Eureka! Cookie Mystery Solved!

July 29, 2015

If you are alive, breathing and have talked with me for 2 seconds, you’ve probably heard me rave about FatBoy Cookie Dough I got around the country in Whole Foods…the chocolate chunk and macadamia white chocolate…nothing short of AMAZING!!!!
For a while, a time came that I couldn’t find them anywhere….boohoo…but e voila!  These delectables are not gone…yea!!! (certainly not forgotten by me…the hunter gatherer from another lifetime!)
It is simply the name that has changed to JOEL’S OUTRAGEOUS COOKIE DOUGH!
…same people, same recipes, same flavors, same amazing cookie dough.
Ohhhh, the relief of it all!
And for you aficionados of faboo cookies, on the east coast, you can find them at Whole Foods Markets and Fairway (and if they don’t have them in your area, go tell them you want to buy the best cookie dough on the planet, “Get them in stock Plz & Thnx!!”  Tell them Florence from Fresh Off The Palate sent you.
This cookie dough in so many flavors comes in squares in this blue box in the frozen – yes, you heard it correctly – frozen section, of these markets. How wonderful it is to have a chocolate chunk craving for one or two or two or three and just be able to break off a few squares, pop em in oven or toaster oven and mmmm hot fresh baked cookies made from wholesome ingredients right in your own kitchen!
Oh, yeah!  Bring on movie night or weather and hot chocolate, herbal tea or a cuppa joe to share with your honey, a dear friend or your bff, you!
Check out all the flavors and some fun ways to enjoy the best cookie dough on the planet!
And if you want to gift some to others or just don’t feel like baking (even in a toaster oven) don’t feel sad or deprived…they sell and ship tins of all flavors!
Oh, go ahead, people, dream of Dutch Chocolate Chocolate Chunk, Sugar Cookies, Cranberry Nut (with ginger), Pnut Butter Chocolate Chunk….join me on Cloud 9 and enjoy!

drool factor: too high for mere human numeric systems!

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Frankly Speaking

June 2, 2014

by Florence Ondré

Now, you know how much my dear Tom and I love Thai food. We’re sure we have had a life in Thailand and it was fragrant with aromatic flavors of The Land Of Smiles.  We believe the good that is experienced gets carried over into other life experiences.. and many, on the palate!

Literally, I can sense-smell and taste the curries  and cuisine I know in the very cells of my being and sense-feel the sweetness and crunch of the dishes that called me before I even tasted Thai food in this lifetime.

So, of course, as we travel all over the world, we are like heat-seeking missiles for Thai restaurants near and far.  The difference is that the Boom when we find our targets, is only the Kapow! in finding high yum factors!  There is no distraction; only the magnitude of pure joy in tasting the diversity in dishes which, many times, bear the same names on menus.

While in New York City one evening, before attending theatre, we popped in to a place new to us.  Sheer spur of the moment and happenstance… Yeah, right!

We were seated at a table for two, enjoyed a lovely meal and the bonus was that the couple at the table next to us became the gift that keeps on giving.  They looked over at the dishes on our table as we looked over theirs and we struck up a conversation filled with recommendations of beloved dishes and exchanged favorite restaurants.  This pleasant chance meeting sent us straight to one of the best Thai restaurants on Long Island that we had been unaware of, for years.

Frankly Thai at 959  Hempstead Avenue in Franklin Square, NY, turned out to be every bit as good as our dinner mates said and the welcome to this lovely spot was warm and light filled, as if we were long lost relatives.

We tried some of our personal fav appetizers and entrees the first visit and the Chicken Saté was close to the best we’d ever had and their peanut sauce, also high ranking was finger licking good.  A crunchy sweet tamarind, Mee Krob and Tom Kha Gai coconut soup filled with aromatic galangal flavor were also delicious.

The husband and wife owners, Frank and Jin,  were amiable and happy to talk about ingredients and variations on cuisine.  Jin is from Thailand and is the chef,  while Frank is a cherubic, Italian stationed at the bar, glad handing everyone like the family maitre d.  They both are passionate about good food and fresh ingredients and are willing to make anything your way. So, if you like the food a little more or less spicy or have a special Thai favorite, they can and do accommodate with pleasure.

One of their specials from time to time is a very interesting Kao Soi, yellow curry, with a bit more zip  than simple yellow curries and Jin’s version has thick udon noodles in the golden sauce with de riguere crispy noodles on top.  My dear Tom was in Heaven…and I joined him on cloud nine when trying an appetizer on their regular menu called Shrimp Rolls.

