read on to get my tips for getting a great haircut, each and every time you visit the barber. Seriously. Watch and learn:

1. Know where to go: Honestly, this is the most important one. If you have friends who's haircuts you admire, find out where they get it cut. Do your research, read reviews, check out the vibe, and see if they do the kind of work that you're into. Think about it like choosing a tattoo parlor - you wouldn't go somewhere with artists who's work you didn't admire. Right? Which brings me to...

2. Build a good (loyal) relationship with your barber: So often, you hear people claiming they got a bad haircut because they couldnt get an appointment to see their regular guy/gal. If there's one thing I have learned - it is ALWAYS better to wait the couple days and take the appointment when they are available, than to rush it and go to someone who doesn't know you and your hair. Seriously.

3. Try to learn as much as you can: Be informed about your barber, their process, ask questions. Learn the lingo. Knowledge is power. Find out what number clippers you get on a side, ask them how they decide where to start your fade, or which side to part your hair to, or which products they're using. It'll only help you moving forward.

4. Know your hair and what it can and can't do: I love the look of a beautiful, shiny-pomaded head o' hair. But I also know that I can't pull that look off, because my hair texture won't allow for that. Being honest with yourself about your hair's strengths and weaknesses will help you do appropriate research going into your next appointment.

5. Take care of them, and they'll take care of you: This one should be a no-brainer, but. Be courteous. Be on time (read, early) to your appointment. Take genuine interest in what they have to say, while you're getting cut. And for goodness sake. Tip them. Well.

I hope you'll find that these tips are helpful for you. I'm telling you, armed with these in your back pocket, you'll be unstoppable. Or at the very least, feel that way. I know I do when I have a bangin' haircut. Shoutout to my boy Sean at Groom in Philly - my personal favorite place to go. If you're in my neck of the woods, do yourself a favor and check it out. X

Restaurant Week Review: Bud & Marilyn's

"Just when I thought it couldn't get better." That should be the title of my miniseries of Restaurant Week Reviews here on Mogblog. Because honestly, I'm amazed. How this city's restaurant selection continues to top itself, I'll never know. Then again, I'd like to think my good taste and knowing how to pick 'em really comes in handy. Maybe. A little. Ok, I should mostly be thanking the chefs.

Now, to preface this, I had high hopes for Bud & Marilyn's going in. Not only has it been named one of Philly's top restaurants of 2015, but Zagat recently featured their Chef-de-Cuisine, Dan Giorgio, in their famous "30 under 30" article.  (Dan also just so happens to be a dear friend of mine, so I was expecting him to pull out all of the stops.)

And oh, how the stops were pulled. Learning from my experience at Zahav earlier this week, a couple friends and I abandoned the prix fixe and surrendered to the chefs tasting menu. (This was just another in a long string of excellent decisions I've made regarding restaurant week.)  And from the first plate of fried cheese curds - yes, it's true - I was hooked.

Inspired by American comfort food of yesteryear, the chefs tasting took us through a veritable pu pu platter of treats. Oh wait, there was a actually a pu pu platter in there. With spareribs and shrimp toast and poke... But that was after the potato roll fried chicken sandwiches, and the kale salad with hush puppies. Though before the pork n' pickles platter with homemade pâté and biscuits. I think.

At this point, we were slowing down, because all of that rich food will get to you after a while. (To be fair, Dan warned me of this going in. But I couldn't stop. I wanted more.) And in what became one of my favorite moments of the night, our server came over to say "The chef knows you're getting full, so he's ONLY going to send over two more entrees." I actually LOLed. Especially when those entrees turned out to be meatloaf n mashed potatoes, and campanelli with meatballs. I mean come on. Both were marvelous, by the way. But that goes without saying at this point, right?

Finally, we gathered our strength and marched bravely on into dessert. I had been eyeing this marvelous triple layer chocolate cake all evening, and I wasn't prepared to leave without getting to know it up close and personal. Covered in malted milk balls (How retro and charming! And fat.) and every bit as rich and tasty as the rest of our meal, it was the real cherry on the sundae of our Bud and Marilyn's experience.

It would be a sin to do a writeup on Bud & Marilyn's without mentioning the mid century ambiance. Every detail, from the lightbulbs, to the wood paneling, to the tiki-inspired glassware that held our potent cocktails, was meticulously designed to feel like your quirky grandparents rec room. That hasn't changed since 1976. At least. I loved it. But I'm not surprised, owners Val Safran and Marcie Turney are no stranger to a beautiful restaurant experience - the pair owns 7 other successful businesses on 13th street alone! I can't wait to try them all. 10/10

Oh and Dan, if you're reading this: what was that third entree you might've sent if we weren't too full? Asking for a friend. Cheers! x

Restaurant Week Review: Zahav

Hello, hi, good afternoon. If you're reading this - consider it proof of the afterlife. Because last night, I died and went to heaven/nirvana/the best restaurant experience I've had in ages. Enter: Zahav.

