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PLAN: "Heartland" Gathering (In Philly) 2012


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#61 KatieLoeb

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 09:21 PM

Another thought occurred to me. Perhaps an outing to Osteria? That might cover a lot of ground. Really fabulous pizza, pasta and miscellaneous Italian all in one fell swoop? I know a couple of folks over there and could certainly inquire as to whether a large group of hungry foodies from far and wide would be welcome for a "family style" meal.

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#62 gfweb

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 10:42 PM

Reading over these posts, I'm impressed about how even Philly locals don't appreciate what's available here. We obsess about how there isn't a decent fish market and forget about the monumentally good ethnic restaurants and the landmark BYOBs and the evolution of the fine dining spots (which are arguably better than during the "glory days").

It might even be fun to examine ballpark food. Citizen's Bank Park food rocks. Crab fries, pork sandwiches, cheesesteaks, hot dogs. Lots o beers. And of course the Phillies who are always big fun (unless you are from NYC).

#63 Chris Hennes

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 10:04 AM

It's a good thing we have so long to prepare: so many options! We do have to be mindful of the logistics of showing up at a little ethnic place (or even the soda fountain) with 30 people though. One thing we did in Ann Arbor last year was send a few people to a bunch of places for takeout, then met up and passed it around, so that might be a viable option. I agree with the sentiment above that the two absolutely-can't-miss places in Philly from a food-perspective are RTM and the Italian Market area. There is so much other great food and drink action in Philly I find it hard to single out any other "musts." I go different places every time I visit (except I always hit DiNic's!).

ETA: Wow, if there's space at RTM for the Saturday Feast that would be incredible. Anyone have specs on it? Is it big enough to work? What's the layout between the kitchen and dining areas (open is far better than closed off)? And how early do we have to reserve it?

Edited by Chris Hennes, 13 August 2011 - 10:09 AM.

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#64 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 10:45 AM

I completely trust the locals to set us up properly and I look forward to it. Reading this thread, there are ton of great options -- far more than we could hit in a weekend, even an extended one.

I've never been to Philadelphia or had an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, so for me that's going to be a priority. Being a sandwich lover, I don't want to come back from Philadelphia not having checked that iconic sandwich off my list. If it seems like old hat to the locals -- which I can completely understand -- I'll take some time on my own to get it done.

As for the rest, I don't have enough knowledge of the area to comment on the specific restaurants. Again, I'm sure the locals (and those who are familiar with the area) will make it wonderful. That said, we've got plenty of dairy farms and artisanal cheesemakers here in the Midwest (a few of which I've visited), so I'd prefer to allocate our limited time to something more definitively local.

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#65 KatieLoeb

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 03:06 PM

Reading over these posts, I'm impressed about how even Philly locals don't appreciate what's available here. We obsess about how there isn't a decent fish market and forget about the monumentally good ethnic restaurants and the landmark BYOBs and the evolution of the fine dining spots (which are arguably better than during the "glory days").

It might even be fun to examine ballpark food. Citizen's Bank Park food rocks. Crab fries, pork sandwiches, cheesesteaks, hot dogs. Lots o beers. And of course the Phillies who are always big fun (unless you are from NYC).


Problem with most of those BYOBs is that they can't fit such a large group all at once. Not without us committing to a "buyout" for the night. I'd be all about a dinner at Fond (one of my most favorite places) or Matyson, but I doubt they'd want to let us take up the whole place and do a prix fixe dinner for us when they could turn those tables two or three times on a Thursday or Friday night with a la carte clientele. Paloma might be a possibility since they have a few more seats and I'm friends with management. It's also very unique and covers an ethnic cuisine in an upscale treatment.

As for getting Phillies tickets for that large a group, I've never attempted to do that, so I'll leave that thankless chore to someone else.

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#66 David Ross

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 03:55 PM

I like the idea of a mix of experiences, from a Cheesesteak and a Chocolate Malt up to fine dining. I really enjoyed the Westside Market in Cleveland-we just don't have that type of old-style market on a large-scale in the Pacific Northwest. I'm looking forward to the markets in Philadelphia-and maybe a good Italian bakery. I've never eaten Italian-American "gravy" and spaghetti so that sounds tempting.

#67 Holly Moore

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 04:09 PM

I like the idea of a mix of experiences, from a Cheesesteak and a Chocolate Malt


Sounds like we need to do a trip to Chink's Steaks

For the BYOs, perhaps we could have sign up lists for a two or three tables at a bunch of them.
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#68 Chris Hennes

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 04:13 PM

Sounds like we need to do a trip to Chink's Steaks

+1

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#69 gfweb

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 04:15 PM

Phillies wouldnt be cheap. We'd have to get a suite of some sort. Probably a couple thousand for twenty or so people. Perhaps not the best idea.

#70 janeer

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 02:48 PM

Problem with most of those BYOBs is that they can't fit such a large group all at once. Not without us committing to a "buyout" for the night.


