Last night I had to make my way to good ol’ downtown Vineland to pick up some things at the only sewing store basically within an hour of here to finish a project. While I don’t usually get down that way very often I’m always excited to because it means one thing to me….a stop at The Sweet Life! You may (or maybe not…) remember my rantings about them here.

It’s always great to stop in. For one thing, I hate supporting Starbucks, or any other monster chain that kills adorable little businesses, but I won’t lie that I always end up going there anyway just because theres one right next to where I work and go to school. Besides that, the coolest people own it and an incredibly talented future famous artist who I’ve had class with this semester also works there. oh yeah, and did I forget to mention everything they make is amazing. No, I’m not exaggerating – everything.

So Jill (one of the owners, and a pretty kick-butt cake baker and decorator) talked me into one of their little apricot triangle pastry things (yes, I am very knowledgable, I know) and ended up getting a few of those and a few other things to bring home to the family. While I could go on for a million years about everything there, I must adress these apricot triangle thingies. not suprisingly, AMAZING. the perfect pre-work snack and had me wanting to eat them all in one sitting, but I respect their delicious pastries too much to ruin them by doing so.

This morning started out so lovely with having one of those fantastic soft and just perfectly sweet enough little creations and a little bit of chocolate Chai. Maybe it was these delightful little things that helped me to stay happy even through a crazy day of rifling through clay pots and sculptures to find mine, and hours at work with severe christmas madness going on and then push through to finish both my wearable art project and my sculpture for the art show this weekend. So thank you, delicious little pastry, and thank you Sweet Life.

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To Do List: Restaurants

October 17, 2009

I hate winter. I hate cold. I hate living in the northeast between September and May. So every year I try to think of things to distract me from the cold. Last year me and Frank made a whole list of things to do and we planned our little hiatus down to Florida to see his Aunt which helped me get through. So I decided to sit down today and figure out at least a few exciting new places to try over the next few months, so I thought I’d share…

Philly

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On the ninteenth floor of the Hyatt, how can you not want to try it?

Distrito

The whole restaurant is a lovely shade of BARBIE PINK! (oh did I not mention thats my favorite color?) Plus as a former waitress/bartender at what I believe to be one of the tastiest mexican restuarants in the city I’m always curious to try some others and compare.

Osteria

voted best meat dishes in ’09 plus everything on the menu just sounds delicious.

Union Trust Steakhouse

Okay so putting aside the fact this this place was voted best of philly for it’s steaks (which makes this a must for us to try) but just go on the website and look at the architecture of the building. I’m sure when we try it I will spend the entire night babbling on and on to frank about the architecture and pointing out the stupidest little art related things about the building.

Atlantic City

The Chelsea Prime

Okay, so I’ll admit that I’ve been dying to see the inside of the Chelsea Hotel since it opened, but the restaurant has also received great reviews as well so what a perfect a excuse to stroll through a a brand new hotel in AC that isn’t also some dirty casino?

Buddakan

Stephan Starr’s restaurants are tend to either be amazing or “meh” it seems but never bad. Every time I pass by the entrance to Buddakan in the Pier I can’t help but want to sit down at that super long table and have dinner.

Local

Winfield’s

My 3D design class is at the Clay College right next to Winfield’s and I’ve heard good things about it from everyone who’s went and me and frank have been meaning to get out there but we always forget about it when the time comes!

Also we plan on revising some of our previous favorites like Estia and Butcher & Singer so I’m gunna wait till we do that to do reviews! Also I plan on visiting my old stomping grounds of Zocalo once the fabulous bartender gets back from vacation.

If you have any suggestions please don’t hesitate and also pray that I live through another winter living somewhere cold (I know I say it every year but I SWEAR this will be the last year I live in the north!).

September 9, 2009

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I want to play don't wait forms in the hideaway
I want to get on with getting on with things
I want to run in fields, paint the kitchen
And love someone
And I can't do any of that here, can I?

Mia

August 20, 2009

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Every since we were devastated by the closing of Brassarie Perrier me and Frank have been visiting Georges Perrier’s other culinery ventures. Le Bec Fin was exactly what you expect Le Bec Fin to be. The best service in the city, fantastic food and expensive. The ambiance of the restaurant was just not really our style though, very proud, stuffy and no windows to be found (one thing I hate! I looove natural light and I love to look at the busy city streets when eating dinner in center city, probably why I adore Positano Coast so much). Table 31 was very nice with delicious food, although the service was so-so on our second visit (after 3 visits to the famous chefs different restaurants we came to expect great service at his restaurants, so this was a bit of a let down).

We had been planning to spend the day doing in-door rock climbing in Philly and then grabbing some pizza or something, but when we woke up an saw what a lovely day it was we couldn’t resist finally making our way down to the beach. Atlantic City is the perfect beach-city for us. Neither of us gamble, drink, or “party” by any means, but we love to get in the water for a little bit and then jump out and walk the shops and have a great meal. Neither of us are much of a pass-out on a super crowded beach and then have greasy boardwalk food.

