SUMMER OF ’69: Le Virtu's Joe Cicala grills corn and radicchio to a classic rock soundtrack.
Chances are, your Labor Day checklist this year includes a few of the following: hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob, cans of something cheap and domestic and a playlist involving (but not limited to) “Get Lucky,” “Blurred Lines” and “We Can’t Stop.” OK, sounds pretty good, but we thought we’d tap some Philly food folks for their go-to summertime soundtracks, cookout-menu ideas and drinks pairings.
• Jeremy Nolan
Title: Chef, Brauhaus Schmitz
Food: Nolan’s got a decidedly Teutonic lean. “I like to have cold sides like potato and cucumber salad, or this German bean salad called bohnensalat, a mixture of green beans and kidney beans in a smoked-paprika vinaigrette.”
Drink: Riesling or the uber-refreshing radler. “It’s half pilsner or lager and half lemonade. It’s really refreshing on a hot summer day!”
Soundtrack: Less beer-hall brass band, more the rocksteady sounds of Toots and the Maytals (“54-46 Was My Number”) and classics by Hendrix (“Red House”), Zeppelin (“Ramble On”) and ZZ Top (“Tush”).
• Ryan Mulholland
Title: General manager, Vernick
Food: Mulholland likes to make it easy on himself: “A go-to for me is grilled avocado with cotija cheese and a squeeze of lime. Simple, and it doesn’t require any sort of culinary skill — which is a plus for me.”
Soundtrack: It reads more like summer 1973 than 2013: “Blind Man Can See It” by James Brown, The Ohio Players’ “Love Rollercoaster” and “Harlem River Drive” by Bobbi Humphrey. Because who doesn’t love a jazz flute?
• Tim Kweeder
Title: Sommelier, a.kitchen and a.bar
Soundtrack: Kweeder has some very strong opinions about summer jams: “I don’t fancy songs that are about liking girls that wear Aber-something & Fitch, nor do I like Philly sellouts that made a ‘hit song’ called ‘Summertime.’” Instead, he recommends “Spanish Caravan” by the Doors. According to Kweeder, it’s ideal for “those hot and humid nights that suck the wind out of your sails and you’re stuck in a prison cell of a South Philly backyard.”
Food + Drink: Jim Morrison, Kweeder says, goes well with Marcona almonds and green olives; so does a well-chilled bottle of Manzanilla or Fino sherry. Also try Olivier Lemasson’s ‘Pow Blop Wizz’ pétillant naturel brut rosé, a natural sparkler whose name comes from the psychedelic video for Serge Gainsbourg’s “Comic Strip,” starring Brigitte Bardot and a bunch of multicolored balloons.
• Joe Cicala
Title: Chef, Le Virtù
Soundtrack: Cicala’s Labor Day party menu and soundtrack ditch the Abbruzzese for Americana with classics like Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” and Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69.”
Food: Carolina pulled pork, smoked brisket and some genius grilled corn: Cicala pulls back the husks, sprinkles the cobs with salt and chile powder and wraps ’em in bacon before rewrapping the husks and grilling.
• Brett Naylor
Title: Chef, Oyster House
Food + Drink: Naylor is also a fan of corn on the cob — preferably with Old Bay-spiked butter, paprika and lime. In lieu of cans of Bud, Naylor and his wife prefer cocktails of ginger ale and cantaloupe sorbet.
Soundtrack: “The Rat” by The Walkmen: “It’s a killer song, and it’s my brother-in-law’s band.” Who knew?
• George Reilly
Title: Owner, The Twisted Tail
Soundtrack: “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood.
Drink: Matching shades of brown: “It has to be classic, simple and delicious — a bourbon Old-Fashioned will do nicely.”
• Brian Kane
Title: Beverage director, Zahav
Drink: Ditto on the whiskey — in roasted-pineapple whiskey sours, to be precise.
Soundtrack: Kicks off with Bowie anthem “Young Americans,” then back to the summer of ’96 with Ghost Town DJs’ “My Boo,” and finally My Morning Jacket’s bittersweet “One Big Holiday.”
• Steve Wildy
Title: Beverage director, Vetri family
Soundtrack: The dreamy, hazy “You Know What I Mean” by Cults.
Drink: Wildy lays out a highly specific scenario: “Arriving home after a night of roofdeck partying, you realize there’s nothing to drink in the fridge, so you dig into your forgotten trove of knickknack bottles. Not desperate enough to crack open the gag-gifted whipped-cream vodka, you decide on Mezcal, creme de cassis and... sweet vermouth? Needs something, so you douse it with some O.J. and finish it with the last sip of near-flat Champagne you’d forgotten about. Might be the buzz you built up at the party, but you think it’s pretty damn classy, in a loose, sleazy kind of way. The next couple get easier because you keep running out of ingredients, and pretty soon you’re leaning against a wall with straight Mezcal in your glass.”
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