Enjoying the City of Brotherly Love with my City Boy, Thomas

Thomas, my lovely boyfriend, was born in Miami, but grew up for the most part in the burbs of Philadelphia. This month we finally took a trip together to go see the city that shaped him. I already gave you a look into all the food we ate, well I shouldn’t say ALL, the really good stuff that everyone is familiar with. If you missed that post go check it out! Well today I am going to show you a little of our adventures!

Midwest Betty and her City BoySo a little back story, Thomas and I have been living in a long distance relationship since April, so traveling has been mostly him back and forth from Miami to Atlanta and back again. But this time, he actually flew to Atlanta to ‘pick me up at the airport’ to fly to Philly. Well actually, his connection flight just so happened to be the flight I was getting on in Atlanta to go to Philly, so it worked out! I was even able to talk to the flight attendant to get us seats together, DOUBLE WIN!

Plane RidesOur first day while we were in Philly we had two things on our checklist 1. Meet up with Thomas’ really good friend Mugg 2. Go see Thomas’ Mother. Check. Check. It is always good linking up with family and friends and friends who are pretty much family. It always seems like with the right people, time never passed since you last spoke. We toured his friend’s new fixer upper and had me mesmerized wanting to buy a home asap and turn it into exactly what I want! Soon enough we will be in the same city planting some roots.

Now I told you Thomas is a bodybuilder, right? Well he is and you know what that means! Workouts everyday, no matter what. On our second day we had so much planned, but it all had to start with a great shoulder and calf workout at the local LA Fitness. It is great to have an LA Fitness membership because most of the time when traveling we are able to get into a gym with out multi club pass. If we were at a smaller gym, we wouldn’t have that luxury, and for his line of work, bodybuilding, a gym is necessary no matter where or what kind of trip we are on. Post workout, we fueled up at the convenience store named Wawa. If you are from the area, or anywhere close, you know what I am talking about. They have everything you could think of in a gas station/convenience store and then some. I got a specialty caramel coffee drink, and we both got two veggie and egg breakfast burritos.

I said we had a lot planned for this day, and I meant a LOT! After we were done at the gym, Wawa, and got cleaned up we set out to be tourists! I lucked out and had my very own tour guide, so I go the local look into Philadelphia. First stop on our touristy tour was the Comcast Building downtown Philadelphia where Thomas’ cousin works. She was able to give us a great tour of the building and we even treated us to lunch in one of their extravagant kitchens. When I tell you buffet on steroids, I mean it! I had sushi, with a salad and a dessert of jelly bellies.

COMCAST HQ

When you first walk into the Comcast building, there is a huge LED screen that has people ‘walking on walls’ and dancing around and then there are different art exhibits on the steel framing within the glass structure. It is a very cool site to be at and all the people walking in and out of the building make you feel like you are at the center of something great. We went up to the 43rd floor where they have these well known glass stairs cascading down by their huge windows. What a view! Even with the crappy weather, you had a great sight line through Philadelphia.

Glass Stairs at Comcast HQ

But the fun and touristy stuff didn’t stop there! We had to go experience the iconic ‘Rocky Steps’ which is actually the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but no one really knows that. Now you know!

It was great, there was a guy who was taking pictures of everyone in front of the Rocky Statue, so we were able to get a few great shots. Thomas said my guard is to low, but I would bet a few bucks on me! I am scrappy! Of course we couldn’t be at the steps without recreating the iconic photo of Rocky on the steps with his hands in the air. Thankfully the rain stayed away long enough for us to get some great photos in.

IMG_4584Of course our next stop had to be the Philadelphia Love statue, and what better way to remember the statue with some love in front of it. xoxo I must say that I was a little let down, I had thought that this statue was going to be huge, but essentially it is no larger than maybe 5ft x 5ft a top of a silver frame. Even though the size was smaller than expected, it is pretty cool because it has history. It has been with Philadelphia since 1976 and built by Robert Indiana. If you want to learn more about it check out their website or go check it out in Love Park in Downtown Philadelphia.

Here is a great shot of Thomas in the middle of Love park rocking his custom Miami Cities shirt, made by me! Thomas in Love Park.jpg

After a full day of touristy stuff, we were able to get back to his childhood home, spend some time with family, shop for some odds and ends, and then eat through Philly. If you want to see what we ate while essentially eating our weight in Philly’s goodies, check out my recent blog post – ‘Eating our way through Philadelphia’s Favorites‘.

Our second full day of Philadelphia wasn’t as packed as the first, but it was still a lot of fun. We started in the gym, that goes without saying, this time we had a hamstring workout that included core, and cardio. After that it was time to see one of our great friends and do a little shopping! We checked out the Limerick outlets. It was more to catch up with our friend, but of course I did a little shopping. I moved to Atlanta in March and am expecting my first winter in years, so I needed to buy some fall attire. Then we ended the night with close friends and family with an amazing spread by Thomas’ mother and friends. Nothing like a great Family Dinner.

