Tag Archives: chef

Tarry Lodge – New Haven, CT

New Haven, CT has become one of the greatest spots in CT for quality food from a great variety of cultures. But when talking about New Haven food, the Nation knows it for one thing… Pizza… or since I am in CT I should say Appiza. When bringing a new pizza restaurant to town, it is important to bring something unique, something different, something fresh. That is exactly what Tarry Lodge delivers.

Chef Drew

One of the restaurants from the great minds and talents of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich (for those who do not know, I have a “history” with Joe Bastianich) , alongside Andy Nusser and Nancy Selzer, the team has done it again. First thing done right, get the right Chef. They have done this with a friend of mine, whom I met while he was the Sous Chef at Tarry Lodge in Westport, Executive Chef Andrew Marsilio.  Chef Drew has combined his training and experience to carry out an amazing menu with the skills of a master. Speaking of the menu, they got that right too. This classic Italian menu celebrates the tradition of taking fresh, quality ingredients, keeping it simple, plating them beautifully, and cooking them perfectly. Along with the plating presentation, add a great ambiance (albeit a tight fit when the restaurant is packed), and a quality wine list (which it better be with Bastianich on the team) and my friends, you have yourself a restaurant that will strive in the bustle and hodge podge that is New Haven, CT.

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Alright, onto the food. First, I must than Chef Drew for sending out a couple extra courses beyond what I ordered for me to try (the Octopus and the Tiramisu). But, let’s start with the beginning.  We started of with the Heritage Pork Polpette (meatballs) and Chef’s Octopus.  The Polpette was seasoned to perfection. A simple tomato sauce, some aged grated cheese, salty and savory with just a touch of sweetness fresh ground pork.  The only issue, it was served next to my favorite thing I ate all night, the grilled Octopus. I love octopus… when it is cooked right. So often, even the best of chefs overcook Octopus, leaving it rubbery. Not at Tarry Lodge. Not only was the texture buttery and tender, but the  acid of the lemon, the squid ink, and the touch of spice from the shishito peppers truly brought out the best in these tentacles. I wish my photo had come out so you could see the vibrant colors and artistic plating on this one too, but just trust me, the fact that you eat with your eyes first only helped enhance this dish. Onto our entree…

Guanciale pizza

As I said, when doing pizza in New Haven, it not only has to be great pizza, it has to be unique. Pizza does not get more unique than this house specialty Guanciale pizza. Guanciale is an Italian cured bacon made from pork cheek. Similar to a pancetta, but with a much stronger flavor, it only makes sense to pair it with the bold, earthy tones of black truffles. Many people in the food world talk about the different flavor palates, one of which that escapes most people is Umami. The savory, earthy goodness from truffles is my perfect example of Umami. Add in the salty guanciale, melted cheese, a lightly seasoned, crispy crust, and the rich egg yolk and you have a truly decadent, flavorful pizza. Every ingredient working with the other ingredients in harmony to create a depth of flavor that enhances with each bite. I want to try the other pizzas here too, but am hard pressed not to order this every time I go.

Gnocchi

The other entree for us that evening, my personal favorite pasta dish to order when I go to a good Italian restaurant, Gnocchi. At Tarry Lodge, they prepare their gnocchi All’ Amatriciana, which is in a sauce made with the above raved about guanciale, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese. If you are looking for something to compare it to, the closest I could give is a non-creamy vodka sauce. Though, as above mentioned, guanciale has a very bold flavor, so it shines through in this sauce. But the star of this dish is the gnocchi itself. Not only are the dumpling flavorful, they are as pillowy as I imagine a cloud to be, literally melting in one’s mouth. As full as we were after all this, it was time for dessert, so we ordered the flourless chocolate cake…

chocolate cake

Fresh cream on top, pistachio crumble, and rich chocolate cake, with no flour (that means it is healthy, right?… cause we ate the whole thing). Creamy, velvety, goodness. Definitely enough for both of us to finish off the meal…OH WAIT! Chef sent out another dessert….

