It’s time for another BREAKFAST SPECIAL road trip.
Bob and Glenn and I get in the fully packed WQED van around 11 a.m. and head east out of Oakland for the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a beautiful, clear, bitter cold day. Glenn drives the first leg. Bob in the passenger seat, me in the back where I can try to organize some of my accumulated papers and try to stay awake. I sleep a lot till we stop in Bedford just before 1:00 for some lunch.
We get off the Turnpike, go into downtown Bedford and lunch at Bob’s favorite little healthy cafe, the Green Harvest Co., where we ate one day on a Lincoln Highway shoot. Lentil soup. Coffee. A wrap for Glenn, salmon salad for Bob and today’s special for me.
The special was Mediterranean tuna with snow peas, but they’ve run out of tuna, so they make it Mediterranean salmon with snow peas, and it still tastes pretty good. Cookies for dessert.
After lunch we take a few minutes in the antique mall around the corner. It’s part of our Bedford routine: lunch at Green Harvest and a quick look at the stuff downstairs in the old G.C. Murphy’s building. No major purchases today.
On the way back to the van, Bob spots a sign in the front window of one of the other little downtown eateries. Pork products are big everywhere these days.
Bob drives into the afternoon. I finish the Friday puzzle in the New York Times. Glenn dozes in the passenger seat. We listen to Contra, the new Vampire Weekend CD, and it’s good. Bob says he thinks they do three different versions of the first song, Horchata, but they all have different names and lyrics. Sometimes they sound a lot like Paul Simon, other times like Sting, but fun and interesting.
We stop around 4:30 at a Turnpike rest area. I take over the wheel, Glenn gets in back, and we turn on “All Things Considered.” Obama visited Republicans today, and that’s interesting, but it’s also pledge time on WHYY, and we hear a lot of pledging. On TV, pledge breaks interrupt programming, and that can be frustrating, but on the radio, pledge breaks REPLACE or OVERLAY the regular programming, and I always wonder what stuff I’m missing during the long pledge sessions. We didn’t bring the hardware to play our iPods through the van’s radio or we could have listened to podcasts of Fresh Air as we approach the City of Terry Gross.
The Schuylkill Expressway is bumper to bumper from the Turnpike to downtown, but traffic is not jammed, it just moves very slowly. There’s an extraordinary moon, muted yellow against the deep blue evening sky.
We check into our rooms at the Courtyard by City Hall and decide to walk to dinner. The slim black guy at the front desk suggests Chima, a Brazilian steakhouse straight down the street. “About 5 blocks down.” It is windy and frigid. We keep walking. It is at least 5 very long blocks till we see the sign. Looks good. Warm inside. “Do you have reservations?” “No.” “Sorry, we’re full tonight. We’re not taking any walk-ins.” I beg and plead. “Please don’t send us back out into the cold!” She suggests a taxi to Rittenhouse Square where there are several restaurants to choose from. We grab a taxi out front, and the driver drops us off infront of Rouge where we can get a table if we agree to be done by 9 p.m. It’s 7:40. We think we’ll manage.
Our waitress is great. It’s Restaurant Week in Philadelphia, and at 52 different restaurants you can get a 3 course dinner for $35. Special menu. We decide to do that. Bob and Glenn start with Butternut Squash Soup. I get the Roasted Beets Salad. Yellow beets with goat cheese. Excellent.
Everyone happy. Then the famous Rouge Burger for me — the waitress says, “Oprah loves it, and if she loves it, don’t we all?” I laugh. She says, “Yeah I hate her too.”
Apparently Oprah suggested that people could save money at restaurants by tipping 10% instread of 15 or 20%, and this did not go over well with waiters and waitresses everywhere. Bob and Glenn get the Herb Roasted Chicken on mashed potatoes. They love that too. Dessert is included: gelato all around.
We walk back to the hotel. Tall Bob can walk very fast when his ears are cold.