Netsled in Philly's charming Old City neighborhood (read: where the Liberty Bell is, for all non-locals) Zahav serves contemporary Israeli cuisine, uniquely delicious cocktails, and just generally some of the greatest food in the whole city. After braving the cobblestone streets, walking up the steps, and crossing the threshold indoors, the vibe resembles a cross between a middle eastern bazaar, and an industrial loft. They also were bumping throwback Jay-Z jams intermixed with classic 90's R&B throughout the evening. Which somehow, just worked. Observe:

Now, it is still Restaurant Week here, but I was accompanied by a dear Chef friend of mine, so there was no way we were ordering off of any Prix Fixe menu. Chef's Tasting menu it was. And about 12 courses (and 4 cocktails later) I pulled myself from a food coma to write this post to share with y'all.

A delicious assortment of various pickled vegetables, spreads, tapenade, the greatest hummus I've ever eaten, and smoking hot laffa, straight out of their wood burning oven. Shout out to my cocktail here - the Z&T (Zahav's potent spin on the classic gin and tonic.)

Arguably the greatest thing I consumed all evening (nay, all year, so far) - the delicious grilled haloumi atop a bed of apples, walnuts and dates. Honestly I could eat this three meals a day for the remainder of 2016 and be satisfied.

There were about 6 other courses between the grilled haloumi and this, but I'll spare you. But would you look at this? The largest steak I have seen with my own two eyes. Ever. Charred above an open coal stove (we peeked in the kitchen to see what was going on back there) it had the most phenomenal rich, smoky, intense flavor. I was nearly defeated at this point.

...But how could I throw in the towel before dessert? A marvelous selection of tartes, mousses and sorbets. And french press coffee, served with an adorable mini hourglass to remind you when to press. I thought it was a nice touch.

Chef Michael Solomonov struck gold here. From the loud and playful soundtrack, to the beautifully designed industrial-meets-pastoral interior, to the endless courses of middle eastern delights, and oh God, the haloumi, Zahav is a hit. I recommend it highly if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, and can score a reservation. (Rumor has it they are booked through March.) Let's hope I can come back before then. 10/10

Restaurant Week Review: Valanni Social

Hey you! How is January treating you? Having a blast so far, I hope. (And by having a blast, I mean, counting down the days left in the month, because when January is over that means it's February, which means we're one step closer to March, which is when Spring starts so it's basically margaritas and outdoor concerts season soon, right? A boy can dream.)

Yes, the winter doldrums have totally begun to set in - which is why I'm so glad that Philly has its act together enough to take two weeks out of this month every year to devote to Restaurant Week. AKA, go and try all of those amazing places you always wanted to, but never had the funds/reason/excuse to before. Last evening, I kicked off #CCDRW with friends at Valanni Social.

For those not familiar, Restaurant Week typically entails a limited menu of the restaurant's specialties, served in courses at a fixed price. I know. No wonder it's so popular. I could get used to this. Some dear friends of mine and I braved the cold, walked into Valanni, and promptly took a seat at the bar, while we waited for some other members of our party to arrive. Starting the evening off with a champagne cocktail (because it's always champagne-o-clock) I started to browse the menu.

I will say, Valanni had quite a wide array of options, especially since it bills itself as "Medi-Latin Tapas" - and I didn't quite know what to pick. However, after much internal justifying and I went fully hearty and committed. Roasted brussels sprouts with apples and balsamic reduction to start. Obviously delicious.

Now, I don't know if you're like me at all... but when you have the urge for a particular food, your craving will stop at nothing until it has been satisfied. That was me last night. Which is why I got a cheeseburger. Yes. I'm the person who went to the tapas bar and ordered a burger. I couldn't help myself, ok? And I wasn't disappointed. It had boursin on it, so it was kind of fancy, so it wasn't so bad of me, right? Whatever, I was satisfied.

I'm always a fan of ordering a restaurant specialty, and I had heard tell of their famous Oreo Beignet for some time now. And, being the central PA native that I am, I am no stranger to a deep fried Oreo at the county fair every summer. Let me tell you. It did not disappoint. 

As far as the meal itself, despite it being a bit unorthodox - which I fully acknowledge as my own doing - I was satisfied. Truly my only raised-eyebrow-sideward-glance-moment was in the decor and vibe of the restaurant. There's a purpley glow (which I tried to edit out in my photos, to no avail) that feels very club-like, coupled with a massive DJ booth present in the corner of the bar area. I'm not sure what I expected from a restaurant with "social" in its name, but something just feels a bit off to me about a restaurant that serves balsamic reduction roasted brussels, and bumps Rihanna out of a DJ booth at the bar. You feel me? Overall, a great time with friends, and an experience I was happy to have. 7/10.

Be sure to follow me on Snapchat @mogblog for the rest of my restaurant week adventures in the week to come! Cheers! x