Category Archives: Markets

{ Wishbone in Brixton } ***

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Unit 12, Coldharbour Lane
London SW9 8JX, UK
+44   20-7274-0939

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Fried chicken is quintessential American food. As a tourist in London, I was on the hunt to experience all things un-American so I was pretty disappointed when my friend–a London native–suggested we visit a fried chicken joint for my final lunch in the city. However, in my effort to be a low-maintenance visitor, I kept quiet and braced myself  for some dirty, deep fried, dude food.

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When we finally arrived at Wishbone, I was pleasantly surprised by the modernized, no-frills, hipster vibe. Could this be posh fast food? Fuck yea. I was now pumped for some fierce hot sauce and finger-lickin’ fun.

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All-natural, free-range chicken is the Wishbone hallmark, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that this stuff is healthy or good for you food. No, no, no….these are meaty chicken thighs, double coated in bread crumbs, deep fried to a rich golden crisp, served in the style of your choosing: Korean, Thai, traditional Buffalo, or the Moorish Salt N’ Pepa.

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I kept things simple, opting for the traditional Buffalo style with tangy hot sauce and served with side of creamy bleu cheese dressing. The buffalo sauce was blatantly rich, with pools of butter collecting at the bottom of my paper lined wing basket. And although I thought the chicken itself was moist and delicious, I found the sauce a bit too tangy–it begged for the blue cheese to tone down the vinegar.

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To “cleanse” my oil-saturated palate, I nibbled on bites of Fried Mac ‘n’ Cheese. They sound aggressive and trust me, they are. After eating just one square–and four come to a serving--I knew they were a bad idea.

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It never ceases to amaze me how extreme hipsters are when it comes to their food habits. Either they’re preaching vegans or absurd junk food artists, creating unique delicacies by combining multiple bad-for-you items using only the best artery-clogging processes (i.e. deep fried oreos, french fry burger buns, chocolate covered bacon strips, and poutine pizza). These fried mac ‘n’ cheese squares are the epitome of a hipster snack–highly indulgent and bordering on sickly.

Although I enjoyed the meal while seated at Wishbone, I can’t say I enjoyed the 10 minute walk back to the car. I felt extremely lethargic and downright greasy from the inside out. It wasn’t until 3 cigarettes and an espresso later that my body returned to normalcy.

Overall, I think that Wishbone is a great, simplified, food concept but I opt for chick food over dude food any day. And how posh can a piece of fried chicken really be after all?!

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Filed under Bars, Brunch, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Fast Casual Food, Gluten Free, London Restaurants, Lunch Spots, Markets, Take-Out

{ The Borough Market in London }

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Whenever I go into a city, I feel pressured to eat—and drink—just about everything in sight. In a brief two-block stroll, I can usually find time to eat a pastry, sample a gelato, snack on an over-priced French macaron or chocolate, down a cup of fancy coffee, and possibly even grab a cocktail of some sort. It’s down right impressive, albeit slightly sickening to my friends that are forced to dip into every corner shop café with me!

Why does the city send me into this preposterous food frenzy, you ask?

Because I am from the suburbs!! The suburbs of Philadelphia, no less: a place where good food requires some serious gas mileage and planning. You can’t find an authentic Italian restaurant, a crab shack, a sake lounge, and an artisanal chocolatier all within the same one-mile radius! If you want Indian, you drive to Iselin, NJ. If you want Italian, you drive to South Philly. If you want French, you’re shit outta luck. My point is, that you’re driving if you want to get good ethnic foods. So when I see Cambodian sandwiches, ramen, French pastries, and kebabs all within the same street, I get beside myself and feel the urge to try it all simply because it is there!

My most recent trip to London kept me eating around the clock because of the seemingly endless number of cafes and pubs, each one more adorable than the next. I plan to give a full review each meal, but I want to start off with my absolute favorite food experience in London, which doesn’t take place in a restaurant at all, but rather an open-air food market called the Borough Market.

My idea of heaven is an endless Borough Market where every vendor has free samples and they don’t judge you for taking more than one, instead they encourage it! The food is free, and it has no caloric value, and you never feel full so you can just keep on eating, and eating, and eating. #FatGirlProblems

The Best Prepared Meal Item: Thai Green Curry Paella with Chicken & Seafood over Rice. I did my research on the market before going (aka Googled the shit out it to see what other bloggers were saying!) in so that I could make an informed decision on what to eat once I got there. I read that the Paella place was one of the best, and I can confirm that it was better than some seafood dishes I had in Spain. It was creamy and flavorful and the rice was tender without being mushy. A food experience that was borderline otherworldly.

