Posts Tagged ‘Poker’

Matt’s Not Fatt Anymore

August 16, 2009

Matt’s Not Fatt anymore but his Margaritas are.  Donna and I were in Doylestown the other day near the Starbucks when I saw a big banner sign indicating that “This is the Home of the Famous Fatt Matt’s Margaritas”. So camera in hand we went into The Other Side bar to see if we have addition to the Best of Bucks Co – Top 5 Margaritas list.

Come to find out, The Other Side is the bar for Chambers 19, one of Doylestown’s bistros, and one of the owners is the for-mentioned Fatt Matt. Matt has lost weight and is no longer fat but still goes by that nickname.The Other Side Margarita

I went for the Classic Margarita.  They used Sauza Silver Tequila, Fresh Lime juice and Triple Sec to make it. We went for them on-the-rocks vs. frozen to avoid the brain freeze.  The resulting concoction was slightly tart, a mild tequila flavour and very refreshing.

Stawberry Margarita at The Other SideDonna went for the Strawberry Margarita. Courtney, our bartender, told us that it’s their most popular margarita. She also shared that she thought that Los Sarapes serves the best margaritas in Bucks County. I couldn’t agree more as I had them in the number one spot already on the blog’s Best of Bucks Co – Margarita Top 5list.  Donna’s margarita was very tasty with the strawberry flavour coming from freshly pureed Whole Strawberries. Donna’s drink was significantly sweeter than mine but not too sweet. I liked the Little strawberry seeds in the drink giving it some texture but reassuring that the flavouring is from real strawberries. It was a very refreshing drink and worthy of the trip to Doylestown.

Read other review about The Other Side and Chambers 19 here, here and here.

The Other Side– 19 North Main Street, Doylestown , PA 18901                 215- 348-1940

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Steak Skewers Special

August 8, 2009

Filet Mignon at Cafe EuropaIt was poker night at Cafe Europe and my birthday so it was a perfect storm for me. Chef Joey created two appetizer specials for the night, a seaseme seed crusted chicken tenders with a honey soy sauce and a Filet Mignon skewer with a merlot demi-glace. I went for the Filet Mignon medium rare.  Donna tried the chicken special and Ryan went for the Penne alla Vodka based on last week’s post.

Joey nailed the medium rare for my skewer and still managed to have the Onions and Green Peppers crisp but cooked.  The Mushrooms came with the Demi Glace and they were perfectly cooked as well.  The savory demi glace matched well with meat and provided a nice contast to the sweet onions and green peppers. The different textures in the mushrooms, crispy veggies and perfectly cooked meat made for, Jenn’s favourite descriptor, “great mouth feel”. At $8.99 and $12.99 for two skewers, they were a bargin and a great appetizer.

Since is was my birthday bartender and Facebook friend Jenn made a Birthday Banner and Facebook Friend Erika traveled in from Jersey City to play poker and deliver a half dozen Crumb’s Cupcakes as my Birthday Cake. I ended up with a great Carrot Cake Cupcake that was through the roof.  Thanks Erika and Jenn for making my birthday extra special.  Thanks to all those free cocktails eveyone, it seemed and if I can remember, offered me. It was a great birthday.

Joey made the skewers out of Filet Mignon but what is your Favourite Cut of Steak? Take the food survey and let us know.

Penne alla Vodka

July 30, 2009

Cafe Europa - Penne alla Vodka

 Donna went out of our Tuesday Night poker game at Cafe Europa before me and she surprised me with an order of Penne alla Vodka for us to share. Since she was out first, she tried the pasta before me and was excited that this was “the best Penne alla Vodka she had ever had”.

Cafe Europa’s new chef, Joey showed his chops on this dish by first perfectly cooking the pasta and then adding a flavourful Cheese, Tomato and Vodka sauce.  He added some additional texture to the dish with some diced tomato that matched well with the tomatoes in the sauce.  Garnished with some parsley, the dish looked great but tasted even better.  The thick cheesy sauce was lightly seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. There was a little background heat in the dish but matched with the perfectly cooked pasted it was a joy in our mouths.

