Weekend in Maine

I apologize for being so MIA since last week. I decided to take advantage of the weather and squeeze in some beach days and visit my sister in Maine. And one of the best things about southern Maine? Amazing food! We ate our way around Portland and Ocean Park and I enjoyed every bite. My biggest challenge, however, was sticking within my WW points. Usually when I travel, I give myself a “by” and don’t track but my weight has creeped up enough that I needed to get back on the wagon. I enjoyed myself but used all my extra points (all 49 plus some activity points) in order to do so. Here’s a quick look at some of the places we visited!

My first night in town, I had to go to Huot’s which is a few miles south of our beach house in Ocean Park. We have been coming to Huot’s since I was a baby (and before) and are good friends with the owners. The restaurant is in Camp Ellis and I have numerous memories of walking out on the jetty before, during and after every visit!

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Looking out into Saco Bay from the jetty in Camp Ellis

Every time I eat at Huot’s, I have to have a clam cake. I always brag to friends that you can get an amazing, crispy clam cake for only $2.00 so I was amazed to see that price had risen to $2.60! Everything is getting pricer in Maine…

The next stop was Willard Scoops in Willard Beach, South Portland. This was my first trip here but it has become one of Hannah’s favorites since she moved to Portland full time.

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Willard Scoops

Saturday was another day the beach so Hannah and I opted for lunch at the Ocean Park Deli. Our house is on the edge of town so the “downtown” is a 5 minute walk away (OP is wicked small!). The “downtown” consists of the deli, the library, one sit-down, BYOB restaurant, a gift shop, an antique shop and the Soda Fountain. We grabbed salads and sandwiches and spent another hour or two on the beach.

Hannah had to work Saturday night so I dropped her off at 2:45 before heading into Portland for a snack to hold me over until dinner. Every time I am in town, I have to go to Flatbread Pizza whether it’s to enjoy one of their organic, brick oven pizzas or just their organic salad. The Flatbread salad is something I dream about while I’m away. It consists of a bed of organic greens, shredded carrots, seaweed and sesame seeds with a housemade vinaigrette. I almost always add some blue cheese because it’s so creamy and spicy!

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My roommate, Elly, moved to Portland on Saturday for the summer and she invited me out to dinner. I figured I would go because Hannah was working and I would have some company! Her parents treated me to an unforgettable meal at 555 on Congress St. I had a house salad made with all local greens and produce and the pepper-crusted sea scallops with whipped fennel potatoes and veggies. I was able to meet her parents, her aunt, uncle and cousin.

After Elly said goodbye to her family, we headed over to South Portland to visit Hannah at work. We sat on the deck at the Saltwater Grille and had a cocktail while she finished up her shift. Check out that view!

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Once Hannah finished her shift, we dropped Elly off and headed over to Eventide for a drink and a snack (poor Hannah hadn’t eaten in hours!). I went for the Dirty, Dirty Martini made with Beefeater gin, olive brine, oyster brine and hot sauce. It was super salty and spicy and so delicious!!

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Sunday was yet another beautiful beach day so we were back in Ocean Park. Our friend Lynn (more like a sister) came up from Massachusetts for the day so it was great to catch up after almost a year. It was my last lunch in Maine so Hannah and I went to Bayley’s in Pine Point for a lobster roll. At Bayley’s you can choose if you’d like your bun toasted or not toasted and if you’d like it tossed in butter or mayo. I’m a Maine lobster roll kind of girl so I went for the mayo (but light!)- you all remember my Sunday Funday post about Red Hook Lobster Pound, right? The Bayley’s lobster roll is simple and lets the lobster meat shine through- the perfect treat on a summer day in Maine.

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Hannah had to work again, so Lynn and I went into Portland and did the mailboat cruise around Casco Bay. For all the years I’ve been going to Maine (which is my whole life), I have never been on Casco Bay. The mailboat is a 3 hour cruise that stops on 5 islands in the bay dropping off mail and people. The best part- besides being on the water, in the sun and with a great friend- is that it’s BYOB. That’s right, you can bring booze and drink on the boat! We picked up a 6-pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale and spent a glorious (but windy) 3 hours on the water!

