The Best Thing I Ate

I like food. Of the two options, I am definitely a "live to eat" person. I don't consider my taste highbrow. In fact, quite the contrary, I love good bad food. Here you will be able to find my ever growing list of the best foods that I've eaten this week (or few weeks) and in weeks past. I hope you will also get the chance to experience these foods... trust me, if they are worth my listing here, they are worth your seeking out. In some cases, I'm just reminding you about good sh!t you already know about. Bon appetit!

Most recent weeks will be added at the top, scroll down for older weeks:

Of course I eat good food everywhere, but nowhere is better than Maine.

Rejoice! The space of the Wayfarer is back, now called Musette, and they've brought those giant delicious blueberry pancakes with them. Huzzah!
Congdon's: Maple Creme doughnut and Bismarck still chef's kiss *mwah!*

You know I love a challenge, and we were given a kid-free day and set out to eat as much as possible, hitting as many of our favorite spots as possible in a day.
We did a whirlwind day in Portland, starting with some apps watching the World Cup at the Sebago Brewing Company (hello fried pickles), and then busting through our faves in Portland like Duckfat poutine while we waited for our table and oyster o'boys at Eventide, before a quick pork belly snack at Central Provisions on our way to Miyake for sushi. Truth be told we were actually on our way to Becky's Diner to pick up a piece of blueberry cake prior to Miyake, but we got there too late and they were already sold out. I'd have been heartbroken if it wasn't disgusting to admit.
Duckfat: poutine
Eventide: Oysters, fried chicken bun, brown butter lobster roll, oyster po-boy

Central Provisions: The cauliflower (eaten too quickly for a photo), and the pork belly (shown)

Miyake: Hamayake (photo shown after we destroyed it), tuna trio, and really everything they serve here. 

2017 highlights:
October 2017: Austin, TX: 
Torchy's Tacos: The queso was insane, tacos for breakfast is something I'd like to bring back to the NE with me, but like, these tacos specifically. 

Breakfast of champions 

Dessert of breakfast of champions
La Barbecue: If you want to really piss your friends off, pre-order your shit and after they have waited in line for over an hour, pull up in your taxi, grab your stuff from the back window and join them at the picnic table for your feast. 

August, 2017 My birthday month
I had a big birthday this year, and so I celebrated accordingly... eating all my favorite foods in all my favorite places with all my favorite people.
The usual hits: Bintliff's for bloody Mary's and corned beef hash, The Clam Shack for lobster rolls and fried clams, Congdon's Doughnuts for the most filling you can pack into a doughnut without being excessive and Goose Rocks Dairy to be disappointed for the sixth year in a row that they still haven't brought back the spotted cow flavor, black raspberry ice cream with chocolate chunks, but then drown my disappointment in another one of their delicious flavors. And then heartbreak when I learned of the loss of the Wayfarer in Kennebunkport/Cape Porpoise. RIP massive blueberry pancakes.

East Hampton, NY 
My "big birthday" party:
I celebrated four decades on earth surrounded by friends and loved ones and my favorite foods. Four table sized sandwiches in the most delicious combinations imaginable from Fork & Anchor in East Marion, NY. KFC (yeah, I'm gross, but whatever), mac and cheese, and a little thing called a donut wall. Oh, you didn't have a donut wall at your last birthday? Oh, well, I guess your friends just don't love you enough to create one from scratch for you, in your favorite color, with your initial on it and filled with delicious donuts from Grindstone in Sag Harbor, NY. How sad for you. 

Disneyworld, March 2017
Make fun of me all you want... that Dole Whip is legit refreshing and one of the best things I ate in Orlando. Also, the sweet and spicy fried chicken sandwich on a waffle from Sleepy Hollow is the best thing to drop on your kids heads while watching the fireworks, in case you were wondering. 

September 5, 2016
A few weeks ago when we were out of town my mom took the kids for ice cream down to the Big Gay Ice Cream store in the village. I had only ever had their ice cream from a truck, so today, needing very little convincing, I wrangled the family into taking a walk down there for ice cream on a hot day. My daughter got a vanilla chocolate swirl with sprinkles which I figured she'd share with her brother. I convinced my husband to get the Violet Beauregard, which is vanilla soft serve with blueberry pie filling and crumbs. I also upgraded him to a waffle cone instead of that sundae's usual presentation in a cup. He was pleased. I got the cone of the day which was a mashup of their Salty Pimp (vanilla soft serve, salt, dulce de leche and a chocolate dip) and the  American Globs (vanilla soft serve, dark pretzel pieces and a chocolate dip). The resulting cone (waffle cone upgrade, naturally) was nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately my son agreed and I had to *gasp* share it with him. Awful.

I will be doing that again.

August 26, 2016
Birthdays seem as good a time as any to eat delicious things shamelessly. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday and so tonight we took her for dinner to the Clocktower. Seeing as I had just been last week for my birthday, one would assume I loved it. I liked it a lot, but my mom was very interested in going. 
Let's start with the piping hot ball of fresh bread and butter they bring out to start. Amazing. Fresh hot bread. Those words are just so sexy to me.
Food, blah blah blah.
Dessert: The apple tart tatin for two. It seemed weird that they put that it was for two, so obviously we got one. In truth, there's enough for all five of us. Individual tiny vanilla ice cream pots for everyone and one dangerously hot pan of this:

It was so good. My son went to town. He had one spoon in one hand with the ice cream and the second spoon in his other hand with the tart. Raising them right, for sure.

August 18, 2016
I guess my mom and sister had so much fun coming in to eat decadent things with me the other day that they returned today. Our destination: Sadelle's for some Jewish/Russian brunch stuffs.
First off, the sticky buns. Have you had Roberta's? They are insane. So damn good and the biggest treat when our dear friends bring them over from Brooklyn. These ones could be better. They are a bit stickier, which for me is a welcome addition. I still love Roberta's, but these are closer to home. 
We also got bagels, french toast (delicious!), blintzes and salami and eggs... random, but we needed to break up all the sweet stuff. 
I had been here for dinner, which isn't the call at all. This is a breakfast/brunch/lunch place if you want the best things that they do.
It's definitely more of a special occasion place, so thankful that I had a recent birthday to use as our excuse.
I would say more, but I'd rather go and daydream about the sticky buns.

August 16, 2016
Da na na na na na... you say it's your birthday? Well mine is tomorrow. Which obviously means the fun starts today. My mom and sister were bold and brave and kind enough to come in and get in line for Black Tap burgers so that by the time I picked my daughter up from camp, we were to be the next one's in. Mind you, as the next ones we still had to wait almost an hour. But eventually we got a table to fit all of us and we got to work. We all got burgers. The hostess helped distribute the plates and announced the order at the table. "All American with avocado and a fried egg and sweet potato fries?" That would be mine. As she handed it over, so threw in an "Awesome order." I'm so proud.
The burger was outstanding. Juicy, avocado and egg added exactly what they were supposed to. Sweet potato fries were crispy and delicious. And my daughter's onion rings (she gets it) were also really good. 

But how about those shakes? Those Instagrammable shakes. Well, they are instagrammable, but a lot of things look good but don't taste as good. These, unfortunately for my belly, tasted as good as they looked. I literally had to pry myself away as I would have tried to finish them all and I probably would have still been sitting there if I had done that.

It's hard to justify waiting in a long line for things, but much like the cronut, I thought the payoff at the end of this line made it seem somewhat worthwhile.

August 6, 2016
Despite not getting up to Maine for one of our extended trips this summer, we managed to get there for a day. Well, 9 hours to be exact. I took the challenge and was very happy with the results.

July 30, 2016
So my cousin had her daughter's birthday party at Eddie's Sweet Shop in Forest Hills. This place is amazing. Not only is it a well preserved original ice cream parlor from days of yore, but they aren't just about the look. The homemade ice cream is delicious. I got an ice cream sundae (because they were generous to offer them to the parents, and yeah right I wasn't gonna get one). I got chocolate chip ice cream and banana ice cream, which was so good that I didn't die of jealousy when I saw my husband had gotten an actual banana split (great call hubs!)
Obviously there was hot fudge, hot butterscotch, whipped cream and yes, because I am a child I needed sprinkles too. It was... well, I'll just let the picture speak for itself then:

July 13, 2016
They opened the Whitney museum less than a mile from our house. I've been meaning to take the kids because, you know, culture and shit. And then I got tipped off about their chocolate chip cookie in their cafeteria. I was nervous that I would have to pay for admission to access the cafe on the 7th floor, but thankfully they sell them at the restaurant at street level. $6 for a cookie, which seems like a lot, but they really do pack it with chocolate. Three kinds of delicious chocolate and an actual cookie that is chewy enough, without being overpowered by the chocolate. They tell me it's gluten free, but I try not to think about things like that when I'm eating something this decadent, lest I feel healthier than I deserve to feel. 

July 12, 2016
We know I've done Sesame Place. I told you all about that. Yet as much of an expert as I thought I was, we only just discovered the sticky buns and cinnamon rolls at Fritz's bakery across the street. Sesame Place doesn't open until 10, so you definitely have to arrive 10 minutes early to detour there and get a few of everything. We got the german sticky bun with whipped cream cheese frosting. And a cinnamon bun. And a sticky bun with raisins (cause I'm super healthy). It was way too much for us, but I unapologetically devoured most of it prior to even setting foot in the park (and it really is across the street). 

July 4, 2016
Gorgeous breakfast buffet at the Hotel Timeo in Taormina where we're staying. Fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, cereal... ha ha ha, yeah right. There's also five varying kinds of chocolate, pistachio, ricotta and vanilla cake. Fresh proscioutto, salami, cheeses, bread and granita on order with fresh brioche. But the creme de la creme, literally, came in these gorgeous bombolloni, fresh cream filled donuts that were no match for my family. I hope the other guests got some. But not enough that I was willing to take less. 
I was so busy enjoying them that I didn't even manage a photo. Just one of my son after he ate one.
sweet cream face

July 3, 2016
Had the most incredible lunch sitting amidst a grove of olive trees, overlooking the ancient ruins of the valley of the temples near Agrigento. We're at the Hotel Villa Athena, just for lunch and I have easily had the best thing I ate this week and my favorite souvenir that we're bringing home: their olive oil. Fingers crossed the bottle doesn't smash on the way home. Though I care less about the wellbeing of my clothes and more about the preservation of this sweet savory nectar. 
Instead of taking a picture of my empty bread plate, I took a picture of this since a-I put the olive oil on it, but more importantly b-it looks likes boobs.

July 1, 2016
We're in Sicily. I'm having a very tough time dealing with the fact that Sicilian pizza (those thick, greasy square slices I have grown to love at most NYC pizza parlors) are not in fact Sicilian. Everywhere we have gotten pizza we have gotten those thin little pies, which are good, but not when you're in the mood for the big thick slab of pizza goo in your face. The closest we've come is foccaccia, which didn't have the cheese and sauce. But really I'm more hung up on how these rumors get started? Who names those slices Sicilian and why?
I'll go have another gelato and ponder that...

June 12, 2016
How good is watermelon?? So good. I know, it's "just" watermelon. But on a warm, sunny summer day you just can't beat it. And to see my son devour his was all the confirmation I needed that this was the best thing I ate this week.

May 21, 2016
You know you're fat when....

Late night snacks: microwaved s'mores on both graham crackers and Oreos.
I'm off to go feel bad about myself.

May 13, 2016
So, remember when I went to Maine last summer... of course you do. We tried the blueberry cake from Becky's Diner and it was outstanding. At the time, one of my friends shared with me what I thought was the recipe. So when I got a huge tub of blueberries and needed something to do with them, making the cake seemed an easy option. Only when I finished adding the ingredients she listed, I noticed my cake was not really a cake at all. I was missing any sort of fat or leavener. Panicky, I ran to the good old inter web and managed to cobble together what seemed to be a recipe that would work with what I already had in the bowl and what else I needed to attempt this thing. It was good. Not as good as Becky's, but I blame the inconsistent recipe. Plus I ate Becky's one whilst on vacation in Maine, which automatically makes everything just a little bit better.
Don't get me wrong, I will take this cake down, but I think my next attempt may be better. That's all I'm saying.

April 20, 2016
In the unedited words of my adoring husband: This could be the best thing I've ever eaten.
I thought it was a good meatloaf, but to him it was other worldly, which makes for a nice person to cook for. The key is the glaze. Too little and your meatloaf is too dry, too much and... ha ha, just kidding. You can never have too much (though it will slide off if you have too much so that's actually not true). 
Great meal for kids who love meatballs and burgers (mine love both) and a husband who's hungry (mine always seems to be).

April 5, 2016
Daughter's birthday means I get to make cake. And I love cake. #BRAG

March 24, 2016
Black and white cookies people! I know Seinfeld has covered them, but in case you've forgotten: black and white cookies are delicious.

March 11, 2016
Hurray! It's girl scout cookie time! As in our boxes just arrived and I cleared my social calendar for the weekend. Dulce de leeches are gone? That's just crazy. But my Thin Mint/Tagalong/Samoa threesome is my standard order. Husband brought home an oatmeal one... ok.
Few thoughts: while I understand there are two different main distributing bakeries and that the cookies have different names throughout the country depending on which company supplies your local troop, I still don't understand why we can't get them all year round. C'mon girl scouts, get it together. And speaking of get it together, I have been seeing other people's pictures of their cookies for weeks. Why have mine take so damn long. I revert back to my initial request for year round availability to avoid my anger over the course of those five extra weeks I have to wait. And finally, how freaking good are Samoas? Out of the box and slightly melty and out of the freezer and slightly rock hard. I love em. Year in and year out, they are something I have come to depend on in the absence of a reliable government or relatable Bravo housewives. Samoas won't let me down and I'll never yell at them for being batsh!t crazy (Ramona!).

March 4, 2016
Down in Turks and Caicos for a few days with the family. Went over to Da Conch Shack for some  early bird rum punch (early is the only way with kids) and some conch fritters. We had a few versions of conch fritters while we were there and these were by far the best. Crispy, flavorful, not too chewy but definitely with conch in them. Outstanding. Great place to come. The kids played on the beach. We played the ring game in the bar, and won! And everyone had a great time.
The curry was delicious too, but it's the fritters for the win.

