Saturday, May 23, 2015

Smokin' Bull Shack BBQ

Smokin' Bull Shack BBQ Truck
Inside Scoop Parking Lot
301 N. 3rd St (Route 309)
Coopersburg, PA  18036
Wed-Sun  11a-8p


It's the time of year to maximize outdoor dining.  The next few posts will feature some gems in the Lehigh Valley--that may be easily overlooked but are sure to provide enjoyable, family-friendly outdoor eating experiences.   I'm thrilled to begin by announcing a new resident to our very own hometown of Coopersburg.  Yesterday I did a surprised and please doubletake as I drove by our favorite ice cream spot, The Inside Scoop.   There was a food truck.  In our town.  And it featured BBQ.    I immediately contacted my husband and he confirmed he had also seen it.  I was thrilled.  Today was a beautiful day to stop by to try out our new neighbor.  

Having relatives who live in Texas, we've grown a strong appreciation for Texas BBQ and we are always watching and eager to find local BBQ restaurant, as seen from our previously featured BBQ month. With the trendy food truck phase in most urban settings, it is thrilling to see one find home in our small town.  An ideal location on busy Route 309, it can easily serve families and fans at the Southern Lehigh Living Memorial Park during football or baseball season.  It is in close proximity to the Southern Lehigh Pool and it shares a parking lot with the famous, Inside Scoop, providing a perfect compliment before your sweet treat.  My hope is that this town will rise to the challenge, not only to show hospitality, but keep this food truck in business so it finds a permanent home.

The owners are from the Lehigh Valley, providing catering services and attending other local events.  Since they have only been open 2 days, their menu was simple.   Though the truck advertised poboys, which immediately piqued our interest, they were not yet being served.  The simple menu included a classic pulled pork sandwich ($7), jerk chicken roll ($6), a prime rib sandwich ($12), and hot dogs ($2.50).  Somehow we missed ribs ($12) on the menu, which gives us a definite need to return.  Sides included fries, nachos and an intriguing deep fried mac and cheese ($5). 
We settled on the pulled pork sandwich and jerk chicken roll.  Pulled pork sandwich had the undeniable smoky flavor, a sturdy and ideal roll and was topped with cole slaw. The jerk chicken roll was flavorful and also topped with slaw.  (It comes with a wasabi slaw--sounds amazing, but my cautious husband chose traditional slaw.  I recommend the wasabi slaw--Why not?  And I'm sure it had the feisty kick this sandwich was  missing.)
The truck is pristine and attractive, outdoor setting provides a peaceful eating environment and Texas BBQ in Coopersburg?  Out of a truck?  If either of these things sounds unappetizing or too far out of your comfort zone--take the challenge.  Get on the latest food trend and visit a food truck in our backyard.  And take a break from your traditional local lunch or dinner spot and enjoy some southern cuisine. 



Sunday, May 17, 2015




Frites
Lehigh Valley Mall
823 Lehigh Lifestyle Center
Whitehall, PA
484/442/0580
Hours:  Mall hours



Spoon Rate:

The Lehigh Valley can now experience fries on a whole new level.  Local natives have brought an international delicacy to our local mall to totally enhance your next shopping meal or snack..   I had the privilege of sitting and dining with CEO, Richard Scott and his son, William, to learn the history of this recently-opened business, their passion for excellence, flavor and unique eating.  

Richard Scott ended his career in corporate America in May, 2013.  Looking for a change, he joined William, Penn State finance graduate, in this new endeavor.  Richard, born in England, had the opportunity to travel many places as a young boy, exposing him to the diverse expression of food around the globe.  At age 11, he lived in Brussels, Belgium and was exposed to one of their delicacies, pommes frites, meaning "apple of the earth."  Found in "street food" stands, pommes frites was served in cones with a side of mayo. 


Scotts' vision was to have a fast, casual eatery committed to local, fresh products.  While emphasizing the french fry, they wanted it to be distinct, accompanied by the entire dining experience.  Frites (pronounced Freets) seeks to offer us an authentic cultural experience, yet in a setting and delivery that appeals to American taste.  I respect this philosophy and it does not take long to recognize they have achieved their initial purpose.  Greeted by friendly, helpful staff and a clean, bright, modern surroundings, the atmosphere mirrors their personal commitment to excellence.   



A behind-the-scenes tour impressively revealed there is "nothing frozen" and "nothing from a can."  In fact, they removed the freezer upon obtaining this prime location at the Lehigh Valley Mall.   What is the secret ingredient that makes these fries extraordinary?  The time and care committed to each fresh USA Russet potato.  I learned that "sugar is the enemy of frying." The process of washing, cutting the ends, evenly slicing and rinsing the potatoes removes excess starch that could lead to burning.  Preparation of these potatoes is a 16-24 hour process.  This gives a whole new meaning to the expression "made with love!"  After soaking overnight, there is a two-stage frying process.  Cook, blanch, drain, and cook again.  Fries are made to order and served at room temperature.  After fried to perfection, they are placed in a "Frites tosser", imported from Europe.  The holes on the bottom of this special creation allow them to be tossed with delicious sea salt and maximum grease removed.  Quality ingredients, these fries are also gluten free, and vegan/vegetarian-friendly.

