August 13, 2011

Heather Williams, Historian, Aunt

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This is my aunt, Heather Williams, she's an Associate Professor in History at UNC Chapel Hill. The week before I took off for my big trip to South America, I took a shorter trip to meet her in Philadelphia for a day of photographing her and her cover art for her upcoming book.

Her book, about the black family and separation due to slavery has recently become even more relevant than it ought to be. She's worse at self-promotion than I am, so you won't hear her talking about it much outside of a classroom or a conference, but keep your eye out for it next year.

In the meantime, you can find her first book, Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom on Amazon.

July 7, 2011

Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown


For Memorial Day Weekend, Tammi and I took a trip down to Philadelphia. High on my agenda for the weekend was to check out the new beergarden in Fishtown, called Frankford Hall. Check it out after the jump...

Continue reading "Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown" »

November 30, 2010

Philly: Tapas Dinner at Bar Ferdinand

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The night before the marathon last weekend in Philadelphia, Tammi and I spent the evening hanging out in Northern Liberties. We had some drinks at Swift Half and Standard Tap and had a dinner of tapas at Bar Ferdinand.

Check out the course by course after the jump.

Continue reading "Philly: Tapas Dinner at Bar Ferdinand" »

November 29, 2010

Philly: DiNic's Again


After the marathon last weekend in Philly, there was only one thing that my friend Guy needed to make the hurting stop: A roast pork sandwich from DiNic's. Get a look at the deliciousness after the jump.

Continue reading "Philly: DiNic's Again" »

November 23, 2010

Philly: Marathon Recap

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As I mentioned, Tammi and I spent the weekend down in Philly to cheer on my friend Guy as e ran his first marathon. Any weekend in Philadelphia is an excuse to eat, drink and be merry, so expect a few posts about that over the next couple days.

In the meantime, see the photos from the race after the jump.

Continue reading "Philly: Marathon Recap" »

November 20, 2010

Philly: It's Marathon Time Again


We're back in Philly this weekend to cheer on my friend Guy in his first marathon. Up early and screaming my lungs out is for tomorrow. Tonight, it's catching up with my sister and trying out some new bars and restaurants in the city of brotherly love. Cheers.

August 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Mexican Brunch at Dos Segundos

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On our last trip to Philly, Tammi and I enjoyed our last meal in town at Dos Segundos, a Mexican spot in Northern Liberties. I had the chilaquiles, above, which I discovered in San Francisco a couple years back.


Tammi had the chimichanga, which is basically a fried burrito and inexplicably, something I've never had myself.

Deliciousness ensued.

July 26, 2010

Philly: Yarn-Bombing

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So, yeah. This is a thing. Part street art, part guerilla craft campaign, this tree on Rittenhouse Square is one of many knitted cozies around familiar objects I've seen in both Philly and New York. Interestingly, it's probably the only street art that Tammi's spotted and identified before I did.

July 23, 2010

Photo-Geekery: Night Photography with the Canon 5D Mark II

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One of the spiffy features of the Canon 5D Mark II is that it has can shoot at an astronomically high ISO with much less noise interference in the image than one would expect.

Recently I decided to test it out a little bit and see how effective it can be by doing some night shooting out the window of a taxi on the way home after a late shift at the office.

The photo above is dark and silhouetted, sure, but at 5000 ISO, it's remarkably crisp and noise-less. All of the photos have been tweaked to some degree in Aperture, but none beyond recognition.

After the jump see a couple photos where I pushed the camera up to 25600, the maximum setting.

Continue reading "Photo-Geekery: Night Photography with the Canon 5D Mark II" »

July 20, 2010

Quick Drink: Iced Coffee

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I'm not a coffee drinker. Tammi loves an iced coffee. This was a glass she had at Rouge for brunch over our recent trip to Philly.

I've been fascinated by the patterns that milk makes when it's poured into coffee since High School when a coffee-drinking friend pointed it out to me. They're like storm clouds, intense and billowing. The contrast between the brown and the white just exaggerates the effect that much more. This was my first time trying to capture it. It needs work, but I'll definitely keep trying.

