The Utterly Fabulous (and Totally Boring) Life of Laurentius

Laurentius Purnama and his son, Jude. Photograph by Christopher Leaman.

Laurentius Purnama and his son, Jude. Photograph by Christopher Leaman.

It’s 4 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, and I’m sitting in a butter yellow Queen Village kitchen, watching six-year-old Jude Purnama as he slurps up his after-school snack of bubble tea, a weird milky concoction dotted with gummy-like blobs that he hunts with a spoon. The kitchen, like the rest of the house, is a riot of homey clutter that teeters on messy but lands just this side of lived-in. A bright green credenza teems with tchotchkes; vintage canisters are clustered on the tops of shelves; cabinets are papered with Jude’s artwork. A speaker atop the fridge plays a schizophrenic loop of music: Billy Joel, Lady Gaga, the Beatles, Katy Perry. In the brief interludes between songs, there’s the faint mewing of cats — a trio of them, Spot, Maude and Charlie Chan — who slink through the house and periodically wind around my ankles. Katy Perry belts out her fiery fight anthem, all about rising and roaring, but the whole scene calls to mind a more down-to-earth soundtrack: Our house is a very very very fine house with two cats in the yard. …

Even amidst all this color and clutter and noise, I’m drawn mostly to Jude’s hair, a silky brown mop that crests over his ears and falls just below the nape of his neck. It’s beautiful, in the way most little-kid hair is: shiny and bright, of a shade that women spend hundreds of dollars to get in a salon. It’s the color of a coffee bean, but under the kitchen light, I notice streaks of reddish gold. They’re subtle but unmistakable. “Like lava!” Jude says. I mention how beautiful they are.

“Oh, that’s not all natural. I highlighted his hair! Babylights! It’s a light bayalage, just to give it some dimension,” his dad, Laurentius, says. Jude nods, plucks a gelatinous bubble from his glass, and pops it in his mouth, as if this is all perfectly normal. But in this family, a six-year-old with bayalage highlights that cost more than some people’s rent is normal, because Laurentius is Laurentius Purnama, a 43-year-old former hairstylist to the stars and the owner of one of the most high-end hair salons in Philadelphia, a sleek white-and-glass sanctuary that caters to the city’s most well-known — and well-off — citizens. Read more »

Neuf Celebrates Birthday, Opens for Brunch

Restaurant Neuf

Restaurant Neuf

Sometimes we wonder how a restaurant could possibly improve–and then it opens for brunch.

If you have never started your morning with shakshuka, a middle eastern dish of tomato sauce, poached egg, vegetables and bread for dipping, you have been doing morning incorrectly. On Saturday October 1st, when Neuf opens for brunch in celebration of its one year anniversary, you will have the opportunity to correct this. Or to indulge in some Paris-brest pain perdu (that’s french toast), a number of elaborate omelettes or an open-faced baguette (which are the same in English).

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Jawdropper of the Week: Una Bella Vista in Bella Vista

1101 Washington Ave. #V2, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

1101 Washington Ave. #V2, Philadelphia, Pa. 19147 | TREND Images via BHHS Fox & Roach

Looking to rise above it all?

You can go higher than this, but you won’t have a view as all-encompassing as the one from the roof deck of this ultra-modern, ultra-stylish bi-level penthouse at 11th Street and Washington Avenue.

That roof deck, by the way, is one of three levels of outdoor space this unit contains. With a total of 1,100 square feet of terraces and decks, including a wraparound terrace on the main floor with beautiful views to the east and south, this apartment has more outdoor space than some luxury units have indoors.

And what this condo on the Lofts at Bella Vista’s “Villa level” has indoors is also very nice indeed. Read more »

The Gritty Italian Market Wants That Center City Sparkle

Photo credit: User Josepha via Flickr

Photo credit: User Josepha via Flickr

Business owners in the Italian Market have been talking about cleaning up the place for years, and now they seem to have landed on a solution.