 Check out the new menu at Cafe Europa here.

Cafe Europa on Urbanspoon

Café Europa, Logan Square, 11 Market Place, New Hope, PA 18938              215-862-9600

TGID – Spinach Dip

July 22, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

A couple of Saturdays ago, we went to Poker buddy and Facebook friend Erika and Lind’s apartment for a Poker game and to watch the UFC 100 match.  That was a great night with much fun playing cards and watching, for basically the first time, the UFC.  One of the highlight of the night for me, was Lind’s Spinach Dip.

Linds is a Penn State grad of their culinary program and works at Aramark. So she knows her way around a kitchen although she says she is spending too much time doing admin work.  What a shame for a talented cook.

As for the Spinach Dip, it was inspired by the version, I first tried at TGI Friday’s but Linds’ version has almost everything in the kitchen into the dip making it great. She put in chopped frozen Spinach (drained), Artichoke hearts, diced Red Pepper, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, Mayo, Alfredo Sauce, Pecorino Romano cheese, Tabasco sauce, Garlic powder, Adobo seasoning, salt and pepper.  I know I like Grace’s Spinach Dip at the Mexican Hold ’em party but this mixture coming out of a hot oven with really fresh Pumpernickel Bread was awesome. Thanks Linds. Creamy, a with strong spinach taste (Popeye would be proud) and a nice cheesy background flavour.  The dip had a great contrast of creamy sauce  and great chucks to give the dip some textures to delight your mouth.  Great job Linds.

BTW Erika had great cupcakes but I ate them so fast no photographic evidence exists to this day. LOL.  Nice cupcakes Erika.

BYOB to the Villaggio

July 19, 2009

Viiagio AppetizerDonna and I had supper last night with Poker buddy Steve and his wife Joan at Villaggio just down the 202 in Lashaska.  Steve and I go back a couple of years playing poker, in fact he was at the final table when I won my first tournament.  Donna usually sits at Steve’s table on Tuesday nights so we knew each other well. It was our first time meeting Joan but she was fun and gave me some good tips about taking photos of food. Thanks Joan.

I started out with the appetizer special of Prochuttio, Melon and Figs. I think this classic appetizer is so popular because in addition to being so simple and colourful, it has nice contrasts in flavours and textures. I never ate Figs as a kid because they were always dried figs which although very sweet reminded me of old people food and an attempt at getting “fiber” into their diet. LOL. Last night the Figs were fresh, sweet and had an almost jam like consistency when I bit into them. The Melon was also sweet but a fresh taste. The saltiness of the Prochuttio stood out against the sweetness of the two fruit making both tastes more intense. The thin slices of Italian ham needed to be cut with my knife making another texture contrast in the dish. I amused myself by varying the combinations of ham, fig and melon on different bites making multiple taste experiences. A great dish, simple in design, complex in tastes and textures.

 INSALATA DI CESARE at VillaggioDonna went for their Insalata di Cesare. It was a classic interpretation of this famous salad. Romaine lettuce, toasted croutons, creamy garlic dressing and no anchovies. The Romaine Lettuce was a little wilted but generally crisp. The Dressing was flavourful with strong garlic note and nice and creamy.  Donna would have like a little more Parmesan Cheese but the Croutons were excellent with a nice toasting on the outside, soft on the inside and a mild garlic taste. Good try guys but still not as good as mine. Check my version out here. Donna and I both love Cesare Salad but let us know your Favourite Salad here

 PARMIGIANA - VITELLO O POLLO at Villaggio

Steve’s main course was the Parmigiana – Vitello o Pollo or as I knew it, Chicken Parmigiana. Steve took the photo of this generous portion of pan fried breaded chicken with pasta.  The Thick Rich Red Sauce was coverd with what looked to be fresh Mozzarella.  The thin breaded Chicken Cutlet revealed itself after Steve cut through the sauce and pasta. By the end of the meal it was all gone and Steve look really satisfied.

