Tag Archives: Breakfast

{ The Crabtree in London } ****

8572624134_55144a56b2_z

020-7385-3929
Rainville Road, London
W6 9HA

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I arrived in London around 11 am on a Sunday morning after a long 10-hour traveling experience without eating any food. Needless to say, I arrived in London hungry and ready to begin my food chronicles. My first meal was a proper Sunday Roast from The Crabtree in Fulham, which is a quaint and cozy little spot with a traditional English menu. The three roast options included: chicken, beef, and pork belly. I went for the beef with horseradish sauce, while my friend opted for the heavier pork belly with applesauce. Each was served with a Yorkshire pudding and gravy, roasted root vegetables, a stewed red cabbaged, and pureed butternut squash.

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Unfortunately, I was so hungry that I devoured mine without actually taking the time to process all of the flavors, so there isn’t much to say other than the fact that it was delicious. I cleared the plate within a few short minutes, excited to cross Yorkshire pudding off the “to-eat” list for London. One down, and twenty or so to go!

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I did love the atmosphere of the place though, especially as it was fitted out for Christmas with a beautiful tree and all sorts of lighted Holiday decorations. The bar seemed like a cozy place to grab a drink in the winter and during the summer months, they have a gorgeous outdoor patio equipped with grills for barbequing.

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Filed under Bars, Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, International Restaurants, London Restaurants, Lunch Spots, Take-Out

{ Applesauce Multigrain Muffins }

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You know those suggested recipes posted on the side of food packaging? Well, this recipe hails from the side of a Trader Joe’s multigrain oatmeal box. I normally make my signature “flat belly bran muffins,” but I was in the mood to try something new and this recipe seemed straightforward and delicious!

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 I followed the recipe on the box exactly as printed, and enjoyed the flavor and texture, but I would definitely amp them up next time by throwing in some chopped walnuts and raisins. The muffins tasted best right out of the oven and topped with a little bit of Greek yogurt, but they did not stay fresh very long so eat them up quickly or freeze them!

This recipe makes a much softer muffin than my flat belly bran recipe, but it begs for some fruit and nut pieces for added texture.

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{Streusel Topping Ingredients}

  • 1/3 cup Country Choice Multigrain Hot Cereal (uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

{Muffin Ingredients}

  • 1 cup Country Choice Multigrain Hot Cereal (uncooked)
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (I used Trader Joes)
  • ½ cup fat free milk
  • ½ cup organic brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sunflower oil
  • 1 egg

 {To Make the Muffins}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Prepare the streusel topping by combining the oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Then add the melted butter and mix well.

Prepare muffins by combining oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bow: mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together the applesauce, ilk, brown sugar, oil, and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven. Serve warm*

*We served ours with homemade peach jam!

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Domani Star – BRUNCH! *****

Jessica Omelet #2

215.230.9100
57 West State Street 
Doylestown, Pa 18901

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As I mentioned in my review of Cafe Lift, I am highly critical of brunches served in restaurants. Not only is it my favorite meal of the day, but I also have become quite good at cooking it, so my standards are set pretty high. But Domani Star is one place that I can confidently go for a consistently amazing breakfast…and now that I come to think of it, I do go almost every Sunday!

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The menu features brunch classics like eggs benedict, pancakes, and 2 eggs any style, but it also features unique and memorable dishes like a Bolognese Omelet with asiago cheese, and a Carbonara Scramble with bacon, onions, and parmesan cheese. 

Italian COuntry Scramble.

My personal favorite is the Italian Country Scramble with crispy polenta, fontina cheese, and baby arugula. This dish is to.die.for.

The Jessica Omelet

I also like the Jessica Omelet with avocado, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and baby arugula. I get mine with egg whites and a large side of hot sauce and call it a day!

Open Face Sandwich

Another Domani specialty is the Open Face Sandwich with 2 over-easy eggs atop whole wheat toast with avocado, tomato, bacon, and Vermont cheddar cheese with shaved romaine hearts! My dad is a huge fan of this one.

Cappuccino

If you go for brunch, please do not forget to try a cappuccino because they serve one of the best that I have ever had. And if you are a mimosa with breakfast kind of person–which we all know I am!–then feel free to bring a bottle of bubbly (BYOB) and they will supply the OJ. Can’t beat that!

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Buck's County, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants

Cafe Lift ***

Cafe Lift French Toast
 
428 N. 13th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
215.922.3031

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Breakfast is my FAVORITE meal of the day. But it is not just an indulgence for me, it is a necessary ritual. God forbid I don’t eat my four-egg omelet before leaving the house in the morning, and I am like Atilla the Hun for the remainder of the day—just ask any of my friends.

