Thursday, July 30, 2009

10 Best Cites....

So Huffington Post has a new article rating the 10 best US cites for Local Food. Interesting picks. What do you think??

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Greek Food in Philly

Having spent four years this past winter/spring in Athens, Greece, I like to think that I know a little bit about Greek food. And now that I am back in America I've had some serious craving for authentic and good Greek food. My favorite Greek cuisine are: Moussaka, Grape Leaves, Pastichio, Saganaki, Tzatzichi, Greek Salad (Horiatiki Salata), Domata Salata, and Kleftico. With these foods you can't go wrong! You also can't forget the Greek yogurt with honey (always a must have) for dessert or breakfast. And a glass of Retsina (for the brave of heart) is always a good mix with food (especially fish)! Now as a strong critic of Greek food I have been looking for great places in Philly to enjoy some of my favorite cuisine. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to such food, especially after spending four months with the legit stuff, but I have found a restaurant that has done just that.

I was a bit worried when I saw the menu for this place (what can I say I'm a thrifty college student), but Estia was
pleasantly surprising. I went there for lunch today and fell in love. Not only did they have warm and inviting staff and a beautifully decorated dining space (as well as bathroom which took the cake for me), but they had authentic and delicious Greek food! Even out waiter was from Athens! The selection and decor of the restaurant reminded me of beloved Greece and many of the restaurants I dined in during my time there. I dined there for lunch with my friends who had also studied with me in Greece and I can say equivocally that we all enjoyed the food. I order the lunch 2 course special of Domata Salata and the Moussaka ($17 not including tax and tip) and was extremely happy and satisfied by the end of my meal. I never expected to find Greece again in Philadelphia so easily, but now that I have I will be back to enjoy and reminisce. They have a very extensive wine list from all over, but the glasses and bottles are not cheap. The food is a bit pricey as well ($$$) but definitely worth it for the quality. One thing I will say is that I would have loved to have ended my lunch with a Greek dessert, but though I did not, I was too stuffed from the bread, salad, and moussaka to really care all that much. So for authentic and quality Greek food in Philly, Estia is the place to go.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chicago Does Food

I love to eat, especially when it's good food. Chicago does good food. Whether it's pizza, burgers, pasta, or ice cream; Chicago has yet to fail me. Sure there are the restaurants that I would never go to or return to because of food or service. But Chicago has definitely impressed me with a few good places that definitely made my time there memorable. So here's a small list of my must stop by places for food:

For Sweets:
1. Medici in Hyde Park
Some of the best ice cream I've had. Delicious flavors with a smooth and creamy texture. My favorite is definitely Pirate's Booty. The milkshakes are also delicious, not icy or too watery. I would try the Mexicana for a little different spin on a chocolate milkshake. And for coffee the Chocafe is the best on the menu, if you like chocolate that is. It is definitely my favorite thing on the menu. All in all, a fantastic place to stop for goodies on a hot or cold day. They have outdoor and indoor seating and they also bake right on location so the goodies are fresh and fantastic. It can be a bit pricey, but a worthy splurge.

The Navy Pier is a fantastic place to take the whole family, friends, or date. It has rides, a museum, arcade, boats, theatres, and restaurants. It is fantastic in the summer and certain nights have firework displays. It's the perfect place to stop and people watch and it has carnival food! When you go to the Navy Pier you must get Elephant Ears. Now I had no idea what these where before visiting Chicago, but now I like them almost as much as funnel cake. They are made out of the same ingredients as funnel cake, but doughier and in the shape of elephant ears. I would suggest getting one with powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream. Perfect sweet but sticky summer treat. Definitely have water with you because it is very very sweet.