Lo and behold!  The Thai angels were watching over me as I crunched ecstatically into the best Koong Sarong (shrimp in spring roll with  sweet and spicy sauce)  since my two favs, Marnee Thai in San Francisco and E Saan in Sonoma, Ca.  The cilantro and shrimp  in each crisp wrapper was scrumptious!  My joy at finding some of my all time favorite delectables here on the East Coast, close to home was over the moon! Did any of you hear me g’shraying (Yiddish for vocal shreiking) in ecstasy from restaurant table to your ears?  We knew we’d found a home close to home and vowed to let the “popping in begin!”

On subsequent visits, we tried a really interesting twist on Massaman curry….A Massaman Roti; chicken wrapped in roti (fried flat bread), topped with avocado, pineapple, sweet potato and peanuts in a light, almost golden, tamarind sauce, which moved us to finger-licking the dish for every drop of that incredible sauce.  When the waitress came over to ask how we liked it, she said,”Wow! I guess we won’t have to wash that plate!”

High praise it was indeed; a kin to the first time I had chicken Massaman in Sonoma,CA., and was so astonished at its divinity, I mentioned I could lick the plate.  Being dared, I picked up the serving dish and slurped every drop of that sweet sauce clean as a whistle and held the plate aloft so that everyone in the restaurant got the message, including the chef/owner, Sunny.  Everyone laughed good naturedly at my tossing poor Emily Post out the front door and applauded  the ultimate huzzah!

And here we were in NY;  face to plate again.  Within 20 minutes from home!

Frankly Thai is frankly to die for, with high drool and yum factors on so many levels.

Oh, go ahead, people, go!  Have a nice chat with Frank and Jin and try some old favs and new experiences in a happy, homey atmosphere.  When you’re here, you are family!

And frankly my dears, you will, I assure you, give a damn!

Frankly Thai is frankly fabulous!

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You’ve Got To Ring Them Bells!

May 27, 2014

by Florence Ondré

For years on Long Island, New York, have been praying for some really good Thai restaurants to open.  There have been a few but they were pedestrian or too far away to pop into.  And being lovers of Thai food, my dear Tom and I like to pop in several times a week.

In Seattle, Washington, there are Thai restaurants on practically every block and they range from good to fantastic!  So, we got spoiled spending time there and coming back to Long Island to only wishes for that kind of taste bud wealth, left us hungry for that quick and fresh ingredients cuisine.

Since Superstorm Sandy decimated so much of Long Island and people are a year and a half later still not rebuilding or home, we figured the Thai food Angels would most likely wait to grace us with our palate’s desires.  After all, first things first, satisfy the hunger to be safe home and leave the wishful dining yearnings for a later date.

Then one day while in my acupuncturist’s office; chatting with the front desk staff, I heard there actually were two new Thai restaurants open and close by.

I ran to the one and got a look see (and smell) and took a menu home.  No aromas of cooking or much Thai ambiance but, hey, it was a short drive andI thought, ‘give it time to get on its feet and then check again.’

The second recommendation was a small corner place in the west end of Long Beach on the Island’s South shore.

This area had taken the hardest hurricane hit and had been literally crushed under sand as the Atlantic ocean met the bay.  The sleepy, little bungalow part of the City By The Sea, as it is known, had been buried and broken badly.  Before the devastation, this barrier island community had seen three other Thai restaurant tries; one of which failed with part Chinese food, another which served authentic Thai deliciously prepared dishes sort of faded away.  I expect that arising from the over long wait for the food to make it from ordering to eating.  I finally stopped going there because I called it ‘the ass breaker meal!’  I like to linger with friends over a good meal but the wait was interminable here and winding up with my head face-plant down in my food dish from exhaustion at day’s end, didn’t ring-a-ding for moi.

The last was a small place in the center of town, next to the busiest pizza parlor, across from the commute to the Big apple, train station .  The food here started out good.  There were a few bumps, and still are with getting the order right, but they had a salmon salad and a crispy duck salad to die for!  Decent Pad Thai and Massaman Curry, Kee Mao, Kao Soi and pretty good Thai iced teas kept us coming back to this tiny modern place with a quirky waterwheel in the window.

They, unfortunately, were flooded under, like every other business on the main drag and, in the new  hard times; trying to scrape together a rebuild, had to cut some corners like everyone else.  Though the duck and salmon salad stayed good but got smaller and the staff got a little short on accommodation and Thai smiles, it was the moldy water from the flood ravaged pipes which was served and tainted their former sweet tea, that pushed us to stop settling for a dream that had faded.  I suspect their still being in business aprés, storm of the century, has a lot to do with location, location, location!  And, yet, I still hope for their full recovery in the future.

