Thursday, October 6, 2016


Nosh, open only since the start of summer, has gained recognition for their diverse flavor profiles, their take on comfort and classic recipes and beautifully presented dishes and cocktails.  The interior is eye-catching with it’s high ceilings, impressive woodwork, and an electrifying chandelier hanging above the large 3-sided bar.  Roomy seats make you feel as if you are sitting comfortably at home while enjoying a satisfying meal.  The servers always have a smile on their face and are knowledgable about the menu items, sharing recommendations when asked.

The concept of Nosh began as co-owners Pete Leseska and John Nacca joined together to create a space with delicious food to welcome the increasing customers into the expanding Neighborhood of the Arts.  Looking for a chef to head the restaurant and produce a menu that would draw in customers, Chef Joe Zolnierowski was up to the challenge.  The opportunity to go into partnership with Pete and John was alluring.  The original concept was an Italian restaurant and Joe was very familiar with this type of cuisine.  After working his way up at Mario's Italian restaurant, he became the Executive Sou Chef.  Joe agreed that the original concept of Nosh would do well as an Italian restaurant, but he set up the challenge to create an innovative menu and promised to give 120% into the creation of this concept.  

Joe explains that he has a true passion for "southeast and Asian cuisine."  He welcomes "bold, spicy, slow cooked food...with a depth of flavor" which he experienced in New Orleans.  Joe grew up in Tuscon and spent endless summers in NY.  He was introduced to Asian flavors from his mother's side of the family and polish food from his family that lived in NY.  Living on the West Coast created an atmosphere for eclectic flavors and Mexican food. With exposure to so many types of cuisine and flavor profiles, Joe has developed an ever-expanding palette that he draws from to create a diverse menu at Nosh.

The menu at Nosh is "fun and interactive" says Joe.  "Whether you come in in flip flops and shorts or a suite and tie, [we want you to be] comfortable and have a sociable atmosphere." The menu allows for culinary freedom from Joe to create dishes that come from classic dishes that many of us grew up on, but infused with a modern twist.  Look for "underlying meanings" in the names of the dishes, such as The Howard, which is a pizza with duck confit, fontina cheese, rosemary, bacon and onion jam.  The name comes from Howard the Duck (portrayed in comic books and later a film) that Joe grew up watching as a kid.  The Tickled Pig is a 12 oz. porterhouse pork chop rubbed, or "tickled," with spices.  Drawing from these memories, Joe hopes that "the way food affects me will affect [customers]".

The Brick & Wood fired oven allows for a perfect pizza. The open kitchen concept allows the customer to feel right at home.  With a diverse menu to choose from, there is a dish that will appeal to everyone.  My recommendation:  order several items to share because you will want to take a bite off of everyone else's dishes!  Some of my favorites include the Conquistador Pizza, which is lightly topped with a guajillo chili bbq sauce, chorizo, roasted green chiles, queso fresco, monterey jack, and cilantro.  The Korean Lettuce Wraps are also a must-try.  I have typically had Korean lettuce wraps with bulgogi (Korean BBQ, typically beef).  Nosh serves up this dish with fermented chili marinated chicken thigh meat.  The dish is a "build your own" that includes bibb lettuce, some of the best kimchi I have ever had (seriously!), jasmine rice and quick pickles.  

If you are feeling adventurous, take on the challenge of the Tomahawk Cut 34 oz bone-in rib eye, served with house fries and a marrow porcini butter!  Nosh also serves up some delicious seafood, including their Specked Scallops, which are served atop an asparagus puree risotto.  Crispy smoked prosciutto fans out of the center of the plate.  The dish is then drizzled with a brown butter sauce to add a slight nutty tone.  The charred lemon also served on the side of your plate is not a garnish, but is meant to be squeezed on top of the entire dish.  Chef Joe explains that each ingredient in the dish is meant to be eaten together in one bite, which balances the flavor profile.  

Randy Maier, the Head Mixologist crafts the delicious cocktails at Nosh.  Randy and Joe worked together when they both lived in Tuscon prior to moving to Rochester.  Randy was the bar manager of a hotel that had the largest tequila bar in Tuscon.  Randy brings his own creative flair as he is able to concoct drinks using fresh ingredients.  Each drink is beautifully presented.  One of my go-to cocktails at Nosh is the Why Nosh which Randy describes as marrying a South West vibe with Rochester-style.

Nosh also serves up lunch so whether you are heading out for a business meeting, playing hookie from work and want to treat yourself, or just hanging out with friends for a casual lunch you are in for a delicious meal.  My absolute favorite lunch time special is the Chi Town Top Round.  Shaved top round beef is sandwiched in between Italian-style bread, topped with homemade giardiniera, melty provolone cheese, and served with oregano au jus for dipping.  This is what lunch should always be like!

What to look for at Nosh in the future?  Nosh is continuing to draw from creativity, as well as collaborate with nearby businesses to bring a fresh twist to the Neighborhood of the Arts.  Look for a special Nosh brew at Three Heads Brewing.  Also, bring in your receipt from Nosh and then head over to Three Heads to get a beer on the house!  Don't worry, if you decided to stop at Three Heads before dinner, you also WIN.  Bring in your receipt as well, and you get TWO tacos and ANOTHER Three Heads brew for only $8!  Also look for some upcoming seasonal changes in the menu, as well as brunch served up Nosh-style!

