Sean's group at El Zarape

Sean’s group at El Zarape

What is a culinary tour? It is a tasting adventure through a neighborhood moving from one food establishment to another. Last week I had the pleasure of bringing a group of 12 on a culinary tour of the East Passyunk Dining District. The organizer is new to the area and wanted to sample what is available in his new community. We started our culinary adventure at Le Virtu Restaurant, which specializes in Abruzzese cuisine.

Le Virtu specializes in peasant style food from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Believe me it is anything but peasant food. Nowadays we would refer to these so called “peasants” as craftspeople. They were one with the earth and reaped its full bounty; they were gifted individuals today referred to as cheese mongers, farmers, winemakers, chefs…

When I introduced Fred (co-owner/manager) he explained to our group that they would be sampling meatless meatballs and fake tomato sauce. They all looked at him, strangely. However, peasants did not have available plentiful meat as we do today, so they would improvise and make dishes similar to the real thing. The protein would come from eggs and cheese, topped with a quick and easy tomato sauce made with onions and fresh tomatoes.

It was the first time I had ever heard of meatless meatballs, but I was very familiar with sugo finto (fake tomato sauce), my grandmother, who was from the same region “Abruzzo” made this often…onions, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, quick sauté and cook for about 15-30 minutes; an alternative to Sunday Gravy (tomato sauce with meatballs, ribs, brasciole etc…) with minimum prep and cooking time. At the end of the tour, all were in accord, the meatless meatballs was their favorite dish of the evening.

A special thank you to all the chefs and business owners for their hospitality to our group that special evening; my personal thanks to our guests for making it a fun night! Moreover, thanks for the invitation to hang out with all of you at the Philadelphia Eagles office, I’m ready when you are…Go E-A-G-L-E-S!!!

Are you looking for something fun to do with friends, family and/or co-workers? A culinary tour is great fun! Please call Chef Jacquie at (610) 506-6120 for more information.

Chef Jacquie, thanks for the amazing night! We had a fantastic time on the tour. It was awesome for you to show us all these special places all in one night as we definitely have a lot of back tracking to do and visits at each of the restaurants. I know you put in a lot of time to build those strong relationships with those restaurants and it shows with the access that you are able to get for your guests. Attached are a few photos of our group.
The guys

The guys

The girls

The girls