After the new reco, off we went to the west end, with all it’s bungalows now being remediated like Katrina homes, put up in the air on stilts; looking for all the world like blocks of random Jenga games for adults.  And lo and behold, the Angels shone a light on the corner of Beech Street and Wyoming!  Yea, verily and forsooth, Ra-Kang, 895 W. Beech St, 516-442-1313, turned out to be manna from Heaven in a recovery from Hell.

The place is wonderfully appointed with walls full of Kangs (bells) of all shapes and sizes. The architecture is walls of wood cut out to create depth and texture; many sized bamboo fans covering the ceiling;  a wall waterfall shimmering down quietly and a wait area decorated with two round avant garde wicker work, black and red puffy pillowed chairs which look straight out of a museum or grand Royal house, awe and make the diner feel fortunate among men.  I didn’t know whether to sit in them or photograph them, so I did both!

The owner pleasantly greeted, sat us and the wait staff surrounded us in those famous smiles.  We felt like we were in a Thai house on the outskirts of Chang Mai.

The menu is well rounded and fresh ingredients abound. We ordered an appetizer which looked like the Koong Sarong we love so much from Marnee Thai in San Francisco.  Here on their menu they’re named Shrimp Basil Rolls.   Several big shrimp with fresh basil inside a fried wrapper was served in a large Martini glass with fresh greens and a sweet and sour sauce.  First bite, I thought I’d gone to Heaven or been transported on my tastebuds from the City By The Sea to the City By The Bay!  Divine!

They have Ping Yang, three mix and match, skewered meat (or satay) of pork, beef, shrimp, duck, chicken and lamb.  We tried the duck, lamb and chicken.  Delicious with hearty Peanut  and Tamarind sauces to complement.  Excellent!

Their Mussamun Curry (Massaman-different places spell it differently) was served in a graceful, brass curved-handled serving bowl and was sweet and fruity with Tamarind, carrots and chicken.  (one could have beef or tofu as another choice).

We went back three times in a week and a half.  Tried the Mee Krob appetizer of crunchy, sweet crispy noodles with shrimp.  Every bit as good as my favorite in San Jose, California; looking like an upturned bucket, forming a small mountain on a plate. Chang Mai noodles, (also known as Kao Soi) was a fragrant, yellow curry with chicken, sprouts, shallots, egg noodles and crunchy noodles on top.  Total Yum factor!  They will make it as spicy or mild as you like.  They also do a lovely, fresh, basilly Kee Mao wide-noodle dish with fresh vegetables (with or without meat or tofu) in a brown sauce with a little kick (again, you can ask for your own taste bud level).  Their duck salad was fragrant, crispy and  equal to the best I’ve ever enjoyed.

Each successive time we dined, the Shrimp Basil rolls were our first course and each time they were still divine and just as beautiful as the first encounter, in taste and presentation. Big drool factor just thinking of them as I write this.

The only drawback for this restaurant, is it ‘s a bit more expensive in pricing than some other really good Thai restaurants.  Still, we return because the food is worth it, one of the best restaurants in town…and we’re hoping they grace us with their presence and culinary gifts for a very long time to come.  The thing I love about this restaurant (other than it’s proximity to my house) is that it is one of the most gorgeously appointed restaurants and the food is equally as magnificent in both looks and taste!  I’d say Ra Kang rings all the right bells and is a Thai trifecta!!

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Thanksribukkah

November 30, 2013

Woke up this morning in the afterglow of yesterday’s lovely, simple and fun Thanksgiving/ Channukkah afternoon.  I can still hear the laughter, see the smiles on everyone’s faces and smell and taste the delicious racks of ribs my son proudly cooked on his beloved bbq/smoker.
(right here is where I ask my dear vegetarian friends to please turn away. avert your eyes! please, don’t judge me)

Picture a tall, happy looking guy standing outside his garage in the freezing cold; bundled up for winter; scarf wrapped around his neck, hands gloved and a nice knitted hat covering his head and ears (ok. it was a bright yellow wool ‘minions’ hat; one half of a two part set knitted by his wife for him and his 3 yr old son for their duo costumes on Halloween, but it did lend the chef a jaunty, humorous air to his serious business of seasoning)

Not being much of a rib gal after Tony Roma’s closed, this newly acquired culinary artistry escapes me…until yesterday….

