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The Hungry Nomad: 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012

August 29, 2012

Rybread Cafe- Fairmount/Art Museum (Philadelphia, USA)

It all started with two laid off architects. The year: 2009. Ryan (the 'R' in RyBread) and his girlfriend found themselves unemployed and headed on a road trip of a lifetime. Over the course of the road trip a business idea would develop. Why not open a gourmet sandwich shop in a really neat space? This is exactly what they did when they returned. Rybread Cafe is in our neighborhood and our favorite gourmet sandwich shop. The choices are endless and all equally delicious. 

I'm sure both were great architects but we are selfishly happy that they decided to open a sandwich shop instead. Nothing beats the joy of eating, not even architecture. 

The hair salon turned cafe is small and intimate with only a few indoor seats and several on the outside. The wall is covered by a chalkboard listing their sandwiches in detail. I've only had occasion to try four on the list but have never been dissapointed. 

There is also a variety of bagels, muffins, scones, salads, soups and paninis. Best part: it's all made to order and exteremely fresh. (See Menu).

On my last trip, I had the Hollywood while the Count ordered the Philadelphia. 

My Hollywood sandwich consisted of multi grain toast slabbed with a thick layer of hummus, cucumbers, red onion, shaved carrot, tomatoes and cheese. A great option for vegetarians. 

The Philadelphia was packed with genoa salami, hot cappi, prosciutto, provolone, greens, tomatoes, onions and vinaigrette served on ciabatta bread. The Count seemed to enjoy it but we agreed that our favorites are the San Fran and the Napa. 

If you enjoy gourmet sandwiches as much as we do you should definitely check out Rybread if you haven't already done so. 

Rybread Cafe on Urbanspoon

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August 28, 2012

Hip City Veg-Rittenhouse Square (Philadelphia, USA)

You all know by now that I'm far from a vegetarian. But that is not to say that I don't enjoy a healthy veggie meal here and there. So on one particular day last week while feeling like a vegetable-friendly meal, a friend and I made our way over to HipCityVeg. 

It is located a short distance from Rittenhouse Square on 18th Street. The place was small and packed. We managed to make it during their lunch rush so had to wait in line to order. As we were waiting two elderly ladies leaving recommended the Curry Tofu Wrap. Everything looked equally delicious but after the recommendation I had to go with the wrap. My friend ordered the Bistro Bella. 

To the left there was a green smoothie machine and I was told that I must try it. So it was added on to our order. A few minutes later our food was ready. It was a beautiful sunny day so we decided to have a small picnic in the park. 

The Smoothie officially named the 'groothie' was made with spinach, apples, pineapples and bananas. It was very thick filled with a whole day's worth of fruits and veggies. Who needs vitamin pills when you can get your hands on this?

The cookies and cupcakes were also tempting but I stopped myself at the groothie. Next time, I'll make sure to try a cookie. 

Owner Nicole Marquis had a vision for fast-food vegan: vegan Burgers, Fries, Salads, Wraps, healthy drinks and snacks. She worked with chef Rich Landau to come up with the innovative menu and the result: Fast-food vegan!  From the Chik'n Burger to their buffalo bella- everything on their menu is meat free. 

Doesn't it look pretty?

My friend's burger looked like a traditional burger just healthier. It was served on a soft whole wheat bun stuffed with herb glazed sliced portobella, dijon, olive tapenade, tomato, artichoke and arugula. Sounds good right? It was! The mixture of flavors was a first for me. Olive tapenade with portobella mushroom? Amazing!

My curry tofu wrap was so good, I've been dreaming of it since. It was wet, filled with difference sauces , flavors and soooo juicy. 

It seemed the wrap had everything in it: sprouts, spinach, tomato, cilantro-white bean puree and cucumber yogurt dip on the side. I think the photo below shows what a delicious mess it was. Hands oozing with curry juice I had every last bite. 

It was so good even the finches (and pigeon) wanted a bite. 

Hip City Veg on Urbanspoon

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August 25, 2012

Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop Farmer's Market (Fort Lauderdale, USA)

It's Saturday. You are in Fort Lauderale. You are looking for something different to do. You want to stay away from the beach. You should go to the Swap Shop Farmer's Market on Sunrise Blvd. It's filled with fresh produce sold by friendly Haitians. If you are not looking for produce, there is also a flower market, cheap clothes, electronics, jewelry, you name it! 

The Swap Shop also has a 14-screen drive in theatre and is the largest drive in and daily flea market in the world. 

3291 W Sunrise Blvd
Fort LauderdaleFL 33311
(954) 791-7927

When: Every day

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August 24, 2012

Han Dynasty-Manayunk (Philadelphia, USA)

One month in to our move to Philadelphia and we discovered the Manayunk neighborhood. I love Main street with their charming shops and eclectic range of restaurants. On our first visit to the area we planned on having Persian food but were disappointed to find the restaurant closed on a Sunday. So we wandered the street until we reached Han Dynasty. The Count wasn't in the mood for Chinese food but after seeing all the award and zagat rated stickers on the door we decided to try it anyway. Note: this review is based on two trips made to the same location. 

