On my most recent trip into the city I was looking for a quick, reasonable and warm lunch. At first glance I did not make the connection between the Barilla pasta brand and the restaurant, but the interior accentuated the connection.
The restaurant had the same set up as a Panera Bread; order off the board, pay, sit with a number and your food is brought to you. The menu was refreshingly Italian for Italian food in America.
Seeing that I have eaten in both countries, I am painfully aware of just how Americanized all Italian food is here in the USA.
I ordered a minestrone and focaccia with mozzarella, artichoke and goat cheese, the meal also came with purple grapes. Everything was very good, it was a pleasant restaurant experience created by an international pasta company.
Learn more here and check out some food photos below.
The best meal I ate while visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina last month was at Klopa (Ferhadija 5). I loved the restaurant interior; it was very colorful and reminded me of a garden. There was an abundance of plants hanging from the wall (always a good sign), and bright furniture.
With a variety of meals available (pizza, pasta, burgers, desserts, coffee), the prices are incredibly cheap compared to Dubrovnik and U.S. restaurants. I ordered a veggie burger, American pancakes, and a Turkish coffee for less than 14KM (or $7.70). The burger was delicious, the first real veggie burger I found in Southeastern Europe. I was so overjoyed to have finally found something I could eat that reminded me of home.
Located at 40 Isham Road in West Hartford CT, right near Blue Back Square, I found the best teahouse. With one other location in China, there's a huge emphasis on tradition at The Green Teahouse. Decor reflects this, and they also accept reservations for private Chinese tea ceremonies. There's educational cards across the shop explaining the types and flavor notes of each tea, along with a multitude of teas to sample. The teahouse emphasizes the health benefits of each and does a great job of explaining caffeine content and allergen information as well. Check out some photos below and stop in soon for samples and great tea.
I recently stumbled upon the new shop on Evergreen Walk in South Windsor CT- TASTE by Spellbound. The shop features cakes, cupcakes, truffles, pastries, and cookies, among other lovely little things. Apparently, the first shop is in Avon CT, and they also sell baked goods online and ship nationwide.
The shop features hyper-femme decor and feels very magical. I tried a salted caramel chocolate chip bar, and loved it. My friend had a chocolate cupcake and demolished it in seconds, so I'm assuming it was ok.
The shop was adorable and I can't wait to stop in again soon. I loved how our treats were served on little glass dishes, and I'm a sucker for anywhere that feels like there was thought put in the ambiance- TASTE by Spellbound definitely has that vibe. Stop in for treats at either location, I'm sure you'll love it.
The Smith (55 3rd Ave, East Village) was my big dinner stop last time I was in New York City. It is located in the East Village and my friends and I all agreed that we prefer this scene to Midtown, it is much more relaxed and alternative. We made reservations on One Table, which was a great online tool for booking reservations. The interior was very warm with tiled floors, subway tiles on the walls, wood ceilings and dark metal accents. Our waitress was super sweet, and their drink menu had something for everyone. At our table along we had beer, prosecco and Knob Creek neat.
We started by sharing an entrée of ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream, and they were perfect, crispy on the outside, and light, which is a novelty with gnocchi. Normally they feel like a lead weight in your stomach, but these gnocchi with the truffle cream was amazing. My friends got the chicken pot pie, hot potato chips with blue cheese fondue and gruyere and potato flatbread. They were very content with their choices, which were all sufficiently cheesy. I got the roasted Atlantic cod with toasted almond cauliflower mousse, shiitake mushrooms, grilled scallions, and lobster yuzu broth. I found it to be very salty, but that might have been influenced by the dry Prosecco. Regardless I loved it and we all left very satisfied, and in agreement that the gnocchi was our favorite dish of the night.
Here's my review of October's edition of Fuego Box.
This month's box came with a description card detailing the sauces, their best uses, and some flavor notes to look out for. There was also a coupon code, and I'm not sure if it's multi use, but I figured I'd leave it up to you guys if you want to try it out.
I really love the descriptions, and some insight into how/where the sauces are made is great. Last month had a sauce from Red Robot, and I really liked it, so it was nice to see a familiar face.