For Food:
This pub/restaurant is located in downtown Chicago, easily accessible through all modes of transportation. It is in an ideal location, especially if you want to catch a show afterwards (as I did one night) or walk around the downtown area. It is a fantastic place with great food. I had the best bacon cheese burger (The Old Hickory Burger) I've ever had there and the deep dish is great too. That's me at the restaurant. Don't worry folks, the bill wasn't that bad. Also, see that delicious deep-dish? Makes me want to hop on a plane right now!
The staff are friendly, though some familys may be a little put out by the scantily clad female bartenders (this may have changed from last summer). The food and service is great and I had some of my best food in Chicago here, so I would suggest a visit. It can get crowded during peak hours so I would suggest calling ahead for a reservation or to show up in smaller groups.

2. Medici in Hyde Park
Did I mention that I really liked this place?? I even (on a whim) order a grilled cheese (with bacon) sandwich and fries and was impressed. I have never eaten inside the actual restaurant as I spent most of my time on the bakery side, but you can make take out requests on the bakery side. I love this; especially because I could go pick up my food and order a coffee while I was at it.

This place is perfect for Sunday brunch. I came here after a church service (Baptist so you know we were in there til about 2) and had some fantastic southern inspired soul food. The food is good so you know you'll have to wait for a table. A group of five of us had to wait about 25 minutes for a table, so ladies I would suggest wearing flats if you can't hold up in heels for that long. Also come with an empty stomach, because the amount of food they give you for the price is sure to fill you up.
This is an example of a meal at Dixie Kitchen. My friend ordered this, the catfish fillet platter as well as a Shrimp Po'Boy because he wasn't sure it would be enough for him. He has a healthy appetite and a bottomless pit for a stomach, but even he could barely finish either plate. Both are great suggestions and any side works well because they are all good. Good southern eating.

The best chicken parmesan I've ever had. I've heard the pizza is good, but I've never tried it myself. If you are looking for good pasta/ Italian, go here. It's a really cute and cozy restaurant where you can also order out or have food delivered. The staff are very friendly and the prices are good. Great Italian in Hyde Park.

AN: If you haven't noticed, much of my food experience is centered around Hyde Park. Unfortunately I didn't experience food (or food I really enjoyed) in more areas of the city. I do, however, plan to remedy this when I make another trip back there, hopefully soonish. So when that happens, I'll update and add to this list. But this is just a sampling of a few places to look for.

Good eating!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME! 21 is so sweet!

Thanks to everyone for the many birthday greetings and well wishes. I feel so loved!!! My 21st was fantastic!!! I drank a little in front of my mom at lunch (and didn't feel guilty at all!), got my hair done, and finished my night off with a few drinks! A satisfying way to start the 22nd year of my life (and yes the math does work).

Any celebration worthy birthday must come with a few comments and recaps. And I have a few of course!

I have re-found a great natural hair place in Philly. Au Naturale is a fantastic natural hair care salon that has impressed me with its charming and warm staff, holistic feel, and cutely decorated interior. It is a bit pricey, but the staff and the ambience of the salon make up for it. I have been natural all my life, save for added color, and have been weary of hair salons from past bad experiences. I have had multiple experiences of burned and damaged hair after coming from a salon because the iron was too hot and/or they just don't know what to do with my type of hair. It can be very frustrating to have to chop off my already short (less than shoulder-length) hair to a very close to scalp length curly doo. It does help that my head shape makes my short doos work but after growing my hair out for so long (and my hair grows very slowly), having to cut it all off because someone who is supposed to be certified in hair care failed to actually care for your hair, can be a bit annoying. So I hide from hair salons, and have taken to doing my own hair and trimming it myself. However, as it was my birthday and being in Europe for 4 months didn't afford me the chance to get my hair done (language barrier, money, and fear where key in my decision not to try hair salons over there) for a very long time, so a trim and a new style were in order. Looking through the few options of natural hair places in Philly (which is shocking since we are the soul capital of America) I chose Au Naturale because I had been there once before and had an okay experience and because the other places looked a little too out of my price range.

