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The great cheesesteak debate...what would you trade it for?

I don't know if I'd trade the cheesesteak (though I'd willingly trade the incessant "Who's got the best" magazine articles and questions from visitors. But I might trade it for good Mexican food. Maybe I'm missing something, but all the Mexican food (and I don't insist it be so authentic I need a passport to get home again) around here seems to be lousy in one way or another.

Mar 06, 2008
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Zena's in Riverside

Zena's is in Riverton. Overpriced and inconvenient, but the service is lousy and the regulars are dreary.

Mar 06, 2008
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Philly: What else besides cheesesteaks?

Snapper soup with sherry....delicious and very warming.

Nov 21, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Philly Chinatown banquet room?

I was at Ocean City for a large party last year, and I really disliked the food and the service. Maybe they were having a bad day, but I wouldn't go back.

Nov 21, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Philly: What else besides cheesesteaks?

Nope, meant Breyer's. Also local and, despite the lack of a cutesy stand in the Reading Terminal Market, the best vanilla ice cream.

Nov 09, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Asian/Indian Markets in SJ?

There's a small Indian grocery near the corner of Haddonfield Road and Maple Avenue in Cherry Hill. Very pleasant place around the corner from the CH mall. If you start at the mall, take a right onto Haddonfield Road go straight (through that one major light) and then another right onto Maple Ave. The grocery's in a small white building to your right, just past the gas station on the corner, and it's not very obvious. No parking lot, but easy parking on the side street.

Spices of India
1086 Maple Avenue
Cherry Hill,
New Jersey 08002
Phone: (856) 317-1700

Nov 09, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Macoun apples?

Curses! I was just up there this weekend to go to Conte's, which supposedly had Macouns but did not.

Oct 23, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Casona's in Collingswood, NJ?

Curious about other opinions. I've read some other reviews elsewhere that supported my impression that while the food can be good, the service is shoddy and the food often suffers.

Oct 22, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Macoun apples?

Anyone know where to find them in central/southern NJ? From Trenton down to Philadelphia, that area.

Oct 22, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Polish in South Jersey, Philly?

I googled it and they have a website - www.polishamericandeli.com - which looks great.

Oct 18, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Philly: What else besides cheesesteaks?

A good soft pretzel (some vendors sell them rock hard and dry as dog kibble, encased in cling wrap; avoid these) and a hoagie. Also possibly Breyer's vanilla ice cream.

Oct 18, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Food and Wine festival '07 @ Disney's EPCOT, Orlando, FL

I didn't really participate in the festival, although I was there while it was going on. It was just too hot on the day I was there. But I was amused on the bus in (we stayed at a hotel that offered a free shuttle to all the Disney parks) to hear the following exchange:

Bus driver: Epcot Center, anyone going to Epcot?
Man with toddler: No, we're going to Magic Kingdom. Right, kiddo? (looks adoringly at toddler, who wriggles excitedly)
Woman with toddler: Yes, we're going to Magic Kingdom! (pauses, looks anxiously at husband) Do we want to go to Epcot?
Man with toddler: (snorts) If you want to drink....booze!

Now, Magic Kingdom is the uber kid park and Epcot's the most adult-friendly park, so their park choice was perfect. It's just that the disapproving voice he used cracked me up.

Oct 15, 2007
wisteria1 in Florida

Suggestions for Ave. of the Arts pre-theatre drink/meal?

I have 2 related question.

1) suggestions for a bar with some decent food, or just a cheap restaurant without a bar but with decent food near the theatres. Nothing very expensive or formal, just somewhere to hang out (quietly) and get a drink and/or a small meal, until showtime at the Academy, Kimmel, Merriam, etc. I am not a chain fan, and a lot of the options in the area are chains (Cosi, Fado, Applebees!!!??) so I tend to rely too heavily on Copa. To narrow it down: I do not like Italian, like a lot of ethnic (is New Samosa any better than the blandness of the old version?) inexpensive, casual, and has a tolerance for quiet lone patrons :)

2) suggestions for slightly more upscale restaurant, not ethnic, can be a nice chain (sigh) and probably should be a steakhouse or basic, non-ethnic cuisine, must have a bar, in the same area as above.