July 18, 2010

Quick Bite: Irish Breakfast

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While we were in Philly, Tammi, my sister and I watching Germany trounce Argentina at Tir Na Nog, a gigantic Irish Pub in Center City.

This was breakfast:
Eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, Irish bacon, maple sausages, and black and white Pudding - black pudding being blood sausage, in case you missed the euphemism.

July 12, 2010

Long Weekend in Philly

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Tammi and I spent Independence Day weekend down in Philadelphia. We visited my sister and ate at a couple new places. New posts, coming up.

January 30, 2010

Philly: Rouge on Rittenhouse Square


On the Sunday of our Philly weekend, we had brunch at Rouge on Rittenhouse Square. I haven't spent a lot of time in the area, but all I've heard about it is that it's a little posh and stuffy.

That said, there was some interesting chatter on the internets about Rouge, especially the burgers. And there was shopping Tammi wanted to check out in the area, so off we went.

As we walked in, my internal alarms started going off. It seemed a little too chi-chi. The crowd seemed a little too pretty and the place was a little too crowded. Plus, my cousin, who was meeting us was running late, so I didn't think they'd even seat us. I thought we'd be relegated to a cramped corner of the bar and eventually wedged somewhere in the back.

I was completely wrong. They seated us as soon as a table opened up, and when our third didn't show up for almost an hour, they happily came by offering more wine and not once pushing us to order without him or turn the table. We sat there for a couple hours talking drinking wine and relaxing away the afternoon on a rainy Sunday.


On top of all that, the food was pretty great. I'm all about the Croque Madame these days, which you see here. I 'd had them before, but really got into them in Paris on our Honeymoon. It's brilliant: A grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with more cheese or a bechamel sauce and then with a sunny side up egg on top of that. It's all cheese and yolk and ham and a wonderfully satisfying crunch.


Tammi went with the burger. which is a thing of beauty. She got through about half of it before requiring some assistance to finish it off. I helped gladly.


205 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215.732.6622

January 29, 2010

Philly: Swift Half


After checking out the new Northern Liberties Farmers Market, Tammi and I had brunch at Swift Half. When we were there over the summer, we sat out there with drinks over the afternoon and watched life go by on the Piazza.

This time, it was too cold for all that, so we sat inside and split a few items on the menu.


We had some good stuff, but the most memorable was the b.e.l.t., a blt with a fried egg in it. The bacon was so amazingly smokey, it tasted like it just came off of the grill. We also had an order of short rib sliders topped with a dollop of horseradish.

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Interestingly, the menu also offered some custom cocktails. Tammi tried the Ghost of Mary, a bloody mary made with a lighter tomato water and rimmed with black pepper and salt. I'm not one for cocktails, but it was actually pretty good. Tammi can't stand tomato juice, so enjoyed it a lot more than a traditional one, but still couldn't get through the whole thing before the tomato flavor got to be a little much for her.

Swift Half is owned by the same folks as Good Dog, a long time favorite of mine in Center City. Just like there, the beer selection is great and the vibe is casual. The service was a bit slow, but it was friendly and we had a good time.

Swift Half,
1001 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-1656

January 28, 2010

Quick Bite: Standard Tap's Summer Soft Shell

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I know it's snowing in New York today and obviously, it's cold here in Aspen, so here's a glimpse back at summer time.

Since I'm posting about our recent weekend in Philadelphia anyway, I thought I'd post this quick shot of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich I had at Standard Tap when we were in town over the summer. This time around we just had lingering drinks there after walking around Northern Liberties, but it's still one of my favorite places for food or drink in the area.

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Standard Tap
901 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2301

January 27, 2010

Philly: The Bellevue


We had the great luck to end up in The Hyatt at The Bellevue on this last trip to Philadelphia. It's an older hotel, right on Broad and Walnut, blocks away from City Hall and right in front of a SEPTA Station. This is the only photo I managed to take while we were there, but there were tons of of details and decorative items that I really wanted to shoot while we were there.

The best part was that I managed to get us in there at a rate of $75 per night on Priceline.

Upstairs, on the top floor we stopped in a couple of times at XIX, the hotel's bar and cafe.

Downstairs, there's a shopping space with a Williams-Sonoma, a Palms Steakhouse and a Nicole Miller boutique that Tammi was pretty excited about.

