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PLAN: "Heartland" Gathering (In Philly) 2012


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#31 gfweb

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:54 PM

Philly, Des Moines or Indianapolis?!!!

Do not group Philadelphia with two flyover cities.

#32 boagman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 12:57 PM

Philly, Des Moines or Indianapolis?!!!

Do not group Philadelphia with two flyover cities.


Well, actually, you're kind of making my point for me. No insult intended to any of the above metropolises, but you say to-may-to...

Come on...you mean to tell me *in all honesty* that you're not a bit intrigued by them? Shoot, I'm intrigued by Des Moines and I stinking *hate* Iowa.

#33 nolnacs

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 02:44 PM

This sounds awesome (and I am not just saying that because I live in Philadelphia). Katie definitely has a lot of great ideas for activities/meals. As I am not a drinker, I would probably skip the cocktail crawl, but everything else sounds like a lot of fun. I have a couple of other ideas (as a relative newcomer to Philadelphia) of interesting things to do. Claudio's in the Italian Market makes the best mozzarella I have ever had - I don't know if they would agree to it, but it would be interesting to watch them make some or even get to try it ourselves. On the subject of dairy, Capogiro's (local gelato shops) factory would be another fascinating tour.

In any case, I'm looking forward to it.

#34 prasantrin

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:30 PM

A visit to Franklin Fountain. Here's your Old School soda fountain. These guys make their own ice cream and real old fashioned sundaes, floats and phosphates. Authentic right down to their handlebar mustaches and arm garters.


I'm totally there! But please let them know to take root beer floats off the menu before I arrive, or I may have to arrange a boycott. "Thou shalt not taint root beer with foreign objects (other than ice and straws)" is in the eG code of ethics, and we all know how rule-governed I am!

Coke floats are a-ok, as are cherry coke floats, so they can still do the float thing, just not with my beloved root beer.

Do they make their own root beer, by the way? And are there any locally brewed root beers that I'll need to seek out?

#35 weinoo

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:44 PM

I mean, seriously: the most I know of the place's food is that they're crazy about those silly cheesesteaks, which I'd loathe. I wonder about mid-to-major cities which kind of "miss" the waves of culinary accolades.

So, you'd loathe something before you've even tried it? I wouldn't give it such short shrift.

Philadelphia, in addition to its sandwich, cheese steak, water ice, gelato, coffee, soft-pretzel and annoying baseball team reputation, also hosts some excellent Spanish food from a highly acclaimed chef, if I've heard right...Amanda Restaurant.
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#36 boagman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:51 PM



I mean, seriously: the most I know of the place's food is that they're crazy about those silly cheesesteaks, which I'd loathe. I wonder about mid-to-major cities which kind of "miss" the waves of culinary accolades.

So, you'd loathe something before you've even tried it? I wouldn't give it such short shrift.

Philadelphia, in addition to its sandwich, cheese steak, water ice, gelato, coffee, soft-pretzel and annoying baseball team reputation, also hosts some excellent Spanish food from a highly acclaimed chef, if I've heard right...Amanda Restaurant.


It's the cheese, man. I...I hate most cultured dairy products. I love, love, love ice cream and milk, but once you start culturing the stuff, my stomach turns. It's an almost universal, across-the-board thing with me, but pizza is the exception. And yes: I know that it's a psychosomatic thing. I'm perfectly okay with that.

It's not like I don't try things from time to time, either: not too long ago my g/f's mom made some dip infused with some of her oh-so-wonderful caramelized onions, which I just can't resist. I tried it...and barely got it down. Love those onions like I do, it just wasn't worth it.

I'm not denying anyone the right to call me crazy. I cop to it...but putting cheese on beef is tantamount to criminal to me.

Don't even get me *started* on what I think of cheese being a crutch in American food culture.

#37 weinoo

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:54 PM

Do they make their own root beer, by the way? And are there any locally brewed root beers that I'll need to seek out?

Just checking out their menu, they do offer a float...

A scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream bobbing atop a tall frosted mug of our own formula spicy Root Beer.

I'll bet if you were nice, they'd serve you a Root Beer unadulterated.
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#38 boagman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 03:57 PM

A visit to Franklin Fountain. Here's your Old School soda fountain. These guys make their own ice cream and real old fashioned sundaes, floats and phosphates. Authentic right down to their handlebar mustaches and arm garters.


I'm totally there! But please let them know to take root beer floats off the menu before I arrive, or I may have to arrange a boycott. "Thou shalt not taint root beer with foreign objects (other than ice and straws)" is in the eG code of ethics, and we all know how rule-governed I am!

Coke floats are a-ok, as are cherry coke floats, so they can still do the float thing, just not with my beloved root beer.

Do they make their own root beer, by the way? And are there any locally brewed root beers that I'll need to seek out?


So, ice cream is verboten, but somehow diluting a root beer with *ice* makes the cut? Color me confused.

I, too, prefer my root beer unadorned (but *cold*), but ice tends to dilute the flavor, no?

#39 jsmeeker

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 04:16 PM

It's 108 in Dallas.

A root beer float sounds really good right now. Really, really good.

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#40 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 05:34 PM

My suggestion of an Amish lunch was tied in for a few folks that expressed interest in that, but the highlight of the day would be a tour of Green Meadow Farm and then possibly the dairy tour and cheese tasting later in the day. There's certainly no need to visit two farms. Greensgrow urban farm is great but obviously a lot smaller and more contained and would take less time. I'm no huge fan of Amish cuisine (except for Whoopie Pies and all the baked goods) so no great loss in my opinion. That said, Colonial food isn't that interesting from a culinary standpoint either. With all due respect to Chef Staib, I think there's a ton of other places for a sit down dinner in Philly that are infinitely more interesting. Certainly Amada would be great, but taking up that many seats on a weekend evening would almost constitute a "buy-out" which would likely be beyond our means. However, putting the horse before the cart, this is all moot until we have a decision that this is happening in Philly, actual dates and committed butts to put in the chairs.

Transportation for a large group could be arranged. I can look into a bus and driver and also Holly mentioned maybe getting some help from the Convention and Visitors Bureau for logistics like hotels at a discounted rate, transportation, etc. Let's get a consensus and go from there, yes?

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#41 boagman

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 06:11 PM

For the record: Philly gets my vote.

#42 Kerry Beal

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 06:12 PM

I propose Thursday August 9th to Sunday August 12.

#43 JTravel

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 06:29 PM

Did not get to Cleveland partly due to scheduling and mainly due to being WAY out of my depth food wise.
But I already like the ideas of cheese steak crawl, ice creams and home made beverages both of the alcoholic and non types. DH can have the beer, I'll take the root beer. I'm sure I could spend most of a day in the area of the famous RTM. As you can tell, my foodie interests are leaning to the simpler things and I'm big on tours.
The dates Kerry gave should work for us, and I'll do my best to get us there.

#44 Andrew Fenton

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:02 PM

A visit to Franklin Fountain. Here's your Old School soda fountain. These guys make their own ice cream and real old fashioned sundaes, floats and phosphates. Authentic right down to their handlebar mustaches and arm garters.


Katie's not kidding about the mustaches; they're really extraordinary. You'll dig it, Rona.

eta: also, the ice cream is good! It's a neat place.

Edited by Andrew Fenton, 09 August 2011 - 07:02 PM.


#45 prasantrin

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 07:57 PM

A visit to Franklin Fountain. Here's your Old School soda fountain. These guys make their own ice cream and real old fashioned sundaes, floats and phosphates. Authentic right down to their handlebar mustaches and arm garters.


Katie's not kidding about the mustaches; they're really extraordinary. You'll dig it, Rona.

eta: also, the ice cream is good! It's a neat place.


Do they have chocolate malteds? It would be a double strike against them to have root beer floats yet no chocolate malteds. Chocolate malteds rock!

