Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

Market Blog

A blog about what's happening at Reading Terminal Market.

Behind the Counter: A Scoop of Bassetts

icecreamslider

Ice Cream Slider by Bassetts Ice Cream

 

Did you know that America’s oldest ice cream company was the first merchant to join Reading Terminal Market (RTM) in 1892?  Bassetts Ice Cream (BIC) is a fifth generation family-owned business that has grown with the Philadelphia food scene since 1861. It is a full service frozen dessert distributor on a regional, national and international level. We sat down with Michael Strange, Roger Bassett and the youngest generation, Eric Bassett to discuss the brand, throwback to some outrageous moments and talk a little business here and there.

 

RTM: How would you describe Bassetts to new customers?

BIC: Being America’s oldest ice cream brand has a huge significance; it adds value and earns a certain kind of respect. The beauty of our product is that you don’t need to speak the language to appreciate it.

 

RTM: Bassetts has been at RTM the longest. How has the evolution of the Market affected your business?

BIC: We’ve definitely experienced all the ups and downs of the market. The 80’s were the worst; there were days that Bassetts made about $25 in sales. The growth in the number of merchants from 25 to 80 has helped us keep our business strong. More merchants means more diversity, and that allowed us to explore other options in the Market. We’ve opened a bakery and a turkey sandwich shop in addition to keeping Bassetts alive.

 

RTM: What vision do you have for Bassetts in RTM in the next 20 years?

BIC: It’s about keeping our product consistent, evolving slowly and maintaining that traditional-current vibe. The best example is the marble counter that our customers sit at - it is the original counter from 1892; it’s probably the most valuable item we own. At the same time, we added a new digital price board, creating juxtaposition.

 

RTM: Your product makes you a global player. What is the hottest market for Bassetts at the moment?

BIC: China, hands down! The Chinese market has shown a demand for more flavors that incorporate fruits and nuts and it is infiltrating trends in the U.S. The green tea flavor was the most challenging in meeting customer satisfaction. Luckily, The Tea Leaf, came through with the specific tea powder that allowed us to nail that flavor.

 

RTM: Who do you think is a strong example within the culinary world?

BIC: In terms of a chef, we believe that Marc Vetri and his team are unparalleled. He grew his business organically and is very focused on delivering a consistently high quality product and service. Looking at it from a business model perspective, we appreciate Chipotle. Their style of leadership in the industry has led to great success for the business.

 

RTM: What’s your advice for millennials or people starting out in this business?

BIC: Do more than what’s expected. If you believe in it, do it. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough.

 

RTM: Can you recall the most bizarre order from a customer before?

BIC: The beauty of ice cream is that you are working with a blank canvas. There is no flavor you can’t create. Green Tomato Ice Cream was by far the most unusual flavor we have created for a customer.

 

RTM: What is the most interesting thing you have ever done with a scoop of ice cream?

BIC: Without doubt the Ice Cream Slider.  This looked exactly like a cheeseburger.  The patty was a scoop of chocolate ice cream, which we pressed flat.  We then put a thin slice of white chocolate from Chocolate by Mueller, and used a glazed donut without a hole from Beiler’s for the bun.  We even used a raspberry sauce in lieu of ketchup.

 

RTM: With a constant change in trends and the success of frozen yogurt, what do you think keeps people loyal to ice cream?

BIC: The unique mouth feel of ice cream cannot be duplicated. It is rich and creamy, with a heavy butterfat content that helps create a silky smooth texture.

 

RTM: Describe a world without ice cream.

BIC: A world without ice cream would be like a world without smiles. Its capability to evoke memories and emotions is so powerful.

 

While RTM continues to be their home base, Bassetts has become part of a global lifestyle, representing Philadelphia’s food scene on the world map.  We would like to thank the Bassett family for taking the time to discuss their business, and congratulate them on being the first merchant to be featured in our Behind the Counter series. 

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“Activity at the Market's Demo Kitchen Heats Up Under a New Operating Model and ‘City’ Name,” by Carolyn Wyman

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Anyone who ever took a class at La Cucina at the Market already knows what a great space the Market kitchen is.

