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The other Friday we decided to grab dinner on the way home from work. Half of our drive is on rt. 80 and the rest is on 611 through mostly farmland, so our options are pretty limited. Mt. Bethel has the greatest concentration of choices including an amazing bakery that i’ll have to post about sometime soon. We called ahead to Teresa’s Pizza Cucina and Cantina for a pie with lots of veggies plus sausage. They recently rebuilt the place after what was apparently their second fire. Used to be called Doughboys i believe – but that was before we’d ever been through Mt. Bethel. Not sure if Doughboys food was good, but Teresa’s definitely makes a good pizza (wood-fired oven, natch). The thinly cut sausage is a nice touch, as opposed to feeble crumbles or Papa John’s mass-produced spheroids.

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Another culinary highlight of our trip to Ocean City was this “cake” brought to a dinner party by my bro-in-law’s grandmother. Basically your typical eclair in shape and taste – but the size of a football. Intimidating, messy and totally awesome. Then she brought another one to a party the next day! Brilliant! She picked it up at a place called Delvecchio’s on Rt 54 just over the border in Delaware. I gotta get Natale’s working on their own version…

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We recently spent a long weekend just outside Ocean City, Md for our nephew’s first birthday. Just before the drive home, a group of us grabbed lunch at The Shark on the harbor in West Ocean City. Great food all around. I had to have some Maryland crab before heading home so i ordered the crabcake sliders, 3 small lump crabcakes each on a different type of bun. IMHO, this is the way to go if you want blue crab. I don’t have the patience or skill to crack open more than 6 or 7 crabs before i get frustrated from hunger and an overdose of Old Bay seasoning.

Patio dining at Valenca, anyone? Haven’t been there since the fall. The dining room is fine but the patio is so much more relaxing – if you can ignore the crackheads in the square. (Just don’t feed them and they’ll leave you alone.)

If you visit, I recommend the salmon or the codfish gratin. And you have to get the red sangria. I still haven’t tried the flaming chorizo (so beeeeautifully animated on the website). The paella is their featured item but it didn’t thrill me – a decent amt of seafood but i can only take so much rice. I got bored after a few bites and we had tons leftover. “What am I supposed to do with all this Paella?!”

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Summit, New Jersey, make an effort to visit Natale’s Bakery. Hell, Natale’s is reason enough to make the trip.

I was introduced to their devil dog cake, doughnuts, fruit tarts, and the famous Philly Fluff (the best poundcake you’ll ever have) several years ago by a coworker who’d married into the Natale family. He actually took all of the sweet pics on the new website which was designed and programmed by another of our coworkers. Check it out.

My folks drove up Saturday to hang out and we decided to go out for an early dinner. They’d never had Thai food and I wanted to try Touch of Thai again to make sure it was worth my strong reco. We were the first ones there, but the dining room was half-filled by the time we left – a better crowd than they had the Friday evening when we first stopped in.

My folks had a bunch of questions about Thai food, but the menu had brief explanations of the dishes to make things easier. While we pondered the menu, we got to work on a couple bottles of wine. A white from Franklin Hill Vineyards flavored with kiwi and strawberry and a Mondavi Riesling. We have to try Franklin Hill’s more traditional offerings cuz they’re specialty fruit blends are too sweet. The Riesling was very good.

We started off with some vegetable spring rolls, fried crispy with a sweet chili dipping sauce, and the chicken skewers we enjoyed on our previous visit. My folks were liking everything so far. For the main course, my dad had a sweet and sour pork dish, my wife a curry, my mom the pad thai, and i had what was basically the pad thai with glass noodles. It was a huge plate of food, but i hadn’t eaten since breakfast and i wolfed it down. In fact, i don’t think anyone had leftovers – which is unusual for my mom and my wife.

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Amazingly we still had room for a little dessert – but little is not what we received. We figured we’d share the triple ice cream dish, though my pops went rogue and ordered the sticky rice and custard. Daring. The scoops of mango, ginger, and toasted coconut ice cream were ginormous, and the flavors and texture were top notch. I’m wondering if they get a local place like Purple Cow to mix them up special. The coconut was packed with toasted coconut and was the clear favorite.

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My dad was a bit stunned by the custard – it was a large slab with an odd yellow color. He had an eye on our ice cream so i decided to help him out and let him in on our frozen awesomeness. The custard wasn’t half-bad – kinda like a coconut custard but a bit more textural. Half the portion plus a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream would improve the dish.

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As we were finishing up, PA state rep. Robert Freeman arrived with a small group. He’s a lifelong Easton guy so he would know all the best spots – and i have to agree with him on Touch of Thai.

Besides getting a lot of work done around the house – inside and out – we made yet another visit to Sette Luna and took my folks to Touch of Thai.

Sette Luna had the sidewalk tables available but there was a chill in the air and it looked like rain so we chose the dining room. Started off with a quartino of Sangiovese and a glass of Belgian blonde ale (Carmelita i think it’s called). Light and smooth with warm spice. For appetizers, my wife went with the blood orange salad and i had the wood oven shrimp over a bed of marinated white beans. Sette Luna’s shrimp are amazing – perfectly cooked, meaty and smoky.

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For entrées, my wife had linguini with olives and anchovies, and i had the Norwegian salmon with white beans and spinach. Cooked medium-rare in their miracle oven, it was perfectly seasoned, smoky and moist.

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Our server (Gabrielle – one of their best) told us about a dessert special – Nutella rice pudding with raisins and hazelnut brittle. Sold. They did forget to put the whipped cream on top, but Gabrielle fetched a bowl of it in a flash.Getting it on the side was perfect anyway since my wife doesn’t dig whipped cream, and it avoided being melted by the warm pudding. We usually share a dessert, but this is one case where we could have easily polished off 2 (or 5) servings. Hope they have it again. And that they make it bigger. 😉

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I’ll post about our second visit to Touch of Thai within the next day or two. Spoiler alert: It was goooood.

So I read an article in February touting the “first Friday” jazz dinner at the 3rd Street Café. Then we drove past on March’s first Friday and saw that the place was packed for dinner. That sealed it. We had to go to the next one.

Then I totally flaked until this morning when i realized i’d better make reservations for tomorrow night. Damn, that place is tiny and maybe i waited too long and there aren’t any tables left!?

ringring
“Third St Café”

“Hi, you’re having the jazz dinner tomorrow night?”
“Hold on. Are we having entertainment tomorrow?” [she asks someone]

“We’ll have jazz Saturday morning.” [he replies]

“Oh. So no jazz even though tomorrow is first Friday?”
“No.”

“Umm…thanks.”
click

So why were you promoting this event that you weren’t actually having? And why is there a huge callout on the web site saying “Every First Friday”? I mean c’mon…it’s one day a month. We’d still go even is there was no jazz – i don’t even really like jazz – but now that my spitey sense has kicked in, i’ll be shunning the 3rd St Café until my wife talks me down.

Picked up a few of these wine bottle totes a few years ago on Amazon to give as xmas gifts. A nice way to add value to a $10 bottle and skip the cheapo gift bag. The neoprene pouch holds a bottle snugly and cushions it from any accidental collisions. I also dig the integrated handle. It was the product BUILT® was founded upon, but they’ve really expanded their product line. Check ’em out.

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  • bakery-style butter cookies + the new book is here!
    Today my second cookbook, five years in the making, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, at last leaves my noisy, messy kitchen and, perhaps, makes its way into yours. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck. I hope you love it. I hope you find a new favorite recipe (or 5) in it. I hope you make the granola biscotti and have them on hand […]

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