The city gods smiled on us as we began our day on Saturday. The sun broke high and clear and the temperature reached an unbelievable 49 degrees.
Our first stop was Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, NJ. You may recognize the name as this is the bakery from TLC's Cake Boss television show. Carlo's is everything a bakery should be. Lobster Rolls, Cannoli, Ski High Crumb Cake, Eclairs, cakes to die for - oh my... plus Buddy was on hand for pictures. My girlfriend Michele was in heaven. AND we found parking on the street! Even the parking gods were smiling down on us.
The place was jammed with locals; a good sign that the dim sum (and the prices) were good. We weren't disappointed and ate our fill of several delicacies. If you're not familiar with Dim Sum, the staff push metal steamer carts piled high with little plates of various soups and rolls, dumplings and buns stuffed with shrimp, crab, vegetables, rice, etc... you just point to what you want and they mark a card at your table. When your done, the card is totaled up and you pay on the way out. I love Dim Sum.
Michele and Buddy
The place was mobbed. Everyone at the bake shop was super nice despite the crowds. Even Louie the door man was sweet. And the Lobster Rolls? Mama Mia - that is good pastry.
Our next stop was just a few minute drive through the Holland Tunnel to China Town in NYC. We were in search of Dim Sum for lunch. We found the perfect lunch spot at The Palace on Mott Street. YUM.
After lunch we wandered about China Town for a bit walking off that one extra steamed bun we just had to have. I love looking at all the exotic vegetables, fishes and wares piled out front of the shops.
When we decided we had burned at least 10 calories we headed over to Little Italy to La Bella Ferrara Pasticceria on Mulberry Street for cappuccino and gelato.
We were good to our waistlines and we shared this. Pistachio, Strawberry and Vanilla. YumAfter being refreshed by our cappucinno and gelato we wandered about Little Italy, stopping in a few shops to sample cheeses and olive oils. At Di Palo's they were having a tasting in the stone basement of the shop. We were treated to pistachio cream, dried peppers (mmmm), a fig reduction and some delicious slivers of the most amazing cheeses. I love Little Italy.
Our last stop was to walk back up to Canal Street and China Town where I purchased two roasted ducks for our dinner. I selected two perfectly roasted, crisp ducks from their hanging place in the window and the house butcher expertly chopped each duck into bite size morsels and packed it to go. It was fun to watch him as he swung his cleaver high and came down hard in what was an amazing feat of knife work. Michele and Barb were somewhat relieved that I told him to not include the duck heads. I had earlier purchased bbq'ed pork buns to take home and steam with the duck for our dinner. When I say delicious, I mean oh wow, oh my... delicious.
Too soon the weekend was over. I bid my girlfriends goodbye on Sunday morning. We made plans to see each other again in March at Michele's farm in upstate NY. Her daughter has the lead role in her high school's production of Bye Bye Birdie and as her honorary aunts Barb and I must be there for opening night!
I love having guests for the weekend and try not to get bogged down in the kitchen. I make some simple bites in advance so that when my guests arrive everyone can refresh with a little food. Keeping it simple ensures everyone (including me) has a relaxing and fun time. What is your go to appetizer when guests are coming?
On this plate: store bought assorted olives and dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and homemade hummus with whole wheat mini pita breads. Keep it simple and keep it light! Offer up chilled water, beer and wine to drink.
Hummus (makes about 3 cups)
1 can chick peas (drained, liquid reserved)
1/2 jar store bought tahini (about 8 ounces)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of salt
Pita bread, cut into bite size wedges
Place the drained chick peas and half the reserved liquid into the bowl of your food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add garlic, lemon juice and salt and process again. Add the tahini and process. If too thick add some more reserved chick pea liquid. Process until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate.
To serve spoon some out on a plate and make a slight well in the middle. Drizzle a little olive oil in the center and sprinkle with chopped parsley (optional). Serve with pita bread, green and red pepper slices, carrots, celery and/or cucumbers for dipping.