tiramisu

TIRAMISU! Now I am extremely cautious in ordering tiramisu. Most places either soak the lady fingers in too much espresso and that is all you can taste, or cover it in so much cream that it is almost not a cake…. or both!. I think as you can see above, Tarry Lodge does neither. They serve up a classic, traditional, simple tiramisu and the 3rd best tiramisu I have ever had. The first was made homemade for me in Italy when I toured through the Country with my choir when I was 16.  The second was at a celebrity chef dinner in Chicago this past October (though that one was admittedly far from traditional, with a butter toffee crunch on the bottom), and then comes Tarry Lodge. Traditional with a capital “T” there is just a hint of espresso, a perfectly sweet mascarpone, moist ladyfingers throughout and topped with fresh cream. I couldn’t ask for more… even though I wanted to. In fact we were so full, and our neighbors at the next table, a very nice couple with whom we had a great conversation throughout the dinner, was staring so intently at it when the brought it to our table, we even offered them a bite, which they enjoyed thoroughly with us.

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Thank you so much to Chef Drew, general manager Steve Bayusik, the amazingly attentive waitstaff, the kitchen crew, and everybody else at Tarry Lodge for a meal not soon to be forgot. In fact, I will be back tomorrow night for dinner with some friends before a show to share the experience. As for you Joe Bastianich, consider the hatchet buried… I forgive you for rightfully kicking me off MasterChef for a terribly plated dish. My skills have improved greatly, maybe I will see you again, but all I really have to say is thank you. Thank you for helping to ignite a true passion food in me, thank you for continuing to help create fantastic restaurants for me frequent, and thank you for dinner… wait, I thought they said the next one was on you… oh well, I’ll still be back there tomorrow. Go enjoy a night at Tarry Lodge with Chef Drew and the crew. If you see me there, don’t hesitate to say hi, but don’t be offended if you find me in a food coma at the end of the meal. Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing out.

 

Tarry Lodge Enoteca and Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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MasterChef – One Year Later; Avon Walk For Breast Cancer; A Special Foodie PenPal Package; and a MAURPOWERFOODIE GIVEAWAY!!!

Last night marked the premier of MasterChef Season 4, and I could not help but feel a rush of nostalgia, as it was just 1 year ago that I was going through the excitement of being one of the top 100 in Season 3. From news appearances to interviews and features in papers, tribunes, websites, and magazines, it was an amazing time. An experience I am so fortunate to have had, and the birth of MAURPOWERFOODIE! Can’t believe that this was but 1 year ago…

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I still have not worn that shirt since the show. But I did do something else for the first time since being on the show. I used the ingredient which quite arguably sent me home… Black Garlic.

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For my dish on the show, I decided to use a smear of black garlic on the plate for presentation and too add a depth of flavor. This did not go over well with the judges (the infamous skidmark remark) and in retrospect was a horrible use of the ingredient. Well I decided what better way to pay tribute to the amazing experience I had on the show and how far I have come since by using Black Garlic the right way in order for a MasterChef Season 4 Premier/Season 3 1 Year Anniversary Dinner. So last night I had my friend Alyssa over for dinner and the show. And the meal was fantastic. Black Garlic Rubbed Steak, Black Garlic Butter Corn on the Cob, and Loaded Smashed Baked Potato. As you can see, Alyssa enjoyed it thoroughly:

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MasterChef was a huge step on my culinary journey and has led me towards many things. As for last night’s premier… what a great episode! Definitely some amazing talent this year, some unfortunate flops, the judges were on top of their game in both entertaining and giving some solid critiques. So happy to see my boy Luca Manfe from Season 3 back after his heartbreaking elimination last year and can’t wait to see what he does this year to redeem himself. One thing some of you may remember me conquering after MasterChef was walking 40 MILES for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer!

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Well, I am happy to announce that I am walking again this year 🙂 I have a fundraising goal I have to make of $1800.00, so please, help me out and make a donation to help put an end to Breast Cancer. And be sure to see below how your donations can help you win today’s MaurPowerFoodie Giveaway!

Speaking of that giveaway… I decided to do it because my Foodie PenPal whom I sent a package to last month, Judy Thompson, was nice enough to actually send me one back. So I figured to pay it forward, I would give away a PenPal box just like the one I sent Judy to one of my luck followers. First things first, what did Judy send me? An amazing collection of snack foods: Chocolate covered marshmallows, Chocolate covered potato chips, Chocolate covered cherries, caramel waffle crisps, and almond biscotti. All of which were delicious and have since been devoured.