Watching my grown son lovingly lavishing his attention to tending his culinary creation at the finish line of 8 (count ’em, 8!) hours of basting, turning, temp checking with the precision of a surgeon, was enough to rope me in to at least trying this entree again.

He proudly took me into his kitchen and showed me his impressive array of spices, sauces and rubs; explaining his process of how he chooses which for what reason and how he makes his own combinations for just the right flavors of sweetness and spice for each rack.  I listened with respect as he described the stages of the cooking and reasoning behind each to bring about perfection.

In honor of tradition and with permission from the my son, the host, we’d brought a small roast turkey with trimmings. (and honestly, for me, just in case I didn’t fancy more than a polite bite of ribs…I mean, two whole racks of ribs! Who’s gonna eat them on Turkey Day?)

Under the heading of ‘O ye of little faith,’ he opened the promise land lid, plated those babies and ‘ta da’d’ them into the kitchen with the flair of Guy Fieri  confident in his grillwork or Moses parting the sea.

They looked falling off the bone delectable; tantalizing, scintillating, aromatic and tasted tender, sweet and woody smoked.

I went from ‘oh, I’ll try them because my son made them,’ obligatory to bbq sauce mustachioed convert with the first mouth watering bite.  I found myself thinking, ‘Will two racks be enough?’

It was a stand up feast in the kitchen and those bad boys were gone before you could say, “Let’s eat!”

Wow!  All those hours to make/minutes to devour; leaving only the scent of enjoyment, the sounds of lip smacking contentment and smiles on our sauce smeared faces.

Later that night, my nose still filled with mesquite and honey, I wished for more.  Turkey, my tush! I only yearned for what was gone but not forgotten.  We’d split the leftovers; the usual turkey for sandwiches, the sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans and cranberry sauce.

And all I craved was wispy dreams of ribs.

As easy laughter and warmth of the day spent in happy camaraderie came floating back to me upon awakening, I realized what a gift my son had given all of us in the invitation to gather at his home.  His was the same labor of love as mine was when, for all his growing up years, I got up at 5 in the morning to start the turkey roasting for as many hours as the bird’s pounds determined, in order to create a fine meal and the custom of giving thanks…. with the grace of the extra ingredient of every really good meal and family tradition…the ingredient of love.

And on this historic, double holiday of Thanksgiving and Chanukkah which will not occur for another 70,000 years, I am filled to delicious, overflowing heart warmth as I share the threads of light we pass along, each in our own way, to one another other; to our children and our children’s children; opening our hearts for better than the best we can imagine in all outcomes… Happy, healthy history with what changes may evolve.

For and from me and mine, to old and new ways of celebrating the good in life…. here’s wishing you a moment in history where new meets old…Happy Thanksribukkah!

Tis The Season

June 7, 2013
Ready to cook.
Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon, ready to cook.

Purist. Baked with a dash of fresh ground pepper & sea salt & Tillamook butter to make a light brown sauce. (sometimes I bake it with fresh dill or just garnish with fresh dill.
Purist.
Baked with a dash of fresh ground pepper & sea salt & Tillamook butter to make a light brown sauce. (sometimes I bake it with fresh dill or just garnish with fresh dill.

Nom nom, All gone!
Nom nom, All gone!

I never liked salmon -ever. period. ugh.  And for years my guy got every last bite of this fillet mignon of fish while I stayed stalwart in my stubborn, stupidity. Until 2 years ago.

Instead of turning up my nose and turning down his offer of a taste, I said, “Oh, all right. But you know I’m not gonna like it!”

Really, I’ve never liked fish because it tastes…er…um…fishy.

Well, that night, the poor man was lucky he got even one bite of the entire large fillet!  Lucky he kept his fingers off the pan or he could have lost a couple of digits!

I caught the fever; was a woman possessed!

Seriously, what could I have been thinking?  All those years wasted! I mused aloud to the accompanying music of see-I-told-you smiles on the man’s kisser.

Such a simple preparation as above pictured and it was delectable!

Firm flesh, succulent taste…  And it was all gone before he could blink!

Oops.

We were both so happily surprised that we trotted off to Costco the next day and got another packed-that-day fresh fillet.

Snob that I am now, I know it’s best as near fresh off the boat as possible. Look for and ask about the pack date.

Oh, go ahead; talk to your fishmonger and enjoy the fish tales and info sharing.  You’re part of the community once you try it and like it.

