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Archive for the ‘Local Food – Philly’ Category

Murphysboro, IL

Last weekend, I visited Mitra and Brandon down in the So ILL.  We toured five wineries during my stay, including:

To say the least, we had a good time.

The following morning, we went out for a vegan breakfast at Longbranch Coffe House in downtown Carbondale.  I was surprised by tasty vegan sausage gravy biscuits.

Me and Mitra at breakfast in Carbondale!

Taliesin & Middleton, Wisconsin

Mom and I drove up to Taliesin (near Spring Green and about an hour drive from Madison) to visit a complex of Frank Lloyd Wright residence and farm buildings.  Wright’s ancestry was Welsh and he grew up in this area of farmland in WI; he named the community Taliesin, which means “shining brow” in Welsh and the name of which belonged to a Welsh poet.  He originally built the home for his mistress, Maymaw, during his first marriage.  It didn’t end well for her and her two small children (from her marriage) – the butler found out she was not married to Wright and went crazy, taking an axe to her, her children, and four other people, then poured gasoline on and torched the house, all while Wright was in Chicago working.  The home has also been burned down twice (the second time was because it was hit by lightening).

Mom and me in front of the Hillside School (studio and theater) at Taliesin.

I think the place is cursed.  To add to the drama, we toured on Friday the 13th, and our car battery died on the way up.  I’m glad we had the battery replaced so it wasn’t completely a scenario stolen from The Shining.

After our tours, we headed to the nearby town of Middleton.  We stepped into the National Mustard Museum, where pretzels are only $1 for taste-testing of hundreds of mustard types!  They have a deal of the week online, if you’re a mustard fanatic.

Life-size French's costume in the National Mustard Museum!

I’m not sure I’d trust every bit of research in the “museum,” especially since it said that the names of M&Ms represent the tradition of mustard making (actually the founders of Mars and Hershey).  Entertaining, but not true, according to Wikipedia.  It also reported that the red and yellow M&M characters represent ketchup and mustard… I also found a chocolate wiki for chocolate lovers.  🙂

We wandered next door to the Hubbard Avenue Diner to get a slice each of the four berry and cherry pie to go.  The cherry was a winner.

And our final to-go food choice from Wisconsin, on the advice of a friend, was yellow cheese curds.  I know it sounds gross, but cheese curds have been around a long time, even making a mention in the Little Miss Muffet nursery rhyme.  They are known as the most musical of cheeses because they squeak like a balloon when you bite into them.  I, of course, had to try them.

Philadelphia, PA

My sister, Susan, joined up with my Mom and I in Philly.  But we did get a chance to stop in at the Reading Market and I got some cinnamon ice cream at Bassetts Ice Cream (which has been around since 1861!).

The Reading Railroad (as in the one on Monopoly boards) built the market in 1892 as part of its downtown passenger terminal.  The market was on a downward spiral in the 1970s and fell into disrepair in the 80s when the trains were rerouted to bypass the terminal.  But it was revitalized in the early 1990s to the current state of awesomeness that it is today. 

There are tons of foodie must-taste stands at Reading Market.  The steak at Hershel’s deli has been featured on the Travel channel’s addicting show, Man vs. FoodWan’s Seafood had the largest shrimp I’ve ever seen!  About the size of my hand, fingers stretched out.  John Yi’s Fish Market offered customers octopus.  Stands that belonged to Amish merchants was closed off – they’re only there Wednesday through Saturday.

Susan also found this clever Joseph Joseph Chop 2 Pot cutting board at one of the market shops.  After chopping, you lift the handle and the sides angle inward, allowing a cleaner dump into a mixing bowl.

Colorful, clean, and easy cutting board!

Thought for the week: “I send you a kaffis of mustard seed, that you may taste and acknowledge the bitterness of my victory.” – Alexander The Great (356 BC-323 BC)


Spring is a great time for warm weather just before the mosquitoes get wise that I’m outdoors.  Any opportunity I can find to merge outdoor ambiance with meals, I take advantage of with a religious attention to the inner and outer balance of dining contentedness.  While I don’t currently have a backyard or deck (though Southern Living makes me wish I did), I think this past weekend and Easter weekend were both successful balances.

A popular color for Easter and springtime is yellow, and I found it in abundance at the gorgeous lakeside restaurant Riva during brunch with my mom:

Mimosas and vanilla mousse (colored yellow) and a yellow sweater!

While I was in Philadelphia visiting my friend Raha, my friend Mitra and I bought some homemade fresh pasta from Superior Pasta Company in the Italian Market.  Here’s a picture of us at our delicious brunch across from Superior at Sabrina’s:

Hungry at Sabrina's Cafe in the Italian Market. Check out the challah french toast!

So the outdoors and my homemade pasta came together this past weekend in a wonderful culmination.  I decided to make a mushroom, white wine cream sauce (which was easier than the red sauce I made, surprisingly) over the spinach and goat cheese pasta from Philly.  And because the weather was absolutely perfect, I trotted up to the rooftop with my friend Jacob to enjoy the sunset.  Here was the menu:

  • Appetizer: Green leaf lettuce salad with shredded carrot and Italian dressing
  • Main: Goat cheese and spinach pasta with an onion-mushroom cream pasta sauce
  • Drink: 2008 Fetzer Sauvignon blanc (Fetzer has a devotion to sustainability, which means I’ll be buying more of it)
  • Dessert: Strawberries and blackberries with sugar

On the roof

The dinner - vegetarian no less!

Pasta close-up: worthy of the 15 seconds of fame.

Thought for the week: “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – Federico Fellini

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