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Laura D.'s Profile

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Taste Differences in Italian and Swiss Meringue Buttercreams?

It looks like the Bettercreme has dairy (sodium caseinate) in it, so it might not work for those with milk allergies or those who don't eat dairy. Just thought I'd mention this in case you didn't see it in the ingredients.

Sep 17, 2014
Laura D. in Home Cooking

Is Kosher Cheese also Vegetarian (i.e. without animal rennet?)

Since I originally posted my question (wow, 7 1/2 years ago) I have noticed that many of the cheeses I buy are more clearly labeled than they had previously been, meaning the source of the rennet is often named. I agree that many cheeses I personally have an interest in seem to contain macrobial rennet, though I also agree that I haven't come across a decent Parmigano, Locatelli, or other hard Italian cheese which clearly states that it does not include animal based rennet. Thanks!

Sep 03, 2014
Laura D. in Kosher

Not Your Average Joe's -- Glen Mills

Thanks for the review CindyJ. A location of NYAJ is opening very close to my house, and while I too tend to avoid chain restaurants, I'm looking forward to the possibility that another "decent" restaurant is coming to the area. Thanks!

Aug 02, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Small wedding--looking for private room or restaurant to rent

Just as a post-wedding follow-up, I wanted to circle back regarding The General Warren Inne. Overall we were very happy with the venue. We planned our wedding for 60 in about 3 1/2 months, so we didn't have much time to stress about some of the little details that keep many brides-to-be up at night. We had a cocktail style reception mid-day (you cannot book a night-time event of this size at the inn, unless you wish to book it on a Sunday). We had heavy appetizers and then 2 entree stations, before an assortment or desserts and our cake came out. While the price for food (without the wedding cake, which we supplied) was about $50-$60pp, when you add in liquor charged upon consumption, a small ($250) ceremony fee, a small fee for chairs, tax, tip, gratuity, etc. the price per person was 100+, though obviously how much alcohol your guests consume factors in extensively. We lucked out with a beautiful day and were able to have the entire event outside, though we had access to the entire inn as well. Leading up to the event the owner, who was also the day-of coordinator, was fairly responsive to emails, though he was so busy planning other events and running the restaurant that it sometimes took a while to get a response from him. We didn't receive our contract with final menu edits until 1 week before the wedding. It all worked out in the end but was occasionally frustrating in the moment, though the reality is that he served as a day-of coordinator for free, so it's hard to complain too much. All of the guests seems to like the food, and I liked what little of it I had. While the entree stations weren't exactly what I had expected in terms of how interactive they were (I was expecting a chef-like figure to be there, mixing/sauteeing/plating to order, and instead it was really a server who dished something onto your plate and had you do the rest of the customization yourself) they were still different from the norm. So, overall, I felt like this was a very nice, somewhat non-traditional, reasonably priced option for a smaller group and would recommend it to others planning similar events. Thanks!

Jul 09, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia
1

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

I just wanted to give a post-wedding "shout-out" to Eileen at Cake Art Studio. She was very easy to work with and her cake was so, so delicious. So delicious, in fact, that even though we overordered substantially (we ordered cake for 85 when we had about 60) we had none left since many, many people took multiple slices. My only word of advice if you go with her, particularly if you'd like to have leftovers, is to order more than you'd expect to need. I am already making plans to try and order a special occasion cake from her again in the not-too-distant future. Thanks!

Jul 09, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia
1

Fraschetta

We finally got here on Saturday night for a 9:15pm reservation for 2 after a movie at Bryn Mawr. We have a lot of experience dining on July 5th since it is our anniversary, so while we were a bit weary of the noise level on a Saturday night, we suspected it would be more quiet than usual since everyone seems to travel for the holiday weekend. Anyway, we arrived early and were seated promptly downstairs, which was about 2/3 full when we arrived and essentially empty when we left. It was not loud at all in comparison to many other dining establishments, though in contrast to other nights when we have walked by it was very "dead," so I guess the potential for it to be much louder is there on a typical weekend night. The food was excellent. My husband got the gnocchi for his appetizer and the linguine with clams for an entree. I got the burrata for an appetizer, with the prosciutto on the side (I don't eat meat and appreciate that they did this; I was impressed at how much prosciutto was on the plate given the pricepoint and portion size of the entire dish) and the mushroom pasta as my entree. Though some have commented on portion sizes being extremely small, I thought that they were pretty spot on (and I am a hearty eater). I had room for dessert (though was probably full enough without it) but was very satisfied from the wonderful flavors and richness of the meal. For dessert my husband got creme brulee and I got the gelato trio of hazelnut, mascarpone, and salted caramel. I believe our total bill was $77 which seemed reasonable given that service was very attentive and the food was absolutely delicious. While I am weary of returning during peak dining hours on a weekend night given that I've seen how busy it is when I've walked by, I think I would definitely return for a late night weekend reservation, or for a weekday reservation, as I truly was impressed and don't think there are a lot of other competitive options in the area. Thanks to all who continued to recommend Fraschetta despite some spotty reviews.

