Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
quick takes: philadelphia
Let’s say you have a couple of days to kick around Philadelphia. I guarantee you’ll be spoiled for choices regarding activities and dining options; here’s a summary of what I managed to fit in during that length of time.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, www.philamuseum.org. Not everyone is a medievalist at heart, but if you are, head straight for the arms and armor section, a collection which will keep you happily occupied for hours. Special exhibits and regular collections of other paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art abound. The Main Building is at 26th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Reading Terminal Market, www.readingterminalmarket.org. Bakeries. Produce stands. Compounders of medicinal herb blends. A bookseller or two. Fish, poultry, and meat purveyors. Yogurt and raw milk. Bassett’s Ice Cream. Cheesesteaks. Granola bars. If you can’t find something to eat here, you just aren’t hungry. Not all the food is stellar, but it’s entertaining just to wander the aisles. 51 North 12th Street.
Capogiro Gelato Artisans, www.capogirogelato.com. Absolutely brilliant gelato and sorbetto. I had a Champagne Mango Sorbetto (there’s no alcohol in it; the variety of mango used is the Champagne) that was refreshing, cooling, and so delicious I almost went back for seconds…OK, thirds, but who’s counting? Four locations in Philadelphia (including South 13th and Sansom); also sold in some cafes and a couple of retail locations in/near the city.
Paper on Pine, www.paperonpine.com. Distinctive cards, wrapping paper, invitations, stationery, and the like. 115 South 13th Street.
Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates, http://marcieblaine.com. Marcie Blaine is the Queen of South 13th Street, with several food emporia along a stretch of that road. These chocolates are worth seeking out. The roster includes classic flavor combinations (such as chocolate and raspberry) as well as the more exotic (elderflower and champagne). 108 South 13th Street.
Grocery, www.grocery13.com. A small shop packed with goodies of all kinds. Sweets and savories, prepared and gourmet foods. Another establishment in the Marcie Blaine “collection”. 101 South 13th Street.
Garces Trading Co., www.garcestradingcompany.com. Half gourmet take-out, half restaurant/wine bar, you’ll find pastas, salads, sandwiches, a fine beverage selection, breads, some very good pastries, and more. Laid-back atmosphere. 1111 Locust Street.
Valanni, www.valanni.com. The dinner menu, at least, is a blend of small plates and larger ones. You’ll find everything from paella to cheese tastings to marinated olives to crispy shiitake polenta. The menu shows a good deal of Mediterranean-Latin influence. A perfect place to go with friends, as nearly everything on the menu is ideal for sharing. A casual environment. The Jamon Iberico Lomo and white beans with pesto (the latter in the Vegetarian Antipasti) were standouts. 1229 Spruce Street.
The Independent Hotel, www.theindependenthotel.com. A boutique hotel in Center City, within easy walking distance of everything mentioned above except the Museum of Art. Rooms are low-key but elegant; mine was more than large enough for two, with a writing desk, sofa, flat panel television, hardwood floor, small fridge and microwave, and very comfortable bed. The staff is friendly and seems as though they genuinely enjoy helping people. I was on the fifth floor in the middle of a major city and heard no street noise at all, though my room did face the back of the hotel. Wine-and-cheese receptions in the evenings. I would stay here again without hesitation; the sole negative was the pre-packaged breakfast. I love the idea of breakfast being delivered to your room at a time you select, but the breakfast items are simply unworthy of this otherwise fine hotel.