Archive for January, 2011

Inka Grill (Cusco, Peru)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 by virginia

We arrived in Cusco relatively late in the evening, and although they gave us a snack on the train, we found most of it to be pretty bad so we decided to go out for a late dinner when we got into the city. We asked the front desk at our hotel for some restaurant recommendations, specifically saying that we were in the mood for some Peruvian style chicken. One of the restaurants they sent us to was the Inka Grill, which was right on the main square. As soon as we saw it, we knew they didn’t serve the Peruvian chicken we were looking for, but it was late and the menu looked ok so we decided to go in anyway.

The restaurant was definitely more upscale than what we were looking for, though the decor was pretty nice. It wasn’t crowded because of the late dinner hour so it was pretty quiet, giving us the opportunity relax and chat. We started with a nice bottle of red wine and they brought us some homemade potato chips to start. The chips were made from yellow starchy potatoes, and even though they were fresh, they weren’t nearly as tasty as the chips we had at the Lobby Bar at Tambo del Inka. The chips came with a green sauce on the side for dipping, which I thought would be a garlicky ajo sauce, but turned out to a mint sauce made from my dreaded Andean mint. Yikes! I still don’t know what it is about Andean mint, but I had to force myself to swallow that bite rather than spit it out. Josh liked it though.

Yellow potato chips

We weren’t starving at this point so we couldn’t stomach the idea of an elaborate dinner. There was a small section of the menu that featured sampler platters, which we thought would be the perfect way to try different things without having to order tons of food. The samplers were portioned for two people so we picked out the one that seemed to be the most Peruvian, the Novo Andean Sampler, figuring that would be enough food to make up a light meal. We turned out to be right, as the platter was pretty huge.

Novo Andean sampler platter

The platter came with stuffed chili peppers, kiwicha chicken fingers, alpaca brochettes, and quinoa croquettes. The chili peppers were stuffed with meat and weren’t spicy. They were smothered in a gooey, stringy cheese that was similar to mozzarella. I was a bit nervous when I saw all the cheese, since I’m usually not a fan, but when it was melted over the chili pepper it worked well and added a nice richness and saltiness.

Stuffed chili peppers smothered in cheese

The kiwicha chicken fingers were strips of chicken coated in kiwicha, or amaranth seeds. The seeds have a similar flavor and texture to sesame seeds and provided a good crunch. The chicken strips were kind of thin so they were a little dry but we remedied that by dipping them into the accompanying sauces.

Kiwicha chicken fingers

This wasn’t the first time that we had eaten alpaca on our trip, and this version was pretty good. We knew from experience that alpaca can get dry very easily, but these brochettes were well seasoned and perfectly cooked so that they were still tender and juicy. The meat also tasted a bit beefier than usual, which was a pleasant surprise, as we had previously found alpaca to be more similar to veal or pork. This was one of our favorite components of the platter.

Alpaca brochettes

The quinoa croquettes were another of our favorites. They were nicely fried to a golden brown crisp on the outside and warm and creamy on the inside. It tasted like the quinoa had been mixed with cheese, which made it extremely rich and decadent. Quinoa normally has a lovely texture that rolls along on your tongue, and in this creamy format it was similar to cheese grits – we enjoyed it immensely.

Quinoa croquettes

Overall we liked the atmosphere of the Inka Grill, but we probably didn’t taste enough of their food to know whether or not it’s a good place to have dinner. The sampler platter was generously portioned but the chicken fingers were just ok, and the croquettes were good because they were fried well. The brochettes were pretty impressive though, so I guess my recommendation would be to stick with the “grill” part of the Inka Grill. The menu was pretty eclectic, with items like pizza and pasta, french onion soup, and oriental chicken salad. I guess it caters to every taste, but we tried to stick with choosing a platter that seemed the most Peruvian to us, or at least used Peruvian ingredients. I remember thinking that the restaurant was pretty pricey though, we didn’t look too in depth at the menu since we weren’t so hungry at the time.  Location might have been a factor, as it’s right on the Plaza de Armas, but we kind of got the feeling that this place caters mostly to tourists. It had an upscale vibe to it and was a nice place for a drink and a snack, but I think we had better and cheaper meals elsewhere.

Inka Grill
Portal de Panes 115 Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

Restaurant Pizzeria Bar (Aguas Calientes, Peru)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 by virginia

After we took the bus down from Machu Picchu, we decided to grab a quick lunch before we had to catch our train to Cusco. The main square is right by the bus station in town so we went there to look for a place to eat. There are lots of restaurants to choose from, but there are always people standing outside each restaurant waving menus around, trying to get you to go in. It’s kind of annoying because we wanted to look at menus first before we decided where to eat, and it was hard when you’re constantly being accosted by people trying to get you to go in. We ended up deciding on pizza, so we actually went into the only restaurant where no one bothered us. I’m not sure exactly what the name of this restaurant was, as the sign above the door just said Restaurant/Pizzeria/Bar.

If you’re facing the fountain and the Inca statues in the square, the restaurant is to the right, in the middle of the row of restaurants. It’s on the ground level, with balconies overhead. We sat just outside the restaurant, still in the shade but we enjoyed the fresh air. We toasted our success in climbing Huayna Picchu with a few Cusquena beers, which were cold and refreshing.

There were lots of different pizzas to choose from, and some of the combination of toppings sounded pretty interesting. We ended up choosing, appropriately enough, the Machu Picchu pizza, which was topped with sauce, ham, chorizo, hearts of palm, oregano, and cheese. The first pizza they brought us, however, was not what we ordered, though we didn’t figure that out until after we each taken a bite of our slices. Oops! They had given us a veggie pizza by mistake, which had peppers and onions on it. We probably should have realized right away because there were peppers and no meat, but we thought maybe the meat would be underneath all the cheese. They were really nice about the mix-up though, and let us finish eating our slices while they fired up the correct pizza for us.

Veggie pizza with peppers and onions

We could definitely see the meat on our new pie, which had thin slices of chorizo and lots of pieces of ham strewn on top. There were also long strips of hearts of palm, which I thought was an intriguing pizza topping. I like hearts of palm in salad, but it didn’t seem like something I’d put on pizza. It actually added a nice crunch and a bit of tanginess that helped cut through the saltiness of the chorizo and the richness of the cheese. It was a good combination of flavors.

Machu Picchu pizza with sauce, ham, chorizo, hearts of palm, oregano, and cheese

There was definitely a lot of cheese on the pizza, though not a lot of tomato sauce. They were also pretty heavy handed with the oregano, as the top of the pizza was just covered in green flecks. Flavor wise it was pretty subtle though, so I didn’t mind all the herbs on top.

