Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pop Lyfe

You don't have to be from New Jersey to have heard of The Pop Shop. Bobby Flay threw down here two years ago! The 50's dineresque atmosphere and the extraordinarily family friendly menu has earned it a high place atop many lists of favorite restaurants. I can always convince Molly to forge through a day of thrifting (South Jersey has a lot of great places!) if I promise to take her here. This was another family outing destination when we lived in Haddonfield. To be honest, I always had a little Collingswood envy. It's such an awesome town! Haddonfield is great but there was always a lot more going on further on up the road.

As soon as I step in the door, my diet goes out the other direction and hits the curb.

I know I'm in my 30's but that doesn't stop me from ordering a bubble gum shake we are (finally) seated. You can go here at 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon and there will be people here. There isn't always a wait but it's always busy.

We went last Sunday afternoon for a family reunion celebration. Molly and I landed in Philadelphia after spending almost two weeks in Georgia. She came back to me at the beginning of the month from visiting her dad for six weeks. Since it was our first outing as a family in almost two months, we had to make it special.

Milkshakes for everyone!!!!

They have an entirely separate menu for ice cream based bliss. Sundaes, shakes, sodas.... Chris got a peanut butter and chocolate shake and Molly went with her usual vanilla.

As far as the eats are concerned, the Pop Shop has you covered. Didn't get up until 2 in the afternoon? They serve breakfast all day! There's a wide selection of egg dishes and a variety of pancakes (bettys). Feel like a grilled cheese? They have right around 50 different makes and models. Veg like me? No sweat! They have veggie dogs and burgers, vegan pancakes and even vegan cheese. They have a section of the menu dedicated to all of their veg*n specialties. I sometimes go with either the dogs with kraut and mustard but a word of caution: the mustard is atomic! Get it on the side! They have homemade ketchup too! Another favorite of mine is the tofu wings!

It's listed under appetizers but I order it as a meal with some fries. It's difficult not to suck down my shake immediately but it always pays off to save it to go with my meal. There's nothing better than the salty/sweet combo!

With the massive menu full of choices at the Pop Shop, you can come up with your own favorite salty/sweet combination.

Hmmmm....maybe I could throw down at the Pop Shop with my fried green tomato grilled cheese sammich....

The Pop Shop
729 Haddon Ave
Collingswood, NJ 08108

Friday, August 20, 2010

Factory Girl

When we lived in South Jersey and decided it would be a good night to step out for some dinner, it was never difficult to convince the family to go to the Mexican Food Factory. Actually, it was Chris who would suggest it first with Molly and I quickly falling in line and rushing out the door.

I know, I know...lame name but believe me, it's EXCELLENT!

Not only is there a feast for the stomach, there is also a feast for the eyes. The restaurant has a lovely ambiance that is decked out in Frida Kahlo and Deigo Rivera.

You can't trip and fall up here in New Jersey without going face first into great Italian food. There's a slew of ethnic eats that aren't easy to come by in the South but great Mexican restaurants are few and far between. There is one great place here in Princeton that I hope to get back to for the blog but if I had the choice between that and this one, I'd go with Mexican Food Factory any day. This isn't just a burrito place....the food here is fresh, festive and authentic. I haven't had a single item off of the menu that was less than a solid 10.

They start you off by bringing out some chips with three different styles of salsa with varying levels of heat. The verde is my absolute favorite and it's the midgrade. The chunky pico de gallo brings maximum spice. The salsa is not complementary but it's very reasonably priced and definitely worth the splurge.

No matter what I order on the menu, I always make room for one very important thing.

Black. Bean. Soup.

It's the best of the best. I dream of this soup and I'd give anything to be able to replicate it . It's dark and rich with a small bed of rice at the bottom. It's the main reason I come here but even if it didn't exist, there are many other reasons that we'd still make the trek down from time to time. It's always worth it. This is one of the true gems that I have to offer you on this blog if you live in New Jersey.

The Mexican Food Factory
601 W. Route 70
Marlton, New Jersey 08053

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This One Goes Out to the One I Left Behind

If you've never been to The Grit, you've never truly been to Athens, GA. It's not only one of the most famous vegetarian restaurants in the country, it's a rock n' roll landmark. Athens has a hopping music scene with some fantastic local history. If one of your favorite musicians comes to town to jam out at the 40 Watt or the Georgia Theatre (before it burned down), your best chance at a sighting is to stake out The Grit. All of them eat here.

