Friday, July 20, 2012

Maple Syrup Crystal

I know it's hard to see, but this is a picture of a large crystal of Maple Sugar left behind from some local Maple Syrup.  It's like a giant, delicious chunk of Rock Candy, except that we can't get it out of the jar because it's too big!

Johnson's Farm - Orange, MA

We actually stopped here twice, Kari and I for dinner, and then Kari, Paul and I for breakfast.  The dinner was spur of the moment, so no pictures or a lot of detail, but it was quite good - Kari had a great salmon dish which is good because sometimes salmon can be hit or miss.  We knew Johnson's would do it right.

For breakfast, Kari and Paul had the same thing (bad bloggers!)  It was the Maple Walnut Blueberry Pancakes with BACON.  Their bacon is always awesome, fresh, thick and meaty.  The pancakes were thick and fresh, very good with their homemade maple syrup.  We gave them a 4.25

I had the Eggs Benedict, which I've reviewed before.  The Hollandaise was again delicious, with an herby flavor on top of the tart, buttery flavor.  The eggs were cooked perfectly!  They scored a 4.5 this time.

We never miss stopping here when we're in Orange.  There a little off the beaten path but their only 1.3 miles from 2A on Wheeler Ave (they have a tiny sign at the intersection.)

Johnson's Farm on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Table 24 - Rutland, VT

Table 24 was the beginning of BumbleChick Food and on return visits, it has never disappointed.  

On our first experience, we were told that this dish was good enough to bathe in!  And it's true, again the Jerk Chicken Fondue rates a 5.0

Tortilla Soup 4 1/2

Wedge Salad 4
We also had an arugula salad that was what one would expect: good, but nothing too too special.  

Table 24 Chicken 4 1/2.  This was delicious!!
This was MY dinner though and I thought it was incredible and I rarely would order a chicken meal....

Chicken Pot Pie 4 1/4 (though there was argument that it only deserved a 3 3/4)

Mushroom Risotto 3 1/2-4
(the LAST time I was here, the time that never got blogged, our waitress was so AWESOME, she packed up my leftovers with such care to make it last a three hour drive to our next destination)

Mac n' Cheese 4

Butternut Ravioli 3 1/2-3.75

Salmon Carbonara 3 1/2 was the consensus, but Kirk who ordered it gave it a 3.75

Banana Cream good we gave it a 4 1/2
(we ate this at the last unblogged lunch and had it AGAIN this time)

Blueberry Creme Brulee.  4 1/2.
I used to be a Creme Brulee connoisseur...this used to be all I ever got for dessert and it isn't the BEST I've ever had, but it was good.  (and it will never be as good as Tara's)

Table 24 on Urbanspoon

Bistro 63 - Amherst, MA

Our dinner here started out pretty well, though the waitress lacked some knowledge of the menu that you would expect (are the spring rolls fried?)  The beer selection includes some local brews and the bread they provide with Tapenade was exceptional.  The Chef was obviously passionate about the food, but as our meal progressed the mediocre service and average to poor food started to lower our opinion.  It became clear that the waitstaff was poorly trained.  They tried and were very friendly, but they missed so many obvious things:  Poor knowledge of the menu, saying we got salads with our entrees when we did not, slow to check up on food quality, not offering additional beverages until meal almost completely done, not offering dessert, and hovering in a cluster near the bar talking.

The Crostini appetizer was the highlight of the meal, covered in cheese and grape tomatoes.  We were not offered a choice of cheese, but the mozzarella it came with was perfect.  We gave this a 4.0.  Paul had the Chicken Amore which was the best entree, properly cooked and tender with a delicious demi-glaze.  He gave it a 3.75.

I didn't get pictures again (bad blogger) and the rest of the meal was mediocre so just scores and reasons.

Sirloin Steak, 2.0, undercooked and tasted like hamburger, not a premium cut of beef - also some gristle.

Penne Vodka, 3.0, just okay, nothing special

Half Rack of Ribs Special, 2.75, great sauce but the ribs were cooked way to early and thus were overdone and crunchy/blackened by the time I got them.

