Paleo Pumkpin Pie Spice Donuts

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Loves!

Whether you’re single, attached or don’t like to talk about it, I hope you have a lovely Valentine’s day filled with comfortable pajamas, warm blankets and delicious eats! oh, and lovey feelings!

This year, BR and I are opting for a night in on Valentine’s Day. We have reservations for the sofa and plan on sharing a cozy blanket while watching whatever is on our Netflix queue.

But before I was attached, I used to love Valentine’s Day. My best valentine’s day was when i was dumped a few days prior and I decided to throw a “love stinks” party at my apartment with all my single friends. We had tons of wine, tons of eats and had a blast.

One thing that I have kept going strong, is making a dessert for the equally loved and hated holiday. Some occasions, i ate the whole damn thing by myself (because love stunk) and other times, i shared the goodies (because sharing the love gives me the warm and fuzzies)

I got the warm and fuzzies for sure when I discovered a paleo donut recipe from  the Against All Grain blog. IMG_1309 It had surely been some time since I enjoyed a baked food of the dessert variety since I started paleo and i was itching for donut. This recipe delivered. And I shared them with some non-paleo, sugar loving coworkers who loved these babies.

So, this Valentines Day, skip the heart shaped chain donuts mass produced and chemically processed in favor of these super simple, super delicious, gluten free donuts. Be sure to visit Against all grain to get the complete recipe here.

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I had intended on frosting these babies but after sneaking a taste when they were done, they were perfect just as they were. So I left them as they were. IMG_1313

I shared a few of these donuts with some co-workers, though i wanted them all for myself, and enjoyed them with my morning coffee!

Make a batch for you and your valentine, whether your valentine is yourself, your dog or your boo, make them.  These babies are awesome.

 

Revisited: Chuko

 

My good friend Marqus was visiting NYC recently and as per his usual, he sent me a text telling me he wanted good New York City Ramen. As a frequent traveler, he often finds himself in cities without any decent chinese food, let alone good ramen… and more times than not, Im not around to answer his desperate calls for ramen.

Until recently.

When he pleaded for a Ramen night, I obliged. And couldnt think of a better place than the spot my friend Julia took me to last year. Chuko.

The hard part: I was  not going to cheat on my Paleo Regiment.

Most will agree, the best part about Ramen is slurping up those noodles en mas. Forget about the broth that likely simmered all day or the hard boiled egg with the creamy center – its all about the noodles. I challenged myself to enjoy my ramen sans noodles and really enjoy the broth that I almost always never got to really enjoy because my belly would be filled with noodles.

So, Marqus, my friend Danielle and I went to Chuko at 7pm on a Friday night and waited for 2 hrs.

TWO HOURS.

for Ramen. IMAG1970

When we were finally seated, I greedily ordered an appetizer of chicken wings. Seeing my other guests were hungry, i split the wings with them. It was best since the wings were breaded- but oh my were they tasty.

The ramen of the night was a bone broth ramen with pork belly. The other ramen offering was a kimchi soup. Both were calling my name but in the end, i wanted to really enjoy a bowl of broth and chose the bone broth. Marqus followed suit. IMAG1971

Opting to slurp a bowl of noodle-less ramen was pretty easy for me. Asking them to leave the noodles out gave me zero temptation to cheat… despite everyone telling me i was crazy for leaving out the best part, i really enjoyed all the noodle-like veggies that I would have otherwise ignored.

I asked for extra pork belly and it was extremely satisfying. The broth was rich in flavors and prepared flawlessly. The delicious sticky coating on my lips after every slurp confirmed they used those meaty pork bones and let that baby simmer for hours on end.

For the first time ever, i cleaned my plate and I didnt feel sick with guilt or that “too full” discomfort.

It was heaven. IMAG1974

Speaking of heaven, it was Danielle’s first time having ramen…or going to a ramen establishment. Not wanting to order “soup” for dinner, she ordered Chuko’s play on pasta carbonara. Ramen noodles with a creamy sauce, crispy pancetta and roasted sea weed. She loved it. And when she herself cleaned the bowl of noodles, her and Marqus decided to order another bowl and split it.

It was so worth the wait!

We left itching for dessert but couldn’t find any establishments open passed 11pm…. so we had tequila shots at a nearby bar.

If you are ever in the Fort Green area for eats, hit up Chuko- but there is likely going to be a wait. Consider yourself warned.

 

Paleo Crockpot Chicken and Veggies

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Love Love LOVE my Crock Pot!

