Some birthday thoughts, visits to North Philadelphia’s Kensington Quarters and New Liberty Distillery, and a Smitten Kitchen book signing in today’s edition of Thymeline.
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It’s my birthday week!
Maybe I’m a little old to get excited for birthdays – Sam certainly thinks birthdays in general are a little silly. But when you tell someone it’s a birthday (be it your own or someone else’s), people get excited to celebrate. Friends will travel a little further and make a little extra time that they might not be able to otherwise. We all live busy lives, and I know in my life many friends live a distance away in various directions. We all need excuses to celebrate the little things, and a birthday is the perfect excuse to do just that.
And in a world where we all need to slow down a bit, a birthday is the perfect opportunity to be a little gentler on yourself and perform some self-care. This is what I’m trying to do this week, too.
With my impending birthday in mind, this weekend I gathered up a few fantastic ladies and visited two places I’ve been dying try in North Philadelphia – the restaurant Kensington Quarters and the New Liberty Distillery.
Located in a renovated warehouse with a clean, industrial theme, Kensington Quarters exceeded our expectations for brunch. The restaurant is known for its commitment to whole-animal butchery and locally sourced ingredients, and maintains an excellent reputation with positive reviews across the board.
The cocktails and all of our entrees were phenomenal and well-seasoned. I highly recommend the Scrapple French Toast, which came out on a slice of thick bread, super crispy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. Layers of salty pork and sunny-side up egg balanced beautifully with the sage browned butter and not-too-sweet maple syrup.
Needless to say, I devoured ever bite with a smile on my face.
New Liberty Distillery
Our next stop was New Liberty Distillery, only a few blocks away. I wrote about my recent experience with some of the products coming out of this North Philly craft distiller two weeks ago, and visiting the facilities did not disappoint. The old building – a carriage house built in the early 1900’s – still retains much of its original architecture and has been restored into a fantastic, multi-floored work and event space.
Upstairs, we enjoyed some of the most unique and complex cocktails I’ve had in some time. I tried sips of all my friends’ drinks (I have generous friends), and each time I was taken aback by how nicely the artisanal components shown through in the final drink. The recipes are obviously well conceived, and the bartenders (including Dani, pictured below) make them shine even brighter.
Further, I can honestly say that the tour (which includes a tasting of four craft spirits) was one of the most fun and educational trips around a distillery I’ve been on. Despite knowing the basics of whiskey craft, I learned a lot about the history and current politics of distilling in Philadelphia. I’ve consequentially been spouting facts I learned to anyone that will listen since.
I walked out with bottles of their acclaimed and only recently re-stocked Bloody Butcher Bourbon (it sold out in a single week due to some exceptional reviews) and their Dutch Malt Whiskey (full of bitter chocolate and toffee notes). I’m eyeing bottles of their Powderhorn Vodka (made with malted rye) and Dreadnought White Rum (made with demerara sugar) for more exploration on a future visit.
Meeting Smitten Kitchen
I couldn’t end without mentioning my blogger celebrity sighting two weeks ago! I had the opportunity to hear Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Her new cookbook – Smitten Kitchen Every Day – just came out and so far, I’m very impressed. I’ve long admired Deb’s blogging career, and learning about her experiences has certainly given me inspiration in my own writing. She’s so wonderful with her fans, but if you aren’t able to see her yourself, check out this interview for more info on the new book.
My Current Obsessions:
- Currently Watching: The Disappearance of Maura Murray on the Oxygen network
- Currently Reading: Half Baked Harvest Cookbook: Recipes from My Barn in the Mountains by Tieghan Gerard
- Currently Eating: Tieghan Gerard’s Al Pastor-Style Beef Enchiladas & discounted Reese’s Pumpkins.
- Currently Drinking: A very bright pink Magenta Dragon Cider from local meadery & cidery, Liquid Alchemy Beverages.
So that’s my news! Now, on to the links:
- Affogato (espresso over ice cream) is one of my fav desserts, and this pumpkin spice version sounds like an amazing post-dinner drink for Thanksgiving.
- It’s hard to resist something as pretty as this Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake.
- It’s not even December yet, and I’m already craving crazy tailgating foods, like this fall-inspired pull-apart pizza, crab hush puppies, mini buffalo chicken tacos, and crispy jalapeno poppers.
- Perfect for authentic tiki cocktails, you have plenty of time to make some Homemade Allspice Dram for your favorite bartender this holiday season.
- And speaking of cocktails, could whiskey be good for our health? If so, here are five must-try fall whiskey cocktails.
- How many of Philly’s 50 Best Restaurants have you been to? Any favorites? I’m building a list to visit!
Good luck planning your Thanksgiving menus next week! If you need some recipe ideas, I highly recommend my Large Batch Whiskey Sours to serve en masse and these Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake Bites as an alternate dessert to pumpkin pie. Your family and friends will love them.