#46 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:56 PM

I'll check on that, but I suspect there's chocolate malteds on the menu.

Franklin Fountain is right near a lot of the better historical sites in Philly. Certainly, we could arrange a visit to the Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell, followed up with a cool treat at the end of our educational/historical segment. There's just so much stuff here, it's hard to keep it focused just on food. But no doubt there could be plenty of that. I was hoping that the farm and dairy tours would give us inspiration and an ingredient source for our big Potluck dinner.

So where do these dinners generally take place? Is it a restaurant kitchen that's given over for run of the evening or is it a commercial kitchen space that's used for events? Knowing whose door to start knocking on with vague promises of a large group of foodies descending from all over is a good start...

Edited by KatieLoeb, 09 August 2011 - 08:59 PM.

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#47 rooftop1000

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 05:11 AM



Certainly Amada would be great, but taking up that many seats on a weekend evening would almost constitute a "buy-out" which would likely be beyond our means. However, putting the horse before the cart, this is all moot until we have a decision that this is happening in Philly, actual dates and committed butts to put in the chairs.

Chef Garces, given the chance might want to be the first Iron Chef to "personally" host us LOL
....they also do have a "lounge" that seats 30 to 40 perhaps Sunday brunch


I have seen no mention of pizza...isn't there an old thread about a Philly pizza club?


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#48 jsmeeker

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:06 AM


A visit to Franklin Fountain. Here's your Old School soda fountain. These guys make their own ice cream and real old fashioned sundaes, floats and phosphates. Authentic right down to their handlebar mustaches and arm garters.


Katie's not kidding about the mustaches; they're really extraordinary. You'll dig it, Rona.

eta: also, the ice cream is good! It's a neat place.


Do they have chocolate malteds? It would be a double strike against them to have root beer floats yet no chocolate malteds. Chocolate malteds rock!



Choclate malts are awesome! I like them more than I like Root Beer Floats. I wish I knew about that place in Cleveland. I think you went there Friday after the food truck? I just went directly back to the hotel and chilled out there.

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#49 weinoo

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:30 AM

Do they have chocolate malteds? It would be a double strike against them to have root beer floats yet no chocolate malteds. Chocolate malteds rock!

As suggested above, there's a menu online. Maybe it should be checked out.
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#50 prasantrin

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:33 AM


Do they have chocolate malteds? It would be a double strike against them to have root beer floats yet no chocolate malteds. Chocolate malteds rock!

As suggested above, there's a menu online. Maybe it should be checked out.


As I did not mention because I did not think it was necessary, I had checked out the online menu before I posted, and there was no mention of chocolate malteds. That is why I asked someone who has actually been there. Perhaps there are many items not on the very annoying online menu that could be shared (though perhaps on another thread, since this is about the potential Heartland Gathering 2012).

#51 nolnacs

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:39 AM

I was there last week (getting a root beer float incidentally), and I seem to remember there being a sign that stated that any of their shakes could be malted

#52 philadining

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 11:27 AM

Do they make their own root beer, by the way? And are there any locally brewed root beers that I'll need to seek out?


I'm not sure whether Franklin Fountain makes theirs, or has it made, but it's not just some mass-produced commercial root beer. The other local Root Beer that I know of is from Yard's, a very good local (beer) brewery. As far as I know, the Root Beer only available at Percy St BBQ on South Street, but dropping in there for a mug of root beer would not be a terrible idea. (And if the pervasive smoky aroma creates a craving for texas-style brisket, you probably wouldn't be disappointed...)

And for what it's worth, I think you folks should definitely come to our lovely city: I think you'll find the Philly eGullet folks to be shockingly friendly and eager to share our food culture (or at least as friendly as surly east-coasters get...)

As a consensus is being developed about destinations, let me join a few others here in saying that, amidst the wealth of culinary options in the area, neither Amish food nor Colonial food rank very high in my book. Both are certainly worthy of consideration, and each has played an important part in the food culture of the area, but when it comes down to a limited-time event, I think devoting an entire excursion and/or meal to either would be a waste of time and calories.