If you are not yet convinced that these fries are worthwhile and memorable, let's review the menu.  One can receive the traditional cone of frites (small, large or double, ($4.99-8.99), with your choice of 1 dipping sauce, or 2 dipping sauces for the double order.  I recommend taking a friend and ordering the double so you can try 2 of their 17 dipping sauces.  Also made fresh on location, each sauce is bursting with flavor and creativity.  Only one of their options is not housemade, the frite sauce, imported from Holland.   While hard to narrow down a favorite, curry ketchup and pow pow (a thai sauce) were my preferences.  Garlic parmesan and ranch are  two more traditional sauces for the less adventurous palate.    





Frites again achieves superiority with their meal options, a Bowl or Frita.  The Bowl ($6.49-8.99) combines fries topped with fresh toppings.  We sampled the Mexicano ($6.49), topped with black beans, vegetarian chili, jalapenos, pico de gallo and cheddar jack.   This bowl is bursting with flavor and a beautiful combination of sweet and spicy.  If you are looking for the most unique offering on the menu, I would recommend the poutine bowl ($6.99).  This provides a sampling of the unique Canadian delicacy of Wisconsin cheese curds, gravy and bacon.  Scott, describing himself as a "voracious researcher," found the best local supplier of cheese curds, remaining true to his commitment of excellent, fresh, and local products.

All menu options can also be made into a Frita, their unique sandwich version, a grilled pita stuffed with fries and toppings.  Pita bread, a sturdy successful carrier of these ingredients, is from a New Jersey supplier.  I was thrilled to try the Barbecue Brisket frita ($8.99).  Supplied by Big Papa's Backyard BBQ, we sampled freshly smoked brisket and locally made BBQ sauce, also topped with coleslaw.  Undeniably wonderful.

This father-son duo are ambitious and have a vision to see at least 3 more locations in the LV & B region.  They have done their part in contributing to the LV Eating Scene....now it's up to us to appreciate, support and enjoy their efforts towards frites excellence.

Wash your meal down with one of their unique teas, including a seasonal option.









Frites on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 30, 2015

Machu Picchu Peruvian Restaurant

Machu Picchu
1330 E. 4th Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
610/865/5838
Hours: M & T: Closed; W-Th 12p-7p; F 11a-8p; Sat & Sun 11a-10p
Spoons: 

Southside Bethlehem has an appealing variety of ethnic cuisine, including a family-friendly Peruvian restaurant in the heart of one of its neighborhoods.  To my knowledge, it's the only Peruvian restaurant in the region.  Having a wonderful experience at one in New York City with our Peruvian friend, we were curious to see what Machu Picchu brings to the LV & B.  

Though the atmosphere temperature was a little too cool for comfort on the cold evening we visited, the dining room is spacious, clean and ready for many local guests.

Although we didn't try the traditional Peruvian dish, ceviche, (a raw fish cured in citrus juices), we were eager to select from the appetizing traditional menu options.  We always appreciate the authenticity of a restaurant when the menu is primarily Spanish, with English Translation.  Of course I attempted to resurrect my rusty Spanish from high school education as I order.  The menu includes a variety of beef, chicken and fish ($6-$15, depending on portion size)  Entrees served a variety of sides, including rice, french fries, fried bananas or beans.  I ordered Pescado Frito Filete Arroz con Yuca ($10-fried fish fillet with rice and cassava).  The meal was simple, but delicious and comforting.  An accompanying housemade green sauce, that appeared to include oil, parsley and garlic, was a key addition for flavor.
My husband ordered pollo a la brasa con papas fritas y ensalada de lechuga ($9-chicken with french fries and salad).  His selection was flavorful, tender and generous in portion. 

As we dined, the tables slowly filled on an early Friday evening.  Some came in for take-out orders, while other groups of all ages, including families, joined us for dine-in service.  
Our meal ended with leftovers and a full satisfaction from South American hospitality and comfort cuisine.    

Our next visit will definitely bring a sampling of their ceviche and something from their dessert menu, like crema volteada (flan).


