27 November 2010

Hot Lobster Roll at Lobster Landing - Clinton, Connecticut

If you visit the Connecticut coast, you need to eat a hot lobster roll at Lobster Landing LLC in Clinton. We drove in through the town of Clinton and enjoyed views of all kinds of interesting homes on the way. Here's a short video of part of our journey.

The building sporting the name "Lobster Landing" looks a million years old and tells you that this place has been here for a while and is one of a kind.

Lobster Landing

If you want fresh seafood, enter the above shack. But if you want a hot lobster roll and cold canned sodas/bottled water, visit the marquee to the left. When we visited in June 2010, the marquee was staffed by friendly teenage girls making some extra bucks during their summer break. We ordered our hot lobster rolls ($14) and a few minutes after we'd found a table on the deck just feet from the water, one of the girls delivered the food.

Hot Lobster Roll

We'd never seen or eaten anything like it. Buttery lobster goodness on a roll that was soft, but strong enough to handle the juices. Considering the amount of lobster in these rolls, they're an absolute bargain. Very tasty and the views on a sunny day aren't bad either. There are quite a few places in the area serving hot lobster rolls, but I can't see many of them topping Lobster Landing.

Lobster Landing on Urbanspoon

07 November 2010

Recipe: Mexican Gelatina Mosaico

Mexican Gelatina Mosaico
After falling in love with this stuff at El Super in Inglewood, California, we had to learn to make it ourselves at home here in Australia. It's actually really easy, cheap, and really fun to eat. Only thing is, it's torturous trying to wait for them to set. But as they say, good things come to those who wait and this stuff is GOOD! For the gelatin, choose your favourite flavours/colours. We used Strawberry, Lemon & Lime. Deliciosa!

Gelatina Mosaico Vaso Gelatin CupINGREDIENTS
3 boxes flavoured gelatin (eg. Jello or Aeroplane Jelly, any flavours)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can of condensed milk or cream
2 packages of unflavoured gelatin

1. Prepare the flavoured gelatins according to directions on the package, but reduce the required water by half.
2. Pour the gelatin into separate rectangular dishes and chill until set.
3. Cut the gelatin into small cubes and put the cubes into serving cups or bowls. Put a mix of flavours into each.
4. Blend the sweetened condensed milk and the condensed milk in a pitcher or bowl.
5. Prepare the unflavoured gelatin according to directions on the package, but again reduce the required water by half.
6. Add the unflavoured gelatin to the milk mixture.
7. Pour the gelatin/milk mixture over the gelatin cubes.
8. Place them in the fridge and chill until set (minimum 4 hours).
9. Enjoy!

10 October 2010

Breadtop - King William Street, Adelaide

The opening of the original Adelaide location was the subject of my very first post on The Lonely Plate back in April 2010. I'm pleased to write that Adelaide's second Breadtop location opened this week on King William Street at the entrance to Southern Cross.

new Breadtop location in Adelaide!

Both times I've visited the new store, it was full of students and business people taking advantage of its location near Rundle Mall. It's more accessible than the market store and seemed to have a better selection of baked goods.

Second Adelaide location!

I had walked by the old Beard Papa shop many times to check the progress of the construction. I have to say this location looks fantastic. It's also very dangerous that it's in walking distance from where I work. Moderation, Nat. Moderation!

The chefs and ovens are behind the tables and chairs

Not a huge amount of seating at this location, but there are some extra chairs and tables just outside the doors as you walk into Southern Cross.

Extra seating outside Breadtop

Hopefully the King William location won't be the last to be added in Adelaide. It's really handy to have these reasonably priced buttery baked goods close by.

Breadtop on Urbanspoon

06 October 2010

Recipe: Banana Bread

This classic recipe is the perfect way to use up those over-ripe bananas. For fluffy banana bread goodness:

1 cup sugar
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Grease loaf pan or cake pan with butter, margarine, or canola spray. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in mashed banana, oil, beaten eggs, milk, vanilla, and chopped nuts (optional). Mix well with wooden spoon. Bake for 40-45 mins. Bread is cooked when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

28 September 2010

Liberty Elm Diner - Providence, Rhode Island

We were driving through Rhode Island and even though it doesn't take long to get to the other border, we decided to stop for lunch in Providence at the Liberty Elm Diner. The diner, partly housed in a 1947 Worcester Lunch Car, has a long history under many different names. The current name Liberty Elm is a reference to the commitment to one percent of profits going toward the purchase of American Liberty Elm trees for Elmwood Avenue. But the coolest thing about the place is the current ownership's commitment to locally sourced, sustainable ingredients.

