Dark Roux (Lafayette, LA)

We were so excited to try out the newly renovated Dark Roux (formerly Brick and Spoon) in Lafayette. Everything from the fresh decor, to the food, drinks and service was perfect. The food is farm to table, focusing on local produce and ingredients and the menu is a perfect blend of traditional cajun with a modern twist.

image_6imageimage_1We started our meal off with a bag of beignets which were like no other beignets I’ve had in Louisiana- round and fluffy with a hollow inside. image_2

For our main dishes, we ordered the chicken biscuits and traditional benny.  The chicken biscuits was a serving of perfectly tender and surprisingly flavorful fried chicken topped with a sunny side up egg and white gravy on two biscuits. It was so delicious I was almost tempted to order a second order. image_3The traditional benny consisted of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, a delicious house cured ham, collard greens, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The Count ate it up in seconds but was left hungry for more as it does not come with any sides. Advice to the hungry ones, order some sides! image_5Both the Count and I were very impressed with the food at Dark Roux. The prices are a tad bit higher than your average breakfast/brunch spot in Lafayette but I can only assume that is because of the use of local and fresh ingredients. Either way, we will definitely be going back. 
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Café Habana- Nolita (NYC)

On a Saturday morning in New York I found myself wondering the shop filled streets of the Soho district only to cross over in to Nolita. Walking through an outdoor arts market I saw ahead of me a crowd gathering on the corner. As I walked closer I realized it was the famous Cafe Habana restaurant which I had heard so much about. Of course I had to try it. So I put down my name, called a friend and 30 minutes later was joined by 3 friends. The hostess was not in the least way inviting or nice. But I guess that is to be expected when a restaurant is doing so well they don’t really need to charm you with their service. We were told that they would not be able to accommodate a table of 4 and that we should try their take out service next door.

 

We headed next door to a more casual, less hectic room where we could order from the same menu but over the counter. There was a few tables inside and some seating outside.

 

 

We ordered the famous Mexican grilled corn and the Cuban sandwich. A few minutes later our order was up. The corn was sprinkled with piles and piles of what looked like grated Parmesan, chili powder and lime juice. The result was fantastic. So good I could have had two (or maybe more).

 

 

The Cuban sandwich is rated as the best in New York. I can’t really attest to that and I think it would be hard to rate something as the best unless you have literally tasted all sandwiches and all restaurants in New York. But, I can say this, it was the BEST I have yet had. The pork meat was full of flavour and juicy. The juice had seeped into the bread mixed with the cheese and pickles. It was amazing (see menu).

 

After eating here, I understand the hype around it. I would wait in line all over again for a bite of that corn and cuban sandwich.

 

Café Habana (Take-Out Store) on Urbanspoon
Café Habana on Urbanspoon
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Sushi at Origami (New Orleans)

Our latest trip to New Orleans had us staying in close proximity to Freret street- which was perfect for my tastebuds. A lot has changed, or rather, opened up on Freret since we last lived in Nola in 2012. So many new restaurants and new developments in the area are popping up making it a perfect place to spend a day exploring…or eating.

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Post-pregnancy and in dire need of sushi we headed to Origami on Freret street based on some great reviews online. The restaurant can easily be missed as it is set in a white house which used to be a dive bar with limited signage. Inside presents quite differently as a sleek and modern minimalist Japanese bistro. Beautiful white paper chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and modern furniture give the restaurant a clean and trendy appeal- quite different from every other sushi joint in the city.

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The menu is consistent with other sushi restaurants. Japanese appetizers, sushi, rolls and the likes. We ordered several specialty sushi rolls including the burning man- which all proved to be delicious and fresh. The miso soup and seaweed salad was consistent and good.

image_3 image_5 For dessert we had the fried banana tempura served beautifully with a serving of vanilla ice-cream and mango mochi. image_11

 

Overall I was very happy with our dining experience at Origami and will definitely be going back for more sushi!