And p.s. they do have it in New York at Costco too. Close to $13.99 /Seattle $9.99 per pound  once into the season.  Way down from anywhere from in between those numbers and $40 per pound at the very beginning of the first runs to hit market in May.

When thinking about how to cook this fabulous fish, I’m still such a newbie aficionado that I can barely bring myself to do anything which might cover up the flavor of this chateaubriand of the purest river around.

I have added, both in baking and broiling and after-plating,  Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Salmon Seasoning which has dill, granulated garlic, onion, mustard seeds and paprika and that was deliciouso!  And fresh dill of course with the brown butter is yum with quick pan sautéed fresh green beans in a bit of butter, olive oil & a sash of fresh ground pepper and sea salt…sometimes garlic. I might be tempted into a soupçon of truffle oil on fresh veggies or  yukon gold fingerling potatoes.  Really the sides are kept to a minimum because it is the main event I crave. Yes, you heard me…. cra-crave!

I’m practically booking flights to Alaska to go do what another blogger was thinking of doing…standing at the shore when the boats come in and kissing those fishers of fabulousness with gratitude overflowing for the bounty of creme de la creme gourmet fare.

Though I still don’t much like the grey, near the skin, part of the salmon, I absolutely kvell (gush) and profusely express gratitude for every exquisite fishy that crossed from the pristine Copper river to my plate.

It is a sacred moment as I thank that fish which gave its life for our most immense dining pleasure and sustenance…and for its grace and beauty and out of this ever living world 10 star sweetness!

I bless the river, the salmon and the people who bring them to our stores and tables.

It truly is a labor of love all around…the keeping the river healthy for the fish; the keeping the fish safe and bringing them to market; to our creativity in the kitchens and to our tables to ooh and ahhh over; as we bless, love and express our gratitude for such superior bounty.

I like to say, “Thank you for coming to grace our table and nourish us to optimal health.”

Off season, I have tried Coho and Miso’d that baby up under the broiler.  It was ok but nowhere near Copper River Salmon. And I do not like fish bones….too gaggy for me.

And though there may be some who will think I’m being blasphemous,  I do not care for King Salmon, even from the great and good Copper River.

Now, my dear Tom, who spent a summer in his youth, working in Alaska and the fishing industry; he who has told many a midnight of the sun story,  has got a partner to share his love of his favorite fresh fish.  We do enjoy sharing what we love best with the ones we love best!

So, I, the overwhelmingly converted, may just branch out with the new recipes I’m seeing…perhaps a bit of wine with the butter….mayhaps a dash of lemon if I get brave enough to stray from purist pleasures…add rosemary or tarragon or shallots…swim upstream myself with varying the seasonings…

In briney bliss, I salmon sail and venture forward culinarily!

But only in Copper River Salmon Season.

Not Your Ordinary Burgers At The ‘Box’

June 20, 2011

Truffle Luv Kobe Cheeseburger

Rosemary fries

Today at Lunchbox Laboratory,  http://www.lunchboxlaboratory.com/  in Seattle, Father’s Day was celebrated with a ‘Mustaches Gone Wild’ event.

“Mustaches eat free on Father’s Day!  Any Dads sporting a ‘stach will get a free burger. Don’t worry, if you can’t grow one, we will have one for you to wear during your next meal.” said their poster.

Thinking about how often I felt like both Father and Mother to my kids  when they were growing up, led me to my desk and a pad of  blank paper  and a pair of scissors. The next thing, I’m sportin a full lavender mustache, my purple shades and a grin while Tom has gotten creative with  the curved arrow symbol from an Amazon.com box.  A couple of folds of tape and off we drove to check out the restaurant’s new digs on Thomas Street… and see how many people actually showed up with over the lip wear.

The answer: a lot.

And my paper nose tickler got some laughs.  I fit right in with the waitress, who wore an orange fuzzy over her upper lip, and the Mom next to me, who twirled a supermarket receipt into a Salvador Dali.

One couple had fashioned two versions of  Sweet Adeline /Jerry Colonna handlebars and Tom, in his Nike-like, black line over his lip; ending in an upshot arrow, pointing toward his cheek, stood out in the pack of real hair mustachios, ranging from light to dark; thin to bushy; just the top to full and Van Dykes.

Check out the photo gallery at the above addy.  The fun is on facebook too.

At indoor and outdoor tables, burgers were living up to their Zagat and Epicurious positive gourmet reviews and honorably true to the advertisement, ‘staches ate gratis.

