On Friday I met up with Elsa of the blog Styleabaad for coffee. She chose the spot – Last Drop café on 13th and Pine. I live in Old City and rarely come over this way, but I was completely charmed by this coffee shop! I love cafés that feel homey and unique, the kind that makes you want to bring a book and get cozy and stay a while.
I first met Elsa when I posted a photo of her on our blog, not realizing she was currently living right here in philly! It just so happened that same day she was at the Free People home office visiting her friend, our Art Director. Small world, huh? We decided to meet up and talk about blogging, fashion, philly and more.
Elsa is fascinating – she is from Sweden, and has been living in Philly for three years now with her husband. She loves to write and travels often – the last 12 years she has been traveling to India, where she has spent time in an Ashram and also worked various jobs including backup dancer in Bollywood films. In addition to her blog, she is working on a novel about her travels – I for one would love to read it! She also had some really interesting perspectives on fashion in Philly vs. fashion in Sweden, and what it was like to move here as a foreigner. Stay tuned because she agreed to write a guest post about it for our blog :)
I also couldn’t get over how cute she looked with her blue hat, backpack and kate spade bike!
I had to get a closeup of her awesome nail polish too – what a cool idea!
It’s easy to see why this week’s style file landed a job as Free People’s intimates designer. She won’t just look at a piece as something to be worn underneath your clothing, but she also has the creative mind that can look at it in different contexts, and style it in completely unexpected ways that work. Her everyday wear mixes great intimates pieces – think slips, lace, and bloomers – with more conservative pieces and funky accessories. Her style borders the line between graceful beauty and edgy tough girl. It’s that deep understanding of intimates, and amazing ability to style them in a variety of ways, that explains perfectly why this is her area of expertise.
Her mom gave her this gorgeous vintage night gown. I think it might be one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen.
Claudio’s, a small specialty shop nestled in Philadelphia’s Italian Market, is one of my all-time favorite spots. The shop has been open for over 50 years serving meats, cheese, olives, pasta, and other imported goods. It’s one of those places you go and feel the old world preserved. The employees who work there were born and raised right down the street. They can recount for you how their mothers used to send them down for a half pound of fresh mozzarella, and now they’re keeping the tradition alive by running the place themselves.
My favorite part about Claudio’s though is the cheese. They’re selection is out of this world. Gourmet cheeses of every kind – Italian, French…fresh, aged…sheep, goat….
It’s become my go-to place for cheese experimentation. I’ve tried everything from Bulgarian Feta to smoked cheddar – each inspiring me with a new recipe idea. After much sampling, here is some ingredient inspiration with my favorite, and some of the most novel cheeses, that I’ve discovered at Claudio’s.
(from left to right: Beemster, Vento D’Estate, Crucola, and Testun Occelli al Barolo)
Beemster is my absolute favorite cheese that’s I’ve discovered at Claudio’s. It’s a bright orange, 3-year aged cow’s milk cheese that originated in Holland. Its texture is delicate –its flavor sharp and nutty.
I love it on its own, or thrown into a gourmet grilled cheese – think pressed foccacia bread with thin apple slices and mixed greens.
This cheese is the most unique thing I’ve ever tasted. It’s an Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. In the aging process they actually cover it with hand-picked hay, and place it in wooden barrels. The idea came from a famer who, many years ago, was driving his cart filled with cheese down a country road when hay from the buggie in front of him started to blow off. He sniffed the air, and wondered why, if the scent was so pleasant in the air, couldn’t it be pleasant combined with his cheese. So he wrapped the cheese in the nicest hay he could find, and thus Vento D’Estate (literally meaning summer wind) was born. The hay gives it a pungent earthy flavor unlike any other cheese I’ve ever had.
I can see this cheese being great in a spanokopita-type dish because of its strong earthy flavor.
Crucola is a cow’s milk cheese originating from the Italian Alps. The flavor is mild with a slight hint of swiss. The swiss cheese flavor is ever so slight, so if you’re not a fan of swiss (like myself) you may still like it.
This is the perfect cheese to add into morning eggs for a twist on the old cheddar.
Testun Occelli al Barolo
You got it, this beer is bathed in wine – Barolo wine. For the last few months of its 7-month aging process the cheese is infused with it. The blend of cow and goat’s milk picks up the fine flavor, and the outside forms a funny flaky texture of dried wine bits.
I imagine this one crumbled up in a salad with some nuts and grapes, but then again, this guy might go best with some crackers and a glass of…Barolo.
If any of you love cheese as much as I do, and you’re interested in trying them for yourself, you can order off of their website. I highly suggest getting all four, slicing up an apple, putting out some crackers, pouring some wine, inviting over some friends, and having a cheese party. It’s one of the simplest, pleasure-filled ways to pass an evening.
What’s your favorite cheese? What’s your favorite way to eat it?
I came across these incredible moving net sculptures on Honestly…WTF and couldn’t believe my eyes! Artist Janet Echelman collaborates with local engineers and architects to install her sculptures made of machine and hand-woven UV resistant fibers. The sculptures react to their surroundings, moving fluidly with the wind and making them look like bizarrely beautiful sea creatures!
I know that sending somebody a handwritten letter might sound like a cliché DO, but it really is one of those special things in life. There’s nothing like receiving a letter in the mail that somebody took the time to write and send you. It’s such a heart-felt gesture. I don’t know about you, but I keep almost every letter anybody has ever sent me. These notes have sentimental value. It’s fun to look back and read them; I can only imagine how happy I’ll be to have them when I’m old and wrinkly. Spend some time and let somebody know that you miss them, how much you love them, or just catch them up on what’s new. Package it up prettily, and then send it off the old snail mail way. They’ll be so happy to open it up when it arrives. It will become a part of their memories that lives forever.