I appreciate the simple things, and Au Naturale is simply a great place to go and get your hair done. The staff and other customers are friendly, not too talkative, and very laid back- qualities I find necessary for a great salon experience. They know and understand well natural hair. I truely appreciate this because (nothing against chemically treated hair) their is something very holistic about natural hair treatment and it's hard (IMO) to find someone who specializes or at the very least knows how to take care of natural hair correctly. At the very least stop by, get a consultation, check out the place and staff, and look over the price list. You can either make an appointment or do walk in Tuesdays. If you are going to do Tuesdays, there is a 10% discount on every style and if you arrive early (opens at 8) you could be first in and out. I got there at 7:55 and was out by 9:30. I paid $75 for two strand twists and a trim, a bit pricey, but for the overall experience, worth it in my book.

AN: Now that I'm 21 I'll be checking out drink spots all around Philly and the surrounding area. Look out for upcoming updates! Summer in Philly is so much fun and the perfect time to explore!! Year 21 here I come!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009



July has always been my favorite month of the year. Just one more reason, other than it being my birthday month and the summer holiday from school, that July is fantastic. A holiday that brings together everyone to celebrate not only the Country's independence, but also family. I love Independence day because it has become another holiday to have off from work so that everyone can get together and take a break. Sure you have those (like me) who man the grill for most of the party or those glued to the television instead of mingling with the family. But when the burgers and hotdogs are laid out with the salad and corn, everyone crowds around together and enjoys the holiday as a family should. In this day and age it is not often that my whole family gets to eat together, especially as us oldest three children all in, or in my older brothers case fresh out of, college spend most of our time socializing with our college friends away from the house.

I did of course have to make time for those college friends (love you Eun Yoon!) and head out to Penn's Landing for the Super Scooper All-You-Can-Eat ice cream festival held on the festival pier. This was my first time in many years making it down to Penn's Landing for the 4th and I was not disappointed. It was crowded and parking was scarce, but if you look hard enough and are willing to walk a bit, you can find meter parking and save yourself at least 10 dollars. The crowd was a friendly Philadelphian crowd, making the most of the warm weather and delicious treats for free and sale. The ice cream event was well worth the 5 dollars spent on the entrance fee. After you wait in line and pay (the proceeds of which go toward The Joshua Kahan Fund for pediatric leukemia), you are given a spoon and free range on all the frozen treats you can handle. It was pretty packed, but nothing too overbearing, as there were places to stand and eat the ice cream or water ice. You can choose from Shoprite and Haagen Daz to Starbucks and Ben and Jerry's. The flavors vary depending on the station and my favorite has to be the water (pronounced wood-er) ice.

~Now, I will speak more on this in a later blog. But I must say now that Wooder ice, as it must be called, is in fact a Philly thing. We created it and therefore don't appreciate when people try to correct the way we pronounce it. ~

Moving on. All in all, the super scooper festival is a fantastic event to attend especially because it benefits a great cause. With so many ice cream and wooder ice flavors to choose from, why not stop by next year and sample a few. It's family, friends, and date friendly so there's really no excuse why you shouldn't stop by even for an hour.


But this year 4th of July was otherwise spent as a family with my older brother's girlfriend's family (that's a mouthful isn't it?). The women were the cooks. The men prepared the backyard for our activities. I bbq'd. My siblings enjoyed a short respite from the toils of camp (hear my sarcasm) with the pool and basketball court. And when I finished cooking and eating, the pool was my haven for fun and games with both families. Nothing beats a hot July day that a cool pool.
And when the sun went down and it became to cold to swim in the pool, we all slipped into the jacuzzi, fitting seven of us comfortably.

We ended our 4th of July celebration with our own fireworks. And yes I did say fireworks- not those sparklers- but real pricey need to stick in a pail of sand because they're so powerful type of fireworks. The running joke is that we do the fireworks until the bomb squad comes, something that happened last year. This year however the bomb squad overlooked us and we set off enough fireworks to compete with the local township's display. Pretty fancy if I say so myself.

So sitting down to write this tiny little piece I decided family made this day such a great celebration. Even without the fireworks and all the other party fanfare, family can always throw down and make any get together well worth it.


Also, as my 21st draws near quite quickly, I'm hoping to update this much more frequently. I have lots to say and I hope you'll enjoy reading about it!