Having spent almost all of my life with a passion for both breakfast and cooking, you can imagine that I have become quite talented at preparing 5-star omelets, fluffy pancakes, hearty oatmeals, and fresh yogurt parfaits (or at least I think so!). That being said, I am highly critical of breakfasts served outside of my own kitchen. Every now and then though, I venture to a restaurant to check out their version of breakfast and I did so this weekend at Café Lift.

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The restaurant is a modern loft space, decorated as if Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel had a love child. It is verging on the edge of hipster, but it is comfortable and cozy to patrons of all ages (and there is a wide variety!).

Inside Cafe Lift

I ordered the Plum Tomato Frittata with Asparagus, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, and Fontina Cheese, drizzled with Homemade Basil Pesto ($8).

Frittata 1edited

The basil pesto was so fresh and summery, and the frittata was executed very well, without being overcooked or hard. The parmesan-crusted home fries were tasty, but a bit overcooked and consequently mushy for my liking (I told you I was critical!). The multigrain toast was god awful, but I’m watching my carb intake so I’ll consider that a blessing in disguise!

To accompany my enormous frittata, I also ordered a Lemon Ricotta Pancake topped with Fresh Strawberries ($3).

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It sounded amazing, but fell a little flat for me. I thought the batter could have benefitted from some and/or more lemon zest. I just didn’t get that bright citrus flavor to compliment the creaminess of the ricotta. It did photograph quite lovely though. #pancakefoodporn

My friend Sara ordered the Special Eggs Florentine served with Jumbo Lump Crab Meat, Spinach, and Truffle Hollandaise Sauce ($11.50).

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Normally, the dish would be served on an English muffin, but Sara is Gluten-Free so she had it open-face instead. She enjoyed it, although we both agreed the hollandaise was lacking a bit in truffle flavor…aka the best part.

All in all, the food was good but is it better than my own version of breakfast?

Nope.

I will definitely say that it is an awesome value for what you get though, and if you’re not as high maintenance about breakfast as I am, you will probably love it!

Here’s a look at what I would serve if I could have my very own brunch spot…

……..someday!

Black Bean and Corn Omelet

garden omelet

Omelet with Goat Cheese

Huevos Rancheros KB

Brocoli and Gruyere Quiche

Veggie Omelet ad Hash Browns

Mushroom Spinach and Goat Cheese Oetitie Quiche

Mexican Scramble

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Yogurt with Berries and Granola

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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Buck's County, Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania

{ Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread }

Thanks to Ms. Hurricane Sandy, I had an unexpected day off of work today! And that means my my oven was set at a comfortable 350 degrees with a constant rotation of breads, cakes, and cookies going though it’s doors. Four loaves of banana bread, and 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies later….I was ready to attempt a more complicated bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s cookbook, “The Bakers Apprentice.” I haven’t done much bread baking before, but I was feeling up to the challenge with all of the free time on my hands!

The original recipe calls for a mixture of cranberries and walnuts, but I was running low on berries so I also threw in some golden raisins and dried currants. If a panettone and a babka had a love child, this bread would be it! Everyone in my family agreed that it will be made on Christmas morning for many more generations to come…aka, the bread turned out incredible!

So without further ado, here is my recipe for Kendall’s Christmas Celebration Bread, adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread in “The Baker’s Apprentice.”

{ Ingredients}

  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/5 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of water, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

{ To Make the Bread }

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients (except the dried fruits and nuts) to make a soft dough. Switch the attachment to a dough kneading hook and knead for 5 minutes.

The dough should clear the sides of the mixing bowl, but remain tacky to the bottom. Adjust the concentrations of water and flour so that the dough takes this form.

Add the cranberries, raisins, and currants and continue to knead by hand for an additional 2 minutes.

Then add the chopped walnuts and knead by hand until the nuts are evenly distributed.

Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and allow to ferment, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should almost double in size!

Transfer the dough a counter top surface and divide into 6 pieces; 3 larger pieces and 3 smaller pieces. Roll out all 6 pieces by hand into long strands. Braid the 3 larger strands using the 3-braid technique and then do the same with the 3 smaller strands.

Place the large braid on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then place the smaller braid directly on top of it. Brush the entire bread with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk) and allow to sit at room temperature for another 2 hours.

