Foods & Culinary

What’s The Difference Between Cheesecake and New York Cheesecake?

Cheesecake is a classic dessert. There’s even a Greek recipe that dates all the way back to 5th Century BCE.  And while early Greeks considered this dessert a cake, modern confectioners consider a cheesecake nothing more than a twist on a custard pie. Currently, in broad strokes, there are two different types of cheesecake: baked and unbaked. However, in the United States, most cheesecakes are baked. But why do restaurants put on their menu “New York Style Cheesecake” rather than just cheesecake? In fact, there are 5 different styles of cheesecakes found within the United States.  (more…)

The Scrutinized Origins of Key Lime Pie

If you’ve heard the word of mouth, then you’ve probably been led to believe that key lime pie was a traditional dessert that began in Key West, Florida, a popular vacation destination for young and old alike in the most southern reaches of the sunshine state. The story goes that key limes require the exact Key West climate in order to achieve the right amount of tart, tangy taste for perfect baking. Here’s the problem: there’s a new theory about the origins of Key Lime Pie, and not everyone is happy about it. (more…)

Hot Dog History: The Weiner Winner

It has become the Fourth of July tradition in America.

No, not the fireworks. No, not the parties and picnics. And no, not the alcohol imbibing.

This tradition occurs in Coney Island but captivates the world.

A Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker started a single hot-dog stand in Coney Island in 1926 with a $300 loan and has turned it into a multi-million-dollar enterprise – which includes restaurants, an hot-dog product line found in virtually every supermarket in the country. (more…)

Foods Associated with Florida

There are a lot of states that are fun to visit for one reason or another: many have a variety of things to offer which appeal to different types of visitors. Florida, however, is one of those states that seems to have something for everyone. In the early 1500s, when the Spaniard, Ponce de Leon, first set foot somewhere in the vicinity of what is now historic St. Augustine, it was springtime, and, impressed by the variety and beauty of the blooming vegetation, he named the region Florida, which means “full of flowers”. Whether, like the famous explorer, you are drawn to Florida by its tropical beauty, or because of the abundant sunshine, gorgeous beaches, water sports and activities or for a magical vacation at the happiest place on earth, everyone loves going to Florida.

Walt Disney World in Orlando is the most visited attraction on the planet, but there is far more to Florida than the house built by its famous mouse. You can feel this as soon as you drive over the state line and stop for your free glass of liquid sunshine; Florida orange juice! When you think of Florida, more often than not, isn’t orange juice one of the first things that spring to mind? As a matter of fact, you may not plan your visit around certain types of food and drink like you might when vacationing in certain other states, but there are foods associated with Florida that are essential to experiencing the best of the Sunshine State.

Everyone plans to leave with bags of oranges, grapefruit, mangoes and other fruit that is so plentiful and delicious in Florida. The days typically go from really warm to hot, so there is a perfectly good excuse to enjoy the many different and tasty types of ice cream, frozen yogurt, Italian ices and snow cones. But don’t think that Florida is all about fruit and snacks: there is so much more.

Is there anything better than sitting on an open deck beside a sparkling beach and having someone place a steaming plate of fresh seafood in front of you? Maybe a little spot on your plate is taken up by a piece of roasted corn and a couple hush puppies, but the rest is piled high with shrimp, oysters, grouper, snapper, mackerel, stone crab or any of the other locally caught types of seafood. Don’t forget the clams! Clams are still harvested from the wild, but the Florida clam farming industry is rapidly growing. And, because clams require zero pollution levels, the growing number of clam farms are having a positive impact on the environment as well as the economy.

Because if its location, it is not surprising that Caribbean food is a popular choice in Florida. Whether dining in well-known chains or small, independent hideaways, locals and tourists, alike, can readily find the specially seasoned barbecued ribs (make sure you get the guava sauce!), chicken kabobs, coconut shrimp, jerk chicken and, of course, the key lime pie that Caribbean food is known for.

