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Another Great July 4th Weekend in Philadelphia - 2010

Another Great July 4th Weekend in Philadelphia - 2010

Old Jul 5th, 2010, 06:59 PM
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Another Great July 4th Weekend in Philadelphia - 2010

We had such a good time in Philadelphia last July 4th that we decided to do an encore. Despite the heat, dh and I had a great time; this might become a ritual!

Saturday July 3rd – We headed down from NYC in the morning. Despite the fact that we can drive in Europe and not get lost, we always manage to have difficulty entering Phillie – too pathetic to dwell on here! We headed straight to the Sheraton City Center on 17th and Race to see if (despite using spg points for an average room) they would give us a room on a high floor facing the fireworks. Like last year, they were very accommodating and gave us a room on the 25th floor with unobstructed views of the PMA. The room was ready and I was happy.

On to serious eating! We parked our car and walked over to Reading Market. Somehow this gem escaped me last year. We made an unscheduled stop in the AIA Bookstore and Design Center on Arch Street. This is an interesting shop with lots of great books and gifts relating to design. We bought some blank notebooks and interesting cards. When we entered the market, we walked around a bit and then got on the line at DiNic’s. I had a bit of a low blood sugar issue, left dh on line and found a small Pa Dutch stall with fresh OJ – perfect. The wait at DiNic’s was a good thing because we got to see what the sandwiches looked like. We are eaters and they were huge. We decided to share a hand carved pulled pork sandwich with broccoli rabe on top. It was sensational! (I hate to say it, but it’s better than the pork sandwich from the truck at the SF Ferry Bldg on Saturday mornings – and that was good!). After lunch, we just had to sample a cannolli at Termini Brothers Bakery. I’m not a huge fan of cannollis but I know a good one when I see it. The shell was amazingly crisp because they filled the cannolli for us. I had one bite. We then headed to Famous 4th St. Cookie Co. to pick up a double chocolate chip cookie – for later! We continued to wander around the ‘eye candy’ in the market and picked up a bottle of my favorite fig vincotto vinegar.

www.readingterminalmarket.org

After lunch, we walked on Sansom and Walnut Streets past Rittenhouse Square. We made a stop at Naked Chocolate Café to share a sipping chocolate which is basically room temp melted dark chocolate served in a medium size espresso cup with a lot of fresh whipped cream on the side. For serious dark chocolate lovers only – you’re palate will be begging for a water chaser! It was beautiful out and we sat in Rittenhouse Square for awhile, people watching and chatting by phone with one of our offspring. On the way back to the hotel, we passed Capogiro Gelato and had to sample a taste – we again shared a small pistachio and peach gelati – like being in Italy! (and talk about low blood sugar!)

www.capogirogelato.com
www.nakedchoclatecafe.com

After a rest and watching part of a ball game, we walked to dinner at Tinto Restaurant. We loved it last year and it didn’t disappoint. We shared 7 small plates (one too many) including olives, aged asiago cheese served with quince paste, lamb brochettes (served in shot glasses), sensational scallops with shaved apples, black cod, wild mushrooms and baby artichokes with meyer lemon. No dessert! Just a well-needed walk back to the Sheraton.

www.tintorestaurant.com

Sunday, July 4th – Longwood Gardens (to be continued).
Monday, July 5th - Philadelphia Museum of Art (ditto).
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Old Jul 5th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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should be www.nakedchocolatecafe.com
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Old Jul 5th, 2010, 11:04 PM
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Keep it coming CPG - what a cool place to spend July 4th~ I did have to giggle at you saying you always manage to get lost going into Philly - I have only driven in a a few times as an adult and have messed it up every time!
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 04:33 AM
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Centralparkgirl:

Excellent start. Following your report with interest. Love you are posting links to places. Very helpful.

Philadelphia is on my short list of places to visit. Looking forward to more.

Sandy
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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LOL, Centralparkgirl, I find Philadelphia to be one of the easiest cities to get lost in! Got lost a few weeks ago trying to find I-95 from the area around 8th & Market, via a new and intuitive "short cut" that I had dreamed up. Here's what I found: A lot of the streets stop about 1/2 block before I-95.

I really like your food descriptions - you're making me hungry.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:26 AM
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I don't know what it is, but there were a few tense moments when dh and I were exasperated - with each other and Philly - when we couldn't get from here to there!!!