Jul 07, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Fraschetta

Thanks! Also considering trying a weeknight in the hopes it won't be as busy!

Jun 30, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Fraschetta

JanR, I'm curious regarding your take on the noise level. We live in Ardmore, so this is a very convenient spot for us. But, hearing so many complaints about noise has been a major deterrent. I wonder if the owners have addressed this. Thanks!

Jun 30, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

"Mini-moon" dinners near Ocean City

Thanks for the suggestion, though I don't necessarily see a single vegetarian entree on the menu online.

Jun 16, 2014
Laura D. in New Jersey

"Mini-moon" dinners near Ocean City

My honeymoon has been temporarily postponed but I am taking a "mini-moon" with my soon-to-be husband for 3 nights (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) in Ocean City. I am honestly not very familiar with Ocean City and can't find much in the way of recent posts about food there. I know it isn't a fine dining mecca, but I'd like to plan at least 2 dinners that aren't too far away (within 10-15 miles of Ocean City) with good service, a hopefully quiet atmosphere, outdoor dining (this isn't a requirement), and some vegetarian (eggs and dairy okay, but no meat/poultry/fish) options. Great seafood would also be nice for my partner, though I doubt we'll have a problem finding that. Any suggestions? We tend to gravitate towards Italian, New American, bistro French, etc., but would also take a recommendation for something with more of an ethnic feel if is came highly rated. While we aren't looking to spend a fortune price is not too much of an issue.

Jun 16, 2014
Laura D. in New Jersey

L'aragosta, Ardmore

I haven't yet. The yelp reviews have been varied so it keeps falling off of my radar, coming back on when I am debating a dinner out, and then falling off of my radar again. It's so close that it seems worth trying, but I hate being disappointed and I fear this will be a disappointment. I'd love to know if others have visited, though!

Apr 30, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Carrot Cake

I know this is a very old thread, but I just wanted to mention a "blast from the past" for me anyway, in the form of carrot cake. I worked at the Lancaster County Farmer's Market (in Wayne) in high school (late 90's) and at D'Innocenzo's bakery a man named Vernon would sell his carrot cakes on Saturdays. During my several years working at the market there would be periods of "drama" between the owner of the bakery (Peter) and Vernon, so he would come and go. But, he worked there for many years, pitching his "Philly's best carrot cake" and offering samples. Anyway, fast forward 15 years and who is on my Market-Frankford El with a huge tray of cupcakes but Vernon, the Carrot Cake Man. He got off at 52nd street and I regret not flagging him down, as his carrot cake was amazing. Based on the links below he apparently has a few different flavors of icing now but still has a business centered around carrot cake. He's hard to track down, but if you ever see someone on a bus, train, or just walking down the street with a large tray of carrot cakes make sure you get a bunch. I am not really a carrot cake fan but these are amazing. I hope I see him again on my train soon so that I can confirm my memories aren't deceiving me.

http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/new...

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-carrot-ca...

Apr 22, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Need a buttercream icing recipe that is simple and classic!

Slightly off topic but I wonder if this is the same Gunther who went on to lead a rather successful dessert company in Exton, PA. I am getting my wedding cake from someone who worked with him, and I've encountered several other bakers along the way who worked for this Gunther as well.

Apr 21, 2014
Laura D. in Home Cooking

Small wedding--looking for private room or restaurant to rent

Though it is months later than I expected when posting this initially, I just thought I would circle back to say that we decided to book a cocktail style reception at The General Warren Inne for a daytime event in June. While we would have preferred night, we were too large for the private space that is offered for nighttime events. The nice thing about a daytime event is that we can truly use the entire Inne, inside and out, so we don't have to worry about scrambling if the weather is bad, or if our guest lists expands unexpectedly. We are very excited to nail down the details of the event and hope that it will exceed our expectations. Thanks to all who provided suggestions!

Apr 02, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Just thought I would follow-up my post by saying that we've decided to go with Cake Art. The tasting was phenomenal and we are really, really excited. A Cake Life offered us a fantastic tasting as well, and we are considering them for mini desserts/favors.

