I’m participating in a long three-day writing conference in Philadelphia this weekend. It’s my first year attending, and I’m very nervous. Yes, I’m a writer, a poet who sometimes writes song lyrics, and a blogger for eating good foodstuffs. But, am I good?
My poet friend Katherine, who’s the vice-president of the New York Poetry Forum and teaches poetry and literature at Long Island University, she invited me to come along. She goes every year, and has won awards several times. And, since she goes to Philly every year, she knows where to eat. 🙂
After a mile-long walk from the hotel, we headed towards Chinatown (North 10th Street, right past the bus station), where we stopped by Empress Garden. “I have been dreaming about the scallion pancakes,” Katherine cooed.
I will have to say, they were amazing. So was my dinner: a combination dinner with 1. beef and broccoli, 2. fried rice, 3. shrimp roll, and 4. free hot chrysanthemum tea.
Unlike a lot of beef dishes from most Chinese restaurants, the beef did taste and have the actual texture of real beef, and the broccoli was streamed beautifully, with a nice sauce. It was indeed excellent, as well as the fried rice and the shrimp roll (it had a real tiny shrimp inside with crispy cabbage!). Everything was hot and plentiful.
After dinner, Katherine and I walked over the Penns Landing, and watched the ferries past by the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Delaware River. Katherine then commented: “You can’t come to Philly without going to the Franklin Fountain.”
I now do concur. Franklin Fountain is amazing. A mecca of homemade ice cream delights and fountain drinks (established in 2004) in old-timey style in Old Town, where young people rule and have revitalized the town with cute, hip stores and shops by the riverside.
The vegan strawberry (with whole berries, yum) and the red raspberry ice were to die for. “In early July, the fresh blueberry ice will be available. It’s intoxicating…” the bespectacled blond girl cashier with lip piercings commented.
“Damn, I’m from New York.”
“Too bad, man,” she sighed. But then, I added: “My husband loves Philly, so maybe I can talk him into coming back here…
“Please do!” she answered. Challenge accepted…I hope my hubby wants to go…
Also, at Shane Confectionery (two doors over from Franklin Fountain , est. 1868, and now owned by the Fountain), all candies and chocolate drinks (which I partook a 4 oz. one) are homemade, thus very expensive. The cocoa was extraordinary; I ordered the “Aqua di Nicguaqua” (fresh cocoa, coconut milk and cinnamon). 4 oz. for $7.
I did talk to the guy who cooked the concoction about Tuscany. (One of the cocoa flavors was “Tuscany.”). He wanted to visit Florence. I told him, “Go. You won’t regret it.”
I know I won’t regret tonight!