Friday, November 2, 2007

Reading Terminal Market, Valley Forge, Bistro 7 (Saturday, Oct. 20)

We decided that we'd spend Saturday at Valley Forge National Historical Park. We started with breakfast at Reading Terminal Market. Profi's Creperie serves some awesome crepes. Their crepes were crisp and with very little air trapped within them. I had one topped with strawberries and honey, but wished I'd ordered it plain with butter and sugar. Not that my crepe wasn't good with strawberries and honey, but the crepe itself was so good that I wanted one plain. Add a fresh cup of ceylon tea from Tea Leaf, Inc., and that was a good breakfast.

After breakfast, we decided to put together a picnic lunch. We went to Hatville Deli to buy sandwiches with their homemade potato chips. We also purchased a tub of spinach/artichoke dip from Hatville and went across the aisle to AJ Pickle Patch and Salads (which boasts a huge selection of pudding) for bagel chips. Dessert came from Beiler's Bakery, which is Amish. Their pumpkin jelly roll, shoofly pie, and carrot cake were quite good.

We went to Valley Forge, rented bikes, and rode around the park. It's a gorgeous park and quite empty, despite its fame as the bustling headquarters for the Revolutionary War.

Philadelphia has many BYOB restaurants, due to the state's strict liquor laws. For dinner, we decided to head to Bistro 7. I think we were somewhat underwhelmed by the experience. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures as it was too dark to take them with my camera. My dish:

Pan Seared Peking Duck Breast with Duck Confit, Sweet Potato and Roasted Apple Parmentier with cider-thyme gastrique and braised kale

I have one issue with the dish and it largely centers around the fact that it's described as a Peking Duck. I'm sure it was a Pekin Duck, the breed used for Peking Duck, but it was definitely not prepared in a manner that earns it the name "Peking Duck". For one thing, the skin was soft. The signature trait of Peking Duck is the super-crispy skin. The duck was seared and very lightly cooked. It was tender and a bit bland, but a good-quality duck, so there was some flavor to the meat. The skin was fatty with none of the fat rendered out, which was disappointing. It was served in a pool of the cider-thyme gastrique and with a neat cylinder of sweet potato and roasted apple parmentier (which is a fancy word for "mashed potatoes", see this link about the man who encouraged the French to eat potatoes). The parmentier was fine, it was a simple mash and delightfully sweet. It was topped with the braised kale and duck confit, which I loved.

It wasn't terrible, but very meh. D.'s dish was the pan-seared ribeye, as described below:

Pan-Seared Natural Beef Ribeye Steak Frites with Burgundy-Shallot Butter with duck fat-fried shoestring potatoes, watercress and roasted garlic aioli

Unfortunately, the best part of the dish were the fries and no one pays $26 for fries. The steak, which he ordered medium-rare, was medium-rare on one half and nearly raw on the other. I have no frickin' clue how anything cooks that unevenly, but yeah, that's how it was served. It was also gristly. Grrr. D. was too nice to say anything about it, but I think he should have sent it back. The menu lists watercress, but it was nothing but an unappetizing pile on one side of the dish. Too ugly to be garnish, too unadorned to eat.

J.'s scallops were the best dish of the night. He said they were a tad bland, but beautifully cooked. In fact, his choice of meal inspired me to pick the scallops two nights later at another establishment. Here's what the menu says:

Caraway-Scented Jumbo Day Boat Sea Scallops with French Green Lentil Pilaf Galette with creamy cauliflower gratin and bacon-brown vinaigrette

At the end of the evening, we were underwhelmed enough to skip dessert and head to The Franklin Fountain for ice cream. We received a little history lesson from the server, as they dish out their ice cream in the "Chinese take-out boxes". I've known for a long time that the boxes were never Chinese, but I did learn that they were originally designed to package ice cream. Ha! Thank goodness, because I'm really tired of people associating those damn boxes with my culture!

I digress... the ice cream was fabulous. There were a variety of flavors and I picked peanut butter. Yum. That's all I have to say about it.

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