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Here I am with Long Island behind me while we were pulling away from Cliff Island in Casco Bay

For my last meal, Hannah and I went to OTTO Pizza to grab some take out. Rain rolled in Sunday night so we decided to grab some pizza to go and settle in at her house to watch some Sunday night TV. We got one of Hannah’s favorite pizzas- sweet potato, ricotta and dried cranberries. I was hesitant at first but, OMG, it was heavenly! Creamy, sweet, tart but somehow savory. It confused my palate, which is hard to do. It was the perfect finale to a perfect weekend in Maine!

Red Rooster Harlem

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I decided to venture away from the apartment on this rainy afternoon for some comfort food. I ended up at Red Rooster Harlem which has become a favorite in recent months. This hot spot opened about two and half years ago and has played an integral role in transforming this neighborhood. Lenox is now speckled with eateries that are attracting a culturally diverse crowd.

This culinary destination in Harlem (just off of 125th on Lenox Ave) is the brainchild of star chef Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit in Midtown. While Aquavit offers a nod to his Swedish upbringing, Red Rooster connects to his southern roots resulting in a menu ranging from corn bread and yard bird to Helga’s meatballs.

Today, I opted for the Shrimp Po’boy with Old Bay potato chips and a market salad. The bun was perfectly toasted and buttered an filled with sweet shrimp dusted in a spicy rub. The potato chips, homemade no doubt, where crunchy with just a hint of Old Bay seasoning. All in all, not a bad choice for a delicious and comforting lunch on this rainy Friday afternoon.

Gwynnett St.

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For those of you who don’t know, I work at an amazing restaurant in East Williamsburg Brooklyn called Gwynnett St. A co-worker of mine from my days at Esca opened this place about a year and a half ago. I ate here many times last spring and when I was looking to do something different for work last September, Carl offered me a job. I love working here (even though its about a hour commute each way!) because the food is just so good- it makes my job as a waitress easy when the food sells itself.

I was lucky enough to go in for a tasting menu last night with Lauren. I helped her move about two months ago so she insisted on treating me to dinner. How could I refuse? Normally the tasting menu is 7 courses (and at $85 it is one of the best deals you’ll find in the city) but Chef Owen sent us out 9 courses! We were even able to try a dessert that isn’t on the menu yet! Here’s what we got!


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Our first round of cocktails:

Green Acres (L)- hendricks gin with fennel

Darling Buds (R)- ford’s gin with riesling and strega

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Stinging Nettle Soup (before the broth was poured)

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Stinging Nettle Soup- raw clam, pickled kombu seaweed, parsley root and nasturtium

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Fluke crudo with cucumber broth, marinated shaved cucumber, green almond, knotweed and fresh horseradish

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Cocoa nib pasta with braised artichoke, sunflower seed puree and charred white onion petals

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Second round of cocktails:

Mr Pink (L)- mexcal, absinthe, elderflower with a rim of pink peppercorn, salt and sugar

Flower Power (R)- pisco, aperol, rose petal, rose water and lemon

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Lauren enjoying the last bites of the cocoa nib pasta

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Lamb’s tongue with fresh fava beans, fava bean emulsion, dried fava bean cake and smoked feta

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Cashew tofu with cauliflower and turmeric puree, pickled turmeric, charred cauliflower and black garlic (this is my fav!)

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My last cocktail:

Road to Nowhere- rye whiskey, amaro and orange bitters

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Cobia with roasted celtuce, asparagus and fermented cranberry

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Beef with beef heart, broccoli raab, broccoli florets, pickled ramps and flowers

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Our first dessert (which isn’t on the menu yet)- Strawberry with elderflower meringue and lemon verbena custard

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Our final course- Carrot/cardamom cake, carrot custard, caramel sauce, milk and honey candies with milk and honey sorbet

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And to finish it all off? A montenegro on the rocks with orange to help my very full stomach!
Gwynnett St really is a hidden gem so make sure to check it out next time you’re in the city!

