Saturday, September 28, 2013


Hi friends,
I moved to Queen Village recently and have had fun exploring my new neighborhood during the past month.

Last night, my friend Mark and I went to Southwark. I've been to this restaurant, at the corner of Fourth and Bainbridge, before but only for a drink at the bar. They are known for their classic cocktails, or old-man drinks, that pair well with its speakeasy vibe. It's always been a recommendation from friends as a spot for dinner or drinks and I am glad I [finally] made it past the bar.

It was outstanding.

I knew they had a patio but was pleasantly surprised when it was quite garden party-ish. 

I had the Chad Pinot Noir and already knew I would go back for this glass of wine.

The menu boasts creatively paired local ingredients. If you are in doubt, order it. You will not be disappointed. I'm only a little sad I missed the oysters and the garden salad with Birchrun blue cheese, spiced pecans with a leek vinaigrette. For an entree, I also debated between the pork belly, the trout and the polenta with fresh cheese curds. But, I will be going back very soon since it's only a handful of blocks away.


I opted for the fluke with perfectly grilled carrots, an arugula salad and rye berries. It came highly recommended from our knowledgeable waitress. I will dream about this dish. Mark ordered the beef tongue entree. And, while I did not try the tongue myself, his clean plate led me to believe he enjoyed it. I did try the heirloom tomato and corn salad that accompanied the beef. The salad was dressed with a salsa verde but it seemed closer to a pesto dressing. It was a burst of freshness.

We opted to skip dessert (in favor of heading to Kennett) and out came two bites of salted caramel. They were a perfect combination of salty sweetness at the end of our meal.

For an impromptu, late dinner on an early fall evening, we were pleasantly surprised.

The patio will be open through Thanksgiving, our waitress said, so before the weather turns, head to Southwark, enjoy an adult beverage outside.

Your friend, Caroline 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My best friend.

Her name was Delaney.

She was my partner in crime. My sidekick on walks in the city and in the park. She was my greeter. She was my boss. She was my child. She was my shopping buddy. She was there for me through the best. She was there for me through the worst. She was there for me with everything in between. She never met a tennis ball she didn't love. She made people smile. She made people happy everywhere she went. She was named for the 1800 block of Delancey Street in Philadelphia, which is where she grew up. 

Our first day and trip to Rittenhouse Square. 

Still a baby. Still living in Rittenhouse.

I lost my best friend. Two weeks ago, we were spending our last Sunday together. She was on her couch and I was on mine. We were watching each other and even though she couldn't use words, she was communicating with me.

She had been sick. After learning she was in renal failure in March, my only goal was to give her the best time - for however long she had with me. I know I succeeded in that and she lived out her days with me just as her last seven years. She was treated to new toys and like royalty. She ate better than most humans - including me. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Her fifth birthday.

She was even a regular at Race Street Cafe and joined me quite often on our al fresco dining adventures. I always preferred to be with her, than without. I know she felt the same.

I'll never forget when a bus driver stopped his bus, with passengers, to say hello to her. Or how she befriended a horse carriage driver who stopped on his rides to pet her.

 Delaney with Pete, the dog-friendly horse.

There were countless people on the street who stopped us to meet her. And she always looked at people as if to say "let's be friends." She and I were alike in that. She was my dog soul-mate - always smiling and happy to meet new friends and old. She was always happy to please and would gladly perform a trick or two. Her friend and dog trainer, Nicole, taught her a few good ones.

I'm entirely grateful for the love and support we both received this year. Most of all, from my amazing friend who took great care of her each day. Jaime, who owns Happy Tails of Philly, spent a lot of time with her each day and told me how she was doing. And she usually had funny stories about their time together. Delaney loved Jaime and Jaime loved Delaney. Jaime's compassion to us was unmatched and I'm thankful to call Jaime a dear friend.

The outpouring of support from my friends from around the world was amazing and a true testament of how loved she was.

Even if she purposely sat in a giant puddle of mud immediately after being groomed.

