Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Reading Terminal Market - Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef

Every time I visit a new city, I look up its city market. Boston, Milwaukee and Cleveland all have lovely ones. Add Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market to the list.

The Reading Terminal Market has tons and tons of shops. From fresh meats and cheeses to candies and pastries to hot food to order, they have a little bit of everything.

Reading Terminal Market - Dinics
Reading Terminal Market - Dinics
Reading Terminal Market - Dinics

So, I tried some cheese samples that were AMAZING, and I also had a nibble of some beef jerky. Oh, and a birch beer!

After nibbling, we sat down at Tommy DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef to split a roast pork sandwich. We ordered it complete with cheese and sweet peppers. Thankfully we split one, because they're huge. We ordered in the to-go line (oops), but then we ate it there. I guess that's not what you're supposed to do.
Reading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - Dinics

So, this sandwich was fine. I'm not sure I am aboard the whole giant carnivorous sandwich (hello, give me some sauce or SOMETHING), but this is good for what it is. It's hearty, no frills, filling and full - FULL - of roast pork. I definitely think it needs the cheese and peppers just for some flavor and texture variation. But, solid, nonetheless.
Reading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - DinicsReading Terminal Market - Dinics

Grade: B
Tommy DiNic's Pork & Beef Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, August 22, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Federal Donuts

Federal Donuts
What goes together better than fried chicken and donuts? Very few things, I tell you.

Federal DonutsPhilly's Federal Donuts knows this best. This donuts-by-morning, chicken-by-lunch shop blends both worlds beautifully. Kaitlynn and I rose early to get our mitts on some fresh donuts during our first morning in Philly.

Federal DonutsHot fresh donuts include ones like strawberry lavender (which I ordered one of), and there are the "fancy" donuts as well, like this delicious strawberry cheesecake one. The fried chicken - which comes with seasonings like za'atar, coconut curry and buttermilk ranch - wasn't available quite yet. Oh well.

Federal DonutsAfter I selected a strawberry lavender and a strawberry cheesecake donut, we sat outside to enjoy the sun before it became too unbearably scorching. The strawberry lavender is a bit messy with the sugar tumbling off all sides as I took a bite. But the very sweet, almost-floral flavor was refreshing. The strawberry cheesecake, while I didn't get much of the cheesecake flavor, was also decent. Not mind-blowing, but good.

Federal DonutsI think to get the true experience, I'll have to try some of the chicken. Will save that for next time.

Grade: B
Federal Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: John's Water Ice

Johns Water IceWater ice, or Italian ice, is a Philadelphia dessert specialty. 
Today's Italian ice, also known as water ice (particularly in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley), is a sweetened frozen dessert made with fruit (often from concentrates, juices or purées) or other natural or artificial food flavorings, similar to sorbet.[1][2] Italian ice is not shaved ice that is flavored; rather, it is made by the same process by which ice cream is made: freezing the ingredients while mixing them. Italian ice is similar to sorbet but differs from American-style sherbet in that it does not contain dairy or egg ingredients, though it may contain egg white.[1]Common flavors include blue raspberry, cherry, lemon, mango, orange, strawberry, and watermelon, with numerous other flavors available. It is believed to be derived from the Sicilian granita,[3] a related dessert which may have been brought by immigrants to the United States. Authentic Italian ice contains no pieces of fruit: smooth tiny grains of flavored ice, lemon being the quintessential flavor.
Johns Water IceJohn's Water Ice is one of the iconic shops for it, so Kaitlynn and I took a stroll to get out hands on some. This cash-only shop is window service only, and on a hot summer day, it was certainly busy.f

At first, I thought this was going to be a snow cone, and while it's similar, the flavoring is actually within the ice and not added afterward. It's also much smoother. I went with a cherry flavor, which was pretty good. Because it was so hot, the thing just practically melted apart as I was holding it - red going all over my hands. BUT, the flavor? Way better than a snow cone. And a good way to cool off, too.