Have you ever had ‘raw greens’? I am not sure if that is the correct name, but it is raw greens, raw garlic, some seasonings and vinegar/oil. It is a topping or a side for meals. Thomas’ mother makes it and it is supposed to be extremely healthy. It is spicy because of all the raw garlic, but the benefits outweigh the spiciness. Garlic can reduce blood pressure, lower bad cholesterol, and has a bunch of other great benefits.

Saturday Track Workout

Since Thomas’ cousin showed us an amazing time on our first day in Philly, we thought we would show her to a great workout on the track with us first thing Saturday! We had an intense workout at the track of the high school Thomas graduated from. It is always fun to be able to walk the same steps he did back in the day when he was a younger man. We did a cardio/body weight circuit workout that involved the track and the stairs. We had smiles at the end of it but we put in a lot of work throughout the workout.

The last day was a slower day. We spent the day enjoying family, catching up with a cousin Thomas hasn’t seen in years and old high school friends that came to link up before we flew out. I must say it was a great trip, even though the weather wasn’t the best, I know we will be able to make it up here soon and see even more of the city.

7527005184_IMG_0064Sunday came to soon, and not only did we have to make our good byes to the city and family, but we also had to say our goodbyes to each other. Thomas was on his way back to Miami and I was on my way back to Atlanta. We shall see each other soon. IMG_4667

Goodbye Philly, thanks for treating us so well!

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Eating our way through Philadelphia’s favorites

Everyone knows that when you think of Philadelphia, PA food, you think of cheese steaks, but did you know they are equally known for their pretzels and their water ice? Thomas, my boyfriend, was born in Miami but raised in Philadelphia, and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have known about the last two, which in my opinion are the best two! So here is a look how Thomas and I ate our way through Philadelphia’s favorites.

So let’s go back to this pretzel thing. Not only are they known for pretzels, but they eat them in the breakfast like bagels or donuts! Instead of bringing a dozen donuts to the office, someone will run to the nearest Pretzel Factory and grab a dozen pretzels. In my opinion, I think it is a little weird, but I am also the one who argues with Thomas that Donuts are a breakfast and not a dessert, so I guess regional ‘breakfasts’ are up to debate.  We ended up going to Philly Pretzel Factory in Abington, Pa and was pleasantly surprised. We walked in and you could smell the fresh pretzels! You can even see them being made to the right of us through a big glass window.

Philly Pretzel Factory - Rivets Shaker
phillypretzelfactory.com

I ordered a rivet shaker with cheese sauce, a cinnamon pretzel twist with a pumpkin spice dipping sauce, and Thomas ordered two Beef Pretzel dogs. I was pleasantly surprised! The rivets were soft and not to salty and paired really well with the cheese sauce. The cinnamon pretzel, although great tasting, wasn’t the softest, but the pumpkin spice frosting dip was good. But ultimately, I think my favorite was the beef pretzel dog with a little yellow mustard on it! Delicious! I was actually craving another one of those the whole rest of the trip.

Now the next place we went to is truly a Philly staple and has broadened it’s reach by moving into Virginia, Ohio, Georgia and even Florida. This has to be, by far, my favorite, and clearly Thomas’ favorite too, Philly eat, Rita’s Italian ice, or as the Philly’s call it Rita’s Water Ice. They have combine an old favorite of Italian ice with amazing flavors and the option of custard to make the most delicious, cold treat for the summer. Unfortunately, it is closed in the winter, so if you hurry now, you may get to it before they close!

Rita's Misto Shake and Mango Water Ice

Thomas and I both got the Cotton Candy Misto Shake, which is the cotton candy Italian ice mixed with vanilla custard, and I also got a small Mango Italian ice to go. I have to say I just looooooove Rita’s. They are consistent with their amazing flavors, they mix just the right amount of vanilla custard with the cotton candy Italian ice to make it a sweet and decadent dessert, especially after the salty pretzels. And my mango Italian ice was just as good a couple days later in the freezer, when I decided to indulge on it. If you are ever on the East coast in the PA/VA area, this place is a must try!

Joe's Steaks + Soda ShopLast and not least, the food that is the most known for Philly, the Philadelphia Cheese Steak. Now we didn’t want to eat just any other cheese steak, so we asked Thomas’ long time friend Mugg to give us the best cheesesteak place, and he said Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop because they use a great cut of meat, they are consistently good, and worth the little drive from the burbs.

