Monday, December 15, 2014

Nomad

My sister and I needed somewhere good and interesting to eat near the Eastville Comedy Club, and we lucked out choosing Nomad, a North African restaurant with a fun menu, great good, delightful decor and feel, not too fancy, but nice. And it was easy to get a table for two at 8pm on a Thursday. 


Duck Pastilla a L'Orange: Oven-baked thin layers of filo pastry with walnuts and a side of fennel salad ($9): An amazing dish with so different and delicious flavors.

Lamb tagine: braised lamb with prunes, caramelized onions and almonds served with couscous ($21): so good

Merguez sandwich served on home made bread with chakchouka side of French fries and salad ($15): really good
Fries: good
Harissa aioli: good


Nomad on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 12, 2014

Schmackary's

This is one of the many kinds of things that makes New York City awesome, a dedicated cookie shop. Think about it. Where do you go in your city when you just need a great cookie? How about at 11pm? You can get these truly excellent cookies from 8am until midnight.

An americano and a Shnickerdoodle cookie. That's what I call breakfast. Just tell them to go easy on the water. Everyone always over waters americanos. The Shnickerdoodle: crispy outter ring, perfectly gooey center, excellent flavors, an amazing cookie.
Ristretto espresso and a chocolate croissant. It was good, made there and drizzled with honey, but not so good that you shouldn't just have a cookie (or perhaps one of their "sinful" cinnamon rolls) for breakfast.


Fluffer Nutter Nookie: yes.

Classic chocolate chip with sea salt: seriously one of the best cookies I've ever had. A rival to Canto 6's chocolate sea salt cookie.

The Monster: not as good as the others




Only issue? No restrooms, even for customers, which is always a little rough for a place that serves espresso.


Schmackary's on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 8, 2014

McKay's Public House - Bar Harbor, Maine

McKay's Public House is probably the best restaurant in Bar Harbor.

If you lived in Bar Harbor, you'd be friends with the owner. I've never met a nicer, more accommodating guy. He's clearly a great guy who's beloved by all. It's to the point where if he turned out to be a serial killer, you'd be like, "Ohhh, I was afraid he was too charming."

You'd want him to get away with it. He's just the right level of handsome for it, you know what I'm talking about?

He wanted to give us champagne because we'd just gotten married a couple of weeks ago, but we asked if we could have beer instead. 

Duck wonton: quite good


Fried green tomatoes with balsamic glaze and cilantro cream sauce: so good, perfectly cooked, good cream sauce 


Burger with caramelized onions, jalapeƱos, beer cheese: Perfectly cooked. Just add a little salt. Beer cheese and jalapeƱos was definitely the way to go.
Fries: thin but not too greasy
Sriracha aioli: very nice, good spicy level


Guinness and chocolate cheesecake: yup


Beer flights for $7.50!
Look at this awesome local beer list including a cask!


Outdoor garden patio with lights and heaters, and a half outside patio, and a beautiful inside. See their restroom signs on my World Toilet Signs blog.

McKays Public House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Xiao Bao Biscuit  - An affordable, casual restaurant with a fun menu where everything is super delicious.


Okomomoyaki - a Japanese cabbage pancake: With fried egg (they were out of pork candy): Fuck. Charred flavor. Fuck, flavor oh oh oh.


Egg rolls with duck leg confit, fois gras mousse, cilantro, and fermented ginger sauce - Oh just the best egg roll I've ever had. Best foie gras use too. Fuck.



Banh He - Chive & coconut crepe, bean sprouts, herbs, nuoc cham dipping sauce: oh my god, flavors 



Beers from South Carolina (including a gose, which is the second time I've seen that style in a week, the first time being at a wonderful restaurant in Virginiaand it wouldn't be the last. Apparently that's trending. I finally had one and am not a fan.), from Laos, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Colorado, Thailand, Idaho and California, plus Mexican coke, a coconut milk drink and a housemade Vietnamese lemonade 

Sit inside or out on this adorable patio. Either way, the whole place is super cute and fun and casual.
Xiao Bao Biscuit on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Great Southern

Great Southern was a recommendation from our wonderful waitress at Pompano Joe's. And what a recommendation. Goodness gracious this place was perfect. It's in this seemingly secret area with food trucks, little shops and a tone of cute restaurants, almost like you're not in Florida but a cool place. And then there's the gorgeous beach. Apparently it's where The Truman Show was filmed, that's how idyllic this place is. Urban planning for the win.

Food-wise, the breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks menus are all fun and interesting, with lots of twists on Southern classics. I didn't even bother taking notes because everything was just so freaking good. It seems to be one of those places where you can just order anything and rest assured it will be delicious.