There's a good reason they come to The's delicious! I've brought two skeptical omni friends here who left with full bellies and smiling faces. The atmosphere is adorable, there's excellent people watching and the menu is full of great choices. They have everything from breakfast, sammiches, various ethnic specialties and a rotating selection of southern style veggies and sides along with side splitting desserts.

I know this picture doesn't make it appear so but it's a hopping place! It isn't very often that I'm able to go to a restaurant and order ANYTHING on the menu so I always relish the experience. Being able to order a rueben is an exceptional treat!

There are many variations of the vegetarian rueben. Tempeh, seitan... The Grit throws it down with tofu and it is so good that it's almost scary. They slice it in small thin pieces and season it just right. The first time I brought an omni here, he had the rueben and was blown away. In the background is the Baby Dal. My sister Allison was with me and threw me a curve ball by ordering this! She likes the curry my mom makes at home which is of the Golden variety. Indian curry is quite different from this and she isn't a very adventurous eater so I was impressed. She took a bite from the small bowl and said it tasted bland. "Bland" is the exact opposite of how I'd describe a proper dal so I took and bite and, sure enough, I was underwhelmed. What could have gone wrong? We were a bit thrown by the 'dressing' that came with her meal which is pictured right in the middle of the table. I told her to try mixing it in and that was the kicker. It completely transformed the experience. The flavors were distinctly Indian and had a pleasant level of spice. There are a lot of great Indian places where I live but none of them have sauces that you stir in to activate the curry. This was new and thought provoking.

We split a slice of turtle pie which was basically pecan pie with chocolate chips. It didn't photograph well but it tasted awesome. If you don't have the reason or the means to make it down to the Liverpool of the south, The Grit does have an awesome cookbook available to order. I've had a copy for years and it's a great addition to any collection. The book is a treasure trove of Grit goodness that is busting with rock star testimonials. You can jam out any of these recipes and earn some rave reviews of your own.

I'm already looking forward to headin' down the Atlanta Highway again this winter for a repeat performance. It's a little ol' place where we can go together.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FGT + Grits = :-)

My sister, Allison

I recently returned home after spending almost two weeks in Winder, Georgia visiting family and friends. Winder is about 45 minutes northeast of Atlanta and 15 minutes from Athens which is the home of the University of Georgia (and R.E.M.,The B-52's and one of my husband's favorites: Of Montreal). I usually am busting to get over to Athens because several of my favorite places to eat are there. Winder isn't quite as fun or hip. Every time I visit, I see a new restaurant but when I return, it has usually closed down. Unless you're an already established name that people know, it's just about impossible to do good business there. Well known chains manage to flourish. When I lived there, a Sonic came to town and had the most successful opening in the history of the restaurant. There was actually a truck full of cargo in the back that was being cooled by a generator because they kept running out of food. It was the place to be that weekend....I know because I was there! Meanwhile, the coffee shop I was working for at the time went out of business a few months after it opened up.

Not too long before I moved to New Jersey, a restaurant called FATZ Cafe opened near the local Wal-Mart. It makes sense to want to be in a spot with lots of traffic so that was a good move because the Winder Wallyworld is hoppin'. I'd never heard of Fatz before but they evidently have quite a few other locations in the southeast. I was sure they wouldn't last long and I'm glad I was wrong. Why? Because I can get fried green tomatoes on top of cheesy grits.

And while I'm waiting for them to fry those bad boys up, they will bring me some (free!) poppy seed donut thingies that I can dip in cinnamon honey butter.

When I'm done with my meal, I usually have a FGT or two leftover. They will gladly bring me a box and when I'm hungry later on in the evening I can heat them up and eat them OR....

...I can make a grilled cheese sammich with a dang 'ol fried green tomato in it. I tell you what man! You talkin' 'bout GOOD!

I'd say that's definitely a recipe for success!

Fatz Cafe
442 Atlanta Highway NW
Winder, GA

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breakfast at Pamela's

Our hotel in Pittsburgh had fancy and overpriced breakfast items available for delivery to our room and I'll admit, breakfast in bed was tempting! However, we decided to venture out and see what the city had to offer up. My friends Eric and Mandi had been to the 'Burgh a week before us and raved about the amazing hotcakes at Pamela's so I couldn't pass that up! This chick is a serious Pittsburgh player. Her awesome diner has several locations (and a major following!) and she is also a partner in the Peruvian restaurant from the previous post.

