The Short Rib Pizza boasts short ribs, fig pesto, three cheeses, and micro greens
Isn’t it a happy day when you go to a restaurant and the food you thought was going to be good tastes so much better than you anticipated? It happened to me at The Tomato Bistro in Manayunk, a hip Philadelphia neighborhood where there’s no shortage of food options any time of day or night.
I met a friend for lunch last week at this cute, two-story spot just off Main Street. The menu is creative and casual, with soups, sliders, salads, pizzas, and a buffet during the week and adding omelettes and a brunch buffet on weekends. While we were trying to pick just the right thing to eat, our server brought us each a complementary starter – an herby, little-bit-chunky tomato soup in an espresso cup and house-made mini almond biscotti, to dunk in the soup of course. A tasty way to begin lunch, indeed.
Treat yourself to this: A frozen blood orange margarita, courtesy of El Vez in Philadelphia
I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to drinks. Typically, I stick with the original mojito, vodka tonic, or piña colada, and am happy. Just give me a respectable version of the classic; no need for peach this or pomegranate that.
Sometimes things have a way of working out perfectly. When it happens once, it’s great, but when it happens a second time, we cheer up and down and high-five and are generally grinning ear to ear. After much talk last year about going to New York, my friend Jennifer and I finally got there last August. That first girls’ food day began with a long walk to see Eataly (http://www.eataly.com/) and ended with dinner at The National (http://www.thenationalnyc.com/). We spent a few hours walking through the maze of Eataly’s marketplace and ate lunch there. We checked out Fishs Eddy (www.fishseddy.com), a vintage-y kitchen shop with everything from old-time open stock china and flatware to dishes, glassware, barware, kitchen utensils, and more. Kitschy and cute and great deals. Had we driven to New York, the trunk of the car would’ve been filled. We toted our packages at least 25 blocks to midtown and finished our day with a terrific dinner at hip, quasi-casual The National.
So how did we top last year’s trip? For starters, after we got the confirming email for tickets for the Oct. 3rd taping of The Chew, we went into planning mode. Jennifer got us a reservation at Barbuto; she also suggested a shopping tour of Chelsea Market, an idea I loved since I’ve never been there. And, as if we really needed an big dinner (with a lot of food) after the amazing lunch we were going to have, I pitched Bar Americain, one of our favorites. (OK, the tuna tartare was calling. Can you blame me?)
Federal Donuts on Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia
In the spirit of disclosure, I’d like to say that I really try to eat well – fruits, veggies, portion control and all that – but sometimes I fall off the wagon.
Friday was one of those days. It started as every morning does for me. A multigrain English muffin with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter. So far, so good. My son, Dan, and I drove to Philadelphia to do a couple of things, and we finished up around lunchtime. We were getting hungry, and I remembered a perfect lunch spot for something utterly different and fun.
Slow-cooked beef brisket taco at Bad Bean Taqueria
For me, there’s no better place to relax than the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Not only do the barrier islands boast stunning beaches, lighthouses that dot the shores from Corolla to Okracoke, skimmers that fly close to the water, and spectacular sunsets over Currituck Sound, they’re also home to eateries that satisfy many a food craving (and most of mine).
The appeal of eating out in the towns up and down the Outer Banks is that you can go shorts-and-sandals casual to fine dining, on the beach road, in a shopping center, or a freestanding restaurant. We lean toward the casual, and during our recent trip, we got back to a favorite lunch spot: Bad Bean Taqueria (http://badbeanobx.com) in Corolla, on the northern tip of the islands.
Lunch special: Spicy tuna and shrimp tempura rolls at Kumo
I’m of the opinion that people who love food love to tell other people who love food all about the great food they just ate. I enjoy hearing all the details about a zippy tuna tartare or tart key lime pie or rich braised short ribs. And, frankly, I like sharing my stories, too. So here’s the not-overly-long story about the amazing spicy tuna rolls at my favorite sushi place.
I finished up a freelance editing job earlier this week, and was hungry, of course, since it was almost 2 p.m. and I hadn’t brought anything for lunch. I’d been craving sushi for a couple of weeks, and realized it was a short drive to Kumo (www.kumopa.com) in Collegeville. I hoped I hadn’t missed the lunch service. My luck prevailed, and I got a table near the sushi bar.
I just love chicken. Mostly because there are so many ways to cook it. But also because it defrosts relatively quickly, especially if you’re like me and have forgotten to thaw it before leaving the house in the morning.
When I want something easy to get into the oven relatively fast, roasted chicken does the trick. When I’ve got more time to prep, I grind chicken thighs in a food processor (or if you’re lucky enough to have a meat grinder, that would work beautifully) for chicken “meatballs,” or marinate chicken breasts and drumsticks in yogurt and spices, bread it with panko, and bake. But when I’m looking for a versatile lunch, I go for this chicken salad that I can’t stop making.
This recipe came together after chatting with one of the chefs I work with at Sur la Table. The class she just finished teaching included a recipe for wasabi mayo and suggested that it’d be great to use for chicken salad. I take no credit; the idea was all hers. Here’s how I put it all together.