Lots of cheese and oregano on each slice

The crust was a bit thicker than the pizza crust at Inka Wasi but it had good flavor to it. I don’t know if it was baked with eucalyptus leaves but I thought it tasted a little floral. There wasn’t much charring on the bottom but it was still slightly crispy.

Underside shot

Overall we liked the pizza at this unnamed pizzeria. It’s definitely a low key joint, not as polished as Inka Wasi in terms of atmosphere and decor, and the menu wasn’t as refined. There was a lot of variety on the menu though, and the location couldn’t be beat. We were right on the main square and could people watch. It would be a nice place to hang out in the afternoon for a drink and some snacks. Prices were pretty reasonable, as our medium sized pie with all those toppings cost 32 soles, or about US$12. I’m not sure how helpful I’m being since I can’t give you the name or the exact address of the restaurant, but if you’re really interested in going just look for the Restaurant/Pizzeria/Bar sign on the side of the plaza closest to the bus station – it’s not too hard to find!

Restaurant Pizzeria Bar
Aguas Calientes, Peru

Peru Day 11 – Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, Cusco

Thursday, January 20th, 2011 by virginia

WARNING: This is a ridiculously long post and I tend to ramble on about my thoughts during that particular day. If you start to get bored, just scroll through the pics – I won’t be offended!

I have to say that without a doubt, this day was definitely the highlight of our Peru trip. Bold statement for sure, considering all the amazing things we saw on this trip, but nothing was able to surpass how we felt when we were sitting at the tippy top of Huayna Picchu with Machu Picchu in the background way below us. It was an absolute thrill for the both of us, and I was so proud that we made it all the way up without any major difficulties.

On the day that we went to hike up Huayna Picchu, we had to get up at 3:30 am to line up for the buses that would take us to the top of Machu Picchu. This was because only 400 people are allowed to climb Huayna Picchu each day, 200 at 7 am and 200 at 10 am, so we had to make sure that we were on one of the first buses that left the station in the morning.

It was a pretty rough morning for the both of us since neither Josh nor I are morning people. Plus the rally in the square had kept us awake for most of the night so we were not happy campers to have to get out of bed so early. By the time we got up, got dressed, packed our stuff, checked our bags, and checked out of our hotel, it was about 4:30 am. Luckily the bus station was only a five minute walk so we joined the end of the line around 4:35, and there were probably at least 100 people ahead of us already.

The line at the bus station at 4:30 am

It was pitch black outside still, and it was kind of chilly. There was a mist hovering around us, and we were worried that it would turn out to be a rainy day. If conditions are too bad, they won’t let people climb Huayna Picchu because it’s too dangerous. We stood in line and just waited, watching as the line grow longer and longer behind us.

The buses don’t start running until 5:30 so we had to wait for about an hour before anything happened. It was a good thing we bought bus tickets the day before because there was a separate line to get tickets. That line wasn’t long, but if you were by yourself it would be hard to save yourself a spot in both lines. The line soon started to move, and we were counting how many buses pulled out before we got to the front of the line. There were probably about seven buses ahead of us, so we were pretty sure we would be able to get the Huayna Picchu stamp, but we really wanted the 7 am slot rather than the 10 am slot, since we had to catch a train back to Cusco in the early afternoon.

It was still misty by the time the sun rose, and the mountains were cloaked in a pretty dense gray fog. We finally reached the entrance gate and immediately found the guy who was stamping tickets for Huayna Picchu. We were thrilled when we were able to get stamps for the 7 am time slot, and I immediately felt relieved that we wouldn’t have to rush to get back in time for the train. We had heard varying reports of how long it would take to climb to the top, and I knew that I would want to take things slowly because of my fear of heights.

The sun rising behind the mist and clouds

When we walked into the main part of Machu Picchu, it was eerily quiet and calm, a huge departure from the previous day when it was packed with people. The view was also different, since a large part of the structures were shrouded in the fog, and we couldn’t see Huayna Picchu at all.

Postcard view obscured by the fog

We walked around for a little while, savoring our solitude and the peacefulness that we felt. Even if you don’t plan on climbing Huayna Picchu, I definitely recommend going to Machu Picchu super early in the morning because it feels like a completely different place when there aren’t so many tourists milling about. You can walk around at your own pace and see things up close without having to wait in line or waiting for people to move out of your way so that you can take a picture. It’s definitely worth waking up early for.

After we had seen all the things we wanted to see, we found a little nook by some stairs where we could sit down and just stare at the awesome view in front of us. We watched birds fly around chasing each other and just enjoyed being there in that moment. I know it sounds really cheesy but it was a pretty moving experience. This was a trip that we had been planning for a few years, and it really hit us that we were finally there, and that it was everything we hoped and imagined it would be.

By the time 7 am rolled around, it was still misty and foggy. We saw a line start to form at the start house so we waited just a bit longer before heading down there ourselves. We got in line around 7:30 and there were still quite a few people in front of us. I didn’t care because I preferred to be at the end so that I could take my time. I knew the paths and stairs would be narrow and it would be harder to have to keep letting people pass us because I was too slow.

At the starting gate

We finally reached the little house where we had to sign our names before we could embark on the hike. We saw that we were the 118th and 119th people to go that day. The first part of the trail was pretty easy – it was wide and there wasn’t any huge drop off to one side. At one point the trail even went downhill, which was nice, but we knew that meant we would have a long way to go uphill to get to the top of Huayna Picchu.

Path goes down before it goes back up

Sure enough, there were winding stairs that traversed up one side of Machu Picchu, and led out to the narrow path that connected Machu Picchu to Huayna Picchu. I was a little nervous at this point because even though there were cable railings for the steepest and narrowest parts, the railings were kind of low and I had to almost sit down in order to keep holding on. Nevertheless, we crossed over to Huayna Picchu without any huge issues.

Crossing over to Huayna Picchu

Me clinging to the cable railing until the last possible second before I had to let go to continue

Once we were on the other side, this was where the climbing began in earnest. There were lots of steps, some super steep where I had to cling to the cables to pull myself up. Still, it wasn’t as difficult as I had feared because there were no sheer drop-offs along the path – at least none that I could see. The path was pretty woodsy so there were lots of trees and greenery surrounding both sides of the path, disguising any sort of cliff.

