Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mr. Sushi & Grill- Middletown, NY. My favorite sushi restaurant.

Mr. Sushi is my favorite sushi restaurant. We've been there a few times and each visit was amazing. This time I went away from a roll and ordered the cerviche at twelve bucks. It was an appetizer, yet there was plenty of amazing fish, fruit and so much more. With it I ordered uni sashimi and snapper sashimi at four bucks each, also both amazing. Teresa went with chicken pad Thai for fifteen bucks that she loved. 

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant- Wappingers Falls, NY

Margarita's is a cute little Mexican restaurant in Wappingers Falls, located in a strip mall on route 9. I've seen it a few time when we stopped at Kohl's and today we decided to see what it was like. Inside it is a bit bigger than it looks and is brightly decorated with Mexican music playing on the stereo system.

We were seated and looked over the menus. I was toying with the fish taco, the ceviche, the enchilada mole, and a seafood special. I went with the Fish Tacos, three soft flour tortillas with marinated grilled cod fish served with shredded cabbage, cheese, cilantro and onions in a white sauce for $15.95. It was very good. The fish was perfectly cooked and they put the toppings in a bowl so you can add as much as you like. The tartar sauce was excellent. 

Teresa ordered the Grilled Chicken Quesadilla which was a grilled flour tortilla stuffed with char-broiled chicken and jack cheese and served with sour cream and guacamole for $10.75. At first she thought it was a bit small, but that was because they put it on a huge plate. She said it was very good, and very filling. The guacamole was excellent. 

So, overall a very good meal. Good food at reasonable prices, good service, and nice ambiance. We will be back. They have a website for more information. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Emeril's Burgers and More- Bethleham, Pa

Emeril Lagasse was the guy that got me hooked on the Food Network, and the guy that got me to try different things in the kitchen. I always loved his style and when I want a new recipe to try I start by looking at his on the web. 

I had his Burgers and More at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem on my short list for a while and we decided to stop by on Memorial Day while headed home. 

I went with the Black and Blue Burger at fifteen bucks and got the sweet potato fries as a side. I ordered it medium and it came out as a perfect medium. In fact, it was a perfect burger in every way. Not only was it cooked perfectly, but it was seasoned properly with plenty of flavor. Quite probably one of the best burgers I have ever tasted, and that is saying a lot. The sweet potato fries were okay, but a little undercooked.

Teresa ordered the Prime Burger with Swiss cheese at fourteen bucks with onion rings. Her burger came out a perfect medium-well and the onion rings were excellent. Next time I would order the rings too. 

So Emeril puts his money where his mouth is and runs an excellent restaurant. Stop by sometime if you are in the area. There is a website for more information. 

Sly Fox Brewing

Sly Fox Brewing came into being in 2012 and now has two locations. One is in Pottstown, and the one we went to is in Pheonixville. We went there a while ago and we liked it a lot, so a return visit was in order. 

Now brewpubs may have good food, they may have good beer, and they may have good service, but rarely do they have all three. This is one of those few places that gets all three right. 

I started with a pint of Odyssey Imperial Ale. It was quite good. So good that I had a second and got a growler to take home. I ordered the bacon blue cheeseburger and it also was quite good. A tad over the medium I'd ordered, but still good. 

Teresa and Nicole got the chicken gyro, and they said it was good. Brian ordered the special, venison sausage which had a nice flavor. The kids had mini burgers and they were good too. 

In addition to the growler I picked up a cold six-pack of 113 IPA to go. All told the bill was just $100 for four adults, two kids, five pints, a six-pack and a growler. Cheap. Also, the service was outstanding. 

We will be back again. They have a website for more information. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How I lost 50 Pounds in Five Months

That was me back in August of 2014, all 245 pounds of me. I didn't realize how big I'd gotten until late November of that year when I went in for a simple physical and the nurse reported my weight, and later called me and said that my cholesterol was quite high. Well, that was my wake up call and I decided that it was time to shed a few pounds. That and the fact that my feet and knees were killing me from carrying all that extra weight around everyday. 

The first thing I did was to assess what I ate that was causing the problem. I realized that cheese, bread, and fatty foods were my problem, so I cut them down radically. Okay, I like beer too, but that was not going to end, nor was I going to switch to a watery tasting light brew. In fact what I did was to up my game and switch to less quantity, higher quality, with Imperial IPAs, or Imperial stouts on the weekends. 

