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FOODIE ADVENTURES IN PHILADELPHIA

— Meher Castelino

When Meher Castelino travels she's not much of a trekker or a typical tourist eager to see the sights. She prefers to search for cuisine which is fun and far removed from what is available in India.

My last trip to the US was a gastronomic delight thanks to my daughter Christina and her husband Larry who planned that in a fortnight I got a chance to visit ten different restaurants. First morning on arrival, it was brunch at Minella’s Diner, a typical American eatery, which I wanted to experience. Minella’s table mats were not only to keep the area clean, they were filled with useful advertisements for plumbing, fitness joints, toy shops, gardening service etc. You eat and get useful information on every day needs!! The wall TV did not show the latest soaps but advertisements of various services like boutiques for shopping and party venues. After tucking into piles of red velvet pancakes washed down with cranberry juice there was nothing we could do but head home.

For typical American fare, JG Domestic in the heart of Philadelphia in the Cira Center next to the main train station is a popular lunch place. The grilled vegetable sandwich, the fried chicken and cheese steak are popular choices but it was the key lime pie in a jar that was irresistible and disappeared within minutes. Uno Chicago Grill was our dinner stop one night. The Chicago pizza was more like a pie but what fascinated us was the dessert menu. A section for mini sweets at US$ 2.49 sounded just perfect but there was an offer of a dessert trio–any three minis for $ 3.99. We picked Macadamia Nut White, Granny Smith All American and Chocolate Cookie Sundae. These were listed as minis but on arrival they could have fed six.

For chocoholics nothing can beat Max Brenner’s Chocolate Shop in downtown Philadelphia. We were booked for dinner there and I wondered what would be on the menu besides chocolate! The place smelt divine – just a heady fragrance of chocolate all around and counters filled with everything that the brown pod could create. Thankfully, a small savoury menu offered burritos and breaded salmon. We ended it with crepes covered in chocolate sauce, of course. Moving away from American cuisine, we headed to Bryn Mawr where Verdad Restaurant and Tequila Bar is a popular meeting place and requires prior booking. The mixed guacamole and the goat cheese balls worked well for vegetarians. The Terrain Garden Café in Glen Mills has contemporary American food with a daily change in menu. It is an eco-friendly restaurant with seating under the leafy surroundings and an attached store selling everything for household use. The bread in a pot was a ‘must have’ while the smoothies were served in quaint jars. Our vegetable quiche was wholesome with the right amount of vegetables and tiny fries. 

Our weekend in Myrtle Beach one of the popular holiday resorts and fun playground in the US did not keep us away from our search for culinary visits. On landing, we headed for Hot Stacks Pancake House. With such a definite title, it had to be pancakes all the way in different forms: crepes or pancakes with fresh fruits kept us happy. Myrtle Beach has some of the best fish restaurants. So La Islamorada decorated like an underwater fantasy where Little Mermaid would have loved to dwell had everything in fish on the menu, except the dessert. My garlic salmon was drenched generously in it, but it was the length of my 10-inch fresh French fries that made me wonder about the size of the potato. The mixed basket of fish and the fish tacos with baked potato topped with cream cheese will gladden the heart of any ‘pescetarian’. Now people are going to question me when I say that my last evening was spent having dinner at a South Indian place called Devi. Well, I wanted to check how authentic it was. The spinach dosa was just perfect and so was the piping hot Upma with vada, both served with delicious sambhar and coconut chutney. The curry rice came with a papad and looked large enough to serve two. 

There are hundreds of places for connoisseurs of food in Philadelphia and the surrounding places but I am not an expert who checks on the recipes, plating and method of cooking, I am just someone who loves to eat good food from different parts of the world. So it’s Bon Appetite for me wherever I am.
 

 

Verdad Goat Cheese Balls
 
Verdad Gacomole Chips
 
Uno Chicago Grill
 
Devi Upma Vada
 
Max Brenner
 
Max Brenner
 
Terrain Bread In A Pot
 
27-AUGUST-2014
 
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