As Holly mentioned, there IS quite tasty Amish food to be had at the Reading Terminal, and visiting there is an absolute must, so I think one could get a sufficient dose of Amishness during an RTM crawl. If one had lots of time, it's true that many Amish farms out in Lancaster are lovely, as is the Central Market in that city, and there's a certain appeal to the homey, family-style restaurants out in that area, so it's a totally valid foodie field-trip. But given limited time, I'd put it down a few rankings on the list.

Just to complicate things a little: I might suggest that one of the appeals of the Philly food scene is its ethnic diversity. It's actually pretty efficient to get a taste of that just by touring through the "Italian" Market, which is now significantly Mexican, and bordered by Vietnamese restaurants and businesses. Roaming through the Italian Market should probably be part of any foodie tour of the city anyways, but it's worth noting that Taquerias, Panaderias, Banh Mi shops, Pho restaurants, and enormous Asian grocery stores could/should be part of that.

Oh, and yes, the legendary dueling Cheesesteak joints, Pat's and Geno's, are right there too if one really wants to partake. And although I'm NOT in the camp that believes those places are worthless, we Philly foodies do feel an obligation to take visitors to better places, or to divert their attention to the much tastier roast pork sandwiches that are almost as ubiquitous, but not as well-publicized. But if anyone wants to say that they went to Pat's and/or Geno's, it wouldn't be hard to squeeze in.

Similarly, the Reading Terminal Market is adjacent to Philly's Chinatown, so a visit to the RTM could be pretty easily extended to include a tour through Chinatown. That could, of course, involve eating, or just sightseeing.

Greater Philadelphia also has a small but lively Polish neighborhood, a huge Russian supermarket, and a cluster of very good Korean restaurants. These neighborhoods are a little bit outside of center city, and not easily accessed by public transport, but there was some talk a few posts up about a bus... Of course, there's only so much time, so perhaps those neighborhoods would be a distraction, but they're certainly a part of what I find exciting about Philly's food scene.

It's also true that the proximity of excellent produce has shaped the scene as well, so a farm/dairy/cheesemaking tour is certainly valid. But that kind of thing is not necessarily unique - so I'd ask the folks coming in from elsewhere: what's more intriguing to you? We could show you (excellent) local farms, we have ethnic neighborhoods worth exploring, there's plenty of diversity right in Center City...

And we shouldn't forget the sizable Italian neighborhood surrounding the Italian Market. I think we locals sometimes forget that the homey Italian-American food served at what are often referred to as "Red Gravy" joints is actually hard to find in many parts of the country. I've had lots of visitors go crazy over the food at some of those humble places that I never think of as destination restaurants.

I'd say that any gathering such as this must include the Reading Terminal Market, and the Italian Market. Touring either of those spots should certainly also do double-duty as real shopping for a pot-luck dinner. And if desired, tours of those places could very easily be extended to include Chinese, Vietnamese and Mexican shops and/or restaurants. If there is time and desire to venture out further, you visitors can decide whether you'd prefer visiting a farm, or some other urban ethnic attractions.

As has been mentioned, we're pretty beer and booze crazy here (it's not just me is it?) so visiting a craft brewery and/or distillery would be high on my list of recommendations. And then, there are certainly more than a few bars where one can find good beer and cocktails...

So, yeah, I vote that you folks come here, I suspect that we could show you a good time. And yes, I think you should extend the gathering to be two-weeks long. Or longer.

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#53 nolnacs

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:14 PM


Do they make their own root beer, by the way? And are there any locally brewed root beers that I'll need to seek out?


Greater Philadelphia also has a small but lively Polish neighborhood, a huge Russian supermarket, and a cluster of very good Korean restaurants. These neighborhoods are a little bit outside of center city, and not easily accessed by public transport, but there was some talk a few posts up about a bus... Of course, there's only so much time, so perhaps those neighborhoods would be a distraction, but they're certainly a part of what I find exciting about Philly's food scene.


Where is the huge Russian supermarket?