This is me after about forty pounds of weight loss in March of 2015. So, how did I lose weight? Please note that I did not say that this is how you should do it, only how I did it. I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor. Well, the secret is simply portion control and changing eating habits. You don't need a paid program, especially anyone that requires you to buy their products. 

First, I looked at what I ate and realized that my biggest problem was simply too much food, and the wrong foods, especially too much cheese, bread, and bacon. My diet, five days a week, now consists of a banana for breakfast, a large salad at lunch with homemade dressing, another banana and some raw almonds after dinner. For dinner it is strict portion control with four ounces of protein, a proper portion of starch, and some green vegetables. This all comes to under a thousand calories a day. I know, I just lost many of you, but it really is filling enough. 

So, what do I eat at dinner? Pasta with homemade sauce and four turkey meatballs once a week, fish twice a week, either salmon, tilapia, or shrimp, grilled chicken, and red meat only once a week at home. When we shop I portion out the proteins and freeze two servings for us. The trick is to make the food flavorful and pretty. Also, eat slow and drink a large glass of water before eating. Oh, and we stay away from any processed foods. We make everything fresh.

On Saturday we still go out to eat and I still get a nice big juicy cheeseburger. I did sub out the fries for a salad while I was losing though. Now I eat the fries. On Sunday I cook whatever looks interesting at the store. Today I will make steak fajitas with a homemade guacamole. 

Now that I am down to where I want to be, or at least close enough to it, I am taking in about five hundred more calories per day and I have stayed at 193 for about a month now. I have added a bit of exercise as well by walking a couple of miles a day. Over the next few months I will be posting a few low-calorie recipes for some of the foods I've been eating. 

I went to Sam's club the other day and picked up a fifty pound bag of rice and realized that I was carrying that much around all the time. It was heavy. My feet feel fine now, my knee is better, and my cholesterol is down. I also have a whole new wardrobe as I got rid of all of my fat clothes. I am down from a 42 waist to a 34 and my neck is three inches smaller. I hope to be able to stop using the CPAP machine soon too. 

Like I said, this worked for me. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Frogmore Tavern- Kingston, NY

We were headed up to the Woodstock Chimes annual sale and needed a place to go for lunch. I came across Frogmore Tavern by reading North Country Rambler, a blog run by Joe Steiniger who has similar tastes to mine and I trust his judgement. 

We popped in at about two on a nice Saturday afternoon and were given our choice of seats. We took one by the window and looked over the menus. I was toying with the idea of the chicken and waffles, the Rueben, and the Cuban Press, but the grass-fed burger at thirteen bucks won out. I added Swiss cheese for an extra buck and said that I wanted it medium. 

About fifteen minutes (maybe less) later a beautiful plateful of  happiness was set down in front of me. The meat was fresh tasting and properly seasoned. It was also cooked to a perfect medium, crusted on the outside and pink in the middle. It sat in a fresh bun with just the right amount of Swiss cheese melted to just the right ooziness. The fries were some of the best I've ever had. They were extra crispy, yet soft in the middle. 

Teresa went with one of the lunch specials a grilled cheese sandwich with ramps and eggplant on artisan bread for thirteen bucks. She switched out the fries for a salad with a ginger vinaigrette. She said it was great. 

Overall, great food at reasonable prices with excellent service, Patti was awesome. I agree with Joe, Frogmore is good and we will be back. They have a website for directions and menus.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Burger Fi- Poughkeepsie, NY

Burger Fi is a four year old chain of about 70 restaurants, 26 of them are in Florida where they started, modeled along the lines of the new trend of upscale burger joints. Their philosophy is to use quality ingredients, like grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics, and prepare it properly. They even show the calories on the menu which I like.

We stopped by the Poughkeepsie location, near Vassar College, for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon. The inside is nice with wood, polished metal, and lots of natural light coming through the large windows. 

I was going to order the Twenty-eight Burger at $9.97 which is called that because the ground brisket is aged for twenty-eight days. It looked interesting, but I wanted to try their basic burger  to get an idea of how they stack up to the competition and decided though to go with the Burgerfi Cheeseburger at $5.57 which is a two-patty burger with cheese, house sauce, lettuce, and tomato. Teresa did the 'build your burger' with a single patty on lettuce in place of the bun. We shared a small order of fries (I would call them a large) and a soda. The total came to $16.52, less than most comparable restaurants. 

