Tag Archives: Seafood

{ Slate Bleu } ***

Escargot en Croute
100 South Main Street
Doylestown Pa 18901
215.348.0222

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My friend Liz and I constantly find ourselves asking the question, “where should we go for dinner tonight?” We live in a small town with fairly limited dining options, which leads us to frequent the same four places over and over again each week: Domani Star, Ooka, M.O.M.s, and Quinoa. But tonight we were longing to break out of our little routine so we ventured to try the French restaurant Slate Bleu.

It is by no means new to the neighborhood—if fact, it has established a sort of cult following—but it always falls of my radar because its location is slightly hidden. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Tonight we arrived without a reservation and found ourselves seated without a problem in the elegant downstairs dining area (I prefer this downstairs bar area to the upper tier dining room, which is a bit more removed from the pulse of the restaurant). The décor is very chic and modern, and lends itself well to an impressive first-date kind of place.

After looking over the cocktail list, I decided to try the Bourbon St. Ginger on the rocks, made with Elderflower liquor, bourbon, and a splash of ginger ale ($9). The slight fizz was refreshing, but the drink was definitely potent. I also recommend the Frozen Grapefruit Martini made with absolut vodka, dry vermouth, sorbet, and grapefruit segments ($13). It is certainly pricey, but so unique and delectable that it can commend the price point.

To start we ordered the Salade Ardoise with mixed greens, figs, French bleu cheese, Prosciutto, pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette ($12.50). We had the intentions of sharing the salad, but ordered a second to each have our own after the first bite! The bleu cheese was excellent and the figs were so good with the salty ham and vinegar.

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The Escargot en Croute, a classic French appetizer of snails with garlic and herb butter baked in pastry ($12.50), was also very tasty. It was my first experience with escargot and I expected to be leery about the texture, but the flakey and buttery croute provided enough contrast for me to enjoy them. Caution: there is a TON of garlic used in the making of this dish!

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For dinner I ordered the Thai Steamed Mussels with coconut, ginger, and lemongrass with a side order of fries ($15.50). I found the broth bland because they used coconut water instead of coconut milk. I thought it was a bit too light without the creamy component, but the mussels themselves were nice and plump. The fries were also excellent!

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Liz had an order of the Chicken Paillarde with artichokes, nicoise olives, and saffron risotto ($14.50). She is a risotto kind of girl due to her gluten free diet, and she claims that this is the best risotto that she has ever had. As for the rest of the dish, chicken is chicken….

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Since my initial visit, I have gone back and tried the Bar Steak Au Poivre, which is a pepper encrusted petit NY steak served with fries ($20.50). I was terribly disappointed by the steak, which I requested at medium rare temp and was served more than well done. The piece of meat shrank down to nothing, but I was so hungry that I continued to eat after bringing it to my server’s attention. Unfortunately, they did nothing to rectify the situation, which I found to be a bit of a turn off and I certainly won’t suggest that anyone order a steak there. The French are infamous for under cooking their beef, so to be served so well done is a bit odd.

Steak Au Poivre

Overall, I like the idea of going back for a nice meal at the bar with a friend or on a date. Get a cocktail and either a cheese platter or one of the lighter menu items to share. I would try the mussels in traditional white wine garlic sauce next time, and steer clear of steak.

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Filed under Baking, Brunch, Buck's County, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Dessert, French Restaurants, Gluten Free, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants, 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

Flex Mussels *****

 
oftl-main_picture2-NYC-flexmussels1
154 W 13th Street
New York, New York
212.229.0222

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If there is one food that I crave above all others, it is mussels. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, encompassing a broad range of flavors; from coconut curry Thai to classic French white wine garlic. There are mornings that I literally wake up and have a hankering for a steaming pot of mussels. Not cheerios….mussels.

Needless to say, if mussels are on the menu at a restaurant, I’m usually ordering them. And I have suffered dearly for this habitude, because lets face it, there are certain restaurants (i.e. Irish pubs) where you should NOT be ordering the shell fish. I know the bacon cheese burger is the safer bet, but I have no self-control and inevitably end up eating the mussels…..for better, for worse.