Watch Randy in action on my Facebook page to learn how to make their famous Why Nosh cocktail!  At the end of the video, you will see a recipe so that you can re-create this drink at home!  Be sure to stop by to Nosh and let Randy know that you re-created his cocktail for yourself or friends!

Also head over to my Facebook page to see Chef Joe's cooking demo for the Specked Scallops served at Nosh.  This dish is out of this world and easy for the at-home cook to prepare, whether it is your average dinner night or a date night.  Recipe is also posted at the end.  Let Chef know that you were able to re-create this dish at home when you next stop in at Nosh!  Also head over to Rochester A List and check out the review I wrote on the Specked Scallops making the Best Dish List!

47 Russell Street
Rochester, NY 14607

Thursday, September 1, 2016

This Is How We Roll

This is how I roll:  with Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck.  That's Right.  One of the most visited food trucks in Rochester is the Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck, which offers a Latin fusion with the traditional Japanese sushi that we are familiar with.

So, how did this concept of fusing Latin culture with Japanese culture come about? Radhames (Rod) Veras and Kim Roth, both former California Rollin' employees, are co-owners of the infamous food truck.  Rod, feeling the need to break away and demonstrate his creativity, as well as execute great food under his own business name, began the food truck.  Kim soon joined the business and felt that the concept of infusing Latin flavors into sushi would be both innovative and appealing to those that may not typically choose sushi as an option.

Rod brings his Dominican heritage to infuse the sushi with flavors such as saison, frier queso, and sweet plantains.  Kim brought her creative flair, bold flavors, and sushi rolling skills to the table and the two have created a beloved food truck that will leave you scraping bits off the bottom of your styrofoam container (not kidding)! Kim learned to roll sushi from her brother, who owned a restaurant in Chili.  He wanted time off to play softball and Kim quickly learned plunging herself into the restaurant business.

You cannot visit the Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck and not get the famous Trasher Plate.  When the food truck began, Kim and Rod admitted that the first year was difficult.  People weren't entirely sure about eating sushi from a food truck.  They adopted the Trasher Plate, which is sushi rice topped with cucumber, sweet bell peppers, jalapeño, tomato, scallions, bacon, friend garlic, onion crunchies, beer battered shrimp, and grilled beef, Sriracha, ginger mayo, and a special Stingray Sauce concocted with Jim Beam.  This is a beautifully colorful dish that is great to share (if you dare) or to eat alone!  The dish actually began when Kim's brother created a similar version so that he could meet "the ladies" as he was a bit shy and needed a conversation starter.  Kim and Rod adapted the trasher plate to what you see now - a masterpiece.

They have also created a roll now named for one of their favorite customers, Ebbie Pastrana.  You may know her as @ebbie_wine_kenobi on Instagram.  This roll was originally a Chef's Special, but Ebbie's love for this particular sushi specialty item led to it being named after her!  The Kenobi Roll which has crispy crawdads, avocado, bacon, Sriracha, ginger mayo, frier queso, then topped with spicy crab, onion crunchies, and Stingray Sauce will ROCK YOUR WORLD.

Kim and Rod continue to create chef specials on their menu, so always be on the look out!  Pictured here is a roll with roast pork, sweet plantain, scallion, and sauces.

Now, you know that you can't even handle their skillz (yes, with a z)  right now, but guess what?  Yes, even you can learn to roll like a sushi chef, by rollin' with a sushi chef!  "Rollin' with my homies"(c'mon you can't tell me that Clueless didn't come into your mind...or Coolio).  Kim Roth also has a catering company called The Bamboo Panda Catering Company, which was aptly named by her daughter Apolonnia.  She reasonably stated the name fits because "Pandas eat bamboo."  Who can argue with that?  The catering company was originally designed to open as a food truck, with the design set in motion, but as Kim joined Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck, the concept changed.  For just $35 pp Kim will come to your house and teach you and your friends and family how to make sushi.  I hosted a class, and I can tell you that it was one of the best learning experiences.  I have made sushi at home several times since the class and have gotten a big thumbs up from my husband! Kim will provide a large sushi platter to much on while getting to know you and your guests.  Then, let the rolling begin.  Everyone goes home with a kit and 3 rolls that they make on their own.

Kim has also taught a class on the Hell's Kitchen menu:  Wellingtons, risotto, and scallops.  Need a private chef or a party catered?  The Bamboo Panda Catering Company can do it all. "I feel I am here to enrich people's lives through food."  The passion is clear.

What is next for Rod, Kim and the Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck?  They are on the lookout for another food truck and/or a store front location- yup I said it.  This would be a dream come true, and I don't just mean that for the co-owners- I am talking about the food truck fans!

Kim Roth will also be on this season 16 of Hell's Kitchen, which can be seen on FOX beginning September 23!  She was one of 36 chosen out of 5000 applicants to participate in seasons 15 and 16.  After participating in weeks of auditions in LA and NYC on top of having to keep this under wraps, Kim was chosen! "Gordon Ramsay is one TOUGH MOTHER!!!" Kim says.  "It was a great experience and it not only made me a better chef, it opened my eyes to what dining truly is suppose to be; a memorable and amazing experience for every sense in your body."