I had the Truffle Luv Kobe cheeseburger with bacon, swiss and truffle mayo and Rosemary fries and Tom had the Smoker, Kobe beef , creamy Havarti, honey cured bacon, Lunchbox onions and smoked pepper mayo and Tater Tots. We were two happy celebrants of the Day of Dad’s, I can tell ya.

When this establishment was in its small Ballard digs, we’d eaten there, enjoyed the cameraderie in close quarters, viewing the collection of vintage lunch boxes and lava lamps and loved the Lamb burger with Blue cheese and sweet potato fries and a homemade mac n cheese to die for. The lunchbox collection, lava lamps and recipes  have travelled well to this larger space; having lost none of any of the flavor.

They serve salads and funky good appetizers and whip up some mighty tasty shakes in a tempting variety with seasonal choices.

The atmosphere is fun and the food good.

Go.

Drool factor: OMG! Get me a bucket o truffle mayo to go.

I overheard a bunch of guys at the table behind ours,raving, “That’s the best burger I’ve ever had!”

Oh, yeah.

Still lickin’ the fingers.

See Why At Sea Thai

June 18, 2011

Curry Puffs at Sea Thai Restaurant 

Nam Kao Tod “Crispy Fried Rice”

Kao Soi- yellow curry noodles

Catching lunch at Sea Thai restaurant, one of our all time favorite Thai eateries in Seattle, Wa., http://seathai.com/, brought the unusual usual to our table with one of the best Thai iced teas around. We love their Crispy Fried Rice (aka: S11 on the menu of specialities) with slivers of red onion and fresh ginger in a sweet tangy sauce and lettuce leaves to make your own wraps and yummy, light, warm, crispy curry puffs.

Intending to just have a nosh, we spotted a new offering on the day’s specials board: Kao  Soi, yellow curry noodles with a sweet easy on the palate sauce bordering on creamy soup with lengths of  medium egg noodles and crunchy noodles creating a wavy  top knot to the bowl.

The new chef brought this recipe with her from the North of Thailand and, though one may order it as spicy as you like, we chose to stay at the bottom of the heat index.  There was just enough of a zip on the back taste to perk it, yet not over shadow the sweet and multi-layered flavors of the dish.

My Dear Tom had just been saying how he was hankering for a curry/soupy noodle dish and this fit the bill like the Angels must have been listening; ’cause it surely sounded and looked like they  said, “Voila! Here ya go. We heard ya. Have some Heaven on a plate.”

Cue the Hallelujah chorus.

It was that divine.

We’ve enjoyed this place for years now and find they stay true to their consistency of a flavor full menu in quality and variety, using fresh ingredients to create authenticity.

They’ve delighted with Green Curry Beef, Pumpkin Curry with chicken and the best Som Tum (green papaya salad), Tom Yum and Tom Kha Gai soups in the U.S.

Trust us, we’ve tried Thai restaurants all over this country. (We will go off the beaten track along life’s highways and bi ways for Thai food)

Sea Thai in Wallingford, Wa., an area of Seattle near the University district is reasonable, reliable and rockin’ good.

The people who cook for you and serve you here are dear and sweet.  They really do want you to have the most enjoyable dining experience possible. They deliver in their area, do take-out and catering too.

Don’t let the facade fool you.  The physical restaurant is cozy and small but the taste here is big.

Let M set you up and recommend a few dishes.

And if you are lucky enough to drop in when Renoo is in town, making her homemade authentic Thai desserts, you won’t be able to wipe the ‘Ahhh’ smile off your face for weeks.

Drool factor: stratospheric.

Breakfast Of Champions

June 18, 2011

Cupcakes! Not just for dessert anymore!

Especially if they are minis…mere wisps of flavor which linger on palate and in mind..isn’t that half the calories at least?  Or does it count if you just look at the photo and imagine?

Peek inside the pink box….mmmmm….a little slippy slidy looking from the ride home but still got the yum factor intact!

While strolling through the Farmer’s Market, sampling truffle cheese,  vanilla pear jam, local made sausage flavors, crisp freshly picked apples, basil and arugula and warm freshly pulled mozzarella, what should appear before my happy eyes but tiers of tiny clouds of sweet icing atop teensy, one (possibly two) biter cakes. Thimble sizers in a dazzling array of gem colors and flavors.  I could not resist.

It was day’s end, so into the pink box went the remaining 3 mango cupcakes with passion fruit, yellow icing; the single green tea with almond icing and chocolate cardamom sprinkles and the lone BLT version topped with a sun dried tomato which the baker calls, “Kiss The Pig.”