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This weekend though, I had the opportunity to go to Flex Mussels, which is renowned in NYC for their fantastic pots of ornate and unique mussels…23 different types in all! You can imagine how difficult it was to choose only a couple to share with my friends and fellow diners, Sam & Sara. In fact, a third party observer would have thought this was one of the most difficult decisions of my life the way that I carefully weighed out each option, debating whether to go with the tried and true classics or branch out and go for the exotic.

Finally, after a quick pep talk with our server, we arrived at a game plan. We would order three different pots of mussels to share among the table along with some truffle fries. First we got an order of the Dijon Mussels made with dijon mustard, white wine, creme fraiche, and parsley ($19.50). These were by far my favorite of the three, and I made that known by locating the pot directly in front of me and my big fat fork. The broth was so good, I would consider it drinkable. The mustard brought forth a tangy and acidic flavor that was carefully balanced by the creaminess of the creme fraiche. And the chopped parsley was fresh and earthy.

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Next we enjoyed the Fra Diavolo mussels made with San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes, and garlic ($19.50). Sam insisted that we order this classic, and although I thought they were good, I probably would not order them when at Flex again. Instead, I would opt for a more complex broth when at the Mecca of mussels, and save the run-of-the-mill spicy red sauce for the amateurs. I will admit that the large chunks of crushed tomatoes were delightful on the fresh baked bread provided for dipping and dunking!

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Lastly, we recieved our order of the South Pacific Mussels, which were made with kaffir lime, cilantro, white wine, and lemongrass. I tried persuading Sam and Sara to order the Thai mussels instead, which were very similar to the South Pacific in flavor, but with the added richness of curried coconut milk. Unfortunately though, it was two against one and we ended up going with the lighter broth. I wasn’t crazy about these because the broth was too almost too light. There was nothing sticking to the the meat of the mussel. I hoarded the remaining dijon mussels while my eating companions picked at their mistake.

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Last but not least, I must review the truffle french fries which were served with a creamy aioli dipping sauce. They were really delicious and made a perfect accompaniment to dip in the mussel broth (especially the dijon….did I mention it was drinkable?).

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I am looking forward to my next dinner at Flex and I will definitely be trying the Thai Mussels along with the Mediterranean which has shrimp, kalamata olives, fennel, lemon, anise, and oregano ($22.50)

Ohh and I almost forgot to mention the wine/cocktail selection, which is pretty reasonable for NY fine dining. My friends and I shared a bottle of the Vincent Dampt Chablis for only $54. The selection of wines was also fairly extensive, which is somewhat expected at a mussel-centric restaurant. I mean, what goes better with mussels than wine?!

…..besides crusty bread, of course!

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Filed under Bars, Cocktails, New York Restaurants

B & B Ristorante ***

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702.266.9977
3355 South Las Vegas Blvd (@ the Venetian)
Las Vegas, Nevada

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I’ve got nearly 24 years of life experience under my belt now, and I am finally learning how to speak up and get what I want from people. So when the hotel told me they didn’t have the non-smoking room that I requested available when I got in tonight, I managed to weasel an upgraded suite with $200 worth of comps to spend anywhere in the casino. And for a foodie like me, that meant an extravagant steak dinner.

So I did a little research on the restaurants located in the Venetian and got excited so see Mario Batalli and Joe Bastianich’s B&B Ristorante on the list. I’m not one to shy aware from dining alone, so I dropped my bags in my baller room and headed on down for a proper meal.

B&B Ristorante

I started off with a full-bodied red wine, which was almost life changing (as it should be at nearly $17 a glass!). The server said it came highly recommended and I savored it slowly throughout my entire appetizer, which was Batali’s famous Grilled Octopus with “Fagiolo Marinati” served in a Spicy Limoncello Vinaigrette ($21). It was really incredible. The octopus was tender and parts of it had a nice grilled char to it. The bacon fat added a great deal of rich flavor but the lemon vinaigrette helped to brighten the dish and keep is fresh and clean. I would add this to the list of 10 best things that I have ever put in my mouth.

