Hello Fellow Travelers:
Welcome to our world of business information, museums, adventure, birding, botanical gardens, good eating and fine wines. This newsletter provides you with “The Welge Report for Philadelphia .
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Recognition: We extend special thanks to the people who manage and/or own the institutions, museums and restaurants featured in our guides. In some instances we have relied on their descriptions and photos.
Birding Opps: Info for our birding friends. In and near Philadelphia you can see these species: Common Loon, Great Blue Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture, Ring-billed Gull, Eastern Screech Owl and Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
At Valley Forge Audubon (valleyforgeaudubon.org/birdingHotSpots.html) we find a long list of nearby birding sites.
Delaware Valley Birding (dvoc.org/DelValBirding/Index.htm) tells us where the hot spots are located.
The Schuylkill Center (schuylkillcenter.org/programs/birding/join_listserve.html) has several education programs for all ages.
Transportation: In Philadelphia the local transit info is at (septa.org).
Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) – Your connection to more than 500 stations in 46 states. For online information and train schedules visit www.amtrak.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245)
Day One: Begin with a lunch at Amada - L: M-Sa, D: Nightly, 217 Chestnut St, 215-625-2450.
They offer a Catalan Express special menu with several choices. Our favorite is the Sweet Potato Soup, Pimentón, Pine Nut Pestiños, Thyme Yogurt, next course is Serrano Ham & Fig Salad, Cabrales, Spiced Almonds.
Your wine is the Tempranillo, Rioja Reserva, García Carrión, Antaño.
After lunch walk a couple of blocks to the most famous square mile in America, the Independence National Park - Daily: 9-5, Arch St to Walnut St, between 5th and 6th Sts.
Highlights include the Independence Hall Complex where you will find the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the birthplace of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and US Constitution. This is just a start.
After all of this history it’s time for a break and a glass of wine at Zavino - Daily: 12-10, 112 S. 13th St., 215-732-2400.
Zavino’s exposed brick space is quaint, the staff is attentive and they always offer you a taste before they pour. It’s a great place to linger with a glass of relatively inexpensive vino.
BYOB’S – Philadelphia has a regulated liquor system, where the liquor and wine stores are operated by the state.
This antiquated system has spawned restaurants that don’t sell liquor or wine, but allow their customers to bring their own. Most of these restaurants don’t have a corkage fee.
One of our favorite BYOB’s is Pumpkin - D: Tu-Su,1713 South St, 215-545-4448.
Small menu and room with food that is loaded with flavor. Start with the Sweet Potato Soup and Honey Miso.
Follow that with the Beef Cheeks, Black Garlic, Root Vegetables and Orange.
Don’t skip the Warm Chocolate Cake with Banana Caramel, Coconut and Passion Fruit Sorbet.
Day Two: Rise and shine! It’s going to be an active day in “The City of Brotherly Love”. Start it off the right way at La Colombe - M-F: 7-7, Sa,Su: 8-7, 130 S. 19th St, 800 563 0860.
Sorry Starbucks – this is the place to be in Philadelphia, Todd Carmichael is our local legend who also has a great coffee shop.
You’ll enjoy “Culinary coffee: balanced and round, consistent, deep but not overbearing, mindful of the kitchen and designed for the palate”.
Locally there has been a lot of controversy about the recent move of The Barnes Museum - W-M: 9:30-6, F: Till 10 PM, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 215.278.7000.
The mission of the Barnes Foundation, which dates back to its founding in 1922, is “the promotion of the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts.”
In furtherance of its mission, the Barnes Foundation promotes appreciation of the arts and horticultural science, through the preservation, presentation, and interpretation of the collections of Albert C. and Laura L. Barnes. It’s a great collection. Be sure to get the audio background iPad.
Your eyes are tired and your mind is numb after viewing this wonderful collection, and it’s time for lunch.