Being right at Walnut Street, it was also a great location for getting to the Rittenhouse Square area.

For swank factor and actual comfort, I'd definitely recommend staying at The Bellevue and hope to stay there again.

January 26, 2010

Philly: Lyla Designs


Tammi met Carli at Lyla Designs last time we were in Philly, over the summer and ordered some things that were shipped up to us later. I don't know the first thing about fashion, textiles or accessories. That's Tammi's area. And Sauniell's.

I do know this, though. The fabrics that Carli at Lyla Designs on the Piazza uses for her products are gorgeous. Carli won't spill about where she gets her fabric from and that's smart. Knowing nothing about her what makes one handbag better than another, it's the beauty of the fabric that catches my eye. She even sells framed swatches of fabric as housing decor.


January 25, 2010

Philly: Farmers Market on the Piazza

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Tammi and popped in at the new Farmers Market on The Piazza in Northern Liberties. It was the first of the weekly markets and a little small compared to the Greenmarkets in New York, but it was a good start.

There were baked goods for people and pets alike as well as veggies, meats and fish. Tammi found baked goods that she enjoyed and I ogled the meat sellers.

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There was fish, which I totally didn't pay attention to, but also meat and hens and roosters. I've bee particularly interested in roosters since the Kauai Jungle Fowl piqued my curiosity. The veggies were light, given the season. Winter veggies like potatoes and greens that were presumably grown indoors didn't really jump out at me as much as the prospect of picking up a rooster for another shot at Coq au Vin.

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I don't think Reading Terminal Market has anything to worry about as far as being a destination in Philly for fresh produce and meats, but for this developing neighborhood, it's great addition.

January 24, 2010

Quick Bite: Polpo Pizza at Osteria


This is a pizza. With octopus on top. It was listed as one of Philadelphia Magazine's 239 best dishes in Philly. Why?

Because when you're in the presence of a pizza genius, you go for the menu's oddest option, a thin crust spangled with charred octopus, dusted in fiery chili flakes, and graced with cool, rich mozzarella.

I can't argue with that. So, when we got to Philadelphia last weekend, dinner was at Osteria and Polpo as on the pizza. It was magnificent. The hot cooking crisps the exterior, while the internal texture maintains its distinctive firmness. The cheese and chili flaked tomato sauce all worked together far better than you'd imagine. I loved it.

The rest of the meal was wonderful as usual. We could have gone back there for every meal that weekend and still not eaten everything we'd wanted.

January 18, 2010

Philly: Restaurant Week

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Just a quick note that this week and next week are Restaurant Week in Philadelphia. Last night we had a huge Middle Eastern meal at Zahev in Old City and this afternoon we nearly hurt ourselves going through the courses at Butcher & Singer, pictured.

The meals are $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner both were incredible values.

More on Philly and the great meals we had to come.

January 15, 2010

Philly: Creepy Cat

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In another plaza around the corner from the Piazza in Philly's Northern Liberties, there was a pet shop with this creature in the window. At first I couldn't tell it was alive. It was sitting there like a statue, creepy and forbidding. Then it moved and Tammi and I both jumped.

Best part: The Bitch and Stud doggy bowls in the background.

January 14, 2010

Philly: Dinner at Osteria

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Perhaps I just hope to keep Osteria as my personal Philadelphia secret. That's the only reason I can think of why I somehow have neglected to post about it for the last two years. It's been a must go place for me since before Tammi ran the Philadelphia Marathon in 2007. Yet, whenever it comes to writing a post about it, I always manage to put it off.

The meal is a multi-course fantasy of interesting Italian cooking ranging from porchetta with tuna sauce to octopus on pizza to rabbit sausage to pig's feet that even Tammi likes. It's all over the place in the best possible way and the courses are small enough that you can graze your way through the experience.

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Yesterday, I made our reservation for dinner at Osteria Friday night, shortly after we get into town. I've been looking back at some of my notes posted on Twitter over the summer when we were there last and it's got me all excited again.

Some highlights:

* polpo totally different than last night. Meat shreds in mouth. Milder fish flvr. Tender, not as firm as most. Char less strong.