At first glance, I like the color variety, but obviously I'm a sucker for aesthetics.
So let's get into the review! Fuego Box has yet to disappoint me, so let's just make that clear. I really like all three of these sauces. First, let's talk about the Red Robot Corn to be Wild sauce. I was really intrigued with the concept of a hot sauce made of corn, so I tried it first. I think it's one of the hottest sauces I've tried yet, but I really enjoyed the sweetness and the smooth creamy texture. This sauce is great on eggs, and I also really like dipping fresh veggies in it.
Next, the Seafire Gourmet La Diosa Verde sauce! This sauce is super cool. It's barely hot, and essentially tastes like almost pickled cilantro and jalapeños. The 'chunky' nature of the sauce is fun, and goes well with a lot. I've tried it on eggs, tacos, breakfast burritos, and avocado toast, and it goes great with everything. I want to use this in guacamole, as I feel like it would be a really cool textural element. I think this might be my favorite sauce this month, just for the versatility, and how many ways I use it.
Finally, there's the Horsetooth Smokestack Lightning. This reminded me a lot of Born to Hula from last month's box, which I absolutely adore. This one is a little more smokey and a little less meaty, but I like it too. (Sorry, Born to Hula is still my favorite) This sauce is great with eggs, avocado toast, and everything like that. A few nights ago, I ran out of Fra diavolo sauce, and so I added some red pepper flakes, and a couple dashes of this to the sauce I had, and it turned out great. It added a cool smokey element, and depth of flavor.
Overall, I still have literally nothing negative to say about Fuego Box! The boxes are a great value, with three full size sauces, that all value flavor over heat.
If you're interested in giving it a shot, Try:
1) AMIGO for 10% off your first subscription order
2) AMIGOS for $10 off your first subscription box
Simpson & Vail was kind enough to send over some samples of their new fall/winter teas and boy am I in love! The descriptions are curtsey of their site, and my favorites include the Roasted Chestnut Rooibos, the Winter Wonderland Rooibos, the Salty Caramel Pumpkin Black Tea, and the Apple Cinnamon French Toast Black Tea. But, of course, all of their blends are great, with such interesting, rich notes. All I can say is, if you're looking for a killer fall tea, you've got to try the Salty Caramel Pumpkin Black Tea! The notes of pumpkin and pumpkin spice play so so well with the salted caramel, leaving a well rounded sip, reminiscent of falling leaves,
Check out the complete list of new teas here,
and buy the Salty Caramel Pumpkin Black Tea here.
Apple Cinnamon French Toast Black Tea
Apple and cinnamon goodness with a hint of maple flavor. The aroma is pure lazy Sunday morning. Breakfast on the griddle, hot tea in your hand, your favorite book waiting to be read. The sweet apple and the heady cinnamon flavors dance on your tongue, while the rich maple taste offers the base note in this amber colored cup.
Apple Sage Black Tea
The taste of sweet apple and fragrant sage blend together wonderfully. The amber colored cup offers a depth of flavor that is warming and refreshing at the same time. This tea complements foods such as hard cheese, salads, sandwiches, fruits and more.
Edgar Allen Poe's Black Tea Blend
This dark, earthy blend evokes the damp tombs of Poe’s stories. While it is perhaps the most well known, The Cask of Amontillado is not Poe’s only story in which his fear of being buried alive becomes a major plot point. His vivid descriptions of “utter darkness among a quantity of loose earth” that “threaten[ed] to bury [him] entirely” offered a direction for our blend. It combines the earthy tones of Puerh black with the mellow smokiness of Lapsang and the slightest citrus hint of an Earl Grey. The dried beetroot turns the brewed tea a deep blood red.
Roasted Chestnut Rooibos
Usher in the holiday season with this joyous brew. If you like chestnuts roasted on an open fire you'll love this caffeine free tisane! The dry leaf has the aroma of nutty, heavenly goodness and the brewed cup explodes with this flavor followed by a light buttery taste. So curl up by a fire with this delicious cup while you read your favorite book and listen to holiday songs. We dare you to try not to sing "that" song!
