My birthday present to myself (aside from a Brooks Brothers shirt that I managed to score for less than $5 after discount and coupon!) was a trip to Philadelphia to visit my friend and former roommate. As I mentioned previously, she’s lived down there for three and a half years and I had yet to go down and see her, though she’s been to see me multiple times.
I left on Friday morning and was in Philly shortly after 5pm… Mapquest having sent me on a couple unnecessary detours (though I did get to see some interesting parts of the world I wouldn’t have otherwise seen) and having driven through a thunderstorm complete with minor flooding and hail. Our evening was fairly uneventful… I got the grand tour of her apartment and then we went to the local Friday’s to enjoy drinks and dinner on their deck. Next door to the Friday’s was a defunct John Harvard’s brew pub, which was something both of us associated with our Boston days and were sad that we couldn’t enjoy some refreshment there.
Saturday we made peach cobbler pancakes and bacon to sustain us on our tour through the Mutter Museum. On the way there I got to see where my friend goes to school as well as some of the streets of Philadelphia (cue Springsteen). At the museum we were treated to an extensive display of Benjamin Franklin’s contributions to modern medicine, skulls, skeletons, preserved specimens, wax models, and all sorts of medical oddities. It’s a rather unique museum, as you can imagine. I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised at its popularity. As we were leaving we saw a wedding party assembled in the lobby. I’m not so sure about the idea of getting married in such a place, though maybe they were both physicians or something. In all we spent about three hours there and still had not seen everything there was to see. After that we went for some authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. They can’t be healthy for you in the least, but my “whiz wit'” was pretty tasty. We went back towards city hall after that and did some shopping to work up our appetite again for the Naked Chocolate Cafe. It reminded me a bit of LA Burdick, another gourmet chocolate store which was another fond memory of the Boston days. Their hot chocolate is like drinking a melted chocolate bar. Anyway, at Naked Chocolate Cafe we had a frozen blackberry lemonade, a “junk in the trunk” bar which seemed to contain just about everything but the kitchen sink (nuts, coconut, butterscotch chips, chocolate, who knows what else), and a black forest cupcake. There was so much else there that would have been delicious to try. I’ll have to check their shipping policy! We rolled ourselves out of there and then went to hang out with some school friends of my friend.
Sunday started out slow, but relaxing after our busy day on Saturday. It was also pouring, which washed out some of our plans to wander. But we headed back into the city, checked out the Reading Terminal Market, killed some time wandering into stores, and then had dinner at The Melting Pot which was the most delicious meal ever. As you may have guessed from the name, it is a fondue restaurant and the table has a warming plate in the center. They serve a four course meal made up of three kinds of fondue and a salad. We started off with the Wisconsin Trio cheese fondue which the server prepared right at our table. That was followed by the salads. I chose the Athenian salad and my friend had the California salad. Again, delicious, and a perfect size. For the entree we chose the Coq au Vin cooking style. Despite my well known detestation of mushrooms, their presence in the sauce was quite tolerable (I just made sure none of them stuck to my food). We were given a plate of raw meats and filled pastas and a bowl of veggies to cook in the sauce. The meats were all marinated just about perfectly. I especially enjoyed the sirloin and filet. We also had about seven different dipping sauces to go along with the food. It was a very fun experience. Then to top it all off, we had the Disaronno Meltdown (with milk chocolate) for dessert, which they flambe at the table. What’s better than a flaming pot of chocolate with strawberries, bananas, pineapple, pound cake, brownies, graham-cracker and Oreo cookie dipped marshmallows and cheesecake? The server even put a candle in the cheesecake for me to celebrate my birthday (and thankfully there is no obnoxious singing in this restaurant) and on the way out they gave me a $10 coupon for my next visit… I think I may be in trouble here. It was a truly decadent experience and an excellent way to celebrate my birthday, but I fear that I have been spoiled and I’m not sure if regular food will ever taste quite the same again 😉
The trip back today was fairly uneventful. Drizzly and longer than I planned, but good. Blah, back to reality. I like vacationing much better! But I do have a new cookie press to play with, so that should keep me busy, and I also have a pile of books from the library that I need to read while I still can!