Monday, August 30, 2010

Major Awards

I figured I would skip talking about food today to congratulate all the EMMY winners!!!!

It was a fantastic show and I thought Jimmy Fallon deserved major props as a host. I’m so happy about Mad Men, Modern Family and Top Chef taking the statues and also GLEEful about Eric Stonestreet (yay!), Edie Falco, Jane Lynch (double yay!), Betty White and Mr. Pacino winning! Wow – what a show.

Yes, Yes, Lea looked goooorgeous. I thought Julie and Sofia did too :-)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pop Rocks and Chocolate?

I found two new sites that I love:

I read about Sparkler Pops on both sites. Apparently, the pops are a combination of chocolate and Pop Rocks and they’re a trendy, new fad with gourmet chocolatiers. Everyone loves the nostalgic fizz of Pop Rocks, right?

Sprinklebakes said:
The Voltaggio brothers (of Top Chef fame and Volt restaurant) have been treating diners to chocolate fizzy lollipops as an end-of-the-meal surprise. Sure, it's probably a fad and some would say gimmicky, but I think it's a lot of FUN!

(photo from

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Feel the Heat

By now I’m sure you realize that my hubby loves long hot peppers. I do too, but sometimes I’m a wimp and can’t take extreme heat.

We haven’t had these peppers in a long time:

Look good? They are because they're stuffed full of sopressata and provolone – need I say more? We’re overdue. I feel a trip to Lodi coming on to visit Vitamia.

(photos courtesy of

Friday, August 27, 2010

Food on Wheels

Food trucks seem to be everywhere these days. Remember I posted about this one in Los Angeles?

Well, among the gazillion in New York City, I’m dying to try Schnitzel & Things . They serve......wait for it.......schnitzel platters with two sides! Sides include stuff like Austrian potato salad or roasted beets with feta. My stomach is growling.

And are you all watching this show? It’s pretty good.
Long live the food truck revolution!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breaking News

ALJ sent me this article this morning. I knew about Eataly but didn’t know it was set to open SO SOON! I’m spiraling out of control with anticipation folks. Since I’m too excited to even write, see some text below from this article:

Here she is people: Your first peek inside Eataly (200 Fifth Ave between 23rd and 24th Sts; no phone yet), the 50,000-square-foot gastro-playground from the Batali-Bastianich dream team. This massive shrine to Italian food and wine contains seven separate eateries, matched by corresponding food stores: You can buy the goods to make your own Piedmontese beef crudo at the LaFrieda butcher counter, or taste the composed dish, paired with peppery arugula, at the meatcentric Manzo Ristorante. Completing this monster restaurant-retail hybrid is a 15th-story rooftop beer garden, a culinary bookstore and an educational center.

Food nerds, start your effing engines.

Photos above are from Eater. See more of their amazing shots here.

I can't wait to go to Eataly! Thanks for the scoop ALJ - Mwahhhhhhh!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

More Minetta

No, I’m not done talking about this place yet.....

Yesterday I described that uber delicious Black Label Burger but we ordered two other items as appetizers (since 3 of us were dining) and I thought you might want to hear about them too:
* Roasted Bone Marrow with baguette soldiers and shallot confit.
* Pasta Za Za with pancetta, sage, parmesan and a fried egg.

The bones filled with marrow that arrived on a stark white plate were filled with gelatinous goodness that was crusty and caramelized. I must confess that the act of spreading the marrow on the crispy toasts and then topping it with the delectable shallot confit felt almost naughty. The large shin bones looked like something Fred Flintstone would eat and were simply irresistible because of the soft creamy marrow texture and amazingly deep flavor. Order them if you go!!

The Pasta Za Za is really a spaghetti carbonara of sorts. It’s the cheapest entree on the menu at $18 (though we ordered it as an app). The homemade fettuccine noodles were cooked perfectly al dente and glistening with the lard from the lardons of pancetta...and then further lubricated from the runny egg. Who wouldn’t like that?!? I’m a pasta addict (seriously - I need pasta lovers anonymous) so I would return to Minetta again and again for Za Za. Yes, I had the burger and loved it, but the Za Za below will be calling my name for a long time to come.....

Minetta does have the kind of mania surrounding it that, say, a new Twilight flick would. But if you want to experience the true essence of NYC in one single evening, Minetta Tavern is the place to do it.

P.S. – I should mention that they have the coolest ice I’ve ever seen. Very very large perfectly square cubes. Is it weird to be smitten with ice?