The kitchen's assets will soon be appreciated by a lot more people now that Market management has taken over its operation.

Redubbed City Kitchen at Reading Terminal Market, the kitchen will now be hosting a great many both paid and free programs, demonstrations and classes showcasing Market merchants' food smarts and solidifying the Market's reputation as the hub of culinary culture in Philadelphia.

"We're hoping to have things going on in the kitchen five to seven days a week," says Market manager Paul Steinke.

This will include two free weekly series of demonstrations featuring Market merchants starting in November: a "How to" (frost a cake, tie a roast, make a roux etc.) one that will take place at 2 p.m. every Wednesday, and a "What's for Dinner Tonight" class at 5pm on Thursdays. The latter will demo a quick weeknight recipe that participants can then source at the Market before going home to make themselves.

There are also tentative plans for ticketed evening tasting events featuring Market food and drink -- sort of mini versions of the Party for the Market fundraiser held in February, according to Sarah Morrison of All About Events, the company that won the contract to manage City Kitchen for the Market as part of a competitive bidding process that took place this spring. 

The kitchen's "new" operating model is actually similar to the one it had when it debuted in the Market's northeast corner in the 1990s. Then-Market staffers Irina Smith and Betty Kaplan organized many free cooking demonstrations and tastings there before the kitchen became part of Foster's kitchen store and, after Foster's left the Market in 2007, home to Anna Florio's La Cucina cooking school. In 2012, as part of the Market's Avenue D renovation, the kitchen moved to the east end of the Center Court seating area, with counter seating for 12, table seating for 20, and room for an additional 60 people when the door is open to the adjacent Rick Nichols meeting room.

As successful and fun as La Cucina's classes were, having the kitchen leased like any other Market stand precluded other uses -- like the Eat Right Cooking Camp nutrition education program that began this summer and will continue as an afterschool program this fall. Under the grant-funded program, local chef Angela Scipio introduces schoolchildren to healthy foods sold in the Market then takes them into the kitchen to show how to turn them into tasty meals or snacks.

The Market will also be renting out City Kitchen to outside chefs, cookbook authors or companies who want to hold classes, demonstrations or tastings. The local La Colombe coffee roasters recently inquired about sampling their new rum in the kitchen, for instance. Morrison is also cooking up plans to offer for-fee private cooking classes and dinners featuring Market chefs. "Instead of going out to a Starr restaurant for a special anniversary, a couple could host a dinner at City Kitchen for 8 to 10 family members or friends some evening, with wine and a chef there who could explain what they're making," Morrison said.

Keep an eye on the Market website and e-blast for details on upcoming City Kitchen events.

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour (www.tasteofphillyfoodtour.com).

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Chef's Challenge Winner - Braised Pork Belly (Glazed with Basil Honey) Tartine

We recently ran a contest so explosive – that kitchen fires were happening all over!

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Just kidding, of course. However, we did ask foodies and aspiring-chefs alike to create dish. But not just any ol’ dish – a dish that was only limited to certain ingredients. Such as, pork, watermelon, kale, red peppers, honey, your choice of cheese, bacon, and any staple household ingredients.  After we put your cooking abilities to the test, the amount of creativity and energy that went in to each dish was so was inspiring (see all the deliciousness here) – but there could only be one winner…

Pork Belly

This mouthwatering Braised Pork Belly (Glazed with Basil Honey) Tartine won the contest hands down. So, if you’re like us – then you’re saying to yourself right now “I HAVE to try that!”

Well, now you can. Winner, Olivia, of Olivias Palate shared with us her amazing recipe – and now we’re sharing it with you!

This recipe serves 10-12 people as an appetizer

For the pork belly, you will need:

For the basil honey glaze, you’ll need:

To finish the appetizer:

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat a cast-iron frying pan over high heat.  Add sea salt and black pepper generously all over the pork belly and sear it in the hot pan until it is browned on all sides.  While the pork belly is searing, put the beer, white wine, ginger, garlic, orange, and honey in a cast-iron Dutch oven.  Bring the braising liquid to a simmer on top of the stove.

