Friday, May 28, 2010

News Cafe @ South Beach

News Cafe in SoBe, is a cafe, bar and a newsstand, all in one. How cool is that? As cool as their fab outdoor seating, right on the sidewalk, under the shade of a huge tree. They have retained their ancientness and you will know it when you take a look at the tables and chairs. It has a very rugged and beachy feel.

This is a casual restaurant where you can have breakfast at 6 pm and dinner at 10 am. It is open 24 hours and offers full menu at all times :). It comes upon as a traditional restaurant that has been around for a hundred years and still serves great food and is frequented by many, both regulars and newbies like us.
After a long day at the beach, we hopped in for a quick bite, and returned later at night for dessert.

We split their hot sandwich - Grilled Portobello, Mozzarella, Tomato, Roasted Pepper on French Bread. We had a choice of Rice, Cajun Fries, Sweet Potato Fries or Potato Salad, and we picked Sweet Potato Fries. The food arrived hot and yummy. Just right for a quick bite in the evening.

We eyed their desserts and they had a Chocolate Fondue for two with either Pastry or Fruits for $13.95. That's a good price for a Fondue for two, specially when the same costs a bomb at Melting Pot. Of course, the ambience is much better at MP, but on a casual day, who cares? So we trotted back for dessert at around 9 pm. There were still people around, enjoying the cool breeze and digging into a dessert or two.

The Fondue was called for and arrived at our table, bubbling and hot. The strawberries and banana taste so good when dipped in melted chocolate.

It was rich and fantastic. We were so stuffed and had to walk up and down the beach to digest it. News Cafe will be fondly remembered as "The place where I had Chocolate Fondue."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hummus Recipe

A friend was asking for a tried and tested Hummus ( pronounced Hommos) recipe and I thought I might as well include it here.

Ingredients  (Serves 3-4)
1 can chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 cup tahini ( sesame seeds paste )
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste.

Blend all the above ingredients in a food processor till they become a soft paste. Empty it in a flat dish and decorate with some parsley leaves and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Serve with warm pita bread.

For Tahini paste, you can either crush the Sesame seeds yourself and make the paste, or, like me, go to Byblos Deli or TJ or Whole Foods and grab a box ;-).
Pita Bread - The Middle Eastern Flat Bread at TJ is really soft and can be cut into wedges.

PS - I think it is criminal to post without a picture, but silly me, I forgot to click one and A has almost polished the bowl clean. So, next time, will update this post with a picture!

Update - I just realized that I have posted a picture here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carmelita @ Seattle

It was my Birthday ( Yeah, Happy B'day to me) and A took me to Carmelita for dinner. This is a lovely vegetarian restaurant in Greenwood, Seattle. It is one of those restaurants where the chefs can never go wrong in their preparation.The food is a fusion of everything on Earth and has a very distinct flavor that is tough to imitate.
Carmelita looks like a house that's apparently converted into a restaurant. Parking can be a little tricky, given that there are a lot of other restaurants nearby and Carmelita is packed even on weekdays!
They have a happy hour from 5 to 7pm at the bar. The bar menu is only $5.00 during HH. My recommendation is to get there just before the HH ends and order food from the bar menu and then move to a table for the main course.
I asked the bartender to make me a mocktail, and she made one with kumquat, lemon juice, pineapple juice et al.

We got the Spaghetti squash bonbons with red pepper rouille and fried Marcona almonds

It is a type of squash that's basically breaded and fried. The curry had a very asian flavor, like, Indian-Malaysian fusion or something. The toasted almonds were slightly salty and very crunchy. The portion was so small; we nibbled it off in two bites and were left craving for more.

Next, we ordered the Mini Pizza - Roasted sunchoke & white truffle puree, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, toasted pecans, roasted garlic, watercress salad, sunchoke chips.

