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Stella’s Restaurant, Hartland, VT

31 Dec

Vermont is old country roads, small towns, and interesting little shops and restaurants.

Stella’s in Hartland, VT is one the quaint little cafe’s we went to today.

Just for a quick lunch after the “biggest snowball fight in the world!”

We felt bad that we barged into the little cafe at 1:45 (they close at 2:30) with four hungry kids and four hungry adults.  The place is tiny and we took it over.

The owner was very accomadating and didn’t seem to mind our little party getting out of control.

Once the food arrived, there was silence.

The Stella burger was deemed, “The best burger ever!” by The Bean.

The special of the day was a fancy tuna melt with spinach and Vermont cheese.  It got rave reviews!

My falafel was good–not amazing–but I was very glad that it was on the menu.  It was just what I was hungry for.

The kids meals were good-sized and actually looked tasty and were eagerly scarfed down.

But, the pie, oh my!  Their chocolate cream pie was touted as “World Famous” and I knew we had to try it.  And, it was rich and creamy and delicious.  So good.

If you ever find yourself in Vermont, I highly recommend Stella’s.  Oh, and not only are they very accommodating they try to get everything from local sources.  Vermont beef, cheese and eggs, and even local ice creams and sorbets.

Here is how you can find it:  159 US Rt 5 Hartland, VT 05048

Phone number:  (802) 436-3525


NYC Restaurant Review: Curry Dream

21 Nov

We (my sister and I ) love Indian food and were so happy to find “Curry Dream” very close to our hotel in NYC.

The kids walked in and were thrilled to be in a fancy restaurant.  They determined that it was a fancy restaurant  because of the glass goblets for water and the cloth napkins.  Their standards are pretty low.

And because we were in the city and our motto was to “Be adventurous” they were willing to try more on the menu than normal.

We really did it up with Samosas, Naan, Dall Makani, and Alu Gobi–a spiced mixture of califlower and potatoes.  Let me just tell you that it was all excellent.  The onion chutney served with the samosas was amazing.  Even Little One was eating it—and she is not a fan of onions.

We also ordered a chicken dish for my kids—-Rasmi Malai Kabab which is described as cubes of chicken marinated in yogurt and cream cheese and then grilled.  The Bean LOVED it and couldn’t slow himself down.  It was not spicy but had a unique flavor that he loved.  He is still talking about it.

Everything was so good.  We left nothing uneaten.

The kids were so full–they were in pain.  Delicious pain.

Oh, the wait staff was incredibly patient with us and very kind.  We were the only family in the restaurant and even got a comment about how well behaved our children are. Ha!  If they had only seen us a few minutes earlier.

Curry Dream

66 W 39th St New York, NY 10018

Tel: 212-810-4125

Bakery Review: Ferrara Bakery & Cafe, Little Italy, NYC

18 Nov

I really don’t want to write this post.

I don’t want to tell you to go to this bakery in Little Italy.

We had planned to get to Chinatown early so that we could have some dim sum for breakfast before our flight.  We didn’t realize that none of the restaurants and bakeries would be open until at least 9 am.    We were tourists  and we wanted to get a jump on our day.

The kids were so wiped out that they could barely make a sound.  They were angels.

We had quiet and hungry kids.  We wanted to spend some money.

Yet, our server had such an attitude.  The only attitude we received while in NYC.

The service was just plain terrible. Our server  made it perfectly clear that she did not want us there.

So, I had planned to write this review about her attitude and warning you against visiting this bakery in Little Italy.

But, I can’t.

See that croissant on the top left?  It was amazing.    I don’t even like croissants and I can’t stop thinking about the chocolate croissant we shared.  The cookies were great.  The coffee delicious.  The biscotti perfect.

If I were in NYC, I would go back.  I would deal with rudeness just to eat that croissant again.

From the reviews I have read, there are likely other more intimate bakeries in Little Italy and I was not alone in complaining about the service.   Supposedly, at other times of day tourists line up at Ferraras  for cannolis and gelato.  But, when we arrived they had exactly what we needed–plenty of available tables, clean bathrooms and hot coffee.

And the best chocolate croissant I have ever tasted.

Who cares if the server didn’t like us?

Ferrara Bakery & Cafe

195 Grand Street
between Mulberry & Mott St.
(212) 226-6150

Bakery Review: Crumbs-NYC

13 Nov

I was so excited to go to NYC to run the marathon.  Not for the experience of running through all five burroughs of the city.  Not for the whole “I set a goal and I accomplished it” feeling.  No, I was looking forward to running the marathon so that I could eat cupcakes in the city.  With no shame or regret.  I wanted to run 26.2 miles so that I could eat 26.2 cupcakes.  So, I ran.  And, I ate.

However, no where near the amount of cupcakes I wanted to sample.

Really, we only had cupcakes twice.  Burgers&Cupcakes was our first stop.  And, as you may remember from this review—they were not good.  Really, at all.

Crumbs, was an entirely different story.

Look at this display case.  (Pardon the photos–at this point I hadn’t purchased my fancy SLR and had to use the camera on my iphone.)

The case was overwhelming with deliciousness.  Almost too overwhelming.  Of course, my little one shrieked with delight with the “Pinkalicious” cupcake.  And the boys were torn between various over the top cupcakes.

I had to make the executive decision.  We were going simple (and slighter less expensive).  Afterall, it was only 10:00 am.  We ordered an assortment of the basic cupcakes–chocolate/vanilla, vanilla/vanilla, vanilla/lemon, chocolate/chocolate, and chocolate/chocolate with sprinkles.

I figured the basic cupcake would give us a true representation of whether or not these were good cupcakes or just cupcakes with lots of stuff on them.

