Monday, September 3, 2012

Great News for Amish Country Cheese Lovers

If you're a fan of the Walnut Creek Cheese house and you enjoy their aged cheeses from the cheese caves, I have good news and bad news for you.  As we know, but our newly found friendly readers may not, is that The Walnut Creek Cheese Cave is a special refrigerated area behind swiftly automated doors that keep the cave delightfully chilled as it houses their own aged cheddar cheeses as well as imported cheeses from around the world.  Let's address the bad news first and rejoice in the happy news later.
     The Bad News - The 6 and 7 year aged cheddar are bunk.  It reeks of ammonia and you come out feeling like you've been ripped off.

     The Good News - The 5 year Cheddar rocked my socks off.  It also rocked many of my opinionated friend's socks off.  To illustrate how opinionated one of my friends tends to be, after tasting my Mother's homegrown tomatoes, he tasted fresh cut grass and accused her of mulching her tomatoes with grass clippings.  He was correct.  Mom never mulched her veggies with grass clippings again.
    The lightly bittered hint of skunk and cheddar in the 5 year aged cheddar along with the  crispy delight of crushing those divine crystals between your teeth is such an earned delight.  It's like hitting the sweet spot on the tennis racket or whacking the perfect drive and knowing where it lands before it does.  Those crystals are a reward to the loving cheese quester.

   Here's a little bit of bad news I haven't warned you about.  The 5 year has been sold out since this spring.  I pray they have some ready this year....  We shall see (And I shall report). 

     In the interim, they have an amazing standby in the cheese section outside the cave.  It is called "Grand Cheddar"  (aged over 3 years).  This cheese is Delicious!!!   While in a few ounces I've only found 1 crunchy crystal, it's still not too shabby and should be gobbled up before you waste your time on those yucky orange sharp cheddar decoys.

Enjoy My Friends, Enjoy.  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Uncle Primo's: Alive & Better than Ever

Last Year Uncle Primo's Restaurant in New Philadelphia caught fire.   This week we finally had an opportunity to revisit a longtime favorite of ours.

We were so pleased to see the dining room packed a little after 5:00 on a Thursday evening.  Our hostess seated us in the back dining area and it did not take long before the tables filled up there & on the patio, too.

Everything about the "New" Uncle Primo's can be summed up in one word:  Refreshing!

Restaurant Owner Darya Robertson managed to keep what we all love about Uncle Primo's while updating both the decor and the menu in very pleasant ways. 

While I was tempted to try the new Basil Pesto Pasta or Homemade Crab Cakes, I couldn't resist the allure of my favorite dish there.  The Italian Sausage stuffed Hot Peppers.  Mmmm Mmm!  Just like I remembered.  Plenty of heat and generous hints of fennel.  Perfect for a low-carb eater if you're looking for an option.  That night, however, I was not.  Bring on the Spumoni!

UNCLE Primo's on UrbanspoonUncle Primo's on Restaurantica

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Wholesome Valley Farm near Wilmot, Ohio

Living in a farm community amidst Amish Country Ohio is a blessing.  We have access to freshly smoked meats, cheeses, excellent butchers & bakers, vegetable stands in the summer, orchards in the fall and "home-style" restaurants in nearly every town.  What's hard to track down, however, are food items which are not mainstream.
For weeks now I've been searching for two things.  Fresh Kale and Goat's Milk Cheese.  Well, the search is over for Goat's Milk Cheese! Wholesome Valley Farm on U.S. Route 62 near Wilmot, Ohio carries a selection of Raw Goat's Milk Cheeses and Milk. 

To my surprise, they also carry grass-fed beef, pastured poultry and they sell free range eggs right out of their very own pasture.  You can actually see the happy little cluckers and feel good about eating their eggs.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ray's Hell Burger & Ray's Hell Burger Too in Arlington, VA

On a recent road trip, we met up with some friends in the D.C. area.  When we asked them about their favorite eatery, both suggested Ray's Hell Burger.  So, off we all went, ready for dinner!  We arrived at a little, unassuming strip mall and circled a few times to find a parking spot.  We walked past the main door of Ray's Hell Burger and proceeded down the strip mall sidewalk, beyond some other businesses and entered at the 2nd location for Rays at the opposite end of the strip called Ray's Hell Burger Too.  The main Ray's is a quickly paced fast food ordering set up while the "Too" location provides seating and a waitstaff.  For our situation, the "Too" was a perfect choice since we wanted to relax, visit together & take our time.