The braided bread should double in size. Brush the entire bread with egg wash a second time.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

I like to serve mine with a flavorful homemade butter. Recipe, below:

{ Homemade Sweet Orange Butter }

  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

{ To Make the Butter }

Combine all ingredient in the bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk on a medium-high speed until well combined and buttery in texture.

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Corner Shop Cafe ****

212.253.7467
643 Broadway (and Bleecker)
New York, NY

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I was preparing to photograph my lunch today (a couple of delicious chicken quesadillas), when my phone alerted me that I had “insufficient memory space” to store the images. Considering that I upload and delete my photos as I write reviews, this notification means that I am seriously behind on blogging (too much eatting, not enough writing!). I was forced to go through my collection of food photos and decide which images looked the most decadent, deleting the others that were not up to par. This sounds like an easy task, but choosing which images to part with was a painstaking process. Needless to say, my quesadillas were cold by the time I finally finished. In order to make space for future reviews, I will be backtracking a bit and intermittenly posting some articles on New York grub.

The first review is from one of my favorite lunch/brunch spots in NYC–The Corner Shop Cafe. Their menu is an eclectic mix of sandwiches, pastas, salads, and eggs but these often simple dishes are far from the ordinary here.  The Corner Shop Cafe has mastered the art of delivering the classics with a whole new twist, taking them to another level. For example, their PB & Banana Grilled Sandwich which comes on cranberry raisin bread dipped in french toast batter, served with honey and minted berries ($9). Clearly, this is not your mom’s PB & J!

Some how I fought the temptation of ordering this mastermind creation (along with the Creme Brûlée Dipped French Toast ($11)), and instead opted for a lighter lunch of Steamed Mussels in a white wine garlic sauce with parsley, peas, and tomatoes ($12). Let me tell you, these mussels were fan-freaking-tastic! The mussels themselves were plump and fresh, and the sauce was out of this world. The herb parmesan crostini soaking in the bowl was also a very nice touch and made the meal more satisfying.

My friend Sam ordered Brie & Basil Panini with aged tried cheese, oven roasted tomatoes, and prosciutto on a toasted ciabatta roll ($13). Again, a very common menu item, but executed perfectly. The ingredients were all very fresh, from the salty to prosciutto to the flakey bread, and the side salad was dressed perfectly with a nice light vinaigrette.

My other friend Ariana went all out and ordered the Truffled Poached Eggs on Toast Platter with two organic poached eggs atop grilled asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and drizzled with truffle oil served with grilled ciabatta bread ($10). A little bit of food jealous crept up on me when this plate was brought to the table. You know when you second guess your meal decision and get grumpy because another person’s food at the table looks better. Ariana was kind enough to fed me forkfuls every now and then though, so it lowered my post-order dissonance. Everything on the plate was fantastic and for the menial price of $10, it tastes even better!

We also all shared a bowl a Cream of Tomato Soup ($7), which paired great with my herb parmesan crostini. I highly recommend this soup because they only use enough cream to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. You can see by the color of the broth that the cream isn’t too overdone or heavy. It begs for grill cheese dipping!

Also, the prices on the drinks were very reasonable. We had a couple of Mimosas and a round of Chardonnay for about $10 each. I am looking forward to going back to the Corner Shop Cafe as soon as I return to the states!

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b-Blue Natural Bar & Deli ****

Armenia 1692
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4831.7024

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There are an infinite number of cute sidewalk cafes and restuarants in Buenos Aires. There are little vegetarian spots, tea houses, ice cream parlors, and even places strictly devoted to the sale of coffee and chocolates. The task of choosing just which one to spend your afternoon at can be quite overwhelming, especially in the crowded Palermo area. As I was walking to the gym the other day, I passed by at least 18 adorable cafes, each one begging me to abandon my work out plans and indulge in something delicious and homemade. I tried to fight the urge, but finally caved when I passed by bBlue Natural foods. I could see the salads being served in enormous porclain bowls and almost every table had a brightly colored fruit smoothie on it. I couldn’t resist.

I took a seat and ordered the b-Pollo Salad, which is a bed of mixed greens with shredded chicken marinated in honey, soy sauce, and dijon mustard, topped with sundried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, carmaleized onions, and croutons, and tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos). Personally, I like the bBlue house dressing with olive oil, vinegar, blueberries, lemon, honey, and mustard. It adds a sweet fruity flavor to the salad, which is a nice contrast with the sundried tomatoes. So far, this place serves the best salad in Buenos Aires (in my opinion, of course!). The portions are huge and they aren’t stingy with the meats or the cheeses. Also, the ingredients are incredibly fresh and absolutely everything is homemade. Ohh and finally a place that serves a non-mayonnaise dressing!! Major brownie points for that!