Add the meat to the braising liquid.  If the braising liquid doesn’t cover the meat, add a bit of water to the dutch oven until it does.  Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 1.5 hours (or until the meat is tender).  Transfer the pork belly to a sheet pan and cover the meat with a cutting board or baking sheet.  Place something heavy on top to weigh down the meat and keep it flat.  Let the pork belly cool with the weight on it.

While the pork belly is cooling, blend the basil with the honey in a food processor or blender to make the glaze.

Cut the cooled meat into 1/4 inch strips.  Heat a cast iron frying pan over high heat and sear each strip rapidly to brown.  Toss the hot strips with the basil honey glaze.  Add more basil honey on the baguette and some arugula.  Then place the pork belly and top with goat cheese, watermelon match sticks. and extra virgin olive oil.

She promises this will be at hit at your next dinner party – and we believe her! 

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“Early Birds Get the Best Breakfast in Philadelphia -- in the Market,” By Carolyn Wyman

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Photo: David Braunstein of Pearl's Oyster Bar with Bacon N' Banana French Toast 

 

The Down Home Diner and Dutch Eating Place have long been among Philadelphians' favorite breakfast destinations.

In the past five to seven years, though, they've been joined in serving eggs, ham and the like by a growing number of Reading Terminal Market businesses. Almost all of the food stands that have opened in the Market since 2007 have offered breakfast items "right from the start," notes Market general manager Paul Steinke.

Here's what you've been missing if you don't usually visit the Market in the morning, or at least haven't lately. After breakfast you might want to shop for dinner ingredients at a time when there are rarely lines. (Store them in the office fridge until quitting time!)

Termini Brothers Bakery sells individual muffins as well as six-packs of tea biscuits (like buttermilk biscuits and featuring raisins) and La Columbe coffee to wash them all down.

Breakfast is served all day at the Down Home Diner. Best-sellers include the Philly Cheesesteak Scram (featuring all the traditional cheesesteak ingredients plus scrambled eggs) and the Country Benny (eggs Benedict made with biscuits and gravy). Other menu highlights include a shrimp, grits and eggs plate, and decadent apple pie pancakes (with whipped cream).

On Saturday morning the Market's north aisle is usually clogged with lines of people waiting to have blueberry pancakes, Western omelets and fresh-squeezed juice at the Dutch Eating Place. Their breakfast items feature Jersey blueberries, and Lancaster eggs and meats (including the rarely-seen creamed chipped beef). Dutch Eating serves breakfast until noon Tuesdays through Fridays, and until 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Pearl's Oyster Bar only began serving breakfast and brunch in February but it has been a huge success. One possible reason: It was crafted by their new (as of fall 2013) chef Jason Ledee, a veteran of popular Philly bruncherie Green Eggs Cafe. Highlights of his fish-focused, somewhat fancy menu include a breakfast po' boy (with fried shrimp), shrimp and grits and chicken and waffle Benedicts, and Bacon 'N Banana French Toast (featuring banana-mascarpone-stuffed brioche, Applewood bacon bits and flambéed bananas). Breakfast items are served all day, every day.

Looking for some hair of the dog after a night of hard partying? Molly Malloy's has 24 beers on tap and a daily breakfast menu that includes omelets, egg sandwiches, oatmeal and their best-selling vanilla-cinnamon French toast and egg-topped spicy Potato Hash.

Valley Shepherd Creamery's Meltkraft grilled cheese operation's sole breakfast sandwich is the Toad in the Hole. It's offered only on weekends, mainly because of how much trouble it is to assemble prosciutto, Somerset cheese and roasted tomato on toasted brioche with a hole in the middle where the egg peaks through, says chef Rebecca Foxman. Meltkraft will add bacon to any one of their other sandwiches for an extra $1.25 any day of the week and Foxman thinks it goes particularly well with their Brielle cranberry-chutney sandwich.