February 13, 2016
We've been watching the Great British Baking Show on repeat... I tape it and my daughter is obsessed. So I guess that's partially why I've had macaroons on the brain. Like to eat them, never made them, wanted to try. So here we go... 
Went with an almond base to keep it plainer so we could have fun with the fillings, and did we ever... Vanilla buttercream, lemon curd, raspberry jam and every combination of the three.
The key is letting them sit long enough before baking. And I say this after making them all of one time because, well, in my humble opinion, we NAILED IT! 

February 4, 2016
I loves me some chili for the Super Bowl. And I like it poured over some good mac and cheese. We have a phenomenal recipe for chili from our friend Dan. The mac and cheese continues to be a work in progress, but isn't ever bad. It's cheesy noodles for the love.
We make a big pot of chili and tend to have some left over to freeze for either a cold winter's night or a night when I'm trying to stuff things into our tiny freezer after a supermarket run and forget I've taken the container out until it's mostly defrosted and then that's what we're having for dinner that night. Either way it's always a treat. Spicy and good with sour cream to take the edge off and sprinkled cheese melted on top because that's what cheese is meant for.

January 1, 2016
Happy new year breakfast! Proper English bacon and two kinds of sausage from Myers of Keswick, a small shop in the west village that specializes in English foods. And since breakfast meats are meant to be eaten with breakfast, not on their own, how about some eggs and a tray of challah french toast. Just want to make sure that everyone knows they should only be eating thick cut challah french toast. Sure brioche is an ok substitute, but it's all about the challah.
Good morning and a good way to prepare for the year ahead. Exactly the kind of rich, decadent diet I like to commit to early on in the year so there's no confusion what I hope to gain from the new year... approximately seven pounds. January 1st diet starters suck. That'll never be me.

December 25, 2015
Our Jewish family does Christmas. We don't celebrate the birth of Christ. We celebrate a day when everyone has off of work and can come together (in their pajamas) and spend the day together eating a lot of good food.
We do Thanksgiving dinner for Christmas because, duh!, Thanksgiving dinner rocks. But I've covered all that before. 
I've also probably mentioned the baked salami, swedish meatballs or party hot dogs that we rotate as our afternoon snack depending on the year. And maybe I've even mentioned the crab dip, which is some people's favorite. Not mine, but it's good.
So today I feel I should give a shoutout to our family's Christmas breakfast staple: The Cinnabun. Cinnabun is a chain restaurant (can you call it a restaurant?), eating establishment most commonly found in malls or highway rest stops. They make oversized cinnamon buns covered in a gelatinous (meant in the best way) thick layer of cream cheese frosting, which might just be lard, but it's tasty so I avoid asking too many questions. 
In recent years they started making trays of slightly smaller ones which make you feel slightly less obese for polishing off 1.5 with your coffee while the kids wait to tear into the rest of their gifts. Yes, "the rest of." We don't make the kids wait for us to eat our buns until they can start opening presents. That would be cruel. We have the buns as a break in the middle. We may be cultural appropriators, but we're not totally heartless people.

November 26, 2015
My sister hosts the holidays. My mom cooks the majority of the food. I usually just show up and eat. But once in a while I will attempt a contribution beyond that of picking up the good chopped liver on my way up for Passover or picking up a Zabar's strudel (before they changed the cherries they use in the cherry cheesecake one, essentially taking the best one and making it average at best). Yes, once in a while I get bit by the guilt/cravings bug and am forced to attempt something in hopes of finding something wonderful in this world. 
If you read on, you will see that for July 4th weekend I made a p'cake... That's a pie inside a cake, inspired by a triple layer masterpiece I saw on the old inter web. It went over alright, but the concept still fascinated me. 
As I sat with the autumn chill upon us, I was struck by inspiration. Instead of the cherry pie/red, white and blue cake combo, what if I attempted the whole thing again but for the fall. And so that's exactly what I did. 
Behold the autumnal p'cake. An apple pie inside a cinnamon crumb cake, drizzled with salted caramel sauce. While I will credit Charles Phoenix with his initial inspiration, this one was all mine. 
It was delicious, and super easy as I used a frozen pie, crumb cake mix and jarred caramel sauce. Scratch is for suckers.... or for me when it's been a while and I have forgotten how long things from scratch take. Either way, it was relatively simple and quite the spectacle. 
This year I am thankful for family, friends, and the odd bit of inspiration that leads me to new, interesting and delicious things.

November 20, 2015
Every Friday my daughter makes a challah at school. This year they have been teaching them to braid them. In addition, they also like to sculpt with the dough. This is the creation she came home with this week:

So... what do you think? I know. I did too. But apparently it's a mermaid, so get your head out of the gutter!

October 31, 2015
Candy, candy and more candy. And still I mourn the loss of widespread distribution of Reese's pieces. I miss you guys!

October 13, 2015
Are you familiar with the restaurant Houston's? If so, you know that Houston's is great. It is an up-market TGIFriday's, or a Ruby Tuesdays without the food poisoning. Good times. 
We used to have a Houston's in New York City. It was on Park Avenue and 27th Street. I used to go there with my friends because we like dips, both spinach and artichoke and French. As is so typical in New York City, one day the restaurant you frequent is alive and well and the next it is gone, with nary a warning nor a goodbye. Such was the case when I drove by a few years ago and to my shock and horror saw my beloved Houston's was a Hillstone's. I mourned for my friend whom I never got to bid a proper farewell to.
But I am all about happy stories here, so here's what I discovered not long after my Hillstone's discovery: Hillstone's is actually Houston's. What's that now? Yes, Hillstone's is the same restaurant as Houston's. The pineapple glazed steak, the tuna salad, our beloved spin dip... It's all there. 
I imagine your next question would be why? Why change the name? Miss Spartacus, that just doesn't make sense. Well, this is where I give you your fun fact of the day. 
In New York City, all chain restaurants must print the caloric content of their food items on their menus so that when us New Yorkers make bad food decisions, we do it knowing exactly how bad it really is. Houston's found out about this change and rather than just add the calorie information to their existing menus, they went through the entire process of changing their name, printing up all new menus anyway with the new name, but without the calories. Which begs the question: just how bad is that F-ing spin dip that they would rather undergo a major change like a re-naming rather than tell us how fattening their food is. Yikes.
You'd think that would be enough to keep any sane, rational, healthy person away. I'm sure it is. But I think what they did is genius, and I have to give credit where credit is due. I also like the spin dip, and I love those ribs. In fact, the ribs are the best thing I ate this week. 
We took the kids and the in-laws for dinner, because calories be damned! Get in my belly. Given how many great BBQ joints there are in NYC, and given how much BBQ I just ate last week in Texas, it is mind boggling that I would have even ordered the ribs. But I did, and they were delicious as ever. Tender doesn't do them justice, they fall off the bone like I fall off the wagon when a good cookie is waved in front of my face, easily and without much effort. They are sticky, sweet, and a little bit spicy. They are saucy, which I prefer to the dry rubs. And they come with a very tasty cole slaw, which is a great balance to the heaviness of the ribs. Tasty and delicious and worth the week's worth of calories I no doubt consumed, though I will never know for sure because they are just too smart for that.

October 2-5, 2015
Austin, Texas was the site of one insane weekend of eating. Oh, and there was a music festival going on as well. That was fun too, but it was really all about the food. The BBQ and the barbecue. Like our Maine insanity, this one is worthy of its own post. Stay tuned. Coming soon, as soon as I recover from my brisket induced coma.

September 25, 2015
I am a vanilla. When given the option between vanilla and chocolate, I choose vanilla. I frequently go to Pick A Bagel, not for their bagels, but for their white cookie (it's a black and white cookie, but only white). It's sweet and sugary and cakey and delicious. But that's not what I'm talking about this week. I am a vanilla, unless the choice is custard. In that instance, I am a custard/cream. For this reason, I have found few desserts which suit my taste better than a Napolean. Sweet custard cream layered between flaky slabs of pastry, and topped with my favorite sugary vanilla icing. A good Napolean is it for me. This week I had a great Napolean. Rockland Bakery in Rockland county, NY has a pretty outstanding roster including a delicious challah (CHALLAH!!!), excellent 7 layer cake and various other tasty pastries. In my opinion, this Napolean tops their list. It is a perfect Napolean, assuming you don't insist on the jam component, which my husband rightfully believes to be the correct preparation of a Napolean. I agree with him, because like a good cream donut, adding jam can only make it better. However, taking the purist perspective, this Napolean was pure, simple and perfect. The key is thick cream, thin pastry and double thick icing on top. It ticked all my boxes.

September 20, 2015
Saw a recipe for cream cheese and chocolate stuffed monkey bread... obviously had to try it. Damn good time.

September 14, 2015
I am already sad, mourning the dish which I finished off today, which I know I'll never have again. Oh happy accident, why did you have to taste so good?
For Rosh Hashanah my mom decided to make a plum cake. She didn't have the correct baking tin, so used a different one and it didn't bake properly, or so she thought. So she scraped it out of that tin and dumped it into a Corningware dish to attempt to salvage the ingredients and tried to bake it again. Somehow, in the mess, the brown sugar and plums caramelized into the most amazing candied fruit/cobbler/crumble/caramel/cake/tart deliciousness. There were huge chunks of chewy bits of plum and brown sugar mixed with small chunks of the actual cake. It was insane how delicious this was. It was heartbreaking to know she wouldn't be able to duplicate it again. 
Having the hindsight of a few weeks, I know this for sure as she did try to replicate it a week later and ended up with a plain old plum cake. It didn't get screwed up, and we didn't have the big chewy bits, which were the essence of what made the first one so amazing. Oh well. I will try to recreate one day, and I know I won't be able to, but I will try. Because having tasted this thing, we need to have it in our world.
I know it doesn't look like much, but it was everything

September 6, 2015
Early breakfast with the babes at Fork & Anchor in East Marion, NY. Sitting outside, I enjoy watching the morning rush begin, which I get to do now that I have a built in wake up call around 6:45 every day. When life hands you lemons (or two kids awake before 7 am), make lemonade (or head to Fork & Anchor for their Weekender breakfast sandwich, which is the answer to most of your questions at 7 am. Good buttery roll, melted cheese, drippy egg and arugula so you weirdly feel like you've started your day off right. They do many great sandwiches here: green goddess chicken salad, crispy chicken with sriracha mayo, and the turkey club with herb mayo best served on a 6 foot sub, because who doesn't love a 6 foot sub? But the weekender might be my favorite. Might. I reserve the right to change my mind depending on which sandwich I try next.

August 23, 2015
Pretty great weekend of eating. Worth mentioning a few things. 
We took a walk down the Hudson river to Battery Park to the new Seaglass carousel. We are carousel junkies, so the long line on opening weekend was not a deterrent. The carousel itself was really cool and the kids loved it, as did we. 
It's a 3 mile walk down there, so we popped into Le District for a quick prime rib sandwich and roared potatoes just to keep us going. If I lived near here, I would be picking this up for dinner at least once a week. 
On our walk back home we had worked up our appetite again. We considered the BBQ Jazz festival that we passed on our way back up the river, but the line seemed long and the kids seemed weary. Instead we opted to hit up one of the vendors from the festival directly: Mighty Quinn BBQ on Greenwich St. 
The brisket sandwich was delicious. Enough sauce and fat to keep it juicy and very tasty. The pulled pork was also delicious, though I do recommend sticking the cole slaw directly on that one. There was also a spicy fried chicken sandwich on our table which I glanced at and then when I tried to revisit, my husband and daughter sheepishly admitted it was no more. So I guess that one was good too, considering the speed with which they both devoured it. My highlight of the meal, and the best thing I ate yesterday were the sweet corn fritters. They were deep fried parcels of corn meal, corn and a little kick of sweetness that I loved so much I considered punishing my husband and kid for not sharing the spicy chicken sandwich and eating them all myself. The baby took one and a half down, and probably would've eaten more if I wasn't so selfish as to want one whole one to myself. I have a pretty solid history with fritters, can't say I've disliked many. These ones were great. I will be back to try them again and try that chicken sando again, for the first time.
Never one to rest on one strong meal of the weekend, we set out on Sunday to top our Saturday.
We started our day at BEC, a restaurant in our neighborhood that just does bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches. I love my life, I love our neighborhood and I love the entrepreneurs behind this concept. The actual sandwich was delicious. My husband didn't add avocado to his, which is weird, because why would you not? Thankfully I did, and it was perfection.
After that we went to the Saturday Night Live Exhibit on Fifth Avenue, which was amazing, and weirdly empty for a Sunday. If you have ever watched Saturday Night Live and are the least bit curious about it, you can't miss this. I have always had a secret fascination for the show. Since my Dana Carvey obsessed youth I have always wanted to know everything this exhibit showed me about the weeklong series of events that leads to each episode. It was so interesting. I hope everyone who shares my love for SNL gets a chance to see it.
Post exhibit we hopped on the East River water taxi down to Pier 5 in Brooklyn and walked down to Smorgasburg. You may remember my last visit to Smorgasburg, as part of the Fat Ass Food Tour of 2013. This visit was more of a supermarket sweep style panic purchase as we arrived at 5pm (they close at 6, and everyone was starving. So my sister, brother in law, nephews, husband and I literally ran in five different directions and just bought everything that interested us in the least. We reconvened at a picnic table by the water and realized we had WAY too much food. For the most part, it was all delicious . We got to try: Gooey & Co.'s rich, yummy butter cake; Noodle Lane's spicy noodles; Milk Truck's classic grilled cheese; Parish Po Boys spicy-in-a-good-way crayfish noodles; Porchetta's namesake sandwich; Sunday Gravy's meatball and chicken park sandwiches. All were delicious, though I felt like I was going to explode on the way out. Sadly we missed out on the fried chicken on a biscuit sandwich because we got there too late. There's always next time, I guess.

August 17, 2015
It's my birthday and I feel the need to mention our dinner, though I'm not sure it truly wins the title of best thing I ate this week. 
For my birthday, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit a restaurant from my youth. Il Vagabondo on East 62nd street was the site of many of my big childhood meals. It stands out in my memory not only for the insanely delicious veal parmigiana, but also the bocce court in the back of the restaurant where the old men used to play bocce as I watched in amazement. 
The veal parmigiana stuck out in all of our minds and we all ended up ordering the same thing. Like so much of our youth, nothing seems the same, whether it changes over time or remains exactly the same and you change around it. Either way, the meal was not the tremendous, cheese smothered slab of veal of my memory. Instead it was a lovely piece of breaded veal with a few pieces of muenster cheese melted on top (don't judge, it melts better than most cheeses). It was delicious, but more than the dish, I enjoyed taking a walk through my memory and revisiting this classic institution.

