Philly Bonus Food Pics: Pastrami Cheesesteak, Sushi & Dinic’s Roast Pork

pastrami cheesesteak Well gang, I think we’re pretty far past apologies for a lack of posting. A lot of things went down in the past few months that prevented me from posting here on MATK, but I’m really hoping to make a big push for more posts. I’m even circling around to recipes I made months ago that I never posted about so they can be refreshed in my brain. Anyway. I’m kicking this week off with a series of food pictures I took while hanging out with some college friends in Philadelphia a few weekends back (for more details on the weekend, check out the 35th episode of my podcast over on PopPoppa.com). kinish Above you can see the lunch we had at a place called The Famous 4th Street Delicatessen which had wonderful service and gigantic portions. My wife and I split a pastrami cheesesteak which was certainly filling. I also got myself a   blintz. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what a blintz was, but I enjoyed the sweet cheesy insides as well as the fried crust.

While looking for a place that could serve a fairly large dinner party, we stumbled upon Kabuki Sushi. The positives were that they took reservations and weren’t too far from out hotel. Oh, that and the food. I can’t quite remember what rolls I got, but both of them were super tasty. I also tried our friend Heather’s fried tofu which reminded me of fancy carnival food. As you can see, Lucy also had a roll which she seemed to like, though she basically just took the chicken out and ate that. dinic's roast pork Finally, before heading to the Please Touch Museum and heading back home, we went over to the awesome Reading Terminal Market and got Dinic’s roast pork sandwiches for breakfast. My wife remembered seeing these sandwiches on a food show and we were familiar with the market from previous comic convention-related visits to Philly, so we each had one. I’m not sure if I prefer these to cheesesteaks, but I will say that, while I’ve had plenty of crummy cheesesteaks, I’ve only had one awesome roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe, so that’s something!

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Bonus Food Pic: 2 Alices’ Iced Coffee & Homemade Pop Tart

2 alices homemade pop tart

Anyone who knows me or reads Monkeying Around The Kitchen on a regular basis already knows that I’m not a big fan of dessert or sweets. I’d rather eat an appetizer or more of my entree than save room for dessert. That’s just how I’m built. But, there are a few sweet treats I just can’t resist. Pop Tarts are on that list. But, because I’m an adult who knows how bad they are for you, it’s been ages since I bought any for myself.

A month or two back, I stopped into my beloved 2 Alices in Cornwall. This is the place I used to go and work to get out of the house before we had our daughter. Their coffee is some of the best I’ve ever had, but they do have a variety of bakery treats on display as well. I was surprised and intrigued when I first saw the Homemade Pop Tarts. I wasn’t in the mood at the time, so passed it up. Another time, I saw they had the regular ones as well as cinnamon — my favorite take on the Pop Tart theme — but again, I didn’t partake.

Last Friday, however, Lu was in day care so I could do an interview with comic book legend Stan Lee. I decided to finish my work for the day at the coffee shop and indulged myself in a few of their iced coffees and one Homemade Pop Tart. Man, it was great! They nailed the icing the filling was even better than the overly processed thing that lives inside the brand name counterpart. Also, not for nothing, it was about two-to-three times bigger than your average Pop Tart. It wound up being the perfect combination of sugar from the treat and caffeine from the coffee to get me through my work, pick the kid up, get home and make a dinner of Giada De Laurentiis’ Chicken Saltimbocca and Couscous-Stuffed Peppers With Basil Sauce for my parents who had driven in from Michigan.

Bonus Food Pic: Deep Fried Oreos

fried oreo

Last week the Cornwall firefighters held their annual fair. It’s been going on for decades, but this is the first year we went. It was a nice little fair with plenty of rides, over-priced games (I remember when you got three darts for $1 instead of one for $2) and, of course, the kinds of food you can only buy from people who travel from town to town under cover of darkness. While thoughts of corn dogs danced in my head (they turned out to come from a box), I was actually won over by the six deep fried Oreos my wife requested. I actually saw the woman in the cart/thing dipping the cookies into the batter and tossing them into the frier, so I know they were fresh (or, you know, as fresh as fresh can be). The results were a super sweet combination of dough and softened cookie that was delightful.

