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Philly restaurant earns "million dollar review" from Times of London critic

Times of London restaurant critic Giles Coren came to Philadelphia to film his TV show, Million Dollar Critic, for Canada's WNetwork. The winner of his five-restaurant showdown was one of this editor's personal favorites, Kanella. (Best brunch in the city.)

"Kanella is the sort of place I wish I could review every week: a buzzing local taverna on a lively city corner, people of all ages and ethnicities sitting at outside tables, simply decorated inside, full of laughter, friends and family, and charming staff serving a cuisine rooted deeply in a foreign culture rather than just ripping it off, with a deadly serious chef at the helm."

Original source: Foobooz
Read the complete story (and check out a clip) here.

T Magazine details 'Year in the Life of the War on Drugs'

The New York Times' T Magazine publishes a "photo diary" about beloved Philly band War on Drugs.

"Lost in the Dream," the third album from the Philadelphia band the War on Drugs, has been one of the year’s most celebrated indie-rock releases, drawing near-universal acclaim for its sophisticated synthesis of classic American folk and rock influences as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Sonic Youth. The band’s frontman, Adam Granduciel, is also a longtime photography enthusiast. "In high school, I was head of the lab," he says. "I dumped a whole five-gallon bucket of D-76 on my head once. It ruined all my clothes."

Granduciel is rarely without one of his three cameras: a Polaroid, loaded with 600 film purchased from the Impossible Project; a Holga he’s had for nearly a decade; and a Rollei 35 he found at a camera shop in Brighton, England. Over the past year, in the run-up to and the wake of the March release of “Lost in the Dream,” the band has traveled the world, and Granduciel has documented the sights its members have seen — from giraffes on a Dutch safari to Portuguese palm trees to his own 82-year-old father on his first trip to Europe.


Original source: T Magazine
Check it out here.

Want a 'Lord of the Rings'-style map of Philadelphia?

PA resident Stentor Danielson creates super-cool maps of major American cities -- including Philadelphia -- in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien.

In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. There, brave travelers will get some brief, telling glimpses into the mapmaker’s creative process, which seems to exist at the nexus of fandom and fetishism. A specifically-cited source of inspiration for Danielson, for instance, is this map of Middle Earth from the Ballatine paperback edition of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.

A faculty member at Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University, Danielson works with pen and ink and, on occasion, cut paper to create his otherworldly "cartographic art" of quite-worldly places like Boston and Washington, D.C. The artist, who describes his work as "delicate" (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.


Original source: The A.V. Club
Read the complete story here; and click here for Danielson's Etsy store.

Swimming the Cooper River in South Jersey

Baron Ambrosia swam the Cooper River through Camden in an act of civic good will. (Be sure to check out the slideshow.)

So began one man’s quest to paddle through Camden, known more for its high crime rate than its verdant waterways. With his five-mile swim along the Cooper, a tributary of the Delaware River, Baron Ambrosia aimed to change that.

“I’m trying to do something good for the city,” he said, highlighting urban exploration and environmental renewal. Born Justin Fornal, he has made a career of celebrating the gritty, most prominently as his alter-ego Baron, a fancifully attired Bronx foodhound with his own eccentric cable series (recently spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show). Last year, Mr. Fornal, 36, swam the Bronx River to promote his home borough, the first person recorded to do so. This year, asked by friends where he might take another dip, he settled on Camden as a similarly unsung landscape.


He completed his swim despite resistance from the city.

Undeterred, and without fanfare, Mr. Fornal decided to do the swim anyway, earlier than expected last week. “I just want to get in the water as quickly as possible,” he said, as he prepared to enter the river with three support canoes on Wednesday. They pushed off from a park in Collingswood, N.J., heading northwest through Camden toward Philadelphia. Even before the sun rose, they were spotted by some fishermen. “I was surprised to see them,” Mr. Fornal said, his head bobbing out of the water in a red Y.M.C.A. swim cap, “but I’m guessing they were more surprised to see us.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Upcoming Fishtown restaurant earns 'Weekend Update' quip

Soon-to-be-opened Fishtown restaurant Girard Brasserie & Bruncherie and its no-tipping policy earned a decidedly un-P.C. joke on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update." Check it out here.

It's been a big month for tipping in Philadelphia.

Original source: Saturday Night Live (NBC)
 

'Finding your tribe' on review sites

A New York Times writer looks at the different travel-and-review sites, and emphasizes the importance of "finding your tribe." Yelp helped her find a hidden Philly gem.

