In April at some point, or even late March, I sent out an email to some of my Philly folks asking if anyone had interest in going to a Santigold show with me in early May. Tuffy Winky (formerly BC) responded with a resounding yes. I suggested that we have dinner before the show and in the end we decided on Jamonera, which was on the list. It will come to no one's surprise that I ended up in the neighborhood early. I chose to kill a few minutes looking in at the Open House Store, which is owned and operated by the same business partnership as Jamonera and Barbuzzo. Basically, the duo has a lockdown on most of the block of 13th Street between Chesnut and Sansom. The store was chock full of cute things you couldn't imagine ever ending up at Q Mart, but still struck me as just a lot of stuff (some of which I'm sure I'd covet far more if I owned a house with the room for such things). On the other hand, who pays $14 for a chicken stapler? Not me.
In any event, when I finished killing time I entered Jamonera through its imposing black door and found myself face to face with a guy standing in the entry way. We made eye contact, but I wasn't quite sure whether he was a patron waiting for someone, or a host. This would have been easier to determine if, you know, he had said something along the lines of "Welcome to Jamonera, how can I help you?" but he didn't do that, which then made me feel awkward about telling him I had a reservation. It was weird and not the most auspicious of beginnings, I must say. Once seated, I took a look at the cocktail list while I waited for Tuffy. I had read that their vermouth cocktails were a nice change of pace, so when the server came up and asked if I'd like anything to drink, I went with the "Blanco Especial," which was a Bodegas Montana-Perucchi Vermouth "served in a traditional vermuteria style" with chamomile, lemon verbena, ginger and mint. Definitely a change of pace from many a Philadelphia cocktail. Sweet, almost cloyingly so if not for the balance of the verbena and lemon. I didn't want another, but I'm glad I gave it a go. Once Tuffy Winky arrived she ordered the Bizet, which sounded like it was going to be too sweet (vodka, passion fruit, clementine, fresh tyme), but was actually just right and refreshing.
Barbuzzo with Mr. Ass a while back (a full year and a month back, actually) we ordered the meatballs. Here, too, meatballs (albondigas) were on the menu...but I can't find them on the online version, so I can't tell you exactly what they consisted of. That said, they were extremely reminiscent of the Barbuzzo balls: very tasty but not as complex as you might expect. During our meal we also enjoyed glasses of red wine...but I'm not sure the online list mirrors the choices we made.