Disney World Bonus Food Pics: And The Rest

My apologies to regular readers for the intense lack of posts the past month or so. Between the lead-up to vacation, vacation itself, getting back into the groove with work and being sick and not cooking for all of last week, writing about food unfortunately fell pretty low on the priority list. I know the Disney trip seems like it was pretty long ago at this point, but I wanted to finish things out (if you’re curious to see what else we ate either scroll down or read, this, this, this and this).

pizzafari lunch

The Wednesday we spent at Disney World — which also happened to be my dad’s birthday — was spent hanging out in Animal Kingdom. As happened last time we all went there, it was a rainy day, though not nearly as bad as the previous visit. For lunch we went with a counter service at Pizzafari. When I think about food like this I always think it’s going to taste like the box it was delivered in, but I’ve got to say it was a pretty solid little pizza. I mean, it was nothing like the places around us in New York, but it also wasn’t terrible. I’m always a fan of Cesar salads and also went with the pudding for desert. I have no problem recommending Pizzafari if you’re in Animal Kingdom looking for a good lunch place.

boma soup

To celebrate my dad’s birthday, we went to the African buffet dinner at Boma which is located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The last time we went to Disney World, this place was easily our number one favorite eating spot. I’ve got to say, though, that the experience wasn’t quite as enjoyable this time around. For one thing, the place was PACKED, so it was kind of hard to navigate the buffet line. Making matters a bit worse, the actual buffet is set up kind of poorly. People tend to line up for the carved meat, but are you supposed to get in that line before going after the other sections? Some people clearly think so while others did not. I went rogue when I needed to, as is my want.

But, the food was still really great. My personal favorite dish is the Coconut Curry Chicken Soup (above right). I’m also a fan of the Ginger Carrot Soup (above left). The interesting thing about eating at Boma this time around is that it wasn’t quite as revelatory. The food was still fantastic, but in the time since we ate there the first time, I’ve eaten and cooked a lot of different foods. Still, if you’re in Disney World, go eat at Boma, it’s worth it.

Croque Monsieur

Thursday was my daughter’s second birthday, so we tried to cater our dining choices to things she might get a kick out of. Since we were in Magic Kingdom that morning, we decided to try out one of the new eateries in New Fantasyland called Be Our Guest and as you might imagine, the place is Beauty And The Beast themed. This was the only place we ate at where diners could use a touch screen to order their food and while I love that idea, the practice was difficult because most people apparently can’t fathom how to use such a system just yet (even the helper at our station took longer to input our desired meal than it would have taken me). Anyway, my wife and I decided to split two different sandwiches because we couldn’t decide. So, we each had half of the Croque Monsieur (“Grilled Sandwich of Carved Ham and Gruyere Cheese and Bechamel with Pommes Frites”) and the Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich (“Served warm on a Baguette with Horseradish Sour Cream and Pommes Frites”) both of which would make fine choices for a hungry dining party.

Carved Prime Chuck Roast Beef Sandwich

To say a few more things about this restaurant, I really appreciate the theming they did. When you walk in you’re given a plastic spherical bar with a rose on it. You tap this to the screen when you order and then it acts like a GPS so the servers can find you. The servers themselves roll the food out in covered serving carts that both look neat and keep the food warm. Speaking of neat, the place is broken up into three different dining rooms, Belle’s Library, the West Wing and the ballroom. I’m actually not sure which one we were in, but one of the other rooms featured Beast’s flower and the other had windows set up to make it look like it was a dark and stormy night (though it was raining that day, so maybe that’s what it was). Anyway, if you have a BATB fan in your life, they’ll love eating at Be Our Guest.

princess dinner

For dinner that day we hoofed it over to Epcot’s World Showcase for the Princess Storybook Dining at Akerhus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway. Lu absolutely loved getting to meet and have her picture taken with Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella and Belle so it was worth it for that alone. It was also nice that they had a great drink menu and rad food like Traditional Kjøttkake also known as, “Norwegian Meatballs served with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Lingonberry Sauce.” It’s like that stuff they have at Ikea, but roughly 7 billion times better, plus you get the added bonus of knowing you don’t have to put frustrating furniture together after eating. They also do a complimentary buffet called “Taste of Norway,” but I don’t remember much about it aside from a sweet brown cheese that half the table enjoyed and half was not into at all.

