Why Philadelphia in February?
It was the site of my dessert cookbook's photo shoot with Philly-based Running Press and Steve Legato Photography. Just between you and me, I wasn't going to miss that experience for all the tea in Boston's icy harbor, snow be damned, Amtrak train cancellations be doubly damned, school cancellations be triply damned. I fishtailed my way down my barely plowed street at 5 am on Monday and flung myself onto the first southbound train that came my way. Six hours later, I woke up in Philly.
This is the view from my little hotel, The Independent, which I loved (wood floors, high ceilings, close to all the great restaurants). I didn't have much daylight to work with for sight-seeing, but I did manage a fair amount of walking before and after the shoot through the Old City and Rittenhouse Square.
Philly reminds me a lot of Boston with its brick and cobblestone sidewalks in some quarters and streetcar rails grooving the pavement in others. The architecture is similar, too, with pretty little row houses lining the streets, but with more brick than brownstone and simpler, straighter lines. The urban vibe seems grittier and funkier than Boston, though, and certainly more diverse. There seemed to be painted murals around every corner. The grid system of an urban plan (roads chronologically numbered in one direction, named after trees in the other) is very easy to navigate by foot, and the drivers don't rev their engines if you're still in the crosswalk when the light is about to change. That was a refreshing change of pace.
My editor treated my agent and I to a lovely dinner at Tria, a wine bar with a welcome emphasis on cheese and probably the friendliest service I've experienced at any restaurant ever. The next night, I dined alone at Fish at the bar overlooking the open kitchen. The food was delicious: seared scallops with chorizo, cauliflower, and Marcona almonds, and monkfish with parsnip puree, lobster butter, fermented garlic, braised fennel, and radish.
The staff kept me well entertained, teasing me for missing all the important Philly sights: the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the latter of which seemed better known for Rocky's triumphant training scene than any art contained therein. Let it be known, however, that I did get to the Reading Terminal Market housed in an old train station, where I procured colorful farm eggs and an assortment of winter squashes for photography purposes.
But, of course, a large part of why I loved my trip so much was the photo shoot itself. It was amazing. What a fantastic, talented, and welcoming crew! They made even my most unphotogenic recipes look scrumptious, hermits included. Hermits!! The shoot deserves a post all its own, which you will soon get, but first I need to spend a little time with my family.
(To be continued…)