The crowd outside the Strip District location was large but they got us seated in about 15 minutes. It was a difficult decision deciding what to go with but I came for hotcakes. I knew I'd want something salty along with it so I ordered a side of their "almost famous" Lyonnaise potatoes. They may not look like much in the picture but there was definitely something about them that nailed my craving. The hotcakes were a masterpiece. Thin and succulent on the inside with a crispy frame. Chris ordered his stuffed with banana and chocolate. I tried my best but I barely made it through half of mine before I had to throw in the towel.

I don't know if I'll ever have another hotcake that comes close to this! It was tempting to go back to Pamela's the following morning but we were lured to another place in the Strip District by the promise of donuts.

The rise of artisan sweets is one of the most triumphant things about being alive right now. Ice cream, cupcakes, breads.....and mmmmmmmmmmmmm donuts!

Peace, Love and Little Donuts puts just about ever other place to shame. The hot donut sign is always on here! Since it was our first time, we each got a free sample. They gave us a choice of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Chris went with the first, I went with the latter. It was hot, fresh and good good good! I tried to convince him to go with a full dozen but he decided to be sensible and get a half. We each picked three and they were not easy choices! I think we did okay though....

The sea salt one was my favorite. The vanilla sprinkle was also delish. Yes, that is maple bacon in the back. The only thing that could make it better was coffee so we went next door and made it happen.

21st Street Coffee and Tea specializes in just that. To watch them lovingly grind and press each cup to order with their sexy chic toys and such, you'd swear that these people must have a PhD in hot beverages. I ordered a decaf/skim cappuccino and it was masterfully prepared to the point where each sip had my eyes rolling into the back of my head with pleasure. It was just the thing to send a freshly made donut over the top and off the hook. I know I'll never have another cup of coffee as good as that one.

My belly is begging me to go back to Pittsburgh.

21st Street Coffee & Tea
50 21st Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Pamela's P&G
60 21st Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Peace, Love and Little Donuts
2018 Smallman St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Friday, August 13, 2010

Around the World in Pittsburgh

I slipped a little bit last month but things have been busy (which is good!) and I've got lots of stuff to share (which must be why my waist has expanded).

My guy and I decided to try to salvage the time we had together this summer before Molly came back and do something fun and romantic! He knew I'd always wanted to see the Andy Warhol Museum so he proposed a trip to Pittsburgh. I was excited to plan the trip and we ended up saving a bundle on a nice hotel via Hotwire. I've heard you can do well with airfare as well but we've yet to try that option. It felt like an adventure not knowing where we'd end up but we scored a room at the Omni William Penn and I'd been drooling over that place so I was thrilled! The room had a pitiful view but the location was great! Downtown Pittsburgh is lovely and quite clean! The people were nice and there was a vast selection of things to see. We walked to and from the museum on Saturday from our hotel which was lovely. We stopped at the Pittsburgh Popcorn Co and got a small bag of buffalo and ranch flavored goodness. We sampled a few other interesting popcorn flavors. The guy behind the counter said that the Chicago blend is very popular. It's a mixture of cheddar and caramel corn. I was skeptical but the sample was delightful! We crossed the Andy Warhol Bridge to and from the museum and then decided to hunt down some dinner. Our hotel had a great issue of a local magazine that had a cover story on cheap ethnic eats! Chris and I had a good time deciding which places to try. We went Vietnamese and Peruvian. We saw several of the other places in the article while we were exploring the city and we already can't wait to plan another trip back so we can try some tacos made with fresh shells and ingredients.

Our first evening in the city, we thought the write up on lemongrass tofu sounded too good to pass up in the magazine so we headed up to the Lawrenceville neighborhood and went to Tram's Kitchen.

Very tucked away but also quite worth the hunt! The menu had a great selection of Vietnamese fare and was so vegetarian friendly! Almost anything on the menu was fair game. Chris and I split an order of lemongrass tofu and rice (delicious!) and we each got a bowl of serious soup! I went with the satay which was full of flavor without being overrun by spice.

It's not very big but the service is excellent and the food was very satisfying. If you do decide to check it out, please note that it is a cash only establishment.