Origami on Urbanspoon

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Another Broken Egg (Lafayette, LA)

 Another Broken Egg is a Louisiana chain restaurant open for breakfast and brunch. Ever since our move to Lafayette and the multiple disappointing dining experiences, the Count and I made a conscious choice to dine mostly in the comfort of our home using local and organic ingredients. This is quite the change from our previous lifestyle in New Orleans, Philadelphia and New York where dining out was a part of our regular weekly schedule. Back then the blog was more active as there were so many restaurants and talented chefs to review. Anyhow- once in a while a girl has got to get out of the house and taste some variety, especially when this girl is very pregnant and craving a good brunch.

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This led us to Another Broken Egg which is right around the corner from where we live. The wait is always horrendous, especially on the weekends. And so we waited for 40 minutes until we were seated. The serve is like most other places in Lafayette, mediocre but the breakfast is pretty decent. We ended up waiting a very long time for our meal which led the manager to come and personally apologize for the delay. There’s nothing worse than making a pregnant girl starve.  Options are plenty including a section for various omelets and healthier options. For those vegetarians amongst us, there also seem to be some veggie options in the land where hunting and feeding on animal meat is a sport (see menu). We opted for the smoked Salmon Benedict and a breakfast burrito. Both dishes were delicious and large enough to satisfy a pregnant girl’s cravings.

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A Foodie’s Guide to Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver, British Columbia…the most beautiful place on earth. At least that is what the license plate claims. But really, it is! I may be biased since I am from Vancouver and spent the majority of my life there before moving south of the border. And while the natural beauty, scenery and wildlife may take your breathe away, Vancouver has even more to offer. The diverse mix of immigrants that now inhabit Vancouver has brought with it some of the best restaurants and food in North America.  Here is my list of go-to spots in Vancouver that I never fail to visit when I am in town. I would love to hear what your favorites are in the comments below so that I can consider them on my next trip home and add it to my list!

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Brunch:

From the same owners as Chambar, Medina serves Belgian-Moroccon cuisine. Lines up go around the block and can take hours but once inside the food will make you forget that you waited for so long. Don’t miss out on the classic belgian waffles and the lavender lattes. Twisted Fork serves some of the yummiest brunch in town. I always go for the banana stuffed french toast which is an unforgettable experience in decadence.

Or choose to spend the morning in Stanley Park, the sprawling urban oasis of greenery and water that is the West Coast’s rival to Central Park. Begin at the Teahouse in Stanley Park, a well-known brunch spot, both for its location and Canadian Northwest twists on some classic breakfast items. Ask for a table by the window to look out over English Bay and West Vancouver. Don’t miss the smoked salmon Benedict, which comes with local sockeye salmon. (7501 Stanley Park Drive; vancouverdine.com/teahouse).

Chinese:

It is not a surprise that really good chinese food can be found in Chinatown and while there are really authentic spots where you must visit with a mandarin/cantonese speaking friend (for which I’m lucky to have one) there are other more modern restaurants that have started popping up in this up and coming hip neighborhood. Bao Bei is a really hip/hipster restaurant that has really good chinese food with a twist. Phnom Penh is another favorite located in Chinatown. And while the name might suggest the food is a mix between Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese.  It offers some favorite classics like the chicken wings.

Dim Sum:

For one of the most genuine Asian cultural and culinary experiences in North America, go to the Aberdeen Center for dim sum at Fisherman’s Terrace (3580-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond). This sprawling Asian shopping center has an entire store dedicated to Hello Kitty merchandise, a Korean barbecue and a pan-Asian supermarket, among other treasures. Many options are also available downtown in Chinatown. The Jade Dynasty Restaurant (137 Pender Street) offers good-value dim sum, or just wander along the road and choose one of the many restaurants that takes your fancy. 

French/Belgian:

My favorites include Chambar (562 Beatty Street) is a sophisticated, funky restaurant serving innovative Belgium, French and Moroccan food using regional ingredientsLes Faux Bourgeois  is a french bistro located in Mount Pleasant. If you want to feel a little bit of France and have authentic French food then make the trip out of downtown to Mount Pleasant. Wait times are long but it is definitely worth it. Another French favorite located downtown is La Brasserie located in Davie Village.