The burgers were good, quite good in fact. There was plenty of flavor, they were nice and juicy, and fresh tasting. The hand-cut fries were excellent. They were hot, crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle, just the way I like them. So, how does Burger Fi stack up to their competition? I would rate them on a par with Smashburger and Habit and that is saying something. 

They have a nice selection of craft beers and the Coke Freestyle fountain. We will definitely be heading back again sometime, I want to try that Twenty-eight burger and a Chicago style hot dog since they use Vienna Beef hot dogs.  Stop by and see for yourself. They have a website for menus and locations. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

YO! Sushi- Paramus, NJ

YO! Sushi is the largest sushi chain in the U.K. and they are making their way across the pond to the former colonies. The first location in the Northeast is in the Westfield Garden State Plaza, and they opened April 30th. We were invited to the soft opening and I thought it might be interesting to check out their unique concept. 

What makes them unique, at least here in the States, is that they have a long conveyor belt running called a kaiten around the restaurant on which dishes ride looking like flying saucers from an old sci-fi flik. You take what you want off of the belt and dig in. The plates are color coded and each color has a price. They tally up the plates when you finish, and you pay. The plates are covered, so they are protected, and they have a code on them which I assume tells them when to pull the item from the belt should it not have been selected. 

Don't see what you want? Don't worry as they have a menu of hot foods and more available. All you do is push a button at your seat and the white light next to you turns blue. Blink and a server instantly  appears (well it seemed so anyway). What you order is quickly delivered. In a real hurry? They have a cooler in front with items ready to go. 

We tried quite a few dishes and they were all very good. My favorite was the calamari with a ginger taste. It was lightly fried and the calamari was just the right texture. 

I also loved the spicy dragon roll. Not too spicy though, just the right amount of heat.

The salmon was fresh, tasty, and a generous portion.

I tried a seaweed dish that was good also. The dishes are not labeled, but there is a large full-color menu with pictures of each allowing the diner to easily identify the plate like using an Audubon book for bird watching. It actually is quite a fun activity.

Now I can see an upside to this system, and a downside. The upside is that you can start eating immediately upon being seated and see what the food looks like, perhaps leading to trying something different. The downside is that with everything passing by, those plates can rack up rather quickly on your table, as can the bill. I recommend exercising caution and eating slowly. 

Overall, the food is fresh and good. Not what I would call amazing, but quite good. The selection on the conveyor is simple, but the menu is more extensive. The ambiance is cool, the staff is friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. I would go back again and you should stop by for a unique sushi experience. They have a website for more information.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dinerluxe- New Milford, Ct.

Nothing says classic American fare as the diner, especially a good Greek one. When I go to a new diner I look at four aspects to determine whether they are great, good, or mediocre. First, the food, they must be able to present a perfect omelet, gyro, burger, or Rueben. If they can't, they should close up. Next, it has to be clean. Third, I want good service, and last I want reasonable prices. Oh, and cool looking is nice too.

We travel to Brookfield Ct. about once a month to hit the Costco and we like to try new places so when a colleague of Teresa recommended the Dinerluxe we decided to drive up and try them. 

I went with the Carnegie Reuben at $8.99. It was the way I like a Rueben, something that can be held in the hand and not some insane open-faced monster oozing cheese. The corned beef was quite nice, the marble rye bread was buttered and grilled on the flattop the way it should be, and there was just the right amount of Swiss and sauerkraut. With it came a copious amount of perfectly cooked fries, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, a large pickle, and a small bowl of some of the best cole slaw I've ever had. 

Teresa went with the parmesan crusted chicken sandwich at $9.79. It had some darn tasty chicken, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and arugula with a side of basil vinaigrette, all on a very fresh bun. It also came with fries, pickle, and slaw.

So, let's see how Dinerluxe fared on my criteria. On food and price the place hit the mark. The service was excellent, pleasant, quick, and knowledgable. The place was quite clean too, including the bathrooms. The decor is very tastefully done with what I like to call modern diner chic, a cool nice mix of chrome and color. All that said, I would rate Dinerluxe as a great diner and we will certainly be popping back in the future. I want to try an omelet and a gyro. You should stop by too and see what I mean.

Update- We stopped by again and were just as pleased with everything. I got the Black Jack burger and they cooked it to a perfect medium. Teresa ordered a Cobb salad and it was excellent. 

They have a website for more information.