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Philly exports its culinary legacy: Cheesesteaks, water ice, soft pretzels and Wawa

A couple Philly mainstays -- Rita's, Tony Luke's, Philly Pretzel Factory, Wawa -- look to take over the world.

The man intent on taking the Philly cheesesteak global saw a familiar sight from home on a recent trip to Florida: a Wawa.
The hoagie-making, coffee-brewing convenience and gas chain from the Philadelphia area is pushing hard into the Sunshine State, opening more than 60 stores since 2012 with another 25 planned by the end of the year.

Albie Misci, sales director at cheesesteak chain Tony Luke's, knows the idea.

He's helping take Philly's most famous culinary treat to Florida, California and even the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain.

Other staples from the City of Brotherly Love, including its beloved soft pretzels and water ice, are also going global, as their Philadelphia-based purveyors aggressively expand into national - and international - chains.


Original source: Associated Press
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Family takes epic journey from Argentina to PA for Pope's visit

A family embarks on an epic journey from South America, aiming to arrive in time for the Pope's visit to Philadelphia. 

As many as two million people are expected to be in Philadelphia for the visit by Pope Francis and the World Meeting of Families in September. But it’s unlikely any of them will have a journey as long — or as remarkable — as one family from Argentina.

Packed in a 1980 VW minibus are Noël Zemborain; her husband, Alfredo Walker (nicknamed ‘Catire’); and their four kids: Carmin, 2; Mia, 5; Dimas, 8; and Cala, 12.

“It’s a very big family,” says Noël. “A very intense family experience.”

That’s putting it mildly.

In March, mom and dad ditched their jobs, drained their savings, and told their three girls and one boy that they were about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

“We are traveling all through the continents toward Philadelphia,” says Noël. “We are meeting people, we are learning things about them, and getting to know other ways of living.”


Original source: CBS
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PA's latest celebrity: A cow named 'Cardio Brisket'

A cow in Marianna, Pa., was born with a strange birth defect -- and he's doing just fine!

A calf born with its heart in its neck is thriving on a western Pennsylvania farm despite the unusual deformity.

Tom Leech, the Amwell Township farmer who owns the 6-week-old calf, researched the disorder on the Internet and found just two instances, one in Kentucky in 1903 and another in Turkey, though it's not clear when that one was born.

"No one has ever seen it, never heard of it," Leech told the (Washington) Observer-Reporter (http://bit.ly/1FQwTU0 ).

Not without a sense of humor, Leech has named the calf "Cardio Brisket" because its heart lies in its throat, just above the tender breast cut. But he's serious about keeping it healthy and, if nothing else, learning more about the defect for the benefit of other farmers.


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

Commonwealth housing market remains strong

According to a new report, housing sales climbed 10 percent throughout all of Pennsylvania in March, and home prices are up, too.

There were more than 3,000 more closings, 28,111 vs. 25,400, in the first quarter of 2015, according to a report released Monday by the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors. Median home prices also are up from $155,000 a year ago to $158,000 in the first three months of 2015.

"We're seeing healthy activity in markets throughout the commonwealth," said Pennsylvania Association of Realtors President Ron Croushore in a statement. “While each local real estate market is unique, I think most markets are looking positive and will see a healthy increase in 2015. Consumers are showing more interest in buying homes, and sellers are often receiving multiple offers on listings."


Original source: Pittsburgh Business Times
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Paste Magazine drinks its way across Philly's craft beer scene

Paste highlights 10 Philadelphia breweries, including some of our favorites. 

Philly Beer Week is swiftly approaching, but if you cannot wait until May, quench your thirst at the storied pillars of Philadelphia’s craft brew scene any time of the year. Philadelphians are as proud of their beer as they are of monuments like the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and the Rocky Steps. Nothing could possibly go better with a Philly cheesesteak than an ice-cold brew.

Original source: Paste Magazine
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Satisfaction: The Rolling Stones come to Pennsylvania

The Rolling Stones have announced a round of tour dates, and they include a stop in Steel City. The British legends will hit Pittsburgh on June 20.

The so-called "Zip Code" tour will once again reunite singer Mick Jagger, drummer Charlie Watts and guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood.

