I’m from the ‘burbs but lucky enough to live only 30 minutes from Philadelphia. Last Wednesday afternoon, I took my brother to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Van Gogh Up Close, a gift for his 30th birthday. To work off our delicious lunch, we decided to walk toward the museum and take a cab when we felt like it. After walking through Chinatown and near the bus terminal, we saw Reading Terminal Market quite by accident. What a happy discovery!
Honestly, Reading Terminal Market doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I swear I heard music when I walked inside those doors. Angel music. As far as the eye could see were food vendors, bakeries, produce stands, butchers, and specialty food stores. My idea of heaven. While I didn’t have time to comb each store thoroughly for local products, I did find a great produce stand right away, Iovine Brothers Produce, with a wagon load (literally) of locally grown produce. The wagon was decorated with farm names and photos, all from New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
Kauffman’s Lancaster County Produce caught my eye. The radishes were gorgeous, as were all the Amish-canned pickles, jams, and chutneys.
I also discovered a honey purveyor, Bee Natural, from Smyrna, Delaware, which is not too far from my home. (Funny that I had to come to Philadelphia to learn about this local apiary!) I saw the store almost at once when we walked inside. With all of that shiny, sweet honey in varying tones of gold, the store literally shone!
My favorite store by far was Fair Food Farmstand (their website is a fantastic resource; visit it!). A very polite cheesemonger allowed me to try two cheeses, a cheddar from an Amish farmer and goat cheese from Lancaster County. I liked the cheddar the best, but the goat cheese was deliciously briny. The best part about Fair Food is the magnitude of local products. In fact, all of it is local from a sustainable farm in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware! Mushrooms from Kennett. Goose eggs (yes, GOOSE eggs!) from Lancaster County. Carrots, swiss chard, and a bevy of veggies from Amish farmers (again, thank you, Amish!). My brother watched with interest as I lovingly took a photo of each beautiful vegetable and exclaimed at the closeness of its origin. At one point he quietly disappeared as I asked the cheesemonger if he thought I could sneak cheese into the museum.
From bakeries like Metropolitan Bakery to coffee roasters like Old City Coffee (they roast coffee every day in tiny batches), the local options abound at Reading Terminal Market. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are covered in one shopping trip. With so many food purveyors and shops, one could easily spend a lovely day walking the market, talking to vendors, and eating excellent food. I highly recommend it. This diamond in the rough, hidden on 12th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia, is worth the trip.
Reading Terminal Market
12th & Arch Streets