Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In west Philadelphia, born and raised...

After NYC, we spent about 24 hours in Philadelphia. Since our time there was short, and since we didn't really know where it was or have anything in particular to see there, we didn't get to West Philadelphia. But I did have the Fresh Prince theme song in my head for pretty much the whole time.

In Philly, we stayed at the Alexander Inn - a bit of a splurge, but not too much, and it was in a really great spot. And it was a boutique (not a chain!) hotel, and it had free breakfast and a 24 hour snack bar. So fruit and bagels for everyone!
This isn't our hotel. It's just a picture.

Upon walking the five or so blocks from the bus station to the hotel, we stumbled into what looked like a street market. Closer inspection revealed that it was actually OutFest. We dropped our bags, stopped at a few stalls, and walked on to Govinda's, a hare krishna restaurant that is not the usual Indian-food buffet, but rather a delicious takeaway shop with really good vegan chicken cheese steaks ($7.95). We had a funny experience there when the man taking our order asked if we wanted to dine in or take away. I said, "I don't know, are there any good parks nearby?".  He responded, incredulously, "What for?!".... Uh, for eating in. Then he understood, and recommended Rittehnhouse Square, so we walked there and shared a sandwich.

Only, on the walk, we just so happened to pass a vegan bakery! And how could I pass that up?  So we looked at all that Sweet Freedom had to offer, and settled on a choc mint sandwich cookie ($3.75, and gluten free).

We spent the day looking at Philadelphia's old stuff, skipping anything that had a queue or an entry fee. I'm proud to say that Philadelphia was probably the only place where we didn't get hopelessly lost in our wandering. That William Penn must have known what he was doing when he designed the city!
Occupy Philadelphia

We walked through the Reading Terminal Market, which was huge and had piles of produce.

And when we came back to our hotel, we found that the subdued, street-market-esque OutFest had turned into a massive street party.

After some free condoms, an invitation to Vote Obama!, and some poking through the stalls, it was time for dinner, with Dynise from Urban Vegan.

Dynise was one of the first two people to ever start reading and commenting on my blog, and hers is one of the first blogs I ever started reading regularly myself. That was about 6 years ago. Then I tested recipes for her first cookbook. And, we're facebook friends. So Dynise is one of those people who I feel like I've known forever, even though we only met in person this one time. She recommended we eat at the Memphis Taproom, which is a vegan-friendly restaurant/bar. Apologies for the fuzzy photos, but I had a Smoked Coconut Club, which consisted of grilled lemon garlic tofu, smoked coconut, and tomato herb mayo. The smoked coconut was a revelation! It was so bacony - it was crispy, smoky, and just a bit fatty. But virtually unprocessed, so much nicer than storebought vegan bacon substitutes. Seriously good.

Andy and Dynise (I think) both had the Chicken Fried Portobella sandwich. The chips that came with both sandwiches were thin, handcut (or at least, they looked it), and were really good.

For dessert, the three of us shared a slice of vegan peanut butter pie, which was a bit homemade and not *fantastic*, but was very good. And, hey! Vegan peanut butter pie at a non-vegan restaurant!

Thanks, Dynise, for the driving tour, and for dinner! And then our trip to Philly was basically over, and it was on to DC...


Dee said...

I do miss proper peanut butter. We used to be able to go to Sobeys (Canadian major grocery chain) and put a container under the hopper of a big thing filled with roasted peanuts, press a button, and get the *best* fresh peanut butter. I am low fat rather than vegan, and I agonise about eating Aussie peanut butter, it is just wrong. so full of 'stuff'.

Philly looks pretty great! Isn't it exciting meeting bloggers from afar.

Kari said...

That food! One day I will go to a vegan bakery and I fear for the consequences. I suspect I'd be like a child in a lolly store with unlimited pocket money.

Hannah said...

Yay for blogger meet-ups! As a die-hard fan of anything smoked, I would like to bite into your dinner, please. And yes, peanut butter anything is better than peanut butter nothing!

Justin P. Moore said...

Wow, Govinda's in Philly has vegan cheesesteaks now? I really need to get back there. People keep telling me... sadly I'm only in the area every year or two.

AbsurdistGap said...

I was born and raised in West Philadelphia, and although I have nothing but respect for the neighborhood of Overbrook, you were probably better off sticking to Downtown/Rittenhouse Square.


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