For location information on the Stingray Sushi Fusion food truck, follow this link: 

Kim Roth Instagram: @chef_kim_1101

Click any of the highlighted orange links to look at the Facebook pages or contact Kim or Rod.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Muller's Cider House

Rochester continues to grow allowing for businesses to expand and new concepts to surface.  Mullers Cider House opened less than a year ago and has already encountered quite the crowd.  Many are very familiar with the craft beer and cocktail scene.  The introduction of an all-cider bar allows Rochesterians to explore the world of cider and entertain new flavor profiles.

Co-owners Patrick Jaouen and Sam Conjerti Jr. were fueled by their passion of cider to showcase Mullers Cider House to Rochester.  The discussion of concept to start of construction was a mere 6 months.   Rochester was awaiting.  With the use of social media through their Instagram feed (@MullersCiderHouse) and Facebook, Mullers Cider House gained a quick and eager following.  Why cider you may ask?  Cider sales have tremendously surpassed the sales of wine and beer over the past 5 years showcasing the consumers tastes evolving beyond beer and wine.  Cider bars have previously only been on the west coast.  Mullers is the second cider only bar to open in NY and on the East Coast.  Patrick and Sam want to educate the consumers on the types of ciders and varieties available while providing an atmosphere to kick back and enjoy.  Mullers Cider House also offers a variety of events!  Take a closer look at the bottom of the page to see a list of upcoming events.              
The decor of Mullers Cider House is reminiscent of a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with the rustic bar as the star of the room when you walk in.  The sign hanging outside was crafted by local metal workers Metal Some Art.  They also craft some pretty awesome belt buckles, including custom orders, so be sure to check those out as well!  Inside, the letters that were cut out of the sign in front, decorate the wall.  The bar was crafted from materials at the Carnegie Building, which was located on Goodman Street.  Reclaimed wood from Pittsford Lumber was utilized to design the tables inside.  Materials and outsourcing was kept local to keep the Rochester love and pride within Mullers Cider House.
If you are or were like me, you may not have known as much about ciders other than the Angry Orchard that quickly became popular among many.  It was at my first visit to Mullers Cider House that I was able to understand that cider was like the craft beer industry, with varying options based on your particular palette preferences, pleasing any cider imbiber.  There are over 100 ciders available daily with 12 being on tap.  There is also an extensive list for customers to choose from before ordering.  Do not be alarmed, Patrick and Sam received feedback from customers and re-organized their menu to clarify the varieties of ciders available.  The system is based on a one to four apple rating, ranging from driest to sweeter ciders.  Also, I encourage you to rely on the staff who is trained to really know the ins and outs of the varying ciders and make recommendations based on your preferences.  My suggestion:  try a flight if you are new to ciders or wanting to explore beyond some of the well-known names.
Mullers Cider House supports local businesses by promoting drafts dedicated to upstate NY local cider producers.  Keep a look out on Facebook and Instagram for new ciders hitting the bar.  Mullers Cider House also hosts Music Mondays in which local artists perform.

What are some ciders that you can find available at Mullers?  Rootstock, Embark, Harvest Moon, and Cider Creek are a few cider producers right here in Upstate NY.  You can also find ice ciders and Spanish Sidras, like Sidra Menendez and other European Ciders.  "Daily something new is on draft...drafts change constantly.  Flights are a good way of giving a good sampling of range."
While the focus of Mullers is introducing and educating customers on both local ciders and ciders around the world, they also serve up seasonal menus.  Homemade kettle corn is a favorite among those that visit (You will probably want to ask for an extra bag to take home with you - don't worry, no one is judging!).  Every month, a new flavor of kettle corn is served and boy does this bring people flocking.  Pictured here is the s'mores kettle corn.  Some other flavors have included strawberries and cream, warmed banana nut bread with candied walnuts, dried banana chips and cinnamon, and churro flavored which came with a side of chocolate sauce to drizzle over your kettle corn.
The menu also includes a variety of paninis served on a crispy buttered baguette with lemon and dill cucumber salad.   Want to eat like The King?  Try The Elvis which is creamy peanut butter, fresh banana slices, crispy bacon and honey sandwiches between two thick cut slices of sourdough bread.  There are also appetizers to share, including an artisanal cheese plate with marmalade, pickles and crusty bread and a charcuterie board featuring cured meats.  Pate is served from The Piggery in Ithaca, which is Ithaca's only farm-to-table butcher shop.  Daily soup specials are also made in-house.  By request, your food can be made gluten free as well.
Pudgy Girl Bakery has also paired up with Mullers Cider House, offering her delicious vegan desserts.  Check out my previous post on Pudgy Girl Bakery by clicking here to learn more about Jenny, the owner, and her amazing desserts!
Mullers Cider House is an amazing supporter of "all things local" from ciders to music performers and food products served in-house.  Grab a friend, or a few and head down.  You are guaranteed a cider to please, unforgettable kettle corn, a great atmosphere, and delicious bites of food.  