When we were kids Jim came home from elementary school with some recipes his teacher had given him (perhaps for an upcoming bake sale). I'll never forget the day our Mom made a batch of Snickerdoodle cookies. They were an instant favorite in our house! The recipe was lost for awhile and we would continually ask Mom for "those lovely cinnamon cookies". You never saw four happier kids than when she found the recipe again.
Salty Caramel Pumpkin Black Tea
Fall in a cup! The aroma of caramel and pumpkin will delight your olfactory sense with the promise of a warm, tasty brew. The amber colored cup offers pumpkin on the front end with the delicious salty caramel taste at the back. These flavors are the perfect marriage in that they complement each other without competing.
Spiced Mulled Wine Black Tea
Looking for a winter concoction without the alcohol? Then, this brew is for you! The blend produces a reddish cup with a sweet fragrant aroma and taste. The tannic taste is reminiscent of red wine and it is perfectly complemented by the light spice taste and the earthy undertones.
Winter Wonderland Rooibos
"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening
I stumbled upon Bokeria accidentally while looking for dinner on my second night in Split. The restaurant’s beautiful interior and bustling diners made it seem like the perfect place to eat.
My two friends and I decided to try the Baked Brie starter plate to share. Spoiler alert: It was incredible! We found the best possible combination for all foods: start with a slice of bread, spread pistachio mayonnaise on it, add a slice of pear or peach, and then add the brie on top. This alone was enough to put me in a food coma.
Pictured below: Baked brie cheese with homemade crackers and pistachio mayonnaise (50kn).
For my main meal, I ordered the homemade dumplings, another amazing cheese-filled choice. My other friends ordered the risotto and bombolini, which were both just as good.
Pictured below, first picture, clockwise starting with the blue plate: Crispy fried bombolini with almond rosemary crust, filled with béchamel sauce & prosciutto on cream with Mediterranean herbs (55kn), Risotto with basil pesto, capers, apricot and pumpkin seeds (105kn), and Homemade “gnudi” (dumplings) filled with thyme and young cheese served on a homemade tomato and basil sauce (115kn). Second picture: Homemade “gnudi.”
We didn’t stop eating there. After looking at four dessert options, we settled on sharing a fruit cannoli and lavender cheesecake (pictured below, 30kn each).
Our total bill was over 300kn, but split between three people it wasn’t that bad. We ended up returning with another friend the following night (that’s how good it was). The wait staff was very friendly (we had the same waiter both nights, and he was very funny), the food was amazing, and we were provided with enough free bread and water to last our time there (which was over two hours on both nights).
This is easily one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten, and I suggest this restaurant to anyone traveling through Split. You can read more about Bokeria on their Instagram, Facebook, and Trip Advisor.
I'm no chef, but Blue Apron sure made me feel like one. Blue Apron was kind enough to send over a box with three meals, and I'm now essentially a 5 star chef. I mean, not really, but look at the photos- that's some serious cooking!
So by this point, you're probably wondering What's Blue Apron? I wanna be a chef, Susan! Have no fear- I got ya. Blue Apron is "the leading fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service in the United States. By delivering step-by-step recipes and seasonal, pre-portioned ingredients sourced directly from farms and suppliers, Blue Apron makes it fun and easy to cook incredible meals at home." They're not kidding. Everything arrives in a big refrigerated box. You'll begin to unpack and pull out fresh ingredient after fresh ingredient, and start to question just how easy it can be to make Pork Chops and Spicy Chow Chow, or Basque-Style Cod, or Seared Chicken and Caramelized Vegetables. Don't question it. It really is that easy.
Blue Apron provides recipe cards, with clear step-by-step directions, nice photos, if you follow them, you'll know exactly what you're doing. There was a point when my chicken was seared, my veggies were in the pan caramelizing, I had a pot of mashed potatoes, and I had tomatoes and thyme in the oven roasting, that I truly, completely believed I was on The Food Network. I was a pro. I was completely in control. I was literally and metaphorically managing multiple pots on multiple burners. It was a beautiful moment.