I finally went to Minetta Tavern. I had the renowned Black Label Burger. I feel as though blogging about said burger is beating a dead horse....I mean everyone in the food world has heard about Minetta AND that infamous burger, right?

So I’ll spare you the part about the restaurant description (Minetta Tavern being tucked away on Minetta Lane with windows only in front ...blah, blah, blah) and get right to what matters – THE BURGER. Drum roll, please....

The pricey burger is a unique blend of prime dry-aged beef that claims to be one of the best in the biz. When it arrived, I stared at it for a moment (then photographed it). If I were to compare this burger to a person, it is visually right on par with George Clooney (or whomever you find to be the most attractive male/female on the planet). It was pretty stunning. Thick beef patty oozing with juices, crusty outside and pure pink in the middle, mahogany caramelized onions sitting on top, all served on a buttered sesame-seeded brioche bun – UH, yum.

It was truly a riveting experience because burgers rarely pack that flavor punch of aged beef. The juices were abundant and I’m sure the clarified butter that they baste the entire burger in during the cooking process contributed to my eyes rolling back into my head a few times while eating. Oh, and let’s not forget the depth of flavor those onions added. Insanity.

I know what you are thinking - can a burger be that good? Can it be worth $26? Yes. Yes it can. And it is.

More tomorrow on Minetta. There was actually a dish that I would order again next time....and it isn’t the burger!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Further Investigation

Several weeks ago I was in Allendale and spotted a cute restaurant that was under construction and set to open at the end of July.

Fast forward to August and of course mom and I went back to see what Darla’s Porch was all about. Turns out, it is a spacious and friendly cafe with a menu chock full of sandwiches, salads, soups and quiches. The rather large room with ceiling fans and polished wood floors was painted the prettiest shade of pale blue and reminded me of something you’d see in Cape May. (And moms who lunch with their kiddies will love the large play room and area for children!)

My mom enjoyed her sandwich and her cream of tomato soup was really really good (I tasted it). I ordered the ham and cheese quiche served alongside a small salad and it was quite tasty. You could tell the flaky crust was homemade and the custardy filling felt light.

Two thumbs up to Darla’s Porch for a pleasant environment and solid food!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Caffeine and Croissants

I’ve mentioned how much I adore Church Street in Montclair before. I think I’m going to find myself over there even more now that I discovered that Beans Coffee serves fresh baked goods AND iced coffee.

Beans is an anchor store on Church Street and has been there since the 1970’s. Their shelves are stocked with rare teas, teapots and gourmet gifts. Of course, what keeps their loyal customers coming back again and again is the impressive variety of coffee beans for sale.

The shop smells heavenly, the staff is friendly, the coffee is delish, and the fresh baked croissants are divine. Enough said.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Broadway Bound

I’ve walked past Insieme in The Michaelangelo Hotel many times on my NYC visits and have always wanted to eat there. Last week it was our lunch spot before seeing Jersey Boys on Broadway (the fabulousness of this show is a discussion for a whole other time!!!)

My appetizer, which was a pretty salad of delicate lettuces and shaved pieces of colorful baby vegetables, was bland and needed salt and pepper. Unfortunate. The main course of veal lasagna was more enjoyable. The thin sheets of homemade pasta were light as a feather, the veal ragu was flavorful, and the bright red tomato sauce was sweet and fresh. The sprinkling of fresh herbs on top added even more zest.

There are a billion NYC restaurants I'd like to try so I don't think I would run back here. The restaurant’s name (pronounced een-see-EM-ay) is the Italian word for together and if nothing else, I’m glad “E” and I could be together eating lasagna on a weekday afternoon.

(interior photo from

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wedding Reminiscence

Just ate at 32 Church (Creative Cooking) in Montclair. There are a ton of reasons I should have adored this restaurant. (1) it is on Church Street - one of my favorite charming streets; (2) you can dine outdoors; (3) it is owned by a restaurant group that owns a restaurant in Westfield that I used to frequent and loved; (4) the menu was interesting; (5) the restaurant interior is very attractive ; and (6) it is BYO!

Sadly though I didn’t love it --- I only LIKED it and was hoping for more. 32 Church brings a bit of a SOHO vibe to Montclair, has an eclectic cool menu, and is right next door to Amanti Vino wine store (making for very easy BYOing). It is the latest endeavor by the Creative Cooking teams from Theresa’s, Isabella’s and Mojave Grill of Westfield and Theresa’s South of Bay Head (where I've been wanting to eat).