All the steps heading up Huayna Picchu

There's definitely a drop off next to the path, but it's sort of obscured by the trees and bushes, giving me a much needed false sense of security

We climbed slowly and steadily, not caring if people passed us along the way. We weren’t in any rush, and while we were pretty hot and sweaty, we weren’t terribly out of breath or struggling too much with all of the steps. Higher and higher we climbed, unsure of how far we had gone and how much there was left to climb. At least the scenery was beautiful to look at, and we were lucky that the morning mist and fog had cleared up so we were able to see out into the distance.

Once we had gone up a good distance, we looked down and could see Machu Picchu peeking out between the trees. The smaller it got, the happier we were, as it meant we were getting closer to the top.

Machu Picchu in the distance, peeking out from between the trees

Eventually, people who were ahead us on the hike had already reached the top and were headed back down, passing us on the way. We asked everyone who passed how much further we had to go before we would reach the top, and while the answers always varied, everyone said that the view from the peak was absolutely worth the climb. Buoyed by that and by everyone’s words of encouragement, we steadily made our way higher.

Eventually we reached a cluster of Inca structures, and we knew the top couldn’t be so far away. Unfortunately, this was the most treacherous part of the hike. The structures had narrow and steep stairs running along the sides, but no cables to help us climb. I guess they didn’t want to ruin any of the incredible stonework by screwing in metal bolts everywhere but it was incredibly hard for me to go up all those flights of stairs with nothing to hold on to. I ended up clinging to the walls with my hands, grabbing anywhere that jutted out so that I could get a decent grip. It was pretty awkward but it did the trick.

Steep and scary climb up the Inca structures

Beautiful stonework

More stairs upward

Inca terraces

View of Machu Picchu from the Inca structures

Josh's camera was able to zoom in for a great shot of Machu Picchu. The houses at the bottom of the picture was where we started from.

Looking down from the structures

Once we got to the top of the structures, I knew we had to be close to the peak. After ducking into an opening in the rock wall and actually having to crawl through some narrow crevices, we finally arrived at a ladder that took us to the top of Huayna Picchu. I took a deep breath and climbed up, with Josh following close behind.

One of the crevices we had to crawl through

The ladder we climbed to get to the very top of Huayna Picchu

Once I got to the top of the ladder I could see the incredible view spread out all around. Unfortunately, my fear of heights kicked into hyperdrive and I could not bring myself to stand up. I ended up swinging my legs around the ladder and crawled onto the large flat rock that the ladder rested against. There were a lot of people at the top, and not so much room to maneuver. This was definitely where if you slipped and fell, you were going to fall a long way down. There were people just milling about, relaxing and taking in the sights.

People hanging out at the top of Huayna Picchu

The best spot to take pictures at the top was a little outcropping where it almost looked like a seat had been carved into the rock. From there was a perfect shot of Machu Picchu in the background, so there was quite a line of people waiting to take photos. I apologize to anyone whose photo I’m in, because I was basically paralyzed by fear and refused to move from my spot just off the ladder. When it was finally our turn to take a photo, I basically crawled onto the seat with Josh, shaking the entire time. I absolutely refused to look down over the edge, I just looked at the person taking our picture for us, pasting a smile onto my face. I was proud of the fact that we had made it, but I was truly terrified at the same time.

View of Machu Picchu from the top of Huayna Picchu

When we were finished, I quickly crawled back into the middle of all the rocks and sat down, and only then would I take in the amazing 360 view. And what a view it was. We could see the beautiful green peaks of the mountains all around us, and a beautiful view of Machu Picchu in its entirety. We sat there for a while and just appreciated the scenery, but we knew that the next wave of people who started at 10 am would be arriving soon, and it wouldn’t be fair to make them wait for their turn at the top.

Uneven rocks at top, and a long way down...

Green mountains all around

Sadly, however, going down was excruciatingly painful for me. I debated going back the way we came, down the ladder, but with all the newcomers arriving at the top, there was just no space for me to go down that way. So I had to crawl to the opposite side of the rocks on top and then basically shimmy down the uneven and narrow steps until we reached a ledge. This part wasn’t any better, as there were sheer drop offs all around. I walked facing inward and clinging to the walls.

See the narrowness of the path on the way down, the uneven steps, and the steep sheer drop offs

Down and around we walked for a short bit, with me going down the stairs on my behind, until we reached a larger terrace that faced Machu Picchu. There were lots of flat rocks here so we sat down on one and rested, snacking on some pound cake that our hotel packed for us, and drinking lots of water and Fanta. We sat there for about 20 minutes, just enjoying the view. During that time I calmed myself down and psyched myself up for the rest of the journey down.

Our view while we rested, snacked, and rehydrated

Zooming in on the start house and the next group of hikers lining up

Our next biggest obstacle was coming down the narrow and steep stairs of the Inca structures that I struggled with on our way up. If I thought coming up was scary, going down was even scarier. At first I tried to go down backwards, facing inward, but the steps were too uneven and precarious. I kept losing my footing because I couldn’t really see where I was going when I faced the steps. So I just turned back around and continued downward while sitting on my butt, taking each step one at a time. It was a slow process but luckily there were no people behind us, and my arms got a great workout from lifting myself up and lowering myself down each step.

Inca trapezoid window, alcoves, and doorway

Steep terraces

At long last we finally reached the regular path, and it was much easier from there on out. I was still holding on to all the cables on the way down but I felt much more comfortable because I knew this path wasn’t as treacherous, and there were no more steep drop offs to deal with. Going down this part was definitely easier on the legs than going up, and we made much quicker process. Finally we crossed back over to Machu Picchu, and when the path started going upward again, I knew we were close to the finish.

Finally the little house was in sight, and this was when I really got excited. We signed ourselves out, took a quick victory shot, and then immediately collapsed on some benches nearby in the shade. We were flying high from all the adrenaline but we were physically exhausted at this point. We were slightly out of breath and dripping with sweat but we had never felt better. We were just so proud that we had done it, and even though I’m sure most people think that the Huayna Picchu hike really isn’t that big of a deal, it was a huge accomplishment for us.

A look back at Huayna Picchu on our way out

The hike was tiring and there were definitely steep parts that we had to work hard to get through, but we never felt like we couldn’t do it nor did we ever really struggle with the physical aspect required. My fear of heights was probably my biggest obstacle but I made it through without any major freak outs. The only time I was truly terrified was at the top, but if you’ve been up there you can probably understand my fear. You’re basically on a jagged pile of large rocks, with no real path or secure place to sit, and all the rocks slope downward so that if you slipped, you had nowhere to go but off the top of the mountain.

