Thursday, October 29, 2015

Food Truck Revolution

For those that do not know, I have a love for food trucks.  In fact, just the other day I was driving home and I spotted a food truck at Fairport Brewing and yelled out loud "What...the meatball truck!!" (I was the only one in the car).  I slooowwed down and stared; don't worry, I was still safely driving, I think.  There was also a point in which I contemplated starting my own food truck.  I spent a long time researching, developing possible menus, and investigating equipment on the internet.  Needless to say, I do not currently own a food truck, but I am a frequent visitor when at all possible.  Which brings me to this post...

Rochester has exploded with food trucks, leaving us with endless options.  This year was the fifth annual Food Truck Rodeo at the Rochester Public Market.  Food trucks are popping up outside of local bars, at Farmer's Markets, school events, and more.  It's so exciting to see the appreciation for food trucks and their art and cuisine.  I am going to highlight a few of my favorites below.  There are many that I can list, but here are a few that I frequently visit:

Cheesed and Confused

Grilled Cheese there anything more to say before you jump on board here?  My all-time favorite is the pulled pork mac and cheese grilled cheese. Yes, you heard me right!  The mac and cheese is so creamy and then when you put the BBQ pulled pork on top - genius!  While you are there, grab yourself some crispy tator tots, to complete your me!

Chef's Catering

Chef Mike Zazzaro, executive chef, created Chef's Catering back in 2011.  He currently has a staff with years of experience working to bring you the best in your catering needs and through their food truck.  Mike will work with you on creating a menu for your event.  You may have also sampled menu items at Chef's Catering at the Food Truck Rodeo or other locations.  One of my favorites is the black bean and corn fritters!  It comes with a guacamole, pico de gallo, cotija cheese crumbled on top, and a chipotle aioli.  I'm a sucker for avocado and chipotle aioli.  The pulled pork loaded fries were also very yummy!  Everyone at Chef's Catering is incredibly friendly and they take pride in what they produce.

Ah Macaroni and Cheese.  I love the spiraled pasta that they use, which helps you get just the right amount of toppings and cheese in every deliciously savory bite.  You cannot go wrong with any macaroni that you choose, however the buffalo wing mac and cheese is one of my favorites.  I love the hint of spicy kick that you get with the juicy chicken on top.  A little known fact...Nathan Hurtt, executive chef, also owns and operates Brick N Motor.

Eat Me Ice-cream

Catelyn and Amber are the amazing ladies that create unbelievable flavors in the Eat Me Ice-cream kitchen!  They have an ability to meld together flavors that can range from bold to bright and light.  They create ice-cream flavors with goat cheese and pumpkin to fruitier flavors such as apricot or blueberry and cheesecake.  They also paired with BadAss Power Cookie to create an ice cream sandwich! (If you haven't tried Badass Power Cookie, run, don't walk, over to Hart's or Lori's Natural Foods for a taste.  Maybe there will be an ice cream sandwich pairing waiting for you!).  The flavor combinations are both enticing and intriguing.  Look out for their ice cream sandwiches at locations like Hart's Grocery! Check out the post I wrote an on Eat Me Ice-cream in August.

Le Petit Poutine

How can Poutine not be good?  When you take french fries, and then load cheese curds, gravy, and herbs on top, you cannot go wrong.  I can't help myself so.... I get pulled pork on mine also!  How do you like your poutine?

The Louisiana Cookery

The folks (husband and wife team) at The Louisiana Cookery are passionate about their food and they put a lot of love into their cooking.  Not only are they willing to let you sample if you are unsure of a posted option, but once they begin discussing how they prepare their food, it is clear that you need to try it!  Give them some love the next time you see them and sample the Crawfish Étouffée or one of their other menu items.  **Hint**Hint*** They deep fry their grits!

The Meatball Truck Co.

The Meatball Truck Co. offers some delicious meatballs!  I love the meatballs in a cup, which is just enough to share (or eat on your own - let's be real about this one!).  If you are like me, you will try to get a scoop of fresh tasting ricotta with each bite of the meatball and then sop up the homemade sauce with the crusty bread. MMMM

The last Food Truck Rodeo of the year happened this past Wednesday, but don't worry there are plenty of other locations to get your Food Truck On. If you are thinking, I need to get me some of that (go ahead and fill in your choice of the food truck name here) right now, then check out Where That Food Truck to find your favorite!  You can also click on any of the underlined links to find out more information about your favorite food truck or business that is listed above.  If you have a favorite of yours not listed, feel free to let me know which food truck you love visiting and what your favorite meal there is!  I have only highlighted a few here on this post, but there are many more out there!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Orien's Cafe

Orien's Cafe is a gem within the town of Greece on Long Pond Road.  Owner Gianni (John) Catalano created a Sicilian inspired cafe that captures the atmosphere and essence of food he grew up with in Italy.   John loves discussing his love and heritage and clearly has a passion for Orien's Cafe.  Nancy, John's wife, is the chef and master creator of the enticing menu that lures you into what it must be like to travel and taste in a cafe in Italy.  John and Nancy's daughters also work at Orien's, which truly give you the essence of the importance of meshing food and family (my two loves).

Upon walking into Orien's Cafe, you are immediately struck by the long counter holding a variety of gelato flavors. Whether it's the bright colors of the fruit based flavors that you are drawn to, such as strawberry, a seasonal flavor, such as a pumpkin gelato, or a classic tiramisu or chocolate flavor, you cannot go wrong.  We were clearly planning our gelato flavors that we would share before we even ordered dinner.  The staff was also excited to discuss the opportunity for creating new gelato flavors that instantly grab your attention when you walk in to the cafe.