Duck Calls $9.5 - Duck confit, poblano, onions, peppers, tomato, crisp wrapper—with Billy's spicy mustard and pepper jelly


Soul Rolls $9.5 - Chicken, collard greens, crisp wrapper, peach chutney, and Creole mustard-horseradish

Crab cakes with fried green tomatoes $15

Grits and grillades (gree-yahds) $14 - "A Southern classic—slow-roasted beef in a natural rich wine broth, laden with vegetables, on a bed of Gouda cheese grits"


Peach Mojito

Puppies get cool water in this wonderful little area.

The Great Southern Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pompano Joe's

At Pompano Joe's they have a happy hour from 3-5pm: $1.25 drafts, $7 pitchers 
Live music every night
We had the best waitress I've ever had in my life. She gave us recommendations for the city and for dinner that were incredible. And after we told her two of us had just gotten married, she brought out three slices of key lime pie for us for free. And she was just the nicest, most down-to-earth, infectiously joie-de-vivre-ish chick ever.




The house pale ale was nice.

Nachos with actual nacho cheese! Yes! And good salsa!



Reggae Rolls: Yessss!!!! The dough was amazing, everything at the restaurant, including every sauce, is all homemade. Delicious. Awesome chutney and salsa.

Grouper with lobster tail: great
Fries: 8/10

Basil cream sauce: yes 
Crawfish sauce: oh yes
Hush puppies: awesome



Taste of the islands ($13.99)
Coconut shrimp: really good
Seafood gumbo: sure, uh whatever 
Voodoo sauce: BBQ saucey but maybe mixed with that marmalade in a blender


We had to try their Grouper Reuben, an interesting combo, but ultimately not as good as a simple grouper sandwich 



Twice baked potato: quite good
Seafood sampler: good


Key lime pie: really good, perfect sweet-tart balance and crust

Pompano Joe's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Amsterdam Restaurant Experiences

The pigeons eat well in Amsterdam.

I did nothing even close to approximating anything like coming to understand the Amsterdam or Dutch culinary situation. I had some experiences, and these I share.


I would come to realize Stach is a small chain in Amsterdam. It's a shop with very simple sandwiches but also a little store with lots of fun products and some prepared foods, a completely to-go shop.

Dutch goat cheese, tomato mayo and arugula (rocket)-$3.95): The rolls are clearly made that morning - a simple, tasty, quick easy sandwich

Chocolate Bar Thing: It was fine, but I only had one or two bites and then didn't get around to finishing it 'cause there was too much to eat in Amsterdam.


Then again the girl there tried to rip me off, giving me change for a 10 euro note when I paid with a 20. I had walked 3/4 of a mile back toward my hostel, which was about 1.5 miles from the park where I had just done a 13 mile run. I know it was intentional on her part because of the way she acted. As soon as I walked back in, she looked guilty and afraid. As soon as I said, "Hi, I paid with a 20 and you only gave me change for a 10," she gave the 10 euro note to me very quickly, without checking anything or asking whether I was sure at all. 

If the owner of Stach happens to see this and wants a description, I'd like to help but am not sure tallish blue-eyed blond Dutch girl will narrow it down enough. Then again, she was working at 1pm on Thursday, September 4th, 2014 They probably target American tourists because we're not in the habit of checking coins, ours all being worth a lot less.


Don't ask me why I ate here. I basically had no choice and, much like the food at Pasta Plaza, the story behind it isn't fit for public consumption.

Pasta Bolognese - Not even as good as the potato chip version of what should be a succulent, indulgent dish, I had to be coaxed to take even a second bite of this flavorless mess so that I would be able to have a few more beers without passing out.

The view from our table wasn't bad though.

From a cafe called Latei - I love menus, and even a cafe's menu is interesting to me in another country. I learned that Spa Rood is sparkling mineral water, whereas Spa Blauw is still mineral water. Non-Americans and their damned mineral water, what can ya do?

Thursdays to Saturdays from 6:00 - 9:30 they apparently do "(con)fusion Asian" food here.

Dutch farmer's cheese sandwich - once again, what I thought would be a soft spreadable cheese was sliced here. The bread was so freaking good, a fresh hearty seedy loaf, you can just feel your body being nourished. Delicious open-faced little breakfast situation.

Espresso: great, ristretto, mild


To my right were these bookshelves, some of the things on which were for sale.

Like these patches for $.2 euros. I wonder what else this strange place had to offer that I didn't see.

