Something I’ve noticed about myself is that I’m super ambitious early in the week, and as the week winds down, my schedule becomes less packed and much more chill. Either that or these heat has really slowed me down. Today was one of the hottest days I’ve experienced so far: 91F-95F. While that may not seem that bad, remember to factor in that humidity, which tends to make it at least a couple degrees hotter. How I managed to survive today, I’m not sure because I’m pretty sure I was legitimately close to getting heat stroke at least twice today x_x
Breakfast is certainly one of the most important meals of the day, and while I normally like savory breakfasts, I decided to go for something sweeter this morning. Mainly because I wanted to try the famed Federal Donuts! I’ve heard a lot about this small Philly chain from lists on Thrillist and Philadelphia’s tourism site, Visit Philly. I’ve also biked past this place a couple of times this week, so I figured it was time I gave it a shot.
Upon arriving here, I saw that there were two types of donuts here: Fancy and Hot & Fresh. The Fancy donuts are ones that were pre-made ones that were made sometime that day. These are usually glazed or iced donuts. The Hot & Fresh donuts were as they are named: freshly made donuts that are dusted with sugar right as they come out of the fryer. There were 9 flavors total, and me being me, I couldn’t decide so I bought one of each. For the Fancy ones, there was Guava Poppy, Butter Pecan, Churro, Chocolate Eclair, and Strawberry Cheesecake. For the Hot & Fresh, there was Strawberry Lavender, Vanilla Spice, and Cinnamon Sugar.
Thomas and Laura were home today, so I had warned them before I left the house that I would be potentially bring home a lot of of donuts. Friends are there to help you eat good food, right?
Verdict on these donuts: delicious. I normally don’t like the old-fashioned cake-type donuts, but these are GOOD. I think maybe I haven’t liked cake donuts because I’ve only eaten poorly made ones. These, while denser than Beiler’s Donuts at Reading Terminal Market, were still pretty light and fluffy. Out of the two types, I prefer the Hot & Fresh ones because the flavors were superb. The Fancy donuts are definitely super creative with the glaze flavors, but I think the Hot & Fresh are superior due to their simplicity. Out of the three flavors, my favorite was the Cinnamon Sugar one. Funnily enough, this one tasted much more like a churro than the Churro Fancy donut haha.
Theeeeen, I kinda just hung around the house watching TV until about…2:30PM. Boring, I know. I figured I’d rest up a bit though since I was going to judo practice later that afternoon. Excuses excuses…
Once I managed to leave the house, I biked over to South Philly to check out Paesano’s Philly Style. There is one closer to me on Girard Ave but that one was closed for health code violations. Yikes! Just a FYI, Yelp has partnered with the Public Health department of several cities to display the health scores and reports of establishments on their Yelp page for easy accessibility. These include San Francisco and New York, and I believe they’re hoping to expand this to include most metropolitan cities. It’s a great resource to check to see how clean your favorite restaurants are because you have a right to know as a consumer. Philly doesn’t have this yet (on Yelp), so I actually had to Google it to find out why Paesano’s on Girard was closed. I’m going to spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’m glad they’re closed because even if they were still open, I wouldn’t want to go to that location.
Anyway, the Paesano’s on 9th Ave is good to go. It took me 30 minutes to bike there, and it was the hottest, most grueling bike ride I’ve had in a long time. By the time I arrived at the restaurant, my shirt was soaked and every inch of my body was sweating. It looked like I had just taken a shower, so I was pretty gross. Biking in 90F weather is serious business!
I ended up ordering Paesano’s Paesano sandwich: roast beef, horseradish mayo, pepperoncino, roasted tomatoes, sharp provolone, and a fried egg on a sesame seed roll.
Verdict on the sandwich? Eh, it was all right. For all the things I’ve heard about Paesano’s, this sandwich wasn’t super impressive to me. The horseradish mayo gave the sandwich a nice kick, but I don’t think there was much to this sandwich. I think people that raved about Paesano’s may have gotten the Arista sandwich instead, which is the same sandwich I got from DiNic’s the other day (roast pork, broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, hot peppers). I wanted to have a different sandwich than something I’ve already gotten (albeit from a different place), so I figured their namesake would be a good choice. While it wasn’t bad, I wasn’t wowed by the sandwich so I’d probably get something else if I came back. Full disclosure, I’m not sure if I really feel this way about the sandwich or if I didn’t have much of an appetite after that hot bike ride. The heat really made me feel completely out of it.
