Saturday, April 2, 2011

Weekend Cooking..The Reading Terminal Market


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."
The Market has a long history. Going back to the founding of Philadelphia there were countless produce stands in the area, with farmers from New Jersey (we are the Garden State) and rural areas outside the city bringing their fruits and vegetable, meat and cheeses and dairy products to the city for sale. But concerns about these outside stands being unhygienic pushed a move to establish an inside market and the Reading Terminal Market was opened for business in 1892 and in the following year, the mighty Reading Train Terminal, with it's newly elevated tracks, was opened above the market.

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.


23 comments:

  1. This was fun to hear about! Reminds me of the Pike Place Market in Seattle. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Flower show and Reading Terminal Market all in one day? What a fabulous adventure. I haven't been to RTM in a couple of years. Must correct that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds like a wonderful place to visit! Bookstore with only cookbooks you say? And wow, so much fresh produce, so many different lunch places, I am filled with envy!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. well, last year the niece and I splurged and made it into a two day visit. even though I live only an hour from Philly we went to the Flower Show and stayed overnight across the street at the Hilton...which allowed several RTM visits, a dim sum lunch, a Thai dinner, a crepe breakfast...and my consuming of too much alcohol at the Wine and Beverage tastings they had in the old train hall...good times...good times...lol

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds fantastic! Thanks for the tour, I could be lost there for days, at the cookbook store alone! Then throw in the flower show, just fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, what a fun place! I'd have to glue my wallet shut if I visited there... I love food markets and this one looks fantastic! I hope you are doing great!! Hugs, Silke

    ReplyDelete
  7. That makes me want to take a trip to Philly!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wish I had a market like that here.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your post brought back memories of the big Farmer's Market in Allentown Pa that we used to visit when I was a child...ring bologna was my brother's favorite from the Amish butcher.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh I wanna go! That looks so cool and like I could spent hours there.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Excellent description of the Market. I feel as if I was actually there. I guess I should say, thanks for the trip.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh, what a case of nostalgia you've given me. I used to love to shop there when we lived in South Philly. I can close my eyes, smell it, hear it, taste it. I must make it a point to go there on my next trip to the Balto/DC area. In fact, grand-daughter, now 10, is about the right age to enjoy this one now.
    Thanks for the job down memory lane.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I envy you, but your post was the next best thing to being there. Great descriptions and photos. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I can see why this is one of those 'must visit' locations. Thanks so much for all the wonderful photos.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a wonderful place! Love your photos and description.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What an interesting place to visit. I'd love to go there.

    ReplyDelete
  17. How nice to have everything all in one place! Sounds similar to our Navy Pier in Chicago... it has something for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  18. no cannolis from Termini's? I like the greek place for gyros too. glad you enjoyed yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm so envious! This sounds like the perfect day trip. I just love markets like that. Wish there was one in Podunk or even close to Podunk!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I know it's pronounced REDDING, but I couldn't help but see this as READ-ING :)

    So nice that this old building has found a great use, and that the local support is keeping it thriving.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kaye, if it had stuff like this it wouldn't be Podunk! silly girl..lol

    Dawn, you are so right! I didn't see that...lol

    Igh...well, the cannoli must be eaten at once,or at least fairly soon, while the almond horns travel very well. Of course there was NOTHING at Termini that did not look good.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Wow, that looks like so much fun but you really had me with the cookbook store!

    ReplyDelete

please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!