Sunday, April 28, 2013

Worth the Trip Thai: Ayada, Elmhurst, NY

I am constantly on a quest for the best Thai food. We may have found it today in Queens or, specifically, Elmhurst, at Ayada Thai. Let me explain.

Since we have young boys, we often have to go out of our way to find activities that will entertain all of us and, hopefully, tire them out.  Today we went to the Kids NY Tennis Expo at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center which allowed our boys to play on US Open tennis courts and then be exhausted enough to sit through lunch.  A perfect plan. 

In my former life I was spoiled by Chicago Thai food, so whenever I hear about a superb Thai establishment, I try to go.  Guided by GPS, we found Ayada and a parking spot, too.  On the way, I read aloud an old New York Times review of the restaurant and JB's mouth starting watering.

We arrived around 2 on a Sunday to a small, clean and bright storefront filled with Asian diners (an excellent sign to us.)  We were able to secure a table and start skimming the very long menu.  And as a somewhat funny surprise, they highlight the New York Times-recommended dishes.
We had a small feast:

- Papaya Salad: JB is always obsessed with this dish whereas I rarely even ask for a taste.  It's a simple salad of shredded papaya, this one had dried shrimp and cherry tomatoes with chopped peanuts lodged inside.  Yum!
- Sticky Rice:  Apparently, sticky rice is a customary side to papaya salad.  Sadly, JB did not offer this one up.

- Tom Ka Chicken Soup: We often get this at our local Chinese/Japanese/Thai hoping that it will be good, and we are usually disappointed.  Not here.  JB did allow me a taste of this delicious coconut milk soup -- I avoided the mushrooms -- as he slurped down the rest he pronounced it perfection.

- Raw Shrimp Salad: Yes, that's correct, raw shrimp salad.  This was one of the "recommended" dishes, so I felt compelled.  About 10 large shrimp heavily seasoned with chili, lime and garlic covered the plate.  It is super spicy.  I found myself alternating between this and the papaya salad to calm down the heat.  After a few bites though, I was able to really enjoy this delicacy.  I recommend this recommendation.

- Pad See Ew with Tofu:  Pad See Ew is my favorite Thai noodle dish, so I had to try their version.  Wide rice noodles with soy sauce and broccoli are typical for this usually mild dish, but I was feeling adventurous and asked for it spicy.  This spice I could handle and the tofu was the perfect complement. 
- Jasmine Rice: This was for little D only.  Big Z had devoured a concession stand New York soft pretzel after tennis and paid attention mainly to JB's iPhone throughout lunch. 

Our lunch bill came to $34 which was a small price to pay for such a treat.  JB wanted to order food to take home for dinner, but we decided against it and started the long journey home.  As Big Z said, as we got in the car, "I wish this were closer." Me too. 

Until our next berger,
Ayada Thai
78-03 Woodside Ave. (Woodside Ave & 78th St)

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Season Opener: Starr Boggs, Westhampton Beach, NY

Some background for those of you non-locals (Hamptons locals feel free to skip this part).  We live in a resort area. There are more and more people who live here year round, like us, but there is still a "season".  In season, our formerly quiet village becomes a madhouse, and personally, I love it. 

There are two annual season openers that are a must.  We recently got to partake in them both.

1.  The Dockers Kickoff Party
The biggest appeal of this event is that it is free. Dockers does have a beautful waterfront setting and decent food, but it's usually too cold to stand outside for more than one drink at the kickoff party and they don't serve the real restaurant food at the party.  I recommend going for the 2 hours of free drinks and free food and then taking your buzz elsewhere.  I don't think it would be fair to judge Dockers by what they give away, so I won't.  Let's just say, free drinks=no brainer.  Get on their list so you can go next year.