The Pizza was fantastic. It was very thin crusted and crisp, and, at the same time the white truffle puree gave it a slightly soft texture. The roasted garlic, toasted pecans and the crispy sunchoke chips, made it one of a kind. Something I haven't had before. It was quite filling and a real bargain for $5.00.

It happened to be a bright and sunny day and they had their patio open.We moved to the patio for the main course.

It was getting slightly chilly and the waitress even brought out a blanket for me. We ordered the Sweet potato gnocchi, garlicky broccolini, Madeira-Shallot-Maple syrup sauce, crispy yams.

This was totally awesome. I can't find words to describe the actual flavor and taste. I highly recommend this entree. I have had Gnocchi before, but the sweet potato Gnocchi is a beautiful creation. The fusion adopted here is really brilliant. The creaminess of the Italian Gnocchi is replaced with Asian flavors. The crispy yams and the garlicky broccoli are wonderful sides to this dish. Oh god! I want some. Now!

And then, we ended the sublime dinner with the dessert of the day - Rose water crème brûlée with candied rose petals! It was like heaven on earth, in a cup :). It arrived at my table with a candle, to remind me am an year older.

It consisted of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. The custard was rose water flavored. The pink pieces in the picture above are the candies rose petals. Another wonderful innovation. Once I dug into the hard caramel, this is how it looked inside-

The service was a little slow and the restaurant was kind of packed. But the food compensated for all the other teeny tiny complaints. They have a really unique menu. Will definitely be back some day to try something different.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Corn 2 go! @ Sawgrass Mills Mall

Corn2go? Fantastic concept. A cup of corn tossed in spices of your choice. A great snack, especially when you are wandering aimlessly through a mall and need something (healthy) to nibble on (other than Aunt Annies' Pretzel).
They have all kinds of products from corn in a cup, corn soups, corn bread and corn smoothies. We got the corn in a cup. It comes in 6oz, 8oz and 12oz sizes and the following flavors - Butter & salt - BBQ - chipotle - garlic - teriyaki - lemon - honey - parmesan - chili - cajun.

We got the 6 oz, chipotle, lemon and cajun tossed in light butter. Very yummy!!

I think every mall needs a Corn2Go!

Corn2Go on Urbanspoon

Red Robin @ Seattle

I always go to RR when ever I crave a burger. I haven't got a chance to review it on my blog. This time, I got my B'Day burger from RR (as always) and they made it a wee bit more special for me.

We were Downtown last weekend and it was bright and sunny. What better way to spend the day than sitting on the deck overlooking puget sound and munching on a juicy burger and scrunch munching the Onion Rings? So, we tottered to RR at Pier 55.

We got a table right away. We ordered the towering Onion Rings - Sweet yellow onions — seasoned, breaded & crisply-fried. Served with tangy Campfire sauce and ranch dressing for dippin’, our standard choice

and split a burning love burger - crispy-fried jalapeño rings, tangy salsa, and spicy Pepper-Jack cheese layered on top of our cayenne-seasoned veggie burger. It’s topped with shredded lettuce and tomato to cool things off and served on a jalapeño-cornmeal Kaiser roll with Chipotle mayo. The jalapeno made the burger a little spicy, just the way we like it.

We finished eating and gestured for the check and were gazing at the beautiful ocean, when suddenly a bunch of the wait staff trooped to our table, clapping and singing aloud "Happy Happy B'day....bla bla....May all you dreams come true!!" That was cute! And they even popped a Sundae on my table, as a treat!

That's very sweet of you, RR. Thanks for making my pre B'day celebrations very special. You will always be our first choice for burgers!

Red Robin on Urbanspoon

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza @ Miami

I had read the reviews for this restaurant but  was not very keen on visiting. We lost our way while driving to some restaurant (I think it is called The Hummus and is actually closed now) and pulled over to glance through the map. We looked up to see where we were and saw the board Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. Hey, why don't we check this out...'Coal fired' sounds cool, said A. It was already 8:30 pm and we didn't want to go around looking for some place else to eat.

