Philly, the Small-Town Big City

Dishes 160-164: Mussels in red sauce at Ralph’s, 760 S. 9th St.

Fried asparagus at Villa di Roma, 936 S. 9th St.

Escargots and Pied de porc at Bibou, 8th between Washington and Carpenter

Gachot & Gachot ribeye at Barclay Prime, 237 S. 18th St


Tuesday evening encapsulated my Philadelphia experience in an exchange that took less than a minute. Gustav and I ventured down to the Italian Market for mussels and asparagus, and on our walk back through the twilight, we passed a girl who looked very familiar- Erin! I sold her my bike two days ago! I turn around to say hello at the same moment that she does, and as we explained the connection to our respective companions, her friend looked at me and said, “We met at the polo match, wearing hats! I’m friends with Beth!” And then she turned to Gustav and mentioned that she had spotted him in several of Beth’s hat pictures from the horse show. A moment ago, we were strangers passing on the street; now, we are friends, planning to have dinner soon.

Takeout and Glee? Yes, please!

The next night was equally pleasant, a trip to France with Aunt Kath through a miraculous, tiny restaurant in South Philly. Brian took one for the team and tasted the pied de porc, stuffed with foie gras. He described it as “rich, oily, and ooey-gooey”. I braved only the beans surrounding the dish; they tasted like Sunday mornings, the smoky flavor of bacon conjuring up stacks of The New York Times spread across the kitchen table, a brown bag stuffed with hot bagels, the scent seeping out and waking up sleepy taste buds, a bowl of cantaloupe, Mom in a fuzzy bathrobe and Dad in a flannel shirt.

The following evening, I was headed back to New Jersey to join Tracy and her sister Lauren for a road trip to Wisconsin; her brother Danny generously picked me up at work so we could get on the road right away, so the ribeye was for him. I stole just a little bite, for journalistic integrity—and that nibble nearly convinced me to buy a second steak for myself. However, given the time constraints, I opted for plan B: Send a seductive picture message to Mystery Man with the suggestion that we might visit Barclay sometime.

The sexiest text a foodie has ever sent.

I have a little something planned for the near future; without spoiling the surprise, let’s just say that November and December are going to bring many wonderful things, among them, a lot of change. And maybe a party or two.


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