College Town Eats, Part 2 (NYC)

We had so much fun visiting colleges in NYC. There are so many to see and all surrounded by great food. New York is a mecca for foodies – I think you could eat out every day of the year and still not have hit all of the great food spots. And don’t forget the other boroughs! Brooklyn and Queens are also known for amazing food!

My daughter found the following gem on Snapchat.

1. Pommes Frites

Located in Greenwich village, this little Belgian restaurant serves the most amazing french fries. You can order your fries plain or add one (or more) of over 20 different unique sauces. We got poutine (yes, you are looking at cheese curds and gravy), blue cheese, and mushroom sauces! YES! Yum!

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2. Sam’s Fried Ice Cream

Well, we thought that after having french fries for lunch, we might as well finish off the meal with some fried ice cream. Seems natural, right?

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Yes! So good!!

3. La Sirene

I know there are a plethora of French restaurants in NYC but this is my all time favorite. I  keep going back every time I visit NYC. It is located on Broome Street in SoHo; adorable, great ambience, and the food , well, is French. When I find house-made pate de campange on a menu, I’m all set. Below is a salad of beets with brie, and of course, my house-made pate de campagne.

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4. Community Food and Juice

On Broadway and 114th Street, this hip neighborhood restaurant boasts an American-eclectic menu that features seasonal, local, and organic food. The beef is grass-fed, antibiotic free, poultry is free range, baking flour and sugar are organic, and their coffee is organic and fair trade. The building is green from the ground up, from the flooring, to the bathrooms, lighting, and tables which are custom made from reclaimed wood. After saying all that you want to know how the food is – right? Well, it’s GREAT! Wonderful menu with items to please any palate. I had : a bottle of GuS’s Natural Cola and “Bowl O’Beets” with local heirloom beets, orange balsamic reduction, whipped goat cheese, topped with toasted pistachios – all for $15 !!! Now that’s a WOW!

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College Town Eats, Part 1

On a recent trip visiting colleges with my rising 12th grader, I found some fabulous places to eat. I can’t wait to share them with you!

Hanover, New Hampshire

  1. Pine Restaurant at the Hanover Inn. Absolutely spectacular ambiance and food. Service was also outstanding. Cozy fire in the middle of the dining room and al fresco dining on the patio overlooking the Dartmouth green. We had the gnocchi and burrata salad. Both light, refreshing, with a burst of flavor in each bite.

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GNOCCHI, asparagus, mushrooms, corn, local arugula pesto, parmesan

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BURRATA & HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD,  fennel, cucumbers, honey whipped goat cheese, pistachios, tahini & lemon vinaigrette

 

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2. Lou’s

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Lou’s restaurant and bakery has been on Main Street in Hanover since 1947. I spent a summer studying at Dartmouth College in 1981, and remember many great breakfasts at Lou’s. My daughter’s and I had waffles and avocado toast (I did not have avocado toast in 1981 – a new menu addition for the 10th century! ). But Lou’s knows how to do it – this is no California avocado toast – Lou’s added a poached egg and béchamel sauce! Wow!

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Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cambridge is known for good eats. So many fabulous food from around the world! While walking around we went into a market for a water and coffee and found a treasure trove of yummies!

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At Cardullo’s we had a liver pate with fig spread (great combo I never thought of) sandwich on a baguette and turkey and bacon on a baguette. The menu is huge and everything is freshly made. In the grocery area of the store my daughter spotted one of all our time family favorites – Turkish delight! (yes, we purchases a couple of boxes – one with rose petals!).

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Providence, Rhode Island

We didn’t have too much time in Providence so were unable to eat dinner at one of the many many fabulous restaurants (Providence is a really foodie town). We did, though, find an incredible breakfast/coffee shop. I had the most amazing quiche outside France, and my daughter and I tried several pastries, a sweet her and lemon curd Kouign-Amann and a Cannele.

