Surf’s Up at Betty’s Pizza in The Berkshires

The Berkshires might not be the first place you would think of treating yourself to a taco or a slice of pizza, but you would be thinking wrong.

20140913_134909 Betty’s Pizza looks like Gidget met Jerry Garcia in Tijuana. I mean that in a good way, in case that isn’t clear. The space is super casual and covered in bright paint, surfboards, and quirky movie posters. This is a great spot for families – we saw a ton of kids there, coloring with crayons that the restaurant provides. 20140913_135124 However, if you want to come by for a slice or 2, just stop by the counter and get something to go. 20140913_141220 Betty’s chopped salad with hopped Iceberg, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Grilled Chicken, Mozzarella Cheese, and Roasted Red Peppers

This looks mundane and tastes AWESOME! Yes, the dressing is in a little prepackaged cup, but in Betty’s defense, Ken’s really is some of the greatest bottled dressing on the market. It’s creamy, properly funky, and doesn’t have any weird gummy texture that lesser blue cheese dressings have. The lettuce is finely shredded, the peppers must be roasted in house (they are silky and have a smoky flavor), and the chicken is juicy and still warm. The eggs are a little overcooked, but it’s still an excellent combination of flavors and textures and this take on a cobb salad is really tasty and a great counterpart to the pizza.
20140913_141612 Half sausage, half mushroom pizza

Really satisfying – and I’m saying this after 8 years of New York City pies. Thin, lightly burnished crust with a tangy, bright sauce and plenty of cheese. Teh mushroom pie is studded with meaty shrooms and the sausage half was gobbled so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to try it…RUDE. 20140913_141756A little pale, but still delicious.

Betty’s is the perfect lunch spot in Lenox. It’s quick, it’s cheap, and it’s so tasty. Get the longboard if you want 8 pieces of pie – and oh, you do.

Next up: Another morning, another brekfast

MacDougal Street’s Greatest Hits – Mamoun’s and Artichoke Basille’s

You may, someday in the future, find yourself in Greenwich Village, near MacDougal Street.

You may be wearing a shirt that says “The Peach Pit” and carrying your backpack.

And yet , you are not 19.

But you still want to eat with the cool kids.

So you go here:

20140719_175214Mamoun’s. Where you will hob knob with prepsters visiting from Virginia, tourists from Japan with cameras larger than my bedroom, hospital residents on their 20 minute dinner break, and middle aged New Yorkers just looking for a standing room table and a hot falafel. Don’t miss the sleeper hit – tender, warm spinach pie that is mildly spiced and wrapped in what must be homemade pastry.

This place isn’t my favorite falafel in NYC, but it really does hit the spot and the price can’t be beat.
20140719_175457 Schwarma

Chargrilled with deep, smoky flavors and crispy edges surrounding juicy meat. The meat isn’t as tender as I like it, but when it’s served up with tahini and crunchy veggies in a warm pita, how can you resist? I can’t! The hot sauce her is VERY hot…not a lot of other flavors, but it does liven up the sandwich. 20140719_175509 Falafel

Mmm-mmm good! Soft and wide so it spans the width of the bread – no sad, falafel-less bites in this sandwich! The chickpea patty is gently spiced with fragrant herbs so it blends with the tart radishes and that nutty tahini. I liked this a lot, and for the price -well, it’s sensational.

Also ,these sandwiches are the perfect size – one will fill you up but not make you overstuffed.

That’s why you might want this after a few hours:20140719_203743Artichoke Basille’s Pizza

I mean, of course I waited this long to get to this popular pizza joint – that’s how I roll.

And though it’s not my be all-end all pizza  - I totally get the hype. It’s cheesy. It’s creamy. It’s laden with chewy artichokes and slivers of spinach. It’s salty and garlicky and indulgent. The crust is way too thick and stiff for me, but my husband loved it. I guess it’s to hold up to the slippery, uber thick and rich topping, but I like cracker thin pizza crust.

I mean, I still ate it…it was still pretty great.

Add in the 2 drinks I had earlier that night and you can see why I got the hype.

Trust me, when you are on MacDougal street, you will have had at least 2 drinks too. And then these 2 places will taste even better.

