Monday, March 26, 2012

Philly Ramblings

OK, so there's no food in the lead photo, but that doesn't mean there isn't food involved in this post. Stay with me, you'll see. This is a shot of Philadelphia taken last Friday, March 23, when the temperature reached 80 degrees and people were walking about wearing shorts and t-shirts. This isn't normal folks. It's typically about 55 degrees this time of year here. As much as I wanted to spend the day outdoors, I had tickets to see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Even with the nice weather, it was no sacrifice to stay indoors amid all the fabulous works of art here.
If you have a chance to get to the exhibit before it closes on May 6, don't miss it. After that, it goes to Ottawa, Canada. You'll see some stunning works of art, like this one (field with wheat stacks):
and this one (wheatfields at Auvers under clouded sky) :
If you go, make a reservation to eat lunch at the museum's restaurant, Granite Hill. It's quiet, elegant and the food is good too. After the exhibit, there was still time to enjoy the nice weather, so I headed down to 9th Street, the Italian neighborhood. You'll still find plenty of stores selling Italian food and wares, but it's nothing like what it used to be when I was a kid. Over the years, other ethnicities have moved in as the Italians improved their economic lot and moved to the suburbs. 
I parked my car right next to a house whose facade looked like another work of art - all made from ceramic shards:
My first stop was Isgro Pasticceria on Christian Street, a business dating back to 1904. You can find all sorts of Italian pastries there, including these pesche alla crema, a confection you can make at home using this recipe.

I have a weakness for chocolate covered coconut-cream Easter eggs and the ones here, covered in dark chocolate ganache, were about the best I've ever eaten (next to this recipe).
These marzipan lambs were each made by hand by the shop's 92-year old matriarch.
Most of the shops are located around the corner from Isgro's on 9th Street. If you know Philadelphia, you know that murals are a big part of the city landscape. The Mural Arts Program was started in 1984 to eradicate graffiti and now there are more than 3,000 murals throughout the city. This one on 9th Street is a mural of Frank Rizzo, the city's mayor in the 1970s and police commissioner before that.
Fante's is a great kitchenware store that has everything a home cook could want or need - from espresso pots and gnocchi boards to the paper forms needed to make an Easter colomba you see here.
There are two cheese stores/delis almost next to each other - DiBruno Brothers (below) and Claudio's. Both have a large selection of great Italian products - cheeses, salumi, and other temptations.
I couldn't resist the burrata cheese from DiBruno's, wrapped in leek leaves.
Would you have been able to resist this creamy deliciousness?
Although each store had similar products and a similar look (this is Claudio's below), there were differences too. 
Among the items I bought at Claudio's was this lemon ricotta cheese. A slice of this tasted just like ricotta cheesecake, although there were no eggs or flour at all. Back at home, I ate it straight from the store with some sliced strawberries.
That was after the burrata cheese and roasted tomatoes, the prosciutto di Parma, marinated artichokes and olives.
Happy Springtime!

Do you have stories from your past you want to get down on paper? Have you thought about writing a memoir? What about doing it in Italy in a beautiful village and stimulating company, with great food each day and excursions to interesting places nearby? Then don't dally - sign up right now - there are a couple of spots left for "Italy in Other Words."

Bookmark and Share


  1. Lovely Philly clicks and great exhibition! A place I'd definitely visit if I could.



  2. I love these type off excursions. The last time I was in Vancouver I visited the Italian section and found the area had faded from what it once was, but still interesting.

  3. I just read the recipe of the pesche alla crema...I will be making these soon. Being from the "peach state" of Georgia, I vote we name this treat the state dessert!! Yum!

  4. Those marzipan lambs are really adorable! I can remember something similar around Easter time in my grandmother's old Italian neighborhood in New York. (And I love marzipan.)

    I haven't been to Philly in years now. Will have to get back there soon...

  5. Allora diciamo in italiano blog molto bello, bellissime foto e posti meravigliosi come le dettagliate ricette. Tiho scoperta per caso e ti vorrei seguire ma non trovo la solita lista dei "followers".

    Then I find you through common friend, beatiful blog and photos very interesting recipes etc....
    I will be yr follower but I not find where I can me registeres

    Have a nice week

  6. we enjoyed Van Gogh and Philly for the weekend, next stop is the Barnes Museum and more pork sandwiches from DiNic's please!

  7. I love Fantes online, but I've never gone to Philadelphia for a tour of the Italian neighborhood, so it's great to see these photos. Beautiful job as always, Linda.

  8. My son is at UPenn and we go to Philly gave me some new places to go! I am dieing for that Buratta!
    Thanks for a lovely post!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Thanks for visiting Philly and making it look so darn delicious! We love food here and it shows.
    You'll be happy to know that today, March 27th, it was only 29 degrees when I left for work! Brrrrr....

  11. That was a fun visit, Linda!
    Love that burrata wrapped in leek...

  12. Loved Philly!! Spent 4-5 days with a friend there.
    You can bet that we spent the better part of each morning in the Italian district getting our fill of Espresso, cheeses, salumi and other great treats.
    Great to see that other citys hold on to European roots.
    Will be back soon, I promise!!

  13. I loved the hour I spent in the Italian section of Philly on my last visit to that city and hope to return for a longer visit this summer. You showed some exquisite purchases, Linda!

    I would also love to see the Van Gogh exhibit but it is such a busy time right now in so many ways. I've always loved his art!

  14. This is most helpful, Linda. Better than any guide book.

  15. all the food looks delicious! specially the cheese, so soft... it made my mouth water

  16. bellissimo reportage Linda, le foto mettono voglia di andare a Philadelphia, deve essere una bellissima città! Buona giornata, a presto!

  17. I want to go to Fantes but I'd have to rent a U-Haul to bring my stuff back! All those Easter goodies puts me in a spring mood just looking at them, and the burrata, I could live on that stuff!

  18. So that's where you get the paper forms for the Easter dove bread. I sure couldn't find them in NYC! I wish for excursions like this! Love the marzipan lambs - have photos of them. It's such a hopeful time of year.

  19. A lovely post about my favorite city!

  20. I LOVE going to the Italian Market in Philly! Haven't been in a few years. Thanks for reminding what a wonderful place it is.