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State-by-State Guide to Good Food

3 Jan

The media seems to have an obsession with lists – top 10 ways to get flatter abs, 15 things you didn’t know you had to fix, and 20 ways to make better lists…. the list goes on (ha ha). So what better way to kick off the new year than with a list of yummy restaurants, state by state? Ok, I haven’t yet dined in all 50 states (even if you count forgettable roadside stops), so this list is incomplete. But I did want to share some list-worthy establishments I think you should try, and I’ve included dishes I’ve enjoyed at each place. I’ve included links to my reviews of some restaurants, and I’ll update this page for reviews I’ll add in the near future. Bon appetit, and happy travels!

State, Restaurant, City Cuisine What to Order
California Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco French Soul Food, obviously Eggs Benedict, crawfish beignets
Connecticut Rein’s Deli, Vernon New York style Jewish deli Turkey, roast beef, mac ‘n cheese. Order a half pound of meat to take home with you!
Florida Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa Steak, desserts, and the largest private wine collection Steak, obviously! (Exquisitely cooked to perfection every time) Grilled shrimp appetizer. Upstairs in the Dessert Room, Bern’s signature cappuccino, macadamia nut ice cream. Full review to come.
Iowa Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant, several locations Midwestern comfort food Huge cinnamon rolls (featured on the Food Network), the Cattleman’s Choice, baked sweet potato. Hearty food if you’re road-tripping through the MidWest! There’s a cute country store, and you can take photos next to farm vehicles outside.
Illinois Mercadito, Chicago Mexican Amazing margaritas, shrimp tacos
Massachusetts Atlantic Fish, Boston Seafood Calamari (ask for half-and-half grilled and fried), crab-crusted haddock, pan-seared sea bass
Maine Fore Street, Portland American, local foods Menu changes often. Order the tomato tart if it’s available!
Nevada Wicked Spoon, Las Vegas Buffet Kale and watermelon salads, poached pear…like any buffet, things can be hit and miss, but Wicked Spoon offers an awesome selection, beautifully presented. If you want to experience Vegas’ over-the-top buffets, this is the place to go.
New Hampshire Gypsy Cafe, Lincoln International Niçoise salad, enchiladas, sangria.
New York Porteño, New York City Argentinian Grilled octopus, empanadas, quinoa salad
North Carolina Curate, Asheville Spanish Tapas Butternut squash soup, grilled octopus, canelones de carne. Sit at the bar for a great view of the open kitchen.
Ohio Skillet, Columbus Breakfast/Brunch Menu varies daily.
Oregon Mother’s, Portland Comfort food Breakfast and brunch, French press coffee
Pennsylvania Tommy DiNic’s, Philadelphia Sandwiches Brisket sandwich
Rhode Island Nick’s on Broadway, Providence American Everything! Expect to wait an hour for brunch.
Texas Rudy’s BBQ, several locations Barbecue Meat! Order it by the pound. You’ll be served a whole loaf of bread to accompany it.
Vermont Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington Farm-to-table gastropub Local beers and cheeses, giant onion rings (enough to share), burgers
Wisconsin Safe House, Milwaukee Pub food I didn’t actually dine here, but the experience getting into the restaurant was fun! Think secret doors and passwords…
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Great Chowder Cook-Off 2013

8 Jun

After attending Newport’s Great Chowder Cook-Off last year, I vowed to return. This year, the weather was more cooperative –  Saturday was a gorgeous, sunny day, and chowder fans turned up in droves to sample a plethora of soups. The trick is to buy your “Chowdahead” VIP tickets early, so you can enter the Cook-Off one hour earlier This is the main tent before it opened to regular ticket-holders:

main tent

Here are some yummy highlights, so you’ll know where to dine if you’re in search for some of the best chowder in America.

Stefano's booth

Some of the competitors were veterans from last year, including this year’s winner of the Clam CategoryStefano’s Seafood (Long Beach Island, NJ). Stefano’s had the thickest, creamiest chowder again, though it was much too thick for my taste. Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar (Boston, MA) served a terrific gluten-free clam chowder, but my vote goes to Pike Place Chowder (Seattle, WA), for their well-balanced chowder with just the right texture and flavours.

In the Creative Category, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar (Newport, RI) served the same crab and brie chowder as the year before – it was absolutely delicious, and one of my favorites of the day. (Interestingly, you will find a traditional New England clam chowder on The Mooring’s dinner menu, but not the crab and brie chowder).  It was Octagon Restaurant (Groton, CT) that won this category, with its spicy chowder full of skate, lobster, and alligator in a brothy soup. The flavours reminded me of a hearty chilli with notes of cheddar cheese – definitely a very original and adventurous take on chowder.

In the Seafood Category, my favorite was the chowder by StoneRidge (Mystic, CT), with hints of wine that complemented, but did not overpower, the lobster and scallops.

clam mascotTo round out the day, Amstel Light reps served up beer and  “Vermonster” sliders, with apple, onion, bacon and feta – a delicious combo. Wine, beer, ice cream, and other desserts were plentiful. We watched hungry eaters chow down in a clam cake-eating competition, and snapped photos with mascots. The Chowder Cook-Off is one delicious day in the sun, and you’ll definitely get all the chowder you could possibly want!

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