Windy City Baker Feasts in Philadelphia, PA

Today we are in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love! This is the home of the Liberty Bell, cheese steaks, and the “Rocky Steps.” This city has so much to offer, including great tasting cuisine. Nabil and I spent most of our time eating (definitely my idea of a good vacation).

List of Reviewed Bakeries/Restaurants (alphabetized)
  1. Federal Donuts
  2. Hungry Pigeon
  3. ICI Macarons and Café
  4. Suraya
  5. Termini Brothers Bakery
Federal Donuts:

Every website listed Federal Donuts as a “must try” location.  We went for the first half of breakfast and we shared two donuts.

  1. Cinnamon Bun Donut: This donut was very sweet, and it tasted just like a cinnamon bun (i.e., dough with a lot of cinnamon and sugar).  I thought the donut tasted good, but I was happy I was sharing it with my husband because it was a little too sweet (even for me). 
  2. Banoffee Donut: This donut was really delicious and I ended up eating most of the donut myself.  Banoffee is typically made into a pie with bananas, whipped cream, and toffee.  This donut was flavored with banana (although my husband thought it tasted artificial) and was topped with chocolate and toffee bits.  The toffee was a great addition because it added a crunchy texture to the donut and made it more interesting. Also, I LOVE toffee.

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Hungry Pigeon:

For the second half of breakfast, (hobbits would call this meal “second breakfast”) Nabil and I ate at the Hungry Pigeon

  1. Croissant: This croissant was a well-made pastry with a flaky exterior and a soft, buttery interior.  A very typical croissant that was great with some butter and jam. 
  2. English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich: This dish was a flop for me.  First, the menu did not clearly describe what was on the sandwich.  It stated that there was Jack cheese, which I took to mean Pepper Jack (one of my favorites), but it meant Monterey Jack, which I like less.  Also, the menu failed to mention that the sandwich would be slathered in mustard, a condiment that I dislike very much.  In addition to this oversight, the English muffin had a different consistency than normal.  Rather than having a lot of nooks and crannies and open-air holes for butter to melt into, the English muffin was dense and very chewy.  Potentially, this was due to the muffin being made with a high proportion of whole wheat flour. 

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Termini Brothers Bakery:

Philadelphia is home to one of America’s largest and oldest public indoor markets, called the Reading Terminal Market.  This is such an amazing place for locally sourced ingredients and dishes.  Not only does the market sell traditional Pennsylvania Dutch food, but it also provides food options from all over the world (e.g., Middle Eastern sweets and Asian food).  This place is always bustling with people who want to eat good food.  Termini Brothers Bakery is one of the stands in the market.  They specialize in Italian baked goods and we tried one of their cannoli.

  1. Cannoli: Nabil and I shared one large cannolo (the singular of cannoli when speaking Italian).  One of my pet peeves is buying a cannolo that has a soggy shell due to sitting for hours with the filling inside.  This shell, however, was filled as we ordered it, so it stayed nice and crispy.  The flavor was fantastic!  The shell was flavored with cinnamon and had a ton of air bubbles (i.e., the sign of a well baked cannolo shell).  The ricotta filling was smooth and sweet with mini chocolate chips mixed in.  We both really enjoyed eating this treat. 

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ICI Macarons and Café:

This quiet café is located right outside of Center City and they offer a large variety of traditional and unique macaron flavors.  Macarons are one of my favorite cookies, but not many people can make them well.  ICI Macarons made them perfectly.  The shells were smooth on top with a ruffled “foot” (exactly what a macaron should look like).  When biting into the cookie, the shell was very thin and easy to bite through while the filling was soft and chewy. They were so good!  Below are the flavors we tried:

  1. Strawberry Macaron: This is my husband’s favorite fruit flavor.  Pretty much anytime this is a flavor option (regardless of the type of dessert), we try it.  We were not disappointed here.  The cookie tasted like eating strawberry jam.  The sweet and fruity filling tasted great with the almond flavored shells.  
  2. Lime and Basil Macaron: I liked the sound of this combination.  It sounded a little savory, but still light and refreshing.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything with this flavor before.  The first taste that hits your tongue is the lime flavor and the basil followed after.  I liked this cookie a lot. 
  3. Orange Blossom Macaron: I use orange blossom water often when making baklava and I really enjoyed the light floral taste from the orange blossom water in this cookie.  
  4. Almond Praline Macaron: This cookie had a slightly nutty flavor mixed with caramel that was really delicious.

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Suraya was voted the “Best New Restaurant of 2018” by Philadelphia Magazine and it was easy to see why.  The Lebanese-inspired food was so good, and their dessert was even better. 

  1. Man’oushe: We tried the lahm bi-ajeen and za’atar with cheese man’oushe.  If you have never heard of/tried man’oushe before, it is essentially a Lebanese pizza or flatbread.  The dough is rolled out and covered in various toppings.  The lahm bi-ajeen has beef, tomato, onion, and spices while the za’atar man’oushe has cheese and a wild thyme spice mix (i.e., za’atar) sprinkled over the dough.  Both were very good.  The dough was pretty thin, so it was crispy, which I liked.  My husband, who is half-Lebanese, thought the dough shouldn’t be so crispy (“It’s not like that in Tripoli.”), but he still thought it tasted good, nonetheless.  We would have eaten these again in a heartbeat. 
  2. Kanafeh: This is a traditional layered Lebanese dessert that is made of shredded phyllo dough, melted cheese curds, and finished with a layer of semolina.  It is typically served with a simple syrup to make the dish sweet.  Suraya’s version has the crisp shredded phyllo (of course cooked with an ample amount of butter) and it is served with a lightly rose-flavored simple syrup.  In general, I do not like the flavor of rose water because it is almost always too overpowering.  This version, however, tasted really good when paired with the kanafeh.  Definitely give it a try if you have never tried Lebanese desserts before. 

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We had so much fun in Philadelphia and we can’t wait to go back.  Have you ever been to Philadelphia?  Do you have a favorite place to eat there?  I’d love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment below!

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