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The Best Cheese: The Borough Cheese Company’s 15 mo. aged Comte

It was the first cheese we sampled going into the market, and we continued to go back for more samples until we found ourselves just pounding down his entire platter one sample after another. Then it got awkward and we decided we were obligated to make a purchase, which was noshed down that same evening. I ate it like a slice of watermelon, right down to the rind, holding the wedge between my two hands.

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The Best Exotic Item for Purchase: Tartufaia Truffles’ White Truffle Honey

Need I say more? Truffle + Honey = guaranteed foodgasm

I might just have to fly back for more once I eat it all, and for only 5 pound a jar, it is the best bargain in London!!!

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The Best Eat at Home Purchase: West Country Preserves

I bought the Spicy Gooseberry with Cumin Seeds, which is more savory than sweet. It pairs well with chicken and meat, but also toast if your taste buds are like mine! I also bought one of the Ginger Curds, which is a sweetened yet naturally spicy spread that pairs lovely with toast and desserts. My friends got the pure Ginger Preserves, which were intensely flavorful but also amazing. The man knows how to sell too—he loves encouraging samples! I think I tried all 32 varieties before selecting my final two for purchase.

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Other Items I purchased and loved:

 Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella – So creamy and tender. I coupled these bad boys with some sliced tomatoes and avocado wedges when I got back home and they were lovely.

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Date and Walnut Bread from The Flour Station– I was on a date kick after my trip to Harrods (where I bought the best dates of my life!), and so I decided to get loaf of this bread. It turned out to be my breakfast pregame and late night snack for the remaining days of my trip. A fabulous purchase!

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1 BOROUGH MARKET YUM

Roasted Porchetta Sandwich with Applesauce and Rockett on Ciabatta – this was not my favorite, as I found the meat a bit too fatty and difficult to swallow. That being said, I did love the deep rosemary flavor to the meat and the pairing of the sweet applesauce, which is something I will replicate at home in the future.

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Mulled Wine – It was my first English mulled wine experience, so I will have a special place for it in my heart, but I went on to have much better from street vendors at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. And priced at 4 pound a cup, it was difficult to catch a buzz!

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Chocolates and Fudge from Burnt Sugar– I loved the chocolate covered honeycombs made with rich dark chocolate, but learned that fudge is not really my thing. It might be the only food that I can say isn’t one of my weaknesses.

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Filed under Bakery, Baking, Breakfast, Brunch, Cocktails, Coffee Shop, Cookies, Dessert, International Restaurants, London Restaurants, Markets

{ Mulled Red Wine with Amaretto }

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Last week I had the opportunity to visit London, and I was awestruck by the number of street vendors selling mulled wine and hot cider–not mention awestruck by the number of Brits consuming these boozy concoctions irregardless of the time of day! I was determined to try as many different varieties of each during my 9 day stay, and given the dominant role that alcohol plays in English society, there were plenty of opportunities for me to warm up with a cup of spiced and spiked goodness!

At Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, I was able to double fist German sausages and mulled wine, in between playing over priced amusement games. I took a fond liking to the sour cherry wine and the amaretto wine, but set out to replicating the latter on this snowy afternoon in the States. I used Jamie Oliver’s mulled wine recipe as the foundation for my technique, but also added the apple cider element of Ina Garten’s recipe. The amaretto was a touch of my own, inspired by the street vendors in London and the result was a fabulous, soul-warming Holiday beverage. I will be making this on the many chilly nights that are yet to come!

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{ What You’ll Need }

  • 1.5 L bottle of red wine (I used Robert Mondavi Merlot, but many prefer a dry red)
  • 2 oranges, peeled and juiced
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways
  • 3 star anise
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • Amaretto, for garnish (you can also use brandy!)

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{ What You Do }

In a stock pot over medium high heat, combine the sugar, cloves, lemon peels, bay leaves, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and orange peel and juice. Add just enough red wine to cover the sugar and spice mixture and allow to boil for 4-6 minutes, until the sugar mixture is thick and syrup-like (see NOTE #1).

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Add the remaining red wine, apple cider, and star anise and reduce the heat to low. Allow the wine to heat through, but don’t let it get too hot or the alcohol will burn off. Once heated, ladle into mugs and garnish with orange wedge and splash of amaretto! (see NOTE #2)

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*NOTE #1: This step is very important as it develops the flavor of the mulled wine. You want a flavorful rich syrup, so let it reduce down. You don’t want to over-heat the wine mixture once you add the remaining wine or it will burn off all the alcohol content–and who would want that?!?!

*NOTE #2: If you have leftover mulled wine, ladle it into Mason Jars and store in refrigerator for up to 4 days or in freezer for up to 3 months. Just reheat prior to serving.

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Farm-to-Table: where locavores dine al fresco!

