Remember how I bought a house in Philadelphia? Well, in addition to fixing it up, I'm also eating the EVERYTHING in delicious Philadelphia.
In no particular order, here are some of my tasty discoveries in recent memory. If you're coming to the area, you might enjoy some of these sweet (and yes, a few savory) spots! Feel free to invite me.
1. Chocolate croissant, Alice Bakery
OK, technically this wasn't in Philadelphia, it was in nearby Ambler. My friend and I hit up this cute bakery for lunch and feasted on their exceptional quiche. We also split some delightful chocolate croissant post-quiche, and it was fantastic. Butter and chocolate and crunchy-crackly pastry: what's not to love?
2. Donuts, Federal Donuts
I am back living in Philadelphia after five years living in Santa Fe, NM, and Asheville, NC, respectively. When I last lived here, Federal Donuts was new and trendy. Now, it's firmly cemented its place in the culture of Philadelphia and beyond. I went back recently after a long hiatus and was delighted to find it not just as good as I remembered, but better. They have a great texture to their cake donuts, and a flavor that is just fancy enough to feel gourmet but not too fancy that it doesn't satisfy my nostalgic childhood dive bakery donut memories. Recently, I've enjoyed a peanut butter (with peanut topping) donut and a sweet potato marshmallow topped variety.
3. Fancy ice cream sandwiches, Weckerly's (pictured top)
I've been obsessed with Weckerly's since I happened upon them on Pinterest. When I finally made it, I was delighted to discover that their wares taste as good as they look. I got the "black and white" ice cream sandwich, which was made with cookie dough-like rectangles of cookie which were sandwich-ends to vanilla and chocolate ice cream. They sliced it at an angle which made it seem extra fancy. Perfectly salted (I love salt) and a very happy food.
4. Rolled ice cream, Roly Cow
Rolled ice cream is a trend. I'm aware of that. But it's awfully fun! Basically, the ice cream maker combines stuff, Cold Stone style, on a slab, and then instead of merely scooping it into a cup or cone, they make little jelly roll style curlicues of ice cream to make for a pretty serving. My friend Anna and I went here and had a lot of fun watching them make it (I posted a video on Instagram) and even more fun eating it. I forget the name of the choice we made, but basically it was a cookie bonanaza, with cookie dough, brownie bits, etc. It tasted like a childhood dream, realized.
5. Frannoli, Frangelli's Bakery
This old-school Italian bakery has done a mashup of donut and cannoli with their "Frannoli", which is a puffy, cream puff-esque donut filled with cannoli cream. 'Nuff said. Go visit! I live close, so call me before you go.
6. Biscuits, Kraftwork Bar
Incidentally and related to this entry: I have a name for my punk rock band that will likely never be formed: Unexpected Biscuit. I went to this place for brunch and got their biscuit, which was unexpectedly great (I'm out of the Biscuit Belt now, so unlike in Asheville, I don't expect every biscuit to be great. Buttery and finding that perfect balance between dense and fluffy, this was a great biscuit indeed.
Yes, sometimes I go that way.
7. Carrot cake pudding, Pure Fare
The photo makes this look kind of gross, and I apologize for that. Because it's the light, not the item in question. I was at DiBruno Brothers (an upscale Italian market) in Rittenhouse Square environs (a high class neighborhood) and this caught my eye near the checkout. The clerk talked it up so I gave it a try. All naturally sweetened and vegan, this "healthy" sweet was very good. The natural sweetness of the carrots with maple syrup made for a sweet but satisfying flavor: the cashew "cream cheese" and nut-and-raisin topping really made it seem decadent.
Believe it or not, I eat more than just cake (after all, you need to warm up for cake somehow). Here are a few of the savory things I've enjoyed recently!
8. Soup dumplings, Bing Bing Dim Sum
I'd never tried soup dumplings before, can you believe it? I tried them when my friend Anna came to visit, and I was absolutely delighted with the whole process: poking the top to vent them, sipping a bit, then devouring. These were very special - I forget what the filling was that day, but I highly suggest this place overall. It's quickly become one of my Philadelphia favorites!
9. Chaat, Desi Chaat House
Chaat is "a catch-all term for several street foods, which typically combine sweet, sour, spicy and salty flavors". A friend and I stopped spur of the moment to try this tasty samosa chaat from Desi Chaat in West Philadelphia. It was a perfect antidote to Thanksgiving turkey leftovers!
10. Fancy corn dogs, Fox & Son
Would you believe I'd never had a corn dog before a few weeks ago? My inaugural one was a fancy corn dog (their description) at Fox & Son in the Reading Terminal Market. My companion thought that they were "too fancy" and that she was craving a slightly more down n' dirty, state fair sort of corn dog experience. But since I myself AM fancy, I found it perfect, with a lightly sweet batter that acted as a pleasing contrast to the savory-salty hot dog nestled within. Sorry, forgot to take a photo!
11. Pie and Mash, Stargazy
So, Stargazy is a British pie shop. It's pretty much always crowded (which isn't hard; it's a tiny space) and almost always sells out. They sell out with good reason: their pies are simple yet perfect. The pastry is standout, buttery and flaky yet sturdy enough to hold in savory fillings. I got the traditional beef and onion pie "with mash". The mashed potatoes came with something called parsley liquor. Now, I could try to explain its flavor, but one Yelp reviewer really put it better than I ever could: “Mash and parsley liquor: parsley liquor sounds weird but you will find yourself wanting to lick the plate to get the last remnants."
BONUS: A few foodie happenings in Philadelphia!
1. The BACON EXPRESS: If you are in Philadelphia and love bacon, here's a fun event I just received a press release about:
"The Bacon Express will be stopping by the Philadelphia Dilworth Park Wintergarden on Tuesday, December 12th. Applegate will be ‘bacon spirits bright’ serving complimentary bacon treats to Wintergarden visitors. Look for The Bacon Express truck at 1 S 15th Street, Philadelphia, PA. This free event takes place from 11am – 7pm. For more information, go online to www.applegate.com and follow us on Instagram @applegate."
2. CHRISTMAS VILLAGE: I had the pleasure of attending a press tour of Philadelphia's Christmas Village, and need to tell you that it's well worth checking out. Being held in the semi-renovated Love Park in Center City, this village features all sorts of Euro style foodie delights, from raclette to chocolates to strudel. It's worth your time!
3. TINSEL POP-UP BAR: Like you needed an excuse to get holly-jolly crunk this holiday season! The Tinsel Pop-Up bar is a holiday madhouse in Center City that is not to be missed! Find out more here.