Getting hungry? All of this sounds (and is) delicious, but there was a movie out a few years ago that sent droves of people looking for a special sandwich that calls Florida home. Did you see the movie, Chef, starring Jon Favreau? After spending a couple hours with him traveling around in that food truck, perfecting the ultimate Cubano, was there anyone who could not practically taste it? Slow-roasted pork is combined with ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles and put on Cuban bread. Then it is pressed on a panini-type sandwich press which melds all the flavors and textures into a little sample of heaven. Order it with a mojito, the refreshing Cuban cocktail made with white rum, mint, lime juice, club soda and a little sugar and you will never want to leave Florida! 

Best Restaurants in LaGrange, Texas

You might not think to eat in LaGrange, a tiny Texas community of only 4,700 people–but you should. Lagrange is located between Houston and Austin, making it the perfect pitstop for a quick meal if you’re on your way to one of Texas’s most bustling cities. Better yet, it’s known for its great food! Here are some of the best places to eat while you’re with us.

  1. If you’re in the mood for great Mexican food, you could do no better than Taqueria Rio Verde. This is the best place for breakfast tacos, and they’re only a few bucks to start. The only downside? It’ll probably be busy!
  2. The Holman Valley Steakhouse is a community favorite, and for good reason. If you’re not in the mood for steak, you can find traditional seafood sampler platters with shrimp, catfish, spinach au gratin, stuffed crab and mashed taters. The prices are moderate.
  3. If you’re in the mood for something a little bit more novel or don’t have the time to sit down for a meal, then Lukas Bakery is a great stop. Located on Main Street, you’ll find tasty Kolaches, cookies, pigs in a blanket, and more. This establishment has been in business for over 70 years, and you’ll soon find out why.
  4. If you’re more in the mood for a sit-down and some coffee, then try out Latte on the Square. Give their Matcha Tea a try. There are plenty of hot or cold drinks to try, and tasty paninis if you’re hungry.
  5. In a hurry? Go to Hank’s Express, where you’ll find great American food without the wait. This is a good option if you’re vegetarian. The best part about this place is the changing menu. The day’s food choices will be listed on the board outside.
  6. LaGrange, Texas is a surprisingly good place for pizza. Check out Reba’s. If you don’t want a hot slice, then there are sandwich options as well. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, then check out the great salads.
  7. Sometimes you just need a taste of barbecue, especially when you haven’t had the opportunity to fire up your own grill in a while. Prause Market is the answer. There are plenty of meats and sausage options, but try the potato salad before you leave!
  8. Murphy’s Steakhouse is another great option if you’re looking for the best cut of cow. They have great sandwiches for lunch, and the building is a cool place to wander around while you wait for your meal.

Top 5 Hotspots For Philly Cheesesteak Connoisseurs

Let’s face it: whipping up the perfect Philly Cheesesteak is an art. Few can do it decently, and even fewer can do it to perfection. What about when you go out to eat? Is there even a chance at cheesesteak bliss? Well, it depends on whether or not you’re in the right area of Philly–and even if you’re in the right part of the city, you still need to know exactly where to look. This is where word of mouth often comes in handy. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to figure out what people think of particular foods at specific restaurants. Here are the five hottest spots for Philly Cheesesteak lovers from the people who know best.

  1. Check out Tony Luke’s if you’re in the mood for something that tastes a little bit more home-cooked. You can grab a side of peppers or pickles, and the cheesesteaks themselves are served on delectable bread. They don’t cut as many corners as most other vendors. Best yet, the staff won’t make it easy for you. They’re jerks. It’s how they show you the love, and it’s one of the things that makes ordering from their windows such a plain delight.
  2. You can’t miss Geno’s Steaks if you’re in the area. It’s a 24 hour establishment at the intersection of 9th and Passyunk Avenue, and they know their business over there. That’s why there’s such a long line. Don’t worry–it’s worth the wait. If you’re not a local, everyone around you will know it right away. They order with a few words, while you’re more likely to have a short conversation about what you do or don’t want. Don’t let that stop you!
  3. If you’re ever on Market Street in Old City, don’t forget to stop by Campo’s Deli. This is an especially easy stop if you’re touring the city, since it’s not far from the Liberty Bell (and if you’re in Pennsylvania, then of course you won’t want to miss the disappointment of that tiny thing).
  4. Not everyone specializes in the Cheesesteak, but everyone gives it a try–and some do it better than others. That’s the case at McNally’s Tavern. Their Philly Cheesesteak is more like a sandwich than a sub, and they add grilled salami, sauce, and tomatoes to give it their own special flavor.
  5. Let’s face it. If you’re in the mood for a Philly Cheesesteak, then you’ve probably got an ache for a good drink too. Check out Dalessandro’s if you’re in the mood to both eat and drink. Since you’ve already travelled around the city in your quest for the perfect dish, you won’t mind heading toward Roxborough along the northwestern ridge.