When I was in college–living on a what All-State refers to as “a Ramen-noodle every night kind of budget”™ –I chose my groceries based on one single factor: PRICE! Didn’t matter if the food was organic, Kosher, local, hormone-free, cage-free, genetically modified, partially hydrogenated, or even artificially colored. If it was cheap, I was eating it. And if I had been smart enough to buy stock in Taco Bell as a Freshman, I would probably be able to pay off my student loans right now! But, I wasn’t quite so lucky and so I am paying for my prestigious English Literature degree by working as a restaurant manager. And guess what…..

I LOVE IT!!

Sure, my extensive knowledge of Jane Eyre and my ability to recite  The Canterbury Tales–in Olde English no less–does not work its way into my  job description. But as a restaurant manager, I get to be around food ALL DAY! And for a hard-core foodie like myself, that is the best work environment I could ever ask for.

Since I began working at Jules Thin Crust (my hire date may or may not correspond to date of my last blog post), I have completely changed my perspective on food; in the sense that I now care where it comes from and what has been done to it. No more unhealthy additives, no more artificial colors, no more hormones, no more pesticides. My days late nights at the Taco Bell drive-thru are long over! I have joined the ‘locavore’ movement, and I am proud to say that the restaurant I work for was the driving force of that decision.

Located in the farm-abundant area of Bucks County, Jules Thin Crust does everything within its power to source its ingredients from local farmers and markets. At first, I couldn’t see the value in buying things at higher price just because they were locally grown. In fact, the produce we were receiving was a lot smaller than what I could find at the grocery store, and having been raised in a society where bigger often translates as better, I was confused by the idea of paying more for less. But when it came to the taste of the product, the quality was unparalleled. Organic and local produce may not appear better from a visual perspective, but one bite of an organic heirloom tomato from Barefoot Gardens or the fresh taste of organic basil from Swallow Hill Farms, and you realize the added value that organic produce offers.

Then once I had the opportunity to meet with some of the local farmers, and see how passionate they were about their product and how grateful were to the individuals/local businesses that supported them, I knew that I would never again hesitate to spend the extra dollar on local food.  Of course, I’m not taking this to the extreme and only eating things produced within a certain radius of my house (I love Chipotle too much), but I am definitely making a more conscious effort to spend less time in the supermarket and more time in the farmer’s market. I am also trying to eat at more restaurants that serve locally produced foods. Some of my favorites include Earl’s Bucks County in Lahaska, Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville, and last but not least, Jules Thin Crust!! (For more information on restaurants that source local, see this great article by Bucks County Taste).

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend my first Farm-to-Table Event which was held by the Heritage Conservancy. These events, which are taking place literally all over the world (I even saw them advertised in Patagonia, Argentina!), are dinners that take place out on a piece of farmland and showcase the finest local ingredients, prepared by the areas top chefs! It can be quite expensive to attend, but I was fortunate enough to snag a seat as “Press” because of my blog (….it might have also helped that Jules was an auction donor, thanks, John!).

The stationary appetizers, which were artfully displayed on a large round table amid fresh cut flowers, included: an assortment of pickled, smoked, cured, and fried vegetables with a basil emulsion and citrus aioli. 

A cheese & charcuterie board featuring locally produced honey and spiced apple chutney. The pate was the best I have had to date, and the blue cheese was also a stand out item on the plate! Also, the Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Goat Cheese & Dill from Flint Hill farms were incredible. 

There were Cucumber and Mint Brushettas on Brie Croustade. 

The dinner, which was an over-the-top buffet, consisted of:

Fresh Salad with a Wine Berry Vinaigrette featuring organic greens from Blue Moon Acres Farms.

Grilled Chicken from Bolton Farms with a provencal sous vide, which was hands down my favorite buffet item! 

Then there were 3 different types of Sausages from Shaffer Farms featuring locally foraged garlic mustard and nettles.  

Side dishes included Grilled Potatoes from Snipes Farm and String Bean & Cashew Salad prepared by chef Jamie Hollander.

Dessert was very light, as it ought to be after a buffet-style dinner! It was a very lightly sweetened Iced Tea from Cynthia’s Iced Tea with Peach Sorbet made byOwowcow Creamery, using fresh Peaches fromManoff Farms

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Eataly in New York *****

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 229.2560

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Have you ever had the privilege of witnessing a child enter Disney World for the first time? You watch their face light up with joy, their little legs propelling them forward as quickly as possible, their eyes wide with excitement. Well add some intense hand gurning, and thats what I look like each time I enter Eataly Italian market. It is a Mecca for foodies–a specialty food market on steroids, with restaurants and cafes scattered throughout.

