Lessons from Philly

It’s no secret that I love Philadelphia.  It’s a great food town, and on the most recent excursion, I obsessed over three things all the way up to New York:

-Root from Art in The Age of Mechanical Reproduction – a liqueur made from various organic roots, it’s a boozy root beer; or if you so like, an apertif not unlike Averno.  Since you can’t but a bottle at its eponymous, well-curated store, I searched high and low at the state liquor stores to no avail.  Fate would have it that I procured a bottle at an event in NYC from people more intoxicated than myself who willingly gave it up.  The don’t know what they’re missing.

-Grilled smoked mozzarella from Amis – served with a house made giardinera, it was smoky, charred, and slightly melty.  Couldn’t I make this at home?  Yes and no.  At room temperature, grilling a slice of smoked mozzarella makes a melted rubbery mess, not what I remembered.  Freezing the slices helped it from melting prematurely, but better would have been a real grill, not a dopey grill pan.  Make that a superhot real grill.  Interestingly, it smells just like bacon when it cooks up.

-Fennel almonds from Tria – Heaven on earth.  I never knew how good almonds and fennel could be together, but it makes perfect sense.  Again, couldn’t I make this at home?  Instinctively, I minced fennel fronds and pan cooked the almonds in a little olive oil.  Again, not what I remember.  The fennel at Tria was golden, not dark green.  A search on the web revealed a recipe originally from Philadelphia Magazine, which I modified for me and my stovetop:

-ground 1T fennel seeds

-heat 1t olive oil

-add 1/2 cup almonds, cook until golden

-in a bowl, toss with ground fennel and salt and pepper

It’s a little bit of Philly to enjoy again and again.

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