We seem to have no trouble traveling withing the city - we just can't get INTO it in a direct way!
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:35 AM
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Sunday July 4th – We got up early, picked up bagels at Cappricio’s (sp?) a few blocks away and headed to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. It took about 40 minutes. The parking lot is huge and some cars were already parked in choice spots under trees. I chose a spot that would be in shade later when the sun moved west (it paid off; the car was not stifling when we came back).

(Last year, we visited Winterthur when we were in Wilmington for a wedding. I had read about Brandywine sites including Winterthur, Longwood Gardens and Nemours on a Fodors thread).

Longwood Gardens is exquisite! The property was bought by Pierre S. du Pont in 1906, primarily to save a forest, and subsequently developed by him. There are gardens, lakes and fountains everywhere and extraordinarily laid out. The indoor Conservatory is magnificent – not just botanically, but architecturally. There is one section that has a lot of fushia (they save them each year from cuttings). Many gigantic ones are hung in threes from the very high ceiling. We happen to be there when they were being watered. Hanging on thin wires, they are lowered by remote control so that the staff can easily access them. They are so large that I can’t imagine what they weigh – wet or dry!

There are several tree houses on the property. We climbed one called Canopy Cathedral that is based on the architecture of a Norwegian church – the wood was beautiful and how the structure was built without harming and integrating the surrounding trees was quite an accomplishment.

There is an open air theater with fountains built into the stage. They have scheduled displays where the fountains shoot up water to music – very enjoyable.

One of my favorite areas (how does one choose here?) is the Italian Water Garden. You can walk on a quiet shaded path along side this area and just marvel at its beauty.

Most of our walking was done in the shade because it was incredibly hot that day with temps in the high 90’s. The shade made it manageable.

We had lunch in the serenity and a/c of the restaurant 1906. There is also a café. You cannot bring food or picnic at Longwood although they will give you nearby directions if you want to do that. Lunch was very good. Dh had a mushroom soup that they are famous for and an omelet. I had crab cakes that were all crab and lightly sautéed. It came with a salad of delicious local products. There was also an amuse bouche to start: a tiny, tiny fresh scone sitting on a dab of delicious fruit puree accompanied by a slice of fresh fig - absolute heaven! 1906 has a real and talented chef on board.

We also visited the Peirce-du Pont House where the family summered and entertained. The house itself is quite interesting and there are a lot of displays to view.

This was just a great day despite the intense heat. We headed back to Philly to relax before dinner.

www.longwoodgardens.org
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:39 AM
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I forgot to mention that I started the day with a spectacular fall in the hotel's garage. I didn't notice we were on a raised area. I'm lucky nothing was broken because it was a hard one. btw, I was fine until I read about iamq's recent fall - anyone else catch 'this bug?' lol
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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This is perfect timing - heading to Philadelphia in a few weeks!
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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Glad you enjoyed your visit, and happy the food at Longwood gardens didn't disappoint!

~Liz
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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We'll be in Philly in a few weeks as well. Loved your trip report. Any other restaurant suggestions?
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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CPG, wonderful report so far. It actually makes me miss Philadelphia! I guess I have to plan a trip there some time.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 01:18 PM
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I'm sorry about your fall...ouch!!! Great trip report. I'm glad you had another fun trip.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 01:50 PM
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Longwood Gardens is something that we have put off for a long time - your description makes me want to go now.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 01:54 PM
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What a lovely trip report! I'm so glad that you weren't totally melted...it's been brutal. But Longwood Gardens would be a good spot to be in this weather. And I want a Capogiro rosemary and honey RIGHT NOW! (But it's too hot to go out.)
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 02:43 PM
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espinach1 - read my report from last year - all good restaurants.

yk - There will be a Chagall exhibit late spring into next July. That may be July 4th 2011 for us!
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 02:48 PM
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On the way back from Longwood, we stopped at a Starbucks and picked up an iced Americano for me and a rich frappucino for dh to bring back to our room. A little rest and we were refreshed enough to walk to dinner. We walked through Love park and around City Hall and people were starting to congregate for the city’s festivities that evening.