What could be more relaxing than watching the Schuylkill River flow by dotted by the rowers in their long skulls. The Waterworks Restaurant - L: F, -Sa, Br: Su, D: Nightly, Br: Su, 640 Waterworks Dr, 215-236-9000
Start with the Water Works Crab Cakes, Chipotle Aioli followed by the Butternut Squash Veloute Soup, then the Lobster BLT, Smoked Bacon, Baby Arugula, Tomato, Tarragon Aioli
And for dessert, what else?, The Water Wheel, Flourless Triple Chocolate Raspberry Torte, Bavarian Cream, Chambord Ganache.
The wine choice here is Remo Farina Valpolicella Classico “Ripasso”.
Revived and revitalized, it’s just a short walk up the hill to the Philadelphia Museum of Art - Tu-Su: 10-5, F: till 8:45, 26th St and Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-763-8100
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries.
Dinner this evening is at Fork - Upscale American bistro serving serious eaters, L: Su-F, D: Nightly, 306 Market St, 215-625-9425.
For your starter it’s the Smoked Trout Caviarwith dilled cucumbers andbagel chips or the Seafood Salad with fermented escarole, cucumber and sea vegetables.
Then the Dry-Aged Guinea Hen fall “mostarda” and 8-hour cabbage.
Wash it down with the Spindrift, Willlamette Valley, Pinot Noir.
Day 3: Head straight to Federal Donuts – Daily: 7-7, 1632 Sansom St.,1632 Samson St, (267) 687-8258
You’ll never regret it. Hot fresh donuts, coffee and fried chicken with Japanese cucumber pickles.
That’s the whole menu. It’s breakfast and you have all day to walk it off or at least until lunch.
For your cultural adventure today, here are two possibilities: Eastern State Penitentiary – Daily: 10-5,2027 Fairmount Ave., 215-236-3300.
Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including Willie Sutton and Al Capone.
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia | Mütter Museum - Daily: 10-5, 19 S. 22nd St., 215-563-3737.
America’s finest museum of medical history, the Mütter displays its beautifully preserved collections of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments.
The last stop on your Mini-Holiday is a visit to Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market – Tu-Sa: 9-5, Su: 9-2, 9th St. Between Christian and Washington Sts.
It claims to be America’s Oldest Outdoor Market. This is the place where all the Presidential candidates like to visit.
They still talk about John Kerry’s visit when he ordered Swiss cheese on his steak sandwich. “Yo Bro”, everybody knows your cheese steak comes with cheese wiz.
Now the market is multi-cultural with as many Pho restaurants and Cantinas as there are Red Gravy joints. If you saved some extra time and got here early, there are some one-of-a-kind vendors here.
In an earlier blog we listed “8 great sites for holiday gifts” that featured Sonny D’Angelo’s Meats where you can find game and Sonny’s special sausages such as seafood sausage, chorizo and andouille.
There are 2 very good cheese shops in the market: Claudio’s and DiBruno’s where you can find specialty products in addition to their cheeses.
During the holidays many of the older vendors have a free bar set up in their stores for their customers
We’re at the market to have lunch. It’s a tough decision with many choices but to keep in the spirit it’s Monsu - Br: Sa,Su, D: W-Su, 901 Christian St., 215-440-0495.
Monsu offers an edible history of Sicilian culture, stretching back to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
Owner Peter McAndrews and his chef de cuisine, Damien Messina, dig deep into that past to find a cuisine that spans centuries, yet still feels new.
Start with the grilled octopus with olives, fennel and walnuts or the red wine braised snails with a mushroom demiglace. The ricotta dumpling with jumbo lump crab and pistachios is another good choice.
In the Philadelphia area Dee and I have been dining at Hu Nan – L & D: Tu-Su, 47 E Lancaster Ave, 610-642-3050 in Ardmore, PA since 1975 and like many of our friends we think it’s the best Chinese restaurant in the U.S.
The ambience, food, service and price are all great. Give Hu Nan a try and see if you agree.
Specialties include: Hot & sour soup, dan dan noodles with pork, Moo Shu Pork, and the best Peking Duck (order in advance).
Until next time, best wishes and safe travels,
Dick & Dee Welge
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