The Bathroom:  The 'ladies' room was tiled with black tile which I personally think was a bad choice as it tends to look dirty, even if it's not dirty, and the bathroom was dirty.  As we all know this is one of my personal pet peeves: if you don't bother to clean what people are going to see, then how does the kitchen that I can't see look?  And the toilets, yes toilets.  There were TWO of them.  Yes, two positioned side by side with no divider as if two women are actually going to pee side by side together. All I can envision is some young (male) architect thinking, "Well, women always go to the bathroom together, this is genius, with my design they can pee at the same time."  Nope, not working for me.  And it creeped me out even more that the second toilet's seat was up.  Hmmm.  

Bistro 63 at The Monkey Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Blind Pig - Athol, MA

We stopped in at our favorite Athol restaurant/pub for a big meal after kayaking Tully Lake.  The Blind Pig has a great beer selection, extensive menu with lots of crazy variety (including sandwiches with a ton of meat!) and a friendly staff who are not afraid to have fun with the customers.

Today we were taken care of by Nick, the namesake of one of our sandwiches.  We assumed he had been an employee when it was named but it turns out he was a customer.  I can only assume he is working now to pay off his bar tab!

We started with a Caprese Salad appetizer and some buffalo wings.  The salad was nearly perfect, really no difference between it and what we got on Capri in Italy.  I'd give it a 4.25.  The wings were also excellent.  I gave them a 4.5 (and I'm not a buffalo wing fan!)  No pictures of these, they didn't last long enough...

This here's The Bart, an incredibly meat filled and melted cheese covered pile of wonderful.  I can't even remember what was on it, but we love this: 4.5
Here we have the Masala Vegetarian Burger.  You can see the pita bread it's served on.  She got it with Sweet Potato Tater Tots!  This was also a lovely sandwich and she rated it a 4.25
This ones the Nick.  Turkey Ham and Bacon (I think) with a cheese that's not swiss (Nick don't like Swiss.)  Served with Sweet Po Fries that were excellent.  This is probably our favorite sandwich here and I gave it a 4.75
This is Monte's Pig Melt:  Bacon and Ham with Cheese and Barbecue Sauce.  We gave it a 4.

I know I didn't get all the ingredients right, we were too busy eating to pay close enough attention.  Trust me though, there all good.  They have a refrigerator full of local brews (including Element Brewing!) and a chalkboard of what's on tap - again - mostly great local brews.  They'll let you have a sample if you're suspicious of that beer that has no hops and instead has weird spices.

You might assume by looking at it that The Blind Pig would be a good bar with good bar food, and you would be right.  What you'd be missing is that they can compete with most restaurants for variety and quality of food.  I would not hesitate to take a family here for a dinner (though maybe not at 10 pm.)  You should try them out.

Blind Pig on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Melaza Caribbean Bistro - Woodstock, VT

No pictures because the stupid phone won't behave on the navigation dock in the car!  It charges until fully charged, then stops charging, and won't charge again even if it goes dead!  So we get out of the car in Woodstock and the phone immediately says Sorry no Juicay and turns off.  I'm sure it's operator error, but it's still frustrating.

We had intended to try Bentleys but they were closed so we wandered here instead.  The decor was nice, the menu was varied and enticing and the staff friendly and helpful.  Shortly after we were seated, Jane Lynch wandered in for dinner with a friend, so that was a good sign.

Kari had the Banana Leaf Wrapped Grouper with Sweet Plantain Risotto.  The Grouper was topped with a pineapple, papaya and mint salsa which was excellent and it was cooked with milk and lime.  The fish was perfectly cooked and tender.  The risotto was also excellent and the entire dish melded into an enjoyable whole.  She gave it a 4.0.

I had the Flat Iron Steak which was served with a Red Wine and Onion Sauce and Chorizo Potato Croquettes.  The croquettes were awesome, perfectly crisped and hot and steamy inside.  The chorizo was detectable but not overpowering.  The only negative I would say was that the cut of meat wasn't perfect - it had a line of gristle running through.  But it was perfectly cooked and went great with the sauce so I cut around the chewy bits and enjoyed the rest.  It was a generous portion and it's a hazard with this cut of beef so I don't mind so much.  I gave it a 3.75.

Overall a good experience and we will probably pop in again on our many trips through town.

Melaza Caribbean Bistro on Urbanspoon