Reflections on Novità Bistro

In Philadelphia, PA at the address listed below I visited a bistro with this name. It was an African-styled restaurant, and the only reason I went there is because I found it on Google, and it was a close choice for having tajines.

If you don’t know what a tajine is, then you shouldn’t be reading this as you’re unworthy.

At any case, upon cleaning out my wallet today I found the card for it and decided to post a bit about it as I probably won’t be back to Philadelphia anytime in the near millennium.

I can’t remember the name of the dish that I had, but it was a normal Moroccan tajine with chicken, olives and lemon. It was tasty but I found it a bit dry and unauthentic. I much preferred the ones that I had whilst in France that were served by actual Tunisian people.

The other interesting fact about this resteraunt is that it’s bring your own bottle, which I’ve never heard of and thus neglected to do. I feasted inside to avoid the rain, was interrupted by an annoying picky-eating American clan, and then went on my way.

It’s reasonably priced and decent food.

You can find it here:

Novità Bistro
1608 South Strett

End of Philly trip, and the road home

Belgian fries in PhiladelphiaDan the man

So the story continues with me approaching the end of the week whilst on holidays and the uneventfulness continued, with lots of rest as I couldn’t manage to wake up a lot. I ended up meeting a friend who lived outside of Philadelphia, and decided that it was easier for them to come in to the city than me to go out. We sat, along with another acquaintance, at a Belgian café and had some food (which was unbelievable and totally authentic; foh shizzles!). It was another friend that I met via an online community of which I’m apart, and we got along great. It was the first time in a long time that I met someone from the internet world that was something like what I was used to, but we had known each other for many years so it wasn’t too awkward. We didn’t stay out for too long as they had to get home to entertain family, but we took some photos for proof of our meeting and so that I could rub it in the other forum people’s faces. Oh yes they were jealous! I’m so stealthy.

Unfortunately it rained, and I got soaking wet (go figure), which seems to be a bit of an olde story. It was a welcome refreshing moment, because it had been so hot an humid and I always was walking around feeling disgusting. It rained forever and ever and I declined going out with my host to dance (despite love dancing) because I was so exhausted from the weather.


I stayed in and watched some films and researched some random topics on the internet such as 9/11 and all the legal battles that have been going on. I felt myself become more interested in world affairs because I actually had time to. Later that evening I decided to meet up with the zoo-keeper per our original organized time, which was nice. We just sort of walked around and got some ice cream and avoided getting mugged and/or attacked (cause we are obviously paranoid about that!). Some of the neighbours outside my host’s house were having a birthday party so it was quite large, and when I got home after an uneventful evening I found the host’s roommate who was packing because he sister had a baby and she needed to leave for Boston. It was sad for me because we got along great, and then I realized that I would have to spend alone time with the host and the boyfriend, which was highly awkward. I lucked out and fell asleep before anyone got home, and then ended up waking up later than the host left for work. I decided that I had to start packing and things for my flight the following day, and then went out to the park to lay around and soak up the sun whilst reading some novels and grammar manuals (I’m such a geeek! I love it!). I went out for dinner again to a more enthusiastic restaurant, and returned home to discover it was Saturday night and that staying in wasn’t a bad idea since I had to wake up early. My host agreed that he’d drive me to the airport the next day, so I didn’t have to take a train or anything, so all was good.

I went to bed and woke up the next morning early. Packed everything up and woke up my host at 10:45 as he said I should. He was still sleeping through his alarm that had been going on for about 2 hours, and luckily the boyfriend was either gone or never came home with him (I was so thankful to avoid the awkwardness of walking in on them). He woke up, and so I was circa 2.5 hours away from my flight, and he sat down on the sofa and was like “So I don’t think I can drive you to the airport. I realized that my insurance ran out a few days ago and I can’t risk further by driving an uninsured car, which is reposessed, and since I’m avoiding the authorities in a different state it’s better if I don’t drive at all.”