Grilled Octopus

The delicious appetizer got me very excited for my main entrée, which was a Steak Tagliata with Salsa Verde (aka Chimichurri sauce) and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes ($42). Unfortunately, I thought the main dish was a-w-f-u-l. It was almost inedible, and I am still unsure as to why I didn’t send it back and just ask for another serving of grilled octopus. The steak was soaked in oil, which did not lend itself well to the oily chimichurri accompaniment. The potatoes were also very rich in oil and practically burnt to a crisp, I don’t think I ate a single one.

Steak Tagliata

The entrée was a bust but the appetizer and wine was unforgettable, making B&B Ristorante very difficult to rate. I’ll give it three stars overall, but probably won’t be back anytime soon.

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Filed under Italian Restaurants, Las Vegas Restaurants, Steak House

Tao Las Vegas *****

Chilean Sea Bass2jpg
702.388.8338
3344 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

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Last month, I went out to Las Vegas for a couple of days to scope out the Pizza & Craft Beer Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center for work (very, very hard work, might I add!). Basically, I spent two full days just sampling different specialty beers and cheeses, followed by two long nights of fine wine and good food.

Out of all the restaurants in Vegas, Tao was one in particular that I wanted to try and it just so happened to be conveniently located in the lobby of my hotel. After reading several yelper’s comments, I found that most considered Tao to be a restaurant serving very small plates of food at an extremely high price, which they considered unjustifiable. But I think when food is extraordinary and unforgettable, then to hell with portion size and if you can afford it, to hell with the price. So was Tao worth the splurge for a special indulgence? Continue reading to find out!

Tuna Tartar

To start we ordered the Spicy Tuna Tartar served on Fried Rice Cakes ($18). I am used to eating tartar with something extremely crunchy to to counteract the raw texture, like a fried plantain chip, or a wonton,  so I was hesitant whether or not I would enjoy the fried rice accompaniment, but it worked perfectly with the fish. It didn’t seem too mushy and the flavors were so on point, complimented by the spicy cream sauce that was drizzled on the bottom of the plate. I was scraping this stuff up with my fork it was so good.

I also wanted to order two classic Asian appetizers so that I could accurately assess the food, comparing it with dishes that I was already familiar with at other Asian restaurants. So we got an order of the Satay of Chilean Sea Bass with Wok Roasted Asparagus ($19).

Chilean Sea Bass Satay

The fish was cooked to perfection and the satay sauce was served in just the right portion—not too heavy and not too light. Although, I tend to prefer chicken satay and would like to try that next time.

Squab Lettuce Wraps

We also tried an order of the Squab Lettuce Wraps ($15), which peaked my interest because how often do you see squab on the menu?!? They were delicious and came with a huge portion of grilled meat. In fact, we had to ask for more lettuce shells to use it all up. This was a great bang for your buck if you’re on a budget.

As far as entrees were concerned, we contemplated ordering a bunch for the table and sharing, but there was really only one dish that I wanted to try—the infamous Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass ($39). Google anything on Tao and this is sure to be mentioned at some point in the article; they are known for this signature dish. So I convinced everyone to order their own dish and had zero regrets because my sea bass was unforgettable.

Miso Chilean Sea Bass

It was the kind of dish that easily commands the price and gives me a season to visit Tao at some point in the future (the very near future, I hope!).  The fish was like butter, just falling apart with each poke of my fork.  And the sauce, which was more like a delicate broth, was unique in flavor, without too much saltiness (contrary to many blogger opinions). I also enjoyed the sautéed vegetable medley underneath the protein, which bathed in the broth, soaking up the miso flavors.

The other dish that really stood out for me among the six entrees, was the Wasabi encrusted Filet Mignon, served with a stack of tower of Tempura Onion Rings ($40).

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This was a smaller portion—as filets tend to be—but it was also incredible and unlike any other steak seasoning that I have tried. The wasabi added a nice heat to the exterior of the beef and the temperature on the cooking was just right. I am not a huge fried onion fan, so I would have preferred an alternate side dish, but A+ on the steak.