My eggplant pancake with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and tasty roasted garlic cream was quite enjoyable and rather filling for an appetizer (I had it as my lunch). My mom’s frittata special was again a generous portion and light and fluffy, just the way a frittata should be.

So what was my problem? I was served good food and yet I wasn’t thrilled?! Honestly, 32 Church occupies the space of former Montclair restaurant, Taro, where my dear friend ALJ was married. It made me so sad that Taro was gone that I probably could have been served perfect cuisine and still wouldn’t have been happy. All I could think about was ALJ’s wedding, how much fun we had that day, and how delicious the food was at Taro.

In fairness, I guess I’ll give this restaurant another try when I have a clear head and my brain isn’t fogged out with lovely wedding memories.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


C’mon people.....did you really think I’d be able to stay away after all that pizza blogging last week??!

And yes, it was as delicious as ever.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread

I don’t really love to bake but I’m all about homemade cookies. That’s why I get excited about how easy Claire Robinson’s Shortbread are to make. They are beyond simple (with only 5 ingredients) and I like that you don’t have to get involved with rolling pins and cookie cutters.

Her recipe calls for the addition of earl grey tea , but I prefer the shortbread dipped in chocolate instead!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ruhlman and Cheesecake

Do you know Michael Ruhlman? If not, you should!!! Mr. Ruhlman has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and is best known for his many books authored in collaboration with American chefs like Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert (double gasp). If that isn’t impressive enough, he is also a good friend of Anthony Bourdain and has appeared in some episodes of No Reservations with him. I’ve loved Ruhlman since seeing him with Bourdain on TV a while back and reading his blog. But what really makes him hold that special place in my heart is that he loves the Miso Salmon at Cheesecake Factory and admits it.

You see, last year Ruhlman made fun of author and journalist Kelly Alexander for writing an article in praise of Cheesecake Factory and she quickly issued a challenge to him via email: Go to Cheesecake, order the miso salmon and if you don’t think it is totally awesome, I will not only pay for your salmon but will personally buy 15 copies of your book Ratio. Ruhlman took the challenge and the rest is history. (You can read all about it here and here.)

To quote Ruhlman exactly, he describes the miso salmon like this: “The salmon was delicious–juicy, flavorful, excellent miso glaze, just the right amount of sweetness, the sauce was buttery/creamy...”. I 100% agree and so does my husband, who was ordering the dish long before I was.

On my recent lunch trip to Cheesecake Factory with my mom, we didn’t order the miso but rather some salads and an item from the new small plates menu (*LOVE*). I’m never let down at this mega chain restaurant. The food is always flavorful and something inside me just can’t resist the casino like grandeur of the restaurant’s interior.

P.S. – Attention Mr. Ruhlman or Mr. Ruhlman’s peeps if you are reading this, maybe you and Bourdain would like to join us on our next Cheesecake Factory trip?!? We always order the salmon and it could be like one big giant miso party!!!!!!

Think about it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend Indulgence

Mondays are never easy and are certainly made more difficult after a weekend where a fab meal was eaten outdoors in great company. This weekend we had beautiful weather for our BBQ with friends from NYC. Catching up was wayyy overdue and our evening together flew by faster than I would have liked.

I would be remiss if I didn’t credit my husband for his spot on preparations of both appetizer and main course and for his mad grilling skills. Michael grilled Halloumi as an appetizer and served it over fresh summer tomatoes drizzled with a garlic oil he made. We had something similar at this restaurant a while back and I must say my hubby's version was even better!

The main course was his crispy lemon chicken with rice pilaf. The chicken was seasoned and cooked perfectly and his lemon sauce always draws rave reviews. He even arranged the platter meticulously.

Dessert was bought by our guests from here and was super scrumptious.

Megan and Rajeev - Thanks for trekking all the way from The Big Apple to spend Saturday night with us! We had a wonderful time and look forward to our next get together (which will hopefully involve Mr. Waxman).....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fresh Produce

I just discovered the Montclair Farmer’s Market at the Walnut Street train station (open from the end of June through November on Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm). It features a wide variety of fresh regionally-grown produce (including organic), as well as cut flowers, homemade cheese, pickles, organic bread and more. The colors and textures of the fresh produce were so inviting that I couldn’t help but snap these delicious photos.

What’s better than summer in the suburbs?