What I particularly love about Orien's Cafe is knowing that everything is homemade; made fresh right on site.  They offer a variety of paninis, homemade soups, salads, pastas and risottos, as well as other dinner specialties.  I luckily was dining with a good friend who agreed that we should divide and conquer, sharing as many items as our stomach's could possible hold.  We began with a spinach stuffed arancini, which was filled with sautéed spinach and the risotto was creamy and had a wonderful flavor.  The seafood bisque was another starter to our meal.  There was a hint of sweetness that settled in your mouth and filled you with that warm homestyle know what I'm talking about.

When it came to decision time as to what we would share for dinner (remember...divide and conquer),  we contemplated many of the items on the menu.  After some serious discussion, we settled on the Breaded Veggie Panini and the Prosciutto di Parma Panini.  The Breaded Veggie Panini had breaded zucchini, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and greens.  The Prosciutto di Parma was made with prosciutto that is cut in house for orders, fresh made mozzarella, basil pesto, balsamic vinaigrette, and mixed greens.  Both of the paninis were incredibly delicious and both had a crusty bread, just like you would have with your meal in Italy!

After our meal, we rushed over to the gelato counter to choose our flavors.  We shared a cup (2 flavors) of Espresso and Italian Cheesecake gelato.  The espresso had a well balanced flavor that brightened with each spoonful.  The Italian Cheesecake gelato was absolutely my favorite.  Each bite was bursting with flavor!

I don't think I need to remind you again, that we chose to "divide and conquer," so we of course could not leave without sharing a few pastries (and going home with a few also!).  The pastry chef, Amanda Verhulst, creates classic Italian pastries, such as tiramisu, butter and hazelnut cookies, and ricotta cakes.  This visit, we decided to sample the white, milk, and dark chocolate mousse like cake.  The bottom dark chocolate portion was my favorite to scoop bites of!  I saved the cannoli for my husband, who enjoyed the crisp bite of the shell and the cannoli pastry cream filling.  I need to go back for another taste of the pistachio cookie... pistachio is one of my favorite flavors.

Catering is also offered at Orien's Cafe, as well as a variety of gelato cakes and specialty cakes. Don't forget to stop by, whether for lunch, dinner, a yummy treat, or fresh brewed coffee (there are 30 different varieties of coffees)!

1100 Long Pond Road at Maiden Lane
Rochester, 14626

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Tasting Menu by Laurier Catering

When I go out to dinner, one of my favorite ways to eat is to share smaller plates or eat several smaller courses.  This way I can, both, get to know the chef through tasting a variety of their dishes, while also sharing the experience with people that I love around me!  I love that each course in a tasting menu leads your taste buds to the next course.  Chef Brad Stevenson does just this during his tasting dinners at Laurier Catering.

With years of experience in the restaurant business, Chef Stevenson was ready to be part of a catering company in which he could explore his creativity and love for food.  Most surprisingly, Chef Stevenson had not cooked professionally in ten years prior to the start of Laurier.  Ready to take on the beginning of a catering company, only a name was needed.  It was in a visit to Ottawa that the name for the catering company came about. The historic building, Chateau Laurier, became the inspiration for Laurier Catering Company.

The very first meal at Laurier, 14 years ago, was a tasting menu.  You may be asking "Why a tasting menu?" Chef Stevenson describes the idea based on Matrie D'Hotel menu's (Multiple Course), that you will often find in Europe.  It is through this style, Chef Stevenson, as well as others that work at Laurier, are able to get to know their customers.  You will often see the servers engaged in conversations with the diners to get to know what they enjoyed about their meals and what they are looking to see in future meals. After my meal at Laurier, Chef Stevenson came out and greeted each table.  He enjoys making personal and lasting connections with those that eat at Laurier.

We tasted the September menu and were led through beautiful presentations of our dinner.  The first course was a colorfully plated grilled ciabatta bread with creamy goat cheese, roasted peppers, and basil, drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic reduction.  Each bite led you to wanting more.

The second course was a lobster ravioli with roasted shrimp and tarragon, in a lobster beurre blanc sauce.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the flavor left a lasting impression.

The third course was a mix of baby arugula, red leaf, and boston lettuce topped with cranberries, mandarin oranges, and candied pecans in a champagne vinaigrette.  The mandarin oranges provided a refreshing taste in the salad.

For my main course, I had the Tournedos of Beef Tenderloin atop a whipped potato and heirloom tomato vegetable ratatouille.  This was paired with a rosemary Zinfandel demi-glace.  Each bite of the beef tenderloin melted in my mouth and I found myself savoring each bite.  The tenderloin was also perfectly seasoned and had a perfect sear.  It was clear that Chef Stevenson attended to detail.  My husband had the Pan Seared Wild Caught Chilean Sea Bass in a white wine sauce, with grilled vegetables.  The sauce was a nice accompaniment to the sea bass.

The final course was a Grand Marnier Creme Bruelee with sliced strawberries.  The strawberries paired perfectly with the creme brûlée and the delicate hint of orange from the Grand Marnier was tasted throughout each bite.

Dinners are served on Friday and Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. The dining room is quaint and fills quickly.  It is recommended to call soon after the tasting menu of the month is revealed.  Make sure you sign up on Laurier's website for their mailing list and you can have the monthly menus emailed to you!  I am excited for the October menu featuring seasonal ingredients, like roasted butternut squash soup with sage and creme fresh and a warm apple crumb tart with a cider caramel sauce drizzled over a vanilla bean ice cream.  Mouth watering?  Check out the rest of the menu here.

Laurier Catering Company
10 Assembly Drive
Mendon, NY 14506