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Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Cooks: The Big Event

Philadelphia Magazine’s Philly Cooks: The Big Event


On Thursday, Feb. 28, the historic Strawbridge Building on Eighth and Market was transformed from a giant empty space into an elegant event venue, full of food, music, and movement. Forty of the city’s top restaurants, hand-picked by Philadelphia Magazine food editor Jason Sheehan, dished out delicious bites and refreshing drinks. The surroundings were gently lit by giant chandeliers as guests perused the raffle table (proceeds went to benefit the Ronald McDonald House), happily crammed into photo booths, and nibbled on savory and sweet treats alike, ranging from simple snacks (broccoli rabe-topped focaccia bites from Zeppoli) to unexpected creations (Brauhaus Schmitz’s foie gras liverwurst). In addition to craft cocktails, shaken and poured by top bartenders from Emmanuelle, Vernick, and Lemon Hill, Stella Artois and San Pellegrino were available from a generous number of stand-alone bars.

Pork seemed the be the protein of the night, with not one but two whole Ibérico hams (at Jamonera and Bar Ferdinand), decadently fatty St. Louis ribs from Fette Sau, pork rillette toastadas from Stateside, and crunchy pig’s feet lettuce wraps from Alla Spina. Le Viet stuck to what they do best, and offered succulent glazed pork stuffed into buns with sharply vinegary shredded vegetables. A sweet and spicy papaya salad on a rice cracker added a necessary dose of light crunchiness on the side.

Another of our favorite ham-centric items was a playful little sandwich from Supper, which layered country ham, spicy pimento cheese, and pickles on miniature biscuits. This was a fun, unpretentious bite with a kitschy 1960s dinner party vibe.

Marigold Kitchen, recently named number two in Philadelphia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants, served up one of the most inventive dishes of the night — a deeply flavored and silky smooth butternut squash soup, topped with airy cinnamon foam. The combination of wintry flavors and subtle textures made for a truly wonderful soup.

Another notable plate came from Fork, the Old City favorite recently reinvented by chef Eli Kulp. Among all of the aggressively seasoned and rich foods at the event, a delicate raw scallop was elevated with the funky additions of fermented parsley and beautiful crimson rounds of pickled turnip.

For some sweeter bites, Artisan Alley, a cozily lit hallway, hosted a dozen tables showcasing some of Philadelphia’s finest handmade goodies. It was a dessert lover’s paradise, with Gilda’s Biscotti, Magpie, Better Together Brownies, Rival Bros. Coffee, John & Kira’s Chocolates, Love Bar, and more doling out tiny portions of their confections.

After the dizzyingly array of options at The Big Event, there was still somehow room for arguably one of the city’s most beloved desserts: the salted caramel budino from Barbuzzo. These last few bites sealed an amazing night of some of Philadelphia’s most celebrated culinary talent gathered under the same roof for a great cause.


"In the Lab" With Chef Jazzi—A Recipe for Success and Safety During the COVID Crisis

Around the world, young people are not just planning to create the future they want. “I’m doing it now,” explains Jazzi Pridgen, a 15-year-old high school student from Baltimore I met last summer. “I just started a culinary business. I cook and sell food at basketball games, at the barber shop, in the community.”

When we met, Jazzi was participating in Baltimore Summer Skill Builders, a program that provides job experience while teaching life skills using IYF’s Passport to Success curriculum. “If you’re going to run your own business,” she told me, “you need to learn how to communicate with people.” At the time, Jazzi’s Kitchen was just getting off the ground, but since then, business has skyrocketed. "I do a lot of vendor and catering events," she says. "Everything from 80th birthday parties to sweet sixteens."

Below, Chef Jazzi talks about inspiration, challenges, what it takes to be a successful young entrepreneur, and what she's doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First of all, how are you and your community, how's your business, and what are you doing during the COVID-19 crisis?

I am doing good. My community is trying to stay as safe and calm as possible. Businesses like barber shops, hair salons, and other businesses in that category are shutting down. My catering business, Jazzi's Kitchen, is shut down temporarily. I've had to cancel several events, but I'm hopeful things will pick back up soon. Until then, I am staying home, looking up new recipes, trying them our and perfecting them. I like to say I am "in the lab" because there is a science to cooking. When I'm in the lab, I'm hands-on, in the zone, with no distractions. Also, I am working on some grilling skills. To other young people who run businesses, I'd say stay motivated. Everything happens for a reason. Keep going, do things that will better your business.