August 15, 2015
I'm on a boat MFer! No, seriously, we were on a boat. The North River Lobster Company, to be precise. The boat runs from around 40th St and the Hudson River. You line up, board, take a free 45 minute cruise and if you want, they have a full bar and menu to enjoy. We grabbed an early dinner with the kids and had a lovely free* boat ride. 
We got a lobster roll, which was fine, but obviously had a huge disadvantage coming straight after our two weeks in Maine. The standout of the meal was the corn on the cob. La Esquina's has always been my favorite lime/cotija smothered concoction. This version was nice in its own unique way. It was covered in parmesan, chives and sriracha aioli giving it the creaminess as well as a kick. We enjoyed it and the lovely trip up the river. Definitely worth a ride, and something different to do with the kiddos on a summer afternoon.
*the ride was free, the meal most definitely was not

July 23-August 8, 2015
Maine, oh Maine.
I've only just recovered from this fortnight long eating orgy. It's September. 
Don't worry, I took great notes. But then the summer got away from me. So much good food, how could I possibly pick one favorite for each week? I couldn't. So I gave you my favorite things that I ate each day... actually I just gave you everything that I ate each day. It's pretty incredible/nauseating/impressive/gross. The list was so out of control I had to make it into its own post. Link is above.

July 16, 2015
Went to see the Foo Fighters tonight at Citi Field. That Dave Grohl is, without a doubt, one of the coolest people alive. Not only did he rock it for several hours, despite his broken leg. He also provided a musical education to the crowd, selecting not only great Foo Fighters songs, but a selection of classic rock covers from Kiss, David Bowie and Queen, Tom Petty, Thin Lizzy and Bad Brains. It was a great show. And because it was at Citi Field, there were some great eats. We opted for some Shake Shack burgers because we're boring and unimaginative and just wanted burgers. And because we're fat, we also went to Box Frites to get a selection of fried items. We got mac and cheese frites, sweet potato fries and a special addition to their menu, smashed frites, which were basically smashed pieces of potato which were then fried, possibly twice, leaving very little potato and mostly just crunchy, crispy deliciousness. These were the standout and my favorite thing this week. It is a stadium with lots of good food, but seek out these smashed nuggets of fried goodness.

July 11, 2015
Maybe it was the girl's weekend talking, but everything I ate and drank this weekend was amazing. Perhaps it was the fact that my hot drinks were hot and my cold drinks were cold because I could eat and drink as served without worrying about any small people first. And maybe the great company and nonstop laughter was the trick. Whatever it was, everything from the Mike's Hard Lite Lemonade to the Nutella Logs, Mimosas and Bloody Marys from the Penguin Diner were perfect.
My personal fave was from the Cultured Pearl, an amazing sushi restaurant in Dewey Beach, DE. The do various flavored edamame and the Thai ones; with with fresh chilies, Thai spices, ginger, garlic, lime, butter and toasted coconut were delicious. The whole meal was great. The whole weekend was great. What else can be said when you can't feel your face from laughing so much?

July 4, 2015
Happy birthday 'Merica! To celebrate the birthday of this fat country, I decided to make a P'cake. What's a P'cake you ask? Nothing, what's a p'cake with you... ha ha ha!
Ahhh, that joke never ceases to make me laugh. But back to the p'cake...
So, in reading my daily intake of emails mentioning things I should go, see, do, buy, eat, drink, know, etc. I read an article about this genius baker Charles Phoenix who had made this amazing creation. A pie in a cake x3. I was intrigued, I was ambitious, I was hungry. But having only a handful of people to bake for made the three layers seem way too excessive. Plus I only had one day til we left for our weekend at my cousin's house, so I had to get to baking!
Having read about his varieties, I decided to do a cherry pie in a white cake as it seemed the most festive for the holiday. And because I tend to go overboard, I decided to split the white cake into three, make red and blue and marble the cake like a firework. I followed his directions and the whole thing worked like a charm. I was only slightly disappointed to find out the other couple staying with us were healthy eaters and though they politely tried it, this firework abomination was not really up their alley. To be honest, I'm still not sure it was up mine, though I do think I will try it again this fall with either an apple or pumpkin pie, because, why not?
All that being said, the best thing I ate this week was neither pie nor cake. It was actually the mussels in the clambake that we ordered and brought to the beach the night before July 4th (I believe they call that the 3rd). From East End Clambake in Southampton, NY, they do these clambakes that come on a tray with clams, mussels, lobster, corn and a side of cole slaw. The mussels in this thing were phenomenal, though my nine month old would tell you the corn on the cob was the best thing he ever ate, possibly because it was, but he doesn't really have much means of comparison... plus he eats sand.
The clambake on the beach with a bonfire afterwards, s'mores and lovely ladies playing their guitars and everyone singing. It was an amazing night. And they were amazing mussels. Special mention goes out to the brownies that the boys picked up when they were picking up the food, as those were insane too. We ate and ate and ate, and when we couldn't eat anymore, we ate a p'cake. All for you 'Merica!

June 28, 2015
This is more of an honorable mention to Maman NYC in Soho for having an item that brought me back to a happy place. The place was Paris. The item was Tarte Tropezienne. Sadly, the place where my mom used to get "the best" Tropezienne is long gone. Happily, it lives on in my memory. I once had a cream donut at Le Pain Quotidien that reminded me of it, but even that item was fleeting, never to be found at another Pain Quotidien again.
On our way to visit some friends, I found myself a block from a bakery I had heard about (really seen about, since it was on Instagram, but that just doesn't sound right, does it?). They had very delicious looking cookies that I wanted to try for myself. As I was waiting for my turn, out of the corner of my eye I spied one lonely piece of cake that could be... wait, no, could it? Eager for my turn and anxious someone else would snatch it before I was helped, I waited and wondered. The lovely lady confirmed it was a Tropezienne and didn't even question me when I almost jumped over the counter saying I wanted it. We brought it out to our friend's house, along with some cookies, donuts and a canele to try. Admittedly, it was a tough crowd as we had one proper French citizen and one French speaking daughter of a French citizen to help me judge this French treat from my memory. 
And memory never does us any favors in replicating items from our past. The cake of my memory was a bit sweeter, creamier and had a bit more flavor in the actual cake. But barring this magical memory cake, the Tropezienne slice from Maman was the best thing I ate this week. The cake was light and spongy, the cream was good, but as with any cream anywhere, I wanted more. Worth a try if you're near Soho around tea time or for a special dessert.

June 10-21, 2015
London calling:
Back in London for 10 days and quite a lot of good food consumed. Quick shout outs to the recurring dishes: chicken Katsu curry and duck gyoza from Wagamama's, chicken saag and onion bhajis from Shazna in Strood, garlic balls from Pizza Express, and all the Cadbury's chocolate I could fit both in my stomach and in my suitcase. In addition to the old standbys, there were also a few new standouts this trip. 
I am always a big fan of the tubs of sweets at Marks & Spencer which come 2 for 4 pounds. Personal faves have always been the rocky road and the yogurt cranberry varieties. This time I was introduced to the caramel flapjacks which were a party in my mouth. Sweet, chewy and a little crunchy, the bite size makes them handy and deadly at the same time. The key is to leave one in the tub to remind yourself that you didn't finish the whole tub.
Went for a bangin' curry at the Everest Inn in Blackheath. True, the company was fantastic, but so was the food... Nepalese, though all the traditional dishes were fairly represented. Great spice, perfect flavors, everything this lady who has yet to find a good curry in her home of New York City could ask for. 
The other thing I am sorely missing, although probably not since it would mean I would weigh about 25 pounds more if we did have it readily available, is clotted cream. Sure, you can find petite jars of imported devon clotted cream at your local specialty food shop, of which I have several in my area. But what I am really in need of are the less-than-delicate plastic tubs one is able to procure at any local market in England. For the ratio of cream I like on my scone, no less than a tub will do. My in-laws did me the amazing favor (well, amazing for my belly, awful for my backside), of buying several tubs of clotted cream and scones and jam that were readily available during our week staying with them. I was so thankful, I showed my gratitude by eating a minimum of one scone every single day we were there. So delicious, I am unclear why clotted cream is not accessible at the local market everywhere over here. We are missing out.

June 6, 2015
Going out with friends when you all have kids isn't necessarily the easiest thing to plan. Departure times can vary greatly due to late babysitters, diaper malfunctions, projectile anything or just a general inability to get out of the house in a timely fashion. My solution to my own tardiness is to just go somewhere that doesn't take reservations. This Friday we went to Red Farm, and despite having a few too many whilst waiting for that non-reserved table, or possibly because of that, that meal was the best thing I ate this week.
In a nutshell: communal tables, doesn't take reservations, insanely delicious chinese food.
In a smaller nutshell: pastrami egg rolls
They also do a plate of multi-colored dumplings being "chased" by a deep fried round of sweet potato aptly called the Pac-Man dumplings (probably should've gotten a picture, sorry, maybe next time).
They also do a crispy beef that is as addictive as it is chewy.
They also do soup dumplings, though we forgot to order them this time.
Delicious meal, great company, mom/babysitter slept over and took morning duty as well... win-win-win.

May 30, 2015
Did I eat the better part of 3 bags of newfangled hybrid cookies this week? Why yes, yes I did.
It all started when my dear friend Jenn mailed me one bag each of Chips Ahoy chewy birthday cake frosting filled and Oreo frosting filled cookies. Unfortunately the US Postal Service does not believe in preserving the quality of the cookies they deliver, so they arrived slightly broken up. 
My two cents are these: 1-the picture on the cover is a bit too misleading as to the ratio of filling to cookie, 
2-I would prefer them not being the chewy version, but rather a regular chips ahoy with some crunch to it.
Back to 1... I find ratios to be incredibly important in any filling/outside situation. It's why I love a well filled donut, and it's why I set the bar on my cookie sandwich pretty high with the delightfully thick center on the cookie sandwiches at Billy's Bakery. The Billy's sandwich may have been the downfall for the Chips Ahoy ones since the photo showed even less than those dream treats, but I probably would've accepted it. What I got was a wafer thin layer in real life that failed to provide ample sweetness in ratio to the amount of cookie present... unless like my friend Lori, you just eat 5-10 and then you kind of get over it.
As for the crunch, I chalk that one up to just one of my many texture issues. This treat needed a bit more oomph in the form of a crunchy cookie. It didn't have to be Tate's crispy, though that would be good. I just found the chewy to be way too soft. 
Still reeling from the experience, (the high of receiving a surprise package of two bags of cookies from your friend, the low of self-loathing when you've eaten half of each bag despite not really loving either) I found myself at my sister's house and spotted S'Mores Oreos on her counter. We're not sure why, but our natural instinct and immediate reaction to walking into each other's houses is always to beeline straight to the fridge, then the pantry and look for something to eat. It's a sickness... yet another one of our family based food issues.
But back to the cookies. I was hesitant to try them. As I mentioned I had just the day prior consumed many mass produced sub par cookies and wasn't sure I had time to spare for these. After all, Oreo's creative flavors swing wildly from the simple yet sublime mint filling to what I like to refer to as the watermelon debacle of 2014. Yikes. But, since I couldn't necessarily resist, I gave one a try. And here we are now, when I am telling you that the S'Mores Oreos were the best thing I ate this week. Not necessarily because they tasted exactly like a s'mores treat, though the graham flavor of the cookie was good. But because it was just an incredibly tasty cookie.
So to those mad geniuses over at Nabisco: I am willing to look the other way on the red velvet crap you threw out there a while back if you agree to just keep doing what you're doing. You hit as much as you miss and I am enjoying the trial and error process.

May 24, 2015
I was in the mood for pasta salad this week, so I made one. As we're kicking off the summer, perhaps you would like a super simple recipe for a delicious antipasto salad that seriously could not be easier.
Well, here ya go:
1 pound pasta of your choice. Penne is boring, shells can clump together, rigatoni is good, but I enjoy interesting noodles for a pasta salad. For this weekend, headed to our friends for some summer fun, including tennis, I went with racchiette, which not surprisingly looks like little tennis rackets.
Cook how you like, al dente or not. Drain and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
Cut up 1 red pepper, 1 orange pepper, 1 can quartered artichokes (drained and cut again), 1/2-3/4 lb. genoa salami, 3/4 lb. provolone cheese. 
Toss everything with 1/2 cup (or a little more, depending how much you like) red wine vinaigrette, and ground black pepper to taste. 
That's it. Super easy and tasty.

May 18, 2015
We saw some friends this past weekend and they brought two cookies for our daughter. Since our daughter strangely will eat sweets, but when given a proper treat will take a few bites and lose interest, we ate the majority of these cookies. They weren't your typical iced sugar cookies. They were a buttery shortbread cookie with a fun icing design from Eli Zabar. And they were the best thing I ate this week.

May 11, 2015
You may have noticed I tend towards the sweet stuff when writing here. It's partially because I was raised by a major sweet tooth in a sweet tooth family (I'm 4th generation on my mother's side). It's also because those treats tend to stand out more than say, some lovely creamed spinach both because they are rare treats and because they are memorable.
This week I enjoyed a lovely Mother's Day brunch with my family. Our brunch consisted of several egg dishes for each of us, in addition to three platters of cannoli pancakes, birthday cake pancakes and french toast bites "for the table." In case you are not familiar with the term "for the table," that is what fat people (me and my kin) say when they want to eat something, but they also want to try something else, but don't necessarily want to commit to it due to caloric intake, propensity for savory over sweet, or more likely, they just want to be able to have both. "For the table" allows us to have have our own meal and also get a few bites of anything else aside from that meal that we also want to try. It doesn't have to be a noted snack or side dish... any full size entree can be "for the table." And you're not that fat because you're essentially sharing it with everyone, not eating it all yourself.
But enough about all that... back to the cannoli pancakes, the birthday cake pancakes and the french toast bites. A cannoli pancake is a massive pancake filled with chocolate chip cannoli cream and topped with three dollops of cream. If you like cannolis, then this is a damn good time. Cannoli cream is not super sweet, but it does have a grittiness to it that perfectly complements a fluffy pancake. Birthday cake pancakes are also pretty straight forward, massive pancakes topped with buttercream icing and rainbow sprinkles. They are super sweet... like, super duper sweet. So if sweet isn't your thing, they're not for you. If on the other hand, you're like me and crave something sweet in between bites of your omelet, this is a perfect counter balance to greasy, salty, savory. And finally, the otherwise boring sounding french toast bites are thick cut, eggy (but not actually eggy, cause that's gross) bite size pieces of French toast, covered in powdered sugar and then laced with chocolate sauce and raspberry sauce. Not the sweetest, but makes a perfect brunch appetizer... cause yes, there should be appetizers at brunch, and they should be covered in powdered sugar.
If you would like to try these or any of their many other selections, please hit up the Countryside Kitchen in Mahopac, NY.

