Last Day In Philadelphia: Cheese, bitters and “keeping it local”

My final Philly morning began at  the Rittenhouse Square outpost of DiBruno Brothers, the gourmet market in business since 1939.  Ever since I spied a photo of their original Italian Market location with a banner reading The House of Cheese, I knew I had to visit.  I love cheese.  The stinkier the better.

Cheese at DiBruno Brothers

Turns out the store was a very short distance from my hotel, which meant I could buy a lot and not get my usual arm bruises  from jostling heavy grocery bags through city streets. Hooray! (One  bonus of driving instead of flying on my adventures is there’s lots of  extra room in my (cooler filled) trunk.  Foodies always travel with at least one cooler on hand,  just in case they come across some great food finds.)  Anyway, this bustling shop was filled with charcuterie, artisan cheeses, pasta, tempting chocolates and breads, olive oils.  . . all displayed like a Milan market . My most exciting purchase?  A slew of flavored bitters.  Like chocolate,grapefruit, and sour cherry. Mix them with seltser or use them to make delish cocktails.

Can't wait to try these!

After a quick trip back to the hotel to drop off my goodies,  one more walk was necessary before that tedious drive on the good ol’ PA Turnpike back to Pittsburgh. I started down Sansom Street,  where the previous day I looked into a sweet little boutique  (okay, so I didn’t just look, I bought things, too)  called SA VA. What does this have to do with food? Well, read on.  It was my lucky day because Sarah Van Aken, the owner and designer, was walking between her shop and her manufacturing facility next door, so I told her how much I loved the clothes I bought the day before.

SA VA's shopping bag minus my purchases. . love the eco friendly bag!

Van Aken mentioned  she also designs uniforms for upscale restaurants such as Izakaya at the Borgata in Atlantic City, Alfred Portale’s Gotham in NY and Gotham Steak in Miami, Forge and Rouge Tomate in NY and Supper on Philly’s South Street under the Van Aken Signature brand. So cool.  Visit her beautiful shop in person or online and keep your eyes out for Sarah’s creations in the hottest restaurants. How inspiring to see young, innovative people doing good things for their city. Now, it’s back to the ‘Burgh, with one quick stop in PA Dutch Country on the way home.

A Slice of Philly – Tomato Pie, Cheesesteak, Pretzels .. . oh my!

The number one attraction on for Philadelphia is the City Food Tours. Since I was familiar with them from a  Greenwich Village tour I did last summer, I decided to give the Philly version a go.  The Flavors of Philly tour, one of 4 that are offered, is designed with everyone – families, older folks, etc. –    in mind, so it involves minimal walking and covers the basics of local food trivia and history along with supplying tasty treats along the way.  Adventurous foodies will probably want to take this information and then go a few steps deeper into the local food scene.  Our small group (5  plus tour guide) made a  stop at Joe’s Pizza (122 S. 16th Street) for a slice of their old time tomato pie – a  foccacia-like, cheeseless  creation.

Joe's Pizza

A Slice of Tomato Pie

We then worked our way through hand twisted soft pretzels and Zio’s cheesesteaks (okay, not Pat’s or Geno’s, but a pretty good cheesesteak wit – google that one on your own or take the tour to get the details.)  Reading Terminal Market,  a mecca for food addicts, was our next stop.

A slice of Italian hoagie from Carmen’s, a chocolate covered pretzel from Chocolate by Mueller and a warm chocolate chip cookie from The Famous 4th Street Cookie Co. later, my stomach was philled and my mind was enriched wit local food history. Just bear with my lame sense of humor.

Carmen's Famous Hoagies

The carb fest left no option for getting back to my hotel except for walking. Cute shops now line the former red light district at 13th street from Market  towards Walnut and the only “red lights” here now are tempting store windows that called out  “stop, and buy things” to me.  I get excited finding unique foodie gifts  – not just edible products, but also gadgets, linens, soaps and candles that have a food or culinary connection. OPENHOUSE, at 107 South 13th, was loaded with fun, modern, yet useful household items and gifts. Check out the great things I found there.

No, I don't really need any of this . . but isn't it great??

Across the street was the soap, candle and bath products store, duross & langel, which had tons of luscious, eco-friendly finds, but I especially liked a soap called Black Pepper (seen in photo above.) I bought it for the better half, but I’m keeping it for myself.   I got back to the hotel in time for a glass of wine at the evening wine reception.   A Phantastic Philly Day.

Philly Food – A Mouthful of Gelato and A Bit of Fermentation

The City of Brotherly Love.  Usually I only see the skyline from my car window while stuck in the eternal congestion on the Schuylkill  Expressway (aka Surekill Distressway –   sorry, just had to type that.) It’s the route I take on my way from visiting my oldest daughter on the Main Line to my fave beach town on the Jersey shore.  This week it was time to get off the highway and explore. After dropping off my bags at the pleasantly quirky  Hotel Palomar,

Copper Wall Sculpture at Hotel Palomar

I went in search of Capogiro Gelato. I read about this small batch gelato maker in Saveur magazine and in The New York Times so I had to check it out.

Capogiro Gelato Cafe at Sansom and 20th

Lucky for me, indecision always reigns, because the gelati and sorbetti  can be sampled  before your final selections.  I tried. . . Grapefruit/Campari, Burnt Sugar, Thai Coconut Milk, Sal (yes, sal means salt and it was fabulous .. so there, sodium police), Bacio (chocolate and hazelnut with bits of caramelized hazelnuts), Tangerine and Bananas Foster.  Smooth and creamy, with pure fresh flavors, this gelato was the best I’ve ever tasted.


Due to gelato overload, dinner was a few small plates and a glass of wine at a casual cafe called Tria  on the corner of Sansom and 18th near Rittenhouse Square.

Tria Cafe at 18th and Sansom Street

Tria focuses on fermentation (think cheese, wine and beer) –  one of my favorite chemical processes besides getting blond highlights and using Nair hair remover.  Their wine list is playful, with labels such as  Zippy, Smooth, Sociable, and Funky to describe categories of wine.. I chose Bold – a 2002  Mas Igneus Priorat  that tasted like  dark red cherries. Mmmmm.  I ordered Tuna and Chickpea stuffed Piquillo Peppers withParsley Garlic Oil and Warm Poached Black Mission Figs with Gorgonzola and Prosciutto. Both were delicious, but the plump, oozy figs were sweet and salty perfection.  Dessert was a small sliver of  completely unctuous Creme ux De Bourgogne, a cow’s milk cheese from Burgundy, served with a spoonful of sweet dried cherries soaked in Allegash White, a  wheat beer from Portland, Maine.  A  walk around tree lined Rittenhouse Square was necessary after dinner and before returning to The Palomar.  More in the next post about my fun foodie walking tour of Ben Franklin’s hometown.

Yippee Yay

. . . almost there . . .thanks to Lindsay. Hooray for the brain power of my children.

The Learning Curve is Inverted

Patience is the word of the day. How to customize and upload a photo to the header on WordPress with no knowledge of html? Can it be done? Doubtful.
Here is a preview of things to come . . .maybe . . .

Bear with me . . . .

. . my middle aged self is attempting to set this up by myself.

Thought it would be good for my brain cells to get stirred up a bit.

Hmmmm.  This might have been a bad idea.