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Which brings us to what you have all been waiting for… the GIVEAWAY! Your own MaurPowerFoodie PenPal Box, featuring some of my favorite snacks and ingredients and pictured below:

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So, how do you win??? Easy! All you have to do is go to the Giveaway post and follow the simple instructions.

There you have it! It is as easy as that to earn anywhere from 1-8 entries for the MaurPowerFoodie PenPalPackage, and the drawing will be done June 21st at 8:00 PM EST, so be sure to ENTER NOW!!! Winner will be contacted by e-mail to make arrangements to get your address to send your prize to 🙂 Good luck everyone.

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off. Can’t wait to see who the winner is 🙂


The Iron Bridge @ 100 Church Hill – Sandy Hook, CT

Last week I posted a teaser trailer posing a very important question…. Did I find a new Best Burger in CT.  Some of you may remember when I took my trip to Pub 25 for an inside look at the building of my favorite burger in the state. Well, I was told that I had that right there, in the same town there was competition I had not tried yet. The “Home of the Burger & Brew”, The Iron Bridge @ 100 Church Hill.

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So, I  took a trip to the Iron Bridge to try this Burger & Brew deal. First things first, if you are looking for a good deal, this is it. $9.49 gets you a 12 oz gigantic burger, curly fries, a fried onion brick, and a mug of draft beer. It is so much food, I could not finish it in one sitting after starting of my meal with the soup of the day, a sheet crab & corn bisque.

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When Iron Bridge says “Soup of the Day”, you can tell they mean it” Fresh ingredients and made that day. With a little bit of Cajun flare, this bisque had great depth of flavor and just a bit of kick on the after taste. The owner Ray, told me they have one regular who lives all the way up in Hartford and makes the trip just to have this soup when it is on special. After my soup, I knew Pub 25 might actually have competition for its crown, so I took a trip into the kitchen to see where the magic was made. What did I find…?

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…A plethora of fresh, hand formed burgers larger than a fist. These monstrous creations looked great. A little bit leaner than your average burger with a 90/10 ratio, I could still see that a lot of thought, time, and trial went into making these burgers exactly how Ray wanted them to be. The next step in the process is to season and flame grille these babies. Flame grilling gives you great flavor and a nice slight char on the outside. I went back to my seat and waited for the delivery of this…

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Topped with sauteed onions and bacon, by creation was complete. So first I had to go right for the burger. Juicy,  well cooked… This is a great burger. Now, when it comes to burgers I have found there to be two major schools of thought. First, let the meat talk for itself… keep the seasoning light, and just make sure you use fresh, quality meat. This is what Iron Bridge does and they do it extremely well. I would liken this style of burger to the home of the original Hamburger Sandwich in the Country, right here in New Haven, CT… Louis Lunch. Very simple but very tasty. The second school of thought is to try and enhance the flavor of the meat with the right seasoning blend. Big, bold flavors that play with your taste buds. This is the style of the burger at Pub 25. So which is better? I will get to that in a little bit. First, back to this meal. As I mentioned, you also get curly fries (these were pretty standard, but perfectly cooked with a nice crunch but not overdone) and an Onion Brick. This onion brick, to me, was the highlight of the meal. Think crispy onion straws to the EXTREME! They take a bunch of very thinly sliced onions, dip them in a perfectly seasoned beer batter, and fry them together into a brick of unhealthy, fried goodness. Crispy on the outside, and nice flavorful onion on the inside, what makes this special is not only how well it is cooked or how well it is seasoned, but the fact that the batter does not overpower or hide the flavor of the onion. Over all, this was a fantastic meal.

So now, onto the verdict… Did Iron Bridge take away the throne from Pub 25? Well… this all goes back to those two schools of burgers (see how I tied everything together), and my personal preference are those big, bold flavors offered by Pub 25. Just remember, this is a matter of opinion. Iron Bridge still offers a great product and is well worth your trip to try it for yourself and make your own decision. I know I will be back to try some of the other dishes I saw make their way out of the kitchen while I was there.

While Iron Bridge may be “The Home of the Burger & Brew”, it is not the home of my favorite burger in CT. Pub 25 can keep that title…. for now.

