Posts tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Following Foodie – The Christmas Special

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! I’m home in Philly, but I started off my celebration of Christmas with a little trip down to Cincinnati. My family and I used to spend Christmas in Cincinnati all the time, but we haven’t been there in December for at least 6? 7? years.

I started off my holiday weekend on Saturday night with a new Cincinnati tradition – Downtown Dazzle, aka Santa repelling down a building in Fountain Square.

You might remember Fountain Square from it’s appearance in my Oktoberfest post. This time, though, the Square was decked out for the holiday season

The tradition of Santa repelling has been taking place for about 5 years, and it was actually my uncle’s idea to start it! He’s an event planner in Cincinnati, and he thought it would be a great Cincinnati holiday tradition.

After watching the Cincinnati Boys’ Choir,

admiring the Christmas tree,

seeing Santa, an elf, and Rudolph scale down a building,

and watching some fireworks

my aunt, uncle, cousin, and other uncle went in search of food. After a few misses (downtown Cinci was pretty busy, what with all the spectators also looking for a good meal), we ended up at Nicholson’s Tavern and Pub, a “Scottish” pub-type restaurant.

I was immediately drawn to their impressive draught beer selection, and had no problem finding one of my favorites, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.

We didn’t have to wait too long for a table, and after everyone ordered a drink, we were served nice hot bread

I really wasn’t in the mood for heavy pub food, and was excited to see a few interesting salads and sandwiches on the menu as well. After much internal debate (should I get traditional pub food, as I was in a pub?), I decided on the Grilled Ahi sandwich, with a side of steak fries.

It was delicious! I love ginger, and there was a definite gingery kick to this sandwich. I also appreciated the portion of fries – just enough.

However, the star of the meal was the real reason we came there in the first place – the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Before the dessert was brought out, some sugared spoons were brought to the table

And then, the dessert itself:

Yum! We split it between three people, and there was still some left over! It was so rich, but really delicious, too :D

Other highlights from my trip to Cinci included a trip to my Uncle’s in Northern Kentucky for his holiday open house. I can’t believe it, but I forgot my camera! Which is horrible, because other than the food (which included baked brie, amazing guacamole, little ham sandwiches, and chili dip), my uncle’s house is something to marvel at. For one thing, he has 7 Christmas trees. He also collects Peanuts memorabilia (specifically Snoopy stuff), and 4 of the 7 trees are Peanuts themed. Instead of looking tacky, though, it’s just really, really cool.

On Wednesday, I finally got to come home to Philadelphia, and was greeted with my family’s Christmas tree,

Christmas decorations

and the remains of the blizzard of ‘09.

In comparison, here’s what we received, in Michigan (where it’s supposed to be nice and snowy).

Christmas Eve Day started for me with a chilly and icy 4-mile run. It felt wonderful, though, and set a nice precedent for the day, as did my unpictured bowl of yogurt.

The rest of the day was spent shopping (I just needed a few more things!), baking (more on that later :) and hanging out with my family.

Before church (our parish’s version of “Midnight Mass” takes place at 10:30), we had a Christmas Eve meal of stuffed shells, bread-machine bread and salad. I made the salad, a replica of my asparagus-pomegranate-chickpea salad I made before.

Not a huge fan of stuffed shells, I had some salad and bread.

Following food, we took some Christmas photos.

After church we swapped our Pollyanna gifts, a tradition we’ve had since we stopped going to Cincinnati, I think. Instead of everyone buying gifts for each other, we each draw a name. I was so excited for my gift – I drew my Phillies-loving brother, and actually bought for him the picture that I used for that post, as well as baseball-related book.

Christmas morning, we awoke to presents under the tree!

I love Christmas so much. And although I do love opening presents, as I get older, it’s becoming more fun for me to watch others open their presents, and to enjoy time with my family and their craziness.

I got some pretty cool stuff

but it was really more fun to watch everyone else open their gifts.

The rest of today has been spent doing exactly what I think you should do on Christmas – sitting around, napping, and eating. I had a fairly tame breakfast and lunch,

but have definitely supplemented it with some (previously promised) Christmas cookies.

