My yearly visit to the Philadelphia Flower Show would not be complete without a visit across the street to the always fascinating Reading Terminal Market. Located at 12th and Arch, with over 100 mercants, it is part tourist attraction, part lunchtime destination for area workers and part farmers market. It has a little something for everyone..and most of it is food related. And for book lovers, there are even a couple of bookstores, including one that sells only cookbooks.
"Mouth-watering aromas. Produce fresh from the field. Amish specialties. Fresh meats, seafood, and poultry. Unique, hand-made pottery, jewelry and crafts from around the world. The hustle and bustle of a multitude of diverse people. It’s all here in Philadelphia’s historic farmers market, Reading Terminal Market. An exhilarating selection of baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, produce, flowers, ethnic foods, cookware and eclectic restaurants are peppered throughout the Market. We invite you to explore this unique and extraordinary historic farmers market in Center City Philadelphia."
Times have changed and the area upstairs where once thousands of train passenger arrived and left every day is now a giant empty hall, connected to and part of the Convention Center across the street. But the Market, after some hard times in past decades, seems to be doing very well these days and is really a place that every visitor to Philadelphia should see. Because, as I said, there is something for everyone there.
There are dozens of places selling a huge selection of produce, fishmongers and butchers, including my favorite Amish stand, L. Halteman Family Country Foods, where I usually pick up some scrapple and kielbasa to take home. I will not subject you to more of my opining about the wonderful thing that is scrapple, but they have the best.
And if you are looking for a place to grab lunch, you can't go wrong here. At lunch time the place can be packed with tourists and workers from the area, often enjoying some live music in the center court as they eat. From sushi to bar-be-que, gyros to Thai, or maybe a lovely crepe filled with Nutella and strawberries, it is all here, including Delilah's, which once won the contest on Oprah for America's best Mac and Cheese. And just across the aisle from Delilah's is the Bassetts Ice Cream stand, America's oldest ice cream company, producing their delicious concoctions in the City of Brotherly Love since 1861. There is nothing better on a hot summer day.
And there are also a large number of great specialty stores. There are stalls with cheese, another with caviar. There is Blue Mountain Vineyards, selling their wines and a nice variety of wine related items, a very nice kitchenware store, a store that sells all sorts of honeys and beeswax items, another that sells French linens. Then there are the flower stalls, the well known Termini Brothers bakery (I suggest the almond horns...to die for) and another place where I always make a stop, AJ Pickle Patch, a great place to get a quart of half sours to take home.
Now, a very important presence at the market are about a dozen Amish run businesses and they are maybe some of the most interesting to check out. Several butchers, including one that sells just poultry, one that sells jam and jellies and Amish crafts, a bakery and one that has hand-rolled soft pretzels. Although if you are visiting, beware that the Amish owned business are usually open only Wednesday to Saturday. When I go to the flower show, it is my habit to arrive about 8, when the Market opens and 2 hours before the Flower Show begins. I usually start my day with breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place, an Amish run lunch counter restaurant serving the best pancakes and some very crispy scrapple and scope out that else I will need to buy later. Then usually in the late afternoon, I will leave the show and cross the street to head back to the market and have what is arguably the best roast pork sandwich in Philly, topped with melted sharp provolone and greens, at Dinics. Top with a little fresh hot horseradish...very nice indeed.
I think I need to not wait until next year's flower show to make my next visit!
This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.