Tuesday, May 3, 2011

it’s always sunny in philadelphia

Had a whirlwind spontaneous weekend in Philly!

The story; Steve’s sister is going to school for fashion design. Every year her school has an awesome fashion show. His mother and a whole bunch of her friends were flying into town to attend; would we like to drive up and join them? Eek!

First there was the matter of going to work (at least once a month, I work on Saturdays. It’s with very very nice and well behaved kids- unlike the friggin’ deviants I’m typically with- but still, it’s stinkin’ Saturday!) Then a quick picnic at Steve’s (well, indoor picnic due to my current bug paranoia).

He made luscious rice ‘n beans (his included sesame oil, black beans, chickpeas, green onion, all kinds o’ goodies), and I provided sweet potatoes…


… plus a salad to share. Green things (local purslane, nonlocal spinach), and veg (local Persian cucumber- oxymoron?- and nonlocal radishes).


Road food! Yummy flatbread chips (though wag of the finger for the first ingredient being white flour), spicy hummus, carrots (I lovingly dipped carrots into hummus and passed them off to the man, who was driving).


We arrived, I was weirdly nervous because I totally love this boy and wanted to be dazzling but am generally sort of awkward at first impressions (everyone I have ever met ever can confirm this). So anyway, we were meeting them at their hotel room, which was at an Embassy Suites, which has free drinks at happy hour!

Liquid courage. And honey mustard pretzels, forgot how much I LOVE those!


Was pleased to order the chilled white, since Steve got the red and it was… well, if red is supposed to be room temperature this was perhaps the room temperature of a sauna. Steve, of course, used this as a justification of his usual technique of keeping red wine… in his refrigerator.

So we glammed up (meaning… everyone else got lookin’ good and I tried to pull my road-trip hair together and put on a dress from Forever 21. By which I was initially embarrassed amongst the fashionists, but then Jordin, Steve’s sister, said her outfit was from there too!) and we headed to the beautiful Symphony Hall for the show. The fashion show was totally epic.

It was hosted from Carson from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.


I loved that show so much. Initially they just said the show, not his name, and I was like “AGH COULD IT BE KYAN?!” in a way that perhaps alarmed my poor boyfriend, not that someone who hosted a show with the word Queer in the title was really a threat.

Wow tangent. But do people remember Kyan? He was sort of painfully attractive.

Carson was hilarious. Particularly since Arlen Spector (the Senator?!) was randomly there, and that made for lots of giggles.


Then there were eats. GOOD eats. I firmly maintain that the best way to bond with people is to eat with them (well, awesome people who like food. People like me! And Steve’s family and friends, yaaaaaaaaaay!)

We headed to Estia, a totally beautiful Greek restaurant.

You walk in to a beautiful display of fresh fish and produce laid out. And there are pretty ceilings, pretty walls, pretty fabrics, dim lighting. The setting is just incredibly elegant.


And then we had Greek wine and my people don’t always make the best, I am the first to admit (retsina, blecch), but this red was utterly delicious.


Our first toast, following such sartorial splendor, was naturally, “To fashion!”

But then Steve’s lovely family and friends toasted to me being there and it was seriously the nicest. Thing. Ever. Dude, it is so unbelievable when you love someone and then you meet other people they love and then you love them too and they’re nice to you and you all drink wine and… shucks, man.

Then delicious food! Bread ‘n hummus, and lots of appetizers to share (saganaki, mm! Grilled cheese! How can you go wrong?! Well if you don’t squeeze on the lemon you do go wrong, so I did the honors).


My hungry man got the theater menu (which was actually served all night, not one of those just-if-you-order-early things) which came with three courses, so I just got a Greek salad and planned to mooch off him.

He got some fantastic grilled calamari (the Belgian endive was ostensibly the garnish but guyyyyyyyys I love Belgian endive so much! So I ate the garnish) and the roast (organic! yay!) chicken, which was moist as all get-out and served on top of this creamy garlicky orzo that was like… transcendent.


Oh, and my salad? MASSIVE. SO SO SO HUGE. So I had a few bites of his three courses… and he ended up being ordered to make a big dent in my salad.

It was delicious. Devoid of lettuce, a PROPER Greek salad.


For dessert I also ate the garnish- fresh mint!- of the kadithopita, something I’m used to seeing in bite sized servings but at this place was the size of a legit slab of cake.