What a great call on our part. Everyone in Jersey and Philly goes to Ocean City and no matter what day you go the beach is always packed, but on a saturday afternoon Atlantic City definitely had people on the beach and walking around, but you didn’t feel claustrophobic.

We, of course, couldn’t pass up the chance to have dinner at Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio’s great Roman-Palace inspired restaurant, Mia, inside of Caesars. It’s located on the second floor of the casino and it’s pretty hard to miss. As you glide up the elevator you see these fountains and on the left side is a huge restaurant bordered by huge roman columns. As you wait to be seated you sit on these amazingly comfortable but simply lovely black quilted leather couches that I am completely in love with and wish I could take home with me.

The restaurant is beautiful, of course. Very comfortable and inviting.

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I love this photo. We are both a bit of perfectionists and have a deep love for symmetrical things, so Frank decided to make sure absolutely everything was reverse-symmetrical. I just smiled and took a few photos of course.

We were astounded by how quickly our food came out. It seemed we had only just ordered it when it was being set in front of us, perfectly cooked and delicious to follow.

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We’ll start with Frank’s since I’m sure its obvious by now that he got Filet Mignon with a side of mashed potatoes (actually it was more than a side – more like a boat of mashed potatoes). He said it was absolutely great and had to strain himself to find anything wrong with it. Those two things that are also on the plat, we have no clue what they were (the menu didn’t say and I tried it and it was definitely not my taste).

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I always have to make sure whatever restaurant has some sort of normalish steak for Frank, but I enjoy not looking at the menu beyond that until I arrive because I want to try all new things and broaden my culinary horizons a bit I suppose (I’d rather try something new and not like it than order the same thing over and over, ironic I know). I decided to go with the appetizer size of the Veal Tortilloni. It was delicious, completely delightful, and since it wasn’t huge it was just perfectly sized for me. It also allowed me to order a side. When it comes to my sides, I suppose I am a bit habitual. I almost always go with either mushrooms or asparagus. I debated back and forth, but it had been a while since I had mushrooms, and I am so glad I went with them. They were amazing, I could eat them every day and be completely happy.

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We always make an effort to save room for dessert, especially at Georges Perrier’s restaurants, as they are almost always amazing, and they once again did not disappoint! Chocolate lava cake is pretty much Frank’s favorite dessert (probably only beat out by the chocolate tort at Zocalo in Philly) and I have to say, this particular chocolate cake was “bangin”.

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I decided to go a bit lighter and just have a bite or two of his cake. So I got the selection of fruit sorbets. I forget which fruits they were, but they were very, very, good.

So I guess its time for me to fess up to the one thing I was disappointed in at the restaurant, and that was the service. I realize that it is sooo hard to find good wait staff, but Le Bec Fin and Brassarie Perrier both had phenomenal service, so it was a real let down. The server seemed to rush us when he was there and when we were ready he was no where to be found, and watching him with the other tables, we saw he did the same thing. I generally am compassionate towards servers since I’ve been there before, but this is one of those restaurants where there are people who only deliver food, and people who only bus the tables, and so on, so his only job is to interact with the customers and he felt like more of a drive-thru attendant than a fine-dining server.

That was my only complaint though, everything else was fantastic, really.

Lucia’s

July 23, 2009

The other night me and Frank decided to grab dinner at the last minute so figured we’d stay local. We usually end up going to the Centerton Inn right in Pittsgrove which has pretty good food, much better than any diner or chain restaurant around here, but I had just read earlier on Stephen from The Sweet Life Bakery’s blog mention Lucia’s give a shout out to the use of local produce and how great everything is over there that I suggested that as a break from Centerton.

The truth is that I have been wanting to try it for a while too, the outside looks like a miniture version of an italian village, but Stephen’s mention was enough to remind me to suggest it.

Lucia's in Vineland NJ

Lucia's in Vineland NJ

The interior of the restaurant is just as fun as the outside. You feel almost as though you’re stepping into venice or something (not that I’ve actually been there yet, but I like to imagine). It also brought back memories of Disney World and the world showcase with all of the “mini countries” in Epcot (on of my favorite places in the whole park ever since I was a little girl).

Lucias Interior

The bread they give you at the start of the meal is heavenly. Incredibly soft and super warm. I can be kind of picky about bread at restaurants, usually I only have it if I’m really hungry already because mostly bread is bread. It was a real treat though, a nice welcoming treat and had me excited about the rest of the meal already.

