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Phinal Philly Phun

August 15, 2018

We’ve got to go back! Little Miss Phussy has ophicially phallen in love with Philly. Our phive day trip phlew by.

Okay.
I’ll stop.

Really, I don’t know how anyone has any time to fit in all the cultural activities the city has to offer with all the eating that needs to be done. We barely scratched the surface. Although, we actually accomplished everything we set out to do, and more.

Sunday night, the kids and I drew up a list of the things we wanted to eat in our final two days. And I have to say, we executed that plan brilliantly. We even squeezed in an extra thing or two. Here’s how it played out.

Monday I had a little bit of work to do, so I gave the kids an assignment. They were to get on Yelp and find the two best Chinese bakeries in Chinatown. I reviewed their selections, and we all went to the better looking of the two.

Asia Bakery was our destination, and we each picked out a couple of treats for breakfast. Those were fine, and the kids were happy. But I’m a bit of a Chinese bakery snob. So while this scratched an itch, I’d rather have a soy milk and steamed bun from Heung Fa Chun Sweet House across the street.

For lunch it was back to Chinatown, but our mission for this outing was soup dumplings. A local friend insisted that Dim Sum Garden was the place to go. Those soup dumplings were certainly tasty. And we had the added benefit of being with old college friend A.M. who was eating XLB for the very first time!

These XLB had it all going on. Thin and pliant skin, rich and delicious broth, and a tender, succulent meatball. The scallion pancakes were pretty fab too. We probably should have stuck to the classics, because the shrimp dumplings were underwhelming.

It was weird that the place is called Dim Sum Garden, as we weren’t offered any tea. But that’s neither here nor there.

When lunch was done, I got a text from my cousin who was working downtown. He wanted to know if we would be up for getting a tahini milkshake. Pretty much when anyone asks me to do something that involves eating food, my answer is always the same.

Sure!

So off we were to Goldie Falafel. I wish I could have found a way to eat a falafel while I was there, but even splitting a milkshake three ways was a challenge. Actually Cousin S let me try his milkshake too.

Tahini milkshakes are a thing. And they come in flavors, which was a challenge to think about. S recommended the banana one, and that made sense, since sesame paste isn’t entirely dissimilar to peanut butter. Banana and coconut seemed like natural fits. Mint chocolate, maybe not so much.

However, the clerk behind the counter said that mint chocolate was her favorite flavor and S was swayed to believe her. After having a sip, I too was converted. The mint really brightens the whole experience. It’s one of those surprising contrasting flavors that just works.

I also wanted to visit the nearby Dizengoff hummusiya, but we had dinner plans coming up soon, and I couldn’t afford to spoil my appetite. Now I’ve learned there is one in NYC, so that just made the short list for my next visit to Manhattan.

Dinner was an early night at Reading Terminal Market. The building closes its doors at six, but Cousin S advised that DiNic’s might run out of roast pork well before then. So we made sure to get there right at five. While the place is literally mobbed during the day, we were able to just walk right up to the counter and take a seat. Score!

This was when I discovered that my memory was correct, and DiNic’s is indeed the best of the big three roast pork sandwich makers in Philly.

With a belly full of Philly’s famous sandwich, we did what any other Philadelphian would do. We went out for our water ice.

If you are counting at home, this was our third water ice outing of the trip. It also happened to be the best. We had driven by John’s a handful of times, and each time I had wanted to stop. Now, I finally had my chance.

Seriously, every flavor I tried I enjoyed. The strawberry had bits of seeds in it. The lemon was bright and tart. The mango was delightfully floral. The chocolate, like always, brought me back to my youth. All of the colors were in muted tones, and the flavors tasted true. Most important of all, the texture was fantastic.

I like my water ice loose and icey, so it is scoopable and slurpable. Ideally, this is a dangerous food, because the texture invites quick consumption which can lead the potentially deadly brain freeze. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Tuesday we woke up with a sense of melancholy. Our last day.

I made an early morning solo run to Heung Fa Chun Sweet House. Because the kids would need a little something to give them the energy to pack. Sweet, hot soy milk, fried dough, and steamed buns did the trick. But this was just a pre-breakfast snack.

For breakfast, it was back to Reading Terminal Market. We had a date at the Dutch Eating Place. It was incredible. Which was really surprising, because I always had the feeling this was an overhyped tourist kind of place. I could not have been more wrong.

More words on pictures on the meal can be found here.

After breakfast we needed a walk, so I decided to take the kids to see a little history. We went to Independence Hall and saw the Liberty Bell. I adopted a modern-day presidential stance on this historical artifact and told the kids, “I like bells that aren’t broken.”

Then someone said they were thirsty. I took this as an opportunity to drag the kids to one of the excellent coffee shops I had yet to visit on this trip: Elixr. There I got a lovely cortado. Little Miss Fussy had the lemongrass lemonade. The young man was simply happy with a glass of water and a place to sit.

For our final meal, it was back to Reading Terminal Market. Again. We had to attempt to satisfy the frenzy I created in Little Miss Fussy of all the marvelous things there were to eat within its walls. Yes, that’s three meals in a row. But it was still not enough.

The kids had fancy corn dogs, and I got to try the amazing fried cheese curds from Fox & Son. What the curds really needed was some hot pepper jelly, or perhaps some melba sauce. Mrs. Fussy got a classic grilled cheese from Meltkraft which was very good, but The Cheese Traveler makes a better one.

Before leaving, we bought some fudge, the boy got a donut which he said wasn’t as good as the ones at Bella Napoli, and we all split a final apple dumpling from Dutch Eating Place. The coup de grace was the fresh heavy cream that’s poured all over the warm apple, and rich pastry.

Yeah, that was good. But I really wanted one more round of everything we ate in the course of those five days.

And there was so much food that we didn’t have at all. There were no pretzels, I didn’t get a cheesesteak, and we missed out on banh mi. I stumbled upon an ice cream shop that mixed up custom blends using liquid nitrogen. At Reading Terminal Market I saw a Louisiana themed restaurant that was making muffuletta sandwiches on actual muffuletta bread. I hadn’t seen a sesame round since I was at Central Grocery decades ago. There’s the hummus I wanted to eat, a few different pizza shops that piqued my curiosity, and Italian bakeries a go go. Plus, there are beers available in Philly that don’t make it up to the Capital Region that I didn’t even have a chance to find.

So we’ll come back, maybe after doing a little bit of exercise, and pick up where we left off.

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