* porchetta served cold sliced, like cold cuts. Topped with a mayo laced tuna sauce and greens.

* wow! Tammi's eating pig's feet "and liking it"

* tortellini stuffed with braised, ground, shredded pigs feet. Burrata stuffed delicate pasta pillows with sprinkled olives, pasley.

* we got the last plate of suckling pig. Moist, tender, transcendant.

* "course for course, perfection." says Tammi. I can't argue.

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Seriously, it's a wonderful experience made even better by sitting at the chef's counter and watching the team make their magic in the kitchen. I have my request in for the same spot this weekend. Here's hoping.

640 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

January 12, 2010

Philly: The Piazza in Northern Liberties

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Tammi and I are heading down to Philadelphia this weekend, so I'm finally taking the opportunity to post some of the observations and such from our last trip in August.

On our last day, we headed up to Northern Liberties, the arts community I've mentioned more than a few times.

When we first came across the neighborhood, it was a surreal point of mid-gentrification. Empty lots alternated with construction sites and vacant shopping plazas on nearly every block. Cute little boutiques stood surrounded by wilderness. Every visit since then, I've noted the progress of development along the way. This was our first time in town for two years, so a lot of progress had been made.

Most notably was The Piazza, the courtyard at the large Schmidt's apartment complex. Modeled after an Italian Piazza, the big open space serves as something of a community center.

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Shops, cafes and restaurants line the perimeter of the plaza. During the summer at least, they all spilled out with signs, displays and outdoor seating. Weekends see an outdoor market where local artisans sell their wares and a DJ spins soulful house.

I'm going to guess that there will be less of all that this weekend. Even If this coldsnap finally breaks, as forecast, it's doubtful to be quite that warm.

What is going to be there is a Farmers Market Saturday afternoon that I'm looking forward to checking out.

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As a New Yorker, a place so blatantly constructed by developers gives me pause. But the glimpse I've seen of how the area has developed actually seems pretty cool. Of course, the perspective of an an occasional visitor is limited. I'm sure there are tourists that enjoy Times Square too. That said, I'm looking forward to spending more time window-shopping and bar-hopping around the neighborhood.

December 16, 2009

Philly: SEPTA Stations

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I've often found that Philadelphia takes me back to the New York of my youth. No more so than in the never ending stations of the SEPTA. In Center City, the stations along the Broad Street line literally stretch for so long that you can walk through the mezzanine level from one station to the next. We accidentally did this when we were there over the summer and took a wrong turn.

The spaces are wide open and creepily empty. They remind me of some stations in New York back when I was a kid. My station, then and now, Utica Avenue on the A Train used to have a vast dark space between the two ends of the station. The spaces were first gated off and eventually bricked over and turned into storage and I understand why. Walking through here at 2am doesn't seem wise.

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I haven't decided if the climate control is better or worse. Hot stagnant air is shoved around violently by big dusty fans in the faces of any and everyone nearby. In the dead of the summer, it's certainly an improvement on the sweltering heat that dominates the New York system, but really, by how much is up for debate.

August 24, 2009

Philly: Breakfast at DiNic's

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I haven't had a chance to post about our philly trip yet, but here's a good start: for breakfast Saturday morning we split a Roast Pork Sandwich at DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market.

What better way to start the day?

August 14, 2009

Weekend in Philly


This evening, Tammi and I are going to Philadelphia for a little downtime together. We haven't been there together since she ran the Philadelphia Marathon in '07.

It's just the weekend, but of course the food is pretty planned out. Tonight it's dinner at Amada, tomorrow, it's Osteria. We're staying right down the block from Reading Terminal Market, so I can't imagine we won't check out DiNic's.

Beyond that, we'll be wandering around, and enjoying the city. Tammi has a couple shops she wants to hit and I'll be photographing and such. It should be a lot of fun.

There will be Tweets, so if you want the bite-by-bite, follow away.

March 2, 2009

Postal Haul, Part 1


In addition to a load of stickers that I bought at last weekend's Going Postal show in Williamsburg, I also bought this four-part piece by Under Water Pirates. As mentioned before, I've seen his work up in Philly on my visits down there and loved the color coming from this one.

When I finally take some shot of the stickers, I hope to post them as well. More to come.

