I had a wonderful time in Philadelphia this weekend. And yes, I got my provolone with. But -- that was hardly the highlight of the weekend, culinary or otherwise. Although I don't think I'd ever want to live in Philly, it was certainly a good place to visit. My favorite way to learn about a city is to wander around, and of course, visit the local markets. On these two fronts, Philly certainly delivered. I got a chance to wander around a bit before brunch on Saturday, and discovered one of many murals -- Philadelphia has a huge mural collection, and many of them are made from beautiful and colorful mosaic tiles.
We had brunch at Sabrina's, a cozy cafe near the Italian Market. While waiting, we got to check out a little of the market's produce, and poked our heads into Superior Pasta, but saved our major shopping for later that day. After brunch and visiting with some friends, we returned to the Italian market for the hard core shopping. We intended to cook dinner for a group of people, and decided on a menu of antipasti, followed by our version of arrabiata -- chicken cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, with black olives, served over fettucine. Given the olives, we called it "arrabiata puttanesca" -- spicy whore chicken. Our first stop was DiBruno Brothers for antipasti. I was taking the lead on this course, so I went to town. I got my favorite Alfonso olives (to be soaked in olive oil and garlic later), bocconcini, bresaola, prosciutto, hot soppressata, hot peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone, marinated artichokes, and marinated mushrooms. And that was just for starters. The staff at DiBruno Brothers were great. Tourist that I was, I started piling my containers on a small plastic ledge above the olive barrels. "Are those yours, sweetie? Put those up on the scale. Can you reach it? Ask one of those tall guys to help you." (to my shopping companion) "What're you doing -- just standing around looking pretty? Make yourself useful!" After I had finished with my order, we were offered some extra-creamy french butter to add to our purchases -- "because, clearly you two aren't afraid of fat." (My shopping companion:) "Did you just call me fat?!" We went on to buy the pasta, whole italian tomatoes, pitted black olives, and chicken breasts, for the entree. Lugging our purchases home, we began preparations for the feast. Our dinner guests arrived shortly thereafter with a huge bottle of Chianti, some good, crusty bread, a box of Krispy Kreme donut holes for dessert, and School of Rock. We stuffed ourselves silly, and had a fantastic, fun and laughter-filled evening. My hosts will be eating leftover cured meat and arrabiata puttanesca for the remainder of the week.
Some of the leftovers.
The next day, we walked off some of the damage, hitting many of the key Philly attractions, strolling through Chinatown, and stopping at the Rodin Museum. You can see the pictures here. Thanks to Seth, Brian, Ronnie, Tammy, Rayna, Max, and Evan for inviting me to your homes, feeding me, and making me feel more than welcome in the city of brotherly love and cured meats.