Apr 02, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Mom's Organic Market (Rosemont, PA)

Thanks for the information. When I looked at the price within their online sales circular they seemed higher than some regular prices at other stores. It sounds like it could be an economical place to go for some things but not others. Do you know if they have some "mainstream" brands? For example, we buy lactose free milk every week so I'm curious if they have something like Lactaid there. Regardless. it sounds like I definitely need to check it out!

Mar 21, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Mom's Organic Market (Rosemont, PA)

Has anyone shopped here yet? For those who don't know if it located in the old Border's space in Rosemont. I haven't gotten over there and am curious if it is worth the trip, and potential crowd. Thanks!

Mar 21, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Philly Pizza #4

I would love something like this for the suburbs. I live in Ardmore and love pizza. And when I say "I love pizza" I just mean I love good, take-out pizza, ideally eaten in my living room. Pizza with fancier toppings served in a lively atmosphere that costs $20 is great, but it's not what I crave after a long work week. Give me a "good" cheese pizza and I'll take that any day over something more sophisticated. I'd love to have some better recommendations for take-out/delivery pizza--particularly of the thicker crust variety which I know is not en vouge right now--outside of the city. Almost every place that we've tried and initially liked has fallen out of favor, either because we're just sick of them or because they are inconsistent and sometimes produce horrible results.

Anyway, thanks for the link to the article. It makes me want to schlepp into the city more frequently for pizza!

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Just wanted to provide an update...thus far I've scheduled tastings with Cake Art, Ciao Bella, and Cupcake Wonderland/Cake Life. I did get in touch with Van Earl's too, and the only reason I didn't pursue them was because I got in touch with everyone else first. We met with Eileen of Cake Art last night for a lovely tasting. She prepared some truly creative samples for us to taste and made us feel very comfortable. I'm going to wait until our other two tastings are done before booking anything, but I think we'd be very satisfied if we went with Cake Art. Thanks!

Mar 13, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Have you had a wedding cake from Sweet Jasmine's? I am familiar with them and think I may have had something from them. But, the reviews online (Wedding Wire, etc) aren't amazing. And, I haven't been in love with the pictures I've seen online; they aren't quite as "clean" as I would like (sorry, I really should preface all of my comments by saying this is one area I am really picky about; it's hard to do cakes well, which I something I totally understand). Anyway, I am happy to hear a positive review for them and will definitely look into them more as Kim, the owner, is very nice. Thanks!

Mar 07, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Thanks for the recommendation. For various reasons not worth getting into here I personally am not a customer at Aux Petits Delices. But, I am glad you had a good experience there. Thanks!

Mar 06, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Thanks! I've heard such great things about Alice's Bakery but have never actually been there. I will look into whether they do wedding cakes. Thanks!

Mar 06, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Wedding cakes with delivery to suburbs

Hi all,

I have booked a somewhat last minute (June 21) smallish wedding (50-65 people) and am in need of a wedding cake. This is actually one of the most, if not the most, important parts of the wedding to me. I'm fairly well versed in the bakeries in the area but am curious if anyone has purchased or eaten a wedding cake recently that can comment on those bakeries on my running list (see below), as well as others I might have forgotten. I'm particularly interested in bakeries able to make clean designs/lines but buttercream (American, Swiss, Italian, or French) as opposed to fondant. I'd love to know your thoughts as the clock is ticking!

1. Cake Art Studio, Paoli--I really don't know much about them but was impressed with their designs/style
http://www.cakeartstudio.com/Homepage...

2. Ciao Bella Cakes, Hatboro--I really don't know much about them but was impressed by their designs/style.
http://www.ciaobellacakes.com/

3. Van Earl’s, Langhorne--I really don't know much about them but was impressed by their designs/style.
http://vanearlscakes.blogspot.com/

4. Velvet Sky, Jenkintown--I had their cupcakes in 2006 or 2007 and thought they were good but not great. However, I know they've recently changed owners.
http://www.velvetskybakery.com/

5. Cupcake Wonderland/Cake Life Bakeshop, Frankford—I am somewhat unclear if they have retail shop or just operate under special order. They won some sort of Food Network contest, which I don't really care about. I'm interested in them for cakes not cupcakes.
http://www.acwphilly.com/

6. Bredenbeck's--I do love Bredenbeck's and even did a tasting here for my sister's wedding cake, over 9 years ago. I think they have significantly increased their decorating capabilities since them, but I'm not in love with their buttercream.
http://www.bredenbecks.com/

Mar 05, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Truli Confectionary?

Has anyone ordered anything from or tasted anything made by Truli Confectionary Arts (Southampton Road, Philadelphia)? A coworker told me about them almost 9 years ago. She said she would often order expensive, special occasion cakes from there, and that they were the magic combination of delicious and beautiful. There isn't much information online about them, and no one has reviewed them on Wedding Wire for several years. I'd love to know if they are a special occasion cake destination worth pursuing.

Thanks!

Feb 20, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Sola

Thanks for this review. My fiance and I had an unplanned (read: reservation made 1 hour ahead of time) visit to Sola this past weekend for a late Valentine's Day celebration. He ordered exactly what you did, scallops, steak, and creme brulee. I believe he enjoyed everything, though he felt the portion of scallops was a bit stingy given their size and has been dieting lately, meaning everything tastes really, really good to him. I got an off-menu vegetarian entree. I am a picky eater (my problem, not the restaurants), so the only fair comments I can give are, a) My entree was overpriced at $24 for a dish that was small and amounted to lentils, mushrooms, and baby carrots and, b) No one could tell me what it was and seemed to think this was comical. I definitely appreciate that they custom made something, but it would have been great to know what exactly it was when it was put on the table.

There were a lot of service snafus but the owner apologized several times, saying he was down a head waiter due to a weather-related issue. Finally, regarding your decor comment, apparently they had some sort of leak recently. They appear to have removed almost all of their art work from the walls. Their lighting is also different, which is likely not related to the leak, but it is worth mentioning that it normally feels warmer in there as the walls are not normally that bare. Verdict--I have been there at least half a dozen times (at least 4 times under the previous owner and 2 times under this owner) and would return because it is usually good and it is very convenient to me (I live in Ardmore). But, it is not usually my top choice, if for no other reason than they never have a vegetarian option and always have a very limited menu in general which seems pricey for a suburban BYOB (I think the filet was $30+). Thanks!

Feb 18, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

L'aragosta, Ardmore

I've actually been somewhat avoiding Fraschetta. I'm not enamored with the menu and it does appear over-priced, but the main reason is the noise. My fiance is deaf in one ear and everyone who seems to review the place, regardless of their thoughts on the food, seems to agree it is very loud. It just makes for a difficult dining experience for us. I may try it on a weeknight, though.

Feb 02, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

L'aragosta, Ardmore

Has anyone been to this newish BYOB on Cricket Avenue? I didn't even know it existed until a random woman mentioned it while we were walking out of a movie. There's a complete lack of even semi-decent Italian in this area, so I'd to know if it is worth trying. Thanks!