The following night took our palates across the city and across the globe to La Feria in Shadyside. This is a much more upscale neighborhood with everything from an Apple Store to Lilly Pulitzer. You can get your shop on and then relax over a comforting dinner of Peruvian rice and beans that will allow your wallet to recover. While you're waiting for your food, you can check out the lovely selection of handcrafted items that they have for sale. They have a daily special everyday that features some sort of a combination of rice, beans and grains served along with garlic rice, French bread and salad. On weekends, they have two each of vegetarian and meaty cassaroles. I went with the tacu tacu which was black beans and rice topped with some fried banana.

The combination of flavors from the casserole mixed with the banana was wicked awesome. The salad was nicely dressed but I could have done without the powdered parm. Chris really loved my dish. He said it was the best thing he had the whole time we were there. He was thrown off by the whole banana thing but they were draped over the top and could have easily been removed (and given to me!).

We really enjoyed exploring the city and expanding our world cuisine experiences. Dinner for two at both places averaged about $25. We decided to drop a little extra at La Faria for dessert...

Housemade pastry with dulce de leche. Totally awesome!

Pittsburgh was bursting with city pride and ethnic goodness. The Strip District is loaded with various markets and grocers from all over the world including the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.

We topped off both nights that we were there with a little visit to The Church Brew Works.

It's a century old church in Lawrenceville that has been renovated on the inside and transformed into a brewery!

They have a great selection of different brews. We went with the sampler the first night we were there and for $16, we were able to taste a 3 oz. glass of every different beer they had on tap (eight in all). We had an early dinner on Saturday so by the time we arrived later at the Church, we were in the mood for a snack. We went with the traditional perogies and they were insanely good! Probably the best perogies I've ever had actually!

The next Pittsburgh blog will focus on the most important meal of the day! We started off each morning with even more local awesome!

La Feria
5527 Walnut St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Tram's Kitchen
4050 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Friday, July 23, 2010


I had fun taking pictures at the farm. There are so many interesting things there. My biggest task of each day was the eggs. Silver Forge has 100+ little ladies who poke about in the coop. It was a nice experience being able to tap into their collective needs and to even help a few of them out individually. They were definitely wary of me but after a few days, we got used to each other. It takes focus, balance and patience to go in and collect eggs without upsetting them too much.

These brown ones down below were the most pleasant to interact with. They weren't as skiddish or paranoid. Chris said the white ones had crazy eyes.

I'd say there was around 4 dozen on average per day. I didn't lose very many to breakage. Any of them that didn't look pretty enough to sell were the ones we set aside for breakfast in the mornings. We both felt good about being able to enjoy the full circle experience of collecting, cleaning, eating and recycling the eggs.

I always enjoyed egg hunts as a kid! I quickly figured out where the hot spots were and I thought it was funny how many of them went up on top of the big water container to lay.

They really enjoy burrowing. There were holes all over where the girls rolled around in the dirt and just nestled. I felt really bad for the factory farm chickens who don't have the opportunity to do things like this. These ladies were very happy. They have a good life here.

This one let me pet her. She was so soft. I collected the eggs in a wire basket and then brought them inside to wash. I had a reasonably effective system figured out as the week went on. From Sunday to Thursday, I'd say I probably collected and crated 13 or 14 dozen eggs. I washed about another 3 dozen the last day. I don't know if the normally produce more than that. The weather can often be a factor in how comfortable they feel so the heat may have impaired them a bit. We tried our best to keep their water barrel filled and the definitely consumed a good amount.

Some of the eggs were HUGE. I couldn't help but to feel sorry for those poor girls! We ate the freakishly large ones too simply because they didn't fit well in the crates. The tall one in the back right had two yolks!

Farm fresh eggs are definitely a labor of love. Shannon and Eliezer charge $5 a dozen for them at the market. Some people give them grief because they're used to paying a dollar a dozen at the supermarket. What they don't realize is that they are far from fresh and full of hormones and antibiotics. These eggs are not mass produced. They sell out of them almost every week. At most, they are 5 days old. The care, upkeep and labor that goes into each set of 12 completely justifies the cost. I consider it a bargain! We generally get two to three meals out of each dozen which is cheaper than a fast food breakfast sandwich.