Russo’s – The Pizzeria of My Youth

On my little suburban jaunt, I needed more than lunch with appetizers and dessert.

Because once I am out of the 212, calories don’t count.

Luckily, my sister directed us to Russo’s Pizzeria.

I don’t know wheer she found it – it isn’t on any blog that I can find.

But it is one of the best old school slices I have ever, ever had.

photo 2 (1)

The joint is just like the one that I grew up going to - Winner’s, in Westlake, for any of my 818 peeps (ok that’s it for the area-code slang).

It’s family owned with some vinyl covered table, an ancient menu on the wall, and a bulletin board with business cards for towing companies, fliers for babysitters, and advertisements for local school plays.

It’s impossible not to like this place immediately.

And that’s before you even try the pizza.

photo 3 (1)

Sausage, Meatball, and Cheese

Be still, my heart.

The slices are thin and properly floppy, with doughy, floury bones. They aren’t too charred, but the best street slices aren’t. The sauce is mild and oregano heavy and the cheese is stretchy and tangy, put on with a light had so as not to overwhelm the delicate sauce. The meatballs are soft, spiked with fennel, and this sausage…oh this sausage. Shaved into thin, garlicky ribbons that almost melt into the cheese with porky goodness. Tiny crisp edges and melting, soft meat…this is the best sausage pizza I have ever had.

photo 5

This place is ridiculously cheap and the owner couldn’t be more efficient or kind. If you find yourself in town, come here.

After all, when calories don’t count, what do you have to lose?

Acqua at Peck Slip – Supporting the South Street Seaport

This was originally published about 3 years ago. Since that time, Hurricane Sandy ravished this part of Manhattan and many restaurants were badly hurt. So many closed and even more are struggling. I am republishing this in hopes to get people out of their ruts and into these restaurnts that want and deserve your business. 
If you think I spend a lot of time in the financial district…you are right.  I want to put the word in on a reliable, if slightly pricey, trattoria-esque option!
 Acqua Restaurant is located at peck slip downtown.  This is the oldest part of the city, and is covered in cobblestones and surrounded by buildings where Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody used to eat and drink when they performed at Madison Square Garden!
White pizza with potatoes, onions, prosciutto, and house made mozzarella
 Just what you expect in the best way possible.  This is reminiscent of one of my favorite CPK pizzas of all time, the late, great, rosemary chicken potato pizza.  Many a tears were shed when that pizza was retired.  But replacing the chicken with salty, silky, gently charred, fatty PROSCIUTTO?!?!  OK, this pizza raises the potato pizza BAR!  The crust is thin, crunchy at the edges, and tender within.   The potatoes must be par-boiled because they are meltingly soft as well as fried to a crunchy crisp at the top layer.  The onions are sweet and the mozzarella is the final taste layer of creamy goodness.  This pizza is a salty, creamy, sweet, crunchy, flavor bomb. 
Steamed snapper
 The fish is excellently, if simply, prepared, and the moist, sweet flesh sings with just a squeeze of lemon.  The spinach is perfectly cooked, tasting of all it’s minerally, vegetal goodness without too much overwhelming garlic.  The potatoes are also great-crispy, rosemary flecked, steaming hot and fluffy within,..this place is great with tubers!
Great food, nice atmosphere, good service…are there any downsides here? Ummm…yes.  This is pretty overpriced.  The pizza was $16 and the fish is $26.  In the east village, those prices would never fly, and even in hell’s kitchen you can do better than that.  But this is the FiDi.  And pickins are slimmer.  So…they can overcharge.  Is it fair?  No.  Is it the way of the world?  Yes.  Is it insanely expensive and overcharged? No.  Will I return?…Probably, yes.  For that pizza.  Because I love it.  And because in this neighborhood, it’s one of the only places to get this kind of meal…and because, once again, it’s carbs on carbs.  How can you really put a price on that?
Acqua at Peck Slip on Urbanspoon

Mad Square Eats – Bring Your Stretchy Pants

After many years of letting this semi-annual event pass me by, I finally dragged myself to Madison Square Eats

And then I had to roll myself home.