All I can say is, I have tasted them all and kvelled to the max.  In fact, I’m still breathing in the light aromatic passion fruit..or is it my imagination and memory playing the palate’s siren song?

Went to the baker’s website, www.cupcakeluv.com, and am ready to suit up immediately if not sooner to hunt them down in their natural Farmer’s Market habitats and keep the magic going for at least one more breakfast bonanza.

My friends Carol, Sandy, Monica and Laurene are living vicariously through me from 3 different U.S. states and Lori, my N.Y. sister, who frequently plays Ethel to my Lucy in escapades (which cannot be shared unless you want us to have to kill you),  told me to stop angsting over calories  already and just enjoy myself.

So, I took her advice.

Big G, glad I did!

And as cupcake connoisseur, Niece Natalie, so succinctly and aptly puts it…Yum!

Drool factor: off the charts.

Posted From 30 Thou

December 15, 2010

“Would you like chicken with bbq sauce and corn or bow tie pasta?” she asked with a happy smile in her voice and on her face.

Now where do you think this eatery is?

Yup.

If you’ve ever flown Delta, this might sound familiar to you.

“Does the pasta have any red peppers in it?” I query. “I’m allergic to them.”

“No. No peppers just red cherry tomatoes.”

“I can survive that.”

We launch into a discussion of what kind of cheese is in the corn which comes with the chicken.  She and her colleagues have not been able to figure out the answer to that mystery.  She likes the bbq sauce on the chicken and says that she tried to replicate the recipe at home and couldn’t quite get it.

I share that I’ve loved the chicken stuffed with cheese and spinach.

She agrees and seconds the chicken love fest on that one.

I add that I tried to duplicate that version in my own kitchen and got close but no cigar.  The cheese they use in the airline version  eluded me too.

We pop  up our tray tables and dishes are whisked in front of us with a flourish.  On each is a green salad with grape tomatoes; a creamy caesar italian on the side and I quip, “Does this salad have arugula in it?”

My dear Tom replies as he digs in to his, “Yes it does.”

What?  I was joking.  It’s airline food for goodness sakes!

“Don’t forget to open the dressing away from you.  I learned that lesson the hard way.”

One taste and sure enough, arugula!

A hot buttered roll.  So far so good.

Bowties bland and a few buffer the acid in my stomach from the stress of having barely seconds of  preboarding before the hordes descended on our keisters;  closing in like bumper to bumper traffic in midtown Manhattan.

Tom’s chicken is rubbery and there are peppers in the q sauce. Blechh, for me.

There are, however, rosemary roasted  red potatoes which are quite nice and on both our trays, there is a mighty fine looking dessert which turns out to be pumpkin cheesecake with a struessel topping and caramel drizzle.

Divine.

I’m making this for the holidays!

I am the cheesecake making queen and now I will add this to this year’s goodie banquet.  I’m going to pick up the faboo caramel sauce from Whole Foods for the liberal drizzling.

Our flight attendant comes over to see what we thought and asks, “What flavor was that dessert?”

“Pumpkin cheesecake.”

“Ahhh. My colleague thought it was but wasn’t sure.”

Mmmmmmm we drool a bit together.

Outside our window, the sun is setting over the Rockies, all frosted with snow and I feel a nap coming on.  Full tummy. Food, some parts ho hum and some really delicious.

There is free WiFi on board and I’m sharing the restaurant review with you before I caramel crash.

The pilot, who taxied like he was on I 5 with semis chasing him for dear life; revving and passing other planes like a speedster; maneuvering around chop chop like the White Rabbit, late late late for a very important date and then jumped us from 0 to thousands of mph like a warp speed jump, has just announced that we will be landing at JFK an hour and a half earlier than planned. Whoopee!

Some restaurants have great food; some ambiance; some super views…This one’s food was hit and miss and still better than most in the friendly skies (tho, not much has ever come close to Air France) today we’re at Windows On The World and the view is spectacular!

….And the salad has arugula in it!

Not By The Numbers!

December 9, 2010

At the Capital Hill restaurant, Table 219,  on Broadway Ave E in Seattle, Washington, (would you believe at 219?!) the food is anything but by the numbers or cookie cutter in any way, shape or form.

This intimate, little elegant dining spot is warm and inviting for more reasons than decor or seating arrangements.

It is food from a very special chef, who treats the dishes as an artist treats his canvas, except his paint brush is food which tantalizes the eye, nose and palate memorably.

We were introduced via Groupon.com which featured a special offering of a coupon which could be used for a dinner there and the sneak peek at the menu we got through Groupon enticed us to purchase a coupon so we could give it a try.