How did you become interested in cooking?

I became interested in cooking at a very young age, around nine years old. It was something I always loved doing because of being around it so much. I come from a big family, so we can’t eat out every day. Instead, my mom cooks big meals. I finally got to understand that since I’m not really doing anything after school and sports practice, why don’t I help her out? I’ve watched and soaked all the knowledge in—and used it.

Who are your cooking inspirations?

The best cooks I personally know are my mom, grandmother, and grandfather. My favorite dish from them is chicken Alfredo (mom), pork chops and collard greens (grandmother), and white rice and bourbon chicken (grandfather). Other than that, my favorite place to eat in Baltimore is Rock and Toss—a seafood restaurant.

What advice would you give a young person thinking of starting their own business?

One thing I learned during the Baltimore Summer Skill Builders is to take what you love to do and have a passion for and run with it. Be who you are and what you want to represent, with no shame at all. Just do it.

As a young entrepreneur, what obstacles have you faced starting your business?

The hardest thing about running a business at a young age is finding the time to go to school, do sports, and still run the business. You need a schedule. I manage my time by doing what’s most important first, which is getting my education. Then, I do my sports activities. Finally, when I get home and have that extra lay-down time, I’m thinking about my business and what I can do to get to the next level. I do research and try new recipes. I do a lot of business stuff on the weekends, too, such as catering and pop-ups.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to expand my business to the fullest. One day, I’d like to own a restaurant or work as a traveling chef.

What would you like to say to any future customers who might read this?

I may be young, but I'm very reliable. I'm someone you can count on. And when it comes to making your taste buds happy—you'll be more than satisfied! Until then, stay positive, stay home, and stay safe.

Follow Chef Jazzi on Instagram to keep up with her culinary journey or to book her to cater an event after the COVID-19 crisis.


18 Comments

All I've gotta say is:
CONGRATULATIONS ADAM!

Your rewrite is due next Tuesday.

I'd love Wolfgang Puck's Cookies and Cream Cheesecake recipe.

I'm not the biggest salmon fan, but I loved the writing. and I'm sure I'd love the desert. My brother is currently reading this piece and has been laughing audibly already. Thanks for sharing this great event with us! I'm so proud of you!!

congrats! sounds delicious. and i LOVE that butternut squash soup recipe, i make it all the time.

HUZZAH for the family-feeding AG! What a triumph -- and a delicious one, by the looks of it. Watch out, before you can say "toque" your mom will be asking you to cater every meal! That is one heck of a kitchen, BTW -- what's with the Louis XIV-meets-SubZero theme? :P Enjoy the leftovers.

I dunno if it's the writing school, but this was a masterpiece.

"His hair grows more eager, more retarded." You've done it again.

Creative and beautiful.
And best of all, fattening dessert. Isn't that what the season is ALL ABOUT?
Well done, good and faithful AG.

This is especially gratifying as we all know Boca Raton Jews are not so easy to please. Congratulations, master of the kitchenry.

Can you come over here and cook?

And once again, AG snatches triumph from the jaws of lurking disaster -- battling not only over-large salmon, but skeptical family members as well -- and culminates in a blaze of glory (as usual). Okay, so now can we have the cheesecake recipe? Pretty pretty please?

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Cookies and Cream Cheesecake.

(NOTE: It's a lengthy, intimidating-looking recipe, but it's really not that hard. I skipped the waterbath and it worked fine.)

Ingredients:
Chocolate Crumble:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 4 equal pieces
3 egg yolks
3 Tbs heavy cream

Cheesecake:
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese, room temp, cut into small pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream
3 eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
4 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1. Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter or coat w/non-stick spray the bottom of springform pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. To make the crumble: sift together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt and transfer to bowl of food processor with metal blade. Process on and off until blended. Arrange chunks of butter around the flour mixture and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. [NOTE: Mom doesn't have a food processor, so I just put it all into a bowl and used two sharp knives to cut the butter into the flour/cocoa--like you do with a crumble. It worked fine.)

3. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. With the processor running, pour the mixture through the feed tube making certain you scrape all the liquid from the cup. Let the machine run until the ingredients come together to form a dough, about 1 minute. You should have about 4 cups of this crumble mixture.

