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Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014

Shrimp Platter

A culinary anthropologist could pinpoint the precise location of this dish. The hushpuppies and blackeyed peas are a sure sign of the South in general. The elegant shrimp say Florida's north coast. The pink dipping sauce with a datil pepper punch is St. Augustine's
Rate this place Reviews (5) Learn more about O'Steen's Restaurant...
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Beef

One Italian Beef, sweet and wet, with giardiniera on top
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Max's Italian Beef...
Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 26, 2014 3:27 AM

Not counting hot dogs, there is a dearth of food trucks in and around Danbury, Connecticut. Driver/chef Paul Mannion greatly improves that situation with his Green Grunion, a burrito van usually located in the city's Kenosia Park at lunchtime. Mannion is a local, but spent time in San Diego, where he learned just how great a burrito can be. He figured it was time to let Danburians in on the good news and started rolling in summer, 2013. I adore the veggie burrito, its well-textured flour tortilla crowded with grilled peppers, mushrooms, and onions – all perfectly al dente – along with guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo.

Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014

Real Italian

A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Colucci's Hilltop Market...
Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, July 25, 2014 4:53 AM

Way back in the 1990s, before Starbuck's was everywhere, we spent a week in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and started every morning with wake-up drinks at a little eatery named Java on Sherman. It is still thriving, bigger and better than ever (it is reviewed here at; and the Pacific Northwest's burgeoning coffee consciousness, of which Java on Sherman was an Idaho Panhandle spearhead, has spread throughout the northwest plateau.

An hour north of Coeur d'Alene at the edge of Lake Pond Oreille, the settlement of Sandpoint is a beguiling mixture of wilderness and artiness, of thrift shops and chic boutiques, of chefs and short-order hash slingers, and of three artisan coffee roasters and several very agreeable places to drink coffee (plus a couple of Starbuck's, of course). One enterprise where it is especially nice to partake of caffeinated beverages is the Pine Street Bakery. That's because, as its name says, it specializes in baked goods, so many of which go so well with coffee and espresso drinks. Beyond whole, handsome cakes, hand-crafted breads, and lunchtime pizzas, the shelves are crowded with a vast assortment of coffee-friendly cookies, cream puffs, croissants, cupcakes, and scones (the apricot scone is a doozy!),. Danishes are particularly excellent, made with light, flaky dough and bright fruit filling.

The Pine Street Bakery is a laid-back place with a lighthearted vibe. A sign on the wall asks hippies to use the side door; counter stools are painted in rainbow colors; a flower-bedecked patio is a welcoming place for al fresco eaters, sippers, conversationalists, newspaper readers, and meditators.

And by the way, if coffee does not happen to be your drink, don't necessarily scratch this place off your itinerary. Pine Street Bakery offers high-quality Tea Forté teas and is also a wine bar as much as it is a coffee house.
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Roadfood of the Day: Crystal Grill - Greenwood, MS
Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014

Pie Case

If you sit in the front dining room, you will likely have a view of the pie case, to which whole pies are brought throughout the lunch hour and severed into slices, ready to serve. Here at the two house specialties: coconut and chocolate meringue.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Crystal Grill...
Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014

There was a lot to like about the crab cake Benedict, including very little filler in the crab cakes and excellent homemade hollandaise sauce.
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Barbara Jean's...
Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 3:33 AM

Why is Rip's fried chicken so extraordinarily good? Bill Rounds, the man whose grandfather started the place, says, first of all, you need to start with fresh chicken, not frozen nor cryovacked. He gets it twice a week, freshly killed. "We can do that because we have such a big turnover. Poultry is especially hard to keep. Beef can age; fish always smells; but good chicken spoils easily. Everything depends on freshness.

"When we get it, we fine-tune it. We trim it, cut it, remove 60-70% of the skin. Then we brine it. There is an extreme amount of work that goes into good chicken before it gets battered and fried. Our recipes are simple, we don't have a lot of ingredients. But each step along the way is crucial."

Details matter. The oil used by Rounds' grandfather is no longer available, so he has devised his own oil, blending three different kinds. Granddad got his flour from one supplier for more than half a century; but that supplier moved to Canada. Rounds says, "Now we need to blend our own to get the spring wheat quality for its lightness."

The payoff is chicken with significant crust, but no doughy softness – crust that is just-right salty, each bite a savory crunch. Even white-meat breasts are insanely moist and full-flavored down to the bone. Pieces where the batter has clumped, absorbing chicken fat flavor as well as frying fat, are some of the most sumptuous bites imaginable. And yet, miraculously, this chicken sheds no oil. The pallet of white bread on which it arrives is dry and intact even after every scrap of meat has been dispatched. While forks are available, no one uses them. This is chicken you want to touch as well as eat.

Then there are crunchies. After each time the cook pulls a batch of chicken from the bubbling oil, he then sweeps through the oil with a big screen, retrieving a great tangle of squiggly skin and fried batter that have detached from the large pieces. The crunchies are hot, rich, reminiscent of cracklins or gribenes, but pure, fat-crisped batter laced with the flavor of chicken that has fried in the same oil. They are served crisp and hot along with a cup of tart dill pickle chips. Betha, the bartender, showed us that the custom is to fold a pickle chip around a little cluster of crunchies, creating a finger taco. This is fried-food-lovers' heaven!

A great side dish: crisp-fried al dente mushrooms, their earthy rankness nearly truffle-strong. Catfish and whitefish are fried on Fridays. The only other things you need to know are that Rip's is always crowded and that while you wait in line for table, you can drink beers from the bar.
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Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hot Chicken Wings

Datil peppers and chicken wings are an inspired combo, enriched with plenty of butter and garlic. Of course, blue cheese dressing comes alongside.
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Barnacle Bill's...
Posted by John Clevenger on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 1:47 PM

Garbo's Grill has the quintessential Key West vibe. Not really a restaurant, it's a food cart with a permanent location on a side street not far from the west end of Duval. I went there on a recommendation looking for the best fish tacos in town. Mine were absolutely fresh mahi mahi, served on warm tortillas with cabbage, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, mango and a spicy Caribbean sauce that will make your lips tingle. You can substitute korean barbeque or shrimp for the fish with no regrets.

Half of the fun are the people who work there: two perpetually smiling women working the front and two guys working the grill, all in a space the size of a small walk-in closet. And of course the chickens strutting around. They play great tunes, treat you like a friend and keep the food coming. Fair warning: there are no tables and if you get there around noon time, the line can get long. Only open from 11:30 to 3PM and not when it's raining. Get there early.
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