Month: July 2014

The Fountain of Four Rivers

Rome is surreal — with art, architecture and literature all converging and melding into one great historical and picturesque place. Like all other tourists, we had a list of places we wanted to see during our first visit in Rome. But not until we stood in front of this Bernini sculpture in Piazza Navona, La Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi — The Fountain of Four Rivers — completely accidentally and not even realizing it, that it hit me. There I was standing in front of a masterpiece: one that has been a subject of many other literary masterpieces years after he himself passed on, a testimony to the enduring legacy of his work. This, I realized, is the same thing with great civilizations. They leave behind their works of art, their philosophy, new ways of thinking that millennia after, new civilizations build on what they have started. What, as a civilization, are we going to leave behind? (Photo taken in Rome, Italy, May 2013) Advertisements

Which chain restaurants serve the best bread?

Lately, we’ve been going to Texas Roadhouse on our way to our weekend summer concerts for one reason: their bread. So I thought I’d make a list of the best chain restaurant bread baskets that I personally like. Texas Roadhouse rolls. The rolls themselves are coated with honey and served warm, with cinnamon butter on the side which makes its taste reminiscent of cinnabons. Noches De Colombia’s Pan De Bono. Not very sure if Noches belongs in this category since I am not necessarily sure if it’s a chain, but this place in Englewood, NJ serves a crunchy cheesy bread called pan de bono. It’s not free, but it’s so good that it’s a best seller — customers even order some to go. Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Cheesy, garlicky, herby, warm and addictive, we always end up asking for much more than we should of these whenever we are at a Red Lobster. Outback Steakhouse’s bread. The combination of this honey wheat bread and the light butter almost always fills me up even before …

Taking the “Best Thing I Ever Ate” Route

Last year my boyfriend and I went to Philadelphia to do a food tour. Before we went, we (mainly he) searched for videos of places that were featured on Food Network and Travel Channel shows such as Diners, Drive Ins and Dives and Best Thing I Ever Ate and mapped out where we wanted to go. One of the places on our list was this restaurant called Lolita, a recommendation from Food Network chef Robert Irvine on The Best Thing I Ever Ate’s “In A Bowl” episode. The dish: tiramisu. It is sweet, with a perfect amount of heat, which makes it a very balanced dessert. The texture and creaminess add to it as well. The verdict: it was the best tiramisu we’ve eaten. Lolita Tiramisu Dessert rating: 9.5 out of 10 (We didn’t eat anything else in this restaurant other than the Tiramisu, so a restaurant rating will not be fair)

Do Giant Fortune Cookies Also Bring Big Fortunes?

I love getting my fortune cookie after a meal at a Chinese restaurant. The history of fortune cookies aside, it is a staple we have come to expect. At Tao in Manhattan, one of my favorite Asian fusion restaurants, the dessert menu includes a giant fortune cookie, which is filled with white and dark chocolate mousse. I had the chance to sample this interesting dessert when I went to the restaurant with my parents. It was served with assorted fruits on the side, and came with three giant fortunes. True to form, some of the fortunes made sense, some did not.It’s definitely a clever and creative dessert. The mousse had good consistency and had balance in sweetness between the white and the dark. I wished the cookie itself would have been crisper, but overall if you take a bite with the cookie as the textural element, the fruits giving the acidity and the mousse the sweetness, it will be a good bite. Tao Restaurant rating: 7.5 out of 10 Giant Fortune Cookie dessert rating: 7 out of 10  …

On Human Achievement

There are times when there are more questions than answers, and that’s okay. It’s man’s continuous search for meaning, purpose, his origins and history that make way for great discoveries. Mysteries keep us grounded, knowing we don’t know everything there is. The simplest of them — was it of ritual, maybe brought by necessity, perhaps scientific — feats of engineering and architecture, mathematical precision, human achievement far advanced than the time they were created. (Photos taken at Wiltshire, UK, May 2012) Footnote to a post: I encourage everyone to travel on their own once in their lives. There are many ways to do this. I chose Contiki, a service that lets you travel with people ages 18-35 to destinations worldwide. By doing so, you may not know it at the time, but no matter your destination, you would be setting off to a life-changing experience. My trip was years ago now but I still remember getting to the Stonehenge site vividly and it becoming real for me. I still remember the rest of the trip …

The Best Risotto Yet (And A Must Go In Jersey)

Tell me you’ve got risotto on the menu, and you’ve got me. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. Along with chocolate and eating with chopsticks and dulce de leche. And the best risotto I have had so far is from this place called The Pluckemin Inn in New Jersey. It was during one of those weekends we gave up on in the spring of this year, looking through listings on Open Table and chanced upon The Pluckemin. The criteria: proximity to where we were at the time, user reviews and Open Table points we were to earn. We had to cancel reservations at a different restaurant that night and were looking forward to having the place’s interpretation of cacio e pepe, a difficult-to-find-in-the-US pasta dish that we had in Rome months earlier, but that already did not pan out — so we had low expectations for our second option. Needless to say, we were more than pleasantly surprised at how good this restaurant experience turned out to be, giving us some of …

German Food Sunday

Last Sunday, while everyone was busy cheering Germany on towards World Cup dominance, I had my first taste of German food at the Black Forest Mill.  It’s a restaurant in Highland Mills, NY specializing in German favorites, also serving Polish and other European dishes. For my entree, I ordered one of the specials: a pork dish with its skin on (pictured), served with potato dumpling and brown gravy, which I had them serve on the side, as well as creamed spinach. They promised me crispy skin and it came out softer than I expected, but the flavor was good, not overly spiced. In order for us to have a taste of what the place had to offer, my boyfriend ordered the Black Forest Sampler Skillet: Jaeger Schnitzel, Pork Loin, Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, served over spaetzle. The best part of our meal was the appetizer: Polish Cheese-Potato Pierogi on Sauerkraut (Polische Teig Taschen mit Kaese und Kraut). My boyfriend ordered a Black Forest Cake to go, which he afterwards gave a thumbs down. What was most interesting …