It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers??homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry?s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry?s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
Back in the ’20s, the Christen family introduced its recipes to Philadelphia with the opening of the Swiss Pastry Shop. The shop operated for decades but closed in 2007, causing hazelnut-withdrawal symptoms for loyal customers, such as the Hausman family. Thankfully, several years ago, Jim Hausman convinced the shop's pastry chef, Donna Canzanese, to keep the ovens burning and opened Swiss Haus to carry on Philadelphia’s butter, cream, and sugar traditions.
Today, at Swiss Haus, you’ll be treated to classic European recipes that have been Philadelphia institutions for more than 85 years. These are the cakes of Old-World lore, whose crumbs marked the way home through deep, dark forests. The hazelnut sponge cake, for example, with thick swiss vanilla buttercream and swiss-chocolate shavings, mingles with pastry compatriots: rum cake with vanilla-almond cream and mocha cake with swiss mocha buttercream and crushed cashew nuts. If your pastry ambitions run smaller, Swiss Haus also has a comfortable, welcoming café area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea paired with one of the smaller pastries, such as the Mozart––a hazelnut-meringue treat with chocolate buttercream, cake, and white-chocolate mousse––or cookies, of which there are 30 varieties.
Within a warmly lit exposed-brick interior, the flavor mavens at Manakeesh Cafe Bakery prepare a bounty of Lebanese-American fusion dishes lauded by ABC-6 news and Philadelphia magazine. Halal meats share the menu with vegetarian and vegan options as well as savory starters. Freshly baked manakeesh flatbread sandwiches journey through an open-flame oven, allowing guests to detail each movement with their own suspenseful voiceover narration. Diners can opt for a yogurt-cheese-spread labneh sandwich or invite the shawarma, which tucks sirloin into a fluffy flatbread coverlet, to a mouth sleepover party. A piece of the café's signature baklava soothes sweet teeth, and a strong Turkish coffee can fortify an extended stay inside a Trojan horse.
Off the beaten path in a small shop, Tasty Twisters's family of bakers hand-twists dough into soft pretzels daily, forging traditional pretzels, pretzel twists, pretzel bagels, and pretzel nuggets dusted in garlic, salt, cinnamon-sugar, or fingerprint powder. Their ovens also add a golden-brown finish to custom pretzels, which can be fashioned into unique shapes, letters, or numbers for guests in need of themed treats. For bigger groups, staffers load party platters with pretzel nuggets and cups overflowing with cheese and mustard dipping sauce.
On Fabric Row in Queen Village, Red Hook Coffee and Tea is a comfy café specializing in fair-trade, organic coffee. The fresh-brewed beverages draw caffeine fiends from all over the neighborhood, but it is the food that makes this coffee shop distinctive. For breakfast, customers can munch on fresh bagels, muffins, eggs and oatmeal; later in the day, made-to-order dishes that include grilled cheese, curried chicken salad and butternut squash soup satiate hungry patrons. Plus, fresh-fruit smoothies, vegan chili and gluten-free baked goods make the menu accessible for those on restricted diets. For customers looking for something a bit stronger than coffee, Red Hook is BYOB.
The flavor-savvy guides of Chew Philly Food Tours acquaint both visiting and veteran Philadelphia taste buds with the dishes that encapsulate the city's culinary heritage. During each 2.5-hour journey, groups visit family-owned restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores? many of which have been around for decades?where merchants show off their specialties to curious palates.
Tidbits about local architecture, city history, and the philly cheesesteak's historic boxing victory against Chicago-style pizza spring from tour guides as tasters proceed with their 1.5-mile jaunt, which keeps feet moving at a moderate pace to accommodate guests of all ages and fitness levels.