This foodie haven consists of various restaurants, carts, and food purveyors who gather near Madison Square Park for a month each season to stuff you with all the goodies your blood pressure can handle. We went on a Tuesday night and it was relatively crowded, so leave the Saturday nights to chumps and go there early in the morning if you must make this trip a weekend one. However, that night, the crowds were manageable. We even managed to score a small table (by watching its dawdling inhabitants like hawks).

And the food. Was. Great!

Roberta’s

IMG_20131001_200837_109First and foremost, we visited this station because, really…how could we not? Roberta’s is known for its pizza, and it really delivers. Thin, supple crust with an earthy, deep char that makes even a  vegetarian pie taste meaty and satisfying. IMG_20131001_200827_219 I must be the only person on the planet who does not love the Bee sting – the sauce is sensational – really spicy – but the honey is just too prevalent for my tastes. I’m not a fan. The special Supe Lace pizza, above, however, is dynamite. I can’t get over the crust – its’ just masterful. The sauce is bright and so vibrant that it’s practically alive, (in a good way, not a creepy way) and the cheese is both plentiful and tasty, but really…it’s the crust that takes the cake. It’s so delicious that I am literally dreaming of it. No matter how long this line is stand on it.

And get two pies at least.

I mean, we’re not fooling around here.

IMG_20131001_194554_374

Delaney BBQ taco stand.

So delicious that I ACTUALLY almost cried. That freakin awesome.

IMG_20131001_194820_056Their brisket is just so good. Tender, juicy, and really well seasoned – salt and pepper in every bite. It has a satisfying steak-like chew and it’s expertly  hand chopped. But the best part here are the accouterments. The soft, pliant tortilla, the acidic onions, the sharp cheese melting int he warmth and that chile sauce.

Be still, my heart.

That. Chile. SAUCE. Seriously wonderful. It isn’t hot at all, just heartily spiced with roasted chiles, cumin, and garlic. It reminds me of Taco Bell in the best way possible (is there a bad way to remind one of Tco Bell?)

I wolfed it down.

Trust me, you will, too.

IMG_20131001_194127_394

Vinh Dog at AsiaDog

IMG_20131001_194154_190This banh mi style dog is da BOMB mi.

Yes, I went there. It’s my blog, so I can do stuff like that.

Anyway, AsiaDog is really great! The hot dogs are juicy and not too salty, with an audible “snap” as you bite into them. The buns are well buttered ant toasted, adding to the taste and texture of the dish instead of just being a supporting player. At first, the cold, crisp vegetables are a little odd, temperature wise, next to the dog, but by the third bite, you will be hooked. They could have a heavier hadn with the pate but a little squirt of sriracha and mustard helps bring the umami flavor home. I would totally go back to Asia Dog and highly recommend it!They were also extremely fast in delivering your food.

I didn’t’ even get to half  of the eats that I tasted or half of the food that was offered! Brig some cash and bring some stretchy pants – and don’t wait as long as I did to get to Mad Square Eats!



 

Alpine Pizza – Inspired by Castello Moments

SPONSORED POST

I am a fan of excess.

I am the person who wants just 2 more days of vacation. Who leaves the house wearing just one more piece of jewelry than society might deem appropriate.

Who loves gilding the lily. 

That’s why I love cheese. Cheese transforms ordinary meals into culinary works of art. It makes a plain sandwich into a gourmet meal. It turns a lonely night into a night of lactose-loving abandon.

Yeah, I feel very passionately about cheese.

That’s why when Castello sent me 3 wheels of their Alps Selection Cheeses, I put on my stretchy pants, turned off my phone and went into the kitchen for a little one on  one time.

Me and the cheese.

TALK about a match made in heaven. 

fooood 090Castello Hirten is firm and crumbly, with a texture and saltiness that is reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. It has an extra salty, grassy punch that makes it ideal for use in an herby pesto or as a finishing cheese for pasta. I would even serve it for dessert with poached pears!

fooood 085

Castello Classico (shown here before I ravaged it with my bare hands) is the most savory cheese of those that I tried. Funky and earthy, with a firm, smooth texture and woodsy, spicy notes. This has hearty, umami notes that echo on as the cheese melts on your tongue. This needs a soft, sweet accompaniment like honey or juicy prunes. If you enjoy stinkier cheeses like tallegio or blue, you will really love this. It was my personal favorite!

fooood 094Castello Weissbier. Like a brie-Swiss hybrid. Buttery, creamy, and tangy. Soft but with enough firmness to be sliced. Ideal with a turkey sandwich or on a cheese plate with a piquant mustard.

