while the suburb that my parents live in is a mere 5 miles from downtown philadelphia, it's amazing how easy it is to get stuck outside the city limits. admittedly, the main line has a lot of great restaurants and shopping opportunities, but there's definitely something to be said for the philadelphia city center. it has an energy that just isn't present in the suburbs.
so i was glad for the opportunity to go downtown to visit some old friends who have settled in the city center. now, when i say old, i mean OLD: i have been friends with farrah since the third grade! their family moved from england and i still remember her cute little accent which has long since vanished.
i've known her husband josh since middle school -- he may have a superserious engineering job now, but his sense of humor does not seem to have changed at all (don't worry, josh -- that is a good thing). conveniently, it turned out that her josh and my josh got along like long-lost friends, united by a common stream of computer nerdiness.
we ventured out to mixto, which served fun cuban/colombian cuisine in an atmosphere that strikes a nice balance between cozy and hip.
love these napkins! it's all in the details, right?
an interior shot. i was worried that the marathon would lead to sweaty throngs of brunch-seekers, but because of the location (pretty far from the end of the race), we were okay. we were able to walk right in and be seated at around 11 am.
our table, just after being served an amazing brunch spread.
my omelette (goat cheese, tomato, and mushroom) + plantains deserved a close-up, don't you think?
i am not a big city kind of person -- i actually prefer smaller-scale places like chapel hill or charlottesville. but i do enjoy being able to get around via public transportation and on foot. josh and i actually took the septa regional rail to get to the city center and it was fantastic not having to worry about traffic jams or parking!
josh + me, feeling urban.
we spent a while walking around the city, hoofing it from the restaurant (11th + pine for any natives!) all the way to the university city area to catch up with anjali, another old friend. the 3 of us made up 75% of a violin quartet, circa 1991 - 1998! now, all three of us are in medicine (the 4th is a pharmaceutical rep), and unfortunately anjali was on call as cardiology fellow.
knowing EXACTLY how she felt to be trapped in the hospital on a sunday, we brought anjali some much-needed lunch and relished the chance to catch up in the HUP cafeteria. we had a great time catching up and comparing experiences -- i realized how weird and different the world of pediatrics is compared to medicine.
being around old friends was wonderful -- it made me really happy! i only wish i could come here and see them more often.
doin' time with JULIA
josh and i had brought a delicious surprise with us (you'll see below!) and planned to make dinner for my parents in celebration of their 35th anniversary and his 35th birthday. i had a few ideas in mind, but josh seemed to have his mind pretty set.
c) to cook with mastering the art of french cooking
my mother has about 9,000 cookbooks, so of course this was one of them. i have to admit i was somewhat intimidated by the whole deal, but after looking more closely at the recipes that we chose, they weren't actually that complicated.
julie powell was NOT exaggerating, however, about the liberal use of butter.
this simple recipe for steamed mussels in white wine sauce called for 6 tablespoons . . . i used 2.
making the fondue was easy and a lot of fun! my mom had an old fondue set (doesn't everyone who was alive in the 70s?) and we put it to use, sterno flame and all. julia's fondue recipe also started AND ENDED with butter.
it was freaking delicious.
we followed our fondue feast with a simple meal of steamed mussels (in white wine/shallot/herb sauce) and roasted asparagus. i forgot how delicous these little guys are!
then, it was time to whip out our surprise: a bottle of the famous -- and fabulous -- chateau d'yquem sauternes! my father had told me about this wine years ago, describing it with such superlatives that i KNEW i had to get a taste. we finally did during our honeymoon (a very generous groomsman gave it to us as a wedding gift).
we decided that this anniversary occasion was enough of an excuse to bring a bottle home for all of us to enjoy -- after all, you only live once, right!?
here's what wine spectator had to say about the 2004 vintage that we brought:
i actually got a little nervous that it wouldn't live up to our (HIGH) expectations.
but, it did. each sip was a multidimensional PARTY in my mouth, and we all raved. it will probably be years before i get to taste it again, but i'm totally glad to have brought it home to share the experience. accompanied by lady gaga's AMA performance, it was pretty much heaven.
brief running note
i did take a brief break between bites and sips to run around our neighborhood. either my polar was off (hopefully not) or i was just revved up on this run! 5 miles at an average of 8:09/mi pace.
congratulations to susan and sabrina who rocked their races in philadelphia yesterday! made me a little jealous . . . but i'll have my chance in just 3 weeks. exciting!