Whenever I got scared on the steep and narrow steps, I just went down on my butt. It wasn’t graceful or attractive, but it did the trick. I was really lucky that Josh is such a patient person because he let me go at my own pace and never rushed me or made fun of me when I was afraid. He always walked behind me to make sure that I could get pass whatever obstacles we faced, and he made sure to be ready to catch me in case I slipped.

We rested for a while in the shade and chugged more water. We started out with a large two liter bottle of water, two 20 oz bottles of water, a 20 oz bottle of Fanta, and a 20 oz bottle of Inca Kola. I only had one 20 oz bottle of water clipped to my belt while poor Josh carried all of the other liquids plus our snacks in his backpack. It was really heavy, but we made sure to stay hydrated the entire hike so the weight gradually lessened as we drank all the water.

Once we felt vitalized from our break, we decided to take the short hike to see the Inca Bridge. We had heard the hike was quite beautiful, but that the bridge was kind of a disappointing sight. It turned out to be true. The hike itself wasn’t nearly as strenuous as the Huayna Picchu hike, though we still had to sign in and out in a guest book at a little hut on the way.

Beautiful scenery along the way

The path did get pretty narrow at some points, and there was either only a really low wall (about a foot high at most) or nothing at all, so that I could see the sheer drop off to one side. I just walked close to the wall the whole way, and tried not to think about it. The hairiest part was right at the end of the hike. The path that led directly up to the Inca Bridge was really narrow and there was no barrier to the cliff side. There was a rope attached to the mountain wall but it was stretched out and basically useless, because you could pull it past the edge of the cliff. Plus it was really windy at that point, and I felt like I was going to blow right off the path.

Narrow path and sheer drop off. You can also see the Inca Bridge to the right.

I would like to say that the scariness of the hike was totally worth it because the Inca Bridge was incredible, but lets face it, the bridge was literally a pile of rotting wood planks. There was a fence that blocked off the trail in front of the bridge so that people wouldn’t be tempted to walk across it.

Inca Bridge

In all, the Inca Bridge trail was a nice walk, but the bridge at the end was a bit of a letdown. Our guide warned us about that the day before, but I guess you have to see it for yourself to believe it. If you have the time, go for the walk. If not, don’t feel too badly because you really aren’t missing that much. If you have a choice between the bridge walk or going to the Sun Gate, definitely head for the Sun Gate.

The walk back to the main part of Machu Picchu was easier because I knew what to expect. We went back to the same spot where we had sat early in the morning that day, before the Huayna Pichu hike, and rested for a while, drinking some super sweet Inca Kola. It tasted kind of like bubble gum, or overly sweet cream soda. Not exactly our favorite, but we were happy for the sugar after all the walking we did.

Our own Inca Kola advertisement

More postcard views

After we caught our breaths, we headed to the entrance gate to catch a bus back into town. Our train to Cusco was leaving in the early afternoon, and we wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t be late. When we got back to town, we stopped for a quick lunch in the main plaza. Then we went to our hotel to change and to pick up our bags. We definitely didn’t want to be all sweaty and gross on the long train ride back to Cusco.

When we arrived in Cusco, the tour company picked us up and took us to our hotel, the Libertador Palacio del Inka. It was centrally located so after we dropped our bags off in our room, we headed into town to find dinner. We had asked the concierge for some recommendations (we were craving Peruvian style chicken, or pollo a la brasa), and while the restaurant he sent us to was nothing close to what we were looking for, the food was decent. Afterward, we walked around the square for a little while and then headed back to our hotel, since both of us were exhausted from the long day of hiking.

The main square in Cusco

Beautiful balconies overlooking the main square

I’m sorry that this post was absurdly long and that I rambled on for a quite a bit. I’m sure if you asked people who’ve done the Huayna Picchu hike if it was really that hard, they’d tell you it was a breeze. And in some ways, it was. We definitely took a lot longer doing the hike than most people (some people we spoke to said it would only take about an hour and a half round trip, and we took twice as long), but we were purposely taking our time because I was worried that if we rushed, I would end up freaking myself out and aborting the hike midway through. In the end, however, I conquered my fear of heights, and I was so proud that we climbed to the tippy top of Huayna Picchu without any freak outs or severe difficulties. It was an exhilarating feeling to be up there, looking down at everything and seeing how high we had climbed. We definitely felt like we were on top of the world, and the adrenaline buzz lasted us the rest of the day. I would absolutely do this hike again, and I definitely recommend doing it to anyone who is going to Machu Picchu. It’s definitely worth waking up at 3:30 am for!

White Horse Tavern

Monday, January 17th, 2011 by virginia

The White Horse Tavern is another one of those NYC institutions that we’ve heard about but had never tried. It is where the writer Dylan Thomas supposedly drank himself to death after imbibing on 18 glasses of whiskey. We wandered in one afternoon after trying and failing to get into the Spotted Pig for a late lunch. We had heard from several people that the burgers at the White Horse were great, even better than the Corner Bistro, which is a pretty strong claim considering the Corner Bistro is our favorite burger place.

The tavern wasn’t very full when we arrived so we got a nice seat in the corner in view of the bar and next to the window so we could people watch. After ordering mugs of Anchor Steam to start, we looked over the short menu that mostly included bar food. Obviously we were here for the burgers so I got a plain hamburger, medium rare, while Josh opted for a bacon cheeseburger, also medium rare.

Our food arrived fairly quickly, and the burger looked pretty promising. It was a thick patty with a nice dark crust on the outside, and was served on a toasted white bread bun with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. The burger came with a side of steak fries, my least favorite cut of french fries, but they were well fried and crispy, not mealy or soggy.

Plain hamburger with fries

Josh’s burger looked the same, just with the addition of American cheese and bacon. While the cheese probably could have been melted a bit more, the bacon was nice and crispy.

Bacon cheeseburger with fries

While the burger itself was cooked perfectly, perfectly seared on the outside and pink on the inside, it lacked seasoning. The patty had a soft, crumbly texture that I liked, but the meat was really bland. A little salt and pepper would have gone a long way. I sprinkled some on top but because the burger was so thick, it really didn’t make a big difference.

Autopsy shot

Overall we were both a little disappointed with the burger from the White Horse Tavern. It had a lot of potential and is still a pretty decent bar burger, but the lack of seasoning just ruined it for me. Everything worked texturally, and it was cooked perfectly, but the meat was just really bland. It definitely was not as good as the burgers from Corner Bistro. Nevertheless, the tavern is a nice place to hang out and have a drink. It has an old school NYC feel to it, and the historical aspect of the place is also pretty interesting. It’s definitely worth stopping by for a drink or two (maybe just not 18) just for the atmosphere.