They might be interested if it is August. It's very quiet in August on the weekend; one of the few times you can walk into the BYOBs without a long wait.

Matyson gets my vote.

#71 KatieLoeb

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:38 PM

Phillies wouldnt be cheap. We'd have to get a suite of some sort. Probably a couple thousand for twenty or so people. Perhaps not the best idea.


Nothing wrong with the idea, just a little problem getting into the stadium for the "research" without a pricey ticket. Might be even more next summer after we win the Series this year. Yup. I said it. Hard not to be cocky when our Phillies are playing this well... :smile:

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#72 prasantrin

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:23 AM

One of my goals in life is to watch a major league baseball game and eat a hot dog or something at a major league ballpark. So I did some research.

http://mlb.mlb.com/p...party/patio.jsp

That's for the patio, but if you scroll down a bit, you can see prices for other areas. It's not cheap (if the gathering is in August, we would not qualify for the value package, so the standard package is the minimum price for any area). But it does include tickets to the game. And food (but it's aramark food).

Still, while I would be up for it, I don't know that most others would.

#73 Chris Hennes

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:25 AM

The park the Phillies play in is lovely, and I have heard good things about the food (I didn't eat anything when I was there, alas): that said, I think the price is a little steep to be part of the main planning for this thing. Once we get closer and the 2012 MLB schedule is available maybe we can take a look as an optional side venture (ok of course, everything is optional when it comes to the gathering... I mean this one is less formally part of the eGHG).

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#74 Holly Moore

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:26 AM

I'd add that the good food at Phillies games is not from Aramark catering but from the concessions run by local restaurants. If we go this route, it could make sense to buy a block of tickets and scatter to the concession stands for eats.

The view from the 700 level is all-encompassing and that is where you will mingle with authentic Phillies fans in their native habitat.

Edited by Holly Moore, 15 August 2011 - 09:26 AM.

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#75 KatieLoeb

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 08:32 PM

I always used to sit in the 700 level seats because it was all I could afford. Though many might refer to those as the "nosebleed" seats, there's no more authentic way to see a Phils game amongst the most truly devoted and righteous of fans.

Most of the better food options from the ballpark are available at the brick and mortar locations of their originators. Crab fries from Chickie & Pete's, Tony Luke's cheesesteaks, Schmitters at McNally's, etc. Certainly a "Citizens Bank Ballpark Concession Food Tour" could be arranged, although the logistics of pulling that off, both geographically and time wise are a bit daunting...

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#76 Kerry Beal

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 07:20 AM

I always used to sit in the 700 level seats because it was all I could afford. Though many might refer to those as the "nosebleed" seats, there's no more authentic way to see a Phils game amongst the most truly devoted and righteous of fans.

Most of the better food options from the ballpark are available at the brick and mortar locations of their originators. Crab fries from Chickie & Pete's, Tony Luke's cheesesteaks, Schmitters at McNally's, etc. Certainly a "Citizens Bank Ballpark Concession Food Tour" could be arranged, although the logistics of pulling that off, both geographically and time wise are a bit daunting...

Perhaps an "Out of the Park" tour - hitting the originators and getting together in a park to share it all!

#77 Tim Dolan

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 07:47 AM

The Phillies sell 500 standing room only tickets starting 3 hours before each game. This might be less of a hassle then trying to buy tickets online since the Phils have sold out every game since early last season and don't look like they're slowing down any time soon. It's also the cheapest option, and would allow you to watch the game from the outfield railing along Ashburn Alley and mingle with the people. I'd compare it to sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley, except with no actual seats but way better food. There's tons of tables available (especially near Bull's BBQ) which would promote the divide-and-conquer strategy of sending a few people to each line then coming back to split the feast. I'm as authentic a Phillies fan as they come and go to about 25 games a year, so if you have any questions let me know.
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#78 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 09:15 AM

IMO, Phillies game = terribly bad fit

Wait, did I just say that out loud? :biggrin:

In all seriousness, as much as I love seeing MLB ballparks, I'd almost certainly do my own thing if a Phillies game were on the agenda. That just seems like a big chunk of time to throw away when I could otherwise be eating and drinking local fare.

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#79 philadining

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 10:24 AM

Yeah, as Katie said - there's nothing food-wise at the stadiums that can't be had elsewhere (and probably a little better.)

It's totally cool that one can get good food at the ball park, and avoid the institutional fare one is usually stuck with in places like that. I can certainly see the appeal of having some unique Philadelphia food while watching a game, but the ballpark is not really a dining destination in and of itself. There's nothing you can ONLY get there, other than the experience.

I guess it does have the advantage of offering several local specialties in close proximity to one another, but I don't think that all of the surrounding logistical hassles are going to make it more efficient than just going to the original locations. Getting to the park, getting in, meeting up, standing in lines for food (and there ARE lines for the good stuff) getting the food back to a communal area while it's hot, will, as Ronnie suspects, mean throwing away a big chunk of time.