You can stand around high tables in the salumeria, enjoying a glass of wine expertly paired to compliment an assortment of specialty cheeses, or you can enjoy nibbling on  a freshly baked focaccia as you wait for your table at La Pizza & Pasta. And Lord knows you’ll have plenty of time to wash down several espressos at Cafe Vergnano, if you’re trying to get a table at the new rooftop birreria–the line to go up is longer than airport security at JFK. No, I’m not joking.

Sure, the market is expensive (and indeed touristy, as several other bloggers have observed), but it is undoubtedly worth the visit. Take it for what it is: an expensive dining experience in an avant-garde food theater. And on that note, I shall walk you through my Eataly experience this past weekend, beginning in the Salumeria with a nice glass of red wine (Italian, of course!).

After adapting to the circus like environment of Eataly, my friends and I gathered around a hightop table in the salumeria and ordered a platter sampling the selection of cured meats and cheeses. The cheese assortment included: a creamy ricotta, a strong parmigiano regiano, a pungent taleggio, a sweet gorgonzola, and a cacio de Roma. My personal favorites were the taleggio and the ricotta, which paired beautifully with the fresh fig and orange segments accompanying the plate. The meats we tried included: delicious mortadella cubes, 14-month aged prosciutto de Parma, and sweet & spicy coppa and sopressata. The prosciutto de parma was hands down the highlight of the plate–delicate and salty.

Next we headed over to La Pizza, where Neapolitan natives are firing up the kind of pizza that God would make if he were having dinner guests. And the gold-tiled ovens certainly add to the ethereal effect:

Photo taken by Adam Kuban from Serious Eats

I decided to go all out and order the most expensive pizza on the menu, which would be the Fru Fru Pizza coming in at a total cost of $22 (a price that you can somehow justify after the first bite!). For indecisive people, like myself, who can’t chose just one pizza on the menu, the Fru Fru offers a small sampling of three different topping combinations: (1) dollops of sweet ricotta cheese with cooked ham (no sauce); (2) aged mozzarella cheese with tomato sauce; and (3) delicious Parma ham with arugula and parmigiano reggiano shavings. It looks like this:

My favorite of the three, you ask? Probably the ricotta and ham because of the contrasting salty and sweet flavors (but the pizza crust is really the star of this dish!).

Two of my friends ordered the Quattro Formaggi with a mixture of gorgonzola, pecorino romano, mozzarella, and parmigiano reggiano cheeses. This is supposed to be served as a white pizza, but one of my friends also ordered it with tomato sauce and it was none-the-less delicious. You can feast your eyes on the white one:

And then of course someone at the table had to be a plain Jane and order the classic Margarita Pizza with tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil. I know there is something to be appreciated about the flavor of a few quality ingredients, but I like to live a little with my pizza toppings!! Like everything else at Le Pizza and Pasta though, it was amazing!

Most people would be throwing in the napkin by now, but not me! Sufficiently pregammed with my pizza appetizer, I decided to order a plate of Tagliatelli al Ragu di Manzo, which is a hearty (and rich) braised short rib ragu over homemade pasta. The pasta is cooked to perfection–just tough enough to stick to your tooth a little (the definition of Al dente). And the braised meat is so tender that it falls apart at the mere prodding of your fork. The dish is quite heavy given the nature of the sauce and the weight of the pasta, but it is every bit savory and delicious. I would highly recommend this pasta (as long as  you have already tried the pizza!).

So until next time, Eataly, Arrivederci!!!

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Filed under Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Coffee Shop, Italian Restaurants, Markets, New York Restaurants

Food Porn: Cuzco, Peru

My friends and I decided that we would end our 6-month South American adventure with a bang, and do the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu before flying home for good. And given that the Inca Trail is a rigorous 4-day, 50 km trek, reaching a height of 4,200 meters (I was not aware of any of these “minor” details before paying my deposit), I had an excuse to eat whatever I wanted while staying in Cuzco the couple of days beforehand. I needed to bulk up before this climb….and I certainly did!

Peruvian food is one of my favorite types of cuisine because it has such a wide variety of national dishes ranging from soups, to fish, to poultry, and even llama and alpaca meats! Below is a collection of photos, documenting my most memorable meals:

Lomo Salteado  - Lomo Salteado is a traditional Peruvian dish with Asian influence that can be found everywhere. It is strips of sirloin steak marinated in vinegar and soy sauce, that is then stir fried with red onion, parsley, and tomato. It is usually served alongside rice (image #2), atop french fries, or on a sandwich (image #1).

Dieta de Pollo – The quint essential comfort food, dieta de pollo is a delicate chicken noodle soup. I ate a bowl of this stuff before almost every meal, and I found that most Peruvians eat a bowl of soup before their entree as well–a soup society…I like that!

