After a two week absence, we are finally back. And today, I am happy to post something from my recent trip to visit my family in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. The two weeks I spent there enriched me in so many, many ways which does not exclude extra poundage thereby giving me an extra difficult time getting into my jeans these days. And that my friends, is by no means, a bad thing. Not if you've been fed as well as I've been. It was a culinary, cultural and emotional trip like no other. Definitely one for the books! :-)
Let's begin the culinary annotations with the Di Bruno Brothers (since the contents of today's lunchbox came from this wonderful haven for foodies like you and me). My sister, Christina, took me to this top culinary spot in Philly and I am certain that this will be one of the most vivid memories I shall keep in my entire life. The look, smell and feel of the store will forever be etched in my mind. You see it sits right in the middle of Philly's Little Italy and has been there since 1939. It was set up by, well, the Di Bruno brothers initially as a grocery and has since evolved to the epicurean destination that it is now. It is a primarily a cheese store but not devoid of specialty cured meats that I formerly only dreamed about. Being inside the store is, well, what does a food lover do inside an artisanal food store? Go crazy of course.
For today, I made use of Guanciale which is actually cured pork drawn from the jowls of the pig. Mario Batali mentions this too often and I finally got hold of some after years of just imagining what gustatory nirvana it held secret within its layers of fat and meat. And I just have to say that it was truly worth the wait. Now, I'd been cursed with the Guanciale madness as I wonder how to replicate the experience when we run out of this unforgivably sinful meat.
And then I brought home some Burrata, a creamy version of mozzarella di buffala filled with a ricotta-ish filling made fresh daily at Di Bruno Brothers. I'd been forewarned that the cheese is best eaten the day it's made, but what the heck? I wanted to have this cheese with my boy and even after a day of traveling, the boy and I, cried oohs and aahs as we sank our teeth on some bruschetta I made with it.
I have often wondered what I have ever done to deserve such a trip. Was I good? Have I been doing things correctly? Have I paid for my sins? Have I done enough? But whatever it was that I did to deserve such gifts of travel and food, I am thankful beyond words. I am thankful for the opportunity to be with my brothers, sister and family out there in Philly--to be able eat wonderfully diverse food and drink beautiful wine, to share our stories from the last decade of our lives, to laugh about our foolishness, to cry about our past loves. But most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to tighten the bonds of family with a love that I know will grow more and more in the succeeding years of our lives. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Today's lunchbox: Pasta Carbonara with Guanciale, Bruschetta with Burrata, Passata and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
See you tomorrow!