Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sbraga-Philadelphia, PA

To celebrate the start of my new job I was told to pick a place to go to dinner. Oh the choices in Philadelphia, PA. Pretty much endless. Do I go to a favorite or try something new. I decided to be adventurous. A new restaurant in Philly, Sbraga, is right on Broad Street.

Sbraga-is American, modern cuisine, that comes in 4 courses for $45. There's more add on if your interested. Everyone choses from an appetizer, fish, meat, and then a dessert. The dishes take some basic homestyle favorites and puts a twist on them. If you try planning your meal before hand, you might just want to wait till you get there. The menu tends to differ from what is online and the servers do a great job explaining the dishes.

First, I decided on the eggplant app. I can't quite explain the dish, but it tasted amazing. Eggplant, tomato, and goat cheese.
For my fish, I decided to go with the Mackerel. Which did have a bit of a spice to it, but it was great. Normally an oily fish, it was steamed and tasted great.
My parents both had the fish and chips, which I have read great reviews and my mother confirmed them. Instead of a tartar sauce the fish is served with sauce that has an Indian curry flare.

For the meat dish I had to go with the meatloaf. Meatloaf? With a bacon marmalade? Things were going to get interesting I though! Tasted wonderful.
Now time to decide on a dessert. Everything sounded delicious. My parents both decided on the Banana Passion fruit, which was so light and just melted in your both. Even the display was beautiful.
I decided to go with something more rich-the hot chocolate dessert. Rich chocolate with warm vanilla ice cream. Drool!
Overall, I thought the meal was great, some home cooked favorites got a facelift. Keep it up Chef Sbraga, I enjoyed your creations that kept me wanting more.

One thing I will warn you all of, there are open candles on the tables, a lady behind me caught her menu on fire! I had to just laugh as she didn't even notice until my father pointed it out to her and the waiter quickly took it away from her!!!! She even said she thought she smelled something burning, but she thought it was coming from the kitchen! haha

Sbraga on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pasta 101

I have to say I'm pretty lucky. In these economic times, I recently have been able to secure a great job with my favorite pasta company, Severino. My passion for food, people, and marketing have lead me to be the Florida District Representative for Severino Pasta. The pasta is homemade in New Jersey, but sold in a growing number of Whole Foods locations. I will be servicing 16 stores in Florida.

Part of my training was to come back up to the store to learn everything about the pasta-what it's made of, how it's made, packaged, and distributed. First off, let me tell you this is not a huge manufacturing warehouse. Severino is as fresh as it gets. About 20 employees making the pasta and cutting it fresh! My senses came alive in the store. The machines, which were imported (40 or so more years ago) from Italy are roaring loudly as I walk into the store at 8:30 am. The colors of the pasta are so vivid and you can smell when they are making wasabi pasta a mile away!

I honestly didn't know what to expect as far as training went, but I was suited up with a chef jacket and hairnet and off to work I went. One of my favorites has to be cutting the spaghetti and boxing it. Later in the day I sealed boxes of dry pasta. There's no conveyor belt, I hot glued each box myself and put stickers on each container. If thats not a labor of love, I'm not sure what is.

Throughout the day I started to reflect about how amazing this company is. The small group of employees have learned a wonderful trade and continue to share it with us today. Not many companies are like this today. The owners are hands on about everything, continuing to work on the floor with everyone else. The staff here are as great as the pasta itself, everyone has let me help them and taken the time to explain everything to me. From what I have learned there are rarely any turn overs and the company just recently had one of their first retirees.

I'm looking forward to starting a great career with Severino Pasta. Continue to follow along as my journey begins. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Make Whoopie..........Pies that is!

After you get your mind out of the gutter I'm going to tell you all about my new venture- Making whoopie pies! If your not familiar with whoopie pies they are mainly from the Northeast. Not quiet a pie, cake, nor brownie. It has a creamy filling that oozes out when you take your first bite. Usually they are wrapped in clear cellophane plastic. As a child I first saw them in Lancaster, PA or what we refer to as "Amish Country." There were always homemade baked goods. Believe it or not I wasn't a big fan of whoopie pies growing up, but my dad loved them.

For Christmas this year I received a mini whoopie pie pan, recipe book, and my first whoopie pie mix. With everything in front of me, I had to try them out.

The small sweet treats are addicting. After my ready made mix pies went over so well I now set to create them by scratch. I decided to do the classic chocolate pie and make 3 different fillings- marshmellow, cream cheese, and peanut butter.

Each turned out extremely good and now I have to get these sweet treats out of my home before I eat them all. As a hobby I have decided to continue on my whoopie pie journey and sell them. As I continue to test more flavors I will add them to my list. If you are interested in the purchase of some homemade whoopie pies you can inquire here

Le Macaron

After returning from my wonderful trip to Colorado Nick and I decided to grab lunch in the Winter Park area. I don't what made me think of it, but back in August I was in Sarasota and I introduced my mother and Nick to Le Macaron.  We chatted with Gregory who said they were going to be opening another shop in Winter Park. Fast forward to present day- I found out Le Macaron in Winter Park has been open about a month!!!

Now when I talk about macarons I am not talking about that coconut pastry desert that usually has chocolate on it. Like the one below.
The french version is amazing. The outside is slightly crisp like a cookie, but it has a soft and gooey inside. There's a variety of flavors.
Some of our favorites would have to be the creme brulee cherry, carmel, and fresh mint. But I don't think you could go wrong with any of them. Gregory the owner is very friendly and is always suggesting you try different macarons. Just make sure you don't refer to him as burly, as Gregory pointed out the one thing he did not like about an otherwise great article about his shop.