The Iron Bridge @ 100 Church Hill on Urbanspoon

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off…. “Om Nom Nom… mmmmm…. Burger….”


A MaurPowerFoodie Challenge: July/August 2012

Last month I announced my first ever MaurPowerFoodie Challenge and you got to pick 5 mandatory ingredients! The ingredients picked were Brown Rice, Garlic Chives (Thank you Michael Chen, fellow MasterChef Season 3 competitor), Cantaloupe, Buttermilk (Thanks to Ben Starr of MasterChef Season 2), and Pickled Whitefish from Ikea (Thanks a lot Abe… from law school). Another subscriber, Dave Miller, of MasterChef Season 1, did not get his ingredient of miso in before the other 5, but I went ahead and decided to use it anyways. So here I am, with an odd combination of ingredients to say the least, but I came out with a killer dish in the end! This month I made a Buttermilk Battered Fried Pickled Whitefish, over a garlic chive and lemongrass infused buttered brown rice, served with a cantaloupe miso broth. Anyhow, I am sure you are dying to know how I made it, so let’s go step by step.
First, the broth:

I started with a whole cantaloupe, which I juiced. Take a look at this melon. Ripe, fresh, and delicious:

I then sauteed some garlic in a bit of olive oil. I added a little bit about three stalks of chopped green onion. I also put the stems in there to get some more flavor out of them, but remember to remove them at the end. Next, add the cantaloupe juice (I used 3/4 of the melon’s worth and then poured myself a glass of the rest of the refreshing nectar). Bring this to a boil and add a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Then add just a little bit of hot pepper sesame oil. Remember, a little bit of this goes a long way, so no need to be heavy handed. So it looks like this:

Now, remove from the heat (VERY IMPORTANT! YOU DO NOT WANT TO BOIL THE MISO). Add 1 1/2 tsp of white miso paste and stir allowing the miso to dissolve completely in the broth. Set aside and simply reheat when ready to use!

Next we have the Brown Rice. This is pretty simple. Take 1 cup of brown rice, 1 cut up stalk of lemon grass (big chunks are better because you are removing it after cooking), some finely chopped garlic chives, 2 cups of water, and 1 tbs of butter and put it all in a pot. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about 50 minutes.  Remove top, remove lemongrass chunks, and stir.

Next is the buttermilk batter. Again, really easy. First take 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tbs of garlic powder. Sift the dry ingredients and put in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and then add 1 cup of buttermilk to the egg and mix together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until you have formed a smooth, liquid batter… like this:

Finally comes the roughest part of this challenge. Doing something with pickled whitefish from Ikea. And yes Abe, I even went and got it from Ikea… See:

This stuff is extremely salty and slimy, so I wanted to do something to get some of the moisture and salt out of it so it did not simply fall apart while it was frying. I simply took the pieces of fish out of the pickling juice and let a paper towel sponge out some of the moisture and salt along with it.

After I had sponged out some of that moisture came the easy part. I heated peanut oil up to 350 degrees, battered the fish, and fried it in the oil.

This leads us to the assembly of the plating. First a nice circle of rice in a bowl, leaving enough room around the sides for the broth.

Next a few pieces of the fried whitefish on top of the rice.

Then add broth around the sides of the rice, pouring a little bit on top of the fish (we don’t want to soak the batter and get rid of that amazing crispy outer shell).

Finally, I topped it off with a little bit of caviar and there we have it!

In my first MaurPowerFoodie challenge I think the score definitely goes MaurPowerFoodie: 1; Challenge: 0. While I am very happy with how this whole dish turned out, the best part was that broth. It was killer! I will most definitely be using that broth on a regular basis. Rich in flavor and color, definitely make yourself a nice cup of cantaloupe miso soup, maybe with some shrimp.

Which leads us to the next month’s challenge! Remember my 5 mandatory ingredients are up to you and based on the first 5 comments to this post (provided they are available to me at a somewhat reasonable price). You must follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post for me to use your ingredient suggestion. One ingredient per person. Then I will take the ingredients and in September make my dish and do a post about it. Then, on that post, I will take suggestions for the next month’s challenge ingredients. Be creative but also be thoughtful, because as fun as it would be to watch me squirm with some odd ingredient combo’s, it would also be great to give you all new recipes you can use at home when looking for something delicious. Remember, for me to use your ingredient, you must BOTH follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post. I will definitely use the first 5 ingredients and then as many of the others as I can.

