Tag Archives: chicken

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.

Philly's CT on Urbanspoon

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A Very MaurPowerFoodie Mother’s Day… Texas De Brazil – Yonkers, NY

One thing I can certainly say is I would never have accomplished any of the things I have (earning the rank of Eagle Scout, graduating from a top university, graduating law school, passing the bar exam, becoming a top 100 contestant on MasterChef, etc.) without my Mother, Bonnie Maur. I owe a lot to her, and can never thank her enough. Included in the things I owe her for are my love of food and ability to cook. In raising me along with my two siblings, my mom taught us all to cook. She thought it was necessary for us to be able to feed ourselves (definitely a lesson I am glad I learned). My love of food and cooking may have taken on a path of its own over the years, but my culinary journey never would have started without my mother. Here we are together with my sister, all swimming with dolphins:

Now that I have gotten all the mushy, yet necessary stuff out of the way, back to the food we go. This year for Mother’s Day, my sister and I took our mom to Texas de Brazil in Yonkers, NY. My mom had been to one in Florida and loved it, so when one opened up relatively close to us, it only seemed like the natural choice for Mother’s Day. Texas De Brazil is a churrascaria (Brazilian Grille), which is one of my favorite types of restaurants as an avid meat eater. For those of you who have never been to one, basically the servers/carvers (Gauchos) walk around to your table with different cuts of meats on a sword and carve each one fresh for you… all you can eat. Plus there is always a loaded appetizer/salad bar.

I am not one to comment much on ambiance, but this time it is definitely noteworthy. The restaurant is beautiful. Warm, welcoming colors, beautiful artwork, and a gorgeous bouquet above the salad bar. Here… take a look:

Then add to this a fully stocked stylish bar out front and a beautiful windowed wine “cellar”, with a wine list that is more like a wine library. The cellar even reminds me of a library with a rolling ladder that allows the servers to search through the massive collection to get just the right bottle for you. In fact, this picture only shows 1 side of the massive windowed “cellar”. The decor and general feel of Texas de Brazil… absolutely stunning.

Alright, onto the food! I promise this time. Let’s start with the start of the meal, the appetizer/salad bar(items are subject to change). THIS IS NOT YOUR EVERY DAY SALAD BAR! Yes there is salad with all the toppings, but there are also four different homemade dressings. Plus, an oh so creamy and rich Lobster Bisque. You know what, I just need to list some of the brightest points, as I could spend forever going through each item.  Ok, here goes: sliced prosciutto and salami, Gorgonzola and grape salad, tabbouleh, crab sushi, ahi tuna, buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese terrine, smoked salmon, potatoes au gratin, multiple freshly baked breads, and much more. Plus, anywhere that has a beautiful Parmesan cheese wheel for me to pick from… love. Here is just a sampling of the salad bar:

While the salad bar was great and delicious, the stars of the show, as it should be at any churrascaria, were the meats, carved table-side.  Not only was there a huge variety in different cuts of meats, but each one had its own unique flavor. First off here is the list of meats: Filet mignon, bacon wrapped filet mignon, braised beef ribs, rack of lamb, garlic-marinated picanha (top sirloin tips, their signature), pork ribs, Brazilian picanha, Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, bacon wrapped chicken breast, Parmesan crusted chicken, Parmesan crusted pork loin, flank steak, herb-marinated pork loin, and Brazilian alcatra (top sirloin).

Leg of LambFlank Steak

Leg of Lamb                                               Flank Steak

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon


Yes, I did try everything, and there is not a single cut of meat I would not recommend trying. That being said, not everyone can finish off 15 different cuts of meats in one sitting, so let me highlight a few favorites. The alcatra is a must, great seasoning, juicy, tender, fatty, and delicious. I also am an avid lover of flank steak, and this ranked up near the top of flank steaks I have had at restaurants.  Also, I was surprisingly impressed with one item I tend not to prefer at churrascarias, the bacon-wrapped chicken. I know you would think I would always love this item, but it is usually on the dry side. Not at Texas De Brazil, the chicken breast remained tender and juicy, just the way it should be. And finally, my two favorites of the day: Coming in second place, with a surprise pack of flavor, juicy and tender interior, and the perfect casings… the Brazilian Sausage. And for first place, it was not even a contest. There was one cut of meat that was so fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, fill you with joy in every bite, scrumptious, well prepared, well seasoned morsel, that I had 4 servings of it. The BRAISED BEEF RIBS!!!! **Crowd Cheers**

