Sunday, July 29, 2012

Northside Kitchenette

While on College Avenue, I, my husband and Corrin stopped by Northside Kitchenette for a quick lunch. This restaurant is owned by the same individuals who own the next door restaurant, the very popular Northside Social, open at night for dinner and drinks. We loved the interior and exterior of the breakfast/lunch "kitchenette". It is modern and reminscent of a Cafe Patachou and outside they have a romantic courtyard area complete with little white lights and pillows. We sat outside in the sultry weather and received excellent service by our waitress who responded to our need of a quick lunch. We ordered the Brisket Manhattan, the Munchie Supreme (pastrami, swiss cheese and Dijon remoulade on rye), and the Broiled Basa (broiled white fish with field greens, tomato, and lemon tartar on baguette), and their signature mushroom soup with cream and brandy. Corrin's sandwich was the best with the fish perfectly broiled and mild. She also enjoyed her ice tea - a citrus-flavored green tea. The Munchie was surprisingly flavorless; my husband thought that the pastrami was not peppery enough and too salty, and the remoulade was not apparent. In addition, he was not expecting fries to be filling up the inside of his sandwich. We all loved the homemade potato chips served with the sandwiches - a perfect thickness and flavor. Homemade pickles were another accompaniment, but not my favorite. The soup was quite good with a perfect blend of mushrooms, cream, and brandy, and a lovely Parmesan-coated crouton served beside it. My beef brisket Manhattan was disappointing in that the mashed potatoes seemed institutional in flavor as well as the gravy which was too salty. The beef, cooked in beer, was tasty and of good quality. The sourdough bread which I requested to be served on the side was nicely toasted. We all shared a banana cream pie dessert which was interestingly composed but the banana custard had an artificial banana flavor and was too thick. In summary, there were things we loved about the Kitchenette, the atmosphere and service. Some of the food was very good, but other food not so good. Prices were rather high for the hit-or-miss food.

Atmosphere - 8
Service - 8
Price - 6
Presentation - 8
Food - 6
Overall - 6.5

Northside Kitchenette on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BRICS, a Fun Ice Cream Joint

BRICS, which stands for Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station, is a cool ice cream shop that moved into the old train station on the Monon. It is locally owned and features premium ice cream, about 40 flavors, from Sherman's in Michigan. They also features your typical sundaes, milkshakes and other good ice cream concoctions. They sell fair trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate as well. I took my children today and we had the cotton candy confetti ice cream on a handmade sugar cone and the white cake batter with chocolate fudge. I also sampled the coconut almond fudge. I was not wowed by any of the flavors but I did appreciate that they were not as sweet as some brands of ice cream.  I also loved what they have done to the place, inside and out. The decor inside is pleasing to both the young and old alike with soothing blues and browns and interesting, comfortable seating. The outside  is pleasant inviting passers-by with its deck tables and chairs. I especially appreciated the fact that this place is very environmentally aware and actively recycles. I like this place enough to come back and find a flavor I love. Suggestions?

Atmosphere - 9
Service - 7
Price - 7
Presentation - 7
Food - 6
Overall - 7 Brics on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012

Parcha Sweets Field Trip

Parcha Sweets has been in Broad Ripple since 2010, owned by two sisters from Puerto Rico. One of the sisters, Marian Mulero, is a pastry chef, who graduated from a Le Cordon Bleu Academy in Orlando,Florida. The bakery is housed in a former pizza establishment and is located on 62nd St. My first encounter with Parcha Sweets was at the Broad Ripple farmer’s market. I did not give it much notice since my two favorite bakery vendors, Rene’s Bakery and Circle City Sweets are also selling their scrumptious fares there. There is also Scholar’s Inn Bakehouse to consider.

Yesterday, my daughter took a summer camp field trip to Parcha Sweets as part of her cooking class. She was extremely excited since she had heard they have very good cupcakes. She was not sure if they would get to help make the pastries but she was definitely up for sampling! Imagine my disappointment and, especially hers, when all they did was file through the small bakery. Not even a cookie! After hearing this, we immediately drove to the bakery after class and I let her pick out a treat.

There were predominantly cupcakes displayed of many colors and flavors, all with elaborate icings. In the bottom of the case were a myriad of cake pops. In another case were a few high-brow pastries, some quite beautiful,  including tres leche. We picked out a wedding cake cupcake and birthday cake cupcake and my toddler wanted a cake pop. I also had to try the tres leche with its promised soaked sponge cake in four different milks and its marshmallow fluff topping. My toddler would not leave the premises until he had had his treat. He easily found a child’s size chair and table to claim. The seating was fun and cramped. I decided to give him half of his cake pop but it was like cutting into a brick due to its hard coating. Inside was a doughy brown middle whose flavor I could not deduce except that it was beyond sweet! Whew! Which brings me to my next point. Why in America have we found cake pops and cupcakes with inch-thick icings to be so enticing? Are there any adults present?? This seems to be so trendy and hopefully, it will disappear in a few years. Even for my children, I do not wish for them to gorge on extremely sweet balls that are enticingly called cake pops. What is more depressing is that such a seemingly talented chef has most of her case filled with these trendy and overly sweet and rich items. We have enough cupcake bakeries in this town! Enough of my displeasure about the current dessert food scene.