The house salad which came with out meals was delicious as well. It was served with a balsamic vinigarette and a little parmesan cheese. Once again, I usually have salad with dressing on the side and never with cheese (cheese, because of my milk allergy) but I figured I’d try it, they seemed to know what they’re doing so far. It was great. I even talked Frank into trying some miniture bites of vegetables (He generally doesn’t eat vegetables at all besides potatoes really, and even then they’re usually either mashed or fried) which lead to me trying to debate that vegetables do in fact have taste, at least in my opinion.

The entree’s did take a little bit to find their way to us, but there were only two waitresses working which always buys sympathy from me. While waiting, I did notice the only problem I had with the restaurant, the temperature. It would get to the point where it was borderline arctic and then all the sudden become very comfortable and then plummet back down to near-freezing.

But, anyway, the food eventually made its way to us.

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon (Franks of course!). As soon as the waitress sat it down I immedietely said I was going to steal the plate. I have a sever obsession with pure white dinner ware in interesting shapes. Taking such simplicity as a clean white plate and not relying on patterns or textures to make it interesting, only shape, ugh it gets me every time (yes, the way to my heart is, in fact, interesting dinner ware). Anyhow… Frank said it was the first great steak he’s had in a while. And I can vouch for the vegetables and mushrooms in saying they were pretty darn good too.

Parpadelle Carbonara

I went with something a little different than the things I normally am attracted to. Parpadelle Carbonara is a ribbon pasta with bits of procsciutto and peas in a sauce comprised of marscarpone and parmigiana cream. It caught my eye firstly because of the prosciutto, which always give things an intriguing flavor I’ve always liked. But what really had me was the marscarpone, I love marscarpone, though I’ve never had it in a sauce before. Oh, it was so good. It wasn’t that foreign of a flavor that I think anyone could enjoy it, but it was still different take on a basic pasta in cream sauce recipe that was something new and refreshing.

All in all I really enjoyed it and would definitely go back again. I know a lot of people around here don’t like to drive far and Philly is way too far for them, but this is right in Vineland, so you have no excuses anymore. And I don’t want to hear anything about prices because, yes its more expensive then the chains or diners around here, but if you skip going to one of them once then you can go here and have truly great food that you can have full faith in has not seen the inside of a microwave (I always joke that it friendly’s takes so long because their microwave breaks a lot).

You can find their website here. Now please go and support on of the few great local businesses in Cumberland County!

Vegetable Frenzy

June 10, 2009

Oh how I love summer and the ridiculous amount of vegetables that take over the kitchen during these months. I spent the other morning in Marlboro Farm Market picking out some of the most beautiful fruits and vegetables that haven’t been waxed-down to glow under supermarket lights in a long time. I could go on forever about how much I love fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables, but I won’t bore you. I will simply tell you and show you what I did with them….

Vegetable Pot Pie! um…yes, so it was supposed to be chicken pot pie but I maybe…well I…forgot…

Yes I know! how do you forget the chicken in the chicken pot pie? but I was having so much fun chopping and dicing all the vegetables that it wasn’t until I stuck in it the oven that I realize that I had forgotten the main ingredient. In the end though, you really didn’t miss the chicken much (or at least I didn’t and my family didn’t seem to mind either) which just goes to show that good ingredients can make a great dinner, even if you did happen to forget the thing that the dish was named for.

The Sweet Life

May 27, 2009

Oh, it truely is the sweet life, now. Knowing that there is finally an adorable, creative, tasty, and socially and environmentally conscious bakery nearby!

Last week I was killing a little time in Vineland when I came across the most adorable little bakery in the whole world. I was hesitant to go in though due to my past experiences with bakeries in this part of south Jersey (I’m not sure if most people are required to know spanish when the walk into a bakery in America, but apparently it’s becoming more common..). Well that night I typed the name into google and wa-la! The Sweet Life.

I was so amazed at the photos of the wedding cakes and desserts I saw and that they were based in Vineland. Their gorgeous wedding cakes designs are so much more modern then the other bakeries in south Jersey, they remind me more of the great bakeries in Philly that I’m always researching for my internship then of the very “old-lady” type cakes you normally find in the bakeries around here.

Anyway, So I was talking to my mom about how we desperately need to stop in a get some goodies ASAP. Well this morning my mother happened to find herself in Vineland and called me about 20 times (one time to tell me she was trying to find it, another time to tell me how cute it looked from outside, another time to tell me about everything they had in there and ask what I wanted and then again when she left to tell me how incredibly nice they are there – gotta love my mom! I’d probably do the same). I could barely wait for her to get back!

The Sweet Life

Fantastico! Everything was so great! Although, I didn’t get to try the cupcake. I was saving it to have as a snack tonight and went out to run my errands and by the time I got back my sisters boyfriend had already chowed it down (apparently it was good). That fine though because it just gives me an excuse to make a trip over there and get some more tasty things this week.

If for some reason you don’t believe how awesome this little bakery is you can also check out their flickr page, or their blog!