The last time the Rolling Stones played North American stadiums was during their "A Bigger Bang Tour" in 2006. They opted for arena venues for their "50 & Counting" tour in 2012 and 2013.

"We love being out on the road and it is great to come back to North America," said Keith Richards in a statement. "I can't wait to get back on the stage!"


And quite the stage it will be, including a section that juts far into the crowd, allowing the Stones to interact with fans. As is the band's practice, the stage design will employ cutting-edge technology to enhance the performance, including video screens and special effects.

Original source: The New York Times
Check out the complete list here.

Big drama on the Eagle Cam: An eaglet is born!

An eaglet is born live on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildly popular Eagle Cam. Check out video and images here!

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine


 

PA chefs earn James Beard Award nominations

Several Pennsylvania chefs and restauranteurs have earned honors from the prestigious organization. They include: 

Marc Vetri, Vetri, Philadelphia
Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia (the Dandelion, Talula’s Garden, Serpico and others)
Alex Bois, High Street on Market, Philadelphia
Joe Cicala, Le Virtù, Philadelphia
Rich Landau, Vedge, Philadelphia
Greg Vernick, Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia


Check out the full list of nominations here

Original source: The New York Times
 

A guide to Pennsylvania's best fishing spots

Recreation news has put together a list of the state's top fishing spots.

The Allegheny National Forest Region, located in northwestern Pennsylvania, offers the angler a wide variety of fishing opportunities from native brook trout to trophy fishing for muskie, pike and walleye in the Allegheny Reservoir...

Pymatuning Lake in Crawford County, is an incredibly productive 17,088-acre fishery for a variety of warm-water species. Walleyes, crappies, bluegills and muskies have attracted anglers to the lake for decades. Channel catfish and yellow perch populations have exploded in recent years. The average size of largemouth bass has increased, too, thereby enticing tournament anglers to the lake. With its strong walleye population, Pymatuning draws crowds of ice fishermen during the winter.


Original source: Indiana Gazette; Recreation News
Read the complete list here.

Philadelphia Inquirer publishes gorgeous in-depth report on East Market development

The Inquirer takes an in-depth look at an essential section of Center City Philadelphia and its latest chapter.

If Philadelphia were a basketball court, Market Street East would be that inexplicable dead spot on the floor, the place where the ball just doesn’t bounce.

The eight-block corridor has four Dunkin’ Donuts and two Subway sandwich shops — but no outdoor cafe. A McDonald’s sits in what used to be a porn emporium...

For years, when people like Paul Levy pitched the route’s potential to developers, they answered, “Yeah, I get it, but nobody goes to Market Street.”

Now that’s changing — fast.

People involved in massive construction plans say that, finally, Market East is poised to become the worthy, prosperous connector of Center City’s two great icons, City Hall and Independence Mall.

“The pieces are in place,” said Levy, president of the Center City District, the marketing and planning agency. “’Inevitable’ may be too strong a word, but, ‘Very highly likely.’”


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

Grab a Cold One: PA beer distributors can now sell 12-packs

In a boon for partygoers everywhere who don't want to haul a whole case of brewskies, the state's beer distributors will now be allowed to sell 12-packs. 

The PLCB’s Office of Chief Counsel issued a legal advisory today “informing brewers that they may sell ‘original containers’ as long as the container contains at least 128 fluid ounces — for example a 12-pack — to distributors that may be resold ‘as is’ to consumers.”

For years, beer distributors have been able to sell beer only by the case or keg, while groceries, bars and convenience stores have gained the ability to sell six-packs, 12-packs, and individual bottles for consumption on premises.  

State Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins and ranking minority party member of the House Liquor Control Committee, called the PLCB opinion “a step in the right direction to provide consumer convenience.”


“By allowing these 12-packs to be sold at beer distributors, customers get another choice in their beer selections,” he said. “It provides family-owned distributors more options in their product line [and supports] our breweries in Pennsylvania, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Check out the complete story here.
 

Maple sugar time in Western Pennsylvania

It's time to tap the trees in Western Pennsylvania.

It’s the time of year when lots of people in this region get busy making and celebrating the sweet indigenous food that is maple syrup. 