Ellie’s 

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Napa Valley Cheese Board by Chef Paul Fields

 

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You all know I like to travel. Many of my posts are restaurant reviews from some of my favorite travel spots. I was recently visiting friends in Napa and walked for the St. Jude walk for cancer at the San Francisco Zoo. It was wonderful to be with friends and I was very moved by participating and being present at such an extraordinary event for such an extraordinary hospital. And I’m thrilled to add that my dear friend’s daughter is now 5 years cancer -free after treatment at St. Jude.

While in Napa we had some pretty amazing food – it helps that my friend’s husband, Paul Fields, is a chef. Paul makes some of the most delicious food I have ever had! He is a true genius! His company is Twenty Below, and he and his wife Julie run the company. The idea is a dinner party, or lunch, for 20 people or less. Multi-course meals are set in a variety of different venues and locations throughout Napa Valley; from farm tables in the vineyard to private venues with unlimited Napa Valley views.  Some phrases you may be familiar with are “pop-up”, “caterer” and “personal chef”…Twenty Below is all of this and more.  

They feature deliciously fresh, elegant multi-course meals paired with exquisite wine from prestigious small boutique wineries. The limited guest list allows for detailed, focused attention to menu planning and preparation.  If you are going to be in the Napa or Bay area, call Paul! 

The cheese board above was put together by Paul and Julie. This is a classic Napa cheese board – look at all the yummies – figs, cheeses from around the world, olives, anchovies they brought back from Spain, peppers, salami, and a variety of crackers and bread. All I can say is: “wow!!” Now you can do this at home and wow your friends. You don’t need to be in Napa to serve a beautiful Napa cheese board.

Gourmet Airport Food in Philadelphia

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It seems that these days gourmet food can be found everywhere and in places you might least expect. From food trucks, to baseball parks, to airports. I travel a lot, and usually search out a Jamba Juice or a gourmet snack stand for cheese or hummus when at an airport. This summer I was at Philadelphia International Airport, Terminal F, which is the new American Airlines terminal, and stumbled upon a gem of a restaurant that I wish were around the corner from me. It is called Local Tavern, opened by the celebrity chef Jose Garces. Local is a modern American tavern with locally sourced food, materials throughout the design, and beer (over 60 on tap). Look at the salad in the picture above – would you have guessed that came from an airport restaurant – arugula and burrata cheese salad with the lightest lemon vinaigrette dressing! Yum!!!

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You order from an iPad and then when ready to check-out, you swipe your credit card and walk away. So no waiting for the check, sending your card, waiting for it to come back and sign — great when you might be tight for a flight.

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The menu is quite extensive, from shrimp and grits, Korean BBQ beef short ribs with quinoa, and roasted salmon with orecchiette Puttanesca with fennel and olives, to sides like cheese grits, fried pickles, mac and cheese (above), roasted Brussels sprouts (above) and french fries, to sandwiches like Philly cheesesteak, salmon burger, local grilled cheese, and build your own burger. And they have 2 gluten free options! Is your mouth watering yet?

Filet Mignon Boursin Bites

 

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This is possibly the easiest, and perhaps one of the most elegant appetizers you can make and serve. My husband had a wrap party this weekend for his zombie spoof movie (I cannot mention the name because we are entered in over 20 film festivals, but will let you know when we can — it is VERY funny!). For his party I make a myriad of small bites and served wine, beer, soda, cider, and prepared a dessert tray. The steak/Boursin bites were by far the most popular. I wish I had purchased more steak.

Recipe:

Filet Mignon (2-4 pieces depending on how many people your are serving)

Boursin cheese (let soften on the counter for 1 hour)

Baguette

Lavender salt (find at a farmer’s market or on-line — I got mine at the Ferry Building Farmer’s market in San Francisco)

Instructions: (most important part of this dish: DO NOT OVERCOOK THE FILET MIGNON)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Get an oven-safe pan hot over medium-high heat. Add good olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Sear the filet about 1 minute per side. Place in the the oven for 10-12 minutes for medium-rare steak (12 minutes for filet that is 2 inches thick).

Slice baguette and spread Boursin on eat piece. Place sliced filet on each baguette slice. Sprinkle with lavender salt and serve.

