Young at Art: Queen Village Art Center offers art for all ages

Along with offering art classes for adults, Queen Village Art Center also provides a bevy of classes to teach the little ones to think outside the box.With four studios outfitted for sculpture, ceramics, painting, and more, Queen Village Art Center is a wonderland of art-making. The hallways double as gallery spaces, showing off students’ work. And the huge skylights on the second floor flood the entire 3,200 square-foot space with light. Housed in what was formerly the Philly AIDS Thrift building on 5th and Bainbridge Streets, every aspect of the design by Solerno Ziegler Architects was carefully considered to match the art center’s mission. “We believe that learning happens in the process, so our studios are spaces that allow for collaboration,” says founder, director and lead teacher Jill Markovitz. “They’re very open, so the creative process can be heard and seen by everybody.”
Read More

The Rice Harvest: Geechee Girl cuisine is both Lowcountry and local

Valerie Erwin, who owns GeeChee Girl Rice Cafe, wanted a restaurant that offered something distinct, so she chose a staple from her Southern background.A veteran of notable Philadelphia restaurants such as the Commissary, La Terrasse, Roller’s and Jamey’s, Valerie Erwin had long thought about opening a restaurant, especially in her own neighborhood. But 10 years ago, when a restaurant became available near her Germantown home, she was at a loss as to what cuisine to offer. 

A friend suggested a noodle theme, but noodles didn’t inspire her. Then Erwin’s sister came to the rescue. “Alethia said to me, ‘What about rice?’” 

Read More

Market Driven: Mariposa Food Co-op expands its role in the community, along with its retail space

Bull Gervasi, Mariposa's expansion project manager, at the new co-op location.Food co-ops are hardwired to work with others—other co-ops, other businesses, their neighbors. It’s part of their founding principles, their bylaws and their DNA. When Mariposa Co-op expanded to a nearby location after 40 years in business at 4726 Baltimore Ave., they quintupled in square footage, tripled their staff, doubled their membership and quadrupled their sales. But perhaps the most important expansion was their involvement in the community. 
Read More

Layered Success: The Night Kitchen sustains a reputation for more than great cakes

The Night Kitchen has been an institution in Chestnut Hill for 30 years, but not always the same one. When Amy Beth Edelman bought the business in 2000, it had a core of enthusiastic customers and a reputation for hearty, seedy breads and signature challah. Edelman wanted to make changes, but she knew to tread carefully. “I didn’t remove any products for some time,” Edelman says. “I just added them.”
Read More

Jungle Nook: From a lush oasis, Curt Alexander is creating a more verdant Passyunk Avenue

After the popularity of Urban Jungle, owner Curt Alexander found an ever-growing demand for his green thumb.East passyunk avenue was in the midst of a retail renaissance in 2010 when Curt Alexander opened Urban Jungle, selling plants and self-watering planters, window boxes and green wall systems. That change has accelerated, and Urban Jungle has been a big part of it. “When I came in I felt like somehow I became the biggest small business owner on the avenue,” Alexander says.
Read More

Two Scoops: Ice cream shops whip up tasty concoctions using local ingredients, but that’s where the similarities end

Some of Little Baby's non-traditional scoops.Philadelphia’s ice-cream history just keeps getting richer. Already home to Bassett’s, America’s oldest ice cream company, and the birthplace of “Philadelphia Style” (an ice cream that does not contain eggs), our city boasts two unique, independent businesses that are philosphically similar, yet quite distinct from each other. Little Baby’s Ice Cream and Zsa’s Gourmet Ice Cream share a dedication to local ingredients, unorthodox retail venues and a knack for social media marketing, but their flavor profiles are wildly different.
Read More

Benchmarking law shows how Philadelphia building owners use energy and how they can use less

Philadelphia City Council passing the benchmarking regulations. The first rule of energy efficiency is a simple one: To reduce energy consumption, you need to know how much you are using. That’s why this past June, Philadelphia became the sixth city in the country to enact an energy benchmarking law, which requires owners and operators of buildings with 50,000 or more square feet of indoor space to report annual energy expenditures.
Read More

Winter Wonders: Vibrant colors and flavors can brighten your table all winter long

Pinto Bean & Chorizo ChiliJust because it’s not tomato season doesn’t mean your seasonal table is doomed to be beige and blah. Winter produce means jewel colors and big, concentrated flavors: the velvety sweetness of winter squash, earthy root vegetables and sweet, tart citrus are in season. Pantry staples such as local flour, dried beans and storage crops such as carrots and onions can form a foundation for countless dishes. Pomegranates and cranberries lend rosy hues and bright acidity. Farmers using passively heated hoop houses and greenhouses are extending the growing season so that even in the coldest months we can enjoy robust winter greens. 