But, as much as I loved eating these cheeses alone, I couldn’t let well enough alone.

Am I or am I not the queen of excess?

And what better way to gild this lily than with kielbasa, fried onions, and sauerkraut?

Put away the Lipitor and break out your dirndl skirts!

Kielbasa Alpine Pizza

2013-07-01 fooood1Ingredients:

1 lb. pizza dough

4 links kielbasa, removed from casing and crumbled

1 large onion, diced

2 bell peppers, diced (any color except green)

1/3 cup sauerkraut

2 tbsp. flour

2 tbsp. butter

1 whole milk

1 cup Castello Weissbier cheese, grated

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

fooood 1301. Put the oil into a large pan over medium heat. When it starts to ripple, add the onion and peppers. Decrease the heat to very low and let the onions and peppers slowly caramelize. This will take awhile – probably about 45 minutes. You don’t want any brown here, just sweet, translucent, jammy veggies. When everything is soft and sweet, drain the excess oil.

fooood 1332. Now, add the kielbasa.

fooood 1353. Cook until the kielbasa is totally browned and cooked. Drain excess oil and set aside.

fooood 1374. With the butter, flour, milk, and cheese, make a classic cheese sauce like in steps 2-4 of this Mac and Cheese recipe. Leave out the nutmeg and mustard. Once it is seasoned to your looking, take it off of the heat. Thais can be made ahead of time then applied to the dough while cold.

fooood 1405. Preheat your oven to 475 F and spread the pizza dough out on an oiled pizza stone or cookie sheet.

fooood 1436. Top the pizza with the sauce…

fooood 146the sausage and pepper mixture…

fooood 148and the sauerkraut.

fooood 1527. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is totally crisp, the sauerkraut is a little charred, and the cheese is bubbly. No peeking while it bakes! The key to great pizza is a super hot oven and you don’t want to let any of that heat escape.

fooood 1568. Serve.

This is the way that cheese is meant to taste. fooood 165Creamy, stretchy, and tangy. It melts beautifully and creates a rich, smooth base for this loaded ‘za. Countered by garlicky, salty kielbasa, sweet peppers and onions, and that kick of sauerkraut. The sauerkraut really mellows as it cooks – don’t be afraid of its pungent aroma before it goes in the oven! It is like a cabbage-pickle hybrid. And who doesn’t like pickles with their meat and cheese plates?!


The cheeses I tried were all delicious. From creamy and smooth to firm and piquant, with flavors varying from buttery to woodsy to downright meaty.

Just don’t let the cheese down by making it go to a party all alone. After all, the only thing better than cheese…

is cheese dressed up to the nines!

Win a Private Cheese Tasting in your own home – enter by clicking on the banner below. 
Castello Moments and this post is a collaboration between the blogger and Arla Foods USA. 

Win Castello Cheese Tasting

 

 

Co(pane) Was Worth the Wait

From the lost archives – my review of Co(pane):

I am not the kind of person who runs to a restaurant the day that it opens. I can’t stand lines or being on call-waiting for 30 minutes just to get a reservation. I figure, if the restaurant is great, it will only get better with time and practice. And if it isn’t, then all the better that I don’t waste my time and money while everyone else is doing just that!

So now you know where I stand…but that still does not excuse me.

 Co.(pane) opened in 2009, and I JUST made it here. Jim Lahey, bread guru behind no-knead bread (which, yes, I still have yet to make) and Sullivan Street Bakery (Home to truly delicious pizza bianca and other treats), opened this casual pizzeria as his first foray into New York’s competitive pizza world. Some people loved it, some were less than charmed. So how did it measure up?

 Co is a casual, breezy restaurant with lots of sunlight and a long communal table in the center of the room.

There is also a film projection of a fireplace. Consider me obsessed. Yes, there is a pizza oven behind that somewhere, but really…fake fire is just about the most fascinating thing ever.

