Bofinger – The Consummate Parisian Brasserie

I have showed you one of my favorite bistros, and now it’s time to take a look at a brasserie – a big, bustling Parisian restaurant with a laid back atmosphere, all day hours and a huge menu. 
Brasserie Bofinger has been around since the late 1800s, and is now run by a French restaurant company called Flo. The people there run a number of brasseries in Paris, and while some call the brasseries in the group “Disneyfied,” Flo has managed to keep up the standards of the historic buildings and a high quality of food. 
If that is Disney, let me at it!
Bofinger is large restaurant with several rooms, an upstairs area…
and a gorgeous glass cupola that dates from 1919. It lets light into the restaurant and lends a belle epoque air to the entire space. Really sets the tone, and is very Midnight in Paris
Complimentary Nibbles
The bread was among the worst we had in Paris (not bad, just not incredible like bread in the other restaurants), and the pretzels were plain as could be, but the olives blew my mind. Briny, oily and flecked with rosemary and thyme, they were meaty and they were delicious. 
Duck Foie Gras with Wine Gelee and Pear Chutney. 
This foie gras was just what it should be. Velvety, rich, slightly irony and slightly sweet with the acidic gelee and the sweet chutney. As I spread it on the warm toasted brioche, it melted slightly, forming a thick layer of fat mixed with sweet and tart. It was exceptional and the reason that i love foie. 
Escargots with Garlic and Herb Butter.
Almost as good as the escargots at Chez Andre. They were the same soft, juicy, mild escargots as before, drenched in sweet butter and grassy herbs. The only thing I was missing was a bit more garlic. I relish the pungent hit of garlic, and if I’m not kissing anyone, I want a lot of it!
Seafood Choucroute with Haddock, Salmon, Bacon-Wrapped Scallops and Half a Lobster atop Potatoes and Sauerkraut. 
One of the specialties of the house, choucroute is usually made with sausages, pork and other meats served with the salted cabbage, but this version used seafood in place of the traditional proteins. I was scared the sauerkraut would overpower the seafood, but it did just the opposite. The sauerkraut was not at all salty or sulfer-y, just vibrant and pleasantly sour. It worked much the way lemon does, bringing out the fattiness of the salmon, and the salty-meaty-crunchy-tender contrast of the bacon wrapped scallops. This was a fantastic and unique dish – highly recommended. 
Sole Meuniere
Flaky, delicate, incredibly mild fish – this is as close to shellfish and fish gets. Perfectly filleted, with a tart and rich sauce that was full of lemon, wine and butter. Butter, in all of it’s rich earthiness, blending with the soft but not mushy texture and almost sweet taste of the fish. This is a deceptively filling dish – all that butter has a consequence. 
A delicious consequence. 
My dish came with boiled potatoes, but come on…
When there are french fries
and a boat full of bearnaise…what do you think I am eating as my starch?
Bofinger is a winner. Beautiful, delicious and fairly priced. Though there was a service issue regarding my fish (it was not cooked properly), our server was very apologetic and replaced my dish immediately. This restaurant, with its history, huge menu and well prepared classic food, is a consummate example of a classic brasserie.