I'll start with the service which was horrible. It is a very small restaurant with waiters running around from left to right, yet we stood at the front for what seemed like 15 minutes before someone acknowledged us. There were plenty of open tables so we finally asked one of the staff if we could take a seat. Once we were seated we waited another 10-15 minutes before someone came to our table. Once we expressed our concern with the service they seemed to pick up their pace. 

Now onto the food. The menu is true Szechuan (pronounced Zesh-won)  and has been rated one of the best in the country. After tasting it I am not surprised. What I loved most is that the menu is one page only not like other Chinese restaurants who present books as menus to flip through. There are your appetizers, entrees and side dishes. Szechuan is a style of Chinese cooking which originated from the Sichuan province of Southwestern China. What makes it so popular are the bold flavours, particularly the pungent and spiciness resulting from the use of mounds and mounds of garlic and chili peppers. You can choose your dishes based on the style of sauce you prefer and the meat or vegetables. Then you can choose the spiciness level ranging from 1 being tolerable to 10 being the spiciest. (See Menu)

We started off with an order of wontons in chili oil. Once I took the first bite I was immediately hooked. I love garlic and am known to use a lot of it at home. What made the dish so special was the garlic chili sauce sprinkled with sesame oil. 

Next we tried the wontons in chili oil sauce. The flavors were the same although the wantons come in a larger quantity and seem to have more filling. It was also delicious. 

There were four of us on our second trip so we decided to order two main entrees and share. First order was the Dry Pot Style served in a mini wok and cooked in a spicy hot sauce with black mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. We ordered the level 7 spice thinking it was a happy medium. It arrived on top of a mini gas stove sizzling hot served with a big bowl of white rice.  Again the sauce and the spiciness and the liberal use of garlic made it so good. In fact, the best I've ever had. 

The cilantro topping added that additional punch of flavor but also worked against the burning spices. 

We also ordered a side of bok choy with black mushrooms. It was presented so beautifully like a plate of flowers. 

It was the perfect side dish to offset the meat and spice. The bok choy was fresh and crunchy, the mushrooms were so good and the sauce even better. 

Our next entree was the prawns in garlic sauce. As if there was not enough garlic in the other dishes this plate was mainly covered in garlic. Did I complain? Of course not, it was truly one of the best sauces I have ever tasted. The prawns were large and generous amounts were presented in the plate.  On our first trip we had the garlic sauce with the beef as opposed to the shrimp. I think I preferred the beef to the prawns for this dish. The garlic sauce is my favorite and I know that I'll be a regular based purely on this sauce. Just thinking of it is making my mouth water.

Was the meal amazing? Yes. Will I be back? Yes. Did the service turn me off? A bit but the food is too good to let the bad service get in the way. Plus there are several different locations and I am determined to try them all. 

Han Dynasty (Manayunk) on Urbanspoon

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August 21, 2012

Koreana-University City (Philadelphia, USA)

Always in search of good Korean food, we found Koreana tucked away in a parking lot in University City. In fact you really have to know its there to find it since the door is on the parking lot side and there is no store entrance on the street side. That said thanks to my iPhone we were quick to find our way to the food. 

This fast food Korean is a very casual spot where you order your meal at the counter, pay and find a table while you wait with your number. The food comes out pretty fast on a red cafeteria style tray. We ordered the Dol Sot Bibimbap and Soon Doo Boo with beef. 

The Soon Doo Boo was a spicy stew with vegetables and beef served with a side of white rice and kimchi. Since it was my first time trying it I was told to drop the rice in the stew and mix the two or to take spoonfuls of each together. I opted for the first choice. 

I have to say it was not my favorite not because it lacked in flavor but it just was not what I was in the mood to have. I preferred the Count's Bibimbap dish which was served in a hot stone bowl with lots of veggies, tofu, beef and eggs to blend in. 

Once the ingredients were mixed and cooked further in the hot stone bowl the result was delicious. So much so that the Count has been back 2 times since for his weekly fix of Bibimbap. 

After our meals we noticed the table next to us having a colorful dessert treat and of course we then had to try it. It was a Korean version of shaved ice with syrup, canned fruits, bursting bubbles and condensed milk. The bursting bubbles were a first for me and I absolutely loved it. As soon as it made contact with my tongue it popped into a sugary syrup. I loved the texture and flavor.

Best part of our meal: the price. It was comparatively cheaper than other places we've been to in town, although this is the ultimate casual dining experience. You go here for the food not its location in the parking lot or scene. If you want good Korean fast food in a cafeteria style environment then you will for sure love this place! 

Koreana on Urbanspoon

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