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Dessert Platter

These were all store-bought. It’s okay to do that when you are short on time (the story of my life). What is most important – find good quality desserts and arrange them beautifully on a tray.

Appalachian Restaurant, delicious southern delights

 

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Crawfish with grits and a fried egg

We were on our yearly ski trip to the Western North Carolina mountains and happened upon this little gem in the hills of Valle Crucis, Over Yonder Restaurant. The restaurant is in an old victorian home loaded with charm. The decor is casual elegant, dress is casual – it is a ski town. The menu is loaded with authentic, handmade delights of the region like pork chips, hot & sour frog legs, farmhouse pimento cheese, fried okra, grits, chicken fried chicken, crawfish, and NC trout, just to name a few. I had the crawfish which was served with stone ground grits with a duck fat basted fried egg!! Yum!! My husband had the pan-fried NC rainbow trout with sweet potato casserole, napa slaw with almonds and smoked onion tartar!

They also have a kids menu which is great when traveling with the family. Several of my children still have a bland palate so when grilled cheese and potato chips are on the menu, we are set!

The desserts are all handmade and so creative. They have banana pudding with whipped cream and wafer toffee crumb, peach cobbler with buttermilk ice cream, fried beignets with sorghum molasses, chocolate chess pie with vanilla ice cream, and sundaes.

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Chocolate Chess Pie

I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the Boone, Banner Elk area of North Carolina. I would go back again and again.

A Boston Delight, Sonsie

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On a recent trip to Boston, I just had to eat at one of my all time favorites: Sonsie on Newbury Street. They have been there for over 21 years! Wow! When my husband and I lived in Boston in the mid-90’s, we frequented Sonsie. I was so excited to return there with my daughter last weekend. Above is the lightly battered, fried calamari with an arrabbiata mayonnaise and fried lemons. It was not heavy at all. You know how sometimes you get fried calamari that’s heavily battered, heavily fried, and chewy? Well, not at Sonsie!

Next my daughter had the gluten free (GF) cheese pizza – amazing! You would never know the dough was GF. In fact, Sonsie has an entire gluten free menu with more than 15 choices. I had the GF wagyu burger (the bun was gluten free), with artisanal bacon and truffle fries. An upscale burger, cooked to perfection. The desserts (see pics below), were nothing less than, well, yummy!! And I finished my dinner with their signature espresso martini.

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Wagyu Burger with GF bun and truffle fries
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Apple Tart with honey bacon and caramel ice cream. Crisp topping, warm apples, sweet bacon! Really?
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Chocolate Bread Pudding – need I say more?

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Pictures of Sonsie. Note the fantastic art on the wall that changes seasonally. I wish they were for sale. I’ve included my daughter’s favorite — a woman dressed in 1950’s clothing holding a chainsaw — now don’t you want that hanging in your living room? I do!

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Napa, The Inn on Randolph, the best breakfast in town

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Yes, the best in town, and possibly the best breakfast in the world! Chef Paul Fields is the executive chef The Inn on Randolph, in Napa. He is a creative genius with flavors. He makes fresh breakfast every morning for Inn guests,  using the freshest ingredients from Napa’s Farmers Market or their own garden, they use organic whenever possible. Being in Napa, they are lucky to have access to some of the country’s most talented food artisans. Their coffee is a blend roasted for the Inn. The breakfast is a meal that will last you until dinner, including fresh fruit, house-made yogurt, and house-made gluten free granola. And this is followed by the hot entree. Chef Paul uses fresh ingredients of the season. Above is a delicious medley of kale, cauliflower, apples, fresh herbs, artisan sausage, and the perfect poached egg with hollandaise sauce. It’s worth noting that the entire kitchen is gluten-free. But you would never know it unless you asked.

The Inn on Randolph is all about exceptional service and creating the best Napa vacation for every guest, from wine tours to tastings, to cooking classes, you name it, the Inn Keepers will make every effort to make your trip to Napa special.

The Inn is beautiful but it’s the breakfast that will keep you coming back to the Inn on Randolph every time you visit Napa.

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