Let me make one thing clear: we really do like Philadelphia.
We might not talk about Philly much, since we spend our time exploring and appreciating South Jersey, but there’s lots of wonderful food things a-happenin’ on the other side of the Delaware.
Every now and then, we get invited to attend food events in Philly, and on occasion we get to actually make them. I recently was able to attend a special Philly Area Food & Drink Writer Meet-Up at the schwanky R2L Restaurant that sits high above most of the city on the 37th floor at Two Liberty Place.
On the way there, I managed to get out of the PATCO station and head in the wrong direction. And then it dawned on me that maybe I should be looking for the really tall building and go towards it. Keep it simple, as they say.
They also say that a restaurant with its own private elevator is not your normal occurrence, but that’s just how I arrived at R2L. Once inside, there was a bustle of food lovers and plenty of nibbles and drinks to keep the conversation flowing. The little risotto bites were rich and satisfying, with just a bit of fun. After one sip of their signature R2L-Evation cocktail, however, I needed to put it down. A few of those, and I wouldn’t need a private elevator to reach the 37th floor, ifyouknowwhatImean.
So why had we all been gathered here? It was all due to the lovely, scheming Wendy ‘La Phemme Foodie’ Kirby and the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation. Their plan: gather fellow food writers to help create a more-connected community and promote what’s good about food in Philly. Win-win.
There was an additional theme to this gathering: helping improve our collective photography skills. The guest speaker was veteran photojournalist Eric Mencher, who has captured images all across the spectrum – from the joy of food to the horror of war. In addition to the little tips and tidbits Eric offered (like finding ways of bringing in and reflecting light in places like dark restaurants), the message I appreciated the most was finding your own style.
So…what’s my style? Got an hour or so?
While I may not have a short and sweet answer to that, I’d like to think that a style is emerging after 3+ years of doing this thing we call blogging (or webzining…I don’t know anymore). I look at our posts from 2008 and cringe at many of the pics we took. Since then, I’ve taken a lot more pictures, have gotten a better camera, and began to trust my eye more. I am a believer in the notion expressed by Michelangelo that David is already in the picture and I just need to crop away the excess. Mind you, having editing software helps to bring David into better focus and color balance.
Have I mentioned before that food bloggers are a weird lot? If not, I will say it again for emphasis: food bloggers are a weird lot. After Eric finished his talk, we were presented with a plethora of yumminess from Chef Daniel Stern’s kitchen for us to…photograph!
So, imagine yourself as a blueberry tart. Yes, a weird notion, but work with me here. Your lot in life is this: you get made, you get placed on a table, and you get eaten. Now, thanks to food bloggers, you get to have your Scarlett Johansson-on-the-red-carpet-at-Cannes moment before the aforementioned getting eaten part. It can still feel a little, erm, odd to be lining up a tray of pastries and snapping pic after pic. But when you’re among like-minded friends, though, it can still be a bit odd – just slightly less so.
Here are some more of the images I captured that afternoon. And yes, we were able to eat them…eventually:
The rule of thumb in life is that a restaurant with a view usually gets away with serving food that doesn’t match the breathtaking vistas. Even though I did not have a full meal at R2L, I was able to sample enough from Chef Daniel that I left with a feeling that a meal here would not take away from your perch above the city.