The Silver family returned from Cape Cod last night and so we left earlier that evening after the eggs were washed. Chowder and Ripley said their goodbyes and we were on our way back to the condo. I found myself missing the animals today. We'll have a lot of fun stories to exchange tomorrow at the West Windsor Farmers Market.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To Catch a Pig

For the past few days, we've been farmsitting for our Silver Forge friends. It's definitely been an adventure. Chris and I have been enjoying our time there and have bonded over the various chores and tasks. It's almost like a mini vacation of our own except for the fact that we spend a lot of time at this house already when we visit Shannon and Eliezer. The dynamic is definitely different though. No kids and minus one dog. Since, as I mentioned before, we do spend a lot of time there, I'm comfortable and familiar with the place which is nice. I joked with Chris that this is almost like camp! I had a customer at the bookstore where I work who was looking for things to send to her son. He was at a sleep away summer program where he was helping out at a farm. I've looked at various summer activities and they're hundreds of dollars so Shannon and Eliezer really missed the boat on that one ;-).

We have a detailed list as to who gets what when it comes to feeding the animals. Most of it isn't very complicated. The sheep get hay and the chickens get feed. They're simple minded creatures that don't ask many questions.

Then we have Lola the pig. If anyone was going to give us any issues, we knew it was going to be her. She's a smart cookie and speaking of cookies, she's a hungry girl! The minute we're outside to take care of the list of tasks, she begins oinking impatiently.

Chris makes sure to give her plenty of water in her bowl plus an additional surplus so that she has some mud to keep cool. He has a soft spot for pigs and even adjusts the hose so that it gently sprays her with a cool mist. She seems to enjoy this.

Lola's meal is always the most interesting. The first night we were there, we didn't have any scraps so she got dog food. I made it a point to save up our leftover food plus I raided our fridge back at home for anything that looked like it wouldn't get used before it expired. She has a feast fit for a queen the following night.

Last night was similar. She had everything from a stale english muffin to some stuff that had been laying around in my fridge that I knew we were never going to eat. After we fed and watered her, we finished up with the rest of our chores and went into the house. As the sun was setting, I remembered that I was supposed to check the mail so I went back outside. The sky was a vibrant pink, the crickets were chirping, the fireflies were slowly blinking. I noticed the chickens were retiring for the night up in their little houses. I didn't see Lola in her pen so I assumed she was also winding down in her little hut. I retrieved the mail and made my way back to the house. I walked past a the huge line of bushes and I heard a rustling sound. I figured it was one of the cats or a stray chicken or quite possibly something else I wouldn't want to deal with like a raccoon. All of those theories were dispelled when the bush started oinking at me.

I remember back in the 90's when Jerry Springer's show was a big cultural event. The angry couple would be sitting on stage bickering over the husband's affair with his wife's "best friend". They would bring the other woman out and, right on que, the wife would attack her and the two women would start scrapping. I don't watch much T.V. anymore but I continue to hear of people complaining that all of these "reality" shows seem so scripted. That's what I felt like when I realized that Lola had escaped from her pin. It was timed so perfectly that it almost seemed like a joke. If I'd checked the mail any other time of day, we would have never known she was out. This pig even has a record. She's escaped and wandered off in the night before and the cops have come to the house to let Shannon and Eliezer know to go and get her. I suppose that also would have made for a good story had it gone down that way again last night.

I'd just made a wild blueberry tart from Trader Joe's so I cut a piece and threw it into a bowl along with some bananas. It looked awfully good to me and I hoped that Lola would find it equally enticing.

Luckily for us, she was all about that pie! We easily lured her back to her pen. Getting her to go back inside took a bit longer but eventually she decided that dessert was too good to resist. Chris realized her electric barrier wasn't working so we had to call Eliezer. He told us where we could find a replacement battery so we hooked it up and hoped for an uneventful night.

The roofers knocked on the door at 7:30 this morning. We'd been expecting them to come some time this week. I was just thankful that it wasn't the cops. When we left for work this morning, Lola was still in her pen. I don't know what we'll end up feeding her tonight but I suppose we'd better make it good! I do have some leftover tart that was supposed to be for me last night but while I was pig wrangling, a certain St. Bernard decided to help herself. Needless to say, it went quickly. Lola will enjoy what Ripley left behind today.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Falafel and Dogs

If the title of that post doesn't lure you in with smiles on your faces, then I hate to break this to you but you might not be my target audience ;-) I kid, I kid. But really, what more could you want?