4. To make the cheesecake's crust: spoon 2 cups of the crumble mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly over the bottom. Use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to help you level the crust and give it smooth edges.

5. Spread the remaining crumble on the prepared baking sheet. Place the springform pan and baking tray in the oven and bake until crumble is lightly toasted, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the oven. Transfer both sheet and pan to wire rack to cool completely. When the springform pan is cool, wrap heavy-duty aluminum foil or 2 layers of regular foil around its bottom and halfway up the outside, pleating the foil to tighten it securely. Set aside. Using your hands or a fork, break up the crumble on the baking sheet into small chunks and set aside.

6. To make the filling: put the cream cheese, sugar and salt in the large bowl of an electric stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Beat ingredients on medium speed until smooth, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until the mixture is creamy. Stop the mixer and add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla beat 3 minutes longer, again stopping as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl under the blade.

7. Put pieces of white chocolate in microwave-proof cup or bowl. Put container in microwave, cover with paper towel, and heat for 30 seconds. Stop and stir the chocolate. Repeat process once or twice more just until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

8. Stir the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and continue to beat until well combined and smooth. You should have 6 cups of the mixture.

9. Preheat the oven again to 350 F. Bring kettle of water to boil. Pour half cream cheese mixture into springform pan. Sprinkle half the chocolate crumble over the mixture. Pour in remaining cream cheese mixture, smooth its top with a rubber spatula and then scatter the remaining chocolate crumble evenly over its surface.

10. Place the springform pan into a slightly larger baking pan. Using an oven glove, pull out the oven shelf and place the baking pan on it. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of hte springform pan but not above the foil. Carefully slide the shelf into the oven and bake the cheesecake for 1 hour, checking the water level after about 30 mins and topping it up if necessary. Cover the cake loosely with foil and conitnue to bake until its center is slightly firm, about 20 mins longer.

11. Carefully remove baking pan from the oven. Lift out the springform pan and place on a wire rack to cool, carefully folding down the foil or its sides to promote quicker cooling. When the pan is cool enough to touch, completely remove foil and continue cooling. When the cheesecake is completely cool, cover pan loosely with clean sheet of foil and refrigerate overnight.

12. When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the fridge. Dip a long sharp knigfe in warm water and run knife around inside of springform pan--remove outer ring. Continue to dip knife in warm water to cut neat wedges.

WOW. to think real cooking smells came from that awesome kitchen. it is more then a person can stand. I'm very very impressed with your talents. The offer still stands for you to come out to the Island for a cook together. I'll even trade you some of my secret recipes.

Congrats on your accomplishments in your mom's fabulous kitchen. The meal looked so sumptuous and lots of fun. Next time you decide to have such fun I would love to be on the guest list too!!

Quick question about the cheesecake, which I hope to make in the near future. your recipe says "sweetened cocoa powder". is this supposed to be "unsweetened cocoa powder"? The only kind of sweetened cocoa powder I know of is like Nesquik or Swiss Miss -- and I can't quite imagine that being what the recipe calls for. Thanks!

Julie, nope it is sweetened cocoa powder. I found sweetened Scherfen Bergen (sp?) at Whole Foods and that worked perfectly. With the leftovers you can make hot cocoa. Enjoy!

I am swooning. You have really pulled it off in style!

Thanks so much for the cheesecake recipe, which I made for New Year's Eve dinner. Your mother's right. This cheesecake is SICK, I tell you, it's soooooo good it's SICK. It was definitely worth the effort, and I don't even like cheesecake all that much. except for this one, which has now entered the all-time pantheon of fabulous cheesecakes.


Why we need to stop calling Philly’s food scene ‘up and coming’

It’s dark outside. The sidewalks in the bustling neighborhoods of Philadelphia are starting to fill in with couples and groups of friends walking leisurely and laughing. Soon, they will be squeezing into one of the city’s many cozy dining rooms, or maybe waiting hours for a table at one of Philadelphia’s hot restaurants. Maybe they’ll be seated quickly with a reservation they made weeks, or even months, in advance. There’s no event in town, no special circumstances it’s a regular Friday night in Philadelphia’s thriving food scene.