What: Amateur Cider Makers Meetup
When: Monthly (Check out their social media page, website or contact Muller's directly for more info)
Explanation:  Professional cider makers offer tips and tricks for making cider at home.  In the last meet-up, those attending were able to see the process of making cider from store bought juice and white wine.  Star Cider (a craft cidery in upstate NY participated in the event for the month of July)

What:  University Music & Arts Festival put on by Mullers Cider House
When: July 23 from 11-7 
Explanation:  Come listen to music, shop at local vendors, see the Par Core folks across the street, grab some cider, and bring your appetite for the Mac and Cheez truck!  Click here for more info.

What:  Music Mondays
When:  Mondays!
Explanation:  Local music artists perform - Check out their social media pages to see upcoming weekly artists.

Mullers Cider House
1344 University Ave.
Rochester, NY 14607

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Vive Bistro & Bakery

For the love of food.  This statement may seem so simple, but it is the surrounding force behind Vive Bistro & Bakery  The central focus is on seasonal ingredients to showcase flavor profiles and bring an experience to customers. With summer time coming, we can look forward to the new seasonal menu and outdoor seating!

Summertime and the livin's easy.
Ok, I got a little carried away thinking about sipping a fresh cocktail and eating the new menu items...

"I wanted to combine my love of food with my desire to change the way that people look at their food and where it comes from..." says owner, Pamela Hathaway.  Vive Bistro & Bakery has created quite the impression in the Rochester community, with raving reviews from local food lovers, the Rochester City Newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle, and The Vegan Roadie (click any of the links to read or watch other publications).  With their opening a little over a year ago, the customer base has dramatically grown.  Vive Bistro & Bakery is a vegan restaurant that focuses on artisanal french cuisine. You definitely don't have to be vegan to eat here... just bring your appetite and prepare yourself for an experience you will not forget.

The new seasonal menu was just released in the beginning of June.  I was lucky enough to participate in the launching of the new menu with the opportunity to taste and take pictures, along with Marie from Edible Photographs and Katrina and Colin from Dead Radio Star Productions/VBBPromotions.  Check out their amazing work by clicking the links!

Executive Chef Mark DeMara is the man behind the incredibly delicious food at Vive Bistro & Bakery.  He is pictured above with Katrina and Colin preparing a video promotion for Vive.  Both Pamela and Mark take into consideration the local and fresh produce available when planning their menu changes.  Often many people may have misconceptions about vegan food viewing it as flavorless or as "rabbit food," however "dishes based on whole foods offer endless flavor combinations" states Pamela.  Chef Mark is not only a master of flavor profiles and combinations, but the dishes he creates are equally beautifully crafted, leaving you feeling like you are in the middle of a Food & Wine photo shoot.  Presentation is clearly an integral part in the final product of each dish. "...I like pushing the limits of gastronomy and flavor profiles" states Mark. "I've always been extremely artistic and put my emotions on the plate....Vive is a sensory experience."

Picture above is the Forager Salad.  Mushrooms, both cold and warm, pickled ramps (which I am loving right now!), blood orange, English peas, swiss chard, and crispy salsify (earthy tasting root, also known as the "vegetable oyster") create this beautiful looking dish.

One of the customer favorite dishes  (and mine) at Vive is the Poutine.  Poutine has become a hot commodity in Rochester and many are familiar with the fresh cut fries, and the rich gravy with cheese curds topping the dish.  If you have not yet tried the poutine at Vive Bistro & Bakery, you have not fully experienced poutine at its best.  Chef Mark created this dish when he was living in Florida.  He was asked to bring a dish to a holiday event at a local couple's house.  The couple was vegan and with this in mind, he created the rich and flavorful mushroom gravy.  The reaction of the couple quickly convinced Mark that he was onto something special.  Shortly after, he joined Pamela back in Rochester and brought the recipe with him.  The poutine at Vive is topped with creamy smoked mozzarella, which is soy based.  This is a must try; trust me.

Vive makes all of their cheeses in house, including brie, boursin, parmesan, the smoked mozzarella featured above in the poutine, blue, and ricotta.  You can find most of these cheeses on their Cheese Plate.  All of the bread is also made in-house.  The crispy crostini, lightly grilled is the perfect combination with the cheeses featured on the cheese plate.

Many may say "What's in a salad?"  Well if you are asking that question, you have not tried the Caeser Salad there yet.  The perfectly seasoned creamy dressing with the addition of the crunchy homemade croutons makes this dish the perfect starter.  This is the type of salad that you thought could only live in your dreams.  My friends, it has now become a reality.

The new menu is updated with tasty and beautifully presented dishes.  The Yuzu and Melon Salad is a spectacular dish that heightens all of your senses, from presentation to taste you will be amazed by this dish.  Melon is an ingredient we see quite a bit in the summer and it makes sense to feature it along with one of Chef Mark's favorite citrus ingredients, yuzu.  It is topped with peppery watercress, candied pine nuts, which add a crunch, and grilled pineapple.  Check out my feature of this dish in Rochester A-List Best Dish List by clicking here.  This ultimate dish is the epitome of summer.

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried the Croquettes de la Mer, as we typically relate seafood to "mer."  This dish was absolutely delicious and was made with hearts of palm.  It was painted with a side of sweet carrot puree and tangy mustard potatoes.  The delicious dish was perfectly balanced and I couldn't help but go in for bite after bite.