May 2, 2015
The noshing gene runs pretty deep in our family. We each delight in finding new delicious things and love sharing with each other. Leave it to my sister to discover some sick ass* cookies that you get to make at home... cause if there's anything better than a cookie, it's a warm, homemade-ish cookie.
Bea's Cakes in Armonk is the source of these cookies. They bake their own in various flavors. They also sell a tray of unbaked chocolate chip balls, which, after resisting the temptation to eat raw (aw, fond memories of an oblivious childhood and the joy of raw cookie dough without ever contracting salmonella), you bake at home and enjoy.
Well, bake and enjoy is a bit more straightforward than how it actually went down. 
Step 1, avoid eating raw cookie ball. Despite the chocolate chips being the size of nonpareils (without the white balls), you will be safer to bake them at least for a few minutes.
Step 2, arrange with plenty of space on tray.
Step 3, put in pre-heated oven.
Step 4, five minutes later, when smell of fresh baked cookies starts permeating the kitchen, turn on oven light "just to see" the balls starting to melt down, but still rather erect and raw.
Step 5, five minutes later, when the balls appear to have melted, ignore everything you know about baking and open the oven to check if they're done. They are not. 
Step 6, stop gazing at them and close the oven door.
Step 7, two minutes later, have another peek. You're pretty sure this is how long cookies should take, but then again, most cookies are about half the size of these. Ignore that fact as you peek again.
Step 8, huff in disappointment.
Step 9, make sure temperature is correct and flip cookie tray just to ensure even baking, even though they're not baking because you keep opening the oven door.
Step 10, wait another few minutes as the smell intoxicates you to the point of full on salivation.
Step 11, touch center of cookie and declare they are done "enough."
Step 12, remove from oven to cool.
Step 13, walk out of room to give them time to cool.
Step 14, walk back into room 90 impatient seconds later "just to check."
Step 15, poke at one of the cookies to see if it's ready.
Step 16, stick your finger that you just burned into your mouth. Mmmmmmmm, gooey chocolate.
Step 17, have argument with your family about whether or not they need more time in the oven.
Step 18, use spatula to annihilate one cookie while checking if it's done or not. It turns into a pile of soft dough and melted chocolate.
Step 19, proceed to spoon pile (see above) into your fat face while agreeing with your brother-in-law that they do need a bit more time.
Step 20, stick back in oven.
Step 21, spend three minutes arguing that they need more time but they don't need too much and you don't want to over cook them, cause they're better when they're a bit soft, but not too soft that you can't eat them.
Step 22, remove from oven again.
Step 23, allow to cool for an excruciatingly long minute.
Step 24, try to peel another one off the tray unsuccessfully. It also turns into a gooey pile.
Repeat step 19.
Step 25, having consumed two piles worth of cookies, take a break to digest and actually allow cookies to cool.
Step 26, return to kitchen to see children eating cookies (the nerve!)
Step 27, panic and lie to children that you haven't even had one yet (technically you haven't).
Step 28, remove cookie from tray.
Step 29, place on plate.
Step 30, (optional, but it's a warm cookie, so why wouldn't you?)) add ice cream.
Step 31, enjoy.
So, the enjoy part does come. It's just not quite as simple as "slice and bake." But the results are much better, and easily "the best thing I ate this week."

*"sick ass" is a good thing in my family, contrary to how it may sound

April 24, 2015
It's not that I haven't eaten well over the past few weeks. I have, for the most part. But the combination of Seasonal Affect Disorder (yes, I have been very SAD) and not eating anything that amazing worth mentioning has left me without entries on this page for a while. Of course, I could mention the best thing each week regardless of quality. For example, the week when the best thing was some leftover pizza... but I hold myself (and you) to a higher standard, and don't believe you should suffer my misfortune of not having anything all that amazing to write about on this page.
The weather is improved and with it my mood, my appetite and my desire to go out and seek out some yummy food increases. Bring on the summer!

March 29, 2015
Like Joey from Friends, I loves myself a good sandwich. In fact, I count amongst the things that make me happiest two versions of sandwiches. One is a talking sandwich. I am not sure why, but I just think that talking sandwiches are some of the funniest damn things people have ever invented. Say what you want, but in my opinion, a talking sandwich will always get a laugh (assuming they aren't being offensive, but I haven't ever met an offensive talking sandwich, though I haven't really searched the internet... I am sure there is one out there).
The second is a giant sandwich. A true submarine sandwich, varying in length from 3'-6' are the stuff my dreams are made of... yes, my dreams are edible. Ever since I was a child, showing up to a party, function, gathering, occasion that for whatever reason featured an oversized sandwich always put me in a good mood. I love their mass, I love their bulk. I love the variety of flavors (sometimes). A giant sandwich, to me, is the best way to say PARTY!!!! We don't have anywhere near us that does them, so unfortunately, though I talk about them constantly, we haven't ever gotten one for our own parties.
This past weekend we went to my cousin's birthday party. Ok, long story short: the birthday boy is the son of my brother-in-law's cousin, whom I have known for over 20 years and it is just WAY easier to call her my cousin than explain it, and now you see why. So, where was I, oh yeah, cousin's party out in Queens, NY. So, she is one of those moms that accomplishes enviable Pinterest-worthy parties but does it in a way that manages to impress without making me angry (a VERY tricky balance to find). It was an adorable Baseball theme for her son's first birthday, and while I spent a few minutes admiring the hot dog machine, popcorn maker, boxes of cracker jacks and baseball decorated cookies, my attention was immediately stolen away by three (3!!!) giant sandwiches on the side table. As I mentioned, I get an adrenaline rush from an oversized sandwich, so you can imagine my state when I saw three of them. So damn excited. And thankfully they were tasty too. Traditional Italian style with salami, vinaigrette, etc., turkey and cheese and roast beef, and cheese. Obviously I tried them all. I am partial to the vinaigrette kick of the Italian one. But all were a good time. 
They were from Sal and Chris in Astoria, in case you're wondering. And I will be happy for a few days, basking in the oversized glow of those oversized sandwiches. And because I found this:

March 1, 2015
This item was so important that I made it into its own post here.

If you're anything like me, your feelings towards babka veer in neither direction. It is okay, I guess. Not exactly what I would want for dessert, and rarely my choice from a holiday cookie/cake tray scenario. It's meh, a bit dry really. Never been sure what all the fuss is all about. After doing a brief recount of all the babka I have consumed in my life (a lot really, especially considering my insouciance), I realized that my opinion must be based on the fact that I can not, at least in recent memory, remember eating my babka hot.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can now say with certainty, if you aren't eating your babka hot, you aren't eating your babka correctly.

A quick moment of praise for the specific babka that brought this into the light for me: Trader Joe's Chocolate Brooklyn Babka. Dense, chocolatey to a fault, and moist. Yes, I hate that word as much as you do, but the damn thing was so full of moisture, I find myself short of synonyms that would do it justice. Both ooey and gooey, almost caramelized when warmed up, which it should be... or haven't you been paying attention? Yet another fine offering from our friends at Trader Joe's.*

I am a huge Trader Joe's fan. So much so, that if we've ever spoken in real life, we more than likely have spoken about Trader Joe's. I find it to be a phenomenal conversation starter, middler and ender... way better than the weather or sports. I love Trader Joe's. I love talking about Trader Joe's. I talk about their produce not being so good, but that the pre-washed bag of organic spinach is pretty cheap. I talk about how my daughter wouldn't know branded Cheerios as such, due to the fact that we've always called her cereal from there Cheerios. I talk about the frozen food section, the cheap cheese, the Applegate Organic turkey being $3 less than at any other market, the cinnamon roll bread, the granola bars, the nuts... oh I talk about the nuts, the sweet potato tortilla chips, the dark chocolate caramels (seriously, if you don't know, you need to), and their affordable frozen fruit. I talk about how nice their staff is, the fact that they give my toddler stickers, the organic milk being $3 less than anywhere else, and their blondie bar mix. I joke about the line situation and I talk about the free samples.

Hi, my name is Lindsey, and I loves me some free samples. My local Trader Joe's provides us with a small cup of coffee and whatever delightful treat they've decided to clue us in on that week. Mac and cheese balls dipped in pizza sauce, who knew? Dumplings in gyoza dipping sauce at 9:30 am, yum! Mini pecan pies that, despite my claiming to dislike pecan pies, I loved. I will try anything, especially if it's free. Which is how and why I grabbed a sample of their babka.

I was walking away from the tasting station when I tasted it because I rarely actually buy the stuff they're slinging. That bite stopped me dead in my tracks. Not because it was so crazy delicious, but because it was warm. I wasn't expecting that. I went back to inspect further and noticed they had entire babkas warming in their little tasting oven. I confirmed with the lady that she was, in fact, warming them up, and then I did something I don't usually do, I took one to purchase and bring home.

I can now attest, having consumed the whole thing (ok, I shared a little), that warmed up babka is not the better way of eating babka. It is the only way.

Even if you're not a huge babka fan, I suggest you give it one more warmed-up try. I'm not saying everyone will all of a sudden like babka because of this. That would be silly. I'm just saying that warm babka is the way forward for me, and I would be doing a disservice to you, my seven readers, and babkas everywhere if I didn't spread this word like gospel.


*As of publication, I am not sponsored or compensated in any way by Trader Joe's... but come to think of it, I should be! I am a huge supporter. I talk about them so much, they should give me a little kickback. I wish I knew how to make something like that happen and would be happy for any tips. I will state here, for the record, that the first opportunity to receive money or gifts from them I will take. Hello?! I definitely do enough promoting on their behalf that they should give me something. I don't know if that will lead to a conflict of interest, but probably not since I am willing to state their flaws with their gems. For now I will just admit to taking the free samples that they offer in the store every day. So far that's all I've gotten.

February 20
We're not really movie people. We probably go about nine months of the year without watching a current movie in theaters. We do, however, make a vague attempt each year to see a few of the Oscar contenders. 
This year, we happened upon Boyhood one snowy night at home. Very cool concept and execution. Ethan Hawke was pretty good in it, and if I had a nickel for every time I've said that, well I'd probably take the dime cause I also liked him in Reality Bites.
Tonight we went to see Birdman. Another cool concept and execution. The look of one continuous take was nice, and there were a lot of strong acting performances. I also understand the people that didn't care for it, but whatever. To each his own. Movie speak is something I'm not so well versed in. Michael Keaton was great in it. And if I had a nickel for every time I've said that, well I know I would have at least a quarter because I would have given him an Oscar for his quadruple performances in Multiplicity. Yes, I'm quite serious about that. I not-so-secretly love that movie.
We live down the street from a movie theater. So despite us rarely actually going, we do have a pre-flick ritual that involves a drink and a quick bite. Our drink of choice: margaritas, our bite of choice: tater tots. But not just any tater tots. I consider these to be the best tots in NYC, possibly the world.
The tots at Trailer Park have been on my radar since I first moved to the neighborhood 15 years ago... agh! It was almost 16 and that means I am getting old and I don't want to think about that so I will go back to thinking about tots. Mmmmmmm, tots.
These tots are spectacular. They are crispy and crunchy on the outside, yet avoid being greasy. That is not an easy feat for fried foods. The consistency inside is similar to mashed potatoes, smooth and creamy and full of potato yumminess. They are served by the red plastic basketful with picnic containers of ketchup and mustard. Hey, the place is called Trailer Park. What did you expect? They also do jazzed up versions with cheese, gravy, disco style, etc. But first you must taste a plain tot, savor the tot-y goodness. Only then can you move on to all that other fancy stuff. 
Tots. Best thing I ate this week.

January 2, 29 and February 8
I like food, but I don't necessarily consider myself to be a foodie. I like good restaurants, but I never feel like I'm on the cutting edge of the culinary world. I rarely get to a good restaurant within the first few months of it being around. Partially due to my inability to navigate some trickier reservation processes. But mainly due to my own laziness.
I put that laziness into great use when I commissioned my mom to venture over to Underwest donuts on our behalf as I had heard about them and needed to try them. The first thing that interested me is their location, under a car wash on the Westside Highway. Second was their flavors that sounded interesting and certainly worth a try.
Were they ever.
First time around we got a sampling. They do cake donuts (picture an apple cider donut as opposed to a large, fluffy yeast one), in either glazed or sugared, a few flavors of each. Typically I would always gravitate to the glazed, but their sugar donuts, aside from the yummy sugar flavors like coco raspberry, cinnamon and espresso bean, have an amazing crunch on the outside layer only found on the freshest of donuts. And these were some of the crispiest cake donuts I have ever had.
Moving onto the glazed... they piqued my interest with their non-traditional flavors: coconut lime, halvah, brown butter. The coconut lime was weirdly refreshing, for a donut. It had a clean taste on your palate, which made it a go-to for transition bites as I made my way around the sample box. The halvah was amazing, if you like halvah, which not everyone does. In fact, I believe halvah is a polarizing food item like olives or Marmite... people love it or hate it. So, since I love halvah, I liked this donut. And finally, there was the little circle of magic that is their brown butter flavor. It is the sweetest, most melt-in-your-mouth flavor and it won the box for me. Definitely the best thing I ate that first day and each of the subsequent visits we have made there since. We have tried their chocolate glazed and their newer maple waffle, but the brown butter wins every time.
One slightly disappointing discovery we made on our last visit was that they don't make the sugar donuts on Sunday. I don't know why. Perhaps because they can't be made fresh, they just skip them altogether. The crunch of their freshness is a major feature, so I will respect their decision as much as they have to respect my decision to not go back on a Sunday since I want the sugar ones too.