People outside of Philly have started to take note. The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and other publications have written about how restaurants are reason enough to visit the City of Brotherly Love. Tourists are traveling from New York and DC, curious about the press mentions and interested in getting their own taste of this trendy, foodie haven. Yet, despite the hype over the past couple years, people are still surprised when they see how good Philly’s restaurants really are. While it’s often still referred to as “up and coming,” the truth is that Philadelphia’s food scene is not coming or going. It’s been here, and it’s here to stay.

So what is it about the food, exactly, that keeps critics and eaters on their toes? Sure, there are the hoards of young chefs flocking to the city to compete with others who have already made names for themselves, but there’s more to it than that. Like the city itself, the food scene in Philly is small but tough, the little guy in the corner that keeps getting underestimated yet is undefeated in the ring.

Philadelphia’s food is as globally minded as New York City’s but with more space and without the exorbitantly high cost of doing business. It has food traditions like New Orleans but isn’t so bogged down with how things were done in the past that chefs feel they can’t innovate (see: Middle Child’s Phoagie, a vegan-Vietnamese riff on the cheesesteak).

There may not be any Michelin stars in Philadelphia (yet), but many of the city’s best restaurants aren’t catering to what the Michelin guide tasters want. They’re cooking for real people with real budgets. That’s not to say the food lacks elegance, though. On the contrary, chefs are serving up inventive, gorgeous food that just happens to be affordable in restaurants that are comfortable to be in. Yes, there are plenty of cheesesteaks with Cheese Whiz that drips out of the wrapper with every bite, but there’s so much more.

While the good folks over at Michelin may not have noticed, they sure have at the James Beard Foundation. In 2017, Philadelphia restaurants took home three James Beard awards, including those for Outstanding Chef and the Best Chef of the Mid-Atlantic region. The following year, Philly restaurants were nominated 11 times in 8 different categories. Philadelphia’s 2017 winners include Michael Solomonov, who won Outstanding Chef for his work at Zahav, and Greg Vernick, who won Best Mid-Atlantic Chef for Vernick Food & Drink. There’s also Stephen Starr, the restaurateur behind Alma de Cuba, Serpico, Buddakan, and others, who was recognized with the Outstanding Restaurateur award. And the future looks bright. In 2018, Camille Cogswell brought the Rising Star Chef of the Year award to Philly for her work at Zahav.

The best part of eating in Philadelphia, though, is less about the eating and more about a feeling. When you sit down at the best restaurants in the city, there’s a sense of comradery that you’d be hard pressed to find in the big-shot dining rooms of Chicago or Manhattan. Waiters laugh loudly when chatting up their tables, line cooks smile and wink from open kitchens, and bartenders mingle with customers while working on a cocktail that takes five minutes to make. It’s like eating in your friends cozy living room, only if your friend happened to be serving up some of the best food in the country.


Variations

There are a few things you can do to change the flavors too. It's wonderful to make substitutions to make this recipe your own.

Different fruits

I chose to make this cream cheese pie because we can't get enough sweet strawberries, but you could certainly try some different fruits. Follow the same process as directed, and you will be good to go. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries

Note: It's essential to strain the reduced fruit so you don't end up with a bunch of seeds in the pie because they would be pretty crunchy and take away from the experience.

Additional Flavors

If you want to incorporate some additional flavors, you certainly can. Try these ideas to get you started:

  • Add ¼ cup (32 grams) of white chocolate chips.
  • Drizzle 2 tbsp (30 ml) with chocolate syrup on top of strawberry pie.
  • Sprinkle ½ cup (64 grams) of crushed Oreos in the filling.

Vanilla Wafers

You can exchange vanilla wafer cookies for graham crackers. The vanilla wafers will add a little bit of a buttery flavor to the crust. It's delicious no matter what kind of crust you use.

You can actually use other cookies, and flavors of graham crackers if you wish. Just run them through the food processor to make them powdery and you are set.

I would stay away from cookies that have ingredients like chocolate chips because when you run it through the food processor, the particles from the cookie will clump to the chocolate chips.

Why is the filling lumpy?

If you are experiencing lumps in the filling, then it could be because the cream cheese was too cold. Whenever you are making a recipe that requires cream cheese, and it is supposed to be smooth, your best bet is to use room temperature cream cheese.

It's best if you set the cream cheese on the counter around an hour before you are getting ready to use it. This will allow for a nice smooth, and creamy texture.