The menu also includes the Mushroom Florentine Socca Pissa.  A Socca Pissa is a gluten-free twist on a traditional pizza made on a crispy chickpea flatbread.  The socca on the menu is topped with roasted cremini mushrooms, balsamic red onions, wilted spinach and a parmesan spread.   This is a great sharing dish! 

Looking for a sandwich?  Then look no further as this hearty Summer Sandwich will leave you feeling fulfilled.  Grilled zucchini, red pepper spread, giant fried onions, and peppery arugula are sandwiched in between 2 homemade slices of bread.

For those looking for a hearty dish that feeds your cravings of homemade "pasta", try the Potato gnocchi.  Mushrooms infuse the dish with a warm, earthy flavor, English peas are sprinkled throughout adding a pop of color, and it is lightly coated in a burgundy sauce.

Bottom line, whether you are looking for a light summery dish to share with new friends, a fresh cocktail to sip with a pal while people watching on the outdoor seating area, or a hearty dish to split and catch up with old friends, Vive Bistro is your go-to.  Vive has a  refreshing take on vegan fare and the creative possibilities crafted by Chef Mark leads you with an unforgettable sensory experience.

Side Note:  Stop by Abundance Co-op and Red Bird Market (Fairport) to pick up grab-and-go items to "feed your soul" throughout the week.

Vive Bistro & Bakery
130 East Ave.
Rochester, NY 14604

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sweet Sammie Jane's

If you have read my posts before, you will know that I LOVE macarons.  I am always excited when I try macarons at new locations.  The flavors are endless allowing for a baker's creativity to run wild.   I also love that they are bite-sized: just 2 or 3 bites and that is all that it takes!  Did I mention before that I just love mini desserts in general?  I like to have options...there is nothing wrong with options.  Can't a girl eat some sweets around here?
Sweet Sammie Jane's is a small boutique bakery offering just what I need - a variety of desserts, many in bite-size nuggets of deliciousness.  Co-owners, Angela and Kathy Marmo (Angela's mother-in-law) joined forces to bring both the pastry and the catering world together.  The bakeshop is named for Angela's 6 year old daughter Sammie (Samantha Jane) and Kathy's mother-in-law Jane.

Growing up, Angela loved to create desserts for her family.  She was always experimenting and baking up a storm in her family's kitchen.  Angela went to the French Pastry School in Chicago, then came back to Rochester.  Meanwhile, Kathy had already started her own catering business and upon coming back to Rochester, Angela joined in using her expertise in creating pastries.  Through encouragement and collaboration, the love of Sweet Sammie Jane's was crafted with the joining of the two.  Sweet Sammie Jane's originally opened a location in Chili.  It was there that macarons seem to become "their thing."  Soon after, the Democrat & Chronicle featured an article on the boutique bakeshop and people began flocking in.  The word was out:  Sweet Sammie Jane's is a local hot spot serving up fresh and delicious desserts.
Angela and Kathy knew that they needed to relocate and the perfect location was available...right on Park Avenue.  The shop fit into the eclectic vibe of the neighborhood with lots of foot traffic and an opportunity for more people to discover the delectable desserts.  "They get us and we can get funky and do fun flavors" says Angela reflecting on her neighborhood location of 3 years.  And funky they get!  Last year for the Lilac Festival, Angela created a flight of macarons featuring local hot spots around Rochester.  Macaron flavors included a macaron featuring BBQ sauce and bacon from Marty's Meats, wine from Casa Larga and Scotch Ale from Genesee Brewery.  Yes Please!  
While these flavors are not a day to day occurrence, Sweet Sammie Jane's continues to demonstrate their creativity.  Sammie, Angela's daughter, helps in coming up with flavors that are enticing.   Angela also welcomes ideas from customers, so if you have a flavor profile in mind, feel free to get your creativity on and share your idea! The most popular flavor macarons are Salted Caramel and Birthday Cake.  Seasonal flavors are available as well, including fun flavors like mimosa in the summer and pumpkin and roasted pineapple in the fall.  Let's also talk about the freshness of the macarons. This is so important as macarons can dry quite quickly.  Not only is the macaron said to be  one of THE hardest baked good to create due to its sensitivity (over-stirring by 3 seconds, under-stirring by 5 strokes and over or under baking by a matter of seconds can all ruin the beautiful desserts) but the temperature in which it is stored can also wreak havoc on its consistency.  Sweet Sammie Jane's bakes their macarons fresh daily.  The macarons you see on the display shelves are display macarons only as the exposure to air and the change in air temperature can actually change the consistency and freshness of the macaron.  Bottom Line:  Your macaron is made fresh daily and will be the perfect consistency for enjoying.
While macarons are definitely a favorite among the crowd (and myself), you must also try the enticing cookies, brownies, cupcakes, tarts, and more!  Angela loves creating and she has an amazing creative team.  Pastry assistants Kristen Murty and Sam Luce join forces to bring the desserts that lure you in when you look into Sweet Sammie Jane's displays.  Did you take a look at the caramel mini tart up front and center in the above picture?  Take a good, loooong look...because I may buy all of them and eat them myself!  They also have a birthday cake cookie, which my friends and I snagged as we were ending our course-by-course food tour (Blog Post to come soon.  In the mean time, check out this post to see my last course-by-course food tour by clicking here).  The cookie tasted just like birthday cake, but with a light and fluffy cookie texture.  The sprinkles remind me of Funfetti cake- you remember as a child baking Funfetti cupcakes don't you?
Angela also works with her Cake Decorator Megan Brown to create orders for birthdays, weddings, graduations, and more.  A Croquembouche was created for an event not too long ago, beautifully strung with crystalized sugary caramel.  Check out their Instagram page for more information on their beautiful and creative designs!

