Aug 8, 2013

Spicing It Up in Philadelphia

At the beginning of July, I headed to Philly for the weekend to visit my baby brother and his fiancée. After a delayed departure via the Megabus, I completed the two hour journey. We immediately met for dinner. Raisin Bread has GERD issues, so spicy foods aren't consumed on a regular basis in our household. Since I have such a thoughtful little brother, he made sure that we took the opportunity to have our fill of spices!

For dinner, we had a spicy Szechuan meal at Han Dynasty in University City. The items on their menu are rated on a 0 to 10 scale of spicy-ness, with 10 being the highest. Two of the items we ordered were rated a 10 and my mouth was burning by the end of it.

We ate family style and ordered four dishes: beef and tripe in chili oil (10), Dan Dan noodles (8), dry pot style pork (10), and string beans with minced pork (0). Although I didn't mind the heat, my favorite dishes were actually the non-spicy ones (the Dan Dan noodles and the string beans). I found the tripe way too oily.

Saturday was my only full day in Philly. We started the morning off with a visit to the farmers market outside of Ed’s apartment, where we bought banana bread and an apple dumpling to share for breakfast plus lots of fresh fruit. Then we started our day of museum visits.

We spent a few hours at the tter Museum, which is part of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and showcases the collection of medical oddities that once belonged to Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, who wanted to share his collection to improve medical education. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography inside the museum, but some of the things we saw include a syphilitic skull, a nine-foot long colon that had a tumor in it, a collection of skulls, and antique medical equipment. Interesting and grotesque stuff!

For lunch, we got our spice on again at Federal Donuts, which offers fried chicken and donuts. This is apparently a thing now because there are several restaurants that recently popped up in DC that offer the same combo. Federal Donuts has both dry and wet seasoning so we ordered one of each. The dry was called shabazzi, which is a mixture of cilantro, sumac and green chili and the wet was chili garlic. They were both super tasty and messy. We also shared their vanilla spice, strawberry lavender and cinnamon brown sugar (my pick) donuts. Too much food!

The second museum we visited for the day was the Rosenbach Museum and Library. I had never heard of it before, but the future sister-in-law wanted to see selections from the Maurice Sendak Collection, which is held here. We happened to arrive a few minutes before they were to begin a guided tour of the Rosenbach House, which was perfect because we wouldn't have been able to see it otherwise. The tour was so interesting because I had no knowledge of where we were or who the Rosenbachs were. The museum is actually the Rosenbach brothers' townhouse and holds an extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts and antiques.

We saw pieces of the Sendak collection including illustrations, book mockups and a large wall mural. Don't you just love this poster?

We rested up at the apartment before ending our day at Distrito for one more spicy meal. I really wanted to try a Jose Garces restaurant on this visit, so we picked this one. We went family style again and ordered a variety of dishes. We started with the rellenitos, Nachos Ignacio with black beans, tomato, queso mixto, jalapeno, and radish, and the tuna ceviche. My favorite of the dishes was the rellenitos.

We also shared three types of tacoes: lengua, pollo and skirt steak. Such great flavor and again, too much food! 

On Sunday, we enjoyed a lighter brunch at The Gold Standard Cafe before I had to make my way back to the nation’s capital! It was a great weekend exploring Philly with family!

Han Dynasty
3711 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

tter Museum
19 South 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Federal Donuts
1632 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Rosenbach Museum and Library
2008 Delancey Place
Philadelphia, PA 19103


3945 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

The Gold Standard Cafe
4800 Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143

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