Indian:

There is a large Indian population in Vancouver which means one thing: really good and authentic Indian food. For the real deal you must head to Main street and Fraser street to ‘Little India’. Here you will find a vast number of Indian restaurants where cheap eats are a plenty. However, for a more upscale evening, head to one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver: Vij’s (1480 W 11th Ave). Owners Vikram and wife Meeru pride themselves on quality Indian food in a beautiful setting. The restaurant is quite small and the wait time often is over 1-2 hours long. So be prepared to wait a while and get drunk in the process. My favorite item on the menu? The Lamb Popsicles!

Italian:

An area in Vancouver that should be explored if you have time is Commercial street- Vancouver’s own version of Little Italy. Here you can find a range of great Italian food. Outside of the Commercial street area are a wide range of great choices including my favorites: Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma. 

Italian Pizza options are also great in Vancouver including Nicli Antica Pizzeria in Gastown and Pizzeria Farina.

Japanese: 

Starting off at the intersection of Denman street and Robson street is where the feast begins. For the best ramen downtown, I usually head to either Motomoki Shokudo (740 Denman Street) or it’s sister location, Kintaro Ramen.  Try the black bamboo charcoal ramen. It is quite possibly the best broth you’ll ever taste.

Further up on Robson street is another all-time favorite, Guu with Garlic, a Japanese Izakaya restaurant which opened its doors in the early 2000’s and quickly gained so much popularity that it now has multiple locations around Vancouver and Toronto. (Below is the grilled squid served with a side of Lemon and Japanese Mayonnaise).

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For the best hand-made gyozas in town I always head to Gyoza King (1508 Robson Street), a small and cozy Japanese bistro where you can choose from a variety of gyozas and other Japanese favorites. My number one pick: the shrimp and chive gyozas with a bottle of unfiltered sake to wash it down.

Sushi:

Where to begin on this one? Sushi restaurants cover the streets of Vancouver just as frequently as Starbucks. Some authentic, fresh and delicious and others are just in the business to make money. Making the hunt for good sushi a fun challenge (although to be honest even the mediocre sushi bars in Vancouver are far better than most sushi I’ve tasted around the US)! For a healthy organic sushi meal I head over to the tiny little gem, Shizen ya, located on Hornby street directly across from the courthouse.  For a more upscale experience with unique takes on sushi, Miku (#70 – 200 Granville St) is the place to be. The sushi is amazing and takes on a form of art. If in Yaletown, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (1095 Hamilton St) offers a vast range of fresh seafood, sushi and BC coastal fare. It is a classy affair and on the pricey end but if in Vancouver for a short time it should not be missed.

Sandwiches:  

Finchs Tea and Coffee House (353 W. Pender Street) is a classic Gastown gem serving some of the best sandwiches in town. Favorites include the proscuitto, pear and baked blue brie cheese and walnut sandwich. Absolutely to die for! Hubbub is another favorite due to their oh so delicious bread. My all time favorite is the turkey sausage sandwich which I describe in great lengths in my post.

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Seafood:

When in Vancouver, eat lots of seafood, the unrivaled local specialty.There are so many that I am going to list them here for you and let you pick your favorite:  Blue Water Cafe and Raw BarMiku, Rodney’s Oyster House and Go Fish Ocean Emporium (a food stand close to Granville Island).

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 What are your favorite restaurants in Vancouver? Please add below in comment so that I can try it out next time I am in town! 

xox,

The Hungry Nomad

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A Bayou Baby is on the Way

Dearest readers and followers,

You may have noticed that my activities have been limited for a while with a few posts here and there. It’s been a relatively calm year with few travels since our move to the bayou in Louisiana.  And even fewer culinary expeditions since our small town of Lafayette has very little to offer in terms of restaurant options and quality dining.