I feel a tremendous amount of sadness right now. I have a nagging feeling that I'm forgetting something and that I need to go home and walk her. She was my family in Philadelphia. She was my best friend. The consistent theme shared with me was that she was lucky to have me. I disagree. I was the lucky one to have her in my life. Our years were cut short but we had the best time and those are the times I will cherish and keep in my heart forever.

 She wanted to be a reindeer when she grew up. She told me.

She even got to meet Santa. Twice. 
Delaney, wherever you are. I miss you. I miss your nose. I miss your happy smile. I miss your comical spirit. I hope you are somewhere surrounded by tennis balls and getting a great neck scratch.

...and that you have a pool in which you can swim. 

With her first friend, Murph.

Memorial Day, 2013.

Thank you for always being the best girl.
Your mom and best friend.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Bastille Day Bashes

Bonjour amis,

I'm back and I have plenty of new places for you to try. But, since today is the eve of Bastille Day, I wanted to let you know about a few fun French-themed events happening throughout Philadelphia today and tomorrow.

Bistrot la Minette is offering a $40 four-course menu to celebrate the storming of the Bastille starting at 11:30 a.m. through 9:30 p.m. Their simple French food is amazing, along with a lovely wine menu, this fete is sure to please all Francophiles and oenophiles.

The gorgeous restaurant that is Bistrot La Minette.

Parc is celebrating its 5th birthday on Bastille Day and their event will be a bit more lively, shall we say. Parc's event includes St. Germaine cocktails on special along with chilled seafood platters. There may not be a better place to sit in the summer, eat a baguette, drink French wine, and people watch. I dare say, I'll be here at some point tomorrow if only to hear the French-music-playing accordion player. (I wonder, if they hired the same accordion player who is often spotted at 2nd and Market in my neighborhood?)

The view from 18th Street, at a bistro table facing Rittenhouse, at Parc. 

Fairmount's Bastille Day Celebrations have already begun but the big events are Saturday and Sunday. London Grill and its sister restaurant Paris Wine Bar are having a party. Even Eastern State Penitentiary gets involved in this party acting as the Bastille. The block party is today and Fairmount Ave is closed where event goers can hear Marie Antoinette cry "let them eat Tastykake" and catch one of the 3,000 Tastykakes that are thrown into the crowd. The cabaret begins at 5:30 but there are after parties planned throughout the Art Museum area as well.

For those in South Philadelphia, Devil's Den is offering French-inspired brunch menu items.

Caribou Cafe on Walnut is offering $3 Kronenbourg 1664 all day and hosting a Lillet wine party in the afternoon.

And of course, you can't go wrong by having a crepe and a mimosa at Beau Monde.

I want to wish everyone a happy Bastille Day, and if I see you, I will toast you with my St. Germaine cocktail because everyone is French on July 14.

Your friend,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Golf-swinging Sunday.

Hi friends,
I had some errands in Rittenhouse (at the Apple Store) and decided to run to Reading Terminal and meander back to Old City. I took Arch, lucky for me, and happened to see this...when I believe I also heard angels singing and saw unicorns.

This glorious site is The Cow and the Curd! AKA The Cheese Curd Truck that has eluded me for some time now for some reason or another because they roam from spot to spot selling this fried goodness.

Being a fan of cheese and food out of trucks, I ordered a small batch of freshly-made cheese curds for $6.50 with a side of sriracha mayonnaise.

About a half a dozen other trucks are there including a cupcake truck.

Why are the food trucks lining Arch Street, you ask? Because of a PGA-sponsored event of course! And it's even complete with a big-screen TV televising the U.S.Open, that's currently happening minutes outside of Philadelphia. There are even bleachers with fancy outdoor furniture with a rose centerpiece. The backdrop to this viewing station is the Visitor's Center, between The National Constitution Center and the Liberty Bell.

 What a pretty way to watch golf.

See....I wasn't kidding about a rose centerpiece. But, let's be honest here, the main attraction is, cheese curds withstanding, all of the plaid-shorts-wearing men. Delaney and I are heading back now to make new friends, I mean, pretend to be interested in watching golf.