Last week I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take the train up to NYC with some friends to catch Next to Normal. It's an excellent cast preforming a Pulitzer award winning play. Again, what more could you want? Throw in some falafel and I was in Heaven! We got to the City kind of late and didn't have long until our show started. One of the friends that I was with, Andrew, said he had a good idea for dinner since we were pressed for time. He knew of this vegetarian take out place with a "funky salad bar". Since he knew I was all about that stuff, he suggested we drop in and grab some take out.

He ended up taking me to Maoz which was right on the way to Times Square from Penn Station. It would not have been more convenient...or good! I've been in a bit of a falafel depression since we got back from our amazing experience in Paris. I hate to sound like one of those people but the bar was set so darn high that I was having a difficult time finding a decent falafel that satisfied the itch back home. I've been to several places in Princeton and nothing has really done it for me (otherwise I would have written about it!). I have a fever and the cure is Maoz.

Back in the early 90's, Maoz opened in the Netherlands. Their mission is a quick, quality meal and they definitely deliver. About eight years ago, the first U.S. location opened in Philadelphia. There are five in New York City and, as I was glad to know, we also have one in New Brunswick. I'd heard about it before from a friend and we even passed it back earlier this year when Chris took me to see Porgy and Bess. The colors and set up are fresh and eye catching so it was hard to miss. When Andrew suggested it, I was excited to finally have the chance to check it out.

They have several different combo options that range from a full on falafel sammich with fries and juice to a salad or just some of their Belgian fries and a juice. You have your choice of fresh iced tea, lemonade or some incredible orange juice that is pressed to order. You have to pay a dollar more for it but trust me, it's totally worth it. You can also upgrade to sweet potato fries. Both fry options are great but if you like your sweet potatoes, these are killer.

Another shining star at Maoz is their salad bar. If you buy a falafel sandwich, you can hit the salad bar and load up with toppings. They have incredible options such a red cabbage, fresh sauces, seasoned couscous and, my favorite, pickled baby eggplants.

I couldn't stop thinking these little guys! I am sure Chris was sick of hearing me rant and rave about Maoz so when I suggested it on Sunday, he agreed to make a detour to New Brunswick on our way out to Silver Forge Farm. I was thrilled! It was everything I remembered it to be and I was glad to see that he enjoyed it as well. For the both of us to get our sandwiches, orange juice upgrades and fries of our choice cost us a little less than $20. The food was fresh and absolutely delicious. I'll tell you what, this particular stretch of George Street in downtown New Brunswick is a force to be reckoned with! Makedas, Chipotle, Maoz and a bunch of other great places are all within a few blocks of eachother. TKO!

We had to hurry over to Manalapan afterwards. We agreed to farm sit for our friends Shannon and Eliezer so we got here ASAP yesterday evening to dispense some dinner to the masses. We had a long list of animals waiting to be fed so we went down the line and tossed some hay to the sheep, feed to the chickens, scraps for the pig and such.... More on that as the week unfolds.

My dog Chowder and his girlfriend Ripley.

Our main charge while we are here is Ripley. Silver Forge lost an important member of the family earlier this month when their golden retriever, Harrison, died of cancer. He went peacefully in his sleep and he's definitely missed around here. Ripley, their St. Bernard, has been especially sad so they were worried about her emotional state if they left her alone while they went on their family trip to Cape Cod. We were excited to step up to the plate when they asked us to spend the next few days here at their farm with her. She has a bad leg so it wouldn't have been possible for her to come to our place and have to go up and down the stairs a lot. Plus, our place is a bit small for such a big girl! Chowder has been keeping after her and making sure she isn't too lonely. As the time has passed, she's grown more accustomed to having us here with her which has been nice. The two of them go in the back yard while we feed the rest of the Silver Forge crew.

They're already close but they were both a bit shaken up at first. Ripley with her family leaving and Chowder with being away from home for the next few days. Today, they've both been better. They seem to be reasonably considerate of one another which has been nice to see. It's definitely been an adjustment not having Harrison around. His dog buddies miss him. Chris and I do as well.

Rest in peace, Harri.

Maoz Vegetarian

385 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ

Times Square
558 7th Ave
at 40th St
New York City

248 South Street
1115 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Burrito Hall of Fame

To quote my previous post:

When I think of good food in Huntsville, two places come to mind.

We covered G's Country Kitchen but it would be a sin to exclude Bandito Burrito.

