Posted in Food & Travel, Restaurant Experiences

Little Bites of Paradise

The positive side to my nearly three-year hiatus is the lengthy list of New England spots I have to share. Along with each item on the list, I’ll give some tips or a brief description of what was yummy or a reason why I might not go back (which rarely happens these days, thankfully). If you’re from New England or traveling in the area of Providence, RI or Boston, MA, I suggest you check out most or all of these places if ever possible.


Providence, RI

Ken’s Ramen (Japanese): I can’t begin any list of my favorite food in the entire universe without beginning here. This is a legitimate ramen shop, as authentic as it can get stateside. They serve amazing pillows of deliciousness (bao-style buns) filled with slabs of roasted pork belly and big, over-sized bowls of steaming hot soup. Be aware: for quality control, take out and leftovers are (mostly) not allowed.

Ogie’s Trailer Park (Comfort Food): I’ve been to this place a few times for drinks with friends and am unable to resist the food they crank out of Granny Boo’s kitchen in the back. After ordering, you’re given a license plate and orders are called by state. It gets pretty busy on weekends and they only serve beer in cans, trailer style. Their specialties are tater tots and fried mac & cheese bites. This is what bar food should look like.

Milk Money (New American): This year for my birthday, my mom joined my best friend and I for dinner at this amazing new gem on the east side of the city. The inside is rustic, the wait staff is excited to share the restaurant’s story and the food is off the charts. Specialty cocktails are made with local and organic alcohols, dishes change often but are made expertly with bold flavors and interesting pairings. We had some oysters with grapefruit ice pearls and cucumber mignonette, deviled eggs with smoked salmon, and baby back ribs with the most righteous mac & cheese I’ve ever had outside of my own household. I cannot wait to get back as their menu always offers something jaw-dropping.

XO Café (New American): A few years ago, Mike and I tried this place for a Valentine’s dinner and every time I want to have a slightly more romantic experience, we go back. The atmosphere is funky and artsy, the menu is locally-sourced and often changed with the season. Their bread is the only in the world I’ve had that is close to the fluffy stuff my uncle serves up at Culinary Affair on a daily basis. We’ve been for both brunch and dinner and the experience never disappoints. If they’re ever serving the brussels sprout hash with bacon, try it.

CAV Restaurant & Antiques (American): One of my closest friends recommended this place a few years back for restaurant week. We had ourselves a quiet girls’ night dinner as it wasn’t so busy and I had one of the most delicious duck dishes I’ve ever enjoyed. The sweet potato puree they serve with pan-seared duck breast and duck leg confit is unbelievable. A few months later, Mike, who never orders steak at restaurants, tried a filet mignon which was served with its own delicious mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetan;e. We will surely be back.

Red Fin Crudo + Kitchen (Latin American): The menu here has been enticing me for quite some time and I always forget to try it out. For my first experience, I dined with one of my gal pals and all we had were oysters and wine. However, the service and overall experience was wonderful and we have been meaning to return. Since this is a newer spot, I am hoping the menu doesn’t change too much before I can make it back.

bocado Tapas Wine Bar (Spanish-style Tapas): Other than Ken’s, this may quite possibly be the first place I think of whenever I’m going out to eat. Especially if I want a casual experience in which I can control my portions. Dried chorizo and manchego cheese have become regular pieces of my diet as a result of visiting bocado so many times. The tapas plates occasionally change, but one thing is for certain: the Kobe beef burgers, stewed rabbit and mussels with sun-dried tomatoes are always on point.


I’m going to save the rest of the ever-growing list for now, as it’ll keep me honest in my promise to continue posting often. In the next edition, you can expect some spots in Cranston and Warwick as well as in Boston and Salem.

Until next time,

Food Snob

 

Posted in Food & Travel, Restaurant Experiences

New Favorite Bites

Happy Monday all!

I’m not satisfied with the small list of bites that I included in my last post, so today’s post will be completely devoted to sharing bites that I enjoyed in 2013 & 2014.

Waterman Grille (Providence, RI): I visited here with my grandmother for my birthday this past summer and the food was absolutely excellent – as was the service. Sunday-Wednesday they offer a 3-Course Pre Fixe which we chose to sample. I had a delicious mushroom crostini with a soft Narragansett Creamery cheese spread (having trouble remembering the type of cheese) followed by duck confit mac & cheese. The mac & cheese was out of this world, though it was very rich and very filling, and I ate every bite I could handle. For dessert, I had a small piece of chocolate cake that was also wonderful but I could hardly enjoy it from being so full!

Harry’s Bar & Burger (Providence, RI): Harry’s is a ‘sister’ restaurant to Luxe Burger Bar (mentioned in my earlier post) in Providence. They serve sliders that are more delicious than most regular burgers I’ve had in my life and their beer selection always offers something new. My favorite is the M.O.A.B. (The Mother of All Burgers) which is loaded with fried onion strings, pickles, bacon, cheese, lettuce, special sauce, mushrooms and tons of happiness. I never say no to visiting.

The White Horse Tavern (Newport, RI): This place is Newport to me. It is the oldest operating  tavern in America (1673), it’s fine dining with a perfect touch of colonial America and the feeling of being right by the ocean. My dad used to run the kitchen here and every childhood memory I have of Newport has something to do with this place. Mike & I visited for my birthday this year and had some of the best New England clam chowder either of us has ever had – I’ve been dying to have it again ever since. I had sirloin steak fritte with hand-cut fries, Mike had the lobster mac & cheese and I would definitely return to try their beef wellington among other things!