Other dishes ordered included the Diver Sea Scallops with Red Curry and Thai Basil ($35), which were very fresh and soft in texture. I liked these a lot, but would probably order them as an appetizer to share rather than an entrée.

Scallops in Curry Sauce

The Roasted Thai Buddha Chicken ­­­($28) was good but nothing terribly special. Wouldn’t suggest it.

Buddah Chicken

We also had an order of the Vegetable Fried Rice ($13) a with rich fried egg on top, which was amazing. Put a fried egg on just about anything and count me in. Had a nice thick soy glaze drizzled over the dish and comfortably fed six people as a side dish.

Vegetable Fried Rice

Overall, I walked away from Tao a very happy camper and would definitely be back for more of that Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. I will admit though that some of the dishes were just average and if I hadn’t ordered some of the more spectacular ones (the steak, the sea bass, and the tuna tartar) then I would have left feeling….well….duped. My advice is to read the reviews on Tao (you’re doing a good job if your reading this now!) and then order the dishes that people and critics like myself recommend as fabulous, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone a little. To be honest, I’ve only ever had sea bass one other time and I was totally nervous about committing to the dish at the cost of  $40, but it was what they are known for and now I understand why.

Go to Tao if you’ve played a good night in Vegas and have some money to throw around on a good meal.

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Filed under Asian Cuisine, Las Vegas Restaurants

Trattoria Toscana *****

 
553 State Route #1
Whippany, NJ 07981
973.386.0303

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Everyone knows that New York is host to wealth of fantastic Italian restaurants–Marea, Babbo, Del Posto, Scalini Fedeli, Patsy’s, Carmine’s (just to name a few)–but outside of the city, off of route 1, lies a “hidden gem” by the name of Tratattoria Toscana. I use quotes because although it has a very inconspicuous location, it is well known among foodies, locals, and Italian’s looking for a proper pasta with gravy. This place is always jam packed and the delicious food being served is worthy of such loyal patronage.

Rodolfo Monti and his son, Giacomo (with names as authentic as their food), are the owner and chef of Trattoria Toscana, and although their menu offers a variety of well-loved Italian classics, their culinary speciality is certainly from the Tuscan region.

To start, I suggest the Sliced Pears, Prosciutto, and Shaved Parmesan Cheese ($13) or my personal favorite, Mussels cooked in Spicy Tomato Broth with White Wine and Garlic ($11). Another great way to sample the menu is to split a pasta dish or two between the table as an appetizer. The Amatriciana cooked with pancetta, onion, tomato, and pecorino cheese is very flavorful red sauce with a delicious hearty bacon flavor.

For my main dish I ordered the Braised Short Ribs in a Chianti Wine Reduction, served with Parmesan Risotto and Garlicky Broccoli Rabe. As if all of these plate components aren’t already my favorite things to eat, they were also cooked to PERFECTION! The meat just seemed to fall apart each time I poked it with the fork, and the risotto was a perfect creamy compliment to the flavors of the Chianti wine reduction. The pair was like an upscale, Italian version of mashed potatoes and gravy. And the broccoli rabe, which can be a hit or a miss for many restaurants, was out of this world good. The garlic seasoning was just right and it was cooked without being too mushy. This dish certainly makes my list of Top 10 Food-gasm experiences.

My mom ordered the Tilapia Livornese topped with capers, black olives, caramelized onion, and tomatoes and served with oven-roasted potatoes. Stealing a small forkful from her was a challenge, thats how much she enjoyed it. The fish was light and buttery and the sauce was incredible.

My dad, on the other hand, opted for something a little bit richer–the Lollipop Lamb Chops in an aged balsamic reduction, served with risotto and roasted potatoes (see photograph at top). As you can see in the photograph, the lamb is cooked to perfection with a bright pink hue in the center of the meat. The balsamic reduction had a nice flavor but thankfully was used sparingly, so as not to take away from the quality taste of the meat. And the potatoes–although just a side component on the plate–were also very nicely done with a crispy outer shell and piping hot center.

