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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tony & Nick's - Ellenville, NY

Special occasion restaurant shopping.  It's a thing.  We sometimes have reasons to celebrate and are looking for a restaurant that offers a private room or can accommodate large parties (20 or more seems to be considered a large party).  We also want it to look nice, serve good food, have a nice atmosphere and full bar.  At times, the location is also important.  Our quest brought us to Tony & Nick's Italian Kitchen in Ellenville.

On the table when we arrived was a bottle of spring water available for purchase.  We opted out.

However, I did ask about the available Italian soda choices and went with the one pictured below:

Classic Movie Poster Wall Decor

Not long after we placed our order we were brought toasty hot ciabatta bread with creamy butter that was ready to spread.

We selected one appetizer to share.  Who can resist a plate of cured meats?  Pictured left to right are salami, Porchetta pork and prosciutto.

For our younger son, the "Whole Hog" panini which was served with delicious, golden truffle fries.

For the Mr. - Chicken Marsala of course.  Unfortunately, he was disappointed about two aspects of this dish.  He prefers his chicken and pasta served separately - marinara sauce on the pasta and secondly, the Marsala sauce had a few flaws for his taste; it was a very strong alcohol taste, he had to ask for extra sauce (which he was brought fairly quickly) and he does not enjoy this much onion.

For me, the shrimp scampi.  I was pleased with the sauce flavors, amount of shrimp, overall serving size and honestly, I ate every bite.

Since we were on a tasting mission, I wanted to try dessert.

Not sure what the Spumoni Bomba was, I asked our server and it was well explained as chocolate, pistachio and strawberry ice creams encased in chocolate.  Accurate description and I very much enjoyed half of this decadent treat.

The service was quite attentive, the background music was appropriate and included classic Italian-ish songs many would recognize from pop culture movies.  A private five-course meal with wine pairing event was held in the private room, but since I had stated almost upon arrival our intent to scout restaurant sites for a future event, we were able to have a sneak peek before the group of 60 guests began to arrive.

Our conversation ranged from topics including the current restaurant, the black and white photo of Sophia Loren in the restroom as well as one of Rocky Marciano as well as what we think would be a good, solid commuter car for the Mr.  

Two out of three forks up for Tony & Nick's.  It is still under consideration and further members of the jury will have to try it as well.  We left feeling Fed Well and if you want to know a secret, I'm looking forward to doing further research.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Daddy's Donuts & Bake Shop in Middletown, NY

With the holidays comes a need for baked goods, whether home-made cookies by the dozens or specialty items from a beloved bakery, people seem to crave specific combinations of sugar, dough or batter.  Whether we want sprinkles, frosting, chocolate topping with or withot fillings of cream or jelly, we know we want a sweet treat after our holiday meals.  At Daddy's Donuts & Bake Shop in Middletown, NY customers can also add a touch of whimsy from childhood by creating confections topped with favorite cereals or based on flavors from popular candy bars.

I checked the website before my visit and was surprised to see they had baked goods ranging from fresh bread and bagels to cannoli, pie, cake, danish and yes, of course, donuts.

When I entered the shop, I could not resist inhaling deeply when I first detected a variety of smells associated with pastries including the powerful aroma of sugar. Everything outside of Daddy's Donuts simply ceased to exist.  All thoughts revolved around selecting just the right items while the rest of my senses tried to remain rational and coherent.  I struggled to concentrate long enough to read the menu board, but my eyes were scanning the room, the displays, the racks, the shelves and fresh items filled the surfaces.  How would I decide?

Even now, as I compose this blog, I find myself carefully looking through the photos to see if I missed anything I may want to try next time.

I decided to try to make things simple by asking for a dozen donuts including an assortment of popular and cereal donuts as well as two maple bacon donuts.  The next two photos are what I received:

Smores, Fruity Pebbles, Fruit Loops and M & M candy - oh my

Captain Crunch Berry & Maple Bacon are among the choices

The donuts are a light, yeasty cake and did not feel oily, greasy or heavy.  Nicely done.

I then placed an email order to be ready for pick up on Christmas Eve morning. Thought the line was a bit lengthy (to me this shows how popular and in demand the business is as they had plenty of staff working), my order was ready and accurate. Also included in the donut order was a struffoli which I brought to my son's house for Christmas brunch.

