Wednesday, November 6, 2013

24 Hours in the City of Brotherly Love

by EP

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A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Annie at her home in Philadelphia, PA. You might remember her from our Adventures in St. Louis a few years ago. Not only is Philly a great historic town with fanatical sports fans and a pretty killer food scene -- it also happens to be my birthplace. Woot! We celebrated my big 3-0 in Philly last summer and had a totally fabulous time. (I still count our meal at Zahav as one of the best in my whole life. Yes it's that good.)

I was pretty pumped to visit Annie, her husband Chet, and their baby James for a short but fun-filled visit. I don't like showing up places empty-handed so I brought a small sweet treat to Annie and family: Mexican-Spiced Hot Fudge. Blog and recipe to be posted soon!

As Annie is a wonderful baker, we decided to do some baking during our time together. We made a Serious Sweets recipe for Caramel Apple Crumb Bars. They were pretty great despite the recipe being slightly flawed (called for a pan that definitely wouldn't have been tall enough - luckily we used our brains/experience and got around this issue just fine). They were a little too sweet, however - next time I'll add more salt/use less sugar to the crust/crumble.

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After baking, we got ready to hit the town! Annie and I headed to City Center (leaving Chet and James to do "dude stuff") and headed to Barbuzzo for dinner. It was a chilly night so the warm and cozy space was incredibly inviting. We were seated immediately, despite being 15 min early for our reservation.

Barbuzzo is Mediterranean in nature and made good use of both seasonal ingredients and interesting meats and cheeses. We ended up getting 5 dishes to share:

taleggio, roasted garlic, speck, olive oil and balsamic

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barbuzzo pancetta, pickled chiles, caciocavallo and pangrattato

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UOVO (pizza)
brussel sprout leaves, guanciale, secret white sauce, parmesan, fior di latte, and truffled farm egg

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with house ground shortrib, pork, oregano and calabrian chile

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braised duck, roasted bosc pears, thyme and pecorino

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Seriously excited about the parsnip ravioli

All the dishes were fantastic. Clear favorites, however, were the pizza, the ravioli, and the bruschetta. The mushrooms on the bruschetta were nicely cooked and the whole thing had a generous drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The speck ham on top didn't hurt either. The whole thing was a little hard to eat gracefully but I think that's true of 95% of bruschettas out there, so I took it in stride.

I absolutely loved the thyme, duck, and parsnip combined with the sweet pears in the ravioli dish. Interesting flavor combo (though I admittedly love anything with thyme) and really unforgettable. Seriously - I can't stop talking about it.

The pizza had me applauding - literally. It had all the best things on earth: guianciale (pig jowl), brussels sprouts, cheese, egg, and truffle oil. The crust was also nicely charred and not too difficult to get through with teeth or knife.

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I thought this was so clever: instead of hot pepper flakes and dried oregano leaves, Barbuzzo served hot pepper oil and large dried stalks of oregano with the pizza

We didn't have dessert because we knew we had apple crumb bars and hot fudge at home. We stopped at Trader Joe's for ice cream while complaining how full we were. That's how we roll.

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Last note about Barbuzzo: our service was so lovely. Attentive, sweet, but not overbearing. Our waitress helped us navigate through the menu and our food came out at a good pace. I even shared my favorite roasted shredded cabbage recipe with our waitress because I am the unofficial spokesperson for the cabbage lobby, apparently.

The next morning, we hung out with Baby James and got ready to go back into City Center for more activities. 

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Hey, baby

We stopped at Federal Donuts (owned by Michael Solomonov, who also owns Zahav) for donuts and coffee. They, like so many in DC, also serve fried chicken but we exercised some restraint for once and did not order any. The donuts were good - some better than others. Good coffee. Most notable were the made-to-order ones - vanilla spice and cinnamon-brown sugar.
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Ready for a donut tasting!

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Sorry James, we had to

Our last order of business before I went back to DC was DANCING! My other passion. The Philly swing dance scene has a weekly outdoor dance in Rittenhouse Square every Sunday, and it was a perfect Fall day for outdoor dancing. The Philly dancers were super-friendly and I'm so glad I got to dance around!

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Thanks to Annie for being a gracious host, who took me to some great spots and indulged my lindy-hopping addiction. I look forward to our next visit - rumor has it we'll be returning to ZAHAV! Eeeek!

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Happy nom-ing and dancing, 



  1. Loved this post! Zahav is still the best meal I have ever had and I just got back from Italy!!! I'm also going to Philly later this month and I think Barbuzzo just jumped to the top of my list!!

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