We seem to be able to go months without leaving the house. Then, in a matter of days, we make up for it in spades.

For example…

Yesterday we headed into Philadelphia for a company party and an overnight stay in the city. We had a great time seeing old friends and having a fun dinner and dance. It’s amazing how many people I’ve worked with in 15 years… How can little girls I used to tickle be heading off to college? Those little ones turning into almost grown-ups?!? And those are the folks I worked with. You should see how their kids have grown! It was a fun night, indeed. The stories. The stories. OMG The Stories. I really am fortunate to work with some fun people.

Since we just don’t get into the city that often, Victor called some friends to meet us for brunch on Sunday. The stories. The stories. Part Two.

We were meeting up with everyone in South Philly, so we thought a trek through the Italian Market was in order before Brunch. Summer Sunday on 9th Street. It was 95°F at 9:30am with humidity you could cut with a knife. Fantes was closed so we headed up the street and landed in Claudio – a great store that’s been around since the ’50s. And air conditioned. Did I mention it was hot?

We didn’t go nearly as crazy as we could have because we’re taking off on Thursday for DC and Saturday for New Hampshire – that’s part of the make it up in spades comment, above – but we did grab some things to get us through the first of the week and a few pantry items for when we get back – and before we head out to San Francisco in September.

Jet-setters. That’s us.

The grocery bag ended up with polenta, a rotini pasta that is so big two noodles will probably be a complete meal. Cheeses, of course – pecorini romano and sharp provolone – stuffed peppers, jarred anchovies, cookies, 3 liters of Sicilian olive oil – I like Sicilian oil – and fresh anchovies made up most of the haul.

I really like fresh anchovies.


These are definitely not their salty canned cousins. Totally delicious.

We packed up our goodies and headed over to The Devil’s Den for more stories and tomfoolery – and copious amounts of $3.00 Bloody Mary’s.


There’s something about a group of guys who have known each other for well over 40 years. You can’t lie or embellish a story with friends this old because at least one – if not all – were there. And hearing the stories really did explain a lot.

A ridiculously good time was had by all and after 2 days of great food and even better conversation, we headed back to ‘burbia.

Armed with eggplant and tomatoes from our garden and some select purchases from Claudio, Victor headed to the kitchen. Dinner tonight would be just the two of us – his sister had picked up Nonna and they were eating at his brother’s. A bit of quiet after a loud night.

Stuffed eggplant was on the menu and a recipe was forming.


He halved one eggplant and scooped out the innards leaving a half-inch shell. He peeled and chopped the second smaller eggplant and it all went into a skillet with olive oil and some diced red onion.

From there, the creativity started.  His original idea was to make a meat-based filling but the anchovies put a halt to that. Into the bowl went anchovies, cooked rice, cooked eggplant, garlic, a bit of his pasta sauce, bread crumbs, artichoke hearts, a couple of plum tomatoes, salt and pepper. Into the eggplant shells and then topped with freshly grated cheese. Then into a 350°F oven for about 40 minutes.

There’s no actual precise recipe because this will never be recreated just like this. The stars and planets aligned and this was the result. A totally fabulous result. Take the basic idea and run with it – do what Victor did or play with it and make it your own. It’s guaranteed to be good.

A fun-filled weekend is behind us and a fun-filled week is ahead of us.

Tomorrow we talk about bruschetta…

Happy Summer!