Johns Water IceGrade: B
John's Water Ice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Geno's Steaks

Pats CheesesteaksThe *other* iconic philly cheesesteak place is Geno's, a rival just across the street from Pat's. It was founded in 1966 by Joey Vento:

The man had two boxes of steaks, a few hot dogs, and $6 in his pocket when he turned on the grills at 9th and Passyunk. Neighboring joints predicted he’d last six months, tops. 
Joey didn’t listen. He stuck to what he knew and what he knew was steaks. Joey learned the ropes working in his old man’s steak shop in the 40’s. It was in that kitchen that Joey mastered cooking a steak to mouth-watering perfection and grilling an onion so it had just enough bite. 
Little by little the shop at 9th and Passyunk drew more attention. Before long, people were saying they were the best steaks they’ve ever had. Joey kept at it. 
Business was booming in 1971 when Joey and his wife Eileen had a baby boy. Always one to do things his own way, Joey decided to name his son (yep, you guessed it) Geno. 
As soon as he was old enough, Geno was right there beside his dad, learning about the family business. From 17 on, you could find him at the shop, making steaks, taking orders, and meeting with customers – learning every aspect of the business Joey built.
Joey Vento passed away in 2011. Geno has since taken over the shop and is carrying on Joey’s legacy by serving up Philly’s famous cheesesteaks.
Genos CheesesteaksThere's a friendly competition between Geno's and Pat's, and it's common to see tourists walk from one shop to the other to compare. We did just that. I ordered the same cheeesesteak at Geno's as I did at Pat's: One Whiz wit -- aka, one cheesesteak with Cheez Wiz and onions.

Genos Cheesesteaks
This cheesesteak has slices of ribeye beef, and the onions and cheese fall to the bottom of the sandwich, as opposed to sitting on top of the beef. The beef gets just a bit dried out. So, still a good sandwich, but when it comes down to it, I'm a Pat's girl.

Genos Cheesesteaks

Grade: B
Geno's Steaks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, August 19, 2016

Philadelphia, PA Edition: Pat's King of Steaks

Pats CheesesteaksSo, I try to visit Boston every so often now that my good friend Kaitlynn lives there. And, Boston is great, but funds were running low, so we decided to meet halfway: Philadelphia. Neither of us had ever been to Philadelphia, so adventure!

First stop? Cheesesteaks, obvi.

Pats CheesesteaksThere are two notable cheesesteak places in Philly that all the tourists flock to: Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks. There are also a dozen others that people in Philly will SWEAR are the ACTUAL best cheesesteak places. But, I only have so much room in my belly for cheesesteak, so I wanted to start off with the ~iconic~ places.

Pat's King of Steaks is the originator and inventor of the cheesesteak sandwich. One day in 1930, Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, put some some beef from the butcher on his grill. A taxi driver apparently noticed the delicious smell and asked for his own steak sandwich.

The next day, as the story goes, rumor of the delicious lunch had spread, and cabbies around the city came to Olivieri demanding steak sandwiches. Soon after, Olivieri opened up a shop at the southern end of South Philly's Italian Market, Pat’s King of Steaks, to sell his new creation. Eventually, according to legend, he added cheese to the recipe. This restaurant is still owned and operated by the Olivieri family today.

Pats CheesesteaksSo - what exactly is a cheesesteak? Well, it's a long, crusty roll that is filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. The most common one is Cheez Wiz, but there is also American and provolone. Also, you can denote whether you want it with or without onions. And, some other toppings are available at a cart nearby, like peppers.

Pats CheesesteaksSo, we got in line to order our cheesesteaks, which apparently has very specific instructions. There are three main components:

1. How many cheesesteaks you want
2. What type of cheese (Cheez Whiz, Provolone or American)
3. If you want onions

So, [Quantity] + [Cheese] + [With or without onion]. One American with, Two whiz without, etc. It's basically three words so you can move through the line quickly. Got it? Hopefully, because if not, you could be sent to the back of the line.

I ordered "one whiz with," so I got a cheesesteak with Cheez Wiz and onions. The long bun was filled with nicely browned, griddle-chopped steak. The Cheez Wiz melts on top of this steaming sandwich, and the sweet, crunchy bits of onion are - to me - what makes this sandwich.

Pats CheesesteaksThis typically isn't my kind of sandwich, but this was tasty. The meat was tender, the cheese just coated the entire thing, and the onions added some crunch and sweet. Pretty good. Now, onto their competition...

Grade: A
Pat's King of Steaks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato