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Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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Hamburger 355
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Comments (2)
Roadfood of the Day: Fenton's - Oakland, CA
Posted on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

While there is an even bigger version of the banana split, the junior version is still a daunting dessert for one person.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 27, 2015 4:04 AM

Yes, another ice cream story. Being that it's summer, and being that I try to eat ice cream 365 days a year, I offer no apology.

Somewhere in the backwoods of Orange County, Vermont, the rental car was trailing plumes of dust as Jane and I careened along winding unpaved dirt roads hunting for the Strafford Organic Creamery, to which a tipster directed us for what he called "the world's best ice cream." Our location was remote enough that the cell phone showed no bars and even the GPS couldn't find satellites. When we finally came upon it, we were chagrinned to discover that the Strafford Organic Creamery is strictly a working farm: no dairy bar, no colorful roadside stand selling creemees, nothing whatever for a hungry passer-by. Observing our sad confusion, a farm hand took pity on us and said that if we wanted to taste the ice cream made here, we should head back to South Strafford and Coburns' General Store, where it is sold by the pint.

Posted on Monday, July 27, 2015

Great Chops

The fried pork chops have a well-seasoned crunchy crust. These are our single favorite things to eat the the M&M.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, July 26, 2015 4:33 AM

At the side of a country road in the southern foothills of the Berkshires, Hidden Valley Eatery is open every day, but is especially popular among residents and visitors to Litchfield County as a weekend destination. From morning through mid-afternoon, you may have to wait for a table. Once seated in the snug, rustic dining room where the ceiling is covered with canvas like a tent, you get a menu that I find really troublesome. The problem? Do I want breakfast or lunch? Either is served any time, and both feature stand-out dishes.

A few items seem perfectly right for breakfast or lunch or, if you must, brunch. The breakfast pizza, for example, is a thin-crusted flatbread topped with pesto, mozzarella, tomato, and bacon with a couple of eggs on top. Magnificent! There's a breakfast burrito, too; and a crabmeat quiche that I'd be happy to eat any time of day. Ditto the house-made corned beef hash, which is moist and spicy and accompanied by a curiously rectangular English muffin. The muffin has copious nooks to hold butter and is delightfully chewy.

Among lunch fare that I keep coming back for are a thick, juicy hamburger fashioned from locally raised Ox Hollow beef, an aristocratic hot dog (also from Ox Hollow), and very good artisan pizzas available red or white and with just about any topping imaginable. Another essential dish as a main course or as a side is mac 'n' cheese. It is a big deal here, the idea being that you start with the basic formula: elegant unridged rigatoni in a moderately sharp three-cheese sauce. It is delicious as-is, but for 75 cents to $2.50 more, you can add everything from roasted garlic and green chilies to sausage or smoked salmon.

Whatever meal you're here for, do check out the blackboard of daily specials behind the short counter. Here we have found a fabulous meat loaf sandwich made from that good Ox Hollow beef, a splendid whole steamed artichoke perfumed with garlic and adorned with pesto, and seafood dishes that reflect what's good at the market.

Desserts are handcrafted beauties: layer cakes and whoopie pies, macaroons and brownies, apple and pecan pie (a la mode or not), crème caramel and chocolate pot de crème. Plus cookies: seeded chocolate chip, cranberry oatmeal, peanut butter, and trail mix. Many of the desserts are gluten free; and I should mention that much of what precedes them is vegetarian friendly.

Note: Hidden Valley Eatery is open from 7am to 5pm Sunday through Thursday, and until 9pm Friday and Saturday.
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Posted on Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mocha Chocolate Blast!

The Mexican Mocha is espresso, Mexican chocolate, and steamed milk.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 25, 2015 5:22 AM

Hot Turkey

Dot's is back and every bit as good as ever. After getting slammed by Hurricane Irene in 2011, it rebuilt and now offers river-view seating in a dining room adjoining the old diner. (It's hard to imagine that the river far below ever flooded through the restaurant high above.)

Unchanged in attitude, Dot's remains a good, blue-plate lunch room with a menu of soups and sandwiches, and hot plates of turkey, roast beef, meat loaf, and pork roast. While Southwest chiliheads wouldn't recognize Dot's chili as their beloved bowl of red, it is true Yankee chili, and it is terrific. The menu calls it "Jailhouse Chili," but it's most respectable. Thick with great clods of beef and just enough beans, it is lip-tingling spicy but not ferocious. It comes as a cup or bowl under a mantle of melted cheese.

Burgers are thick, hand-pattied beauties, served on high-quality buns, available with cheese and/or bacon and at one memorable recent lunch with cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce. On the side you want a milk shake, scooped and blended the old-fashioned way. Dot's shakes are so good that at breakfast a while back we noted a nearby couple getting vanilla shakes to go with their over-easy eggs and bacon.

In fact, breakfast just might be the great meal of the day, with a full menu of eggs, biscuits, muffins, French toast, and breakfast sandwiches. It's the pancakes we adore. You can get them plain, studded with blueberries, apples, bananas, or a multi-berry mix known as berry berry. Berry berry batter contains an impossible number of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Each one retains its individual flavor, and the bunch of them together, packed into Dot's fluffy cakes, are a flapjack epiphany. With a spill of local maple syrup, they're a must!
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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 25, 2015 5:20 AM

As America's coffee rode the rising tide of culinary aspiration over the last several decades, its iconic purveyor has gone from lowly diner or truck stop to enlightened coffee bar. That phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the northwest quadrant of the country, including the small, scenic Idaho panhandle town of Sandpoint. There are several sources of good coffee in this Bonner County hamlet on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, none more conscientious than Evans Brothers Roasters. What you get in this place is not just expertly roasted and masterfully poured coffee. You find an enterprise that touts a philosophy and a sense of social responsibility (both expressed on the Evans Brothers website); you find meticulous latte art and loose-leaf teas as well as locally baked, organic, and gluten-free pastries. Located in a colorful old mill complex in the Granary Arts District, and featuring the work of local artists on its walls, Evans Brothers also happens to serve a cup of joe as delicious as we've had anywhere.

You can choose between French-press or hand-drip (known here as "pourover") coffee, a single-origin espresso of the day, or the Evans' proprietary Headwall espresso blend – a soft, syrupy medium-roast named for a ski run at nearby Schweitzer Mountain. We are especially fond of Evans Brothers' Siberia Dark Blend (also named for a ski run), which is dark and chocolaty and nearly as satisfying as food. Speaking of which, if you must eat, the handful of available pastries are pretty good, but the breakfast burritos, heated in the microwave, suffer from sogginess. It's four-star coffee that will keep us coming back.
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Roadfood of the Day: White Rose System - Linden, NJ
Posted on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jersey-Style Hero

A traditional New Jersey Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese is served on a hard roll. That setup is available at the White Rose, of course, but we recommend going one step further and getting your sandwich on a hero roll.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, July 24, 2015 5:29 AM

Note: This review was written by Roadfood Correspondent Allie Spangler, who also took the pictures.

Just past one of Tacoma’s hospitals on Division Avenue sits a squat little red and white drive up called Frisko Freeze. It is one of Tacoma’s most famous burger joints, having served burgers and shakes since 1950.

If you’re in the mood for low cost, finger-licking fast food, you have the option to drive up to the order window, then park and wait for your food; or park and walk up to the order window. The parking lot always is packed with cars, and customers wait on the sidewalk for burgers -- despite a sign that reads “LOITERING PROHIBITED – PLEASE RETURN TO CAR.” You are served by local high school kids who banter non-stop in the kitchen and call out order numbers on a (very loud) loudspeaker.

The food is served in waxy bags, messy and hot. Burgers come with mayonnaise-based secret sauce, pickles, onions, ketchup, and lettuce. I sampled both a burger and cheeseburger and can confidently recommend that everyone should get cheese on their burgers: it melts with the other condiments into a tasty slippery sauce. The fries are unremarkable, and the milkshakes taste just like my dad used to make them when I was little: vanilla ice cream blended with Hershey’s original chocolate sauce. Simple, but enjoyable.

One downside: there’s no designated eating space on the premises, save a few (always occupied) red benches that sit next to the order window. This means you have to scarf down your greasy, aromatic meal in the car. My advice: grab a handful of napkins and drive around with your windows open for the rest of the day.
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