September 28-October 4, 2006
Want Some Moore?
In honor of our 25th, I approached Moore with a proposal that befit his prolific nature: Pick your all-time favorite Philly dishes in the vein of a five-course meal and, you know, eat them with me. Tell me their stories. I got the check.
SALAD: Maxfield's bleu cheese salad (Astral Plane, 1708 Lombard St., 215-546-6230)
Moore has loved this salad for as long as Astral Plane, Center City's second-oldest restaurant, has existed. "Last year, someone took it off the menu, and they had to put it back on because everyone was complaining," he says between bites. Each forkful brings together crisp Dijon vinaigrette, sweet onion, raisins, chunks of bleu, walnuts and petite slices of Granny Smith apple. Our subject lets out a nostalgic chuckle when the bartender brings over a framed CP review Moore penned in 1988, wherein he compared Astral's decor to his grandmother's living room.
SOUP: Snapper (turtle) soup (Old Original Bookbinder's, 125 Walnut St., 215-925-7027)
At first, I was wary about slurping the shredded flesh of an animal often depicted on children's school folders. Once my bowl arrives, however, the rich veal stock relieves my too-cute-to-chew guilt. Moore first tried the soup on a business trip while working for McDonald's. "Philadelphians love to hate Bookbinder's," he says. "But, as long as they have this soup ... no problem."
APPETIZER: Dumplings with spicy sauce (Sze-chuan Tasty House, 902 Arch St., 215-925-2839)
Moore heard about Tasty House on eGullet, the online food community he helped found. While the tender pillows are tough to chopstick (I use the embarrassingly Anglo stab-and-vault technique), the bold sauce makes it worthwhile. Here, Moore is more than happy to explain what bugged him about CP. "I hated that there was never any reaction to what I wrote," he tells me. "When I'd get lonely for mail, I would do a column making fun of vegetarians. Then I'd get pictures of dead calves."
MAIN COURSE: Roast pork (DiNic's, 12th and Arch sts., 215-923-6175)
I am famished when I arrive at the Reading Terminal, so I'm horrified to find that DiNic's line is DiLong. Thankfully, owner Tommy DiNic notices Moore and kindly sets aside some meat to ensure we'll have sandwiches once we reach Register Mecca. (Here, pigs actually do fly stuff goes fast.) We grab the grub, shed the deli paper and dig in. Moist and garlicky, DiNic's roast pork is exactly what roast pork should be freakin' delicious.
DESSERT: Hot fudge sundae (Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St., 215-627-1899)
Fittingly, my last stop is the wrinkle-in-time Fountain for an afternoon sundae fix. I ask Moore how the city's changed since he was doing what I'm doing. "When I first started coming here, there were only two or three places to eat," he says. "Now, Philadelphia's a world-class restaurant city."