 

I love a freshly cooked meal but I cannot stress enough the relief I feel when I come home after a long day and dinner is already done. Nearly every crock pot recipe I post, I praise my slow cooker for saving the day. Don’t get sick of it- i will never stop loving it. IMG_1230

One thing I used to LOVE to make was “rotisserie” chicken in the slow cooker.  I’d let a regular chicken, rubbed with everything good, slow cook in the vessel for nearly a day. The chicken would FALL off the bone and even in some parts get a roasted looking skin- but- the parts of the chicken not all golden brown were swimming in their own juices making for one soupy chicken. It wasnt terrible. It just wasnt that roasted effect that I wanted. IMG_1231

Normally, the solution to keep the chicken from swimming in juices would have been to stick foil wrapped potatoes in the bottom and them problem solved… but not wanting any potatoes I decided to just use balls of foil to prop the chicken up. And for bulk i added some celery and carrots.

The results were a complete dinner in one crock pot. The only job for the night was cleanup. IMG_1232

Ingredients: (serves 4)

4 drumsticks (skinless)

4 thighs (skinless, bone in)

2 Tbsp of your favorite seasoning (i use a mixture of onion powder, garlic powder, italian seasoning and salt)

4 medium sized balls of foil

1 cup baby carrots

2 stalks of celery, sliced

Directions:

Using a large plate or bowl, arrange chicken in a single layer and generously apply your favorite chicken spices on each side of the chicken. set aside.

place the carrots and celery in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Place balls of foil on top.

arrange the chicken legs and thighs on top of the foil balls.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

IMG_1233The juiciest chicken ever.

And tons of tender carrots and celery that slowly cooked in chicken drippings.

Complete crock pot dinner? Check!

 

Homemade Vegetarian Sushi

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At some point in my early adulthood, I discovered sushi. My office bestie and I, back when we lived with our parents, literally went out for sushi every day. So much so that when we were seated at the restaurant, the owner would greet us and say “Hey Jess! Hey Mo! the usual??” and more times than not we would order the same exact thing.

I eventually took a sushi making class with Jess and while i still enjoy going out for sushi, making it at home is still one of my favorite things to do on a Friday night or any night i just want to create something.  IMG_0952

When I make sushi at home, i stick to the short cuts. Cucumber. Avocado. Canned tuna with sriacha and mayo(if needed). I usually have all the ingredients on hand and finding super fresh fish at the drop of a hat is not relaxing to me.

So with 5 sheets of nori, 2 cups of seasoned rice, 1/2 seedless cucumber and 2 avocados i put on some Pandora (green day channel) and got busy. IMG_0959

The annoying part is definitely the prep but the end result is worth it. IMG_0960It was the first time I made sushi for BR.

He didn’t seem to mind the absence of animal protein.

MOAR SUSHI!!!!

 

Paleo Sweet Plantain Bun

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I LOVE instagram! I have made mention in previous posts how Instagram inspired a lot of my Paleo experiments. While following the hashtag “Paleo”, I came upon a ton of great recipes and meal ideas.

I had an instant love for Stupid Easy Paleo’s instagram who turns out to also have a blog AND a cookbook. Her recipes are nothing short of amazing and she features a lot of dishes turned paleo- and I have to say, her posts always make me hungry and always make me laugh.

Somewhere between 80 and 90 days of straight Paleo eating, I was jonesing for a SANDWICH. Like, two slices of bread, fluffy texture and all- sinking my teeth into them with something heavenly in between. It was getting ridiculous. And lo and behold, I happened upon Sweet Plantain Buns.

Bread made of sweet plantains!?!?!

Hold me!

Her instructions could not have been easier!

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1 large ripe plantain

1 egg

3 Tbsp coconut flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

I combined all the ingredients in my bullet (that I dropped and shattered shortly after using it that very morning ::cries::). Then placed the “dough”, which is more like a batter, in a large plastic baggie with a corner snipped to make a pastry bag. Then I piped circular “pancakes” of the batter into a hot and lightly buttered skillet. i cooked for a couple of minutes on each side. IMAG2025I served the buns with some bacon and eggs. I might need a new vessel to combine the ingredients because the buns were a little crumbly and not as “sturdy” as I had hoped.

HOWEVER. it  was definitely tasty. Just need to work on the method of preparation since my bullet is toast.

MMM. Toast.

 

Lamb Cooking Demo and Wine tasting at Fairway Cafe!!