Where do you find the perfect Philly Cheesesteak? You be the judge.

 

Best Food Trucks In New York City

Is there anything better than street food? Sure, family holidays a couple times a year are great, just like picnics on the beach and backyard barbecues with friends. And, no one is trying to minimize those intimate dinners with the special people in our lives, whether at the hottest new restaurant or lovingly prepared at home. But, be honest, is there anything that makes your heart start beating a little faster and your mouth water more than discovering that your favorite food truck is nearby?

Even before Jon Favreau came out with “Chef”, a film about a highly acclaimed chef walking away from his position at a well-known restaurant to becoming his own boss with a food truck, Americans were crazy about food trucks. Movie-goers got to follow him from Miami to Los Angeles as he served Cuban sandwiches that folks lined up for before he ever found a parking space.     

So, what is it about food trucks? They are not new. Right after the Civil War, chuck wagons, which were the same thing only horse-drawn, started following wagon trains and cattle drives cross country and their urban counterparts, the pushcart, has been feeding people in places like New York City since the late 1600s. They certainly haven’t always been “gourmet”. The trucks that used to show up at construction sites and outside factories were known as “roach coaches” due to their questionable sanitation practices.        

With all of the dining options available today, there must be something really different, something uniquely special, about food trucks to make people obsessively track their location and stand in line in parking lots and on street corners. What is it? Quite simply, it’s the food and the passion behind it. No one gets excited about a truck that sells tacos, but the award-winning, home-style, Oaxacan tacos you get from the Tacos El Rancho food truck are a whole different matter! New Yorkers cannot get enough of these freshly-made, authentic, soft corn tortillas wrapped around salted beef or tongue, which are unbelievably seasoned and insanely cheap!

The Soriano family, like other popular food truck owners, put a tremendous amount of time and effort into making their specialty taco the very best that it can be. This is what drives the popularity of today’s food truck craze: finding the best, whether that’s a taco, falafel, Korean BBQ or whatever. Nowhere will you find the love of good food like you do in New York City! And New Yorkers will go to great lengths to find their favorite food trucks. Fortunately, with today’s technology, current locations are just a tweet away since most food trucks are savvy enough to announce where they will be via Twitter.

Food Trucks That Are New York Favorites    

New Yorkers can be fickle and new places pop up all the time. Any “best of” list is apt to change on a daily basis, but if you don’t mind standing in line, here are some New York food truck suggestions that won’t disappoint:

Hard Times Sundaes – serious burgers

Solber Pupusas – pupusas, thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, meat and veggies

Anton’s Dumplings – pelmeni, Russian dumplings

The Cinnamon Snail – vegan breakfast burritos, tempeh sandwiches and seitan burgers

Coolhaus – arty ice cream sandwiches

El Olomega – Salvadoran food

Freddy Zeideia’s King of Falafel and Shawarma –  shawarma, falafel and kebabs

Korilla BBQ – Korean-Mexican cuisine

Luke’s Lobster Truck – lobster rolls

Schnitzel and Things – Austrian schnitzel, bratwurst, potato salad and sauerkraut

Wafels and Dinges – Belgian waffles and creative toppings

Top 10 Best Places to Eat in NYC

We all like to travel, but sometimes lack of funds prevents us from doing it the right way. We can’t visit all the exotic foreign countries we’d like to experience first-hand, and most importantly we can’t step foot in the restaurants within those respective countries to taste the unique delicacies of each region. Then again, maybe we can. Here are the top ten restaurants you can find right in New York City. If you want a distinct offering for your taste buds, then these are the places where you need to be.