Actual time lapse: 10 minutes

January 3, 2015
Amazing dinner last night at Charlie Bird. Been meaning to try it for a while and it didn't disappoint, in space, vibe, music or most importantly food.
We asked what we shouldn't miss and without skipping a beat the waiter said the farro salad. That suggestion got met with crickets at our non-organic, non-veggie seeking table. When he came back to take the order, we said we went along with some of his suggestions but were gonna skip the salad. Again, without skipping a beat he said "that's a mistake." His conviction led to our ordering and subsequently loving this salad. As I said, not anything that we would normally order or desire, but it was so well balanced, so delicious that even we can admit when we're wrong. And we were wrong to doubt you waiter man.
Farro is a grain, for those of you who like some of us didn't know that. It was served with roasted pumpkin, pistachio, mint and parmesan. Sorry to go all Top Chef judg-y on you, but: the textures were perfect. The taste profile was spot on. The ingredients came together to elevate one another. It was fresh and light, and at the same time hearty and meaty (with no meat, of course). The dish stood out partially because of how delicious it was, but mainly because of our resistance. The crab pasta, artichokes and chicken were easy sells. And each one was more delicious than the next. If I knew I wouldn't suffer an immediate heart attack, I would take the crispy bits from the chicken and snack on them daily. But I gotta give it up to the unlikely farro salad for surprising us all in the end.
And a shoutout to the restaurant for playing the soundtrack to my middle school and high school hip-hop days. Great vibe. Great place. Great farro... and I definitely never thought I'd ever say that.

December 26, 2014
Sorry, been busy with the new baby and the holidays and all that good stuff. Haven't had a chance to eat. Ha ha ha, yeah right. But I haven't really had anything that super special worthy of your time. And despite my incessant rambling here, I do actually care about your time.
Which brings me to Christmas. This year, my mother's entire family was together on Christmas. My mom's sister and family and her brother and family joined my sister, her family and I for a very special Christmas. Knowing that such a nice reunion was happening, a reunion consisting of some MAJOR noshers, I didn't even pause when I first heard about the Nutelasagna they were cooking up at some bakery in Brooklyn. Buttery lasagna noodles layered with cannoli cream, ribbons of Nutella, topped with marshmallows, Belgian chocolate and hazelnuts. Sounded incredible and so I ordered a tray to bring up. What I forgot to take into account was the intense day of eating that would precede the Nutelasagna, so by the time that tray came out of the fridge, no one had really saved room. Another problem was that I was told we could warm it up or eat it cold, so when I tried a piece cold, I was not that into it and easily moved on to the donutapalooza that my uncle had brought down from Buffalo.
But more about that in a second.
Seriously, what I learned the next day was that the Nutelasagna might be able to be eaten cold by some, but if you really want to enjoy it, it is meant to be warmed up so all the cream, marshmallow, Nutella and chocolate get melty and delicious. And who likes cold lasagna noodles anyway?
The Nutelasagna fell short of being my favorite thing this week. Unfortunate, but it wasn't even a fair fight. It didn't stand a chance when it went head to head against Paula's Donuts from Buffalo.
So, as I mentioned, my uncle and his family were joining us for Christmas for the first time ever. They drove down the morning of Christmas straight to my sister's house and brought with them four boxes stuffed with donuts. Seriously, there were donuts of every size, shape and flavor, and none, NONE of them were disappointing. That's an insane success rate, especially to someone who can be a bit hard on her donuts (Yeah, I'm looking at you DD and your ever declining quality!)
Sure I could've taken a picture sooner, but that might've cost me a bite.

Oh Paula, we heart you!
So, as I mentioned, four boxes and not a bad donut to be found. Particular favorites were the Boston creme (another great ratio of cream to donut, which in my opinion is the most important feature of a filled donut), red velvet, mint chocolate, vanilla cream, Bismark, apple pie, peanut stick, lemon (I mean, when would I ever put lemon on my list... yes, that's how good they all were!) So, my point is, Paula's Donuts are amazing and I look forward to shuffling off to Buffalo to go visit them and eat them fresh... and to visit my family of course, but I mean, Wegman's, Topp's, Paula's Donuts... Buffalo, you've got it going on.

November 28, 2014
Thanksgiving dinner. Such a special thing. I am sad for those who don't know it. The English half of my family doesn't really know it, but thankfully we have had several members visit over Thanksgiving over the past few years so we have been able to attempt an education. Similar to most of the Jewish food I grew up with and love, our Thanksgiving meal leans sweet. Aside from the turkey, of course. We've got sweet potatoes with marshmallows, jello mold (typically pina colada flavor, though my mom does vary it up every now and again), corn pudding, our stuffing has chestnuts, prunes and cranberries, making it a salty/sweet dish, cranberry sauce which is technically more tangy than sweet, but a fruit nonetheless and pumpkin muffins. A few years back, at the fear of embarrassing ourselves in front of my boyfriend at the time, we added a vegetable. Somehow we had made it 30+ years without anything green and at the insistence of my brother-in-law, broke down and added brussels sprouts. He's now my husband, so I guess it worked. The brussels are this weird guilty item. By that I mean everyone feels guilty so they throw a few on their plate, but no one really wants them. It's carbo-loading time, after all. Anyway, my point is, no matter what your Thanksgiving dinner consists of, it's a great meal not to be missed. We like it so much, we have nearly the identical meal again on Christmas.
We believe so strongly that people shouldn't miss out on this meal that we have been delivering meals for Gods Love We Deliver for almost 15 years now. It started as my mom and I and has now expanded to include my sister, her kids, my husband, our kids. It's a nice way to spend the morning before we go stuffing our own faces. Gods Love We Deliver cooks, prepares and delivers meals year-round to people who otherwise cannot cook, prepare and in some cases even shop for themselves. It is a truly worthy cause and one I hold dear to my heart. Making sure everyone gets a meal is the kind of charity I would invent if it didn't exist already. But it does, and Gods Love We Deliver does good work. If you are so inclined, feel free to help them here: volunteer your time or donate.
But back to me and my favorite thing I ate this week.
Part of the tradition of delivering the meals is meeting up in the morning to load the meals into our cars. Before setting off we stop for coffee and a quick nosh at a bakery around the corner from the pickup location. Gruenebaums Bakery always has delicious fresh baked breads, cakes, cookies and pies. They also have amazing donuts, which we always get a few of. This year, they had a caramel cream donut, which was hands down, easily the best thing I ate this week. Take a look at this:
Check out the filling ratio on that bad boy. That, my friends, is how every donut should be stuffed. Not a quick hit with the filling, but a meticulous stuffing that ensures every bite is rich with caramel cream. And it was also delicious. Though I probably could have awarded them strictly based on that winning ratio. But seriously, the next time you're on Riverdale Ave. seek thee out a donut.

November 18, 2014
This week is not about what I ate, but what I haven't eaten. See for yourself:
Happy Candy-versary

November 10, 2014
I am talking to you right now in a candy-fueled haze. You know how they say you're supposed to drink lots of liquid and eat lots of good food when you're breast feeding because that's a great way to get the baby into good eating habits early? Well I have existed on a diet mainly consisting of various fun size candies for the past 10 days. I'm pretty sure I have given the baby all the basic food groups: peanut butter, nougat, caramel, milk chocolate (milk! ha ha! see!), and taffy. Once a day I make a concerted effort to eat some sort of vegetable, so there's that. For the most part this kid has been on a milkshake diet, but more like a DQ Blizzard with the candy mix-ins.
Hey, maybe I overdid it to the point that he'll dislike candy and... yeah, no probably not. I mean, it's candy after all. As for the best thing I ate this week? Well I did manage to make a twix/crunch/kitkat/peanut butter tower which was pretty tasty. I also spent countless hours online browsing through hundreds of recipes that utilize all the leftover candy. In the end, I used some of our M&Ms to make compost cookies, which were completely delicious, yet completely unnecessary, given the amount of sweets already in our house. But those cookies have salt and vinegar chips in them, so it did balance the sugar out pretty nicely. Another great recipe for you, if you want it.
As for me, it's time to pack it up. I mean the candy. Into a ziploc and into the freezer for a cold winter night when I'm out of this haze and craving something sweet. Until then.

October 27, 2014
Our baby nurse cooks, which is amazing. She is also a huge fan of our cooking, and by "our" I mean my husband's cooking since I haven't been doing much but feeding the baby, looking after the big one and trying to sleep. Another item in the pro column for having more babies is my husband's cooking mojo after I have given birth. He is 2 for 2, both times knocking up slow cooker meals whilst whipping up casseroles, roasts and other delights in the oven. The special item this week came in the form of a lasagna. 
Lasagna doesn't tend to inspire me. I rarely crave it, rarely order it in a restaurant. And yet all I have been able to think about for the past few days is the lasagna my husband made a few nights ago.
Start with the sauce, a meaty, spicy concoction utilizing both ground beef and turkey sausage. The sausage gives it just the right kick and makes it just that much more special... or special at all, given that it's a lasagna. The pan was overstuffed and each layer oozed (I love that word in the right context. For those wondering, the right context is in relation to cheese). Gooey cheesy ooziness mixed with the abundantly meaty, super tasty sauce, and a few no boil lasagna noodles thrown in there for good measure. This thing was outta sight. Eventually. After I treated myself to thirds, leftovers for lunch the next day and begrudgingly let my husband have another serving. My official complements to the chef. As always, recipe available upon request.

October 12, 2014
Given the hospital's proximity to our favorite Chinese food restaurant, we have now made it an official tradition that we get Chinese food, our favorite Chinese food, the day after I give birth. This time, the day after worked out to be the day we went home. We picked up our takeout and along with the tiny little newborn in the backseat, the car was filled with the smell of our greasy, garlicky, spicy special dinner. 
Our favorite Chinese food has been my favorite Chinese food since I was a wee one. Back then it was a full-fledged restaurant. A while back they closed the restaurant and became a take-out only spot. Between you and me, it became a spot that I would NEVER get take-out from if I didn't already know how AMAZING the food is. I try to avoid shady take-out only places. I feel bad for all the judgmental people like me that skip it. BUT, for those of them that read this, they will now know that Szechuan Kitchen on 1st Avenue between 79th and 80th Street is worth trying.
So, here's the order: Chef's Special Chicken: diced chicken, crunchy veggies and pine nuts; String Beans with garlic sauce with meat; Hot Spiced Sliced Shrimp: Shrimp, peppers, water crescents, cauliflower and baby corn; Szechuan Wontons: pork filled boiled wontons in a thick sesame/peanut sauce. Put it this way, my husband used to swear up and down that he was allergic to peanuts and that he hates them until finally I broke down and revealed these wontons were in a peanut sauce... he's not so allergic now! Typically that order works for 2-4 people. If you have more, there are more dishes you can add. The Chef's Special beef is similar sauce to the chicken, so while delicious, it is familiar. 
I've never been a huge fan of chit chat. I dislike corporate functions partially because of my distaste for coming up with stuff to talk about. I have made it through several charity and work parties solely off the back of this one Chinese food restaurant. Any time I meet someone who lives within their delivery zone (we don't, so we always pick ours up), but when I do I ask if they get their Chinese food from there. If they do, great, they know about it and we can talk for hours about how good it is. If they don't, then I will talk for hours about how good it is and how they must try it immediately. For everyone else I meet, I stick to sports and the weather, but a select few get to talk to me about something I am passionate about, Szechuan wontons. 
At this point, it is listed in the pros column of why we would go for a third child. It shouldn't be, since we could actually drive up there any time, but it holds that much weight. Seriously. Amazing.

September 24-October 4
The Jewish holidays are here, otherwise known as that week when you find out people you never knew were Jewish are Jewish cause that's the only week they observe. Hopefully those of you who celebrate have had a lovely week of self-evaluation, charity, introspection, peace and atonement. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for good. And for those who have atoned, may you have also known the sweet joy that is the sweet cheese noodle kugel with sweet corn flake topping.
I have spent a lot of time discussing my various loves in the food realm of Judaism and the Jewish holidays. If you've missed them, some tasty reading for you: Eight Crazy DaysStuff Your Punim, and Eight Crazier Nights
This week I gotsta give it up to my main man, the sweet kugel. I've said it before and I'll say it again, no other kugel makes fasting and atoning for your sins so worthwhile. Even those last few hours on particularly naughty years when you just want to sneak off and stick your face into the halvah, just knowing the sweet kugel is coming makes it a bit easier. And then the payoff... 24(ish) hours of fasting and then pound your body with unscooped bagels, salty, smoked fishes and pounds of noodles, sour cream and cream cheese. Amen.
Oh, and if you want the recipe, let me know. That can be my mitzvah this week!

September 21, 2014
Brunch out with children has to be the absolute opposite of what brunch was like in our pre-kid Sex and the City days. Now it's stressful entertaining, anxiety over order timing and hyper-awareness of table volume instead of carefree am cocktails and piecing together hazy nights before.
Despite that, every once in a while we subject ourselves to it again. Fortunately there are a ton of kid friendly places in and around our fair city to make it slightly less stressful. It was at one such place that we found ourselves this past weekend, along with my cousin and his family of five for a kid-friendly, though not necessarily adult-friendly brunch at Jacob's Pickle. It was actually fine for me as I got to play the late pregnancy card and skip the potty trips. Somehow I also managed an end seat next to my cousin, thereby isolating me from the kids, which was another score. To top it off, I got a delicious sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on a biscuit which probably wouldn't have been the best thing I ate this week if my selfish husband had offered me a bit of his fried chicken, egg and cheese sandwich on a biscuit... but he didn't. So I guess the sausage version will have to do. 
The biscuits were square, light and fluffy, more of a light cornbread consistency than hard scone style. The egg was cooked to perfection (maybe not for a pregnant lady, but I like to pretend I don't know all of the things I'm not supposed to eat and a slightly runny egg is one of those things I ignore). The sausage was patty style, preferred for breakfast sandwiches, meaty and spicy. And it was covered in shredded cheese which did a pretty good job of melting upon arrival and as I continued to eat it. Oh, and there were cheese grits too! I like grits, though I know not everyone does. I can probably credit my few years "down south" for that. I will always make time for grits, salty or sweet. In this case they were salty, cheesy, not too sticky, though very filling. 
We ordered baskets of biscuits to the table to get the party going and they came with tiny squeeze bottles of jams, honey, maple butter and regular butter. I split my time between the maple butter and strawberry jam and both were a damn good time. The sweet biscuit starter would have won the week were it not for me just being in more of a savory mood.
Aside from two failed attempts to deliver a medium-cooked burger to my cousin (think rare and rarer), this place was alright and we all made it out of brunch with the kids alive and somewhat sane.