Liberty Elm Diner

There was a lot to choose from on the menu. I went for the breakfast burrito since I was half wanting breakfast and half wanting lunch. I thought this was a bit of a compromise. It was full of home cooked pinto beans (lard-free), homemade salsa, American cheese and local free range eggs all wrapped in an organic wheat tortilla. A hearty and healthy meal.
(also note the cute umbrella)

Breakfast Burrito

The house-roasted turkey sandwich was also refreshingly healthy and satisfying. The turkey was delicious and the tomatoes full of flavor, but the star of this sandwich is the pea sprouts in place of lettuce. Gives the sandwich a whole different personality. This was not your typical sandwich.

House-roasted Turkey Sandwich

Unfortunately, we ran out of room before we got to try their famous and regional specialty Johnny Cakes but I hear they're pretty tasty. If we're ever in Providence, Rhode Island again we know where we'll be heading.

P.S. Breakfast and Lunch are served all day (they're open until 3pm and are closed Mondays).

Liberty Elm Diner on Urbanspoon

18 September 2010

BoxLunch - Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The best meal we ate at Cape Cod in Massachusetts was lunch in Eastham at a place called BoxLunch. I had read about the franchise before we went and had to check it out. Apparently their specialty, the "rollwich" (a rolled sandwich), has its own history in the area as a convenient packed lunch for fishermen. Darren had the Lobster My Way Rollwich for $11.99. Very fresh and very tasty cold lobster with lettuce, tomato and mayo inside a thin pita roll.

Lobster Rollwich

If you're not such a big fan of lobster or just want something different that's cheaper, they've got plenty of other options - most around the $5-$7 mark. I got the Turkey Club Rollwich for $6.79 which had turkey, bacon, American cheese, lettuce and tomato. Yum!

Turkey Club Rollwich

If you're in Cape Cod and want something healthy, tasty and reasonably priced, check out BoxLunch. We went to the Eastham location but they've got several locations on the cape. Well worth a try and perfect for a beach picnic.

inside Eastham Box Lunch

Box Lunch on Urbanspoon

28 August 2010

Flour Bakery - Boston, Massachusetts

Flour Bakery is a well loved bakery and cafe with three locations in the Boston area. They're best known for their sticky buns, which are full of buttery, sugary, nutty, melt in your hands and mouth goodness. They have to be tried to be understood. These sticky buns are so popular that you need to get there early, or pre-order them so they hold some for you. We got there after 9am so had to drive to a second location to get our hands on this one, but it was well worth the drive!

Sticky Bun

There is much more to Flour than just their world famous sticky buns, however. Pretty much everything they make seems to have magical qualities. I'd never had a "muffin top" before but when I saw a Vanilla Berry Muffin Top in the window, I had to try one. I really love this muffin top idea. After all, the best part of the muffin is at the top where the sugar sort of crystalises and the muffin goes all golden brown. Not sure if anyone could do the muffin top as well as Flour. It was moist all the way through and full of berries. In fact, it was so good we had to go back and buy whatever was left of the batch. Luckily for our wallets and waistline - only one. Yes, please!

Vanilla Berry Muffin Top

This breakfast sandwich was also incredibly tasty - eggs the way you like it (we got ours scrambled), ham or bacon, fresh lettuce and tomato and the most refreshing mustardy sauce on a soft but not too soft bread roll. Simple yet amazing stuff!

Egg & Bacon Breakfast Sandwich

Flour Bakery - a must visit when you're in Boston.

Flour Bakery + Cafe on Urbanspoon

21 August 2010

El Super - Inglewood, California

Another gem we discovered in Los Angeles was El Super, an awesome Mexican grocery store. We visited the Inglewood store, but there are several locations in the Los Angeles area.
El Super grocery store

The name is pretty accurate. It was actually super. They have most of what you'd expect to find in a grocery store, plus a whole lot more Mexican stuff that you may have never tried. We loved it so much, we went back a few times during our stay.

The panaderia (bakery) selection was huge with all kinds of breads and cakes.
Panaderia (Bakery)

The prices were excellent. For example, we got a bunch of different flavors of Mexican sodas (mostly Jarritos brand) and I'm pretty sure they were 3 for $2.

They also sell cool stuff like nopales (cactus).
Nopales (cactus) in the grocery store

And they sell the most delicious gelatina mosaico from the deli. We didn't want this stuff to end when we were eating it, so addictive!
Gelatina Mosaico Vaso Gelatin Cup

For a really fun, cheap and different grocery shopping experience check out El Super in Los Angeles.

