All that said, while my expectations were raised after speaking with her, I was still blown away the first time I tried Diamond-Manlusoc’s food at a Flow State CoffeeBar fundraiser held at Maggie Lee’s Fishtown home in May—because we’re still talking light snacks here. Oh, but I ate a lot of them.
Take her zaletti, for instance. Fittingly described as the once-cooked version of twice-baked biscotti, her version of this cornmeal accented cookie from the Veneto region of Italy had a soft bite, the sweetness of cherries mingled with rum, and the delicate crunch of cooked pistachios. While her olive bread with herb butter, crunchy cake donut holes, and gougères (French cheese puff with gruyere) were ethereal and delicious, I kept returning to the zaletti, applying the robust creaminess of the plain whipped butter also on hand to make this cookie more than a simple snack.
It was around the third or fourth time I applied butter to cookie—well after having about three to four lavender thyme shortbread cookies—that I knew that the café held much promise. Diamond-Manlusoc would be putting as much attention into the food as the Molieri brothers put into their coffee at Green Street (one of several local roasters Lee says they’ll consider showcasing at Flow State). With standout food and coffee, I’d be a return customer even if the trio settled on a spartan, early 80’s East Berlin aesthetic.
Diamond-Manlusoc further piqued my interest when I asked what bar snacks could be offered at the planned café in addition to the bacon wrapped dates on hand at the fundraiser that day in May. What exactly did she consider a perfect bar snack?
“I love popcorn. I know it sounds really silly,” she says.
“One thing I love to do is fry off a bunch of bacon and then you have all the fat left in the pan. You put the extra crispy bacon aside and you pop the popcorn in the bacon fat. You crumble the bacon on top and then grate Romano cheese onto everything—that’s something I would love to serve because that and a pint of beer…I’m a happy girl.”
I think I would be happy with that too.
If, like me, you’re curious about what else Flow State CoffeeBar will have to offer when it opens its doors—and you want to help a small business get off the ground—you’re in luck. On Thursday, August 4th they’re set to have a gelato pop-up [note: event details were recently updated] at DaVinci Art Alliance in Bella Vista. In addition to appetizers and beer from a yet unnamed local brewery, Diamond-Manlusoc will be showcasing her specialty.
Her approach to gelato comes from a trip to Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy she took during music school.
“I love the custardy, very rich gelato of that region. All of the gelati—except the sorbetto—have egg yolks in it,” she says.
And it’s quick to see how gelato making reflects her approach to cookie making or using chocolate in anything.
“I guess, I don’t mess around with subtle. To me, gelato is gelato because as soon as you taste it, you know what flavor it is. It’s strong. You don’t need to guess. Whereas with ice cream, you get the creaminess, then you get mint or anything else. Gelato is the complete opposite. Everything for me is about doing a really strong infusion and having that flavor—acorn squash, rosemary, whatever—be the first thing you taste. I love figuring out how much of each ingredient you need to put in. With the sorbetto, I love breaking down the fruit and that whole painstaking process of loving the fruit. It does it for me [laughs].”
Six gelati will be featured, along with light appetizers.
There will be a strawberry basil that “literally uses a pound of basil”; a mango togarashi sorbetto inspired by the chile coated dried mangoes of Mexican bodegas (Diamond-Manlusoc featured this one at Morimoto Chicago; I wrote about the similarly inventive ice creams of Morimoto Philly’s previous pastry chef here); her Better Than Chocolate which seems like the gelato version mole, as it features Felchlin chocolate, dried acho, cayenne, and two types of cinnamon; sweet corn gelato.
“We also wanted to tie in some of the stuff we’ll be offering at the café to get it into peoples’ minds,” Diamond-Manlusoc says.
So, an Earl Grey gelato and a Kona coffee gelato will also be on hand.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it on Thursday.
The ladies from Flow State will be carting gelato around Center City and other points during the day and into happy hour on Tuesday and Wednesday August 2nd and 3rd (follow them on Twitter for details).
Thankfully, though, several bags of zalleti will be available for purchase at the event on Thursday, August 4th.
After all, the best cafes—particularly in a city where great coffee is getting damn near ubiquitous—put time and attention into everything they make to keep you coming back.
Flow State CoffeeBar’s Gelato Pop-Up at DaVinci Art Alliance
Aug 04, 2016 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Da Vinci Art Alliance
704 Catharine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147