Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Sunday, Another Brunch.

Just so you know, I don't spend every Sunday at fabulous restaurants. I do a fair amount of brunches at home too. However, when Shannon and Eliezer mentioned going to Kaya's Kitchen this weekend, we just couldn't pass it up! I've been dying to try out their breakfast menu! Their dinners are fantastic so I knew that they wouldn't let me down with the most important meal of the day. The thrilling aspect was being able to order anything I wanted since the restaurant is 100% vegetarian.

We arrived a little after 11:00 and we scored immediate seating (two brunches in a row now!). No hippy worth his or her patchouli is going to be out of bed before noon so as long as you get there before, you're good to go! By the time we left, all of the tables were taken. I was up late at a concert the night before so I was dragging a bit. I also didn't eat anything beforehand so I'd be able to properly gorge myself. When they set this amazing plate in front of me, I forgot about the rest of the world.

This was the Memom platter. It's supposed to represent a typical southern breakfast. I'll break it down for you piece by piece...

The ham: I was expecting to love the sausage more but this stuff was awesome!
The sausage: I still put a hurtin' on this guy despite the above statement.
The tofu scrambler: It comes with a veggie scrambler but I asked for a plain one because I wanted to taste it. I personally prefer my tofu scramble to theirs but it's still good!
The biscuit and gravy: My hopes were high so it was the biggest sore spot on the plate. I was hankerin' for white gravy and this was 'shroomy. The biscuit wasn't all that either. In their defense, they aren't southern.
The apple sauce: Homemade and a nice balance to all of the salty stuff.
The potatoes: Good.

Do you see that sammich hiding in the shadows back there? That is The Gypsy Devil. Leave it to a gypsy to swipe the plate out from under my breakfast. I immediately regretted ordering the Memom when I had a bite of this thing. It was that good. It's a pork roll, egg and cheese on a delightful bun that really does well to frame all of the flavors. I plan to order this when we go back on a Sunday morning. I hope it won't be too long. Kaya's Kitchen is a bit on the pricey side so we space it out. There is an all you can eat vegan buffet on Sunday evenings and we might have to hit that for our next visit.

It's located in a strip mall near the shore. Right behind Freedman's Bakery.

Kaya's Kitchen
817 Belmar Plaza
Belmar, NJ 07719

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twist and Shout

My name is Avery and I'm addicted to Princeton's newest fro-yo experience.

I am imagining all of you saying Hi Avery! in unison like they do at NA meetings.

I don't know if we have a Pinkberry anywhere around here. I had some a little over two years ago in San Fran. I had no idea that I was participating in what has become a huge food trend. Frozen yogurt is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and I am pretty excited about it! It's definitely giving cupcakes some healthy competition! When I was a teenager in Huntsville, Alabama, my family used to drive over to this frozen yogurt place up the road at least once a week. I remember having a fondness for the strawberry flavor in a waffle cone. There was also a TCBY in the shopping center where my friends and I used to hang out and it was pretty popular. I used to date a guy who would take me there on a regular basis. We would share a banana split and take turns picking flavors and toppings. I'll never forget because one time he opted to put NERDS on top of chocolate frozen yogurt and it was absolutely disgusting.

I didn't even realize it when it was happening but frozen yogurt did eventually slip off of the radar. I blame Ben and Jerry for reminding us what we were missing. Ice cream got a lot more interesting in the past decade. Cool and creamy decadence that goes as far as to taste of birthday cake is merely a cold stone's throw away!