Aji de Gallina – Another classic Peruvian dish with a surprisingly French influence! French chefs, put out of employment by the social upheaval of the French Revolution, traveled to the New World and settled in Peru, creating a cuisine that blended local Peruvian flavors with French styles and techniques. Aji de Gallina consists of shredded chicken in a spicy cream sauce, flavored with cheese, garlic, nuts, and rocoto peppers (spicy Peruvian peppers). It is normally served with white rice and/or french fries.

Rocoto Relleno – As I mentioned before, Rocoto is a very spicy Peruvian pepper. Therefore, when you break down the Spanish name, a rococo relleno is a Peruvian stuffed pepper…a very spicy one at that! This particular dish originates in the city of Arequipa, but is now served all over the country! It is can be filled with beef, vegetables, and cheese, among many other things. The one in the photo above is even deep fried!

Pollo con Arroz – Chicken and rice has never tasted so good!! Peruvians know how to prepare a chicken that literally melts off the bone and the cilantro flavored rice that accompanies the poultry is out of this world!! The raw onion and tomato garnishes add a fresh crisp texture to the hearty dish.

Pollo Relleno con Alpaca in Elderberry Sauce – This was our way of easing into trying alpaca. We weren’t going to order an alpaca fillet outright, so we tried a chicken dish that was stuffed with bits of alpaca first. The dish was then finished in an elderberry reduction (elderberry being very popular in Peru), and then accompanied by sautéed vegetables. What does alpaca taste like, you ask? Chicken. Go figure!

Pisco Sour - When in Peru, have a Pisco or two!! Pisco Sour is a popular Peruvian cocktail that dates back to about 1900, getting is name from the Quechua word Pisco, meaning bird. The drink is made from Peruvian grape brandy (pisco), lime juice, syrup, ice, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It is mixed in a blender so it comes out frothy and full of citrus flavor.

Assortment of Causas - With over 8,000 species of potatoes native to the Andean region, it is no surprise that Peruvians use a lot of them in their cooking. A causa, in its most basic form, is a mashed yellow potato dumpling mixed with lime, onion, chili, and oil. The potato mixture is then stuffed with any combination of avocado, chicken, canned tuna, and shellfish. We decided to try the seafood sampler version, and it was light and lovely.

Chicharron de Pollo – Chicharron normally refers to a dish containing pork rinds, but since that didn’t particularly appeal to me, we decided to order the chicken version of the dish instead, which tasted like good ole’ American fried chicken. The fried chicken thighs were then finished with a garlic, ginger, and panda chili sauce, which was out of this world (and every ounce fattening!).

Peruvian Tequenos - Tequenos are not really Peruvian by nature, but these were because they were filled with lomo salted and aji de gallina. Anything stuffed and then deep fried is generally delicious, and this was no exception. I particularly loved the spicy rocoto dipping sauce that accompanied the tasty appetizer.

Tallerines Saltados con Pollo – If you have ever been to Peru, you will have noticed the incredible amount of Asian (chifa) influence on the food there. This is because the Spanish brought Chinese slaves to the country and with them they brought their national cuisine. One of the very popular Asian inspired dishes is Tallerines Saltadas, which are essentially lo mein noodles with poultry or beef (poultry in the photo above!).

Pollo en Salsa Rocoto with Quinoa Tabouli – This was supposed to be served as a sandwich, but since the restaurant ran out of bread, I ordered it as a deconstructed plate of ingredients. The elements included: chicken sautéed in a spicy rocoto pepper sauce, sautéed eggplant and caramelized onions, quinoa tabouli salad, and french fries. The platter had an awesome mix of Peruvian, Asian, and Middle Eastern flavors.

Alfajors – Alfajors are shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche spread (a.k.a caramel). They are popular all over South America, but prepared slightly different by every country. For example, Argentina coast them with chocolate, Chileans in Patagonia fill them with berry flavored jams, and Peruvians simply serve theirs with a dusting of powdered sugar. We got this plate of petite alfajors and fruit jams complimentary with our bill at Chi Cha de Gaston Acurio, and we all agreed that they were the best alfajors we had on our trip (sorry Argentina….)

{ San Pedro Market in Cuzco, Peru }

Woman selling her herbs and spices.

Baskets of dehydrated rocoto peppers and dried fruits.

Enormous loaves of bread, which can be found everywhere in Peru.

The line up of fresh juice bar stands.

Sam pulls up a chair and tries a juice. Have it at the stand though, because if you ask for it to go they give you a plastic bag with a straw:

To-Go cups are so American.

Where the Peruvian locals go to eat.

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San Telmo’s Burrito Boy *****

Near the corner of Defensa and Chile
San Telmo, Argenetina
Sundays Only!!

