If you keep up with culinary trends, then you know all about America’s latest sweet obsession: French macarons. These beautiful, delicate cookies have been a tradition in France and Europe for centuries, but have been making waves here in the U.S. as of late.
Enthusiasts are heading to Macaron Café in New York City for an entire storefront dedicated to this sweet, which are comprised of two meringue-based cookies, sandwiched with ganache, buttercream or jam. And, when I researched recipes for this article, I found 11 cookbooks entirely dedicated to macarons published in this year alone.
I earned an informal degree in Thai culture and cuisine during my DC days when I handled the PR for Bangkok Joe’s. Chef/Owner Aulie Bunyarataphan’s restaurant is inspired by the tastes of Bangkok’s street food, so learning and writing about Asian ingredients and Thai customs like Songkran (Thai New Year), was part of my job description.
Although it’s been several years, there’s one of her dishes that still stands out in my mind … Meang Kum. This two-bite appetizer, often sold as street food in Thailand, is a traditional appetizer that you’ll rarely find in restaurants here. A flavorful mixture of shrimp, ginger, toasted coconut, ginger, shallots, peanuts, lime and chili, delicately presented on a piece of spinach or collard, and topped with a Thai sauce.
It’s quite a career shift: Tracey Deschaine spent 30 years as a nurse, but today she’s cooking up a storm – like that 50 lbs of potato salad the other night. She’s the chef/owner of Dixie Picnic, an inviting eatery in Malvern’s Lincoln Court Shopping Center, best known for their “Upcakes.” Dramatic career change it may be, but the amiable Deschaine exudes a natural finesse for this new venture. She spoke to me recently about the inspiration for Dixie Picnic, which she owns and operates with her husband and son.
Here's a taste of my favorite feasts of late...
Toss these impressive mock-fried chickpeas in your salad or pop ‘em while watching Sunday night football. Canned chickpeas are roasted in a hot toaster oven and then tossed with evoo, garlic and herbs.
We could all feel angelic while devouring these amazing, six-ingredient red velvet cupcakes at my daughter’s christening. Red velvet cupcake mix + 2 egg whites + diet cream soda for the cupcakes. Reduced-fat cream cheese + powdered sugar + vanilla extract for the frosting.
The downtown Wayne restaurant scene has seriously amped up in the past year, but given the choice, I’m still heading to Teresa’s Next Door for dinner.
Of course it’s because of their incredible selection of beers ... need you even ask? But most recently I’ve been frequenting the restaurant for its “Tasty Tuesday” menu.
Tasty Tuesday has been around since TND’s inception and you need to take advantage of it. It’s a night when Chef/Owner Andy Dickerson experiments with new ingredients, resulting in a special menu of unique dishes at a reasonable price. Interesting beers are always part of it.
If you’ve been lucky enough to travel to Italy, you’ve probably had a taste of authentic pizza. And like me, you may have never gone back (to Papa’s, that is).
True Italian pizza is delicate, with a thin flatbread-like crust, fresh tomatoes and herbs, and a light sprinkling of cheese. Our indulgent American side goes heavy on the mozzarella … make that the crust and the toppings too.
Real Italian pizza is much more delicate. Leave it to us to come up with a cheese-stuffed crust.
If you read this blog, you probably like trying new foods and restaurants as much as me. But this pursuit often leaves little room for repeat visits to local establishments. Yet, time after time, I end up sitting down in Wayne’s Teresa’s Next Door.
In spring it was for an over-due gossip fest with a longtime friend. In June, it was after a tough day – the kind that only a good Belgian beer can tend to. And last weekend it was for a Saturday night dinner with family.
First-timers initially frequent this gastro-pub for its beer – TND offers one of the most extensive lists in our area. Dozens of Belgian and local brews are on tap, as well as countless (hundreds) by the bottle. If you’re a beer lover, be prepared to spend some time pouring through the thick beer menu. Whittling down your choices to 2 – 3 selections for the evening is no easy task.
Authentic, upscale Mexican cuisine. Where do you find it on the Main Line?
It hasn’t really existed until last week’s opening of Xilantro, Luis Marin’s new upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Wayne. Having much success with his traditional Mexican concept Sarape (locations in Chalfont, Horsham and Blue Bell), Marin and current business partner Joel Solomon, are taking things up a notch with this sophisticated restaurant and tequila bar.
And modern it is. Xilantro glows with its clean design of whites and lime greens, standing out among North Wayne Avenue’s classic shops and traditional eateries.
On Memorial Day weekend, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is not grilling or heading out for some barbecue. With this in mind, I want you to meet someone who thinks, cooks and eats barbecue all year long. I’m talking about Jim Mog, owner of Jimmy’s BBQ, located in Malvern’s Westgate Plaza.
I worship Jimmy’s BBQ because this gem of a joint has smoked my Thanksgiving turkey the last two years. (“How did you get this turkey so moist and perfectly cooked?” our guests asked. Guess my charade is up.) This place is the real deal in a sea of imitators. In fact, Jim and I were chatting outside, when a man approached our table exclaiming he had to shake Jim’s hand. Turns out he hailed from South Carolina and had yet to find an authentic place for ‘cue until that very evening.
Stop by and give it a taste this weekend or this summer. My three words of advice: slow smoked bacon. Smoked with the skin on and then sliced and grilled to order, this was the best bacon we’ve ever had and disappeared in under 30 seconds. Here’s more from my visit with the barbecue master:
Jim Mog of Jimmy's BBQ in Malvern