White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson St. at 11th St.
New York, NY

Cafe Panache

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 by virginia

This meal took place in September so I apologize if my details are a bit fuzzy. We had heard that Cafe Panache was one of the best restaurants in Bergen County, NJ and I had read several positive reviews about the food so we decided to try it out one weekend with Josh’s parents. We called for a reservation earlier in the day and were happy to find out that they would be able to seat us that night. The restaurant is located in Ramsey and is on Main St. so it was pretty easy to find.

When we walked into the restaurant, we were seated pretty much immediately. Unfortunately, I think we had the worst table in the house. We were in an alcove away from the main dining room, and we were seated at the very last table, right in front of the kitchen. There were servers and busboys constantly coming in and out of the kitchen, and it was sort of disruptive. We probably should have asked for a new table but we didn’t realize we would be in the middle of the hustle and bustle until after we had already settled in and had started drinking our wine (the restaurant is BYO).

We figured that we got the bad table because we had made a same day reservation so we tried to brush it off. After all, we were here for the food. We made our dinner selections and snacked on the olives and bread they brought us. The olives were covered in some oil and chili flakes, which gave them a nice little kick. The bread was white dinner rolls that had a decent crust but were pretty standard.

Assorted olives

Dinner roll

Josh and I went halfsies on our meal, per usual. For our appetizers, Josh selected the filet mignon ravioli with truffle butter while I chose the crostini of foie gras mousse. We were drawn in by the truffle butter advertised with the raviolis, but also because we had never seen filet mignon as a filling before. The filling had an intensely beefy flavor, though it was sort of mushy. As for the truffle butter, we couldn’t detect much truffle flavor at all, which was kind of disappointing since we’re both huge truffle fans. Nevertheless, it was a decent dish, and rich enough that the three ravioli portion was still satisfying.

Filet mignon ravioli

The crostini of foie gras mousse was also a pretty rich appetizer. The mousse was spread on top of three fairly large pieces of toasted bread and served with a small salad and apple slices. The mousse was creamy and thick but it didn’t have the subtle foie gras flavor that I was expecting. It had a pretty strong liver taste and if I didn’t know it was supposed to be foie gras mousse, I would have thought it was chicken liver pate. The salad helped cut through the richness of the mousse, and I liked the crispy apple slices that balanced out the creaminess of the liver.

Crostini of foie gras mousse

For the main course, Josh chose a duck dish while I opted for a steak dish. To be honest, I don’t remember how the duck was prepared. All I remember was that the duck was really, really rare. We like rare meat, even for duck, but this was beyond rare. The duck had a gelatinous texture and was pretty chewy. We probably should have sent it back but just didn’t think it was worth waiting for. That would have thrown off the flow of the meal, and we weren’t so thrilled with the overall dish to begin with.

Super rare duck breast

I was intrigued by the steak dish because the menu called it a sirloin steak confit. I’ve never had a steak that was confited before, and I was curious as to how it would turn out. From my understanding, confit is usually duck cooked in its own fat. So I thought the steak would be poached in beef fat and have a soft, falling apart kind of texture to it. Maybe the steak was just pan fried in beef fat, because to me, it just had the texture of regular steak. There was nothing really different about it, and while it was a fine piece of meat, the accompanying garlic soy reduction just completely overpowered the beef. The steak was absolutely covered in the sauce, which made the meat extremely salty. My mouth was puckering after a few bites, and I ended up trying to cut the meat so that I avoided the sauce completely. It was really too bad because the steak was cooked nicely to a beautiful rare, as ordered, but the sauce pretty much ruined the meat.

Sirloin steak confit with garlic and soy reduction

Steak autopsy shot

For dessert, we all decided to share a creme brulee. It was perfectly fine, with a crackly sugar crust on top and good vanilla flavor.

Creme brulee

Our waiter brought us an additional dessert on the house, which was very nice of him. I think it was some sort of peach cake with whipped cream on the side. The cake was very moist and not too sweet. It had great peach flavor, and I actually liked the cake more than the creme brulee, though both were very well prepared.

Peach cake dessert

Overall I think we were all pretty disappointed with our food at Cafe Panache. We had high expectations for it because we had heard/read some very nice things about the restaurant but it didn’t measure up for us in the end. There were definite missteps with our meal, like the undercooked duck and the overly salty steak. While our appetizers were passable, they just don’t wow us. Desserts were the highlight of the meal, and since neither Josh nor I have much a sweet tooth, that’s not really a good thing. It wasn’t only just me and Josh who were displeased. Alice ordered a homemade pasta with lobster for her entree, a special of the evening, and while the pasta was beautifully cooked and there was massive amounts of lobster mixed in, the dish was completely flavorless. Even the lobster was bland. We were pretty flabbergasted by that. Service was fine, and we appreciated the extra dessert our waiter brought. Maybe he noticed that none of us seemed thrilled with our food but whatever the reason, it was a nice gesture. Still, I don’t think that we’ll be coming back anytime soon. I did like the fact that the restaurant is BYO but it’s still pretty expensive, and I’m not sure that it was really worth it.

Cafe Panache
130 East Main St.
Ramsey, NJ

Fava Bean Falafel

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by virginia

Josh is currently in Israel, the lucky duck, so in honor of his trip I’m going to write about the time we made falafel using the fava beans from our CSA share. Falafel is pretty popular in Israel, although the version we made was actually Egyptian falafel, called ta’amiya. While falafel is more commonly made from chickpeas, we fell in love with the fava bean ta’amiya while we were on our honeymoon in Egypt.

The fava beans we got from the CSA were still in the pods, so first we had to split the pods open and remove the beans. The beans, however, were encased in a tough, thick skin that we needed to peel off before we could eat them. These were a pain in the butt to peel and took a long time. We basically had to carefully cut through the shell without cutting too deeply into the bean itself, and then use our fingers to break the skin off. If you can get shelled fava beans, I suggest going with those!

Fava beans still encased in a thick skin

We based our recipe from this one that we found on the Food Network site. We improvised a bit because we didn’t have everything on hand, but they still turned out really well. This is what we used, which made six falafel balls:

– 1 lb fava beans still in pods
– 2 small cloves garlic
– 1 large handful parsley (we actually ran out of parsley and used carrot greens instead, which worked great and had a similar grassy flavor)
– 1 small bunch chives (we didn’t have scallions)
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

We ground up the beans, garlic, chives, and greens in the food processor, then mixed in the cumin, baking powder, and salt. It should have a paste-like consistency.