It was warm, dark and cozy inside. A perfect place for a tête-à-tête.

This place makes New York style Pizza. The ones that are thin crusted but loaded with cheese. We went for their speciality pies - Frittata - Pepper, Onion and Egg. It was very interesting to see egg as a topping.  The egg, cheese and the slightly burnt crust that was crispy and easy to chew on, gave it a very rustic taste.

Our only complaint is the amount of cheese on the Pizza. We really regretted not asking them to go easy on the cheese. I usually like to hold the slice in my hand and attack it, rather than using a fork and a knife. But, the Pizza was so greasy that it was impossible to not use the cutlery. We were quite full after stuffing our faces with the cheese loaded slices and boxed the rest for the next day. Yeah, right. We were hibernating for the winter.
But, the Pizza was delicious, otherwise. It is a great place to try if you like the slight coal flavor.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Woodlands @ Ft Lauderdale

Sunday afternoon. Getting ready for the day. We were going to spend the rest of the day at Ft. Lauderdale beach.

Me: "Shall we look up Indian restaurants in's been a while, right?"
A: "Good idea!"

He quickly googled and found Woodlands! Can you believe it? FL has Woodlands! For those of you who haven't heard of it, Woodlands is a very famous pure vegetarian south indian restaurant back home. And we were thrilled to be so close to one, if not home. The last time, we had been to one in Anaheim, CA, and it was a bad experience. We decided to give this a try and am glad we did!

They have a buffet for $9.99, that too, on a weekend! (Hello Mayuri..!!! Are you reading this? Read and learn! ).
And the buffet had Chaat (Indian street food) and Masala Dosa (A masala dosa is made by stuffing a crepe with a lightly cooked filling of potatoes, fried onions and spices. It wraps the crepe around an onion and potato curry.) and Uttappam ( Uttapam is a thick pancake, with ingredients like onions, tomatoes and other veggies, cooked right into the batter.) as part of it.

We had Pav Bhaji (Pav means bread and Bhaji is a potato based curry. The bread is toasted on an iron girdle with lots of butter and is served with the Bhaji.) and Papdi Chaat ( papdi refers to crispy fried dough wafers made from refined white flour and oil. In Papdi Chaat, the papdis are served with boiled potatoes, boiled chick peas, chilis, yoghurt and tamarind chutney and topped with chaat masala and 'sev') to begin with.

And then the parathas, panner butter masala, daal makhni, baingan bartha, utthappam, sambar, vada, coconut chutney and cilantro chutney

And then the Masala Dosa

And then there was tomato rice too. For dessert there was a vermicilli pudding and a custard. Both were fantastic. We had a couple of helpings even though we were stuffed.

And they even had yummy mango juice in the buffet. How cool is that?

The food was as good as what you get back home.The restaurant was packed, no wonder. This restaurant is totally worth going to, to shell a penny and fill your tummy. We then waddled to the beach.

Woodlands Pure Vegetarian South Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Kabobji @ Miami

Kabobji is a casual, dine-in or take out kind of restaurant, located in a strip mall in Sunny Isles Beach. They have interesting Lebanese and Turskish fair.

We ordered Jhallab - a drink made with dates, rose water and pine nuts floating on top and mint yogurt. Both were very refreshing for the Florida heat.

We ordered the Batata Harra (spicy potato) - Fried potatoes marinated in coriander, chili & garlic. It is a simple appetizer, yet, was very flavorful and fantastic.

For the main course, we asked for the Vegetable Ghallaba - Sautéed vegetables with herbs & spices. It comes with soup or salad and rice or fries.We got the red lentil soup and rice.

It also came with paper thin pita bread. The pita was quite similar to the Rumali roti that you get in India.

The Ghallaba is again something we don't get in Seattle. It is not spicy at all, yet brings out all the flavors of the spices and herbs. It is served on a bed of flavorful long grained rice or fries. We asked for rice.

