Oh, Brooklyn...you've won me over within one corner block in Bushwick alone. I rarely write restaurant reviews but this place made me so happy in my soul that I had to share it with all of you. Blanca and Roberta's are sister restaurants run by the same chef with vastly different vibes. The juxtaposition between the two (and the foodie internet radio station sandwiched in between!) is absolutely irresistible...read on for a photo journey through my experience at both a 2 star Michelin restaurant and an amazing hipster pizzeria. Be forewarned, this is going to get you revved up and hungry for your next trip to Brooklyn...
Take a look at my map above, if you click on each locale you'll see a ton of information pasted into each one so you don't need to go research it separately. We're doing a luau at our hotel for our Christmas Dinner which should be a fun twist on tradition (which let's be honest holiday traditions are hard for me to change or give up...but I figure once I throw on a bikini I'll all of a sudden be ok with it!). Of course, if I'm missing any must-eat spots (beyond a few I know of that I couldn't add to the map due to unreliable locations...see below) please do let me know!
A few more not on the map:
- Yellow "BBQ Grill Island Style" hut near mile marker 35
- Gogi Food Truck
- Like Poke Truck at the Saturday Swap Meet
- Foodie spots on the Road to Hana...see separate map below for those
As most of you know, I'm from Massachusetts and a proud Mass-hole through and through despite having lived on the West coast for over 10 years now. While I didn't grow up in Boston, I did grow up heading into the city pretty often throughout my childhood for museum visits, parades, Red Sox games and of course, cannoli from the North End. So every time I return to Boston I make a bee-line straight for my old stand-by, Mike's Pastry, to get myself a cannoli experience filled with childhood memories, nostalgia and yummy Italian pastry.
But on a recent visit when I was doing a bit of foodie research I kept finding mention of another fan-favorite cannoli spot, Modern Pastry, and I had to wonder...could it stand up to my Mike's? Could these other people possibly know something I didn't when claiming that Modern, not Mike's, had the best cannoli in town? Only one way to find out...enter SavoryGirl's Great Boston Cannoli Taste-Off!
So first things, first....acquiring the cannoli. 10pm after a Red Sox game, my best friend and I along with our husbands headed to Mike's and then Modern to get a plain cannoli and a chocolate dipped cannoli from each spot. The vibe of each bakery was extremely different.
Mike's, just as I remembered, is bustling, disorderly, frenetic and has an air of anticipation within the large open bakery. A ridiculous assortment of cannoli type to choose from...not necessarily traditional, but certainly something for everyone. The women behind the counter are a bit gruff but in a forgiving way...almost as if they're playing the stern but loving Italian grandmother role.
Modern, on the other hand, is quiet and orderly with customers queuing in a straight line outside of their tiny shop. The cannoli selection is much more limited, but definitely more traditional. The women behind this counter are similar to those at Mike's in the sense that they also aren't friendly or warm but instead of being gruff, they are curt and short on patience with their customers.
So now onto the cannoli themselves...we removed ourselves from the potentially biasing atmosphere of either bakery and walked down to the Greenway right outside the North End to do the tasting itself. Jeff, always one to play along, presented the first cannoli to me in grand first-bite tasting style. We of course ensured that I had no idea which box the cannoli came from so that this truly was a blind taste-test (I am a researcher by trade after all). As you can see above, our theatrics were starting to draw a bit of attention...
The Big Easy, NOLA, The Crescent City…whatever you call it there's one thing that isn't up for debate. New Orleans is one of the greatest food cities around! Rather than try to put it into words, I thought a photo journey through our recent trip would be more appropriate. If you missed them, check out my New Orleans Foodie Itinerary and New Orleans Nightlife Guide.
Go ahead and take a spin through our foodie photo tour below…you'll be planning your own foodie visit to New Orleans in no time!
First things first…breakfast. SavoryGirl's favorite meal of the day. I have to say that any city that serves grits alongside most breakfasts is an immediate win…but beyond the creamy, buttery grits we had some amazing breakfast. Pulled Pork Cakes over Mustard Greens with Poached Eggs Creole Hollandaise, Grits and a Biscuit (EAT). Strawberry Shortcake Cornmeal Pancakes (EAT). Banana Fosters French Toast with Boudin Sausage (Surrey's) Yup, this is a fantastic breakfast town!