Sweet Sammie Jane's newest venture is their food truck that you have probably seen at the Lilac Festival this year, the Food Truck Rodeo at the Rochester Public Market, or at other food truck events.  Their desserts can now travel to a location of choice, whether its one of the above mentioned events or your own event.  They offer many of the treats that are in their bakeshop.  Included in the offering is Creme Brûlée in both chocolate and vanilla flavors!  You can also see their food truck this summer at Casa Larga for their patio parties.  Look out for her husband Chris as well with his soon to come food truck venture:  Holy Roasters.  The concept includes a menu with meat that will be freshly carved before your eyes and onto your plate or sandwich.  They will also include some healthy ventures to entice the masses.
Sweet Sammie Jane's needs to be on your list of go-to places in Rochester for some of the best desserts that you will try.  That's the icing on the cake. Get it?  I have really been wanting to say that this whole time!  Thanks for standing by my nerdy humor.  You know you liked it though...

If you are looking for a way to support local aside from purchasing the yummy delicious treats, think about purchasing a t-shirt or onesie for your little macaron at home, who will one day grow up and want to sample perfection - just send them to Sweet Sammie Jane's.  In the mean time, head over to Park Ave and fill up.  No one will tell if you go home with a box of baked goods and a few are missing!  

Sweet Sammie Jane's
701 Park Ave.
Rochester, NY 14607

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rochester Food Adventure down the Wedge and beyond

This post is going to be a bit different today.  My friend Valissa, who is also an amazing esthetician at AE SPA (try the Signature facial for a relaxing and cleansing experience!) and I wanted to explore some Rochester hot spots that were on our radar for tasty meals and treats.  We decided the best way to do this, was to create our own Sip and Savour food tour!  When creating our course by course tour, we wanted to incorporate different types of cuisines and taste one course (appetizer, main course, palate cleanser, and dessert) at each location.  On our list for this tour (yes, this indeed means that we will be doing this again!  Send me an email or comment if you would like to join in on a future "tour"), we included The Red Fern for our appetizer, McCann's Local Meats for our main course, Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream for our palette cleanser, and Upper Crust Cakery/Glenn Edith Coffee Roasters as our dessert.

The idea of creating the course-by-course food tour, was not only to have a girls day with amazing dishes to munch on, but also to get to know each of the chefs/owners better, right in their own element of cuisine!  We had already decided that we would begin with appetizers at The Red Fern.  However, when we looked at The Red Fern's special posted on Instagram for the day, we not only knew that this would be our choice, but that we also made the right choice!  The special of the week was a Sun-dried tomato brown rice risotto with basil and toasted pine nuts (yum!).  It was accompanied by a greens and roasted tomato salad that was perfectly dressed with a crisp and light balsamic.  It added the perfect compliment of flavor to the heartier risotto.

We also were intrigued by the quesadillas.  We had both never tried vegan sausage or vegan cheese and decided that this was the dish that would be our first experience.  Boy were we right on in choosing the quesadilla!  Its crispy shell was perfectly charred and added a great crunch.  We honestly could not tell the difference between a vegan and non vegan Italian sausage!  It was seasoned perfectly and flavorful.  The vegan cheese was creamy and added that traditional melty gooeyness that we all look for in a perfect quesadilla.  (On a side note, The Red Fern holds vegan cheese making classes that take place about once a month at the Rocbrainery -another favorite spot of mine!)  The classes sell out very quickly, but you can learn more about vegan cheese making from the Andrea Parros, owner herself!) After our meal, Andrea, the owner of The Red Fern, came over to our table and we chatted for a bit as we told her about the amazing start to our food tour!  The food at The Red Fern is flavorful and enticing.  There is a clear creativity that is sourced throughout the menu.

After The Red Fern, we headed over to McCann's Local Meats, which is quickly becoming a favorite spot of many.  Their open floorpan offers a complete perspective of the expertise at McCann's Local Meats.  McCann's prides itself on local, ethical, and sustainable meats, that never contains growth hormones or preventative antibiotics.  With the increase in awareness of where our food comes from, McCann's celebrates the authenticity and responsibility that we as consumers look for.  McCann's is frequently packed with people and we began immediately by browsing the menu, so that we were prepared when it came our turn to order!  We easily settled on the banh mi special with a side of japchae, which is a Korean dish with translucent sweet potato noodles and sautéed vegetables.  McCann's japchae included tender pieces of beef.  I have had banh mi a few times, which has included a fattier pork belly, which I did not prefer.  However, we were very happy to try McCann's Vietnamese sandwich which included perfectly roasted pork, with chicken and pork pate, pickled daikon, shredded carrots, a spicy mayo, and crunchy jalapeños to top the sandwich and add a bit more heat (which I love... bring on some spice!)  The roasted pork was tender and we absolutely loved the pickled daikon and shredded carrots.  I could actually eat a bowl full of the toppings (hint hint): pickled daikon, shredded carrots, and jalapeños would be a perfect side dish or accompaniment to any sandwich!  I was pleasantly happy with our choice!  I am also excited that I found a banh mi sandwich that I could really enjoy as I have been intrigued by this Vietnamese sandwich and have been seeking to find one that I could indulge in!  McCann's - you have done it!  For more information about McCann's click here to see my previous February blog post!  Also click here to see my post on my love of the bulgogi sandwich at McCann's - one of the best sandwiches that I have ever had!

