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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Finding My Italian Roots

It's time for me to retrace my family tree because something is seriously wrong. Whats wrong? I KNOW and am 100% convinced that I'm Italian but my tree doesn't say so. There must be a mistake because after my visit to the Italian market, my inner Italian is crying to be set free. I had heard about the Italian Market for a while and it had been on my list of places to visit, and FINALLY Ali and I decided to venture downtown and see what it was all about. Fresh produce stands, the wafting smell of roasted garlic, and the vibrancy of various olives greeted us and drew us in. Well, through our adventure we made many friends, found new spots, and accumulated a hefty amount of food that I have not-so-slowly been munching on and sharing. Now to talk about a few places Ali and I discovered:

926 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA
As we started our journey, we passed a little glass window with a simple display case and decided to stop in. BOY AM I GLAD WE DID. Behind the door we encountered my version of a mini Italian heaven, as we watched people at work hand making fresh mozzarella. Like come ON, I was dying. The display case was simple, boasting different sizes of white balls of mozzarella, a tub of bright pesto and a tub of enticingly juicy sun dried tomatoes. Sorry I was drooling on the floor.

Well, we started talking to the man behind the counter who happened to be Claudio himself, the grandson of the original Claudio, and he hooked us up. I left with a container of mozzarella, pesto, and sun dried tomatoes and couldn't even wait to sit down before diving in. The mozzarella was silky and SO fresh, the tomatoes were perfectly dried yet still maintained their natural juiciness, and the pesto was hearty and rich. Claudio, you rock.

Claudio then took us next store into the main shop front and introduced us to Fred, our other main man. Fred happily gave us a taste of an incredible 25 year old aged balsamic and his favorite cheeses. This balsamic was actually 2D4 (to die for). It was thick and sweet and just thinking about it makes me swoon. I could actually drink it like soup.
new Best Friend FRED!
 His favorite cheese...I can see why.
THE 25 year old aged Balsamic.

I was actually in paradise and will be visiting Claudio's literally every week because I never want to buy balsamic or mozzarella from anywhere else, because it would actually be a waste of money and I feel like I'd be cheating. Claudio and Fred, I will be back. 

1017 S. 9th St. Philadelphia, PA
Okay so you all know I'm actually food network obsessed. WELL, one place I had been dying to try that I saw featured was Paesano's, an Italian deli located in the heart of the Italian Market that had appeared on Bobby Flay's "Throw Down" and WON. As soon I saw the menu I had a minor panic attack of order anxiety.

 A fried lasagna sandwich? A roasted pig sandwich with broccoli rabe? A meatloaf sandwich? WHAT DO I DO? Well, I went with the namesake, The Paesano, because I figured I couldn't go wrong with the signature, and well, I was right. A sandwich that boasted beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomatoes, pepperincino, sharp provolone, and a fried egg, this thing was actually insanity on bread. Ali and I watched hungree-ily as our new pal Chris made our sandwich right in front of our eyes.
 oh yeeeee. pile it on pleeze
The brisket was tender and flavorful, and once the sandwich was cut in half the yolk of the fried egg ran over the whole thing, giving it a sunny colored glaze that contrasted nicely with the sharpness of the provolone, bringing this baby to a whole new level.
 Me about to get aggressive.
 Just go there now please.

 As a brisket lover, this sandwich did the meat justice, and now I see why Bobby Flay just couldn't compete. Sorry Bobby, but why did you even try? I need to go back now and try everything else on the menu because sitting here typing this I'm actually having some kind of FOMO (fear of missing out).

Well, if you haven't figured it out, I loved the Italian Market. Actually, I'm obsessed and have been talking to anyone who will listen to me about if for the past 24 hours, and am already planning my next visit. This trip wasn't only incredibly delicious, but was also reassuring to myself as I truly confirmed that I'm either adopted and have Italian parents or that my family tree is just a little faulty. Below are some more pix from our adventure.
spice shop
 Olive Oil Galore @ Claudio's
 Salami on Salami @ Di Bruno's...can I live here?

 Esposito's Butcher shop.
 Dontchya just LUV produce?
 Peaches anyone?
Ali just loving Italian life

just call me bella, grazie prego

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