The birthday cake cupcake was comprised of this strange brown cake with unidentifiable flavor. Of all the items, the wedding cupcake was the best and truly tasted like a wedding cake with its strong almond undertones and good texture– again way too much icing but very nice flavors. We sampled the tres leche later as an entire family. I stuck a spoon into the foil ramekin and found almost all liquid and no cake! I know the cake should be soaked with its milks but in this particular case the cake was not perceivable. Hmmm. Did it even get baked? Sadly, a huge disappointment. I called the establishment later in the day and complained about the tres leche and was met with a heart-felt apology and the offer of a gift card. I will give this place another try even though I was not impressed with their treatment of a class of small children on a field trip and their baked goods. Why another try? Because I like the idea of this place and that it is a local effort by two sisters, one well-trained.  (Well Corrin and I did try it again the following day this time purchasing more cupcakes and a petite cherry pie. The pie was average and the cupcakes good but too sweet and rich. My husband was given the leftovers and had similar complaints made independent of our comments. We all found the cake portion of the cupcakes to be dry and dense. The exception was the Smores cupcake.)

Atmosphere – 6
Service – 8
Presentation – 10
Food – 5-6
Price – 7 (almost everything was $2.99 each)
Overall - 6

Poccadio Moroccan Grill

For lunch this week, Corrin and I decided to try the new Poccadio Moroccan Grill & Sandwiches owned by the same individual who owns Saffron Café, which we have enjoyed in the past. "Poccadio" is a Morrocan word for fast food and this is a casual eatery that allows you to build your own sandwich, salad or platter. It is located in a very busy Broad Ripple plaza. Once we secured a parking spot we headed in and were met by very pleasant Middle Eastern décor with rich colors and tile. Most of the tables were of the elevated type where you have to perch and eat your food.  At the front of the restaurant was a make-your own sandwich, salad or plate ordering area similar to some other chains. We had barely looked at the menu when we were asked if we would like to try a sampler plate.
The sampler plate itself could have been lunch for both of us in that it contained every piece of grilled meat available as well as sides, garnishes and condiments.  We settled on the Marrakesh Special (grilled kofta made of ground beef topped with lettuce, tomato, picked onions, hummus, and heera, and an eggplant (zaalouk) sandwich topped with a yogurt cucumber sauce, both on pita. Corrin ordered a mint iced tea. Strangely, we were given the option of more traditional leavened house-baked breads (Moroccan baguettes?) as well as pita bread. The service was slow even though the place was rather empty at noon.  Staff was friendly which always helps. As expected our sandwiches were quite tasty although we both agreed the pita was dry and hard – a plus for my sandwich that was oozing juices.  Corrin enjoyed the flavorful tea although it was pretty sweet.  My kids were whining because there were not really good options for them, picky children that they are, although a staff person kindly offered my toddler an orange.  Most sandwiches were about $8.00 and platters were $12.00 which we found a little steep for lunch. I brought the leftovers home to my husband, and he loved them! All in all, Poccadio is a welcomed addition to the Broad Ripple area, with interesting and flavorful food choices.

Atmospshere -  7
Service – 6 (due to slowness which should improve with time)
Presentation – 7
Price – 6
Food – 8
Overall – 7

Poccadio Moroccan Grill and Gourmet Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 29, 2012

Farmers' Markets Around Town

I look with anticipation each year as spring rolls around and farmers' markets appear. I do like the various winter markets around town but let's face it, Indiana is not in a subtropical/tropical zone. It has little to show in winter. In warm times, I have been a patron of the Broad Ripple farmer's market, behind the high school, for years. Unfortunately, my favorite vendors there, Neighbor's Garden and Seldom Seen Farms have disappeared due to unfortunate circumstances Actually Seldom Seen has merged with another vendor as part of FarmIndy, though I see much less of its pieces of art. They had radishes, greens, and cilantro that were breathtaking.. Broad Ripple features many wonderful vendors including Homestead Growers and Trader's Point Creamery. Trader's Point always pleases with its award-winning yogurts and cheeses. I like this particular market also because it showcases lots of produce and allows dogs. I love dog and people watching here. The crowds are manageable as well. This brings me to Carmel Farmer's market that recently has moved from a park-like setting to a concrete slab by the Palladium. Something is very wrong when one has to park in a parking garage and ride the elevator down to an outdoor market in a small - yes small town. The vendors tend to be wanna-be restaurants although there are a few bonafied produce vendors. The crowds are overwhelming especially if you arrive after nine. These problems, crowds and few produce vendors are also problems for the Zionsville market. The other markets I have ventured to around town are just too small. And did I mention no dogs at the Carmel market? Have a heart! I long for those piles of miraculous vegetables seen so readily in European outdoor markets where people and dogs leisurely roam with room to move.. Markets there are not a cultural trend but a way of life.