July 16, 2008

Summer Vacation Options Part 1: Mid-Atlantic

Roll 3 - 96, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This would be a relatively leisurely itinerary. We'd be able to meander down the seaboard to sampling some regional specialties along the way.

First stop, Philadelphia:
Obviously, I know more than a few places to go in Philly. I imagine I'd want to spend most of the time there in Northern Liberties. I keep hearing about more and more places popping up there. If we're driving, it would be the perfect opportunity for me to finally check out a few South Philly gems that I've only read about, including John's Roast Pork and the Italian Market. Osteria, which I never managed to post about last year, is a must.

Pit stop, Baltimore:
Crabs are key. I don't know where to go, but if we were heading towards DC, I'd want to sample some of the famous crustaceans.

Washington DC:
This is Guy's turf these days, so I'd leave it to him to figure out particulars. I'd probably want to check out the Smithsonian, while I'm there and probably Brickskellers a beer bar I visited many years ago.

North Carolina:
My Aunt is in Chapel Hill, so I'd stop in an visit her for a few days. There is also a huge amount of barbecued pork that needs to be eaten. My aunt is a vegetarian, so I rarely get to seek out the legendary pork shacks while down there. This would be the time.

November 23, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Bob

IMG_2449, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Center City, Philadelphia. 2007. Artist: Bob

You'll find Bob peeking at you out of corners all around Center City. Most of what I've seen are paste-ups or stickers, the most popular methods in all the Philly Street Art I've seen, but occasionally you'll see some sprayed work like the one above.


November 20, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Commy

IMG_3113, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: Commy.

November 19, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: A Little Birdie and Mousse

IMG_0559 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Center City, Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: A Little Birdie & Mousse.

Given all the time I've spent in the Philly area of late, it's ridiculous that I haven't posted much of the street art I've shot down there.

To counter that, I'm making this week "Philadelphia Street Art Week." I'll be highlighting some of the graffiti, mostly stickers and paste-ups that is all over the areas of Center City I end up frequenting.

There are a few artists that are just prolific, posting memes all over the place, and I'll post some of them later this week, but I wanted to start with this collaboration from two artists I've only seen once. A Little Birdie and Mousse are both on Flickr if you'd like to see more of their work.


Tammi Runs Philly!

IMG_1863, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Apologies for the delay, yesterday the love of my life ran 26.2 miles through cold, rainy Philadelphia and fulfilled a dream she's been pursuing for nearly 2 years.

I was so happy to be there cheering her on and again, I'm exceedingly proud of her. Her final time was 4hours 36 minutes and 58 seconds, almost exactly the goal time she was aiming for.

The photos of Tammi are posted in the Tammi Runs Philly set, other pics of the event are posted in the Philadelphia Marathon 2007 set. Tammi's also posted a report from the course.

Now it's on to R&R in Mexico in just a few days.


November 18, 2007

Photo of the Day: Top of the World

Rooftop Panorama, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Today Tammi run the Philadelphia Marathon.
Good luck Babe!

November 16, 2007

Philly Bound Again

IMG_0578, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Tammi and I are riding the rails down to Philadelphia. Sunday is the big day! Tammi is psyched and ready for the marathon. I can't begin to say how proud of her I am. She's run her ass off all year and I know she can do this.

We've got a big old cheering section of family and friends making the trip down this weekend to support her.
Apologies for the abrupt break in posts. I wanted to post about last weekend's philly exploits, but I came down with a sinus cold and was less than functional.

We're going back to Osteria for a second taste tonight with Dorla and Kevin. I'll definitely have something up about the place in the next few days.

November 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Bob in the Snow

IMG_2447, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia. 2007.

Artist: Bob

November 9, 2007

Dinner in Manayunk

IMG00219.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Dinner last night turned out not to be steak, but actually a little better, imo. Apparently all the downtown restaurants were booked up by celebrating Nutters, so our hosts took us out to Jake's in Manayunk.

We had a good meal with the only complaint coming from the guy who ordered the surf and turf. He ended up with just about enough lobster to fill a shot glass, which had been described on the menu as half a one pound lobster. When he complained, he received an additional teaspoon of lobster meat.

