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Monday, January 30, 2012

A Fork in the Road: Books and Breadboard (Asheville, NC)

I practically grew up most holidays in North Carolina, in both Asheville and Raleigh, where my parents are from.  Every couple years, our family travels to Asheville for a family reunion.  Asheville just used to be a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains best known as home of the legendary Biltmore House (, but has grown in popularity particularly due to University of North Carolina having a campus there.  It is vastly different from how I remember it growing up.  We only visited the Biltmore House during Christmas time and dined at Grove Park Inn; but now it must cater to the diverse crowd the college brings, which means restaurants, entertainment venues, antiquing, outdoor adventures and much more.
The food in Asheville is incredible!  It really perfects the art of Southern cuisine and can hold its own in the ethnic food category as well.  The town has its staples of Tupelo Honey, Corner Kitchen, Early Girl Eatery as lunch spots and the new Books and Breadboard in Biltmore Village.  It is quaintly located inside a bookstore with an open kitchen as well as a patio area with everything made-to-order in front of you.
Chapter 3 - Turkey on pumpernickel with fresh sage and cranraisin mayo, swiss cheese and lettuce.  Every since I was little, I've eaten turkey with jelly.  Sounds icky, but they used to serve fresh turkey sandwiches with sprouts, lettuce and jelly on wheat toast at our athletic club.  It was healthy and gave kids the sweetness they wanted.  This was WAY better!  Fresh turkey, sweet mayo with the rye taste of bread.  Great combo! 
Chapter 4 - Roast Beef on herb foccacia with bleu cheese aioli, roma tomato and arugula.  Heavy, but another perfect sandwich.  Each ingredient played well with the roast beef.  I absolutely loved the Terra chips and homemade slaw of carrots, yellow squash and zucchini.  It made for beautiful and fun colors!
Chapter 13 - Arugula salad with mixed greens, sprouts, julienne veggies, and tomatoes with meats and egg.  This was a fresh salad, but I'm always down on julienned vegetables and drizzled balsamic.  The vinaigrette rocked.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Brought to you by the brain behind the Yerba Buenas (two of my faves) and Toloache (not a fave), is his Latin diner in Chelsea.  It is what you would expect from a Cuban restaurant with old photos,  pastel colors and semi-shut wooden shutters luring you in from outside.  Of course, being so close to the Meatpacking District and 24/7, it appeals to different crowds, just as Florent did.  Two things I found particularly pleasing were the lighting, not too bright or dark, and the music, at just the right level. 
We showed up on the late side for dinner, around 11pm and the Enchiladas Suizas were warm and filling on this cool night.  I have yet to meet an Enchiladas Suizas I didn't like, although I would have nixed the queso crema and left them with the just swiss cheese.  Too much crema can mute the taste of the tomatillo.  This was a B+.
Pan Con Lechon sandwich with its roasted pork and chicharrons came together beautifully texturally.  Then add some pickled red onions and mojo...yum!  Beware of Coppelia's hot sauce.  It is homemade and HOT (they did warn us)!

Other knock outs: Huevos Rancheros
Bust: Huevos Picaros

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Fork in the Road: Cliff's Old Fashion Hamburgers (Houston, TX)

Back in the day (oh, about 15 years ago), I remember Cliff's on Foutainview being one of the very few inexpensive restaurants outside the loop.  One weekend when visiting, I decided to take to trip down memory lane and head to Cliff's.  Unfortunately, I wasn't WOWed by the burger or fries.  In fact, the Texas burger at McDonalds might be better!  Granted, I probably shouldn't have ordered a turkey burger.

The patty was a thin, discolored mess with the only flavors coming from the mayo, mustard and wheat bun.  Actually, the wheat bun was pretty dang good...if only it had a succulent patty in between.  The handcut fries - greasy and non-edible. 

I might return for a regular burger and onion rings (what they are known for), but Houston now just has too many great burger spots to come back to Cliff's.  Sad.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If the spice is right....Galanga

Sitting off Washington Square Park, Village locals and NYUers all at Galanga for it's well-priced and tasty Thai food.   The atmosphere is lively with music just-above-normal-level and upbeat waitstaff, so I couldn't really complain about the noise level.

Drunken Noodle - Thai street style hot spicy wider rice noodle with chili pepper, bell pepper, Chinese broccoli and fresh basil.  
Tasty and also included asparagus, but didn't have a kick.

Green Noodle - wild rice noodle with thai herbs pesto, celery, scallion, romaine lettuce and egg.  
Galanga's version of pesto pasta which made for an interesting dish (and worth trying), but axe the romaine lettuce.  No one, NO one, likes hot, wilty lettuce.

The lightly fried chicken wings with sweet chili sauce and scallions weren't my fav, but the entrees totally make up any appetizer blunders.  

I would recommend ordering takeout anytime.  The price is right....and the spice.