I was livid, and kept my shit together and asked “So then how can I get to the airport?” He said that a cab was only $20 and could catch it around the corner. It was a Sunday morning, and of course no cabs were outside, and he didn’t have any number of one to call. I think I was visibly agitated when luckily one stopped by. I thanked him, and wished him all the luck with his ‘problems’ and such. Off to the airport I was, after realizing it was actually a $40 charge. I was upset, but the cabbie was nice and we chatted. It was better than being late and missing my flight and being trapped in the dump.

Newark, NJNewark, NJ

I got to the airport, did all the airport stuff, arrived in Newark NJ after a tiny 5 person plane with major turbulance took it’s 20 minute flight. Newark is a horrible airport as I couldn’t find food and/or somewhere to sit. The flight to Toronto was 45 mins away so I walked over to international destinations and talked Swedish with some Swedish people visiting (I’m Swedish btw!) so they were happy to find people around that could speak with them. They had very good English but were so self-conscious about their speaking. I ran off to my gate after they called for general boarding, and off I was to Toronto. I landed and went through customs quickly, but since I had to fill out the damn card and there were no pens around it was highly awkward and rushed. No searching, as I’m not a visible threat or minority (I guess) and I grabbed my bag to be picked up.

My mom had agreed to pick me up from the airport so I didn’t have to worry about more travel woes, but of course she doesn’t have a mobile phone, and she went to the wrong terminal. Two hours later she found a pay phone and called my mobile to discover how “duh” she was. We arrived home in the nice cool evening breeze and I went right to bed knowing that I’d have to be up at 5am for work on Monday morning. I was exhausted and unmotivated even enough not to watch the episode on my PVR from Desperate housewives! I was really out of it, clearly. The next day I woke up and bam I was at work again with a huge pile of stuff on my desk of things that other people couldn’t do and figured that they could dump on me. Even to this day, two full weeks later, I’m still behind by about 3 days…

The awkward post-zoo day aka ‘writeoff day’

So back to the real story… I had just been awake so rudely from my slumber of absolute exhaustion by none other than the zoo-keeper. Small talk for a few moments ensued, and frankly I don’t remember much of it, but it became quite obvious that I was too tired to carry on a serious conversation so we arranged that we would meet up later in the week before I returned to the civilization that one refers to as Kanukland. I was happy with this, because I fell asleep and didn’t arise until well past noon the following morning. No I shit you not. Thankfully at this point I was upgraded from the uncomfortable couch, to the inflatable mattress that was raised off the floor and made me less paranoid about the potential rodents hovering around me.

This day was a complete writeoff, but in order to make myself feel less like the sloths that I had seen the previous day, I embarked on a trip to the market to get some food, and then to go fooding at a resteraunt that was middle eastern. I was craving tajines; you know those funky things with the things inside them and the olive and lemon things?! Google it! They are fab! In any case, I went the resteraunt which turned out to be BYOB. Now this made me laugh, because for one I didn’t have a bottle, but more importantly because I had never heard of a BYOB restaurant. I laughed, and the middle eastern server gave me hassle for being a ‘single’ and whatever, but I had my eBook reader, my music and intent in hand to have a good meal. I did, though it was a disappointing tajine to say the least. The olives were fake, there wasn’t much chicken, and there wasn’t hardly any sauce. Plus it ended up being overpriced at approx 30USD for the whole meal; but at least I had some food in me.

My host convinced me to join him on to the gaybourhood again for a comedy show by some locals. Now this was the highlight of my day for several reasons. First of all we were in a gay bar, and the majority of people there (especially the comedians) were most certainly straight. How could on tell? Well for starters they were all overweight (ha!) and they dressed like they just woke up out of bed, and then they started to unleash their “jokes” and it was painfully clear. Nearly every joke or story consisted of ‘your mom’ or some random story about a ‘chick not putting out’ for _____ (insert infinite reasons here). The list was endless, and highlights include “because I have too many pubes” … “because I’m too fat and they are afraid to be squished” … “because I can’t seem to get it up when I have a little to drink”.