I had a Foie Gras starter and a Venison entree. I'm not sure how I feel about Venison in general, I keep trying it out with mixed results. Last night's meat was was perfectly done, but there was still a slight gaminess that I wasn't quite into. It may be that Bambi just isn't my thing. Thumper on the other hand, I'm all about.

In any case, I very much enjoyed the meal and the company. Most of the time when going out with vendors, the discussion ends up sticking firmly on the sales pitch, with them taking the opportunity to try to finesse more of your company's money out of you. Alternately, it devolves into testosterone-laden frat house antics and you realize that you're sitting across the table from a sleazy salesman or a socially inept engineer. Better to have the sales pitch.

Last night had none of that. We talked shop, but also travel, food and wine. It was fun.

What was interesting to me about Jake's and Manayunk was how early it seemed to shut down. We were seated around 7pm and the house was three quarters full, by 9:30pm, there were only 2 other tables wrapping up their meals. It struck me because I've found recently that Tammi and I have been going out Thursday nights more often than Friday nights in the last couple months. With Tammi's marathon training, most of the time we don't even end up being seated until 9pm and the restaurants still have steady crowds.

November 8, 2007

Eating Good in the Neighborhood?

IMG00205.jpg, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I knew it was coming, so eating at Houligan's for the last couple days has been fine. Tonight we're getting taken out for Steak, so I'm hopeful for better fare.

November 7, 2007

Philadelphia: The Foodery


On North 2nd Street and Poplar in Northern Liberties, I stumbled across this Deli and Beer shop called The Foodery. It's got an fantastic selection, including many local area brews as well as special productions from further afield. They stock more than 750 beers, I saw more than a couple that I hadn't heard of before. I was tempted to pick some up, but schlepping them home is not in the plan.

They also have a branch in Center City that I may hit the next time I'm there.


The Foodery, Northern Liberties
837 N. 2nd Street at Poplar.

The Foodery, Center City
324 S. 10th Street at Pine.

November 6, 2007

The Acela

IMG_9623, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I may have to take back one or two of the terrible things I've said about Amtrak in the past. I took the Acela down here last night and I was amazed at how fast it got to Philadelphia. It was just about an hour from Penn Station to 30th Street Station in Philly. Crazy.

Now if only they'd knock the price down so it didn't cost $122 each way.

A Week in the Philly Area

Photos, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'm in the Philly area this week for training. Sadly, I'm staying in the 'burbs and not actually downtown, but I've managed to get into Philadelphia a couple times so far. Last night I had dinner at Amada with Guyvera. Tonight my co-workers and I went to Standard Tap in Northern Liberties.

Hopefully, we'll spend some more time in town before the trip is over, but that's out of my control. Regardless, there will be more opportunities to hang out there soon. I may stay an extra night down here Friday night if I can find a good rate on a hotel and of course in less than two weeks we'll be back down here for to see Tammi run the Philadelphia Marathon. That's plenty of time for me to partake in the local cuisine.


June 2, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Commy

IMG_3113, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia, PA. 2007.

Commy Paste-up.

May 17, 2007

Photo of the Day: curly

IMG_2475, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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May 16, 2007

Photo of the Day: 20 Year old Port

20 Year old Port, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I first tasted port in Lisbon. After dragging my jet-lagged sister around town all day, I had one last stop. We stopped at the Solar do Vinho do Porto - Lisbon, a branch of the government organization dedicated to the promotion of port wine. The main room looked more like a living room than a bar. Apparently the word "solar" in traditional English is the "upper chamber of a medieval house," presumably similar to a parlor or sitting room. At least that's what my computer's dictionary says.

I hadn't had port before. At the time I didn't know much about wine in general. I wanted to try it because it was so specifically Portuguese. I've been a fan ever since. While in Lisbon, I picked up a bottle each of red port and white port. White port is great, but you can't find it here in the states. When done right, it has a nutty caramel flavor that's incredible. The closest thing I've gotten to a good white port is a Marsala I got from Italian Wine Merchants last year.

Outside of that, I'm 'stuck' going after 10 and 20 year old red port as I find it. I've been considering buying a 1977 for myself for my 30th birthday this year, but I haven't actually done it yet...

