Saturday, July 9, 2011

Philadelphia Freedom

To kick off our vacation we met our friend Katie(cakes) for lunch at White Dog Cafe and stayed the night in Philadelphia.

We adore the White Dog and have been three times. 

We miss our sweet friend and enjoyed having the afternoon to explore downtown after lunch and see some of her favorite spots.

We missed the Once Upon a Nation storytelling that takes place on these benches. I must make it back to hit a few of the 13 locations. I'm a sponge for history.

Katie is a good storyteller. I think she should have her own bench.

Patriotism abounded all throughout the city. There were lines to get in to see the monuments and Liberty Bell.

A red, white and blue flower arrangement was left at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington Square.

We did have a focused end point to our stroll through the parks. 

This garden gate alerted us to our arrival.

Katie insisted we have our first holiday cocktail at Talula's Garden.

We were greeted by a gurgling water wall as we entered.

A garden brings life and beauty to the table. --Alice Waters

I snuck around to look at the interior. The mismatched silver and rustic tables were charming.

Back outside the poured cement bar was lined with lovely herbs and this note was perfect for our anniversary week.

I ordered a Bluecoat Gin dirty martini.

Katie and E. had Manhattan's. Cheers to marital bliss and immortality, freedom and justice for all!

The outdoor space was so lovely and the weather couldn't have more beautiful on the 3rd of July.

Flower boxes lined the walls.

Drawn by the smell of herbs and cheese I couldn't stay away and had to visit with the Cheese Monger.

This lovely space is part of the garde manger side of the kitchen, as in the garden manager or cold side of any kitchen team.

He suggested that I try harder, older cheeses if I want to reintroduce this delicacy into my diet. The older and harder the cheese the less lactose.

Who knew?

The cheese board was a work of art.

After one cocktail we decided to stroll through the streets of Philadelphia. 

Always on the hunt for the best coffee shop, E. suggested we check out Spruce Street Coffee for a shot. (Poor guy is so sick of my paparazzi Nellie action in this shot.)

They serve Counter Culture, one of his favorites.

He was a happy camper after this lovely pulled espresso. This may be my all time favorite photo of our whole vacation. Love you sweet Charlie. Shades inside and all.

I couldn't get enough of the flag lined, narrow, cobble stoned streets of Philadelphia.

Katie then gave me a special treat by leading us to this incredible feast for the eyes. Taste of Summer by Ann Northrup is part of the Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia. We could have spent the whole day just visiting amazing works of outside art. This one was especially dear to my heart.

The chef is bringing the soup from the side, right wall amidst the sweet peas.

The people in the mural are regulars at the restaurant the wall covers called Vetri in Center City. They may also be folks from the neighborhood.

Doesn't the food look beautiful? The guests look like they are enjoying each others company and great conversation. The essence of a perfect meal in my opinion. 

I look forward to coming back to Philly and making reservations at Vetri.

At each corner Katie showed us more murals. We could call the cell phone audio tour and hear the docent from the Philadelphia Gay News director speaking about the gay rights movement that began in 1966 in Philadelphia by pressing #9. I love how this mural program is making art education so much more approachable on the street. 

When living in Dupont Circle I had a great friend tell me how happy he was to live in DC where he could walk down the street and hold his boyfriend's hand. This simple act made him feel like he was finally being his true self. He also felt safe. Now as we continue to make strides for gay rights it is important to look where it all started and thank they people that stuck their necks out first for equality. I'm so proud of the few Republican's, Catholic no less who were trying to "do the right thing" by voting yes in New York. 

This mural is huge and such a wonderful beacon for the LGBT "gayborhood".

13th Street is the heart of the Gayborhood and we found the Muse mural lit beautifully from the setting sun.

The rainbow flag waves proudly on the street signs as well as many of the businesses.

After hoofing it all over town we finally landed at Chifa for dinner. It reminded me very much of the fusion restaurants in Vegas. This one inspired by Peru and China. We got a few small plates to share. Eric's scallops and fried rice were salty and sweet, one of my favorite combinations.

I had the Chicharrones which was totally dairy free made with coconut milk, lentils and a spiced pork. It was so nice having great alternatives while eating out.

Katie and I shared the crab salad which was so light and fresh.

She had the Thai Beef salad that was amazingly balanced and not too spicy.

The drinks even had a little heat. 

On our walk back to Katie's apartment we peeped the Liberty Bell.

I was happy to see Katiecakes has found a good (old) Episcopal church just next door to her place too. We got a wild hair and called our pal Scott and asked him to join us. He drove up from Baltimore that night just in time for the fireworks. 

The bridge was lit up in red, white and blue too.

Katie, thank you for your wonderful hospitality. Scott, you are such a rock star to drive up to hang with us too. More to come on our adventures in Phillycakes.


Pigtown-Design said...

SOunds like a great trip! Katie's looking fabulous. And what fun that Scott drove up... I know that the spur of the moment events are so much fun!


An Eye for Detail said...

Nelle: I had written a long comment on Sat. and then Blogger did its strange things again, and I realized it never posted!
I grew up in the suburbs of Phila, then went to Penn, then left many, many years ago.
We were ALL SET to move back there, to Rittenhouse Square, three years ago, and then now, here we are in the country in N.C.! But oh I love Philly, and what a change that city has undergone..all for the best, certainly. Nice photos!