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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blue Finn Grill & Sushi in Middletown

I am quite lucky and appreciative to lead a full and fairly busy life that includes a Mr. I adore, our fabulous adult sons and a pack of girlfriends with varying interests and levels of availability.  One of my newest gal-pals and I see each other every 2 weeks or so, sometimes alone, with our men, or with other friends.  One of us will simply text the other to see if we are up to do something and off we go or we may have to pass and offer to meet up another time.  No strings, no games, no pressure and I love it!

One Friday night the car cruise held in the Playtogs Shopping Center parking lot on Dolson Avenue was suggested and so the night begins.  The Mr. has 2 vintage/classic cars and he is always up for the opportunity to bring one out of the garage.  My friend has a fun Porsche which she enjoys driving as well as talking with other car enthusiasts about at the shows.  So, the 3 of us met up with my younger son and strolled the lot. Here is a small sample of the vehicles on site that night:


The local Mustang club was also on hand, a number of muscle cars and other classics - untouched and custom restored.  

It wasn't long before we were hungry and my girlfriend opted to stay at the car cruise while we went off to the Blue Finn Grill and Sushi nearby and across Dolson Avenue.  I find that sushi is quite a polarizing food choice with people loving or hating the very idea of it.  It seems to be required the Blue Finn also have the word "grill" in the name to welcome a wider array of patrons.

I promise to bring my friend back some take out and send her cell phone pictures of the vast menu:

Here is how our food looked:


Steak with lobster tail

Steak with shrimp

Chicken Satay

Overall, we were very satisfied with the way our food tasted.  I had the chicken appetizer as a main course and was happy with the flavor of both the poultry and the peanut dipping sauce.  However, the Mr. and my son left the table hungry.  The meal was not inexpensive and so for them, I was disappointed.  My friend had salmon tempura and if I would have known the portion size, I would have either ordered 2 or encouraged her to make another selection. Again, the flavor was commendable.  

Back to the car cruise and my friend and a fun Friday night. Being together and able to combine hobbies, friends and family all leave me feeling Fed Well.

Blue Finn on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Culinary Creations Confections & Cafe

No one wants to be bored.  Children complain when they are not sure what to do next with cries and whines almost equivalent to actual pain, "I'm bored," or, "I don't have anything to do."  I can become bored with food or maybe that is a bit harsh, but I look forward to seeing and trying new things just as much as I love the classics.

Being invited to a catered party can evoke images of particular foods and yes, they can be boring.  I had a good feeling though, I have had treats from Culinary Creations when they were in Pine Bush. Their current location is on the property of Orange County Airport.

The event included complimentary plane rides and though I was a bit too scared to partake, many other guests had enjoyable experiences.  I kept my feet on the ground and a plate in my hand.

Here is an example of simply making food different to the eye and so the brain interprets it as "new," and cancels out the feelings of boredom with the familiar.  Yes, they are veggies with dip, but look, they are individually sized and served in paper cones.  Double dipping is not only allowed, it is encouraged.

Totally different.  Cold noodles with pulled pork in an aioli were presented in the cutest individual Chinese takeout style containers along with chop sticks.  Refreshing not only for the non-tasting senses, but the palette as well.  It was delicious enough for me to ask the server for more details.

Yes, a cheese platter.  Mix the familiar and classic with the trends (sort of like fashion) and the masses are happy.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh fruit for both a splash of color and the taste variation with the cheese.

Another blend of standard with modern was the shrimp tempura paired with a spicy dipping sauce.  I confess, I didn't try this one, but it looked so fabulous and was a crowd pleaser so I thought it couldn't hurt to share.

Eggplant Fries

The eggplant was sliced into pieces thicker than shoestring potatoes, but not quite steak fries and yes, they were crispy and salty like a french fry.  My senses were now firing on all cylinders and I was feeling culinarily invigorated (yes, I can take liberties with language).  I started to really look forward to what ever else would be passed or placed on the buffet in the center of the space.

Mere minutes later, I was rewarded once more and with duck breast bruschetta.  What!? It was amazing with carmelized onions as the first layer over the bread and then the duck.  The textures and flavors were complimentary; a bit of sweet and savory, crunchy and soft.  Heaven.  Yes, I had more than one.

Oh and then the Town of Wallkill Rotarian's honored their officers from last year and presented the new board.  I know that is the reason why I was present, but if good food is involved, everyone who knows me is aware I will likely write a blog about the event as well.

I am not a huge cupcake fan.  In fact, I am not really a cake lover at all unless it is to honor a birthday or wedding.  Even then, I am quite selective.  However, that doesn't mean I cannot appreciate the beauty of a thoughtfully prepared cupcake.

The foods were all presented with care and attention to detail in an artful manner.  Yes, as a result of this private party I would love to return for dinner or lunch to the Culinary Creations located on the property of Orange County Airport in Montgomery.  I was revived and Fed Well.