The creative juices are flowing, so let’s get this party started. Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.

 


Table 26 – West Palm Beach, FL: A MUST For Anyone in the Area

Well, here I am back in CT after a fabulously relaxing and enjoyable vacation with my family down in West Palm Beach. While I was down there, in addition to relaxing, I made sure to meet up with a couple of my friends from my MasterChef family. After paying a visit with Penny Suzuki and Drew Rosenthal, it reminded me of what an amazing experience being on the show really was. Alright, I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with Table 26, the answer… Everything. When Drew and I met up he told me of one of his new favorite restaurants in the area, and naturally, 2 nights later, I made my reservation and had to try it. And I am beyond happy I did, not only was it the best meal I had while I was down in Florida, but it was simply an all around great meal. The food, the presentation, the atmosphere, the service, everything was phenomenal. Located at 1700 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL, Table 26 is a must visit if you are anywhere near the area. It will be worth the trip. Let’s start with the atmosphere and service:

This intimate restaurant is definitely the kind of place where you NEED to make a reservation. It has about 15 tables and a bar inside (with great specialty drinks and an extensive wine list. I had a wonderful glass of Malbec), as well as a few tables out on a patio. I meant to ask if there were a total of 26 tables, but completely forgot to. Either way, each table is lit with a beautiful sand anchored candle (pictured above) to remind you that you are in Florida and by the beach. Beautifully simple artwork lines the walls. Also, despite the fact that the restaurant is smaller, it is still spacious. Wisely so, Table 26 does not try to pack too many tables into their space, even though I am sure they would be filled if they did. Instead there is plenty of room for your party to enjoy the meal and conversation without being elbow to elbow with your dining neighbor. That being said, as described before, the setting is intimate. So the dining room, while constantly abuzz with talk of the amazing food, also still allows for easy conversation. As for the service, I was beyond impressed. This restaurant is just barely 2 months in. I have worked in restaurants for 12 years, including being a part of the opening staff for a few. Usually, it takes some time for the machine to start running smoothly. This was not the case at Table 26. The service staff was attentive and knowledgeable without being overbearing. My water was never empty, we were checked on with each course to make sure everything was cooked to our liking, and whenever I had a question for my server about the food or the restaurant, she was ready with the answer. The food came out a steady pace, and always fresh. This machine runs smoothly at two months, I can’t wait to see where they will be in a year. I know one of the goals for the near future is opening for lunch, and I have no doubts that they can do that without losing a step. Ok… Now onto the most important part, the food!

We were started off with two different types of freshly baked a bread: A cheddar bread (on the left) and a wheat bread (on the right), both of which were warm, fluffy, and delicious. In addition to butter, you also see above a dish of eggplant “caviar” (basically an herb and seasoned eggplant puree). Most of you who know me, know that eggplant and I usually do not gel because of the texture, but in this puree, that issues was eliminated and it was fabulous. The we moved on to our appetizers, a Maryland Style Lump Crab Cake and Blackened Shrimp over Sweet Corn Grits with a Tomato Confit.

First off, just look at the plating (something we all found out is not my specialty). The dishes look beautiful. And they tasted even better. I make it well known that I very rarely order “Maryland Style Crab Cakes” outside of Maryland because having lived in Baltimore for 4 years, usually it simply does not live up to its name. That was not the case here. Notice the huge chunks of crab held together by basically nothing else. Most crab cakes end up using so much bread and filling that you lose the natural buttery sweetness of the crab… Not at Table 26. This crab cake is just what it is supposed to be, CRAB! With a lemongrass butter sauce and a bit of Cajun seasoning, it is not Baltimore “Style” it is straight up out of Baltimore. Then we get to what was possibly my favorite part of the meal, the blackened shrimp appetizer. Not only were the shrimp flavorful and perfectly cooked, but this is one of those dishes where while each component is delicious on its own, when you get that perfect bite of everything together, it is simply magic. The spice and char of the shrimp, combined with the creamy sweetness of the corn grits, finished with the rich decadence and acidity of the tomato confit… the flavors just play off each other so well. To be fair, I am yet to find anything confit that I do not like, but that is besides the point. The point is, this dish was well thought out, well executed, and enjoyed thoroughly, leading perfectly into out entrees: a Double Cut Pork Chop served with warm applesauce and a chorizo & jicama potato salad, and a Beef Short Rib Stroganoff.