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On Wednesday night, despite a freshly fallen snow and single digit temperatures, I found myself on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at Fairway’s flagship New York location observing the talented Chef Vincent Olivieri prepare an amazing lamb dinner. This benefit-type style of a dinner donated all of its proceeds to the New York Common Pantry, which is New York City’s largest community-based food pantry; designed to meet the needs of families by providing culturally-appropriate and nutritiously-balanced food. Aside from a delicious dinner, cooking lesson and the charitable donation, we were also given 7 generous pours of some of the tastiest Australian wine I have had in a long time!033-1024x768Thanks to all the snow, commuting from Upper East Side to Upper West Side via bus was all kinds of awful- not to mention my penchant for motion sickness. Jumping off the bus at my destination and feeling the frigid air on my face did wonders for my queasiness and once I checked into the event and received a glass of sparking white wine, the rest of the night was a huge triumph.    20140122_194215

I walked in midway through Chef Olivieri’s tutorial on cooking rack of lamb. The aromas were out of sight. I watched hungrily as my mouth watered and waited with great anticipation. The presentation not only touched on the proper cooking techniques when preparing lamb, but also made note of the importance of using quality ingredients- AHEM- Fairway’s top quality products. After having tasted all the amazing elements of a well-made dinner, I can say with full conviction that the quality of fairways olive oil and mustard are worth a trip to the market some time in my near future.

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Our first course was a mustard crusted rack of lamb with fig chutney; paired with Paringa Sparkling Shiraz.

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My good friend Phil, as well as BR were in attendance. Not sure if it was the hunger pangs or the sheer deliciousness of the food but NOT ONE PEEP was said while we ate our rack of lamb with fig chutney.

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I had a hot date for the evening. :-) BR and I aren’t big drinkers so thank goodness for all the protein to soak up the booze. That smile is most likely, a boozy smile :-)

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Classic Caesar salad paired with two whites; Yalumba Y Series Viogner and Punt Road Chardonnay.

The salad course was great. I have a love hate relationship with already dressed salad and this Caesar was perfectly dressed in a creamy dressing that didn’t saturate the lettuce and didn’t overpower each bite. And I normally forgo croutons but these were too good to pass up.

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Did I mention the pours were generous???

As I imbibed freely, I made a mental note that a cab ride home would be a MUST.

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After a brief run down of the reds we were drinking, the strong aroma of lamb wafted into the dining area as serves carrying armfuls of entrees walked through the room. Whole leg of lamb with Parsnip and Turnip mash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts cooked with slab bacon and roasted chestnuts. Paired with Stone Dweller Pinot Noir and Yalumba “The scribbler” Cabernet shiraz.

The leg of lamb was incredibly tender. Phil said its texture reminded him of prime rib-I would have to agree. The lamb was not overly gamely but was full of flavor and simply dressed with an herb marinade. The turnip and parsnip smash was also really good and after a sprinkling of sea salt was even better. The thing I still can’t get out of my mind were those brussels sprouts. The thick slab of pork belly in the brussels sprouts as well as the plump and chewy chestnuts gave such a pleasant texture to the side that I am determined to recreate it at home!

20140122_213313Just when I thought dinner was complete, these beautiful desserts were placed in front of us. Warm Apple tart with Vanilla ice cream paired with Yalumba “Museum” muscat NV. I had reached my full level of tipsiness and could not finish the dessert wine paired with this dessert. The wine was thick and syrupy and had a delightful maple aroma to it. But with the little room left in my belly, it was either the booze of the buttery, flaky warm apple tart…

The tart wins. And boy was it delicious. Dare I say it, but I finished BR’s tart when he couldn’t.

What an amazing event! Prior to this event, I had never visited a Fairway before, let alone the fairway cafe. Its close enough to the train station for me to make another  trip to the upper west side.

Big thanks to Fairway for hosting this great event and providing all the delicious foods along with the Australian Wine ambassadors for all the generous pours. Another big thank you to Phil for letting me steal borrow some of his photos. (Be sure to check out his recap here)

Want recipes to any of the dishes featured above? Leave a comment below with the recipe you want and i will add it in the comments.

[UPDATE]

Here are the recipes that were requested:

Parsnip Turnip Mash (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

3 large turnips, peeled and chopped

6 large parsnips, peeled and chopped

3 yellow carrots, peeled and chopped

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp honey

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp white pepper

Directions:

Place the turnips, parsnips, and carrots in a large sauce pot completely submerged in water. Season water with pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil. Allow vegetables to boil for 10 minutes or until fork tender. Strain vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl. Add butter to vegetables while they are hot, and then add honey, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until you reach a smooth consistency.