Maryland Blue Crabs

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Nick and I ventured back to Red Hook today for two reasons: we needed to stop at Ikea (again!) and we wanted to go back to Brooklyn Crab. When we stopped here last weekend, we were to full too order anything more than 1/2 dozen oysters. This time, we dove right in and ordered 1/2 dozen Maryland Blue Crabs.

I have only picked Maryland crabs one other time and it was back during my senior year of high school. I remember it being hard and not worth the work. Boy was I wrong! These female blue crabs were so full of delicious, sweet meat and the Cajun boil took them over the top. The accompanying coleslaw and boiled corn on the cob sealed the deal. All for just $19- delish!

I’m going to try to attempt to cook some of these down the road but, for now, the trip to Red Hook will have to do! If you find yourself making crabs at home and in need of some help on picking them (I did because I had such a vague memory of doing it 7 years ago) check out this guide by Esquire. Enjoy!

Sunday Funday Round 3: Red Hook

Nick and I had to make a trip to the Ikea in Brooklyn on Sunday so we decided to make a day out of it by wandering around Red Hook afterwards. Red Hook is a little off the beaten path mostly because it’s not directly off any subway lines so we took advantage of having a car to get there!

Our first stop post-Ikea was a restaurant called The Good Fork. A few people from Haven’s Kitchen recommended I check it out and the fact that it was only a quarter-mile from Ikea made it a no brainer. We found a parking spot right out front (score!) and wandered in. It looked a little empty but then I noticed sunshine coming from the back of the restaurant outdoor seating! The backyard was packed but we were able to grab a table for two.

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Nick ordered a bloody mary made with clam juice (pictured above) and I ordered a French 75 (gin, sparkling wine and lemon). Both were unbelievable. We had an egg white omelette for breakfast so we weren’t starving. We decided to go with the bibb lettuce salad with a soft boiled egg and lardon. It even came with a piece of crispy sourdough bread to get all the yummy goodness that is a runny egg yolk!

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We also ordered a side of their homemade kimchi that was super spicy and super delicious! It was the perfect amount of food to keep us going!

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Next we wandered towards to the water to check out the views. We stumbled upon a Fairway and a few other spots. What initially drew us that way was Sunny’s Bar. We are huge Anthony Bourdain fans and he visited Sunny’s on the last episode of No Reservations. Bourdain filmed his last episode- Brooklyn- before Sandy hit. Sunny’s, like a lot of places in that episode, was devastated by the hurricane. Sunny’s still hasn’t reopened. I was honestly shocked to see so many places in Red Hook, not only open, but thriving. I was happy we were there and able to help the local businesses a bit! Here’s a picture of me about a block from Sunny’s:

IMG_5715Our next stop was right around the corner- Brooklyn Crab. We weren’t hungry at all but we decided to stop in for a beer.

IMG_5679We sat down at the bar inside (outdoor seating was for diners only) and ordered two Peak IPAs. Nick saw oysters on the menu and couldn’t resist! Sitting there, eating oysters and drinking a beer that reminds me of being on the beach in Maine made me feel a million miles away from the city. I will definitely be visiting this place again when I am in need of some time on the water!

IMG_5681The view of the water from our bar stools

IMG_5682Beer and oysters- two of my favorite things!

Our final stops of the day were the Red Hook Winery and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. Both are located on Pier 41 just a few minutes walk from Brooklyn Crab. I have seen Red Hook wines in a few places (and where I work) so I was really excited to see that they were open for tastings. They were almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy so to see them up and running (only their 3rd weekend open since Sandy) was amazing! We bought two bottles of wine before heading to Steve’s to pick up a small key lime pie to share. Another amazing Sunday Funday!

Corner Bistro

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Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a minor obsession with How I Met Your Mother- I own the first 7 seasons and watch it daily on my train rides to and from everywhere. I’m pretty sure at this point I could quote 85% of every episode.

