Burmese Food, Louis Kahn, And A (Free) Museum With A Misleading Name



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??):




Chinatown Continued… (Noodles + Cake), Street Art & Homeschooling

Our explorations of Chinatown seem to be never ending – so many different regional cuisines, many of which are represented in Philly.  Plus, new restaurants open faster than we can try them.  We were both fighting colds this week, so what better cure than spicy noodle soup?  Spice C is one of the best places in Philly for hand-drawn noodles – plus, the noodles are made fresh for each order and you can watch the chef toss the noodles while you wait.  Spicy Sichuan soup with wontons, roast pork & shaved noodles and spicy soy sauce, hand-drawn noodles were the perfect medicine:


In the land of $8 ice cream, we decided to try a more economical dessert.  Two Chinatown bakeries fit the bill:  The Mayflower Bakery (1008 Race St.) – $4 for a whole Swiss Roll (you can buy them by the slice for $1, but we were feeling greedy):


and KC’s Pastries (109 N. 10th St.) – $1.00 for a  bun (we loved the butter cream – the taro bun was…. interesting).


During the walk to Chinatown, we came across this new street art by a storm drain on Race Street (you never know what you are going to see in the City – love the octopus and crabbie):


Since we homeschool, Tobey occasionally needs to finish up some schoolwork before we start our Philly adventures.  We often go to the Free Library, but the weather was so beautiful, we sat in the gardens of the Barnes Foundation (better than a classroom any day!).


Exploring U-Penn – Art, Architecture, Macarons And An Indian Food Adventure AND The Cutest Little Dog Ever

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:



Soup Dumplings, Eskimo Kisses And An Eskimo Mailman

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:





Dippin’ Dots, Dot-To-Dots And Popping Boba


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…




Kitty Café, Poutine, And Lots Of Ice Cream

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):

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:






First Friday: Throwing Pots, French Pastries, The Science of Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” And (Of Course) Galleries and Shopping

First Friday in Old City is always busy-especially during the warmer months.  August’s adventures included: free pot throwing at the Clay Studio:

A demonstration at the Chemical Heritage Foundation on the electromedical experiments that influenced Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”


A sighting of the cutest little Chihuahua in the Impact Imports store window (she has her own Instagram account @tiny_lasi):


Plus, interesting art,:

Shopping at small, independent stores (Tobey’s refurbished picture frame mirror from Jules Goldman Books and Antiques- 29 N. 2nd St.),:


AND French pastries from the tiny, walk-up bakery, Tartes (212 Arch St.):




The Top Place In The World To Eat Ice Cream


# 1 on National Geographic’s “Top Ten Places to Eat Ice Cream in the World:”



“Made with the freshest ingredients (such as milk from Amish grass-fed cows), the artisan gelatos and sorbettos handcrafted each day at Capogiro include flavors not seen anywhere else—Madagascar bourbon vanilla, melograno (pomegranate), nocciola Piemonte (hazelnut), Saigon cinnamon, Thai coconut milk (with a dash of rum), and zucca (long-neck pumpkin).”

Family favorites include: cioccolato scuro (dark chocolate), dulce de leche (sweet cream with caramel swirl) and stracciatella (Italian chocolate chip).  The fun is picking 2 complimentary flavors to mix (in the small cup).

The difference between gelato and ice cream? The ingredients are similar, but because gelato uses more milk and less cream and fewer or no egg yolks it is much lower in fat.  Additionally, gelato is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and creating a creamier texture.

5 locations in Philadelphia. https://capogirogelato.com

A Farmer’s Market And The BEST Dessert Ever

13 year old girls like to drink a lot of (sweetened) coffee.  Not me, but love coffee ice cream, so today we tried a new-to-us dessert – affogato – from our favorite ice cream store Capogiro (the best ice cream in the WORLD according to National Geographic). A shot of espresso poured over a scoop of gelato.  Any flavor: Mexican coffee, dulce de leche, cinnamon, vanilla….



After this discovery, we headed to the farmer’s market at Jefferson Hospital for picnic supplies.  In addition to a quart of strawberries for lunch, we took a chance on a new-to-us fruit – sour cherries.

What to do with sour cherries? Using our (very) limited baking skills, Tobey and I made our first sour cherry pie:



Sour Cherry Pie (modified from Epicurious.com)


1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

5 cups pitted sour cherries (about 2 pounds un-pitted)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pie crusts (home-made or store-bought)

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Transfer filling to the pie crust.  Slice second crust into strips.  Weave over top the filling into a lattice pattern.  Place on baking sheet (important – it will overflow!) and bake 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and bake until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 50 minutes.  Cover crust edges with foil if browning too quickly.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Serve with ice cream!

Gold Nuggets, A Stagecoach And The Latest Addition To A Philly Restaurant Empire

Just 2 blocks from City Hall is the 1928 Beaux-Arts building that houses the Wells Fargo History Museum.  This small (free) museum has videos, displays and hands-on exhibits detailing the history of Wells Fargo and Westward Expansion in the 1800’s.

Highlights include a replica stage coach (great for photo ops):



Tobey and PopPop


And a display of gold nuggets:


If you have any actual banking to do, the teller area in the lobby is gorgeous and has an authentic Concord city-style stagecoach:

Today’s restaurant adventure was The Rooster Soup Company – the latest addition to Michael Solomonov’s Philly restaurant empire, which includes (among others): Zahav, Federal Donuts, and Dizengoff .


This luncheonette serves a rotating menu of soups made from spare chicken parts left over from Federal Donut’s fried chicken (we had cauliflower and smoked matzo ball with dill), sandwiches (a BLT with pickled green tomatoes and a potato pancake) and an incredible coconut cream pie (sadly, no photo – we ate it too quickly).  100% of the profits go to support vulnerable Philadelphians through the Broad Street Ministry’s Hospitality Collaborative.


Wells Fargo History Museum: https://www.wellsfargohistory.com/museums/philadelphia/