Whole Roasted Leg of Lamb (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

5-6 sprigs of fresh oregano

5-6 sprigs of fresh chives

1 Tbsp minced garlic

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp grainy mustard

4-5 lb boneless leg of lamb

1 Tbsp sea salt

1 tsp coarse black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450*. Chop all the herbs. Mix herbs with olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard to make herb marinade. Set marinade aside. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Use ½ of the herb marinade and rube evenly over the lamb. Allow the lamb to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Remove all the visible herbs from the lamb to prevent burning and place in roasting pan. Roast lamb for 30 minutes at 450*. Decrease oven temperature to 350 and continue to cook for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour for a medium rare center. Remove lamb from the oven and while still hot, pour on the remaining herb marinade. Let lamb rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

½ lb thick sliced bacon

1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots

6 oz roasted chestnuts

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*. Cook bacon on a cookie sheet until crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and reserve fat drippings. Chop bacon into ¼ inch pieces and set aside. Raise oven temperature to 400*. Clean Brussels sprouts by cutting off the stem and outer leaves. Do not discard outer leaves. Set aside and toss with half of the olive oil. Place leaves on a sheet tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes until they are brown and crispy. Set the leaves aside. Once Brussels are cleaned, slice them thinly. Slice the shallots thinly as well. Combine shallots, Brussels sprouts, bacon drippings, chestnuts and remaining olive oil with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet tray and spread out evenly. Roast at 400* for 15 minutes until nicely browned. Once removed from oven, toss together with the crispy bacon pieces. Garnish each portion with the crispy leaves.

Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Easy Fig Chutney

Ingredients:

1 rack of lamb, trimmed (about 1.5 lb)

Sea Salt and Black Pepper

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp grainy mustard

2 tsp minced garlic

¼ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp grated parmesan

Directions:

Season rack of lamb with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add olive oil. When oil is smoking add rack of lamb and brown well on each side; about 3 minutes per side.  Set aside and let cool. Preheat oven to 450*. Mix together mustard and garlic. In a separate container mix together the panko and parmesan cheese. Spread mustard mixture onto the lamb making sure to coat evenly on all sides. Pat breadcrumb mixture tight on all sides of the lamb. Place rack of lamb on baking sheet and roast for 12-15 minutes; or until desire doneness. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into chops. Serve with fig chutney.

Easy Fig Chutney

Ingredients:

1 lb Fresh figs, diced

3 Tbsp onion marmalade

4 Tbsp fig balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp fig preserves

(fairway carries ALL of these items)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Calling NYC Residents!…

Hi all,

Wanted to share of a fantastic opportunity for the New York City readers. Fairway Market, which is newest grocery store chain to put NYers in a Frenzy since we got our first Trader Joes, is hosting a Lamb Cooking Class at their 74th Street location.  So, if you’re interested, here are the details:

FOR THE LOVE OF LAMB

FAIRWAY MARKET’S CHEF VINNIE OLIVIERI TO CONDUCT MASTER CLASS ON COOKING LAMB ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2014 AT  FAIRWAY CAFÉ & STEAKHOUSE TO BENEFIT THE COMMON PANTRY 

Learn how to prepare a Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb and a Roasted Leg of Lamb  with Fairway Market’s Chef Vincent Olivieri, on Wednesday, January 22, 2014

in Fairway Café & Steakhouse (2127 Broadway at W. 74thStreet) at 7 pm.  Then sit back and enjoy a truly memorable meal, featuring a Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb with Fig Chutney for an appetizer, a Kale salad with butternut squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and cider vinaigrette, then a roasted Leg of Lamb with parsnip turnip pure and roasted Brussels sprouts, chestnut and bacon for dinner, and dessert. The meal will be complimented with award-winning Aussie extra-virgin olive oil and paired with Australian wines selected by Fairway Market wine guru Joshua Wesson. Tickets are $60 and all proceeds will go to the New York Common Pantry, which is New York City’s largest community-based food pantry and is designed to meet the needs of our families by providing culturally-appropriate and nutritiously-balanced food. Go towww.fairwaymarket.com/events to order tickets.

WHAT:             Fairway Market’s Chef Vincent Olivieri to Conduct Master Class on Cooking Lamb to Benefit New York Common Pantry

WHERE:           Fairway Café & Steakhouse -Second floor

2127 Broadway at W. 74th Street

WHEN:             Wednesday, January 22, 2014

7 PM – 9 PM

 

Hope to see you there!

My 30th Birthday at Tao Downtown

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Happy New Year! Hope you all had a fantastic Holiday!

I’m returning from my holiday break of doing absolutely nothing and loving it to post about my very special 30th Birthday dinner. What had given me so much anxiety and stress turned out to be one of the best birthdays I have ever had.