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April 17, 2007

Photo of the Day: Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

South Philly, 2006.

March 14, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Chomp!

Chomp!, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Philadelphia, PA

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February 22, 2007

Philadelphia Wrap-up

Beware of Frog, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

On Tuesday we went to Reading Terminal Market first thing. I bought some smoked spices that I'm really looking forward to using. Hickory smoked black pepper and garlic are going to be really useful in the pre-bbq season. After that I had to do a little shopping over on Market. We went to the Macy's that used to be Wanamaker's. It's a beautiful old building and yet another example of Macy's gobbling up landmark department stores.
We really meant to do something cultural or educational. There's a King Tut exhibit at the Franklin Institute that we were going to go to, but by the time we were done with all that we didn't feel like doing anything. We spent most of the rest of the day hanging out. We had to extend the trip a day, so we moved to a different hotel. Then we just hung out a little more. My aunt got in that night and we got a snack with her before turning in. >BR> I got nearly everything I wanted out of this trip to Philadelphia. That's to say I didn't do much besides hang out, eat good food and drink beer. Staying at a new hotel let us explore some new-to-us neighborhoods, even if the hotel wasn't so great.

My one regret is that, somehow, I managed to spend almost a week in Philadelphia without eating a cheesesteak. I don't know how I managed that.

I am ashamed. Next time I'll just have to have that many more cheesesteaks.

Continue reading "Philadelphia Wrap-up" »

February 19, 2007

Philadelphia: Society Hill Hotel Bar


Perhaps it's my inherently anti-social nature, but there's something I really appreciate about an empty bar. I mean, there's booze, but not people to get in the way. I love it. So the bar downstairs at the Society Hill Hotel in Old City appeals to me greatly. Don't get the wrong idea, I had no idea there was a hotel here until someone walked in with luggage and asked the waitress about her room. The hotel has a different entrance and there are no horny businessmen trying to hook up with conventioneers. It's a cool old looking saloon with huge windows that light up the place in the afternoon and display the Old City nightlife after hours.

We're here waiting for our dinner reservation and hanging out while Tammi knits and I scribble nonsense on the laptop. They're playing Kind of Blue and all is right with the world.


[Technorati Tags: Bars, Booze, Beer, Philadelphia, OldCity, UltraClay, saloons, SocietyHill.]

Phiadelphia: South Street

We're staying in Center City this time around. We almost always stay in Penn's Landing, but I figured a change of scenery would give us a new perspective on the city.

We've still made it out to Old City/Society Hill a few times, but only passed through South Street.

when I first started coming down to Philly, when my sister was looking at schools down here, all I did was wander up and down South Street, hitting the shops, eating at Jim's Steaks and bar-hopping.

South Street is Philly's answer to the strip of Bleeker Street between 6th Avenue and LaGuardia Place. It's totally focused on college and post-college crowds. There are a million places to get drunk and hook up and tons of so-so restaurants that sell wings and chicken fingers, along with local (or international) variations like Shwarma or Cheesesteaks.

I guess I've aged out of the demographic, since I don't tend to hit either very much these days. The only times I go to Bleeker is when I want to sit out and people-watch the 'kids' passing by.

[Technorati Tags: Bars, Booze, Beer, Philadelphia, EatingOut, Restaurants, SouthStreet, UltraClay, College]

Philadelphia: SEPTA

The only time that a SEPTA train seems fast...

I like to walk a lot when I travel. It drives the people I travel with crazy. My sister damn near collapsed after two days of me dragging her around Lisbon a few years back.

What I like about traveling on foot is that it connects places in my mind. It turns a city into more than just a collection of points on a map.

Given that this is my 8th trip to Philly - and that its ridiculously cold out - I've been allowing myself a little latitude in this area. In the interest of finding a quicker, warmer way to get around, we've been taking the SEPTA more. Well, it's warmer at least.

Going down Market, the Blue line stops every 3 blocks. Seriously: there are stops at 15th, 13th, 11th, 8th, 5th and 2nd Streets. Really. I've never seen anything like it. And there are no express lines. How does that even work? Admittedly, it somehow runs pretty quickly, but I didn't have to ride during rush hour.


