Today, I went to Princeton for the first time in a while and decided to stop in at The Bent Spoon for a sweet treat on this humid afternoon. What a great decision! To begin with, I love the entire concept of the place. They use hormone-free dairy products (which I believe is the only way to go; especially for women,) and organic and local ingredients whenever possible. They have a great assortment of sorbet and artisan ice cream flavors, which they rotate fairly often and post on their website. They have more traditional flavors, such as chocolate and vanilla bean, but I prefer to have fun mixing the more unique flavors. Today, I chose dark chocolate-habanero, sweet basil, and honey (the basil and honey were made with local ingredients). Even though the flavors do not seem like they would go together, I loved the interesting flavor profiles and the silky smooth texture. The chocolate-habanero had just the right amount of peppery zip mixed in with the rich chocolate; the basil (my favorite) was light and refreshing; and the honey was sweet and creamy and topped with a drizzle of local honey (can you say, “yum?”). I also had a taste of the blue cherry peach sorbet, which was juicy and delicious, though I generally prefer the richness of ice cream over sorbet. I will definitely try this place again and recommend it to anyone who loves ice cream and/or trying unique and risky flavor combinations. Despite the price, ($4.75 for a medium, which includes up to 3 flavor choices) it is on my unofficial “Must List” for summer. It is important to note, though, that they only accept cash, so be sure to hit the ATM before you satisfy your sweet tooth!
Yokohama Sushi and Hibachi
Address: 300 South Lenola Road, Maple Shade, NJ 08052
Reservations: Yes (online)
Liquor License: Yes
I have recently become a fan of sushi and my boyfriend and I go out for it fairly often. We normally go to Mikado in Maple Shade, NJ, which has really great sushi, however, the last time we were craving Asian food we decided to try something different and have hibachi at Yokohama, which is also in Maple Shade. It was, hands down, the most fabulous hibachi I have ever had! Though it is in a strip mall,upon entering I was impressed by the hip, modern Asian decor. They offer the standard hibachi fare, but it is going to be hard to visit another hibachi restaurant after tasting the food at Yokohama. We started with the wasabi shumai appetizer, which was a wonderful blend of different textures and flavors; I especially loved the strong wasabi kick. Their soup (which, along with salad, comes with the dinner,) is an onion based clear soup, which I like better than the traditional miso. The fried rice (they use sesame seeds, which is a nice touch,) was to die for. I had the scallops and filet mignon dinner and the meat was incredible. My boyfriend had the steak and shrimp and we both had the same opinion of our meals: the seafood was super fresh and the meat was tender and delicious. (I don’t think I could go there without having the scallops again, they were so good!) The chefs are friendly and the drinks are good, but pricey (I had a Geisha martini, which was sweet and tasty). We left thoroughly satisfied and plan to go back VERY, soon!
These are my boyfriend’s favorite of the things I cook for him and honestly, I think they are mine, too. Ground chicken or beef can be substituted for the ground turkey, or you can use onions, green peppers and cheese to make them vegetarian. You can also vary the level of spices to make them more or less spicy. I usually serve them with corn and yellow rice.
1 lb of lean ground turkey
1 package (8-10 tortillas) of 6″ tortillas (corn or whole grain are best, the flour ones get mushy)
1 large or 2 small cans of enchilada sauce (the red kind)
1 packet of taco seasoning (use the spicy kind if you want them hot)
1 small can of diced green chilies (these are mild; if you want your enchiladas spicy, use diced jalapenos, but I warn you, they will be very hot)
2-3 cups of shredded cheese (I like either reduced fat Colby-Jack or taco blend)
A bunch of scallions
A sprig of cilantro
Non-stick cooking spray
Sour cream and guacamole (I like Wholly Guacamole,) for dipping, if you like.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a frying pan coated with non-fat cooking spray, brown your meat.
Once your meat is browned, add the taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water. Cook until the taco seasoning has been absorbed by the meat (about 3-5 minutes). Drain your meat.
Stir in 2-3 scallions and some cilantro leaves (about 10, torn into small pieces), as well as 2 teaspoons of green chilies.
Add 3/4 cup of enchilada sauce, as well as about 1 cup of cheese. Stir until your cheese is melted.
In a glass casserole dish coated with non-stick cooking spray, spoon the meat and cheese mixture into your tortillas, arranging them with the seams facing down, so nothing falls out.
Once all of your enchiladas are in the dish, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over them, as well as the rest of your cheese.