07 August 2010

Ricos Tacos El Tio - Inglewood, California

On arrival in Los Angeles and to start our latest trip to America in June, we went straight to In-N-Out Burger (see previous post), then to check in to our hotel in Hawthorne. Hawthorne is near the airport and not in the nicest part of town, but we were on a budget. In fact, Compton is only a couple of suburbs away. However, you never know where you are going to find great food and that night we found it at Ricos Tacos El Tio in the neighboring suburb of Inglewood at 4200 West Imperial Hwy. We followed the crowd and we weren't disappointed.

Ricos Tacos
Side view of Ricos Tacos the morning after our introductory visit

Mexican Taqueria style food - the real stuff. I can't tell you everything on the menu, but the basics are tacos, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and burritos. There are plenty of choices when it comes to meat - carne asada, bbq pork, chicken and several others. Most dishes are served with pickled carrots, radishes, jalapeños and lime on the side.

BBQ Pork Tacos
BBQ Pork Tacos

Prices are good, service is fast, opening hours are long and they're always busy. We visited a few times within the course of a couple of days and managed to sample several of their homemade aguas frescas - Tamarindo, Pineapple, Melon and my favorite Horchata (rice water). Definitely delicious and refreshing on a summer's day.

Ricos Tacos El Tio
Taco, Burrito and Aguas Frescas

This place is definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the Inglewood area and want good authentic food on a budget.

Ricos Tacos El Tio on Urbanspoon

31 July 2010

In-N-Out Burger

So apparently back in the day, McDonald's used to be really awesome. But along the way it's gotten so big and money hungry that it's lost a lot of its appeal. Everything's frozen, mass produced, and cooked by under-paid and over-worked staff. I can't eat the stuff because I feel physically ill during and after. It's just not right, it's not real food anymore. But I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir so enough of that terrible food imagery.

So yeah, all the good stuff that McDonald's apparently had going for it back in the good old days, In-N-Out Burger never changed. They don't freeze anything, all locations are within fresh trucking distance from suppliers, staff are paid a decent wage (well, more than minimum wage at least) and they don't do franchises. All 249 locations (as of 31 July 2010) are privately owned by the original family and are currently spread across California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. (I've written to them about coming to Australia but obviously, this isn't within trucking distance so I guess the chances aren't very good.) In the meantime, this is our ceremonial eating place upon arrival and prior to departure from the USA. This works quite well since we usually fly in and out of the country via California.

 Very rarely does In-N-Out disappoint. There's usually a pretty long line, but I've never waited more than 15 minutes. They often have someone walking the drive-thru line taking orders before the cars can get to the ordering speaker/microphone thingy which seems to put the orders through a lot more efficiently.

The menu is very simple and apparently has hardly changed from the 50s. The burger choices are: hamburger, cheeseburger or double double (double meat, double cheese). Not a very long list, huh? There is only one size of french fries. 

I think staff and customers would both agree: simple is good. However, a "secret menu" (which is actually on their website now, at least partially) has developed over the years and most people who've eaten at In-N-Out before have probably ordered something off of it. When I was gluten-free, I used to order my burgers "protein style" which means the burger is wrapped in lettuce with no bun. For the vegetarians, there's a grilled cheese sandwich. There's also the 3x3 (3 meat patties & 3 cheese slices). Apparently someone once ordered a 100x100, but now the biggest staff are allowed to sell is a 4x4. Probably for the best! But I'd say the most commonly ordered item off the secret menu is animal style burgers, which is different to a normal burger in that it has a mustard-cooked patty, and added pickles, grilled onions and extra spread (spread is a mixture of ketchup, mayo and relish). More recently, animal style fries have gained momentum as well. They've got cheese, spread and grilled onions on top.
More about the Secret Menu here

Some interesting things to look out for next time you're at In-N-Out are the subliminal Bible Verses printed on the cups and wrappers (eg. "John 3:16" is printed on the bottom inside rim of the drink cups). Apparently the founding Snyder family started printing the verses in the 80s as a "reflection of their beliefs." A bit weird but interesting nonetheless. I was once told the palm trees which are planted in the front of locations in the shape of an X were in reference to the cross of Jesus but apparently it's actually a movie reference to Harry Snyder's favorite movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." Another tidbit is you can buy In-N-Out Burger collector t-shirts (they only have one design at a time usually) for about $8.50 and they'll give you stickers at most locations if you ask. The headquarters for the full range of In-N-Out merchandise and apparel is in Las Vegas, Nevada and you can also order stuff online. And with that, I leave you with this food porn...