The Best Worst Lunch in Paris

You know those times on vacation when you just flew in, are in a super touristy part of town, haven’t eaten in about 12 hours and start to snap at each other?
And by snap at each other, I mean you start to fantasize about killing your entire family?
At times like that, you step into the nearest possible restaurant. 
 Even if no one else is in it, it looks like the inside of a Disneyland ride, and…
 there is a giant laminated menu. 
 You could get a boring but impeccably fresh salad, with ham and potatoes. 
 Mussels Mariniere.
You could get these traditional mussels, steamed in white wine, lemon and onions. The shocking thing is how delicious this pot of mussels were – all sweet and juicy, with nary a grain of sand nor shriveled mussel among them. This was a better pot of mussels than many I have had in NYC. 
 Chevre Chaud Salad
You would do well to order the chevre chaud salad. This is one of my FAVORITE foods on the planet – a fresh green salad, served with toasts topped with creamy, grassy goat cheese, broiled until melting and bubbling. Cool lettuce, sharp vinaigrette and piquant goat cheese make for the perfect bite.
 Tartiflette
Of cures, if you are the smartest one (as the mother always is), you will get the tartiflette. A dish popular in the French Alps, this is made with Reblechon cheese (Similar to the St. Marcellin), bacon, onions and potatoes. All sauteed and melted into a skillet. That’s right…melty cheese, salty bacon, sweet onions and tender potatoes. 
If it gets better than that, you had better email me stat and let me know what I have been missing.
Bottom line – this was not the best meal in France, but it was still so good that I would make it my favorite restaurant if ti were in the States. How is it possible that every SINGLE restaurant in France, even the crappy ones, are better than our great ones?! This was incredibly cheap, and even though the service was totally horrendous, it was still a delicious lunch. And after a little tartiflette, I barely even wanted to kill my family anymore. 

Chez Andre – Beef Tartare and Escargot

The first night in France, we went straight to one of my favorite restaurants in Paris: Chez Andre
Chez Andre is a bistro located in a small stylish neighborhood on the right bank. In Paris, a bistro has a smaller menu and is slightly more formal than a brasserie, which is known for its huge menu and large dining room. This bistro in particular looks like it came right out of a movie – casual but still nice, small, with mirrored walls and dark banquetes. We sat down next to a couple chattering away in French and it aboslutely felt like a neighborhood hangout. 
*Disclaimer..all the places I went were probably touristy. Here’s the thing…everywhere I go in NYC is also touristy. That’s because, like NYC, Paris is a city whose main industry is tourism. Unless you schlep to the outskirts or – more likely – to another city altogether, you are going to hear English in the restaurant you choose. There will be an English menu and you can probably hear some other languages being spoken around you. That doesn’t mean the restaurants aren’t delicious or authentic. So relax and ENJOY. *
Bread in France is like nothing else in the world. Simple and outstanding. Crust that crackeles and releases buttery flavors upon crunching, with pliant, slighlty sour interiors. The dark bread was  tangy and dense, made all the better by…
 butter that was so yellow and so fatty it actually coated the inside of my mouth. 
I loved it. 
That’s what she said. 
 Oh no, these aren’t ancient torture devices. These are for…
Escargot
 You hold the shell, slick with butter, with your tongs, and then reach your fork inside to carefully extract…
A snail. Yep, a snail, much like the ones you step on outside. I have heard they were rubbery, fishy, tough…not these. Tender as could be, with a taste similar to mussles (creamy and almost sweet), they were little delivery vehicles for mounds of butter, parsley and garlic. The mixture was so delicious, I was sticking tiny pieces of bread into the shells to absorb the herby, savory sauce long after the meat was gone. Almost criminally hot, I couldn’t even wait to eat them before they properly cooled. My mouth still has a blister. 
So worth it. 
Of course, if you aren’t into snails,you could always get the Bouillabase, salty and fresh, fragrant with saffron and filled to the brim with freshly caught fish and shellfish. 
 Be sure to float a few croutons in there to soak up the winey, delicate broth. Also throw some nutty Gruyere in there with the incredibly potent aioli, which enriches the soup and turns it creamy. By potent i mean garlicky. And by garlicky, I mean delicious. 
 Or you could get the Lentil Salad. Chewy, hearty lentils served cold in a tart and tangy vinaigrette with pickled shallots is both refreshing and satisfying. And, who knows…this may be the last time you eat a vegetarian dish in Paris. Might as well grab the chance. 
Sole Meuniere. 
Sole, lightly battered with just flour and quick sauteed in butter that is -once again-so thick and substantial it forms a sauce substantial enough to coat the back of the spoon. Delicate, incredibly rich and not at all fishy. This is fish for someone who likes fish and hcips – as in, if you don’t like fish, you will probably enjoy it. If you do like fish, you will LOVE it. It is so well made-soft but totally cooked, flaking into neat pieces, its smooth texture contrasting with the crispy, lemony, buttery skin. And if you are in the mood for meat…well, then you get what I ordered:
 Steak Tartare. 
I love steak tartare, and the steak tartarre here is one of the best in Paris. Not overly done up with vegetables or seasonings, this is truly about the meat. The sweet taste of the beef, which is less aged in France than it is in the USA, is incredibly present here. It is fresh and almost light tasting – vegetal, even. You can get the accompaniments on the side and mix it yourself, but let’s face it…you should have had a few glasses of wine by now. Just let them do it so you don’t accidentally drown it in Tabasco. This is one of the few times when I do not want too much spice. Just a bit of pepper, some salt, a few choped shallots and capers and just a DASH of hot sauce to accent the meat’s natural flavor. It is a must order for any meat lover. 
 The fries were not the best – hot and crispy, but wiht an odd coating and no discernable beef-fat flavor (I’m in France, damn it! I want my potatoes fried in animal fat!). 
But those fries were the only disappointment at Chez Andre. The rest of the meal was just exquisite. Expensive, but everything in Paris is. It is comprable in price to other bistros, but far exceeds its peers in terms of friendly service, delicious food and welcoming atmosphere. By the time we left, not a table was free, so make sure you book ahead.
And make SURE you get the beef tartare.