After finishing with our main courses, we ordered a round of cappuccinos and a large piece of Homemade Ricotta Cheesecake to share as a table. The coffee was nothing special but the cheesecake was very delicious. It was not too dense or too sweet, and the fresh berries and whipped cream around the edges of the plate were great addition to each bite. A perfect way to end a fabulous meal!

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Filed under Cocktails, Italian Restaurants, New Jersey Restaurants

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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Filed under Cafe / Bistro, Coffee Shop, New York Restaurants

{ 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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Filed under Baking, International Restaurants, Markets

{ Tapas y Patatas – Barcelona, Spain Pt. I }

Wandering the streets of Barcelona is absolutely amazing. You can stroll up and down the ever-crowded Las Ramblas (guarding your side bag for dear life, of course), or you can people watch in the artsy Barri Gotic, as you hop from café to café. Ariana and I enjoyed the street life so much that we ended up postponing the bulk of our “touristy” sightseeing for the last day. This became a problem when we realized that there were only 30 days in June though. You see, we had planned our time in Barcelona with the assumption that there were 31 days in the month. Needless to say, we never saw Parc Guell, or the magic fountain, or Casa Mila. We did, however, get to try some absolutely amazing restaurants:

Taller de Tapas (http://www.tallerdetapas.com/)

Placa de Sant Josep Oriol, 9 
08002 Barcelona
{In Barri Gotic} 
 

Grilled Prawns on Skewer with Garlic Mayonnaise

Assorted Tapas on the Bar

Chorizos

Red Sangria

Slow Roasted Pryenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme

Pan con Tomate

Taller de Tapas is a small plate restaurant with a pronounced Argentinian influence, and after trying just a few of their dishes I have concluded that although the Spanish may have invented the tapas concept, the Argentinians have perfected it! Ariana and I got started with a pitcher of Red Sangria, which was undeniably the best that I have ever tried. Finally, a sangria that tasted like alcohol and not straight fruit juice! We had a buzz after just one glass. Next they brought out the signature Spanish tapa, Pan con Tomate. This is made by rubbing a ripened tomato on baguette and then drizzling a little but of olive oil and kosher salt. The Chorizos were nice and spicy, and the left over oil was great for dipping our bread in. But the highlight of the meal was really the Pyrenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme. The meat was fall off the bone and melt in your mouth tender, and the seasoning was spot on. Ariana orders lamb just about everywhere we go, and even she said this was the best lamb that she has ever had. It was served with a couple of crunchy roasted potatoes and some green chilies…perfection, a must try!

Siete Portes (http://www.7portes.com/)

Passeig d’Isabel II, 14
o8003 Barcelona, Spain
{Subway: Barceloneta Stop}
 

"Rich Man's Paella"

Mussels Marinera

Red Sangria

"Rich Man's Paella"

When I googled the “best Paella in Barcelona,” Siete Portes returned the most hits. I was still a little leery after the whole Les Coloniales incident in Seville though, so I stopped to poll a few people on the streets (I take my food seriously). Everyone agreed that Siete Portes’ Rich Man’s Paella was in fact the best–one man even said that the President frequents the restaurant for it–and so Ariana and I headed there for a seafood feast. It’s a good thing that we got there early because we didn’t have a reservation and we got the last table (the only table) without a reserved sign on it. We got our usual pitcher of Sangria, which was good (but not nearly as delicious or strong as Taller de Tapas) and I had an order of Mussels Marinera as an appetizer. The mussels were very fresh and meaty and the sauce had great flavor, although it was a little sweet. Then the paella came out. The server presents the dish to the table in the large cast iron pan and then he serves each individual person their plate. Ariana and I got the Rich Man’s Paella, which means that everything is cleaned and de-boned so you don’t have to get messy while you eat. It’s so nice to have someone do all the work for you! The paella had just about everything but the kitchen sink in it. There was chicken, pork, chorizo, prawns, calamari, mussels, cuttlefish, and small shrimp all mixed into a tomato and saffron flavored rice. We cleaned every scrap of food off of our plates, and then walked back home in the silence of our food-coma.

