Thursday, September 30, 2010

San Gennaro

It's late September and that means San 11-day festival that fills the streets of Little Italy! San Gennaro features colorful parades, free musical entertainment, and food delicacies of all kinds.

We spent Saturday night on Mulberry Street taking in all the sights and sounds. Dinner at DaNico's outdoor cafe was the perfect place for people watching. I spotted RHONYC Kelly Killoren-Bensimon in the crowd. White wine, a cold antipasto for two and some pasta entrees were just what we needed to satisfy our stomachs after the long hike to Little Italy. Mamma mia - what fun!!

P.S. - It is official. I think I need a twelve step for pasta. I'm gazing at these photos of Saturday's dinner and my mouth is watering.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Diversion From Routine

We have a standing order at Cheesecake Factory that usually involves Salmon (I've talked about it extensively here). But recently Mike tried something new for lunch....the Thai Lettuce Rolls. The platter was filled with Satay Chicken Strips, Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Coconut Curry Noodles and Lettuce Leaves with three delicious Spicy Thai Sauces – Peanut, Sweet Red Chili and Tamarind-Cashew. He was quite pleased with his menu diversion!

Note - they were an appetizer but the portion was MORE than enough for a lunch entree. I should also say I am convinced that all of Cheesecake Factory's food is engineered to taste delicious because I've never had anything I didn't like.

P.S. - Look at the Miso Salmon. I miss it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sloppy and Good

Here’s the deal. I love a good Sloppy Joe sandwich. I’m sure if you’re from North Jersey you know that Town Hall Deli in South Orange is the place to get one. Theirs was named to the Best Sandwiches in America list and they were featured on Roker on the Road on Food Network. Their Joe is perfection.

Sometimes I don’t feel like driving to South Orange for a I go to Fairchild’s in Roseland where they make Sloppy Joes the *same exact way* as Town Hall Deli (I think one of the guys at Fairchild’s used to work at Town Hall). Tons of turkey, or whatever meat you select, and Swiss cheese piled high on razor thin rye with homemade Russian dressing and coleslaw for a mix that is tangy and sweet. Perfectly balanced. Sandwich heaven.

Pair your sandwich with a bag of these for full out lunch time excellence.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wedded Bliss

Ok, I’m freaking my freak over these:

Saw them on Bakerella’s blog (which is totally fab, BTW) and now I’m looking for someone to get married so I can make them. Aren’t they just the cutest thing ever? I mean why weren't wedding cake pops around in '04 when Mike and I got hitched?!

Someone get married so I can make these. Please.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Food Facts From My Father

My dad has been going to Michael Angelo’s and telling me to eat there for yearrrrrs. I should have listened earlier. Michael and I went a few weeks ago and the food was bangin’ (I mean that in a good way).

They have been in business for 28 years. The restaurant originated in Newark but moved to a new location in North Arlington about eight months ago. Michael Angelo's occupies a large space in a small strip mall. There are plenty of tables in an atmosphere that is warm, woody and homey. Once inside, you certainly wouldn’t know the restaurant is in a small strip mall!

My husband ordered the tripe and said it was pretty tasty. As for me, I can’t touch the stuff (SORRY Michael). I give him credit for being “old school” and eating authentic Italian, but I just can’t do it.

I ordered the meatballs, which weren’t as good as the ones here or here. The cavatelli with ricotta was delicious though. Plenty of white creamy ricotta, surrounded by a bright red marinara sauce. The marinara was bold, rich and zippy — certainly not shy. If they jarred the sauce, I would purchase it.

Im changing the saying “mothers always know best” to "fathers always know best" in this instance. Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One of the Best Things I Ever Ate

You know that show on Food TV "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"? If not, check it'll want to devour your television screen. The show inspired me to tell you about one of the best things I've ever eaten and it actually happened recently.

On our last trip to Borgata (sick of hearing about this place yet?!), we visited Fornelletto Cucina. My hubby ordered the appetizer of Chicken Liver Crostini. I'm really not a liver girl so I didn't think I would care for 'em. Turns out I was WRONG WRONG WRONG. After one bite of his, I summoned the waitress and ordered my own. They were that delicious. that creamy. that flavorful. that sumptious.

I'm a little scared they won't be on the menu next time because the waitress explained that Chef Kalt likes to change the menu, uh, frequently. "Don't get addicted because things disappear from the menu," she warned us.