Culinary Creations Confections & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wagner's Ice Cream & Snack Shack on Car Cruise Night

"I was born in a small town.  My parents lived in the same small town.  Gonna die in a small town, well, that's probably where they'll bury me..."  John Cougar Mellancamp

Not only do I live in a small town, I actually live in the suburbs between 2 small towns (for lack of a better term).  And yes, I live on the same road my parents did when they started their own family 46 years ago.  My children have friends that I have known not only their parents, but sometimes aunts, uncles and grandparents. Yes, it can be strange, but I also find comfort and safety in my community. An additional bonus and when your girlfriend can text you, "Hey, want to go to the car show at Wagner's," and you can make a decision within minutes and show up in less than a half hour.

Tuesday nights, Wagner's Ice Cream & Snack Shack hosts an open car show.  We have 2 antique muscle cars and though the Mr. was away the night I went, my girlfriend brought her Porsche and to be honest, I just wanted to try one of their hamburgers.

The parking area is filled with a variety of cars from various eras, makes and models.  Muscle cars and the unique classics are always what I am drawn to, but I can appreciate those that have been kept original as well as the meticulously restored.  After a quick look around, I am ready to place my order and I am joined by my younger son.

It takes just a few minutes to decide on the Brunch Burger for myself.  What's better than mixing breakfast with your burger?  A fried egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato all on a sizzling beef patty and served in paper lined basket with crispy and salty fries - heaven.

The large seating area is a covered pavilion that is not only family friendly, but also had a community water bowl for 4 legged tag-alongs.

My son went with the Western Burger and though I didn't taste it, the proof of his enjoyment was the lack of food remaining in the basket.  He made it all disappear.

Over time we were joined by 4 other women and we all knew others in attendance.  Smiles, waves and a few head nods of recognition were exchanged.  I was full from the burger, but who can resist a bit of ice cream?

A small sugar cone filled with soft-serve vanilla dunked in cherry dip and turned upside down in a small bowl was the perfect way to end my meal.  I chatted with friends for a few more minutes before my son and I headed back home - just miles down the road.  We are a part of a precious community and we are all Fed Well for being members.

Wagner's Ice Cream & Snack Shack on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 3, 2014

La Stazione in New Paltz

The Mr. was away for a week on business and we both ate at restaurants more than normal, but not together so when he came home on Friday we were happy to go out on a dinner date.  As usual, the Mr. does not prefer the chain restaurants (which is mostly what he had while he was away) and so we set out to find an Italian restaurant so he could have one of his favorites - chicken marsala. We decided on La Stazione in New Paltz.  We didn't remember until we pulled in that yes, we have eaten here before and that it was a train station in another life. 

The dining room was simply appointed with only a wink and a nod to the building's former use.  In fact, I wonder if most diners even notice the train painted on the wall or if they only see the bottle lined shelves that cover the perimeter of the room.  If you look closely, the server did notice though that I was taking a photo and gave me a friendly smile.

Whenever possible, we do peruse a restaurant menu before we arrive and this allows the Mr. to not only make sure they have one of his favorite dishes, but gives him time to decide if maybe he wants to try something else.

Our waiter (I always hesitate between the words: waiter, waitress and server - are the terms dated, preferred or is it ok to specify gender? I try to be PC, but really, sometimes it is a challenge when the intent is never to hurt feelings...) not only enthusiastically and descriptively told us about the evening's specials, he was entertaining in his own way.  While some may find it boring to tell strangers about the "delicious," "outrageous," or "unbelievable" options available, I had the feeling he carefully plans not only word choice, but body language and facial expressions that will accompany each item.

When asked what I would like to drink, I asked for a cocktail menu which was then brought over with 4 pre-dinner and 4 post-dinner options.  I wondered why these mini-sandwich board style menus weren't on the table in the first place and found it equally puzzling that it was brought away after I ordered.  Would they have to bring it back after the meal? Does it really take up that much table space or do they only have 2 of them? 
Black Apple Martini

My cocktail was reminiscent of a Manhattan though the ingredients weren't necessarily the same - it just packed a similar punch and the cherry in the bottom of the glass is both playful and decadent.  I thoroughly enjoyed every sip and yes, I ate the fruit at the end.

To begin, we shared one of the special appetizers - eggplant stuffed with crab meat and ricotta.  The eggplant was sliced so thinly it could have been overlooked by the palate and considered simply as a vehicle to hold the creamy and delicate filling.  The sauce was decidedly lemony and I'm sure the flavor was thought to not only compliment the crab, but to add dimension and alert all taste buds that something wonderful was happening.  When our waiter returned to ask how it was, I smiled and said, "Super good."  Not my usual response to be sure, but those were the words that came to mind and it was indeed.

Looking at the photo, the appetizer can somehow remind one of cannoli...perhaps a bit of foreshadowing?

The Mr.'s Chicken Marsala - though this photo may not do it justice, the plate was really picture perfect.  He may have once said, "Vegetables taste like hell," but the spinach was prepared to a velvety texture just before wilted and he seemed happy with the potato croquette.  The chicken was tender and smothered in a perfect marasala wine sauce.  I was able to steal a forkful to make sure it tasted as great as it looked.

