Wednesday, March 30, 2011

London, UK: our trip in pictures (of food)

London as photographed while we were on the London Eye
London is one of the most famous cities in the world, ranking as the #1 or #2 tourist destinations each year (along with Paris). In May, Tricia and I visited this amazing old city. It was our first international vacation together, and my first trip to Europe. While Tricia is somewhat of a veteran to Europe (she's visited Greece, France, England, and many others that I can't think of/don't know), this was her first trip over the Atlantic with me, meaning that this was her first trip as a foodie!

Let me tell you: London is no Manhattan. You can't just walk to any random block and end up at a restaurant. It takes some planning and the help of a good hotel concierge (in our case at the London Metropole Hilton) to really find the culinary best in London (at least for novice travelers). We managed to really enjoy the food on our trip, and here's some of what we liked most:

Glenwood Pines

Restaurant Info
Glenwood Pines
1213 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca NY

We ate at Glenwood Pines on a Friday night right around 7 PM and the place was busy, but there was no wait. As soon as you walk in to the Pines, you'll notice that the decor is old-world tavern style, complete with wood-paneling and yellow-lighting. There's a bar area in front with a few TVs, some pinball machines, and mini-bowling. Where we were seated, we could look out and get a good view of the Cayuga Lake.

Glenwood Pines is most well known for its burgers and fried food. They also serve steaks, large plate of meatballs, and a variety of sandwiches (Menu). As an appetizer, Tricia and I shared a plate of fried oysters. Since this was technically a dinner plate, we also got to choose two sides to go with that: we picked jalapeno poppers and corn nuggets. The entire thing was brought out as one plate of fried goodness with sour cream, tartar sauce, and cocktail sauce:

After appetizers, both Tricia and I tried the bacon Pinesburger, which is advertised as a 6 oz. black Angus patty on french bread. Somewhat unique to the Pinseburger is that it is traditionally served with 1000-island dressing rather than mayo (you can substitute mayo).

A nice cross-sectional view of the Pinesburger
While Glenwood Pines does have a fairly nice selection of homey desserts, we were full after dinner, and we passed on this option.

See the full reviews of our experience next:

The Recipe Collection

This is our spot to share with you the formulas that we have developed to create our the food that we enjoy. You'll find baked goods, quick meals, and some more extravagant items as well. We try to give as much detail as possible. Keep in mind that all of these recipes are original, but many are heavily based on or modified from recipes from friends, other bloggers, or other websites. We'll cite these influences as we go, and we encourage everyone to modify our recipes as they see fit!

Tricia: I'm a closeted foodie

Greetings viewers! Tricia here.

Confession #1: Bloggers used to annoy me.
I used to hate people who blogged about their life, experiences and their favorite breeds of cats. I found people who blogged to be people who stayed in like hermits, sitting in front of their computer and writing for hours discussing on where to get the best scrapbooking supplies and debating on who is hotter, RPatz or Taylor. But up until I read 2 of my friends' blogs this year, I realized how satisfying it is to record and share your thoughts on a particular subject on a site where people can follow and comment. And if they didn't give a crap about what was said, all they had to do was close the window and walk away. Freedom, people, is where it's at.

Confession #2: I'm a closeted foodie
I've lived in Ithaca for the past 6 years and it wasn't until I met Siddharth that I really ventured out in Ithaca (and later, outside of NY) to try cuisines and certain spices outside of my comfort zone. If you don't know me already, I'm a first generation Asian-American and my parents (especially my dad) rarely like to venture outside of the Chinese cuisine. I think it's because when they came to US for university, they missed authentic Chinese food so much that any chance for them to eat Chinese food, they would. (Although now these days, my dad is willing to eat any cuisine, as long as it's a buffet). My family would rarely go out for Italian food unless we're too lazy to cook rice and just wanted greasy pizza. I don't even think I tried a lasagna until I was in my teens! And spicy foods? You can FORGET ABOUT IT.

So when I entered university, I used my freedom to avoid Chinese food altogether. Besides experiencing an assortment of (cheap) beer, I sought out the many cuisines Ithaca had to offer: Thai, Greek, Indian, Mexican, South American, Moroccan, Korean, and the best of all, baked goods. (Ithaca Bakery is probably my happy place. Siddharth and I share the common love of flakey pastries, plump bagels and cookies galore.) Since then, I've always been up for trying something new and interesting, of course with limits. I don't think eating dog meat is appealing.

Confession #3: The food blog was MY idea
Ok, it's not really a confession, but I figure it would be a segue to tell my readers how this blog came about. It all started when I took my first picture of an interesting sushi dish I had at Shibuya. It was basically a seafood salad in a V-bottom glass bowl that was floating on top of a fishbowl with an actual fish! I was so surprised (mind you, I'm more use to carrots that are carved into fish shapes as garnishes in Chinese dishes) because it made me realize there is so much creativity that can be included into a simple delicious dish to make it more memorable. I'm all about the taste, but presentation and creativity usually take the cake. I shared this picture with my family and friends over the beautiful casinos I visited in Las Vegas. Now, most of my photos from my vacation are the foods I eat. Even my current computer background is a slide show of all the interesting dishes I've come across in 2 years.