Since my first time at bBlue, I have become a regular and I have yet to have a bad meal. Another favorite salad of mine is the b-Deli Salad, which is a bed of baby spinach, lemon-marinated mushrooms, cubes of brie cheese, and toasted almonds, tossed with your choice of dressing (39 pesos) (I like to put the homemade pear dressing on this salad).

In addition to the salads, bBlue also makes incredible gourmet sandwiches!! They have all sorts of spreadable cheeses and aiolis, so the sandwich isn’t dry. My personal favorite so far is the Pollo Sandwich served on French bread with chicken marinated in honey and soy sauce, sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions, portobello mushrooms, melted gruyere cheese, with dijon and mayo (38 pesos). The sandwich is then served with side of incredible herb roasted potatoes and a ramekin of ketchup. The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but imagine a gourmet chicken cheesesteak, and that’s this sandwich.

Ohh, and I almost forgot….the POMEDLADO!!!! It’s like a lemonade, but one hundred times better becasue it is made with grapefruit juice, honey, fresh ginger, and a hint of mint (13 pesos). Seriously? It redefines refreshment.

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Magdalena’s Party **

Thames 1795
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
11.4833.9127

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Brunch, in the United States, is defined as a weekend ritual for twenty-something year olds (typically New Yorkers), who gather to share their first meal of the day after a long night of drinking and debauchery. The meal occurs any time after noon and before 5 pm on a Saturday and/or Sunday, where the participants recap the events of the previous night over several rounds of moderately priced Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Brunch is not just a meal; it is an urban cultural affair. In fact, people are so devoted to this culinary phenomenon, that there are entire websites dedicated to finding the best brunch spots in most major US cities—who can make the best eggs Benedict, the biggest blueberry pancakes, the most delicious omelette, and the perfect Bloody Mary. And don’t even get a New Yorker started on the best bagels and egg sandwiches!! Oy Vey!

I consider myself a fairly loyal “brunchee” at home, and after having a rather long and drunken night last night, I decided that the best way to embark on a new day was by starting it off with a proper brunch. Luckily, the brunch concept is catching on here in Buenos Aires and a ton of search results came back, much to my surprise. I was looking at the list of restaurants, when I spotted the words “breakfast buritto” nestled into the description of a place called Magdalena’s Party. My heart jumped and the decision was made, we were going to Magdelena’s!

We got a table right away, and began drooling over the very Americanized breakfast menu, which included items such as “American Diner Special,” belgian waffles, and bagels with lox. My pupils were dialating by the second. We started off with a couple of Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s, which I thought were all very good. The mimosas here are made with fresh squeezed orange juice–a classy step up from Tropicana back home! And the Bloody Mary was very tasty, especially taking into account that Argentines are typically very shy with the pepper shaker and this drink had whole peppercorns at the bottom! Like little nuggets of gold!

Next we placed our food order, which entailed two orders of the Cali Coast Omelettea delicate crepe stuffed with eggs, black beans, bacon and cheese, and topped with pico de gallo, avocado and sour cream, served with a side of home fries–(45 pesos) and one order of Blueberry Pancakes (30 pesos). Then after placing our order, we waited. And we waited. And we waited.

We continued waiting for a total of one and a half hours before the first dish was brought to the table. And that was just the first dish. The second one didn’t come out until 15 minutes later, and then the third one about 5 minutes after that. Therefore, we all ate at seperate times and without an appology from the server, who acted as if this kind of service was normal and acceptable.

Now I have worked in restaurants all of my life, and I understand that sometimes there are just “off days” and the server can’t do anything to icnrease the producitivty of the kitchen. However, I also believe that a server acts as the face of the restaurant and needs to honestly and appologically inform customers of problems that occur. It is amazing what a smile (and free round of mimosas) can do to alleiviate the agony of a long wait for food.

This being said, I am torn with my review of Magdalena’s Party becasue the food was not bad, but the service was abomidable. My Cali Coast Omelette was actually pretty good. I thought it could have used a little bit more egg inside of the crepe, but the general flavor was tasty and the home fries were done perfectly. In fact, the home fries were really, really good now that I think back.

The pancakes were also nice, although the server forgot to mention that they were out of blueberries that day and just shrugged her shoulders and walked away when asked about it. And getting syrup was like pulling teeth…quite a painstaking task.