The show was so horrible that I had to get myself a drink (or 10) in order to find this remotely funny. A group of girls arrived, three in total, and suddenly all the jokes were aimed at them because the guys were clearly desperate and looking to hook up. Now this is the part that amused me the most; the chase. The pathetic and hilarious chase. The guys would do just about anything to get the attention of the girls, who clearly wanted nothing to do with them and were only out for a good time. They threw themselves at the girls, and the girls shot them down one by one. It was so funny to see, and then watch them continuously self-deficate themselves on stage. Thankfully there was a recording (which I’ll request) so that I can relive the horribly funny moments. The only comedian that was good was the Asian guy named “Ken Hong” who made fun of himself for being Asian. Why was it funny? I don’t know, but it was painfully more amusing than watching other humans make fun of themselves. One guy even only had horse jokes for the “horse appreciate week” celebration or something – I have no idea!

Lucky for me, I’m what one can call a “lightweight” or more commonly known as the “cheap date” and so the one very lightly alcoholic drink was sufficient in making me feel a little bit tipsy. I managed to only really talk to the people at the bar because I’m painfully shy and awkward, and then I decided to walk home early in an attempt at not being attacked in a random unsafe city at night. I made it home and chilled with the roommate some more.

I fell asleep no problems, but was rudely awoken by the sex-noises. Now don’t get me wrong, I went to university, lived in residence, had constant irritating encounters with the awkward house-mates that were ashamed to have hooked up with randoms, and I always remained sane. I even lived with 5 other people in a house with paper thin walls and managed to walk away unscathed by the dirty and disgusting antics such as this, but even three rooms away and the windows to their room closed, I still managed to comprehend every single noise and movement they have. I felt myself throwing up a little in my bed, and no amount of pillows could suppress what I was hearing. It put in my earphones and fell asleep to lovely music that did NOT sound like people having sex.

I woke up the next morning to the smell of bodily fluids seeping through the house because doors were left open and I guess scents travel well in that apartment? Again I felt vomit appear in my throat. On a happier note, zookeeper called again and I was sane enough to have a conversation and we agreed that we would meet up to walk around and do some shopping before I met another friend who was coming into Philly to pay me a visit.

To sum it up, it rained while we were walking around and since it was so humid and hot sunny I didn’t have any change of clothes, so we basically walked around soaking wet for a long time looking for some stuff. I ended up buying something from Swarovski Crystal, stocking up on some awesome Body Shop stuff for my friends and family (who can go wrong with 3 items for 30$?! — I saved 60$ alone on this deal!), and then some more miscellaneous touristy things like post cards and whatever. We both agreed that good times were spent, despite being soaking wet, which oddly created a fun ambiance, especially since I was spending time with a complete stranger… We parted our ways after a nice long chat, and agreed that we would stay in touch. To this day, a few weeks later, not a single day has gone by without me getting an sms… lol — I’m feeling very “uh oh-ish” right now… I swear, I didn’t do anything!

More Philadelphia, the Zoo and my trainer


And so the story becomes thrice the excitement with the next instalment of my adventures; entailing more walking around the city, more specifically up the main J.F.Kennedy Parkway, which has flags of the world along the edges. This leads to Logan Square where there is this huge fountain, and since it was sunny and I had been walking so much I decided to take a little lay on the grass there taking in the sun. It was so lovely, but I managed to take a nap, and wake up in a frenzy, fearing for my life. Why is this you ask? I was basically the only white in a sea of blacks, and since the society in Philly is pretty ‘ghetto’ and/or sort of backwards, I felt a lot uncomfortable. Lucky for me the Museum of Modern art was within a 10minute walk up the parkway, so I continued and spent the remainder of the afternoon soaking in true lovely culture and modern art that happens to bore me quite a bit as I prefer the more classical works. Perhaps I just don’t ‘get’ a dot on a canvas as being ‘art.’