Below is a photo journal of my Blue Apron journey, and if the photos aren't enough, let me just tell you that they're fairly reasonably priced, pretty quick (under half an hour), and even offer wine options too. If you're still not sold, note that "We call our company Blue Apron because chefs around the world wear blue aprons when learning to cook, and the blue apron has become a symbol of lifelong learning in cooking. We encourage this lifelong learning by introducing customers to new ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques with every recipe we create." How cute is that! I'm just like those beginning chefs! Not really, but kinda!
If you're interested in checking out Blue Apron, use this link. There just might be a discount code in it for you ;)
The first recipe, and my favorite, was Basque-Style Cod with sweet pepper-tomato sauce and freekeh. It turned out great, the portions were generous, and everything was delicious. The pepper-tomato sauce was really great, the cod was fresh, and the almond garnish was very yummy. This was also my first introduction to freekeh, and it was cool to try a new grain!
The second recipe was Pork Cops and Spicy Chow Chow with a sweet potato salad. The pork chops were great, and I liked the idea of a sweet potato salad a lot. The spicy Chow Chow was delicious and I really liked how the corn and jalapeño played together.
Finally, the last recipe was Seared Chicken and Caramelized Vegetables with roasted cherry tomatoes and mashed potatoes. I also really liked this, and it felt very hearty. The mashed potatoes were great, I loved the seared chicken, and the caramelization added great flavor to everything.
Full disclosure, I'm a hot sauce newbie. I wasn't into spicy food for a long time, and recently I've been broadening my palette, and Fuego Box is honestly, truly, 100% my new favorite thing. According to their website:
Fuego Box was created by a guy who went down the hot sauce rabbit hole . It started with an early Tapatío obsession and advanced with the likes of Cholula, Crystal, and Sriracha. After that, things really got crazy... bhut jolokia and african fatalii peppers; locally harvested, hand-bottled hot sauces; and unique and delicious flavors that go with just about every kind of food.
I have a similar story. I liked Sriracha and Frank's Red Hot, but had never tried anything else. I really liked Fuego Box's attitude about finding the most flavorful sauces, rather than the the hot hot hottest. I reached out, and they were kind enough to send me out a box to try.
Here's where I get a little bit obsessive. Fair warning, folks.
Here's what the box looked like:
A+ for sick minimalist packaging with great aesthetically pleasing vibes.
I tried Born to Hula first and it is literally the best thing I've ever tasted. It's been about a week, and you can see how much is already gone. It's going to be a problem for me. Honestly. The sauce is hot, sweet, and smokey, with meaty undertones. That may sound a little off-putting, but this sauce is my new favorite food. I've been putting it on sandwiches, avocado toast, eggs, anything I can. I may or may not have been using it as a dip for chips last night. It's so great.
Next, I tried Red Robot, and of course it was another hit. I love the cilantro undertones and it tastes great on tacos. It's very fresh and feels homemade. It wasn't as incredible as Born to Hula, but I don't think anything will measure up honestly. I did really like this sauce, and will very much continue to use it. It's also great on avocado toast (I really like avocado toast ok) or tacos/burritos/anything of that nature. Some may not like the cilantro, but I really do.
Finally, the last sauce was Dragon's Blood Elixir Hot Sauce, and it was also quite good. Yup. This is a non-hot sauce person telling you that they really liked every single one. Sorry friends, I honestly don't have anything negative to say. This sauce is the hottest, I think, and it's best used sparingly. It's also really great with eggs. I think it maybe has more depth because of the inclusion of apple cider vinegar? I'm not an expert here. Again, it was quite good. Maybe my least favorite of the bunch, but still delicious.
As you can see here, an almost embarrassing amount of Born to Hula is gone. It's honestly that good, guys!
There are three subscription options available, 2 monthly options and one quarterly option. You can choose either one sauce per month, three sauces per month, or three sauces quarterly. If you're still on the fence, please try it. I was a little scared at first, but I'm so so so so glad I tried Fuego Box. If this box was any indication, they carefully pick great sauces, and it's very very worth it.
I searched around their site and scrounged up a few discount codes for you, if you're interested. Try:
1) AMIGO for 10% off your first subscription order
2) AMIGOS for $10 off your first subscription box
Fuego Box is killer.
Please broaden your horizons.
You won't regret it.