It’s Sunday morning and although I haven’t set an alarm, my phone is ringing. The message reads:

“Yo kids,  u know i b in SanT every sunday afternoon with burrito boy. Come hang!” – M. Koo

My head is pounding, but I am salivating at the thought of a warm, flour wrapped, beef burrito. I want it almost as bad as a glass of ice cold water and advil. I look at the time and it is 3 O’Clock, which means I have approximately two hours to get my ass to San Telmo before burrito boy leaves the market. I grab 10 pesos off my nightstand, wake up the girls, and head out (still wearing remnants of last night’s 80′s Halloween costume, might I add!).

We plow through the sea of vendors and tourists that crowd the narrow streets, until we reach him–Burrito Boy. Since my entire Sunday revolves around this burrito, he is my idol. We kiss on the cheek, and he places in my hand that shiny, foil-wrapped, piece of heaven. Cue eating frenzy.

I think it is a fair statement to say that I am a burrito connoisseur, given my love for Mexican food and my weekly burrito consumption. As such a qualified connoisseur, I assert that Burrito Boy has by far the best burrito in all of Argentina. It is a bold statement, I know. But here is why I arrived at this conclusion:

  1. The burrito only costs 10 pesos 
  2. The wraps are all homemade and hand rolled by Burrito Boy
  3. The burrito is actually hot, in fact steaming hot, when you get it
  4. Burrito Boy’s wrapping technique is fail proof, it never falls apart
  5. Burrito Boy serves his Mexican masterpiece with an incredible spicy sauce that will keep you at his stand for the duration of you burrito eating experience, God forbid you should have a bite without the sauce
  6. Burrito Boy has personality–he will talk to you the entire time you are eating (without passing judgement as you double fist with your burrito in your one hand and the bottle of hot sauce in your other)
  7. Lastly, Burrito Boy has an entire roll of paper towels, which he will give out freely to anyone with a face covered in hot sauce (which is everyone by the time they are done)
Now, I cannot take the credit for discovering Burrito Boy (although I wish I had). Instead, I got the tip from another fellow foodie, Mr. M. Koo, who sent the text message above, and can in fact be found posted up at Burrito Boy’s stand every Sunday afternoon (with me now, of course!). If you care to come join us–I encourage that you do–you can find Burrito Boy located on Defensa near the corner of Chile.
I didn’t even bother to describe the burrito in this post, because some things are just too delicious for words–this being one of them. But I will give you the heads up that there are just two kinds of burritos: vegetarian (with sauteed spinach) and carne (with barbacoa). I am normally a meat person, but happen to think that the vegetarian burrito is better because it isn’t as dry. Then again, you should be slathering every bite in Burrito Boy’s hot sauce, so pick which ever one tickles your fancy!

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{ Food from Barcelona, Spain Pt. II }

Milk Bar

Gignas 21,
Barcelona, Spain 
{Metro strop: Jaume I}

(www.milkbarcelona.com)

By the time we got to Barcelona, Ariana and I were already two weeks into our trip and we were craving some sort of an American breakfast (especially after coming from Morocco where we had been on the Quaker granola bar diet for five days—the consequences of unsanitary water are far from desirable). We hadn’t seen eggs, bagels, or pancakes in forever, and we wanted to taste a little piece of home. I honestly can’t tell you what I would have done for a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, a veggie omelet, and a WWET bagel (whole wheat everything) toasted with cream cheese. But we were in Spain, and there are no Jewish deli’s or Jersey diners there, so we did the usual and turned to Google for help! The search returned: “MilkBar: Best recovery brunch in Barcelona.” Sounded American enough to me!

When we arrived at the café/bar, we were pleasantly surprised by the eclectic and vintage décor but disappointed to find out that they only served brunch Thurs-Sun from 10 am till 4 pm. It was Wednesday….sad face. Of course, we made the trek the following morning though.

I ordered the French Toast topped with Greek Yogurt and Fresh Berries and Ariana got the Ranchero Omelet with Spicy Chorizo, Chili, Mixed Peppers, Scallions, and Crème Fraiche. Certainly not the ideal “American breakfast” we had been yearning for, but we figured it was as close as we were going to get. The quality of the ingredients was excellent (one of the best Greek yogurts that I have ever tasted, and incredible chorizo in the eggs), but for some reason both dishes were slightly off and unsatisfying. It was odd that they smothered the warm French toast in chilled Greek yogurt because it made both elements of the dish room temperature. I like my food like my coffee…hot or cold, not lukewarm. And Ariana’s omelet had a nice spicy flavor, but it was drowning in crème fraiche. Too much crème fraiche is just never a good thing.

