Cooking In Stilettos...
Monday, November 24, 2008 A Few Of My Favorite Things: Philadelphia's Italian Market...

I recently flew up to Philadelphia for a birthday soiree thrown by two of my fave people, Meowmix and Reese at one of my favorite restaurants and in between hanging out with good friends, shopping and such, I also took some time to head over to my favorite culinary hangout in Philadelphia - the Italian Market.

One thing I MISS about not being at least in driving distance of Philly is the airline restrictions with luggage. No longer am I able to load up my suitcase with spices and goodies to take back to Orlando. Basically, my thought is that while my friends are crashing from partying the night before, I love to take the car and zip down to 9th Street and wander the Italian Market aimlessly with my coffee in hand as I take in the sights, smells and sounds. I always have such great conversations with the retailers and customers alike and, apparently, I must look like a Philly gal because this last trip, a tourist stopped moi and asked for help with finding some good spots to check out in town. (And Meowmix will tell you that I normally have this mean mug face when shopping to avoid the overzealous sales people so if I'm that calm in the Italian Market and approachable, you know I'm in heaven).

So this rainy, Saturday morning, I decided to zip on down to the Market and get some blog fodder for Cooking In Stilettos. Plus I need to fondle pots at Fantes, see if I can find some new cookbooks, pick up some spices and stock up on Pumpkin Spice Coffee. As I'm turning onto 9th Street, who walks in front of my car with HIS coffee but my old floor producer from TheShow back in the day - Rennie. How utterly random. After a quick convo (and so I wouldn't hold up traffic), promises to call later, assurances that I would be home again, etc. I shot down 9th Street and started looking for a parking space.

Now y'all know parking in Philly is at a premium, so I have a few tricks I use - side streets, careful attention to the signs (don't need to be on an episode of Parking Wars) and after careful prayers and putting it out there, a spot was procured. I found one a few streets over, channeled my inner parallel parking diva and while my parking wasn't sooooo great (I'm rusty - shoot me), I grabbed my purse and headed for the crowds. As I didn't take my normal camera and only had the Blackberry, please forgive me if the shots seem a bit "off".
Walking down one of the gorgeous side streets on the way to the Italian Market




A mainstay in the Italian Market - DiBruno Bros. Who know, you might run into one Ms. Patti LaBelle here as she's known to frequent the Market and DiBruno Bros.


One of the many produce stands that lines the sidewalk. The streets are narrow as are the sidewalks so the key is to shop quick, walk quick and everyone is happy.


Esposito's - one of the BEST places for meats and fish


The Spice Corner is one of my favorite spots to hang out in. I pretty much cleaned them out of their pumpkin spice coffee (one for SL and the rest for yours truly). I picked up a number of spices, some great loose teas and some stuff for a upcoming holiday contest... Everything there is fresh, the people are so sweet and helpful and



I headed to Fante's to see what was new in all things Le Creuset, Global and more. Plus, I was craving some good coffee so I dropped by their coffee shop to get a fabulous Cafe au Lait and pumpkin biscotti.


Claudio's beckoned and in I went to purchase some pantry staples i.e. quick polenta, gnocci and some other goodies. Trust me, check out the photos of the cheeses below. I could have done WAY more damage but they wouldn't have lasted on the way back to Orlando. :::sigh:::


Isn't that cheese selection divine? Oh how I wanted to throw a Philly soiree. Claudio's - can you please open a shop in Orlando, pretty please?




Finally, as I'm trotting down another side of the street, I saw one of my weaknesses - pizzelles. If you have never had them, you must try. They are an Italian cookie and are sooo good. But much like Lay's potato chips, you can't have just one.

Quickly swiping up a package, I headed into Antonio's Italian Coffee and Chocolate House to purchase and was greeted with this sight:



Chocolates and Gelato? Wait - a minute -homemade gelato? Now I'm really overwhelmed and thinking "Can I just wear jeans tonight and leave the form-fitting dress for another day?" I decide to bring some treats back for the gals as thanks for everything they did for my birthday and pick up a little somethin' somethin' for me too.



The homemade truffles were divine. My favorite was the Sea Salt Caramel and the gals loved the Hazelnut and Kahlua ones. If you can, order a box for someone you love during the holidays. They will adore it.
And check this out - they have CANNOLI KITS! No, seriously, they ship the fixings for cannolis to you ASAP and you can treat your family to a bit of Italian Market heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONTEST ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, to give a little holiday gift to two lucky blog readers, leave a comment on this post NO LATER than Dec. 7, 2008 telling me about either your experiences in my favorite city, Philadelphia, or if you haven't been to Philly, what is your favorite holiday recipe/goodie to share with others. We'll pick two winners using a Random Number Generator and I'll have a little something from Antonio's shipped your way for the holiday season. Make sure to include your email!!!

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