Category Archives: Travel Bite

MSP Best: Wise Acre — Gas Up on Good Eats

Wise Acre

Wise Acre

I was in Minneapolis last week for my Goddaughter Audrey’s 1st birthday. I left 70 degrees and sunny in NYC for 40 degrees and snowy in Minneapolis — in May — it’s been a long winter in the land of lakes. So when the  clouds cleared on Sunday and the mercury leapt to a warming 65, we did what any wise person would do — we left the party cleanup behind and headed to brunch.

Converted gas station

Converted gas station

When you first pull up to Wise Acre you may think you’re stopping by to fill-up on gas. This charming farm to table destination resides in an old converted gas station where large garage doors provide a flood of natural light, and a wall of climbing plants softens the otherwise industrial space.

The menu features a few good reasons to get out of bed and promotes a wise philosophy of food sourcing: the shortest distance between the earth, the hand and the mouth.   Ingredients come from Tangletown Gardens’ 100 acre farm in rural Plato, MN where Scottish Highland Cattle, Berkshire and Large Black hogs, and free range chickens, ducks and turkeys live stress-free, hormone-free lives with plenty of room to roam. And the masters behind the stove spin these fine ingredients into memorable dishes like a Fried Egg, Ham & Cheddar Sandwich with stone ground mustard, homemade pickles, farm potatoes and homemade ketchup . Also a hit — the CSA Hash, with farm vegetables, egg & herb scramble, cottage bacon, herb aioli and toast.

Wise Acre Brunch

Wise Acre Brunch

The service was true to midwestern reputation — if our waiter wasn’t working so hard, I’m confident he would have pulled up a chair and become a new friend. I wish I could transport Wise Acre back to New York with me — it would easily go head to head with any of my local favorites. So the next time you’re passing through MSP, make a pit stop at Wise Acre, brunch ’til the cows come home and thank me later.

Charlie Brunching

Charlie Brunching


Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Do This!: Italian Cooking Classes in Tuscany. Jet-Set to Villa Life: Eat, Drink and Be Italian!

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

Have you ever dreamed of jetting off to Italy, lounging in a Tuscan villa, inhaling the perfume of olive groves, all while sipping on a nice glass of chianti? Oh, and spending your days learning the art of Tuscan cooking and then eating your accomplishments under the Tuscan sun. Well, dream no longer. Writer, Historian and Food Authority Nancy Harmon Jenkins has planned two great trips this Spring.

Immerse Yourself in a 6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Cooking and Tasting Experience
March 25-31: with Chef Michele Forgione
(Montreal’s Osteria Venti)

April 22-28: with Chef Sara Jenkins
(NYC’s Porchetta, Porsena)
and World Famous Butcher, Dario Cecchini

Dario Cecchini Video

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

The All-Inclusive Scoop:

  • 6 nights accommodation at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort
  • Week-long olive oil immersion focused on learning how to choose and use olive oil, harvest, production and cooking techniques, and the creation of flavor profiles
  • 3 structured extra-virgin olive oil tastings based on both excellent and defective olive oils
  • 4 cooking classes, focused on using olive oils in cooking and traditional, seasonal Tuscan cuisine with Nancy Harmon Jenkins and the Villa Campestri chef
  • Special demo and cooking class with Chef Michele Forgione (March) or Chef Sara Jenkins (April)
  • Visits to: Tuscan farmers market, cheese producer, grist mill, winery, and other related activities
  • Tuscan wine tasting with noted wine authority Burton Anderson
  • 5 lunches and 6 dinners (with vino), including two lunches at select local restaurants, one at a noted winery, and a final gala dinner at Villa Campestri
  • Transfer services within the tour itinerary
  • Guided visit to Scarperia, a town reknown for its handmade knives (its twin town is Laguiole, France!)

See Photos of Food52’s October Trip to Villa Campestri

All you need to do is get there! Pack your bags and buon viaggio!

Book March 25-31: with Chef Michele Forgione 
Book April 22-28: with Chef Sara Jenkins 

This Could Be All Yours!

This Could Be All Yours!…and a Nice Glass of Chianti

Or Bring Italy Home:
Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
Homemade Ricotta
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup

Leave a comment

Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

Banish the January Blues in Mexico — Join Legendary Writer Betty Fussell For A Food Writing & Cooking Immersion

ingredients for squashflower soup

ingredients for squashflower soup

There’s not much going on in January except cold weather and post-holiday blues. To me, this sounds like the perfect time to jump on a jet plane and escape to Tepoztlan Mexico for a week of honing culinary skills with local women and perfecting your food writing with legendary journalist and writer Betty Fussell.

squashflower tamales

squashflower tamales

Start your day rapping words with Betty and end it wrapping squash flower tamales {and then eat them, of course!}

making tortillas in the market

making tortillas in the market

Learn the art of making your sentences sizzle and then throw your hand-pressed tortillas on the grill — you’ll never buy the ChiChi’s package again.



Master the mix your sentence ingredients and then shake up a Mexican cocktail {or two or three} that will put the frozen margarita machine to shame.

The Scoop:

  • January 4-13, 2013 — 9 nights, 8 days in legendary Tepotzlan, Mexico
  • Exclusive to an intimate 10-person group
  • All breakfasts at your hotel, plus 7 workshop lunches and 5 dinners
  • 5 morning writing workshops with Betty Fussell
  • 2 hands-on cooking workshops with village women
  • Market tours and participation in the village fiestas, including the famous Three Kings Day celebration
  • Opening sunset reception and closing banquet
  • Airport transfers between Mexico City and Tepoztlán
  • Guides, cultural events and health insurance for your entire trip

Ready, Set, Book

Leave a comment

Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

Travel Bite: Seeking Surf, Serenity and Serious Mexican Food at Rancho Pescadaro

Rancho PescadaroI recently jetted off to Rancho Pescadaro for a Baja-beachy wedding. This is a part of Mexico I would strongly suggest everyone visit — it’s safe, it’s serene, it’s lacking in the Spring Break-scene we’ve grown accustomed to associating with Mexican getaways. At Rancho, the food doesn’t get much fresher {straight from the ocean or garden}, the cocktails don’t get much more quenching {cilantro margaritas and mezcal sours topped the list} and it’s all enjoyed al playa or poolside, with stunning mountain and ocean views in every direction and with a staff at-the-ready to make every second worth the trek. Here’s the recap…

Wed 2:05pm: find out tomorrow morning’s Dallas to Cabo leg of my flight is cancelled due to tornados is Dallas. Damn. Call AA. Told there is zero chance of getting me to Cabo for the wedding and suggest I take the refund. Wisely decline and hang-up with unhelpful agent. Crisis mode: kayak, travel agent, Spanish customer service line. Spanish customer service line wins. All three traveling friends rebooked on three different new flights. How does that equate to zero chance? Lesson in persistence.
Thurs 4:30am:  Wake-up. LGA to Houston smooth sailing. Check departure board upon arrival, see earlier connection to Cabo than booked on. Inquire at gate if I can get on and told again there is “zero chance.” Respond I have no checked bags and this changes gate agent’s heart. “Ok with a middle seat?” For this? YES! Reminder why I never check a bag. Ever. Middle seat ends up in the exit row and with no seat to my left. Me thinks my travel karma has switched courses.
Thurs 12:15pm: Arrive in Cabo 3 hours earlier than originally planned (thank you tornado?)
Thurs 12:25pm:  Almost get through customs in a blink. Written warning for the apple I had in my purse. Oops. Wonder how that will come back to haunt. Don’t mess with Mexican customs.
Thurs 12:35pm: find friend arriving from earlier flight. Jump in rental car, roll down windows, off to Rancho Pescadaro via lunch stop in Cabo. Hairy ride on mid-construction Mexican road. Half dirt, half pavement, with a lot of swerving. Roll windows up, buckle seat belt.
Thurs 3:30pm: arrive at stunningly beautiful Rancho Pescadaro. Greeted by friendliest staff who grabs our bags, takes the car keys and promptly leads us to the most important spot on the property: poolside bar. First name introductions all around. Three refreshing cocktails whipped up — first taste of the Rancho Colada. Ready for a swim.

Pescadaro Pool

Pescadaro Pool

Thurs 6:00pm: Beach-front welcome dinner. Sangria, massive bowls of homemade pico di gallo, holy moly bowl of guacamole, steak fajitas with handmade flour or corn tortillas, BEST mole I have ever had {Rancho can I get the recipe?}, caramel flan. Sundown, temperature drops, mexican blankets at the ready, fire pits ablaze, full moon rising and the sound of unruly waves crashing behind us. Welcome indeed!

Mexican Dining al Playa

Mexican Dining al Playa

Chef Buena Makes a Mean Mole

Chef Bueno Makes a Mean Mole

Fri 5am (7am NY): woke up right on body clock cue. Drank triple filtered water. Looked up at my sea blue bed netting that was more romantic decor than purposeful bug-catcher at this time of year. Rolled over and willed myself back to sleep.
Fri 7am: Wake up round two. Opened the curtains and stepped out onto my private balcony. The evening desert chill is still in the air as the sun is in its low rise. Grabbed a blanket, my book and curled up on my private outdoor lounging bed, listening to the fountain below. This is a way everyone should start everyday.
Fri 8am: Roosters are crowing in a distance field, the air is warming. Check outside my hotel room door. Complimentary breakfast has arrived. Array of sweet fruit-tasting fruit. A pot of steaming freshly-pressed Mexican coffee and a charming woven basket housing two cinnamon-sugar dusted donuts. Joy. I read, sip, nibble and, of course, snap a few shots.