September 14, 2014
I like bacon... I like it a lot. I like the way it smells. I like the crispy bits. I love the salty slabs on their own or drizzled in syrup for that perfect salty/sweet breakfast combo. I just like what it brings to the party. I've tried bacon in many different forms: candied, chocolate bar, vanilla shake, but some of my favorite bacon is served au naturale... well, assuming that naturale means finely aged thick slabs fire grilled to a salty charred perfection. If that's what it means to you, then may I recommend the bacon at Wolfgang's Steakhouse. Easily the best thing I ate this week. 
The bacon at this steakhouse (a spinoff of the more famous, overpriced and not as good in my opinion Peter Luger's) is served as a starter. You order it by the piece, which may sound silly to those of you used to woofing down 3-5 thin crumbly strips at your local diner on the weekend. This bacon is different. It's knife and fork bacon and commands respect. 
While I have been known to take down a slice on my own, I am also quite happy just going halfsies with my husband, especially since we are typically about to take down a steak for 2 which is really enough for 4 along with their amazing German potatoes and creamed spinach. Which after their delicious bread basket (onion pockets and rye salt sticks) is a lot of food. I'd say save room for dessert, but maybe just go wild on the bacon and satiate your sweet tooth when you can breathe again a few hours later.

September 2, 2014
Annual trip to the US Open. Gonna have to go a bit controversial this week. Everyone always lauds the food selection at the US Open not only for its diversity, but also its quality. My husband and I beg to differ. While yes, you can get crepes, jewish deli, curry, sausage along with many other things, it's actually not that good. It's basically an upgrade on a good mall food court. 
This year we tried the Heineken lounge because a-it was really hot and crowded everywhere but there and b-they let us take a funny photo with an oversized tennis ball up my husband's shirt to mimic my belly. The photographer promptly erased the picture once he realized I was in the family way as that is against Heineken policy. But we made ourselves laugh for a minute there anyway.
We suffered through a turkey panini and lobster roll, neither worth the price tag nor the effort of getting up the stairs to the lounge. No, surprisingly the best thing I ate this week came in an effort to keep this big girl cool on a day that called for rain, but instead had few clouds, lots of sunshine, high humidity and my husband and I out in it without sunscreen... whoops!
The best thing I ate this week was a frozen lemonade from one of the stands at the US Open. It's basically a lemonade slushy, but it was the perfect balance of tart and sweet, cold and refreshing to keep me going through all three amazing matches of tennis that we got to see (Bryan bros. Djokovic and Andy Murray... the day's lineup was so strong we had to skip Serena, which, if you've seen her bulldoze a competitor once, you've seen it).
I'm a huge slurpy fan, always have been. I don't mind the odd cold-induced headache. And I love lemonade. So, not necessarily the most groundbreaking week, but definitely a solid go-to for refreshment on a hot day. And a great way to inadvertently brag about going to the US Open here a la Throwback This...

August 18, 2014/August 25, 2014
Yesterday was my birthday. Hurray for me! We left my daughter with my family so we could try out a restaurant up by them, The Inn at Pound Ridge. Of course, living in NYC, we have plenty of places near home to try Jean-Georges' food, but off the back of rave reviews from my sister and brother-in-law, we decided to go for brunch.
Honestly, one thing was better than the next. The delicious food in conjunction with being kid-free for the afternoon made for a truly special birthday. Despite my protruding belly, I even nursed a litchi bellini for the two and a half hours it took us to get through all the food we ordered. Yes, we've got big eyes, but thankfully we also have the big stomachs to match.
Highlights included the peekytoe crab toast, steak sandwich with arugula and horseradish and the roasted corn side with chili and lime. All outstanding, but the stand-out, and the easy winner of best thing I ate this week was the spiced french toast with caramelized mango. The spice on the thick cut bread was flavorful without being too overpowering, as some cinnamon/nutmeg style spices tend to be. The actual toasting of the bread left a crisp outside and soft, but not underdone inside (nothing grosser than cutting into french toast to reveal raw egg inside). The mango was tasty, although in the interest of full disclosure it was by no means caramelized... grilled lightly on one side would be a better explanation. And the best surprise ever, it came topped with three crispy slices of bacon which the menu didn't mention, but when is surprise bacon a bad thing? 
Seeing as I pride myself on constructing perfect bites, I was quite meticulous about my piece of spiced toast, bit of mango, bit of bacon all dipped evenly in syrup. It was a taste explosion covering all of the sweet, savory, umami (I think... still not exactly sure what that is, but I think it's that earthy deliciousness that makes me say mmmm which this dish definitely had). The crunch of the toast with the cool fruitiness of the fruit with the salty crispiness of the bacon and the smooth sugariness of the syrup... it rocked.
Now, onto the following week when we had, through our own rave review, convinced my mother to have her birthday brunch there too. All I can say is, it is a good thing to go back and give places a second try. Sometimes they have an off day or night and need the chance to redeem themselves. In this case, sometimes they have a banner day and need the chance to totally screw it up for themselves. Basically, I managed to convince my mom to get the french toast, as it was right up her alley. It showed up as burnt french toast and burnt bacon, no mango. After inquiring we were told they didn't have any mango (a fact that most definitely should have been shared upon the order being placed). Begrudgingly they offered to substitute another fruit, which took three re-orders to finally get... finally they brought one side of caramelized banana (despite there being two orders of french toast on the table). The bacon has gone from a perfect crispy well done to just plain salty crust having been overdone. The edges of the toast were blackened (not a good feature), and I felt terribly unsatisfied as well as guilty for having talked my mom into getting it on her birthday. 
But I must say, having gone from one extreme to the other, I will no doubt give them another chance to redeem themselves. We all have off days and I would rather an average over a small period of time than a judgment based on one bad experience.

August 11, 2014
Went from Maine to Sesame Place (sadly, no groundbreaking food from there to report on), and then on to England. I tend to be underwhelmed by the food in England as I rarely eat anything I would consider healthy. Delicious and deep fried, yes, healthy, no. Groundbreaking, never.
But I should give an honorable mention this week to the sausage roll at Hand Made Food in Blackheath. I first experienced this sausage roll about 8 years ago on one of our trips back. A sausage roll so delicious, I often credited my husband with introducing me to it, much in the same way as I get credited by him for bringing challah into his life.
The problem with sausage rolls in America is that they are truly few and far between. We have a few specialty shops which do them, but they are not nearly as prevalent as they should be. It's sausage in pastry... they should be in every other corner shop as far as I'm concerned. But alas, they are not. So I try to get my fill on our trips over to England.
We aren't always able to make it to Hand Made Food, and we've faced random closings for private parties, cooking, or just the unfortunate selling out prior to our arrival. I also once had one from there that was undercooked, which kind of turned me off for a while. But I am happy to report that despite having too much sausage filling and being slightly out of proportion to the perfection I initially experienced, they were back on their game this time, making the sausage roll at Hand Made Food the best thing I ate this week.

July 25-August 1
Annual trip to Maine, which I am sure most of you know about by now. If not, please see Maine: the way life should be for more details. Maine is always an eating fest, and even more so when I can't drink. So it is way too difficult to even imagine confining the eating experience of the trip into one best thing for the whole week. My next idea was the best thing each day I was away, but we pack our days full of good food so that may be difficult too... But for you, I will try. I am currently thinking back on all my good Maine food and will fill this blank in soon...

July 21, 2014
This week I had a girls night out to celebrate one of my friends birthdays. As I am currently in the family way, girls nights out have changed. No longer am I pounding back a few only to regret it as I climb into bed well past 11:30 and know I will be awoken in a few hours with a raging headache and a toddler to take care of (I mean, I do it anyway, cause hey, it's a girls night out, but it does suck) Now, instead of glasses of wine, I am pounding back the food, whatever delicious food I can find and get in my belly.

This week, as I stood at the bar with my friend before dinner as she enjoyed her glass of Pinot, I was overcome with the smell and the sight of what I thought at the time was a pizza being cut into by the two men sat next to us at the bar. 
The next 15 minutes were spent greeting our other friends as they arrived while thinking about getting my hands on (and mouth around) that pizza.

You can imagine my disappointment when we sat down, I thoroughly inspected the menu and the specials and saw no pizza. Not one to be confined by the limits of the printed menus, I asked our waiter about what I had seen at the bar. He chuckled and smugly corrected me. "That's not a pizza, that's actually our chicken parmigiana." Intrigue grew immediately into obsession as I processed this new piece of information. Chicken parm that looks and is sliced tableside like a pizza. I'm in.

I am still unsure how they get the chicken cutlet arranged in the perfect circle to cook and present this dish, but I can tell you from the first smell, it is amazing. I love chicken parm, and novelty of the shape or not, this was a good chicken parm. So thank you Quality Italian for the best thing I ate this week.

As a side note, my husband had just gotten home from work drinks when I arrived home. He had not eaten and the first words out of his mouth were "did you bring me any leftovers?" So I have to give a big shoutout thank you to the lovely ladies of the table for awarding me, but really my husband with the two remaining slices of chicken parm to take home. He had never been to the restaurant but had heard about it and was extremely grateful for the taste. And I earned points for more girls nights out... Win. Win.

July 14, 2014
I love donuts. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read this page or anyone who knows me. In fact, in my post Eight crazier nights I mention the same donut that claims the title for best thing I ate this week... The Bismark from Chmura bakery in western Massachusetts. 

For those of you that don't know, a Bismark is a long crueller looking donut stuffed with both jelly and cream... That's right, jelly AND cream. A style I cannot figure out why I don't see more of everywhere. The donut is a fried yeast variety, yet still quite cakey, the jelly is thick and red (not sure, but I've always assumed raspberry). The cream is whipped, sugary, light and best served at room temperature. The past few times I have had them I have had to open them up and redistribute as the jelly and cream were laid side by side and I prefer them overlapping so that every bite has an equal amount of donut, jelly and cream... I tend to be anal like that about most bites, but I believe that is one of my many unmarketable skills: making perfect bites. Yes, it's true that when you sit across the table from me and ask for a bite of whatever I am eating, you will be sure to get the best version of that dish all perfectly proportioned onto a fork (or spoon, depending on which utensil is appropriate for said dish). Not sure how to parlay that into anything else, but people that share with me tend to enjoy it.

But back to the bismarks, I love these things, and I only get them three times a year when I'm up in that area. If you find yourself in their hood, definitely pick one up and don't feel like you can't redistribute the filling to enjoy at it's best. 

If you're not in their vicinity, perhaps you are lucky enough to have a donut shop around you that does Bismarks. If so, you are indeed very lucky. If not, march into your nearest local donut shop (I mean a good one, not dd or somewhere without fresh donuts) and suggest a donut sliced and filled with both cream and jelly... Maybe if we all do this the donut places will get the message, hear the voice of the people and give us what we really need: Bismarks.

July 7, 2014
Yet another week and yet another set of fabulous summer BBQs to contend with... Hey, it's a tough summer, but someone's gotta do it! We are fortunate enough to have some friends who really go the extra mile for their guests... this time it was a friendly July 5 BBQ. 

Our friends love their cooking shows and they love their food (only a small part of why we love them!) So when several of us descended on their home this past weekend, did they roll out the burgers and dogs? No way. Not that there's anything wrong with a good burger and hot dog sometimes, but these friends have a bit more flair at their grill. We got BBQ rotisserie chicken, homemade roasted corn salad (I think a Jamie Oliver recipe, but I will be asking for more specifics soon since it was ah-mazing), and last but not least, the ribs... Oh the ribs. 

The ribs had been marinating for an undisclosed amount of time when we got there and then saw a ton of attention and care on the grill while we salivated and waited. Our friends' reputation preceeded these ribs so we knew we were in for a treat, but these blew us all away. 

I have watched several BBQ festivals on TV and watched the care and love and time that goes into award winning BBQ. I have attended several BBQ festivals and gotten to enjoy the fruits of those labors. From all that I have taken this: I don't have enough time or patience to create my own BBQ masterpiece from scratch. But G does, and boy am I glad for that!

The rub included a ton of spices that he listed and I promptly forgot about since, as I just mentioned, making them myself isn't really gonna happen. They were spicy and sweet, the rub flavoring all the meat which just fell off the bone, a happy hybrid of Memphis and Texas style with a rub that does the job, but also a bit of vinegary sauciness so you have enough to create a  crunchy caramelized glaz
e across the surface and still have some left to lick off your fingers. They were outstanding.

If you consider ribs to be something you would make for yourself, I am happy to get to recipe for you. Otherwise I am just happy to attend every and any gathering these friends throw to partake in the good food they always serve and be very grateful for friends like that.

June 24, 2014
Sure I missed a week, but I have two new items for the list, so it's like I didn't miss a thing.
We were lucky enough to have friends who got married in Florence last week... no, it wasn't Kim and Kanye. I feel like I wouldn't have enjoyed their wedding as much as I enjoyed the one I went to... possibly because it would have been missing all of our friends, but more likely because I just don't feel like they would have cared as much about the food as our wonderful hosts.

We had a wonderful weekend in Florence. I will credit the fact that I couldn't drink for saving the trip and allowing us to actually wake up in the morning and get to see (and eat) Florence. We had a few nice meals on our own, but the wedding night was host to the best thingS I ate this week. Yes, things, because I couldn't possibly pick a favorite between these two.

