Aside from my husband, my two great loves are food (surprise, surprise) and travel. While I generally only blog about cooking and eating food, I thought some food-related travel thoughts might be welcome here too.
On Thursday, JP and I took a quick trip to Philadelphia while I am in between jobs to see the Red Sox play the Phillies. While there, we squeezed in a little tourism and way more food. I don’t generally blog about eating out, but we had such a great trip that I wanted to recap it here. As a general disclaimer, I don’t like to take photos of my food in restaurants. I take the general approach that food was served to be enjoyed, not photographed, so my apologies if the writing is missing a key visual element.
We started with lunch at Marc Vetri’s Osteria. We really enjoyed his simple, rustic Italian menu. Next time I am in Philadelphia, I will definitely pay a visit to his namesake restaurant, Vetri. At Osteria we enjoyed asparagus fritelle with a shaved asparagus salad to start. We followed that with a parma pizza, and lamb shank ravioli which I could have inhaled by the plateful. The space was really interesting too – big, with a greenhouse-like side room which made the space very airy and sunny. This was a great way to start the trip. (http://www.osteriaphilly.com/)
Thursday night, we paid a visit to Jose Garces’ first restaurant, Amada. Garces, as you may know, is the recent winner of the Next Iron Chef on the Food Network. He has a handful of establishments in Philly. Amada is a Spanish tapas restaurant and has 72 items on the menu. We would have happily eaten about 71 of them, which made it very hard to choose, so we opted for the 9-course tasting menu. For the tasting menu, you get more courses, but smaller portions. A really nice touch was the option of three different price levels, which corresponded to the level of ingredients used, not courses. Over the 9 courses, we enjoyed: aged raw milk manchego with truffled lavender honey; a plate of mixed cured meats including jamon serrano; a chopped spring salad with asparagus, avocado, fava beans, and a sherry vinaigrette; sizzling hot garlic shrimp; short rib, horseradish, and parmesan flatbread; wood-grilled barramundi; patatas bravas with a smoked paprika sauce; a warm fava & lima bean salad; and fried, goat-cheese-stuffed lamb chops. Yes, this sounds like a ridiculous amount of food, but with the small portions, it was doable. We even had room for dessert – leche frita. Fried vanilla cream with a chocolate-hazelnut sauce and hazelnut ice cream. This was a wonderful meal with some of the best tapas I’ve ever eaten. (http://www.amadarestaurant.com/)
On Friday, we planned to have lunch at Le Bec Fin’s more casual Bar Lyonnais, but somehow they thought our reservation was for the dining room. Le Bec Fin is a classical, formal, French restaurant opened by Chef Georges Perrier in 1970. We decided the dining room was the place to be and had a wonderful meal there instead. I opted for a few lighter courses, starting with a salade Lyonnais (frisee with bacon and a poached egg – as seen here before), followed by a wonderful rabbit terrine, and then a small portion of a classic steak tartare. Everything was excellent. JP also had the salade, followed by the “Burger Lyonnais”. This was the most over-the-top, incredibly delicious burger. Cooked perfectly, the meat was stuffed with foie gras butter, topped with truffled fontina cheese, and served on a toasted bun with a caramelized onion puree. It was as ridiculous as it sounds, and certainly worth every drop. We finished the meal with some excellent cake from their dessert menu. The service was impeccable, as to be expected, and Chef Perrier stopped by to chat for a bit. He is a charming man! While expensive, the meal was worth every penny and certainly not one we will soon forget. (http://www.lebecfin.com/)
We drowned the sorrows of the abysmal Sox loss later that night at Village Whiskey, another Garces establishment, with some bar snacks. While the food here strays from his Latin roots, the real focus is on the drinks. This pub has 80 whiskeys available (yes, Dad, including Jack Daniel’s, JD Single Barrel, and Gentleman Jack) and a great beer selection as well. (http://www.villagewhiskey.com/)
Finally, on Saturday, before heading home, we toured Reading Terminal Market and did our best to sample all of the local specialties – a DiNic’s Roast Pork sandwich (with broccoli rabe and provolone), a Spataro’s Pepper Cheesesteak, Miller’s Twist Classic Pretzels, Bassett’s Ice Cream (the oldest ice cream place in the country!!), and 4th Street Cookies. Okay, we didn’t eat it all while there – we took some on the road with us. We also visited some of the merchants, including a great fair food farmstand selling local and organic produce, dairy & meat. I wish Boston could put together a market like this. (Reading Terminal Market)
So, in case it wasn’t obvious, we’ll both be hitting the gym hard tomorrow to make up for some very gluttonous traveling. But it was worth it!