kat korra dinner I din't eat

Unfortunately, I was not feeling very well for our last full day at Disney. I had some weird stuff going on with my stomach that was probably compounded by drinking more coffee and beer than water while on vacation. Not smart, people, be sure to stay hydrated. I really wish I had because we went to Kouzzina by Kat Kora for dinner and it was one of the restaurants I was most interested in checking out going back to the early days of planning this trip. Unfortunately, the strong Greek smells and flavors did not work well with my wobbly tummy, so, even though I ordered the Briami — “Oven-roasted Vegetables with Oregano, topped with Greek Cheese, served with Herbed Orzo Pasta” — I was only able to look it, sigh and go back to the room to take a nap. So while the Disney trip didn’t end on a high culinary note for me personally, I’ve got to say that, overall I probably haven’t had a better week of meals ever. Also, get the Dining Plan if you can!

Walt Disney World Bonus Food Pics: BBQ At Whispering Canyon Cafe & Pork Belly From Waves

bbq On Monday my wife, dad and I went on the Disney Backstage Magic tour which takes you on an all-day tour of the park behind the scenes. Since it really does last all day they stop at a place called Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge hotel that’s got a real country western theme. They’ve got a regular menu, but also a family style barbecue thing where they bring big plates of food to your table and you all just dig in. As it turned out, there were the perfect number of people on the tour to fill three big tables and then one with just three people. We were that table of three which was great because I don’t like the idea of other people accidentally touching my food.

Anyway, the food itself was pretty great. The menu describes the Family Platter as including “Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Ribs, Herb-baked Chicken, Hand-carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin, Citrus-crusted Market Fish, Western-style Sausage Sides fro Sharing: Seasonal Farm Fresh Vegetables, Herb-crushed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cowboy-style Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob.” I’m pretty sure we didn’t have fish or beef stip loin, but the ribs were fall-off-the-bone cooked and super tasty but the real star of the show was that sausage which I could have eaten a whole plate of. I’m not sure if a huge heavy barbecue lunch is the best idea when doing a Backstage Tour, but it was tasty.

waves pork belly and tenderloin For dinner we ate at a restaurant called The Wave…Of American Flavors in the Contemporary Resort. I feel like I kind of screwed up while eating at The Wave. While my family went with some fancy steaks, I decided to try the “Thompson Farms Naturally Raised Pork Belly and Tenderloin with White Bean Cassoulet and Locally-sourced Vegetables.” What drew me to this dish is the fact that so many chefs and food personalities that I like and appreciate say that pork belly is supposed to be one of the best foods around. Unfortunately it didn’t do a whole lot for me and just kinda tasted like fatty bacon. It wasn’t bad and I didn’t really know what I was expecting, but it didn’t exactly send fireworks through my brain like in Ratatouille. However the tenderloin — small as it was — was fantastic as was the cassoulet, though I wound up passing that to my daughter who really loved it.

waves sherbert dessert

Since the Disney Dining Plan comes with dessert (I’d personally rather have an appetizer, but I’m a team player) I had a lot more dessert during that vacation than I normally would. The desserts at The Wave are pretty neat because they all come in little tiny dishes and you get three of them. I went with “Our Spring Gelato Trio: Mandarin Orange Gelato, Chocolate Malt Gelato, and Toasted Marshmallow Gelato” because I didn’t want to pile it on too heavy. And it was actually really tasty. My favorite was the marshmallow gelato because it really did taste like toasted marshmallows which are one of the desserts I really enjoy.