 Veal meatballs with homemade sauce, Parmesan and basil, served with bread and butter.

I tried these mostly because Serious Eats had named them some of the 15 best meatballs in NYC. They are indeed delicious, but not what I would call the BEST. All of the flavors were spot on – mild, juicy veal, salty Pecorino and nutty Parmesan cheeses, fresh, acidic tomatoes and sweet basil. It was a textural thing for me. The balls were just too dense for me.

The bread served with it is totally exemplary. Sour, crusty, bouncy, with a loose crumb and some soft, sweet butter on the side.

Escarole salad with bread crumbs, capers, lemon, olive oil and anchovies

A truly awesome Caesar-type salad. Though it lacks the garlicky punch of Caesar, the salty, acidic, pungent dressing is like a breath of salty sea air and is totally amazing. No cheese is needed, with the brine and salt of the anchovies and capers giving the necessary salinity. The breadcrumbs were really freshly toasted croutons; thick, crunchy without and tender within. The escarole has the mild, verdant taste of romaine but the velvety mouth feel and stiff texture of endive.

Bird’s Nest Pie with Oma and Tallegio Cheeses, Asparagus, Quail Eggs and Truffles.

I was originally going to order the Margherita pizza, to see how they do a plain old ‘za, but…hello…truffles.

What kind of heathen doesn’t order truffles when the opportunity arises?

The aroma of truffles was apparent the second the pie hit the table, along with the deep scent of the Tallegio cheese.

Upskirt shot: charred in spots, but not burnt. Pliant but not flimsy. Exemplary crust.

And the pie itself is…fantastic. 

Fresh, light asparagus is shaved thin and piled on raw. Some pieces are snappy and fresh and some are charred to a crispy, almost sugary, carcinogen filled delight. The Tallegio cheese is melty and funky and the Oma cheese is buttery and rich. The eggs are delightfully runny and when broken  they create a rich sauce.

And the truffle. The bewitching, intoxicating, deep but heady truffle. Four thick and hearty shavings of it.

I love truffles.

The dough itself is excellent – not cracker thin, but still managing to be light and pliant and crispy at the same time.

I love this place. Great service, reasonable price point and some really amazing food. The Caesar salad was out of this world, and the birds nest pizza is something I could eat every day of my life.

Co was definitely worth the wait.

Co. (Company) on Urbanspoon

Potato, Fontina, and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Pizza goes along with hamburgers and root beer floats…these foods bring me straight back to childhood.

 After all, isn’t pizza nostalgic for most Americans? For me, the pizza of youth is California Pizza Kitchen. Some Chinese chicken salad, a bowl of creamy artichoke dip, and the rosemary potato chicken pizza made up many a father-daughter Saturday lunch date.

That pizza was the first time I realized that carbs could be put on carbs and called lunch. Crispy potatoes, crunchy crust, woodsy rosemary…it was the favorite pizza of my (admittedly pizza deprived, thanks to living on the west coast) youth. I still crave it, and so of course…

I had to recreate it.

Potato, Caramelized Onion, and Fontina Pizza (Adapated from Saveur)

Ingredients:

1 recipe pizza dough

6-8 Yukon gold potatoes, boiled until fork tender and very thinly sliced into rounds

1 small onion, sliced or diced and caramelized

1/3 lb. fontina cheese, shredded or thinly sliced

leaves of 2 sprigs of fresh thyme

leaves of 1 sprig rosemary, diced

salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if you are using one, if not a cookie sheet will also work)as high as it will go, then lay out your pizza dough as described here and top it with a layer of onions.

2. Top the onions with the herbs, then the potatoes – some of the potatoes can overlap, but they should mostly be in a thin layer. They will be sticky because of the starch, so if some stick together that is totally fine.

3. Top with the cheese, transfer to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and the crust is crisp.

4. Top with freshly ground black pepper and salt (if necessary – the dough may be salty enough as is), and serve!

This pizza couldn’t be easier  right?! And it really does take me right back to my childhood. Those creamy potatoes  crispy and charred at the edges. That luscious fontina cheese, buttery and bubbly. The wonderful onions, providing a sweet base flecked with rosemary and thyme to give it a strong backbone. The combination of these ingredients is really sublime – the pizza needs nothing extra, no modifications. Boiling the potatoes is totally key here -it helps the spuds melt into one carbolicious blanket.

