Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sangria’s Wine Tasting Dinner
November 17, 2010 6-8PM
Five-course dinner with complementing wines presented by Capital Wine & Spirits
- Goat Cheese and Herb Souffle
- Baby Arugula salad with Roasted Pears, Candied Walnuts and Strawberry Vinaigrette
- Lemon Sorbet Seared Duck Breast with Sundried Cherries and Port wine reduction served with Parsnip puree
- Scallop and Crab Au gratin En Croute with Chive oil and Red pepper coulis with Asparagus bundle
- Pumpkin Crème Brulee
$65 per person
Prepayment and reservations by 11/8/10
Call 610-432-3280 ask for Danielle, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, October 25, 2010
Lehigh Valley -- yes, P-burg, I'm including you here -- needs more Indian places. This one looks fairly typical, but there's nothing wrong with another option, especially in the eastern reaches of the region.
From Kelly's article:
Insiders eat: Vegetable Manchurian (four vegetable dumplings stir fried with fresh, hot chilies, spring onion, ginger and garlic in chef's sauce) — $4.95; Chicken Tikka Masala (boneless chicken pieces broiled in the tandoori, with cream sauce, green spices and tomatoes) — $9.95; Chicken Mango (chicken, onion, red pepper, ginger, garlic and diced mango) — $9.95; Achari Kabab (hot, spicy chicken tenders marinated in yogurt and pickled spices, baked in clay oven with jaggery) — $9.95; Malai Kofta (mixed vegetables and cottage cheese dumplings cooked in a mild butter, tomato and cream gravy) — $8.95; Goa Salmon Curry (fresh salmon, coconut and mustard seeds in a coastal curry) — $13.95; Seafood Mela (fish, prawn, scallops and calamari in a spicy curry sauce) — $14.95.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
For more, read Part 1 and Part 2 of her blog posts.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
520 Main Street, Bethlehem
For all the chains and pizza places that pop up around the Lehigh Valley, it's truly refreshing to experience something ambitious and completely different. Alando Kenyan Cuisine on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem is such a place.
The restaurant occupies the back third of Wired Cafe in the heart of the historic district. It's sparsely decorated with a smattering of African art and fairly conventional lighting, tables and chairs. Though it's a separate operation from Wired, it nonetheless needs to blend in to avoid a visual clash. (For the record, this might be the only coffee house-Kenyan combo in the world.)
I've never tried Kenyan food, so I apologize in advance for not having a point of reference. I have enjoyed Ethiopian and Senegalese cuisine before. Kenyan is more akin to Ethiopian with its heartiness and use of exotic spices. In fact, I found it even similar to Indian food, though without the heat. (View the full menu.)
To wit, we started with a lentil samosa, a deep-fried pocket of goodness and an Indian restaurant mainstay. Bits of scallions and cilantro were tucked in the golden-brown pastry. Alando's pili pili sauce -- an addictinng sweet/hot concoction available for to-go purchase -- was an ideal complement. Kenyan Bhajia (fried potato slices in a tumeric-cilantro batter) was equally delicious as an app. The potatoes were light and airy despite being fried.
We chose three entrees to split. Green Gram Grains ($9.95) -- mung beans sautéed in vegetable Masala spice, garlic, tomatoes, coconut milk and light cream -- had a wonderful balance of flavor. The coconut and cream provided a silky sauce that bound the small pieces of vegetables for easy eating.
Cardamom chicken ($13.95) -- marinated chicken with herbs, sautéed with cardamom pods, ginger, garlic, light cream and cilantro -- was my favorite. It burst with aromatic cardamom, but without overwhelming the dish. (I'm sure the cream helped temper that.) The ginger and garlic, reminiscent of Eastern dishes, melded well with the other spices and herbs. The boneless chicken breast was meaty and moist. I could eat this once a week.
Not to be overlooked, the beef short ribs ($14.99) were hearty, dense and fork-tender.
Topped with caramelized onions, tomatoes and cilantro, they arrived in a shallow pool of flavorful stew-like braising sauce. The accompanying collard greens & basmati rice were perfect sides.
Do not skip dessert. Alando offers homemade sweet potato pie with ginger ice cream. It was similar to pumpkin pie with nutmeg, cinnamon and a touch of cardamom, but with a bit less fruitiness. The ginger ice cream -- also made on the premises -- was perfect. Studded with real pieces of ginger, it complemented the texture of the pie and provided even more moistness, but without overpowering it. As it slowly melted, it retained its form and texture without turning watery, a sign of quality and high fat content. Mmmmm.
Our service was decent. It took a while upon being seated to get water and menus, but after that it was pleasant and frequent. No issues.
My only criticism: it may be quicker to fly to Kenya than to wait for the restaurant's flash-based website to load. Ugh.
Others I have spoken with have had equally excellent experiences at Alando. Let me know if you do, too.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
The nine-item menu will feature dishes including goi cuon, (spring rolls with pork, shrimp, mint, cilantro and vermicelli rolled up in rice paper with a peanut dipping sauce), banh mi xiu mai, (pork ball and shrimp steamed with vegetables served with French bread), canh ga chien nuoc mam (chicken wings with fish sauce) and bun thit nuong (grilled pork with mint, lemongrass, vermicelli and vegetables).