One added item: there are putting greens and picnic tables for you to go and hang out with your dad, should you happen to be wandering around this part of the city on this Father's Day. Hope you are all having a lovely Sunday.

Your friend,

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day.

Hi friends,

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there.

Here is a little history for you on how the day started. The first Father's Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. It was the idea of the daughter of a Civil War veteran, who raised his six children on his own, because she wanted to commemorate her father the same way children celebrated Mother's Day. She initially wanted Father's Day to land on her father's birthday - June 5 - but there was not enough time to pull a celebration together in the town of Spokane so they landed on the third Sunday in June.

I'm glad the day exists if only to have an extra reason to celebrate my first hero.

Whenever I'm out with my dad in Pittsburgh, in the Strip District hunting for interesting food items or getting coffee at La Prima, we're inevitably stopped by someone he knows. A patient who adores him, a nurse from the hospital, sometimes even a chef from a local restaurant in which he frequents. It happens without fail that I call him The Mayor. So, now you see where I get it. My mom will also gladly tell you the other traits I have from my dad.

A few of my favorite memories of my dad from my childhood include catching fireflies on a hot summer night, going for soft-serve ice-cream and fishing on the open water. We also used to read Love, Dad. It's a sweet story about a dad writing notes to his kids. I still have a dozen letters he would write to me during my collegiate years. They are sweet and funny and usually included a goofy rhyme and $20 intended for gas which I'm sure was used for beer, I mean, books. 

Now, one of our favorite things to do is open a nice bottle of wine, have dinner outside with my mom and talk. 

Here are a few vintage images of us throughout the years...

 Swimming in Bethany Beach where I'm probably about seven.

Heading off to Xavier in August 1997. I have it on good authority that he cried the entire way home to Pittsburgh after leaving Cincinnati with one less person in the car.

The day before my brother's wedding. My dad is always the best date. Did anyone else dance with their dad by standing on their feet as a little girl?

On this Father's Day, I want to thank my dad for being my cheerleader at swim meets and on the marathon course, for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for being my biggest fan. It's because of my dad that I walk confidently and the reason I have incredibly high expectations and zero patience. Thank you for always wanting the best for your little girl.

I just wish he lived a bit closer, but I'm lucky that he's only at the other end of the phone.

Happy Father's Day, dad! This quote sums it up...

I love my father as the stars — he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart. - Terri Guillemets

Your friend, (and daughter)

Monday, June 3, 2013

British Invasion.

'ello, friends.

Last week, my friend Lisa and I went to a newer spot in our neighborhood - The Victoria Freehouse. It's a British gastropub that opened about two months old on Front Street, just south of Market in Old City. I'm kind of surprised it took me that long to check it out...considering I drive a Mini Cooper (Mini Coopa if you're from the U.K.) and have a slight obsession with the Union Jack.

The pub, or freehouse, is handsome, dark and cozy and the bartenders we met were extremely helpful and chatty.

We chatted with our bartender friend, Dave, who made us a delicious Bramble cocktail, that contains gin and blackberries, on Lisa's recommendation. It was lovely. Pouring our drinks whilst speaking with a British accent would have made the experience complete given my love of all things English. Who doesn't adore a British accent?

Then we switched over to beer. I chose the Russian Imperial stout because it was a rainy day, I love dark beer and it because was brewed for Catherine the Great in the 1700s.

Since we were just looking to grab a quick bite and because I love a good curry, we went for the tikka pizza (amazing, I'm craving it right now) and the curried cheese chips.

Both were great. The pizza was my favorite and I'll probably get one later this week because it was a surprisingly yet perfect combination of curry-coated cheese. The chips were thick-cut fries covered with cheese and swimming in a curry sauce. My only wish was for a tiny bit more cheese on the chips - one can never have too much cheese on fries.


Another solid reason why The Freehouse is a solid spot: this guy! Who doesn't love a British card-holding fox? I can hear him quip away in his British accent now.

...and even the baby pint glasses boast a British-inspired crown which I think is brilliant. All the more reason to go ahead and have one more tiny glass of a beer. You know you don't want to go home anyway!