Pierre Herme – The Best Macaron in Paris

When you go to Paris, there are a few things you must immediately do. 
1)You must look incredibly bored and sophisticated (as many Parisians do)
2)You must find some way to become tipsy before 5 PM and then sustain that buzz throughout the night (as many Parisians do)
And…MOST importantly 
3)You must head to Rue de Cambon, a tiny alley behind the famous Ritz Hotel, for a few of the best bites in the city.

Pierre Herme crafts the best macarons in Paris. This is in no way an opinion – merely stating a fact. Macarons, which are as Parisian as Oreos are American, are almond and meringue cooies, crunchy and sweet, filled with  rich ganache. Many places make macarons, but few do them as well as Pierre. His cookies are impeccably light, crunchy but not crumbly, and airy but infused with intense flavor. His fillings are always rich, never subdued, smooth and decadent.

And the flavors. He is famous for his wacky and wonderful flavors. Green Tea, Black Licorice and Violet, Rose and Olive Oil and Vanilla flavors have all graced his counter. I like some of the more traditional ones, such as:

Salted Caramel

 Smooth, sweet but leaning towards bitter at the end of the taste, with enough salt to make the caramel flavor stand out. The lightness of the cookie contrasted with the depth of the taste.

Coffee

No cafe au lait here – this is pure coffee taste. Earthy, deep, a bit savory and complex with hints of chocolate, nuts and even salt. The ganache had only a hint of cream, and was mostly that round coffee flavor. This could have been my favorite if it where not for…

Chocolate Passion Fruit(Mogodar). 

The tart and bright fruit blended with almonds and sugar for an incredibly sweet cookie. Layered with chocolate ganache so rich that it was somewhere between a melted Cadbury bar and a mocha made out of pure cream, it was the best dessert I had in Paris.

It was also the smallest. And one of the most expensive. But, if you come to Paris, you are going to be spendingmoney anyway. So why spend it on good macarons when you can get one truly GREAT macaron. Do yourself a favor. Buy the macaron. 

And then you will be well on your way to becoming Parisian. 

London – Paris: What a Flight!

You know how on some flights you get to enjoy a nice packet of salted peanuts and maybe if you are lucky, a cup of instant coffee is thrown at you by a woman who looks at you like you just passed gas in a most offensive manner?
Not the case on my British Air flight from London to Paris. 
On this flight –  which was just 45 minutes, mind you – we were presented with this:

Yes, that’s right. For a 45 minute flight we were given a gorgeous charcuterie plate. There was proscuitto so soft and unsalty that it actually melted upon contafct with my tongue. I swear, it’s almost as good as the stuf you get at eataly. There was garlicky, peppery salami. There was the frenchstyle raw ham, which is cured, keeping it delicate of texture and incredibly porky of taste – that rich and satisfying taste of pork. Nothing like it. The cheese cursl were pungent, tart emmenthaller, complimenting the natural sweetness of the pork products. The eggs had yolks that were so creamy and buttery they didn’t need anything but a dash of pepper. The tomato was sweet, the cucumbers were crisp and the only problem with the salty, fatty olive was that there was only one of them. And the cottage cheese. The cottage cheese was like the clotted cream of the cheese world. Incredibly creamy, dense and rich, it was positively sweet. It tasted more like sour cream than cottage cheese, but with a more mild taste.