When searching for a hotel or restaurant, you don’t want everybody’s opinion. You want opinions from people who share your taste and travel goals. But how to cherry-pick those travelers from the multitudes of citizen-critics on sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Hotels.com?

...More often than not I agree with Yelp reviews. Take a recent afternoon in Philadelphia. Craving a Mexican snack yet deterred by unenthusiastic restaurant reviews, I ended up in the Italian market area in Bella Vista where inside the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Tortilleria San Roman, Yelpers advised picking up “dirt-cheap” hot tortillas, fried chips and, as one reviewer put it, “mean fresh green salsa.” Delicious — and I got to stroll through the market.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Stunning Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk earns national praise

The spectacular new Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, connecting Locust Street to South Street, is a big hit. (And not only with Inga Saffron.)

The winding, gray concrete pathway gives visitors the unique sensation of having water on both sides of them, Joseph Syrnick, president and CEO of the Schuylkill River Development Corp., said Tuesday as he walked the 15-foot-wide boardwalk prior to its opening.

"You feel like you're on the river," Syrnick said, noting the similarity between the scoring of the concrete and traditional New Jersey shore boardwalks. "This becomes a destination spot."

The $18 million structure serves as small but crucial link in what planners hope will be a 130-mile trail from Schuylkill County to Philadelphia. About 60 miles of the trail are finished, according to the Schuylkill River Trail Association.


Original source: The Associated Press; via Huffington Post
Read the complete story here.

Philly's Springboard Collective, warriors against the 'summer slide,' featured in New York Times

This awesome Philadelphia ed startup earns praise in the New York Times.

Last summer was the second one Tayonna Taylor, an incoming second-grader, spent working with a reading tutor: her mother. Tayonna, who wears glasses and had the sniffles, sat with her mother, Tasia Carlton, in late July in Emily Roggie’s classroom in Wissahickon Charter School in northwest Philadelphia...

[Alejandro] Gac-Artigas founded Springboard in 2011, when he was just 22. He was teaching first grade with Teach for America, horrified by the summer slide. That summer he set up a four-teacher pilot with 42 children and their families. By the end of the summer, the children had gained 2.8 months in reading.

This past summer, Springboard worked with 1,200 students in 20 schools — public, charter and parochial — in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. In Philadelphia, Springboard is the only summer learning program the school district pays for. Springboard trains teachers for the summer program, and has now started to help them coach parents to help their children during the school year. The full cost of the summer program is about $900 per child, including the teacher’s salary, which is paid by the school.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia to host Forbes' '30 under 30'

In October, the City of Brotherly Love will host a major event for young entrepreneurs. 

Philadelphia will play host to Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30″ summit in mid-October, not only a brain-storming session by those who’ve made it, but a springboard for those who want to.

From October 19th to the 22nd, the Convention Center will host a who’s-who list of millenial entrepreneurs, inventors, celebrities and more than a thousand others looking to make their big mark. Randall Lane of Forbes says attendees will get a chance to grab for the gold ring.

“We’re calling it the $400,000 pressure cooker,” Lane says, “where we’re going to have a pitch contest on stage in front of a thousand people, and the winner take all, winner gets $150,000 in investment and a quarter-million dollars in prizes, and we promised Mayor Nutter that one Philly entrepreneur gets a fast track to the finals.”
Lane says Philadelphia is abuzz with millenial energy.

“Based on what we’re seeing you’re doing great,” he says. “Stats we’ve seen show the rise in millenials in Philadelphia is outpacing the rest of the nation.”


Original source: CBS
Read the complete story here.

The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”



Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia provides model for LGBT-friendly senior housing

The recently-opened John C. Anderson apartments could provide a national model for housing LGBT seniors.

The project, affectionately called “the gay-dy shady acres” by residents, is being hailed as a model for similar federally backed housing projects in the District and more than a dozen other cities across the country.
 
This initiative is part of a broader campaign by the federal government to address what officials say is growing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The trend is due in part to more gay Americans being out of the closet, officially married and more aware of their rights than ever before, said Gustavo Velasquez, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at Housing and Urban Development...

The Anderson apartments already have a 100-person waiting list. And that number is likely to grow. About 1.5 million Americans who are 65 or older identify as LGBT, with that number expected to double by 2030, according to the Institute for Multi­generational Health...

