Friday, February 27, 2015

A Skipper: Joes Garage, Riverhead, NY

We're continuing our explorations in Riverhead.  Our latest venture took us to Joe's Garage, located on the ground level of an apartment complex overlooking the Peconic River (and McDonalds). So really, not that scenic.

Regardless, they do a big outdoor business and in the winter that area is tented and heated for crowds. But from our experience, I don't expect very large ones. 

They do have one good thing on the menu: Tokyo Drift sliders.  These beauties have pork belly, cucumber salsa, kimchee and a spicy sauce. The Pork Belly is crispy, salty and fatty -- all the things that pork belly should be.  

Other than that, skip the rest of the menu. Burgers were small and lacked flavor. And the fries were not fries at all, rather potato discs. If I order fries, I want fries, and fries are not round.

A creamy bacon grits appetizer with a 5 cheese blend sounded tasty. It wasn't. It was greasy, mushy and I never actually saw any pieces of bacon. 

Even the salads were eh. The servers said the ribs are the best. Not that I'd believe these servers anyway. 

When I asked for a wine list, I was given a dumbfounded look. "Ok, do you have any sparkling?" I suggested. The response, "Um, no."Another try, "Do you have Prosecco?" Finally, "Uh, yeah. We got Prosecco." 

Sorry, Riverhead.  This one is a skipper.  But we'll keep exploring.

Until our next Burger, 

Joe's Garage
40 Peconic Avenue
Riverhead, NY

Farmer's Market Frenzy: Riverhead Farmer's Market, Riverhead, NY

We've been spending more time in Riverhead lately. This Eastern Long Island town is attempting a Renaissance. Neither Hamptons nor North Fork, Riverhead is grasping for a new identity. And what better way to do so than with food. 

Enter the Riverhead Farmers Market.  Right in the slowly gentrifying downtown (a Perabell in opening in Spring), a formerly vacant building is now repurposed for foodies, families and everyone in between. This indoor (outdoor in warmer months) market is a perfect escape on a cold winter's day.

Booths to Visit:
-  Tainos Sofrito & Mojo: I can't stop eating the jar of Sofrito I bought at this booth. Their version includes an amazing combination of cilantro, onions, peppers and garlic. Thus far I've had it with grilled chicken, shrimp, turkey, eggs, pasta and, I admit, just out of the jar. Seriously it goes with everything. Fair warning though, you may have some lingering garlic breath, so invest in some mints. 

- Terranut: They had me at "tastes like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup." Terranut sells paleo-friendly mini-bars. The PNut has peanuts, gluten free oats and raw organic sugarcane, just three ingredients.   Crumble into a smoothie or just eat as a snack to boost your energy. At 92 calories this is a better choice than that bag of Peanut M&Ms from the vending machine. 

- Mavi: This booth represents a Mediterranean restaurant that is opening in Spring 2015 in downtown Riverhead. Their feta dip is divine. I want to be their first guest. 

- Two Brothers Pizza: Taste some "take n bake" pizza and then take some home for yourself. That's right, Two Brothers specializes in a fully made but not cooked pie. Bring it home, toss it in the oven for 20 minutes and voila, a hot-from-the-oven pizza. The samples there were worthy of a taste.

- Hamptons Chocolate Factory: Always decadent, always delicious. Try my favorite the East Hampton Bark with dark chocolate, toffee and almonds. JB's favorite? The peanut butter and jelly bar.

- Sang Lee Farms: You can't beat their incredible organic vegetables.  Their dips and sauces are also splurge-worthy. 

- Blue Duck Bakery: I dare you to make it home without tearing into one of their fresh baguettes. 

-  Mecox Bay Dairy: Their Brie-like Atlantic Mist is pricey but oh so dreamy 

And the list goes on. New vendors are added each week. Come spring when the market heads back outside expect many more names. 

Visit their Facebook page to learn more about this exciting venture from the Riverhead Business District.  And pay them a visit when you can.  Help support local farmers and businesses. 