And timely for Philadelphia Beer Week, the Freehouse having events for Beer Week.

If you fancy a good British pub, head to The Freehouse, sit at the bar, chat with Dave, and order the tikka pizza! I'm going to go back and try out the rest of the menu - namely the welsh rarebit (because it reminds me of something my grandmother used to eat), the fish and chips and the sticky toffee pudding! Cheerio!

Your friend,

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Lazy, coffee-filled mornings.

Good morning, friends. I'm sitting outside right now on what I consider to be the best patio in the city. It's just before 8 a.m. on this lovely, breezy (for now), Saturday morning. It's not too hot (for now). I have my coffee (brewed from Old City Coffee beans) sitting on the arm of my Adirondack chair. Delaney is at my feet (for now) until the wind blows and she has to investigate.
I started to think about my visit to Ultimo Coffee a few weeks ago. They receive a great deal of positive press for unbelievable coffee and just opened a new location in Graduate Hospital, a bit south of Rittenhouse in Center City, Philadelphia.

I kinda love their logo...and it's painted on an old window frame.

I went to Ultimo the other day, by happenstance, as we were in the midst of a marathon house-hunting day and needed to refuel.

I was personally psyched because I have been wanting to check them out and was happy to have spotted the Grad Hospital location. I still want to check out the original location at 15th and Mifflin, one day.

The coffee shop is light and airy, with plenty of patrons drinking their coffee and reading at tables. I am pretty sure my friend Adrienne and I will plan a day in which we will sit there all day long.

Here is their menu. I opted for a double cappuccino.

....their espresso maker.

...and the finished product.


Here is the best part - the pallet planter just hanging out on the sidewalk. 

When on that side of Broad, my allegiance is still with La Colombe at 19th and Walnut, but I will certainly return to Ultimo. 

On this side of Broad, I choose to become caffeinated at Old City Coffee and Cafe Ole. If you go to Cafe Ole, order a dirty vanilla chai. You'll become slightly addicted, I apologize in advance.

So friends, I hope you are enjoying a lovely, lazy, coffee-drinking Saturday morning, too.

Your friend, Caroline.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Festivities. Part deux.

Hi friends,

Part two of my festival overview includes events happening Saturday and Sunday. 

On Saturday check out the Rittenhouse Row Festival that spans Walnut Street between Broad and 19th Street. This festival typically hosts outside food tents from the restaurants along Walnut Street, along with adult beverages, fashion shows, music and dog-related events. I don't typically love this festival, I know I'm in the minority on this one, but my friends Allison, Lee and their little girl, Stella, are going to be there, so I'll go and say hello to them.

The RRF runs from 12-5 on Saturday. See you there along with 30,000 of our closest friends.

And finally, it is time for the greatest festival in Philadelphia - this Saturday and Sunday marks the annual the Peroni Festival (formally known as the South 9th Street Italian Market Festival).

photo credit: wiki

Now this is my favorite festival for a hundred different reasons, and lucky for me, my friend Desi lives nearby so not only do I get to enjoy the festival with a friend, but when we want to escape (highly unlikely) we can go to her house and use a real bathroom. The perks of knowing someone in high places, I'm telling you.

The festival is like all other street fairs and 9th Street, located in the Italian Market district, is open and festival goers are invited (and encouraged) to drink a cold Peroni (in a plastic red cup) from one of the many vendors and walk around with it while deciding what to eat (corn-on-a-stick with chile butter, tamales, dozens of Italian pastries, and pretty much anything else you can think of).

Here are my tips for you: decide to go either day, or both, between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. but make your first stop the beer stand outside of Villa di Roma for a Peroni. Then wander throughout the tiny streets of the Italian Market. You'll want to return to this restaurant later to sit at the bar and order the fried asparagus. I shouldn't need to continue, but I will. The eight or so pieces of the lightly battered and fried vegetable are served atop a butter sauce with a hint of lemon. Your mom always told you to eat your vegetables and this dish will make you love vegetables. Every bite is crunchy and there is usually a fight for the last spear.