Well I don’t have to work today and two of my girlfriends are coming over for dinner so I decided to venture down to Chinatown to get ingredients for one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes (post coming later). As I was heading downtown, I was watching the beginning of the 4th season of HIMYM (obviously) and happened to be at one of my favorite episodes ever- “The Best Burger in New York.” This episode focuses on Marshall’s obsession over finding the burger place he deemed the best burger in NY 8 years earlier but can only remember that it was on a numbered street. A stranger over hears him talking about it and tells him it’s the Corner Bistro. It’s not (according to Marshall).

Seeing that I was on a train headed to Chinatown around 1:30pm today, I hadn’t had lunch and would pass right by this restaurant, I decided it would be stupid not to get off the subway and try the burger. I realize that my last post was about being a “flexitarian” and that it is kind of hypocritical that I went and had a burger for lunch but I just had to know! Again, my daily struggle of living in the amazing city full of food wonders, being on a budget and being a member of WW all while trying to eat locally and sustainably…

I had been to the Corner Bistro twice before but only for drinks- it is one of the only places in New York where you can get a pint of beer for $3.00 at any time of the day. Nick and I used to go the first summer we were dating back when we were still in college and poorer than poor.

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I haven’t been in a while because 1) I will pay more for a good drink (not cheap beer) and 2) I don’t eat burgers or red meat all that often. Well today I tried their cheeseburger and it was worth the trip. Not sure if it’s the best in New York but, then again, I haven’t tried too many burgers in New York.

For only $7.75 (great deal in NY but I understand that that might seem like a lot of a burger with no sides), it was an amazing burger. I put it together with thinly sliced onions, a thick slice of tomato, one leaf of lettuce and two pickles and was convinced I wouldn’t be able to take a bite because it was SO big.

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I finally got a bite and decided I couldn’t put it down out of fear that the whole thing would fall apart. It was juicy, perfectly cooked and the flavors were amazing. For anyone who has seen this episode, Marshall’s monologue at the end, when he finally finds the burger, is the perfect description!

Next time you’re in New York and wandering around the Village, stop by, sit at the bar and order the cheeseburger with a $3 pint of McSorley’s. You won’t be disappointed!

Sunday Funday in the City

I posted about my Sunday Funday last weekend in BK so I figured I would post about my Sunday Funday this past weekend. Sunday is usually the day I spend with Nick because we’re both so busy during the week (I work nights and he works Monday-Friday 9-5 and then has grad school on Saturdays). This past weekend we bounced all over the city starting with a brunch at the Breslin.

As I mentioned in my post on Sunday about my cocktail, the Breslin has become one of our favorite brunch spots. There are TONS of brunch restaurants throughout the city that offer unlimited cocktails when you buy a meal aka bottomless brunch. This, unfortunately, is not one of them but the fact that we keep going back should be a testament to how amazing the food is. The have an untraditional traditional menu. Essentially, all the brunch favorites with a delicious twist. I have had everything from the pancakes to the lamb burger to the full English breakfast. I have never been disappointed.

This time we visited with some of Nick’s colleagues to celebrate his friend Eleanor’s birthday. Here’s a peak at some of the things we ordered:

IMG_5451 The caesar salad is the best I have ever had. A chef I worked with at Eataly first told me about it and he was not lying!

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Selection of breakfast pastries- hot cross buns, croissant, cranberry/orange muffin and bran muffin

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Nick’s Full English Breakfast

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My Lamb Burger with trice cooked fries (they didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture!)

The next stop in our Sunday Funday was a place in Inwood that I have been wanting to check out. I live in Washington Heights– a place that most people outside of NYC have never heard of and a place where New Yorkers ask “Really?”. I have lived here for almost 3 years and I love it. It doesn’t have a great reputation because before 10 years ago it was extremely dangerous with one of the highest crimes rates in the city. Like most of New York, though, it is changing. I have seen the beginning of gentrification before my eyes and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Inwood is even further uptown!

La Marina has been open for years but recently switched ownership and underwent a major make over. It is a lot like the 79th Street Boat Basin but less fratty and it has better views! I read tons of reviews before visiting and I didn’t have high expectations at all. I must say, it surprised me! I was very impressed with the crowd, the views, the food and the drinks.