Thanks!

Oct 15, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Polish in South Jersey, Philly?

Thanks!

Oct 12, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

White Castle in south NJ/Philly region?

Just curious, I've never been there but I watched the Harold and Kumar movie last week and now I kind of want to try it. There used to be a couple abandoned White Castles near me, but they've been demolished. I don't recall seeing any, and I can't get on their website to use the store locator. I'm actually near Cherry Hill (their destination in the film) but I somehow doubt the film was based on strict accuracy.

Oct 11, 2007
wisteria1 in Chains

Polish in South Jersey, Philly?

I went to Catholic school in a Polish parish years ago, and learned to love kielbasa, pierogi, kluski, etc. I used to count on going back to the school every year for it's carnival, and the hugely popular Polish Kitchen - then the diocese closed the school. This past weekend, the parish held a Fall Festival and resurrected the Polish Kitchen, and after having stuffed myself with 2 years worth of Polish food desire, I'm good for a while. But since the future of this parish is in question (the diocese is plotting to eradicate many older parishes, and incorporate others) I don't know if this Fall Festival will ever be repeated. So - are there any good sources of Polish food in the area? I've tried buying pierogies and kielbasa at the Acme, and they're just not the same. I thought it was just nostalgia, but this weekend I knew there was a huge difference. Polish food isn't exactly spicy, but packaged versions are bland, where the fresh, homemade versions have a real flavor.

Oct 11, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

what are the best farmers markets and roadside stands in NJ??

Moorestown has a new community farm stand this year, one that's not in the center of town but on a former dairy farm that was bought by the state to preserve farmland. The new place has a dreadful name - the Burlington County Community Agriculture Center - but it's interesting. It's a weekly farm market that hosts local farmers selling fruit, vegetables, meat, bread, etc. Most of the vendors change from week to week (it's only open Saturday, 9-1) but there always seems to be a barbecue joint going. When I was there, there were 2 stand selling produce, 1 selling the most amazing list of pies and pot pies, 1 selling bread, an alpacca breeder selling clothing, and whatever you call a bee farmer was selling honey.

Along the river, there's a pair of farm stands on River Road/St. Mihiel Drive in Delran/Riverside. One is right on the road - McCarter-Dallman, which is more of a farm stand/gift shop/etc. The other is back down in the trees, the River Side Homestead Farm. A few miles down River Road south of these two is Hunter's, which is very nice and a beautiful location surrounded by corn fields. They're on Union Landing Road in Cinnaminson.

Oct 11, 2007
wisteria1 in New Jersey

Help with menu for July 4th

Your wife might be right about expectations, but you could split the difference. Have a pre-prepared 'big' thing like one of the above suggestions as a main course, and but throw some hot dogs, maybe some kielbasa, and buns on the grill to set the mood and be there for the traditionalists. The big time delay around the grill is the burgers, since everyone has a rare/medium/welldone preference.

Or you could do what my mom did one year and serve fresh-picked sweet corn. Nobody even looked for meat when they had the year's first corn on the cob in front of them.

Jun 29, 2007
wisteria1 in Home Cooking

Ice cream makers? advice needed

I've seen them at thrift shops and yard sales, and I always dismissed them as one of those expensive trends (the woks of the 1980's could have paved a pathway to Mars). But a few threads about homemade ice cream made it sound like a fun way to use fresh fruit in the summer, and I was thinking about buying one. How much better does homemade ice cream taste, anyway? And any advice on 1) whether those second-hand ones would likely be any good and 2) if new is better, which brands are good value?

Jun 29, 2007
wisteria1 in Cookware

J&B Bakery in Burlington City, NJ

The Burlington bakery is at 712 South High Street, Burlington, NJ - if you're going north on Rt. 130, you make a right at High Street and it's about 2 blocks up on the right, on a corner. It's the side of Rt. 130 that's further away from Burlington's historic/shopping area. The Palmyra store is on Cinnaminson Avenue, in a small shopping center. I can't find the exact address, but if you're coming from Rt. 130, you go about half a mile, past the cemetary on your right, and it's a few blocks past there. The store's small and pretty easy to miss, but the area's mostly residential so the little shopping area stands out. The Palmyra store doesn't have much variety and isn't very interesting as a walk-in, though you can place an order with the main bakery for something and pick it up in Palmyra.

http://www.jbbakery.com/

Talking about the Palmyra bakery reminded me - the other thing I bought there was a cream doughnut. A little too much bread, but the cream was actually creamy - that sort of soft, gooey cream that is hard to find now that the Dunkin' Donuts style of heavy, thick, cream is so widespread.

Jun 29, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

J&B Bakery in Burlington City, NJ

I came across this place because they opened a branch near me, and the woman there told me that their main store in Burlington City (off Rt. 130) sold home-made pierogis. I haven't had good pierogi since the diocese closed my Catholic grammar school (Polish community, and the carnival every year featured a hugely popular Polish kitchen with fresh kluski, kielbasa, piergois, etc....) so I naturally went to find out. They do indeed sell fresh pierogi; they also appear to sell everything you'd ever want to eat. It's a smallish store, but when I went in around 9am, it was packed with the most wonderful baked goods. Maybe I've just been living in a town with an affected, overpriced bakery for too long; I gawked. Yeah, they had the artful little pastries that every Starbucks-clone offers now; the little tarts and cannolis and oversized cupcakes. But they had the real, honest bakery inventory too - trays of fresh-baked savory breads, sacks of snowflake rolls, vast racks of doughnuts, shelves filled with pies and cakes. The woman next to me bought a pepperoni bread and the checker apologized that she couldn't cut it for her because it was too hot. I bought my pierogis and a German-style cheesecake like I haven't seen in 10 years. There was a tragic accident with the pierogis in a crowded fridge, but the cheesecake was excellent.

Jun 28, 2007
wisteria1 in Mid-Atlantic

Orlando, Gaylord Palms resort restaurants

Just curious if anyone's got opinions about the food in the on-restaurants at this resort. I was assuming they were just overpriced and not too great, since it's one of those isolated hotels with trapped and hungry guests, but then I started seeing all these good reviews for other resort restaurants.

Jun 28, 2007
wisteria1 in Florida

Philly Top Five

My top 5 regional food experiences for Philly:

1) The Cheesteak - yes, it's an obvious answer but it's also true
2) The Hoagie - good bread, good deli, great food
3) The Soft Pretzel - a hard, slightly damp one that smells a little harsh; apply bright yellow mustard; truly soft pretzels are good, but they're hybrids, not true Philly pretzels.
4) Pork Roll on a hard roll - a truly regional dish, virtually unheard-of outside the NJ/PA area. It's largely a breakfast sandwich; the accepted way to spread the pork roll with mustard.
5) Shoofly Pie - the molasses pie from Lancaster.

And for #6, in America's ice cream capitol, get an ice cream soda made with Breyer's vanilla. Heaven should feel like that tastes.

Jun 28, 2007
wisteria1 in Pennsylvania

Good Indian in Cherry Hill?

Gagan Bistro on Rt. 73 in Marlton (just past the circle, going toward Philly). I'd been going to the Tandoor Palace on Rt. 70, but they apparently changed cooks about 2 years ago; the sauces seemed watery and the bread was suddenly terrible, no texture and flavorless. I was thrilled when Gagan Bistro opened nearby and I could get my naan fix again.

I tried Palace of Asia about 2 years ago, when it was Bombay Palace, and I liked the ambiance fine--it was quiet, overlooking the creek and the park, very pleasant with little white candles--though 1) the hotel's visitors watching you get in and out of your car are a little offputting (not a luxury hotel by any means) and there was an element of slightly oppressive loneliness in the large, nearly empty dining room (early dinner). As far as I recall, the food was fine, although the naan was too soft.

Feb 27, 2007
wisteria1 in New Jersey