Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In which Helen eats and eats and eats... and forgets her camera

Last weekend Chris (!) came (!) to visit (!). And we ate so much good food that I hesitate to post about them without picture evidence. But nonetheless, the food and company was too good to not blog about.

Our first stop was Mixto, a Cuban/Latin restaurant near Market East station. There was a lot of meat on the menu, and unfortunately, after a bad experience with burger bar earlier in the week, I had to go for the only meatless option, a vegetarian platter. Chris, on the other hand, ordered Churrasco Argentino Con "chimichurri," a grilled skirt steak with a zesty herb sauce. The veggie platter was surprisingly good and hearty, with lots of roasted vegetables and plantains and little cheesy polenta blocs, and rice and delicious black beans. Chris' steak was flavorful and done to perfection. And the sauce that came along with it brightened the meat up considerably. Awesome.

The service at Mixto, however, was quite shoddy. As soon as we didn't order an alcoholic beverage, our waiter turned on us and did everything in his power to rush us out, ending with the act of bringing us the bill before I even had a chance to wonder about dessert. But, that turned out to be a good thing soon after, since the bitter, bitter cold brought us into the Naked Chocolate Cafe. We were much smarter this visit than our last and ordered only their delicious drinking chocolate. I got the Aztec, which was very robust and full of spices. But my order paled (both literally and figuratively) in comparison to the rich, dark, almost-pudding like European Bittersweet sipping chocolate Chris got. It was served in a little espresso cup and you had to use a tiny little spoon to "drink" it.

The next day we gathered up a large crew for dim sum at Joy Tsin Lau in Chinatown. Despite the fact that our options were not as varied as other larger establishments, the food was quite good. Lots of meat and shrimp, but light on dessert stuff -- there were no egg tarts! And like all dim sum experiences, you had to look very carefully for anything green to fend off that scurvy you've been worrying about ever since entering Swarthmore. Regardless, it was pretty cheap for so much food -- about 12-13 dollars for a bunch of ravenous college kids. Not bad.

After dim sum we went walking around in Reading Terminal Market, bought a half gallon of apple cider from the Amish and wondered around a bit. We pondered buying an ugly fruit for the next meeting of the society of exotic fruits, but decided against it. After that, we went to the Northern Liberties to possibly check out galleries and such. But the only gallery we found was one that featured an exhibition called the "Obamarama" and another called "Guilty Pleasures." The rest of our time was spent walking around this slightly run-down but charming little neighborhood filled with interesting little cafes and shops. We walked by a Paraguayan restaurant with featured a prominent sign that said "NO MICROWAVES." As we were looking, a man beckoned us in for a lesson on microwaves. Inside, we found a lady who told us about a study where they watered two plants (great sample size, eh?), one with cooled microwaved water and one with regular water (at least they have a control...). And lo and behold, the plant watered with microwaved water died within a week. Moral of the story -- don't go near microwaves! Duh. She also told us that a hot "baked" potato cooked using a microwave will ruin the molecular composition of your stomach, or something scientific sounding like that. She used the word "molecular," and I was immediately sold. But despite their silly "science," the menu to cafe looked really good. Maybe next time.

Anyway, a light dinner happened at Soy Cafe (2nd st), where we ordered two delicious and filling salads (I got the grapefruit avocado, Chris got the crab and seaweed). Their signature ginger miso dressing was some of the best I've had. Plus, the serving size of a very large mound of fresh veggies was the perfect thing after a meat-heavy dim sum meal.

We got back to Swat fairly early since I had to study for macro. And Chris left the morning after. Despite how short it was, the weekend was probably one of the best I've had this school year. Definitely need to get into Philly more often.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ice and Snow

Sometime last week Swarthmore woke up to a day of wintery-mix. It was warm (well, warmer), foggy, humid, and raining. As much as the rest of campus complained, I stand by my opinion that it was wonderful. Everything was iced over and you can barely see anything.

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

The slippery snow looked perfect for sledding.

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

From Swarthmore Jaunuary 2009

Even the bamboo outside Kohlberg fell and iced over.

But the weather changed for the (much) warmer yesterday. It was warm and sunny and spring-like. Being able to run in a T-shirt was spectacular, although the iced over sidewalks all through the borough was not.