The Clover Club: Philly's Original Cocktail

Arguably the signature drink of Philadelphia, the Clover Club cocktail has roots in the pre-prohibition era social club of the same name. Started in the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in the late 1880s, the Clover Club was a bawdy group of lawyers, bankers and various other captains of industry who, according to the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, &ldquo&hellipoften dined and wined, and wined again.&rdquo While it&rsquos unknown when the notorious tipple made its debut or who exactly invented it, the Clover Club first began to appear outside of Philly around 1910 in famous hotels such as the Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza in New York City. William Butler Yeats was said to be so entranced with the drink that he drank three in a row on a visit to the Big Apple.

This slightly sweet, mostly sour cocktail gained popularity for a time before the First World War, only to fall swiftly and ungraciously out of fashion after Prohibition ended. In 1934, Esquire magazine called it a drink for &ldquopansies&rdquo and listed it as one of the worst beverages of the previous decade. From then on it was relegated, rather unfairly, to the frilly and sugary &ldquodrinks for the ladies&rdquo sections of bartending books, until it was recently rediscovered with the revival of the classic cocktail.

To make your own, try this formula from the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, commonly cited as one of the original Clover Club recipes:

2 oz dry gin (Plymouth or London Dry, preferably)
½ oz fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
2 tsp raspberry syrup (recipe here)
¾ tsp superfine sugar
1 egg white

Add ingredients to shaker and shake vigorously without ice for one full minute to emulsify the egg. Add two ice cubes and shake again for 30 seconds to chill the drink, then pour it slowly into a coupe glass, remembering that the best part of the egg white will come at the end. Pro-tip: if you have a few extra minutes, it pays to whip the egg white in a small bowl for a few minutes before you add it to the shaker. This will make the drink even more meringue-y and fluffy.

As with many older recipes, however, there are several variations that can subtly change the taste. Harry MacElhone, head bartender of the Plaza Hotel in the 1910s, suggested swapping lemon juice for lime. Additionally, MacElhone added two teaspoons of both sweet (red) and dry (white) vermouth to the cocktail for a more complex flavor (use only 1½-oz. gin if adding the vermouth). Add ½-oz. Applejack to that variation and you have the Clover Club&rsquos cousin, the Pink Lady. Float a sprig of mint in the drink and you have the Clover Leaf cocktail.

However you choose to enjoy it, show your Philadelphia pride by shaking up a few Clover Clubs at your next party for a fun and easy way to impress your guests.


Cook Alongside Chef Jose Garces at his new Virtual Cooking Class Series, Latin Live

Join award-winning chef, Jose Garces for his vibrant new virtual cooking class, “Latin Live,” and interact with him firsthand while cooking one of his favorite Latin recipes from the comfort of your own home as he shares his love of&hellip

Join award-winning chef, Jose Garces for his vibrant new virtual cooking class, “Latin Live,” and interact with him firsthand while cooking one of his favorite Latin recipes from the comfort of your own home as he shares his love of great food and passion for cooking.

The menu for February 3 will center around Parihuela, a traditional Peruvian seafood chowder, which includes clams, mussels, crab, red snapper, and shrimp. The full grocery list is provided to attendees in advance.

Latin Live events are slated to premier each month in 2021 and into 2022.


It’s Always Fabulous In Philadelphia

I’ll admit that when I was a kid, any vacation that involved constant history lessons instead of constant theme park frolicking was no vacation for me. I was far more interested in beach days, rollercoasters, and pushing my folks to buy me frivolous crap from theme park gift shops than, you know, learning something.

The City of Brotherly Love offers up no shortage of incredible sights.

Luckily, I grew up a tad since then, and as an adult, I make sure to indulge in some measure of historical sightseeing in my vacations. When my friend and I decided to take a trip to beautiful Philadelphia, PA, we knew we had our work cut out for us in terms of discovering archival wonders relating to both the city itself and our great country at large.

Philadelphia boasts a vibrant GLBT community and embraces its gay history.

Let me tell you, we discovered them and then some: with Philly being the birthplace of America and all, we encountered a treasure trove of historical gems, but one thing that deserves notice is the fact that the City of Brotherly Love is host to a vibrant hotbed of GLBT culture and history.