Oh. My. God.

These were the best cupcakes ever.

I can’t explain why but they were 1000 times better than those had a burgers&cupcakes and at least 10 times better than those from Cakes by Ron.

Can someone please help me understand this.  What is their secret?

My sister who hadn’t ordered herself one was very sad when she was forced to lick the cupcake wrapper for more crumbs. (She is usually 100 times prettier than this picture portrays but she had been overtaken by a insatiable urge for these crumbs and became possessed. Sorry you have to see her like this.)

A couple of other things—when we arrived there was no one there.  Not usually a good sign for a cupcake shop in the city but it was 10:00 am–and it was perfect for us.  A bunch of excited kids screaming and constantly changing their minds–my mom was the only one holding it together.   The counter staff was really patient–allowing the kids us to change their minds many, many times.

I know that I needed to go to other cupcakeries while in the city but we didn’t get to them—and I am not sorry.  Crumbs is good enough for me!

And, there are locations all throughout NYC, NJ, California—look here for locations.

You gotta get there!

Bakery Review: Cakes by Ron (and a giveaway)!

1 Nov

It turns out lots of people visit Sarasota.  The beaches and the surrounding villages make prime tourist destinations.  Lots of European visitors spend their winter here and of course, the Northerners come down in the winter too.  I didn’t know any of this before we moved here.

You may be wondering how that fits into a review of a place called, “Cakes by Ron”.

Well, I figure that most people, for some reason or another, will end up in Sarasota–to  visit the beach,  their German grandparents, or to play in a ultimate Frisbee national tournament—and while you are here, you may as well have a place in mind where you can get a good cupcake.

Which is where “Cakes by Ron” comes in.  “Cakes by Ron” is located on Fruitville Ave (where it intersects with Beneva) and surrounded by a bunch of wedding type places (like a florist and a caterer)–it is one-stop-wedding planner shopping.  It is the kind of area that if you are not planning a wedding–you may not think twice about.

Unless you are obsessed with cakes.

I stopped by Cakes by Ron the other day to check out their display case, which I was told was “filled with cupcakes everyday.”

I was so impressed that I had to buy four just to sample them to see if they were as good as they looked.

I selected vanilla, Boston creme, pumpkin and apple.

Aren’t they pretty?

We split them into quarters and each sampled each cupcake.

The verdict?

Definitely worth the three dollars—it was a perfect afternoon treat for all of us.

The best?

My favorite was the vanilla with vanilla frosting–which is odd for me, usually I want chocolate.  The apple was so tasty too–but it was bright green which threw me off a bit.

Aaron voted  for the Boson Creme Pie–with the creamy vanilla filling.  The pumpkin was great too with candied ginger sprinkled around the top—but its seasonal, so not always available.

Although there are other cupcakes places around Sarasota, “Cakes by Ron” gets my vote for delivering  the best cake and delicious frosting.  I want to try all of their flavors!

And, for any of you readers who happen to be in Sarasota, send me a comment stating what your favorite kind of cupcake —and I will give one lucky winner a coupon to get a free cupcake at “Cakes by Ron”!

Your chances are great so submit a comment now!

Pittsburgh and Primanti’s

2 Oct

I was in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago.  A place that I had never, ever been and hadn’t really given much thought to.  But, ever since we have moved to a medium size city in Southwest Florida–I crave any chance to get out to a real city and some elevation change. Not to mention a chance to get out of the humidity.

I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was home to enthusiastic sports fans— almost everyone on the flight was wearing a Steelers jersey.  The pilot even gave out games scores over the intercom and when it was announced that Pittsburgh beat Atlanta–there was cheering.  ( We just so happened to be flying from Atlanta to Pittsburgh).

My friend Nicole, is from Pittsburgh–and she  going to be at the same meeting.  And she was bringing her new baby along (who was already 2 years old!)  That alone was worth the trip.

And,  one of my favorite bloggers, Michelle, from the Brown Eyed Baker, is also from Pittsburgh and always posts about how much she loves her city –so I thought it must be an okay place.

Everyone I talked to about my trip (which was really only a couple of people) said that while in Pittsburgh, I must eat at Primanti’s.

According to their website: ” Back in the 1930’s, Joe Primanti opened a cart in the Strip District selling sandwiches to truckers on the go. It was decided that he should expand to a small restaurant on 18th Street. The hours were 3am to 3pm to accommodate truckers and the like.  “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ’em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen.I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.” And the rest is history. The Primanti Sandwich: a true taste of Pittsburgh.”

Yes, Primanti’s is a sandwich place.  A sandwich place that serves  meat (of your choice), coleslaw and french fries sandwiched between two thick slices of white bread.

I ordered a turkey sandwich with cheese and the works (coleslaw and french fries).  And a Diet Coke.

I would say that if you are in Pittsburgh—-you should try the sandwiches.  They were good—-  I  liked the combination of the coleslaw, fries,  grilled turkey and I liked their bread.     But, it was HUGE!  (Lately, I have been kind of disturbed by giant portions.  No one needs that much food in one sitting–unless maybe they are a Olympic swimmer in peak training.)

I also really liked the feel of the location I went to.  It wasn’t touristy at all—more like a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop that you just ‘discover’ on a quiet street.

Primanit’s has recently been on shows like, “Man v. Food” and even on  National Geographic.  The restaurant chain was named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation.  People love this place.  I have a feeling that it can get quite busy but I was there at about 3:00 pm on a weekday.  It was empty.

I agree with the recommendations— If you are in Pittsburgh make sure to check out Primanti’s. It is part of the history and culture of the city.  You will get a sandwich that you enjoy. You will leave full.

My only advice:  Go for a nice long walk along the river afterward—all about balance.