Although most famous for interesting-flavored cupcakes and whoopie pies and cake/pie hybrid Pumple cake, the Flying Monkey Bakery now also sells breakfast items like banana bread and crumb cake (the latter variously featuring pecans, apples or berries).

The opening of Beiler's Donuts and Salads in May of last year rocked the Philly doughnut world. Best-sellers from among almost 35 varieties offered daily are the fritters, Salted Caramel, Dutch Crumb and Harvest Apple. Non-doughnut breakfast offerings at Beiler's Bakery include Danish, coffee crumb cake, muffins and traditional Philadelphia sticky buns in a variety of sizes and with a variety of toppings.

One of the newest breakfast offerings in the Market is also among the most unique: Pizza, Stromboli and foccacia topped or stuffed with egg, cheese, sausage and the like at Mezze. Pizza is sold by the slice and everything else, cafeteria-style so you can grab and go to work quickly.

You can also get egg, cheese and sausage or bacon-stuffed pretzels at Miller's Twist until 10 a.m. every day they're open.

Market Bakery offers breakfast baked goods they make on-site or procure from a variety of local artisanal bakeries, including glazed scones from Philly Cupcake, croissants from Four Worlds and bagels from Le Bus, which you can buy plain, as part of an egg sandwich or dressed with black raspberry and bacon, cheddar and horseradish cream cheese, among other flavors.

Hershel's East Side Deli is the Market destination for cream cheese and lox on a bagel, as well as their almost equally popular pastrami, egg and cheese bagel sandwich and challah French toast.

Lamb fans have two breakfast choices at Border Springs Farm: a lamb "ham" sandwich on a challah roll and a breakfast hash plate featuring lamb sausage, onions, peppers, fried egg and hash brown potatoes.

Old City Coffee offers three baked goods to accompany its wonderful coffee: Jewish apple cake, sour cream cake and walnut apple muffins.

Metropolitan Bakery's breakfast selections offer something for (almost) everyone), from Power and Millet muffins and bagged granola for the health foodies to scones, bagels, croissants and cheese Danish for the rest of us. Weekend-only treats include the rich, cinnamony Morning Buns and/or the caramel-encrusted Kouign-Amann.

Beck's Cajun Cafe's taut breakfast menu includes the best-selling Bourbon Street (a red beans and rice, fried egg, cheese and grilled corn bread platter) and a Breakfast Po Boy sandwich (featuring andouille sausage and eggs "over easy"), which are served until 11:30 a.m. daily. But Beck's famous beignets, New Orleans' signature powdered donettes, are only available Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays before 1 p.m. Wash them down with equally New Orleans-authentic Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee.

The most popular breakfast crepes at Profi's Creperie are the steak egg and cheese and the BLT (featuring egg and turkey bacon).

Tootsie's Salad Express' hot lunch offerings change daily but one of their cafeteria tables always features scrambled eggs, grits, fried fish, roasted potatoes and chicken and pork sausage (plus steel-cut oatmeal in cooler weather) from open to 11 a.m.

You can build-your-own breakfast sandwich at both Spataro's Cheesesteaks and Smucker's Quality Meats & Grill. Spataro's options include steak or ham with scrambled eggs with or without cheese on a bagel, toast or a long roll. Smucker's breakfast sandwich meat choices include scrapple, pork roll and their famous slow-roasted pot roast with a fried or scrambled egg or egg whites, on a muffin, long roll, wrap or toast, with or without cheese, all available all day. Smucker's also sells slices of French toast for a mere $1.35 each.

Unless otherwise noted, breakfast items discussed above are available until 11 a.m.

Carolyn Wyman is the Market's news correspondent and operator of the Reading Terminal's bi-weekly Taste of Philadelphia Food Tour.

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Morel Mushroom and Asparagus Eggs Benedict

Morel

We’re firm believers in brunch traditions, which is why this tasty dish can be made entirely from ingredients at the Reading Terminal Market. Stop by to pick up the fixings for this meal and wander the historic aisles of the market. Then, spend a splendid Sunday afternoon whipping up this decadent meal for your family and friends via closetcooking.