Overall, I probably won’t go back to Magdalena’s becasue I had such a bad service experience and often the service is what you remember the most when the food is just average. But again, I understand that restaurants have bad days, and had the wait not been so long and the service not so bad, I would have enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. Try Magdeaena’s Party if you have a lot of free time to kill, becasue your Brunch might turn into a Drunch if you have the same waiting experience that I did.

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Sugar Bar ****

Costa Rica 4619 
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 11.4831.3276

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Those of you that know me, know that my favorite spot in Miami was a place called Greenstreet. It was a bar by night, an amazing cafe for lunch and dinner, and the best brunch spot in South Florida on the weekends. Today, I am thrilled because I have finally found the Greenstreet of Buenos Aires–Sugar Bar. It is owned by American entrepreneur, Martin Frankel, who has managed to bring a small piece of the US bar/culinary culture to Argentina. And on behalf of all us expats, thank you, Mr. Frankel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love eating traditional Argentine food (parrilla, milanesa, empanadas, ect…) but man do I miss thick juicy burgers, spicy chicken wings, and club sandwiches sometimes. Sugar Bar offers all of these aforementioned menu items, serving each dish with a glorious variety of American condiments. For example, The Blue Cheese Burger made with 200 grams of freshly ground beef, grilled portobello mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and creamy blue cheese spread served with a side of fried potato wedges (44 pesos). The quality of the beef is absolutely amazing (which goes pretty much without saying in Argentina), but the topping combination takes the burger to the next level. The blue cheese adds a nice bite to the earthy flavor of the portobello mushrooms, and the french fries (which are more like steak fries) are also greasy finger-licking good.

If you’re in the mood to get a little messy, I suggest the chicken wings at Sugar Bar (available in buffalo, spicy buffalo, and terryaki). They compete on the same level as the wings at Casa Bar and The Alamo, although I must admit that I still think Casa Bar takes the prize for the best wings. That being said, these are pretty damn good  too. They just have a thicker, more non-traditional, flour coating on them than Casa Bar and they aren’t as spicy. None-the-less, I enjoy them with my liter of beer almost every night I go there.

If your not into eating wings off the bone but still want the buffalo flavor, I recommend trying the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is boneless grilled chicken breast smothered in buffalo sauce, topped with a crispy fried onion ring, lettuce, and tomato, served with a side of creamy blue cheese spread and heaping of fried potato wedges (42 pesos). I have never tried this dish myself, but I saw my friends get it for lunch the other day and they went crazy for it. The onion ring looked divine and the blue cheese was mild and whipped into a very light, spreadable consistency.

Additionally, Sugar Bar serves (drumroll, please) SOUP! All of you expats living here in Argentina know just how big of a deal this is! They have an amazing Chicken Noodle Soup that is packed with large chunks of all-white meat chicken and chopped vegetables (23 pesos). Clear broth soup is a rare find at a restaurant in Buenos Aires, and this one is New Jersey diner style! Delicious…

They also serve a hearty Black Bean Chili (25 pesos) and French Onion Soup topped with oven baked gyuere cheese (20 pesos). Anyone looking for a taste of American comfort food in Buenos Aires, should head to Sugar Bar!

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{ Cinnamon Apple & Brie Toasts }

Bruschetta is one of my favorite small plates to enjoy before dinner, but every now and then I like a break from the plain old garlic and tomato. It’s not exactly dinner-date friendly, and it’s getting a little overdone as far as I’m concerned. So this evening I decided to make a sweet bruschetta with oven-roasted cinnamon apples, honey, and baked brie cheese. It was absolutely delicious and it is a super versatile recipe. I used it is as a small plate for dinner, but I would also suggest serving it for breakfast, brunch, or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. To cut back on the sweetness, use less honey, or omit it all together. Remember, the brie cheese releases oil when baked, so don’t worry about the toasts being too dry!

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 french baguette, sliced down on a diagonal (1/2″ thick)
  • 2 honey crisp apples, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • A chunk of brie cheese, sliced into rectangles (1/4″ thick)
  • Ground cinnamon to taste
  • Honey for drizzling
{ To Roast the Apples } Preheat the oven to 350 degreesLay the sliced apples in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet and dust with a covering of ground cinnamon. (If you want, you can omit the honey later, and dust the apples with brown sugar here to create the sweetness!). Bake for 5-8 minutes and remove from oven.
To Assemble the Toasts } On another foil lined baking sheet, arrange the sliced baguettes side by side. Top the bread with a slice of roasted apple, a cut of brie cheese, and then another slice of roasted apple. Drizzle the top with a little bit of honey and repeat until all the toasts have been assembled. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese has become soft and gooey (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from the oven and serve!

 

 

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