Philly’s Phinest: Veggie Cheesesteak wit’ Unicorn Kid, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Souvenirs from Fiji

I’m a dichotomy kind of guy. It’s either black or white, cat or dog, one side of the fence or they other. My latest obsession is the Philadelphia Cheesesteak dichotomy, Pat’s or Geno’s.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, my vegetarianism does not allow me the opportunity to conduct my own experiment (although I will someday get the guts to walk up to those two stands and see which one is willing to cook up a veggie sub) so I have to live vicariously through others. The score card from my Thanksgiving trip to Philly, Pat’s 2-Geno’s 0.

Growing up relatively close to Philly made cheesesteaks (and soft pretzels, and butterscotch krimpets) a staple in my household. Along with meatball subs, cheesesteaks were the hardest food for me to accept that I would never eat again when I went meatless a little over ten years ago. Just like the meatball sub, I needed to create my own version. While this sub won’t ever be confused with the real thing, it certainly serves its purpose.

Vegetarian Cheese Steak Recipe
(printable version)
-6 portobello mushrooms sliced
-3 white mushrooms sliced thinly (optional)
-1 green pepper, sliced
-1 onion, sliced
-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
-shredded cheese (or cheez whiz if you want the authentic Philly taste)
-sub rolls

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place the green pepper and onion in the skillet and cook until onion is translucent (about eight minutes).2. Add the mushrooms and cook an additional five minutes.3. In the pan, separate the veggies into four or five different piles (depending on sub roll size). Top veggie piles with cheese and allow to melt.

4. Scoop up veggies and melted cheese and place in a sub roll. Top with ketchup, mustard, and a pickle if you desire.

It would be easy to dismiss Unicorn Kid (aka Oliver Saban) as, well, a kid. Afterall he just turned 18 years old. But Unicorn Kid has done things before the age of 18 that some of us have only dreamed of. Among other things, he was asked by the Pet Shop Boys to remix one of their singles, he was the youngest person ever to perform a live session on the BBC Radio 1, he’s toured the US, Canada and Britain and…you get the point. Look for Unicorn Kid to bring his act back to the US next year when he performs SXSW. Hopefully he does this danceable ditty, “Talk to animals (wolves remix).”

What would a Philly post be without the Philadelphia Grand Jury? Don’t be confused by the moniker, these guys reside continents away from Philadelphia in New South Wales, Australia. Doesn’t matter. Philadelphia Grand Jury embodies exactly what I would expect from a Philly jury: they are fun, exuberant, poppy and unafraid to celebrate the shuttlecock. Here is the video from their latest single “The Good News.”

Souvenirs from Fiji remind me of Tripping Daisy circa Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb with their Lo-fi speed rock and distorted vocals. My favorite track from their latest album, Acupuncture (purchase here), is “Waterslides are fun.” No videos for that one yet so here is another song off of the album, “Grown Oblivious.”

While you are at it…check out my friend Becca’s 2010 calendar. It is limited (and whatever is leftover I promised to buy) so grab one for someone special this holiday season.

12 Comments to “Philly’s Phinest: Veggie Cheesesteak wit’ Unicorn Kid, Philadelphia Grand Jury, and Souvenirs from Fiji”

    • Well, maybe they do rank as a good Philly Cheesesteak place.However, the basic rule applies. Never get cckhien wings from a place that calls them Buffalo Wings. Never get deep dish pizza from a place that calls it Chicago Style Pizza. And NEVER get a cheesesteak from a place that calls it a Philly Cheesesteak. Especially IN Philly.Anyone who actually LIVES in Philadelphia, or its environs, will tell you that if you want a cheesesteak you go to Geno’s or Pat’s. If you don’t want ridiculously long lines but still want a real cheesesteak, or you’re closer to Society Hill than South Philly, you go to Jim’s. You also go to Jim’s if you want to sit down inside while you eat.I will admit that Tony Luke’s has moved up in my rankings this year, but that’s not due to their quality of cheesesteak; it’s because the assholes who own the Reading Terminal Market shut down the fourth best cheesesteak place in town, allowing the other 300 or so to all move up a notch.Tony Luke’s may have its adherents, but they tend to be people who prefer understuffed, overcooked, phony cheesesteaks like you get at Wawa. They’re a tourist trap, and if the Palin campaign had any hopes of winning Pennsylvania, or a real advance team who knew their stuff, they’d have sent her to Geno’s or Jim’s. Or Pat’s if they wanted to make a pro-immigrant statement.

    • My husband and I have alwyas been Geno’s people BUT seeing as there was a good bit of controversy b/c of some lovely comments by Geno’s proprietor, I’ve not been in awhile. Not to say the man is all bad. He is an ardent supporter of the police in Philly, most notably Daniel Faulkner who was killed by a man STILL on death row after decades. But, I digress…there are very good cheesesteaks to be had in Philly. I just hope you ordered it correctly. ;)

  • […] of the earliest food memories I have is my mom cooking up a Philly style cheesesteak in our kitchen. The room sizzled with the smell of crisping meat and melting cheese that would […]

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