Mushroom and Asparagus Eggs Benedict features a twist on a classic, not to mention a fanciful use for the seasonal Morel mushroom. Jump on this meal fast, before the season expires! Our taste buds are tingling at the prospects of this delicious dish.

Ingredients & Vendors

1 tbsp olive oil – The Tubby Olive

1 shallots (large, finely diced) – Iovine Brothers Produce

1 clove garlic (chopped) – Iovine Brothers Produce

1/2 tsp thyme (chopped) – OK Produce

1 tbsp butter – Fair Food Farmstand

8 ozs mushrooms (morel, halved or quartered depending on size) – Iovine Brothers Produce

1/4 cup white wine (or broth) – Blue Mountain Vineyards

1/2 cup heavy cream – Lancaster County Dairy

Dash of salt and pepper – Jonathan’s Best Gourmet Grocer

4 slices multigrain bread (lightly toasted) – Market Bakery

12 spears asparagus (blanched) – OK Produce

4 eggs (poached) – Godshall’s Poultry

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the butter and let it melt.
  5. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add the wine or broth, deglaze the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the cream and simmer until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes and reduce the meat to minimum.
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.
  9. Swirl the water in the pot.
  10. Crack an egg into a bowl and pour the egg from the bowl into the water. Repeat with another egg.
  11. Let the eggs cook until the whites are set but the yolks are not, about 2-3 minutes and fish them out. Repeat with remaining two eggs.
  12. Place the toast on plates, top with the asparagus, poached eggs and creamy mushroom sauce.
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Mediterranean Lettuce Salad

 

MeditteraneanSalad

This summer recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen has us craving for the Mediterranean with its Moroccan-infused flavors. Far from your ordinary salad, this dish features Purslane and Sumac, giving it a unique and fresh taste. An added bonus: This recipe is low on the glycemic index! Try it out as a side dish to accompany one of your many grill sessions this summer.

You’ll need to stop by the Reading Terminal Market to pick up some of these specialty ingredients. Make a trip to the market and we’ll make sure you get every ingredient you need! It will all be worth it once you sit down for dinner with a bountiful salad on your plate.

Ingredients & Vendors

3 cups chopped red or green leaf lettuce – Iovine Brothers Produce

2-3 cups chopped Purslane – Iovine Brothers Produce

1 cup diced tomatoes, or grape tomatoes cut in half – Iovine Brothers Produce

1 cup diced cucumbers – Iovine Brothers Produce

1-2 cups chopped fresh mint – Iovine Brothers Produce

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice – Fair Food Farmstand

1/2 tsp. minced garlic – Iovine Brothers Produce

2 tsp. ground Sumac + more for sprinkling on salad – Iovine Brothers Produce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup olive oil – The Tubby Olive

Instructions

  1. Wash Purslane well if you're picking it from your garden.  After washing it in the sink, remove the roots and chop the stems and leaves. Wash again in the salad spinner.
  2. Chop lettuce, wash, and spin dry or dry with paper towels.  Pull mint leaves off stems, wash and spin dry or dry with paper towels, and then coarsely chop mint leaves.  Cut cucumbers into small half-moon slices (you may need to peel them if you don't use Persian cucumbers.) Chop tomatoes, or cut cherry tomatoes in half.
  3. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup mix together the lemon juice, minced garlic, ground Sumac, and salt.  Whisk in the olive oil one tablespoon at a time until the dressing is well-blended. 
  4. Put all salad ingredients into a bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, sprinkle with more Sumac as desired, and serve.  This salad keeps fairly well overnight in the fridge, but it's best freshly made.
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NHL Draftees Visit the Market

This week, for the first time in history, the NHL draft will be held in Philadelphia.  Today, we were thrilled to welcome the top NHL draftees to the Market for lunch.  Of course, they couldn't leave without stopping for ice cream cones at Bassetts Ice Cream.  We wish them all good luck!