Too late. I'm hooked and will be looking for those crostini on my next trip to Borgata and praying that they'll be there!!!

Savings or Cravings

On my last shopping trip to Whole Foods, I armed myself with my cell phone camera and took photos of all the items I was tempted to throw in my cart. Believe it or not, it helped me control my impulse shopping and stick to purchasing only the kale and broccolini I went in for.

The barrels and aroma of all these fresh coffee beans were so appealing I almost couldn't resist. Almost.

I wanted several bags of my favorite snack food. If you haven't tried them, please do so stat. You won't be sorry.

Exotic mushrooms make such yummy additions to pasta and steak but you always need tons because they cook down so much and it winds us being priceyyyyy.

This Green Apple soda would be delicious on its own or in a cocktail. Hmmmmm.

My fave canned tomatoes. I learned about them from Giada :-)

Lemon Geranium Body Scrub. Yes please.

I wanted to purchase and eat this gelato asap. Caribbean Coconut and Sicilian Pistachio?! I'm a sucker for marketing.

These silver canisters holding gourmet olive oils were so attractive that I wanted to fill up many empty glass bottles to the rim.

Last but not least, the hubs would have been thrilled with any wine bottle from their fantastic selection.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pinky Fingers Up!

My mom has been all about tea houses for as long as I can remember and it certainly rubbed off. There’s nothing I love more than a good tea room with extensive, glorious selections like a cherry rose green tea or an apricot supreme decaf.

Sally Lunn’s Tea Shoppe and Restaurant has been open for business in Chester, NJ for quite some time and I paid them a visit a few years back. Recently they opened a location in Chatham, NJ and we were eager to test it out.

While the Chester location is a full on Victorian parlor filled with curiosities, fine bone china and anything and everything to do with tea, the Chatham location is a little more modern. On the menu there are over fifty flavors of loose tea, and a large variety of food including tea sandwiches, salads, scones, cockney pie and even lamb and beef pasties (how charmingly British!).

I opted for the shrimp salad with dill tea sandwich served with a side of homemade red potato salad and I’m not sorry one bit. Yummmmmmm.

Cousins Rule

I’ll talk about the food because it was good, but really when a get together happens with my hubby’s cousin and her husband we chatter so much I’m surprised anyone knows what is even on the plate in front of them!?

Recently, we all grabbed dinner at Bardi’s in Pequannock. Their menu consists of a wide variety of meals including soups and chili, salads, appetizers, burgers, thin crust pizzas, pasta dishes, sandwiches and wraps, and beef, chicken, and seafood entrees. One of Bardi’s signature appetizer dishes was standout – the Shrimp Dino. Tender bits of shrimp sautéed and tossed in a spicy roasted garlic wine sauce were super delish. I’m still thinking about them actually.

I’m convinced that we’d have a good time with M&L no matter what our location - just so happens that Bardi’s was great!

Let’s not wait too long to get together again guys....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thanks Annie

I happen to love the ritual of Sunday morning pancakes. Lately though, I’ve been on a waffle kick. So imagine my smiling face when I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs called Annie's Eats. This girl can cook, takes amazing food photos that belong in magazines, and is a doctor!!

Today I wanted my morning to be spent indulgently lazy and satisfied so instead of waiting until the weekend to try them, I decided to make the waffles. They were full of flavor and I’ll be keeping the recipe in my arsenal for future Sunday uses.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Until I Retire

If you want to sample Thomas Keller's food for far less than it costs at Per Se (uh, doesn't everybody?!) then you need to visit Bouchon Bakery. Bouchon's open cafe setting in the middle of Time Warner mall in Columbus Circle is ideal for people watching while you eat superb food. Fantastic sandwiches, salads and quiches await you at this awesome, airy hot spot. The sandwiches will run you about $15 a pop but are soooo worth it and the impeccable plating screams Keller.

There's also a storefront accross from the restaurant that offers sammies to go and tons of baked goods. The large homemade oreo cookie will literally knock your socks off. No joke.

Truth be told, I'd rather be hanging at the Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, which is set in the heart of California's Napa Valley. I guess until I retire to that area and have my own vineyard, New York's Bouchon will have to suffice.

