Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Happy New Year Cake

September 20, 2009

Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends and readers.  It’s also Donna’s Birthday on Monday so when I was in search of a birthday cake or cupcakes for her I went to Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown.  Crossroads had done such a great job on the Ricotta Polenta Pie for Easter, I figured they could do a great birthday cake for Donna. But when I got there late on Saturday I spied the Jewish Apple Cake that I had posted a few weeks back and a Jewish Honey Cake that I had not tried. Remembering that this is the Rosh Hashanah weekend, I figured it would be cook to try something ethnic that I hadn’t tried before.  The Jewish Apple Cake looked as dry as the one I tried from the Town Crier so I figured the result would be the same as in my previous post so I went for the Jewish Honey Cake.

Jewish Honey Cake from Crossroads Bake Shop

The small cake was a perfect size for dessert that night.  I learned that this cake is a tradition at Rosh Hashanah meals and there are many recipes for it but here is one I picked up from Recipe Zarr. Usually I find cakes to be either light or heavy for the size but this cake seemed to weigh exactly what it should. The Golden Brown colour showcased the Almonds that added texture to the cake.

Jewish Honey Cake from Crossroads Bake Shop in Doylestown, PAThe great news was that the slices were Very Moist and flavourful.  Donna and I seem to detect almost a Spice Cake flavour rather than a “Honey” flavour that we anticipated based on the name of the cake.  The small portion slices require me to take two slices so I could ensure for my readers that the quality of the cake was consistent. (LOL – what I do for my readers) It was good but the distribution of almonds make the bites interesting as sometime you got them and sometimes not. The moist dense cake with the interesting spice and almonds is a great cake and regardless of your holiday worth buying.

BTW – Let us know your favourite Food Holiday at this poll.

Read other review about Crossroads Bake Shop here, here and here.

Crossroads Bake Shop on Urbanspoon 

Crossroads Bake Shop – 812 North Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902           (215) 348-0828

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American Food

July 3, 2009

Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  The biggest American patriotic holiday of the year. There should be lots of BBQ, burgers, hot dogs and fireworks. I thought it might be interesting for my Canadian friends back home to highlight some of the American Food they might not be familiar.

A special summertime treat in the New York-Philly area is Water Ice. The name is a little redundant but this icy sweet treat is very refreshing on a hot summer day. It is also called Italian Ice. Basically it’s shaved ice with some sort of sweet flavoured syrup added. I think we would call it a Slushy in Canada. 

There are several other things that have different names down here. Hoagies are submarines and Cheesesteaks are a special kind of submarine with hot thin chopped steak meat covered some kind of cheese (even Cheeze Whiz LOL if that is even a cheese), grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms. There is a huge debate in Philadelphia as to which place has the best cheesesteak and all my PA friends have an opinion about which store has the best cheesesteak. Donna and I have tried several and are working on a Top 5 – Best of Bucks Co list.

Soda is pop down here and Donna and I tease each other if we ever order “a soda” in a restaurant. The variety of “sodas'” down here is amazing. I have even found a grape NeHi that Radar O’Reilly used to drink on MASH.  I always thought that was a made up brand because Radar was so short as in “knee high”. Sure enough it was real and actually good. They also have gourmet soda down here but that’s just too over the top.

A local mystery to me is Scrapple. It’s some sort of ground pork product with cornmeal or flour and different spices that gets fried as breakfast meat. I tried it a few times but just find it nasty with the one exception, the Dublin Star.  I think it was the exception cause they used buckwheat rather than the flour or cornmeal version I tried before. I am also pretty sure my MD wouldn’t want me eating anyway.

Pork WingsPork Wings are a recent discovery for Donna and I.  These are great. Not sure what part of the pig they are but they are delicious. I had them at Big Bob’s BBQ and at John & Peters. They taste like pulled pork on a stick and who doesn’t like anything that comes on a stick.

I am sure there are a few more differences but we have been here so long they don’t seen so different anymore. I think that’s good.

For my Canadian friends living in the USA, let me know what you find different in the USA and what you miss back in Canada. Take Care and Happy Holiday Weekend.

Take the different Food Surveys here if you haven’t already.

Happy Canada Day

July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day Everyone!

We have been in the US since 2001 and have celebrated eight Canada Days down here. Over the years we have celebrated by having BBQ’s, Poker Tournaments, Dinners out and Friend in but this year is going to be quiet.  I have a big presentation tomorrow so we are keeping it quiet.  We will make it up on the Weekend but for now I am going to write about the foods we miss back in Canada and try to have each time we go back.

