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I’d heard that a Five Guys Burgers and Fries had popped up in the Lehigh Valley (there are 2 actually plus one up in Stroudsburg). I love a good burger and i’ve been intrigued by Five Guys since the Prez began drawing crowds to the DC franchise. We swung by the Airport Road location (next to the new Target just off Rt 22) to see what all the buzz was about.

The menu is pretty basic – burgers, dogs, fries and sodas. My wife ordered a “little” cheeseburger, i had a regular cheeseburger and we shared a large fries. The regular burger is actually 2 “little” burgers stacked. We both got ours with “everything on it” which included mayo, lettuce, pickles, grilled onions and mushrooms, ketchup, mustard and green peppers. Relish, raw onions, jalapenos, A-1, BBQ sauce and hot sauce are also available.

While we waited for our order # to be called, we shelled some peanuts – a nice distraction for a hungry crowd. It’s interesting to watch the noisy assembly line in the simple open kitchen just behind the counter. The vocal crew, basic menu, peanut shells, and no-secrets kitchen all combine to communicate one simple truth – it’s fun to eat real food.

Our number came up and we took our big brown paper bag out to a sidewalk table. As you can see, the buns were packed with sloppy goodness. The meat itself was tender and flavorful – the patties are loosely packed never-frozen beef and are always cooked well done. And the fries kick ass if you’re into “boardwalk” style.

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The Promenade Shops is an outdoor mall in Saucon Valley (just south of Bethlehem) with a bunch of great dining options. If you have the time, definitely try Melt or White Orchids. But if you’re looking for something quick and affordable, we recommend Pandini’s. They offer salads, pasta, small pizzas and their signature Labretti sandwiches – basically a freshly baked pizza crust filled with toppings and folded in half. Everything is made to order and very flavorful. The portions are good too.

I had the Pesto Chicken Labretti and my wife had The Florence pizza. On an earlier visit, we tried the Mushroom Marsala Penne and can recommend that as well.

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We just had our 3rd wedding anniversary and wanted a known quantity when it came to choosing a place for dinner. It had to be Bolete. Since i just posted about Bolete from our Mothers Day visit, I’ll keep it brief and let the pics do the talking. Actually, i was scolded not to take pictures since it kinda interrupted our special occasion. But then everything looked so great that my wife gave me the green light without my having to say one word.

Apps: Black angel hair pasta with mushrooms and caviar. And asparagus salad with a panko-crusted egg. That egg was so cool.

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Entrées: Seared scallops with linguini and mushrooms. And seared Sockeye salmon with spaetzle and roasted beets.

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Dessert: Goat cheese cheesecake with strawberry preserves and micro-basil surrounded by strawberry-rhubarb consumée. My wife had the lemon sorbet but it actually wasn’t that interesting to look at and the pic turned out poorly in the low light.

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We finally got back to The River Grille – it’s probably been since last summer at least. For a while it was easily the best restaurant in downtown Easton. I think we just felt more comfortable in more intimate spots like Ocean and Sette Luna. The River Grille’s cavernous main dining room can get frustratingly noisy and the patio furniture in the semi-open-air front section was really uncomfortable on our previous visit.

We were again seated in the front section (probably because we hadn’t made a reservation) but thankfully they’d replaced the metal tables and chairs with comfy high-end chairs and a built-in bench along the long wall. The menu felt familiar but there were a fair number of new offerings. I’d had a great ribeye here maybe 2 years ago and was psyched to see it still on the menu. It had been really tender, not too fatty and perfectly seasoned. My wife started with the tomatoes and mozzarella and i had the granola salad. There was maybe too much mozzarella relative to the tomatoes, but i snagged the extra so i’m not really complaining. I had the granola salad – mixed greens with pineapple, granola and raisins. A great way to add some crunch and flavor without piling on the dressing. I’m gonna try it at home.

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My wife had 2 appetizers for her dinner – the tomato bisque and mussels. She was in heaven. The bisque was amazingly smooth and rich. My ribeye was as perfect as I remembered. If i have one criticism, it’s that the side dishes could have been more inventive. The portions were all really generous and it was getting late so we skipped dessert this time. Everything was really great and I don’t see us waiting as long between visits anymore.

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We discovered Klein Farms in Forks Township a few months back. We’d seen an ad in The Irregular newspaper (i think) so it was in the back of my mind that we needed to check it out. One day we were getting ready to head out to a dinner party and we figured we’d pick up some of their raw milk cheese on the way for everyone to try.

I’ve read a bit about the benefits of properly produced raw milk and there are some compelling arguments. The cheeses certainly tasted differently than expected. Klein Farms has a wide range of flavored cheddars and spreads, and my concern was that they were using the flavors (fruit, herbs, etc) to mask inferior cheese. I grabbed a plain gouda and a cranberry cheddar – nothing too gimmicky. I found the gouda’s flavor dramatically different from the European goudas we normally get (usually smoked), and the texture was much more elastic and less dense – almost like a mozzarella without the stringy protein structure. The cheddar was good, though a bit sharp for my tastes. I think we both prefer the more earthy flavors – smoked gouda, bries and blue cheeses. Humboldt Fog is one of our new faves but it can be tough to find. And Wegman’s has a Gorgonzola Dolce that will knock your socks off.

My main interest now is possibly using their raw milk to produce my own cheeses. We buy a fair amount of fresh mozzarella when the tomatoes come in. Cubed and tossed with cherry tomatoes, lemon basil, olive oil and sea salt – it makes a great meal on some toasted semolina bread.

I found some easy mozzarella kits here, though the site is…well…cheesy. This guy has kits for brie and blue cheese, and the idea of aging my own cheese in the cellar is really intriguing. A nice complementary hobby to my winemaking for sure. Maybe i’ll start it in late fall when it gets too cold to make wine? I need a bit more research before i add yet another complication to my life.

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  • the red and black
    For many Junes, this was my favorite cocktail. Yes, I realize that I sound particularly like a weird food writer person and not a person who lives among other people because most normal, sane people do not have a favorite cocktail for each month of the year, even if you agree with me — you do, right? –that a Perfect Manhattan is the ideal way to warm up on t […]

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