The apricot yogurt was tart but not bitter or acidic at all. This was full fat yogurt, as thick as could be, filled with candied apricots that burst with freshness.
This was a fantastic meal.

 
It even made a great sandwich. 
We weren’t even in Paris yet, but I was already eating like a queen.

A very portly, unaware of cholesterol, queen.

Vivre at the Sofitel Heathrow – My First Chicken Tikka Pizza

Airport hotels are known for their incredibly delicious food. 
Hopefully, you can hear the sarcasm jumping out at you from across the interwebs. 
The exception to the rule of mushy pasta, boxed mashed potatoes and overcooked hamburgers is Vivre Restaurant at the Sofitel Hotel at London’s Heathrow Airport
This hotel is actually connected to the airport’s Terminal 5 – you don’t even have to walk outside to get to the hotel. It is connected to the airport via a walkway, and you don’t even have to step outside to get there from your gate. This is a GREAT thing when you have only a few hours to sleep after a long flight. 
Vivre is a large, well laid out restaurant with plenty of tables and a large open air kitchen.
The kitchen features a wood burning oven, an open grill and several other stations in which to cook the International specialties the restaurant includes. International doesn’t tend to be a buzzword for me with restaurants. 
Once again – exception. 
Lentil Soup
This was a light and aromatic soup with cumin, coriander and potatoes. It tasted like daal, but was much lighter than that dish, which can be creamy, rich and deep tasting. This was earthy but not deep or heavy – it tasted warming and hearty, but in no way greasy. The roasted tomatoes on top added a burst of acid and sweetness to the soup. This was delicate and lightly Indian flavored – not a wham bam of curry flavor. It was a delicious way to start the meal. 
Chicken Tikka Pizza with Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Tandoori Chicken, Red Onion, Raita
This was a revelation. Not because of the pizza itself – which was more of a crackerlike flatbread than a pizza, with too much gloppy mozzarella and a sugary sweet tomato sauce – but because of the toppings and the possibilities. Tender, aromatic tandoori chicken was juicy with charred edges. The raita was creamy and tangy, filled with diced cucumbers and tomatoes. The red onion, sweet and pungent at once, added a sharp edge to the dish. This pizza is genius. How have I not tried to make a chicken tikka pizza before? I would use a sharper, more Indian style tomato sauce with cumin, coriander, mustard seeds and other Indian spices. I would add cilantro to the dish, and use very little, high quality shredded mozzerella, if I used any cheese at all. The execution of the pizza was middling – great toppings, so-so foundation – but the creativity it inspired wins it many points. 
Chicken Jalfrezi with Jasmine Rice, Poppadums, Naan and Mango Chutney
I have never had chicken Jalfrezi before, and let me say that I am a fan. This dish was much sweeter and more floral than many Indian chicken dishes that I have had. It was redolent of cinnamon, nutmeg and I think fenugreek, which gave it a pleasantly bitter edge. There was a very slight heat to it, but it was more of a spiciness than a lip burning sear. This almost tasted Moroccan or Turkish to me – sweet and sour as much as it was zesty and deep, as I find much Indian food to be. 
The chicken was incredibly tender and infused with these aromatic spices, the thick sauce coating it and the onions and bell peppers stewed along with the chicken. Served with fluffy, pistachio dotted jasmine rice, freshly fried poppadoms, naan that was a bit too doughy and mango chutney that was so deliciously sweet and sour that we had to order 2 extra orders of it, this was a fantastic meal. It could easily have served 2 people. Of course, in our family, it barely served one of us. 
What a great airport meal! Of course it was overpriced, but, you know…it’s airport hotel food. They have a monopoly. They know that it’s 9 pm and you are starving. In that regard, the food was WAY better than it had to be. The lentil soup and chicken Jalfrezi were really delicious. The service was excellent – fast and competent. 
And this restaurant actually disproves my belief that you can’t have great food in an airport hotel.  