Lombardo's - near the Rijkmuseum, the least boring museum experience I've ever had, and I was severely hung over.
Wagyu burger (12.95 euros): "Only for professionals, the king of all burgers. 100%, organic Wagyu beef, never frozen, served on a freshly toasted sesame seed bun, with homemade toppings and sauce, we recommend medium rare... But the choice is yours!" - Oh and I added cheddar. Goat cheese was also an option.
They did a perfect medium rare. The toppings were fun and delicious, but the meat needed salt, to get which the chef took my platter, gloved up just to salt my burger and handed it back to me. I think it was really good, but fuck, I needed to sleep so badly I'm not sure I could really taste with all of my brain. The bun was cool.

Very very nice people. They do burgers (regular beef, lamb, pork shoulder, spicy kimchee burger, a hangover burger and the wagyu), sandwiches, lasagnes, salads, coffee, espresso etc. and fresh squeezed juices. I would love to come back some day.

Smoke a little, and then get you some of this. There are so many fry places, and there are so many combinations to try. This was mayo and satay sauce (with onions). So effing good.

And for dessert, do yourself this favor at one of the many waffle places. Nutella, strawberries and banana.. I was hesitant to get all three of these toppings but am so grateful I was talked into it. Heaven, people. You just have to do this shit at least once while you're there.


Noordermarket:
Saturdays from 9-4

The market itself is very cool. Animals furs, used designer clothing, coats, tons of beautiful produce, oysters, random children's toys, bakeries, cheesemongers, butchers and more I don't remember.fish, sausages, olives, books, flowers, fresh juices. 

There's more than one area, so walk around for a while. Makeup, nail polish, good-looking hot dogs (not terribly special after all), bicycle seats..



Speltbolletje: (1.2 euros) with spelt flour, hazelnuts and figs or apricot. I may be forgetting another ingredient or two. I was not into it. I think I accidentally found a health nut bakery at the market. 

Got a Meeregranen Croissant (1.8 euros) - It was actually kind of nice tasting, despite not being as buttery as a regular croissant, and it was still flaky and light.



Caramba Mexican Restaurant



Double espresso - good stuff. I loved getting a little bar of chocolate with it. I do that at home all the time. Put a little in my mouth for a bit then sip coffee. Really cute place inside and out. I wonder how the Mexican food is.

FEBO - If I'd had several more days, I would've gotten around to trying something.


Pasticerie (near Westerpark) - I needed to use the restroom after my run.


Aardbei is strawberry. Sadly I wasn't ready for ice cream here. Sinaasappel-jasmyn (orange-jasmine) sounded so good.

I learned some words while ordering a juice, a wortel (carrots), appel, and gember (ginger) juice ($3.50)- great juice, well-balanced flavors
I thought it was weird when an Australian bemoaned to me the lack of fresh juice around Amsterdam. Apparently in Australia every cafe has fresh juice almost the way there's nowhere that doesn't have coffee. For me though, it seemed like there was a lot of fresh juice here. Not as much as in Mexico City, but way more than any city in America that I've been to at least.

If you decide to do the truffles, maybe you'll have the balls and the wherewithal to eat somewhere nice, which would probably be awesome, but my companions and I didn't. Plus, once it gets past 10 or 11, it starts becoming more and more difficult to find somewhere decent open. Thus, we wound up eating some silly thing from some silly doner place. It was pretty tasty while the sauce lasted. If I'd been sober, I'm not so sure. The meat was a little dry.

There are not a lot of options once you get to the train platform at Amsterdam Centraal. Eat before you get there so you don't have to have a Starbucks muffin.

I had one more night and day in Amsterdam at the end of my trip. I was so hungry and really wanted vegetables, so I stopped in The Red Light District and found that lots of Thai places were still open as late as it was (9pm maybe). It was good stuff.

Espresso: 8.5/10, less bitter here than all those Lavazza places, more caramely and other sweet notes instead


Maple Pecan Shortcake: Like no shortcake I've ever had. A lot like the choconut bars of my childhood. Served with a fork, but I couldn't cut it. Just picked it up like a candy bar. Tasty but sweet, man, yum. They had cold water out for people, which doesn't always happen in Amsterdam, so that was nice.
Once again, a coffee chain is one thing Europeans can do without making all the coffee and food shit. Makes me curious to try their frozen cappuccinos and suchlike. They even have these little paninis that look kinda good. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Fresh baked croissants in the morning at least.
Spanjer Cafe + Van Twist: With breakfast from 10-12, lunch menu from 10-16:45, and a slightly more elaborate dinner menu after that. You can sit in side or outside on the canal. It's just around the corner from the Anne Frank house (reserve a ticket to the AFH and make your life much, much easier).