Classics like Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup are irresistible:

Check out Mike's Smoked Salmon Sandwich on home baked Brioche:

P.S. - Good news - Bouchon offers wine too!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Heart-poundingly Good

It is no surprise I love Morandi, the Italian restaurant belonging to Keith McNally. After all....he is the genius behind Minetta Tavern and we know how I feel about Minetta (hear my heart beating loudly?)

I see a pattern here with McNally restaurants which amounts to simple math: x (cram them in) times y (turn them over) equals z (money machine). Did I mention that the mathematic formula also uses delicious, reliable food?! I’ve been to Morandi a few times and sampled a bunch of menu items - Sicilian style meatballs with pine nuts and raisins, lightly fried artichokes, escarole salad with fava beans, Cacio e Pepe pasta and the spicy grilled chicken with chilies (Pollo alla Diavola). I’m happy to report the food is always mouthwateringly delicious. My husband loved the Pollo alla Diavola so much he tried to make it at home more than once.

Last visit, I ordered a light appetizer for dinner – the hand stretched focaccia caprese. Superb? You bet ya.

Keith, my friend, it seems you can do no wrong.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Original Inspiration

Back in June, I visited The Plaza Hotel and Todd English's Food Hall. I was so impressed with the whole venue that it served as inspiration to start blogging about food.

Last weekend, we stopped in again for a mid-afternoon snack of charcuterie and cheese. The wooden board full of goodies before was perfection and made me remember being completely inspired.

The charming American food hall offered so many tantalizing options and featured so many intoxicating smells last week that it was still hard to decide where to pull up a stool - just like on my original visit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Needs a Vacation?

Staycations are the newest thing. In case you haven’t heard, a staycation is an economical alternative to a conventional vacation. Instead of jetting down to Disneyworld or some exotic locale, a staycation might consist of barbecuing around the backyard pool, visiting a nearby museum, or relaxing with a day trip to the local park.

I say forget all that. Wanna feel like you are someplace tropical and NOT in The Jerz? Just head to Cuban Pete’s in Montclair. The walk to the outdoor garden seating takes you far away from the bustle of Bloomfield Avenue with every single step along the wood planked, palm tree-lined walkway. Sitting outside with warm breezes, dining on chimichurri skirt steak and coconut rice all while listening to Gipsy Kings will make you almost forget entirely that you're in Jersey.

On the last trip, our huge group dined on appetizers of Ham Croquettas, Goat Cheese Fritters, Chicken Empanadas, and Chicaron De Pollo (chicken lollipops)......and it was all really really good. I can’t resist their garlic shrimp with rice and fried plantains for dinner. I always order it. My husbands fave is the crispy whole fish!

I think it might be physically impossible not to have fun at Cuban Pete’s. They offer many different types of sangrias, the waiters are wearing tropical shirts and Cuban hats, and the eatery evokes the mood of a full blown tropical vacation.

So like I said – forget the whole backyard staycation thing. Just go grab a seat outside at Cuban Pete’s!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vanilla Bean Doughnuts

Do you have one of these?

If not, you're going to want to purchase a doughnut pan so you can make these:

I mentioned last week how much I enjoy I love the website even more now that I've made her recipe for Vanilla Bean Doughnuts.

Holy Freakin' Delicious Batman.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Convivial Campfire

Labor Day weekend brought lots of end of summer fun – BBQ’s, NYC eating and another Borgata excursion.

I'll start with Saturday which was spent BBQ hopping(thanks D. thanks Ang.)

One BBQ was in honor of a D.C. visitor. Whenever Luke returns to Jersey, a bunch of us get together for dinner. This time instead of going out to eat “Frangela” (our Hollywood couple name for Mike and Ang) hosted a BBQ. There were no hot dogs and hamburgers in site though....these guys bought everyone a steak!!!!! Oh, and did I mention there was pork loin and plenty of salads too?!? They really went all out.

One of the best parts of the evening involved making S’mores by the propane fire pit in their backyard. I’m still wondering if there will ever be a greater combination of flavors than those in a S’more. Continuing with the evening’s plenty of food theme, the S’mores weren’t alone on the dessert table - there was also strawberry pie and homemade doughnuts.

Sharing massive amounts of food with good friends always equals a stellar time! The iced cold shots of Patron XO Cafe probably didn’t hurt either. Coffee flavored tequila is definitely my new favorite drink.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Blog Break

.........but even bloggers need a break to enjoy the holiday weekend!

Happy Labor Day. See ya next week.