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough

Birthdays mean different things to different people. 
They can mean reflection over the year past. 
A time for gifts and celebration over what to come. 
Or if you are me…

Huge plates of freshly killed crustaceans. 
I jest…but not really…
For my birthday, we schlepped to Noank, CT. 
Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough is the best lobster roll in America. 
I mean it.

Why else would all these people be in line?

It isn’t for the casual, bare bones dining room.

It might be for the incredibly serene atmospehere. 
What am I saying…who the hell cares about what it looks like?

Cause the real pull is this. 
The lobster. Caught fresh that morning, or sooner. Filled with creamy, rich tomalley, soft bricks of roe that crush with a burst of brine in between your teeth, and…
lobster.

Rich, tender, meaty but also fresh tasting. So buttery they don’t even need butter.
Of course…a little butter never actually hurt anyone.

Or you can get the lobster roll. 
A quarter pound of lobster meat, served cold mixed with mayo or hot with just melted butter.
The melted butter version is the best.

The way that the butter pools on the soft, sesame seeded bun. The way that the steam invades your mouth, filling it with the clean, breezy scent of the ocean. 
The velvety mouthfeel of hot lobster. 
It is a subtle dish focused on just one flavor.

If you want more variety, try the excellent oysters. Different eeach day, there are often ones from Abbott’s own bed. Small, creamy and mild, they are perfect with a touch of the very horseradish-y cocktail sauce.

Or help yourself to crabcakes – no fillers here. More like solidified crab dip than crab bound with bread, these are creamy, soft and gently crispy on the outside. 
No fries here. Just a mild, sweet, mayonnaise-y slaw and some salty, oily housemade potato chips. 
By the way…when talking about potato chips, salty and oily are positive adjectives. 
And, really, all I have are positive adjectives for Abbott’s. So cheap for what you get: Beautiful scenery, relaxed atmosphere, FANTASTIC food.
Can’t wait till it’s my birthday again.
Abbott's Lobster In The Rough on Urbanspoon

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Mohegan Sun

It was my birthday August 1.
Happy birthday to me!
To celebrate, we went on an eating trip. 
Duh.

The day started with a bagel with cream cheese, lox and onion.
And ended here.
At Frank Pepe’s in the Mohegan Sun Casino.
Now, I have been to the original Frank Pepe’s, but we were hungry after a few hours of gambling in the casino and didn’t want to schlep to New Haven for a clam pie.
*Note – this is not a comparison between pies. This is a review of a stand alone pizza* 
So we went into this outpost, located right off the casino floor.

Casual, with kitschy touches and the same green booths as at the original.

A huge brick pizza oven.

 
And a menu with pies.
The only thing it didn’t have was the long line.
Happy birthday to me!

You can get a pepperoni and sausage pizza here. Or one with peppers and onions. 
But why would you? 
You want the clam pie. 
And not the white one that is on the menu…ask for it with red sauce. They will do it. 
And when it arrives…inhale.

The scent coming up from the pizza will be garlicky, sweet, salty and fresh.
Also…the pizza will be insanely hot. 
You will burn your mouth. 
It’s worth it, I swear.

The crust is thin, lightly charred and slightly floppy in the center, like all Neapolitan pizza crusts are. It finises off with a sturdy end crust, pleasantly charred and in spots, but not tasting bitter or rancid. 
Then there are the toppings.

