It had been months since Mr. Dream Kitchen and I had ventured into Center City, just the two of us. He goes there every weekday for work and so the pull is less for him than for me. Plus we have been cutting corners, and paying babysitters is one of the corners. But the boys really miss their babysitter, and I was needing my city fix, so we went on Saturday night.
We visited Village Whiskey, an American bar owned by the prolific (is that the adjective?) Jose Garces (Amada, Tinto, Distrito,Chifa, Mercat a la Planxa). It's next door to Tinto. VW is just a small bar with expertly crafted cocktails and well-made, fresh bar food.
We had to wait a while to get in. We wandered along the 2000 block of Sansom St., one of my favorite blocks in the city. The Rosin Box, a tiny shop selling ballet paraphernalia, has been there for decades, as has Home Sweet Homebrew, with its brewing supplies. And of course there's the Roxy Screening Room, a small independent movie theater that has been showing indie films way before the term indie came about. The feisty little shops on this block, selling their one thing that they believe in, always make me feel optimistic about Philadelphia. But it was also delightful to discover new places like Noble, an eat-local shrine with simple, clean aesthetics. Or the Adrienne Theater, home of Interact Theatre Company. As we walked past the theater, a young hipster (I hate the word "hipster;" I can't believe I used it) remarked to his young hipster (dang!) friends, "You know what I could really go for right now? Nutmeg. About a teaspoonful." I'm still trying to figure that one out.
Next door to Tinto is a shop of crafts and jewelry made from recycled and salvaged goods. My favorite item was a silvery mannequin with a four-bulb light fixture sprouting athletically out of her head. We started to get really hungry and it began to rain lightly so we returned to Village Whiskey and sat at the bar. The bar of the bar, that is, until they found us a little table by the side window.
John had cask-conditioned Victory Hop Devil and I chose an "Aviation"-- which had gin, crème de violette, maraschino, and lemon. Yes, creme de violette. It was a little like drinking perfume and was even slightly lavender in hue, but I knew I had to try it. How can a girl resist purple liqueur? It was a lovely drink although I may never order it again. Just think, if I had ordered an Old Fashioned, with a plate of Cheese Puffs, it would be like a cocktail party at my Nana's house! (And I mention those cocktail parties, along with recipes, in the amazingly funny, poignant memoir I just wrote!! There's my marketing for the day. Know any agents?) The Maraschino cherry at the bottom of my glass was like no other I've ever had. It was dark red not neon red, and tasted divine. I wonder if it was an actual marasca cherry, but then maybe I was in a swoon at that point. All oddness aside, it was a dreamy drink.
I decided to cut a deal with myself: I would get a veggie burger if I could have gelato afterwards at Capogiro. John ordered the hamburger with smoked blue cheese and Oh! My! Was it ever good! I had several bites of it. I generously offered my veggie burger to him but he was less appreciative. What an ingrate. My veggie burger was great, topped with guacamole and pickled cabbage, but I'm a terrible vegetarian if I'm anywhere near a decent hamburger.
We also shared an order of duck fat fries, very decadent. We also ordered a magnificent little bar snack, pickled cipollino onions with white anchovies, along with a little side cup of olive spread. Thin slices of sourdough accompanied this. Such a bright contrast with the burgers, cool and refreshing, even the anchovies. White anchovies are bigger, more like small herring, and they weren't that salty. Really a great complement to the onions.
Mr. Dream Kitchen and I were very cozy in our little corner, especially as it started to rain harder outside. We decided not to look at the dessert menu, since we had planned to hit Capogiro all along, but now we regret that. It's not on the website so now we have no idea what they have. We ambled across the street to Capogiro, where we split a dish with four scoops of gelato:
Bitter Salted Almond
Dulce de Leche
The Bitter Salted Almond was our favorite. We had a while before the train, so we sat there while several groups of teenage girls came and went. (Do they appreciate gelato adequately? I hope so. I ate at Friendly's when I was that age.) I regaled Mr. Dream Kitchen with plots of the short stories in Olive Kitteridge until he begged for mercy. Which you may be doing now, dear reader. Plus, I need to reheat some meatloaf for dinner. Back to reality. Thud.