Three Meals in Philly

October 28, 2015

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Crowd sourcing at its finest.  Landed in Philadelphia yesterday for one of the last laps of my book tour and immediately tweeted out a question: Where should I eat?

The answers came flying back. Fast. Furious. I counted up the votes and went off to explore the most popular.

I had my first lunch at Federal Donuts, eating far too much fried chicken.  Crisp, juicy and drenched in spicy sauce  (of the six on offer, I opted for garlicky heat) it was almost impossible to restrain myself; I could easily have inhaled the entire half chicken. But sanity prevailed, I ate the delicious dark meat, gave the breast away, and took a single bite of the accompanying donut. This is a serious amount of food (and calories) for under ten bucks.

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Then I went across the street for hummus.

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Dizengoff was everything people promised – a little corner of Tel Aviv in the City of Brotherly love.

Then, just because I couldn’t help myself, I stopped in at Oyster House.  I can never resist the lure of fried clams. Prudence, however, prevailed and I managed to limit myself to a dozen littlenecks on the half shell. 

I’d meant to go on to Market on High Street; everyone in Philadelphia seems to love the place, and I was extremely happy with the dinner I had last year at Eli Kulp’s other restaurant, Fork.  Alas, I couldn’t manage another meal. Besides, I had a lecture to deliver.

“Where are you eating dinner?” asked someone in the audience as my speech came to an end.  When I said I’d been thinking of Vedge the entire audience applauded, and I managed to run over there just before the kitchen closed. Vedge is a much-lauded vegan restaurant, and I was eager to explore it.

We began with “Fancy Radishes,” a sort of vegetarian sushi selection that included pickled tofu, salsify, turnip, radishes wrap in nori, a little heap of avocado. 

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I liked spicy grilled tofu, but it felt very familiar.  The giant wood roasted carrot, on the other hand, with its kimchee reuben on pumpernickel, and its slash of sauerkraut puree was entirely new; I was fascinated.  (Will carrots, I wonder, be the kale of 2016?)

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 I was a fan of shaved and grilled brussels sprouts with smoked mustard.

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My favorite dish was mushrooms disguised as fazzoletti; the charred tomato and basil encircling them really did make the pasta disguise work; the flavors were both familiar and comforting.  I liked it so much I’d eaten the entire plate before I remembered to take a picture. Too late.

Looking back, I find myself appreciating this meal more in retrospect than while I was at the table.  I certainly liked feeling light and buoyant as I left the restaurant, and I admire the sly flavor combinations.  This isn’t a meal  that could turn me vegan (I don’t think that exists), but it’s an exciting exploration of the many possibilities of vegetables.

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3 Comments

  • sheva says:

    Ruth, I’m one of the people who urged you to go to Vedge after your wonderful talk at the Free Library. So glad you managed to enjoy Rich Landau’s amazing food! That carrot dish is one of my favorites, too.

    Thank you again for coming to Philly!

  • alexis says:

    Ruth, I’m so glad that you enjoyed such an array of edible delights in the city of brotherly love. I still fondly recall our dinner at Fork the last time you were in town for a book tour. That was quite a treat!

    It was so lovely to attend this past reading and have you sign my copy of My Kitchen Year. I’ve already made the apple crisp and the shirred eggs are on my list (along with all of the recipes).

    And I must try your herbal tea blend soon!

  • Amanda says:

    I was in the audience that night and I LOVED your talk. Thank you for sharing your kitchen year with us. Your book has been my lullaby every night since. So lovely to read.

    I’m sorry to say that I was a little sad about the food path that Twitter sent you down, though. Although I adore Solomonov’s food in general, I think the donuts at Federal Donuts are just okay (better choices: Frangelli’s in the early am or Beiler’s anytime, especially on weekends where you can watch them do their expert work in a mesmerizingly precise, machine-like way). I like Dizengoff, so no quibbles there, but between Vedge and V Street, there’s no question! V Street has more interesting food for more reasonable prices, in my humble opinion.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your meals, and I hope you’ll make it back to Philly soon for some further exploration. And don’t miss High Street on Market next time. The breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are all totally different and all are dream-worthy.

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