Di Bruno Brothers After Hours: MINE, ALLLLL MINE

The Year of Cheese is in full swing over here in Philly.  And, though I’ve been writing somewhat less (grad school coupled with a DSLR in dire need of repair is a lethal combination for blogging), it’s not for lack of eating delicious things and drinking incredible beers. However, I did round up an old point n’ shoot (is that what the kids still call these non-fancy cameras?) because in honor of my 26th birthday (and, of course, the Year of Cheese), I decided to celebrate with eight close friends at none other than Di Bruno Brothers’ Italian Market location for our very own After Hours party.

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

In case you aren’t aware, Di Bruno Brothers is basically a mecca for cheese lovers (or food lovers, wine lovers, Italian lovers, and even just a pair of actual lovers who want a set of romantic treats to eat). It’s been my go-to spot for exploring new cheese and the cheese mongers KNOW THEIR STUFF. And, if you’re a foodie who has at least 7 friends (or can find 7 strangers who have some dollars to spend on a culinary adventures), you can hit up DB’s Italian Market location for a most incredible evening.

Hello, adult beverages

Hello, adult beverages

Here are the deets: For two hours, from 7pm-9pm, after the store has closed, you and your 7 buddies (you can add more if you’d like, though it’s a small store so I wouldn’t push it too far) can grab any beverages you want (we went with wine and beer) and are invited on a cheese and cured meats tour de force presented by the mongers. You can sample cheeses that aren’t on the prescribed cheese journey, but pace yourself because the samples may seem small, but the richness is big, and the flavors go hard on the tongue.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

The epicurean excursion begins with a cheese spread (a very spicy one initially) while your guests arrive. You can explore the diverse racks of ingredients and items and think of what you’re going to buy (and I say this because you’re definitely going to buy something. You get a 10% discount on everything you purchase that night, so choose wisely.) And the best part is, other people will try to enter the store.

But they can’t.

For that night, the store is ALL YOURS!

After the spread, you face another spread. That spread is any and every olive imaginable. Stuffed with everything from gorgonzola to feta to peppers to prosciutto. I wouldn’t call myself an olive fan…. that was before my night at DB Brothers.



My personal favorites were the gorgonzola stuffed and the peppers stuffed with provolone and prosciutto. But honestly, it all was incredible. And then, the formal tasting began.

What could be more formal than a ball of burrata?

Pour some SUGAH (er... salt) on me!

Pour some SUGAH (er… salt) on me!

Oh, just a ball of burrata drizzled with the fanciest olive oil known to mankind and sprinkled with this insane red (lava?) salt. I may have had my fair share (and two other people’s share) of this. Incredible.

This evening made me a little greedy.

Next, our mongers jammed some peppadew peppers with Capricho de Cabra, an unreal goat cheese, then drizzled the whole thing with chestnut honey and sprinkled with DB’s infamous Black Lava Cashews. That may sound like an aggressive description for an appetizer.

Well, it was an aggressive flavor explosion.

Come at me, bro.

Come at me, bro.

Ever imagine what it’s like to have someone present you with not one, not two, not three, BUT FOUR different prosciutto options?

Imagine no longer.



And then, the mistresses of mongers laid out my favorite platter: The beer and cheese pairing party!

Dreams coming true

Dreams coming true

I brought to the table:

The IPA, though not at ALL coconutty, cut nicely through the cheddar. I wish I could tell you what it was, but the mystery remains. All I know is that the mouthful of curried cauliflower, cheddar, and IPA was on POINT. I don’t think I loved this beer alone, but with the mixture of flavors…. I’m into it.

I will lead the next one with the a recognition that I do not like Belgian Trippels, as a general rule. But paired with the washed rind, semi-soft  butteriness of the Willoughby, and my mind was changed. I shall submit to future trippels as long as there’s a spreadable cheese nearby.

Unfortunately, the Brett Beer was underwhelming and I ended up liking the cheese far more than the beer. Nutty and dry, with a little sharpness, this cheese was easily accessible and DELISH. The beer…. was forgettable.

And dessert?




The combination of two of my favorite edibles on the planet: s’mores and CHEESE! Namely, Scharf Maxx 364, a tangy, sharp swiss, paired with dark chocolate and Italian Torrone.

Yes, we went there.


Obviously, I hated every second and had a terrible time.

But, real talk, I would do this again in a heartbeat. It worked out to be about $50 per person, and we each came away with a Di Bruno reusable tote, full bellies, a take-home treat (each person’s was different) and 10% discount on all the goodies we picked up that night. That, to me, feels like a deal.

