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After brunch, we had a few hours to burn before our flight so we wandered down the Chelsea High Line over to the Chelsea Market. 

 

The High Line is a park built on a former freight rail line. The rail line sits elevated above the Manhattan’s West Side. It’s a green oasis filled with places to sit and contemplate the contemporary art on the side of the buildings. The High Line is part green serenity and part peeping Tom (you can see into the residential buildings next to the High Line if the shades aren’t closed).  Hopping off of the High Line put us within a block of the Chelsea Market.  Chelsea Market is a smorgasbord of amazing food locations and cute boutique shops. We went specifically in search of two small boutiques: People’s Pops and Doughnuttery.

 

As NYC was slowly broiling / steaming in a heat wave, People’s Pops sounded like the perfect treat. I had seen a Food TV show highlighting People’s Pops for their popsicles. They focused on using fresh, natural ingredients and creative flavors. The show also highlighted the special process they use to freeze their product, resulting in smaller, finer grain ice crystals. This makes the mouth feel of the popsicle much smoother.  I asked for the Empire Apple / Lavender pop; Jim opted for the Peach / Vanilla pop. The sales person asked me if I was SURE if I wanted the Empire Apple, saying it was his least favorite flavor combination. Given his reaction, I chickened out and went for a standard Strawberry Lime. I wish that I had trusted my own gut. The Strawberry Lime pop was very good: strong, bright fresh strawberry flavor with a soft hint of lime. Having just bought a Zoku Pop maker at home, it was probably something that I could have re-created at home. The Empire Apple / Lavender combination still haunts me today. Jim’s Peach / Vanilla blend was much more of what I expected: unique flavor capturing the height of a fruit’s ripeness. Yummy. If I go back, I will try the more exotic flavors that I can’t make at home. 

Next to the People’s Pops is a doughnut shop, Doughnuttery, that our friend recommended. They make tiny doughnuts covered in a variety of powered flavors. The doughnuts are made in this contraption that would make Willy Wonka proud, then tossed with your selected flavor. We chose CACAOBOY: Cacao nibs, Chocolate Cookies, Mesquite and PARIS TIME: Lavender, Pistachio, Vanilla. (I had to get my lavender flavor in somewhere!!) The Cacaoboy was just the right hint of chocolate without being too overpowering. Likewise the Paris Time had a lovely light floral taste accented with a clear pistachio flavor. Definitely want to come back here sometime to try the other flavors. 

If you go: 

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.chelseamarket.com/

People’s Pops

http://www.peoplespops.com/

Doughnuttery

Chelsea Market

425 West 15th Street

New York, NY 10011​

(212) 633-4359

http://www.doughnuttery.com/

 

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We stayed a few nights in Islamorada at the Cheeca Lodge. Since we had spent most of the day getting to Islamorada, we opted to stay close to Cheeca for dinner. We took the resort’s bikes and pedaled over to the Islamorada Fish Company. I thought it was odd at the time that this restaurant was located in such close proximity to an enormous Bass Pro Shops. But Jim and I spent an interesting hour wandering through the store looking at all of the products.

Now, as I write this, it all makes sense. The Islamorada Fish Company is actually part of the Bass Pro Shops chain of restaurants. This would explain the kitschy decor (large, fiberglass looking sea creatures hanging over your head). We had a few drinks on the beach by this point so I asked for virgin spicy bloody mary, Jim ordered a Mango Morada Colada. A long while later, our drinks arrived. The Mango Morada Colada was tasty, but you couldn’t detect any alcohol in it. The virgin spicy bloody mary must have had a double dose of alcohol in it because it was super strong.  I know that I ordered a virgin drink, but I definitely didn’t get one!

For food, we went on the lighter side: fish tacos and a Greek salad topped with dolphin. The fish tacos were ok to somewhat disappointing. Even though the restaurant is on the water and touts fresh fish, they must not have meant the fist they used in the tacos. There was a small amount of redemption in the greek salad with dolphin. No, you’re not actually eating the mammal. There is a dolphin fish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompano_dolphinfish. The grilled dolphin on top of the (average) greek salad was really good.

I can’t actually say that I would recommend this restaurant for the food. However, it has a great view of the gulf and some pretty good drinks.

 

Islamorada Fish Company

81532 Overseas Hwy (Mile Marker 81.5)
Islamorada, FL  33036

305-664-9271

http://restaurants.basspro.com/FishCompany/Islamorada/

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On a recent business trip to Austin, TX, I decided to stop by The Salt Lick in Round Rock. Since we were a pretty large group, we opted for the “Family Style” option. The Family Style option provides you with an unlimited supply of MEAT: brisket, sausage, and pork ribs. BBQ isn’t complete with the sides: potato salad, cole slaw, beans. bread, pickles, and onions. To round out the experience, one of the guys ordered an additional set of baby back ribs that were on special.

THE MEAT:
Brisket: I had an uneven experience with the brisket. The first two pieces were dry and unflavorful and needed quite a bit of the BBQ sauce to make it edible. The next helping was moist, well seasoned, and tasty. No BBQ sauce needed here.

Sausage: LOVED the sausage. Super tasty and very flavorful.