Although I wouldn’t recommend MilkBar for their recovery brunch, their lunch menu looked very appetizing and their nighttime bar scene looked very trendy and hip. I would go back to cozy up on the cool upholstered sofas and have a drink, but I would skip breakfast there.

Lesson learned: When in Spain, just stick to eating a traditional Spanish breakfast, which is a pastry or piece of bread with jam.

 La Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boquiera

Rambla, 91
Barcelona, Spain
{Metro Stop: Liceu}

(http://www.boqueria.info/)

Mercat de la Boqueria is  foodies Mecca. It is the end all, be all of gourmet food markets. In fact, it gives new meaning to the word food market. Upon entering, I experienced same overwhelming emotional feeling that I did when I first saw the Roman Coliseum—it was complete sensory overload. But after a few short minutes, I regained my sense of purpose and devised a plan of attack; heading first for the fresh squeezed fruit juices, and ending at the nuts and candy. I cannot really even put the experience into words, so just enjoy the photos!

Ohh, and just outside the mercat is a little pastry/chocolate shop called Escriba and they have incredible truffles, quiches, and coffee (photos are included at the end):

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“Death By Prosciutto” – Madrid, Spain

Iberico Ham from Spain

Before my trip to Spain, mention of the word ham conjured up strong images of Christmas dinner—a honey-glazed, suckling pig in the center of a large table, surrounded by side dishes piled high with mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and rye bread. However. I must admit that this traditional Christmas feast never tickled my fancy because I don’t like the actual taste (or texture) of cooked ham. And judging by the number of condiments that people use in combination with their boiled and broiled pig, I don’t think that I am the only person sharing in this sentiment. I mean you rarely see someone just nibbling on a piece of ham…unless of course, it’s slathered in mayo between two slices of Wonderbread, or served next to a heap of cheesy scrambled eggs, or covered in gobs of mustard. But in Spain, ham is like a second religion (soccer being the first), and it is delicious because it is NOT cooked. Instead, it undergoes a delicate process of curing and drying, which can take up to 48 months! After the ham has aged to perfection, it is dubbed “Jamon Iberico,” which is then sliced down into thin cuts of meat that sell at a very lofty price point. I once heard a comedian say, “I wouldn’t mind being treated like a piece of meat, as long as it was Serrano ham…because that means you think I’m fancy and thin!” I would have to agree with this statement after spending time in Spain.

Serrano ham is truly incredible—an explosion of flavor in your mouth. Unfortunately, it is also an explosion of sodium. Your fingers and feet will attest to that after just 2 short days in Catalan country. You will struggle to take off your rings and your ankles will transform into cankles as they rapidly loose bone definition from all of the salt-swelling. However, you will accept these side effects as minor troubles, and continue to eat Serrano ham, as you begin to realize that it is one of the best foods available in Spain. And unlike ham in the US, it doesn’t require a slew of condiments to taste good. It is perfection when eaten alone, but also delicious when paired with melon, Manchego cheese (a real sodium-assault), or sliced baguette for a simple sandwich. It is an ingredient so delicious, that you honestly can’t ruin it if you try, which brings me to my next point: do yourself a favor, and order simple in Spain. They have a lot of high quality produce and ingredients available, but they struggle developing the right flavors in complex dishes at many restaurants. After several disappointing meals, I learned that the best foods in Spain are the simplest; i.e. Serrano ham platters, chorizo, stuffed olives, and patatas bravas (potatoes with hot sauce). Therefore, a good place to grab lunch is in a food market (this is NOT to be confused with a supermarket). The food markets are very gourmet and have a variety of different vendors, each with a specific and unique culinary offering. You can create yourself a fantasy meal as you go from station to station, and select the items that call out to your belly…a true tapas experience. My favorite food market in Spain was located in Madrid, and it is called the Mercado de San Miguel (situated right outside the Plaza Mayor—http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/).  This covered market is over 100 years old and boasts 33 different food shops; selling anything from fruit to meat, cheese, and baked goods.

Mercado de San Miguel

Me, standing in front of the Mercado….itching to get inside

I got the best Iberico ham that I have ever tasted there, in addition to olives stuffed with mussels, croquettes, a mini tuna bocadilla (sandwich), and an assortment of Spanish cheeses with sliced baguette.

Is it a fruit display or is it art?…ask for assistance getting those cherries!

Our Jamon Iberico getting sliced to order….talk about fresh

Our Jamon y Queso Platter

Assorted Croquettes Stuffed with Blue Cheese, Spinach, and Chorizo

Manchego Cheese, Sliced Baguette, and Spanish Olives Stuffed with Mussels and Chilies

Tunafish Bocadillo with Manchego Cheese

Prices at the market were very reasonable, and I enjoyed eating my lunch at a window-counter where I was able to people watch passerbys outside. Just try not to make eye contact with the bands of roaming gypsys that are begging outside the market. It is like feeding the birds at the beach…you give a crumb to one seagull and soon the whole flock is swarming.

