Posts made in December 2012

Ham stars at Morscher's & Scones, Etc. at Rudy's Bakery & Cafe in Ridgewood, N.Y.

Ham is the star at Morscher’s
Herbie & Larry
Larry Perusing The Weiners
Our friends, Kathleen & Larry were serving…among the many other wonderful food dishes they always serve from a diverse range of sources…a spiral cut ham for Christmas time holiday dinner. Larry had invited me a few days earlier to take a ride to Ridgewood, Queens, New York to the famous Morscher’s Pork Store to pick up THE ham.
Since I had never had a spiral ham…and had heard many wonderful things about them over the years, I was quite excited about the prospect of seeing Morscher’s Pork Store…famous for their big fat juicy hams.
I was also hoping I/we could taste some of the meats they made.
 Not only were we able to taste many different kinds of wiener shaped tidbits and bacon, Herbie also gave us a quick tour of the smoking rooms and we saw how the hams were packaged.
Funny thing…I never got to taste the ham until the evening it was served. Kathleen made an Apricot sauce and no joke, I was in ham heaven. I must have eaten half a pound is less than ten minutes.
 Ahhhh, free ham! Never mind.
 To be honest, this was not the kind of store I frequented while growing up. Many of the meat products here are smoked big time and my feeling is you would have to have grown up surrounded by these types of foods in order to appreciate the huge selection they offer. The closest I got to smoked anything in my neighborhood while growing up in Great Neck, L.I.was in the fish department at Tabatchnik’s  or Andel’s  in Roslyn.
I’m not sure if it was because Larry and I had tasted some very nice Black Forest bacon, but Larry had decided he wanted to eat breakfast. One of Morscher’s customers suggested we go up the street a couple of blocks and around the corner to a small and nameless breakfast spot.
 I wasn’t sure why, but instead, we both wound up gravitating to the bakery next door to the restaurant. Now that I think about it, we were looking for something on the sweeter side after tasting all the smoked meats…and the bakery was perfect!
My thinking was coffee, bagels and cream cheese. Larry’s thoughts were similar, and we were both intrigued by the selection of baked goods in the window. It was enough to pull us inside.
There were soooo many things that looked good, it was hard to make the choice. We tasted and/ or took home one of almost everything that ‘caught our fancy’.
Among our choices were Oatmeal cookie marshmallow sandwiches, fig cookies, panna cotta, chocolate covered marzipan rolls, dried fruit scones, linzer tarts, crumb cake, apricot hamantashen and jelly doughnuts.
Christina & Toni were our hostesses with the mostesses during our tasting tour of coffee and baked goods at a little table in the new cafe’ section. I loved the whole scene just like the little sign says…”Coffee, Cannoli & Conversation”
Trust me…if you ever have the opportunity to find your way to Rudy’s Bakery…please ask for either of these ladies and tell them Larry & Bert sent you.
A little blurb on their website states:
 “Welcome To Rudy’s Bakery & Café. Come in and enjoy a nice espresso in our new Espresso Bar & Café! Be surrounded by good friends, great conversations and tasty pastries. Here we offer the freshest cakes, pastries and coffee this side of Queens has ever seen! Rudy’s Bakery & Café offers free Wi-Fi throughout the entire Café.
Rudy’s Bakery & Cafe is a bakery with both traditional and modern day sweets and treats. We’ve been in the neighborhood serving customers since 1934″!
While Larry was in control of most of his emotions, I was not. I was having fun commiserating with two  foodies I had never met (I got Toni’s meatball recipe). It got to a point where Toni almost pushed a jelly doughnut into my mouth…but resisted the urge.
If she knew me better, she would have known it would have been just fine.
$75.00 and an hour later, we left to go home with our goodies.
Bottom line…my favorites (not necessarily in order) are as follows:
1…Dried fruit scone
2…Dark chocolate covered marzipan roll
3…Oatmeal cookie marshmallow sandwich
4…Linzer tart
5…Jelly Doughnut
Although their products satisfied, these were a standout for me and I look forward to my return visit.
When…who knows?
But…I/we will be back.
Until then ladies…Have a Fabulous 2013!!!
All the best, 
Bert & Lawrence of East Norwich
Coffee with Oatmeal Cookie Marshmallow Sandwich , Dried Fruit Scone & Fig Cookie
Christina, Bert & Toni
Mangia, Baby!
Please feel free to comment
Happy 2013 Everyone