Brazilian AlcatraBrazilian Sausage

Brazilian Alcatra                                   Brazilian Sausage

Braised Beef Ribs

Braised Beef Ribs

Finally we come to dessert, and I have to be honest, this was the closest thing to a weakness I found at Texas de Brazil. They were good, but did not live up to the rest of the meal, which was actually ok in my book, because let’s be honest, I did not go there for dessert, and if it were not for a Mother’s Day special which included dessert in the cost of the meal, I probably would not have saved room for dessert anyways. We tried three different desserts: Brazilian Cheese Cake, Coconut Chess Pie, and Caramel Flan (A must be good staple at any Brazilian restaurant in my opinion. First up was the cheesecake. This was good with a caramel sauce on top, chopped walnuts, and a layer of chocolate at the bottom. Nothing special, but enjoyable. The one that we really wanted to try, cause we had never had it before was the Coconut Chess Pie, and unfortunately, it was quite simply too sweet. The pie is filled with a layer of warm custard cream, tons of coconut, and then topped with vanilla ice cream. The custard was the downfall of this dessert, as it was so rich, and so sweet, I could only stand a spoonful of this one. If you like extreme sweets, go for it, but if you are looking for a light way to end a heavy meals, this is not the right choice. However, not all was lost. The flan was delicious. Light, flavorful, and just the right way to leave my last bite at Texas De Brazil.

Brazilian Cheese CakeCaramel Flan

While the desserts may not have lived up to the rest of the meal, they also would not in any way deter me from going back. In fact I am sure I will be back many a time and soon.

Overall, I would highly recommend giving Texas de Brazil a try. Located at 1 Ridge Hill Blvd.; Yonkers, NY 10710, there is also some wonderful shopping available right around the restaurant perfect for a leisurely stroll after the large meal. For reservations please call (914) 652-9660 or check out their website at http://www.texasdebrazil.com/yonkers. The restaurant also has a beautiful closed off portion of the dining room perfect for private events pictured below:

I hope you enjoy Texas de Brazil as much as I did. Take a trip and let me know what you think. Special thanks to Colleen for showing me around and to the whole staff at Texas de Brazil for a fabulous Mother’s Day with my family.

Texas de Brazil Churrascaria on Urbanspoon

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


A Simple Italian Dinner

Today I was at work and found out I needed to make dinner, but I did not have anything defrosted and knew I would only have about an hour to prepare something after stopping at the store and heading home. I knew I had some tortellini in the fridge and could easily defrost some homemade sauce (don’t have any homemade sauce, no need to use/buy a jar of it, you can make your own with my 15 Minute Sauce Recipe!). So I stopped at the store and picked up some complimentary ingredients: Hot Italian Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, boneless chicken breast tenders, fresh mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. That’s it!

Here are all the ingredients you need (minus the sauce):

I got home and started on the meal.

Now for the nice and easy steps to follow:

1) Marinade the chicken in Italian dressing, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.

2) Start water to boil.

3) Grill all the meats (Hot Italian Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, and boneless chicken breast tenders).

4) Preheat the oven to 400.

5) Boil the tortellini to a nice al dente… usually about 5-6 minutes. Drain tortellini and set aside.

6) Remove the meats from the grill.

7) Cut meat into bite size or smaller pieces.

8) Warm sauce in pot from pasta.

9) Mix in meats and tortellini.

10) Pour the contents of the pot into a glass baking dish.

11) Top the dish with a layer of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese.

12) Put the dish in the oven on broil for 5 minutes until cheese is the completely melted.

13) Enjoy!

 

There you have it… a delicious, Italian dinner in an hour!  I would normally make my own sausage (more on that in a later post) but when time does not permit, fresh sausage from the butcher at the grocery store certainly does the trick. This really came out great, and I highly suggest it next time you are in a pinch for a quick dinner, or even if you’re not.

 

Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing out.