Donna and I compared list and had a few common items.  Hot Hamburger Sandwiches, Donairs, Poutine, Chow-chow, Dulse, Crispers and Caramilk chocolate bars .  My Canadian friends will know what these are but for my American friends, I’ll provide some details on what the items are.  A Hot Hamburger Sandwich is a lot like a hot roast beef sandwich except a large hamburger patty replaces the roast beef. Beef gravy goes on the patty, bread covers the patty and more gravy on the bread. Fries or mashed potatoes and vegetables comes with it.  Sounds simple but we haven’t seen on down here yet. A Donair is a spiced meat in a pita wrap sandwich with onions, lettuce, tomatoes and sweet donair sauce.  It’s a lot like a gyro but the garlic sauce is sweet rather than savory. I have posted about these in my post on Middle Eastern sandwichesPoutine is basically french fries, grated cheese and gravy. Again simple but haven’t seen it in the US. If you go to Quebec that have restaurants that serve 20 different combo of poutine including putting foie gras on it.  We do make our own for Ryan and Robbie from time to time but not as good as a serving at 2:00 in the morning on say St. Catherine Street in Montreal. Chow-chow in Canada is simply pickled green tomatoes and yellow onions.  US recipes have all kinds of other vegetables added but even though recipes show up on several recipe sites but no Chow-chow is seen on the stores shelves near us. Dulse is dried seaweed that has a strong salty taste with a crunchy texture at first that ends up being chewy. You get a big bag and eat it like potato chips – salty and crunchy.  The best dulse comes from Dark Harbour in Grand Manan. Crispers are a Nabisco salty snack that are part chip – part cracker. Robbie loves these and we bring back bags of different flavours, Salt & Vinegar, BBQ, Ranch and Regular. Caramilk Bars are chocolate bar made by Cadbury that has pockets of caramel inside a wrapping of chocolate. Donna craved these when she was pregnant with Robbie so much we had a constant supply in the frig for the entire pregnancy.

We miss these foods but vacation time is coming soon so we re-stock.  If you are reading this in Canada, send us a care package if you can.  LOL  Happy Canada Day!

Update – Ryan added some restaurants we miss back in Canada. Swiss Chalet – Rotisseary Chicken, Tim Horton’s – Coffee & Donuts, Deluxe French Fries – Fish & Chips, Osaka Japanese Grill – Beef Teriyaki, Vitos – Pizza and QB’s-Best Wings in the world.

Memorial Day Family Picnic

May 27, 2009
Tom BBQing

Thom at the Grill

Ryan, Robbie, Donna and I got invited to our Thom and Reno’s for their Memorial Day Picnic.  It was a blast meeting their neighbours and family.  It was also great from a food point of view too.  There was tons to eat and a variety of items to make it interesting.  We got there on time and Thom was already cooking up some ribs on the grill. The Marinated Pork was moist and sweet a sTom BBQing burgers and Dogslight smokey taste from the grill.  Once the ribs were done Tom switched the classics;  Burgers and Dogs. Both were great but for some reason you weren’t suppose to put ketchup on the dogs, it was ok on the burgers but not the dogs.  The BBQ featured only Sabrett hot dogs which they felt were the best dogs in the USA.  I am a Nathan’s fan myself but the Sabrett Dogs were very good.  They had a nice snap when you bit into them and a pleasant spice mixture in the meat of the dog. Not sausage spicy but flavourful enough to be a great dog.

BBQ Fix'insA nice surprise was some Breaded Eggplant that one family member brought in from New York City.  Poker buddy Pete explained that this eggplant only grows in Italy and every year the relative brings it.  Pete suggest that I eat it without the red sauce to really taste the eggplant.  I did and sure enough it was good.  I normally steer away from eggplant regardless of preparation but when Pete said it was special I knew I had to try it.  Either way I would get something to write about.  It was a good recommendation.  Eggplant, to me, has almost a metallic taste and can be tough if you get a thick slice.  These slices we thin with a light breading.  The taste was sweet with almost a cold cut density to the flesh. It was good and I would have ate more but they disappeared by the time I got back the table.  I didn’t try the pull pork but it looked and smelled great.

Tomatoes and MozzaA classic Italian Salad is Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella.  The picnic’s version was really special because of the two varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some really fresh basil leaves.  The mozza was obviously fresh from their taste but aroma coming off the giant basil leaves and tomato.  You could smell this dish from across the room.