Add another chopped scallion and 5 more cilantro leaves (torn into small pieces) on top of your enchiladas.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce has cooked down a bit.
I wanted to give a shout out to Grace Stokes Designs. Grace, who is based in Ohio happens to be my mother’s friend, creates unique pieces that have a handcrafted feel and impeccable workmanship. She does the metalwork herself and even creates her own beads. I have a pair of her earrings and a necklace. I will keep you updated if she comes to town for a jewelry show; that’s where i got my pieces! Check out her website, she has a gallery of selected pieces. Below are some of my favorites:
Matched is the first book in a series (the next book will be published this fall). It is reminiscent of Lowry’s The Giver and Rand’s Anthem in that the characters live in a society in which they are taught to think and act a certain way, without question. While Matched’s government, called The Society, is not violent or even particularly scary, it is intriguing to see the level of mind control they have over their citizens and the ways in which the government has changed the way people live. Most people in Matched’s society are actually satisfied, since the government has groomed what is essentially the perfect race of people devoid of birth defects, disease, and any other undesirable traits. Any trace of our own civilization has been eliminated and as a result, people do not question The Society because they do not know about any other kind of life. (In fact, people can not even write, they only know how to type.) However, there is a sinister side to this situation, since people who question or challenge The Society are deported or have their status’ changed to render them Abberations (similar to untouchables).
In some ways, Matched could be loosely compared to Collins’ The Hunger Games (my absolute favorite series) because of the theme of government control. It garnered a lot of attention because of this connection, however, I want to make clear that the similarities between Matched and The Hunger Games ends at this theme. Matched is far less intense, as the government in control legitimately seeks to provide happiness and health for its citizens. Also, while I appreciate that the protagonist is female, Condie’s character development is less than stellar. In The Hunger Games, Collins takes careful attention in developing Katniss’ life and personality and therefore, her actions and motivations are perfectly in line with her character. Matched’s protagonist, Cassia, on the other hand, is far less developed. She begins as perfectly happy and accepting of The Society’s choices and never questions their motivations. After a mistake in which the photo of the wrong boy (named Ky,) face is included on her matching microcard (think of it as a dating profile, with the person’s government-assigned future spouse’s photo and information included,) she begins to question whether her assigned match, Xander is right for her. These thoughts occur to her for no real reason, since she was ecstatic about being matched with Xander in the first place. This, along with her grandfather’s gift of a Dylan Thomas poem – the inclusion of which I found to be borderline cheesy in its deliberate attempt at being profound, – cause her to become disillusioned. For someone who has obeyed The Society to the point of actually being happy with their choices, Cassia’s decent into rebellion is far too fast and almost illogical. In fact, she really does not disagree with much of what The Society stands for even after she begins to “rebel.” I can’t really blame her; I understand that Condie’s point is that free will is important, but The Society is never really made to seem all that bad, in direct opposition to Collins’ development of the Capital. Whereas Katniss develops into a rebel because of the pain the Capital has caused her, Cassia rebels simply because she wants to be with the bad boy, Ky, whom she barely knows and who is, SPOILER ALERT, an Abberation with a dark story to tell. It never appeared to me, as the reader, that Ky and Cassia are any more compatible than Cassia is with Xander, her true match. Sure, Ky causes her to think outside of what The Society tells her to think, but this only causes her to put her family and friends in danger and never really amounts to her discovering anything profound about her own psyche. Cassia is, in many ways, a stereotypical female character mooning over a boy and timidly disagreeing with people without saying much of anything out loud.
Despite her shortcomings in the character development department, Condie does an excellent job of creating the society in which the characters live. Everything – from caloric intake to leisure hours – are dictated by a system, which she describes thoroughly. I love when an author includes this level of detail, which is what drew me into the book. My issues with the book are only a reflection of my extreme love of The Hunger Games, rather than a dislike for Matched. I definitely plan on reading the other books in the series, in fact, I am excited for the next to come out and provide a resolution to Matched’s cliffhanger ending. The book is well-paced, descriptive, and engaging, as well as appropriate for younger age groups because of a lack of violence or anything risque. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction, books about dystopian societies (which I happen to love) or stories of forbidden romance.
Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11:00 am to 9pm
Friday: 11:00 am to 10pm
Saturday: 10am to 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 9pm
Liquor License: No
My boyfriend, friends and I have been to The Tortilla Press in Collingswood, NJ several times, and each time, we have been impressed and extremely satisfied with our meals. The atmosphere is great – hardwood floors, large windows and unique, colorful art pieces that are for sale are hung around the restaurant. The service is also excellent; the host/hostess will take your phone number and call you when a table opens up so you can walk around the quaint town of Collingswood while you wait for your table. Servers are helpful and attentive and food arrives quickly. The prices are not cheap, but they are not outrageous, either. The food is well worth what you will pay for it. A complimentary bowl of tortilla chips and a trio of dips (spicy salsa, milder salsa, and a bean dip – all very tasty) arrive promptly to tide you over while you peruse the menu, which includes a variety of meat and seafood dishes, as well as some vegetarian options (many dishes can be made vegetarian upon request, as well). I suggest bringing a bottle of tequila and ordering a pitcher of the restaurant’s margarita mix. There are 3 flavors available, though I have only tried the classic lime. It is homemade and not overly sweet – hands down the best margarita mix I have every had in a restaurant. The pitcher is $12, but each pitcher makes at least 6 margaritas, so you will spend much less money on drinks than you would at a Mexican chain restaurant.
Their website states: “We combine entrees familiar to the American palate with the deliciously fresh tastes of Mexican seasonings and sauces, giving a distinctive Mexican influence to each dish.” This is accurate. Nothing on the menu is particularly foreign, though each dish has some kind of unique spin on well-known Mexican favorites. I am a HUGE fan of Latin food and I love that each of the dishes I have tried combine Latin ingredients with textures and flavors that I enjoy in other types of food, as well (such as chipotle mashed potatoes). Below are the dishes I have tried and my opinions:
Guacamole Made to Order ($7) – The absolute best guac I have ever had. No contest. It is creamy and the spices do not overwhelm the taste of the avocado. It is perfectly seasoned and the texture is great – not too chunky, not too smooth. Mmmmm.
Coconut Habanero Shrimp ($20)Fire grilled shrimp with a sweet, spicy coconut & pepper confetti salsa. Served with chipotle mashed potatoes, grilled pineapple & fresh green beans. This entree was very good. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, juicy, and seasoned well. The salsa had a very unique flavor; it was subtly sweet with a hint of spice, but neither the sweet nor spicy nature of the salsa overwhelmed the taste of the shrimp, nor did the coconut, which I appreciated. (In fact, I found myself spooning up the sauce after my meal was done.) The chipotle mashed potatoes are tasty and I like that they give the dish a Mexican-American fusion-like spin. Green beans were fresh and cooked well and lend themselves well to the sauce. I would definitely order this again.
Honey Lime Scallops($20)Served with poblano~spinach rice & a delicious fresh vegetable medley. This is my favorite dish on the menu. The portion is generous (6 large scallops) and the honey lime sauce is absolutely delicious. It is light, sweet and compliments the shellfish perfectly. The scallops were beautifully cooked and I loved that they were served in a little dish, apart from the rice and veggies, making it easy for me to mop up the sauce. The veggies were fresh (squash and broccoli) and I appreciate that the are not seasoned heavily so I can enjoy them with the honey lime sauce. The poblano-spinch rice is light and tasty and again, I enjoy eating it with the honey lime sauce. I do wish the rice had a bit more flavor from the poblanos, but I am not a huge fan of rice in general so I tend to be critical of anything involving rice. I would order this again and again and suggest it to any fellow scallop-lover.
Smothered Shrimp & Scallops Burrito ($18) With spinach~poblano rice, queso fresco and tomatillo salsa. Served with jalapeno potato salad. I tried this out on a Friday during Lent, when I could not eat meat. It was the first time I had been to The Tortilla Press. While I enjoyed the meal, I most likely would not order it again. The portion was very large and a bit rich for my liking, as I found it difficult to taste the seafood because of all or the other components in the dish. However, the tomatillo salsa is tasty and I love the queso fresco, which is both on top and inside of the burrito. The jalepeno potato salad is the highlight of the dish. It is the perfect combination of chunky and creamy and a bit spicy. It adds a fun American-style picnic flair to the meal. I have the same comments about the rice as in the above entry, but overall, I enjoyed the dish and it obviously led me to come back repeatedly.
I would recommend The Tortilla Press to any fan of Mexican food who is looking for a unique meal and a comfortable dining experience.
Welcome to The Yummy Notebook! This is a place to blog about books, food, and fashion, so feel free to add your opinions, share recipes and restaurant reviews, and review any good books you have read lately. I look forward to sharing ideas and opinions with you!