Hamburger (left) and Double Double (right):
Hamburger and Double Double

Update: Apparently In-N-Out has plans to open locations in Texas! Read the story

18 July 2010

Camy Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant in Melbourne

OK readers of The Lonely Plate, I've done a bit of traveling and a lot of eating so I've got a lot of posts saved up to share with you. To start off this little travel series, I'd like to tell you about one of our favorite places to chow down for cheap in Melbourne: Camy Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant. It's located on the edge of Chinatown on Tattersalls Lane (a bit of an alleyway) between Little Bourke and Lonsdale. This place pretty much rules because they're fast, really cheap, healthy and they have free self-serve tea! They're always busy and staff can be quite rude at times, but you'll never wait long and you can always count on leaving full and satisfied for a good price.

I'm a huge fan of their Chinese Broccoli. They put this awesome brown sauce over the greens that's a little bit sweet and makes them extra delicious.

Chinese Broccoli

Free tea also pictured above - don't forget it's self serve along with the plates, cups, cutlery, etc located in a little cubby area around to the right of the main entrance as you come in.

Free self-serve Tea

Being a dumpling restaurant, they have quite a few dumpling choices. I'm definitely a fan of the steamed dumplings over the fried, but this is just personal preference. If you like prawns and don't mind fairly strong spinach flavour, I recommend the spinach and prawn:

Prawn & Spinach Dumplings

Or of course you can't go wrong (unless you're a vegetarian of course) with the classic pork:

Steamed Dumplings

If you can eat a lot of dumplings, you can get like 15 or 20 for $6 so don't be shy.

Their noodle dishes are pretty tasty also. This trip we stopped here for a quick, cheap feed with some free hot tea on a cold winter's day before catching our flight to the USA. Next time you're hungry in Melbourne and on a budget, check this place out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Camy Shanghai Dumpling on Urbanspoon

19 May 2010

Seng Kee Yum Cha - Adelaide Central Market, South Australia

You've probably heard of yum cha which means "drink tea" in Cantonese and refers to the experience of drinking Chinese tea and eating dim sum dishes. (Note: Yum cha is often referred to as dim sum in the US.) The yum cha experience involves trays covered in steamers containing three or four small items each being rolled around the restaurant and offered to patrons. When items are accepted by the table, numbers are stamped or crossed off on a card which becomes the bill when it's time to pay. Because the portions are small and groups usually share food, you can try lots of different dishes. In Chinese culture, yum cha has become a common weekend family experience and many restaurants only serve yum cha on weekends and only until about 3pm. We're quite spoiled in Adelaide because we have some awesome (as good as any restaurant I've tried) and cheap yum cha available at the Adelaide Central Market food court 6 days a week (only closed Mondays). Plus, Chinese tea is free. If you're in Adelaide and you haven't tried Seng Kee Yum Cha, you are missing out!

Dishes pictured (clockwise from top left): siu mai, prawn ha kao, bean curd, and pork spare ribs. *mouth waters*

Seng Kee Yum Cha!

more Seng Kee Yum Cha photos here

Seng Kee Yum Cha on Urbanspoon

01 May 2010

Vietnamese Three Colour Bean Drink

Most of you have probably heard of pho (pronounced fə̃), which is Vietnamese noodle soup. But one of the other joys of Vietnamese restaurants is the assortment of drinks you are unlikely to find at other restaurants. For example, Longan Drink, Soda Egg with Milk, Ginseng Mixed Nuts Drink, Jackfruit Smoothie, Young Coconut Drink, Guyabano Smoothie, and more. Yes, you could order a Coke with your pho but you would miss out on the opportunity to experience some unique flavours that you may never have tasted before. And you never know which one you might fall in love with. I particularly enjoy the Three Colour Bean Drink, which is quite filling in its own right. The three colours are made up of red kidney beans, yellow mung beans and green jelly strips. The drink also contains crushed ice, sugar and coconut milk. Here's a recipe. You are supposed to mix it up and then eat/drink it. If you haven't tried this concoction before, definitely ask for it next time you're ordering Vietnamese food. Best Vietnamese drinks (and food) we've found so far here in Adelaide are near Hanson Road. Here's the Three Colour Bean Drink before & after mixing at Hoang Gia Quan, on Hanson Road near the Arndale Shopping Centre.

Edit: Forgot to say that if you are going to visit the Hanson Road area, it's a good idea to stick to daylight hours only.

