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KatieLoeb

PLAN: "Heartland" Gathering (In Philly) 2012

306 posts in this topic

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

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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.


"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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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?

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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 (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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!

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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.

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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....)

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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.

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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.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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).

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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 (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

Thanks!

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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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.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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.

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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.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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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.

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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.

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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:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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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/phi/ticketing/group_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.

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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).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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 (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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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...


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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