I Had One Of The Best Meals Of My Life At Barnaby’s In New Paltz

barnabys

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is a wonderful event held in and around the area I live in in New York where all participating restaurants offer a set menu for lunch and/or dinner with three or four options for a three course meal. While looking around for things to do last weekend while my parents visited and coming up with zero events, I stumbled upon the fact that we were right in the middle of Restaurant Week again. I did some looking around and saw that  a place in New Paltz called Barnaby’s Steakhouse was on the list and happened to be offering a pretty impressive line-up of appetizers, entrees and desserts for the $20.95 price tag. I scoped out a few other places, but decided on Barnaby’s not only because we’d never been there before, but also because it seemed like the most bang for the bucks. We headed up there on Saturday for a late lunch and man, was it a wonderful experience.

IMG_2727

I started off with the the Lobster Bisque partially because it sounded like the most intriguing of the appetizers on the list, but also because I figured it was the best value. The bisque itself had that wonderful richness that you get from the best bisques, but it also had a cream swirled throughout as a sweet corn and tarragon relish that really added a depth of flavor that made me want to dive into a vat of this and eat my way out.

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We all wound up going for the Grilled Petit Filet Mignon Steak for our entrees that came topped with “a crust of Gorgonzola cheese & herbed horseradish” that also came with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The steak came perfectly cooked to medium and I probably could have cut through it with a fork. The gorgonzola and horseradish topping was a nice touch that didn’t overwhelm the solid flavors of the steak. The potatoes were good, clearly made in house and creamy, though I always compare these things with the ones my mom makes and they don’t hold up. I wasn’t into the creamed spinach, but that’s okay, I was already pretty full at this point. Of course, it wasn’t over yet. 

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I went with the Creme Brulee for desert and kind of regret it, not because it wasn’t good, but because I wound up being uncomfortably full the rest of the day. Also, even though I figured I wouldn’t worry about calories after eating such rich food, I did add everything up as best I could and was shocked at how many calories this dish added to the meal. If my rough calculations are correct it’s actually more calories than the steak! Anyway, the caramelized sugar was perfectly done and the creme was super nice and creamy.

I’m not that best at comparing meals in my head. If I like one, I remember liking it, but it doesn’t enter a ranking system or anything like that. But, I can tell when a meal really rockets past all the other ones and this was definitely one of those experiences. Aside from the one time I went to Peter Luger’s, I think this might be the best steak I’ve ever had in New York. It’s probably up there with the best steak experiences ever. Plus, it was all the better because I was with my family AND it was my mom’s first time eating a steak after years and years of being a vegetarian. There’s a lot of reasons she’s moving away from that, but I think the high quality of the food at Barnaby’s helped kickstart the process even more!

Bonus Food Pics: Pre-Birthday Dinner & Dessert

short ribs horseradish potatoes - gilded otter

As some of you may know, today is my 30th birthday. I’m going back and forth between not thinking about this new decade and trying to figure out how I’m going to not trust anyone over 30 if I’m now included in that bracket. Last weekend, my parents came in for a visit to celebrate a little early. As I mentioned in a recent Photo Diary, we went to New Paltz on Saturday and while I originally thought we might come back closer to home for a mid-day dinner, I changed my mind and decided to head over to New Paltz’s Gilded Otter. Both a restaurant and a brewery, I decided to start off with their beer sample which not surprisingly lead me to order their India Pale Ale to go along with my meal of Stout Braised Boneless Short Ribs. I haven’t had shortribs too often, but have always liked their juicy tenderness. The meal was served with veggies and some super fluffy, bite-y Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. I scarfed this all done pretty quickly, so it must have been good.

pre birthday cheesecakeFor dessert, my lovely wife Emily made Michael Ruhlman’s Classic New York Cheesecake from Ruhlman’s Twenty (page 113). She wasn’t super thrilled with some of the vagueness in the recipe, but I thought the results were a real treat. More lemony than I would have expected, the mixture of acid and creamy cheese with the best graham cracker crust I’ve ever had made this aces in my book. I should say, I’m not much of a dessert fan, but I do love cheesecake and even had two pieces of this on Saturday.

Baking Birthday Cake For My Lady

Sunday was my wonderful wife’s birthday. The one thing she asked for was for me to make her favorite cake with her favorite icing. That happens to be the batter recipe for Betty Crocker’s Sour Cream Chocolate Cupcakes with Martha Stewart’s Fluffy Vanilla Frosting (Cupcakes page 302). As I’ve said before, I’m not much of a baker because I don’t like sweets or deserts too much, but of course I’m going to do my best to make her birthday a happy one.