Feb 02, 2014
Laura D. in Philadelphia

Great seafood (with vegetarian options) in Fort Myers, Sanibel, or Captiva

Hi SueFH (and others),

Here is my (very long) report,

I’m only really going to report on dinners since we didn’t do anything special for breakfast or lunch. We mainly stuck with the hotel (which was fine, though pricey for what you got) or skipped lunch if we ate breakfast late.
On Thursday night we ate at the Cape Coral location of Ford’s Garage. It was a bit of a sensory overload when we walked in but, in general, we really, really liked it. Their beer list was a bit overwhelming but their food menu was certainly manageable. We started out with fried pickles which were really good. My fiancé had a basic burger (they have lots of specialty burgers, and a create-your-own option too). I had the chopped salad and a side of mac and cheese as my entrée. The salad was amazing. I’m not sure why, but it was huge, fresh, and filling. The mac and cheese was quite generous in size for a side and was delicious. This was by far our cheapest dinner (probably $40 or so), yet still really, really enjoyable.
On Friday night we ate at The Mad Hatter. The atmosphere here is fun, but this place was, in my opinion, overpriced for what it was. Based on limited vegetarian options we split the goat cheese pillows ($13) as an appetizer. They came with a strawberry sauce which was tasty, though had an undertone of curry which isn’t something either of us likes. We got two pillows, each about 3-4 bites, for this price, which seemed skimpy. My fiancé had a bouillabaisse for an entrée and I had the unlisted vegetarian option, which was a tofu entrée. Mine was good though not great, and seemed expensive ($27) for what it was. My fiancé enjoyed his though again felt like it was a bit pricey (I think it was about $40). We spent about $110 pre-tax, which included a glass of Prosecco and a glass of wine. Overall, the dining experience was okay but I felt like it was overpriced for what it was and likely wouldn’t go back.
On Saturday night we ate at The Fresh Catch Bistro in Fort Myers Beach. We requested an outside table, which was lovely, despite some of the precautions they need to put in place for nesting turtles (very low lighting, etc.) They don’t have a vegetarian main on their menu so I made a meal of sides and appetizers. I started with the bistro salad, which was very good but came without the advertised croutons, bell peppers, etc. My fiancé started with a Caesar salad which he said was good. He also got half a dozen oysters. For his main dish he took our waiter’s suggestion and got the spiced pecan and cranberry encrusted grouper. He loved it and said it was one of the best things he’s ever had. I made an entrée out of the tomato mozzarella tower, steak fries, and vegetable of the day. It was a weird combination, but I enjoyed it, despite the fact that it isn’t really tomato season. Dessert looked great so I got the volcano chocolate cake while my fiancé got the crème brule. In total we spent about the same amount as we did at The Mad Hatter, but enjoyed more (and maybe better) food, and a better atmosphere.
On Sunday night we ate at The Roadhouse Café in Fort Myers. This is a jazz café, with live music from 7-10. We were certainly some of the youngest diners there, but enjoyed ourselves. We started with the antipasto, which was good though oddly portioned, since there was a ton of prosciutto (which they were nice enough to put on a separate place), olives, and grano padano, but barely any tomato, peppers, etc. I had cappellini in pesto cream and my fiancé had the highly recommended scallops, which he really, really loved. We split the rocky roadhouse cake for dessert, which was good though not amazing. I think he had a gin martini, a glass or wine, and an espresso, though perhaps he snuck another alcoholic beverage in there. In total our bill was again around $110. We felt like this was a nice change of pace from a simple dinner out and would definitely go again.
On Monday, our final night, we had what I was expecting to perhaps be the best meal of the trip at The Thistle Lodge in Sanibel. This meal was, unfortunately, a huge disappointment. They were not seating anyone outside due to mosquitoes. I should have called ahead about this but didn’t, which is a shame as the outdoor seating was a huge draw. We sat in a pretty deserted dining room, meaning we were literally the only ones in this particularly dining room. There were probably only 5 other tables in the entire restaurant. We started with truffle fries as an appetizer (I’m not sure why, other than that we were in the mood for them). They weren’t great but that’s not a big deal. I had a tomato mozzarella appetizer again and my fiancé had the Caesar salad. Both were good but again, not great. For some reason my fiancé chose to order pasta, which was my only option but one that I recognize is not an ideal choice in this environment. He got the pappardelle bolognese with added sausage and I got the pappardelle pomodoro. Mine wasn’t bad but wasn’t really good either. The sauce was incredibly sweet and overall the dish was just kind of blah. My fiancé said his was okay but not great. We both only ate about ½ of our entrees before deciding to call it a night. With a single glass of wine and no dessert this meal also came out to about $110.
So, I would return to Ford’s Garage, The Fresh Catch, and The Roadhouse Café, but I would not return to The Mad Hatter or the Thistle Lodge as both were expensive disappointments.
In the event you are an ice cream lover you should definitely try Love Boat ice cream in Fort Myers, about 5 miles from the hotel. It’s homemade, and really great. We wanted to try Pinocchio’s in Sanibel but never got there when they were open. We tried Dolce Tesoro cupcakes in Sanibel, though, and thought they were great. Finally, in Fort Myers Beach we had lunch at Pete’s Time Out. I had a grilled cheese which was nothing special, but my fiancé had a lightly fried grouper sandwich that he loved. If you happen to be on the beach it has a great people watching location and casual vibe.
Enjoy your trip. And, thanks to everyone who provided me with recommendations! If we ever go back we’ll be sure to try some other recommended spots too.

Oct 30, 2013
Laura D. in Florida

Great seafood (with vegetarian options) in Fort Myers, Sanibel, or Captiva

Wow, again, thanks! This is all really great information. And, I know what you mean regarding how some of the best experiences are not at the "best" restaurants. I think we'll definitely hit Thistle Lodge and Mad Hatter. I'll also look into Sweet Melissa's. And, I think we'll probably go to the Roadhouse since I think the jazz will be appreciated, Anyway, everything you've suggested sounds great so at least I know that we'll have lots of options if a certain place doesn't work out for us. Thanks again!

Oct 22, 2013
Laura D. in Florida

Great seafood (with vegetarian options) in Fort Myers, Sanibel, or Captiva

Wow, thanks so much for all of this great information. I actually used some of your posts to build this list. A few questions, if you don't mind:

1. Veggie burger aside, is Ford's Garage good? I believe it was a spot that you were excited was opening.

2. Good to know about Il Tesoro. I'm not interested in an attitude and am okay to cross this off of the list.

3. I think I checked Sweet Melissa's menu online yesterday and didn't really see any vegetarian main courses, but perhaps they don't post their full menu online. I know several people commented on how good the restaurant is so I will give it a second view.

If we were to have one or two really "nice" meals, would you recommend The Thistle Lodge as one of them? It looked gorgeous online!

We're in our early 30's, but are looking for a really relaxing trip, so I'm not too concerned about places feeling geriatric, though I appreciate the heads-up!

Oct 21, 2013
Laura D. in Florida