I was going to say "the one and only Bandito Burrito" but there are actually three locations. A few others have come and gone over time. There was even a brief period where they served breakfast which was epic! When I lived in Huntsville, I ate at the one on Governors Drive which is still there. When I visit my hometown, I usually crash with my friend who lives in Madison, so we go to the one up the way from his place. It's bigger and has a nice bar area plus outside seating. If the train goes by during your meal, you get a dollar off of your drink of choice. FYI: They have killer frozen strawberry margaritas here!

They always bring out chips and yummy salsa along with your drink order. The queso dip was a favorite at one point but that's when I was young and reckless. If you're feeling daring, order the queso and then double dip into the salsa as well. I regret not doing that the last time I was there. It's probably for the best. As it stands, I was barely able to fit into my plane seat back to New Jersey.

Their menu has expanded over the years. I've I'm sure there's lots of great stuff that they've added but ever since I first set foot into Bandito, I've always ordered the same thing...

Two bean burritos with a 2 oz side of sour cream. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved this more than any other thing on the planet. I was a sour cream fanatic. Over time, I have always been able to rely on this meal to taste exactly the same as it always has. It irritates me when places change up something that was already good to begin with! You can also make it a meal with just one burrito and sides. Their beans and rice are solid so you'll leave happy. If that doesn't do it for you, the fact that you can drink a sweet tea the size of your head should hopefully work!

It's a great place to go with friends (which is usually the case for me) and the prices are still very reasonable. No matter where you are in the Huntsville/Madison area, you're no more than 15 minutes from a Bandito Burrito. They should include this information on the sign that welcomes you to Madison County.

Bandito Burrito

208 Main St
Madison, AL

3017 Governors Dr
Huntsville, AL

11220 Memorial Pkwy SW
Huntsville, AL

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sweet Home Alabama

It was a bit quite out here in the blog front this past week. I wasn't even on Facebook all that much which really says something! I was home visiting friends and family in Alabama. The week was nonstop action so I just didn't have much internet time. I already have a backlog of blog posts and so I'd better get rolling.

This post is a must. When I think of good food in Huntsville, two places come to mind. This is one of them. It's a total hole in the wall that you would never hear about through anything other than word of mouth. Cracker Barrel it is not. This is the real deal.

This is soul food.

G's Country Kitchen

I was lucky enough to have a friend who brought me here back in the day when I used to live in 5 Points. I grew up with food like this but a new standard was set that day. I was a frequent customer after that. I ate here when I was pregnant with Molly and can remember bringing her when she was a tiny baby. I moved away from Huntsville a year after she was born and a long time passed before I was finally able to come back. A few years ago, I convinced a friend to come and eat lunch and I was thrilled that G's was still alive and kicking! It still looks and feels exactly how I remember it and it's one of those few places where I am able to attain a true sense of self. Where I am, where I've been and where I came from.

After you've had a seat and a moment to take in this humble establishment, you might notice the sign resides over the kitchen window: This is not fast food. It's a true statement. It's slowly cooked and seasoned and if you want something fried, it's cooked to order. Do yourself a favor, forget the scale. You can't go to G's and not have something that has been fried!

Many southern food establishments have a rotating menu of meats and veggies. G's has specials but their list of sides is set. There's nothing worse than looking at a menu on Wednesday and seeing that greens and fried okra are on the menu for Friday.

As you can see, I went with the fried green tomatoes. Speaking of greens, this is one of the few places I know that offers both collards and turnip greens everyday. I could not pick one for the life of me so they gave me both! I've always gone with the black eyed peas so I can get down to business...

Every plate is served with a slice of onion and tomato.

After every meal, I am usually way too stuffed to even think of dessert. Don't make that mistake here. This is the reason why to-go containers were invented. The desserts here are a religious experience that will have you saying Oh my GOD! after every bite!

The banana pudding and red velvet cake are the top players. I don't know if I want to take responsibility for picking a favorite because you really should have both. I did. I went here TWICE while I was home and had pudding one day and cake the next. If you're lucky, you might have a choice. The first day, it was made for me because the cake was sold out for the day. The reason being that this is the best red velvet cake on the planet. This stuff will make the pleasure center of your brain sing! I took a piece back home to New Jersey for Chris and it had to go through airport security. If it had tested positive for drugs, I don't think I would have been shocked. The withdrawl that I'm feeling right now is making me itchy!

Don't bother to lick the screen. I already tried that and it doesn't work.

G's Country Kitchen
2501 Oakwood Avenue
Huntsville, AL