Category Archives: Food

Garlicky Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Canapé 

Well summer is ready to make an appearance and I want to share one of my favorite summertime recipes. 

  • 1 large eggplant 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 TBS fresh garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped 
  • 2 large tomatoes cored and diced
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar 
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat grill

Peel and cut the eggplant in 1/2″ thick  round slices. Place in bowl or plastic bag with 2 to 3 TBS of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well to evenly coat the eggplant.  Grill the eggplant for about 3 minutes per side. Look for browning and  for the eggplant to soften. Remove from grill and allow to cool.

Chop the eggplant in bite size pieces and place in a large bowl along with the tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and remaining olive oil. Toss well and season with salt & pepper. For best results, allow to chill and meld overnight in the fridge. 

Serve on top of your favorite crusty bread and a little fresh mozzarella! 


Best Pie In America 

Did you ever wonder where the best pie in America is? I’m sure you didn’t drop everything and go looking for it, but it’s out there. I mean really out there! What if I told you it’s located in the middle of the mountains of upstate New York. It’s in the heart of the high peaks region of the Adirondack Mountains. I’m talking about the Noon Mark Diner in Keene Valley NY.

This small but busy diner boasts of the best pies and they can back it up! I’ve known about the Noon Mark Diner for many years. I grew up in upstate New York and spent many of those years in the Adirondacks. I’ve even climbed most of the 46 largest peaks!

People coming through this small town of 207 full time residents are usually hikers, nature lovers, or vacationers on their way to Lake Placid located less than 20 miles away. Hikers in particular get hungry and cold. The Noon Mark Diner is like an oasis in the middle of these mountains. Like any diner, customers come in for a piece of pie and a hot cup of coffee. This is how they also found out that the Noon Mark Diner pies are on a whole different level of pies! The word got out and this little diner has never been the same.

The Noon Mark Diner is still a great old fashion diner, with a big pie making operation. Mail order keeps them busy along with the constant stream of walk-in customers.  

Last summer, my wife and I spent a few days in Lake Placid. On the way back, we stopped for lunch at the diner. I had a cup of soup and a BLT. I wanted a classic diner sandwich. The soup and BLT did not disappoint! Of course I had a piece of pie! They have so many choices but I went with the classic apple crumb. Sometimes the basic is the best. The crust was both flakey and tender. The crumb was a perfect crunch and sweet. The apple could have been picked off a tree in the back of the diner and baked right away. That’s how fresh it tasted.

I didn’t stop with just a piece of pie. I left Noon Mark Diner with five full pies of different flavors to bring home!  

Check out their website:

Off Night

I had a very rare Saturday evening off.  So my wife, son and I took the opportunity to have dinner at Aquitaine at Legacy Place in Dedham MA. This is one of the three located in the Boston area.

The restaurant menu is my kind of “dinner out” menu. The food is French Bistro style. It’s the kind of food, where you want to order a bottle of wine for the table as soon as you sit, and we did. They gave us some warm bread to go with the wine. This immediately put me in a good mood.

For the first course, my son and I shared some Blue Point oysters. They were so fresh! This also made me happy! Nothing worse than having oysters that don’t taste like they were just plucked from the sea. My wife had the Tomato Fennel Bisque (not an oyster fan). What is the deal with calling any soup bisque? I thought only seafood based soup can be called a bisque? Were the tomatoes and fennel grown in the ocean?

I was glad that the wine and oysters put me in a good mood, because there were a few “off’s”. Our main course consisted of the Maple Brined Pork Tenderloin, Veal Schnitzel, and Crispy Brick Chicken.

I had the chicken. This would normally not be my first choice, but the name and the sides sounded great. Still not sure where the “brick” comes from? When I think “brick”, I think deboning a chicken, placing it flat on a grill, and placing a brick on top of it. This was a baked airline (statler) breast. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it! I especially liked the Pumpkin and Foie Gras Bread Pudding. The one “off” on this dish was the Rich Bourbon Chicken Jus. Not sure it was really there. If it was, it was less then a teaspoon and I could not taste it at all. That was disappointing because I love a good sauce. Chicken needs a sauce!

My wife had the pork tenderloin. She really enjoyed it! It was perfectly cooked. She had debated about getting the pumpkin ravioli but didn’t think it would go with her soup. She really wanted the soup!

My son had the veal schnitzel. I was thinking about ordering that too. When his dish arrived, I was really glad I hadn’t! The breading on the fried veal was really dark and the meat was tough. Not sure if the frying oil was old or it was cooked too long. My guess is a little of both. That was disappointing! A fried runny egg on top of the veal would have also made this dish better.

We all love bistro desserts so of course we each had to order one. We got the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brûlée, and the Bread Pudding. The desserts were pretty good. My wife loved the bread pudding! She said it was the best she has had in a long time. I was really bummed about the chocolate mousse. While the flavor was good, it was not really cold or firm. They must have just made it that afternoon and it didn’t get a chance to sit and work its magic in the fridge. I wish I knew this in advance, I would have ordered something else. I really love chocolate mousse when it’s done correctly!

As with all cooking, it is the little things that make the difference. A little thing off here and off there can become memorable. You don’t want your customers to remember the “off”. Maybe they had a slightly off night? Oh well, I’m not giving up on Aquitaine. I do like their menu. Maybe I’ll try their flagship Boston location next time. That menu looks good too!

New England Food Show

So…I went to the New England Food Show again this year. I attend every year. As with all the other years, my biggest complaint is not enough food.The main reason I go is to see new and exciting food ideas and trends. I attend to get inspiration. I don’t go to stuff myself into a food coma. Samples are nice but I am looking to try something new to stir my taste buds. I’m a Chef; I don’t want to just sample ice cream and fried stuff. Get me excited!

The majority of the floor space is taken by kitchen equipment and services. I have no issue with these exhibitors being there. I’m sure many restaurant peeps are looking for these. However, the name of the show is the New England Food Show. Maybe they should change it to New England Restaurant Show? If you go to the car show, you want to see cool and new cars. If you go to the home show, you hope to see new stuff for your house. So why not new and exciting foods at the food show?

I did find a few new ideas. I’ve been looking for more gluten free options. Bob’s Red Mill was at the show. They gave me a sample of a new gluten free flour to try. If this works, I can make our own gluten free desserts. The produce company I use was also at the show. They have partnered with Moody’s of Waltham MA. Moody’s makes the best in-house charcuterie in MA! We offer charcuterie on the banquet menu and want to add it to the regular menu. Now I can get it delivered with my produce.

I was impressed with this year’s push on technology and social media. This is very crucial to marketing in the 21st Century.

The main stage was for speakers and cooking demos. I went on Sunday and Chef Geoffrey Zakarian was the keynote speaker. He was interesting to listen about cooking and he has real personality. This can’t be said about every Chef. The show has local Chef’s doing demos. Just because you make amazing food doesn’t mean you can entertain on the stage. Let’s face it, some Chef’s like to stay in the kitchen for a reason. To get on the stage, you need great personality. This needs to be equal with the food. It’s all about the total experience! I sent the food show a tweet offering to do a cooking demo next year. Anyone who knows me, knows I can put on a show!

The show moved to February this year and that’s the plan for next year. In previous years it was held in March and shared the convention center with the New England Seafood Show. That worked well for me because the seafood show had tons of seafood and ideas for seafood. This is why it’s called the New England Seafood Show.

You want more attendees? Bring more food to the food show. More attendees will bring more exhibitors. It will be a win-win!