“Philadelphia has a very rich, strong community and presence,” said Arturo Varela of Visit Philadelphia. “Our Gayborhood is [a] pretty central location, which is also an area not only of gay bars, but also just amazing restaurants and shops.”

The Gayborhood is a gay village located in downtown Philly’s Washington Square West neighborhood.

What is the Gayborhood, you ask? A Center City gay village located in the Washington Square West neighborhood, the Gayborhood is a hub of many GLBT-owned and GLBT-friendly businesses, bars and locals in downtown Philly, with street signs and crosswalks adorned with rainbow colors, inviting queer tourists to enjoy Philly’s rainbow nightlife in style.

“We have a really rich LGBTQ history,” said Varela. “I say one of the best examples of that history [were the] demonstrations for LGBTQ rights that took place every Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969 outside of Independence Hall. Those demonstrations are known collectively as the Annual Reminders. Walking around the city, you’ll see many historic markers everywhere, and you’ll see that many of them are marking an event that was significant to our community.”

For the artistically inclined, consider a trip to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, a nonprofit mosaic wonderland.

There are plenty of bars and nightclubs for GLBT visitors to choose from, from Woody’s and U Bar to The Bike Stop and Voyeur. There’s also no shortage of parties to attend here.

“We have a really, really strong drag culture here in Philadelphia,” said Varela. “One [example] would be Bob and Barbara’s Lounge on South Street. Every Thursday, they have this amazing attraction,” which would be the longest-running drag show in Philly.

Philadelphia is also home to the William Way LGBT Community Center, a nonprofit offering counseling and social services to the local queer community, as well as boasting extensive historical records and artifacts relating to gay Philly history.

Expect a heapin’ helping of rainbows in Philly’s Gayborhood.

Of course, history is a natural resource for Philadelphia, and I’d be remiss to not mention must-see American history lessons courtesy of Independence Hall, the adoption place of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution the relatively new Museum of the American Revolution, a brilliantly comprehensive chronicle of American Patriots’ fight for liberty from the British or my personal favorite, the National Constitution Center, an interactive museum that offers the best lesson in civics outside of an actual civics classroom.

Head to the west end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway to do your best boxing pose next to the iconic Rocky statue before running up the steps and exploring the visual wonders of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, home to hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and relics that would take weeks to fully take in and appreciate. Absorb the stunning Second Empire architecture of Philadelphia City Hall before heading up to the 57th floor of One Liberty Place to view the Athens of America in all its panoramic glory.

Philadelphia City Hall is a marvel of Second Empire-style architecture.

And lest we forget, there’s the food. OH, THE FOOD. The cuisine of Philadelphia is almost as legendary as the historical landmarks, and it’s a reputation well-deserved. You’ll have a LOT to choose from, whether it’s baked goods and meats from the Italian Market in South Philly to classy American fare at restaurants such as The Love and Mac’s Tavern. Then there’s the crown jewel of Philly food: the cheesesteak.

Opinions vary wildly, especially among Philly residents, but my friend and I decided to wade into the ultimate South Philly debate: who has the better cheesesteak—Pat’s, or Geno’s? After our careful and very scientific exploration of both restaurants’ steaks, we decided that Pat’s was the true King of South Philly when it comes to this meaty, cheesy work of culinary genius. That’s just us, though! When in Philly, take advantage of every cheesesteak opportunity you get!

Philadelphia is home to a number of legendary GLBT bars and nightclubs, such as Woody’s.

While Philadelphia is a fine place to visit year-round, fall is an especially fine time to stop by, says Varela.

“One of my favorite months of the year in Philadelphia is September,” said Varela. “September is special because we have two really big festivals including the Fringe Festival. It has literally hundreds of shows, including shows organized by local organizations and artists. And then the other festival that takes place is the Opera Festival.”

Another major event occurring in Philly during the fall months is the annual OutFest, a GLBT Pride event associated with National Coming Out Day (NCOD) in mid-October. In fact, it’s the largest NCOD event in the world!

“It’s actually my favorite gay event of the year,” said Varela. “OutFest is this amazing celebration and block party that we have for National Coming Out Day in October. And it’s a really fun one. They have different stages with entertainment and drag shows, and they have DJs.”

OutFest will be taking place on Oct. 13 this year in the Gayborhood, with over 150 vendor booths, live music, activity zones, dance parties and more.