The first, and I am going in chronological order to be fair, was the fried cheese passed hors d'oeuvres that came around during the cocktail hour. In finding a nice place to sit in the shade on the magnificently sunny day they had, we managed to position ourselves directly in the line of the exit from the kitchen. I have tried unsuccessfully to do this at most of the weddings I attend. This perfect location was unintentional and such a huge result. All of the hors d'oeuvres were delicious, but the fried cheese is the one I can't stop talking about. It was battered chunks of deep fried parmesan cheese lightly dusted with cinnamon. The parmesan got softened/melty inside the batter and they just made the most delectable savory, but slightly sweet tiny bites. Sounds simple, right? Yes, they were. They're so simple, yet I have never had it before. Why? Why has it not caught on? Can someone (preferably a restaurant very close to me) please start making these. I am baffled by their scarcity in New York, but if we ever meet again, I look forward to the binging reunion.

The second item is apparently an Italian tradition. Basically, around the time it was time to cut the cake, the chef rolls out an empty table. He then proceeded to lay out four quarters of a round pastry base in the center. Enter the big ass bowl of cream. He topped the entire base with cream, then threw a layer of fresh cut strawberries on top. And then another four slabs of pastry, topped again with more cream and strawberries. And then another four slabs of pastry, with more strawberries and some sort of crumb topping. The traditional (or so I'm told) Italian wedding cake with strawberries and cream was tied for the best thing I ate that night, definitely that week.

It was magical to watch him make the cake. I realized a little too late that I had sidled up to the side of his table to watch him work, resulting in too many photos of him making the cake featuring me just off to the side, mouth agape, possibly drooling... sorry to everyone, but please crop me out. No one needs to see that. You know what no one else needs to see? How much of the cake I actually took down. They cut the cake and served it to us while we sat, but then afterwards while everyone was dancing, guess what I found outside? Yup, the table with the remains of the cake, and conveniently enough, a few knives. So what did I do every time I had to walk by the table? I cut myself another sliver. And another one. And another one.... And it was amazing how many times I found a need to walk by that table. Needless to say I made myself sick that night, but mmmmmm, what a way to go. To speak of the freshness of the cake seems redundant, I mean, it was made in front of me, how much fresher could it get? But again, the simplicity won me over. Pastry, cream and strawberries... what could be simpler, and yet also so decadent and delicious. This cake takes the cake. I just wish I could have actually taken some of the cake with me. Oh well.

An honorable mention goes to the homemade eggplant parmesan at the rehearsal dinner at a place called La Terrazza  del Principe. Not sure if it's on their regular menu, but it was amazing.

June 10, 2014
So, remember last week when I was baking for that going away party (see lemon curd thumbprint cookies below)? Well, the party was a really good time. In addition to everyone going all out on their costumes (rock and roll theme with the likes of Elvis, Sharon and Ozzy, Sonny and Cher, Abba and Stevie Nicks all in attendance), the food totally rocked. They had it catered by the Taco Truck, which has locations in New Jersey, New York and Boston, Mass.

Aside from amazing DIY tacos (seriously, if you see this truck anywhere I highly recommend), they also had a platter of their Tortas: toasted Mexican sandwiches. My favorite and easily the best thing I ate this week was the Berenjena: toasted Mexican sandwich with crispy eggplant, chipotle salsa, with pickled jalapeño, avocado, and crema. Dude, seriously, knockout sandwich. Spicy, but so good. And this is coming from someone who does not go for the vegetarian option very often. The eggplant is cooked to perfection, crispy and soft without being mushy, the salsa and everything else on the sandwich just comes together so seamlessly taste wise, it's amazing we don't eat all of these things together all the time. And, my personal favorite aspect of the sandwich, it was neat. Don't get me wrong, I love a sloppy sandwich every now and again. But for me, I prefer a sandwich that holds its sh!t together for the duration so I can enjoy and not have to constantly be refilling and making adjustments. This sandwich, aside from being incredibly tasty, held itself together so I was able to truly enjoy. Arriba!

June 3, 2014
I am not usually that fond of citrus in my food. I can peel and eat an orange, but I have little tolerance for when slices of orange show up in my savory food; a la duck a l'orange. Oh, and I despise orange flavored sweet stuff. Terry's chocolate oranges are just about the cruelest thing you can do to an orange flavor hating-chocolate lover. And the only thing worse that oranges in stuff are blood oranges. Blech.
Limes are ok as a garnish, but beyond that I have to go on a case by case basis. Key lime pie is a divisive item since it's pie, and I tend to love pies, but some key limes are just too tart for me.
Over the years I have softened my position on lemons in my food. Although I'm not much for lemon piccata sauces and the like, I have slowly grown to enjoy certain lemon desserts. Lemon meringue is ruled out since I have texture issues with meringue and think it is one of the most horrible food items out there. Seriously, it's like eating chalk... why would I enjoy that? Meringue is my kryptonite.
But underneath that horrible meringue lives the lovely lemon curd, which I didn't always like, but have begun to enjoy in my older age. Aren't I just so sophisticated?
Pregnancy cravings have started, and fortunately my craving for lemon curd coincided with my volunteering to make desserts for a going away party for some friends. In addition to my usual butterscotch cheesecake squares, brownies, peanut butter brownies and confetti compost cookies I figured I needed to work lemon curd in somehow. Since I had several square items, I felt I needed another round item for the platter. I have a pretty decent microwave recipe for lemon curd, but I needed a base, since outside of my kitchen, it is frowned upon to eat it by the spoon.
After some online searching, I combined a few recipes and came up with a nice lemon butter cookie base for my lemon curd. These things were f#$%ing amazing. The curd is nice and tart and the cookies had just enough lemon flavor to complement the curd without making the whole thing too lemony. And since this feature here is meant to share the good with you, here are the recipes for Lindsey's lemon curd fingerprint cookies. FYI - I made the lemon curd ahead of time and kept it in the fridge. I made the cookies the day before and kept them in a tin. I filled the cookies a few hours before the party. If you wanted them to stay a little longer, and if you didn't care about the temperature of the curd, you could fill them and then bake for an additional 2 minutes to set the lemon curd and make them a day ahead.

Microwave lemon curd recipe: (seriously, so easy)
1 Cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter - softened, near melted
3 eggs
The zest from 3 lemons
1 Cup fresh lemon juice (usually around 4 lemons)
In a microwave safe bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until smooth
Whisk in lemon juice, zest and butter
Cook in microwave in 1 minute intervals, whisking after each minute until it coats the back of a spoon
Some microwaves may require 30 second intervals instead to avoid scrambling the eggs. My microwave is fairly strong and I usually do about 7 minutes.
Push through sieve, pour into sterile jar or container. To avoid film on top, lay saran wrap on surface before refrigerating.

Lemon thumbprint cookie base (not quite as easy, but worth it)
2 1/4 - 2 1/2 Cups flour
1 Cup butter (2 sticks) - softened
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1 egg, 1 egg yolk
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350* Line baking sheet with parchment paper
Mix butter and sugar until smooth, add egg and egg yolk and mix
Add lemon juice, zest, salt and flour - mix until combined
You can wrap dough and keep in fridge or just get going... I was in a rush so I just made the balls, and I think they probably wouldn't have split as easily if I had waited... I think.
Make 1" balls of dough, line them on the cookie sheet, press thumb or champagne cork into middle to create your curd pool
Bake 18-20 minutes until light golden
Let cool, add lemon curd to middle of cookie. If you want to set the curd, bake the filled ones for an additional two minutes.

May 27, 2014
Memorial Day weekend. Barbecues. Pools. Friends. Fun. And of course... food.

My favorite this week was a prepared topping/condiment/sauce that my sister served at her BBQ. It came from Stew Leonard's, which, if you don't live in the Northeast is this amazing dairy farm turned massive supermarket experience. And it is an experience. It is set up with one long winding aisle, so you can't miss anything. There are dancing and singing puppets throughout (the song the Chiquita banana sings will be stuck in your head for days after your visit), fresh produce, meat and fish and lots of delicious food. Some of my favorite Stew Leonard's items are the mac and cheese, sweet and sticky chicken tenders, pretty much any of the baked goods with a focus on delicious breads, great cookies and yummy cakes. I used to love the chicken salad and crab salad, but they add too many onions to them now. How many is too many? For me, any onions are too many, though I imagine if you like onions, these are still pretty tasty. My onion induced indigestion will just agree to disagree.

But the best thing I ate this week wasn't sweet or even a real dish. It was the Stew Leonards Old World Bread Dip, which comes in a clear tub and looks like olive oil with stuff in it. Well, that is exactly what it is. The delicious mix of cheese, garlic, herbs, spices and oil were not only delicious on their own as a bread dip, as the name would suggest, but also made a fabulous layer under some tomato brushetta on that same bread. Highly addictive, and as long as everyone is eating it, no one has to worry about their breath, which I have to imagine was kickin' afterwards, but since everyone I was with was partaking as well, no one mentioned it. Phew.

May 20, 2014
Ok, so not every week brings food worth telling people about. And that's what I thought about this week until I realized that I actually had been talking about something I ate this week, to anyone who would listen. It was something I have had before, but realized I should have a bit more often because it's delicious. I wanted to make sure everyone else knows about this, so that is why I am telling you about it here.

The best thing I ate this week came courtesy of my daughter's very generous interest in making banana bread for my husband. He did a 100 mile bike ride this week (Go husband go!) and took down a bunch of bananas... not like a few, literally a bunch. A lot. His discussion of his banana intake must have suggested to the kid that he wanted to eat more, though I'm pretty sure he was saying the opposite. This prompted her to tell me the next day that she wanted to make banana bread for him. Sweet, even if it was slightly misguided.

I do make things from scratch sometimes, but this wasn't one of those times. For those of you that don't know, Trader Joe's does a banana bread mix in a box. It's ok on its own, but if you do as my friend Ilyse once instructed me to do and add a fresh banana, it's pretty darn good. But that's not it... I mean, sure, homemade bread, even that from a box mix can be yummy, but would I just be talking about that? Probably not.

I am a big fan of food combos. In the history of mankind, we have come up with several food combinations that are just so good, it's hard to imagine life before we knew about them. Reese's would have you believe chocolate and peanut butter is one of them, and it might be. Everyone can make their own list. My list includes mozzarella and tomato... so simple, yet so good warm or chilled. A toasted corn muffin halved with soft butter on top... you can't call it genius, cause it's pretty basic, but it's basic genius. Sausage dipped in maple syrup... and for me, many other sweet/savory combos all make this list. Everyone has favorites, I am just asking that you try this one, because it is worth trying. My submission for this week as the best thing I ate is homemade (what? I did make it at home) banana bread toasted with Nutella spread on top.

Nutella celebrated their 50th anniversary this week and did a pretty good job of invading my consciousness. So much so that when I served up the banana bread to my husband, it was still in the forefront of my brain. Husband was kind of sick of bananas at this point, but didn't want to disappoint the kid so I thought, hey, Nutella will make this better... again, basic, but genius. And delicious. If you like banana bread (not everyone does) and if you like Nutella (not everyone does) then this one is for you. If not, well I'm sure I will have something else that appeals to you. Better luck next time.

May 12, 2014
Brother-and-sister-in-law in town this weekend. The result, aside from some lovely quality time with them, was lots of good food. Why else have people come visit if you can't use it as an excuse to eat well? I mean, whatever excuse you might need to eat well...

My excuse this past weekend was being a good hostess. That involved some yummy dinners and brunches with the fam. My standout item was much closer to home than I would have expected.

One of our go-to neighborhood joints is a place called Cookshop. With a focus on fresh, locally sourced food, their menu changes regularly. This is why it's almost cruel to tell you about this one since it may already be off the menu. But this isn't about you, it's about me and the best thing I ate this week, and this was it... spiced ricotta apple beignets in a homemade apple sauce. These little treats were under the "For the table" heading on the menu. Another new course, like "snacks" or "nibbles," that has been added to our dining out routine.

Can we quickly talk about restaurants adding courses to our meals? I mean, I am not opposed, obviously. I do, however, feel it is worth mentioning. Meals used to be very straight forward: appetizers, mains and dessert. Now you've got "snacks" when you sit down, meant to be ordered while you're deciding what to order... genius. And in the case of this week's meal of honor, the heading: "breakfast pastries" - a kind of hybrid of "sides" (though there were also sides on the menu) and "snacks." Whatever the heading, we all easily agreed to try the Boston cream donuts in the "breakfast pastries" section and the spiced apple beignets in the "for the table" section.

What's that you say? Beignet is French for donut... yeah, and? What we did there was order two donuts and an order of donuts? Yes, yes we did. Hey, you find the people you like dining out with and I will do the same... no questions asked.

Enough with your technical dissection of my meal... back to the beignets. These little fried balls of ricotta and spiced apple goodness came four to an order. This would have been great if we hadn't brought the kid who believed herself to be entitled to a whole one. A whole one, leaving only three for the four adults to share... the nerve of her. This led to a FHB (Family Hold Back: a phrase utilized in my youth when hosting parties at our house. According to my mom, you must allow your guests to eat as much as they want before you really go for it. Considering there were always leftovers, this was never truly a problem. But this phrase refers to when there are only a few of something and you [my mom] wants to make sure your greedy daughters don't eat them all up before anyone else gets a chance to. Hey, I know how it sounds, and I also know us... it was a necessary tactic.)

So the four, now three, golden balls came atop a lovin' spoonful of homemade apple sauce. This sauce was a damn good time and could have been a side dish on its own. But thankfully it came topped with steaming hot, sweet-spicy, fried balls of ricotta and apple deliciousness. Un autre s'il vous plait. Un autre donut for this girl. Merci boucoup.

May 5, 2014
Pretty slow food week this week. I did, however manage to try six different flavors of donuts from the Doughnut Plant in one sitting, so that was pretty impressive.

It went a little something like this. So, I'm going to visit my friend in her new house. I buy her a housewarming gift of little serving plates. I also bring her a box of donuts. Oh, how convenient. I managed to bring you something that needs something to put on it as well as something that need to be put on the other thing.

Thankfully it was one of my best friends so when she said "thanks for bringing us donuts" I was able to candidly roll my eyes and say "yeah right, those aren't just for you." And in we went.

Their creme brûlée donut is always my favorite, although recently I have been digging on their blueberry cake, which was my first favorite from there. But as of this week, I will have to add the coffee cake one to my list of favorites. It is also a cake version, which are smaller and denser than the yeast ones, but rich, moist (a word I can truly only use when talking about cake without making myself nauseous) and full of texture and flavor. There is a surprise cream hidden within, which complements the almost nutty, sugary outer layer. It's a damn good time and along with the other five donuts, makes my list of the best thing I ate this week. Oh yes, the best thing I ate this week was a piece of all six Doughnut Plant donuts, not just the one. Who do you think you're dealing with here?

