Philadelphia’s Christmas Village: Eats n’ Sweets!

If you’ve been reading for a little while, you may know a little about my belief in pockets of magic, hidden throughout Philadelphia. Maybe it’s a monochrome pop-up picnic. Maybe it’s a giant garden made up of found items, mosaic, and art. Maybe it’s one of those incredible nights where you look around and realize you know more people at the bar than you don’t, and you’re all singing along to the same jukebox. Moments like that where you look around and just fall in love with the city all over again.

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Philadelphia’s Christmas Village, modeled in the style of German Christmas villages, is one of those awesome annual traditions that is easy to overlook with the holidays being as jam-packed as they always are. Every year, my parents take a trip to the city to visit this spot, and I normally meet them afterwards. But, this year, I got the chance to tour through (when the weather was oh-so-frightful) and sample some of the goodies and, I’m telling you this, “Make Philly’s Christmas Village a destination this year, not an afterthought!”

Come for the photo-opps, stay for the baked cheese?

I don’t know, something like that.

We first got to try the meats.

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Wurst?

More like…. best. (Is that the most played out German food-based joke? Good.)

I think the Germans just like…. “get it” when it comes to sausages. Every single bite was tastier and snappier than the last. And then, the icing on the cake (or… the sugar on the streudel).

Look at this REAL LIVE GERMAN DUDE who brought dessert out for us!

gute Nacht, herr streudel-meister

gute Nacht, herr streudel-meister

But sometimes, your loved ones can’t make it out to the village with you. Here’s where the shopping aspect comes in…. only shopping’s much better when you can taste some of the goods before you buy them (I wouldn’t recommend this with like… scarves. But definitely with: bacon jam!)

Spreadable bacon: for the one who has it all!

Spreadable bacon: for the one who has it all!

This stand has bacon everything. You see that bacon caramel popcorn?

Yup, for the one who has it all!

Other folks prefer the sweet to the savory. Don’t worry, they’ve got you covered:

It's like a tiny Willy Wonka stand!!

It’s like a tiny Willy Wonka stand!!

German treats, gingerbread hearts, marzipan fruit. There’s also a macaron stand in the back that I had to fight every urge not to rob purchase heavily from. But I’ll give you a serious tip: if you just get ONE edible treat for someone important to you, give the gift that keeps giving (good feelings… and maybe a stomach ache if you overdo it).

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Yeah. That’s just like… baked cheese full of bacon.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?

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I tried Original, Bacon, AND Garlic. And I did it for you all. Although the bacon was pretty world rocking, the absolute tastiest was definitely the GARLIC CHEESE. Imagine halloumi. And then, imagine it being even better.

Stocking stuffer? Mouth stuffer? Why choose just one?

I mean, I won’t pretend that there’s not a TON of great shopping to be had at the Christmas Village. Everything from jewelry to decorations to handmade scarves to doner kebabs [oh sorry, those are food too. One track mind.] It’s picturesque. It’s festive. AND, if you buy a cup of mulled wine, you get a pretty cute mug to take home. I’ve already got plans to crash my parents’ date night this year and get some full-sized snacks of my own.

Ok, I did get ONE full size snack.

Ok, I did get ONE full size snack.

Bring your family. Bring a date. Bring your appetite.

Dîner en Blanc Philadelphia 2013: Surprise and Delight

Growing up, I used to spend hours in a particular section of Barnes & Noble (or Borders, R.I.P.) While my buddies would shuffle over to the magazine section or the Young Adult part of the store, I would park it in front of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy rows for hours on end. And I wasn’t there for space exploration or alien invaders. I came for the wizards and the dragons, the supernatural and the fairies.

I was in it for the magic.

And while most of the books on my shelf are now either textbooks or cookbooks, I still spend a lot of my free time trying to find the magic in everyday life. I have this idea that Philadelphia is basically a treasure trove of these little pockets of magic. Thursday, August 23rd, 2013, I found the biggest one yet.

Just 2500 of my closest friends

Just 2500 of my closest friends

Getting to that point was a little tougher, though. I was a true first-timer and everything that COULD go wrong did go wrong.

  • I realized JUST HOW LONG it takes to curl my hair, and why I only do it once every two years or so.

    Two hours later...

    Two hours later…

  • I bugged my mom all day that we needed to hurry up, and that she couldn’t forget anything. And then… I forgot my dress. My little brother, thank goodness, immediately got in a car and toted it up to Philly. And then dragged us to our drop off spot at 30th Street Station.

    Just a little light picnic packing.

    Just a little light picnic packing.

  • I cut my hand on our table and had to be careful so as not to host my own bloody Dîner en Rouge. (Next year, pack bandaids.)

But we got to our meeting point at 30th Street Station. And, apparently, so did everyone else. Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Dîner. And unlike the folks who had to drag their accoutrements across town, we just had to walk through the train station, where we were greeted with the most incredible sight…

Are we there yet? Yup.

Are we there yet? Yup.

We shut down ten blocks of JFK Boulevard for the biggest pop-up dinner Philadelphia has ever seen.

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Quite the backdrop.

My tiny miniature mother was my plus one, and looked beautiful en Blanc. And, I’ve gotta admit, the summer’s been pretty good to me. I cleaned up pretty nicely myself. (Spoiler alert: you’ve gotta allow me some vanity here, these are some of my favorite pictures I’ve ever seen of me.)

Price girls whiting out

Price girls whiting out

We went with a beach theme for our table (surprise surprise) and opted out of the catering options, instead choosing to put together our own picnic complete with salmon, lemon orzo salad, broccoli rabe, and macaroons/salt water taffy from Shriver’s.

Beach girls, through and through

Beach girls, through and through

Digging in

Digging in

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After dinner was my favorite part. Traipsing around and seeing all the other Dîners, ogling incredible centerpieces, elegant outfits, and decadent dishes.

And also, a giant white cock.

Oh, hey new friend.

Oh, hey new friend.

As the sparklers lit up the night, and the DJ spun us well into the evening, I felt my heart swell with this enormous love for my city. The people who joined us at our section for dinner conversation and roll-sharing, the organizers who made the magic happen, the musicians who kept toes tapping, and the strangers who shared in this incredible experience.

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I left with an extra twinkle in my eye, and a newfound dedication to discovering future pockets of magic in Philadelphia.

If you’ve got any you want to share, please don’t hesitate to invite me. I’m an excellent plus one, and I make a mean salmon picnic.