Until our next Farmer's Market,

Riverhead Farmers Market
221 East Main Street
Riverhead, NY

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chain Reaction: Soup's On at Noodles & Co.

Soup season is now. While we've been exploring ramen -- there's another a great wide world of soups out there. We have been missing out.

I'd never been to Noodles & Co., despite their 400+ outlets.  Fast casual is the game here, pick your entree (most of which involve a noodle), add a meat, an optional side and you're in business.

Noodles range in all different styles from classic Italian like Pesto Cavatappi to Bangkok Curry. Gluten-free? They can solve for that, too.  Don't want any noodles? Sandwiches and salads are also on offer.

So back to that soup.  Thai Curry Soup (with tofu) was my choice.  It warmed me right up.  Rice noodles, a slew of vegetables and a coconut curry broth.  For a chain, I'd say it was pretty good.  Really good.  And just enough spice to clear your sinuses.

Good news for Long Islanders, the Garden City chain where I visited, will soon be joined by stores in Patchogue, Hicksville and Farmingdale.  In fact, according to a recent article in Newsday,  the goal is to open over 20 more Long Island stores in the next 5 or so years.

So you can get your soup on (or noodle), anytime.

Until our next Burger,

Noodles & Co.
Visit to find the location closest to you

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

San Francisco Treats: E & O, Fresh Roll, Sears, District and More, SanFrancisco, CA

Phew - 3 days in San Francisco and I was exhausted.  But not of their food.  So many choices, so little time.  I barely scratched the surface of this magnificent city.  And even though I was mainly in very touristy areas (Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf and SoMa) where I could have eaten overpriced, mediocre fare, I really lucked out.  Here's how I navigated it all.

For a quick bite
-  Cafe Bellini: Just off Union Square, this cafe had your typical de rigeur quinoa and kale plus panini and espresso.  A little on the pricey side for a quick lunch.  You get what you pay for.

- Fresh Roll: Vietnamese food Chipotle-style.  Pick your style - pho, summer roll, salad or Vietnamese sandwich, then your fillings and toppings.  My tofu summer roll with peanut sauce was a stunner. Someone please open this on the East Coast.

Happy for Happy Hour?
- E & O Asian Kitchen:  The tastiest thing I've had all year are the butternut squash dumplings at E & O. $1 each and worth every penny -- the sweet dumplings come in a curry sauce. Just phenomenal. 
Oysters are also $1 each though these West Coast delights are not nearly as  good as those on the East Coast (I'm talking about you Eventide Oyster House.)  Wine is also half off during happy hour -- always a good thing.

- District: Elevate your happy hour at this elegant wine bar near A T & T Ballpark. Delectable small plates include $1 oysters (much better than E & O), spicy lamb meatballs and arancini. Wine here ranges from your basic Pinot noir to some special finds. Forget happy hour, stay the whole night.

Do the tourist thing
- Sears Fine Foods: The line moves quickly at this San Fran institution. Go for the Swedish Pancakes - all 18 of them - and add on some lingonberries for tradition's sake. Truthfully, I've had better and thinner Swedish Pancakes but it's an experience worth enjoying.  I recommend adding Aquavit to the menu.

- Fog Harbor Fish House : If in San Fran as a "tourist" chances are good you'll visit Fisherman's Wharf. My recommendation is not to go to one of the nicer restaurants. The food at Fog Harbor wasn't terrible. The tuna was fresh and well-seasoned. But service is horrendous and prices are astronomical. Save your money, grab a bread bowl and spend the rest of your dough on chocolate. Ghiradelli anyone?

I'm taking recommendations for my next visit.  Can't wait to return.  So much more to see, do and, of course, eat.


Cafe Bellini
235 Powell Street

Fresh Roll
157 4th Street

E & O Kitchen and Bar
314 Sutter Street

216 Townsend Street

Sears Fine Food
439 Powell Street

Fog Harbor Fish House
Pier 39 Concourse