Earlier this month, City Councilman Mark Squilla introduced a resolution authorizing a hearing on a Business Improvement District for the area surrounding the storied 9th Street market. BIDs, such as the well-known Center City District, levy an extra tax assessment on commercial properties in order to fund services that business owners want. In this case, according to the preliminary plan that was attached to Squilla’s resolution, the 9th Street Area BID would pay for street- and sidewalk-cleaning crews, a parking inventory, marketing, and additional lighting and security cameras. Read more »

Rain or Shine, These Festivals Are Happening

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

Italian Market Festival will go on all weekend | M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia

We were pretty excited when we put together our compilation of May festivals, and then May happened. It’s been gray skies for much of the month with a good amount of rain mixed in (you know, except for today). And now we’re at the final pre-Memorial Day weekend and the fear-mongering weather people are predicting more rain. But if you’re like me, you’re like, “whatevs, It’s my weekend and I’ll party if I want to, weather be damned. So it’s good to know that at least some of the weekend’s outdoor events are happening regardless.

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Field Guide: Spring’s Best Food and Drink Festivals in Philadelphia

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

The Rittenhouse Row Festival |Photo via Rittenhouse Row

It’s officially May in Philadelphia, and that means we’re about to embark on a month with a summer’s worth of festivals crammed into the three weekends before Memorial Day weekend. For the eaters and drinkers among us, there’s no shortage of beer festivals, cider fests, Kentucky derby block parties and — wait for it — even a goat race. Happy spring, Philly.

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Paesano’s Offering Scrapple Cheesesteak Seen on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods

Peter McAndrews' Scrapple Cheesesteak is on the menu now.

Peter McAndrews’ Scrapple Cheesesteak is on the menu now.

Andrew Zimmern and Bizarre Foods were in town for their 200th episode and Zimmern got together with Paesano’s Peter McAndrews for a scrapple cheesesteak. In the episode, which first was broadcast a month ago, McAndrews walks Zimmern through making the scrapple and turning it into a riff on the cheesesteak. McAndrews compares the sandwich to Philadelphia itself, ballsy, tough, made with love, integrity and flavor.

The sandwich is currently on the menu at the Italian Market location of Paesano’s. That location has just extended its hours. You can now get a Paesano’s sandwich from 11 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday and 11 am to 3 pm on Sundays.

Watch the segment »

Spotted in the Italian Market: 9th and Washington Project Inches Forward

Zoom in just a tad and you’ll recognize the spot: The Anastasi Seafood restaurant, nestled between 9th and Darien Streets, looks out to whirring Washington Avenue, all the while the plot of land to its rear and its adjacent parking lot sit quietly amid the hustle and bustle.

It’s a familiar scene, right? Well, get ready for that to potentially change if the site owners’ plans go accordingly, which so far seems to be the case.

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Here is a look at the conceptual designs.

As we told you this past AugustMidwood Investment & Development is looking to build a 5-story mixed-use building at the 32,000-square-foot site. The new building, designed by Morris Adjmi, would come with 70 market-rate apartments, two levels of underground parking, plus an estimated 18,000 square feet in retail space slated to house local retailers, as opposed to a big chain. (It’s “the anti-Cheescake [Factory] project,” Midwood President John Usdan told the crowd that month to ease their worries (one of the company’s past projects was the new Cheesecake Factory at 15th and Walnut).

Now, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey has announced the most recent news regarding the project:

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Developer Seeks to Build the Anti-Cheesecake Factory in the Italian Market

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Here is a look at the conceptual designs.

Community members (and reporters) packed a church hall in South Philly Tuesday evening to hear an information-only presentation for a project at the long-vacant lot at 9th and Washington. If realized, it could have a major impact on the future of the Italian Market.

Midwood Investment & Development owns the roughly 32,000-square-foot parcel, which includes the building that houses Anastasi’s Seafood (more on that later). They are seeking to build a 5-story mixed-use structure with 150 spots on two levels of underground parking, roughly 18,000-square-feet of retail and 70 market rate apartments above it.

In order to keep with the context and scale of the eastern edge of the site, Midwood is proposing to build eight new Trinity homes on Darien Street. Site plans suggest they would be between 590- and 600-square-feet and feature rear gardens.

While tensions usually run from medium-to-high at these meetings, Jared Klein, chair of the Passyunk Crossing Civic Association zoning committee, attempted to cut things off at a head prior to the start of the presentation, announcing to the crowd that “this project will include parking.”

The crowd laughed, and that pretty much set the tone for a meeting that seemed largely free of controversy.

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