Winter is also a great time of year to be inspired by locally produced animal products. These tender scones make use of Seven Stars Farm’s amazing heavy cream and sweet local butter from Trickling Springs. Clover Creek’s mature cheddar adds richness to  kale salad, and this weeknight chili takes the bulk of its spice from Country Time Farm’s delicious, subtly spiced chorizo.

Read More

Two new Drexel eateries are sustainable on and off the menu

Drexel University’s Seasons Café and Vegetate both offer healthy, sustainable food options, emphasizing vegetarian and vegan fare and locally grown produce. Photos by Jordan Baumgarten.With the opening of Seasons Café and Vegetate, two new on-campus dining establishments dedicated to sustainable eating, Drexel University is responding to a growing demand for healthier, sustainable food options. Both facilities are open to the public and to students, and offer vegetarian and vegan fare, as well as locally grown produce. “The menu fills the need for the vegetarians and vegans in our community, but also appeals to meat-eaters looking for some fresh alternatives,” says Rita LaRue, senior associate vice president of Drexel Business Services.
Read More

Locally made meat substitute takes the world by storm

Unhappy with the options for providing wholesome, nutritious meals to her growing vegetarian family, Lancaster resident Laura Lapp decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I was reading the label of a popular meat replacement one day when I realized, ‘This isn’t even real food!’” she says. “It was then that I decided to start experimenting with ingredients in my kitchen.”

Read More

Resurrection Alehouse offers both creative cuisine and comfort

 

Photos by Albert YeeMeeting up at a neighborhood pub for eats and drinks doesn’t mean wings and burgers are your only option. Brendan Hartranft and Leigh Maida are the duo behind four of our favorite beer drinkeries, each boasting bar menus beyond the expected. In addition to Memphis Taproom in Kensington, Local 44 in West Philly and the recently opened Strangelove’s in Center City, the pair owns Resurrection Ale House, a charming pub in Grays Ferry, where they strive to keep the menu innovative yet approachable. “The rule,” Maida says, “is that Brendan’s dad has to be able to walk in and order comfortably off the menu.”

Read More

Nest, Eagles, Nest: Bald eagles make a comeback in Pennsylvania

As I write this, the philadelphia eagles could actually win the NFC East, which makes every Sunday an emotional hazard. For my emotional self-defense, I hedge with other, more reliable activities—like picking up a pair of binoculars and checking out some real Philadelphia eagles. The eagles that have actual wings and talons start building or rehabbing their nests in December in order to have them ready for eggs in January. On land, everything might be cold and dormant, but if the water isn't frozen, bald eagles can fish. That’s enough to keep them—as well as gulls, cormorants and other waterfowl—active and visible in Northeast Philadelphia, at the mouth of Pennypack Creek, also known as Pennypack on the Delaware.
Read More

Historic Pier 53 transformed into public park

ZONE A: Upper Riparian/Upland: above daily tidal inundation, flooded by larger storms. Habitat for migratory and resident songbirds and raptors, small reptiles, small mammals and invertebrates. ZONE B: Lower Riparian: occasional tidal inundation and flooded by smaller storms. Habitat for migratory and resident songbirds and raptors, small reptiles, small mammals and invertebrates. ZONE C: Intertidal: Inundated by daily tidal cycle. Habitat for fish; reptiles; mollusks (mussels, clams) and other aquatic invertebrates; migratory waterfowl and wading birds.At the end of October, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) broke ground on the next phase of Washington Avenue Green, the waterfront park at the former Pier 53. The park enhancements will combine public green space with river views and access, as well as educational opportunities, ecological improvements and public art acknowledging the pier’s history.

From 1873 to 1915, Pier 53 was the city’s main immigration station, a history that will be acknowledged by the “Land Buoy,” a beacon and spiral staircase designed by local artist Jody Pinto.

Read More

Environmental advocate makes sure that nobody crosses the Delaware

Photo courtesy of Delaware Riverkeeper NetworkMaya van Rossum has been passionate about the environment since she grew up playing in and around Ithan Creek in Villanova. But it wasn’t until she was studying law in college and asked a professor if there was any career path that could combine her two passions—law and the environment—that she first heard the term “environmental law.”
Read More