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Madame Fromage

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A Tour of Di Bruno Bros. on 9th Street

Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour

Before I moved to Philadelphia from Wisconsin in 2005, friends told me I needed to visit a cheese shop called Di Bruno Bros. in the Italian Market. When I arrived in July, this narrow store with salamis hanging from the ceiling was one of my first stops. Now, the store feels like my home away from home.

Seven years later, I am blogging for the company and writing what will be the first ever Di Bruno Bros. Cheese Guide. It’s happening. My transformation from midwest milkmaid to east coast dairy queen seems complete, except for one thing.

I wanted a behind-the-counter tour. So, to finalize my baptism, I recently asked Ezekial Ferguson, cheesemonger emissary and fermentation guru, to take me on a basement-to-rooftop safari.

For history lovers and Di Bruno Bros. obsessants, here is a glimpse into the original store at 930 S. 9th Street. You can still see traces of Danny and Joe Di Bruno, who opened their doors back in the ‘30s to sell the city’s first “Bro-volone.”

The Basement: Ever wondered what lives under a cheese shop? In this case, house-aged red wine vinegar. Yes, those oak barrels are full. They’ll impart a warm, woodsy taste to an otherwise ordinary condiment.

Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour
Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour

First Floor: Ever wonder what’s in the back room behind the counter? An old safe from the early days. It’s empty now, except for the occasional salami.

Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour
Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour

Second floor: Upstairs, you’ve got mission control. This is where orders get placed and lunches get microwaved by a zombie cheesmonger who dons a fez.

Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour
Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour

Third floor: As you might imagine, there are a few bones in the attic. Roof access offers a glimpse of the Italian Market that few get to see, except on a coffee break.

Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour
Di Bruno Bros 9th Street Tour

For more wild adventures, please visit Madame Fromage.

4 Comments

  • Livia says:
    April 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Hey – DiBruno Brothers,

    I’ve been wondering where to go to get a live vinegar mother. Is that something you’re willing to sell?

  • Behind the Scenes at 9th Street : Madame Fromage says:
    April 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    [...] Last week’s highlight: a tour of Di Bruno Bros. on 9th Street with my friend Mike Geno. Here he is looking in the window of this Italian Market shop. His quest? To find new cheeses to paint. My quest: to climb out on the roof for some high-noon sun. We did just that with cheesemonger Ezekial Ferguson. After years of lurking in this old world cheese establishment, I finally got to see the cheese cave, folks. Well, it’s a walk-in. But the cellar and the old safe held some surprises. For a peak, click here. [...]

  • Zeke says:
    April 13, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi Livia. Thanks for asking. Keystone Homebrew (http://www.keystonehomebrew.com/) sells a very respectable red or white vinegar mother, ours will show up in a very small amount in our bottles but we would not be able to fetch an appropriate amount out of the barrels. -Zeke

  • Livia says:
    April 27, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thank you very much!

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