Fava beans, garlic, carrot greens, chives

Josh toasted up some sesame seeds in a pan, which we used to coat the falafel balls. We also ground up a handful of the seeds with some olive oil to make a sort of tahini sauce, though it wound up being slightly too bitter. Next time I’ll just buy pre-made tahini sauce.

Toasting sesame seeds

To make the balls, I wet my hands a little and then scooped up some of the falafel mixture and rolled it into a sphere using the palms of my hands. Then I flattened it a little to make a patty shape, and then rolled it in the toasted sesame seeds. I repeated the process until I used up all of the mixture.

Falafel balls ready for deep frying

We heated up some vegetable oil in our dutch oven to fry the falafel balls. We wanted to deep fry them so we probably had about 3-4 inches of oil in the pot. While the oil was heating up, I put the falafel balls in the fridge to firm up a bit. Then I carefully dropped them in one by one into the hot oil. Once they were nicely browned, I pulled them out and put them on paper towels to drain.

Deep fried falafel balls

I cut one of the balls in half to make sure they were cooked through, and it was beautifully green and creamy in the center.

Beautiful green innards

To serve, we heated up some pita bread in the oven, then cut them in half to expose the pockets. We filled each pocket with a few falafel balls, plus chopped lettuce and tomatoes. Then we drizzled some of the homemade tahini sauce on top. It was pretty freakin’ delicious, I have to say. The falafel was really flavorful and had great texture. They were crispy on the outside and moist in the middle. We could taste the fava beans and the herbiness of the carrot greens, while the cumin bound everything together. We were extremely pleased with how these turned out.

Falafel sandwich in all its glory

Since we had oil ready for deep frying, I couldn’t resist making a batch of homemade french fries. It was easy – just cut a few potatoes into french fry shapes. You can make them as thick or as thin as you want. Fry them up in batches so they have enough room to get crispy on the outside. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper immediately. Eat while they’re warm and fresh out of the oil.

Homemade french fries

I would absolutely make this falafel again, though like I said, I would buy fava beans that are already shelled. Yes, the fresh favas tasted fantastic, but I don’t know if they were worth the work. It really was a huge pain to have to shell all of them, and I just don’t have the patience. If you’ve never tried ta’amiya, definitely give this recipe a shot. It’s really easy to make (once the favas are shelled), and it’s a nice change of pace from the standard chickpea falafels. I haven’t found any restaurant yet that serves our beloved Egyptian style falafels, so if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know! But for now, I can just make them on my own and be completely satisfied.

Lunch at Skyway Malaysian, Takeout From Hua Ji and Xi’an Famous Foods

Monday, January 10th, 2011 by virginia

Every time that Josh and I finally make our way to Chinatown, I constantly ask myself why we don’t go so often anymore. Yes, it’s a huge pain to get downtown on weekends because we never know how the subways are running, but it’s totally worth the journey. Every time we go, we eat delicious food for super cheap, and we pick up tons of goodies for later. It makes absolutely no sense why we’re so lazy that we only go once every few months.

Because we go so infrequently, we’re always tempted to only go to our favorite places, like Lan Zhou Hand Pulled Noodles or Banh Mi Saigon Bakery. But that means we end up missing out on the million other great places in Chinatown. Now when we go, we try to go somewhere new to us, so that we continually expand our horizons. On a recent trip, we decided to check out Skyway Malaysian restaurant, a place I had read good things about.

Located on the east side of Chinatown, which is less touristy, Skyway is kind of off the beaten path but not too hard to find. The menu has pretty standard Malaysian fare, stuff that we fell in love with while in Singapore. We originally planned on ordering light so that we could eat more food elsewhere, but as usual, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.

We decided to share an order of roti canai to start. It’s a flaky, buttery, layered pancake that’s dipped into chicken curry sauce. However, our waitress convinced us to order the “special” roti canai, which she said was hand made and much better than the regular roti because it was much crispier. What we got basically a single layer of dough, which was crispier only because it was dry. There was no butter, no flakiness, no richness that we love about roti canai. This was more like pappadum, basically just a large, thin cracker. It was a huge disappointment, and more expensive to boot. While the chicken curry dipping sauce was wonderful, we couldn’t help but wish that we had gone with the regular roti canai. We won’t make that mistake again!

"Special" roti canai

For our main courses, we split an order of mee goreng and curry chicken with rice. The chicken was served in pieces on the bone, and the curry sauce was different from the chicken curry dipping sauce that we had with the roti canai. This was much thicker and richer, less coconuty in flavor. It was definitely like a stew rather than the thin curry sauce that I’m used to. The flavors were pretty concentrated though, and I liked taking the chicken off the bone and mixing everything into the rice.

Chicken curry with rice

Mee goreng was one of my favorite dishes when we were in Singapore. My favorite version was from Jumbo, though Josh hated it because ketchup was the predominant ingredient. The version at Skyway was more like the standard kind we got at most places, meaning it wasn’t as sweet or tomato-y. There was a good balance between the sweet, salty, and sour aspects in the sauce, and the lo mein noodles were chewy and bouncy, not mushy. The mee goreng was topped with shrimp and bean curd, as well as other ingredients that added various textures to the dish. I enjoyed it a lot, though it was pretty rich and we ended up taking half of it home.

Mee goreng

Overall we were pretty happy with the food at Skyway Malaysian. Aside from the mistake in ordering the “special” roti canai, which wasn’t bad, just not our preference, the curry and noodle dish were both really tasty and seemed pretty authentic to us. As with most places in Chinatown, lunch was a bargain – less than $20, and I had leftovers for lunch the next day. If you haven’t tried Malaysian food before, this is a good place to go because the menu is really extensive. It’s not hard to find something that would be “safe” but still completely representative of Malaysian cuisine.

We were completely stuffed from lunch so rather than continuing on an eating tour, we decided to pick up a few things that we could eat later in the week for dinner. Our first stop was Hua Ji, a small takeout joint that was conveniently located just a few doors down from Skyway. Hua Ji is known for its pork chop over rice, a Taiwanese staple that I remember eating a lot when I was little. Josh had never tried this dish before so I was eager to have him taste it.

Pork chop over rice

We just heated it up in the microwave so it might have lost its crispiness on the outside, but the pork chop itself was still pretty juicy. It’s covered in a Chinese five spice powder and is slightly peppery. The rice is topped with a pickled cabbage and ground pork mixture that is slightly sour and very savory. I mix everything together and it just reminds me of my childhood. Hua Ji’s pork chop over rice was one of the best versions that I’ve had, and super cheap at just $5.