Crispy dough balls placed in a circular ring and festively topped with sprinkles made for a pretty and delicious alternative to cookies or cake.

The two donuts I tried were the Almond Joy and Maple Bacon.The Almond Joy was filled with a delicious vanilla cream, topped with dark chocolate, shaved coconut, slivered almonds and very nicely conveyed all of the flavors one would associate with the candy bar.

The Maple Bacon was a stick donut which I had to break in half for a smaller serving size. The frosting was easily identified as maple without being cloyingly sweet. Crispy bacon bits were the perfect balance in texture, salt and, well, bacony goodness! Among the other flavors we tried were the Nutella, Boston Cream and we also gave some cannoli's as gifts which were well received by a discriminating friend.

Welcome to the neighborhood Daddy's Donuts & Bake Shop. I indulged in and shared your products with family and friends who were all Fed Well this festive holiday season.  Wishing you and yours a Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Appetizers at Buckalew's Restaurant and Tavern, Beach Haven, NJ

Have I ever mentioned my aversion to crowds?  Sometimes it is frustrating for me and sometimes it is frustrating for my family.  I want to enjoy my food in peace.  I also prefer to simply walk right in and be able to be seated immediately.  These are not always realistic options or expectations, especially in popular vacation areas, at popular meal times or on weekends.  Today, I wanted to try a particular restaurant so I asked the Mr. if we could go during "happy hour" to avoid the dinner rush.

The negative?

He wasn't hungry.

The compromise?

Cocktails and appetizers at Buckalew's Restaurant and Tavern.

For me, a margarita on the rocks with a well salted glass rim.  The tables are nicely covered in white paper and I asked for the crayons the children receive when they are seated.

The talent may be lacking, but the meaning is clear.  

Doesn't the image really, effectively, say all you need to know about my vacation?  Chairs in the sand, on the beach, under the umbrella on a sunny day.  The End.

So, how many appetizers should we order? How not-really-but-kind-of hungry are you?  I just need a little something to hold me over during the car ride home.  He says he isn't "really" hungry, but I know he will eat.  Three.  Yup, that seems fair.

To begin:
CHOWDER! Yes, a cup of New England Clam Chowder.

Lush and velvety with tender clams.  Yum.  Yes, we were actually able to split this cup of soup though I wanted to hog it for myself.

Clams Casino:
Oh my! This is a must have.  The menu simply describes them as "like no other", but really, they are delicious shells of clam goodness topped with a bite of bacon.  Nothing wrong with this wonderful combination and though the salad may not appeal to everyone, I loved it and ate every forkful.

Finally, a true classic - steamers in a bowl of delicate goodness suitable for dipping toasted bread or simply slurping up every last bit.

We enjoyed both our quick visit to Long Beach Island and appetizers at Buckalew's.  We were certainly Fed Well and being able to draw and color on the table covering was a joyful bonus. Vacations should allow you to both relax and perhaps enjoy life without fears or anxiety.  Fabulous and memorable.

Buckalew's Restaurant & Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Jayson's Pancake House - Long Beach Island, NJ

Vacation + breakfast out =  glorious

Something so splendid about having breakfast out when you are on vacation, well, as long as you are not hung up for an hour in a never ending line of unhappy children and families that are miserable. Success.  We were able to enjoy Jayson's Pancake House with minimal fuss or delay.

Culinarily speaking, breakfast for us involves eggs the way we like them, hot, relatively quick and usually nothing really fancy.  Perfect.  Oh, and by the way, I smuggled in a cup of medium french vanilla flavored coffee from my favorite chain and quickly dumped the contents into a coffee cup. One of the employees caught me as I sheepishly smiled and threw the styrofoam evidence into the garbage.  Yes, I knew I would be providing a bit of an extra tip for my indulgence.

For the Mr.:
Eggs for him are only over easy and I was surprised by his choice of pancakes.  He claimed it to be delicious.

For me:

More surprises.  I also gravitate to eggs over easy or Benedict with the next option being an omelette with spinach, tomato, and mozzarella.  However, the scrambled was good and I loved the thinly sliced breakfast potato chips. 

We were Fed Well, the service was quick, straightforward and efficient.  Our bellies were full and we were ready for a day of beach filled fun.  How I miss having the sand under my feet.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cosimo's in Middletown, NY

Do you need fancy surprises to keep the spark alive? Something to keep in mind on your next "date night."