Simply put, whether you want to enjoy the amazing GLBT culture of Philadelphia or soak in all the American history you can muster, you’re guaranteed a trip you’ll never forget.


Philly's Story

It begins with local dairy farmers near Beaver Dam, WI and Lowville, NY who take pride in their products. They supply Philly with fresh milk, which we combine with fresh wholesome cream. The entire process from farm to creamery takes just six days.

But we don't stop at farm fresh milk and real cream. We also use carefully selected fresh fruit and vegetables, and never add artificial preservatives, dyes or flavors in any of our cream cheese spreads. So in the end, everything just seems a little bit better with the creamy taste of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.


Checking out some trailblazing Philly restaurants, new coffee shops and smoothies that come with a movie

We meet three trailblazing restaurants that can lay claim to being Philly's first spots for Laotian, Venezuelan and Italian cuisine.

Vientiane Cafe opened the city's first Laotian restaurant in 2002 in West Philadelphia. The family-run spot has been doing takeout and delivery only during the pandemic, serving Laotian specialties like Naam, laab, homemade Laotian sausage and sticky rice.

Vientiane Cafe | Facebook | Instagram
4728 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19143
215-726-1095

Vientiane Bistro
2537 Kensington Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. 19125
267-703-8199

Sazon Restaurant lays claim to being the first traditional Venezuelan Restaurant in the state of Pennsylvania.

Chef/Owner Judith Suzarra-Campbell was raised in a family of cooks and brought those recipes here when she moved to Philadelphia.

During the pandemic, she and her husband, Robert, have been relying on regulars for takeout and delivery. Judy has been selling her famous arepas frozen so you can heat and eat any time, while Robert is the restaurant's in-house chocolate master.

Sazon Restaurant | Instagram
941 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19123
215-763-2500

When it comes to firsts, nobody beats Ralph's in South Philadelphia. Opened in 1900, it is the oldest Italian restaurant in America and still using the recipes brought over from Italy. You'll find favorites like three-layer lasagna, meatballs and antipasto on the menu. The restaurant is also selling quarts of its gravy and yes, of course, they call it gravy.

Ralph's Italian Restaurant | Facebook
760 S 9th St, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147
215-627-6011

These local healthy food spots are reinventing your next meal, with your health and taste-buds in mind.

Healthy eats are on the menu at Nourish Philly, All the Way Live
These local healthy food spots are reinventing your next meal, with your health and tastebuds in mind.

Nourish is a plant-based café and juice bar in the Italian Market with everything from chef-inspired dishes to vegan comfort soul-food.

Owner and founder Sarah Scandone lived and studied in the Caribbean and is blending up superfood smoothies with sea moss and dishing out Jamaican-style flavored plates like Vegan Oxtail, with sea moss gravy and the top-selling Philly Jawn, a Philly cheesesteak. with onions, peppers and jerk veggie steak.
Nourish Philly | Instagram
1924 East Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148

All the Way Live is a raw vegan café in Chestnut Hill and Germantown.
Co-Owner Beverly Nedley and her daughter Nyeisha create inventive raw dishes, like the raw chickpea burger.

The jackfruit burger is a popular cooked item, along with the fresh hot soups. Sea moss smoothies, with three different kinds of sea-moss, are also big hits.

All The Way Live | Instagram
6108 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Zazou Teas are homemade herbal brews launched by owner and former chef Tia McDonald to treat her chronic inflammation. Crafted in three curated flavors, Green Tea infused with Ginger, Hibiscus Ginger and Turmeric Tint. Teas can be served hot or cold.

Zazou Teas | Instagram
Direct sales only at this time

Cake & Joe and Cafe Couleur have some Asian inspired cakes and coffees to really get your day going.

Cake & Joe, Cafe Couleur give Philly's coffee scene a jolt
Despite the pandemic and its devastating effect on small businesses, especially dining establishments, we found two new coffee shops that recently opened their doors.

Cake & Joe specializes in intricately designed cakes that have been called 'too pretty to eat'.
Co-owners Sarah Qi and Trista Tang have been best friends since attending high school together in China.

Both have been in Philadelphia since attending college here, and say they are glad to offer a relaxing outpost for customers during these stressful times.

