PHOTO 1 fante's door front Philadelphia, where I first met Julia Child on TV over 50 years ago, was our final city of this year's tour. We were heading to Fante's in the Italian market, one of largest kitchenware stores in the nation, for our first event, but when we learned that it was only a 10 minute walk to the Philadelphia's Magic Garden, and had a little extra time, we decided to make a short detour. Woody had visited this incredible mosaic garden with his T'ai Chi group in 2000. Using an old vacant lot as his 'canvas,' artist Isiah Zagar constructed his magical garden of archways, grottos, and walkways using items that might have been considered to be junk to others, such as discarded glass bottles, broken mirrors, old bicycles, porcelain tiles, and myriad other objects. Fante's, owned by the Giovannucci family is located in the heart of the Italian Market, which is open year round, both indoor and out, with sidewalk tables laden with produce and other farmers market items. We were welcomed by Mariella Giovannucci Esposito with one of Phily's traditional sandwiches, the Philly Cheese Steak, before sitting down to a waiting line of people bringing up our books to sign. The staff made my chocolate chip cookies to offer to all patrons to enjoy. I especially enjoyed talking to Erica, who grew up in the Cajun region of New Orleans, and we sang the praises of the beloved chef Paul Pruhomme, whose "Cajun Magic" spices is now in just about every supermarket in the country. I was also delighted to see John Zagat who had recently moved to Philadelphia with his wife, my couusin, Aison Butterfass. Alison wasn't able to come but John purchased some books for family presents. My long-time friend Rhea Denker, whom I hadn't seen for too many years, came by with her husband and then joined us for coffee and for some wonderful and catching up on what has transpired since last we met. Then off we drove to Chef Anthony's Italian Market in Chadds Ford--an hours drive away. I first met Anthony Stella many years ago. At the time he was a restaurateur in Delaware but we met at a mutual friend Fritz Blanc who owned the famed Deux Chiminees in Philly. Anthony sent me an old-time recipe he had unearthed, with the hope that I could improve it and it went on to become one of my all time favorite cakes: the Whip Cream Cake, now in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes". When we entered the front of Anthony's shop, tables were filled with attendees and their stacks of books. After my telling the story of how Anthony I met, we gave an informal discussion and Q & A while everyone enjoyed of our English Dried Fruit Cake served on toothpicks. We were delighted to meet Cindy, one of Harold Kitchens' bloggers each of whom had made a recipe from The Baking Bible to post of her blog and offered a give away of one of the pieces of my product line. Anthony and his charming wife Amy treated us to a fine dinner at their favorite retaurant, the award winning Harry's Savoy Grill. We dined on exquisitely prepared lobster, crab cakes and scallops. Chef Patric D'Amico is a master at blending complex flavors and we savored every mouthful.
Our third and last event was a demonstration lecture at The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli, PA. Owner, Art Roman and I had never met before but we had a very dear mutual friend, Chef John Clancey which gave us a special bond. Art greeted us with my favorite cookie, perfectly executed--the rugelach that he had made from the book. The seats were soon filled with a group of very attentive and enthusiastic bakers. We decided to demo the Praline Pecan Meringue Sandwich Cookies as they are so delicious, quick to make, and quick to bake. They came out of the oven text book perfect--crisp on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. They cooled quickly so that when Art brought out three flavors of ice cream, everyone was able to top a cookie with a scoop of his or her favorite flavor. And yes, there were seconds, but we were too busy signing books to indulge! We loved meeting Emily Ryan who writes for several of the local newspapers. Thanks to her we have the great photos of the event. After the book signing, I was amazed and touched when Art brought out an unusual present--a 1800's metal cake carrier. It is currently filled with a wide variety of pasta from Anthony's store. Our whirlwind multi-city tour to conclude, with a final return to the Big Apple for the Martha Stewart Radio Show--next week's posting.