2.  Starr Boggs Opening Night
This is a tough one. Given my upcoming travel schedule and not wanting to leave JB home alone with the boys, again, I almost didn't go and then changed my mind.  I needed to go to see my friends, to participate in this annual tradition, and, of course, for the sake of the blog (thanks, blog).  And as you get to know the Bergers, you'll know we hate to decline an invitation to go out.  So off I went.

Since it was opening night, there was a special commemorating the year - $20.13 for any appetizer and entree off the menu.  This is a tremendous deal considering most of their entrees hover in the $30 range and apps around $15. There were a few supplemental charges, but I chose the standard fare, that may have been where I went wrong.

I had the caesar salad which was delicious after I picked the anchovies that were supposed to "only be in the dressing".  For my main, I chose the Lamb Trio.  I usually go for the flatiron steak at SB, but since I'd had steak for lunch (no joke my office cafeteria makes a mean skirt steak), I chose something different.  Lamb is usually one of my favorites - not tonight.  The trio consisted of moussaka (too much cinammon or allspice or something like that), lamb sausage (too oily) and lamb loin (completely rare).  So my order was a flop. 

Everyone else seemed pleased with their dinner but no one in our party of 8 was gushing.  We had dessert, too, an unremarkable flourless chocolate cake. 

Starr Boggs is a good restaurant, JB and I had an excellent meal there last August at the height of the season.  When I got married, we had my bridal luncheon here.  This time, it missed the mark. 

The restaurant is beautiful, the service is always great, and they have a stellar wine list - we had a lot of that, too.

I will go back later once the season has picked up and so should you.  Just be wary of what you order. 

Until our next Berger,

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Drive
Westhampton Beach, NY 11978

Monday, April 22, 2013

Edible Food Truck Derby: Riverhead, NY

After a rainy morning and a cancelled soccer session- we thought what better way to re-kickoff our Bergers and More blog than with a good old-fashioned Food Truck-athon?  The Food Truck Derby, to be precise, was put on by the local foodie magazine, Edible East End.  The location was the Tanger Outlets parking lot in Riverhead, that we often frequent on the weekend.  Food and Shopping? We were in.

The promotional emails from Edible promised a variety of food trucks, from Korean BBQ to the local oysterman, and not everyone showed (flat tire, maybe?), but we still managed to score some tasty treats:

- Morris Grilled Cheese - This truck had the longest line, so JB went here first.  We each got a classic which is NY Cheddar and Landaff on two slices of buttery, griddled bread. Truthfully, I really wanted the Delicate Cheese, which was an excuse for truffles with my grilled cheese - and JB denied me.  I'm still a little mad at him about that.
- Silver Spoon Specialties -  Big Z and little D each had a basket of fries from this truck, so I can't personally vouch for the food, but considering it made them sit calmly for at least 15 minutes, I'm a fan.
- Van Leeuwen Ice Cream - Whoa, one of the best ways to ever spend $5 is on a cup of their vanilla ice cream.
- Sebastian Cakes - Ok, this wasn't a truck, but instead an area of local vendors selling baked goods, pickled items, etc.  I stumbled upon some egg-free chocolate cupcakes for little D who has a mild egg allergy and they also happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free, too.  Again, I didn't try these, although from the amount of chocolate on their faces (Big Z also happily had the cupcake) I'm pretty sure it fit the mark.

Note: No one told me the best part about the Derby - free drinks!  If I had known, I might have gotten there earlier. 

- Greenport Harbor Brewing Company - We each had a small glass of one of their fresh brews.  JB went for the Spring Turning and I had something IPA-like.  Next time we are in Greenport, we will be stopping by.  A trip to the carousel and some beer, I like it.
- True Believer Cider - This was my favorite item of the day - sparkling hard cider - who could argue with that.  We actually had the True Believer and the True Companion, and both preferred the Believer version.  If you see this, buy it.
- Hampton Coffee - I can't forget to mention JB's free coffee from our local Westhampton shop.

Had the boys sugar rush stayed away for a few more minutes, we would have more - drinks for sure, and probably food, but alas, we had already crossed that Derby finish line.

