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LONG ISLAND — eatPIADA one of many newcomers to Main St. in Port Jeff!

eatPIADA

104 Main St.

Port Jefferson, N.Y.

631.509.5759

After returning to Long Island from being away for a year, you notice changes quickly. Especially in restaurants.

Whether it be the economy, or lack of customers, or well, both, restaurants can come and go in a snap. The key is, having the right all-around package to lure customers in time and time again, while having reasonable prices.

Which brings me to today’s food-venture: lunch in Port Jefferson.

My town (or as Wikipedia calls it, a “hamlet”) is situated right next to Port Jefferson (a.k.a. Port Jeff) village: a beautiful vacation / harbor port destination right on the Long Island Sound. Many people know Port Jefferson because its where the ferry from Bridgeport, C.T. comes in and out every day. But if you look closer, its more than just tourists and the ferry. Year-round locals such as myself are always on the streets of Port Jeff, whether it be at one of the local boutique clothing stores or many of the fun restaurants with delicious foods.

Main St. is its central hub. Since I’ve returned I noticed many comings and goings on this street alone. Two to note are the additions of fro-yo shops, one across the street from the other: Red Mango (similar to Pinkberry), and Yogo Delish (a local self serve fro-yo shop, very similar to the fro-yo shops I discussed in my “Tour de Fro-Yo” in Charleston). I’ll write a separate post about the fro-yo shops later.

But the new vibrant eatery that I discovered today was unexpected. Before I left for Syracuse, this corner location was originally taken by a bakery called “Long Island’s Best Desserts.”  I looked up and discovered it was now “eatPIADA.” It was just what I was looking for today: a sandwich cafe.

eatPIADA has a great outdoor patio to sit at during a warm day like today!

Long Islanders: this is no ordinary sandwich cafe. Some of you may already know eatMOSAIC in St. James, a restaurant that’s created a lot of great buzz (my cousin’s talk about this place all the time, I need to try it!), including high ranks from Zagat. eatPIADA is eatMOSAIC’s newest venture! The location is perfect for this type of cafe: it’s right next to the shopping areas and the ferry terminal. When I discovered eatPIADA was related to eatMOSAIC about halfway through my meal (through finding the Zagat rating posted in a little cupboard it had on one of the walls), I was even more excited to be there.

The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, and most of all, vibrant. It had an overall energetic, mod feel to it. I loved the eye-catching lime green walls mixed with the different hints of striped colors. The tables and chairs were black, with the exception of the adorable window nook booth/table seat (which I sat in).  The nook was one of my favorite parts of the experience: sitting on a very comfortable cushion looking out the window at the Port Jeff people! I especially loved the extra touches on the walls, including a painting of what I believe was the ferry, and what looked like was a strip on the wall with magnets that people could move around any play with. As I saw people of different ages in eatPIADA, including families with young children, its definitely an all-ages, friendly place to stop by!

For lunch I was craving a sandwich, but not just my usual SUBWAY footlong. eatPIADA’s menu has “piada’s”: 12″ chilled whole wheat wraps with fresh-made ingredients inside, as well as “piada(less)”, which instead of getting a wrap, getting the fresh ingredients on a salad. A “piada” is essentially an Italian-style wrap.

For $8, there are 13 piada’s to choose from including the grilled vegetable caprese (fresh mozzarella, basil pesto and balsamic vinaigrette), poached salmon florentine (baby spinach, cucumber, feta, capers, lemon), and the roast beef tricolore (chicory, fontina, horseradish and balsamic bbq sauce). I asked the server behind the counter what her favorite piada’s were and she said it was between the chicken caesar and the chicken parmesean. Since I’m a huge chicken parm. fan, I decided to get the chicken parm piada (fresh mozzarella, ricotta, pomodoro tomato and crumbs) as my entree:

I loved its presentation: one side of the piada was wrapped in neatly folded parchment paper with an “eatPIADA” sticker on it. The piada was toasted, which you have to ask for. Normally, the piada’s come chilled unless asked. The first thing I noticed after taking a bite was the cheese. I’m a huge cheese lover, so of course I loved the juicy, creamy, mozzarella with the sweet, crumbly ricotta with a hint of tang. The two cheeses brought a balance to the piada. If you’re not a huge fan of cheese, however, I would avoid this piada, as it does take up a great deal of the wrap. There was so much cheese in the piada that the rest of the flavors (tomatoes, crumbs, and chicken) weren’t coming through as well. While too much sauce could’ve caused a big mess, just a tad more sauce could’ve helped bring this piada to outstanding-ness. I also wish the sauce was a bit more tangy. The grilled chicken was delicious, but as I said, wasn’t as apparent as the cheese.

