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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Walking Philadelphia

The only way to know and understand a place is to walk, or in my case, bike it.  There's too much beauty, interesting sights, and unsung food finds. This was a lucky shot - it was a chance to snap a photo of a Philadelphia fashion Icon, Miss Julie.  The fact that this tree is in full glorious pink blossom, that the mid-day sun was at it's perfect shine, and Julia is in mid-stride all made this still-life more of a caught in motion photo.

Went out to see and review a movie called City of Gold.  I stopped at Mama Angelina's for 2 slices of pizza beforehand.  Along my walk down to the theater, I picked up some pastries at Le Pain Quotidien. Pizza- cheap and somehow nostalgically memorable. Pastries - worst I've ever had!  My movie review will appear on my friend, Leanne's blog -, in a few days. 

I'm sure I've seen this doorbell and eye-viewer before.  On this walkabout It struck me as peculiar, like something from a science fiction movie. I expected the eyepiece viewer (or is it a sound system?) to come to life; to expand towards the visitor, probing you before you can enter the building.

Within the next year, the view from this corner of Broad and Locust will become a construction site, home to a new swank hotel. A serious piece of Philadelphia history for many drunks, late-night party people, college kids, LGTBQ folk finding their way in our city will be taken away from us.  A cheap slice, cheesesteak, or $3 breakfast special (2 eggs, home-fries, toast and coffee) will become a thing of the past. Except for Wawa, we'll have very few dive dining choices in Center City. 

There's a reason why we tend to eschew chain restaurants.  They're usually soulless and bland.  Le Pain Quotidien lulls you into a false sense of cool. A long roughly hewn community table; candles gently flickering on tables at day's end, beckoning you with their promise of a misty glow.  Artfully arranged breads and pastries, so enticing.  It's all a sham. The breads are sub-par and the pastries are no more than decorative knick knacks.  The almond treat I picked up turned out to be some sugar log that shattered upon the first bite and sent my mouth into a near diabetic fit. The mini Madeline - more of a mini marzipan muffin was a rock-hard toad stool.  Best part of the visit was finding the bicycle image on the catering box advertisement.  

This lot will surely become yet another series of condos or a boutique hotel.  I'm surprised it's been empty for this long.  It allows graffiti artists to ply their tags.

The open lot also gives a great view of Old Philadelphia buildings. Seen here is the Curtis Center Building. It especially beautiful when dusk is hitting the buildings, creating shadows on the open spaces and highlighting the taller buildings.  

From the files "Things you've NEVER noticed before" - I present the Gammadion Cross on a building at 5th and Chestnut Street.  I should hope the geometric lines are formed in the Greek tradition of the Gamma letter.  The inter-locking lines follow the key-line style of Greek neo-classical design.  Considering the proximity of this building's facade to the National Museum of Jewish American History, it gives one pause to say the least.

We'll miss you too - sign/art on a row of row-houses along 9th Street at Locust.  These will be torn down soon.  The buildings have already all been condemned.  Many street artists have left markers on the buildings.  Most are mundane graffiti.  Occasionally you'll find a true piece of street art.  Gotta love the street artist who takes the time to frame their work and install it!  We'll miss you too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Honey Lemonade and Bourbon

Cocktail time! A spring elixir to cure what ails you during these changing climates...

Recently there was a post floating around the internet, from SmittenKitchen's blog, showcasing a drink called a Vermontucky Lemonade.  It was a mixture of lemonade made with maple syrup, ice and a generous shot of bourbon.  Tempting and tasty.  I knew I had all the ingredients to make my own, with a few tweaks here and there.

My version of Smittenkitchen's vermontucky lemonade uses fresh lemon juice, water, Mississippi Honey, and for good measure, the preserved lemons and ginger that were put up in honey and bourbon,  They added a piquant spicy note.  I used the preserved lemons and ginger because I had them.  They were good in this version of the drink but I think for a warmer weather cocktail, I'd stick to the straight-up lemonade version. 
Don't forget to toss in a generous shot bourbon.  I pulled out of my collection an Evan Williams Single Barrel 10 year Vintage Bourbon. This bourbon was a good match for the tartness of the drink. This is a cocktail perfect for warm humid days.  Good for an after work pick-me-up.  I suspect this will be a good go-to cocktail for hot spring and summer days ahead.  

Honey Lemonade and Bourbon Ingredients - Makes 2 drinks or 1 large drink
  • 2 Lemons - Peeled, reserve lemon peels for garnish and roll the lemons to break up the juice membranes for maximum juice
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon of Honey - Best quality Clover, Orange Blossom, or other mildly flavor
  • Ice - cracked and 1 large cube per glass
  • 3-4 Ounces of Good Bourbon, Whiskey or Rye (about 1 1/2 shots/ounces per drink)
  • Lemon Peel or Wedge for Garnish

  1. Peel the lemons, being careful to not get any of the white pith on the lemon peel; set peels aside. (extra lemon peel can be dried and ground to use in other cooking and spice blends)  Roll the lemons to break up the membranes before juicing. Use a juicer or reamer to extract the most lemon juice.  Strain out the seeds and pour lemon juice into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour in the water and add in the honey.  Stir the lemonade until the honey dissolves. Taste and adjust with more honey and/or water as needed.  The lemonade should be tart and slightly sweet.
  3. Add in the cracked ice and bourbon. Cover the mixer and shake rigorously several times.
  4. Strain and pour the drink over a large ice cube in a rocks glasses. Garnish with either a lemon peel or wedge.  Makes 2 drinks.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring sightings and biking

Took the bike out to ride to the train today. Haven't had the chance to do this as much as I should and could. Pedaled down a quiet side street. Forsythia just about starting to bud. Bare trees revealing tiny birds' nests. A wee sapling supported by a thin wooden structure. The air was filled with an aviary's complete bird symphony. All capped off by the first sighting of a cherry tree in full resplendent pink cotton candy blooms.