It started with me not really wanting to do anything. And I was okay with it until several people reached out to me asking me what I was planning. Then panic set in as several options fell through and I, inevitably, decided the original plan to do nothing was the way to go.

Fortunately for me, my amazing boyfriend and best friends weren’t going to let that happen. So they plotted and schemed behind my back and my only job was to show up. I had no idea where and up until days before, i had no idea when. 1467460_10152059734470421_1549426436_n

 

I wasn’t sure of the dress code but figured I should gussy up since its my 30th and all… My closest friend Danielle came over to ensure my hair and make up were flawless. I felt pampered. I felt so undeserving. 733851_10152059735155421_530933115_n

 

We hopped into a cab on the coldest night in November, wearing a dress in what felt like 10*. When they said our destination “Tao Downtown“, I sill had no idea what awaited us.

The interior was absolutely stunning. It was dark and romantic with its Asian motif.

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It was an intimate group of friends. And filled with lots of love. My first Friend from high school was in attendance with her husband. My bestest friend was there as were my two favorite coworkers and his wife.

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My BR was most definitely there and made much of the night possible.

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The menu was a bit intimidating. It felt better to share but with so many different palates, we ordered our own entrees and opted to share appetizers.

Brent ordered the chicken wing lolipops that were sticky and delicious. 1452005_10152059737535421_551187213_n

Danielle ordered the fried cauliflower, which didn’t smell as amazing as it tasted. It was a surprising win.

We also took delight in the lazy suzan built right into the table to make sharing amongst 8, easier. 1461469_10152059737585421_282530727_n

I ordered the fried buns. These were good but in all honesty, the fried buns I have had in Chinatown are way better (and cheaper).

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BR ordered the fried chicken chow mein which was really good. Most of the guests ordered the Pad Thai which came in giant bowls. Nearly everyone took food home- so much food. 1461766_10152059735390421_828338264_n

 

I ordered the black rice with seafood. I really enjoyed this after having spent so many weeks on Paleo, eating a bowl of rice for dinner was magnificent.

I was also drinking a Tao-tini, courtesy of our waiter. Its good to be the birthday girl. 1463069_10152059735515421_1987437748_n

 

And then after dinner, the most beautiful cake I have ever received came out. A surprise from BR and Danielle. A custom made cake – exclusively available at Tao Downtown. 1468699_10152059734195421_1575709343_n

 

I was really surprised! 1457645_10152059735330421_609130519_n

 

The chocolate cake with salted caramel filling and chocolate ganache was OUT OF THIS WORLD! Everyone raved about the cake! And for most of us, after a few bites had no more stomach room for the cake. Damn right we took leftover cake home!

It was perfectly sweet without being too rich. Danielle and I made a pact to duplicate this very cake… so stay tuned! 1466031_10152059737725421_594288235_n

We posed for pictures after dinner with very full tummies.

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The 30th birthday was filled with so many priceless memories. These beautiful flowers, given to me by my coworker, lasted for 2 whole weeks. 1005009_10152059922230421_1821928651_n

 

Danielle outdid herself, not only in planning the entire event and doing my make up but making this personalized wine bottle for me. Its still on my kitchen table as I want to keep it for as long as possible. 936017_10152059735440421_789672234_n

She also made boozy cake ball souvenirs for the guests.

A fantastic birthday for the books!

Dinner Date at Eastwick

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BR and I found ourselves struggling to make it through the work week and when Friday finally rolled around, we needed to go out and have a good time. IMAG2170

 

We decided to hit up a local spot, Eastwick, for its convenience and quiet atmosphere. It was the perfect place to be after a crazy week; to just sit back with a good glass of wine or champagne and enjoy a great meal. IMAG2171

As always, when we dine at Eastwick we start with the mac and cheese. I dont know many places that offer mac and cheese as an appetizer but something about the one form Eastwick that we cannot get enough of; we order it every single time! IMAG2172

I also ordered an appetizer of their deviled eggs. Not bad… but definitely no mac and cheese. IMAG2173

BR went with their lamb burger and a side salad in lieu of french fries- because isnt mac and cheese enough starchy goodness?? IMAG2174

I ordered the New York Strip which was seasoned beautifully and came with Chimichurri sauce on the side. It was great minus the really bitter arugula salad. It was lacking a citrus to cut down on the bitterness. But skipping the salad left extra room…IMAG2176…for dessert of course!

We shared a banana split with heaping scoops of their pumpkin gelato and vanilla bean gelato. It was drizzled with caramel and fudge. so decadent. And so perfect to end our work week.

 

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