April 28, 2014
Lots of traveling last week meant lots of staying home this week.

We belong to a dinner subscription service (I have no idea if that's what they're actually called), but we get ingredients for three meals for two delivered to us on a Tuesday. Not every Tuesday, mind you, but maybe once a month or so.

The ingredients are pre-measured, though not pre-washed and cut, to ensure optimum freshness and/or the ability to hang onto it all a few days extra when your husband neglects to tell you that he's out three nights that week for work, which had you known you wouldn't have gotten the food to begin with, but now it's there and you just have to wait to use it... oh, but where was I? Ah, the food. So, every week we do it they send us three different recipes with all the necessary ingredients. It's $60 for the week, which when you compare with ordering in three dinners instead is a good deal. If you compare it with pasta every night, not so much.

The nicest part is that it forces us to try new, sometimes interesting, sometimes horrible recipes that we might not normally try because they call for something random like 2 TB of chicken demi-glace or Thai fish sauce, which, if you don't regularly cook with that random ingredient, you A-might not have in the house and B-might not want to buy a whole bottle of if you end up not liking it. So it's a great way to try things and get good ideas for meals you can make going forward.

Anywho... we have discovered that Asian cuisine is their jam. Some of their "healthier" options like anything where I am forced to cook (overcook, inevitably) lentils, quinoa, bulgar, pretty much anything healthy are never quite as good as the Asian offerings. Their Mexican/Latin things have been alright too, but the Asian meals just seem to be what we enjoy the most. I made a fabulous red coconut curry and some fairly impressive pad thai. This week, the Asian inspired dish has the added distinction of being... The best thing I ate this week: 5-Spice pork buns with a red cabbage, carrot and thai basil salad. The salad was good, but the pork buns were amazing. Chinese steam buns take up to three days to make from scratch... uhhh yeah, not happening. Thankfully they sent these pre-made. So I was asked only to pre-rub the lovely pieces of pork belly with a pre-mixed Chinese 5-spice powder and brown sugar. To top the meat in the buns they sent scallions, cilantro, Hoisin, and Sriracha (though I do keep that at home, and you should too... people of the world, every boy and every girl, spice up your life). The sweet caramelization of the brown sugar and the pork belly fat as it cooked was amazing. The Hoisin/Sriracha blend on the bun was perfect The buns steamed up exactly as they should and the whole thing was as good as many of the Chinatown buns I have taken down, wasted or sober.

If I can locate the pre-made buns somewhere nearby, I daresay I would even attempt to buy all the ingredients and make this one again some time. Just to give myself the full Milk Bar experience, I guess I will be forced to make some compost cookies to scarf down after the buns as well... oh great, now I've got the compost cookies on my mind... and there are only two ways to get them off my mind. Either trekking over to Milk Bar and buying some, or rustling some up here in my kitchen, which is probably what will now have to happen since I'm too lazy to walk that far. Damnit subliminal associations. Why did I have to think about the cookies when all I was doing was writing about the pork buns? Jeez. I guess I know what the top contender for next week will be. Mmmmmmm, compost cookies.

April 21, 2014
This past week we ventured over to London for what turned out to be an amazing family holiday filled with lots of visits with our English family and lots of touristing around London town. For more on our London trip, see: If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

As for the food, well, let's just say London has definitely come a long way since my days as a student over there, when even if there was good food (there wasn't), all we could afford were Rice Krispies for every breakfast, pasta, sometimes adorned with broccoli if we really wanted to treat ourselves, and digestives for our tea. I existed for five months on that diet and aside from the odd churro at the stand downstairs from our flat, never really sought out any good food aside from when parents came to visit. Hello Bluebird, Collection, Criterion and River Cafe!

We are now 16 years removed from our study abroad days (ugh, I almost went back and removed that line because it makes me physically sick to think we are that old), and thankfully I get over to visit a few times a year. The food in London is much better now... plus I can afford to eat out these days, so that's pretty much a win-win for my belly.

In addition to my usual London visit consumption of sausage rolls, fish and chips, savory pies, bangers and mash, and the obligatory curry, we were able to find a few new stops that will have to be added to future trips. The main addition to my list, and easily the best thing I ate this week is... the lobster roll at Burger & Lobster.

There are several branches of this restaurant around London. We happened to dine at the Harvey Nichols one because Clarges Street couldn't fit us. Let's start with their schtick: it's called Burger and Lobster and guess what they serve? A burger or lobster, whole or roll. That's it. Three items on the menu, each at a pricey, yet somehow reasonable 20 pounds. We are splitzers, by nature, so we shared a burger and a lobster roll. The burger was good, don't get me wrong, they respect that 33.3% of their menu, but for me it was all about the lobster roll.

Now, you should know, I take my lobster rolls seriously. Anyone that knows me knows about my extensive time in Maine, a large portion of which is spent seeking out good lobster. So when my husband reported back a few months ago that he had a lobster roll in England that he would rank up there, well I was doubtful but curious nonetheless as he also knows a thing or two about good lobster rolls.

So, how about that roll? It's served with both a small side salad and fries... proper fries, not shoestring, not chunky chips, fries, as it should be. The roll is buttered and griddled so it flattens/stiffens a bit to hold in all that goodness. I like a toasted, buttered bun with my lobster. Some don't, I do. So for me, they got this right. The actual lobster salad was perfection as well. Loads of sweet, fresh lobster meat mixed with a small amount of mayonnaise, not too much that it's wet, but not too little that it's just lobster meat, a little lemon and a few chives on top. Again, not how everyone likes their lobster roll, but exactly how I like mine. It was an unexpected tasty treat in the most unexpected of places... I would have instinctively said that no lobster outside of Maine could compete for best, let alone that far away, but I gotta give it up to Burger & Lobster for giving me the best thing I ate this week.

April 5, 2014
After a jam-packed morning celebrating the kid's birthday, see Happy Peppa Day for more on that, we needed lunch stat. We had passed Minetta Tavern on the way down to Peppa and decided to head there for lunch. That is where I had.... drum roll please... the best thing I ate this week. The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern.

My husband has been to Minetta Tavern several times. Me, not so much. Without a reservation, the super-nice maitre d' was able to get us a table in a busting dining room (read: kid-friendly), with paper table cloth and crayons for the kid... her best birthday ever continues, and mommy gets to try their burger finally. Win-win.

So, let's talk about this burger. I've heard many tales over the past few years. I've listened to the ongoing debate whether a burger needs cheese to be its best, and I was curious. I am curious no more. I am full, satisfied, but still no closer to answering the cheese question.

It really is a lovely burger. It's rich, full of flavor, cooked well (um, not literally well as in well done, I meant it was cooked really good, but I talk better English than that). Don't ask me to rank it yet... I need to sit on that type of thing for a while and have at least two samplings. My early estimate would put it somewhere in my top ten-twelve. I know top twelve isn't really a thing, but I told you already, it's too early for me to decide. Jeez. Back off.

So, back to the burger... well flavored dry aged prime beef mix topped with onions that are sautéed, caramelized and then griddled in the beef juices just before they get put on top, all on a pillowy brioche style bun which is soft enough to let the burger and onions take center stage, hard enough to not fall apart from all those juices, and sweet enough to complement their rich flavors. Simple, rich, delicious. But I can't say that it wouldn't be better with cheese until I've actually tried it with cheese. I am leaning towards it being better with cheese, because as my brother-in-law James has astutely pointed out many times, "add cheese, make it better." I know that to be true, but I will reserve judgment until my next tasting.

That is the best thing I ate this week. At $28, it's not a cheap burger, but the kid doesn't turn three everyday, so it was a special occasion... that and we were so full we couldn't eat again until late night tacos from La Esquina, so it's kind of a bargain when it counts as breakfast, lunch and supper.

In honor of our morning surprise, we also had a side of their bacon, which is served steakhouse style, thick-cut and charred but not to the point of being crispy throughout, just on the outside. While I noted the irony, what I really noted was how damn good thick cut bacon is. Sorry Peppa.

Oh yeah, and obviously there was cake... a really good chocolate caramel tart with sea salt on top... yum!

February 21- March 29, 2014
A few weeks back we went to my friend's lovely wedding down in Florida. We added a day to the trip and managed a night in Miami before the wedding. While in Miami, we were lucky enough to come across two tickets to the Food and Wine Festival's Burger Bash. Having attended a few of the New York events for this festival in the past, they're a pretty good time. It's a fun afternoon or evening of stuffing your face with lots of _______ (in our experiences: sandwiches, pizza, burgers) and getting to try ________ (see above) from places you might not otherwise get to try. There's also free booze, live music, food demos and a few Food Network celebs floating around, so it makes for a fun activity.

While eating our way around the Burger Bash I discovered some tasty things that earned the title: "Best thing I ate this week." You see, I like my food. I eat well. Therefore for something to receive that title is well earned. I figure this might be a new fun feature for you, my loyal handful of readers, to tell you some of the best things I've eaten lately. Maybe I'll give you a new restaurant to try, maybe I'll give you an actual recipe, maybe it'll be a donut you have to turn off the highway in some strange location to seek out... I don't know for sure, but if it's good enough to be deemed "the best of my week," it's probably good enough to tell other people about.

So, here's a little catch-up, just to get me current... starting with my favorite burgers from the bash, and then on from there.

February 21: Apparently I have popular taste, because two of my favorite burgers were two of the nights winners. But I'm giving you my top 4, just to give you some new different locations to try, depending where you may find yourself.
B Spot restaurant in Cleveland, OH won the People's Choice Award with their Fat Doug Burger: Burger with coleslaw, pastrami, Castello aged havarti cheese and stadium mustard. Pastrami on a burger? Yup. Yes. Definitely. Uh huh. For sure. Are you seriously still questioning this? Well then maybe this new feature of mine isn't for you.
The Burger Dive in Billings, MT won the Best of the Bash Award with their Blackened Sabbath burger: Blackened spice with bacon, beer battered onion ring, garlic basil mayo, goat cheese and arugula with sriracha. I was nervous going into something that complicated, but by George, it worked.
Those two are great examples of places I might not be going anytime soon (Cleveland and Billings) but I'm so glad I got to try. If you're in those necks of the woods, I highly recommend.
My other two favorites were from Lillie's Q in Chicago, IL and Luzzo's in good old NYC. Lillie's came with their self titled Lillie's Q Burger: Double pimento cheese burger. A taste explosion so simple, yet so delicious.
Luzzo's had the unfortunate location of 'the opposite side to where I started,' so I reached there towards the end, after I had tasted the good, the bad and the just plain weird, and right as my meat sweats were beginning to kick in. Oh yes, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food did not make that up. The meat sweats are real, and they really get in the way of a healthy 36 year old woman trying all 31 burgers. Damn you meat sweats! But I did manage to try Luzzo's offering: Meatball inspired burger in a Neapolitan pizza bun. So, just to paint the picture, when I was full beyond reckoning I managed to sneak in two mini-pizzas acting as the bun to a meatball within... and boy am I glad I did. Delicious, and kind of a nice change of pace from some of the other more traditional burgers at that point in the night.

How you feel after four burgers

How you feel after twenty-four burgers
February 23: Technically it was the following week... Jaxson's old-timey ice cream parlour in Dania Beach, FL is the source of the best thing I ate this week: Jaxson's chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and hot butterscotch on top. I've been coming to Jaxson's since I was a tiny tot. Not much has changed in the past 35 years, and their massive chocolate chips in their ice cream, hot delectable fudge and hot unbelievable butterscotch on top are worth the trip whether you're flying in or out of Fort Lauderdale airport (conveniently just up the road), or somewhere, anywhere in South Florida and fancy some damn good ice cream in a kitschy old-fashioned parlour setting.

March 14: I know there was a week in between... this thing is still new for me, give me a chance to work out the exact timing. Next up is the chicken under a brick at Emporio, New York, NY. Yummy pizza, delicious pasta, and a Nutella calzone at the end that... I mean, come on, Nutella calzone? Yes, please. But despite that sweet treat at the end, the main event for me was the Crystal Valley Farm half chicken under a brick stuffed with mushrooms, truffle, broccoli rabe and rosemary jus... served with tasty truffle fries that should have been overwhelming but weren't. I don't know why people continue to cook chicken any other way than under a brick when under a brick is very clearly the best way of cooking chicken and should be the only way... just sayin'.

March 17-19: St. Patty's day has always been our Jewish family's excuse to have my mother's corned beef. We could have it more often, but then it wouldn't be quite as special. And it is special. Boil your corned beef according to its weight. Boiling it takes out some of the salt and fat and makes it so incredibly tender. Then prepare your glaze of maple syrup, brown sugar, deli mustard, and one small can well drained crushed pineapple... pretty much your perfect balance of sweet, tart, savory and delicious. If you want the exact recipe, or the recipe for the corn custard side we do with it, just let me know. It's not corned beef and cabbage, but it'll satisfy your corned beef craving with plenty of leftovers for rye bread sandwiches afterwards. Mmmmm, leftovers.

March 29: We bought a new car, so what does everyone want to do as soon as they get a new car but take a ride. And if it's nearing dinner time, why not take a ride to get dinner. We chose to ride up to Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem because it wasn't very far, it was getting late and they do a nice takeout service, plus if you're going to get rid of new car smell in less than 30 minutes of ownership, definitely replace it with Dinosaur BBQ smell... I mean if you can, which you should. I'm a Syracuse girl so as much as I like to patronize my local Dinosaur BBQ establishments in New York City, I miss the Syracuse location, partially for its authenticity but mostly for the mac salad that they mysteriously didn't bring to the menus downstate. I just don't understand. That mac salad brought me to tears on occasion and I wish they had it here too. Thankfully they do have the smothered brisket sandwich. Chopped Brisket Melt: slow-smoked brisket lightly slathered (what a great term that I wish I had more use for) with BBQ sauce and horseradish mayo, with sautéed onions and peppers, covered in melted cheddar on a pressed Cuban roll. I have many memories from college, but not many as delicious as this sandwich.

So, yeah... sorry for the super-long one this time. They'll be shorter when I get my act together and manage one a week. Hope you find something tasty to try on here. I know I have.

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