I got the cakes going in the morning which was as simple as popping all the ingredients into the mixer in the proper order (everything up to and including the baking powder). The only changes I made (as noted in my wife’s printed out copy of the recipe) were using hot water and vegetable oil instead of shortening. Then I mixed in the eggs and popped the baker’s chocolate into the microwave for 2 minutes and then into the mixer. Done. Those went into heart-shaped pans with Crisco and some flour and then into the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Later on in the day, I made the icing, which also was pretty simple. Again, it’s a lot of putting things into the mixing bowl, but my wife did suggest I sift the powdered sugar which took the most time. To add a little pizzazz I used some pink food coloring and as you can see, it came out a nice shade of neon pink.

The last part was icing the cake and that’s where I ran into some trouble. I’m more of a “it needs to taste good, not always look good” kind of people, so the first draft of the icing looked pretty crummy. Em came in and finished it up, which is good because otherwise it would have looked like an anatomical heart cake and no one really wants that in that shade. As far as I know, it turned out pretty good. Of course, it only mattered if Em liked it and she did, so there you go. Happy birthday!

Snack Attack: Cadbury Screme Eggs

Hi gang, sorry for the intense lack of posts lately. In addition to various personal and professional things going on the past month, I also just got back from a vacation with my wife, daughter and in-laws. So, while posts were mostly non-existent, I did eat a lot of New England food and took plenty of pictures. Plus, I’ve got a big backlog of recipes to talk about, so hopefully I can keep up a little better in the coming days and weeks.

Anyway, this is by no means a normal post for me, but I just had to share my recent experience with something I saw at the grocery store recently: Cadbury Screme Eggs. I’m not much of a sweets guy, but I’ve long been a fan of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs and always wondered why they didn’t sell them year round, it just seems like they’re missing out on a lot of potential money there. Well, I guess someone at Cadbury thought the same thing and decided to bring the Easter-themed candy into fall with Halloween-themed treats.

My wife and I weren’t quite sure how they would taste, but I’m here to tell you that, even with a green streak inside, the candy tastes exactly the same. So, if that’s your thing, give them a whirl, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Honoring Gramma With A Malley’s Tin Roof Sundae

The reason posts have been so spotty lately is because my grandmother passed away last week. Even though she’d been sick for a while and we knew it was coming, it was still a tough blow and one that made me not want to write about food so much. This past weekend, my wife, daughter and I traveled to Cleveland to say goodbye and pay our respects along with my mom and dad, aunt and uncle, cousins, their kids and lots of other people whose lives she touched. I have plans to write more extensively about her, but for right now, I thought it would be appropriate to show a picture of her favorite sundae.

Gramma’s preferred place to get ice cream and chocolate was a local place in Fairview Park called Malley’s. I didn’t get a great shot of the inside, but they actually have a carousel inside with a group of tables that you can sit on. It slowly rotates around, giving you a great look at all the chocolates and other treats they sell while you’re waiting for and then devouring your ice cream. I used to spend a week or two every summer with her and we would always wind up heading over to Malley’s and, if memory serves, we always ate on the carousel.

But this wasn’t just a tradition with me, she did this with my two older cousins as well as their children, so it became a family tradition. As a way to pay our respects, we rented out the carousel after her funeral on Saturday and all got together for another sundae. I’m not the biggest dessert fan in the world, but I thought it would be appropriate to get her favorite, a tin roof sundae.

As it turned out, we filled all the seats on the carousel except for one, which I think wound up being pretty appropriate.

Bonus Food Pics: F’Real Gas Station Milkshake

 

This is something you might never see again, but you’re looking at the second post in a row about dessert type foods. Again, I’m not a giant fan of sweets, but I do like when food uses technology. Have you ever seen those ice cream vending machines that open up a cooler and then a vacuum tube drops down to get your selection? I love those things. So, when we stopped at a Sheetz on our way to Ohio and I saw this thing called F’Real, I got excited and curious.