Mexican Breakfast

Mexican Breakfast

Fri 8:50am: Air is inching toward hot. Birds join me on the balcony for a few pecks of leftover breakfast. Another hour of soaking myself in this morning bliss and then complimentary yoga?

Yoga Rancho Pescadaro Style

Yoga Rancho Pescadaro Style

Fri 9:30am: Sun is hot to the point that lounging on my outdoor bed involves sweat on the brow. Sunscreen crosses my mind.
Fri 10am: Time for sweat with intention. Yoga.
Fri 11:30am: Pool, poolside cocktails and fresh fish tacos. Yes, life is good.

Poolside Cilantro Margarita and Fresh Fish Tacos

Poolside Cilantro Margarita and Fresh Fish Tacos

Fri 8pm: Restaurant recommendation in Todos Santos from Chef Bueno at Rancho: Tre Galline. Translation — three hens. I was meant to eat here. An authentic touch of northern Italy found in Southern Baja. Chef Angelo greeted us with smiles and showed off every simmering pot from his kitchen — table-side! I loved this preview and asked for his recommendation. He insisted on bringing me a little bit of everything and I did not disagree with that genius plan. Grilled eggplant-wrapped cheese, sweet potato-stuffed tortellini topped with almond slivers, spinach tortellini stuffed with cream with parmesan, homemade lasagna, and to finish braised goat over grilled polenta.  Not what you would expect on beach vacation and for that I loved it.

Tre Galline

Tre Galline

Fri 9:30pm: Drinks at the Todos Santos Inn. A charming 19th-century brick B&B that should be top of your list if you’re more of a town-dweller than a beach-bum.
Saturday: Rinse. Repeat. Sunrise, breakfast, pool, then a destination wedding to remember. Sangria and popsicles chilled off the crowd before the beach-ceremony. Chilled gazpacho, ceviche and margaritas kicked off the post-nuptual celebration. And a whole roast pig with freshly caught ocean fish were delightful departures from your typical wedding filet and salmon choices.  Poolside dancing, late-night piñata-smashing and a taco and s’mores cart made this party under the Mexican moon one for the ages — and for a long 14-hour travel day back to New York.

Wedding Mexican StyleSo when you’re looking to plan that beach getaway that steers clear of jello shots or jamaican braids and guarantees your boss can’t reach you on your cell phone, consider Rancho Pescadaro in lovely Baja Sur. Only regret? Not making it to Baja Beans for “the best coffee in town.” It’s only a 5 minute drive up the road, so be sure to stop in for some java, pastries and cafe dining al fresco. Thanks to the entire staff for making this such a memorable destination getaway.

Adios Rancho

1 Comment

Filed under Travel Bite

Do This!: Italian Cooking Classes in Tuscany. Jet-Set to Villa Life: Eat, Drink and Be Italian!

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Getaway at Villa Campestri

Have you ever dreamed of jetting off to Italy, lounging in a Tuscan villa, inhaling the perfume of olive groves, all while sipping on a nice glass of chianti? Oh, and spending your days learning the art of Tuscan cooking and then eating your accomplishments under the Tuscan sun. Well, dream no longer — you have two months to find a flight and book this trip. The rest awaits you…

Immerse Yourself in a 6-Day All-Inclusive Tuscan Cooking and Tasting Experience
with Writer, Historian and Food Authority
Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

Learn to make pasta, focaccie and other Tuscan Specialties

The All-Inclusive Scoop:

  • 6 nights accommodation at Villa Campestri Olive Oil Resort
  • 5 Tuscan cooking classes
  • 1 Tuscan wine tasting
  • 1 Special extra-virgin olive oil tasting
  • Visit and lunch in a Chianti Rufina (DOCG) winery
  • Guided visit to local cheese producer
  • Guided visit to Scarperia, a town reknown for its handmade knives (its twin town is Laguiole, France!)
  • Price includes all meals (including wine), travel services within the tour itinerary, service charges as well as 10% VAT

All you need to do is get there! Pack your bags and buon viaggio!

This Could Be All Yours!

This Could Be All Yours!...and a Nice Glass of Chianti

Or Bring Italy Home:
Homemade Fresh Mozzarella
Homemade Ricotta
Secret DiLaura Family Frittata with Sweet Italian Sausage
Homemade Gnocchi and Sauce: Channeling My Italian Grandmother
Grandma’s Italian Wedding Chicken Soup

1 Comment

Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Do This!: How to Get Pickled with Happy Girl Kitchen

Let's Get Pickled!

Let's Get Pickled!

Pickles have come a long way from the days of our friend the classic Vlasic stork. It is never more apparent that just about anything can not only be pickled, but improved upon with the process. Pickling is one of the top 5 food trends this year, and in NYC, Rick’s Picks, Brooklyn Brine, and McClures have all shown us that while the classic cucumber is great, things like a whiskey sour blend or maple bourbon bread & butter is even better. And if you stray down the vegetable path you may find that creative combos like chipotle carrots, Moroccan green beans or fennel beets also make for a welcomed variety of pickled punch. It’s not just about sandwich stackers anymore.

Nothing fascinates me more than when true artisans take a kitchen-staple and reinvent the approach with new flavor combos that bring excitement to a rather standard world. Well maybe one thing fascinates me more — demystifying the process and learning that something that delighted you out of the jar can easily be made in your own kitchen.

2012 is the year of getting back to the basics and doing things from scratch.

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

Happy Girl Kitchen Preserves

A recent trip to Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove, CA was the perfect venue for said fascinations. Happy Girl Kitchen is run by a husband and wife team, Todd and Jordan Champagne, who had worked on local farms for years, but found the art of food preservation was fading into a thing of the past. Dedicated to supporting the local, organic food community and teaching people how to enjoy their favorite local seasonal bounty in the off-season, the couple launched Happy Girl Kitchen as a brand that offers the very best in artisan preserves, workshops and events in the Bay Area. Start with the right ingredients, add passion and creativity and you’ve got a line of products that will improve any table. Happy Girl is not only dedicated to happy fork licking, but is also giving people the tools to carry out food preservation in their own kitchens by teaching these techniques at their weekly workshops. “Teach a man to fish…” These are good people.

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

Beautiful Pickling Ingredients

The five hours we spent happily pickling at their workshop was some of the most fruitful {pun intended} time I’ve spent in culinary education. For the first hour or so we learned about different types of preserving, the nature of fermentation, basic rules to live by to avoid flimsy {overcooked}, blue {iodized salt} or botulism-infected {low-acidity} pickles {all disappointing failures, the last of which is deadly and should be reserved as ammo for your enemies}. Do not be afraid, in the end we came away feeling confident that with great ingredients, a few basic kitchen tools and some spicy creativity, we were all destined to be pickling pros ready for market.  I would, however, suggest taking a class as you venture into the new world of pickling to absorb some of these basic guidelines — and hey, have a fun experience along the way.

Sweet! {and sour} what did you make?! Alas, we pickled baby carrots {purple, white and orange varieties}, beets {red, yellow and candied}, and a mixed garden which included carrots, beets, romanesco cauliflower and anything else we felt like jamming in the jar {lemon slices, fennel, red onion, jalepenos, etc.} producing a beautiful variety of colors and shapes.

Pickling ProcessSo in an effort to spread the good food love, I’ve included one of the recipes we learned below. Get as creative as you’d like with adding different spices, cutting carrot shapes {sticks or rounds} and veggie varieties, but please people, don’t mess with the vinegar:water ratio {follow the recipe, live to tell the story}. Let’s get pickled!

I live in SF: Take a Class at Happy Girl {here}
I live in NYC: Take a Class with Leda Meredith {here} 

Spicy Carrots {aka Spicy Rabbit}

Recipe for pint jars:
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 sprig of thyme
1-2 clices of jalapenos on bottom and top of jar
Several pounds of carrots to fill number of jars desired.

Vinegar solution:
8 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
12 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons honey

  1. Bring a large stock pot with a jar rack {if you have one} to a rolling boil {want to reach 200 degrees}. If you don’t have a jarring rack to submerge your jars, you can put rocks on the bottom of the pot so your jars are not directly on the bottom where they could crack and use tongs to submerge and remove jars.
  2. Scrub clean, but don’t peel carrots. Remove green top and any roots or bad spots. Slice the carrots so that they are the same height as the jars you are using {or if cutting rounds, cut each the same thickness}.
  3. Slice the jalapenos in 1/4-inch thick rounds and start by adding 1-2 in the bottom of each jar {depending on how spicy they are}. Add all your spices to the bottom of the jar.
  4. While packing the jars heat up the vinegar solution to a rolling boil.
  5. Pack the carrots in the jars with the thyme displayed on the side of the jar. Finish off the top with more jalapenos.
  6. Pour the hot liquid brining solution into the jars up to the fill line {where the jar curves at the top}.
  7. Using one hand, place the lid on top and turn just until the jar starts to turn with the lid. This will ensure it’s not too tight and will allow air to release in the hot water bath. You don’t want the lid to be on tight at this point.
  8. Process each jar in the hot water bath for 15 minutes. The water temperature should be 200 degrees.
  9. Remove immediately with jar tongs or water/heat resistant gloves and tighten lid slightly.
  10. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks to finish pickling.