Starting with the pork chop, which was perfectly cooked with a wonderful sear and glaze on the outside. The chop itself was juicy and well seasoned, the applesauce rivaled (but did not top) my mom’s homemade applesauce (There really is nothing better than my mom’s applesauce), the asparagus was crisp, fresh, and flavorful, but the star of this dish in my opinion are the potatoes. The first thing I tasted when the entrees came was the potato, and it was also the last thing I tasted. In my opinion, the potatoes are the pure representation of what the entire menu at Table 26 accomplishes: taking rustic classics and using fresh and different ingredients, herbs, and spices to make it something special. Not only did everything pair well together, but they also transported you back to the rustic family meals of childhood. That is what these potatoes and the applesauce did for me, bring me back to wonderful memories of family dinners growing up while still intriguing and satisfying my much more adult and complicated palate. Onto the Stroganoff. This dish was my wild card pick for the evening, not knowing what to expect, and I would recommend it anyone. The egg noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente, the gravy was thick, rich, and flavorful without being overpowering (something that is often overlooked, but like any pasta dish, the sauce can make or break it, and this one makes it), and most importantly, the short rib, in addition to allowing the flavor of the beef to speak for itself, was so tender it fell apart at the touch of my fork. This was the dish my friend Drew told me I would not be disappointed in, and he was right. I will be back, and I will be ordering this again. Another item I will be ordering again, is dessert! This time around we got the Strawberry Shortcake.

There is a saying when it comes to cooking that we oh so often forget and take for granted… “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!” That is because there is something to be said for the simple elegance of letting ingredients speak for themselves. This dessert does just that. It is simple: Nothing more than a wonderfully fresh baked shortbread, glazed strawberries, and vanilla ice cream with a leaf of fresh mint, but it does not need anything more. The salty, sweet buttery shortbread, combined with ripe glazed fresh strawberries, and that smooth vanilla cream creates a refreshing and simple end to a fantastic meal. Instead of feeling weighed down after such a hearty, rustic meal, this dessert is weightless (although I am sure enough of it would still add a few pounds to your waist line). I can not wait to try the other house-made desserts Table 26 has to offer. Speaking of house-made desserts, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful people who prepared this meal.

First up, Executive Chef Steven Polowy (pictured with me above). Steven was nice enough to come out after the meal to talk with me about the restaurant, the food, his background, and the background of how Table 26 came to be. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Steven definitely showed me that he and his wife know how to prepare fantastic, innovative food. That’s right, I said, “and his wife”! Steven’s wife Jo Polowy, also a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, is the Pastry Chef at Table 26 and the mastermind behind the delicately flavorful shortcake I am now so fond of (Jo, I will be asking for the recipe at some point… Hopefully, after you’ve been open for a bit, you will allow me the secrets of at least that one). Plus, since they both went to school and lived up in New England, we were able to talk about the transition down to Florida (something that I must admit, I would be open to, even though I love the cold and Winter and Autumn) Thank you both once again for sharing the restaurant, your food, and your stories with me. Be sure to check out the entirety of the Table 26 menu for a taste of what they have to offer. Then… CALL TO MAKE A RESERVATION!!! (561)855-2660. In addition to their website you can also find Table 26 and like them on facebook or follow them on twitter @table26palmbch for their latest news.

So if I were to leave you with one thought about Table 26 it would be this: Great food can have a magical quality that transports you to another place, another time, a memory, or a fantasy… If you want to share in that experience, go out and try Table 26… then try it again. Thank you again to Steven, Jo, and the entire team at Table 26 for an evening I will not be forgetting.

Table 26 Palm Beach on Urbanspoon

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.


A NEW MaurPowerFoodie Challenge: You decide my monthly culinary quest!!!!