Here’s the deal. You see the same blue machine that caught my attention. Underneath that is a small freezer filled with potential shakes of all different flavors (basically ice cream in a small container). You pick your poison, tear off the top, then put it in the silver holder and choose your preferred thickness from those flashy green buttons. Your treat rises up into the machine and a few minutes later you have your very own milkshake. I thought this was ridiculously cool and it was a nice cool treat on a hot drive, but I think it might have been a little too much sweetness, especially when combined with the other road food we had.

Bonus Food Pic: Zora Dora Popsicles

Sorry about the crappy picture, but I really wanted to talk about Zora Dora’s Paletaria in Beacon, NY. As anyone who knows me or has read this blog for any amount of time knows, I’m not a big fan of desserts or sweets. Instead of eating a dessert at the end of a meal, I’d much rather just eat more mashed potatoes or a piece of meat. I’ve just never had much of a sweet tooth and I rarely search out such things.

My wife digs sweets though and the last time we were in Beacon — a town across the river that we’re just now discovering — she wanted to hit up a place she’d heard of that does microbatch, homemade popsicles. We walked into the tiny shop on the main street and there was a huge list of flavors on a chalkboard. From left to right in the grainy picture above you can see the mojito one which my wife had, the baby’s strawberry/banana one and my chocolate dulce de leche pretzel delight. My wife’s really nailed the lime and mint found in one of my favorite cocktails. Lucy’s was actually a smaller banana pop surrounded by a strawberry one and she devoured it. Mine was pretty intense. The chocolate bit was very sweet and rich, but also had salt sprinkled on top. At first I was a little worried because the first lick was very salty, but that was pretty much it. Until I took a bite towards the center and there was an actual pretzel rod inside! Then, at the bottom you’ve got the creamy dulce de leche. It was a rad combination even for someone who doesn’t really dig sweets.

If you’re in the area and don’t mind dropping $3 on a frozen treat — something that didn’t seem so bad considering how hot it was and how good they turned out to be — do yourself a favor and hit up Zora Dora.

Sweet Spot: Malley’s Chocolate Covered Fritos

Our Easter was relatively candy free. The baby can’t have any of that yet and my in-laws kept it pretty simple with just a few things. However, when we got home, a package was waiting for us from my parents filled with chocolaty treats from Cleveland area chocolatiers Malley’s. I’m not the biggest chocolate fan in the word, I’d rather eat more dinner than desert 99 times out of a hundred, but every now and then I see something interesting I want to try. This box was packed with interesting things that I’ll cover over the week.

But, the foremost thing that caught my attention was a box marked Chocolate Covered Fritos. Now, this was something new. Junk food and chips are right up my alley, so this was curious and interesting. And it’s a great idea because, if you like chocolate covered pretzels with that excellent mixture of salty crunch and milk chocolatey sweetness, then these treats will also be in your wheelhouse. It doesn’t look like they have an online store, but if you’re in the northeast Ohio area, you should do yourself a favor and stop in. If you go to the one near where my Grandma lives, you can even eat chocolate or ice cream on a (slow moving) carousel of sorts. That’s a fond memory from childhood.

Baking Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I don’t do a lot of baking. For one thing, my wife is a killer baker, so I don’t feel the need, but I’m also not that big on sweets. Never have been. But, we had a trio of rotting bananas sitting in our fruit bowl and I figured I’d give banana bread whirl. I don’t believe I’d ever cooked it before, but I know it’s a pretty basic baking thing, so I said I’d try. My wife suggested using a recipe she had for peanut butter banana bread. I have no idea where this recipe came from, it’s just printed out in her cooking binder, but it was pretty simple and I got to work.

First I greased the loaf pan with Crisco, set the oven to 325, got my 1/2 cup of butter softening and started measuring things. I got a cup of sugar, 3/4 cup of peanut butter, 1 3/4 cup of all purpose and 1 teaspoon of baking soda (combining those last two in one bowl). After smashing up the bananas, I broke out the mixer and mixed the butter and sugar–which is apparently called “creaming”–then added a pair of eggs, beat that, then mixed in the peanut butter, bananas, flour and baking soda until it was all mixed together.