Every floor is decorated with framed black-and-white photographs of the 1969 Stonewall riots — demonstrations following a police raid on a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village that helped launch the gay rights movement — and other protests with activists bearing signs that read, “Homosexuality is not a sin” and “Gay Power!”

Susan Silverman said that even though she’s 65 and walks with a cane, she’ll always be the “radical lesbian feminist” who protested against the Miss America pageant and worked alongside Segal with the Gay Liberation Front.
She moved here from a walk-up studio apartment in Brooklyn that she had rented for 40 years, attracted by the lesbian-friendly atmosphere and affordable rent — not to mention the elevators and on-site laundry.


Original source: The Washington Post
Read the complete story here.

Two Philly spots top national 'Best Fried Chicken' list

Two beloved Philly eateries make Food & Wine's list of the "Best Fried Chicken in America."

Federal Donuts’s simple, wickedly great business model—superb fried chicken and doughnuts—has proven so popular that five outposts now dot the city. The 24-hour-cured chicken is double-fried for extra crispness and come spiced or glazed, depending on the location, in flavors like chili garlic and buttermilk ranch...

Pickles could be a required side for fried chicken. Chef Mitch Prensky of Supper agrees. His Jewish Fried Chicken has a spear or two of garlic pickle alongside the chicken, which is cured with a pastrami-spiced brine, then coated with a mixture that includes more pastrami seasoning, then fried. On the side: Fried matzo balls.


Original source: Food & Wine
Read the complete list here.

Could 'America's Best Restroom' be right in our backyard?

Longwood Gardens is a finalist in Cinta's 'America's Best Restroom' contest -- vote now!

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor "Green Wall" in North America!

The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the "Green Wall." In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight.

"The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation," says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. "To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship."


Via Curbed Philly; check out their coverage of this amazing bathroom.

Original source: Cinta
 

New York Times details transformation in Camden

The New York Times adds to the changing narrative about Camden, lauding increased security and community engagement.

It has been 16 months since Camden took the unusual step of eliminating its police force and replacing it with a new one run by the county. Beleaguered by crime, budget cuts and bad morale, the old force had all but given up responding to some types of crimes. Dispensing with expensive work rules, the new [police] force hired more officers within the same budget -- 411, up from about 250. It hired civilians to use crime-fighting technology it had never had the staff for. And it has tightened alliances with federal agencies to remove one of the largest drug rings from city streets.

In June and July, the city went 40 days without a homicide -- unheard-of in a Camden summer. The empty liquor bottles once clustered on the porches of abandoned houses as memorials to the murdered have disappeared. There are fewer killings to commemorate. The city is beginning to brush up its image...

“It’s absolutely a different place,” said Tim Gallagher, a social worker who works with students. “You feel safe walking the streets now. The police officers aren’t afraid to come out of their cars and interact with the community, and that’s changed how people feel about them...”

There are other signs of life. The county has put millions into park improvements. The state has paid to knock down some abandoned houses. Charter schools are rising, and a ShopRite, the city’s first new supermarket in three decades, is to begin construction next year.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

High Street on Market named No. 2 new restaurant in the country

High Street on Market in Old City was named the number two new restaurant on Bon Appetit's highly anticipated national list.

I dare anyone who has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon (without a doctor’s note) to eat at High Street on Market and still call himself gluten-intolerant. You don’t stand a chance. Know why? Because chef Eli Kulp basically built this restaurant around head baker Alex Bois’s superstar bread program.

Let’s start with the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Forager: seared king oyster mushrooms, braised kale, fried egg, Swiss cheese, and black trumpet mushroom mayo piled on one of Bois’s cloudlike kaiser rolls. Hell, put a tofu burger and vegan “cheese” on one of those things and I would still—greedily!—order it again. The black squid-ink bialy stuffed with smoked whitefish may sound questionable, but I promise it will be something you crave for weeks afterward.

Abstinence won’t be any easier at lunch. The “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” served on house-made roasted potato bread, delivers on its inflated claim. And no dinner here would be complete without more of Bois’s signature loaves: levain with vegetable ash, anadama miche (made with molasses and cracked corn), and buckwheat cherry, to name a few. If, at this point, you are wondering if the No. 2 restaurant on this year’s list got here on its dough alone, the answer is -- unequivocally and emphatically -- a very carby yes.


Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.
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