Friday at about 9:30PM our plans had fallen through, and we decided that we would take the 30 minute drive to go out to Joe’s in Fishtown to try them out. Never having a true AUTHENTIC Philly cheesesteak, I was excited! We drove out there down broad town, and enjoyed a little tour of Philly and got there and found easy parking. Now, my situation isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s but I am particular when it comes to my cheesesteaks, I do NOT do onions. I asked the lady who was taking our order, may I please have the Philly cheesesteak with mushrooms and no onions, and she said yes! we can definitely do that for you, so I was sold. I had ordered the cheesesteak with wiz, because that’s what the locals do, and mushrooms with an old fashioned orange soda and a large order of Old Bay French Fries, Thomas ordered the chicken cheesesteak. We sat down at the cute diner booth and waited for our order to come in. After about 10 minutes, we were given our to go bag and we set on the 30 minutes trek back up to the burbs.

Cheesesteaks and Old Bay Fries from Joe's
joessteaks.com

 

We got home and started to grub, and immediately I was saddened. Not only did they forget to leave off onions, they were everywhere and they had been melding with all the other flavors of the cheesesteak, that even after I picked them all off, the lingering taste was still there. It was not the Philly cheesesteak experience I was hoping for. Even thought they left the onions on there, I know that it had the makings of being an amazing sandwich, so I can’t write them off completely! The bread was soft and warm, the cheese wiz had melted into the meat and bread, and you can tell the cut of meat, like Mugg had suggested, was a great choice. There wasn’t any gristle, and cooked perfectly. So all in all the experience was ok, if I lived there I would give them another chance, but next time I go there I will try someone else out.

Post Onion Eviction Shot

Although I gained two pounds, and indulged a little to much, our vacation was a great experience trying out the Philly favorites. If you visit Philly, please check these places out!

I had a beignet and I LOVED it!

File_005Just because today is the day to look forward with my blog, but also to still look back at my first posts, and let’s be honest this is my favorite! Because who doesn’t want to see me eat a fluffy, powdery square of goodness that is a beignet?? Haha well here is a look back to our trip to New Orleans!

When you go to visit New Orleans you must go to Cafe du Monde on Decatur street in the French Quarter, especially if you are a foodie, like myself. I have only had a beignet one other time in Savannah in a New Orleans themed restaurant on the river, but I was told you haven’t had a beignet unless you have had one at Cafe du Monde. So here  I was in New Orleans with a mission to get this famous beignet.

We got off the airplane and headed straight to the French Quarter. We walked all around the French Quarter trying to find this cafe, stopping in amazing littles shops along the way.  There was a long line wrapped around the cafe, every table was full, except one! It was full of dirty dishes, but that’s ok, we are going to get it. I have to get this beignet. We sat down, the served wiped down the table and we looked at the menu, and then my heart crumbled. CASH ONLY. We had to leave, I forgot my cash in the car. Tomorrow will be the day I get my beignet.

We ended up walking to a sweet little spot named Cafe Fleur-de-lis, got a small table in the front. Thomas is on prep, since we are here for a competition of his, the Cajun Classic Pro Gulf States, so he had to be health conscious to an extent. He ordered an avocado bowl, which was a little small for the price, and a fried green tomato plate with a tasty spicy ranch dipping sauce. I started out with an Italian Mango Cream Mimosa, which I have never had before,  and it was fantastic! It was topped with white chocolate shavings, who doesn’t like white chocolate shavings? My meal was a tasty bowl of shrimp and grits. The service was great, the atmosphere was cute, and the vibe was chill.

But lets fast forward to today! Today was the day that I had to have a beignet. We drove down to the French Quarter and parked right on the river. First stop Cafe du Monde. This time I didn’t even want to fuss with a table, the line was three times as long as the day before, so we went straight to the back and got in the to go line.

You can tell this cafe has been in business since 1862 and open 24 hours a day 7 days a week except for Christmas and an occasional hurricane, as they say on the cafedumonde.com website. They were getting orders faster than you could order them! They had an assembly line of prepared beignets in quantities of 3 with powdered sugar in cute little bags, and cups of coffee, or in my case iced coffee with milk because it was HOT, all ready for customers waiting in line.

I ordered the iced coffee with milk, and an order of 3 beignets. Paid with my cash and walked up the stairs to eat my beignets overlooking the French Quarter. When I say that I took a bite and melted, I melted! It was sooooooo good! It was warm, sweet, crisp yet fluffy, satisfying and worth the wait! Also helped that I had an amazing view and got to experience something with so much history in a fun and energetic city.

Of course I had to take the signature ‘take a bite but try to not get the powdered sugar on your face’ photo! Thanks Thomas, you are great at capturing me at my foodie moments. If you are in New Orleans go check out Cafe du Monde, bring cash, and if you forget go seek out Cafe Fleur-de-lis! Well actually, go to both regardless! xoxo