With our tummies feeling warm and fuzzy, but still ready to take on the next course, what better way to celebrate then with a "palette cleanser"?  Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream is one of our I needed a re-fill on my favorite non dairy chocolate sorbet (yes, score for me!).  Hedonist Artisan Chocolate, located right next door, was first created in 2007.  In 2013, Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream was created, making conscious decisions to source out local ingredients around Rochester, including Coffee Connection (Located right across the street!  The Coffee Connections sells organic and provides employment for women who are recovering from addiction.), Lively Run Goat Dairy, and Hurd Orchards.  Their ice cream is made without artificial coloring or flavors, keeping the creamy homemade taste, with an eclectic palette of flavors.  Hint Hint my friends: If you have any suggestions of future ice cream flavors and concoctions, they are always open to suggestions!  Get your creativity on and suggest away to see the flavors that you are looking for!  Also, stay on the lookout for future events.  Hedonist Artisan Chocolates & Ice Cream puts on community events within the South Wedge.  Keep in touch by going to their website, Instagram page (@hedonistchocolates), Facebook, or Twitter feed (@hedonistaic; @hedonistchoco).

Valissa ordered the vanilla ice cream and I was ready to order the non-dairy chocolate sorbet (yes, even though I was taking a pint home!), but the strawberry ice cream caught my eye.  Now, I love that you can sample the many flavors before purchasing, so of course I sampled the strawberry.  Well, it was love at first... taste...need I say more?  We took our time savoring the flavors of our ice cream, scheming over where our next "food tour" will be!  Then, with a pint of non-dairy chocolate sorbet in a freezer bag and 2 empty ice cream bowls, we were ready to head off to our last stop!

Upper Crust Cakery/Glenn Edith Coffee Roasters has been getting a lot of recognition lately (and rightly so!) for both their coffee and their scrumptious desserts. Upper Crusty Cakery, owned by Julie McOrmond since its creation in 2006, was previously located in Penfield.   John Ebel, long-time friend of Julie and owner of Pour Coffee Parlor and Glen Edith Coffee Roastery (On Somerton) agreed to welcome a glorious business partnership between the two.  When these two businesses joined forces, it created a wave of support from many in Rochester.  Julie's passion for quality desserts and John's passion for premium coffee have led to an inviting and addicting quality, which leads to our final course.  Alas, coming to the end of our food tour, we were finishing up with a dessert.  With macarons in mind, we quickly chose several flavors, including pistachio, raspberry, and hazelnut.  We took our time, chatting over the Rochester City Newspaper, and continuing to plan our next food tour event!  I also wanted to take a cannoli home (as my husband loves cannolis), but sadly there were none left.  Mission next time we visit:  take home cannolis!  I was able to meet Ryan, the coffee manager of Glenn Edith!  His inviting personality, is quick to pick up on, as he roamed from table to table, talking with visiting customers.  He clearly has a passion for his craft.  For coffee lovers and dessert/pastry lovers alike, Upper Crust Cakery/Glenn Edith Coffee Roasters is a must stop visit!

At the end of our course-by-course tasting tour, we jumped back into our car, ready to be warmed by the heat on the chilly day, happy as can be, feeling slightly full, but satisfied.  We are excited for our next "food tour" in Rochester, which will be coming up within the next week!  Look for a blog post coming out shortly after this to see where we tasted and what our theme was!

*Note: All underlined and bolded restaurants/businesses are connected to a link.  Just click on the link and it will bring you to each website!

The Red Fern                         McCann's Local Meats                          
283 Oxford Street                  739 Clinton Ave S.               

Hedonist Ice Cream               Upper Crust Cakery/Glenn Edith Coffee
674 South Ave                         44 Elton St. Unit B

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Atlas Eats

In our city of Rochester, we continue to have a growing number of restaurants with a focus on fresh food with high quality ingredients.  Atlas Eats, located in Irondequoit, is one of those restaurants.  Atlas Eats has become a must-visit spot, whether you are craving breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Atlas Eats is owned by Gerry and Diane Brinkman, who have a long history in the restaurant and culinary field.  Gerry and Diane previously owned the Rochester Club restaurant for close to 10 years, then operated a small hotel and restaurant in the Thousand Islands, called The Wellesley Hotel for 9 more years.  This location was open for only 3 months in the summertime, but filled up quickly with diners searching for great meals and moments to share.  Gerry and Diane knew that they wanted a change and had their eye on a location right up the street from where they were living.  The space, an "old fashioned store-front with big windows" that is now Atlas Eats, became available and the concept of Atlas Eats officially began.