Like at any other middle estern restaurant, we oohed and aahed at the food and polished our plates clean. It was strange though, that for the first time at a Middle Eastern restaurant, Toom (garlic sauce) or Hummus or Tahini, was not a part of the main course. Anyway, Kabobji, we love you ji!

Kabobji on Urbanspoon

Rocco's Tacos @ West Palm Beach

On 1st May, we drove to Palm Beach to take in the poshness and take a peek at the million dollar extravangant mansions. We had lunch at Rocco's Tacos. A lovely restaurant, where the food is yummy, the service is great and the outdoor seating is just fab.

Unlike other mexican restaurants, you don't get free chips and salsa here. You pay for everything other than water, of course.
You can choose seasoned chips or the naked chips. They are quite popular for their giant sized pot of Guacamole and Chips. The guacamole is made at your table! $12 ! For chips? and the giant sized....No thank ya.
We ordered the seasoned chips n salsa, instead.

And then, we split the Chili Releno - Charred poblano chile, chi hua hua and goat cheese, salsa rojo, crema, cotija cheese, red rice, black beans. God, it tasted so good! Just thinking about it makes me crave for more. Usually, it is soaked in cheese and is kind of soggy, but here,the poblano pepper was nicely fried and very crisp on the outside. One bite and the cheese just melts in your mouth. The salsa, red rice and beans were all just perfect. And quite, filling too!

Again, we got to eat something different.Something that is not as good in Seattle.

Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cafe Del Mar @ Ft Lauderdale

We drove from Cape Canaveral all the way to Ft Lauderdale, after a brief stop at Cocoa Beach. We reached the restaurant at 10 : 30 pm. We had called them much before and made sure that they are open. We were pleasantly suprised to know that they are open till 1:00 am and that their kitchen closes at midnight. Great! We parked our car and sauntered to the restaurant. We loved Cafe Del Mar. Of course, we love CDM and listen to it all the time while driving, but this was a completely different experience. We have always talked about sitting at a restaurant on the beach, with the slightly chilly breeze gently carassing our faces, eating some hot dinner, listening to the waves and many more. And that's exactly how it was here.

There was plenty of outdoor seating.

And this is a picture of the beach, opposite to the restaurant. It was late in the night and very dark.

We were first served bread and butter.

They totally understand the "no meat" concept and offered to make anything without meat!
We asked for Gnocchi - Potato pasta with a creamy cum tomatoee sauce. I don't remember what it was called. It was the Chef''s choice of that day. It was hot and fantastic!

And the Rigatoni & pollo limone - romano cheese, fresh tomatoes, fresh garlic, splash of lemon and touch of cream. This one was very light and super!

The waiter brought us fresh ground red pepper and checked on us often. They have B1G1 coupon in the entertainment book, which they accept on all days except Saturday. A real sweet deal with a stunning view!

Cafe Del Mar on Urbanspoon

Mi Pueblo @ Sarasota

After a long day at the Siesta Key beach, we were really hungry. We had already looked up this website and chose the dinner spot, even before we left Seattle.
Mi Pueblo is a wonderful restaurant that excels in both service and food. They have lots of vegetarian options for a really good price!  They even have a separate organic menu.
The restaurant has a spanish style elevation.

And is decorated in a typical mexican style.

The waitress got us the chips and salsa. The chips were very light and not oily. The salsa was mildly spicy and very refreshing with the flavor of freshly chopped cilantro.

We chose the Veggie Fajita.

It is the best we have had so far. The sizzling platter had all kinds of veggies. And, they gave generous portions of gaucamole, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, rice and beans.

Here is picture of A's plate.

We were so stuffed in the end that we ditched considering a dessert. The best mexican restaurant in Sarasota, I say! Muy Delicioso!!!

Mi Pueblo El Restaurante Mexicano & Cantina on Urbanspoon
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