Trends and societal preferences cycle through the years. Fashion is perhaps the most visually obvious example of this phenomenon where the cuts and patterns our mothers wore when they were young are once again in. One hundred years ago, affording something that was mass-produced was a sign of affluence. These days, we have once again embraced the slow movement. Slow food, handmade products, individuality.

While the slow movement has squarely made its presence known here in America, it has never really left the old world. Perhaps this is the very essence of why we find European cities so charming. Cobbled streets lined with one-of-a-kind shops, art studios and mom-n-pop restaurants where each establishment excels at just a handful of products whether it be pottery, handmade soaps, an authentic recipe for spaghetti cacio e pepe like the one served at the Ristorante de Paris in Rome or the stuffed peppers I still can’t forget at Inn Buffalito in Sorrento, Italy.

Our family are big fans of the farm (or garden) to table, slow, handmade concept. My parents have had a garden for as long as they have owned their house and last year, Evan and I gave gardening a go. Our garden was a success and we enjoyed the experience. In fact, we just only recently picked our last harvest of cherry tomatoes. When traveling, Evan and I go out of our way to find local places and artisanal shops that are known for just a single product. Our passion for handmade and individually tailored was further supported when we lived in Philadelphia, the home of the Naked Chocolate Cafe, Philadelphia Distilling Co., La Colombe, The Franklin Fountain, Capogiro Gelato, DiBruno Brothers, and many, many more. With the exception of La Colombe and DiBruno Brothers, the other establishments came to be while we resided in the city of Brotherly Love and it is nice to see so many of them have reached national acclaim and still retain their passion for creating good quality products.

Philadelphia is of course, not the only city that embraces artisanal, individually-owned, slow and slow-food enterprises. New York City, and Brooklyn in particular has been a mecca for young and passionate craftsmen like the Mast Brothers, Brooklyn Soda Works, Kombucha Brooklyn, People’s Pops, The Brooklyn Salsa, and Stanley and Sons. These represent a very brief sampling of the immense talent housed in Brooklyn.

When traveling, we make a point to stop by a few of these mom-n-pop places to enjoy the local offerings and interact with people who are passionate about their craft. No matter the product, it always feels a little more luxurious when it is hand-made and individual. I feel just the same way when receiving something hand-made especially if gifted by the maker. So the next time you receive something that was hand-made, take a moment to realize and recognize the amount of time someone poured into this special piece and that it was probably made with a lot of love.

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