DSC_0077That is not to say that there aren’t endless options for cajun food including the classic hearty Gumbo, Crawfish Étouffée, Fried Catfish and the likes. But unfortunately with trial and error I’ve come to learn that I am just not that into the deep fried food options of the South (minus gumbo which I can’t get enough of) and I absolutely can’t even stand the smell of crawfish let alone place one in my mouth. What a shame because I live in the crawfish capital of the world.

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In other news, the Count and I are ecstatic about the imminent arrival of Baby Nomad who will be joining the nomadic clan in a few short weeks. Feelings are high and we are counting down the minutes and seconds to meet our little one.  I am not sure what to expect from motherhood and how it will affect my nomadic ways, travels and culinary adventures but I am hoping that baby’s arrival will only add to our adventures and journeys. Perhaps, a more child friendly twist to the current posts including family friendly hotels, restaurants and recipes. I am still working out the details but will be documenting my journey through motherhood.

xox,

The Hungry Nomad

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Fine Dining Sushi at Miku (Vancouver, Canada)

When it comes to eating sushi in Vancouver the possibilities are endless. If its quality, creativity and an upscale Aburi experience you are searching for then Miku is a great option. It is a relatively new restaurant located along the Burrard Inlet next to Canada Place.   Every detail in the restaurant deserves a five star: from the attentive service, modern decor, and extremely fresh use of ingredients.

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The experience started off with a modern take on the traditional goma-ae salad substituting kale for spinach dressed in a sweet sesame glaze and sesame seeds. It was gone within seconds.

DSC_0336The tuna sashimi was one of those rare melt in your mouth experiences. Again, gone within seconds.  The plate of Kaisen Soba Pepperoncino was filled with fresh pieces of grilled scallops, jumbo prawns, squid and clams on a bed of soba noodles topped with arugula. It is a great plate on its own but if you are sharing you will definitely need several more dishes to leave the restaurant satisfied.
DSC_0341 DSC_0342 The pan seared gyoza was plated nicely but was the least exciting dish of the night. But the best part of the meal was yet to come…DSC_0345

The sushi…and not any kind of sushi but the Aburi kind. Rectangular pieces of rice topped with  pressed sockeye salmon, the secret ‘mike’ sauce topped with a thin slice of jalapeño and the other topped with pressed prawn and ume sauce. Personally, I am a big fan of aburi style sushi and cannot get enough. These little pieces of heaven come at a price, $16 per roll. It is definitely on the high end but worth every bite.
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For the vegetarians, the vegetable nigiri, especially the eggplant nigiri is a great option. The eggplant is so smooth and creamy and again, literally melts the instant it hits your tastebuds. 
DSC_0350We also ordered several more traditional sushi rolls all of which were outstanding, especially the King Roll.
DSC_0351The dessert menu consisted of several european and japenese inspired dishes of which we ordered the Green Tea Opera and Coconut Mousse. The plating was beautiful and colorful and the the blend of flavors perfect.
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Overall, the experience at Miku was outstanding and memorable and I highly recommend to any who want a fine dining sushi experience to visit Miku. Reservations are highly recommended.

Miku Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Organic-Mad Food at ABC Kitchen- Gramercy/Flatiron (NYC)

One of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve yet to have in New York has got to be my most recent trip to Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. I’ve been long wanting to try ABC Kitchen but getting reservations are a nightmare but a quick pop in lunch with no reservations did the trick this time!

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From the decor, cutlery, plates, lights to the mouth-watering innovative organic-mad food, every single detail of ABC Kitchen was perfection. The restaurant offers a ‘farm-to-table’ menu free from pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics, hormones and is GMO-free. Everything on the menu is humanely sourced from regional farmers and fair trade cooperatives.

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The restaurant is a celebrity sighting hotspot along with your New York A-listers and fashionistas.

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Here’s what we had: for starters- the roasted beets with house made yogurt, roasted carrot and avocado salad, and for our entrees, the asparagus, bacon, ricotta, parmesan and black pepper pizza and the grilled chicken pail lard with sugar snaps, asparagus and chili lime vinaigrette.

