A Foodie’s Philadelphia: 12 Hours with Caterer-Blogger Barrett Bridenhagen

Cheese monger and caterer Barrett Bridenhagen’s company and blog, Dirty Laundry Kitchen, is a foray into comfortable, elegant entertaining. So when she’s not hawking fine cheeses at Salumeria in Reading Terminal Market, she’s cooking, taking photographs of food or, best of all, dining somewhere new for inspiration. Naturally, her ideal day is designed around what’ll be eaten—and walking around a bit to earn those three squares.

As told to SideTour

10:00AM: To Market, To Market One of the coolest parts about Reading Terminal Market is that it’s truly a primary grocery store for many Philadelphians. Stop at Salumeria and ask for Barrett and I’ll happily help you select your “soul cheese” (it’s kind of like a soul mate). Then grab a goodie from Metropolitan Bakery—if it’s Sunday, go for the hazelnut apricot demi-baguette. They also sell an olive bread that’s perfect for savory French toast with a bacon blood orange marmalade. It couldn’t hurt to pick up a loaf even if you won’t get to a kitchen for a few days—stale is good when it comes to French toast.

Photo: All rights reserved by yummyinthetummyblog

11:00AM: Sip and Meander Walk south on 7th to enjoy Washington Square Park as you head to Shot Tower. This is a serious coffee shop. I love the cortado, an espresso cut with a touch of warm milk. Walk south on Passyunk Avenue as you enjoy your coffee. Along your path, you’ll spot both Geno’s and Pat’s—two of the most famous cheesesteak haunts in Philly. While you should notice the lines and the weird shrines, don’t you dare eat. I have other things planned for you. When you’ve had your fill of exploring South Philly, backtrack up Passyunk.  At 9th, cut north.

Photo: All rights reserved by Baking with One Beater

12:30PM Panino Lunch On 9th Street, explore the Italian Market. Meet the mongers at Di Bruno’s and Claudio’s. Shop for veggies. See what Philly is all about. And most importantly, stop at Paesano’s to pick up your lunch to go. My favorite sandwiches: the lamb sausage with gorgonzola and cherries, the roast suckling pig with broccoli rabe and the vegetarian with roasted eggplant and fennel. Don’t forget the napkins. There are lots of cute parks close by with benches and tables, including one at 10th and Carpenter.

Photo: All rights reserved by unbreaded

2:00PM: A Stroll With a View Wander now to Rittenhouse Square, about a half hour walk, up 9th to Locust, then west to 18th Street. Stop and pick up a bottle at Garces Trading Company—it’s the best place to buy decent wine in the city. (It’s for later.) Also, check out the view of City Hall as you cross Broad Street. The building is a mash-up of architectural styles and it’s meant to be the focal point of many views around the city. Explore the park. Sit and watch the musicians. Finish your sandwich if it still exists.

Photo: Some rights reserved by jdv+

3:30PM: Gallery Gazing Next up is the Philadelphia Art Museum. Walk west on Walnut; take the staircase down to the river walk, and take it north to the museum. Fortunately, on “ideal” days, it’s a Friday and Art After 5 is in full effect. Have a cocktail and a snack if you like while you enjoy free live music and check out an amazing art collection. 

6:30PM Take in Twilight Head to Old City—a cab will be cheap and easy from the cabstand at the museum. If it’s First Friday, the galleries and shops will be open late and serving complimentary wine. Street hawkers will be out in full force. Artists will be setting up tables on the streets. Check it out. At 45 minutes before sunset, make your way to the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden from 4th Street, and walk east as far as you can. When the sun starts getting low, turn back and head towards the city. You will get to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the skyline.

Photo: All rights reserved by odhusky

9:00PM: Late Luxe Dinner and Drinks Head to your reserved table at Little Fish and BYO that bottle of wine you’ve hauled around all afternoon. You’re about to be rewarded for your efforts by a truly inventive restaurant that specializes in fresh, creative small-plate fish dishes. The menu changes constantly and every Sunday night the chefs experiment on guests with a set tasting menu that previews the upcoming week. Round it out with drinks at Southwark. Try the amazing Aviation. Crème de violette? Yes, please.

Photo: Little Fish Facebook page

If Barrett’s visit to Rittenhouse Square gets you curious about the history of this unique urban space, you’re in luck: There’s a SideTour for that.

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