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Bottle of bubbly to start of the experience

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Salad with balsamic

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Calamari

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Yucca fries- we ordered seconds and had to restrain from ordering more…

The sun started to set and it started to get cold so we decided to head home. Lauren headed back to her place (she recently moved to Washington Heights because she loved it up here so much!) and Nick, his friend and I headed downtown. Nick and I follow the New York Times restaurant reviews and a few weeks ago Pete Wells reviewed a Filipino restaurant in the East Village called Jeepney. Nick visited a good friend of ours in the Philippines a year and a half ago so he has been wanting to check this place out. Although we had already eaten a TON we decided to head downtown and give it a try!

We had to wait for a table for a little while so we decided to have some drinks in the front waiting area. Nick ordered a Filipino version of a Michelada and I ordered a Filipino sangria made with cardamom!

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I let Nick do all the ordering because he was more familiar with the food. We decided to order some hot Banana Ketchup Wings and Balut to start.

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The wings were spicy and delicious and the balut was scary (ha!). Balut is essentially a hard boiled egg that is made by boiling a duck egg with a semi-developed embryo inside (usually around 17 days old). It’s a bizarre food but I had to try it. Nick ordered one for himself and I decided to steal a bite of his instead of jumping in head first and ordering my own.

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Cracking it open from the top

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About to try my first bite. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be- just not sure I would order it again!

Next up was the Bicol and Pancit Malabok Negra. I preferred the Bicol but everything was amazing! The Bicol is slow-roasted pork shoulder with coconut milk, sili (chili), bagoong sauce (Filipino fish sauce), vigan longganisa (pork sausage), pickled chili and baby bok choy.

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Pancit- rice noodles, squid ink, shrimp, hard boiled egg, calamari, oysters, scallops, baby octopus, tinapa (smoked fish), smoked tofu and chicharon

I was so full by the end but we ended up ordering a traditional Filipino dessert to finish off our day of over eating. Nick got us Halo Halo which reminded me of a traditional Vietnamese dessert we used to eat all the time called Che.

IMG_5504Shaved ice, coconut gelatin, house candied fruit, coconut milk, homemade flan, ube ice cream and rice krispies

All in all it was a great day! Maybe my next Sunday Funday will be a little healthier…

Last Dinner in Atlanta

For my last dinner in Atlanta my parents brought me to their new favorite pizza place, Ammazza, in the Old Fourth Ward. We opted to sit at the bar (which I always recommend anywhere) and started off with some drinks.

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I ordered a club soda because my stomach wasn’t feeling great, my mom got a glass of rose and my dad chose a PRB. Check out the awesome beer glass my dad got:

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We ordered a margarita pizza with Spotted Trotter sausage (same place that makes the bacon used on Revolution doughnuts) and two caprese salads. I must say- everything blew me away. The tomatoes were big and juicy, the mozzarella was soft and creamy, the crust was crunchy and the sausage was to die for.

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They cook in wood ovens and it makes all the difference in the world.

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The ambiance is industrial yet welcoming. The noise level can be high when the dining room is packed but it doesn’t even matter. The staff was wonderful- our bartender gave me a glass of wine because he poured it out by accident!

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The best part? It’s so affordable! Our entire meal plus tip was only $60. If you’re ever in Atlanta, make sure you check it out!

Last Lunch in Atlanta

My mom and I set out Friday to do some shopping. It was a rainy and cold day so we figured it was as good a time as any to be inside a mall. Our first stop, however, was for lunch at Star Provisions. I posted quickly on Friday about my cold-brewed coffee but that was just a small part of the experience. I ordered a pork belly banh mi. It was a little oily (but then again, it’s pork belly) but the flavors were perfect!

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My mom ordered a Mediterranean salad that was full of vegetables, chick peas, lentils and more.

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Star Provisions reminded me a lot of Haven’s Kitchen in that it has a cute café section as well as a retail section. They had some cute but kind of over priced kitchen gadgets!

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They also had an entire wall dedicated to candy, which made me think of my little sister, Hannah.

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All in all it was a great first stop for our day of shopping in ATL!