Oakley's Delights

Oakley's Bistro on 86th St. has been one of my favorite restaurants in Indy for several years. It is privately owned, consistently good, uses seasonal local ingredients, is creative, and has a nice atmosphere. They also have great cooking classes too. I like going at lunch when you get a snapshot of the restaurant for much cheaper prices than in the evening. Today I took my co-worker out to lunch at Oakley's. She loves creme brulee and I had informed her that Oakley's has a fine one. At lunch it is fairly empty which I always find depressing. I love its decor - subdued yet warm with rich browns and some blue. There is quiet music in the background. We are placed in a cozy booth and begin to check out the menu. It consists of soups, salads, tarts, and small entrees and various combos. Most under $10. Each ingredient in a dish is interestingly listed as a separate item. I choose the tomato basil soup beautifully served in a pewter tureen. My co-worker and I both order the chicken turnover which is a lovely puff pastry of a thing stuffed with chicken, brie, and spinach topped with a nice mustard and slices of pickled beet and paired with a lovely and colorful salad of local greens, carrots, radishes and pea shoots. To finish we order the day's featured creme brulee, one that is topped with chocolate mousse. Sadly, my friend finds the creme brulee a little too egg-y for her taste but to my taste buds it is ambrosia - just the right crack when I break the carmelized surface and a creamy chilled vanilla bean custard underneath. Luckily, I have them serve the mousse on the side since I am a creme brulee purist. The mousse is nice but not as silky as I would like. Ah - another good meal in Indy. If I do have a complaint about Oakley's it is the service. It tends to be impersonal and not as attentive as I would expect for a high-end restaurant. It also can be relatively slow for lunch. Maybe next time dinner?


Atmosphere - 8
Presentation - 10
Price - 7 (for lunch)
Food - 9.5
Service - 6
Overall - 9

Oakley's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Demarle Party at Home

This week I hosted a Demarle at Home cooking party. My friends and I sat around watching a cooking demo and we also did a recipe exchange. For those not familiar, Demarle at Home is a direct sales company that allows customers in the U.S. to enjoy Silpat products from France, not readily available in our stores. Sure there are Silpat mats and versions of Silpat in the U.S. market, but to have the other high-quality silcone/woven glass molds and mats one usually has to order through high-end online stores and often at higher costs. I was excited to see these products demonstrated in my home and have already been enjoying my sister’s Flexipan flower petal mold to bake muffins and single-portion size quiches. Here is a link to Demarle at Home where you can browse their catalog and shop:

I have also included below our recipes from the evening.

Black Bean Chipotle Soup served at the party – Go to January Archives on the blog and at the end of the Very Local Chez Carrie post, you will find the recipe.

Texas-Sized Blueberry Muffins submitted by Corrin
(Makes 8 large muffins)

2 ½ c flour
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c sugar
3 eggs
¾ c milk
1 t vanilla
2 ½ -3 c fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in mixing bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Add milk and vanilla to wet mixture. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill Flexipan Texas Muffin Tray or muffin tray of your choice. Place on Perforated Baking Sheet if using Flexipan product. Fill muffin trays half full and bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden.
Oatmeal Cake with Icing submitted by Judy

1 ¼ c boiling water
1 c quick cook oats
½ c butter
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 1/3 c flour
¾ t baking soda
 ¼ t salt
½ t cinnamon

Pour water over oats and let stand while preparing rest of mixture. Cream butter, add sugars, and continue creaming. Add beaten eggs. Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add oat mixture and dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Pour into your choice of Flexipan mold or greased and floured square cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

¼ c milk
6 T butter
¾ brown sugar
1 c coconut
1 c nuts (pecans suggested)
1 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients and pour over warm cake. Put under broiler (remember to transfer to broiler safe plate if using Flexipan mold) until mixture bubbles and browns slightly.

Spinach Salad submitted by Judy

1 lb fresh spinach
1 can sliced water chestnuts
2 hard-boiled eggs shredded
½ lb bacon diced
¾ c bean sprouts
Note: Other ingredients can be added such as grape tomatoes.

1 small diced onion
1 T Worchestershire sauce
½ c salad oil
½ c white sugar
¼ c ketchup
2 T apple cider vinegar

Mix above ingredients in blender or by hand with whisk. Mix dressing several hours before serving over salad to let flavors mellow together and keep at room temperature.