I walked out of the museum well rested, but low and behold it was pouring rain. I was about 15 city blocks away from my host, so I began the treck, getting soaking wet. People scoffed at me along the way, I turned the corner and walked for awhile finding myself in Chinatown. I realized halfway through China town, that it was a dodgy district and that I was going in the wrong direction. Damnit I said, and turned around bootin’ it in the opposite direction. The humidity along with the rain was killing me. I felt sticky and my skin was feeling so clammy and quite literally needed to stop and remind myself that humans basically lived in dirt for thousands of years. That’s how dirty I felt, it was making me crazy but the calm breaths and imaging dancing around in mud managed to make it bearable. I suppose you can interprit this as my ‘getting dirtaaaay’ phase on holidays; but I was to be mistaken.


It stopped raining and the humidity dried my soaking body in about 10 minutes. I arrived back home to find it quite late in the evening as the sun was setting. I wouldn’t be caught dead walking around the town in the dark as I felt very unsafe, but my host decided that he wanted to go out to the ‘gaybourhood’ in order to have some drinks and go to this bar with karaoke. I was sceptical and felt awkward because he had so many friends and I didn’t know anyone, but I talked to some random people who were sitting around (which is very out of character since I don’t talk to strangers like EVER). People started filtering out and there was just our ‘group’ and this lesbian girl singing showtunes. I had been looking through the ‘book’ for about two hours, and I finally convinced myself to sing some songs. Over the span of the next 2 hours, I sang 7 songs and became much more comfortable and confident (despite I was singing to basically nobody). This was also a bit of self-discovery as I hadn’t done karaoke since uni in the East Coast which I did with my music colleagues (and we rocked). I now need to find a place where there is karaoke in my little community of Newmarket (le sigh). So a few hours of being ignored by my host irritated me, but we walked home and then the roommate had BBQ Fries ready (awesomeness embodied).

Philadelphia Zoo: AardvarkPhiladelphia Zoo: Polar Bear

The sleep on the floor was horrible and I was anal about the mice, so I was getting next to no sleep. I could feel the humidity increase and suddenly I couldn’t sleep because I was laying and sweating like a pig. The sun soon rose and I got up; destination the Philadelphia Zoo (America’s First Zoo). This zoo was packed with kids with schools. I’d reckon about 1000 little ghetto kids running around terrorizing the chaperones. I did my round of the zoo seeing as much as I could. I realized that the heat was about 35C with 80% humidity so the luck I had dressed appropriately was fantastic. Little did I know that quickly I was soaking wet and the reapplication of SPF 50 made my skin feel disgusting and dirty. Suddenly around 2pm I went to grab an overpriced hot dog, and reflected on the small areas that the animals had to live in, compared to the huge exhibits in Toronto. I mean, the rhinos barely had enough room to walk in a circle. The giraffes were in a little square and barely looked fed. Plus the two hippos were in their “pen” which could barely fit the two of them. It made me pity the situation; especially the gorillas and orangutangs who have disturbingly similar human body language. You could tell they were bored and didn’t like to be spectacles. So I observed being as still as I could and tried to be compassionate and see myself in their situations. It brought me sadness.

Philadelphia Zoo: Girafe Philadelphia Zoo: Snake

Suddenly the park was empty and there were about 20 people left in it. I realized that the kids took the buses home and that now I could go around and see everything without kids. I was disgusting feeling and felt like an elephant (which weren’t even there!!) had stepped on me. Highly dirty, highly unattractive and highly sunburnt. I benefitied from the trainers coming out and feeding the animals and cleaning their cages. They came over to talk to me in nearly all instances and I asked many questions about the animals. I got into the gorilla pavillon and there was a younger trainer there. I was asking about their behaviours and if they were always like that and were any more energetic. Suddenly I realized that we weren’t talking about the gorillas and then suddenly I got asked to give my number. Not only was I shocked and appauled, but I also was a bit offended that someone would come onto me in such a disgusting state. I quite literally felt like a bus had run me over, and then reversed onto me, and then continued on over the road bump. In any case, I obliged and didn’t expect anything.

