BernieBrewer's Profile

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Orange County -- Can't-miss markets, bakeries, butchers, etc.?

Our family will be renting a house in Irvine in March, and we plan to make some fun foodie dinners in the nice kitchen at the house.

Any suggestions for highly recommended or unique markets/farmer's markets, bakeries, seafood markets, butchers, or other specialty food shops (esp. Italian markets) would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jan 17, 2015
BernieBrewer in Los Angeles Area

ANAHEIM -- Anything Chow-ish near the Convention Center?

Thanks, everyone! The Ranch looks like a good fit for one night, and I might check out the Packing District, too.

I'll be sure to report back :)

Sep 29, 2014
BernieBrewer in Los Angeles Area

ANAHEIM -- Anything Chow-ish near the Convention Center?

Just re-upping my question. Anything within even a 15-minute drive of the Convention Center/Disney that's chow-worthy?

Sep 24, 2014
BernieBrewer in Los Angeles Area

ANAHEIM -- Anything Chow-ish near the Convention Center?

I'll be attending an event at the Anaheim Convention Center in late October, and I'm flying solo. Anything remotely Chow-worthy near that area for someone willing to explore?

An initial scan of the map nearby didn't look promising, but I'm hoping there might be something within even a 10-15 minute cab ride of the Convention Center that would be worth a trip.

Either breakfast or dinner recos would be appreciated.


Sep 04, 2014
BernieBrewer in Los Angeles Area

ORLANDO - Where to get good, local citrus?

Any tips on where to find good local citrus in Orlando area? We may be down to just grapefruit by the time we get there, but I'm hoping for some guidance in sorting the wheat from what I fear may be lots of chaff in tourist-heavy Orlando.

If it's helpful, we'll be in Lake Buena Vista. Thanks!

Feb 02, 2014
BernieBrewer in Florida

ORLANDO AREA - Can't-miss markets, bakeries, butchers, etc.?

Looks good! Any idea whether Fatto in Casa sells fresh pasta? If not, any other suggestions for getting fresh pasta in the area?

Dec 11, 2013
BernieBrewer in Florida

ORLANDO AREA - Can't-miss markets, bakeries, butchers, etc.?

Our extended family will be in Lake Buena Vista in early February for a week, and would like to do some fun cooking on-site at the villa.

Any suggestions for highly recommended markets, bakeries, seafood markets, butchers, or other specialty food shops would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Dec 02, 2013
BernieBrewer in Florida

Late Dinner Near Convention Center/Hyatt Place?

Banger's looks like an EXCELLENT candidate for my criteria. Thanks, slowcooked!

Oct 21, 2013
BernieBrewer in Austin

Late Dinner Near Convention Center/Hyatt Place?

Not crazy late -- maybe between 9:00pm and 10:00pm. Mostly want to be sure that we won't be closing the place down on Sunday or Monday if we come in at 9:30pm.

Oct 21, 2013
BernieBrewer in Austin

Late Dinner Near Convention Center/Hyatt Place?

Actually, one of the receptions we're attending Monday night is at Max's, so that will probably rule it out for "dinner" after we wrap up. Sounds like food at the reception is likely to be good, though!

Oct 17, 2013
BernieBrewer in Austin

Late Dinner Near Convention Center/Hyatt Place?

Hey, Austin Hounds!

Any tips on a late dinner within walking distance of the Hyatt Place Downtown (just west of Convention Center at E. 3rd St/Brazos St.)? I'm at the Convention Center in late October for a business trip that is likely to soak up the entire day, and bleed well into the evening on Sunday and Monday.

Our schedule probably won't work for reservations, and after a long day, my boss and I may be looking for something a bit more casual. Suggestions?

Oct 16, 2013
BernieBrewer in Austin

Suggestions for a blackberry amuse bouche?

We ended up going with "Blackberries Three Ways," and we did it as a dessert amuse:

Blackberry-Lemon-Thyme Muffins (from Bon Appetit);
Blackberry-Lemon-Honey Frozen Yogurt Bites (also from Bon Appetit); and
Blackberry Lemonade (muddled blackberries in Trader Joe's organic lemonade)

It turned out great, and was a fun way to feature the berries. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! (esp. Dirtywextraolives for the muffin idea)

Jul 11, 2013
BernieBrewer in Home Cooking

Business Dinner in Princeton for 20-30 people?

Any suggestions for where to host a business group dinner for 20-30 people in Princeton? No need to go over the top -- I think the per-head food cost of the last dinner for this group was $60-$70 (not sure about wine/drinks).

All attendees will be from out of town, so thanks in advance for your advice! (We'll be staying at the Marriott at Forrestal, but are willing to drive into the city for dinner.)

Jul 11, 2013
BernieBrewer in New Jersey

Suggestions for a blackberry amuse bouche?

Like the mini-muffin idea!

Sorbet had crossed my mind -- but I worried that the blackberry might be too much flavor for a palette cleanser. Have you ever used it in that way?

May 26, 2013
BernieBrewer in Home Cooking

Suggestions for a blackberry amuse bouche?

Thanks, everyone! I think a crostini-type amuse is likely the way to go. The menu is largely Italian-inspired, but not rigidly so.

The duck confit idea is intriguing, though. A bite of confit on toast might be fun...

May 25, 2013
BernieBrewer in Home Cooking

Suggestions for a blackberry amuse bouche?

We're doing a multi-course dinner for extended family this summer, and we'd love to work some of my MIL's blackberries into an amuse bouche (she'd get a HUGE kick out of it!). Any suggestions?

So far, the best ideas I have are either to make a blackberry-balsamic sauce for a bite of meat, or a blackberry BBQ sauce (potentially as a ravioli filling).

Thanks, 'hounds!

May 24, 2013
BernieBrewer in Home Cooking

Dinner for 20 near Downtown Marriott

Any suggestions of places within reasonable walking distance of the downtown Marriott (next to City Hall) to hold a business dinner for 20? Not really looking to break the bank, but the group does include a number of people who appreciate Chow-worthy food.

Thanks, Philly Chowhounds!

May 16, 2013
BernieBrewer in Philadelphia

Piccolo Sogno vs. Piccolo Sogno Due?

Mrs. Brewer and I have a quick getaway to Chicago at the end of May. House-made pasta is one of Mrs. Brewer's passions, so it sounds like Piccolo Sogno should be on our short list for dinner. If the pasta menu is our primary interest, is there much difference between PS and PS Due? (I'm familiar with Due's greater emphasis on seafood.)

Right now, even a month out, weekend reservations for dinner at PS are slim pickings. If we don't lose anything by choosing PS Due over PS, we would be able to snag a much more civilized time for dinner :-)

Thanks for your help, Hounds!

Apr 22, 2013
BernieBrewer in Chicago Area

Early Breakfast Near Central Park South (Marriott Essex House)?

Any recommendations for an early breakfast (either sit-down, or grab-n-go) near Central Park South? A quick work trip to the Marriott Essex House (Central Park South, between 6th and 7th) won't leave much room for chowhound exploring, but I'm on my own for breakfast before we start a day of meetings at the hotel at 8:00am.

I considered Sullivan Street Bakery, but they don't open until 7:30am, which is cutting it too close to my meeting start time. I fear that I may have limited options, but thought the NYC chowhounds might be able to come to my rescue. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Mar 18, 2013
BernieBrewer in Manhattan

Minneapolis Dish of the Month (Dec 2012) - Voting


Dot's Bakery,Round Pond,Maine

We visited Dot's about ten days ago, and it was FANTASTIC!

Portland Wednesday Farmers Market -- Worth a visit for an out-of-towner?

We won't be able to stop at the Saturday Portland farmers market when we come to Maine in a few weeks, but are planning to hit the Wednesday market. The Saturday market seems to be quite a thing -- will we be glad we made the effort to get to the Wed. market? We'll be cooking at our rental home a lot while we're there, so I'm really hoping to get some good local produce to use in our dinners.

And if you would recommend a stop, any favorite vendors we should be sure not to miss? Thanks!

Grocery Options? -- Brunswick, Bath, etc.

We'll be staying in Harpswell in October, and we're looking forward to making many of our meals at home. Any suggestions for grocery options in Brunswick? Any of the chain stores better than the others? (We're from Minnesota, so don't even have that perspective on things.)

We'll probably try to hit a few specialty shops on the way up from Boston, but I'm sure we'll need a few trips for other supplies over the course of the week.

ASHEVILLE -- Light Dinner Suggestion?

Thanks to everyone for your comments. I have full report of our trip up on a separate post:

We actually ended up making Curate our "light" dinner for the trip. That worked out really well -- while we probably could have found a number of other items there to enjoy, we were able to pick out a few items that felt like a meal on their own, and we were able to feel like we got most of the experience of the restaurant, too.

Early Girl got bumped for Over Easy and Sunny Point, and White Duck and 12 Bones got switched out for Homegrown (most other lunches were picnics during our day trips). Enjoyed both a bunch.