That went into the greased loaf pan which went into the oven for 70 minutes and we had some tasty bread. I was worried that it hadn’t cooked long enough because the center was kind of mushy, but it turns out that I like banana bread with some mushiness in the middle. Overall, this was really simple and I like how baking is more of a science with exact measurements and the like. You don’t have to think as much when making simple things like this, which was perfect at the time.

Restaurant Review: Main Course

Main Course
175 Main Street
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 255 2600

By now we’ve eaten at most of the places of interest on New Paltz’s main drag. There’s a few we haven’t hit up yet, but they’re a little more upscale and we’re usually wearing T-shirts when we head out there (I absolutely hate being under-dressed). A few trips back we noticed a place a little bit closer to the highway called Main Course that we decided to check out tonight. As far as I can tell from the website, the business started off as a catering company and somewhat recently opened up a restaurant. They boast “Farm to table foods and catering” on their signs and menus. Seemed like an interesting enough concept and the building itself looks so nice that I was actually worried I would be under-dressed. As it turns out, the place while quite nice inside, actually sells sandwiches, salads, soup, bread, bakery, sides and a handful of daily specials of the dinner variety, so we were good to go. Even though it’s been pretty darn hot lately, I decided to start off with their Tomato Basil Soup With Goat Cheese. I’m a big fan of this soup and quite enjoyed Main Course’s version. The tomatoes tasted really fresh and while the basil wasn’t very prominent I think they put in lemon, lemon zest or possibly lemon grass to add some acidic pizzazz. There could have been more goat cheese, but overall, I really dug this and so did my wife. It was a departure from the usual flavor profile, but I liked that. For my main meal, I ordered the (deep breath) Grilled Northwind Farm Hanger Steak which the menu described as coming with melted Cabot cheddar, fire roasted onions and portobello mushroom hash. I also went with the potato salad side dish. I started off by tasting the potato salad because it looked the most intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen on with the taters cut thin like that, potato chip-style. The dressing itself was tangy with the onions giving it all some kick. I still like my mom’s mustard covered potato salad best, but this was pretty good, another nice take on something familiar. I tried the pickle next which is made in house and came with a few clumps of soaked dill. They weren’t super sour like I usually like my pickles (the ones in NY tend to be pretty weak as far as I’m concerned), but these reminded me of a dill chip dip and almost tasted a little creamy. Really good stuff.

Then I finally tried my sandwich and it was just okay. The Cabot cheddar and roasted onions were great, but the meat didn’t really add much to the flavor and now that I think about it, I’m not sure if there was any portobello hash on mine. If so, I didn’t notice it whatsoever and only remembered it was supposed to be on the dish when reading the menu for this post. My wife let me taste her Smoked Turkey sandwich which just about made me fall of my chair it was so good. She only wound up eating half of hers, so she let me finish her avocado, roasted pepper, cheddar and chipotle aioli covered mound of awesomeness. After working for years in a bagel place back home in Toledo, I have a strong love of smoked and honey roast turkey, this being the best I’ve had since moving out here. All those wonderful flavors mixed together so well to make a really enjoyable sandwich eating experience, rivaling the one I had last weekend at The Cheese Plate even. I even decided to get dessert, something I rarely do. While my wife went with the huckleberry pie, I got a coconut macaroon. I generally like coconut and thought (maybe erroneously, like I said, I’m no dessert expert by any means) that it’s generally a light sugary delight. This one wound up being pretty big–like if one golf ball ate another or more succinctly a big lemon–and really citrusy. I really enjoyed the first few bites, but couldn’t finish because the flavors did not mix well and wound up tasting bitter by the end.

Overall, I liked Main Course and would go back there, but they have a LOT of competition in New Paltz. It doesn’t help that they’re not among all the other restaurants. You’ve got to walk a little further or drive to get there, something that won’t help them when we’re trying to figure out what to eat after looking around the boutiques, book stores and record shops. But, like I said, good stuff for the most part and I like any place that mixes up their menu by tossing in specials, which Main Course definitely does.