Steak at Villaggio

Donna went for the Bistecca del Cuoco or as I knew it, New York Strip Steak.  She had it cooked Medium Well, which I think is always too much but I wasn’t eating it. LOL. Served With Green Beans And Mashed Potatoes it was a complete dish.  Donna thought the steak was very good with simple seasoning and cooked exactly how she liked it. She enjoyed what we thought was an Au Jus that added flavourful moisture to the steak. The Potatoes, Donna’s favourite vegetable BTW, were simply prepared with just butter, salt and pepper. The Green Beans were a nice contrast to the steak and potatoes with some of them having a nice bite but others had been around the kitchen for a little longer.  Net-net good steak but a little more attention to the veggies was needed.

Grilled Scallops and Shrimp at VillaggioJoan and I went for the Grilled Scallops and Shrimp. We both loved the presentation with the colourful pink shrimp contrasting with the bright green of the sauteed Spinach and grill marks on the scallops and shrimp. The perfectly grilled Shrimp were sweet but the char of the grill marks contrasted with a bitter almost acidic taste making the different bites interesting.  This sweet-char contrast was also there on the Scallops. The different density of the scallops contrasted with more dense shrimp and the wilted spinach. I found the Spinach to be well cooked with a nice bitter flavour with a slight garlic note. The bitter flavour contrasted nicely with the sweet shellfish. Good Presentation, Good Flavours and Good Textures – a very successful dish.

Along with the Apps and Mains, Villaggio served up some very nice marinated veggies and great bread to start our meals. So by the time we  finished our mains we were pretty full.  Steve and Joan had invited us for dessert back at their house so we skipped dessert at Villaggio and went to Steve and Joan’s.  More on dessert in the next post. Net-net, a very good meal, generally well cooked and definitely well presented. Thanks to Steve and Joan for joining us and putting up with the photos and the food reviews. I hope we can do it again soon.

Read other review about Villaggio here, here and here.

Villaggio – 5861 York Road, Lahaska, PA    215-794-2777

UFC Poker Guacamole

July 11, 2009

Tonight we are going to Erika’s in Jersey City to play some poker and watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship 100 Match. Apparently UFC heavyweight title holder Brock Lesnar will try to defend his crown against rival Frank Mir in their long-awaited grudge match. I copied that off the UFC Web site cause, LOL, cause I don’t know anything about UFC other than two really strong guys get in a cage and beat the heck out of each other.  Ryan and a lot of my poker buddies are into it so it should be fun to watch them cheer on their favourites.

Guacamole Ingredients I asked Erika if she wanted us to bring something sweet or salty, she went salty and to surprise her.  So after some thinking I decided to go for some homemade Guacamole. Yes, I know guacamole is not salty on it’s own but with some tortilla “scoop” chips that should qualify as a salty appetizer.  The other reason is that at our Mexican Hold’em Poker Tournament, Erika shared that she loved guacamole so why not give a girl want she likes. LOL.

To make the guacamole, I visited the Hass Avocado Web site for their classic recipe cause this family from Maritime Canada doesn’t have a family recipe for it. LOL. I used ripe avocados, jalapenos, limes, red onions, plum tomatoes, cilantro, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Basically I chopped everything into a fine chop and mixed thoroughly. The ratios are on the Web site, I went with more a visual image of what I think good guacamole looks like.

Homemade Guacamole I love foods that offer different contrasts within the same dish, differences in textures, flavours and heat levels. The final guacamole mixture was a great contrast of flavours and textures. The creamy Avocados  with chunky Red Onions and Jalapenos, the sweet Tomatoes with the tart Lime Juice, metallic Cilantro and Kosher Salt and the coolness of the mixture with the heat from the jalapenos. I added some Cumin to give the dip some smokey flavour and some freshly ground pepper to balance the heat of the dish. I hope Erika and my Poker-UFC buddies like the dip.

I will post the final presentation photo later today as we get closer to party time.  I am looking forward to the party.

Chips, Shells and Pie – On My

June 17, 2009

Monday night is Poker Night at the Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope.  I left work late so I went to the game directly and figured I would get some food there off their new menu.

