Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lacroix Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

In December 2010 two brunchmates & I thoroughly enjoyed brunch at Lacroix. Since it is now a year later that I'm finally writing about it, this is not so much a review as a reminiscence.

Our table overlooked Rittenhouse Park, where the trees were covered in white lights. The view was a magical winterland of people & dogs walking through the snow.

For the first course, there was a table of delicious bite-sized treats to choose from. I remember a mix of sweet and savory, from a butternut squash soup shooter, sushi, shrimp, lox, bagels, fruit and more. The small bites were perfect since it allows you the ability to try everything without becoming full too quickly.

The second course was set up in the kitchen. At first you feel almost like a naughty child, entering a space normally off-limits. But the cooks & servers welcome everyone and manage to move with impressive efficiency among the guests.

Second course options included waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream, crispy bacon, carved to order meats, gnocchi, and some of the best Brussels-sprouts I've ever tasted. I'm not always a fan of Burssels-sprouts, and I also don't really care for Pine-nuts, but somehow the two were combined to create a taste I crave.

For dessert, there was a table of mini options including creme creme brulee, cheesecake, eclairs, cakes, and more. They also have ice cream, sorbets, and a chocolate fountain with multiple items for dipping (fruit, pound cake, pretzels, marshmallows, etc).

If I had to do anything over about the outing, I would have gone for the valet parking rather than the meter down the block. In the relaxed dining environment, two hours passed quite quickly & I ended up with a parking ticket. Given how memorable the meal was, I am very much looking forward to the next opportunity I have to brunch at Lacroix!

If you go:
  • 210 West Rittenhouse Square - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
  • Phone: (215) 546-9000
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Lacroix Restaurant

Friday, December 30, 2011

Super Delicious Kale Salad

super delicious kale saladThis salad combines bitter, sweet, salty, creamy, and spicy into one power packed burst of flavor. You might not think of pomegranates, raspberries, chili-lime, mango, chocolate, kale and vanilla-blueberry as going together, and I wasn't sure myself how this would turn out, but it had me wanting seconds. Serve with quiche, eggs Benedict, or soup for brunch or with a pasta & wine, (It pairs well with this wine) for dinner.


1 container or bag of baby kale
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
1 clementine
5-6 fresh raspberries, broken into pieces
2 squares of dark chocolate, broken/smashed into tiny pieces
dash of nutritional yeast
dash of lemon pepper
1/2 container of Trader Joe's Vanilla blueberry goat cheese (or other soft goat cheese)
dash of olive oil (citrus flavored)
dash of balsamic vinegar (I used a Mango flavored one that found in Florida)
1/8 cup of Trader Joe's Chili Lime cashew nuts (or other nuts)

pomegranate seedsmango balsamic vinegarclementine in the saladTJ's Chocolate

Rinse the kale & spin dry. Take the goat cheese & crumble into small pieces. Rub the cheese over the kale, coating it. Add the pomegranate seeds, clementine, raspberries, chocolate, and nuts. Add the oil and then the vinegar, tossing everything. Add the yeast and lemon pepper to taste. Toss again and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Super Delicious Kale Salad from above

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stuffed Avocados

Hummus Filled Avocados

Stuffed Avocados are a super easy snack, light lunch, or fun hors d'oeuvre that's sure to please!

  • 1 or more ripe avocados
  • Salsa, hummus, or other dip
  • Spices to taste (chipotle, pepper, garlic, etc)
Slice avocados in half, peel off the skin & remove the pit. Fill the space left by the pit with your dip of choice. Sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper, or other spices for color. Serve with chips, veggies, cheese, or as is with a fork.

avocado filled with salsa Hummus Filled Avocados With Fork

Monday, May 23, 2011

Northportfishington Cookiefactory, Philadelphia PA

monkey bars

Cookies for brunch? Probably not the best idea, but Cinnamon Buns, Monkey Bars (banana bread & cream cheese delights), and apple cider donuts certainly are!

Before I continue, full disclosure: I am acquainted with Mike Landers, the master baker & owner of Northportfishington Cookiefactory. In fact, I was lucky enough to be one of the early taste testers back before the company even existed. That said, Mike does not know that I am writing this review (well, at least not yet anyway), and in fact he may not even be aware of, so in order words: I am receiving nothing in exchange for writing this. Okay, now back to your irregularly scheduled review:

For starters, the Cinnamon Buns. I never really liked cinnamon buns until I tasted these. They remain the only ones I have ever truly enjoyed.