I always smile when I am praised for my choices.  Does the server think I need justification or validation for my own taste?  He was practically glowing when I chose the seafood macaroni and cheese. I have to admit, it was an awesome dish, but the funny thing is neither our server nor myself prepared it.  The cheese sauce was creamy without feeling too thick and heavy and the dish was loaded with large chunks of lobster and shrimp.  The breaded topping was crisp and the steam continued to rise from the dish throughout the entire time I tried to finish it.  

I finally surrendered and had about half of my meal wrapped. When asked about dessert I did order a cannoli to go.  

Though I was at first startled by our check, I then remembered I had a $14 cocktail, we split an appetizer and my main course was $30.  It's not that the meal wasn't worth the price, the restaurant may be best reserved for special occasions more than every Friday night.

We sat for a few minutes at the entrance of the Ulster County Fair to allow pedestrian crossing and cars to enter the parking lot.  It was funny to have the windows down and listen to the high pitched shrieks of what sounded like a group of young girls on the Ferris Wheel.  What says summer more than a country fair?

While the Mr. was away he did a little touristy gift shopping and first presented me with a mini-flashlight as a joke and then nervously handed me a box that was obviously the size used for jewelry. He was afraid I wouldn't like the necklace he had chosen (I have said in the past I am not the kind of woman who wants hearts and charms) and didn't realize how large it was until he bought it.  I have to say, I love it.  I love that he thought of me and it reminds me of a scene from Sex and the City (yes, I know it was just a movie - but when Carrie holds her "love" key-chain and realizes she is going to hurry to get her shoes from the Park Avenue apartment...well, you just knew she and Big were going to reconcile - ah love.)

The Mr. and I have each had our moments, but we are in love and Fed Well.

La Stazione on Urbanspoon

Mia's Kitchen in Suffern

My life is pretty compartmentalized between how I make a living (which has 2 distinctly different facets - the one I love and the one that pays the bills) and my personal life.  Sometimes it is best to think of the scene in Ghost Busters where the men are emphatically instructed, "DO NOT CROSS THE STREAMS," - this direction is mostly the rule but, yes, with a few exceptions. Click here to remember the scene from Ghost Busters  Trust me, for the most part it is best that I do not cross the lines between what is personal into professional, but making a few friends along any path in life is always a great choice.

I have made a few good friends at my day job and one of the best aspects is lunch. We have our favorites spots which include a Mexican hacienda, 2 different Chinese restaurants, a diner, a few pizza places for different reasons and now a new addition to the rotation is Mia's Kitchen.

I stopped in one day and picked up a menu the old fashioned way, but you can visit Mia's Kitchen by clicking here.

The options very vegetarian friendly, healthier and not typical. Many of us were looking forward to a visit, but as it happened, it was a lunch for 2.

The eclectic decor demands attention.  I was a bit distracted when I placed my order because I really wanted to take it all in and somehow have it make sense.  Elvis, Snoopy and the Wizard of Oz album covers (and the Partridge Family though it can't be seen in this photo) mixed various framed photos are hung on cheery yellow walls.

Behind the counter, Charlie Brown stretches his arms in anticipation of a big hug and offers visitors a smile.

While waiting for my food, I couldn't help but talk things over with my friend (sort of the investigative reporter in me - crossing the streams):  "I wonder who Mia is -his daughter or wife?"  "Do you think the album covers were his?"  

The next customer who came in went right ahead and asked the man behind the counter many of the questions I had and more.  I was able to satisfy my curiosity without driving anyone crazy, well, if you don't count listening to the not very quiet exchange the 2 men were having.  Mia is his daughter, the album covers were his and he still enjoys much of the music though no mention was made about the Partridge Family. 

Although I looked over the paper menu, it is helpful that many items are available for visual decisions in glass coolers.  My friend and I both decide on the eggplant, roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella with pesto panini.

As  you can see, the eggplant is quite meaty and generous in portion.  The sandwich was a pleasant diversion from our usual fare, tasted great and didn't leave us hating ourselves for overeating.

I also ordered a small side of sweet potato salad with pecans.  I was surprised for some reason that it was served cold though a salad by it's very name implies "cold." I guess it was my lack of experience with eating this particular potato chilled.  I was in love. The sweet potato is meant to be paired with pecans and though I'm not a fan of the pie (I think it is a texture thing) I imagine this dish is very much based on those tastes with the healthy dial turned way up.  No mayonnaise, no fats, just sweet potatoes and pecans.  Yum.

Mounted on the wall next to our tables was a framed photo of Lucy and Desi that looked like this:

Posed or not, under protest or in the middle of a fight, it doesn't matter - they were married for years and years and worked together.  Was it the crossing of the streams that contributed to their divorce? Doesn't really matter.  I prefer to simply think of them as a couple in love when I see this image.

Mia's Kitchen brought the eye down memory lane and gave the taste buds a memorable and healthy treat.  My friend and I were fed well and will return with more of our friends, or are they co-workers?Sometimes you have to mix it up and cross the streams.

Mia's Kitchen on Urbanspoon