As they say, eventually what is old is new again and frozen yogurt is back in the game! Someone got smart and decided to bring it to Princeton and they have been massively successful. I've been several times in the past month! Twist is the name and they're coming on strong! The flavors are bolder and the options are endless. The atmosphere is bright, comfy and perfect for chilling out with some good friends on a hot day! I went with the usual suspects last week and we all had fun customizing our own fro-yo creations.
They try to keep it fresh by rotating flavors on a weekly basis. Some of the choices I've seen going in and out are green tea, mango, cookies and cream, cheesecake and even cake batter. They do have some staples such as vanilla, Ghirardelli chocolate (my fave!) and eurotart. The later has only 18 calories per ounce. It basically tastes like plain yogurt. They usually have about six flavors on tap. Once you move over to the toppings, it gets a little more interesting!
They have everything from fruit, nuts, flax seeds and Kashi cereal. If you want to be bad, they have a variety of crushed cookies and candies along with caramel, marshmallow and chocolate sauces. Here is the part where I remind you to watch your weight.... At Twist, you pay according to how much your fro-yo weighs so I try to keep it simple. A smaller cup of yogurt and some strawberries runs me around $4 and some change. It's usually enough for Molly and I to share.

It's a hot spot in the community right now. They lend their wall space to local artists and the owners even have doggie biscuits out in memory of their beloved pet that passed last year. Chowder appreciates the gesture and so do I. Another bonus is that they are open until 11. I am sure this must be a seasonal thing but it's nice! Sometimes it's late by the time we're done with dinner. I heard that there is another frozen yogurt place that will be opening up a few blocks away so we'll see how that turns out. They're really going to have to come out swinging if they want a piece of this pie.

84 Nassau Street
Princeton, NJ 08542

Friday, August 28, 2009

Movie Star Dinner

I don't know if it's because of the movie or not but anytime I mention that I am making ratatouille for dinner, my daughter is thrilled! What's not to be thrilled about? It's a great way to use up and serve a bunch of different veggies that you might have lying around. It requires very little effort and it's pretty healthy. To top off the list, it tastes good!

There are many different variations and methods but my version is quite simple. The especially exciting aspect of the one I made this week was that it featured the lone eggplant that I was able to harvest from our garden this year! I am pretty sure it will be the only one because that plant was small.

Isn't it cute?!

The list of ingredients isn't long and you can easily change it up. Sometimes I don't have eggplant so I just put extra squash or zucchini. If I'm really bored, I'll layer each piece but this last casserole was just tossed together. No one noticed that anything was different so next time I need to kill some time, maybe I'll just read a magazine.

This pan is a 2.75 liter capacity, just so you have an idea.

Ratatouille (much more fun to say if you roll the r and really emphasize the t's. :-D)

*Any combination of 4-5 medium eggplants, zucchinis and squash sliced into medallions.
*One medium sliced onion (or two small), chopped.

Mix them all up coat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss in some fresh or dried thyme (about 1.5 tsp) Top it off with homemade breadcrumbs and fresh parmesan cheese. If you want to get the breadcrumbs dark like the picture, give it a spritz of cooking spray.

Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.

This is optional but sometimes I will heat up a small can of tomato sauce and add a splash of heavy cream. I put a ladle full on a plate and then spoon the ratatouille on top. It makes for a more satisfying main course. My family (2 adults and 1 child) will demolish the entire thing in one sitting.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Fair Trade

My friends Alice and Wright stopped over this evening for a quick visit. They returned not too long ago from a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. I remember reading on Alice's Facebook that she was eating something called Sponge Candy. I'd never heard of it so I dropped her a line to ask her what it was. Being the generous soul that she is, she offered to share some with me!

It looks sort of like a Butterfinger and it is somewhat crispy when you first bite into it. The inside is much lighter and it quickly melts in your mouth. It tastes like a combination of honey and caramelized sugar. I only ate one piece but I could have easily downed all three! They were that good!! The perfect accompaniment to a cup of hot tea.

I decided to Google it and learn a bit more. I found an adorable website that is run by a couple who have been making and selling candy for over 22 years. They do mail orders but not during the hot summer months. They will resume selling it over the internet at the end of October. I really enjoyed reading about this regional specialty, not to mention how they make it! The FAQs offer all sorts of gems. I will definitely be placing an order later this year!!

I traded Alice some caramels from France since she was willing to share some of her stash with me. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed the sponge candy! If you feel so inclined, check out her adorable math blog! Starting up a band but can't think of a name that you'd like to see up in lights? Head on over to Wright's latest online project. He'll do all of the dirty work for you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Falafel Alley

During our recent trip to Paris, I had a list of places to go and things to eat. I am sure that everyone does this when they go somewhere special (right?). I always scout out potential hot spots, especially for good vegetarian food. I'd heard from several different sources that there was excellent falafel to be had in the 4th arrondissement so Chris and I made it a point to go and check it out!

One thing I never got over after leaving Birmingham, Alabama was the loss of easy falafel access. Nobody tells you this but the streets are practically paved with it. You can get it at any time of day, seven days a week. After I moved to Georgia, I was high and dry and it's been that way ever since. I have one reasonable fallback here in Princeton and I've heard there is another place that has good stuff so I will investigate and report back.

For now, I will tell you about Falafel Alley in the Marias District of Paris. L'as du Falafel is somewhat of a landmark here. Right across the way from it is Mi Va Mi, another falafel place which is said to be the underdog. Chris and I couldn't resist trying both of them out and over the course of a few days, we did. We hit up L'as du Falafel for lunch. I was prepared for the line to be much longer than it was. They are obviously up on the crowd control because they have one guy bringing people in and taking orders while you wait to get up to the window so you already have a ticket by the time you get there. It all happened so fast that it's a blur to me now. The falafel slinger hands you a warm pita that is stuffed full of goodness. Despite the fact that he throws it together in no time at all, the distribution of falafel and veggies is perfect.

7 Euros gets you this gorgeous sammich and a drink.

So, in the name of scientific research, we returned to the 4th arrondissement the following day for lunch at Mi Va Mi.
Instead of getting it to go, we opted to dine in. Just so you know, it costs about 3 Euros more per person to eat and drink inside instead of getting it from the window. I really wanted to root for the underdog but it just didn't knock my socks off the way it probably would have if we hadn't eaten at L'as du Falafel the day before. Don't get me wrong, it was a fantastic lunch and I'd totally kill for some Mi Va Mi now but (in my humble opinion) it was a notch or two short in comparison. The service was friendlier. The ingredients were well balanced. Maybe it was the cold pita? The lack of Orangina? When it came time to decide where we would have our final falafel hurrah, we went back to L'as du Falafel. There are those who might disagree with me and I can respect that. Lenny Kravitz has my back though!

L'as du Falafel
34, Rue des Rosiers
75004 Paris, France

Mi Va Mi
23 Rue des Rosiers
75004 Paris, France

Monday, August 24, 2009


Okay, here is the first of several food posts that will be connected to our trip to Europe this summer. I thought I'd start them off with a picture and a list of all of the stuff we brought back home with us! The list of what we are allowed to bring back into the U.S. is always changing so I'd check the website for customs before you plan a trip anywhere. We managed to bring everything back into the country without any trouble which was a huge relief! I would have been devastated to have to throw any of this loot away!!!

Starting with the back row, from the left: that big back in the back of the photo is grey salt from France. The two smaller jars next to it are also salt. Red wine salt and floral salt (that smells amazing!). The two bags are jasmine flowers that I plan on using to flavor salt and sugar. I saw some jasmine sugar in Germany and thought it was a cool idea! The other bag is Harissa spices. I've never seen it where it hadn't already been made into a paste. The tall bottle is my holy grail. One of the things I planned on dropping a huge wad of cash on was a bottle of kirschwassser. This was partly inspired by a post from David Lebovitz and also by the fact that all I can find over here in the U.S. is the cheapo stuff. Genuine kirsch is a thing of beauty. The best is found in Austria and I stumbled across an amazing gourmet store in Germany that imported it. The last three things in the back are tea. The pink canister is a floral black tea from Paris and the striped bags are white tea and oolong tea from Germany. I haven't tried the first one yet but the other two are excellent! White and oolong tea are Chris' favorites. The jar in front of the tea bags came from the same shop and it is vanilla honey.