Espresso: good stuff, served with a little cookie as I always appreciate

Surinamese Chicken Sandwich: On wonderful Dutch brood, with a sweet and spicy chutney, stewed chicken and pickles (though I eventually ate the pickles separately as they were a little overpowering). Cute.



One of the things you're just supposed to do in Amsterdam is try some of the pickled herring, and these herring carts are conveniently sprinkled throughout the city. I'm not sure any one of them is particularly better than the others since they just are what they are. But feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, connoisseurs.

Herring (I tried a bite alone and then in a sandwich with onion a and pickles) - The soft white bread is so right for this. It smells like the fish you feed dolphins at Sea World, and it's no wonder they're willing to do back flips for this shit. It's delicious, sort of like sardines, but better. 

Now, the best thing is of course that you can go to a coffee shop, get the perfect strength pot for you, smoke a little, and then wander around eating. Once I got the perfect high going on, I wandered past this place with this sign. Suddenly I had to have this "amazing" iced coffee. It was homemade! 



Ohhh sugary milky coffee goodness mmm Lactaid, thank you. While traveling abroad, I've always debated between telling people I'm from Boston or from Texas. People seem to react kind of blahly to Boston, which is.. understandable. Texas is just a much more fun answer. As the girl who sold me the iced coffee said, "Yeah. Boston is just another city. Texas is like, cowboys and interesting."  Done.


Bier Fabriek: Tons of outdoor seating led me to choose here for some reading, writing and relaxing. That and the descriptions of their three homemade brews to choose from. Oh my god, on a little bit of hash, I felt like I just had to try them all. And the menu was so cutely simple that I almost wanted to ditch my Indonesian plans and order one of the two food options. I mean, farm chicken with fries and sauces sounded awesome.


Puur: Nice, I like unfiltered without the cloves and shit of Hefewiezens


Rosso, a ruby red ale: Just as described: thirst-quenching, smooth, fruity and slightly bitter

Since the Dutch colonized Indonesia from the 16th century until the '40s, Indonesian is one of the cuisines to try when In The Netherlands. A local woman I met at Spanjer highly recommended this place to me.



Nasi Kuning (16.50 euros): Tasty hybrid of Indian / Thai / Jamaican Flavors, it seemed to me, which is fun combo indeed, if all of the flavors themselves were already familiar. The toasted coconut shavings were kind of cool as they were more like a seasoning than anything else. There were just three there, but the roasted peanuts with the skins on were so good! I swear to god that those potato sticks are the kind you get at the grocery store next to, say, the Pringles.




Watching people decide whom to ask for directions is fun. Don't we always try to find someone at least a little less attractive than we are? It's, like, yeah, you'll help me.

I had been disliking the tipping customs and keeping track of all of them in all the countries I visited, but I finally realized that the way Americans tip can also be awkward, like when there's just one waiter and she just stands a few feet away while you leave your tip, then has to wait till just the right moment of you walking away to go and get the tip, or else I think she's worried someone walking by might take it.






The dessert scene in Amsterdam is intense, partly due to the Belgian waffle thing, and clearly even more so to do with how many people are walking around with severe munchies. The following is just some of what can be found at just one place called Ice Bakery by Nutella:



The melon gelato (I sampled) was amazing.




I had seen this guy walking by with a wafflewich, and I thought he'd just come from Ice Bakery by Nutella, so I went in and described it to them. Thus, my monstrosity, misbegottenly ordered from a place that didn't actually do wafflewiches but made one for me anyway. Oreo ice cream, way too much warm Nutella drizzled over all of it (instead of being dipped in a Nutella shell like the one the guy had from elsewhere, this was a delicious but a crazy mess. Eating on the go was a further ordeal, with melted ice cream dripping everywhere. I had to purposefully spill some melted ice cream out on the ground and then carry it, half eaten, like a taco shell to the nearest trash can, holding it away from my body as best I could, people stopping to watch me and talking about me a bit, presumably, "Hahaha, look at that high tourist. What the fuck is she eating? Haha." That whole situation pictured up there is now called The Arielle, by the way, and I paid $10.75 euro for it. Do I have any regrets? Yes, I sure do. I still want the one I saw that guy eating.

If I were a doctor, I would prescribe myself a little bit of a nice mild high pot, three times a day.

The thing about when people ask you about a trip you've taken, is that traveling's goal isn't necessarily always to have the most fun or most exciting or nicest time. It's about new experiences, being thrown out of your element, learning things you wouldn't have learned at home, etc.

So it can be awkward if you feel pressure to enjoy yourself while traveling. Let that go. You're having experiences. That's life, and it always will be, traveling or no, and just swim with it. All traveling/life is good because of that. You will learn something. You will feel something.