If you’re a proper francophile, then Le Coucou has what you’re searching for. You’ll experience great seafood like lobster, halibut beurre blanc, and caviar. Give their foie gras a try–if you don’t know what it is, then it’s better not to ask. Eat up!

Uncle Boons is a great lounge if you’re in the mood for Thai. We’re not talking about the typical boring fare of nearly-fast-food thai restaurants, either. You’ll get to taste lamb larb, perfect crab fried rice, yellowtail collar and green curry snails. Yum, snails!

There are many varieties of Asian-style food, but Korean always seems to fall lower on everyone’s list. Even so, you won’t want to miss out on Oiji, where you can try a delicious truffle seafood broth before the main course, or the uniquely made honey butter chips and ice cream if you leave room for dessert (and you most definitely should).

The Hanoi House takes Vietnamese food one step further by specifically offering dishes you might find in the most northern parts of Vietnam. When you visit, sample the pho.

The sushi craze is ever-growing, and Shuko has you covered. If you sit at the bar, there’s a good chance you’ll be served by one of the establishment’s owners. Beware: it’s not cheap food!

If you’ve never tasted Portuguese food before, there’s never been a better time to try. Head to Aldea for pig terrine, duck rice, and more.

Not in the mood for dinner? Race to the Sullivan Street Bakery, where you’ll find a dazzling array of breads, baked goods, and aromatic coffee.

All right, sometimes you’re not in the mood for anything exotic. That’s okay too. Prune will take care of your appetite by giving you the kind of meals you recognize, but more artfully presented than they would be in a typical kitchen. Try out those Dutch pancakes if you find yourself there for brunch!

If you’re still in the mood for traditional New York City foods, head down to Momofuku. The menu is always evolving, so if you see something that sounds good, make an order. It might not be there the next time you go!

Try out Balthazar, where you’ll find comfort foods like steak and fries served in traditional French style. This authentic, stylish restaurant will leave you feeling satisfied no matter what you order. It also offers catering for special events. If you want to take the experience home with you, then head on over to their mouth-watering bakery.

Nootropics for Beginners

Wading through the uncharted waters of nootropics can be confusing for many newbies. If you are entirely new to nootropics or have tried and are yet to find any satisfactory results, this mini guide is for you.

I’ve tried to answer the most basic questions about finding the right nootropics for you, and attempted to cover all the possible angles from ‘what’ to ‘why’, ‘who’ to ‘how’, and ‘when’ to anything else.

There is no denying nootropics can be puzzling or even intimidating for people who have never used them before. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make sense of the vast world of nootropics, even if you’ve been using them for a while. So, I’ve decided to create a mini guide to help you find the right nootropics by answering five crucial ‘W’ and ‘H’ questions.

What… should you be looking for?


Finding the right nootropics as a beginner starts with searching for the most basic ones. Once you’ve found options you think you might like to try, look out for what the nootropic contains.

It’s very important to check the kind of ingredients used in the nootropic. Be wary of brands that use cheap ingredients, because chances are, you’d only be dealing with a diluted substance.

Also, look out for the amount of ingredients used in the nootropic. While you might find that a nootropic contains the right ingredients, if it’s not the appropriate quantity, it will not reap results, leaving you with an ineffective nootropic.

The brand of nootropic matters as much as the ingredients. Beware of false marketing hype, especially with brands that establish and reinforce false expectations. To help you tie this all up, read feedback and reviews online, as they are often more reliable than what the distributor or manufacturer has to say.

How…should you do it?

Again, it is important to start basic and slow. Take your time and find out what each ingredient in your nootropic does. Go slowly and allow yourself to test it and understand how it will affect your body.

This is important, because the way it will affect you might be different from the effect it will have on someone else. When you start with as low as one or two noots, you’ll be avoiding overshooting the mark, as one compound might actually be all you need. Also, you’ll find it easy to determine what effect each compound has on you.

Why… nootropics in the first place?

Before you even start, you have to ask yourself exactly why you’re taking nootropics and why you chose a particular nootropic . You need to define what your personal goals are and exactly what you hope your nootropic intake will do for you, in terms of cognitive benefits.