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Top NHL draftees, posing with Michael Strange, owner of Bassetts Ice Cream

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Crispy Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Proscuitto Asparagus

If you find yourself hankering for another bite after eating fancy finger food, then try this hearty precursor at your next soirée. The people at Chow know that warm weather certainly allows you an occasion to celebrate. Whether it’s a laid-back BBQ or high-strung dinner party, this snack has a place everywhere.

Chewy asparagus is wrapped in crispy prosciutto, giving you a dish that satisfies both ends of the spectrum. We found that using asparagus sized ¾ to 1 inch thick works best to balance with the prosciutto. Happy cooking!

Ingredients & Vendors

1 ½ pounds of medium asparagus spears, ends trimmed – Iovine Brothers Produce

1 tablespoon Olive Oil – Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer

Kosher salt – The Head Nut

Freshly ground black pepper – The Head Nut

17 thin slices prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise (about 7 ounces) – Smucker’s Quality Meats & Grill

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to broil and arrange a rack about 5 to 6 inches below the heating element. Set a large plate aside.
  2. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle it with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss until the spears are evenly coated with the oil. Transfer them to the large plate and set the baking sheet aside.
  3. Starting just under the scaled tip of the asparagus, wrap each spear with 1 slice of prosciutto in a downward spiral toward the cut end, just barely overlapping the seams of the prosciutto. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, leaving as much space as possible between each spear while still fitting all of them onto the baking sheet. (Make sure the spears don’t actually touch, or the asparagus and prosciutto will steam and won’t crisp.)
  4. Broil for 3 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and flip the asparagus over. Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue to broil until the asparagus is charred in spots and the prosciutto is crisped and browned, about 3 minutes more.

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Grilled Key Lime Chicken

RTM Pic

Now that summer is here, we know you’re eager to bust out the grill and get cookin’. We found this delicious-sounding recipe from The Recipe Critic and our stomachs are already growling, as we’re sure yours is too! The good news is, you can stop by today and get all the ingredients in our market needed to make this culinary masterpiece.

Ingredients & Vendors

 ¼ cup Soy Sauce – The Head Nut

¼ cup Honey – Bee Natural

2 Tbs Vegetable Oil – Jonathan Best Gourmet Grocer

Juice of 2 limes – Iovine Brothers Produce

2 tsp minced garlic – Fair Food Farm Stand

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts – Godshall’s Poultry

Instructions

  1. Cut chicken into one inch squares
  2. Mix soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, lime juice, and garlic in small bowl
  3. Place the chicken breasts in gallon sized bag and let marinate in the sauce for at least 30 minutes
  4. When marinated, slide chicken chunks on skewers. You can also slice thin slices of lime and fold in half and slide in between chicken
  5. Baste chicken with sauce once you place them on the grill. Grill for 5 – 10 minutes on each side until no longer pink in center

 

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Music @ the Market in the Month of May

The Reading Terminal Market is one of the most popular locations in downtown Philadelphia, averaging 17,000 people per day, 358 days a year for a total of 6.3 million visits each year. This creates an interesting challenge for programming and scheduling. We often schedule performances on Sundays since weekend patrons have more time to linger and Saturdays are generally extremely busy and crowded.

 

Our regularly scheduled performances take place on the second and fourth Sundays of the month. In May, these dates coincided with Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. We programmed two accomplished solo guitarists, playing standards and original material. Matt Richards has performed at the Montreal and Mellon Jazz Festivals, and shared stages with Richie Havens and Paco Pena. He’s been described as “the most originally creative guitarist on the regional scene.’ Philadelphia Music Award nominee Rolly Brown is a national champion fingerstyle guitarist, renowned both as a performer and a teacher.  

 

One of the goals of this new performance series is to introduce the performing arts to the broad and diverse audience that frequents the Reading Terminal Market. It’s been especially wonderful to see how children respond to live music. This little girl was clearly fascinated by Rolly Brown’s guitar. When he started playing Teddy Bear’s Picnic, she danced.  

MayMusic

 

Music @ the Market is an ongoing program; click here for information about upcoming performances.

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