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Archive for June, 2009

I tried the lunch buffet on Friday at Petra Mediterranean on 81 W. Broad St. in Bethlehem with Denise. Normally I leave buffets feeling so full I’m about to burst, but Petra’s mostly vegan buffet offerings left me full, but not to the point of discomfort (and I had 2 plates of food plus dessert!).  The service isn’t quite together yet, but hey, it’s a buffet so that hardly bothered us. Anything we needed they were quick to provide (like plates) and any dishes we were unsure of, they were more than happy to explain. 

yum

So the buffet consisted of grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, and cauliflower) with tahini sauce, hummus, baba ghannooj, grape leaves (I was pretty sure I hated grape leaves but I gave them one more try on Friday; nope, still hate them), salad, falafel (crispy, flavorful and delicious), muhamara (a yummy walnut/pomegranate/roasted red pepper dip), sauteed spinach (or some kind of leafy green), pea and carrot stew, pita and rice. Funny thing about the pea/carrot stew: I was pretty sure that one of the servers said something about the buffet being all vegetarian (but I probably heard him wrong), so I happily went to town on every item on the table.  When I got to the pea/carrot stew, I thought to myself “oooh wonderful, this looks like Indian food!” and ladled away. When I sat down and tried it, it was delicious. There was some sort of savory, nutty flavor going on that I could hardly describe, it was almost unlike anything I’d ever tasted before. When I asked them what that flavor could possibly be, they kind of shrugged and said “maybe it’s the meat?” (at first I thought they were saying “mead” which was a little confusing).  So when I realized they were saying meat I got all wide-eyed and said “aah I’m a vegetarian!” and I will say they looked genuinely concerned, which was nice. It really wasn’t a big deal though, I guess all the hunks of meat sank to the bottom of the pot, because none of them ended up on my plate. I did think it was pretty hilarious how I’d completely forgotten what meat tastes like, though. But I know many vegetarians who wouldn’t find it so funny, so hopefully Petra will get around to labeling their buffet dishes.

For dessert they had fruit and little bowls of a pudding-like substance, the details of which I can’t remember at all. It contained pistachios and whipped egg whites, I believe. But beware: the pudding comes with an extremely fragrant rose water syrup, which you are encouraged to dump into your bowl. So my friend and I did just that, but found the syrup way too sweet and too fragrant. It was kind of like drinking perfume. The pudding was definitely much tastier plain. 

Our lunch at Petra was pretty phenomenal, and I definitely plan on returning. One thing that was missing though were the spinach pies. It’s just not a full-blown Middle Eastern meal without them! The same thing goes for Baklava, which I did see over in the dessert display case, but I didn’t want to push myself over the edge into “uncomfortably full” territory. Standard full was fine by me.

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I’ve previously been to Candle Cafe‘s sister restaurant, Candle 79, and was impressed with their fancy food and delicate flavors. Not the most exciting food in the world, but it was very good. So I was really looking forward to Candle Cafe, as I’ve heard the food is better (and cheaper!) than Candle 79. Candle Cafe is located at 1307 3rd Avenue between 74th & 75th St. in Manhattan.

Crystal Roll
I ordered the Crystal Roll appetizer. Veggies, rice noodles, avocado, and barbeque grilled seitan wrapped up in yummy rice paper, served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce. I know I’m a bit spring roll obsessed, and certainly am no stranger to peanut sauce, so it’s not like this dish ventured into any kind of foreign territory for me. But it was good. The peanut sauce was a tad watered down (see those bubbles up there in the picture, those don’t belong there), but still good.

Mezze Plate
The Mezze Plate was a bit more of a crowd pleaser (in our 2 person crowd). It consisted of hummus, tabouli, and lemon date chutney. The hummus was good, the tabouli was a nice filler (though a little bland), and the lemon date chutney was delicious. All three components smeared atop a piece of the fresh pita bread made for a very flavorful bite indeed! The pita was perfect; kind of dense and chewy which I love when it comes to flatbread.

Tuscan Lasagna
John ordered the Tuscan Lasagna, which he deemed excellent. Fresh and satisfying. Lasagna is not my cup of tea at all, so I can’t really add anything constructive.

Chili-Lime Tofu
Truthfully, I was not impressed with my entree. I ordered the Chili-Lime Grilled Tofu, which comes with quinoa pilaf, black bean sauce, half of a plain avocado, and mango salsa, all on a pile of steamed swiss chard. The only thing on the entire plate with any flavor was the mango salsa, of which, unfortunately, there was far too little. Overall the dish was just bland, which was surprising because the waitress described it as one of the more flavorful entrees on the menu.

I had high expectations for the Candle Cafe, and I have to say I left a bit unsatisfied. For the prices and the location (come on, UES) I was expecting a lot more. If I ever do go back, I’ll be sure to order something that has gotten rave reviews all over the internet, like the BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potato sandwich perhaps. I guess I’ll need to get over my opposition of ordering sandwiches at an expensive restaurant first.

Since ho-hum reviews tend to bum me out, I will sign off with some fun gallery pictures (this is what I do to work up an appetite):

Anton Kern Gallery

Gladstone Gallery

Casey Kaplan Gallery

The INFINITY Room!

Mike Weiss Gallery

Mike Weiss Gallery

More fun gallery pics here!  Ok that’s not true – they will be there eventually, but I haven’t gotten around to that blog just yet.  Because right now, I’m off to the Allentown Grower’s Market to support local farmers!

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This is the dish I have described as “curry I could drink like a soup”

Masaman Curry

And I won’t lie, sometimes that’s exactly what I do.

I also tried the Papaya Salad last time I was there. I tend to get stuck ordering the same things again and again at restaurants, so this salad was an exciting change of pace:

Papaya SaladIt was delicious! Green papaya, cherry tomatoes, carrots and green beans tossed in a Thai sauce with lime, chilies and garlic, topped with cracked peanuts and served with a side of sticky rice. This is what I was hoping for back when I had that mango salad at The Cafe. White Orchids’ Papaya Salad contained not one leaf of lettuce.  Now that’s my kind of salad :)

Full White Orchids review here by the way. I just felt the Masaman Curry needed some love, that’s all.


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Though the restaurant isn’t ready to unveil it’s new location just yet, you can catch Wendy of Balasia (aka best food on earth) at the Allentown Grower’s Market at the PPL Plaza on 9th and Hamilton for the following events:

 

Every Wednesday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm from now until October

Balasia will be offering assorted vegetarian snacks like specialty hummus, soup, quinoa salad and Vegan Treats cookies, brownies, and whoopee pies.

EDIT: Wendy is also offering vegan ice cream. Call ahead to order (or, if you’re lucky she will have some extra on hand) with basically any flavor combination you can think of: cashew cinnamon, chocolate peanut butter, berry vanilla, you name it and she’ll make it.

 

Blues, Brews and BBQ 

Saturday June 13th from noon – 8 pm

Come out for Balasia’s setian BBQ, baked black beans, corn on the cob, curry potato salad, grilled portabello mushroom caps and who knows what else. Good food, good music, good beer – sounds like a winning combination to me.

 

Chef Wendy has also been offering a vegan buffet at Tierra Sana on Sunday nights from 5-10 pm. Tierra Sana is a “whole foods fusion” restaurant located at 100-17 Queens Blvd/ Forest Hills in New York (67th ave exit off the R train).  If you’re in the area, check out the buffet. With dishes like gobhi salaad (whole cauliflower crowned with creamy avocado), kacha kela foogath (plaintains in coconut sauce) and kela mithai (broiled bananas with toasted almonds) it might just be worth the train ride!

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