Antique Sandwich Co.

My friend Chaela has influenced many delicious habits of mine (tahini on toast, molasses on granola and yogurt), but I am now taking also taking inspiration from her parents.  We got to visit with them in Chaela’s home state of Washington, and now, I’m determined to replicate their rhubarb sauce and red lentil hummus.  Her parents also bake awesome pies (I feel I owe the success of the Paonia Peach Pie to them).  Her mom, Tamie, has honed her kitchen skills for over 30 years at the charming Antique Sandwich Co. in Tacoma, WA.  Check out some of the photos Chaela took of the place last summer.  Her mom’s cafe was an absolute must-see of our NW road trip this summer, and it was certainly a highlight.  At this point in the trip I was beginning to have eating out overload, so I didn’t plan to order this milkshake, but it looked too darling to pass up.  No regrets.  Espresso + Chocolate + NY Times crossword.

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The Kitchen

Our first stop on Orcas Island was for lunch at The Kitchen, a mostly outdoor cafe of Asian inspired deliciousness.  We all ordered variations of rice and veggies with tofu or tempeh or salmon.  I had tofu with sesame rice cakes and peanut sauce.  We ate in the sun.

slappy cakes

Remember those Japanese hibachi restaurants where they samurai your vegetables and cook them on your table?  Well, this place (Slappy Cakes) in Portland uses a similar griddle/table and lets you MAKE YOUR OWN PANCAKES.  Ok, yeah, I know it’s kinda gimmicky, but I was able to put aside my pancake snobiness and totally enjoy this place with the eyes of a sugar syrup-loving 5-year-old.  Our pancake creations were inspired and totally awesome.  We ordered zucchini pancake batter and made goat cheese, scallion, and mushroom pancakes first, followed by buttermilk pancakes with hazelnut, blueberry,  and applesauce.  I would HATE to work here (syrup and batter everywhere), but it was a bonafide breakfast experience.

Great Lake

Phase 1: In which Nick Lessins and Lydia Esperanza open Great Lake, a small pizza restaurant in Andersonville, Chicago, after years in other careers and years crafting the perfect pizza.  They have specific ideas of the business they want to run.  The place seats 12 or so, and offers three different pizzas, depending on available ingredients.  4 nights a week Lessins hand makes every pizza of finely curated toppings, taking time to carefully construct each one.

Phase 2: in which Alan Richman declares to the GQ reading world that Great Lake is the best pizza in America. 

Phase 3: in which the demand for Great Lake pizza skyrockets and yelpers go crazy over long waits and pizza dough that runs out.  Follow up articles ensue about customer demands, the yelp phenomenon, and the nature of business ownership ethicsNYTimes business blogger suggests they up their prices to deal with demandLessins and Esperanza respond they want to offer pizza at a fair price, that is affordable to more people.

Phase 4: in which after a move to Chicago and some basic research, I try Great Lake pizza.  I believe many good things are worth waiting for, but I also know I do not fare well waiting hours for food and often try to avoid such situations.  And as we know, I do love unique pizza places.  I had popped into Great Lake out of curiosity one Saturday night and quickly turned around.  But yesterday was a special occasion, and I felt pretty confident that a rainy Wednesday evening would be much more suitable.  Lowell and I arrived around 6 and could’ve been seated at the communal table immediately.  I do love a good communal table, but this was date night, so we opted to wait for one (out of two) of the two seaters to open up.  We headed across the street to a nearby bar and just as my champagne glass was nearly empty my phone rang to let me know a table was open.  An ideal waiting experience if you ask me, multitudes better than waiting in a crowded lobby with one of those vibrating pager thingies.

We ordered the salad and pizza number 3: spinach, homemade creme fraiche, spring onions, and cumin.  The salad was a simple mix of many different greens (and flowers!) with pea shoots and curls of celery in a light mustard vinaigrette that was divine and perfect to share as we chatted and happily waited in anticipation for the pizza.  I, being a sucker for details, noted and loved almost everything about the place, from the aprons the pizza purveyors wore to the water glasses to the linen napkins.   (However, I’m not sure why, but something always feels off to me about a small “store” section in a restaurant, even if it includes Mast Brothers chocolate.   But if that is part of their vision, go for it.)  And then the pizza came.  We tried very hard not to be biased by the hype, but as Lowell said, the pizza was a conversation stopper.  We basically ate in blissful silence.  The crust was at its crispiest at the center V and progressively added softness as you worked your way to the end of each slice.  It was charred in all the right places and the toppings worked in fresh and perfect harmony.  They pizza was a symphony.

Phase 5: The present! in which, whilst doing pizza research right here, right now, I hear they are going to begin making breakfast sandwiches, and I almost die thinking of the breakfast sandwich version of that pizza.

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Treehouses

We hiked across the border from Lagodekhi to cross back into Azerbaijan and took a taxi to Zacatela.  Lonely Planet and a semi-helpful/semi-scheming taxi driver guided us to Car where we ate lunch in a restaurant of treehouses.  Being back in Azerbaijan meant eating kebabs.  The driver then took us to the bus station where we were to catch a bus to Şeki.  He told us it looked like we missed the last bus, and when Olga went to inquire at the ticket counter, he told her no no no, he would ask on our behalf.  Of course, Olga asked herself, and we got on the last bus.

Santasiero’s

1/2 Order of Eggplant Parm from Santasiero’s on Niagara and Lafayette in Buffalo, NY.  The place has been open since 1921.  It’s a favorite of Lenny Rico, who hosts WJJL’s (1440 AM) Italian-American radio show, Casa Rico.    Here’s the menu:
Italian Menu

Sweet Sue’s

Sweet Sue’s is no secret, and despite the fact that it is located in Phoenicia, NY (population: 381), I always have to wait for a table.  It’s always full of visiting New Yorkers who escape to the Catskills for a weekend of camping, hiking, and swimming holing.  Last time I even ran into Nick, an audio sound artist friend from Brooklyn.  No longer able to call the Catskills my home, I am now a visitor too.  I feel lucky I had some time to spend in the mountains on the way to Buffalo.  My perfect day is waking up early to hike Giant Ledge and following it up with a late breakfast at Sweet Sue’s.

Sweet Sue’s is without a doubt my favorite breakfast place ever. I always get the huevos rancheros because they’re incredible.  But I always agonize over the decision.  They have all of their pancake varieties (buttermilk, buckwheat, strawberry, banana, blueberry, peach, apple, carrot cake, gingerbread) lined up as paintings on the wall.   They even have a pancake sundae, which consists of pancakes drizzled in yogurt and fresh fruit.  Every time I go, I agonize over the pancake vs eggs decision.  I know I will always choose eggs, but I also know that on those blue moons when I choose pancakes, I won’t be disappointed.

My Favorite Sandwich in NYC.

I always went to the original ‘Snice on 8th Ave and 13th St. in Manhattan, but this time I was on a mission to buy a baby carrier for a friend and thus, I decided to try the ‘Snice in Park Slope, BK.  Luckily the menu at this fabulous vegetarian eatery/bakery/cafe is nearly identical.  The Vegan Panini is composed of pesto, smoked tofu, and sun-dried tomatoes on the best, crunchy ciabatta.  It continues to be my favorite sandwich in NYC.  The Thai peanut salad is another steady ‘Snice offering.

Also, if you enjoy sandwiches and scanned things, you should check out scanwiches.

M Henry’s

M Henrys
I went to breakfast at M Henry’s for the name.  I will come back for the name and the breakfast.

M Henrys
black bean cakes with some smoky chipotle sauce, poached eggs, and nutty, cranberry toast.