Pickles Pickles Everywhere
NYC Best: I’m In Love with Jacob’s Pickle
Do This: Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues
18 Favorite Meat Dishes for Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau

Leave a comment

Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, SF Best, Travel Bite

Do This: Take an Underground Sidetour to Get You Through the January Blues

There may not be snow on the ground yet, but I for one am looking for a little inspiration to get me through January — and the 3°F with windchill is not helping matters. Enter Sidetour, an online marketplace that recently launched this Fall, promoting “authentic experiences. real people.” Or a tagline I am going to apply: really cool experiences, with really cool people we should all know more of {you, of course, do not need to be really cool, but you do need to be real and ready step off the beaten path}.

Sidetour created a platform for anyone with an expertise to host and promote unique events, allowing the host to set everything from the date, price and size of the group to suit each artisanal experience. The result? A collection of underground, undiscovered ways to fill your calendar that break the monotony of your typical social flings {we know you love Pastis, but isn’t it time to try something new?}. It’s the year of private supper clubs, pop-up anything and being the first to know about gems you won’t find in a guidebook or on any Top 10 lists. Whether you’re a native to NYC or a visitor who just tossed their Lonely Planet in the garbage in favor of an authentic experience, Sidetour plays right into the idea of bringing passion and the uncharted together to provide you with something memorable and inspired.

Brooklyn RootedEnjoy Brooklyn Rooted: an Artisanal Dinner Party for 8, with the Chef Who Won Last Night’s Chopped on The Food Network





Indian Food and Beer PairingOr Taste Flavorful Indian Food with the Perfect Beer Pairing Prepared by a Contestant from NBC’s America’s Next Great Restaurant




Dine with a Banker Turned MonkHow About Dining with a Banker-Turned-Monk at an East Village Monastery?







Fear not, if you’re outside the NYC area, Sidetour plans to expand to other cities this year. And if you’re on a January cleanse after one too many Christmas cookies, check out events that span other areas of interest beyond just food. Hey guys, these would make for great date ideas…several that caught my attention:

Explore the Epicenter of Graffiti Culture at 5Pointz

Get an Insider’s Glimpse into Manhattan’s Historic Jazz Scene

Explore Cutting-Edge Art in Chelsea with a Gallery Insider


Filed under Do This!, NYC Best, Travel Bite

Al & Ry’s Revolutionary {Meat} Pies

A Dozen Delectable Pies

Every now and then something revolutionary comes along in the food world and I stop to think — how do I get my hands on THAT, right now? I’ve dined at many restaurants across the globe, from hole-in-the-wall gems to slick molecular-gastronomy geared establishments. I’ve visited several 10,000+ vendor food shows, crowded with purveyors looking to launch the next big trend. But my most recent discovery hit close to home {and perhaps rocked my world} because the product is an innovative twist on something I’ve been eating since the day my mom transitioned me to solid foods: The Meat Pie.

A Meat Pie Defined: A fresh baked, warm bread pocket that you can take anywhere. Growing up in a Lebanese family, we ate these little pockets of goodness often — at family functions, on nights mom didn’t want to cook, as snacks on the way to after-school tennis practice. While we only ever had two flavor options, meat or spinach, these pies were SO good, I never thought twice about wanting anything other than meat or spinach.

But on a recent trip home to Detroit, said world was rocked. A new food start-up called Al & Ry’s Meat Pies, started by a 30-something friend of mine and her boyfriend, is taking this traditional pocket of goodness and transforming it into an updated pocket of greatness.

Al & Ry's Chicken Enchilada, Tomato Caprese, Sausage & Peppers Pies

Al & Ry’s homemade meat pies are filled with a variety of meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. Choose from Taco, Slider, Sausage & Peppers, Reuben, Chicken Enchilada, Beef Stroganoff, and Jalapeno Popper with Bacon. Meat-less pies are also available in Caprese and Roasted Veggie. AND, a new Breakfast Pie with scrambled eggs, crispy bacon and cheese just rolled off the line {hello hangover cure!}

I sampled a few of these and can honestly say I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite from the line-up. The dough is light and airy and each is stuffed with a combination of flavors we’re used to eating elsewhere, but fits perfectly into these pockets. I bought a dozen to serve at a family barbecue, cut them in half to make them last longer — long they did not last, they were gone in a matter of minutes. The Chicken Enchilada Pies were  juicy with only a slight spicy {and welcomed} kick to them, the Caprese Pies were stuffed with the sweet concentrated flavor of sun-dried tomatoes and creamy fresh mozzarella with fresh-picked basil, and the Sausage & Peppers Pie was like having a ball game all wrapped up in a perfect hand-held pocket. I also sampled the Slider and Breakfast Pies and can attest to their brilliance. I can’t think of a better snack to pull out of the fridge after a long night at the local watering hole.

Seriously, I don’t know if I can ever look at those traditional meat and spinach pies of yesteryear the same again. Why didn’t someone think of this before?! — take the casual foods we love, and put them in a fresh handmade pocket that can be eaten on the go or whenever you want a DELICIOUS, but quick snack. The best part about them is they are all made from scratch, using only fresh ingredients, so throw some in the freezer and you have a healthy snack whenever you want. I could see these being the perfect thing to have on hand for lunch or dinner when you’re in a pinch, to serve as a fantastic appetizer for an impromptu party, or even take on the boat or to the local park for a picnic.

Taking A Bite Out of Al & Ry's Caprese Pie

Al & Ry’s Meat Pies currently only serves the Michigan area and are available for catered events, mid-week meals or late-night snacking. They are also available hot and fresh at Ye Olde Tap Room — perfect snack to wash down with a cold draft. Get ’em while they’re hot!

To Order: Email Alison or Ryan at

Other Detroit Delights:
Best Breakfast: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Best Dessert: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Home for the Holidays, Having Italian to Write Home About @Bucci


Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

Hot & Kickin’ Chicken McSpicy. Are You Lovin’ It?

Chicken McSpicy

Chicken McSpicy

A friend of mine is traveling throughout India, and although the Taj Mahal is on the agenda, the more interesting updates have come from his food excursions involving 15 cent street food, exotic fruit carts and my favorite, a stop at McDonalds. Below is a guest contribution pointing out some of the finer points of the multinational take on an American favorite.

Dear Chicken McSpicy,

You are tasty, but not as good as your Indian cousin, Paneer McSpicy. The chicken part of you is indeed apppropriately spicy and delicious, however your ‘cooling creamy sauce’ (per your packaging) is a bit of a letdown. I was expecting a raita-like substance, while you gave me mayo. I can get that on 42nd, between 7th and 8th.

Also on your packaging, what does “Love whole chicken thigh” mean? It could be read in numerous ways: 1) You love presenting a whole chicken thigh to me. 2) You would love to be able to present a whole chicken thigh to me but can’t, since you only cost $1.25. 3) The words ‘is a’ are missing and it should read “Love is a whole chicken thigh”, which still makes no sense.


Leave a comment

Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Barcelona Digested: Food for Foodies

And so comes the end of my Barcelona digestion. The recap of everything there is to love about Mercat de la Boqueria, how chocolate is central to Catalonia and where to go when you want to eat like a local, can only be ended with a summary of the places you must visit if you’re someone like me. Someone who takes more pictures of her food, than any 15th century painting or statue. The best thing about Barcelona is its astounding mix of traditional and avant garde — for that reason, it might just be one of my top 10 favorite cities to eat in.

Tapac 24 {Tapas and Great Breakfast | L’Eixample}
Tapas bar of acclaimed chef Carles Abellan, owner of Comerc 24. Great place to grab a full breakfast if you’re craving more than a typical croissant or boccadillo. It’s just off Passeig de Gracia, so an easy stop in this area before or after you check out the block of discord and Gaudi’s famous architecture. I had the most delightfully crispy edged egg, with a gooey yolk that ran all over a pile of roasted potatoes and chorizo. Um, yes. Why don’t they eat more breakfasts like this in Barcelona?

Breakfast at Tapac 24

Federal {Australian Farm-Fresh & Great Breakfast | Poble Sec}
Poble Sec is a new up and coming area, and is home to some of the best new restaurants {Ferran Adria of El Builli fame just opened Tickets and 41º here}. Federal is Australian-owned and serves an amazing full breakfast, which is hard to find in Boccadillo-loving Barcelona. The kitchen closes at 4pm on Sunday and there is always a wait, so plan to get there no later than 3pm. I had the most amazing coconut-banana bread w/ honey labne and a free-range egg with a yolk the color of a setting sun. Amazing.

Coconut-Banana bread with labne honey

Free range eggs straight from heaven

ABaC {High-End Dining |Tibidabo}
ABaC is the Per Se of Barcelona. Very quiet dining, inventive cuisine, extremely attentive service.  This should be on any high-end dining list and is worth every penny. I’d tell you everything I ate, but would ruin the surprise — just know that there was frozen “lipstick” involved.

