Schulte & Herr, The Holy Donut, Red’s Dairy Freeze, Willard Scoops and Two Fat Cats Bakery

Portland, Maine is one of my favorite places in the U.S., and for the past few years I’ve been fortunate to make it up there once a year in the spring or summer. Each visit is a combination of visits to old standbys plus some new places. We headed up there for the day last week and it was a refreshing fifteen degrees cooler than Boston. We arrived a little before lunchtime and our first stop, as has become customary, was Tony’s Donuts for a little pre-lunch appetizer. Two molasses-glazed and a cinnamon-sugar donut, and some greetings from the always friendly staff and clientele, and we were off to lunch.

I came to Portland armed with a list of places to try that I’d researched. One was   Schulte & Herr, which I’d discovered thanks to this blog. German restaurants, are not typically the most vegetarian-friendly. This one however, had several options. Schulte & Herr is located a few blocks outside of downtown, on a very un-commercial street. This is why it pays to research ahead of time, because I would not have ventured down this street otherwise. The restaurant’s interior is homey, it quite literally looked like the kitchen in my grandparents’ old house, complete with landscape paintings and the same wooden chairs. Our server was sweet as could be and was very helpful in adding a few more new-to-me places to my list. She brought over a basket with three different housemade rye breads served with liptauer, a German spread of cream cheese, paprika, cornichons, capers, caraway seeds, sprinkled with chopped chives. I could not get enough of this spread-tangy, creamy, and whipped til light, I loved it most on the dark, chewy sourdough rye. Continue reading

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ArtBar revisited

Two years ago I had dinner at ArtBar. You can read my review of that visit here. On that first visit I dined on the patio, which sits right on the Charles River, and it is easily one of the best outdoor dining spaces in the city. Since my first visit, there have been significant changes in the management of the restaurant, including a new chef and a new approach to the menu. I returned to ArtBar this year to sample some vegetarian offerings from their spring menu.

The meal started with a dish of a very good hummus and bread. Throughout the meal, I tried both regular and non-alcoholic cocktails created by bar manager Elizabeth Powell, my favorite being the Pressure, made with ginger, grapefruit shrub, agave, lime, honeycomb and CO2. Elizabeth makes her own syrups and infusions, lending fresh flavors to many of the cocktails.  Continue reading

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The Treats Truck Stop

Today I bring you a guest post from my best guest poster, my mom. You can check out her blog here. This past week marked the 5th birthday of one of our favorite spots, the Treats Truck. In honor of this milestone, my mom brings us a look at the newest addition to the Treats Truck family. 

Photos: Michael Ginsburg

The Treats Truck, a favorite movable place to find a sweet treat, now has its own bakery café, The Treats Truck Stop, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

The café is as bright and cheerful as Kim Ima, the founder of the Treats Truck. The front room is sunny and welcoming with retro Formica tables and sparkly seats. Continue reading

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Dondero Orchards

Strawberry season is upon us and I am doing my darnedest to enjoy it to the fullest. For me, that means going out and picking them as many times as possible. Some of my favorite places in Massachusetts to pick strawberries include Verrill Farm, Land’s Sake Farm, and Russell Orchards. Last weekend we were passing through Connecticut though and I decided to research some pick-your-own options there. There are several farms and orchards in the area, though Dondero Orchards in South Glastonbury, near Hartford, quickly stood out for one reason: cider doughnuts.

The orchard is located down a winding road, past charming houses and a few other farms. We pulled up to the old wooden building that houses the farm store. Inside were quarts of strawberries, baked goods and dozens of types of jam. My priority, though, was the doughnuts. I spotted a tray with two lone doughnuts remaining. I had intended to purchase more than two. I asked the girl at the checkout counter, “Are there more doughnuts by any chance.”
Her reply: “Not already made but I could go fry some up.”
Me: “…Are you serious???!!”
Her: “Yeah, it’ll be about ten minutes though.”
Me: “Take your time!! I’ll go pick some berries!”
So off we went to the fields while the doughnuts went into the fryer.   Continue reading

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Ariana Restaurant

Last weekend, shortly before dinnertime, Dave brought up a meal we had last year that we both thoroughly enjoyed, at The Helmand. We were both craving that sort of food but in these next two months, I am doing my best to try as many new places as possible and not do repeats of places I’ve already been. I set about trying to find if there was another Afghani restaurant in Boston. My search immediately brought me to Ariana Restaurant in Allston.

We arrived early on a drizzly evening and were seated next to the window, looking out on Brighton Avenue. Once seated, our server arrived with the same flatbread and three sauces we had at The Helmand. I found the bread here to be superior-chewier and less dry than The Helmand’s. The yogurt sauce and green sauce, a mix of cilantro, garlic, chiles, lemon juice and vinegar, are excellent. Continue reading

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S & I Thai

My tastes when it come to Thai food are fairly tame and I’m not ashamed to say it. I love pad thai. There are a few other dishes that I sometimes like to order at Thai restaurants, but nothing beats a really good plate of soft, eggy, peanut-dusted noodles. S & I Thai is regarded by many as some of the best, if not the best, Thai food in Boston. Diners flock there for authentic and more exotic Thai dishes, particularly very spicy ones. S & I is also known for having excellent pad thai. It had been a while since I was really impressed with a dish of pad thai, so I eagerly headed there to check it out.

Dave’s beverage of choice at Thai restaurants is a Thai iced tea. They tend to be at least $3 or $3.50 at most places. This one was $1.75 and it was huge. It usually arrives at your table already blended to a bright orange color, as seen below. This one was left unblended, which made for a beautiful presentation. It also allowed you to see the ratio of half-and-half to tea. Which as you can see, is quite high. And you could taste it. This was by far the richest Thai iced tea I’d ever had, almost like melted ice cream. I would highly recommend it, but for the sake of your arteries, split it with someone if you can. Continue reading

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The Publican

I’ll start out by saying that this, my final dinner in Chicago was an absolute delight and I highly recommend Publican. For our final night in Chicago, I had a list of some of the city’s top-rated restaurants that I was considering. Other than Rick Bayless’s restaurants, the only other spot I knew about prior to doing my research was Girl and the Goat. But even two months in advance, I couldn’t get a reservation there at a convenient time. The Publican came recommended by Emily and others. I liked what I saw of the menu and it was not too expensive.

The Publican is located in the West Loop neighborhood. Similar to Fort Point in Boston or the Meatpacking District in New York, this neighborhood was formerly home to warehouses, factories and wholesale markets, but in recent years has become populated with restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and condos. The particular street that Publican is on, West Fulton Market, still seemed relatively undeveloped though. Cobblestone streets added to the overall quaint feel.

Continue reading

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