There is a little sign on the right that must have come from an old bakery. I got it at a flea market in Paris and it's sitting in my kitchen. The toys in the middle are mostly for making cookies. The wooden blocks are springerle molds from Germany. Let me tell you that I've spent a good part of the year searching for these bad boys and I found them within my first 24 hours over there! I was absolutely delighted! I got an owl, a bird, a few Christmas themed and some Valentine's day themed molds. I am still searching for a cameo and hopefully I will find one someday. There are also various cookie cutters from the same shop. A bird, a flying pig, a button (perfect for mine and Molly's Coraline themed Halloween costumes!), Saturn and a few lovely rectangular shapes. I got some Dutch duckie salt and pepper shakers from Amsterdam (Chris picked these out) and the small glass tube is vanilla from a Moroccan grocery store in Paris. Last but not least, the big canister has caramels from France. They are absolutely delicious and I allow myself to have one as a treat from time to time. Remember, it was an obsession for almost the entire trip!

On the gardening front, we also brought some red tulip bulbs from Amsterdam that we will plant this coming season. They're pretty cool looking! I'd never seen tulips that looked like these guys. I was absolutely blown away by the amazing selection of bulbs in Holland. Unfortunately, I was only able to shop from a small selection that was certified for entry into North America. We did declare them and after they saw the certification, they let us through with no problems.

Speaking of gardening....I'd better get my machete out and clear my mini Amazon since I have the day off today and the weather is nice!! Au revoir!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ladies who Brunch

Kate and Liz pose with the brunch menu

Like I said before, Sunday brunch can be the jewel in the crown to top off a good week, or even a bad week if your crown consists of thorns. Last week, I stepped out with some of my lady friends and went over to Lawrenceville which is on the other side of Princeton from where we live. We went to a Freecycle event which turned out to be pretty cool! I wasn't sure what to expect or what I'd find! I took a bunch of stuff over so it was a relief to free up that space in the corner! I found a bunch of random things like vintage matchbooks, rubber stamps, a new plastic pitcher for tea, a wool blanket for the dog and some random hodge podge for holiday decorating. It was all free!

It was super hot day and after a while of cruising the stuff, we were ready to recharge our batteries. I was running on empty by that point! We decided to walk over to Fedora because we'd heard they had a fantastic brunch menu. Unfortunately this place does not have a proper website so I can't link you. If I remember correctly, they serve brunch until 1:00 on Sundays. This was my third time eating here. I've done brunch, lunch and dinner and all three were fabulous. They are closed on Mondays.
Their t-shirts always say funny stuff. My favorite is I may have inadvertently licked your fork.

I was surprised at how small the crowd was. We didn't even have to wait for a table! I am sure this isn't always the case and if we ever go back for brunch (which I am sure we will!), I am not going to get my hopes up on this happening again! I was happy not to have to wait for a nice cup of iced tea!

They had all sorts of edible debauchery on their brunch menu. I was tempted by some form of wicked french toast with creme fraiche but that will have to wait until next time. I ended up going with crabcakes benedict that was topped with spinach and capers. I had the hollandaise sauce on the side. It was absolutely superb! All of us were very pleased with our choices.
Shannon digs into her pancakes with cinnamon butter.

The prices were very reasonable and I am already hoping to drag the family back with me. They do have outside seating so we will probably wait for a cooler day so we can take Chowder with us. We like to include him in our outings whenever possible.

Fedora Cafe
2633 Main Street
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Closer to Home

I know I promised a lot of European food posts and they are coming! However, I've been so delighted with the pasts few harvests from our garden that I wanted to write about it.

Considering the fact that this is our very first year gardening, I would go as far as to call it very successful! We've managed to get several good meals and snacks from our plot and despite the fact that we've really been struggling with weeds and the weather (everything from lots of rain to lots of heat). The edible flowers are really the only thing that didn't really do much of anything. Pffft!

The other day, we ate almost entirely from our garden. We had maple glazed carrots, an heirloom tomato salad and a kale medley cooked into some scrambled eggs that we bought from our friends over at Silver Forge. I've definitely learned a lot about how things grow. It's amazing how much more in touch I feel with fruits and veggies after the last few years of shopping at the farmers market and educating myself on how stuff gets on my plate. That's one of the reasons why this meal felt so empowering. I dug those carrots up a few hours before we ate them!