ABaC: Maresme peas royal with Iberian consommé and citrics, barnacles and sea cucumber

La Botifarreria de Santa Maria {Spanish Meat Market | Born}
If you’re looking to smuggle some acorn-fed Iberico ham, Serrano ham or sausages in your suitcase, this is your place. If meat is what you’re looking for, come here and take in all the varieties — there’s even a Coca-Cola infused sausage.

Cured Meat!

Honey and Cheese Market {Market}
Stop by this market every other Friday and Saturday outside the Santa Maria del Pi church. Another great place to pick up some local goods for gifts — sample honey from eucalyptus, thyme, oranges, lavender, you name it and pair it perfectly with some delicious local goat and sheep’s cheeses.

Hone and Cheese Market

Other previous written-up foodie favs:

Cacao SampakaArtisanal Chocolates to die for

Mercat de La Boqueria The best market on the planet. Clearly, since it’s in every Barcelona Digestion that I wrote.

Everything you want to read about Barcelona:
Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad


Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style

Barcelona: Where the locals go

When I travel, I want to know where the locals hang out.  What’s the best bite in town?  Where do they go to grab a drink?  How do they spend their Saturday afternoons.  Of course I’m sure there is some overlap with where the non-local, tourist types visit as well, but in an effort to sum up the recs I got, tried and loved, here’s a list of favs to get your cava and cafe con leche Catalonian style.

El Xampanyet {Cava & Tapas Bar | La Ribera}
Must do. A fantastic cava and tapas bar, serving the bubbly in ‘50s style champagne glasses. Hang out with locals standing at the bar for a few bites before going out. Family-owned since 1929, it has both good energy and an historical air that makes trying a bite of this and a bite of that, that much more enjoyable. Its bright fluorescent lighting gives it the feel of an old-school NYC Jewish deli, serving up great food in an unpretentious setting. And since the Catalonians like to come and go frequently, the people watching never stops.

El Xampanyet

Mercat de La Boqueria {Food Market | Barri Gotic}
It’s on every list. Stop here to eat what you see. Mounds of beautiful fruit, roasted nuts, chocolates galore. Also fun to admire the fresh seafood, chickens with their crown still on and even a few lambs heads w/ eyeballs – no prepackaged grocery store cuts here. Go early and enjoy watching the owners set up shop or eat at two of the best food counters in the market before it gets too crowded with tourists {Pinotxo or El Quim}.

Piles and Piles of Sweet Goodness

Pinotxo {Coffee & Tapas Bar | Barri Gotic, in La Boqueria}
A tiny family run bar, but the owner is one of the most well known in Barcelona. Go early for breakfast (9am), ask for the specials and hang with the owner and other market locals who stop in for a quick coffee and bite before the rush of the day begins.


Meson del Café {Coffee Bar | Barri Gotic}
Tiny 100-year old café with delicious picardia (coffee w/ condensed milk and whiskey). It’s small and kitschy, which makes it a great place to perch and people watch while reenergizing.

Meson del Cafe Picardia {mmm}

Cal Pep {Seafood Tapas | Born}Great tapas bar known for their fresh seafood. Cal welcomes his patrons with his raspy voice and personal recommendations. It’s diner style seating with an impressive line-up of waiting patrons along the wall, but the distraction of watching the excitement behind the counter will keep you entertained.

Cal and his team

Fresh Clams from Cal Pep

Quimet y Quimet {Tapas Bar | Poble Sec}
Small little tapas bar where you rub elbows {literally} with the locals in a small, standing room only space. The walls are attractively lined with bottles of wine and spirits and the bar showcases all the tapas basics. Inventive combos still rely on the traditional canned food items, but stack up bites like roasted pepper, cream cheese, canned crab, langoustine, caviar, drizzled in balsamic, olive oil for a sensational snack. Also try the dried beef with truffle oil and olive tapenade.

Um, Yes Please. Thank you Quimet y Quimet!

How could you say no to these tapas?

Can Manel la Puda {Paella Outdoor Cafe | Barcelonata}
Excellent paella along a café strip in Barcelonata. This is the perfect Saturday afternoon destination to enjoy a glass {or bottle} of cava and some of the most delicious, fresh seafood paella I have ever had. This is how the locals spend their weekends — a lifestyle I could get used to rather quickly.

Outdoor Paella Cafes in Barcelonata

The right way to spend a Saturday afternoon

More Barcelona Digested:
Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

Leave a comment

Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, Travel Bite, {Drink Me}

Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central

When you hear the phrase “spanish cuisine,” it’s likely your first associated thoughts are about tapas, paella, or maybe even Iberico ham. But you should not discount how central chocolate is to the Barcelona food scene. Almost every cafe and even several bars I visited prominently displayed churros and hot chocolate on their menu {a tempting departure from bar nuts}. Artisanal chocolate shops can be found on nearly every winding road. One of my favorite stands at La Boqueria had no less than 100 different bite-sized chocolate confections to savor. And one of the main architectural must-sees, Casa Amatller, was once home to a wealthy family that made their money in the chocolate business. Heck, there’s even a museum dedicated entirely to chocolate. If you are a chocoholic, Barcelona is your city — xocolata bites below…

Cacao Sampaka {SHOP & CAFE | L’Eixample}
Albert Adria
{brother of El Bulli legend, Ferran Adria} may be known for his newly acclaimed Tickets and 41º restaurant and bar combo, but his passion is actually chocolates and Cacao Sampaka is his workshop. It’s only a short walk from the “block of discord” {Casa Amatller, Casa Batllo, Casa Lleo Morera, La Pedrera} and definitely worth the visit, whether you’re looking to pick up a gift or just savor some of the best chocolate bites from cocoa nibs to handcrafted truffles. There’s a cafe in back, but I couldn’t even make it past the walls and tables that allured me with beautiful packaging and inventive flavors. I would have taken some pictures, but I got my hand slapped when I tried. Next best thing: buy some for yourself, be delighted by each perfect little square and then take a picture of the box.

Cacao Sampaka

Casa Amatller {SITE | L’Eixample}

Chocolate Carvings

To the left of Casa Batllo {a Gaudi must-see}, this house has equally as interesting modernist architecture to check out {and it’s free in contrast to the hefty entrance fee at Gaudi’s Casas}. The stonework of this house alludes to the chocolate business and hobbies of the original owners and a small museum inside tells the history of their chocolate trade. When you first walk in, be sure to check out the stonework depicting a monkey making, eating and, ahem, digesting his chocolate {photo to the left}.

Casa Amatller

Mercat de La Boqueria {SHOP | Barri Gotic}
Amongst all the amazing fresh fruits and vegetables, there are also several chocolatiers displaying truffles and chocolate candies in practically any flavor combo you can dream up. I counted over 100 different handcrafted specialties at this stand, which is the first one you’ll see when you enter La Boqueria. Grab a bag, a set of tongs and start nibbling.

Chocolate at La Boqueria

Escriba {SHOP & CAFE | Barri Gotic}
Right outside La Boqueria, this pastry shop sells artisanal chocolates and is known for its Easter cakes and chocolate sculptures. There’s also a small cafe in back, where you can snack on any number of their delights {by now you may be in need of a savory bite to offset all this chocolate — try their outstanding Jamon Iberico croissant}.


Cal Pep {RESTAURANT | Born}
One of the best meals I had in Barcelona was at this tiny diner-style, small plates casual seafood restaurant. But it wouldn’t be a complete meal without dessert — Cal’s version of churros and chocolate take the form of doughnut-round churros drenched in a liqueur-spiked, warm chocolate sauce. Delish.

Churros and Chocolate

Museu de la Xocolata {MUSEUM & CAFE | Born}
If you really have your heart set on seeing large sculptures entirely made out of chocolate, add this to your list. I did not find it entirely worth the trip, but for a mere 4euro and a free chocolate bar as your entrance ticket, there’s not much to lose in planning a quick 30 minute stroll through the exhibit. Yes, that is a chocolate version of Sagrada Familia.

Chocolate Sagrada Familia

More Barcelona Digested:
Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad
Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style

1 Comment

Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

Barcelona Digested: Mercat de La Boqueria

Mercat de La Boqueria

There is so much to write about the Barcelona food scene — it is arguably one of the top eating destinations in Europe with a mouth-watering balance of traditional and cutting edge restaurants, cafes and shops to eat your way through. In an effort to fully digest my week in Barcelona, I set out to categorize the best dining experiences and quickly noticed Mercat de La Boqueria was on all of my lists. It is a not only a place to find beautifully vibrant produce, locally sourced butcher stands and mounds of fresh-off-the-boat seafood, but it’s a specialty foodies dream, where one can seek out Iberico cured ham, artisanal chocolates, regional olive oils and spices. La Boqueria even houses a few legendary tapas bars that come highly recommended and are visited by locals. It is a place to eat what you see, buy gifts that will be reminiscent of Barcelona and explore the heart of Catalonian cuisine the way Catalonians do. Deservedly, Mercat de La Boqueria gets its own post.