It also matters if you’re not in perfectly good shape and have a serious medical condition that may be affected by your nootropic intake. Finally, decide whether you’ll be better off using a nootropic stack or a single nootropic supplement and why either option would work better for you.

Who…should you ask for help?

It’s easier to find out from someone around you what nootropics to use, but you must bear in mind that person’s personal goals might not be the same as yours. If they’re taking a nootropic you’d like to try, you could ask them about how it affected them.

Your best bet for finding what works for you is by learning from a nootropics expert. That way, you’ll have all the guidance you’ll ever need.

When…could you start to experience side effects?

You have higher chances of experiencing side effects the higher the dosage of nootropics and the more nootropics you add. This is exactly why you should not start off by building a complicated stack.

When you start to experience side effects, start all over, but slowly. If you had taken too many different cholinergic supplements, cut the dosage in half. If you had used more than one product, narrow down the culprit by cutting out products through trial and error.

When…they simply don’t work?

It’s easy to feel discouraged when it seems a nootropic does not work after you’ve taken it in the recommended dosage. Bear in mind that the most awesome nootropics take their time to work their magic in your system and produce the desired results.

Also, sometimes you might get slightly different results than what you expected, but before you give up on the product, use it for at least two weeks.

On a final note, nootropics should be approached with the right mind-set and not rushed. Do that, and you’ll have solved half of your problems.

 

Food & Fun: San Diego Restaurant Week

It’s time once again to celebrate San Diego’s rich cultural and culinary scene at San Diego Restaurant Week, running from January 21st to the 28th. This year, over 180 restaurants around the county are participating, ensuring everyone can experience the food and fun. With the slogan “Eat. Laugh. Share.” organizers hope to inspire an environment and “experience that extends far beyond the dinner plate.”

 

As typical with most restaurant weeks, participating restaurants offer three-course, prix-fixe meals as a part of the celebration. The menus are specially designed to showcase the best dishes the establishments have to offer, ensuring a delicious and quality meal. Depending on the restaurant, dinners typically range from $20 – $50. If you’re looking to stop by for lunch, prix-fixe ranges between $10 – $20. While there is no need for tickets or to pay ahead of time, reservations are recommended.

Get a taste of some restaurants participating at San Diego Restaurant Week below!

 

For Lunch:

Cafe Coyote

Located in San Diego’s Old Town, Cafe Coyote is an immersive Mexican dining experience, complete with decorative fountains, live mariachi music, and a selection of over 100 tequilas to complete your margarita. Their lunch menu is affordably priced at $10 for 2 courses, one entree and your choice of appetizer or dessert. We recommend the Famous Old Town Carnitas as an entree, Quesadilla Mexicana as an appetizer, and the Mexican Flan for dessert.

Cucina Urbana

Uptown in Bankers Hill sits Cucina Urbana, a chic Italian restaurant with a California twist. Highlighted here is the extensive, high-quality wine selection to pair with your meal, as well as the wine shop to take some home with you. Priced at $20 for lunch, you can choose an appetizer and an entree. We would choose the arugula and heirloom tomato salad as an appetizer and  the margherita pizza as an entree.

 

For Dinner:

Draft Republic

Located in Carlsbad, Draft Republic is a California-inspired bar & grill that’s a part of the local Cohn Restaurant Group. With 101 beers on tap, it’s the perfect environment to sit back, relax, enjoy a game, and get together with friends. Their restaurant week dinner menu is priced at $20 for a three course meal. We recommend the Buffalo Buttermilk Chicken Lollipops for an appetizer, Draft Republic Burger as an entree, and the Skillet Brownie for dessert.

1500 Ocean at Hotel del Coronado

Located inside the Hotel del Coronado, this upscale coastal restaurant offers the best in a San Diego beachfront dining experience. The menu is designed by renowned Chef Patrick Ponsaty, specializing in fresh seaside cuisine. With a beautiful view of the pacific ocean, stopping by for dinner during sunset is highly recommended. Their restaurant week dinner menu is priced at $50 for three courses, not including drinks. We’d get the Lemongrass Ginger Lobster Infusion for the first course, Roasted Mary’s Chicken for the second course, and Vanilla Creme Brulee for dessert.

 

Bon Appetit San Diego!