Cinnamon Buns

They have a perfect cinnamon-to-topping ratio, are not too sweet, and pretty much float across your tastebuds. One of these is the perfect companion to any morning beverage. The only drawback is that if you don’t eat them within a day, they go stale. You can partially revive them by heating—which, even when they are fresh they taste best warmed for a minute or two-- but the day olds just can’t compete with the fresh ones.

Next, another surprised for me, the Oatmeal Cranberry Cashew Cookie. It’s usually a requirement for my cookies to have chocolate. While I don’t think an additional of chocolate chips would hurt these babies (hint, hint), they are perfectly fantastic just the way they are. The cashew bits are small enough that you’re not overwhelmed, and the cranberry adds a deliciously tart flavor. These cookies have a nice crisp edge, but are totally soft in the center.

Seasonally, you can sometimes find the mini Apple Cider Donuts. These also surprised me, because I’ve never been huge on donuts. But these babies are perfect to dunk into a mug of hot cider—that is, if you can wait long enough for the cider to warm up before devouring all of them. They are moist and covered with a gentle dusting of cinnamon and sugar.

If there is anything on the Northportfishington Cookiefactory’s bakery list that I’m not crazy about, it would be the brownies. They’re fine, but not outstanding. And personally I find them to be a bit too cakey and lacking the super crispy edges that a perfect brownie requires.


That said, if you’re all about cakey brownies, you might love these.

Final verdict? Even if I knew no one at Northportfishington Cookiefactory, I would still be to the moon about their yummy products!

GreensgrowWhile there are several coffee shops around town that stock some of the items, the one place I know I can always find the perfect Cinnamonbun brunch is at Greensgrow Farmers Market. Grab a bun, and perhaps a pint of fresh berries or a plant or two while you're there, and it’s a perfect start to a spring weekend!

If you go:

Monday, April 11, 2011


With spring officially in the air, there could not be a better time to venture to Styer’s Garden Café. About 30 minutes west of Philadelphia, Styer’s is certainly worth the trip. The café is hidden inside a beautiful greenhouse in the middle of the Terrain Garden Center. If you are at all a gardener, there are plenty of tempting plants, terrariums, gardening accessories, and more to look at before or after dining.

The greenhouse was a perfect temperature the day we visited, but I wonder even with all the windows open what it would be like on a hot summer day. The décor feels like you entered a farmhouse auction: chairs, table, and utensils are a unique mashup of old and new.

For a distinctive beginning to the each meal, Styer’s serves their bread baked in a garden pot---delicious, fresh and piping hot it is a toss-up as to which is better: the bread or the butter it is served with.

We started off with the Artisanal Cheese plate ($18). Served with quince, pear, and cranberry preserves, honeycomb, and crostinis.

Artisanal Cheese plate

The cheeses were a nice mix of super sharp, funky, and mild and we quite enjoyed discovering which flavor combinations worked best together. The fantastic honeycomb, pickled onions & peppers, and intense mustard were all uniquely delicious in the right combinations. The plate also came with “fresh fruit,” but alas this simply meant a bowl of grapes.

Our 2nd course was brought out almost immediately after the 1st, creating quite a bit of shuffling to fit everything onto the table.

I had the Quinoa cakes served with harissa yogurt, arugula and pickled vegetable salad ($7). (Visible at the bottom edge of the cheese photo). While I am not sure quite what I was expecting, it was not the strong curried flavor these cakes delivered. Not straddling any middle ground, you will either love or hate these cakes filled with bites of quinoa in each one. They were exceedingly memorable, which I cannot say for the mac & local cheese ($6).

mac & local cheese

A bland mixture of cheese, topped with breadcrumbs, with surprise mushrooms at the bottom, this mac sank to the pit of my stomach like the titanic.

salmon frittata

One brunchmate ordered the salmon frittata ($11), served with greens.

pancetta sandwich served with grilled asparagus

Another brunchmate ordered the pancetta sandwich served with grilled asparagus ($13)

For dessert we split the raspberry chocolate cake, which was intensely rich dark chocolate with a very subtle hint of raspberry flavor.

While the main dishes were fine, Styer’s strength really is in the simplistic: the bread, the cheese, and their beverages were great—their spiced chai was particularly good. For an afternoon tea in a beautiful setting, you cannot go wrong with Styer’s Garden Café.

If you go:
  • 914 Baltimore Pike, Glen Mills, PA 19342
  • Phone: (610) 459-2400
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Garden Cafe @ Styer's