 001I know you are suppose to eat Oysters only in months that have”R’s” but with today’s oyster farms you can safely eat them year round.  So I decided to go with the Grilled Oysters.  It’s a pretty straight forward dish with oysters on the half shell, Butter and some Parmesan cheese.  Simple dishes are often the best.  For $10, I got 6 medium sized oysters.  They were great.  I added a splash of lemon juice to each one and then bit into them.  The delicate grilling the oysters received made them hot to touch but sweet to the taste. There was also a slight salty taste from the oysters and Parmesan cheese. The garnish of scallions provided a nice contrast of textures and flavours to the oysters. The six oysters were a nice size for an appetizer.

Pizza at Triumph Brewing CompanyAs the evening progressed and I finally went “all in” and lost I got a little hungry, so when Jill and Scott offered me a piece of their Pizza of the  “late night bar” menu I went for it.  This was a simple pie.  Grilled Bread, house-made Marinara sauce and some fresh Mozzarella. This flat bread pizza hit the spot.  The crispy bread was a great contrast to the smooth cheese and sauce. The marinara was sweet to the taste with a little basil coming through. A classic dish served right and at the right time.  Very delicious.

Triumph Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Triumph Brewing Company, Union Square, New Hope, 18938, PA 215-862-7855

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

Just Sports – Great Wings

May 19, 2009

Just Sports WingsMy vote for the Best of Bucks – Wings is Just Sports. They are great wings.  Medium in size about 8 to the pound.  Their skin is golden brown and crispy. Medium heat from the sauce. Moist and sweet flesh. A chunky blue cheese dressing on the side with some celery sticks. The orders come in multiples of 6 and come in 9 different sauces. They also have boneless wings (from the Boneless Chicken Ranch) but I think the wing has to have a bone to be a real wing.

In addition to the wings, Just Sports has the usual bar food food menu but has a couple of specials worth noting. Fresh Made to Order Potato Chips.  They come with different seasonings and dips. $1.50 for the chips and $3.50 chips with dip. The other special is the “Breakfast at the Bar” eggs and toast for$1.00. Monday thru Friday 7-11am.

Just Sports also features the “Wings of Fire” Wing Eating Challenge. The challenge is to each just 12 wings in three hours. No drinking while eating. Why just 12 wings?  The wings are just so hot only 3 or 4 (the manager wasn’t sure) people have completed it. The manager said the wings are at “11 million Scoville units” hot. That would make them almost pure capsaicin. I am sure the wings are hot. I think we should alert Man vs. Food.

So for great wings head to Just Sports. BTW they have Texas Hold’em games on Saturday afternoons.

Just Sports – 2160 York Road, Jamison, PA 18929   267-483-8512

Mexican Hold’em

May 18, 2009

Mexican Hold'e,

Mexican Hold’em was a great time. People started arriving at 1:00 and some were still here at 11:00. Deb, Erika, Janet and Bob chopped the pot for the tournament. We also played some cash games at 25/50 cents. It was a lot of fun and everyone seem to have a good time.

Mexican Hold'em Veggie TrayNow on to the food.  We started the day off with some chips and dip and a veggie tray. The Veggie Tray had grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery sticks, carrots, broccoli and red pepper. Poker Bob and I had a bet which veggie would go first and which one would have the most left over at the end of the night.  The cucumbers were the surprising winner of the most popular and the least popular were the grape tomatoes.  I thought the grape tomatoes were just tough to dip, although they very fresh and popped when you bit into them. We bought a large container of spinach dip at the store but when Facebook Friend and poker but Grace showed up with her homemade spinach dip in a sour dough bread bowl, people switched to her dip.  Shout out to Grace.

Guacamole I had never made Guacamole before but since the theme was Mexican I thought I would give it a try.  I searched the internet and found a recipe at the Haas site that sounded good so I did that recipe. I used four ripe avocados, tablespoon of cilantro 1/2 sweet onion, 1 jalapeño pepper, 1 diced tomato, juice of 2 limes and kosher salt to season.  It turned out great.  We coupled it some tortilla chips, Donna likes the Scoops brand the best. Facebook Friend and tournament winner Erika said it was the best she ever had.  I think she was just being sweet but I’ll take it as being very good.  I liked it. It was simple to make and chunks of the avocado in the lime soaked salsa with a little heat from the peppers was very nice.