Sep 02, 2012
BernieBrewer in Southeast

Door County Report -- JJ's Waterfront, Wave Pointe resort, Malvitz produce stand

Thanks, GN. Our last trip to Trio was on our anniversary, ten years ago. While we enjoyed dinner then, that data point is more than a little stale!

A couple other favorites that we've enjoyed on our travels through Door County:

Summer Kitchen (Ephraim) - Nice, scratch-made sandwiches, bread, and soups. They're especially known for their soup bar, which comes with every entree. It's a bit pricey, but I think you have to expect a little bit of price premium for that quality of scratch cooking that far up the peninsula.

Door County Ice Cream Factory (Sister Bay) -- Lots of house-made ice cream favorites. We just got straight ice-cream, but I'm wishing we'd tried the "chipper sandwich" (vanilla ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, rolled in chocolate chips).

Also, since I forgot websites on my first post:

Sep 02, 2012
BernieBrewer in Great Lakes

Best Chocolate Cake in Portland?

My extended family will be celebrating my father's 60th birthday in mid-coast Maine in October. Dad's favorite dessert is chocolate cake -- no frills, no mocha/coffee/stout/fruit adornments, just straight-up, all-American chocolate cake with chocolate icing.

We'll likely be stopping in Portland for provisions on our way to the rental house. Any suggestions for bakeries, etc. in Portland (or elsewhere in mid-coast Maine, for that matter) with top-notch classic chocolate cake?

Best candy & bakeries in NE Wisconsin (GB/Manitowoc/Fox Valley)

COJ, did you ever make it to Hartmann's?

Sep 01, 2012
BernieBrewer in Great Lakes

Trip Report – ASHEVILLE (long)

If you haven't been to C24 or Market Place recently (or ever), I'd definitely recommend moving them to the top of your queue. Both would fit in very comfortably among the top tiers of our favorite Minneapolis restaurants.

We had seen some mixed reviews (or at least, tepid reviews) on C24, but Mrs. B's three favorite kinds of food are: (1) Italian, (2) Italian, and (3) Italian, so we made sure it was on the list because it seemed to be the best bet in town for Italian. Having been there, I can say that it belonged in our final four of dinner spots, even if we hadn't targeted Italian.

Market Place has a nice, broad array of influences and flavors in its menu. I would suspect that they probably have a number of interesting dishes at all times of the year, but especially during the peak of summer/fall produce.

Sep 01, 2012
BernieBrewer in Southeast

Trip Report – ASHEVILLE (long)

Mrs. B and I had a wonderful trip to Asheville. Four dinners and four breakfasts/lunches, and only one dish (and one drink) missed the mark – a fantastic food trip!


Cucina 24 – We really enjoyed our anniversary dinner at Cucina 24. The room has a great feel for a nice dinner out, and our server was terrific. The ricotta-stuffed zucchini blossom antipasto had a perfect, light texture and wonderful flavor; and sweet corn fritters with country ham and pickled watermelon rind did a great job of classing up some down-home favorites. The burrata panzanella with local tomatoes and cucumbers was nice, though we would have willingly swapped some of the copious burrata for more tomatoes. The veal-prosciutto meatballs in tomato ragu (with a nice house-made tagliatelle) were wonderfully tender and delicious – I can only imagine how good the dish would be on a cold January evening… Seared scallops over sweet corn risotto with bacon and chanterelles was a wonderful combination. We were ready to pass on dessert, but our waiter comped us a celebratory dessert in honor of our anniversary: brown butter cake with sea salt gelato. We were leaning toward another stop for something chocolaty, but we were very happy with the cake, which was lusciously rich, with a nicely balanced hint of the sea salt in the gelato.

The Admiral – AWESOME! The advance hype did not disappoint. We started with grilled gazpacho (with heirloom cherry tomatoes and cilantro cream) and blackened NC flounder (with goat cheese grits and succotash), followed by main courses of grilled pork chop with sour cream-chive mashed potatoes, grilled peach, and a barbeque aioli; and leg of lamb with rosemary risotto, asparagus, and a blueberry gastrique. The gazpacho was Mrs. B’s favorite dish of the trip (and she tried three different versions!), and the pork chop dish was my favorite (the barbeque aioli was fantastically unique, the chop was great, and all the elements came together perfectly). Admittedly, the “faux dive” atmosphere is a bit much, but it didn’t really detract from the experience. I also read complaints about the service, and while I wouldn’t necessarily give it an “A” for service, it didn’t take away from our evening. Would love to go back.

