Saturday, August 13, 2011

50 Philly Foods (Part 3)

Here we are with Round 3 of "50 Philly Foods that will haunt your dreams". Sorry it's taken so long! It's been a busy couple of weeks. But Max is out at a party and I'm home watching the puppy, so I've got some time to write. So, without further ado, here's Part 3:
  1. Hummus from Saad's (4500 Walnut St) - It's Ramadan now, so you can't run out and get some of this incredible hummus, but the minute Ramadan is over, you need to be there. This hummus is silky smooth, and made w/ tahini so it tastes wonderful. It's garlicky and mild, and the perfect companion to Saad's falafel.
  2. Bassetts Vanilla Ice Cream (found at Bassetts in Reading Terminal Market, Milk and Honey on Baltimore, and a few other places throughout the city) - Oh, vanilla. So boring. So plain. Why would you ever order vanilla when you could get mint chocolate chip, or Guatemalan Ripple? Because this vanilla is the best ice cream on the planet. It's not boring. It's not plain. Vanilla is actually a flavor in this ice cream. Best topped with hot fudge, or paired with a scoop of the WHYY experience (an ice cream so overwhelmingly stuffed with goodies that it's almost too much). Mmm... I'm thinking of getting a scoop now. Meet me?
  3. Ginger juice from Kilimanjaro (4317 Chestnut) - It's hot out, right? Well, not right now. But in general, it's hot in Philly in August. There is literally nothing better in the whole city to drink or eat on a hot day than this ginger juice. Also, the restaurant itself makes some pretty awesome African food. But my favorite thing to do is buy a couple, get some peach nectar and seltzer water from the grocery store, and mix it with rum. Best summer cocktail ever!
  4. Chocolate-Covered Cruller from Donuts Plus (4325 Chestnut) - Astute readers will notice the address is remarkably similar to Kilimanjaro. That's because they're basically right next to each other, in this generic-looking strip mall on Chestnut Street. In between is, I believe, a XXX video store and a barber shop. It's one of the most interesting strip malls in all of Philly. Max loves the chocolate-covered cruller, and I thought the chocolate covered cake donut was pretty much the best donut I'd ever had. Best followed with three days of eating nothing but kale (see below) and tofu!
  5. Seafood soup from Chifa (707 Chestnut St) - Continuing down our tour of Chestnut Street, in Old City (or Market East, or Jeweler's Row, depending on who you ask) is this Jose Garces restaurant featuring Peruvian/Cantonese food. It's not as weird as you think. A large number of Chinese people migrated to Peru/Ecuador, and some of the best food coming out of South America is influenced by both cultures. This soup (which may be back on the menu, or may not be, it rotates...) is something I still think about. The first time Max and I went here, they were slow with the food and we had to take some of it to go. This was one of the things we brought home, and reheated the next day. Even a day later, and reheated, it was still divine. 
  6. Obama Water Ice from John's Water Ice (7th and Christian) - I can't believe I haven't included a water ice yet. This is classic Philly food, up there with pretzels and cheesesteaks. When Obama was here a few months ago, he stopped at John's to get some good ol' fashioned local water ice. When I was in Bar Harbor, ME last year with my sister, we went to the ice cream place the Obama's went to when they were on vacation, and it was so good. So I figured "why not give it a try? If it's good enough for the President, it's good enough for me!". And it is good! The lemon was tart but not too much, and definitely not too sweet. The chocolate, however, is my favorite. Go get some... now!
  7. Kale from Urban Nutrition Initiative (Clark Park Farmer's Market on Saturdays) - Now that you've gorged on donuts, cream-based soup, and ice cream, you should probably grab something somewhat healthy, right? UNI's stand at the Farmer's Market is my favorite. All the food is grown in West Philly by kids in area high schools, so the mission is wonderful. Also, they always have the most interesting kinds of Kale - purple curly kale, dino kale, etc etc. And all kinds of other treats too. But you have to get there early! They always sell out of the good stuff by noon...
  8. Black Russian bread from Wildflour Bakery (Sundays at Headhouse Market - 2nd and Lombard) - So Max and I were about to head of to the Shore for one of our last weekends before the puppy came, and we no longer had weekends. We stopped by the farmer's market and bought all kinds of goodies to take with us, including this super rich, dark Black Russian Bread. It was so soft, and had the most complicated taste. I ended up just eating half the loaf all by itself, it was that good. Also, Headhouse Market is just fun - lots of local food, great vendors, and a cute plaza to sit in and eat everything you just bought.
  9. Ful from Kaffa Crossing (4423 Chestnut) - Back to Chestnut Street, now. Just down from Kilimanjaro and Donuts Plus is Kaffa Crossing, an ethiopian restaurant and coffee shop. They've got good lunch/dinner food (the vegetarian sampler is pretty awesome), but the real reason to go here is the ful. Ful is a delicious breakfast food made from fava beans, smooshed up to be a lot like refried beans. Get it "special" with a spicy sauce on top. It's fairly healthy, super filling, and seriously mouth-watering!
  10. Fresh mozzarella from Claudio's (926 S. 9th St) - Sometimes, you don't realize what you're missing until you've had it. That's the case with Claudio's mozzarella. I'd bought fresh mozzarella at the store before, and it was good. But Claudio's makes theirs by hand, behind the counter. It's always fresh, and the taste is so much more intense than regular mozzarella. The smoked mozz was on the original PW 50 list, but I don't like smoked flavor, so I tried this instead. And yep, it's just that good. Worth a trip to the Italian Market just for it!
OK, that's it for this week. Check back next time for the next 10, including kale smoothies, cheesesteak pancakes, and the best garlic rolls you've ever had in your life.

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