In this longest phase of my ‘stay at home’, I have kept my love for travel alive with my writings, especially the armchair travel series. I am back with yet another ‘fresh from the oven’ experience. Recently, I was virtually transported to Reading Terminal market in Philadelphia for a short period of time, during which some of the local chefs there, took me on a mouth-watering culinary trip. Don’t blame me if you crave for the Prestzels, Vegan cheesesteaks and Chai milkshake by the end of the post. I am sincerely tempted to try at least one of these in my kitchen. And there are no second thoughts about the fact that the session left me genuinely curious about Philadelphia.
Background on Virtual Travel and Live Sessions
If truth be told, 2020 has been an year of anxiety and fears. But, it has also been an year of thinking out-of-the-box. The last few months have given us the gift of time to pause, prepare and start again. While most of the world has been practically homebound, many industries have undergone worldwide changes. And amongst all of these, one industry which had to re-evaluate all its options was travel. Even though globe-trotters and industry-keepers were forced to sit at home, we kept wanderlust alive. Technology and telecom’ came to our rescue and together we refined the term ‘virtual’. From attending webinars to zoom meetings to being part of Insta lives of several tourism boards, I can gladly say that I have played a minuscule part in this meaningful change. While past memories kept me going, I continued my quest for more. My latest virtual walk-over (live demonstration) in association with Reading Terminal Market of Philadelphia proved it yet again that there is no dearth of fascinating cities and the ‘list of places to visit’ is endless. This was my first virtual trip to USA and I was delighted to learn about America’s oldest public market and some of its signature treats.
Online Cultural Cooking Fun with Reading Terminal Market
This live cooking session was a great way to peek into the food culture of Philadelphia. My cousin who has lived there, is of the view that cheesesteaks are the real showstoppers in Philly, but now, I am certainly more equipped to add to our food conversation. I know about that perfect swing which gets the pretzel right. I can claim that there is a vegan version of the famous cheesesteak and I have armed myself with the perfect recipe of Chai milkshake with crushed pistachios, sold by Bassetts Ice Cream, one of America’s oldest ice cream company. Are you hungry yet? Lets dig in more about the participating merchants who made this live session totally worth it.
- Miller’s Twist & Nanee’s Kitchen
- Luhv Vegan
- Bassetts Ice Cream
You can’t miss the Pretzels at Reading Terminal
Pretzels are a favorite at Reading Terminal Market and Philadelphia is known for its chewy pretzels but at Miller’s Twist, the chef does not serve the traditional Philly pretzel. Owner and operator Roger Miller gives an ode to his homeland of Lancaster County, PA with pretzels that are rich, buttery, amazing and different from the rest. While he showed us the process of making fresh dough, he did not forget to mention about the rolling and twisting. In addition, he mentioned that baking soda and rich butter give the unique dash of flavor to his recipe. He was impressive with his act when he gave that prefect swing and got the shape of the pretzel right. We also saw the chef make something close to a patty with potato filling. I immediately wanted to call it Philly patty or samosa.
If you ever feel homesick in Philly, you must know about Nanee’s Kitchen is the eatery that will come to your rescue. It serves up a rainbow assortment of traditional Indian-Pakistani dishes. I was delighted to learn that they make chana masala, okra masala, coconut curried cauliflower, yellow dal, zucchini curry, and eggplant masala. The owners use age old recipes of their Grandma.
The Vegetarians and Vegans must indulge in Philly’s signature treats.
I have adopted vegetarianism style of life for nearly a year now and everything that talks about veggies, vegan, gluten free brings a smile on my face. If you belong to my class, you will be delighted to learn that we will not miss the fun of the signature cheesesteaks of Philly. Luhv Vegan, a family-owned deli counter in Reading Terminal Market has got our back. The owners David and Silvia, dish out some great vegan & gluten-free sandwiches, soups, & pastries. I was happy to see the chef make some vegan cheesesteak. I love subs and the one with mushroom-cheese filling left me salivating.
No trip to Philadelphia is complete without the sweet treats
After unraveling the savory stories of Reading Terminal, there came the most sweetest and most exciting segment of the session. The owner at Bassetts Ice Cream made us drool over the chai-vanilla milkshake. Established in 1861—Bassetts Ice cream is one of the oldest at the Reading Terminal and their menu boasts of 40 hand-crafted flavors to suit the taste of foodies. Vanilla, Cinnamon and Macha tea are some of the ones that locals swear by. The Vanilla chai milkshake that was made during the live session spoke of the brand’s passion and enthusiasm. The chef carefully took us through every step of it and shared one of the most helpful tip – ‘One must put all the spices that one wants in their shake, make a tea bag as one piece and then brew it with milk’. The final bit about the cinnamon dusting and addition of crushed pistachios was the real icing on the cake.
Food is a great way to learn about any place!
The people, the history, the art, the events and of course the flavors of the place make it unique. Food, art and culture are my personal favorites. The local cuisine are developed over the years and often connect the past to the present. One visit to any local market makes me feel at home. One tends to feel more local when one mixes with the locals and enjoys their food. I remember certain places for their amazing offerings and and it could be as simple as an ice cream or a palm heart salad or a waffle or a burger or a Currywurst or a traditional platter with lots of gravy. Food is a very important part of my travel preferences. And I am sure one day, I will grab a spot at Reading Terminal and enjoy their assortments, gourmets, pretzels, cheese-steaks, ice creams and more.
The session ended on a very informative note. Here are some pointers that will help you plan your future trip there.
- If one does not have enough time to spend in Philadelphia, head to the Reading Terminal Market, which is answer to all your hunger pangs. It has 80 stalls and push carts.
2. The Philadelphia skyline is a must-do. The photographers can never get enough of the rooftop views.
3. After eating at Reading Terminal, people can walk around and take a glimpse of the local stories. Segway tours are also available.
4. The murals are an important business there. Philadelphia can easily be called the art capital of the world. Street art lovers will have the time of their life there.
5. Philadelphia has issued a health pledge in the wake of the pandemic response. The hospitality business partners and the tourism department are in tune with it. Everyone is adhering to best health practices and protocols and is looking forward to a safe return to travel.
If you have been to Reading Terminal Market in Philly, do tell me your favorite treat from there.