Now at first I thought paying $8 for a 12 inch wrap was a little pricey. But then thinking of prices in this area, $8 is a fair price for a wrap. The $8 also included sales tax, making it very easy to pay (even prices).

To drink, I noticed how eatPIADA had different flavored waters, sodas and juices in its cooler. However, I was eyeing the fresh-made lemonade for $3. When the server asked if I wanted it frozen, my eyes lit up widely, “Yes, please!”

This frozen lemonade was amazing, and definitely tasted fresh-squeezed. I have to say “Goodbye” to McDonald’s new strawberry frozen lemonade that I raved about on my Twitter and Facebook pages. If you get a chance to stop in eatPIADA, definitely try this frozen drink. It’s not too tart, not too sweet and is very light and bubbly. Once you finish drinking the lemonade part, there will be some frozen ice leftover in the cup. Unlike a good deal of slushie-type drinks though, this frozen lemonade actually seeps into the ice, meaning that the ice you’ll be opening your lid to eat won’t just be lemon flavored ice, it’ll taste like frozen lemonade. Amen to that.

I loved the first two things I tried, but I couldn’t resist having chocolate with my meal. While one half of eatPIADAs huge chilled food case was filled with the piada ingredients, the other half was filled with fresh-made baked goods, including chocolates, pastries and what I got, truffles.

The $2 truffle I got was no regular truffle. It was a huge, fudgey, amazing ball of chocolate. The server told me the “cookies and cream” one that I got was her favorite as well and she called it something to the likes of  “chocolately goodness.”

For $2, what chocolate lover wouldn’t want to test out one of these truffles? After taking one bite, I was hooked. Oreo crumbs on the outside, rich, chocolate fudginess on the inside. One of the best desserts I’ve ever had thus far in life, hands down.

eatPIADA opened about a month ago, according to its website. Its website also notes that it uses organic and local products whenever possible, which is exciting! As eatMOSAIC is known for its daily changing 5-course menu, I’m curious as to whether eatPIADA will do something of the same sort. We shall see. But for now, Long Islanders, I most definitely recommend eatPIADA if you’re looking for a quick bite in Port Jeff.  It has the full package I was speaking of earlier: reasonable prices, great atmosphere, fresh, delicious food and drinks. And vegetarians, you’ll definitely love this place too as it has great veggie piada options.

Mangia!

SYRACUSE — $20 or Less: Two Ships Passing in the Night — Darwin

DARWIN. 211 N. Clinton St. Syracuse

HOURS: 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

http://www.darwinonclinton.com

(315) 373-0484

Attention vegetarians (and non-vegetarians, too!)!!!

There is an amazing $8 sandwich at Darwin for you to try out the next time you’re looking for a great sandwich for lunch.

It’s name? Two Ships Passing in the Night.

Here’s what its’ website says about the sandwich:

TWO SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT ($8)
Get it…  “No MEAT!”  You can thank Dave for that one.  Vegetarians have had a hit or miss experience at DARWIN.  We’ve been working on that.  We haven’t had a strictly vegetarian options until now.  We’ve decided to do our version of the “French Smuggler.”  A popular veggie sandwich that consists of fresh, soft mozz, marinated portabello mushrooms, frizzled red onion, a thick slice of parmesan crusted tomato, fresh spinach and basil stacked on Pasta’s stretch and finished with our homemade creamy balsamic.  Vegetarians…  We hope it was worth the wait.  Non-vegetarians…  You’ll love it too..

This sandwich packs a punch of delicious flavors: the thick slice of mozzarella is the true “meat” of the sandwich alongside the juicy portabello mushrooms. The frizzled red onions bring a sweet crunch, with the fresh spinach and basil bringing the strong green flavors. The balsamic brings the entire sandwich together with its sweet yet tangy flavors.

Here’s me showing what the sandwich looks like:

SYRACUSE — Midnight Snack: Sauteed Mushrooms

I got home about a half hour ago and I kept thinking about what to eat for a little midnight snack. I love anything chocolate-related, but tonight I raided my fridge and found a beautiful package of mixed mushrooms that I bought at Wegmans.

At the Wegmans in DeWitt, N.Y. there is a section right as you walk into the produce area that has chopped veggies in plastic-wrapped packages. The one I got, “Mushroom Blend,” was $3.70 and included white mushrooms, Portabello mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms.