Deviled EggsAnother treat were the Deviled Eggs made by local Chef Gary from Dish Catering.  Gary catered my 50th Birthday Party so I knew these would be good.  They eggs were seasoned with mustard, cayenne and paprika giving them some heat.  Not to much but a good match to the mayo and egg yolk base to the egg filling.

Corn and Bean SalsaHaving just come off our Mexican Hold’em party the week before, I thought I was full of salsa until I spy-ed the Corn and Red Bean Salsa.  This colourful salsa was a good change up from the spicy mostly tomato salsas were served at our event. This salsa was also mild in spice making it a refreshing appetizer on a hot day.

Scilian PizzaReno now runs the family pizza business in Ringoes, NJ taking over from his father Frank.  Not that we didn’t have enough to eat already, Thom started to grill some  Sicilian Pizza that Reno had made earlier that day.  I am more of a thin crust pizza fan myself but I had to try it.  Glad I did. the grill had heated the crust nicely but the biggest impact was on the melting of the cheese, basil, garlic and homemade tomato sauce. I restrain myself in eating only one piece, cause my MD is reading the blog now so I gotta watch what I eat or at least what I right. LOL.

Spinach Salad with StrawberriesNew Facebook Friend and Poker Buddies Pete and Stella’s daughter Geri made Spinach and Strawberry Salad.  This was a refreshing break in the heat of the day.  The lightly dresses greens were a nice contrast to the sweetness of the berries.  I helped Geri pass the salad to her family and got to meet more of this great family. It was a lot of fun.

Finnish BowlingOf course a bunch of us player poker for part of the picnic but the most interesting game was a version of Lawn Bowling from Finland. The idea was to knock over the different wooden markers with wooden cylinder until you get 50 points exactly before the other players. Ryan and I tried it and it was a lot of fun.  Ryan later partnered with Poker buddy Tony and they almost won.  I can see why it was a popular game and great for picnics. 

Thanks again to Thom and Reno for inviting us.  We had a great time and hope we get to do this again next year.  Happy Memorial Day.

Forget the Apple – Try the Beers

May 24, 2009

Isaac Newton's, Newtown PA

Our Memorial Day Weekend Best Burger in Bucks Search naturally took Donna and I to Isaac Newton’s in Newtown. Poker buddies Jill and Scott work there and normally that would be enough to visit but Isaac Newton’s reputation for good burgers and lots of different beers earned the visit.

Isaac Newton's Beer Tap List

Isaac’s offers 19 different beers and ales on tap and an additional 200 bottle brands including some of those great Belgium brews I tasted on my last trip to Brussels.  All of these are offered as take out.  In addition to the wide variety of beers and ales, Isaac’s holds weekly Beer Seminars on Thursdays hosted by different breweries.  The seminars are a great chance to round out your beer knowledge and to sample different offerings from breweries. They also offer Specialty Keg Wednesdays, when they tap a rare and hard to find keg. Check their Web site to see what coming up next week.

Special Beers List at Isaac's Newton's

Make sure you check out the Special Beer Boardover the main bar at Isaac’s.  The beers are truly special and not available widely.  I loved the humour the beers are presented with.  In fact the entire place has a good tongue-in-cheek attitude making it an enjoyable visit. In fact since we visited mid-afternoon on a slow Saturday, some of the staff were having a super soaker water gun fight outside the restaurant. LOL.

We came with the purpose of having Wings and Burgers but the menu offers a full set of dining options including a pretty broad kids’ menu.  I would recommend the place for lunch or dinner.

Issac Newton's Wings

As for the Chicken Wings,  Isaac’s offers only one menu offering so you may need to special order yous thru the attentive wait staff.  We just went for the menu offering and got the order to the right.  There are about 9 wings to the pound making each wing a little larger than you get a most places. When the wings arrived, you could smell the heat coming from the almost fluorescent orange wings. That was scary at first since Donna and I don’t do a lot of heat but the first bite relieved our stress as they were, in fact, medium in heat. Medium Heat to me is when you bite into the wing you can taste the heat but it’s not overwhelming the taste of the chicken and burning your mouth.  You should get a nice after-burn once you swallow the meat.  These wings has a nice crispy skin so that with the heat, they give a great mouth feel. The chicken meat flavour actually does come thru on these wings reminding me of really good fried chicken with out the hot sauce.  Isaac’s wing order comes with a creamy blue cheese dressing that Chef Scott told me is made from one gallon of sour cream, one gallon of mayo and five pounds of blue cheese crumbles.  The resulting sauce is smooth at the same time having small crumbles of cheese in every dip. The blue cheese in very mild and I do like mine a little stronger but this as good as any we have had in Bucks County.  The other nice thing was that the order came with celery sticks and carrot sticks. Yes carrot sticks, which seem to be rare with chicken wings in Bucks County. Net – Net these wings are good enough to be added to the Best of Bucks – Wings.  Check out the other Top 5 Wing Winners.