Bo de B

At the Corner of Fusteria 14 and Merce 35
{right by the post office, Subway: Barceloneta Stop}

 My friends Sam and Carly both studied abroad in Barcelona and told us that we had to check out the Bo de B Sandwich shop while we were there. We had a hard time finding the little place, until we noticed a long line of people wrapped around a building corner. Sure enough, they were waiting for their custom crafted sandwiches at Bo de B. The sandwiches take quite some time to make because the meat (choice of chicken, steak, or seasoned tofu) is cooked to order. Once the meat is ready, you then choose from an exhaustive selection of sauces and toppings to create your own unique sandwich, which will only set you back about 3 euro (a steal as far as Europe is concerned!). I made a Greek styled sandwich (first one pictured) with chicken, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, red onion, hot sauce, and tzatziki. Ariana’s sandwich (second one pictured) had chicken, avocado, tomato, mayo, and italian dressing. The best part of the sandwich was definitely the crusty bread though. I normally eat my sandwiches open-face to save myself the carbs, but I made an exception for this delicious roll. Just make sure that you have a good supply of napkins on hand because they are not shy with the sauces! I thought this was a fabulous and filling lunch at a budget price point. Thanks Carly and Sam!

Rosa Negra (http://www.rosanegrabcn.com/rn/es/index.html)

Via Laietana, 46
Barcelona, Spain
 
 
 
Rosa Negra is a very modern and trendy Mexican restaurant located on one of the side streets off of Las Ramblas. Ariana and I ate here for our very first meal in Barcelona, again by the suggestion of Carly and Sam. We didn’t feel like playing the restaurant game so we just played it safe and stuck to the list of recommendations. Our flight got in at a weird time and happened to be adjusting to a time change still, so we were eating at the early hour 5 O’Clock, but the place was packed because it was Happy Hour for everyone else! Rosa Negra is definitely a popular happy hour spot with 3.50 euro margaritas and mojitos. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the margaritas had to be the frozen kind in order to be sold at the happy hour price, and so it was a lot more sugar than alcohol. I bit the bullet and paid the price to have my margarita on the rocks, and it was good and strong. For dinner we ordered the Chicken Flautas with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa verde. They were pretty average, but the salsa had a nice flavor. We also split an order of the Chicken Nachos with refried beans, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole. The cheese was a weird white pump cheese that I have never seen before and it freaked me out a little, but we was starving and so we ate them all. The best thing we had was the Chicken Fajita Salad with sliced avocado, tomato, and balsamic dressing. The salad was really beautiful with all the fresh produce and the dressing was a nice dijon balsamic with lots of garlic flavor. I probably wouldn’t recommend Rosa Negra for food, but the place has a very cool interior design and the scene at Happy Hour is a good time, if frozen margaritas are your thing!
 

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Honey ****

Spring Chicken Flatbread with Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella, and Black Truffle Oil

215.489.4200
42 Shewell Avenue
Doylestown, Pa 18901

CHECK OUT THE MENU!

To say that fine dining options are fairly limited in Doylesytown, Pennsylvania–my hometown consisting of about 9,000 people–is an understatement. And as I routinely complain in my blog, the only fine dining is Italian food, so you’re shit-out-of-luck if you aren’t in the mood for pasta. When my parents told me to pick a restaurant to celebrate my 22nd birthday this week, I found myself completely stumped on places to go. In fact, I ended up just eating at home to avoid the inevitable restaurant disappointment! But my parents didn’t think that the backyard BBQ was celebratory enough, so they surprised me and took me to Honey restaurant the following night.Although Honey isn’t new to Doylestown, it is new to me. Obviously, I wasn’t been able to keep up with the food scene in Philly while at school in Miami, and when I was home on holidays and breaks, I was too busy eating my mom’s cooking to get out to restaurants.

