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… since my last post, almost. Frankly, I got sick of analyzing my food and just wanted to enjoy it. But while I’m here, I have a few recos in case anyone still stops by:

Maxim’s 22 just off Centre Square in Easton has been the best addition to the neighborhood and my waistline. Casual French cuisine in a great setting with a professional staff. Great food at good prices from the owners of Sette Luna.

Black & Blue at 683 Walnut St in Easton. A casual, darkly intimate setting with a great beer selection. The food is somewhat hit or miss – but the burgers, sandwiches, and wings are great. And the fries (with creamy barleywine dipping sauce) are the best around. I don’t think we’ve been here since Maxim’s opened, though.

Casera is a new addition on N 2nd St in Easton across from Touch of Thai. They offer a prix fixe Spanish Caribbean meal in a single-sitting each Friday and Saturday evening. The menu changes monthly. Personalized service and home cooking in an intimate setting.

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We live up on College Hill and our neighbor gave us a strong reco to try Morici’s Sicilian pizza. We’d eaten there once or twice before and have had their pizza via takeout a few times as well, but we’d never tried the Sicilian. We’re not big fans of the dining room – it’s kinda claustrophobic – but I wanted to enjoy the pizza right out of the oven. It just gets too steamy in the box and can lose its crunch on the walk back to the house.

We started with their antipasta salad which is enormous. It had enough dressing that we didn’t think it would survive as leftovers, so we ate the entire thing. Lots of pickled and fresh veggies, artichokes, olives, meats and cheese.

They have a large Sicilian with 4 toppings for about $20 which seemed like a good deal. We went with ham, sausage, spinach and mushrooms. It was quite good, but we were so stuffed from the salad that we ended up taking 90% of it home. My wife generally avoids thick crust pizza but she really enjoyed this pie. The crust is nice and crispy on the outside and the inside isn’t too dense. The toppings were generous and fresh. FYI- the cheese is under the sauce.

I highly recommend reheating a slice in a cast iron pan and topping it with a fried egg. It makes a great breakfast.

The unseasonably beautiful weather last Friday demanded that we find some outdoor dinner downtown. My wife has been bugging me to go back to Valenca in Centre Square but I’ve weaseled my way out of it for the past year or so. We’ve had way too many odd experiences there – mostly problems with the service. But they have a nice patio setup and tasty sangria so I was ready to give them another shot.

We started with the “meat and cheese plate” – more meat than cheese, but it was good nonetheless. A nice variety of meats and, simple presentation, and tasty candied walnuts to balance the saltiness of everything else.

My wife went with the Greek Salad and Margherita Pizza, and I had the Chorizo Penne. Everything was fresh and well-prepared.

We saved room for dessert and decided to share the lava cake with hazelnut chocolate ice cream (from The Purple Cow Creamery – excellent).

We weren’t surprised by the quality of the food – that was never our problem. The service was our concern and I’m happy to report that we had a great waiter. He was attentive and friendly without being overly chatty. We’d had one server there previously who wanted to have a conversation with every visit to the table. Awkward and frustrating. It’s too soon to be sure that Valenca has upgraded its waitstaff overall, but this visit has definitely recolored my opinion of the place. Plus it’s hard to resist the vibe of their patio and the great light as the sun sets on the square.

A few words from Laini Abraham about our town.

I just realized it’s been exactly a month since I’ve posted anything. We really haven’t gone out much, and when we have, it’s been to our usual spots. I don’t think anyone needs to see pics of Ocean and Sette Luna for the umpteenth time. Plus, the garden is still crankin’ out veggies so we’ve been cooking a lot trying not to let anything go to waste.

We did take our pup for a walk downtown on our Friday off and tried to grab lunch at the Third Street Café. I say “tried” because the owner informed us that the Health Department has been cracking down on the presence of dogs in outdoor seating areas. He apologized and recommended The Quadrant since they don’t seem to fear any sanctions. Seems pretty ludicrous to me. Between the car exhaust, birds, and probable sidewalk urine, our 13 lb. lapdog should be the least of the Health Department’s worries.

The main reason we went downtown was to drop off my entry for the Garlic Fest poster contest. The dropoff is supposedly in the PNC Bank on N. 3rd St, but the tellers had no idea what I was talking about. Five days before the deadline and no one else had dropped an entry off? That didn’t seem right, but I was sure I was following the dropoff instructions so I put my faith in the tellers to get my entry to the right person. I’ll just have to make sure my poster is hanging with the others at the festival this Saturday Oct 2nd. The winner will be announced at 3pm. Fingers crossed. (I’ll post my design here on Wednesday after the entry deadline.)

We just paid our first visit of this hott summer to the Easton Farmers’ Market and stopped at the Third Street Café for brunch. We were initially looking for breakfast and almost chose The Quadrant due to Third Street’s switching to the lunch menu around 11. Turns out they’ve switched things around and now offer brunch till noon, overlapping that menu with lunch. That meant lots of tasty options. I almost went for the country breakfast sampler of eggs, sausage and buttermilk pancakes but switched to the gooey awesome melt below – ham, apples and brie on French toast. So good but tough to eat – it was hard to keep the big pieces of apple from sliding out. My wife had the spinach and artichoke omelet. Everything is always fresh, simple and full of flavor. You gotta try this place for lunch.

