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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lunch at Wildfire Grill - Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2014

A beautiful fall Saturday is reason enough to go our for lunch, but being my sister's Birthday Eve, we had double cause for celebration.  We haven't had a "sister date" in quite some time and so we headed out to the Wildfire Grill in Montgomery.  We've both been here before and looked forward to our return.

While we peruse the Hudson Valley Restaurant Week menus, I also notice the cocktail specials on the blackboard behind the bar.  My sister and I decide on the Pumpkin Bellinis.  Seasonal and sparkly.

After just a few minutes we have made our decisions and yes, we ordered the same exact starters and main course with our only difference at dessert.

We start with the Lobster Bisque which included a lump crab meat patty...

The broth was delicate and while creamy, it was not overly thick in consistency.  The crab meat was sweet and along with the warm slices of herbed bread, served as a nice texture contrast while eating the soup.

We noticed a bridal shower taking place in one of  the dining rooms and hungrily watched as the guest plates were brought past our table.  Everything looked and smelled delicious.  I also hadn't thought of the Wildfire Grill before for private parties.  Great idea!

Our lunch arrives - the BBQ Pulled Pork Quesadillas with french fries!

I am a french fry junkie and know that I will not be able to finish my entire lunch (have to save room for dessert), but I will find a way to make sure I eat every last fry!  The pork is soft and sweetly sauced and we are happy ladies.

We talk of the upcoming holidays, holiday menus (we may try our own version of Pumpkin Bellinis), holiday shopping and seeing each other the next day for my sister's birthday celebration at our mother's house.  The restaurant is filled to capacity.

Our desserts arrive...

For my sister the pumpkin cheesecake

A perfectly sized portion placed over a swirl of maple syrup.

For me, the sweet potato waffle with ice cream also plated over maple syrup:

It was a joyous occasion to spend some time with my sister and enjoy a lovely lunch.  So decadent.

We were Fed Well by the delicious food and time alone to enjoy each other's company.

Wildfire Grill on Urbanspoon

The Lakeview House for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Fall 2014

During Hudson Valley Restaurant Week my family knows it is quite likely they will be invited to join me to try a new area restaurant and this past week was no exception.  The Mr. and I invited our sons to The Lakeview House on Orange Lake.  I was also quite motivated since one of my longtime friends works there and I completely trust her judgment about food.

We were seated in the glass walled dining room I imagine is even more lovely either for lunch or a warm summer night with the sunset in full view over the lake.  Included in our Hudson Valley Restaurant Week menu are suggested local wine, beer and a cocktail selection.  Our younger son asks a few questions before deciding on Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty and I opt for a Sidecar.  Our drinks are wonderful and I even had a sip of the Hurricane Kitty though I know nothing about beer other than whether or not I like the taste.

First course for me is the artichoke bottom stuffed with crabmeat.

I am quite happy with the flavor, portion size, using the artichoke bottom for ease of eating with a fork and do take advantage of squeezing a bit of fresh lemon juice on top.  Delicious and easily identifiable as crabmeat rather than crab flavored stuffing.

The Mr. begins with one of his favorites - French Onion Soup.

He has probably eaten hundreds of crocks of French Onion soup to date and has strong opinions when it comes to variations and chef interpretations.  He enjoyed the Lakeview House's flavors and proclaimed it to be, "good and traditional."  High praise from a man who is our resident French Onion critic.

Our sons decided to order from the regular menu and so began with classic tossed salad:

The vegetables were crisp and fresh - the plates were left clean.

Main courses

Priest Chokers Pasta - or Strozzapreti with baby arugula, grape tomatoes, homemade meatballs...I have to say I hesitated ordering this dish but trusted my friend when she told us her favorite dishes were steaks and pastas.  I have been burned in the past when ordering pasta in any place other than an Italian restaurant.  In fact, I often think of the movie, "Goodfellas," and worry I will be served egg noodles and ketchup.

I was served a huge bowl of happy.  The serving size was enormous, the spiral tubes of pasta were al dente, the meatballs were tender and flavorful and the cheese melted into the dish with a few turns of the fork.  Sumptuous and satisfying.  

Chicken.  Those who know us know chicken is the way to the Mr.'s heart.  He ordered the Chicken Sevillia which was chicken breast stuffed with Serrano ham, manchego cheese and served with a red pepper coulis.

Another nice size portion meal, the chicken breast was oversized, with a crispy exterior and moist meat.  The Mr. enjoyed his entire entree which was served with rice pilaf and broccoli.

Our sons both opted for 12 ounce steaks:

The understanding we have when dining out together is to let Mom try your dish, "so she can blog about it."  Well, sometimes, I just want to try their food - don't tell them.  The steak was tender and well seasoned and again, the men cleared their plates.

Dessert - our older son ordered 2 servings of key lime pie to go so he may enjoy it at home with his girlfriend who could not join us.  I later found out they gave their review was 2 forks up.

The Mr. opted for the Mudd Pie:

Honestly, the 4 of us could have shared this tremendous dessert after our meal.  

I had the fresh strawberries in Grand Marnier Custard and though you can't see the berries at the bottom, trust me, they were plentiful, juicy and sweet.

