>> Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's actually not much of a travelogue since Reading Terminal Market (aka the Amish Market or simply the Farmer's Market) is in my city, but maybe it'll serve a purpose for other people who's planning to visit Philly. It is not until Thanksgiving had come and gone that I remembered how much I like the Market.
Outdoor markets has started in Philly along (surprise) Market Street in the late 17th Century and started to move indoors due to the nearby complaining residents and the Reading Terminal Market established in 1892. Conveniently located one block from City Hall, the market has approximately 80 different vendors which includes baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, produce, flowers, ethnic foods, cookware and a few restaurants.
There are a lot of neat stores in this joint, over the years a few ethnic clothing, decorations and jewelry stores gave way to the more profitable and popular prepared food stores but it is still a superb place to go and walk around. If you live in the city, there's no better place to shop for groceries than this compound. Freshest produce, fish and poultry guaranteed and at a lower price too.
I never knew there's a different in the taste of chicken until I went to Godshall's, it taste so much better using fresh chicken than buying it from a regular supermarket. And they are really busy that they have a ticket numbering system and you'd be expecting to wait for 30-45 minutes around Thanksgiving. Both father and son (?) in the picture is quite handsome, especially the son. Totally my type, but I don't know how I feel about coming home to a guy that smells like raw chicken. Besides, I think he's married anyhow.
For produce there are no place better than the Iovine Brother's, fresh and cheap. You can pretty much find any kinds of produce there, just for apples they have like 10 different kinds. I got two heavy bags of produce for just 20-some dollars which would cost double from a regular supermarket. For a guy who loves to cook, that's heaven.
Well, for the visitors who are not planning on getting groceries. There are a few things that you might still like. How about flowers from Market Blooms? The owner used to have a bookstore in the center of the gayborhood called Afterwords, but I guess his real passion is actually flowers and probably a lot more profitable as well.
For eating, my favorite is a place called Shanghai Gourmet. They're not from Shanghai and it's not quite gourmet, but they do amazing American Chinese food. My favorite dish (for shame) is Shrimp in Lobster Sauce. 5 huge shrimps, butterflied and deveined in creamy lobster sauce over rice. Yum!
Right next door is a juice bar called 4 Seasons, you can order pretty much any juice you want. You can mix and match a few as well, my favorite is a banana, pineapple and kiwi. All the fruits are naturally ripened and taste sweet. In summer, they would have watermelon juice which is what we had back in Hong Kong, all the flavor without the chewing. For the health nuts, they also sell wheatgrass shots full of antioxidant although I can't imagine them tasting good.
For dessert, head to Bassett's for ice cream or to The Famous 4th Street Cookies for some fresh baked. Termini's Bakery have great pastries and amongst them the gold start goes to a chocolate covered half banana on a crescent cookie, it would be truly perfect if they could put the whole thing on a stick. Following the revival of cupcakes a few years back, there's a new store there called the Flying Monkey selling cupcakes in all different flavors. My favorite one is a chocolate cupcake with espresso icing, there's also a chocolate covered espresso bean on top. It's a bit pricey and the staff not exactly friendly, but it's good. (I won't cry Racism! on everyone but I seem to notice people could get a bit hostile until they hear me speaking English eloquently.)
And for the paradox of all time, check out these chocolate-covered onions. I understand it's a gag gift like the rat-shaped chocolate or the ones that imitate various body parts or the clever chocolate screw with the words "The Diet" on top of it, but it seems to be an inedible waste on perfectly good chocolate and perfectly good onions.
The market is opening 8:00am through 6:00pm, Mondays to Saturdays and 9:00am through 4:00pm on Sundays. Some of the stores closes earlier and the Amish are only there Wednesdays through Saturdays so pay attention if you want to check out the cute Amish boys.