You don't need to just take my word for it... read this review of the fried deliciousness.

Stop into Anthony's coffeehouse for a warm Sfogliatelle, which means many layers in Italian, that is a clam-shaped pastry filled with ricotta cheese with a tiny trace of vanilla and orange throughout. If you want to try to make one, here is a recipe

 photo credit:tumblr

I can taste it now. 

You can also check out DiBruno's for cheese and olive oil, and Talluto's for pasta.

The best part about this festival is the very relaxed vibe everyone seems to exude while they are there. The surrounding streets are open only for pedestrian traffic and you can wander aimlessly throughout the market. The weather will be gorgeous this weekend, perfect for summer dresses, plaid shorts and drinking Peronis on a hot day. Enjoy!

I hope I see you there!

Your friend,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Festivities this weekend. Part one.

Happy Thursday, friends.

If you're not sure what to do this weekend, or even tonight. I wanted to give you a few ideas.

On tap tonight is the season's first Night Market, where dozens of food trucks ranging from pizza, cheese curds, tamales, and pretty much anything else you can imagine including adult beverages and bands, converge onto one neighborhood. The Night Markets are a good time. My only recommendations are to go early and bring cash along with your patience. If you don't have much patience, seek out the first beer stand to help you combat the lines and the crowds. If you go, you should walk or take the bus, a subway or a cab.

My friend Pete's band, the 9's, will be on playing some of their cool hits at Fare Restaurant around 20th and Fairmount, so look for them, too!

Trucks will be parked along Fairmount Ave between 19th and 22nd Streets. If you miss this Night Market, more will be held this year in June, August and October.

On Saturday, there are two items to note, so stay tuned! One is the best festival, so it's not to be missed, the Peroni festival (formally known as the South 9th Street Italian Market Festival).

Enjoy the Night Market but look for more tips soon.

Your friend,

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day.

Hi friends - especially moms, new moms, moms to be and everyone who has a mom.

New York Magazine wrote a profile on Mindy Kaling, formerly of The Office and now The Mindy Project.

I read this piece a few months ago and the below excerpt has stayed with me...and probably always will. I thought it was appropriate on this day and I wanted to share it with you.

"My relationship with my mom is really the single most profound relationship that I’ve ever had in my life," Mindy tells me...But her voice breaks when she starts talking about how she sat down with a pen and paper and asked her mother to give her all the advice she could possibly give her before she died, and Kaling realized she’d never be able to ask her mother for advice again. “I said to her, ‘Mom, I’m going to be so lonely without you.’” She’s crying now but keeps going. “And she just said, ‘You have to be your own best friend. If you always remember that, you will always have someone there with you.’”

I'm fortunate to have a great mom who I talk to daily, if not hourly, some days. She is the reason why I am who I am. She is the reason why I swam throughout my entire life, the reason why I have an Airedale, the reason why I am a writer, the reason why I am easily amused.

She's the reason I have a positive outlook on life. The reason why I absolutely cannot sleep in. The reason why I have to give my future children the most magical Christmas. I wouldn't have it any other way.

One day,  if I'm lucky, I hope to have the very same relationship with a daughter of my own. The same relationship my mom had with my grandmother. This is one heirloom I want to pass along.

Thank you, mom, for everything. For putting up with me throughout my teenage years, for happily carting me to and from swim practice at 5 a.m., for dealing with my antics and sass during the past 34 years, for being the best shopping partner, and for always being there for me when I want to tell you something great, something funny or when I just need a hug. For being my relentless cheerleader. For your ear and your shoulder. For teaching me to always make my bed first, when I move somewhere new so I know I have somewhere to sleep. For teaching me that a cup of tea and a good night's rest can fix pretty much everything. And above all, for always believing that everything happens for a reason.

You deserve the best day and I cannot wait to see you in a few weeks!

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
– Oscar Wilde

And now, I had better start thinking about my Father's Day post...
Your friend,

Thursday, May 9, 2013

American Sardine Bar.