Yes, the Year of Cheese continues strong.

What I’ve Been Doing Instead of Blogging

My last post was in mid-April. This, for me, is unheard of. Then again, I guess I never was in grad school before this year, and never juggling quite so many random things. Normally, when I come home from an evening of class, the last thing on my mind is blogging. And when I return after hours of Living Socially, I am too wiped to do anything but maybe sometimes just fall asleep immediately on my couch. Despite my bed being a mere 10 feet away.

Let's not ask how we have this picture.

Cheers to friends who will always creep on you when you’re sleeping.

All that aside, the past month has been jam-packed with so many papers, new opportunities (and not in the way that couples counseling tells you to call things you don’t like opportunities a la The Office, just really exciting ones), oodles of tasty foods, and definitely NOT enough working out.  When I wasn’t in class or sleeping or working, I was generally feeling that guilt that only comes with school. That whole “I should be doing work, not having fun at Zumba class!!” I recognize this is a load of bull. But that’s where my head was going. Dumb.

Luckily, it paid off with the grades looking pretty excellent. I started working a new internship for some field work hours. I obtained a part-time job at Penn which should help pay the bills. But really, that’s the boring stuff I’ve been doing. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Come to mama.

Come to mama.

There’s been cheese, and lots of it. Some things I’ve been learning:

  • Gruyere, I can do without you.
  • Cheese should always be paired with new things. Get creative, ask your monger. The most interesting one I’ve tried lately? Oriol cheese paired with passionfruit jam, peanut butter, and banana chips. I know, it sounds revolting. BUT OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR MIND, PEOPLE! It’s a much sexier PB&J(&C) sammy.
  • Gouda, like many wonderful things, gets finer with age. But you don’t necessarily need an ancient gouda. In fact, I tried a l’Amuse Gouda that was aged a mere two years that possessed the idea crystalline bits along with a richness and smoothness that isn’t always present in the older goudas.
  • I can do damage on chevre. I need to stop buying it three wheels at a time.
  • I’m still hunting for Bonne Bouche.
We are all hobbit-footed

We are all hobbit-footed

We had our retreat for Living Socially. It was a blast (too much of a blast for some of us, cough cough). But real talk, if you ever wanna know how to throw a successful Beer Olympics, just let me know. I’ve got the deets.

Is that a dragon? NOPE IT'S JUST ME!!

Is that a dragon? NOPE IT’S JUST ME!!

Martha and I went to the Philadelphia Science Festival Kickoff Carnival. We dusted with fingerprinting kits, made our own lip balm, tried Yards’ Pythagorean Beerum (Bahahaha craft beer names are the best), blew smoke from a mixture of giant marshmallows and liquid nitrogen (see the above photo) and played with the biggest thing of silly putty I’ve ever seen.

I probably won. She's just too little of a lady to fight THIS CHICK!

I probably won. She’s just too little of a lady to fight THIS CHICK!

My “baby” brother Connor graduated from Penn State. I couldn’t be more proud.

Never not funny to see my tiny mother

Never not funny to see my tiny mother

It was incredible to be up in State College with ALL of my nuclear family. This like, NEVER happens. Things got a bit rowdy at times, but nothing a good family game of flip cup couldn’t resolve.

Definitely my uncle pounding a beer. Oh goodness.

Definitely my uncle pounding a beer. Oh goodness.

And now?

Well, now I have the next two weeks off from school before summer classes. My goals include: work as many hours as possible, be outside as much as possible, get to the shore at least once (cold weather be damned), try not to eat with quite as much reckless abandon as the last weekend (Penn State isn’t known for having tons of healthy options….), and not think about class at all.  Other than obsessively checking online to see if my grades are posted.

Whew. That was a mouthful (a handful? Since I was typing?)

What stops you from posting, whether it’s on a blog or Twitter or Facebook? School pretty much always gets me, although when I’m reading some quality novels, I have no interest in writing. It’s a thing.

What game would you rock at in the Beer Olympics?  I’ll give you a hint: mine was NOT Tour de Franzia.



Where’s Waldo (or, in this case, Jordan)?

The past few weeks have been chaotic. So many papers and assignments and applications and meetings. And let’s not forget that from March 21-24, Nordstrom had Triple Points. But really, what’s been keeping me from writing was the other stuff (I’m great at blogging and shopping. Can I go to grad school for that?)

Mostly, I’ve been feeling like this:

Can I just stay down here?

Can I just stay down here?

Luckily, I’ve sprinkled a few fun moments in the mix.