I tried to keep it all on the simple side. Being a southern girl, a side of sliced tomatoes are a common sight on the dinner table during the late summer months. We have about four different heirloom varieties growing in our garden right now. It's pretty funny because we have way more tomato plants in our plot than we originally planted! They're popping up everywhere! I won't plant nearly as much kale as I did this year. One plant really produces a lot of leaves! We have about 12 so we're drowning in it. I do want to plant the curly type so I can make kale chips. The two varieties I have now don't do so well in that respect. They're excellent when cooked in a little olive oil and some garlic though. My family complains that the curly kind is too tough when I cook it that way. The flat leafers are more tender. Especially the Italian. The carrots are a lot of fun to harvest. I planted the seeds close together so a small area is pretty densely packed with them. We have a long way to go before they're gone. We have plans for these babies! Chris' birthday is next month and I'm excited to make him a carrot cake!

We have a nice selection to choose from for fall planting. Unfortunately, we also have a LOT of work to do in our plot before it's ready. I jokingly call it The Mini Amazon because the weeds are crazy!! It's going to take hours to clear them. One of our fellow plotters covered her garden in newspaper and then layered it with grass clippings from the recycling center here in town. She said she hasn't had a problem with weeds at all this year. I think it will definitely be worth giving that a try next spring. We have to have the plot completely cleared by the first week of December so I am hoping to get it turned around by the end of the month so we can harvest before then.

I know....wild stuff!

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Member of the Family!

After months of searching, we adopted a dog today! He is a 2-3 year old Boston terrier/Pug mix AKA as bugs! We got him from the Bucks County SPCA which is an absolutely wonderful organization if you or anyone you know in is looking to adopt a pet in Jersey/PA area. The shelter named him Haroc but we renamed him Chowder. He has a bit of crud (kennel cough) but other than that, he's absolutely perfect and we're crazy about him! We're taking him to some obedience classes to work on leash training. He gets really excited and pulls pretty hard so he isn't much of a joy to walk. Once we polish that up, he'll be good to go!

Another exciting addition to the household is our new crock pot! I know, it's not nearly as cool as a dog but I've been wanting one for months now! We love beans and soups and stews. I also don't always have the time or energy to cook dinner so it's nice to have something that's ready and waiting for us! All I did today was chop veggies and throw in some beans that I soaked overnight. I was curious if they would cook without being boiled but I was really pleased with the results! They were big beans too so I imagine that this should work with any kind. I set it on high for eight hours and they were perfect. The instruction manual said to boil them first. but I didn't do it. The possibilities are endless with this thing so it should make for lots of blogging!

I am going to hit the sack. Chris is taking Chowder out to do his business and we'll see how well he does tonight. Other than the pulling, he hasn't displayed any undesirable behavior. He had a big day and I'm sure he's gonna sleep well! Here's hoping!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

From the New York Times...

It's an old article but I thought it was interesting. It's about the rise of salted caramel which is high on my foodie radar lately! While I was in Paris (OMG, that felt so amazing to type out!), I spent a good bit of time hunting down all things caramel! It became a small obsession! I was really bummed because one of the specialty chocolatiers that I had high up on my list was away on vacation while we were there. She carries what is said to be the best caramel in France in her shop! I definitely plan to make some this fall. I'll probably use David Lebovitz's recipe. I have absolutely no shortage of salt. I brought about three different kinds back home with be from Paris. It's going to be great....or it's going to be a disaster! We shall see!

Anyways, I'm getting back into the swing of things with posting and whatnot. We just got home from traveling for a month solid last weekend and then immediately got back into the work saddle which was rough! The chores are piling up around the house and I'm taking care of that today. Tomorrow we're trying out another place for brunch so I can add that to the ever growing pile of potential posts! I knew that the trip would inspire lots of new food writing but I am overflowing here! My brain is about to pop!