We also got a lamb burger and pork burger from Xi’an Famous Foods. We had gone to the original branch at the Golden Mall in Flushing, and we were thrilled when they opened up a store in Chinatown. It’s super tiny though so there’s no real place to sit and eat. We got the burgers to go and then heated them up in a nonstick pan, covering it so that the filling would get hot, then turned up the heat and let the outside of the bun sear a bit to crisp up.

Lamb burger

Pork burger

The lamb burger is chock full of cumin flavor, and is slightly spicy. It has a chewy texture to it and can be a bit gristly at times, but the flavor really packs a powerful wallop. It’s definitely a must-have if you like cumin. The stewed pork burger is more tender and juicy, though the flavor isn’t as intense. It’s slightly sweet and has a more homey, comforting flavor.

All in all it was a successful outing to Chinatown. I can’t wait for our next trip!

Skyway Malaysian
11 Allen St. at Canal St.
New York, NY

Hua Ji Pork Chop Fast Food Incorporated
7 Allen St. between Canal St. and Division St.
New York, NY

Xi’an Famous Foods
88 East Broadway at Forsyth St.
New York, NY

Patsy’s Pizzeria

Sunday, January 9th, 2011 by virginia

Patsy’s Pizzeria is one of those NYC institutions that I’ve read about but have never gone to, much like Gray’s Papaya or Katz’s Deli. Maybe this will be the year that I finally get around to trying all of these places. At least I can finally check Patsy’s off the list, as Josh and I enjoyed a good meal there with Alice earlier this week.

There are many Patsy’s Pizzeria locations around the city but we went to the one closest to our apartment, on the Upper West Side. It’s sort of tucked in on the corner of a residential street so I had never noticed it before, but it has a nice cozy dining room and an old school pizzeria feel to it. It’s not a huge location but because it was a random weeknight there were plenty of tables available, and we were seated right away.

We decided to split a salad, pasta dish, and a pizza. The salads and pastas can be ordered either individually or in a family style portion. We asked our waitress if the individual portions could be split between the three of us, and she recommended that we get a family sized salad and an individual pasta, since we were also getting a large pizza to share. After we placed our order, we were brought a basket of rolls to munch on. The bread had a nice crispy crust and a soft, chewy interior. Pretty tasty, and a nice surprise since you don’t always expect pizza joints to bring you bread.

Tasty carbs

The family sized salad we ordered was much bigger than we anticipated and could have easily fed twice as many people, but I didn’t mind because I was craving fresh vegetables. We picked the Insalata Siciliana, which was lettuce with roasted peppers, black olives, capers, anchovies, carrots, tomatoes, and artichokes, topped with shredded mozzarella. It was tossed with a light Italian dressing, and while I liked that the salad wasn’t overdressed, I thought the dressing was slightly bland. The salad itself, however, was a nice mix of ingredients, flavors, and textures. The capers and anchovies added a nice saltiness, the olives and artichokes provided a slight sourness, and the roasted peppers and tomatoes balanced it out with a bit of sweetness.

Family sized Insalata Siciliana

The pasta we chose was the rigatoni bolognese. The individual portion size was plenty of food, and we each had a large scoop of pasta with enough leftover for my lunch the next day. The bolognese was meaty but not super rich. It had a sort of red wine flavor to it though there wasn’t a lot of tomato sauce to bind the meat together. It was decent, though definitely a pizzeria style of bolognese. The rigatoni was a good match and cooked to a nice al dente.

Rigatoni bolognese

The main attraction at Patsy’s, however, is obviously the pizza. Alice and I are both pizza purists, generally opting for the plain cheese or margarita pizza, especially when we’re trying out a new place for the first time. As such, a plain pie was exactly what we ordered.

Plain margherita pizza

My first impression was that there was a decent amount of cheese on the pie, something that I always find lacking on most of these kinds of margherita pizzas (ie., Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s). There was a lot of sauce though, which was slightly sweet and a bit tangy. Sometimes I wish I could get more cheese and less sauce, but overall it wasn’t too unbalanced. I did like the big leaves of fresh basil scattered on top.

Saucy slice

The crust was my favorite part of the pizza. It was thin and crispy on the bottom, but not tough or brittle. The edge of the crust had a nice chewiness to it, and I liked that it wasn’t overly charred. I know charring is a big thing for a lot of NY style pizzas but I’m not a fan. This was browned enough that it had a nice toasty flavor, but not burnt.

Underside shot

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the food at Patsy’s Pizzeria. It doesn’t get the greatest reviews online, and while I still prefer the pizza from Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s, the pizza was very well made, plus Patsy’s has better variety in terms of other foods. The salad and rigatoni bolognese were both very tasty, and there are lots of different options to choose from. It’s pretty reasonably priced, and the family sized portions make it a good place for large groups. It’ll definitely be on our rotation for our Sunday night family dinners. I’m glad that our new year of good eats and exploring new places is getting off to a good start!

Patsy’s Pizzeria (multiple locations)
61 West 74th St. between Central Park West and Columbus Ave.
New York, NY

Fantastic Greek Feast at Kefi

Saturday, January 8th, 2011 by virginia

I’m going to start out 2011 by writing about Kefi, the first restaurant I ever posted about on TFB. The meal we had was actually in late August but the menu hasn’t changed much since the restaurant opened. We were with a large group of people, which meant that we could order tons of food and try out different things. We got a bunch of different appetizers to share, some that Josh and I had eaten before, and some that were new to us.

We started with the selection of spreads, which includes tzatziki (yogurt), taramosalata (caviar), melintzanosalata (eggplant), and revithia (chickpea). These are always pretty tasty, especially the smokey eggplant dip and the refreshing yogurt dip. We gobbled it up using the slices of warm pita bread they gave us.

From top to bottom: eggplant, caviar, yogurt, and chickpea spreads

Warm pita bread

Another appetizer that came with pita bread was the warm feta with tomatoes, capers, anchovy, peppers, and olives. While it sounded like an interesting mix of ingredients, I found the dish to be overwhelmingly salty. There was no balance whatsoever to the flavors, and what wasn’t salty was just sour. Not even the pita bread could help cut through the saltiness, and I felt my mouth puckering after just a few bites. I was definitely surprised by how much I disliked this dish.

