Sunday, June 14, 2015

Philadelphia Phaves

I cannot believe that in a few short weeks the hubs and I will be leaving the East Coast behind for our move to CALIFORNIA!

We have really enjoyed our time in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has definitely established itself as one of the best food cities, so I wanted to highlight some of our "Philly Phaves"!

When we first moved to Philadelphia, we lived in Society Hill. Society Hill is a very historic, quiet neighborhood just blocks away from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. I loved walking down the cobblestone streets and passing homes that have been around since the 1700's!

Society Hill/Old City has so many fabulous restaurants. We lived literally right next door to one of Philadelphia's top-rated restaurants, Zahav. Nothing beats the beet salad (oh, puns!) that comes with the selection of salatim at the start of the meal. The baby rugelach and apricot babka are some of my favorite desserts!

Babka that would make your Bubbe proud at Zahav!

Philly isn't really known for its pizza, but we were fortunate enough to live steps away from Pizzeria Stella. We had a regular order: one spinach with mozzarella and pine nuts, one sausage with long hot pesto. Delish! We regularly made the long trek to Stella's from our West Philly apartment after we moved from Society Hill because the pizza is that good!

I am very, very particular about my tapas. Hey, I studied abroad in Spain, I know what's good! I have to say that Amada is one of the best tapas restaurants that I've been to here in the States. Their croquetas are light and creamy. The garlic shrimp sizzles when they place it in front of you. I can't get enough of the garbanzo and spinach salad. And of course, the Sangria is not to be missed!

Just up the street from Amada is Han Dynasty ,  which is truly authentic Szechuan cuisine. Definitely go here if you like it hot! You can customize the spice level for most dishes. Our favorites were the Spicy Crispy Cucumber Salad, Dan-Dan Noodles, and the Garlic Sauce Style Shrimp.

Here is B enjoying basketball and Chinese food at Han Dynasty!

You CANNOT be in Society Hill/Old City without checking out Franklin Fountain. In the summer, there is always a line, but it is totally worth it for their old fashioned ice cream floats, sundaes, and phosphates (customized sodas). When you walk in, you feel as though you have been transported into the 1920's. Even the employees are dressed in outfits from that era! Franklin Fountain has excellent classic and unique homemade ice cream flavors, from vanilla bean to honeycomb ice cream made with honey from their own beehives! Yum!

When we moved to West Philly, we were worried that we would miss our old stand-bys in Society Hill. Never fear, for we quickly discovered some favorite places in our new neighborhood! Our go-to place was Sabrina's. They serve breakfast all day, and I loved that on a random Thursday night I could get a delicious egg white and veggie omelet with "homies" (Sabrina's lingo for home-fried potatoes). My husband loves their grilled veggie sandwich, served on a Philly famous Sarcone's roll!

The view of the Philly skyline from our West Philly place!
My sister went to Penn, which is right up the street from our West Philly apartment. I remember coming to White Dog Cafe after her graduation on a chilly, rainy day and cozying up to order hot toddies. Man, I wish I didn't wait nine years to try the food! American gourmet comfort food at its best! All the ingredients are from local farms. Hub's favorite is the burger with truffle-oil fries. I love the pecan-crusted tofu or the rigatoni with spicy lamb bolognese. The best is half-priced wine bottles on Mondays! Whatever you don't drink they cork up for you to take home!

Part of White Dog's charm are all the cute dogs positioned randomly throughout the restaurant. We've named a few...this one is Paco.

 In my opinion, and I assume the opinion of many others, Capogiro Gelato is definitely a Philly institution! It is honestly the best gelato I've had outside of Italy! They have awesome flavors that change seasonally based on available ingredients. Some flavors seem daunting at first (um, sweet potato ice cream? Avocado?) but end up being delicious! One of my favorite flavors is burnt sugar, which seriously tastes like the caramelized topping of a creme brulee. Of course, their classic flavors are done beautifully, like the pistachio and the stracciatella.

Even if it is on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon, Percy Street BBQ is the spot to hit if you are craving great barbeque! The ribs and chicken have a great, smokey flavor, they barely require the various sauces that are available at the table. I love ALL the sides, but the German potato salad in a bacon vinaigrette and the mac and cheese are truly awesome!

This is definitely a time where you want to GO TOWARDS THE LIGHT! There's great BBQ ahead!

Before moving to Philly, I heard a lot about Monk's and their famous mussels. I love mussels, and fell in love with almost all of the different preparations on the menu! Brussels (tomato, fennel, garlic) and Provence (leeks, mushrooms, celery, cream) are my favorites. It is the perfect place to go on a cold night to warm up with moules frites!

Let me just say, I had to stop my list here because I could honestly go on forever about all of the great places to eat in Philadelphia. I am sad that we will be leaving such a wonderful food city, but am looking forward to finding our go-to's and special places in our new hometown! Anyone who knows some good OC restaurants, let me know! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Big News

I am relieved to finally be able to share this news with everyone. It has been a tough road over the past couple of weeks (actually, months, if I'm being honest) but now I am finally in a place where I can share my news with all of you.

My husband and I got married almost a year ago, and we were excited to begin a new life together in Philadelphia. Only a few months after we got married, he lost his job. Needless to say, I was worried about how we would pick up the pieces on just a teacher's salary. We made it work. We had the support of our friends and family, which was the most important thing. I told myself I didn't have time to stress about it--that my responsibilities at work would keep my mind off of reality. Truth be told, there is never time to take a breath when you are teaching, so I really was preoccupied by work a lot of the time!

As time went on, I began to realize that it was highly possible that I might not be able to stay at my current school and that we might have to move for his next job. That was a tough pill to swallow. After only two years at this school, it really became my second home, my second family. I have never felt so supported in a school before. I worked with so many amazing teachers and wonderful families. Those kids were my life, just ask anyone who talked to me about my job EVER. I can't shut up about them!

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was offered a job with a great company in California. We are both East Coasters, with both of our families nestled along the Atlantic. Moving to California would mean leaving behind our family and friends. But it would also mean moving to California. Land of sunshine and surf! No snow! Palm trees!

For those of you who don't know me, I have had a dream since I was a little kid to live in California. When I was in elementary school, my father's law firm had asked him if he would be interested in heading up the California branch of their offices. My family went out to Orange County (where, coincidentally, my husband's new job is) and I began my love affair with year-round summertime. And being close to Disneyland. Ultimately, my parents turned it down to remain in D.C. and stay close to grandparents and friends. For years I complained to my parents that my life could have been "so much more awesome" if we had moved out there.  I always beamed with joy when someone who I just met told me they "assumed I was from California" because of my personality, clothing, etc. Well, here was our chance to live out my childhood dream, but it would also mean I would have to give up another dream: continuing to work in a great school. It was a tearful goodbye, but I am lucky that my colleagues are supportive and understand what is best for my family at this time.

The sad truth is, teaching is not a lucrative profession. If one of us is going to give up their job, I will  be fine with taking the bullet this time. My husband has always been supportive of my teaching career. It is part of the reason we ended up in Philadelphia. So now it is my turn to be supportive...and get a really good tan! As of July, we will be leaving our home on the East Coast and moving to Orange County--for reals this time! I am excited for the adventure ahead, and know that soon I will land on my feet out there. Hey, kids and schools are everywhere, right?

There is a lot to take care of in the next couple of weeks, but now that it is official, I am excited to get behind this adventure full-force! California, here we come!

Now, on a lighter/ridiculous note to get me SUPER PUMPED for my move:

I'm sorry, I had to do it! Especially because Chris Carmack (aka Luke Ward) and I are actually from the D.C.--not the O.C.
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