Huge, fresh clams. You can tell they are fresh at first sight because of the irregular sizes of the chopped clams. Large and small, thick and thin, they are scattered over the crust, melding with the sweet, fresh taste of the tomato sauce and the red pepper flakes you will definitely want to apply. The calms are reminiscent of the sea – salty, fresh, deep tasting. They meld with the heartiness of the flour to create the perfect relationship between topping and crust. And the sauce is the secret agent here. More of a tomato sauce and less of a marinara sauce, it is so purely tomatoes -bright, sweet and filled with that tangy fresh tomatoey taste. Woody oregano brings out the earthiness of the sauce. The pie comes with fresh garlic, but I prefer it without. I like the clams to come through without the sharp bite of garlic.

Clearly, I like a lot of modifications. 
Luckily, the folks at Frank Pepe’s are happy to comply.
Happy birthday to me!

Bob’s Fish Market, Shelter Island

A few weekends ago, I went to Shelter Island, which is an island off the coast of the Hamptons. When I hear Hamptons, I tend to think popped collars, Rolexes, and tennis courts the size of Rhode Island. 
Needless to say, I brought my Target bathing suit, and was prepared to feel inadequate the whole weekend.

What I found, instead, was a delightful island that was more about enjoying life than showing off wealth. Beaches were not to crowded, people were not at all snobby and the food – while it could be expensive and sceney – could also be local and affordable.
Enter: Bob’s Fish Market.
Extremely casual decor, with a BYOB policy and servers who had no problem telling you to “hold yer horses, the food is comin’ as fast as we can make it. Yer gonna love it”? Check. 
 Campy decor featuring fishing nets and paintings of lighthouses that someone’s grandmother probably painted in the 1960’s? Check.
 A list of daily specials that were caught within a few miles of the island? Check.
Pristinely clean fish market attached to the restaurant, so you know you are getting the freshest possible seafood? Check.
Free trashy romance novels that your mom would never let you read?! DOUBLE CHECK!
 Our meal began with bread. Nothing great, nothing awful. A good crust, a pleasant texture, but lacking the tangy punch of sourdough or the fragrance of rye bread that I like with my seafood. And the butter was from a packet. So far…not my fave.
 Then the mussels came. Plump, juicy little mussels steamed simply in white wine and garlic. Every SINGLE mussel was open, and every single one was meaty and fresh, bursting with the salty sweetness that makes shellfish so divine. A squirt of lemon brought a brightness to the dish, and the simple broth was so delicious – sort of like a cream-less chowder – that all of us gals fought over it with hunks of bread for dipping. 
Crab balls. We almost went with the crabcakes, but our authoritative and kind server told us that they don’t make them in house, and to go with the balls instead. And she did not lead us astray. A stiff, but not hard, breadcrumbed outside hid a creamy, unctuous crab filling, with lumps of meat and a slight kick from bell pepper. Complimented by homemade tartar sauce, it was one of the best bites of the night. 
Balls win, every time. 
That’s what she said. 
Fried Calamari. Sure, you have had it a million times. And most of the time, it is probably pretty good. But this…this was GREAT. We are talking crispy, oily tentacles, tender, mild rings and a homemade tomato aioli that was garlicky enough to make your hair stand up on end. These are a must get. 
For my main dish, I got one of the fresh fish of the day – striped bass. Striped bass is one of my favorite fish – thin, flaky, very mild and although it has a soft texture, it is never mushy if cooked properly. It is one of te few fish that I do not like rare in the center, and this was properly flaky all the way through. Seasoned with zesty paprika, it needed only a sprinkle of lemon to be perfect – for someone who loves fish. If you don’t love fish, they I always say get it fried. The best way to get anyone to like ANYTHING is definitely to fry it. The tangy, crunchy coleslaw served as a creamy counterpoint and the sweet potato fries were among the best i have had. Thick and waffle-cut, they were seasoned with onion and garlic powder and wanted only for a bit of that garlicky tomato aioli to complete them. 
This is a gem of a restaurant. Incredibly inexpensive, with good(if somewhat brusque) service and a fresh menu. It was BYOB and packed to the rafters – so make sure you call for reservations!
And it taught me once and for all, that you can’t judge the Hamptons without actually going to the Hamptons. 