A picture is worth a thousand words:

Fresh Seafood

Perfect Produce

Piles of Fruita

Sweet Mandarin Oranges

Artisanal Chocolates

The Land of Fruits and Nuts

Once Happy Chickens

My New Goat Friend

Where to Eat @La Boqueria:

If you’re interested in grabbing a bite of prepared food, I highly recommend paying an early morning breakfast visit {9am} to Pinotxo or El Quim de la Boqueria., two petite walk-up establishments that have no more than 10 bar stools at the bar. Showing up before the masses only adds to the experience, as you can have a quiet one-on-one chat with the owners and taste some of the most unique creations that aren’t always available when the market is abuzz with visitors. You’ll understand how special this early morning hour is when you visit the market midday and struggle to not bump elbows.

My Other New Friend and Infamous Owner of Pinotxo

The Next Pinotxo Generation Serving Up Egg Tortilla

Amazing Chick Pea Breakfast

Mercat de La Boqueria Must-Do Tips:


  • Go early (9am) to watch all the purveyors set up each nut, chocolate and fig, to perfectly present their bounty. The quiet of the early morning hour is spectacular in contrast to the midday buzz — the best way to take it all in.
  • Breakfast or Lunch at Pinotxo — A tiny tiny family run bar, but the owner is one of the most well known in Barcelona. Good things come in small packages. Go early (9am-ish) and ask for the specials to avoid the rush.
  • Breakfast or Lunch at El Quim de la Boqueria – Quim has been at the helm of this kiosk bar for the last 20+ years. It’s a place for fresh seafood and high-end tapas.
  • Buy some goods and make yourself a picnic to take to Park Guell for an outdoor lunch overlooking the Barcelona sprawl.
  • Things to try: exotic fruit, bite-sized chocolates, horchata, anything your heart desires!

More Pictures to Devour:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And More Barcelona to Digest:
recipe goodness :: barcelona favorite recreated | balsamic chick pea salad

Barcelona Digested: Chocolate Central
Barcelona Digested: Hang with the Locals – Cava and Cafe Catalonian Style


Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Winter Fancy Food Show: San Fran Specialties Digested

There were no shortage of snacks to sample at the specialty food show in San Fran this weekend. Much like the Summer show I attended in New York, the spread ranged from candies, cheeses, chocolates and coffee to fine meats and preserves from over 1,300 exhibiting food producers from around the world.

Straight off the flight from the Big Apple, I made my way to the food show, with an empty stomach and press badge in hand to see what new discoveries could be found and to pay a visit to a few favorites I savored last time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Favorite Specialty Foodies and What to Love:

Bella Cucina {Salts, Spreads, Oils and Preserves from Atlanta}

The packaging will catch your eye immediately – beautifully jarred and labeled, these products will delight any gift recipient and your kitchen counter alike {hence the name}. More importantly I sampled several of what’s inside Bella Cucina’s jars – aromatic savory salts, artichoke lemon spread {their best seller accounting for 17% of all sales}, mint pistachio pesto, roasted sweet peppers grown especially for Bella Cucina – and wished I could buy several of them on the spot. As someone who can appreciate unique flavor combinations and beautiful packaging, Bella Cucina won me over immediately.

Justin’s {All Natural Nut Butters from Boulder}

I love peanut butter period. But give me a spoon of chocolate hazelnut butter, honey peanut butter or maple almond butter and you have just upped the ante on a simple snack time favorite. I always loved the day my mom made me a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch, so it just makes sense to bring these flavor combos together in one jar, except it’s not always in a jar. Justin’s sources high quality organic California nuts and has brilliantly packaged their product both in a jar and in a squeeze packet to take these delights on the road. I think it’s time to move your old friend Skippy aside for a spread or squeeze of Justin’s premier PB product.

Poco Dolce {Chocolate from San Fran}

So much chocolate in this world – is it possible to create a new and BETTER chocolate? Apparently yes. I was guided through aisles of food booths to Poco Dolce with assurance that these chocolates were the best around. I concur. With flavors like burnt caramel, sesame toffee tiles {winner of a sofi Gold award}, and super chile, owner, Kathy Wiley, elevates chocolate squares to new levels exciting your taste buds with both sweet and savory flavor combinations. Also try her toffee squares — bite sized toffee covered in bittersweet chocolate. If you’re not an SF local, fear not, see here for places to get your hands on those bites.

Fra’Mani Handcrafted Foods {Artisanal Cured Meats from Berkley}

Just take a look at the picture of this beautiful mosaic of head cheese.  And beside this well-photographed delicacy, Fra’Mani was generously tasting a range of their other flavorful cured meat products – little ham, rosemary ham, roasted turkey galantine. Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching – why not replace those roses with a fragrant bouquet of artisanal cured meats? It’s the way to say I love you in 2011.

Beehive Cheese Co. {Handcrafted Cheese from Utah}

I first had Beehive’s Barely Buzzed by chance when it was paired with a wine at a tasting up in Livermore, CA. The cheddar cheese is hand rubbed with a Turkish grind of Colorado Legacy Coffee Company’s, lavender buds and olive oil, which makes your head spin in delight — perfectly named I would say. At the time we were with a group of eight people, who were all commenting more on the cheese than the wine and we made note of what we were sampling in an effort to find this delightful slice again. Previously it was not easy to come by, but distribution has expanded to many Whole Foods Markets, so next time you are rolling down the aisle looking for an exciting addition to your cheese plate, pick up Barely Buzzed for a deep caramel flavor or Big John’s Cajun Rubbed for something with a little kick.

Creminelli Fine Meats {Artisanal Cured Meats from Salt Lake City}

I first discovered Creminelli at the New York Wine & Food Festival in October. With a glass of cabernet in one hand, I sampled some of their finest salumi – lacy thin cut mortadella, hot sopresata, dark & rich wild boar sausage and their award-winning Barolo-infused salumi {winner of this year’s Good Food awards). So imagine my delight to stumble upon them next to the Beehive Cheese Co. Good cheese & meats hanging out together {both from Utah} – all I needed was a glass of vino and a comfy chair to make my day.

Kicking Horse Coffee {Coffee from Canada}

One of my all-time favorite coffee producers of the year – if you haven’t tried it, you must. Not a new discovery for me, but I had to stop by to say hello and for a quick cup of joe to rejuvenate my jetlagged, sampled-out self.

  • Great Brew: most importantly, this cup of joe was delicious {and just what I needed after a lot of walking, talking and sampling}. It’s just making its way down from our friendly northern neighbor, so check their website for a retail store near you.
  • Great People: Buying only Fair Trade coffee, the company supports its farmers, regardless of the world market. As the largest cash crop in the world, this really does make a Kicking impact.
  • Cool Names: Kick Ass {dark}, Three Sisters {medium}, 454 Horsepower {dark}, Z-Wrangler {medium}, Decaf {dark}, Cliff Hanger Espresso {medium}. Clever coffee, what’s not to love.
  • Cool Packaging: 100% recycled cans {surprisingly most coffee cans are not fully recyclable — yeah, that little plastic top is no bueno}. Black cans with primary color tops catch the eye and look cool hangin’ out next to your coffee maker.

The Skim: If you haven’t caught on to the specialty food trends, then wake up and smell the artisanal hand-pressed coffee. 63% of American consumers purchased specialty food in 2010, up from 46% in 2009 and farmers markets have grown to become the fourth most significant source of specialty foods. Knowing where your food comes from and passionate support for the creativity and handcrafted quality that goes into small scale specialty foods, is driving the emergence of new food entrepreneurs to historic levels.  Mark your calendars, the Summer Fancy Food Show will be held in Washington D.C. July 10-12, 2011.

Dolled Up Delicacies:
Summer Fancy Food Show: Full Belly and Learnings Digestion
Del Posto Presents Murray’s Cheese & Salumi Wine Party @NYCWFF
Give Your Monday Morning Mug a Kick in the Pants with Kicking Horse Coffee
Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening
New York City Wine & Food Festival Kicked Off With Good Eats


Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

Home for the Holidays, Having Italian to Write Home About @Bucci


There are a handful of places I love to visit when I go home to Grosse Pointe to visit my parents — one of them is Bucci, an unexpectedly good Italian bistro worthy of a New York City corner, but nestled between a barber shop and a physical therapy storefront in suburban Michigan.

Bucci, the childhood nickname of Chef and owner, Bujar Mamuslari, was established in 1999 and has been packing seats with its open kitchen concept ever since. The extensive Italian menu was inspired by Bujar’s travels throughout Italy during a summer culinary school internship. Hitching a ride from town to town, Bujar was welcomed into the kitchens (and generations of nonna’s family secrets) in homes spanning the knickers to the heal of Italy’s boot.

Sitting at Bucci’s kitchen bar this evening, we had a front row seat to witness how all those countryside learnings inspired Bujar’s own stateside venture. There was so much going on at once, it was hard to keep track of it all. As our waitress chatted with us, she uncorked our wine and shouted out our calamari order to the chef, who with a nod, relayed to the line cook to toss the squid and peppers onto a sizzling pan, all while throwing the makings of, what I counted to be, 30 take-out orders into pots and pans for expedited boiling and saucing. Down the line, the third cook was expertly lining up each of the take-out containers, filling, stacking and double checking each order before moving them aside for pick-up. All of this was over in a matter of minutes and the three behind the counter were back on point, preparing dishes for the dining room. Easy entertainment while we sipped our wine and tore at our fresh Italian bread.