Hello everyone! Since I was tossed out of the MasterChef Kitchen, I have really started branching out from my cooking style and now it is time to take the next step. I have decided to really start challenging myself as a chef and you are going to be the ones to challenge me. So every month I am going to gather ingredients based on your comments on my MaurPowerFoodie Challenge posts. I will use the first 5 ingredients (provided they are available to me at a somewhat reasonable price) plus as many of the other suggested ingredients I can to create a (hopefully) stunning and delicious dish. I will then post pictures, a recipe, my thought process in creating said dish, and maybe even a video here and there of my frantic creative process in the kitchen and/or at the store.

Now I don’t want to keep you all waiting, so this challenge starts now! You must follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post for me to use your ingredient suggestion. One ingredient per person. Then, at the end of the month, I will take the ingredients and in August make my dish and do a post about it. Then, on that post, I will take suggestions for the next month’s challenge ingredients.

Be creative but also be thoughtful, because as fun as it would be to watch me squirm with some odd ingredient combo’s, it would also be great to give you all new recipes you can use at home when looking for something delicious.

Remember, for me to use your ingredient, you must BOTH follow the blog AND leave a comment on this post. One ingredient per person. I will definitely use the first 5 ingredients and then as many of the others as I can.

The creative juices are flowing, so let’s get this party started. Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.


A Philadelphia Feast!… In Norwich, CT?

Philadelphia, PA… The city of brotherly love, a wealth of historic sites and stories, and home to one of the most iconic American foods known to man: The Philly Cheese Steak! One of my all-time favorites. Whenever I go down to Philly I am sure to get a cheese steak. I tend to try a different place every time using a method taught to me by a good friend from Philly: look at the people coming out of the restaurant and if you can see grease through the bag… go inside and order yourself a cheese steak. The only problem with the Philly Cheese Steak, I could only get one in Philly. Much like the famed Baltimore Crab Cake or the New England Clam Chowder or so many other great staples throughout the world, anywhere besides Philadelphia that claimed to have a Philly Cheese Steak, lied. I am not saying I have not had some wonderful Steak and Cheese sandwiches, just that they were not Philly Cheese steaks. That is until I was invited up to Norwich, CT to try Philly’s.

Located at 33 Sherman Street in Norwich (down the street from Backus Hospital), when you drive by Philly’s, it is easy to ignore from the outwardly appearance and simply drive on by without even noticing it. That would be a mistake. This has to be one of the best kept secrets in the State of Connecticut. While not much to look at, Philly’s delivers authentic Philadelphia flavors and quality better than anywhere else outside of Philadelphia itself… in fact, it pretty much transports you down to the City of Brotherly Love. Two warnings: 1) There is not really many places to eat. Outside there is a small counter with a few seats, but there are no tables inside, so come expecting to take out or stand at the counter and eat (like I did) unless you get one of the coveted outside spots.


I was lucky enough to have owner Shem Adams (pictured below) there to walk me through the men and prepare me a feast of a tasting course by course. Shem is originally from Philadelphia, which probably explains why he has been able to create something that gave me an unexpected reaction to eating his Philly Cheese Steak, describe a little later (everything in its time).  He first came up to CT in 1994 and then moved up permanently in 1997. After years of going back and forth to Philly just to get a load of his favorite sandwich, Shem decided enough was enough. In 2010  he decided to start Philly’s and spent the year preparing the restaurant to open. When it did in 2011, it was immediately welcomed by the town residents, quickly becoming the place to go for lunch and to have provide the food for local events and fundraisers. Plus, Philly’s delivers to the Norwich area from 11-2 for lunch. Shem was taught the secrets of the true Philly Cheese Steak by his friends back down in PA, and brought the magic up with him.

Anyways, enough already with me rambling on… Let’s get to the FOOD! He started me off with the Buffalo Chicken Fries.

The fries were well seasoned and perfectly crisp out of the frier, topped with a monstrous portion of chopped Buffalo Chicken prepared with a “Doctored-up” Frank’s Sauce (as Shem put it) and a “drizzle” of Ranch Sauce. I started munching away at the sinfully delicious platter, barely getting my complimentary words out to Shem in between bites when Shem stopped me and asked one simple question… “You like ketchup?”. “Of course!” I replied. Shem responded “Put a little on them.” as he slid me the bottle across the counter. This took a great platter of fries to whole different level. The sweet tartness of the ketchup melded into the smooth ranch sauce and simply made me utter one word… “Duuuude!” That’s all I needed to say as Shem smiled knowing full well that my meal was only beginning.