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February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap


We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

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February 17, 2007

Philadelphia: Good Dog


I was wandering around the center city/Rittenhouse Square area looking for a place to have a few rounds while Tammi hung out in the room watching tv.

I was heading for Monk's Cafe, a Belgian bar that's supposed to have a huge selection of obscure imports. When I got there it was prohibitively crowded, so I took off. I stumbled across Good Dog on 15th.

It wasn't empty, but I found a spot at the bar, which is all I needed. The music on was totally random, much of it hitting my obscure hip-hop niche. They played some old Grand Puba, A Tribe Called Quest and "can I get wit'cha" an early BIG appearance from back in the day.

The beer selection had some good stuff from dogfishhead, Troeg, Victory, and Stoudt's representing the local breweries.

I tried to avoid getting food, since I was going to dinner in a bit, but the sizzling mac n cheese looked amazing when served to the folks next to me. I had a snack of truffled cheese steak empanadas. The filling was not as cheesy as I'd have preferred, but I have yet to taste an empanada I didn't like.

Good Dog Bar
224 South 15th Street
Center City, Philadelphia


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Philadelphia: Downtime

This year has been super-hectic so far. Between SF, Aspen and working last weekend, I haven't had much downtime to speak of. When I get back, I'm going to have to spend some time up at the mothership in CT. So, part of the point for this weekend in Philly is to catch up on the downtime I haven't really had in the last month and a half.

With that in mind, I have a single scheduled event for tomorrow: to go to Northern Liberties, get brunch and linger with my notebook or laptop over beer and snacks for several hours. I went with Tammi to a yarn shop today to make sure she has knitting to do for the afternoon. I've been looking forward to just vegging for weeks now. I can't wait.


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Philadelphia: DiNic's


If you read my philly guide, you may have picked up on my minor obsession with Philly's Roast Pork sandwich. The big problem is that the most famous roast pork places, Tony Luke's and John's Roast Pork are less than accessible to those of us without a car.

While looking for something that was a bit more central, I found DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market. Philadelphia magazine called it the best roast pork in Philly. Clearly I had to try it.

Now Reading on a Saturday is not exactly quiet or peaceful. It's jammed with people and chaotic. I'm a lifelong New Yorker, but I hate crowds. They drive me crazy. I get edgy and agitated when I'm surrounded by a thousand other people jostling and bumping me.

So when we got in there and found 2 dozen people in line to order from DiNic's, I was ready to leave. Tammi wasn't having it. She said, "didn't we come here just for this?"
She was right.
Thankfully I gave in and we got in line. It moved pretty quickly and I managed to refrain from swinging on anyone, even the dude behind me who seemed to be hanging onto me the whole time.

I would have missed out on some serious porky goodness if I had ditched.

Details after the jump...

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Philadelphia: Amada


Last night we had dinner at Amada in Old City. It was excellent. We had dinner there last year, so I made a reservation for our first night, when I knew we wouldn't want to go looking for dinner.

We had 10:30 reservations, so when we walked in the place was already busy. In the middle of the front room a Flamenco performance was in progress. We headed to the bar and had a round of cava to ring in the long weekend.

Amada isn't just a place that small plates that calls itself a tapas restaurant. It strives to be very Spanish, right down to the hams hanging from the ceiling over the bar. The menu can be a little overwhelming just because everything looks so good. We started off by promising ourselves that we'd make another visit there before we left, just so we would moderate what we ordered. It worked. We managed to eat everything we ordered without hurting ourselves.

The highlights of the meal after the jump...

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February 3, 2007

Philly Guide


A co-worker of mine goes down to Philadelphia regularly to see his gf. He asked for a couple tips on where to take her when he's down there. Below is an edited version. I'm heading down there in a couple weeks, so I'm going through it as a refresher.

Follow the jump for some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the city of brotherly love...

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January 1, 2007

2006 Travel Recap


(This entry is backdated.)

2006 was one of my better years for travel. I saw 2 new countries and 6 new cites. I tried to get a fresh look at the places I'd been before, exploring new neighborhoods and seeing new things.

I hope to find a way to include all or most of these trips in the blog one way or the other. For now this will have to do.

After the jump, my photo rundown of the places I went last year.

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