For instance, inspired by Lauren’s Quest, I made my my own quest on the hunt for Pliny the Younger.



After waiting for about an hour and a half (the things I do for love…) I finally obtained the hop bomb of my dreams.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Did I mention that this all happened at 11 am on a Monday? Nothing like a little day drinking to start a week off right….

I also celebrated the first day of Spring the only way I knew how.



Rita’s. I am so sorry if you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.

The day AFTER the first day of spring, it snowed. Go figure.

I’ve also been getting back on my cheese game. God bless the year of cheese.

Promise, that wasn't all for me.

Promise, that wasn’t all for me.

Evalon from LaClare is an incredible goat cheese from Wisconsin that I paired with a dessert wine with some of my buddies last night. Fairly firm, this award winning cheese is almost like a hybrid between a gouda and an Asiago cheese. I bet it would shred well, but instead, we just ate it in chunks like the animals we are. On rice crackers.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Other than cheese, I’ve been wolfing pizza and thai food down like a champ. Jumping from meeting to meeting doesn’t always leave the most time for cooking at home. So, this morning, in order to clear my system and start Easter weekend fresh, I hauled my sleepy butt over to Pure Fare for a Green Pineapple Ginger smoothie. And a little calm from the chaos.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

I’m not a very religious lady, but I can already see this is going to be a Good Friday.




Sunday School at Tria

I’m not big on religion. I don’t go to church, temple, or meeting for worship any more. For me, lately Sundays have meant traveling, or scrambling to finish up schoolwork, or napping on a bus. Or maybe a combination of the three. But today, despite a cold that just picked up mid-week (to my chagrin), I had my Sunday all to myself. I could do whatever I wanted to do. I could sleep all day. I could go workout (though that one was less likely all hopped up on Dayquil and zinc). I could online shop for spring break. OR, I could be semi-productive. And, with a hamper full of dirty laundry and a bare pantry, I went for the latter.

Two loads and a delicious Mexican omelet later, I was left wondering what was up next. And then, courtesy of my new friend, Ian (aka the Dashing Rogue), I was alerted to a wonderful Sunday pastime. Enter Tria’s Sunday School.

Sunday School, according to Tria’s site:

Learn about and enjoy a different not-so-common wine, cheese and beer every Sunday—at incredibly low prices. School was never this delicious! Limit one each per guest at the Sunday School price. Please, no returns: if you try it, you buy it.

That sounded good to me. And, after a quick jaunt down the street, I found myself faced with this delightful lineup:

Ready for some Schooling

Ready for some Schooling

As you might be able to tell, I steered clear of the wine choice for the day (though the SPARKLING MALVASIA SECCO did look divine) and stuck with beer and cheese, two of my favorite treats that could possibly be enjoyed on a Sunday (or really any day).

On draft, Dock Street Brewing Company’s Sexy Beast, a chocolate stout. According to the writeup at Tria:

With 22 pounds of Belgian chocolate—100% cocoa, no sugar—thrown into the boil, this Sexy Beast is quite the well-endowed Imperial Chocolate Stout. The unsweetened chocolate yields a silky smooth texture and adds a bittersweet bite to the roasted, toasted malt flavors. Pouring a sultry jet black, Sexy Beast flaunts a funky, almost smoky complexity due to a unique new Belgian yeast strain originating from Eastern Flanders.

I found myself kind of wishing that perhaps a little sugar WAS thrown in with the cocoa. This beer, while rich in flavor, displayed that telltale burnt taste that I am not too fond of in a lot of chocolate and coffee flavored beers. The line between toasted and charred might be a little too thin for my liking. As I’ve just recently enjoyed Sixpoint’s 3beans  more than one should be able to reasonably enjoy a beer, maybe I’m just a little spoiled.

Luckily, the spoiling continued with a bite of the chosen cheese of the day. And, since it’s the year of cheese and all….. Well, I consider myself a fortunate lady that such an awesome deal exists every week.  Here’s a bit about the Meadow Creek Mountaineer to the Tria writeup:

The mineral rich soils and deep, pure well water provide the natural sustenance that allows the cows to produce the highest quality milk. Today’s cheese was inspired by traditional Alpine-style cheeses from Savoie and the Valle D’Aosta. Mountaineer is a semi-hard cheese made entirely from Jersey cow’s milk, with a smooth supple texture, natural brown rind and off-white to pale yellow interior. Aged in cellars for a minimum of six months, Mountaineer develops a complex flavor, predominately nutty and sweet with hints of butterscotch.