Curaté – Again, a restaurant that lived up to the hype. We went with a little lighter dinner here, but everything was a hit. We split the pan con tomate, bocadillo Serrano (sandwich of tomato bread with Serrano and Manchego), pincho moruno (grilled lamb skewer), gazpacho, and berenjenas la taberna (fried eggplant with honey and rosemary). We could have eaten a few loaves of the tomato bread, and the fried eggplant is an absolute must-have – it’s almost like a fried dough pouch, rather than fried vegetable (and would make a great dessert). If you’re a ginger ale fan, the Fever Tree brand that Curaté carries is top-notch, and is a nice complement to many of the flavors on the menu.

The Market Place – Recommended by a chef friend of a friend who recently moved to Wisconsin from Asheville. Beautiful space and exceptionally warm and helpful service. The heirloom tomato salad was another great reflection of the local produce, and the mac and cheese starter (cheddar mornay sauce with prosciutto and peas) was my second-favorite dish of the trip -- I ended up sharing quite a bit of it with an envious Mrs. B. The hand-cut pappardelle (with duck confit, oyster mushrooms, and confit tomatoes) had a lovely texture, and the flavor of the dish was rich and very well balanced. The bacon-wrapped pork loin (with sweet potato fondue and string beans) was tender and delicious, though I wouldn’t have objected to dialing back the smokiness of the bacon just a bit.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge – We will REALLY miss the Chocolate Lounge. Mrs. B is a chocoholic, and we actually had dessert here on three straight nights (with a lunch dessert on the fourth day). We liked the chocolate mousse, cacao nib brownie, chocolate chip cookie, and olive oil chocolate cake, but the Quintessential Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ultimate Ice Cream was perhaps the best chocolate cake we’ve ever had – layers of wonderfully rich cake and a gorgeous ganache. On two occasions, we paired that cake with a luscious milk chocolate liquid truffle, which is a hot-chocolate-esque drink that is apparently made from their truffle mix, diluted with half-and-half (mmm… liquid truffle…). We loved the place so much that we also picked up boxes of their truffles and caramels to bring home as gifts for family – big hits!


Over Easy – A picture-perfect embodiment of breakfast in Asheville: inventive, Southern-inspired comfort food. Though we had to wait a bit on Saturday morning for a table, the wait was worth it. Blackberry hotcakes (berries in the cakes and on top) with orange-zest whipped cream and real maple syrup had a really nice texture – they were thick, but fairly fluffy – and fantastic flavor. The build-your-own omelet with roasted potatoes was another hit – with heirloom tomatoes and pico de gallo absolutely shining – and included a delicious biscuit.

Sunny Point – A mostly successful visit for breakfast. The outdoor seating is lovely, and most of the food was great. The succotash hash included wonderful beans and corn from their garden – a great encapsulation of August Asheville produce. Angel biscuits and house jam were heavenly. Unfortunately, the Bloody Mary Gazpacho was melt-your-face spicy, and the heat completely swamped the flavor of what were likely very good tomatoes. This was doubly disappointing because the menu made no mention of the spiciness, and we specifically asked if there was anything unique about the “Bloody Mary” aspect of the gazpacho.

Homegrown – Nice stop for lunch on our last day in town. The grilled trout “samich” was delish, and the carnitas burrito was huge and exploding with tender pork and a great flavor mix. Nice combinations of good, simple ingredients – saw a half dozen other items on the menu I would have loved to try.

Old Europe Bakery – Popped in for a bite while we waited for a table to open up across the street at Over Easy. Blueberry “muffin” (more like an individual coffee cake – in a good way) was fantastic, with bursting-fresh blueberries. Note, they opened later than we would have expected (10-ish, I think?), which thwarted our efforts at a breakfast muffin later in the trip.

City Bakery – On two breakfast stops, we really enjoyed the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit; sticky bun; and berry “granola” bar. Also used their French sandwich loaf for picnics on our day trips (yum!). If you’re not a coffee drinker, though, AVOID the weak and watery hot chocolate – we threw ours out they were so weak.


Chocolate Gems – Delicious peanut butter milk chocolate truffle and pretty good gelato (chocolate and salted caramel), though a bit less creamy than my favorite gelatos.

Cheerwine – For those not from North Carolina, don’t walk, RUN, to get yourself a bottle (or two or three) of Cheerwine soda while you’re in town. I’m a fancy-soda junkie, and the cherry-ish, red soda flavor of Cheerwine (made with real sugar) has a great flavor, and was a fun thirst quencher after an afternoon of walking. Highly recommended to any uninitiated Yanks :-)

Aug 29, 2012
BernieBrewer in Southeast

Asheville Food Blogs?

Thanks! We made our reservations about 2 weeks ago -- wanted to be VERY sure that we didn't wait too long!

Aug 02, 2012
BernieBrewer in Southeast