After first rinsing them in a colander with water, I sauteed the mushrooms in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and balsamic vinegar on the stove for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

The balsamic gets soaked into the mushrooms for a delicious, tangy yet sweet taste. Each mushroom has its own distinct flavors: the white having a fluffy, lighter taste than the meaty, fleshy Portabello’s. The shiitakes have a tangier taste.

If you’re looking for something different at midnight, please try this too and tell me what you think! It’s an under $5 snack too, and you’re getting a serving (or two) of your daily vegetables. Yummy!

SYRACUSE — $20 or Less: Dorian’s Caesar Salad & Eggplant Pizza Parmiziana Pizza

My take-out order ready to go!

Dorian’s Gourmet Pizza and Deli

534 Westcott St.

Syracuse, N.Y. 13244

(315) 472-2697

HOURS:

11 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. (Sun. through Thurs.)

11 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. (Fri. & Sat.)

Last night I was looking for a quick and easy meal to pick up, bring home and eat.

I was over in the University area and immediately thought about Dorian’s Gourmet Pizza & Deli in the Westcott district.

Dorian’s is home to delicious buttery-crust pizza: crunchy, light and airy crust with lots of great options of toppings to choose from. They also have the Twelve Greek God sandwiches, wraps, sides (the jalepeno poppers are wonderful: creamy melted cheese mixed with the spicy jalepenos in a crunchy breading), and more!

My meal last night was only $13.60 (tax included) and was just the right portion for a dinner-for-one.

Here’s what I got:

Caesar Salad ($5.10): This Caesar salad packs alot of goodies. The dressing had a beautiful golden hue and had a tang to it that enhanced the salad’s taste. The bitter olives brought out the salad dressing’s tangy taste as well. I’ll admit, I only had a few bites of olives because I’m usually not a huge fan of them. But the few bites I had were good. The croutons were fluffy, yet crunchy. The lettuce had a gorgeous green color and had a crunch that crisp, fresh salad leaves should have. The onions and cucumbers balanced the salad, bringing out the sweetness from the tang of the Caesar dressing. I loved this salad! Very different from most Caesar’s I’ve had (white, creamy dressing and darker leaves).

Small Eggplant Pizza Parmiziana ($7.49): The crust is the star of the show at Dorian’s: light, airy buttery crust with a crunch as you bite through the slices. But what gives the pizza it’s extra kick are all of the fresh toppings. This pizza in particular brought a whole new meaning to Eggplant Parmigiana. While I was expecting more marinara sauce, the pizza didn’t need it. The meaty mushrooms and herb-filled breaded eggplant mixed with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese made the pizza what it was. The sweet cheese with the more bitter Parmesan enhanced the pizza further. I love eggplant pizza and this was definitely one worth trying.

To conclude, here’s a k@vlog of me trying the pizza and salad last night!

SYRACUSE — RAW FOOD at Green Planet Grocery!

When you think of “Raw Food” what is the first thing that comes to mind?

I think of raw meats, fish, vegetables and fruits.

My last post was about different “Green” food items. This post will talk about a “Green” grocery store: Green Planet Grocery. It recently opened just off of Route 5 in Fairmount, N.Y. My friend Deandra told me about the supermarket and how they have a Vegan Raw Food Cafe there as well. She was telling me the other day about their Raw Food Nachos that were AMAZING, and I was immediately very curious about this “Raw Food” and what it’s all about.

What is raw food? Here are some bullet points about it, from the website http://www.thebestofrawfood.com :

“We call food raw if it is:

  • Uncooked – never heated above 42 C/118 F degrees.

and preferably:

  • Unprocessed – as fresh (or wild) as possible
  • Organic – no irradiation, preservatives, pesticides or GMO.”

Raw food is food that is uncooked and is very fresh. And chef Mariesa Pitonzo from the Raw Food Cafe stresses that in her blog Eye of Raw, where she writes in her bio page the following about herself and her transformation to the Raw Food Diet:

“My raw transformation has completely changed my life.  With in the first three weeks of my transformation, I lost 15 lbs and gained so much energy. I did this by eating many different foods, the only difference is that they are healthier for the body and contain so many enzymes that your body wants and needs!

So why not cook your food? Cooking your food kills all the enzymes and nutrients that it has to offer. Your body needs nutrients to function properly, different nutrients and vitamins affect different organs in your body. The enzymes are whats going to help the digestion process. I highly stress buying local organic fruits and vegetables so that you can get all of what your food has to offer you. If local is not available, still buy organic. This not only produces more nutrients, it is pesticide free and better for your consumption.