Until our next Berger,

Edible East End sponsored the Food Truck Derby -  There is another event later this summer sponsored by a their sister publication.  Check it out:

An Old Favorite: Cafe Mingala, New York, NY

Many moons ago, before I even was a Berger, JB took me to a tiny, non-descript Burmese restaurant on the Upper East Side called Cafe Mingala. At that time, I had never had Burmese before, and I was blown away.  If you were to combine all of the best things about Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food, you'd get Burmese.  When we lived in the city, we were addicted, and would either go or order from here at least once a week. 

I've been in serious Burmese withdrawal for years.  There are days that I dream of their string bean salad.  And today, we happened to be in the neighborhood and we stopped by for a trip down our culinary memory lane.  We didn't have much time, so we just ordered two dishes:

- Peah Thee Thoke, the aforementioned string bean salad.  It's a cold salad of string beans, peanuts and crispy onions with some lettuce, carrots, and unbelievable (but unknown) dressing.   We gobbled it up.  If anyone is on their way from the city to the East End, please bring some for me!
Nungi Kyaw, a hot rice noodle dish in a garlic scallion sauce that we got with tofu and vegetables. We, or really, I picked this one because I have a current obsession with tofu.  Trust me, I am a serious meat eater, (bacon, anyone?),  but when I saw tofu, I had to have it.  And I was happy with my choice, although I could have used more tofu. 

Mingala is one of the places where you really should just order by number, because you have no idea how to pronounce anything, but if you're feeling daring, feel free to ask for them by name.

Like I said, this is a sliver of a restaurant, its definitely not the place for a happening Saturday night. I think their most popular drink is water and trust me its the perfect match for the string bean salad. 

Until our next Berger,

Cafe Mingala
393 2nd Ave, New York NY 10021  (Btwn 72nd & 73rd St)
Too old school for a website, but you can find their menu at

Friday, April 19, 2013

7 Years Later - The Bergers are Really Back!

The Bergers are back - can you believe it? We've been thinking about restarting our blog for awhile, but something always got in the way, like a baby.  But we have new inspiration and it's time to go accomplish what we've always dreamed of - eating well and spreading the word. 

A quick recap on our life for our followers, we've been out of NYC full time for almost 7 years, living on the East End of Long Island, a place rich with farmstands, wineries and over-priced restaurants. There are now 2 more Bergers, Z and D, who (lucky for us) are both burger fanatics. JB did a few chef stints and now says he works full-time as a private chef for the three of us in between his SAHD duties.  I still have the day job that occasionally takes me to some interesting, foodie places, like Indianapolis (seriously, I do love going to Indy). What hasn't changed is our love for food, how we research every foodie opportunity that we face - be it what to cook for dinner or where to stop for lunch on a road trip. 

 For those of you new to Bergers & More here are a few details about how Bergers & More works:

1. We love to share our restaurant experiences, from dives to fine-dining, we are up for anything but our fave is to go out for burgers. We get extra excited when we have a "Berger Review".
2. Sadly we don't go out to eat as often as we did at the inception of B&M, so we will also feature any amazing meals that JB makes for us (Note: you will not get any amazing cooking tips from me unless you want to hear how I recently caught the broiler on fire or melted Saran Wrap). Or perhaps some awesome snack that one of us uncovers on our travels.  Our goal is to post at least one review a week, even if it's been one of those weeks where you just get takeout every night. 
3. You can be a part of Bergers and More, too. The easiest way is to go out with us!  Or give us a recommendation and we'll try to go and review it! 

Now about our signoff, when we started in 2005, we closed all of our blogs with "until we eat again". I'm not saying anyone stole my idea BUT now there is a much more prominent blogger with the same sign off who uses the same closing, so I'll be the bigger blogger and simply say:

Until our next Burger...

P.S.  - For kicks, take a look at some of the old posts. I know I enjoyed re-reading them.