Steve kept peer pressuring me to eat it (he doesn’t really like dessert, which begs the question of why he didn’t just order the fruit plate, but whatev) so I sort of picked out walnuts (I am a notorious picker. It was a mark of how immediately comfortable I was with everyone that they were all teasing me for it!). My main focus was on the Greek coffee, mmm. The best.


Powered me for a night of DANCE!

I don’t get the itch to go dancing very often but man I had it. I was giddy with joy, I have a boy who actualy likes to dance, I was in a fun new town.

We initially hit up a club that was totally generic and everyone seemed to be in college and made me feel horribly old despite the fact that I’m 22.

But stopping into a fun looking place ended up with me semi-belly dancing (!) at this super intensely awesome hookah bar (Eireni, girl, you gotta hit this place up. Awesome music! No cover!) til it closed.


Despite the fact that we stayed there til 2 and then I was up with a queasy tummy from eating way too much freshly grilled pita at dinner (!), we were still the first people up. Because I am a crazy person who doesn’t sleep very often and then I’m up and y’know poor Steve is just a light sleeper.

So we headed down to breakfast in the sunshine. I use proper vacation to eat wild ‘n crazy breakfasts (you shoulda seen the stuff in Thailand) but since this was just a weekend away and I really was just craving wholesomeness, my complimentary hotel breakfast was on the boring side.


Melon, oatmeal with skim milk, Craisins, and peanut butter; and coffee with my one indulgence (partially hydrogenated oil be damned) International Delight creamer. Be still my beating heart.

Steve, who “wasn’t hungry”, got scrambled eggs, homefries, a croissant, two yogurts, two bananas, and two oranges.


And we sat, admiring the lovely view of Philly (that park with the fountain used to be a sight of public executions! Ah, history).

Then we stumbled upon some sort of run, and I admired (in a distant, disconnected way) both the beautiful architecture and the people in better shape than I..


People like my boyfriend.


He jumps on things a lot.

We went to Reading Terminal Market, a big Philly landmark and a rather obvious destination for me. Filled with every type of delicious cuisine you could think of. I was totally kicking myself for eating a boring breakfast.

Steve enjoyed this.


He was amused because he thinks it is gross but actually I adore it. I put buttermilk in all my cold soups and baked goods. If it makes me live forever, that is awesome.

The next few hours was packing people up, getting things organized, sitting in Philly traffic, struggling with Philly parking, and occasional bursts of admiring prettiness (like public parks, Steve’s sister’s cute apartment, etc.)

Round about 3 p.m., we wound up at a place called The Farmer’s Market. They had gelato.

Lunch is served!


Stunner of a selection. I went for the chocolate raspberry, which is perhaps the most delicious thing I have ever tasted.

With a background of beautiful flowers bursting into bloom: the Eastern seaboard is really at its finest right now.


The last event was a rather adorable street fair, watching Steve and his sister bond as I hunted down all the free samples we could get.

Then a slightly whacky trip to the airport to drop someone off (ending up in a slightly less floral and slightly more gritty neighborhood due to my sketchy navigational skills), followed by a trip home. Then work on Monday!


Tamara Marnell said...

We're going to Philadelphia in June, and I wasn't really looking forward to it because it's for "business" (a conference where I have to look put-together and schmooze for three days straight) but now I am! I didn't know it was so pretty! I wouldn't call nice fresh melon "boring"...I haven't had it since last summer and I'd probably eat a cantaloupe whole if one was handed to me about now. And when my sweetie "isn't hungry" he can usually polish off three plates of whatever's at the buffet, especially if it's complimentary :D

Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen said...

So much to say...where to begin? First of all, I grew up 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia, and I have yet to actually "experience" much of the city. I'm going 'home' in June for a little bit, so maybe that will finally be the time? [I am obsessed with that Greek restaurant! Not only for the fact that you captured a photo of a couple just about to kiss romantically, but also that they serve TRUE Greek salads! :)]

I've wanted to go to that market forever...but also I'm pretty sure when I get to the city I'm goign to do a cheesesteak showdown in honor of Adam Richman. He also went and got a pork sandwich with broccoli rabe at that market I want to try...and Franklin Fountain apparently has MASSIVE ice cream sundaes....

Oh my gosh, I want to keep writing but there is too much. :)

[I'll be driving through DC on June 9th and 12th. Perhaps we will finally meet?]