The relatively warm days and cold nights of late winter get the sap flowing in sugar maple trees, which grow in abundance in Northwest Pennsylvania and in parts of the Laurel Highlands. As humans have for centuries, people tap and draw off some of that sap and boil it down to make sweet syrup — commercially or perhaps in their own kitchens.

You can learn about and see that process and taste some of the results at several events. This weekend, the Northwest Pennsylvania Maple Producers Association is hosting its annual Taste and Tour Weekend. The group invites the public to visit five of its member sugar shacks in Crawford, Erie and Warren counties, where they’ll be giving tours and demonstrations as well as samples of various maple treats, which will be for sale along with local maple syrup and sugar.


Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.

The Pennsylvania Ballet takes on Swan Lake

The Pennsylvania Ballet takes on Swan Lake, the classic tale of dark versus light.

Despite the dramatic confusions of this “Swan Lake,” which unfolds as if happening not only at an enchanted lakeside but also in a Parisian ballet studio, [Christopher] Wheeldon adds consistent choreographic touches that are fresh, engaging and rewardingly reminiscent of the work of Britain’s great Frederick Ashton, whose aesthetic helped shape Mr. Wheeldon’s career at its start in England. Pennsylvania Ballet’s dancers render the choreographic admixture of this “Swan Lake” smoothly and convincingly.

While the swan maiden ensemble may not display the sometimes signature, deeply arched torso often associated with the dancing and groupings of the ballet’s lakeside scenes, Pennsylvania’s 20-strong corps de ballet performs the iconic swan choreography with cohesive coordination and caringly detailed accents. Even if the men are not presented here in quite so concentrated a way as the women, the company’s male dancers make marks of their own. Craig Wasserman, for one, stood out with springing energy and a bright manner in the Act 1 Pas de Trois.


Original source: Wall Street Journal
Read the complete review here.

Two Philly spots make GQ's top 25 restaurants list

Two Philadelphia restaurants have earned a place of honor of GQ's list of the country's 25 best restaurants.

Laurel at #8: The room might well be a shotgun apartment: front door leading to a tiny area (seating twenty) leading straight back to an undersized kitchen. There's not much decor, save for a few black iron sconces and hanging lamps. The chairs are exceedingly comfy, the service attentive, the stemware pleasing—all enhancements to a BYOB dining experience with a style of cooking I loved back when it was called “modern French.” Yet the most stunning dish was pure Americana, catfish in a coconut-clam broth. Hard to imagine a kitchen in Philly accomplishing what the South has been trying to do for centuries: make catfish elegant. Chef Nicholas Elmi does it gracefully. His meat dishes are intensely flavorful, particularly duck magret and foie gras. Stylishness has come to East Passyunk Avenue, once ground zero for cheesesteaks, now fast emerging as Philly's premier dining locale.

Lo Spiedo at #24: Come here for a little history and a lot of meat. Lo Spiedo is located just inside the old navy yard, where the battleship New Jersey was built. Almost as sturdy is the reginette bolognese. “Too much meat,” I griped. “Marc Vetri knows what he's doing,” argued a friend. He always does. Here you'll find glorified Americanized Italian food, including a gutsy celery-root milanese sandwich. If vegetarians gave out medals, it deserves the Navy Cross.
 
Original source: GQ
Read the complete list here.

The Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates the movies

The Philadelphia Flower Show pays tribute to Disney and Pixar films with the theme "Celebrate the Movies." The show runs through March 8.

Meticulously landscaped exhibits have been inspired by more than a dozen features, from "Frozen" and "Finding Nemo" to "Cars" and "Cinderella."

Visitors enter through a huge, art deco theater facade as if they were attending a red carpet premiere. Palm trees, roses and lilies help recreate the ornate interior of a 1920s movie palace, while moss, jewels, fabric and other blooms cascade down from "chandeliers" overhead.

Billed as the nation's largest and longest-running flower show, it covers 10 acres and dates back to 1829. Organizers hope this year's family-friendly theme will help a new crop of gardening enthusiasts establish roots at the annual extravaganza, which runs through March 8.

"Introducing that new generation, that younger generation to the flower show is something that we want to do," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show.


Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
Read the complete story here.
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