We wish they offered dinner on Friday/Saturday evenings – not just the café menu – to sample the full breadth of the chef’s repertoire. My impression is that the kitchen might not be equipped to handle a serious dinner, but a limited menu might be doable, no? Maybe prix fixe? I’d be the first to sign up.

I packed a lot into my weekend (as usual), so come Sunday evening I was ready to just relax and have someone fetch me large quantities of food and alcohol. Thanks to the slight break in the heat wave, I blissfully anticipated sitting at one of Sette Luna’s sidewalk tables and sipping Nero d’Avola until closing time. Then we drove down to 3rd Street…

People everywhere! No place to park! Roads blocked! And cafés packed!

This was not good for my state of mind. I have a bad habit of setting up expectations and wigging out when things don’t go according to plan. Especially when it comes to food. I get grumpy when I’m hungry – most people do it seems. My wife worked as a hostess at a diner when she was in her teens and vividly recalls the contrasting moods between arriving and departing customers.

We swung around Ferry Street to see the crowd at Sette Luna and ended up parking in the circle near Valenca. We headed over to Ferry, past Pearly Bakers and saw signs for Heritage Day – that explained it! Then I felt bad about living in such a bubble. We get our info on Easton current events from the newsletter that accompanies the monthly utility bill. Not exactly “current.”

As expected, there was a long wait for a patio table but there was an indoor table for 2 ready immediately so we snagged it. Some Belgian beer, a little Italian wine and awesome food as usual. My wife had the pasta special – fettucini with their fantastic shrimp and fresh cherry tomatoes. And I had the pizza special – bianca with figs, goat cheese and shaved prosciutto. (I highly recommend you try sweet fruits/veggies on pizza – figs, squash, grapes. Caramelized apples and onions with gorgonzola is one of my faves.)

We heard some murmurings about fireworks and looked around to find that most of the packed dining room was suddenly empty. We quickly paid as we heard the first few explosions. To our good fortune, the corner of Ferry St. by the Post Office a few feet away was a perfect spot to watch the show. I’m guessing they launched from a barge in the river or along its banks. You can see how close we were from the huge wall of smoke.

We hadn’t gotten dessert at Sette Luna, but this ice cream truck looked a little (or a lot) too sketchy to risk the botulism. And I’m sure Marvel wouldn’t be thrilled with Spidey’s implied endorsement…as tastefully executed as it was.

It turned out to be a pretty good night. Maybe I don’t have to have everything go according to plan.

Just had a great meal at our favorite hidden gem in Easton – Touch of Thai. Two meal-worthy appetizers, two big entrées and a kickass dessert for maybe $40 (though the byob policy negated the drink tab). And the place was practically empty! I mean it’s great to be able to get a table with no wait but the place really deserves more bizness. Check out my earlier reviews if you’re interested.

We dropped by Ocean, one our Easton faves, on a recent Saturday evening sans reservation. It seems we’ve built up some cred with the manager as he overruled the hostess to give us a better table than the one she’d found for us. (I’m sure it was that he recognized us as semi-frequent patrons – not that he’s aware of the vast influence of The Fork City.) His gesture made me feel a little bad that we hadn’t visited since March, but we’d tried most of the menu by that point and wanted to branch out a bit for the blog.

We immediately noticed a bunch of new dishes (maybe 20% of the menu?) and were excited to check them out. They’ve also changed up the complimentary dish from hummus and crackers to a black bean dip and tricolor nacho chips – a bit less premium but tastier I thought.

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For my appetizer, I had the phyllo-wrapped herbed goat cheese with honey and pine nuts and my wife had the stuffed scallop with braised cabbage and red beet cream. Both were great. I’ve been in love with the combination of honey and goat cheese ever since i encountered it maybe 5 years ago in Bermuda.

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I combined two tapas dishes for my dinner. I sometimes attempt to combine complementary dishes but i failed this time. English pea soup with lobster and potato hash and Korean braised pork belly with house-made kimchee. The portions were more generous than i was ready for. And even though the flavors didn’t work very well together, the sweet soup help put out a bit of the fire from the kimchee.

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My wife had the fish special on a bed of root vegetables and lobster. We can’t recall the kind of fish, but it was great as usual.

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We barely had room for dessert but we had to try the new stuff. I had the mini carrot cake with cream cheese ice cream. My wife had the dessert special which she wanted mainly for the honey gelato (which in fact is the only part that i can recall – we think the garnish was a peanut brittle but the type of cake escapes us). The cakes were rather dry – almost like someone kept them in a warm oven too long to reheat them before serving.

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We can’t wait to go back and try some of the other new dishes. I have my eye on the panko fried prosciutto wrapped mozzarella salad, the lemon risotto, and the shortbread & blueberry napoleon.

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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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