Monday night madness in August.  When your birthday falls on a Monday in the Hudson Valley and you want to go out to dinner to celebrate, well, your options fall quickly.  Add in the fact that I really do not want to drive after an almost hour in the car just to get home from my day job and my selections are really quite limited. However, the Mr. suggested Cosimo's in Middletown and I have been there quite a few times and agreed it would be a nice choice.

Who doesn't love a fully loaded bread basket?  Dipping oil is nice, but sometimes, I will admit I simply long for a nice smear or real, creamy butter.  Old fashioned? Perhaps. I'd like to think of it as classic.
Celebratory Spirits

We started with a heaping platter of salad topped with cured and deliciously salted meats. Carcinogen studies be damned. The cheeses were soft and mellow.  Veggies were crisp and the balsamic drizzle balanced all of the flavors and tied everything together.

It's just the Mr. and I.  Yes, the restaurant has plenty of other diners seated all around us.  But, on this particular evening, it is just the two of us, a date night if you will.  All those headlines in print and on-line about "keeping the spark alive" in your marriage always call out the need for date nights.  Truth is, we've been married since 1987, have lived through ups and downs and are well aware of the importance of spending some time together.  In my opinion, "keeping the spark alive" comes from far more than just date night. It comes from a thoughtful place that may sometimes require a bit of thinking, planning and concern for your partner.  Asking how their day was, about something they are interested in or even current events.  A few of my greatest fears include evolving into those sterero-typical people at a table with NOTHING TO SAY. No, thank you.  I'm not saying we don't share comfortable silence at times (I don't want to make his ears bleed), but I enjoy the conversations we share.

Back to the meal...

For the Mr. - chicken - are you surprised?

For me - PASTA - again, no surprise.

Want to know a secret? The spark is always there.  The trick is in determining how much to fan the flame without blowing it out and no fire should ever be left unattended.

As far as the dinner, we enjoyed a nice meal and honored the tradition of celebrating my birthday. I officially feel I have entered the on-ramp for 50 with the two year countdown in place.  Thank you Mr. for a lovely evening as well as every day making the decision to stay together and be Fed Well.

Cosimo's Brick Oven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Dutchman's Brauhaus, Manahawkin, NJ

So, if you are a regular reader of Fed Well and read the blog posts in the order they are posted, this one may be considered Part 2 after The Chicken and the Egg as Part 1.  To catch you up, we are on a one day vacation overlap with friends of ours.  We have already shared lunch followed by an easy afternoon just walking on the shore, sitting on benches, and have taken in the gentle breezes on an overcast day.

Next up...dinner.  We noticed The Dutchman's Brauhaus on our way into Long Beach Island as it sits right on the bay.  Thing is, we wondered if the idea of German food while at the beach would work. Unconventional to say the least.  We also knew it wasn't about the food anyway, we just wanted to be together, and found it was a bonus that we enjoyed each phase of the meal.

The view is one of the main features of eating on the bay.
We also enjoyed watching a family approach, then dock their boat, with two beautiful dogs on board. The pups dutifully stayed in the boat while their family ate their meal in view on the pier.  Lucky.

Yes, a cosmopolitan.  It is always my first choice.  It was well prepared and delicious.

Since we were completely mixing things up for my culinary mind, I opted to have one appetizer to share with the Mr. and then two appetizers as my main course.  I jumbled up the German and seafood selections.  

Here's how it turned out:
Cape May Salt Oysters - Medium Tender Texture, Moderate Salinity Clean, Cocktail Sauce, Lemon

Our friends started with the oysters and said they were great.

The appetizer I selected for sharing:
Konigsburger Klopse - German Style Meatballs, Brandy Caper Cream Demi Glaze 

We all tried it and agreed it was a hit.

The atmosphere was relaxing, the conversation consisted of the same kind of stories you may share with your closest friends; children, jobs, vacations, retirement destinations and well, life.  A gentle feeling of relaxation came over me and I could feel myself, body and soul, taking on a more vacation-like posture.  I was with people I enjoyed, at the beach, and coincidentally sharing great food.

Main Courses:
Schnitzel with spatzle and red cabbage smothered in mushrooms and demi-glaze

Our friend's had the same meals! We always plan and orchestrate our choices so that we can try the other person's dish or the Mr. simply orders one of his favorite chicken dishes.

