1/23/2013 03:42:00 PM

Eat This, Do This, Read This: Philly Weekend Planner, January 25-27

Good news! It’s supposed to get above 30°F this weekend. Thaw out from this frigid week with sweets, strombolis, wine tastings and arts and crafts. While you’re sipping on hot chocolate (spiked, hopefully), read about how Jose Garces inspires his staff and get jealous of the crew of a South Street restaurant as you read their dispatches from a trip to Italy.

Eat This

Cranberry Bread Pudding at Tietra
Though it opened last year, we had overlooked this nook of a Mediterranean in the new Aria Condominiums at 15th and Locust, dismissing it as a spot for office workers and tourists. That was before we met chef Valentino Sandoval, a Mexico native who has cooked in Philly kitchens for 15 years (he helped open Vetri) and definitely before we tried his bread pudding. With slightly-sour candied cranberries, a tangy-sweet caramel glaze and a firm but melting texture, this dish will have us coming back for more. The dessert list rotates, so get this one while you can (267-687-2237).

Strombolis at Santucci's
Between crocks of mac n’ cheese last weekend, we somehow managed to fit in an order from this Italian Market pizzeria. It was tough not to go with the usual upside-down square pies, but we’re so glad we did. If you are not yet familiar (we weren’t), strombolis are longer than their cousins calzones, and have a much thinner crust. Think of them as oversized garlic-bread wraps, in the best sense. The signature “Uncle Joe” has pepper jack cheese, sopressata and hot capicola tucked inside, or if you feel the need for a few veggies, the spinach and provolone version will provide plenty of green (215-825-5304).

Do This

The Clover Market
This Sunday, this suburban gathering of craft, heirloom, art and jewelry vendors will come to Center City, setting up shop at the historic 23rd Street Armory in Rittenhouse from 10 AM-5 PM. To make perusing the “lucky finds for the home” more fun, organizers have enlisted several Philly food trucks to set up along Ranstead Street for the duration of the event. Snag a $5 ticket (two-for-one in advance here) and browse while noshing on eats from Pitruco Pizza, Lucky Old Souls, Yumtown USA and Sweetbox, along with coffee from the Rival Bros. mobile cafe.

Jet Wine Bar Wine Tasting Trip
If you’re looking to get out of the city on Sunday, sign up for a tasting tour with Jet Wine Bar. Travel through Pennsylvania wine country on a chartered mini-bus with stops at Galer Estate, Penns Woods Winery and Chaddsford Winery, eating and drinking as you go. Meet up at the South Street restaurant at 11:30 AM and be back by 5 PM, just in time for a nap before dinner. Tickets (here) are $75 each (215-735-1116).

Read This

Inspiring Staff, One Menu at a Time
When StarChefs.com was in town to scope out nominees for the Rising Stars awards, they also stopped to chat with seasoned star Jose Garces. Turns out the Iron Chef lists the entire staff on each of his restaurants’ menus, which serves to inspire, and also helps with retention of top talent. Read the interview to get a feel for how big a heart the bear of a chef has.

Nomad in Italy
If you’re looking for Neapolitan pizza near South Street, don’t hit up Nomad Pizza this week - partners Tom Grim and Stalin Bedon closed the shop for 10 days to take their entire staff on a “research” trip to Italy (tough bosses, eh?). Bedon has filed the first of several dispatches from overseas at Philly.com, in which he describes a day of pizza hunting in Rome, including gawking at an oven that handles upwards of two dozen pies at a time.


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