Favorite Spot: Bell’s Market
Address: 8330 Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19152
I am: A law professor and lifelong travel junkie, with a special love for exploring cities.
Years in Philly: 24
Current Home: West Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.
My Love Note
At Bell’s Market in Northeast Philly, I delight in hearing customers speak Russian to each other, to the staff, and into their cell phones in a sibilant rapid flow of words. I am charmed by the staff’s assumption that I speak Russian. I smile helplessly when other customers ask me a question, in a torrent of lovely words I do not understand.
Bell’s Market has a huge and beautiful selection of prepared marinated vegetables, including interesting twists involving eggplant or tomato or peppers or pickles. The Market has fresh mild cheeses ranging from cottage cheese-like, to ricotta-like, to sour cream-like. They have dramatic names I like to pronounce, like Tvorog.
There are fresh blintzes and perogi. From Turkey, there is sour cherry jam with whole cherries. From Ukraine, bottled Vegetable Ragu. From Georgia, bottles of Classic Tkemali Sauce – I don’t know what that is, but made sure to get both the Red and Green versions to try. I’m working my way up to sampling the variety of smoked fish, but I’ll leave the caviar for someone who doesn’t recoil at the memory of her single salty taste. Russians must love chocolate and tea, if the full aisles devoted to each are reliable indicators.
But my favorite part of Bell’s Market is the heavenly, inexpensive bakery. While there are familiar offerings like crusty rolls, baguettes, and doughy croissants stuffed with chocolate or jam, what draws me back are the unfamiliar choices. A pastry stuffed to overflowing with piquant feta cheese. Dense black loaves with names like “Borodinsky Bread,” so heavy that a single slice of toast can be a meal. Best of all, because they bake into the morning, a visit early in the day is a chance to greet the challah loaves as they emerge from the oven, so soft and fragrant they dare you wait to get home to eat them.