Saying YES in Sanibel & Captiva, Florida

One of our favorite destinations for a couple/few days in the month of December is Captiva Island off of the west coast of Florida. In order to get to Captiva, one must travel through Sanibel Island, “the shell capital of the world”.
There is also certain peace and quiet one finds on this island that is quite unique…and a whole load of restaurants too!
Until this trip, we pretty much followed the same routine. We ate dinner the first night in the South Seas Plantation hotel restaurant and either went to the Key Lime Bistro or the Mucky Duck on other nights. Lunch was the burger, Chinese chicken salad or the chicken Caesar salad within the peace & tranquility of the hotel pool and it’s fountain.
This visit, however, was going to be different. We decided to try some new restaurants, and as timing would have it got our first recommendation while sitting on the beach waiting for the sunset (everyone sits at the beach for sunset). Since I, and most folks, like to go to a restaurant with a recommendation, we were heartened with a two thumbs review for a restaurant in Sanibel by two lovely ladies…
mom Suzie & daughter Mica. As we all marveled at the sunset…they suggested Doc Ford’s (Yes, the same Doc Ford character in Randy White’s novels) in Sanibel. So…off we went!
The place was packed, however the wait was a modest 15 minutes…which gave me time to cruise the floor for possible dinner choices.One dish looked better than the next, so I was forced to interview the waitresses while cruising.
I decided on the Doc Ford’s Original (the word “original” raises my eye brows…Ray’s Pizza in NYC being the exception…and Ill get to that story very soon) Lime Panko Crusted Seared & Baked Fish Sandwich served with a side of rice & beans and slaw. They say it was voted the “best fish sandwich”. By who, I didn’t ask. Why argue with success?
Instead of the remoulade that came with the dish, I asked for a side of pineapple salsa…something I saw being served with a grilled grouper fish dish while cruising the floor for dinner choices.
Sandy opted for the New England clam chowder to start and for the burger…her favorite choice in a new restaurant.
Bottom line…The chowder was fabulous and a burger in a seafood restaurant was a social success along with my Doc Ford’s Original with the pineapple salsa that would have been a winner on just about any of the fish dishes.
The carrot cake was as good as a slice from Billy’s or Magnolia Bakery in NYC.
Thank you to our waitress Cindy for your fabulous service with a smile…and to Manager Elizabeth “Liz” for your social grace and your fine reception. Not only do we look forward to coming back, we will be sure to send others your way.
Thank you Suzie and Mica from the beach of the South Seas Plantation. Please send more suggestions 🙂

Another food find for dinner was “Cantina Captiva” in Captiva. On our way around town, you have to pass  this restaurant all the time, and we never saw it. Sandy wanted to have Mexican or Southwestern and we wound up at this little gem of a restaurant with smiling, happy people like (left to right) Chris, Aldo and THE chef both in and out of the kitchen.
I ordered the soft flour carnitas (pork) taco combination plate and Sandy ordered the ground beef tacos in the crispy corn tortillas. Both were served with refried beans and yellow rice and topped with cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo. Corn chips and salsa also accompanied our meal. A complement of Mexican beer and friendly & helpful servers leaves you pleasantly full and with room for dessert.
On this night, however, we chose to walk about and found a fabulous slice of key lime pie around the corner at Key Lime Bistro and a latte at Latte Da.
One more thing and something you surely don’t see every day is an interior festooned with dollar bills made into art by all who eat there. They give you colored markers to create your own dollar bill work of art and a stapler to find a place to post your artwork. When you leave, you know you have left your mark and will be back again for the fun of it all and the great food.
Aldo…thank you for your hospitality. We look forward to returning soon and spreading the word about our food find!

On our return trip to the east coast of Florida, Sandy wanted to stop at a fast food spot that went by the name of Schnappers Hots in Sanibel…so off we went. We passed it so many times and I always wondered if “hots” meant hot dogs. Never having even gotten out of the car to see, the assumption it was a hot dog the little boy was eating on the sign out front. Frankly (no pun intended), it could have been anything.
Again, the menu says “Voted Islands Best Take-out” without giving credit to the publication.
It turns out hot dogs were their specialty, however I’m not writing about their hot dog.
Plain & simple…and to my totally shocked surprise, their marinated grilled chicken breast sandwich on a fabulous “fresh baked roll” was absolutely, positively, hands down, the best grilled chicken I have EVER tasted. WOW!
I’m sure it had nothing to do with my on the spot mixture of yellow mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and sweet relish…condiments offered on the side to enhance every bite of whatever they serve…but everything to do with however they prepared their chicken for the grill.
This most moist and tender breast was seared on both sides and then sliced diagonally from left to right and seared for a third time on the previously unseared side.
Either way you look at it, I know I’ll be back…and…should you ever decide to make Sanibel or Captiva Islands in Florida your destination…trust me on these dishes.
Again, I must remind you that we only tout the virtues of what we ourselves have eaten.
That said…
If you are ever in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton, Florida…
Hands down…the best Subs, Hero’s or “Hoagies”,as they call them, I have ever eaten in these United States of America are in these cities. The name you should remember…and make the time to get to…is LaSpada’s.
Trust me that even though I have only eaten the Italian Hoagie…I would venture to say most, if not all, of these “hoagies” will be among the best you will ever have.

                  Mangia Baby!