If you manage to resist the mouth-watering desserts offered in the Mercado (a serious testament to your self-control), you can walk across the street to CH&CH Chocolate & Churros (Calle Mayor, 54 in Barrio Palacio) for a sweet bite.

CH&CH Menu

CH&CH serves up fabulous cappuccinos and Spanish fried pastries (known as churros). Personally, I prefer Mexican/Cuban churros, which are topped with cinnamon and sugar (too much time in Miami), but this place served up some delicious fried-to-order churros that came with an incredible thick and rich chocolate dipping sauce. Ohh and just a heads up, the dipping sauce comes in a mug so you might mistake it as hot drinking chocolate, but don’t drink it unless you want the belly-ache of all belly-aches (I speak from experience). You will also be all sorts of hyped up, like the episode of Friends where Ross drinks all of the maple syrup.

Frothy Cappuccino

Freshly Made Churros with Chocolate DIpping Sauce

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Economy Candy ****

212.254.1531
108 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE!

I am sure that even those of you who haven’t been to New York, have at least heard of Dylan’s Candy Bar. It is famous for it’s extravagant candy displays, it’s excessive selection of all things sugary, and it’s outrageous, wallet-depleting prices. Dylan’s marks up a candy bar the same way that a nightclub marks up alcohol—200% being the minimum. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t gone to check it out. In fact, I couldn’t wait to go on my very first trip to New York because of all the hype surrounding it. But once I walked in, I felt the same overwhelming/dizzying/nauseating feeling that I got the very first time I walked into Forever 21. I mean it is 3 floors of candy that climb from ground to ceiling…the only thing that this place is missing is Augustus Gloop! But once I overcame the initial shock of it all, I began to notice many problems with the store (other than the obscene prices and massive crowds). You see, all of the candies are self-serve and conveniently located within the arm’s reach of a 4 year old. 4 years olds pick their nose, therefore, they should not also be allowed to pick their candies from a communal bucket with their hands. Of course there were metal tongs supplied at each candy station, but this did not stop countless adults and small children from using their grubby little fingers…can you say bacteria haven?!? Yuck!

I also quickly became frustrated by the obnoxious selection of candies and chocolates. I don’t need cocoa scented bath salts, or edible panties, or a chocolate spa (whatever that is), I just want to get my favorite sweets and get the heck out! Thus, I was very relieved to discover the Economy Candy Store on this most recent trip to NY. Almost everything at Economy Candy is in some sort of packaging and there are employees (wearing plastic loves, might I add) to help you get the items that are not wrapped. Therefore, you can eat your food without wondering about all the millions of hands that have touched it before your lips!

Economy Candy is significantly smaller than Dylan’s Candy Store, but it appears far less crowded because it is not a tourist destination and there aren’t as many screaming children running around (big plus!). But just because they have less square-footage, doesn’t mean that they have less brands/kinds of candy available (there just aren’t Hershey’s pillows or monogrammed chocolate bars). They carry all of the old-school names in candy though such as, Bazooka, Pop-Rocks, Sugar-Daddy Caramel Lollipops, Razzles, Fizzies, and even hard to find candies such as, Bubble-Gum Cigarettes, English Chocolates, Lemon-Heads, and White-Chocolate Kit-Katz (didn’t know that those they existed? Well, they do in Europe, and Economy candy is nice enough to import them and bring them to you!). The best part about Economy Candy though, comes when you arrive at the register. Unlike Dylan’s Candy Bar, you won’t go into cardiac arrest when you are told your total…you can survive the purchase and take your chances with diabetes after eating all of your affordable goodies!

The Exterior Window of Economy Candy

I purchased a ½ pound bag composed of mixed Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordials, Dark Cherry Coated Orange Peels, Chocolate Coated Espresso Beans, and Cocoa Dusted Almonds. I loved all of the candies with the exception of the cherry cordials, which I expected to be chocolate covered cherries, but turned out to be something entirely different that I still cannot figure out. I also purchased a box of Bazooka Gum, Dried Apple Rings (yes, they even have healthy snacks!), Chocolate Coated Marzipan, and an assortment of flavored Gummy Bears. All of this was under $15 dollars. I actually found myself buying extra just to meet the credit card minimum!!

5 pound bag of Gummy Bears!!

Dylan’s is a place to see at least once, but this is the place to actually buy your favorite candies, whether they are child-hood favorites or modern day delicacies. Take a stroll off the beaten path and find you’re way to the Economy Candy Store!

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Filed under Candy Store, Markets, New York Restaurants