Blaine's Burger at Isaac Newton's

Isaac Newton’s offers 10 Different Burgers on their very funny menu.  All the burgers are 8 oz, hand formed and served with “free” Belgium Fries. They are priced $8,70 to $10.90.  Depending upon your taste, you can chose from 5 different cheese; mozzarella, Swiss, Jack, Blue Cheese, Brie; bacon and 2 types of mushrooms; portabella and shiitake. They also serve  Turkey and Garden burgers for those who swing that way. LOL. They also offer the Martin Challenge where you can double any burger for $4,99. No prize, just a cheap way to get a full pound burger.

 We went for the Blaine’s Burger. It comes with two thick slices of bacon, blue cheese crumbles, lettuce, tomato, pickle, Swiss cheese and a “nest” of fried onions. The fully assembled  burger had to be 6 inches tall. We cut the burger in half and took a bite.  The first distinctive taste was the salty Blue Cheese followed by the Smokey Bacon and then the moist meat.  The nicely charred burger was well seasoned and cooked to order. The Onion Nest was unfortuately cold but the onion flavour still came thru and the onions were still crispy in texture. The nice surprise was the bun. It was thick enough to control all the burger fix’ems but absorbant enough to capture the juice flowing from the burger. The Belgium Fries had been tossed in what we thought was Old Bay, I’ll have to ask Chef Scott about that Tuesday night at poker, and came with spicy dipping sauce that also looked like it was seasoned with Old Bay as well. A great burger that I have added to my Best of Bucks – Burgers Top 5 list.  Congrats Isaac Newton’s.

BTW -Special shout out to our waitress Cheryl who put up with us today. She allowed us to take our time, answer lots of question and take the photos.  We found out she takes photos of her food as well and proved that by some great shots of her recent trip to Pittsburg.  She has great stories about London, England as well.  So if she is serving you at Isaac Newton’s, ask to see her latest photos.

Isaac Newton’s, 18 South State St., Newtown, PA, 18940, (215) 860-5100

Memorial Day Weekend Best of Bucks – Burger Search

May 23, 2009

I associate Memorial Day Weekend with BBQ’s, picnics and fireworks.  Most BBQ’s and picnics serve burgers and dogs so if there were ever a weekend to search out the Best Burger in Bucks County this would be it.  I have placed posts on ChowHound, Foodbuzz and on Twitter seeking recommendations for where to go. So far we have received recommendations for the Pineville Tavern, Isaac Newton’s, Choppers, John & Peters, Mikes and Dilly’s Corner.  So we need more.  Please add your recommendations in the reply box below.

Donna and I will try to visit 2-3 places over the weekend and report back on their burgers.  If we think they are good enough we will add them to the Best of Bucks-Burger Top 5. Check that page out for the current Top 5 and to make future recommendations.

Have a great holiday weekend and let us know great places for burgers and what you did for the weekend.

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

May 21, 2009
US Memorial Day image
US Memorial Day image

This weekend is Memorial Day here in the USA and depending upon where you live there are different food traditions associated with holiday.  Around Bucks County there will be tons of backyard BBQs and people heading to the Jersey shore.  For the past few years, Donna and I hosted a Poker Tournament but we did that last weekend. You can read about that here.  For this year we are going to do some burgers and dogs with just the boys.  I will write about that later this weekend but wanted to know what you were planning to do and what are your Memorial Day food traditions were.  Use the reply box below to share your plans.

If Memorial Day is not your favourite food holiday, tell us your Favourite Food Holiday here.

Survey Says II

May 11, 2009

Currently I have four different food polls running on the blog to capture the readers’ input.  This post will summarize the results todate.  If you haven’t given your opinion yet, you can still do that but once  you vote, the software drops a cookie so you can only vote on that poll again.

My first poll asked about your Favourite Food Style and current leader is Italian followed by Japanese and Comfort. As of 11:00 tonight there are 21 votes.  Italian makes sense to me and I think Japanese is being driven by sushi but I think Comfort food was a bad choice in the survey because it could be comfort food in any style rather than what I thought comfort food was when I orginally labeled the choice (lots of mashed potatoes, grilled cheese and tomato soup, etc).  Let us know what you think is your choice of comfort food in the reply box below or the comment link at the bottom of the post.