I drooled as I scanned the interesting assortment of unique dishes organized in small, medium and larger plates…something for every appetite size and I can honestly say that every dish we sampled (and did we ever) lived up to the pre-drooling.

Our server, Justin, was friendly and helpful in answering our questions about preparation and specialties and, like most places we try for the first time, a bit goggle eyed at the amount of dishes we were willing to taste in one sitting.

“Uh, that’s a lot of food…..” is the common trailing off with an incredulous smile reaction as we two take a table for four and fill it with a small banquet.

The talked-about appetizer of roasted garlic and bacon deviled eggs were like none we’ve ever had in our dreams.  They were creamy with incredibly tasty bacon crumbles and served with a delectable side of a confit of sweet savory roasted garlic cucumber ‘omg-liciousness’ to die for!

“An appetizer for dinner?”  you ask with eyebrow raised.

“Holy smokes!  Don’t miss these!!” I reply with the smile of mmmm-pleasure still on my face.

Tom and I decided immediately that next time we visit (and there will be a next time!) we’ll each get our own order.

We noticed that every table had a plate of them plunked down.

Next came a mushroom, truffle oil mac and cheese served in a dear little orange red le creuset individual pot. Just lovely.  (I left enough in the pot for taking home for a bite of lunch the next day.)

Following this, a dish of the lightest, crispiest zucchini fries with parmesan and horseradish sauce.

Tom had a bison burger served with tomato jam and the best sweet potato fries of perfect size and crunch

Now folks, I don’t usually do bison burgers, though my dear Tom loves them and tries to foist them on me whenever possible; touting the health benefits and saying how I won’t know the difference between that and a good beef burger (which I always do and non too pleasantly)….however, this bison burger was the best I ever tasted and I would go back and order one of my own anytime.

And don’t get me started about the tomato jam that goes with the house cured pickles…..ketchup/catsup hooey!  This ‘jam’ is condiment at a higher level of consciousness!

We tried the Scallop Wellington with mushrooms and spinach cream surrounding the center island of pastry surprise!  Gorgeous dish.

And who could resist the sauteed gnocchi with duck, arugula and cranberry balsamic glaze.

How does he dream up this stuff?

Well, Chef Cheffrey tells you all about it in his blog..how he plans and what fresh ingredients inspire him and, here, you can see how the artist rises to the feasting occasions talking with you like a good friend having you over for dinner as family.

When you go to www.table219.com  you get, not only a look at the restaurant and it’s unique menu, you have the opportunity to go to the Chef’s blog and enjoy the most interesting thoughts and experiences which take you with him on his culinary journey.

His opening,  “JOIN ME IN MY EVER LONG JOURNEY FOR NEW DISHES, NEW DRINKS AND NEW EXPERIENCES. MAYBE A STORY ABOUT A SPECIAL HERE, OR A JOKE FROM A SERVER THERE, WHATEVER. ALL I KNOW IS THAT I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE OUT THERE LOOKING FOR THAT SITE OF SOLIDARITY, A MOMENT OF SECURITY AND RELAXATION. A RESTAURANT IS MORE THAN ITS LIGHTS, ITS WALLS OR ITS FLOOR. IT’S COMPRISED OF THE LIFE THAT’S IN IT. ALL I WANT IS FOR MY GUESTS TO FEEL AS RELAXED AND COMFORTABLE HERE AS I DO.” is a warm welcome mat.

And for sure, Cheffrey, you are not the only one out here looking for the sharing of hospitality and enjoyment of the art of good fresh food and the courage in creating unique and interesting  combinations to please the senses.

Just ask Justin, who is taking art courses.  By seeing Chef Cheffrey work, he now understands that the process of creating masterpieces for the table is very much an art form as visual arts.

I add that the dishes we enjoyed this evening were visceral arts.

Oh, did I almost forget to speak of dessert?

Heaven forbid!

Among the tough choices, we exercised some restraint and ordered one ‘219 ding dong;’ white chocolate mousse atop a bit of chocolate cakey something-something; enrobed in ‘oh-my-mouth-is-still-dreaming-about-tasting-it’ chocolate ganache

…..and 2 spoons please.

This restaurant’s moniker may be  numbers, indicating it’s snail addy, but the food is off the charts in taste and creativity!

Don’t just take our word for it.  We heard the people at the next tables expressing their appreciation and extending kudos of enjoyment too.

Don’t just dream and drool… Go. Eat.  Enjoy.

You heard it here…Fresh Off The Palate!


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