It isn’t often one is invited to an informative event and served a terrific lunch as well.
Networking with Philadelphia representatives started at noon in the private room at New York’s Brasserie 8½ (Nine West 57th Street). At the sight of the punch bowl, the conversation turned to Benjamin Franklin who had created 225 names for being drunk. Thomas Jefferson became an oenophile and toasted the Declaration of Independence with Madeira wine. Riots in Boston began when British authorities seized John Hancock’s boat with over 3,000 gallons of the wine in 1768, while George Washington made his own grog and wine. It’s said that when Americans got drunk on punch they created America. These words might have been truer than imagined.
The result of the sweetened rum punch served that afternoon was from a 1775 recipe, a lip-numbing brew, which, for those who could imbibe more than one cup, would soon feel a brain-numbing sensation. I switched to white wine, slightly more demure before lunch.
We sat for the Appetizer, an imaginative and delicious dish of endive, radicchio, frisée salad, garnished with a thin slice of bosc pear, a wedge of aged goat cheese and Banyul’s Vinaigrette (a sweet, aged vinegar produced in the Banyuls-sur-mer region in southern France). Executive chef Franck Deletrain mixes classic French dishes with a Mediterranean flair. The lively flavors of the salad lingered on the palate.
During the luncheon, Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA, unveiled new ways to experience the nation’s founding story within America’s most historic square mile. The opening of the Museum of the American Revolution is a highlight of Philadelphia’s Historic District and features immersive experiences, rare and priceless artifacts and historic scenes that tell the dramatic story of the nation’s founding.
As one speaker said, “there’s more history under a rock in Philadelphia than in the whole country.” Visitors see the site of the First Continental Congress, enter Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the U.S. Constitution was adopted, traverse the cobble stone streets of Elfreth’s Alley and visit the Betsy Ross House.
Philly Museums include the Benjamin Franklin Museum, the National Liberty Museum and the African American Museum among others. After a cultural saturation, one stop at the City Tavern, the public house which may have been the blueprint for a new country, and the brief headquarters of the Continental Army in 1777, was and still is the place to quench thirsts.
Returning momentarily to the entrées at Brasserie 8½, we were offered a choice of oyster mushrooms and parsnips mousseline beneath a chicken breast or baked Atlantic salmon with mustard sauce and baked root vegetables Tian, before speakers presented a number of restaurants, bars and night spots concentrated in the Historic District.
Most everyone knows the iconic treats in Philly are cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. Our dessert was warm molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, and like New York, there’s a culturally diverse cuisine in Philly that includes street food, festivals and BYOB restaurants. Still, the sweetness in the punch in Philadelphia is the new Museum of the American Revolution.