Philadelphia Zoo: MonkeysPhiladelphia Zoo: Hippo

I headed back for the bus and then suddenly strangers were commenting on the bucket-hat I was wearing to shield me from the sun. I was put off and tried to be polite to people, but got on my bus and fell asleep getting into town. I limped around looking for a restaurant and then puckered down. Sitting down, feeling like, for a lack of better words complete shit, I ordered a Greek Salad and Fruit Salad to replenish the lost waters in me, and then my server did the exact same thing as the trainer. I was shocked an appalled and, again politely obliged. I ended up paying, giving a nice tip (hah!) and then walked home. I fell asleep at 7pm and was awoken at 9.30 by a phone call from none only than the trainer…

Boston to Philadelphia, and everything in between

Boston Skyline

So whilst in Boston and additional stories that I forgot to mention; I was jammed into the backseat of the car across several people because I was more or less coerced to take a ride with them back from Cambridge to Boston. I realize that I’m admitting to committing a felony but it was in the USA, and you weren’t witness 😛 It was funny because the entire left hand side of my body ended up going numb, and ironically the entire right side of the guy I was predominantly laying on top of went numb too. We ended up trying to carry each other up the stairs of the hotel; it was by far the funniest thing that the concierges had ever seen (or so they said!)


So after the jazz club brunch my friend drove me down to Providence RI where I sauntered around waiting for a train. People there are so nice and courteous. Very curious as to why I was there and what I was doing; it was such a lovely place and the weather was so perfect. 20°C and the sun warmed me right to the perfectness. Anyways, Amtrak train arrived and I was on my way through Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Someone sat next to me on the comfy train (much better than busses) and wasn’t chatty at all, until he needed to plug in his iPhone and accidentally woke me up. I didn’t really care, but I’ve never heard someone appologize so much for something. I was afraid he was going to start throwing money at me. Crazy Americans.

So we arrive into New York City and although I stayed on the train for the 20min ‘break’ about 90% of the people got off the train and then the new people got on. First observation is that the city made me feel dirty, even in the train station. Second is that the smell was disgusting and made me sort of feel sick. Then there were the people that loaded onto the train; they were so weird. All the people going to Connecticut and descending into New York were okay but the weird New Yorkers suddenly put me on edge for the remaining 1.5hrs to Philly.

Without conversation, I made it through the dodgy darkness of New Jersey, and despite the delay in Trenton, NJ I arrived into Philly unscathed, unviolated, and met up with another friend of mine. He was happy to see me and it was weird to finally see him in real life, I mean cause I have known him for so many years and I couldn’t help but laugh and say “Hey look; you’re real!” He took me to get something to eat as it was late and I ended up getting him a meal because unbeknownst to me, he’s in quite a sticky financial situation. In fact, his whole life is pretty much in shambles and goes as far as to avoiding legal troubles. He talked to me about troubles in his ‘paradise’ (which was basically him having issues with his new boyfriend). We went home, and I met his roommate and she was so funky and cool. We chatted until I started to fall asleep and then I fell asleep on the couch as the air-mattress wasn’t available from the neighbour for a few days.

PhiladelphiaWalnut Street, Philadelphia

Turns out that the sofa was far too small for me, and painfully uncomfortable so I transfered to the floor with cushions. Then I realized that they had a mouse problem ( EW ! ) so I struggled on the couch with disgust. I woke up the next day and decided to head down to walk around the city. I walked about 10km total and saw the entire old town after stopping into the Visitors Centre to grab myself a map.

Penns Landing, PhiladelphiaPenns Landing, Philadelphia

I got painfully lost, but managed to follow the patterns of stress (simple 1st 2nd 3rd Streets all originating from the port!) I ran into some people at the port (Delaware River) who were swearing at Jersey (at the other side) and then realized that the people were sort of freaking me out and ran back to the flat. My friend, wasn’t really in a good mood cause his ex cut off his phone line, so he was moping around and I watched some Will & Grace episodes with him. I fell asleep on his bed (oops!) and snuggled the stuffed animal of Sitch (From Disney’s Lilo & Stich). I have this thing, where I visit people that I like, that I always bring a stuffed animal for them to remember me by… random but it brings me warm fuzzies.

Stich from Lilo & Stich

Above you can see Stich… 🙂