 

Childhood was good, but with pizza this great…adulthood might be even better.

Because now, I can enjoy some wine with lunch.

 

Fig, Ricotta, and Prosciutto Pizza

Once upon a time, I had this recipe on this site that people loved.

It was elegant. It was satisfying. It was salty, sweet, and totally unique.

And then I moved my blog over from a Blogger to a WordPress site….and it got lost. Gone in the interwebs, never to return.

Except for the fact that I had shared that recipe on another one of the websites for which I write.

Thank you, interwebs, after all.

Fig, Prosciutto, and Ricotta Pizza (adapted from Whisked Foodie)

Ingredients:1 can pizza dough

1 log goat’s cheese

1 can pizza dough
1 log goat’s cheese
8 slices of prosciutto
4 tablespoons of fig jam
2 medium onions, cut into rings and sautéed in olive oil until caramelized

1. Unroll the pizza dough on a sheet pan covered in tinfoil. Also, preheat oven to 350F.

2. Spread the fig jam on the pizza crust.

3. Top with the caramelized onions and the ricotta.

4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a knife plunged into the center of the pie comes out clean, the bottom of the crust is crisp, and the cheese has turned brown and bubbly in spots.

5. When the pizza comes out, top it with the prosciutto.

6. Serve.

Do you see why I was so bummed when I thought that this was lost? It’s literally the ideal recipe. It’s easy. It’s fast. It does not require any super hard-to-procure ingredients. It’s complex but not intimidating and is easily adaptable. Don’t have pizza dough? How about some naan? Don’t like prosciutto? Try some turkey bacon. And this is also delicious with goat or blue cheese. So here it is. For posterity.

Until, that is, I change my website again.

How to Make a Pizza

And now to continue pizza making…how did I do it?

By following Pizza a Casa’s recipe:

3 1/2  cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups warm water, heated to about 120 F

(or beer…this is where the Sam Adams came into use. It produced a wheaty, sweet crust that enhanced the savory pizza toppings. It is also conveniently portioned – use one bottle, heat it gently on the stove, and there you have it!)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating Tupperware

1 T. sea salt (not iodized and fine crystal)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast in a large bowl.

2. Add the yeast and olive oil, and stir to combine.

3. Now make a mound of the ingredients in the middle of the bowl, add the beer or water to make a moat around the outside, and…

stir …

until the dough forms a mass like this. Mix it with a spoon at first, then with your hands till it just comes together.

4. Then knead it with your hands about 12 times, or until it feels kind of dense when formed into a smooth ball and poked. I think it feels like a lump of Play Doh!

5. Coat a Tupperware with oil.

 

6. Drop the ball in…

and let it rise for about 4 hours, or until there are large air holes in the dough. The dough should double in volume.

7. An hour before you are ready to bake the dough, preheat your oven as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it in there. If not, a cookie sheet will work alright, too. When you are ready, shape the dough into a circle by any means necessary- tossing, pulling, stretching…if you make a hole or 2, just patch it up. Actually, make it into two circles. This dough makes 2 pizza  don’t try to make it into tone or the dough will be too dense. After you form the rounds, top them., transfer them via cornmeal coated pizza peel to the stone (if using a peel)…

and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is stiff and charred in some spots and the cheese is melted. 

8. Serve.

The pizza is absolutely great and FOOLPROOF! Sure, the one I made at homew as a little misshapen, but it was no less delicious. The beer crust is tender but sturdy with large air holes and a floury, pleasantly malt-y aftertaste. I topped mine with spicy tomato sauce (mixed with Sriracha), mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni. When it came out of the oven, I topped it with some olive oil and fresh basil, so the basil gently melted into the cheese and the olive oil pooled inside the garlicky pepperoni rounds. This is pizza that I will make again and again.

 Because it’s so good that it’s not like there are ever any leftovers.

Disclaimer: I attended this class free of charge. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased.