June 30, 2009

Charm City Cakes - Meeting Chef Duff!

While we were in Baltimore, we had to stop by Charm City Cakes to take a photo of the shop. We love watching Ace of Cakes of The Food Network. The cakes are works of art and the artists seem fun and laid-back, but dedicated to their craft.

Even though we knew we could not go inside (it's by appointment only and a minimum $1000 per cake), we wanted see where all the baking magic happens.


June 29, 2009

Vaccaro's - Italian dessert in Baltimore

When in Baltimore, the locals suggested we walk around Little Italy and indulge our sweet tooth at Vaccaro's.

Vaccaro's is a local dessert restaurant that serves cakes, cookies, gelato, and so much more. There are usually long lines, but we were able to bypass the crowd on a recent Friday evening (around 9 pm).

June 28, 2009

RFD

It was a humid evening and all we wanted was a casual spot and some cold beer. Luckily, someone had recommended we check out RFD (Regional Food and Drink) while we were visiting Washington, DC.

Located in the Penn Quarter, RFD is known for their vast selection of tap and bottled beers, both imports and domestic, including a giant list of craft beers. It's a large, no fuss sports bar that's perfect for a laid-back night out.


June 27, 2009

Proof: Our Favorite Wine Bar in DC

We wandered around Penn Quarter in DC in search of a lively and sophisticated place to grab a late-night drink. With people dining on the patio and hovering around the bar, Proof looked like the spot we wanted.

Proof is a wine bar and restaurant in DC. The decor is stylish and welcoming. We love the warmth of the exposed brick and leather chairs. For wine-lovers like us, we were thrilled to see that Proof offers about 30 to 40 wines by the glass (with generous pours) .

June 26, 2009

Teaism - A Calming Oasis in Dupont Circle

If you are looking for a place to meet a friend, a light meal, or a refreshing tea beverage, Teaism is the place to go. As DC's first tea house, Teaism offers many teas and a few Asian-inspired meals. For under $10, you have many choices including Japanese bento boxes, Thai chicken curry, and Indian naan and raita with tea cured salmon.

The food is served cafeteria style (you pick up your tray once your number is called). There is a larger space upstairs, but having scored a couple of seats and not wanted to drop our tray, we opted to stay downstairs.

June 25, 2009

Founding Farmers - Eating Local with the Locals

We love getting ideas on where to eat and after soliciting friends on Facebook, someone suggested Founding Farmers to us.

We were really excited because Founding Farmers uses ingredients from local farms. It's like dining in a farmer's market. Everything is fresh (even their inventive cocktails!). As an added bonus, the restaurant is very environmenally friendly (It is LEED certified, a certified Green restaurant, and a Carbonfund.org partner).


June 24, 2009

Brasserie Beck - A Nice Respite from a Hot Summer's Afternoon

It can get pretty hot and humid in DC - what better way to cool off than with a few great Belgium beers? We headed out to Brasserie Beck, a fun open-concept restaurant that combines Belgium and American foods.

The food smelled fantastic (the moules frites and duck sausage and peppers looked really good!), but since we came here for a pre-dinner drink, we just opted for a couple of drinks instead.

June 23, 2009

Zaytinya - Mezze Hot Spot in Downtown DC


We have been wanting to dine at a Jose Andres restaurant. The well-known Spanish chef trained under Ferran Adria, the renown chef of El Bulli (often considered the best restaurant in the world). Andres is known for inventive small plates.

Zaytinya is a great downtown DC spot. The space is light and airy. The food features Mediterranean mezze from Greece, Lebanon, and Turkey.


June 22, 2009

Ben's Chili Bowl - A Washington Landmark

A hometown favorite since 1958, Ben's Chili Bowl serves everyone from locals to tourists...politicians in suits to families in jeans.

We headed up to U street in search of their famous chili half-smokes. Luckily, there were no lines when we got there (around 12:45 pm on a weekday afternoon); however, there was a huge crowd by the time we left!

June 21, 2009

Siroc


We heard a lot of great reviews about Siroc, an Italian restaurant that just opened a few months ago by McPherson Square. The interior looked nice, but given the sunny weather, we opted for a patio lunch.

June 20, 2009

High/Low on the Road in DC: Julia's Empanadas

We decided to head to DC for a few days of culinary exploration. We had so many great meals - from haute cuisine to great comfort foods. One of our favorites was luckily right by our hotel. Even better, this great quick fix meal cost us less than $4.

Julia's Empanadas sells these giant, hand-made pastries filled with sweet or savory fillings. She even makes the dough herself.

June 19, 2009

Pisoni Vineyard - A Family Affair















Father Knows Best...
especially when he's the head vintner. We met Gary Pisoni, the larger-than-life wine visionary, at a wine tasting event along with his son, and fellow winemaker, Jeff. With Father's Day quickly approaching, we thought we would highlight their family vineyard: Pisoni Vineyard.

Pisoni Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands of Monterey Count produces some of the finest pinot noir grapes in California. Besides bottling their own wines, the Pisoni vineyard grapes are also bottled by some of our favorite wineries, Capiaux and Siduri.

Pisoni's pinots are big, rich and full-bodied. If you enjoy the big, California style pinot, take a look around for the 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages, you will not be disappointed. These wines will likely age for a few years, but why wait? Grab a bottle to celebrate this weekend with your dad. Cheers!

June 18, 2009

Fulton Stall Market at South Street Seaport

Another outdoor food market opened up in Manhattan - this one in the stalls of the former Fulton Fish Market. Though the Fulton Stall Market is much smaller than the one at Union Square, it does offer a couple of different and interesting vendors.

There was lots of fresh produce from local farms in New Jersey. We couldn't resist buying a head of lettuce (the size of a shopping bag) for $1.50 (or 3 for $3). It was crisp, delicious, and lasted us all week!



Brooklyn Oenology: Wine meets art with these beautifully designed bottles. The wine is from the North Fork of Long Island while the labels are designed by Brooklyn artists. We love the '07 Viognier ($18). It had a floral fragrance and overall medium body. This crisp but round white was refreshing especially on a warm summer's day but still has good body and acidity.

Lots of people line up for Yummy Coffee's fair trade, organic, and locally roasted coffee. What's even better than satisfying your caffeine crave? Knowing that all profits from your purchase go towards the autism community.

CupcakExpress sells their highly rated, homemade cupcakes for $5 each.

Lots of artisan sheep's milk cheese produced by Dancing Ewe Farm. We love the nutty flavor of sheep's milk cheese with the Pecarino Stagionato being our favorite.

The Fulton Stall Market is open Fri and Sat, from 10AM-6PM.

June 17, 2009

Cannoli at Caffe Dante

We were walking around Greenwich Village in search of a sweet treat. We had seen Alexandra Guarnaschelli (the chef from Butter and many Food Network shows) proclaim on a Food Network special that the best thing she has ever eaten was a cannoli from Caffe Dante. We thought this would be a safe bet.

We found the rather large cafe filled with people on the patio chatting and relaxing, not unlike the cafes in Europe.
We bought our cannoli to go(at $3.80 it was a little pricey). The pastry was fresh and the filling was abundant. It definitely was tasty, though we couldn't say it was the best thing we ever eaten. Perhaps had we sat on the patio, with an espresso in one hand and this cannoli in the other, we would agree with Ms. Guarnaschelli. Though it was not as transcendent as Butter's chef made it seem, the cannoli did satisfy our sweet tooth.

Caffe Dante
is located at 79-81 Macdougal Street (at Bleecker St).

June 16, 2009

Pommes Frites

Who knew you could do so much with just fries? For years, Pommes Frites has served locals and tourists alike with only one thing on their menu: Belgian fries.

These Belgian fries are thick, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. And because there's such a high turnover, the fries are piping hot when you eat them!






That's someone's double order (the largest size)!

Though only fries are served, there's a huge menu of sauces and toppings that can be added (for $1 each). They also make a version of poutine.

We decided to get the regular (yes, that's the smallest size) cone for $4.50.

And we opted for the free toppings including their "special sauce" of mayo and ketchup, chopped raw onions, and mustard.

Pommes Frites is located at 123 Second Ave (btwn E 7th St and St. Mark's Place).

June 15, 2009

Street Sweets

Though it's parked right by Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture in midtown Manhattan, the Street Sweets truck hasn't been feeling the love from nearby eateries.

Thanks to Midtown Lunch, we learned that nearby Pret a Manger and Bistro Milano were upset that their new neighbor might be taking business away from them. So, they and their landlord called the cops, FDNY, and HAZMAT (hazardous materials).

We thought that this was ridiculous since the Street Sweets truck offers both a different menu and dining experience than either Pret or Bistro. But we wanted to see what the fuss was all about so we headed out for our first visit to the Street Sweets truck.


The fun bright blue truck only started serving customers one week ago. We spoke with co-owner Samira and she mentioned that they were spending money to silence their muffler (We didn't think they needed to do so because it didn't seem loud to us at all).

On a lighter note, Samira also shared some of the highlights from her menu.


Croissant sandwiches ($5), cupcakes ($3.50), macaroons ($1), and much more.


We sampled the Pecan Sand Tart cookies and the Candied Ginger Shortbread cookies (These bags of 10 cookies are $6 each). These cookies are a cherished family recipe and were incredibly light and flavorful.


We chose her unique pumpkin whoopie pie ($2). It had a nice fragrance and had a soft texture. Its flavor had a great spice to it and was not too sweet.


We also chose her giant croissant ($2.75 + $2 for almond butter filling)


The croissant was flaky, not dry, and the almond butter was rich. We were impressed that, unlike most other croissants we've had, it wasn't greasy at all (no oil stains on our bag!).

The Street Sweets truck is usually found at 55th St and 6th Ave. Unfortunately, the cops were called again after we left so their location may change. Follow them on twitter for the most up to date information (http://twitter.com/StreetSweets).

p.s. You can follow us on twitter too! (http://twitter.com/highlowfooddnk)

June 14, 2009

Wechsler's Currywurst Bratwurst - A quick trip to Germany in the East Village

We love it when we not only discover a new dining spot, but also learn something new. We were in the East Village and noticed Wechsler's Currywurst Bratwurst. It was a small spot with a good selection of German beers. But it was the currywurst that piqued our interest.


Joerg, our cook and server, explained that currywurst was a German national dish (there's even a museum in Berlin!) of sliced pork sausages topped with a tomato and curry sauce. It was started after WWII and ever since then, it has been an addictive fast food dish.

Currywurst ($6, small): The fries were good - thin and crisp. The currywurst was great! The sauce was very tasty, like a ketchup with a subtle curry taste that was not spicy.

Reissdorf Kolsch ($3): The lager was crisp, clean, and refreshing.

We love the taps!

Uerige ($4): This German ale had a medium body and a touch of sweetness.

Wechsler's Currywurst Bratwurst is located at 120 1st Ave (btwn 7th St. and St. Mark's). It's only been opened for 3 months, but there's already a steady flow of regulars who keep coming back for this addictive treat. We will definitely come back for more!

June 13, 2009

Manganaro's Grosseria Italian


If you ever wanted to simultaneously be a part of a big, Italian family and experience a piece of New York nostalgia, Manganaro's Grosseria Italiana is the place to go.

Manganaro's has been a New York institution since 1893. Due to a very long-standing family feud, it is not affiliated with the Manganaro's Hero-boy next door (don't even mention it while you're here - just read about it here). It's both a grocery store and a restaurant.


There's tons to choose from on the menu. Seline, the owner and chef, is like your Italian mother. She's sassy, speaks her mind, and will fill your plate to the brim. She even joined us for a drink.


Sausage and Peppers ($9.95)


A sample of farro (Italian wheat grain) and pancetta.


Antipasto of mozzarella, olives, mushrooms, and artichokes ($10.95)


Tortellini en Pesto ($10.95) and some Fusilli with Brocolli that the family insisted we try


Linguine with Clam Sauce ($10.95)


Our Italian beverages.

How to end a great Italian meal? A cannoli, of course!

The food was fantastic - reminded us of mom's homemade dinner! Remember to come here on an empty stomach and be prepared to dine like you're with your big crazy family.

Manganaro's is located at 488 Ninth Ave (btwn W37th and W38th Sts.)

June 12, 2009

A Couple of Coffee Stouts

Coffee and beer...two of our favorite drinks together! We recently picked up a couple of different coffee stouts to try out. Though they're not light and summery drinks, these beers are perfect for dessert or as an after-dinner aperitif.

First was the Long Trail Coffee Stout (22oz bottle for $3.99 from Whole Foods), from Long Trail Brewing Co. in Bridgewater Corners, VT. On the pour, there is a strong coffee nose, thick, black color and trace head that quickly disappeared. Medium body with sweet roasted malt and a slight espresso bitter finish. This would be a good winter breakfast stout.
The Imperial Stout is brewed with Vermont Coffee Company Dark Roast and since we are coffee drinkers we do not mind the strong coffee and accompanying bitterness. Also, the 8% ABV is not too strong for this style of beer. Overall, a good craft beer for the price. We'd like to try this on tap and maybe even eat this over our ice cream at dessert.


The Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout (picked up for $5.99 for the 22oz 8.3% ABV bottle) from Lagunitas Brewing Co. poured a cola color with a roasted mocha coffee nose and taste. The beer is medium body with notes of bittersweet chocolate and a typical bitter roasted coffee finish for this style beer. The infused coffee is from HardCore Coffee of Sebastopol, CA. The Lagunitas has a little bit more of an alcoholic heat on the back-end as well.


The Cappuccino Stout is drinkable and similar to the Long Trail not too overwhelming. The Lagunitas is a little pricey in comparison (we like the Lagunitas IPA's better) but like most craft beers, if you can get them at a good price, pick up one.

The Long Trail and Lagunitas stouts might not be the most food friendly or session-style beers, but who cares? For beer and coffee lovers, it's the best of both worlds! Cheers!