We were well taken care of, enjoyed our meals and look forward to returning to the Lakeview House when we can appreciate the setting as well as the fabulous food and thoughtful, attentive service.  Leaving Fed Well, full and with enough Priest Choker Pasta for another meal, I was thankful for dinner out during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

Lake View House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joseph's Steakhouse in Hyde Park for Fall Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2014

For me, part of the appeal of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week  (HVRW) is the ability to try a new-to-me restaurant and see how it fits.  The price fixe allows for a fairly level playing field, although I do prefer to view menus online before I head out, and I often opt for choices I may not have ever found without HVRW.  

A perfect example is last night’s visit to  Joseph's Steakhouse in Hyde Park.  With just a few clicks of the mouse I was able to learn Joseph’s Steakhouse has a bit of local history as well.  The historic Tea Room was once owned by Eleanor Roosevelt and used to entertain distinguished guests.  The space has other distinct and separate areas including a Tap Room, main dining room and private banquet room.  The online menu confirmed beef would be the star and so the Mr. and I headed to 728 Violet Avenue.

We were greeted and seated within moments in the Tea Room section and I found the Frank Sinatra era background music to be fitting, not only for a steak house, but this Joseph’s in particular.  Our server was pleasant and accommodating and I began by ordering a Sidecar cocktail.  

We both ordered from the HVRW menu and started with the mussels for me and chili for my husband.  

The mussels were sweet and tender, the chili was full bodied with a gentle heat.

For main courses, I had the sirloin topped with Shrimp Oscar.  The beef was well seasoned and prepared exactly medium rare as requested.  The Bearnaise sauce was flavorful without overpowering the delicate shrimp or masking the woodiness of the asparagus.  The dish was flanked by Lyonnaise potatoes and a vegetable medley.  

The Mr. selected the prime rib with garlic mashed potatoes and was not disappointed by the flavor and texture of the meat.  It truly was a memorable meal.

While we ate, we noticed Joseph thoroughly enjoys his time in the front of the house.  He stopped at our table to check in and ask how everything was as well as find out what made me order a Sidecar.  I’ve been noticing their resurgence on the Internet and have been wanting one – this seemed like the right time.  Joseph told us he remembers when they were quite popular and shared the secret is in proper shaking to create a foam.  It was simply delicious.

For our last course, I had the cherry Merlot ice cream which was made at Clancey’s Creamery and the Mr. selected the warm apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream.  

Coffee for him, Harney & Sons tea for me closed out a wonderful dining experience.  The staff, ambiance, cleanliness, history, setting and food all added up to a memorable Monday night opening to Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

We would love to visit Joseph's Steakhouse again - we left happy and feeling Fed Well.

Joseph's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Appetizers at La Piazzetta in Wurtsboro

Food blunders should really be the name of the post.  Pronouncing various ingredients and dishes can be tricky and I made a mistake in identifying the difference between Clams Oreganata and Clams Casino.  Horrors.  Do you know the difference?  Here is the official distinct definition:

Clams Oreganata is an Italian seafood dish served most commonly as an appetizer. The dish consists of a number of clams (usually six or twelve) that are topped with bread crumbs (usually moistened with olive oil) and baked. Lemons are often included so that the orderer may squeeze the lemon juice onto the clams. The name comes from the addition of oregano to the bread crumbs...


Clams casino is a clam "on the halfshell" dish with breadcrumbs and bacon.[1] It originated in Rhode Island in the United States.[2] It is often served as an appetizer in New England and is served in variations nationally.

Not that Wikipedia is the strong voice in defining all things culinary, but it was the easiest, quickest source to plug in to the blog.

I had one and though bacon is a flavor enhancer that could be included in almost all dishes, these were nicely prepared oreganatas.  (It's my blog and making up food words is fun.)

Shrimp Cocktail

A seasonal salad served with a marinated pear over a fig spread alongside an arugula salad rounded out my lunch companion's choices.

For me, the eggplant rollatini appetizer was a portion large enough that I could have considered it a meal.

In fact, if I had known, I may not have ordered the flavorful and traditional Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean) soup.

How do you decide what to eat? Is it about calories, taste or satisfying a craving?  I like to consider specials first though I know this can be a double edged sword.  It could be the restaurant's star dish or a matter of using up food.  I have also learned to ask the server what the restaurant's most popular dish is and take that into consideration.  If I was thinking of something simple like a hamburger, but am told the steak sandwich is hands-down their most ordered meal, it's not tough for me to switch culinary gears.

Seasonal choices and dishes that are too complicated (or not great crowd pleasers at my house) are also at the top of the list.  It's not likely that I will ever make eggplant rollatini at home - mostly because I'm not sure anyone else would enjoy it even half as much as I do.

How do you make your food choices?

I thoroughly enjoyed the appetizers at La Piazzetta and left feeling Fed Well.

And a side note...not long after this visit, I held the Mr's. surprise birthday party at La Piazzetta and it was a great success!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Torches on the Hudson for Sunday Brunch!