The menu provides a mouth watering list of options and combinations.  Seriously.  Click that menu link and start salivating!  You can visit several times and never have the same burger twice.  I settled on the the "Big Punisher"; The Burger is grilled "Diablo Style" with a Spicy Chipotle Sauce.  Toppings include Pepper Jack Cheese, Charred Jalapeños, Grilled Onions and the Pirañha Sauce is served on the side.

This is the BEST burger I've had in my entire life.  It was done medium well, super tasty & juicy without being greasy.  That's usually an impossible combo to find for someone who likes her burger barely pink.  This is the rare unicorn of burgers.  Upon further research, it's really no wonder.  To quote Michael Landrum, the restaurateur behind Ray's Hell Burger:
We will be serving one thing only--10 ounces of our secret blend of premium and prime aged beef, char-grilled over an open flame. This is the same single-breed, farm-raised beef that we use at Ray's The Steaks and Ray's The Classics, aged in house ridiculously long, hand trimmed to the same exacting standards as all of our steaks, and ground fresh daily, several times throughout the day.     
 As you can see from the menu, they also offer a 1/3 lb+ size now... but as our friends explained, "It's just not the same". The 10oz burger was huge.  After cutting it into fourths, eating it was much easier.  The charred jalapenos were firm and not very charred.  A softer jalapeno with a bit more smokiness would have been appreciated since the firm ones kept popping out of the burger, making it a bit awkward.  They did lend a nice amount of heat without being overly spicy.  (I do likes me some heat but not complaining!).  The balance was great.  The Fiery Pirañha Sauce that came on the side is a complete mystery to me.  It's green and fresh tasting.  My guess on the recipe: jalapeno, cilantro, parsley and lime juice.  I would LOVE to know what it actually is!

We don't visit the D.C. area often but we are already looking forward to Ray's Hell Burger the next time we do.

Ray's Hell-Burger on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak at Tony Luke's in South Philadelphia, PA

We were in Philadelphia and had to try a real cheesesteak once and for all.  Our native friends said Tony Luke's was THE place to go.  What a memorable experience!  The line was long but it moved quickly.  The menu was so extensive that by the time it was our turn to order, the pressure to not hold up the frenzied line behind us was high.  Wanting to keep it simple and not miss out on the flavor of the meat, I ordered quickly.  Steak & Cheese with Sharp Provolone.  Curly Fries.  Diet Coke.  NEXT!  For a packed Saturday night, our order came out quickly. 

After taking a bite of curly fries (delicious and well seasoned) it was time to unwrap this famous roll of goodness.  It didn't look like much.  A long, skinny roll.  Upon opening it, I was amazed with how much meat they packed in there.  The flavor and tenderness of the meat were perfect.  No over seasoning.  No masking of inferior ingredients.  This was the real deal and the quality of the meat stood on it's own.  The roll itself was soft enough to be moist without sacrificing it's ability to hold such a generous amount of meat and cheese.  Ahh.. and the cheese!  They do not skimp on the sharp provolone.  The bottom of the roll held 2-3 layers of thick, sharp provolone stacked throughout.  After about 3 bites, I found the sandwich to be a bit dry.  The overall "Luke" warm temperature of the sandwich along with the hardness of the aged cheese did not lend itself very well to any sort of melting.  The condiment station did not provide Mayonnaise so I had to visit the counter again and ask for it.  After waiting about 4 minutes for the man to come back with Mayo, I gave up and went back to my seat.  I feel a little bad about that but there's no heat in the dining area and since it was mid February, dinner was getting very cold.  It was this set of circumstances which brought on the realization that the cheese whiz option would probably moisten the sandwich much better.  Cheese Whiz.  Cheese Whiz?  Cheese whiz. It goes against every fiber of my being.  However, everyone seems to rave about it on a Philly Cheesesteak and our Philadelphian Hosts were no exception.  Next time I'll do what the natives do.  If you want to order the provolone, you may want to order some mayo on the side along with it.

This sandwich, coupled with the curly fries, provided more than one serving.  I saved half, rolled it back up in the pretty liberty bell paper from whence it came and kept it for later.  We were headed to the Electric Factory next for an Umphrey's McGee concert.  I'm happy to report the sandwich was equally delicious as a late night munchy on the way home.  Win, Win!

Tony Luke's on Urbanspoon