The benefits of being RAW: High Energy, you will be the weight your body desires to be, (never count a calorie again!) no brain fog, you will be chemical free, the list can go on and on.” — Mariesa Pitonzo on EyeofRawFoods.com

Deandra and I hopped in the car yesterday and drove over to try some of the “Raw Food” chef Pitonzo had to offer! I was extremely excited about trying something new and completely different from the average grocery store food.

Once we walked in, we were greeted by friendly staff at the cashier counters and headed straight over to the Raw Food Cafe, which is straight ahead as you walk into the Green Planet Grocery. Chef Mariesa was cooking up a storm in the cute kitchen they had in the cafe. The whiteboard had the Raw Food menu of the day, which included the entree, an Antioxidant Salad, and the assortment of smoothies you could get.

Antioxidant Salad (half size), $5.99, Raw Food Cafe @ Green Planet Grocery

We both decided to try the Antioxidant Salad, which certain was full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including Asparagus, mixed greens and herbs, a raspberry and kiwi salad dressing, pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more. The half salad that we each got was $5.99, but you could get a full sized for $8.99.
Wow!! What a salad…What I really loved about the salad were the different flavors I had in my mouth. Between the sweet, yet creamy dressing (which Mariesa said she used things such as coconut oil and EVOO in it) , the actual fruits in it, the raw veggies and different seeds on top, it certainly filled me up for the afternoon.

"Green Machine" smoothie (small): Raspberries, Blueberries, Kale and Spinach, $3.99

The smoothie very much impressed me as well. I am a HUGE fan of smoothies, especially ones with lots of yummy fruits in them. While Deandra got an AMAZING smoothie called “Chocolate Banana” that had frozen bananas, almond butter and cocoa bits in it (it was a filling, delicious dessert-type-of-drink!), I got a “Green Machine” smoothie, which was DELICIOUS as well! I have heard this name for a smoothie before, with the “Green Machine” smoothies from the “Naked” juice brand. But this smoothie I had was great: For $3.99 I got to choose two fruits and two vegetables to make my “Green Machine.” I first chose raspberries and blueberries for my fruits, because I LOVE those two fruits dearly, and I know that blueberries especially have high antioxidants. Mariesa chose Kale and Spinach for me as my two vegetables, and my smoothie turned out delicious. While Mariesa said the fruits would overpower the vegetables, they didn’t at first for me: I tasted the leaves of the kale and spinach. But later, as I took sips, I tasted the berries and enjoyed my smoothie immensely.

Walking around the store afterward with Deandra, I also found a DESSERT made by Mariesa in a refrigerated case: a vegan, raw, gluten-free and soy-free Chocolate Lavender Cheesecake. One slice is $5.99.
Chocolate and Cheesecake = LOVE!!!

But lavender? In a dessert? This was new to me. I was once again, quite curious.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Please watch my video below to find out more about the cheesecake! I’ll tell you this: it was very chocolately and decadent, yet tasted very healthy and fruity. The pomegranate seeds gave it that extra kick of deliciousness!

While I am not a vegan or vegetarian ( I love eating meat!) I really enjoyed trying all of these new ways to prepare food, and you could definitely try them out too!

Check out Mariesa’s website:  http://eyeofrawfoods.com/

And if you want to check out Green Planet Grocery, here’s their information:

3514 W Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13219
Phone: (315) 488-7777

RECIPES — Eggplant Parmigiana…With a Twist!

A few weekends ago I decided to make a homemade eggplant parmigiana. I had bought an eggplant from the store and wanted to use it. I got to slicing it into the length-wise pieces and I got to thinking…”How can I spice things up a bit?”

Which led me to my new twist on the original recipe:

Kat’s Spicy Eggplant Parmigiana

1 jar Wegman’s Diavolo Sauce

1 portion of pasta of your choice ( I chose Wegman’s Whole Wheat Linguini!)

1 bag shredded Mozzarella cheese

2 small cups applesauce

1 Italian sweet pepper

2 cups breadcrumbs

Method:

Cut eggplant into 1 inch lengthwise pieces.

In a medium bowl, place breadcrumbs in a bowl. In a smaller bowl, place applesauce inside.

Dip eggplant pieces into applesauce and then roll them around in the breadcrumbs.

In a medium frying pan- place olive oil in pan. Cook eggplant pieces in pan until pieces are golden brown.

In a small baking dish, layer diavolo sauce, eggplant pieces.  Place bag of mozzarella cheese on top. Cook until cheese has melted/ turned golden brown.

In a sauce pot, boil pasta to your liking.

Chop Italian sweet pepper into small pieces and boil with pasta.

When plating, place pasta/pepper mixture down first, then plate the eggplant.

Enjoy!

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