Below: roasted carrot and avocado salad

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photo 4Below: the roasted beets with house made yogurtphoto 1 photo 2 Below: the grilled chicken pail lard with sugar snaps, asparagus and chili lime vinaigrettephoto 4 Below:  the asparagus, bacon, ricotta, parmesan and black pepper pizzaphoto 5 photo 3
Recommendations: Book at least a month in advance and if you can try a little bit of everything on the menu. It is well worth it!

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Laduree Tea Salon- Soho (NYC)

Soft pastels, velvet seating, rows and rows of colorful macarons, yes I finally made it to Laduree’s Soho location in New York City. And just like the one on Champs Élysées, it is perfect.

The 18th and 19th century decorated 3 part salon is over-the-top glamorous and the courtyard seating is like a small green haven in the middle of bustling Soho. The storefront itself is a Parisian-style pastry shop, in which one counter is devoted exclusively to macarons, stacked in neat piles in a range of colors.  

Besides the rainbow selection of macarons and mouth watering dessert selection there is a full lunch and dinner menu (which is on the pricier end)!  After waiting for what seemed like an hour on a Saturday afternoon we were finally seated in the courtyard which was in the process of setting up for a private ‘mad hatter luncheon’.  The lunch menu was several pages long and ranged in price. We opted for the chicken salad which was beautifully presented in a pink and gold trimmed plate. A generous portion of spinach topped with pieces of chicken wrapped around in cucumber and topped with balsamic vinegar and mustard. It was worth every penny. For dessert, we had none other than a plate filed with macarons and a frothy latte. Overall, Laduree Soho is a great place to escape the noise and craziness of a city where you can pretend you have stepped into the past a la Midnight in Paris!

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DSC_0240Ladurée on Urbanspoon

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A New Type of Rotisserie at Narcissa- East Village (NYC)

Narcissa is the newest addition to the New York dining scene opening up months ago in André Balaz’s newly renovated Standard hotel on Cooper Square. The restaurant is split into two sections: one space boasts rows of farm-style wooden tables facing the open kitchen bordered by a wraparound chef counter, the other is the louder larger restaurant and courtyard. Fun fact: the restaurant is named after a dairy cow at Andre Balazs’ Hudson Valley farm which supplies organically-grown vegetables, herbs and eggs to the restaurant year round.

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The menu features various unique twists on your classic vegetables featured as shared plates and a range of meats and seafood cooked rotisserie style for the carnivores.

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Talented chef, John Fraser has a way in creating new flavors with classical dishes such as the Baby Chicken Rotisserie which is a melting pot of flavors. It consists of juicy chopped pieces of rotisserie chicken mixed in a bowl with broccoli rage, spiced sausage and brood ($30). Appetizers will leave the vegetarians extremely happy having a large choice ranging from Rotisserie Crisped Beets served with a bulgur salad, apples and creamed horseradish ($15) to the English Pea Tortellini in a mushroom bullion topped with opal basil ($16).

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The Mission Figs served in a bed of homemade ricotta cheese and topped with mangalitsa ham and sunflower seeds ($16) was full of competing flavors and was devoured by our party within seconds.

DSC_0245Each of us ordered a different main dish and I can honestly say that all of them were equally delicious, flavorful and unique. However, the Baby Chicken Rotisserie and Maine Scallops were the most popular. 
DSC_0252 DSC_0253 The dessert options were just as good as dinner with a range of plates to choose from all priced at $9. Our table opted for the Bittersweet Chocolate Tart served with a curry-roasted banana and espresso ice cream and a bowl of fruit sorbets.

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DSC_0259 The only downside of our dining experience at Narcissa was the service. While the hostess was pleasant and seated us promptly, our female server was impatient, rude and a bit abrasive. Not sure if she was just having a bad night or if this reflects other service staff at the restaurant but it put a slight damper on our experience. DSC_0260 DSC_0261

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