Machu Picchu Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sindbad Mediterranean Cuisine


Sindbad Mediterranean Cuisine

426 N. 7th Street

Allentown, PA 18102

610-351-3789

Hours: M-Closed; T-Th 10a-8p; Fri-Sat 10a-10p; Sun 11a-7p


Spoon Rate: 

Ready to try something new, we visited www.restaurant.com to take advantage of a gift certificate.  We stumbled upon Sindbad, a restaurant in Allentown that was unfamiliar to us.  Given our love for Mediterranean cuisine, we are always ready to find a new spot in the Lehigh Valley, amidst the many other restaurants that we have grown to love.



In the heart of Allentown, Sindbad is located on N. 7th Street, home of some other restaurants.  We passed Winston’s, a Jamaican restaurant previously visited and enjoyed by Evans’ Eats, and Mariam’s, on the list of places to review.  Do not be deceived--the Lehigh Valley is full of viable choices for ethnic eating!  On a cold winter night, Sindbad looked intriguing and inviting, with its warm lighting, classy sign and ornate foyer.  As we were greeted by the owner and his father, who prepared our meals, we learned they designed and completed this tiled entrance and all aesthetics of this small, but clean and classy establishment.  Open since August, 2014, Sindbad serves mostly take-out customers, but two tables are available for those who want to dine-in to enjoy the full, hospitable experience.



We ordered cauliflower as an appetizer.  It was delicious, perfectly sautéed and seasoned, with a lemony flavor. For our entrees, we chose a beef shawarma combo ($9.45, includes beverage and hummus or fries) and falafel combo ($9.00). Both were fresh and extraordinary in quality.  The side of hummus and pita was an appreciated side, and its generous portion provided leftovers to take home.



We ended our meal with fresh, authentic Arabic coffee and slices of namoura (cake), a perfect ending to this memorable, satisfying meal.  The friendly, caring hospitality of the owner and his father enhanced the experience.  Their excellence in making everything fresh and using local products show the quality of their work and cuisine that we can easily recommend.  We look forward to returning to try their baba ghanouj, tabbouli and kibbi, along with taking advantage of their outdoor seating in warmer weather. 
  


Sindbad Mediterraean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Now That's Italian" Specialty Market & Deli

Now That's Italian: Specialty Market & Deli
127 South 3rd Street
Coopersburg, PA  18036
610-282-4242 
Hours:   M-Sat 10a-6p; Sun 10a-4p


This is too good to be true.  First, a bagel shop recently opened in Coopersburg...now an Italian Market & Deli?!  My husband and I, both born and raised in Pennyslvania, are reliving some of our favorite parts of our brief residence in one of New York City's boroughs.  Returning to Lehigh Valley, PA was a sacrifice when it came to authentic Italian cuisine.  One easily becomes spoiled by the plethora of delis, superior slices of pizza, and authentic, fresh pasta and marinara sauce.  Hospitable Italian friends are honored to share their prized sauce recipe, traditionally prepared for a Sunday feast and variations throughout the remainder of each week.

Entering Now That's Italian brought a nostalgic, comforting smile to my face as we were greeted by friendly owners, a chalkboard of sandwich items and a pleasant market environment.  To our left, were several packaged Italian products including pasta, canned tomatoes, recipe books and more.  A few tables allow opportunity to dine-in.  

A beautiful sight was a case of fresh Pastosa ravioli, a much-awaited reunion with one of our favorite traditions.   It is difficult to return to frozen pasta after many meals with this fresh, well-known New York city product.
Next, I was greeted by a case of FRESH Italian bread!  I recognized the New Jersey bakery, Liscio's from our favorite cheese steak joint in Ocean City, NJ.  This inspired mouthwatering visions of our newfound opportunity to pick up fresh ravs and a loaf of bread for dinner in our PA home town! 

This is not the first venture for business partners, Laura Rosada & Joseph Sinagra, originally from New York City.  Previously owning a deli in the Poconos, they are excited to offer something at a prime location in Coopersburg PA.  Sandwich selections include a variety of Italian meats, cheeses, and vegetables.  While their menu lists 14 cold sandwich options and 4 hot specialty sandwiches, during their initial opening, they are serving one hot sandwich option.  My mother and I settled on Under the Tuscan Sun (eggplant, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, roasted peppers, sundried tomato, balsamic vinegar, salt pepper, $9,99) and 1 of 5 salad options, La Bella Donna (lettuce, tomato, onion, banana pepper, cucumber, sweet peppers, olives, $6.75).   Our delicious flavorful sandwich included housemade mozzarella cheese and was accompanied by a side of pasta salad and chips.  Now That's Italian also offers catering for your next large gathering. 


Of course we needed a sweet sampler to end our experience.  The tantalizing case and our delicious almond-flavored, moist delight called us for a return visit.  Many of the Italian pastries are housemade, and Italian cookies are imported from a Brooklyn bakery.  Now THAT'S Italian.   I'm thrilled at the increased variety of options in our hometown and hope many venture in for an authentic, delightful experience.