Yum. Now, maybe I’ll go for a run. Or perhaps sit around and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas


December 25, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Philly Fridays

I woke up on Friday and went on a nice, long 7 mile run. It went pretty slowly (I forgot how many good-sized hills were on that particular route); I finished in around 1:10 (or right around a 10 min/mile time). It felt really good to go out and sweat it up after a night of such indulgence…

At around noon-ish, we left to drive down to Philly for the day. On the drive, I ate a new bar that I got after the race.

Apparently I took no picture of the actual bar…It was pretty good, though. A little overly sweet, but it kept me full until our (unplanned) extremely late lunch.

I tore my attention away from the bar, though, when view such as this appeared :)

Truth: I live approximately half an hour away from Philly, but I don’t get into the city nearly enough. Hence the extreme excitement.

Our first stop was Macy’s, which used to be Wanamaker’s (one of, if not the, first department stores in Philadelphia). When I was younger, we used to go almost every year to see the massive light show that Wanamaker’s put on – luckily Macy’s still carries on the tradition.

We didn’t actually stop and watch the show, but I did hear some of it, and my mom snapped a few pics of me:

We then walked over to City Hall, which was hosting a Christmas Market! Unfortunately, as its only in its second year, the market was lacking a bit, but that didn’t stop us from getting an almost-family photo:

Next we walked through some of my favorite areas of the city en route to South Street.

We were headed to a new restaurant, Brauhaus Schmitz (my dad feels the need to visit every German restaurant possible…). After living in Germany for six months, I’m a little wary of German restaurants in America, but I was instantly impressed with the giant Reinheitsgebot on the wall:

I also really liked the table decorations:

As it’s after Thanksgiving, I ordered the seasonal Weissenoher Weihnachts Festbier (Christmas Party Beer!).

I enjoyed it (I love dark beers), but didn’t get much Christmas spice out of it. I ordered what I am always craving when I eat German food, a Wurstsalat

I used to eat them all the time in Germany, and have yet to find a really good replica in the states – apparently the delicate balance of light dressing, pickles, cheese, and sliced up bologna-resembling meat is really difficult. I also ordered a side of Spaetzle. With our drinks, we also were given some bread and herbed butter:

Of which I gladly partook in:

The bread was so good! Proper “dark bread” with a nice crust, and who doesn’t love butter with herbs (I think it was parsley).

Unfortunately, this was the last food we saw in a long time. Granted, the restaurant has only been open since the summer, but there was really no excuse for the service – we waited over an hour for our food, and it wasn’t even very busy.

The presentation of the food was very nice

But now, looking back on the menu description, the salad was missing the cheese and the pickles :( Though the meat and the dressing were very close to the real thing, the salad was tasty, and the spaetzle was delicious (if not a bit too buttery), the ridiculous service and salad with missing ingredients really ruined the restaurant for me (and the afternoon for all of us). I can’t in good faith recommend it, though if you’re just going for beer, I suppose it would be a good choice…

We left after lunch (/dinner), and I spent the rest of the day basically vegging and pigging out. Which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the holiday, with a bit of shopping thrown in here and there.

Tomorrow is December! I will be back with a challenge for myself, some holiday eats, and some holiday pictures :)

November 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

Turkey Trots

Happy Thanksgiving from the great city of Philadelphia! My brother and I made the 8-hour drive yesterday, getting home just after 9:00pm. And then this morning, all (but one, sigh) of my brothers and I got up to run in the Fairmount Park 5 Mile Turkey Trot in Philly.

It was really important for me to run a race today, because last year I ran in the Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race – the first race I had ever run (and the first time I really had ever seriously run before in my life).

Though I didn’t start running regularly until March, I definitely credit the 10k in Cinci as giving me the “running bug” – it was such an awesome experience to run with so many people, and the sense of accomplishment I got after finishing was amazing.

The race today was alright – it was pretty small and much less high tech than any race I’ve run in before. Instead of having chips, our times were recorded as we crossed, and we tore off part of our bibs for the finishing order.