My husband LOVES soft-shell crab and so, when we are at the shore it is a must have when available.
Soft-shell Crab Sandwich

The appetizers I chose for my main course:

Shrimp Martini Colossal (3), Tangy Cilantro Cocktail Sauce

I worried for a second that the massive jumbo shrimp would be tough or dry, but they were delicious.

Potato Pancakes

Normally, at the end of a Fed Well blog post, I sum up by sharing how nice the restaurant was, that the food was delicious, or other tidy little ending.  In this case, I want to share something a bit deeper. It was to be the last time the 4 of us shared a meal.  My friend's husband, our friend, suddenly and quite unexpectedly passed away about one month after this dinner at the shore.  This is why Fed Well was on-hold for a few weeks.  

I will always cherish the memories associated with this vacation day as well as the feelings.  We miss our friend, very much, and watch as my friend tries to get through her daily life while holding her broken heart together.  Grief may very well be the strongest, most crippling, of feelings and it truly takes an enormous amount of bravery to face.  The process is different for everyone. Grief includes raging anger, sadness, frustration, jealousy, and a wide range of other emotions in a variety of intensities.  You cannot plan your day around it.  You cannot simply schedule your next melt-down.

The Mr. and I have stood by my friend.  We offer whatever comfort we can, and in whatever format it is needed; an ear, a shoulder, time together, and yes, shared meals. My friend, I will stand next to you and do what I can to ensure you are Fed Well.

The Dutchman's Brauhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Chicken or the Egg - Long Beach Island, NJ

Sometimes it takes awhile from the time I enjoy a meal until I write the post.  In this case, seeing I had left these photos in draft mode, as well as the ones from our dinner on the same day (different restaurant), is really tough emotionally.  But, I am determined to tell you all about it.  This was a special meal shared with friends on vacation in Long Beach Island, New Jersey - we were on our way in and they were on their way home.

Since they knew the "lay of the land" and the restaurants they liked best, we wanted to be led and were quite happy with their choice of, The Chicken or the Egg.  Next, my girlfriend introduced me to the most modern way to reserve a table via the No Wait app.  Modern technology has provided some improvements to our quality of life - admit it.

We take in the scenery while we wait (not very long).

And once we are seated, I really start to take in all the sights...

So, yes, you can get chicken and egg dishes - as many varieties as you can dream up, but they also have tons of items that have nothing to do with poultry in any form. Burgers, sandwiches, platters, and a seemingly endless list of choices.


As far as I'm concerned, no trip to any beach is complete without some kind of fish or, if it is available, New England Clam Chowder.  This was a wonderful and delicious example of a great creamy chowder.

The Sloppy Shepherd

our tangy 100% ground chuck sloppy joe, topped with redskin mashed potatoes, cheddar jack cheese, baked till golden and delicious, served with a roll and butter

The Mr. went completely out of his normal routine and ordered a special.  We do agree that this tactic also typically pays off with good food.  He had a filling and non-traditional shore meal in this generous portion of "The Sloppy Shepherd."  

Next up, my girlfriend's... 
Chicken Taco Salad
Sliced charbroiled chicken breast over greens, jack cheese, onions, diced tomato & black olives in a crispy tortilla shell, sides of our salsa, sour cream, & choice of dressing
She said everthing was delicious.

For me, Eggs Benedict.  Not just any version, but over CRABCAKES! What??? Yup. Chesapeake Benedict also includes BACON!
You couldn't ask for a better combination of land and sea as far as I am concerned.  The potatoes were also crispy, golden squares of goodness and I confess, I pushed the english muffins aside.  Too full from all the other fabulous items on my plate.

My girlfriend's Mr. (aka our friend) opted for:

Bagel & Lox
with red onion, capers, cream cheese, oh my

Looking back, we were so happy and relaxed.  Two happy couples spending a day together at the beach.  Our kids are grown and it is our turn.  No wagons full of plastic toys.  No schedule.  No needs to meet but our own.  I will always be thankful for the memory of this day.  Yes, this is just one snapshot of a chapter we shared together, one that seems so simple, but really, is a time I will always cherish and remember with feeling of contentment as well as, of course, being Fed Well.

Chicken and the Egg Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato