DINERS (A Foodie Blog)

Diner in Colorado Springs.

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons to love living in New York but one of  the most important, to me, are diners. I wish I was kidding. We lived in Boston for many years and as adorable as the city is, they lack traditional diners. Huge, flashing signs, mirrors showing off svelte/swelled bodies, booths and knowing you can get whatever you want at any time, day or night, 24/7.

Diners are PERFECT for different taste sensations and choices. You can go to a diner (sometimes called coffee shop) and order pancakes at dinnertime or a gyro at 3am. (Gyro: a Greek dish featuring  lamb or chicken, sliced thinly off of a huge vat with spices stuffed in a big pita pocket and topped with a Greek salad, chunks of sweaty, salty, white feta cheese, hold the olives please, oh and the green peppers.) You want lamb, we have that too, a BLT with cheese, coming right up.

There are easily 300 choices and if you don’t see it on the menu, you either don’t want it or you can ask for it and they will make it for you. You can mix and match and yes, even if you want the fruit cup instead of the french fries and have to add a couple of bucks (some diners are strict) it’s still okay. You want breakfast at midnight? No problem, order the scrambled eggs and bacon or the Belgium waffle, or the pancakes (regular or whole wheat) with chocolate chips or blueberries or both. Feel like something upscale? Eggs Benedict or an egg white omelette with grilled asparagus and red peppers. Your child will only eat grilled cheese and fries? That is always available for the little guys (and the big guys too.)

For an international flare I’ve had spinach burritos stuffed with chopped meat, mozzarella cheese and spices, with rice, avocados and sour cream. Do you miss the comfort of Thanksgiving? Have it on a hot day in July: the open-faced turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and thick brown gravy served with velvety mashed potatoes. Potato pancakes with applesauce? Sure. Fried clam strips, no problem, eggplant parmigian with roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce served with a Caesar salad? Of course. Falafel and humus, gourmet salads, a wrap, a crêpe, a hard poppy-seed roll, blueberry muffin and…..well I could go on forever but that’s my point. The menus are endless and you get great quality at a cheap price.

Caution: leave room for dessert because diners are also known for their variety of pies: blueberry pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie… and cakes: chocolate mousse cake, vanilla coconut cake, rainbow cookie cake, cheesecake, chocolate layer cake with nuts or without. They also have large cookies as big as salad plates with your choice of sprinkles, sugar, chocolate chips, oatmeal raisin, and black and whites. Your wish is their delight. Most places have three-tiered revolving dessert cases, talk about joy. Standing there watching your mouth-watering favorites spin around slowly.

Ever see the beverage section of a diner? That in itself is special. For me the egg creams (no, sigh, there are no eggs in egg creams, just seltzer, syrup and milk) it’s the amount of each that is so important! They also have milkshakes, malteds, ice cream sodas, regular and diet sodas (free refills at some places) lemonade, iced tea, and a whole page of alcoholic selections with funny, frou-frou names.

Can’t figure out a place where all the family members can agree? The answer, of course, is a diner. Gather some quarters, put them in the music box, listen to the tinny sound of The Beatles or Arrowsmith and have fun. When you go up to pay your bill, be ready to see a free cookie tray or chocolate covered mints to “thank you for coming” as you leave. By the way, the portions are so large that you never need to feel ashamed of asking for a doggie bag; at a diner, it’s delightfully de rigueur.

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*SWEET! ( A Foodie Blog )

Nutella, mon amour!

Image by JoX1989 via Flickr

I watch shows like “Unwrapped” on the Food Network Channel and it does me no good. I get too hungry while I am watching it so I slip downstairs for a snack or I’m afraid… seven. I can’t possibly match what I am eating to what I am watching so I stick to what we have in the house; it is not a pretty picutre. Tonight, I had two mini packs of cereal with milk; first, Apple Jacks and then Fruit Loops. Two sweet snacks with healthy one percent milk but after that the problems continue….now I need salt.

I located one of my new favorite items “Snyder’s Pumpernickel Onion Pretzel Sticks. Close your eyes and munch away and you will swear that you are eating a piece or two of pumpernickel toast. I know, right? It seems too good to be true but it really does work.  Another new product I have found are the 6-pack of Raisinettes.  You know when you go to the movies and they try to sell you practically a quart size of Raisinettes for twenty dollars? (ok,so I am exaggerating a little.) You feel like a complete slob if you eat the entire package but it’s just plain wrong to think we could stop half way. Impossible. Now this 6 pack gives you a smaller size so when you eat the entire package, you really didn’t ! Best part about it? You have five packages left!

On “The Best Thing I Ever Ate- Sweet Tooth” they were featuring crepes.  Sure, I will try anything that calls itself “Pure Ecstasy” (and I mean that only in a chocolate way) but frankly since I am not a chef I would just go for the main ingredient which is Nutella. Nutella is an amazing creamy combination of chocolate and hazelnuts; it looks a little like milk chocolate pudding in a jar.  I don’t need to make a crêpe for this delicious combination, all I need is a spoon, preferably a big one. Nutella is a staple in our house sans crêpe.

The next thing I saw featured was the Sant Ambroeus’ cake, named for the Sant Ambroeus, café.  It’s actually two (chocolate) desserts, chocolate mousse AND a pocket of chocolate custard,  in chocolate.  This would pretty much ensure a bonding experience with my daughter who is a complete chocolate addict. My goal is to take her there one day.

Next stop is to Tartine in San Francisco, a double pain au chocolate which is like a croissant, shaped differently with a lot of chocolate in it. In addition the other ingredient is lots of butter. Let’s see we have bread dough, butter and an amazing amount of delicious chocolate. What’s not to like? This is just not anybody’s chocolate either, (Hershey’s chocolate is still always fine with me) it’s special and I have to admit I would love to try it.

Next up, chocolate, peanut butter popcorn. I couldn’t kid you about this if I tried and why would I make it up?  I’m really not sure I like the sound of it. Convince me. A perfect blend of salty and sweet, maybe you have something there. Wait, what? Add popcorn and peanuts, chipolte chocolate sauce? “Sweet heat?”  Served with butter popcorn ice cream over home-made Cracker Jacks?  I think I will pass but of course that is just my opinion.  Another feature was like a home-made pop tart.  Seriously? A pastry shell and an interior of fresh fruit. Sorry, but to me this looks like more of a cereal bar and too healthy too. Of course I would try it if it was in front of me but I don’t think I would seek it out. If all else fails, and there is no deluxe chocolate combination to eat I will stick quite happily to my Nutella and to my Raisinettes. Now if they only came in dark chocolate 6-packs for my sister’s birthday…..

*I am not responsible for any incorrect detail due to intensified drooling.