Friday, February 27, 2009


Perhaps the original was in Brooklyn, but this Junior's was in the belly of Grand Central Station. Who would think to look for food at Grand Central? It was merely a fluke that we even found this outpost of the Junior's branding. It was surprising to me that they had a shop devoted exclusively to bakery items, because I knew of it only as a restaurant. I had no knowledge then that Junior's makes "The best cheesecake in New York" . Having walked by it 3 times already, I just had to break down and buy a piece of cheese cake, to take back to the hotel.

The selection was mind boggling. Besides the regular cheese cake, they had raspberry swirl, pineapple, strawberry, chocolate swirl, and one that had a mountain of chocolate frosting on it. Most interesting and unusual were the hybrid cake / cheese cakes. The devil's food cake and plain cheese cake combination, with chocolate buttercream frosting and shaved chocolate, still sends shivers up my spine when I look at this photo. The carrot cake / cheese cake combo with buttercream frosting only makes my knees weak. Then I saw the red velvet and carrot cakes and almost walked away in frustration. How could one choose?

My inner struggle between buying what I really wanted vs. buying the least of all the evils lurking behind the counters, came to an abrupt halt as I walked out of the shop. During a momentary panic of  indecision I bolted, but then I turned. Standing before me was the only case I had yet to memorize. I rushed back in, before I could change my mind again, and ordered the smallest item in the shop for myself and a slice of the raspberry swirl cheese cake for my husband. With purchase in hand, I rushed back to the hotel and along the way, purchased a carton of milk.


The Tuscan brand milk was better than I've had in a long time, so I recommend it. I decided the red velvet bunt cake with only enough cream cheese frosting to fill the void, was probably my healthiest bet, but who really knows? About the cheese cake; I wish I had a Junior's in my neighborhood.

Junior's Website

Retail Bakery Grand Central Station
Main Concourse near track 36
New York NY
(212) 692-9800

Monday-Saturday 6am-10pm EST
Sunday 8am-8pm EST

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Old Mill

Every time we travel to Massachusetts we make time to drive to Westminster and dine at The Old Mill. It's become a habit at this point, but not necessarily for the food. Originally we went there and ordered their boiled lobster dinner, but that has been off the menu for many years now. Perhaps we go back for the tranquility offered by the lovely, country setting and the mill pond complete with ducks; or the very rustic feel of the interior and the basic "meat and potatoes", all American, New England style menu that hearkens back to a simpler time. Memories of the pecan sticky buns, available from their bakery for take out, would be reason enough. We've packed those back to California a time or two.

Sometimes, when a restaurant has a standard menu with few variations like nightly specials, you risk being disappointed. That's what happened for me with the corn fritters, a staple at The Old Mill. I fell in love with them my very first time and keep a wonderful memory of them that did not match the reality of the same dish on this particular visit. They used to be made with corn batter studded with fresh corn kernels that created not only a wonderful contrast in textures, but added a fresh sweetness each time you'd bite into a kernel. That is no longer the case, although they're still served piping hot with maple syrup, and that is a treat in itself. The New England clam chowder is still rich, thick and creamy.

No, the photo of the prime rib is not distorted, it is actually that thick. Generous portions are the hall mark of this type of restaurant. Doesn't that half of a roasted duck look enormous? The stuffing underneath helps, but suffered in taste and the charred leg bone is a good indication of how well cooked it was. If I clicked my heels twice I wonder if I could get back to another century and find the same menu.

69 State Road East
Westminster Massachusetts 01473

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Green Table in NYC

Located inside food central, Chelsea Market in lower Manhattan, The Green Table was a small tasting room set up by the Cleaver Company to allow it's potential catering clients to taste samples of organic items prepared by and available from their facility. They ultimately decided to use it as a minuscule restaurant with perhaps 6 or so tables to serve the throngs of people walking through or working at Chelsea Market. A good use of space in my opinion. They also have a take out window for prepared meals.

I was fortunate to be visiting Chelsea Market after the lunch rush because I had no trouble getting a table, green or otherwise. Each item on the menu looked enticing and was described by not only ingredients, but by where the ingredients came from, mostly organic farms and dairies close to the city.

I had no trouble selecting blue corn pancakes served over a vegetable ragu. For very healthy food, this tasted better than I had imagined and lighter than I had expected. Cleaver company has a good thing going and I'm glad I went. Since Buon Italia, a purveyor of imported Italian food and condiments, is located in the same building, I'm certain I will dine here again.

212) 741-9174
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011


If someone were to invite me to an "institution" for a pastry, I probably wouldn't accept the invitation, unless it were Ferrara's. It's been anchoring the block for so many years, this Italian pastry shop has become an institution, but it's all sweetness and light. Its humble origins started in 1892 as a caffe where patrons could find a good cup of espresso and a place to play Neapolitan card games. Enrico Caruso had been a regular patron. It survived the Great Depression by baking several times a day to to avoid waste and became known for the freshest pastry in town.

Ferrara's has earned a wonderful reputation for producing Sicilian specialties like cannoli, sfogliatella (the "leafy pastry" with layers of paper thin pastry filled with ricotta cheese and candied fruits that are sometimes thought to look like clam shells) and cassata (the sponge cake with cannoli filling and marzipan "frosting"). This 5th generation family run business is owned by Italian Americans originally from a small town in Campania. They also have a fine reputation for torrone, the almond and nougat candy, as well as biscotti and panettone. You can find almost any Italian specialty dessert imaginable here at Ferrara's.
Although a bit cramped for space, and the pace a bit hectic, you can settle into the shop at a small marble table and relax with a cup of cappucino and a cannoli. Even though the neighborhood is less and less Italian these days, you will always find a slice of Italy at Ferrara's.
195 Grand Street
New York NY 10013-3717
Phone: (866) 920-4476