I felt pretty crappy for most of the race, truth be told. I got a cramp, and my right heel felt unbelievably tight. 

Around mile 4, though I felt a lot better (I think this bodes well for my marathon – I’m so much more comfortable running long distances than short). I finished in 41:28, which is a lot better than I was expecting, given how bad I felt – that’s a 8:17 min/mile pace! Comparatively, last year I ran my 10k at a 9:54 min/mile pace – a pretty good improvement, I’d say :)

I think running on Thanksgiving might be my favorite new tradition. It’s so nice to accomplish something in the morning, and then be able to go home and really enjoy the Thanksgiving feast.

Speaking of which, a full recap of Thanksgiving Day eats will be recapped after they’ve been eaten :) Enjoy your day!

November 26, 2009 at 1:32 pm 1 comment

Prolonging Fall As Much As Possible

Been awhile, huh? It’s not something I’m happy with, but the truth is I’m still struggling with life a bit, and as a result, regular eating, and healthy eating especially, has gone by the wayside. It’s November, though, I’ve got groceries and a weekly meal plan, and the Phillies didn’t lose last night! So all is good.

Speaking of the Phillies, I had the absolute privilege to attend my first World Series game on Saturday night! As I’m not such a huge fan of Halloween, getting to go experience the Fall Classic (and getting back to Citizens Bank Park!) seemed like a much better alternative.

My brother and I started our night in front of Citizens Bank Park, in a little fair that had been set up out front.

Much to my delight, there was free Turkey Hill Graham Slam ice cream!

Considering this retails for $4-5 inside the park, it was quite the score! I did not get a Helmet Sundae, however :( It got really cold as the night went on, and I was already ice cream’ed out.

There was also free swag, music, and photo opportunities!

Yup, I’m very much not in red, I realize that. But I am rocking my awesome Halloween Phillies shirt! With a flaming pumpkin on the front, and the World Series logo. I thought it was appropriate :)

Inside the park, after more photos:

we made a trip around to see the craziness. There was just such an awesome buzz inside (that honestly, I had felt at the mall, too – Philly is crazy :) so much more powerful than “regular” games. I also stopped to get some Crab Fries.

A local sports bar, Chickie’s and Pete’s, has these awesome fries, seasoned with crab seasoning, that comes with this (horrible for you, I’m sure) white cheese sauce. There’s only one stand for them in all of the public parts of Citizens Bank Park (the ritzy seats have their own…), and once, my brother and I waited in line for almost 3 full innings to get them. No lie. And yes, they are worth it!

We had pretty good seats, but for the first hour, this is all we saw:

I ate a cheesesteak while waiting, but it’s unpictured, because I honestly think I scarfed it before thinking of taking a picture. Finally, though, the game began, and in true Phillies fans fashion, the rally towels were flying!

Unfortunately, though, that awesome energy only lasted the first few innings, as the team pretty much fell apart :( Loss or not, though, being able to attend a World Series game, in Philadelphia, was an amazing experience.

But now I’m back in Michigan, and must resign myself to merely watch on TV, and hear the awesome stories of my brothers, who are doing cool things like meeting players’ family members…C’est la vie.

Last night, I used an Acorn Squash that’s been sitting in my kitchen for quite sometime to make a recipe that’s been sitting in my “To Make” folder for just as long, Christina’s Roasted Acorn Squash with Corn Pudding. I made a few changes, namely using red pepper instead of green, omitting the jalapenos, and adding a quarter of an onion, chopped. My bacon was also Applewood smoked.

Oh my gosh, was this good! The only thing I would do differently next time (and there will be a next time!) is not using so much milk – it ran over my squash bowls. It’s so sweet and savory and filling; amazing! So good, I had no problem having it for dinner again tonight, with carrots and Trader Joe’s Chipotle Pepper Hummus (which has quite the kick to it!).

My dessert was more Great Harvest Biscotti. And some milk.

And some Biggest Loser. Which I’m going to finish now, and then go to bed!


November 3, 2009 at 10:01 pm 1 comment


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