I love me some oysters and I have to say New Orleans had some of the biggest, plumpest oysters I've had in a long time. So salty-sweet perfect and plentiful…which means cheap! If I had more time I would have had oysters every day I was there…those you see above are from Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House…sit at the bar, order a drink and enjoy the atmosphere of local oysters being shucked and served right before you. I really loved this place and highly recommend it.
Flipping through Bon Appétit a few months ago, I stumbled across an article all about Burlington, Vermont which was convenient since I was heading there for a wedding in September. So I read up and promptly made a reservation at Bluebird Tavern. Why? Well, first because it's my kind of restaurant...one with intense ties to the local food community sourcing seasonally, locally, organically and proudly listing all of their farm partners right on their menu. Of course, it didn't hurt that their menu sounded absolutely delicious and that the article made it sound like it was almost unfair for a small state like Vermont to have a restaurant this good!
I have to say I agree...this is a fantastic restaurant and I would strongly encourage you to check it out next time you're in Burlington, with my only criticism being that I found it to be overpriced, but read on to find out all about the food...
When our party of 5 first arrived at Bluebird Tavern the few outdoor tables were full but the inside was almost completely empty. It was 6:30 on a Friday night. A bit early, yes...but the lack of customers compared to the bustling vibe of other restaurants we had just walked by concerned us a bit. As you can see above, there is a lovely open kitchen which we were happily seated right near which at least temporarily distracted us from our concern over the lacking customers...and by the time we left it had picked up a bit more as well.
First up...a Vermont spin on bruschetta. Pickled tomatoes atop bacon butter and grilled bread. This was delicious, and we enjoyed the bread in this starter quite a bit more than the house-made focaccia that they brought over when we first sat down. Lovely, rustic serving style that you'll see continued throughout the meal.
This next starter wasn't even an option...as soon as I saw it on the menu I declared that we would be ordering it. Homemade cloth cheese served alongside local honeycomb, freshly made apple butter and spice bread. Each element of this tasting board was divine on it's own but the cheese and honey together was like a Vermont welcoming party in your mouth.
Ah, Sundance Film Festival! I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go last year for work and so I thought in honor of the 2012 Festival kicking off this week I'd share a bit about a restaurant we really enjoyed while there last year, Chimayo. While I'm not necessarily a huge film buff I had so much fun...more than I ever thought I would. So much so that I think I'd like to go back again in the future, on my own dime even, so I can bring Christian along as well!
If you've never been to Sundance, I strongly encourage you to check it out. Honestly, I'm not really a huge film buff (I have pretty low entertainment standards...ask Christian!) but I had so much more fun than I ever thought I would. The movies were great (and only like $25 a ticket...way less than I thought they would be), Park City is amazingly adorable and the people watching was fantastic. I really wish that I had Christian with me since he's is so good at identifying celebrities and the town is just crawling with them, but I had a few star sightings of my own! I even got a picture taken with two...cutie Adrian Grenier from Entourage and the legendary Harry Belafonte! But I digress...back to the restaurant.
This place has been around since 1895 and developed the hamburger sandwich back in the early 1900s in response to a customer in a rush who requested something that he could eat on the run. Ground steak trimmings were thrown between two pieces of toast and the beginnings of hamburger history began! It's exactly the type of place that I love, too. Line out the door full of regulars, local workers on their lunch breaks, and of course the requisite tourist or two. But really you get an immediate vibe that this is a locals place with the staff behind the counter chatting everyone up and calling them by name. It's super small, but cozy and has a great atmosphere. Grab a spot as soon as one opens up even if you're still waiting in line to place your order...especially if you can get one of the seats built into the wall, so cool.
While I know I already shared my foodie itinerary for Chicago, I thought now that we are back from our trip I'd let you know what we thought and if everything on our original itinerary lived up to the hype. So first things first....WE LOVED CHICAGO! As a reminder, I hadn't been there since I was a child and Christian had never been. So it was pretty new for both of us...and to be honest we were expecting to like it, but not much more. But after a day in Chicago I was talking about wanting to move there, and I love living in San Francisco and left Massachusetts because I hated the winters...but Chicago is that cool. I honestly felt like the greatness of the city would outweigh any awfulness of the winters that I had heard about...but Christian disputed and insisted he wouldn't move to Chicago with me so I had to let it go. But really, such a clean and vibrant city with amazing architecture and waterways. If you haven't been, go. Preferably in the late spring or early fall from what I hear.
So, our foodie itinerary. How did we fare? Very well if you ask me. While we may not have made every destination on our itinerary, we made it to the important ones and let me just say, we ate extremely well while in Chicago!