A Lunchtime Tour of Reading Terminal Market

When I found myself in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I had a tough decision to make. 
No, I didn’t have to decide which child to give up(we can’t ALL be noble like Sophie, okay?). I had to decide where to have lunch, and in a town like Philadelphia, that is not an easy decision. Should I go for a cheesesteak? An Italian meal? A lunch in one of the city’s many fine restaurants? Ultimately…I made the best decision of all. 
 I headed to Reading Terminal Market, a huge indoor market with hundreds of food purveyors and restaurants serving everything from pizza to sushi to those famous Philly Cheesesteaks. 
 The building is gigantic and can be overwhelming at first, but it is actually well laid out. If you grab a map near one of the many entrances, it is easy to find the spots you want to try from the clearly labeled aisles. 
 And, despite it seeming like there were more people here than at Disneyland, there was ample seating – no need to hover over small children, glaring at them till they finish. 
Of course I do that…don’t you?!
 The first place on my list was DiNic’s pork . Everyone I talked to and everything I have read said that this place, specializing in roast pork sandwiches would offer me the gustatory experience of my life. 
 The line was long, and, as I have learned in NYC – if you see a line, get in it!
 Though the service was incredibly efficient, I was still dying looking at these pork roasts just sitting in the window…taunting me cruelly…
 The bread looked pretty damn great too. 
 There are any number of sandwich combinations you can order, but we went with the classic: Roast pork with provolone and sauteed broccoli raab. 
 The sandwich looked fantastic and tasted…well, quite frankly, it tasted a little disappointing. The pork was extremely mild, and though the cheese was sharp and gooey, the bread was exemplary (soft and dense with a light crust) and the broccoli raab was wonderfully garlicky with just a touch of bitterness, the sandwich was…missing something. It was a bit dry, and though it didn’t lack salt, it did lack something. This might be because I grew up eating French Dip sandwiches, but I REALLY think some au jus would have made this for me. 
 Undeterred, we headed to the Dutch Corner for some Pennsylvania Dutch food. These are foods that are derived from the Amish community that still thrives in Pennylvania. 
 Think hearty, fresh and porky. 
My three favorite adjectives. 
 There were several restaurant stands offering traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare but we settled on Smucker’s Grill for a scrapple sandwich. Scrapple is(According to Wikipedia) “traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices.” The scrapple we ordered, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, was…
 Like romance on a roll. That intoxicating, that surprising, that totally delicious. The scrapple was crispy on the outside and positively airy on the inside, less creamy than melty. It was like a sausage flavored hashbrown, with the sweet taste of pork and a bit of spice from onions, peppers and other seasonings. It was steaming hot, and as my teeth crunched through the outside, strings of incredibly pungent and sharp cheddar cheese broke up the fatty taste of the scrapple. I took the server’s advice and poured a bit of maple syrup on it, and…of course…it was even better. I wish I could comment on the roll, but really…I can’t remember it. The scrapple and the cheese totally took my attention. This was outstanding and I can’t recommend it enough. 
 We hit up The Rib Stand next, mostly because my sister wanted BBQ.
 It didn’t look too impressive.
 But it tasted GREAT! Pulled pork was tender but not mushy, and though the taste was not as deep and smoky as I like, it was still delicious and cloaked in a sweet and tangy North-Carolina style BBQ sauce. On a soft roll, this reinforced my belief that I need some sauce on a sandwich. 
Stopped at Miller’s Twist next for…
 Some Smoky Cheesers. They are hot dogs filled with cheese wrapped in chewy, light, slightly sour pretzel dough. 
 When dipped in some nasal-clearing mustard, they might have been the best things I ate all day. 
 Of course, I didn’t get to try any of these. 
 Or any of the many fresh cheeses on offer.
 Or any of these awesome by-the-scoop pudding desserts. 
I did try some Peking duck, but it was a little greasy and salty for my taste – not enough crispy skin. 
Reading Market had a couple misses but far more hits. It was all extremely economical and made for an awesome lunch and shopping trip. And I didn’t even get to check out any of the seafood stalls or the other Pennsylvania Dutch stalls. And I need to get that pudding!
Guess I have to head back.
It’s a hard life, but someone has to live it.