This melt-in-your-mouth Mountaineer was paired with caramelized onions (served with the TINIEST spoon. Which apparently makes me silly-happy….) and, as it’s inspired by Alpine-style cheeses, I think it inspired me to say that, in general, I’m a big fan of the Alpine style of cheese.  Though described as semi-hard, I felt like at points it was bordering on soft territory and was easy to cut through with a butter knife and enjoy with the accompanying bread and garnish. For less than $10, this beer and cheese combination were just what I needed for a late Sunday lunch. And, as the beer clocked in at a comfortable 8%, I got to enjoy the rest of my grocery shopping with a pleasant little warmth in my belly, making those guacamole samples in Whole Foods doubly appreciated.

Rest assured, I’ll be back to Tria soon. And I might just have to go ahead and clear off my Sunday schedules for the future.

What does your Sunday schedule usually entail?

How about your DREAM Sunday schedule?

2013: The Year of Cheese

It’s no secret, I’m a bit of a cheese head. Not this kind of a cheese head. But, maybe, this kind of cheese head:

Ha, get it. Cheese head.

Ha, get it? Cheese head. (Don’t worry, that’s not me. Almost had you, didn’t I?)

I can’t get enough of the curdy, creamy, smelly, salty stuff. And, this year, I decided to legitimize my love in some fashion.  I claim 2013 to be Jordan’s Year of Cheese. Feel free to celebrate along if you’d like, you have all year.

Last year was all about abstaining from something. Soda. No soda for one year. And what did I get from that? An appreciation of soda, to be honest. But, also, the realization that I don’t NEED a Coke with every sandwich, I don’t need soda for energy or as a mixer. It can be an occasional treat that is savored, and not a stable of my fridge or lunch. Great job, Jordan. But I wanted 2013 to be about something else.

I don’t take resolutions lightly, and normally don’t even make them unless I have something I’m really feeling serious about. Well, this year, at this point in my life, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more serious about cheese. And so, with the help of Steven Jenkins and his Cheese Primer, Fromage (the ultimate cheese app for the iPhone, apparently), and the cheese mongers of Philadelphia (and beyond), I’ll be making my way through a self-taught cheese education.

What I've learned so far: These ones are smelly.

What I’ve learned so far: These ones are smelly.

Luckily, Philadelphia has an abundance of cheese mongers just itching for a guinea pig to feed cheese to. And I’m more than happy to oblige.

Also luckily, my friends (whether they intended to or not) have been enthusiastic enablers for this education.

A massive cheese party for me? You shouldn't have. [Side note: they didn't, but it felt like it.]

A massive cheese party for me? You shouldn’t have. [Side note: they didn’t, but it felt like it.]

Though, I’ll admit, after a few too many tiny cups of wine, the cheese was less of an edible education and more like a sponge for vino. But don’t worry, I had plenty of time earlier in the night to enjoy a few specifics.

Primarily: Adelegger, an alpine cow’s milk cheese that is nutty and sharp, washed in white wine (and dusted with angel tears, I think). I originally was looking for Tete de Moine, and Amanda, my very favorite cheese monger at DiBruno Brothers, suggested this gem instead. It had more bite than the TdM, and a lot of body. She implied a nutty flavor, I said it almost tasted meaty in heartiness. And the best thing? We’re both right. Cheese, like beer, is a subjective delight to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone (except lactose intolerant people, whom I pity during The Year of Cheese). Speaking of beer, I paired it with a Belgian Quad, which cut right through that meatiness and made a spicy beer shaped imprint on my heart.

Cheese on Cheese

Cheese on Cheese

I’ve got a few dream cheeses that I’ll be seeking out in the city, and have already found that Reading Terminal Market alone hosts something like 4-5 excellent cheese shops featuring international and domestic cheese options galore. And, since I’m apparently some sort of grownup, people are always suggesting to get together and drink wine. And nothing goes better with wine than cheese. (And sometimes beer, when you refuse to bring wine to a Wine and Cheese party. [cough ME cough cough]).

I’m ready for you, 2013.

Give me your Gouda, your Morbier, your Chevre. I’m looking at you, Shropshire blue, you chameleon of curds. Wensleydale mixed with ANYTHING, and Ossau Iraty, you sexy beast. I’ve got a cheese plate, a set of cheese knifes, and enough lactase in my small intestine to be cheese tolerant for a woman five times my size (which would be over 30 feet tall….)

Come at me, brah.

Come at me, brah.

You trying to try some new cheeses? Just let me know. I’ll be there, cheese in hand.

It’s going to be a good year.

Any recommendations for must-try cheeses?

What’s your favorite cheese pairing (food or drink included)?