Philly foodstuffs

Last week I spent four nights in Philadelphia, which is known for a few food items, none of them highbrow. Above is a cheesesteak from Pat’s King of Steaks. Pat’s is across an (angled) intersection from its equally famous competitor, Geno’s. I got mine with onions and with provolone rather than the other option, Cheez Wiz. Some things are just too much.

Water ice is a redundantly named dessert, finely ground ice with flavoring. You eat it with a spoon. I went to John’s, the recommended spot. Cool and refreshing. I also had one that was half ice cream, half water ice, from Rita’s, a Philly-based chain that briefly had a Chino Hills location and still has one in Glendora last I checked.

The hoagie, also known as a submarine sandwich (and hero sandwich, and grinder), is another Philly specialty. The Italian, above, is from Campo’s, a local favorite.

Roasted pork is another local item. The one above is from DiNic’s, a longtime stand in Reading Terminal Market. The recommended garnish was broccoli rabe — that was different — plus sharp provolone.

I expect to write Sunday about Philadelphia, but this is the food portion!

My Restaurant of the Week feature will return next week, I hope; it’s a short week, what with a holiday in the middle, which will complicate getting three columns written, much less a restaurant piece (and, perhaps, a Reading Log). But I have notes and photos on four local restaurants, just awaiting my attention as soon as time permits.

Have you been to Philadelphia and had any of these items, or others?

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Vacation food: New York

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And here are some of the food sights from the New York City leg of my vacation. Above, a slice of pizza from a random spot in the Meatpacking District, which I point out mainly because it’s fun to type “Meatpacking District.” Anyway, it was a treat to walk from the sidewalk into an open storefront and buy a slice of pizza, a very New York thing to do and something that’s hard to pull off in the Inland Valley.

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On the Lower East Side, another great place name, friends and I ate at Russ and Daughters, a Jewish deli, getting the Hattie, a platter with, clockwise from lower left, baked salmon, sable, lox and (only partly visible) kippers, and potato salad in the center. I got a chocolate egg cream. The appeal of egg creams is lost on me, but it was as good as any other I’ve had. The platter was delicious and came with a basket of bagels, bialys, pumpernickel and more.

Most surprising sight at Russ and Daughters, and maybe my whole trip, was that among the wall displays over one booth was the scene below, cans of Ontario-made Graber Olives. Huh!

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In Washington, D.C., last fall I became acquainted with the East Coast chain Shake Shack, and was happy to have a chance to try them again. This is high-quality fast food.

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And I returned to a favorite from my only previous visit,┬áJunior’s in Grand Central Station, where I got chocolate swirl cheesecake.

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My last food before blowing town was a doughnut from Dough in Bed-Stuy. (Another place name that it’s fun to casually toss off, like a local.) They had only a few flavors, most unusual. I got hibiscus. Oh, man. Thick, chewy doughnut, with thick, flavorful icing and a few leaves of actual hibiscus. This is the first doughnut I’ve had to rival Donut Man’s strawberry doughnut, and I had to travel across the country to get it.

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Sorry you can’t immediately satisfy your cravings for these items, or the ones from St. Louis, but you can always book a trip if so inclined…

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Vacation food: St. Louis

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In lieu of a Restaurant of the Week post, here’s a report of eats from an exotic land, St. Louis, where I vacationed recently. Above, frozen custard from local favorite Ted Drewes (since 1929); below, the exterior of Crown Candy Kitchen, famous (since 1913) for its ice cream treats, tin ceiling and, more recently, its BLT made with a dozen slices of bacon. Love the brick building and vintage Coke sign.

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Toasted ravioli (with a cup of marinara for dipping) is a local innovation, as is St. Louis-style pizza, made with a crisp, cracker-like crust and processed cheese, cut into squares. It’s not to everyone’s taste, and it’s reminiscent of cheese and crackers, served hot. But I like it. (Those are anchovies on the half nearest the camera, by the way.) Both examples are from local chain Imo’s.

Below, pork ribs, brisket, slaw and applesauce from Pappy’s Smokehouse, plus a Fitz’s soda, bottled locally.

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