Ribs: I prefer my ribs falling off the bone. The ribs that were part of the Family Style were tasty,  with a good smoky flavor, but they were a little tough for my liking.

Baby Back Ribs: Mmmmm. That’s what I’m talking about. Very well seasoned and falling off of the bone. I was just sad that I didn’t have any room left to finish the entire rack.

THE SIDES:
Potato Salad: This was definitely a different potato salad than what I was used to. It wasn’t the white, creamy dressing type of potato salad. It was more like chunky mashed potatoes with a zip of mustard. I definitely liked this version of potato salad better.

Coleslaw: Again, a different kind of coleslaw. This focused on just finely shredded cabbage and a good cider-vinegar-esque dressing. No heavy mayo based dressing here. I think I ate a whole bowl of this by myself.

DESSERT:
Blackberry cobbler…..5lbs of sugar and 3 blackberries. It was so sweet, I took two bites and pushed it away. Ick.

Other than the dessert,  the meal was pretty good (can’t beat the under $20 price for all that food). But the next time I’m in Austin, I’ll try someplace else just to compare.

The Salt Lick
3350 Palm Valley Blvd
Round Rock, TX 78665
(512)386-1044
http://www.thesaltlickbbq.com

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Some friends and I stayed in Palm Springs after a long hard day of shopping at the Cabazon Outlets. Note to self: never, EVER go to the outlets the day after Christmas. (What were we thinking???) We stood at the intersection of Arenas and Palm Canyon drive and debated between the modern cool looking Cheesecake Factory like menu or the warmer American Bistro with potential (short ribs, P.E.I. Mussels, seared ahi tuna… yum). Starving, we decided to eat at Zin American Bistro simply because it looked warmer.

 

When we walked up, we noticed that the restaurant quite full, but we wouldn’t have to wait for a table. Instead, we had to wait for the hostess to return from whereever she was to seat us at the table. We got an outside table right next to two heaters. Perfect. Just what we needed after a chilly day. Our friend inquired with the waiter about if the short ribs used any cilantro. He responded that he would need to check with with the kitchen and then informed us that the house was out of the P.E.I. Mussels and the seared ahi tuna, and short on the short ribs. This was everything that we were looking forward to on the menu. The waiter came back a few minutes later with our drinks…but not the answer to the question we specificallly asked. It should have been a sign. Nonplussed, we ordered: truffle fries, French onion soup, short ribs (two orders), free-range rabbit, and Belgian beef stew .

 

Appetizers –

We waited a very long time for the appetizers. During which, the waiter came back out and said that he could only fulfill one order of the short ribs, not two. We ordered the Zin Burger in replacement. Finally, when tables seated after us got their appetizers, we asked our waiter to check on the food. Minutes later, the food arrived. But it was our entrees and not the appetizers. We asked the waiter again, what happened with the appetizers. He ran back to check. When he returned, he indicated that the food “got lost” on the way to the table and that he would remove them from the bill. How does food “get lost” in a 20 table restaurant???

 

Entrees –

Short Ribs – Mmmm short ribs. Boneless, braised in a raspberry chipotle sauce atop a bed of peas and carrots. Perfect for a chilly evening in the winter. The sauce had a mild sweet with just a touch of flavor from the chipotle. I could have eaten the entire dish, but I agreed with my friend (who didn’t get his order of short ribs) that I would share half the dish with him.

 

Free-Range Rabbit – It’s been a while since I’ve had rabbit. This dish definitely didn’t disappoint. The rabbit was braised in dijon mustard sauce and served with pommes frites. The rabbit leg was tender and fell right off of the bone. The dijon mustard sauce was delight fully creamy without being overpowering to the rabbit.

 

Zin Burger – 11oz American Kobe Beef Sirloin, very juicy and tender. Topped with caramelized sweet onion, and Fiscalini white cheddar. The white cheddar had a great sharpness that provided a great contrast to the caramelized sweet onion.

 

I have to say, the food was pretty good, but the service was atrocious. He never checked in on us when we were waiting for the appetizers. Even after we let him know that we were starving and needed more bread, he didn’t go check on the appetizers. He also never apologized about the appetizers never showing up. As we were wrapping up the bill, I double checked to make sure they didn’t charge us for the appetizers that “got lost”. I was already sufficiently annoyed enough with the service that I didn’t tip my usual 20%. I was planning to leave just about 15%.  Then, I noticed that the left side of me (where the heat lamp had been) was a little chilly. I turned to my left and saw the waiter wheeling the heat lamp away. He didn’t ask and he could have waited for us to depart (we were maybe 5 mins from leaving). Nope. He just wheeled it away.

In the end, we left a 9% tip, which in hindsight I think was generous given the service that we received. Even though the food was relatively good, I will never, ever return to this establishment.

 

Zin American Bistro

198 South Palm Canyon Drive

Palm Springs, CA 92262

http://www.pszin.com/

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saw these at the farmer’s market this morning. what a perfect way to bring in the new year!

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i can’t even explain or understand why someone would do this to their bike.

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photo 16 of 365

sun through trees outside of the maples pavillion on stanford campus.

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