What is a more fitting way to spend a Sunday (late morning into early afternoon) then with one's lady friends, river side and enjoying a classic brunch buffet?  It was a lovely experience and Torches on the Hudson has set the bar. We watched many visitors begin a day of Hudson Valley tourism with brunch and then set off on one of the river cruises, but it was also a great way for local friends, families or even those on a date, to get together and share a meal.

Brunch cocktails are not available until noon, so if that is a priority either plan accordingly or be patient.  Here are the Bellini, Bloody Mary and Mimosa.

I enjoyed the peach and champagne cocktail that is a Bellini.

The buffet also includes custom omelette's ordered via our server and/or Eggs Benedict.  Eggs Benedict are my favorite breakfast food - something about the lush feeling of a poached egg smothered in a well made Hollandaise that makes me happy. I have the egg with Canadian bacon or ham and over either a toasted English muffin or my absolute favorite is a slice of fresh, seasonal tomato.  I am almost giddy with food anticipation and brunch excitement.

We head to the buffet in shifts.  Some of the ladies stay at the table to both guard our bags and belongings (something our mothers taught us I suppose) and ward off the evil yellow jacket bees!

Mini-waffles are a popular item at the buffet and are served alongside bowls of sliced and fragrant strawberries as well as whipped cream.

Another beloved aspect of brunch is the availability of both breakfast and lunch menu items.  An antipasto platter is perfectly at home on the same serving table as a silver tray of scrambled eggs, baked pastries, and slices of quiche.

For those who prefer something with far less salt and exponentially greater nutritional value - a beautiful variety of fruit is nearby.

And of course, an assortment of cheeses...

My first plate (yes, that is the down side to a buffet - we tend to overeat) includes a few slices of salami, a single piece of ham, a portion of Chicken Marsala, a serving of the perfect texture and well seasoned breakfast potatoes with red peppers and onion, a small section of quiche and a few olives.  Salt heaven!

My second plate (I can tell you without shame because we are not making eye contact), includes a bit of Tilapia, fresh green beans, more of those heavenly spuds and from the carving station; a slice of roast turkey with gravy.  It just can't get any better than a waterfront brunch buffet with great friends and a Bellini, right?  

Maybe it can!  A dessert buffet is the cherry on the proverbial sundae or literal cupcake depending on your selection.

Bread Pudding

Yogurt Parfaits

A Tower of Treats

Sweets, sweets, everywhere!

Panna cotta with Blackberries and Cream 
 (Learn more about panna cotta by clicking here)

What did 5 women in their 30's - 50's talk about over brunch? Work, kids, the food, the bees, and the ladies from the Red Hat Society who were getting ready to board one of the river cruise boats.

Ok, about those bees...I was minding my own business and was stung on the back of the neck and then, the last precious sip I had saved of my delicious Bellini was ruined by a dive bombing yellow jacket who landed in the alcohol laced nectar I was thoroughly enjoying.  Hmmph.

The breakfast buffet at Torches on the Hudson would be great for catching up with friends or family and a great date for couples of all ages.  A great destination for being and feeling Fed Well.

Torches On The Hudson on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bocca Coal Fired Bistro - Margate, NJ

Bocca means mouth.  Naming a restaurant "Mouth" in another language makes it sound exotic, but imagine if the owners used the English word?

We went to Bocca Coal Fired Bistro on a rainy night during our beach vacation.  I had made a reservation earlier and was quite thankful they were able to accommodate us.  It was a bit crowded and hectic.

I settled down with a smooth and perfectly made Cosmopolitan.

The Mr. loves a good crock of French Onion soup and this is how Bocca does it:
We have never seen nor tasted soup with deep fried onions as the top layer.  It was dramatic and the taste was ok, but, we (well the Mr. especially) are a bit traditional when it comes to our favorite food and drink.
Mommy had a Caesar salad that still was not as good as my sister's.

A cup of the chicken taco soup was warming in both temperature and flavor.  The typical seasonings one would expect in a taco, particularly cumin, were present in this fun cup of culinary sunshine.  I could thoroughly appreciate the creative touch in this dish.

Our mother's both ordered the personal pizza which turned out to be maybe 3 millimeters smaller than a regular pizza and 1 could have easily been shared.

Can't say we weren't happy to take almost a whole pizza home to enjoy as lunch left-overs.  It was a well made and delicious pie.

Chicken and Crab Limon
The Mr. is always quite proud of himself when he orders something new and acts as though he is doing it for me.  I love that he never quite goes out of a certain food circle. Chicken is almost always a safe bet though he does eat other meats at home (the one we never buy or prepare is veal) and is in fact a hunter willing to try many game meats and fowl.
For me, the crab ravioli.  I love the sauce, the pasta dough is just the right texture and firmness, the filling is identifiably crab.  Very nice plate.

The atmosphere at Bocca did not scream vacation restaurant.  I think the crowd was a comfortable mix of travellers and locals or at least regulars.  We were well taken care of, the food was plentiful and my drink was fabulous.
We talk about the rest of our planned adventures while at the shore and decide what we will do and see over the next few days.  A family of Fed Well tourists leave feeling full and fulfilled. 
Bocca Coal Fired Bistro on Urbanspoon