Hi friends,
Last night, I met my dear friend, Andy, who happens to also be my realtor, to see a few houses. We met early in the evening and debated grabbing a quick bite before we began house hunting, but we ended up zipping through the houses and lo and behold, ended up a mere block from American Sardine Bar.

Coincidence, fate and happenstance, it was. I had raved about the haloumi sandwich earlier in the evening, but, to our dining displeasure ASB recently updated their menu.

I opted the 21st Amendment Come Hell or High Watermelon beer on draft, which is one of my favorites right now. It is also available by the can at Race Street Cafe. The design on the can, and the rather clever name, get me every time. Andy ordered the American Sardine Ale.

Since the haloumi sandwich (yes, I've mentioned this before, it's that good) isn't on the menu right now, we asked our waiter for a recommendation. And after hearing about it, and being a bit intrigued  - we ordered the spaghetti sandwich. Why not?

And that, my friends, is the sandwich that we shared. Odd right? But surprisingly good. It is exactly what it looks like: toasted garlic bread, with provolone cheese and basil, topped with spaghetti. I'm Italian and know my bread, pasta and cheese. Since I tend to enjoy my carbs with a side of carbs, this was exactly up my alley. Sharing it was absolutely the right idea. Sharing the haloumi sandwich is never a good idea, however. And yes, you can order sardines, at ASB, of course.

We also ordered the salt and pepper fries, which are served with a dill pickle dip.

If you are looking for a good beer and sandwich (get the haloumi if you see it on the menu), check out ASB, it won't disappoint. And if you're looking for a house - my dear friend Andy is the best of the best. He is married to one of my nearest and dearest, and he's always up for a bite somewhere cool before, during or after, any of your house-hunting adventures.

Your friend,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Margaritas and Mint Juleps.

Happy weekend, friends.

With two big events occurring this weekend, and gorgeous weather in the forecast, it's bound to be a fun weekend.

First, there is the Kentucky Derby, Saturday. I confess that my friend, Bill, offered me an extra ticket to the Derby. I'm sad this news reached me late Friday afternoon and I will not be drinking a mint julep at Churchill Downs, but I can say with all certainly that I will be drinking a mint julep, somewhere, Saturday.
And then there is Cinco de Mayo on Sunday. If you're out in Philadelphia, here are a few events that will most likely be a great time.

El Vez and all of 13th Street will be hosting a block party starting at noon with pop-up tands of tacos and drinks. If you go to El Vez, try the Granada margarita.

There is the always-amazing Dos Segundos in Northern Liberties (and sister restaurant, the Cantina in South Philadelphia) where you cannot go wrong with a blood orange margarita (on the rocks, with a sugar rim, please).

There is the East Passyunk Cinco de Mayo festival, too.

I wonder if Loco Pez is having a Cinco de Mayo event? If they do, it will be a hilarious time. If you go, bring cash.

To all of my friends running the Broad Street run on Sunday, I hope you run well and more importantly, rehydrate with a Dos Equis or a margarita. I'll be out cheering for you around Broad and Walnut, so look for me.

Busy weekend for sure! I just need to find a silver cup and a margarita glass.

Your friend, Caroline

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Around the corner.

Happy weekend, friends.

I saw this sign today on One Kings Lane and I wanted to share it with you.

I completely believe this because just around the corner you might find something amazing.

Photo credit:

Whether it is a charming chat with a neighbor you've yet to meet or spontaneous brunch plans, something incredible may be waiting...just around the corner. Maybe it's a new job, maybe it's a new friend, maybe you'll meet your future husband or wife or maybe you find something you've been searching for. Maybe you'll discover something new where you live or see something for the first time. Whatever it may be, it's waiting for you around the corner.

One of my favorite ways the phrase is used...from a happy movie.

Around the Corner Cafe is a cute name for a local Cleveland bar.

And this quote sums it all up...


I'm having one of these very fun days today and it restored my faith in humanity - thanks to my friends Vanessa and Lisa. Philadelphia really is the city of brotherly love! You just have to keep going to see what (or who) awaits you at the next turn.

I hope you can find something new today...because you never know what the future holds.

Your friend,