Back in suburbia, entrees still come with a soup or salad (why doesn’t anyone do this in NYC?) It’s not just a small, wilted pile of mixed greens drenched in house dressing. No, at Bucci you can have any salad off the menu as a side to your entree. I went for the spinach salad with crumbled blue cheese, walnuts and dried cherries, all tossed in a lovely bright lemon dressing.

For my entree, the Veal Pizzaiola topped with fresh tomatoes, herbs, olives capers and parmigiana reggiano was calling my name. The meal itself, was a thing of beauty, but what added to the artful presentation of Italian flavors was a crafty little plate painting drawn using oils and vinegar in the shape of a flower.

Veal Pizzaiola

Generally with Christmas around the corner I would have saved room and passed on dessert, but there was mention of a homemade hazelnut semi-freddo, enrobed in a warm chocolate sauce — one order, 3 spoons please! Just as no dish before it, the dessert did not disappoint.

Hazelnut Semi-freddo


The Skim: Next time you find yourself in the Detroit area and looking for a hearty meal reminiscent of a trip to Italy, pay a visit to Bucci. Everything from the fresh, warm bread to anything on the actual menu will have you thinking your Italian grandmother is in the kitchen. And whether you’re chatting with Bucci, his wife or any of the friendly staff you will feel as though you have been welcomed into someone’s house for a home-cooked meal.

Map: 20217 Mack Avenue, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 313.882.1044

More From the Motor City:
Best Breakfast: The Chocolate Gallery Cafe
Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon
Going Back to the Old Country @ New Yasmeen Bakery


Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Detroit’s Slows Bar-B-Q is Quickly Becoming a Motor City Beacon

Detroit's Slows Bar-B-Q

Despite being a city that has largely fallen to corruption, been abandoned and left for broke, there seems to be a lot of positive attention on Detroit these days – TV shows, Oscar nominated movies, NY Times articles, documentaries. Regardless of these outside influences, Detroiters remain proud of and hopeful for the Motor City on their own. When some small gem succeeds against all odds, the buzz spreads quickly drawing crowds that give the establishment a feeling of being part of a more populous metropolis.

So when the NY Times wrote a piece on Slows Bar-B-Q, I figured it was time to pay a visit to this Motown miracle while I was home for Thanksgiving. Despite being a Monday night, the tables were full and the projected wait exceeded 20 minutes. To pass the time, we grabbed a craft beer from a selection of about 20 local and national artisanal brews and perused the menu. I was happy to learn that all the meat is sourced from Niman Ranch, a network of family farms that raises its livestock sustainably, using all-vegetarian feeds and no antibiotics and added hormones.

Slows Pulled Pork Sandwich "The Reason"

After we finally got a table, we ordered several items from the menu to sample a little bit of everything. By far the best thing we ate was “The Reason” – Niman Ranch pork butt, smoked slow and pulled, bathed in Slows sauce and topped with a signature crispy and slightly spicy coleslaw, thin dill pickle strips, and served between two thick slices of Texas toast. With a selection of Slows sauces on the table, we were able to adjust the flavor of everything we ordered to our liking – spicy, sweet, apple-based, mustard-based, and even a seasonal sauce. I would also highly suggest the mac ‘n cheese – an item that is a perfect companion to any good BBQ, Slows uses jumbo macaroni shells and a generous amount of gooey, melty cheese to make each bite truly rewarding.

Slows Bar-B-Q Sauce Selection


The Skim: If you happen to be in Detroit and are looking for a Reason to appreciate this once-thriving city, be sure to add Slows Bar-B-Q to your list of memorable Motown stops. The Detroit renewal may be slow coming, but it’s through establishments such as this that will continue to inspire growth and polish the city’s tarnished image. While you may be tempted to order their smoked, dry rubbed ribs, take my recommendation and go for the juicy, flavorful pulled pork sammie – it’s named such for good Reason.

Map: 2138 Michigan Avenue
Reservations: Not Taken

Phone: 313.962.9828

Craving BBQ?:
18 Favorite Meat Dishes For Men & Barbeque Heaven @Fette Sau
SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie
recipe goodness :: red chili-lime cornbread muffins

8.ate@eight #3: Went Whole Hog and Hog Wild @ the Big Southern BBQ

1 Comment

Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Dessert

You may remember back in July when The Chocolate Gallery Cafe was up for Best Breakfast in Detroit.

Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast

I wrote about it. You voted. They won!

And now this sweet little cafe, my Aunt and Uncle’s gem, has been nominated for Best Dessert in Detroit by AOL’s City’s Best and I’m asking you to vote again. Just because you haven’t eaten there {why haven’t you?} or don’t live in Detroit, doesn’t mean you can’t cast a vote and support their family run business from afar. They have been nominated for and won countless local and national awards, which speaks volumes for the love and passion they pour into their family run business. This year, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe has been nominated again for AOL’s City’s Best Dessert award, so read on, drool over the pictures of their food, vote and then tell any friends or family you know in Michigan to stop by for a sweet bite they are sure to enjoy! {Also makes for a crowd-pleasing treat to bring to holiday parties}

Here’s a cyber taste:

The Chocolate Gallery Cafe opened its doors over 16 years ago, but got its start even earlier when a love for chocolate and hours of experiments in a home kitchen resulted in the recipe for their famous award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte. So rich it has royalty in its name. The award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte is layered to perfection, with a chewy brownie bottom, creamy chocolate mousse center all topped off with crunchy English toffee and whipped cream florets that provide the ideal contrast to its other rich layers. The answer to every chocolate lover’s quest for the perfect dessert, this torte is the jewel of my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s boutique cafe.

Chocolate Buckingham Torte

Chocolate Flourless Decadence Torte

Hopefully you live close enough that a visit to The Chocolate Gallery Cafe can be a reality, but if not, for now you can support this sweet cafe with a click of a button and a vote to win Best Dessert in DetroitThe Chocolate Gallery Cafe is also available for Full Service Catering, Chocolate Fountain Rentals and custom sweet treats, including Truffles and Molded Chocolates.

Map: 3672 Chicago Road, Warren, Michigan
Reservations: Not Taken (Open Thurs-Sun 8am-2pm)
Phone: 586.979.1140
Photos: John Martin Photography

Want Something For Your Effort?

Giveaway! Season’s Greetings Ghirardelli-Style


Filed under Do This!, Travel Bite

TRAVEL@8: New on 8.ate@eight

Hungry for more inspiration from 8.ate@eight?

Some of the best food experiences and discoveries can be found when away from home. I know when I travel, the first thing I do is ask friends who have been to the same destination for recommendations of favorite local eateries. Now you can easily access 8.ate@eight’s favorite Travel Bites from the new tab at the top called TRAVEL@8. I hope this page inspires you to try new things, wherever your passport takes you. Eat up!

Get email updates with new blog postsrecipes and supper club announcements by visiting the home page, entering your email and clicking the “FEED ME” button.

1 Comment

Filed under 8.ate@eight, Do This!, Eat Here!, NYC Best, SF Best, Travel Bite, {Drink Me}

Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

In honor of Puglia Wine Week and to bring you a special edition from the hills of Italy, I asked my brother to contribute a guest blog recapping the honeymoon highlights from Puglia. So much to say and eat, so grab a glass of vino and enjoy!

Guest Grubber: Brian D.
When we were choosing our honeymoon destination it was pretty daunting to know that we could go anywhere in the world we wanted and that we were about to escape for three weeks of uninterrupted freedom.  Since both of us are gainfully employed by companies we do not own, it was pretty clear to us that this opportunity doesn’t come around all that often.  Because of that, the paradox of choice kicked in in a big way and we struggled to narrow it down to a short list.  We made our way through all of the continents and ultimately came to the conclusion that we wanted to go somewhere with good weather, great food and to a place that neither of us had been before.

After checking the September weather patterns of almost every place on earth, our final decision was to travel to southern Italy and make our way by car from Puglia, through Calabria and into Sicily.  Interestingly, we went into the trip thinking that it was going to be all about Sicily, but now that we are home it is clear that the star of the three weeks was our time in PugliaPuglia, for those that don’t know, is the region of Italy in the “heel of the boot”.

Puglia, or Apulia, is an interesting place.  It is more agricultural, than industrial, and it is definitely a much less popular tourist destination than some of the bigger cities like Rome and Florence or areas like the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.  The accommodations in the area are based largely on the concept of Agritourism, where people stay at farmhouses, or “Masserias”, that were fortified back in the days when the landowners had to deal with foreign intruders and have since been converted into very comfortable bed & breakfasts.  The place we stayed was called Masseria Torre Coccaro, a 39 room country estate halfway between the airports of Bari and Brindisi and surrounded by acres of olive groves and vegetable gardens.

Masseria Torre Coccaro

We stayed at Coccaro for 7 nights and used it as our base to explore the region.  In hindsight, we couldn’t have chosen a better place and, unfortunately for our waistlines, we were able to sample some of the best food we have ever tasted.  Here are the highlight bites:

The restaurant at Torre Coccaro

Fresh Seafood from Savelletri

Set in stables from the 1600’s, the restaurant offered up some of the best food on our trip. First off, their breakfast put the rest of the hotels we stayed at to shame.  As for the rest of the meals, they collaborated with local farmers and bordering Masserias to source the best meats and cheeses.  They had a network of people that help them find wild products like porcini and cardoncelli mushrooms, asparagus, snails, myrtle and berries.  The nearby fishing village of Savelletri brought them fish daily, including freshly-caught scampi, shrimp, tuna, snapper, and local spiny lobsters. To top that off, almost all the fruits and vegetables served are produced on the estate.

