Saturday, December 16, 2006

On Friday I made a round of some of the many old-fashioned neighborhood bakeries in The Great Northeast (of Philadelphia). First stop: Haegele's in the heart of a Mayfair residential area:

A classic corner spot

Close-up of bakery's side window

The staff is proud of the gingerbread house

Jean Erikson and June Haegele

If I lived in Haegele's neighborhood, my blood sugars would be even higher! I restrained myself (knowing I was going to hit a number of other bakeries), however, and departed Haegele's with merely a pound of Christmas cookies and a small bag of springerle. The springerle (to be found in all of the German bakeries I visited) were intensely anise; hard to eat one of these without a strong cup of coffee in hand.

Next stop was Mayfair Bakery on Frankford. Okay place, but not among the winners.

Geiger's, a few blocks up Frankford and across the street, was very much into cakes with illustrations (as is Mayfair). Picked up another pound of Christmas butter cookies.

Now I cut over to Castor and the first of two stops at kosher bakeries. At Weiss I went bananas. Well, no bananas, but good looking challah (I picked up a small raisin challah for french toast later this weekend). And seven layer cake! My favorite! I bought slices of both the yellow and mocha versions. Taste tests later tonight. Strictly in the name of science.

Further up Frankford is Hesh's Eclair Bake Shoppe. More of the same as at Weiss, but they also had onion board. A big piece of this poppy-encrusted, oniony flatbread became my lunch. And a very good lunch indeed. At both Hesh's and Weiss I also restrained myself by not picking up any sweet munn (poppyseed) pastry rolls.

Onward toward Fox Chase. First stop there was Shenk's Family Bakery on Verree Road just south of Rhawn. Limited myself to half a pound of cookies. The hammentaschen looked good here, too.

Past Oxford Avenue I hit Danish Bakers, which is a bit of a misnomer. It's not owned by Danes and I didn't spy any of the real Danish baked goods you'd find in Aarhus or, for that matter, Racine, Wisconsin (the clerk didn't know what kringle was!), but they had a nice selection of various cakes and pastries nonetheless. I left with a cylinder of cinnamon bread (sliced).

My final stop had nothing to do with sweet baked goods, but it was a pantheon to pork: Rieker's, the German butcher-deli. Here I let loose a bit, purchasing a bunch of different sausages to cook in their wine kraut tonight, a smoked pork butt for Saturday or Sunday, and a buckling, a style of smoked herring.

All in all, a most rewarding visit to the Great Northeast, with lots more to cover in the future. It's a polyglot area with cuisines to match. Lots more to explore, including the Russian, Brazilian and Asian neighborhoods, among others.

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