Next up came “The Broad Street Bully”. An accolade winning sandwich (featured as one of the best sandwiches in THE COUNTRY by The Travel Channel), this goliath of meal is packed with Extra Meat (Twice-Shave Rib-eye), provolone, Fried Onions, Mushrooms (though I got mine without), sweet and hot peppers, pickles, and of course… Cheez Whiz.

This overstuffed behemoth could satisfy the hunger of any body, not to mention the fries I had already eaten, but I dug right in…

And after one bite, I, Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur, the man who has probably never stopped talking a day in his life, was speechless. FINALLY, an authentic Philly Cheese Steak NOT in Philadelphia. Every single ingredient melded into the next; there was no need to chew because the meat was sliced so thin it just melted in your mouth; each flavor played off the other creating a simple feeling… comfortable bliss. This was the moment that teleported me out of Norwich, CT and down to Philadelphia, PA. I do not know if I can type the words to fully do this sandwich, so I will type just one, “GO!”. Experience this or any one of the other many different varieties of Cheese Steaks. Quite possibly the most intriguing to me is the sandwich that is 100% Shem entitled “The Barkley”. Made with both steak and chicken, 3 cheeses, and a host of other toppings, this is my next order when I return. Philly’s also offers chicken instead of steak for any of the sandwiches, a variety of hoagies, and can even do a vegetarian option without the steak. One last look at the Fries and Cheese Steak before I devour them and the meat on the slicer ready to be sliced fresh for the next sandwich.

So I had some delicious food already under my belt (and pushing it out with each bite) but my feast was still not over. Next came something completely foreign to me: The Original Tarantini Panzarotti. Made by Shem’s friend Leo from Camden, NJ (right outside of PA), this was something I had never heard of yet tasted.

What’s inside that crispy, fried homemade crust? Quite simply, mozzarella and home-made sauce. This is your basic childhood pizza bite ON STEROIDS! Freshly fried with a flavorful crispy fried dough on the outside, the inside is filled with oozing, melted goodness.

If you want a trip back to your childhood, this is how you get it. I don’t know if I can go back to pizza bites after having these, but I may start trying to make them myself, though I am sure it will take me some time to get them as perfect as these.

And of course, what meal would be complete without dessert? Certainly not this feast. But for dessert we went off menu! I have been given permission to share with you one of the secrets of Philly’s: Fried Philly Bread!

As I said, this item is not on the menu, and actually not even available every day. When you go, ask for it. If they don’t have it that day or have sold out (which they do fast), GO BACK FOR IT! This is a fried cinnamon spice baked bread that is then fried to the point that there is a crispy, cinnamony outer crust, but the inside is still super moist and fluffy. The cake is then topped with vanilla ice cream and a house-made butterscotch sauce. Far from the healthiest way to finish a calorie packed meal, it was certainly the best way I can think of to end the feast. I devoured the dessert down to each spoonful of that butterscotch sauce. Also, be sure to try one of the many flavors of one of Philly’s favorite drinks, Jarritos. I went with Fruit Punch and am going to get Pineapple next time.

Quite simply put, do not miss out on this hidden treasure of Connecticut. Thank you not only to Shem (pictured below with me), but to the rest of the staff at Philly’s Marlon (pictured below, original customer and new employee), Ed, and Evan, for an amazing meal. You certainly showed me why Philly’s is the true replication of the City of Brotherly Love.

I also talked to Dave, Jess, & young Jamie who were enjoying their Barkleys and Fries. Dave had been many a time and bragged to Jess of the quality of these sandwiches, and Jess was not a believer… Until, like me, she took one bite. They all gave the food two thumbs up as their mouths were too full to comment fully. But did manage to let me know they will back… A lot! I know am looking forward to my return visit. Be sure to check out their website, friend them on facebook, and follow them on twitter. Call for your order (860)912-1057 and be sure to tell them MaurPowerFoodie sent you.

Until next time, this is Jason “Maur Power Foodie” Maur signing out. I am going into a food coma now.

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