The whole family (including grandparents) took a ride in the Firefly pedicabs on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway:
In celebration of the Parkway’s 100 year anniversary, the Association for Public Art commissioned Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang (known for his incredible fireworks displays and gunpowder art) to create a site-specific work. Nine hundred handcrafted, illuminated lanterns decorate a fleet of 27 pedicabs – which the public can ride in from September 14 to October 8, 2017.
We explored a new part of town this week – the University of Pennsylvania campus area. U-Penn was established by Ben Franklin in 1751. The current campus dates to the Victorian era, and has a great example of Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness’s work – the Fisher Memorial Library:
In addition to the gorgeous library, the building also houses a (free) art museum, where we saw “A View of One’s Own” – photos of Rome by 3 women photographers from the 1910’s, 1950’s and 2000’s:
Walking campus, we saw the cutest little dog:
And my mom’s old dormitory – the fortress-like Hill College House, designed by Finnish-born modernist architect Eero Saarinen (who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis):
Lunch was at Dana Mandi, one of local food critic Craig LaBan’s Best Philly Values – and an experience in itself: walk to the back of the Indian grocery store, go behind a curtain to the seating area, write your order on a scrap of paper and leave it on the counter. Like magic, delicious, cheap (the parathas were amazing) Indian food comes out on styrofoam trays, served in to-go containers.
No adventure is complete without dessert, so our final stop was the Sugar food truck (38th St. between Walnut & Sansom St.) for Tobey’s favorite – macrons:
I enjoy the gizmos of modern science museums, but I really love good, old fashioned natural history museums, and Philly has two terrific examples.
The Academy of Natural Sciences:
Founded in 1812, The Academy is the oldest natural science institution in the western hemisphere. It houses Thomas Jefferson’s fossils, Lewis and Clark’s plants, and many of the birds collected by John James Audubon (plus a copy of one of the large books of Audubon prints – they have a page turning each day at 3:15). But, the best part are the dioramas, many of which were constructed in the 1920s and 30s. They have an exhibit and video showing how the dioramas were created.
The Wagner Free Institute:
The museum building was completed in 1865 and houses a huge collection of specimens including: mounted birds and mammals, fossils, rocks and minerals, insects, shells, dinosaur bones, and the first American saber-toothed tiger. The collections are still displayed in the cherry-wood and glass cabinets built in the 1880s. They are displayed in their original “systematic” scheme, providing a rare view of a Victorian science museum. Plus, it’s FREE!
On a trip to Chinatown, we scoured the markets for bobas (tapioca pearls) to make our own bubble tea. Most shops didn’t carry them but we managed to find a package of white tapioca pearls (bubble tea shops usually use the brown) – only a $1.24 investment.
After reading and watching several tutorials, we made our first batch (boil 25 minutes, soak in sugar water 25 minutes). Edible, but just barely – too tough in the center. So, we broke down and ordered the brown boba from Amazon (Bolle brand). This time… success! Our own version with mango/peach tea, milk, and mango juice:
We had a friend with us for this week’s Thursday in Philadelphia, so we introduced her to one of our favorite Chinatown foods: Soup Dumplings at Tom’s Dim Sum (we also love their scallion pancakes and cucumber salad):
Then, a new Chinatown adventure: Eskimo Kisses at the new N2 Sweet Cafe. Crunchy banana flavored snacks soaked in liquid Nitrogen – spear them, eat them and watch the smoke come out of your mouth (a science lesson and culinary adventure all in one). We also had one of their nitrogen frozen ice-creams with peanut butter and Oreo, which was super creamy and delicious.
Since we had an Eskimo theme going, we stopped by the old Art-Deco post office at 9th & Market for a look at the Eskimo, Caribbean and Cowboy mailmen:
No matter how nutritious, wheat-grass shots are DISGUSTING!
But, everything is tolerable if washed down with a cupcake!
(our new-to-us food of the week) from Wholefoods.
Philadelphia joins 75 cities around the world in having a “Homeless Jesus” statue created by artist Timothy Schmalz. Schmalz created the statue as a “constant, perpetual reminder that when we see the least in our society, we should see Jesus.” Philadelphia’s statue lies on a bench in the 1200 block of Race Street, outside the headquarters of Saint John’s Hospice.
Back in Philly after a late summer break. We started by crashing Parkway 100’s press conference outside the Academy of Natural Science – listening to the talks netted us free Dippin’ Dots and a Philly-centered dot-to-dot book (not just for kids – one of the pages has over 1,000 dots. After 1/2 hours work, we still only finished 1/4 of the page). Very excited about the activities going on to celebrate the Parkway’s 100 year anniversary – we already have our tickets for a ride in the Firefly pedicabs. After the unexpected snack, we walked to Chinatown for 2 of our favorite treats:
Bahn mi from QT Vietnamese Sandwich (48 N. 10th St.) – we get the #1 special with meat, carrot, cilantro and jalapeno on the best French bread in Philly. At $6.60 for a sharable sandwich, it’s a great bargain. We ate in the cute little parking-spot park at 10th/Cherry – 2 planters, 2 benches, all squeezed in 1 parking spot right in the middle of Chinatown.
We followed with a Very Mango from Bubblefish (909 Arch St.) – boba for Tobey and popping yogurt for me. Since Tobey loves bubble tea, we stopped by one of the Asian grocery stores to purchase our own tapioca balls. We are going to attempt to make bubble tea at home. Stay tuned for the results…