Family is a large part of Atlas Eats and it has always come first.  Anna Brinkman, daughter and Chef de Cuisine for Atlas Eats began helping in the kitchen at 6 years old.  She remembers standing on top of a milk crate to reach the countertops to chop zucchini and squash for nightly dishes.  As a teen, she worked at the Wellesley Hotel and this is where she realized her true passion of culinary arts.  Her father, Gerry, taught Anna and her friends the art of cooking with high quality ingredients and working in fine dining.  Gerry has taught many others at MCC as a culinary arts teacher working with international cuisine.  Celeste Brinkman, Anna's Italian grandmother, was also an inspiration.  She worked in the Wellesley Hotel through the age of 91! Anna remembers watching her grandmother rolling cavatelli pasta, snipping beans, and peeling shrimp.  "She was amazing!" Anna reflects.

When creating the concept for Atlas Eats, Gerry and Diane knew that they wanted to incorporate and feature local produce and products available throughout the entire year.  Ben and Emma (Gerry and Diane's daughter) own Pachamama Farm in Farmington and provide much of the organic produce during the growing season.  Pachamama Farm also connects with other local businesses, such as Butapub, Good Luck, and Lento.  Dishes are created around beautiful and fresh ingredients that are provided locally.  For more information about Pachamama Farms and joining their CSA to have a share of fresh farm produce and ingredients, click here.

As you walk into Atlas Eats, you walk right by the bakeshop.  You will see Brenda Robak, baker, greeting you with a smile.  She has worked with Gerry and Diane since the 80s at the Rochester Club.  She began as a busser, while attending the Eastman School of Music and has not looked back since!  In the bakeshop, you will find a variety of classic baked goods that are popular around the world, which is incorporated into the concept of Atlas Eats.  Examples include chocolate financiers and variety of macaron flavors, which are desserts from France, as well as lamingtons, an Australian dessert (spongecake, dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut), and linzer tortes, which are a German dessert.  Bread is also a passion at Atlas Eats kitchen, particularly of Gerry and Diane.  You will find a variety of breads offered.  A recommendation from a close friend is to stop by Atlas Eats to grab some of the loaves for you to eat at home.  However, if you are sending someone else, make sure that you are sending someone who you can trust to bring back the full loaf, as the bread can be quite addicting.  You will go in for one bite and realize that you have only half left when you arrive home.

Gerry and Diane are not only inspired by local ingredients when creating their menus, but also from their travel and exploration of new restaurants and food trends.  They also research recipes and create their own modern spin on amazing dishes.  One of my favorite meals was An Italian Roadtrip during the end of October through the beginning of November 2015.  Each course of the meal was amazing, but my favorite had to be the Maltagliati with Cauliflower and Leeks.  My goal is to try my best to re-create this meal at home...or at least get as close to it as I can.  The fresh pasta cooked perfectly, paired with the cauliflower and leeks in a light creamy sauce, was perfection!

On the Italian Roadtrip, we also tasted the Risotto crostini with Raddichio, Guanciale and Mascarpone.  The second course was a Ribollita, which was so delicious, we wanted to lick our bowls clean!  Before the next dish was served (the Maltagliati), I had a chance to get into the kitchen and watch Gerry and Anna prepare this dish!  While the kitchen was small, they swiftly moved about like ballet dancers creating an amazing performance.  The aromas wafted in the air and I found myself even more excited for the next course to come.
Risotto Crostini

Anna Brinkman serving up Maltagliati

After the Maltagliati, came the Swordfish chop with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.  You might be thinking at this moment, there was no way we could eat anymore.  However, we were then presented with Chestnut and Chocolate Pudding with Zaleti, a traditional Italian Cookie.  Eat we did!  The dessert was simply delicious and myself, as well as my husband could not say enough about this dessert.  Gerry later said that he hand-picked the chestnuts for this amazing dish.

Swordfish Chop with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

After visiting Atlas Eats for the first time, you will find yourself frequently checking their bi-weekly menu changes for dinners.  "The creativity behind everything about Atlas Eats is what I enjoy most" says Anna Brinkman.  Anna explains that while it can be hard work to come up with the changing menu, it brings excitement and enjoyment to Gerry, Diane, Anna, and the staff.  Anna explained that our city of Rochester has contributed to the quick growth of Atlas Eats.  Atlas Eats has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and blogs multiple times.   If you visit the news tab of Atlas Eats on their website, you will see this section dedicated to some of the highlights of Atlas Eats through media in Rochester.  Atlas Eats does not put out advertisements, but has grown immensely due to word of mouth- people sharing the great food and experiences that they have every time they eat at Atlas Eats.

Atlas Eats continues to have tours around the world every weekend, on Fridays and Saturdays.  Their seating is at 6 pm or 8:30 pm.  Reservations are highly recommended as they book up fast!  Gerry, Diane, Anna, Brenda, and the rest of the staff get to know their customers, as many come in for the bi-weekly menu changes.  Atlas Eats is also open Thursday through Sunday from 9-3 for breakfast and lunch, except Sundays, which is breakfast all day until 3.

Myself and Gerry Brinkman after dinner!
What is next you may ask?  I am dying to try the kimchi pancakes!  I also need another world tour.  Check out their menus regularly to have your taste at the next location they will be visiting.  Take your next food adventure tour at Atlas Eats!

Atlas Eats
2185 N. Clinton Ave.
For Reservations:  585-544-1300