Cooking School at Torre Coccaro
This wasn’t something we planned to do, but when we arrived at the property and learned that there was a school on site we couldn’t pass it up.  We had a ton of fun with chef Donato, learning how to make typical Apulian dishes including fresh bread, 6 or 7 different types of pasta, a simple pizza with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and capers, a fried version of a calzone called “Panzerotto” that is unique to the region, sautéed “sweet olives” that were picked that day and unlike anything I have ever had, an eggplant terrine and baked fish (Orata) with fresh vegetables.  Luckily we weren’t forced to eat everything we made, but we were able to sample most of them.  Needless to say, we didn’t have dinner that night!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Local Puglia “Mozzarella Farm”
Another treat that was offered up on arrival was a visit to the farm just down the road that raised cows and made fresh mozzarella and burrata cheese daily.  For those that don’t know, “burrata” means buttered in Italian and is usually made from mozzarella and cream.  The outer shell is solid mozzarella and the inside usually contains both mozzarella and cream.  That said, this farm also made another version of burrata filled with fresh ricotta, which was new to me and even better than the classic version…who knew it was possible.  Believe it or not, we spent 45 minutes with 3 workers that spoke about 3 words of English, collectively.  It could have had something to do with the free samples they kept pushing on us, but we just couldn’t tear ourselves away.

Hand Pulling Mozzarella

Masseria Il Frantorio
Another masseria, Il Frantorio, just down the road and on the way to the town of Ostuni, gave us one of the culinary highlights of the trip.  They served up a seven course meal that was both creative and delicious.  So much so that we didn’t realize that the entire meal was almost entirely vegetables (sourced from their garden on the property of course, BUT vegetables nonetheless!)  It wasn’t until the last main course, when a filet of local swordfish was served, that we looked at each other and said “wow, I didn’t even notice”.  The highlight of the meal was a pair of fried carciofi (artichokes) drizzled with reduced sweet wine alongside lampascioni fritti (hyacinth bulbs) with orange honey.  Pretty simple, but super delicious when paired with a glass of late harvest Primitivo di Manduria.

Fried Carciofi at Il Frantorio

Al Fornello di Ricci
In the town of Ceglie Messapica lies a restaurant called Al Fornello di Ricci that Mario Batali called the best in Puglia.

“The place is perfect! If you are within 200 miles of this place and choose not to eat here, you are mistaken” Mario Batali

Needless to say, we are suckers for marketing, or at least Batali hype, so we had to check it out.  The meal did not disappoint.  Across the board, the dishes were simple, but the flavor of each was intense.  We knew we were in the right place when the tasting menu kicked off with a selection of eight different antipasti, ranging from simple beet chips to fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta.  After that we had two pasta courses, a main of locally-raised lamb, and dessert — each course paired with a different wine and included in the fixed price.  Delicious. The only downside was the 45 minute drive back to Coccaro after the meal…as you might expect, driving on Italian country roads while in a food coma isn’t usually a recipe for success.

Fava Bean Crostini and Fried Zucchini Blossoms

I could probably keep going, as there are tons of other great meals and experiences that I left out, but it’s really just more of the same goodness.  So as the Italians say, “Basta!!!” or “enough”.

Overall the trip to Puglia far exceeded our expectations and the fact that it never felt touristy and overrun just made it that much more special.  We came home with the feeling that we had somehow outsmarted the rest of the tourists in Italy, standing in line at the Uffizi in Florence or craning their necks to take in the tower in Pisa.  We couldn’t be happier with our decision to spend a week there and in some ways wish it was longer.  Our only fear now is that we don’t get back before the rest of the world figures out what a great region it is!

Non Basta?
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo


Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Le Grand Fooding ‘Twas A Grand Yummy Evening

Foodies, NY-ers and SF-loyalists alike made their way to MoMA PS1 in Long Island City on Friday, for what was to be a food face-off of epic proportions {all in the name of charity of course}. After David Chang, of the Momofuku empire, dropped a comment that “fuckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate with nothing on it. Do something with your food,” San Francisco-based chefs packed their knives and headed east to prove otherwise.

Le Grand Fooding

As a 3-block long line of eager eaters made their way through the entrance, they were handed four tickets good for a glass of Veuve, Cotes du Rhone red wine and two Belvedere Vodka cocktails concocted by drink masters, Jim Meehan of Please Don’t Tell {NYC} and Erick Castro from Rickhouse {SF} to enjoy alongside a selection of tastings prepared by notable chefs themselves under nothing more than pop up tents and the stars.

As far as the cocktails go, Jim Meehan won this face-off hands down. Using the new line of Belvedere Citrus, he shook up what he called the Park Side Fizz, a blend of Vodka, Orgeat {a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and orange- flower water}, Lemon, Fresh Mint and Soda. It was refreshing, not too sweet and went down all too easily, as I painfully discovered the next morning.

Park Side Fizz, Jim Meehan, Please Don't Tell

With drinks in hand we patiently lined up to try as many of the food stations as we could. With a large crowd and real-time food prep, some of the lines were longer than ideal, but this made a winning dish that much more of a satisfying bite. Here’s the scoop…

Le Grand Fooding @ MoMA PS1

Laurence Jossel, Nopa {SF} — Grilled Pork Shoulder Loin {aka Country Rib} with Early Girl Tomato Jam on Toast won my vote for Best Dish of the Evening!! Marinated for 4 hours, then slowly grilled for 35 minutes, this pork was full of flavor and tender on its own, but the sensory scales were quickly tipped by the most amazingly sweet, vinegary tomato jam that had hints of ginger and lovingly topped the stack of crostini and pork. I loved this dish so much I waited in line three times and am strongly considering booking a flight to SF to pay homage to a man who could create such a delicacy.

“I feel like I’m gonna go hug them for making something so delicious” — overheard @ Le Grand Fooding

Grilling Up Some Pork Shoulder, Nopa

Nopa Tomato Jam and a Classic T-Shirt

Best Dish of the Night: Grilled Pork Shoulder with Tomato Jam, Nopa

David Sclarow, Pizza Moto {Brooklyn} — Grilled Pizza with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Lemon, Sea Salt and Basil. So simple, but with that list of fresh ingredients it was well worth the wait, especially since they were pairing it with a glass of generously poured red wine.

David Sclarow of Pizza Moto

Pizza Prep

David Chang, má pêche {NY} — Bodega Granola. A play on yogurt granola cups sold at corner delis, the bodega granola walks a fine line between sweet and savory, constructed from walnut granola topped with beet reduction tapioca, goat cheese foam, beet chips and greens.

Bodega Granola, ma peche

Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi, Torrisi {NY} — Pickle Salad New Yorkese. This was one of the most unique dishes of the evening, with a nod to traditional deli items, the salad of cucumber and pickle slices was topped with corned lambs tongue and dressed with a a mustard-red vinegar dressing. Probably not the first thing I would normally order, but somehow it just worked.

Pickle Salad New Yorkese, Torrisi

The word on the street is the Tennessee-style fried chicken by Robert Newton, Seersucker {NY} was outstanding, but I didn’t wait in the hour-long line to confirm for myself. I’m guessing the wait confirms it though.

All in all, a great evening that raised a lot of money for Action Against Hunger, brought more awareness to a number of all ready notable chefs and restaurants and provided a great venue for social noshing and imbibing under the lights of New York.

Le Grand Foodies

Looking for More to DO!?:
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Do This!: EAT DRINK LOCAL week
Do This!: A Taste of What to Expect @ Artisanal Premium Cheese Classes

Leave a comment

Filed under Do This!, NYC Best, SF Best, Travel Bite

SF Best: RoliRoti Rolls Out Revolutionary Rotisserie

RoliRoti Sets Up

At first RoliRoti may sound like the name of an Indian restaurant, but in fact it’s a food truck rolling out gourmet rotisserie recipes originating from the Swiss Alps and taking the Bay Area by storm. Rotisseur Thomas Odermatt, the son of a Swiss “Metzgermeister,” or Master Butcher, grew up in the family’s Swiss butcher shop before moving to Berkley to pursue an education in organic farming. Serving only sustainably-farmed meats and organic produce, Thomas learned the importance of premium cuts from his father and perfect preparation with a secret spice rub from his mother, bringing a crowd-pleasing culinary combination to the local San Francisco market.

…and to my brother’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Normally to get a bite of RoliRoti you would have to queue up in a long line of hungry Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market foodies on Saturday morning, but after standing in many long lines themselves, my brother and his wife decided to hire RoliRoti to cater the Friday night rehearsal dinner. Lucky us.

So what kind of goodness did this infamous truck roll up with? It’s all about the rotisserie chicken and porchetta slow roasting over a bed of potatoes — yes, vegetarians will have to pass on these spuds. RoliRoti’s prized crispy rotisserie chicken is served with a generous portion of rosemary sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lime for a burst of zesty flavor. The porchetta consists of Heritage’s free range pork loin rolled into the belly with RoliRoti’s original herb mix and lemon zest, grilled on the rotisserie for four hours until crispy brown on the outside, resulting in one succulent hunk of pig!