Feta with tomatoes, capers, anchovy, peppers, and olives

We also got an order of the Kefi salad, which was shredded lettuce and fennel with tomato, cucumber, olives, peppers, onions, and feta. This salad had similar ingredients to the feta dish but it was way more balanced. The lettuce and fennel were crisp and refreshing, and none of the other ingredients were overpowering.

Kefi salad

The crispy calamari appetizer was nicely fried, with pieces of tender calamari that was lightly breaded. It was perfectly seasoned and just needed a squeeze of lemon to brighten it up a bit. The dish came with some tzatziki sauce for dipping, a nice change from the standard marinara.

Fried calamari

My favorite appetizer of the night was crispy sweetbreads with tomato, scallion, garlic, olive, and lemon yogurt. I love sweetbreads in general, but these were exceptionally well prepared with a light and crisp exterior and a creamy interior. The accompanying components didn’t overwhelm the dish, and I could still taste the slightly sweet funkiness of the sweetbreads. Most people at the table were turned off by the thought of eating offal so I got to eat most of the dish by myself, which made me one very happy girl.

Crispy sweetbreads

Our last appetizer was the grilled octopus with bean salad. The octopus was nicely charred and super tender but the highlight of the dish for me was the tangy and refreshing bean salad underneath. It worked well with the subtle flavor of the octopus, but even by itself I could have eaten a whole bowlful of that stuff.

Grilled octopus and bean salad

For our entrees, Josh and I went halfsies on the pork souvlaki and the Kefi burger. The souvlaki was wrapped in pita bread and topped with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, and tomato. It was presented street style – wrapped in wax paper – which made it easier to eat because the sandwich would have been too messy otherwise. It came with a small salad and thick cut potato chips on the side. The pork was tender and flavorful, standing up to the other ingredients in the wrap. It was one of the best souvlaki sandwiches that I had and reminded me of the gyros we had during our honeymoon in Greece. The potato chips were quite good as well, especially if you’re a fan of darker chips. They were crunchy and had just enough salt sprinkled on top.

Pork souvlaki sandwich in pita

The Kefi burger that we had I think was made from lamb, though the menu says it’s bifteki. Either way, it didn’t taste like a regular burger. There was a definite gaminess to the meat, a slight funkiness to it that I absolutely loved. The patty was thick and nicely cooked so that the crust on the outside was slightly charred and crispy, but the inside was rare and tender. There was some sort of tangy and salty spread on the bun that paired well with the meat. The bun itself looked like it would be too big and dense but it was actually very light and fluffy in the middle, while the outer crust was sturdy enough to support the thick patty and not disintegrate when soaked with all the burger juices. It was a very good burger in my opinion, and uniquely delicious. The burger also came with a side salad and potato chips.

Kefi burger

Autopsy shot

Josh and I passed on dessert, though I did taste some of the rice pudding, which had a nice cinnamon flavor and was topped with an apple mixture that reminded me of apple pie filling. Sounds like a weird combination, but it was actually pretty tasty. Instead we had some caffeine – a frappe for me and a regular coffee for him. The frappe was thick and frothy, not too bitter. The regular coffee was pretty standard but I loved the mug it was served in, which was modeled after the classic Greek takeout coffee cups.


Fun coffee mug

We don’t go to Kefi often enough, in my opinion. The food is always well prepared, tasty, and reasonably priced. The restaurant serves classic Greek dishes with an upscale twist, but not at upscale prices. It’s a great place for large groups because the food is easily shareable, and the atmosphere is casual but upbeat. Service was fast and efficient, though we were chatting a lot during the meal and we never felt rushed. It’s definitely a place that I will come back to again and again.

505 Columbus Ave. between 84th and 85th St.
New York, NY

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 by virginia

I can’t believe that I’ve gone over a week without putting up a post! I feel really bad but we’ve just had so much going on with the holidays and going away for New Years. It’s been a busy past couple of weeks but I’m looking forward to settling back into a routine.

We got tons of new cookbooks and food-related items for Christmas and Hanukkah, and I’m looking forward to putting them into good use. Cookbook highlights include Mastering the Art of French Cooking, More Best Recipes from Cooks Illustrated, and a slow cooker recipe book. We’ve had a slow cooker for a few months now and have yet to even crack open the box!

In terms of kitchen tools, we got an electronic wine opener and a pretty white oval casserole dish that I have some ideas for. I also got a gorgeous assortment of flavored oils and balsamic vinegars, including a truffle oil that I’m eager to try. I don’t care what people say about truffle oil, I think it’s freakin’ tasty stuff and I’d pour it over almost anything.

On the blogging tools front, Josh got me a sweet new point and shoot camera since my old Nikon Coolpix conked out. It’s a super slim Canon Powershot with low light features that I’m eager to test. While we still try to use our DSLR to take most of our food pics, sometimes it’s a pain to lug around a bulky Nikon D3000 so I always keep a point and shoot in my purse just in case I need it. As sort of a Christmas present to ourselves and to the blog, we bought a new macro lens that will hopefully help us take even better shots of food, especially close up.

We did a lot of good eating in 2010 but I was not so great at keeping up with the blogging. Plus my computer crashed midway through the year and I lost a lot of photos. Between that and my laziness, I didn’t write about some interesting meals we had at some pretty renowned restaurants. We had a spectacular meal at Eleven Madison Park for our anniversary, and some lackluster meals at Jean Georges and Daniel. The Jean Georges pics I think were lost with my computer, but I might just post the pics of our meals at EMP and Daniel. My memory is a bit fuzzy so I don’t remember all the little details about the meals, but I’ll try to do my best with the descriptions.

Looking forward, yes I still have to finish up my Peru posts. The Huayna Picchu post is taking me a long time because it’s probably the longest post I’ve ever written, plus I still need to sort through the hundreds of photos we took that day. After that it should be smooth sailing, since we finished up our trip hanging out in Cusco for a few days doing nothing but shopping, eating, and drinking. I also still need to post about our long weekend in Iceland, especially since we had lots of great and interesting meals there. I’ll catch up eventually, I hope.

I’ve been trying to wrack my brain thinking of ways to change or improve the blog but lets face it, I’m not that creative. I still don’t have a niche or a hook, but I really do enjoy remembering our meals and trips and writing about them. I don’t have the discipline though to keep things consistent, so I just write about what I feel like on each day. There is no rhyme or reason to the order of my posts, and sadly I do sometimes let a few months lapse before I write about a certain restaurant.

Regardless, I hope that you guys will keep on reading – I appreciate all of your comments and support. I’m looking forward to another year of exotic traveling and good eats!