Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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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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.

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.

The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company

November 14, 2010

Run! Do not walk to The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Company at 2209 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121, ((206) 441-4240).  If you are anywhere in the area and want the best cupcake treats in this known world, get there asap.

I kid you not.  This shop makes the best gourmet cupcakes in the most delicious varieties of flavors, you’ll find on the planet.

I schlepp them across the country to my friends in New York , San Francisco and all points in between.  That’s how unique and flavor full they are!

The Angels are in there baking and concocting the fantabulous confections coming out of these ovens.

And think just the right size…not hulking clomps of batter or so small you wonder how they got devoured before you can taste them…and think light and luscious- Italian cream whirled on top in fantastical shapes and flavors.

Are you drooling yet?

Let your mind wander down ‘mmmmmm’ lanes marked Mexican Chocolate (with a soupcon of cinnamon), Almond Chantilly, Green Tea Berry with the thinnest layer of the best chocolate ganache you ever tasted on top of the fluffy moist cupcake, under the pale green cream top.  Let your taste buds conjure Orange Chocolate, Cashew Caramel, sweet and salty Chocolate Bacon, Rosemary Lemon, Lavender Lemon, Pandan, Red Bean, Stout Beer (oh who would have thunk it would be so outrageously to die for!), Pralines and Cream, Boston Cream, Tomato Soup, Pancakes and Bacon, Passionfruit and Guava; along with Vanilla and Chocolate and Red Velvet-to name a few!

Wipe your face now and go!

Any day you show up, you’ll be greeted effervescently and warmly by Mike Hein and you may find Tony Portugal happily popping out of the back with another of truly inventive and amazing dress rehearsals of the latest flavors and festive frills to go with. The lovely lemony yellow shop has a wide array of teas and is a wonderful place to sit and have a cuppa along with the divine delectables of the day.

For these two entrepreneurs, who are the owners and creative geniuses behind this superb wonderland of cupcake heaven, every cupcake must be perfection.  The Italian cream on top is sweet without heavyness and overkill sugar.  There is a sophisticated simplicity to their works of art on a plate in this elegant little shop where everything is made in house, fresh daily- and though one can rely on finding signature flavors each day, there is sure to be something new and wonderful to try.

So go.  Be daring while you enjoy favorites. You never know how the landscape of your cupcake palate will change and bloom.

Tell them florence sent you.

Can fig and fennel be far behind?

For those of you who are out of the Seattle area, well then at least go to their website and have a good drool!

visit

http://www.theyellowleafcupcake.com/

The photos are not doctored in any way.  Mike takes the pics himself right there in the shop -so go on look and drool all you want!

The Return Of The Grub

March 29, 2010

Was not rushing back to Metropolitan or anywhere for that matter after the Great Sandwich Debacle.  Just wanted to tuck in and regain energy from the flight across country.  6 hours in curbed-movement and decreased oxygen takes the stuffings out of you.

Tom and I ask ourselves, “Is it just us or is it taking longer to recover from those ‘aero-punishments’ that get us to pleasurable spots in the world?”

And don’t get me started on the food!

We used miles to get upgraded to first class to save our bodies and of course they served a meal instead of lobbing a dry sandwich at you and yelling, “Go long!”

I just asked Tom if he remembered what exactly we were served on that flight and he answered, after a brief hesitation for thought, “Uh, no. I try to forget as soon as possible after landing. I think it must’ve been a choice of some sort of pasta or chicken.”

That sounds about right.

Thinking about this, I remember why I love JFK terminals….. they have Balducci’s!

Now, we’re talking quality back up!

My favorite sandwich of theirs is turkey, apple and Brie on ficelle.

It’s perfect crunch and yum factors are delicious and the sandwich is big enough to share or have some left over for the next day when we haven’t yet gone to the market to stock the fridge.

So, of course, I got one and brought along some of my own snack goodies for the movies.  Yes. Plural. Saw two and played the in-flight game of trivia with others in the cabin.  Love that game and the interaction onboard.

Sometimes we just have to take our comfort with us and with airlines’ mishagos, you just have to pretend you’re at a personal growth workshop and self-care.

Went back to Metropolitan Market, explained the return; ragged wrapper and all. Apologies were tendered, sandwich-swamp taken back and money refunded promptly, with attitude of only regret for my inconvenience and disappointment.

“Would you like to try another?” was all that was asked of me.

Since I’d had nothing but good tastes with their turkey, Havarti with lettuce, tomato, Dijon mustard and mayo before, I tried another and it was delicious.  So I guess shift happens.

When one picks up take-out for that meal you don’t want to wind up cooking at the end of the day at home and you are soooo looking forward to shedding your duds, hopping in the shower and kicking back in your comfies and comfort zone for the evening…and you find the food lurking in your take-away container either isn’t what you ordered, missing pieces or another plate from ‘international drek,’ that is another story.

Like some of you have shared, I too get all ‘fertootsed’ and the inconvenience facing me is having to throw stuff on, jam back and waste half of my night dealing with a redo.

Not bloody likely.

Once I’m in the jammies, I’m in.  After the call to the venue, I’m stuck with foraging and making do.  So, the inconvenience meter ticks to higher levels ’cause I now have no food or have to take more time out of my night or next day doing double energy output because they didn’t do…what?

Their job.

Here’s where I feel they not only owe a do-over but a comp for my extra time having to deal with their mistake.

Get creative out there.

That would keep me coming back as a loyal customer.

And there are some really good and honorable places that do that….make it right….show good faith….and want you to come back. These establishments want your business. To them you are not just a number or a cha ching on the register. You are valued and they want you to know it. That ‘s how I do business. My bad?  Your good.

Thanks you guys for your input and sharing your thoughts and how it works for you.

Who has messed up and made it right for you?

In Light & Love,

Florence


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