Dinner's Done!

Rosemary Sea Salt

RoliRoti's Famous Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Potatoes

The rotisserie may be the main attraction, but the steakhouse salad with sweet early girl tomatoes, red onion and roquefort cheese is a perfect pairing. Or try the charred corn summer salad with fresh avocadoes tossed in punchy lime-jalapeño vinaigrette, garnished with halved cherry tomatoes, bell pepper chunks, and cilantro. Both provide a light and refreshing plate partnership to your carvings.

Early Girl Tomatoes

RoliRoti Summer Salads

The Skim: Whether you’re looking for some finger lickin’ chicken at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market or a really kick-ass party pleaser, roll over to the RoliRoti truck and you will be begging for seconds. Case in point, after a lot of excited and hungry guests, RoliRoti packed it up early after running out of food — only the second time that had ever happened!

Map: San Francisco Ferry Plaza
Phone: 510.780.0300

More on the Left Coast Cuisine:
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Do This!: Le Grand Fooding 2010 New York vs San Francisco

1 Comment

Filed under Eat Here!, SF Best, Travel Bite

Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired

With my brother’s wedding on the weekend horizon, I didn’t have much time for Napa food and wine excursions, but we were able to schedule a small family dinner at an excellent Napa restaurant to start the week out right. Napa-sourced and Italian-inspired, Bistro Don Giovanni brings the best of food and wine to a warm Valley eatery. Whether dining al fresco or fireside, the mediterranean menu features rustic fare blending the best local ingredients with traditional homemade Italian dishes. Complementing the fresh food, an extensive wine list offers selections from the best of Napa, Italy and even two estate grown wines from the owners’ family home that are great value for money options.

The antipasti menu was so appealing we ordered one of almost everything for the table and opted to share a few entrees. The Fritto Misto was one of the highlights, adding rock shrimp, fennel, onions and green beans to the typical crispy calamari dish. When you order this make sure to get a piece of the fennel {my favorite bite} which was a surprisingly nice combination of sweet and salty. Then again, isn’t everything good fried?

Bistro Don Giovanni Fritto Misto

Another unexpected delight was the Bruschetta with Monterey Sardines, chick peas with a tomato chili vinaigrette — it is salty, crunchy and slightly sweet with a strong mediterranean flavor from the smashed chick peas and a fresh, peppery bite from the arugula. It far exceeds expectations of a typical tomato based bruschetta.

Bistro Don Giovanni Monterey Sardine Bruschetta

And it’s not very often a pizza is that spectacular that it’s worth writing about, but the simple Margherita supported the freshly crushed tomato sauce and sparse melted mozzarella cheese with a thin crust that was crispy on the bottom and chewy on the inside — just how a stellar slice should be.

Bistro Don Giovanni Pizza Margherita

Bistro Don Giovanni Orecchiette

Three of the entrees that we shared were traditional Italian dishes, but each had a unique twist that made them memorable. The Orecchiette was served with sausage, rapini {aka broccoli rabe}, chilies, tomato and reggiano. It was the spice of the chilies that gave this dish the extra heat that complemented the other simple and fresh ingredients. The Chicken Parmigiana was served over zucchini “spaghetti,” thin strands of zucchini that offered a lighter alternative to a bed of pasta, all topped off with a local heirloom tomato sauce. The table favorite {which got eaten before I could snap a picture} was the Polpette d’Agnello, lamb and ricotta meatballs served with a side of shell beans and artichokes. Now thatsa meatball!

Bistro Don Giovanni Chichen Parmigiana

The Skim: If you’re looking for an exceptional meal to soak up a day of wine tasting, be sure to make a stop at Bistro Don Giovanni. Right in the heart of Napa on St. Helena Hwy, it’s an easy stop on the way out of town, and if you’ve tapped out the wallet on previous wine purchases you can take advantage of one of their 29 wines for $29.

Map: {4110 Howard Lane, Napa, CA}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 707.224.3300


Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Do This!: Vote for The Chocolate Gallery Cafe for Best Breakfast

Full disclaimer, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe is my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s restaurant. But just because I’m related to them doesn’t mean they haven’t been turning out some of the best breakfast and desserts that people have been enjoying for years. And just because you haven’t eaten there {why haven’t you?} or don’t live in Detroit, doesn’t mean you can’t cast a vote and support their family run business from afar. They have been nominated for and won countless local and national awards, which speaks volumes for the love and passion they pour into their family run business. This year, The Chocolate Gallery Cafe has been nominated again for Detroit’s WDIV Best Breakfast award, so read on, drool over the pictures of their food, vote and then tell any friends or family you know in Michigan to stop by for a meal they are sure to enjoy!

The Chocolate Gallery Cafe opened its doors over 16 years ago, but got its start even earlier when a love for chocolate and hours of experiments in a home kitchen resulted in the recipe for their famous award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte. So rich it has royalty in its name. The award-winning Chocolate Buckingham Torte is layered to perfection, with a chewy brownie bottom, creamy chocolate mousse center all topped off with crunchy English toffee and whipped cream florets that provide the ideal contrast to its other rich layers. The answer to every chocolate lover’s quest for the perfect dessert, this torte is the jewel of my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Chuck’s boutique cafe.

Chocolate Buckingham Torte

Chocolate Flourless Decadence Torte

With many food fans clamoring for their desserts and a catering business taking off, The Chocolate Gallery decided to settle on a home and open a quaint cafe in Warren, Michigan, where their talents could be showcased and enjoyed on a regular basis — breakfast, lunch or dessert!

And thank goodness, because have you ever had something as delicious as Strawberry Stuffed French Toast? Made from thick cut french bread, stuffed with cream cheese and fresh strawberries, heated to crispy perfection and topped off with a warm homemade strawberry puree — 100% deliciousness!

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Not extravagant enough for you? Like the line between breakfast and dessert to be crossed? Not surprising that The Chocolate Gallery Cafe does too! And so was born The Very Berry Stuffed French Toast, topped with a drizzle of premium chocolate and homemade whipped cream.

Very Berry Stuffed French Toast

More of a traditionalist? How about the Fresh Blueberry Pancakes to satisfy your morning sweet tooth? Light and fluffy, they are the perfect breakfast bed for those sweet Michigan blueberries to burst with warmth on.

Fresh Blueberry Pancakes

A Menu Must: And for those of us that are just plain ‘ole egg lovers, The Eggs Benedict is out of this world. Topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and served with a side of cafe potatoes, this savory selection wins my vote.

Eggs Benedict

Hungry yet? Dreaming of breakfast or a sweet treat? Hopefully you live close enough that a visit to The Chocolate Gallery Cafe can be a reality, but if not, for now you can support this sweet cafe with a click of a button and a vote to win Best Breakfast in DetroitThe Chocolate Gallery Cafe is also available for Full Service Catering, Chocolate Fountain Rentals and custom sweet treats, including Truffles and Molded Chocolates.

Map: 3672 Chicago Road, Warren, Michigan
Reservations: Not Taken (Open Thurs-Sun 8am-2pm)
Phone: 586.979.1140
Photos: John Martin Photography


Filed under Do This!, Eat Here!, Travel Bite

Going Back to the Old Country @ The New Yasmeen Bakery

Hot, Oven-Fresh Meat and Spinach Pies

I’ve never been to Lebanon, but fortunately Dearborn, MI, which is only about 20 minutes from where I grew up, is home to the largest Lebanese population outside of Lebanon. That means deliciously authentic and fresh Lebanese treats are never too far away and always on the agenda when I make a trip home to Michigan. If you’re inspired by the newest Miss USA, Lebanese-American Rima Fakih, or just want to try some of the best Lebanese baked goods I have ever had, you don’t have to get on a plane to get onboard.

While you can’t enjoy the piping hot meat or spinach pies that come out fresh from the wood burning ovens, you can place an order for some of Dearborn’s New Yasmeen Bakery specialties online, including their fresh pita bread {this is the real stuff people, not the thick dry pita you find at the grocery store} or sweet baked goods, like Baklava or Date Maamoul. Of course if you happen to be traveling to the Detroit area, I highly recommend a trip to the bakery to pick up those meat/spinach pies or some hummus that comes out so smooth and creamy, it’s hard to be convinced its made only from chick peas, lemon, garlic and tahini. Or pick up some fresh za’atar bread for something truly unique {hot oven-fresh flat bread topped with olive oil and za’atar spice which is a combination of dried thyme, oregano, marjaram and toasted sesame seeds}. At the very least, check out New Yasmeen’s website to learn about the legend of how this amazing bakery came to be, or just for a few laughs if you watch the brief cartoon of a camel teaching you how authentic pita bread is made {watch here}. Whatever it takes!

The Skim: Having a difficult time finding better hummus than pre-packed Sabra at your local grocery store? Visiting Detroit and looking for good local eats? It may seem like a stretch on your culinary palate, but you will not be disappointed by the amazing Lebanese food coming out of the New Yasmeen Bakery. {13900 W. Warren, Dearborn, MI 48126}

Leave a comment

Filed under Eat Here!, Travel Bite