Wings from Stella's at Mexican Hold'emPoker buddy Tony brought 200 of the best tasting Chicken Wings I have had in a long time.  Normally I would have nominated these for the Best in Bucks – Wings, but alas Tony’s family restaurant Stella’s is in West Trenton, New Jersey. These were breaded wings, medium and size but moist and tasty when you bit into them.

Hot Sauce and Blue Cheese dressing from Stella'sTony also brought along hot sauce and blue cheese dressing on the side.  The hot sauce on the side allow the poker players to adjust the heat of their wings.  This was a flavourful sauce not the burn your head off fire brews some restaurants give you.  The Blue Cheese dressing was creamy with nice chunks of cheese in the mayo dressing.  Nothing goes better than blue cheese and hot chicken wings. Since it was a Mexican theme party we took Tony’s Italian wings and sprinkled cilantro over them to christen them Mexican. LOLMexican Hold'em Chili

The Mexican Buffet started at 4:00 with Mexican Chili, Mexican Mac’n Cheese and do-it-yourself tacos and Fajitas.  For the Mexican Chili, I cooked up 3 pounds of hamburger, 1 pound of chorizo sausages, onions,  red peppers, mushrooms,  jalapeños and garlic. I seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes and cumin. Once the veggies were heated thru I added red kidney and black beans some red sauce and a lot of chili powder. It was my pretty standard chili kicked up with some extra heat, chorizo sausages and jalapeños. It made the theme ingredient.

Fajita and Taco FixingsSpicy Chicken for Tacos and Fajitas   For the do-it-yourself  Taco and Fajitas Bar, we sauteed some chicken and beef strips in taco spices and some extra cumin.  For the taco meat, we took regualr ground beef and cooked it with some finely chopped onions and garlic, we added salt, pepper, cumin, taco seasoning and red chili flakes. We also sauteed sweet onions and red peppers with onions and garlic.  For sides we chopped up fresh romaine lettuce, jalapeños and tomatoes. We put out a bowl of sour cream as well.

Mexican Mac'n CheeseFor the Mexican Mac’n Cheese, we boiled the elbow macaroni as directed on the package. While that was happening, Donna made a bechamel sauce with flour, butter, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  To the sauce she added pepper-jack cheese. The drained pasta and cheese sauce were combined and then we added red pepper flakes and diced chorizo sausage to match the theme.  We spread the Mac’n Cheese out in a lasagna pan and topped the mixture with moistened bread crumbs, pepper-jack cheese and some more red pepper flakes.  Donna baked the dish at 350 degree F for 45 minutes to get the nice brown coating you can see in the photo.  Mac’n Cheese is normally a comfort food classic (shameless plug inserted here for the survey on Favourite Food Types – do the poll if haven’t already) but with the addition of the spicy cheese and chorizo sausage this dish becomes very festive.

I didn’t think to take pictures of the desserts that folks brought but they were all delicious.  JoJo, from the Church Ham post, made Chocolate Mexican cake and a Coconut Custard pie. JoJo brought the recipe for the chocolate cake and we didn’t see anything in the recipe that would make it especially Mexican so we figured it must be the chocolate that made it Mexican so from then on all desserts with chocolate met the theme ingredient. JoJo’a pie was creamy with great flecks of coconut. Shout out to JoJo for the pie and cake. 

Poker buddies Pete and Stella made her famous Brownies and these are to die for. Moist and chocolaty.   Facebook Friend and poker buddy Polina came with homemade chocolate covered strawberries. Tournament winners Deb,  Bob and Janet brought a pies.

All in all it was a great Mexican Buffet and dessert contibution were well appreciated.  Donna and I had a great time preparing the food and spending time with our friends and poker buddies.  I hope they had a great time too.