Honey is a modern and trendy little spot located right off of main street in Doylestown. It’s actually so elegant and chic that I completely forgot I was in Doylestown once inside (which was nice!). We got started with some drinks from their eclectic and creative cocktail menu, including their Black Cherry Mojito ($13) and the Alma Calma ($12). The mojito was made with Black Seal Dark Rum, Spiced Cherry Puree, Mint, Lime, and Wishniak Cherry Soda. I was nervous about ordering a mojito in hickville Pennslyvania after spending the past four years living in Miami (the mojito capital), but I was very pleasantly surprised after trying the drink, which even included a nice stick of raw sugarcane in the glass. The Alma Calma includes Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, Ginger Infused Brandy, Fresh Lime, and Elderflower Essence…also delicious!

Before we even placed our order, the server brought out a complementary Tuna Melt Bite for everyone at the table, as a “gift” from the kitchen. It was Tuna, Melted Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato backed on top of a Petite Toast. I would have ordered this delicious sampler as a meal if I could of but sadly, it wasn’t on the menu. This salty started certainly got my appetite going though!

Complimentary Tuna Melt with Manchego Cheese, Kalamata Olives, and Cherry Tomato

Next the server brought out some Popcorn with 15 Spices as a snack while we waited for our food. 15 spices sounds very flavorful, but I was unimpressed by the popcorn and oddly, thought it was bland (especially for having 15 spices!!)

Popcorn with 15 Spices

Since Honey is a tapas styled restaurant featuring small plates, my family and I decided to order 3 different dishes and share them equally. We started with an order of Fried Catfish served with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat Succotash ($18). The Succotash was ridiculously good (as well as abundant) and I loved the spicy remoulada sauce on the fried fish. The fish was a nice portion with two large pieces on the plate, and it was cooked to perfection.

Fried Catfish with Remoulada Sauce and Crab Meat and Corn Succotash

Next came the order of Spring Chicken Flatbread with Smoked Amish Chicken, Asparagus, Melted Leeks, Preserved Lemon, Goat Cheese, Fresh Mozzarella and Black Truffle Oil ($14 – photographed at top). It was more like a pizza than a flatbread in my opinion, because the crust was pretty doughy and thick, however, it was tasty. I just don’t think that I would order it again though since the other two dishes were more inspired and delicious. Also, I don’t think that the flavors of the truffle oil came through in the dish, which was a little disappointing.

The last plate to come out was the Tuna Ceviche made with Sushi Grade Yellowfin Tuna, Breakfast Radish, Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles ($18). I really liked the combination of the acidic grapefruit with the tuna, and thought that the green tea noodles were a very fun accompaniment to the dish.  They had a nice soy flavor and the cashews added a great little crunch to each bite! This is something I would order again, but I didn’t think that portion size qualified an $18 price tag, which was my only complaint with the restaurant.

Tuna Ceviche with Ruby Grapefruit, Cashews, Radish, and Chilled Green Tea Noodles

Overall, I thought that the food was very good, but that there wasn’t any dish in particular that I would specifically crave again–besides the Tuna Melt Starter perhaps! My parents did warn me that the best thing that they have tried on the menu was the Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Pine Nuts, Toasted Sesame, and Spicy Ginger Ice Cream (yes, ice cream and pork….together!), but we didn’t order it because they wanted to try some new things. I regret not ordering this dish, because had I liked it as much as they do, it would have been a dish that would call me back in the future. I mean how many places do you know serving meat and ice cream in one dish?! It is a very unique and specific menu item like this that keeps a crowd returning because they can’t satisfy their craving elsewhere. Tonight, I didn’t have anything that was extraordinary or unavailable elsewhere…so I suggest ordering the most unique menu items here rather than playing it safe like we did!

Black Tea Glazed Spare Ribs with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

This being said, I must now say that I have never EVER had better restaurant service in my life. The service and the atmosphere at Honey was absolutely impeccable from beginning to end. Our server knew the menu by heart and was able to talk about the food at length, and he was just a genuinely nice guy. Although I only gave Honey 4 stars for food, the service gets at least 15 stars!!

The Front of Honey Restaurant – Taken from Honey Facebook Site

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