Then, Food Network started airing a show called "The Best Thing I ever Ate" and I got hooked. I loved how all the famous TV personalities spent 30 minutes naming their most memorable dish in a certain category (i.e. spicy foods, BBQ, dessert, chocolate). Every episode I watched, I would imagine myself being on that show and naming my most memorable dish. And then I thought to myself, "why not just write them down?" So here it is, a blog naming the many memorable dishes I've had and where you can enjoy them yourself. Enjoy our listings of interesting and delicious dishes. And if you have any suggestions, agreements or disagreements, we welcome them. Keep our list going, eating is no longer a necessity but a luxury.

Ithaca Restaurant Reviews

Here are our thoughts on restaurants in the Ithaca area. We'll do one review each week. Tricia and I will give separate opinions on each place in 5 categories: taste, menu selection, ambiance, service, and value. Each category will be on a scale 0 = awful to 10 = perfect. We'll also give detailed descriptions of the places, including photodocumentation. There are lots of choices in Ithaca, and many are not known to everyone, so we aim to give honest reviews of all the places around to help people make dining choices that they'll really enjoy!

Glenwood Pines - Basic Burgers and Fried Foods 
The Piggery - Ithaca's New Pork Butcher/Deli offers Tasty Lunch
CT Bento Cafe - A new Japanese Option in Ithaca  
Four Seasons - A Great Korean Place in Ithaca
Bandwagon Brewpub - Deliciously Innovative Food in the Commons
Garcia's - Great Value Mexican Food in Central NY  
Blue Frog Cafe - Unfortunate Coffeehouse in Pyramid Mall
Hazelnut Kitchen - Innovative Offerings in Trumansburg NY 

Siddharth: My passion for life and food

When I was growing up, food was something I took for granted. In my house, my mom made homecooked meals every night. Even though she cooked a lot of Indian food (my parents are both immigrants from South India), she also tried different sorts of foods too - American, Italian, Chinese, and more. My mom also loved to bake, so I was always treated to delicious desserts. For a long time, as a child, I thought this was how everyone had it. It wasn't really until high school that I realized how lucky I was. That was when my friends started coming over for dinner and events at our house, and they always went on about how great of a cook my mom was. I couldn't imagine another way of living, but I was soon to be faced with a harsh reality: I was headed to college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Eastern NY (a 7-hr drive from where I grew up in NW Ohio), and I would no longer be coming home to meals cooked by my mother! What was I going to do?

My first year at RPI was tough - I ate cafeteria food everyday, and I hated it. I started eating really unhealthy foods, as these were the only things I liked in the cafeteria: belgian waffle with Ice Cream and a side of fries for dinner was not unusual for me (I still have a tremendous love of junk food, but back then it became primary sustenance!). After that experience, I knew I had to learn to cook for myself. As a sophomore I moved off campus into an apartment, and fending for myself in terms of food began. I started slow: I used 4-ingredient cookbooks and followed simple recipes that my mom e-mailed me. As time went on, I slowly got better and better, and I tried more sophisticated recipes. By the time I was a senior, all of my friends were eager to eat my cooking, and I was widely considered the "chef" in our two floor apartment of 6 guys. After graduating RPI and coming to grad school at Cornell, I continued to broaden my culinary horizons. Now, no recipe scares me (except baking - I still leave that to my mom and Tricia!), and I develop a lot of my own recipes. I have a great feel for food, and I typically have house parties of 10 or more people each month, where I cook and serve multiple course meals for my friends. Everyone enjoys the food, and I really enjoy making food for everyone.

I think things have come full circle: my mom always cooked for others because she liked to, not because she had to. This is how I am now: I have found that food is something that brings us all together, and it is really important to me and how I live my life. Tricia, who I met 2 years ago, has learned to share my passion for food, and together we make our free time, weekends, and vacations centered on food (cooking and eating!). Tricia has developed into quite a baker herself! So here, we share with you what we create and what we consume. We'll give you recipes, details of places we ate, and even comprehensive reviews of local places in Ithaca. We hope that the food we share here will become something that you can enjoy with your family friends as well!

Ithaca, NY: Our Current Home

Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca: A great place to swim and cookout
As both of us our members of the Cornell University community, we find ourselves in Ithaca, NY. When we're not traveling, Ithaca is the town where we seek out blissful food. For those that don't know, Ithaca is a small town of about of about 30,000 in Central NY in the Finger Lakes region. It is a scenic place, known for its many gorges and the beautiful Cornell Campus. For a small town, it is relatively friendly to those of us that cherish food - just last year, Ithaca was named on of America's "Foodiest Towns" by Bon Apetit. We hope to highlight all the food that Ithaca and the surrounding areas have to offer in this section. We'll provide honest restaurant reviews, details of the shopping options, and even great locations to cook out (in the summer!). We hope that this is interesting to those unfamiliar with Ithaca and helpful to those new to the area.

Ithaca Restaurant Reviews

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

View our Photos

We hope that you enjoy all of the pictures we include. We are trying to become the best food photographers that we can be. If you want to see all of our photos from the blog plus more from our travels, please visit our flickr photostream.