This meal was a leap of faith. A young banker who dh deals with said his dad in Philly loves it. That’s all we knew. We walked about 30 minutes to Amis Trattoria. As we approached, I questioned the wisdom of this choice. But let me tell you, this food was great! We started with prosecco – nice and cool and refreshing. We decided to share everything and asked the waiter to bring one dish at a time. First dish, an appetizer of carciofi alla giudia – two small artichokes perfectly prepared. We followed with another app, Sal’s old school meatballs with tomato potato – 3 or 4 small meatballs on a bed of tomato/potato puree. It reminded me less of Italian meatballs and more of a dish my mom used to make. Delicious. We then shared a perfect pasta dish and I don’t use the word perfect carelessly: strozzaprete alla vongole. The pasta consisted of two strands of twisted thick spaghetti, al dente, in a bit of the most wonderful broth with the freshest, briny little clams. There was no way to improve this dish. The last dish was abbacchio con patate (roast lamb with potatoes). Not an expensive cut; perhaps boneless breast of lamb, but whatever, it was also very good. We had a glass of wine with the meal. I would eat here again in a heartbeat.

The only problem that we had was that the prosecco was flat. We pointed it out to the waiter and he immediately replaced them with new glasses and it was fine.

www.amisphilly.com

We left without dessert because we knew we were passing another branch of Capogiro on the way back. This time I got my own, very dark chocolate and coffee – sooooo good.

We walked back to the hotel, around the park this time because it was very crowded. In fact, the whole vibe of the city was picking up – after all, July 4th in Philadelphia!

From our room, we could see crowds heading toward the PMA and hanging out in Logan Circle. Before the fireworks began, we watched the live free concert featuring the Goo Goo Dolls on our tv. It’s funny how the ‘live’ telecast was a little off from the live music we could hear from the concert outside. The fireworks began around 10:30 and they were every bit as spectacular as last year’s. And how wonderful to watch the sky from the big windows in our air conditioned room. This was such a treat and a comfortable way to view the fireworks that I could never do at home in NY.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 03:00 PM
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I must be brain dead. I will use the excuse of the terrible heat!

I forgot to mention that on our first day, we went to the Franklin before dinner with a 5 pm reduced price admission to the Cleopatra exhibit. The audio guide was a bit dramatic narrated by Cleopatra herself, but it was a good exhibit. Most of the relics/art were found underwater in what was ancient Alexandria and other Egyptian ancient locales. It was amazing to see statues, etc. that were submerged for about two thousand years. There were also videos so you could see what they looked like underwater. Pretty cool. There is a lot stressed on the politics of the day and her Greek heritage. I learned a lot. At the end were other relics (not found underwater) including a piece of papyrus signed by Cleopatra! This was sort of like a very polished 'Discovery' exhibit. I'm glad we were able to fit it in. From the Franklin, we walked to Tinto.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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What a wonderful trip, CPG! Thanks for the heads-up on the Chagall exhibit. I'll keep that in mind.
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 06:30 PM
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Monday July 5th – Again, we picked up bagels and coffee, checked out of the Sheraton and drove to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and parked in the underground garage. The museum is usually closed on Mondays, but opened at 10 am because it was a holiday. We had 10 am tix for the Late Renoir exhibit. And so did a lot of other people. It was pretty crowded for the beginning of the day. The tickets included the audio tour. The exhibit concentrated on the last 30 years of Renoir’s life. No surprise; the paintings were beautiful – a lot of portraits, especially using his children as subjects. His sons were beautiful. At the end, there were two very short films – silent – of the artist himself. To see him and his hands crippled with arthritis makes his later paintings even more amazing. He was supposed to have said to a friend that the pain lasts for awhile, but beauty is forever. This is an exhibit not to miss for Renoir fans.

We decided to stay and have lunch at the museum. The restaurant was closed, so we ate in the café. It was good for a museum site. We each had a delicious tomato basil soup, shared a fresh mozzarella and tomato on olive focaccia and also split an apple dumpling that tasted like it was straight from a good bakery.

After lunch, we finished up with a walk through the European Art 1850 -1900 section which we’ve been in before. And then it was time to head home. And I won’t go into the details of getting lost again. But yes, it happened again! Not exactly lost, but going miles out of our way - again!

As I mentioned earlier, I think there will be a Chagall exhibit next July 4th, so maybe we’ll get lost again!

As an aside, when we passed the new site for the Barnes Foundation, we noticed that it’s far from being built. So there’s still time to view the collection in its original home if you've never done that.
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