#54 KatieLoeb

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 12:49 PM

Bell's Market
is up in the Northeast section of the city, on Bustleton Avenue. Not far away from there is one of my very favorite restaurants - Uzbekistan. That would certainly be worthy of an ethnic dinner crawl, although the logistics might be challenging.

edited to add:

Jeff makes a great point about the Red Gravy joints. Right in the Italian Market is Villa di Roma or Ralph's. I've been to Villa di Roma more recently than Ralph's so I don't really remember my last meal at Ralph's as vividly. These are classic places, Old School Italian-American cooking at it's best. I suppose having them so close by makes me take them for granted a bit, and that actually is a shame. These are certainly worthy of consideration as part of the Italian Market tour. Maybe we could convince them to let us BYOB too. I definitely remember the wine lists not really being up to par with the food...

Edited by KatieLoeb, 10 August 2011 - 01:36 PM.

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#55 rlibkind

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 06:43 PM

RTM's "Avenue D" renovation will be complete in late winter. The relocated demonstration kitchen and adjacent multiple-purpose room have been designed to accommodate group gatherings, so it would be an ideal location for both a group lunch and/or potluck. For lunch everyone would get whatever they wanted from the vendors, then bring it back to the group room--that is precisely the type of function the design criteria called for.

Might I add Zahav as a possible group dinner site? I would imagine this group could go thru a couple of lamb shoulders. I'm hard-pressed to think of another restaurant in the US that does what it does: modern Israeli cuisine.
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#56 KatieLoeb

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:16 PM

Bob - I had thought of Zahav also. I can certainly try and speak to Chef Michael Salomonov about a group dinner there...

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#57 boagman

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 10:36 PM

RTM's "Avenue D" renovation will be complete in late winter. The relocated demonstration kitchen and adjacent multiple-purpose room have been designed to accommodate group gatherings, so it would be an ideal location for both a group lunch and/or potluck. For lunch everyone would get whatever they wanted from the vendors, then bring it back to the group room--that is precisely the type of function the design criteria called for.

Might I add Zahav as a possible group dinner site? I would imagine this group could go thru a couple of lamb shoulders. I'm hard-pressed to think of another restaurant in the US that does what it does: modern Israeli cuisine.


Wow...Israeli cuisine? That's certainly intriguing to me. I live in the most densely populated Arabic area outside of the Middle East itself, but there's no Israeli restaurant here, even if there are plenty of kosher joints. I wonder if they make a good fig pie...I haven't had it since I was in Australia in '99. Sounds neat!

#58 prasantrin

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 04:59 AM

Given the reports I've read of meals in the Philadelphia area, I suspect anything y'all put together would be fantastic.

Question--what are the chances of having Shola put together one of the dinners or lunches? I assume it would be a little more expensive than the average gathering meal, but when I think about how much we spent in Cleveland (particularly when thinking about value for money), I think paying a little more for a meal prepared by Shola would be worth it.

#59 janeer

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 07:30 PM

I have not been to one of these but might be able to make it if in Philly. Personally, I wouldn't want to leave town--and see little reason too. But willing.

Seems like if in Philly something should involve a BYOB, for which Philly is a famous. A BYOB crawl might be too hard, but...an iconic one, maybe (though hard to agree on). I am all for the sandwich survey. And a stop in at DiBruno's would seem to be in order, and some coffee places (La Colombe....)

#60 prasantrin

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 08:03 PM

Choclate malts are awesome! I like them more than I like Root Beer Floats. I wish I knew about that place in Cleveland. I think you went there Friday after the food truck? I just went directly back to the hotel and chilled out there.


That's what you get for hangin' with the wrong crowd! I may be shunned, but I know all the good places! I went there twice, actually. Once the Friday after the food truck, and again before the Saturday dinner. I'd have gone a few more times had I had my own vehicle!

I think Philly should include an old fashioned soda shop stop, but I'd be OK if it didn't. I always find time to hit the good places on my own if they're not part of the group itinerary.