Summer Buzz

Cool off with some refreshing cocktails at Cooper’s. PLUS: News about Gilmore’s star sous-chef.

(Local) Liquid Comfort

Bruce Cooper of Cooper’s Wine Bar in Philadelphia has a pretty good cure for these hazy, hot and humid days of summer: farm-to-bar cocktails made with local fruits and vegetables like cucumber and watermelon.

I love the sound of the Blue Farm Fizz—made of Lancaster cucumber, organic Philadelphia Bluecoat Gin, and garden basil and lime syrup. The Fresh Watermelon-Ginger Smash is made with locally harvested watermelon and Canton natural ginger. Both seem like good ways to simultaneously cool off and chill out after a long day at the office.

- Advertisement -

These new concoctions are part of a late-summer happy-hour menu, dubbed Farm to Bar Happiness and offered 5-7 p.m. daily. Hey, we don’t care what the gimmick is, as long as the drinks are tasty and generously poured!

As far as the eats go, the menu is equally enticing. I’ve been lusting after the Lancaster corn and crab mac ’n’ cheese made with Mancuso’s ricotta AND Claudio’s mozzarella—I don’t know who Claudio is, but I’m going to find out. Sounds like a best-kept secret to me!



Culinary Rock Star

Some serious eats are coming out of Gilmore’s West Chester kitchen, but not just from chef-owner Peter Gilmore. It’s hard to believe I missed this juicy tidbit back in April, but I only recently heard about sous-chef Jason Curtis’ impressive showing at both the regional and national Chaîne des Rôtisseurs* Jeunes Commis (Young Chef) competitions. This highly sophisticated culinary contest will remind you of Top Chef, except that the contestants do not get to buy their own ingredients.

Now, I have to say, the quality and selection of ingredients doled to Mr. Curtis for round one were inherently delectable—red snapper, short ribs, cucumber, oyster mushrooms, Yukon gold potatoes, salsify, dried cherries and watercress—but the task of designing and preparing a three-course meal for four, in exactly that many hours, had to be daunting.

The winning combo was quite innovative: red snapper mousse with sautéed cucumber pasta, watercress beurre fondue and tomato concassé; red-wine braised short ribs with tempura fried shallots and oyster mushrooms, plus Yukon gold Pommes Anne; a dark chocolate and dried cherry mousse torte with a graham-cracker crust and candied orange peel, served with port-glazed dried cherries and salsify with crème anglaise. Just your everyday supper …

- Partner Content -

Curtis’ ingenuity earned him the title of “Mid-Atlantic Champion,” a ranking as one of the top-10 young chefs in the United States, plus a trip to Seattle this past May, where these young guns competed for the U.S. title.

In round two, Curtis wowed judges with a sophisticated and classic menu: tempura fried oysters perched on a fluffy pillow of Pernod-scented chicken mousse and served alongside a celery leaf salad dressed in citrus juices; a braid of salmon and sea bass with cucumber capellini, Swiss potato and lemon beurre fondue; and also vanilla-basil custard with strawberry-lime salad and a vanilla-mango sauce for the big finish.

Next month, Curtis heads to Helsinki, where he’ll represent the U.S. at the international level.

And to think, I’ve never once dined at Gilmore’s. Shame on me. I’m going to give it a whirl, but I bet there’s no getting into Gilmore’s on a whim these days.


* The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the world’s oldest international gastronomic society, founded in Paris in 1248. Each year, the society sponsors competitions for young chefs and sommeliers that attract contestants from around the world, while the Chaîne Foundation provides scholarships for students in these fields. 

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!