Cafe Couleur just opened in Old City with Vietnamese-inspired offerings. Husband and wife owners Pete Nguyen and LeLe Tran say they plan to keep a small menu, and hope to become a neighborhood favorite.

Cake & Joe | Facebook | Instagram
1401 E. Moyamensing, Philadelphia, PA 19147
215-220-4599

Cafe Couleur | Facebook | Instagram
323 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-370-7538

Whether you're in the mood for cider, beer or just some great bar food, these 3 suburban spots will keep you happy and comfy outdoors.

3 new spots for beer, cider and eats outside the city
We rounded up a few new spots in the city and the suburbs offering outdoor beer garden atmosphere and takeout options.

Levante Stables opened in Chester Springs, PA, just before the pandemic. It's a second location for Levante Brewing Company about 20 minutes from the West Chester Brewery. The beer garden has different spaces throughout the property offering fire pits, a family-friendly picnic area and a restored barn that dates back to the 1830s.
cc is a new brewery in the heart of West Chester. They opened in November and currently feature an expanding menu that includes 10 beers on tap and comfort food selections like pizza, wings and nachos. They are open for takeout and limited indoor seating.

Young American Hard Cider opened in the Germantown neighborhood in November. They serve cider, kombucha and hand pies all made by the three owners Kate Kaman, Jesse Bilger and Stephanie Cole. The outdoor patio has fire pits and a beautiful mural painted by a local artist.

Levante Stables | Facebook | Instagram
160 Park Road, Chester Springs, PA
Wrong Crowd Beer Company | Facebook | Instagram
342 Hannum Avenue, West Chester, PA 19382

Young American Hard Cider | Facebook | Instagram
6350 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19144

The menu is handcrafted thanks to 30 years of experience to go with a rotating tap of 20 beers. And as a bonus, they'll even hold your keys in case you get locked out!

New Wave Cafe has been a Queen Village staple for more than 35 years.
The restaurant is owned by three Philly natives brothers Sam and Aly Lynagh and Nate Ross. The lifelong friends named the space after the neighborhood baseball team they played on as young adults.

They pride themselves on keeping the restaurant open every day no matter the circumstance that includes the pandemic.

They have stayed open utilizing heated sidewalk seating and a cabin along Catherine Street to help keep customers warm for outdoor dining.
They offer an American menu with dishes they have perfected over three decades and 20 beers on a rotating tap.
Because they are always open, they have become the key masters for the neighborhood with locals leaving their spare house key in case they get locked out.

Groovy Smoovies is a classic movie-themed smoothie shop.

LOCALISH | Groovy Smoovies
Film producer and writer Antonne Jones wanted to open up a place where he could combine his love of movies and smoothies, which led to Groovy Smoovies, a classic movie-themed smoothie shop located in the historic district of Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Groovy Smoovies offers eight movie-inspired smoothies and various fruit combo drinks. Prepare to be entertained they always have classic movies playing!

Groovy Smoovies | Facebook | Instagram
223 Kings Highway, Haddonfield, NJ 08033

InterAct Theater's latest piece, 'Steal Her Bones', tackles the debate between religion and science.

FYI Loves the Arts
InterAct Theater has a new virtual production exploring the debate between science and religion.

It tells the story of Diana, a renowned evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist who conducts public debates with creationists.

She's scheduled to debate a theologian named Martin but cancels after being diagnosed with cancer.

After she dies, Martin publishes an essay, saying that he and Diana had held their debate in private and he believes that she came to accept God in her final days.

The play challenges us to think about who gets to decide our legacy when we're gone.

InterAct Theatre Company |Website
February 9 - March 7, 2021

Fairmount Park Conservancy is hosting a WinTour virtual scavenger hunt.

You download the app and follow the clues to find the treasures, and discover some hidden gems in your own backyard. Complete the mission and you win a $35 dollar annual membership to the Fairmount Park Conservancy

And for a trip way back in time, head to the Academy of Natural Sciences where you can see both dinosaurs and the creatures that preceded them.

The new exhibit, called Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs, gives a window into what life looked like 290 million years ago.

You'll see an array of animals, artworks and models that you've never seen before, life that existed way before dinosaurs and "way, way, way before humans," promises Jennifer Sontchi, the Senior Director of Exhibits & Publics Spaces at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Academy of Natural Sciences | Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, Pa 19103
Through January 17, 2022
215-299-1000


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