Ethnic and eclectic eateries in the Allentown Farmer's Market have had mixed success. Foods of the Mediterranean (east side) and Sweets Grill and More (Mexican) have been mainstays. And for good reasons: quality and authenticity. A Cuban place across from Dan's BBQ, Fan's Sushi and Balasia (vegan) didn't last as long, though the owner of Fan's needed to move for family reasons. I'll do my part to support Loan's and will report on the food.
Additionally, tonight I have the privilege to check out Sangria, the new restaurant at 9th and Hamilton in the Butz building in downtown Allentown. I don't know what to expect: there's no website on the invitation to preview the menu, no Twitter presence or Facebook page, very little publicity. I did sneak a peak at the interior on Monday. It design looks striking and modern. Looking forward to checking it out. Allentown needs another nice restaurant downtown to complement Bay Leaf, Robata and Made in Brazil. With the BrewWorks doing well and Island in the Sun (Jamaican) moving in 1/2 block to the West, the city is developing a nice core of diverse restaurants.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
745 7th Avenue
(Photos by Megan Duerring, @meganallyn)
As I've learned time and again, it's often the most unassuming restaurants that serve up some of the most delicious, authentic ethnic food. Such is the case at the curiously-named Black Forest Deli, which every Thursday evening offers a reservation-only five-course Russian dinner (I counted six) that combines homemade delicacies in the most friendly, gracious family-style atmosphere you'll ever encounter.
For their weekly Kiev Lehigh Valley meal, the mother-daughter duo of Milana and Vica Shparber run a long, red-draped table through the middle of their modest establishment and have up to 16 guests sit communally. There are no intimate tables for two: this is an event to be savored with others.
Welcoming us to the table were plates of deviled eggs spiked with bits of marinated mushrooms as well as bite-sized open-face sardine-tomato-cucumber sandwiches. Both were sprinkled liberally with fresh dill, which could easily be called the national herb of Russia. The sardine sandwich was especially delightful, with the pungency of the sardine balanced by the freshness of the vegetables.
Next, Vica brought bowls of hearty Russian borsch, a traditional cabbage and beet soup served with a dollop of sour cream and topped with fresh dill. (Aside: have you ever tasted a bad "dollop" of anything? Dollops rock.) She accompanied it with a "pirozhok" -- a meat pie with a flaky, ethereal pastry. Often available for lunch, the borscht is a revelation as it alternates among tart, sour and silky flavors. It's a meal in itself with the pirozkok.
Course two (three to my count) consisted of a variety of Russian salads served family style. Olivie (a Russian style potato salad) and a crab salad stuffed in a tomato were excellent, but the two standouts were diced chicken liver with marinated onions/peppers (nice interplay of bitter and sweet) and chicken salad with grated horseradish and chopped apples in a yogurt/lemon dressing. I found myself sampling seconds of the latter two.
In the middle of the salad course, Vica appeared with a tray of shot glasses filled with vodka. How much more traditional can you get? I partook and helped a friend finish hers. Bonus.
Course three: pierogies stuffed with either potato filling or saurkraut. They arrived in a deep bowl topped with fried onions and sour cream. Simply put, these were the best pierogies I've ever had. The toothsome pasta shells glimmered with melted butter. I'd never had them filled with saurkraut, something that I had missed out on for the first 42 years of my life. The kraut provided a welcome flavor punch to the typically starchy dish. And with the sour cream -- divine.
The main course afforded a choice of halupkis (stuffed cabbage with rice and meat in a tomato broth) served with mashed potatoes or beef strogonoff served with kasha, or buckwheat. Both were accompanied by a tomato/cucumber/onion & dill salad. While the sturdy halupkis were straightforward and good, the strogonoff was the winner here. Ultra-tender chunks of beef (which had been braising since 10 a.m. according to Vica) amid a delicate, creamy sauce immediately erased any visions of the Hamberger Helper style of the dish familiar to college students. This was the real deal.
The final dessert course -- in addition to plates of fresh fruit -- consisted of blintzes filled with homemade farmers cheese and topped with sauteed berries and ice cream. They served it with compote, an all-natural fruit and berry juice that in Russia is served for dessert and during the day instead of soda.
Between the incredible food, vodka, communal atmosphere and gracious hospitality of Vica, the three-hour meal was one of my most enjoyable food experiences of the year. I can't recommend the evening enough. And I suggest you follow the effervescent Vica on Twitter (@blackforestdeli and @kievLV) and on Facebook. She and the Black Forest Deli are a true delight. (I'll save the phenomenal lunch selections for a different post.) Another delight is the price: only $35 a person.
In fact, the meal compelled me to return to food blogging. I will have reports on Alando (Kenyan) and Mexico Lindo (Mexican, duh) soon. And I'm scheduled to attend the preview of Sangria in Allentown next Thursday. It's comforting to see so much activity on the ethnic restaurant scene in the Valley. I'm happy to be back.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Lower Macungie Township now has an Indian restaurant! Kebab and Curry is next to Radio Shack in the Walmart mall on Mill Creek. I can't wait to give it a try, their food looks great.
Hope to try it myself. Thanks for the update.