January 31, 2013

Peanut Butter Appreciation

You may not be aware of this, but January 24th is National Peanut Butter Day.  You also may not be aware that we LOVE peanut butter. And can't understand anyone who doesn't.  We went through multiple years of high school eating plain peanut butter sandwiches for lunch everysingleday, and I would happily continue that trend today... if I still had my high school metabolism. Devil's Den, a bar and restaurant in South Philly, decided to run with the Peanut Butter Day celebration and created a one-day-only special menu full of the stuff.

Apparently there are a ton of other peanut butter lover's in Philly, because the place was packed.  We had to wait a bit past our reservation time, but enjoyed a few minutes by the crackling fireplace on a particularly cold evening.  Our waiter was swamped, constantly running back and forth between tables, the kitchen, and the bar, which meant more waiting on our part.  Regardless, between the four of us, we ordered 4 of the 5 peanut butter dishes (opting out of the Elvis sandwich, which while delicious, can easily be made in our own kitchens).
Fried chicken bites ($8) served with a spicy peanut sauce sounded relatively "safe" and were just that. Strips of boneless chicken were breaded and deep-fried to a crisp.  The "spicy peanut sauce" was only slightly spicy and just didn't have a lot of depth to it.  Chopped scallions were essentially a garnish- they didn't exactly incorporate themselves into the dish. 

Having eaten dinner at home, I was only in the mood for a few bites of food, which I knew was all I would get in a seared foie gras dish ($11).  A thin square of brioche was topped with a tiny piece of seared foie and topped with a slightly sweet peanut butter sauce and a few crushed peanuts.  Unfortunately, I know a good piece of foie from a bad one- if it's cooked in a pan that's too hot, it'll release all of its fat the moment you touch it.  A harried kitchen is no excuse for butchering a luxurious piece of liver.

Fortunately, a fellow peanut butter-loving friend had yet to eat dinner, so she ordered the PB entree, a roasted pork dish with peanut butter mole ($15).  Not only did she receive a well-cooked, generously portioned pork chop, but the spicy mole sauce was inventive and unique.  This is really what we were looking for- a dish that celebrated peanut butter in a creative way.  Sauteed greens and slow-cooked Cuban black beans rounded out the meal.

A opted for dessert- a simple chocolate peanut butter tort ($5).  The base was a thin, crunchy, almost shortbread-like crust coated with a layer of peanut butter and topped with chocolate, whole peanuts, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.  Nothing adventurous or exciting, but satisfying.  Kind of like a Snickers bar in pie form...

We obviously weren't "wow-ed" by our quest for peanut butter, but we love that Devil's Den embraced such a ridiculous (but awesome) "holiday" and created a simple menu for the masses (and the masses came!).  We might just need to do some experimenting with peanut butter in our own kitchens- that mole sauce looks like a good place to start!

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