But, maybe that's OK, and the combined experience of watching a baseball game and eating a Tony Luke's sandwich would be worth the time (and not-insignificant money) to the folks who are visiting. So it's up to you folks, really. As a local, I'd suggest spending the time, and money, on more food...

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#80 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 10:45 AM

Right: Phillies games are fun, but I agree that they aren't a great fit for this event. Obviously those who really want to go will find a way to go on their own. Too much to eat in Philly to kill a whole afternoon at the ballpark.

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#81 boagman

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 11:27 AM

I *love* visiting ballparks in other cities, and even I think that, in the context of The Gathering, this wouldn't be a good fit.

#82 rlibkind

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 11:45 AM

ETA: Wow, if there's space at RTM for the Saturday Feast that would be incredible. Anyone have specs on it? Is it big enough to work? What's the layout between the kitchen and dining areas (open is far better than closed off)? And how early do we have to reserve it?

I can ask to reserve it as soon as the date is set.

The design is finished, but construction won't begin until later this fall, with completion in first quarter 2012 (hopefully before March, when the Philadelphia Flower Show opens at the convention center; that week is the single busiest of the year for the RTM).

The multi-purpose room and demonstration kitchen will be adjacent and are specifically designed so they can be used together, the multi-purpose room providing additional seating space for kitchen demonstrations as well as being a group dining and meeting venue. (The kitchen itself will also be home of a cooking instruction business now located in a small space within the market.)

But pictures (two) are better than words:

Posted Image

This is a rendering of the demonstration kitchen and its limited seting area. Below is a view (from center court) of the multi-purpose room (named for retired Phila. Inquirer food columnist Rick Nichols) with the kitchen located to the far left of the room.

Posted Image
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#83 Chris Hennes

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 11:53 AM

Very nice, Bob. Do you have a sense of how many people can comfortable be seated in the dining area, and how much cooking area there is? In my experience we typically have around a dozen people cooking at any one time during the Saturday feast, and probably need seating for 30-40. What about price?

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#84 rlibkind

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Posted 17 August 2011 - 07:21 PM

I'm waiting to hear back from the RTM on costs, kitchen use, etc. I'll post when I've got something more definitive.
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#85 KatieLoeb

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Posted 18 August 2011 - 05:27 PM

Thanks Bob!! Knew your connections at the RTM would come in handy! I just hope that like all new construction, it doesn't fall so far behind schedule that we get stuck without a venue. I'm not wishing ill here, I've just lived through enough restaurant renovations and new construction to be duly cynical. As for the new Rick Nichols space, I think we need to invite Mr. Nichols to join us for the feast to help "christen" it with the large group of assembled foodies from far and wide. I'm sure he'd love that.

I like the idea of the "Out of the Park" picnic on the local ballpark delicacies. Perhaps we could place take out orders at several of the original locations, have several of the locals pick up (or have them delivered if such service is feasible) and all assemble somewhere central for a feast. If the weather is cooperative, Penn's Landing might be nice since it's a bit cooler down by the water in August...

Carry on...

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#86 rlibkind

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 09:16 AM

Spoke to RTM GM Paul Steinke today and it will be no problem to handle 50-60 people for table seating in new kitchen/multiple-purpose room. Expanded kitchen should also be able to accommodate a dozen cooks. They won't be setting use fees until early next year, but he'd love to have eGulleters use the facility.
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#87 KatieLoeb

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 03:43 PM

OK - so that solves that logistical problem perfectly. We have a kitchen with the best stocked pantry in the city right outside. Awesome!!! If I can finagle some liquor donations for cocktails and can convince a bartending friend or two to help me out we'll have achieved the trifecta.

This is coming together nicely... :smile:

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#88 Chris Hennes

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 06:12 PM

Though it might make sense to have a backup plan in case the price is exorbitant, or the space doesn't get finished...

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#89 rlibkind

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 06:34 PM

I concur with Chris. Until we know the price, seek out a backup plan. That's more likely to be an issue than construction delays, since work is due to start immediately after labor day and be ready by end of February ... so it can almost twice as long as scheduled and still be ready in early August. That said, there's no such thing as a certainty.

I don't think cost will be.a deal-breaker if we're just using it as a seating area while everyone goes get their lunches from various vendors. I do think cost might be an issue for an after-hours event that would entail kitchen use, extra security, etc. Let's wait and see how RTM prices that.
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#90 KatieLoeb

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Posted 21 August 2011 - 12:13 PM

OK - that all makes sense. Hadn't considered the security issue, etc. Although I'd hope they might be kind and give us the "friends and family" rate. This gathering has epic potential for great PR for all concerned.

I'll see if the Restaurant School might serve as an alternate venue. Not sure if they rent out their kitchen and dining spaces, but no guts, no glory. Worst case scenario is back to the drawing board...

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