Hoang Gia on Urbanspoon

27 April 2010

Cafe de Vili's

Cafe de Vili's is an Adelaide institution and like most Adelaide institutions, not very well publicised. But nobody tells me this stuff so I just learn the hard way through trial and error so I can share the gems with you. Cafe de Vili's is right next to the Vili's factory and they're open 24/7, which is extremely rare for restaurants in Adelaide. Only other one I know of open 24/7 is the Pancake Kitchen which I wouldn't recommend unless you're really desperate. In addition to their main drawcard, the Aussie meat pie, Cafe de Vili's sells all kinds of other stuff. Donuts, lamingtons, slices, cold drinks, hot drinks, sausage rolls, Vili dogs, schnitzels, sandwiches, salads, chips with gravy, chicken, fish, etc. So far, we reckon the winner from the menu is the Vili Burger with chips (pictured below) for around $9. It's actually the best burger we've had in Adelaide thus far, and better than many we've paid a lot more for. Comes with traditional Aussie toppings of a fried egg & beetroot (aka beets) plus lettuce, tomato, bacon and as much tomato sauce (ketchup) as you want from the self serve Vili's sauce bottles (far left end of the sales counter). So if you're in the Mile End South area and you're hungry (or thirsty), no matter the time or the day, stop by Cafe de Vili's at 2-14 Manchester Street.

Vili Burger

Cafe de Vili's on Urbanspoon

24 April 2010

Recipe: ANZAC Biscuits for ANZAC Day

This Monday is ANZAC Day here in Australia so what better way to pay tribute to the ANZACs than to make and consume some ANZAC Biscuits. For those of you not from Australia or New Zealand, ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The biscuits are cookies, believed to be sent to (or some say even made by) soldiers in WWI. They are believed to have been developed (without eggs due to their lack of availability during wartime) to withstand transport and to keep well for a long period of time. Here's a recipe I recommend:

Chewy ANZAC Biscuits

Anzac Biscuits

Preparation time: about 25 minutes (excludes baking time)
Makes about 25 biscuits.

  • 100g butter
  • 40ml (1 tablespoon) golden syrup
  • 92g (1 cup) rolled oats
  • 80g (1 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 150g (1 cup) plain flour
  • 112g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 56g (1/4 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 40ml (2 tablespoons) boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Celsius fan-forced). If you will be baking one tray of biscuits at a time, place an oven rack in the centre of the oven. If you wish to bake two trays of biscuits at a time, place one oven rack in the upper half of the oven and one in the lower half of the oven.
  2. Line one or two large baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Place butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Place oats, coconut, flour, caster sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  5. Stir together until well combined.
  6. When butter has melted, combine bicarb soda and boiling water in a small bowl or cup, and then stir into the butter and golden syrup mixture.
  7. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients.
  8. Stir ingredients together until well combined.
  9. Roll level, firmly packed tablespoons of the mixture into balls or if using a round tablespoon to measure, just leave as spoon shaped mounds.
  10. Place dough balls/mounds about 5cm apart on the prepared tray/s.
  11. Using your fingers or a fork, slightly flatten the dough balls/mounds to form 1cm thick, 5cm diameter discs.
  12. Bake for about 15-16 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown but still soft (a longer cooking time will produce crisper, drier biscuits). If you aren't using a fan-forced oven, and are baking two trays of biscuits at a time, swap the positions of the trays halfway through the baking time. This will allow the biscuits to cook more evenly. You may also need to extend the baking time by a few minutes.
  13. Cool biscuits on trays for about three minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  14. Store cooled biscuits in an airtight container. The biscuits will soften over time. 

20 April 2010

Locust Pizza

And now for the slightly bizarre... Would you eat locust pizza?

18 April 2010

The 'Mites

Something I definitely never tried in America is spreads made from yeast extract. These are used very commonly in Australia on toast, sandwiches and crackers. The best selling one in Australia is Vegemite...an Aussie food icon. I think it's something you have to grow up eating because I just can't handle the bitterness of it except in microscopic quantity. But a cheese and Vegemite sandwich is pretty much the Australian version of the American PB&J (peanut butter & jelly sandwich). I recently tried a couple of the other yeast spreads - Promite and Marmite (the New Zealand version, not the British version). Promite is the highest in it's sodium (salt) content. Marmite is the highest in sugar and probably for this reason a little milder in taste, which I like. Marmite also has the advantage of 11.5g of Dietary Fibre per 100g and 36mg of Iron per 100g, which none of the others claim on their Nutritional Information labels. I haven't tried the new Vegemite Cheesybite (formerly known as iSnack 2.0), the British version of Marmite, or Mighty Mite, but at the moment my vote goes to Sanitarium Marmite. I've been having a bit of it on my toast some mornings. Do you have a favorite 'Mite?