Philly’s only Victorian museum and garden, the lavishly decorated interiors (the subject of an upcoming post) at the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion are an atmospheric setting for Victorian Theater. In addition to full length productions, the museum also hosts Victorian inspired murder mysteries – like the Sweeney Todd inspired version we participated in last week – one of us actually correctly identified the murderer (it was the understudy who was having an affair with the leading man!)
For a city walk with great views and no traffic, the pedestrian path on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge is a great option. Opened in 1926 (with Art Deco architectural details), a round trip walk is almost 3 miles – with views of the Camden and Philadelphia waterfronts and Philadelphia skyline.
Since we burned off all those calories hiking the bridge – and since the bridge walk ends in Old City, we headed to one of our favorite restaurants, Capofitto, for a favorite Philly meal: arancini (fried risotto balls) and pizza with arugula and prosciutto:
Next, we are going to attempt to recreate this delicious meal at home… (Recreating a Restaurant (Capofitto) Meal At Home: Arancini & Pizza With Prosciutto)
What better way to experience the Victorian’s fascination with death than to tour Laurel Hill Cemetery at night?
Built in 1836 (and still active), Laurel Hill was the second landscape garden cemetery built in the United States. Filled with interesting funerary architecture and fascinating stories, the cemetery offers themed tours, theater, hearse shows, photography walks, ghost tours AND evening explorations. Although there are fees to attend events, visiting the cemetery is free.
It’s called “The Fabric Workshop,” but houses a (free) museum that supports and exhibits artists in a variety of media. Until November 5th, they have an extensive exhibit on Philly-based architect Louis Kahn. Videos, sketches, models, etc. – all showcasing Kahn’s work both in Philadelphia (Richards Medical Research Laboratories @ University of Pennsylvania) and elsewhere – including FDR 4 Freedoms Park in NYC – where Tobey and I visited last summer:
They also offer student workshops. Tobey and Erick attended a great program set up by a fellow home-schooler several years ago – during which their group designed and printed a large piece of silk-screen:
Since it’s right up the street from Chinatown, the museum is a great stop for a little culture before or after lunch – in this case Burmese food at Rangoon. Delicious lentil fritters, thousand-layer bread with potato curry, and tea leaf salad:
For dessert: coconut sticky rice with mango and jello-crunch ice (who would think the combination of jello, tapioca, pineapple, peanuts, ice, and condensed milk could taste so good??):
After visiting the giant pop-up book last week, we went to check out other pop-up works by the artist, Tao Hua Yuan Ji, at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists. Little did we know that it’s located in a fancy residential building on Rittenhouse Square – and that we would have to be escorted up to the gallery. Although the introduction was a bit intimidating, the staff were very friendly and we were able to see some of the artist’s smaller pop-up works and a selection of the photographs she took and used in assembling them (with no pressure to buy – this large one cost $12,000).
Our afternoon was spent at the Academy of Music watching the dress rehearsal for Pennsylvania Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty. A beautifully ornate theater, The Academy was completed in 1857, and is the oldest opera house in the United States still used for its original purpose. The Pennsylvania Ballet often performs here (or in the smaller Meriam Theater) and offers tickets to the dress rehearsals to school groups (and homeschoolers). Over the past 5 years, we have been lucky enough to attend several performances. We both agreed that this was the company’s best performance.
Another off-the-beaten path adventure – this time to the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center to see construction of the world’s largest pop-up book by Philadelphia artist, Tao Hua Yuan Ji:
Since 80 degrees in October doesn’t happen too often, we decided to hit up Whole Foods for a picnic: Bellavitano Rum Runner Cheese with Apricot Chardonnay preserves, raspberries and a most delicious chocolate caramel cupcake:
We finished with a walk to the top of the “stairs to nowhere” at the corner of Kelly Drive & Sedgley Drive:
At the top, hidden behind the trees is the gorgeous, neoclassical Lemon Hill Mansion.
Built in 1800 (except for the porches – those are a later, Victorian addition), it was the first property purchased by the City to protect the watershed of the Schuylkill River (today Fairmount Park). It’s open Thursdays-Sundays from April – mid-December. 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. $8/adult and $5/student. The tour includes interior views of the beautiful Palladian window and unique oval rooms – 3 levels with curved doors and windows.
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:
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…
Tobey says this was the best Thursday EVER. An hour petting the kitties and sipping lattes at the Kawaii Kitty Café (759 South 4th Street):
2 ice cream treats – a bourbon peach pie milkshake from Magpie (a piece of pie blended with vanilla ice cream – way better than pie a la mode – 1622 South Street) and a Salted Pimp cone (vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, sea salt and a chocolate coating) from Big Gay Ice Cream (521 Broad Street):
The Salty Pimp – vanilla soft serve, dulche de leche, sea salt and chocolate.
And a new (to us) food – poutine – a Canadian fast food meal of French fries, gravy, cheese curds – ours topped with BBQ pulled pork. From Smokey’s Poutinerie (411 South Street).
Plus, a mini-photo shoot by one of South Street’s fun murals:
Yoga in a studio is one thing, but yoga in a sculpture garden overlooking the river is a different experience.
During the summer the Philadelphia Art Museum offers free yoga on Wednesday evenings (during the winter it takes place in the museum and you need (free) tickets). Wednesdays are “pay what you wish” at the museum and there are lots of events inside the museum, including music, tours and art-making.
After yoga, we treated ourselves to a fresh juice at the Whole Foods (Green Goodness for Tobey & Tumeric-aid for me) and a popsicle from the Lil’ Pop Shop truck at Eakins Oval (because you can’t be too healthy….):