After that late lunch, I wandered around the area for a bit. Turns out South Philly is a great spot to wander outdoor stands and markets. Historically a very Italian place of town, many of those old Italian establishments remain so you’ll see a lot of Italian restaurants and specialty stores here. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave Paesano’s until a little after 5PM so I didn’t get to see much since most of the places closes at 5PM.
I ended up wandering into a coffee shop to kill some time in an cool, air-conditioned place. Let’s pause for a sec so I can give you proper warning. Heat mixed with humidity is serious stuff. I’m a born and raised Bay Area native, so I don’t understand the concept of weather. If you’re used to this stuff, you’ll be fine, but those of you that aren’t used to heat and/or humidity, I would like to caution you to be careful about staying hydrated and staying cool when you can. I felt rather loopy yesterday after the bike ride and felt that way for a couple hours AFTER I had stopped biking. If you start feeling woozy, go hydrate and cool down. Don’t be a tough guy and try to power through it because you might just end up with heatstroke. Not worth it!
Once I was sufficiently cooler, I biked a short distance over to judo practice with the Philadelphia Judo Club, which was held at Osagame Martial Arts and Fitness. Something I’ve started doing a couple years ago (that I’ve since continued) is go to local judo clubs to practice during vacations. Learning judo techniques from various clubs around the world is always interesting because you get to see how each club interprets different throws. Sometimes, something that might’ve made absolutely no sense to you at your regular club will make perfect sense at the club you’re visiting. For instance, I could not for the life of me understand “sasae tsurikomi ashi”, but when I visited Sandia Judo Club in Albuquerque, NM, things somehow clicked after the sensei’s explanation and it made a lot more sense in my brain. Also, doing judo on vacation makes sure I’m not a lazy bum the whole time I’m traveling.
Philadelphia Judo Club is led by Sensei Ray Huxan, and the club practices in a relatively small mat space. Everyone was super friendly! The place only had fans going (no AC), so it was pretty warm in the practice room. Of course, I’m not used to the heat, so I was sweating profusely while simply standing in my gi uniform. We went through and did some drills, worked on a couple of throws and combos (osoto gari and sesae tsurikomi ashi), sparred, then finished practice. It felt good to spar again after 2 weeks of not having judo practice! I felt a little dead after (look at how red in the face I was), but it was worth the effort to come out and practice despite the heat.
After taking an extended break in the ladies’ locker room (lol), I headed out to dinner at Cheu Noodle Bar nearby. This place reminds me a lot of San Francisco—eclectic decor and very modern-esque furnishings. Cheu Noodle Bar is known for having good ramen, so I ordered a bowl of their miso ramen: pork shoulder, scallions, kikurage, soft boiled egg, and corn.
Verdict? Pretty good! Not the greatest, but I did enjoy it. I sat at the bar, so I had the great pleasure of seeing how the kitchen ran. There seems to be a lot of care put into the food, and you can definitely taste it. The miso ramen had a rich chicken stock base, and that flavor comes through predominantly in the broth. I actually didn’t taste too much miso, so if you’re looking for a deeper miso broth like other typical miso ramen, you won’t find it here. The pork shoulder had a sweet glaze or something on it that I wasn’t very fond of because it was a little too sweet. The noodles themselves were pretty good. They had a nice chew to them and the broth coated the noodles well. I wish there was a ladle or two more broth, but overall, Cheu has a solid bowl of ramen.
A tough practice, a warm night, and a partially full tummy (I know, I eat too much) prompted me to want some dessert. For me, when it’s hot, it’s hard to really want to eat anything too rich, so I biked over to John’s Water Ice to get some water ice!
What exactly is water ice? The phrase sounds ridiculous, but it’s really just Italian ice. Water ice is a sweetened frozen fruit flavored water/juice, similar to sorbet. I’ll have to research a little more to know the difference between sorbet and Italian ice (it sounds like exactly the same thing to me) since the stuff I’ve read about the differences makes no sense to me. Anyway, Philly is known for their water ice, so there are shops all over offering this sweet treat. My judo partner from earlier suggested I pay a visit to John’s Water Ice since it was close by, so that’s how I picked my spot. I got a small cup of lemon water ice, and boy, it was exactly what I needed to cool down. Cold and incredibly refreshing, the lemon flavor had a great balance of sweetness and tartness. John’s Water Ice is just a big window in a wall, so there’s nowhere to sit around here so I loitered on the sidewalk like a goon. Worth it though!
And that was the end of my food-filled lazy day! Take aways from this should be: Federal Donuts are delicious, exercise during travels is great, and beware of the hot sun. Comments? Questions? Things to share? Leave them below for me below! 🙂