The second poll asked about your Favourite Sandwich and the current leader is the Hamburger followed by the Hot Dog. With 43 votes cast perhaps the first and second place finishers were not really in doubt but what about third place?  A surprise with the Rueben sandwich beating out the Philly Cheesesteak for third place.  Where is your pride Philly folks?  The poll continues so if you haven’t voted you can still vote.

The current Favourite Salad leader is the Ceasar Salad.  I may have influenced the decision with my posting on my recipe for Ceasar Salad on the blog. LOL.  Second and third place was tied for the Waldorf salad and the Tossed/Green salad. With only 18 votes the salad catagory is wide open for more votes so click here to have your opinion heard. 

So far the Favourite Food Holiday is Thanksgiving. Not really surprising when you considering that the holiday is almost entirely focused around food with almost not religious cermonies getting in the way so that all people can participate.  Second place was Christmas and third place was a tie with virtually every remaining holidays I put in the poll. To be fair this was the last poll I creates so the number of votes was very small. So vote for your favourite holiday at this post.

Thanks for participating with the different polls. I hope you continue to particpate as I add addition polls. Facebook Friend and Advertising buddy Emily has given me ideas for future polls so a shout out for that.  I am also interested in what others would think would be interesting polls, so use the Comment Link below or the Reply Box to make suggestions.

I am also collecting suggestions for the Best of Bucks in different categories. If you have a favourite restaurant here in Bucks County, that does a special job on any of the categories let me know thru the Reply Boxes or the Comment link at the bottoms of the posts or pages.

Cinqo de Mayo at my Favourite Italian Restaurant

May 6, 2009

On one of the episodes of Tony Bourdain’s Cook Tour, he goes to the hometown in Mexico of one of  his staff cooks.  The show highlighted a great deal of homemade Mexican food and made the point that the backbone of many restaurants in New York City are Mexican cooks and kitchen staff.  The same might be true in here in Bucks County.  My case in point is Cafe Europa which for the other 364 days a year is pretty hard core Italian but offers Mexican specials on Cinqo De Mayo.  The specials are created by the Mexican staff and they take a great deal of pride in the preparation and presentation of their specials.

Margaritas for Cinqo de MayoBefore I tell you about the food, let me tell you about the margaritas, the traditional cocktail served on Cinqo de Mayo.  Bartender and Facebook Friend Carolyn made this one with a mid-range tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and triple sec in a 2-1-1 ratio. The drink was shaken with some crushed ice and served in this delightfully tacky glass.  The glass actually glows and had settings for on, off, slow flash and fast flash and you got to keep the glass.  Carolyn’s margaritas were so good that by the end of the night my counter looked like an airport at night with all the glasses flashing in a row.  It was pretty funny.  For more information on where you can get a great margarita make sure you visit my co-worker Eric’s site Top Margaritas where he and his friends have ranked margaritas from around the world.  If you know where I can get a great margarita in Bucks County let me know on my Best of Bucks – Margiaritas page.  Let me know if you need a blinking margarita glass as I seem to have collected quite a few.

Mexican Chicken Special

For my meal, I chose the Mexican Chicken Special.  The dish came with moist pan fried chicken, brown rice, avocado slices, a salad of sweet onions and cucumbers over a bed of iceberg lettuce and deep fried tortillas pieces with a spicy green chili sauce. 

The salad was simply dressed with lime juice which matched well with the sweet onions and cool cucumbers and lettuce.  The lime dressing also matched with lime juice in the margarita. The chicken was pan fried with just salt and pepper.  The rice took on the brown colour from the cumin that gave the rice a slightly smoky flavour.   I especially enjoyed the green chili sauce and ended up dipping the chicken as well as the tortillas into it.  A very nice heat. The flavours were fresh and bright from the salad and avocado and filling and satisfying from the chicken and brown rice.  This combination made the dish a great success. 

I know an Italian restaurant is an unusual place to celebrate a Mexican holiday but Phil’s team made it work.  Let me know about the flashing glass thing or you comments in the reply box or comment link below.

What’s Your Favourite Food Holiday

May 4, 2009

Tomorrow is Cinqo de Mayo and I will be celebrating.  It’s a great a food holiday and great excuse to eat and drink Mexican food but there are other great food holidays.  Let us know which holiday is best, do the poll and let me know which is your favourite food holiday.