2 Pauls City Grille (East Providence, RI): The atmosphere was a little funny here and the restaurant wasn’t very busy but both the food & service were perfectly fine. I visited with a friend and we shared a few appetizers and each had an entire (way too much food) and a glass of wine. I tried this out because of a recommendation and because I had Living Social deal that proved to be very helpful. For appetizers we tried the polenta fries, which were different but I wasn’t crazy about them, and the shrimp mozambique which I loved and were absolutely delicious. For dinner I had shrimp scampi and my friend had crab cakes, both were tasty and the portion sizes were certainly more than we could handle. I was not upset about the amount of food we ordered, I love leftovers depending on what they are, but I’m always pleased when a server recommends based on serving sizes!

Red Stripe (Providence, RI): Mike and I tried Red Stripe for one of our date nights this fall. The atmosphere was funny here as well, though for different reasons. With this one, the tablecloths were paper but mostly everything in the restaurant said ‘fine dining’ but the bar area was very casual and the entire place was an open floor plan. Regardless, the food was not something I particularly regret but we haven’t been back to visit again. We started with the truffle fries – a favorite indulgence of mine – nothing out of the ordinary, but I always enjoy the option of having them. I had the duo of duck confit with mushroom risotto and I just wasn’t crazy about the flavor, plus my risotto wasn’t up to temperature which kind of put me off. The duck could’ve been a palette thing, but I’ve never tried a duck dish I didn’t like.

Chapel Grille (Cranston, RI): This is perhaps the only really ‘bad’ one out of the bunch. This restaurant was built just a few years ago and it is absolutely beautiful. The bar area is perhaps one of my favorite spots around, including in Providence, and it’s the only thing that would bring me back here. I visited on two occasions and I was disappointed by both. With the first, I tried some shrimp cocktail that tasted funny – if I ever taste seafood in a restaurant that isn’t 100% fresh I almost immediately dismiss it from my list – and the caesar salad which had a very fishy taste (probably too much anchovy in the dressing) but the strange part was a strong flavor of cinnamon on the croutons. I could see maybe a hint being interesting to taste, but to be eating something that tastes like it should be dessert with a caesar salad was very odd. The margarita pizza we had with that meal was the only saving grace: thin crust, fresh tomatoes, cheese & basil. On the second visit, I decided to stick with the pizza but tried the four cheese & scallion pizza this time. We were sitting at the bar and the food was brought out – not by the bartender – and set in front of my on a large pizza tray without my having a plate for close to 10 minutes. The pizza was also not up to temperature and the cheese wasn’t completely melted nor were the onions fully cooked. Mike tried a rigatoni bolognese which wasn’t bad but wasn’t anything extraordinary, especially since the pasta wasn’t cooked through. Needless to say, if we visit again it would only be for drinks.

So, there they all are. The good and the bad, with more to come in the future.

For now,

❤ Food Snob

Posted in Food & Travel, Quick Dinners, Recipes, Restaurant Experiences, The Market

Food Snob Returns: It’s 2014.

I am really bad at remembering to post on here and that this exists. I love writing and cooking, but that doesn’t mean that I have my shit together, unfortunately.

This Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas were awesome – ending in the devastating beating my Broncos took in Superbowl XLVIII Sunday night – and 2014 has been fantastic so far. My brief hiatus was due to the fact that I started the MFA program in Creative Writing at Emerson College in September and I will be enrolled until May 2015, the earliest. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had time to try some new recipes or go out and sample some new eats. My goals in 2014 are to take more yoga classes and utilize my blog the way that I intended to, which is good news to anyone who likes the type of food I like.

I have the privilege of owning Giada’s new book, Feel Good Food, which I received as a Christmas gift. (I also subscribe to Giada’s digital weekly magazine on my iPhone via Newsstand, and it is fabulous.) I have also been racking my brain for a recap of any restaurant bites I may have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) recently and I hope I can provide at least a few – it’s tough to go out to eat at this time of the year when it’s better to cook and be in sweatpants all day. I have a pretty healthy to-do list, though, for new places to try and will be traveling to West Yarmouth, MA (Cape Cod) for a one-night Valentine’s getaway next week, which will hopefully include another discovery!

Recipes for this post: Meatless Mexican Rice Bowl,  ‘My Favorite Things’ Salad

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The ‘My Favorite Things’ Salad
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One of my favorite wintertime snacks: ruby red grapefruit sprinkled with just a little bit of sugar.

I had to include a picture of one of the beautiful ruby reds I have been getting at Trader Joe’s because they’re one of my favorite things in the entire world. They’re in season right now, so they’ve been especially delicious and perfect for snacking between meals on something sweet without the guilt.

The ‘My Favorite Things’ Salad was comprised mostly of leftovers and inspired by the arugula salad they’re serving up at Providence Coal Fired Pizza – I would highly recommend it, along with the broccoli rabe & sausage pizza. For this salad, I tossed some baby arugula with shaved fennel, leftover roasted sweet potatoes, halved grape tomatoes and shaved proscuitto (I prefer Proscuitto di Parma, but any will do) with a balsamic vinaigrette to which I added lemon juice for a nice, fresh flavor. This salad was a good serving size for lunch OR dinner: I would say I used a couple handfuls of arugula and about 1/4 cup of each of the other ingredients, with the exception of the fennel which was only a few tablespoons. This one was not the scientific or measured recipe because it was one of those ‘What do I have in the fridge?’ recipes that I sort of flung together without taking notes.

Meatless Mexican Rice Bowl

I’m always craving this delicious mixture of Fiesta Sides Spanish Rice, chopped up hot dogs and melted cheese that Mike’s mom makes from time to time, so I tried a bunch of combinations of things to make a (somewhat) healthier version of it until I found one that worked. This recipe makes just enough for a big lunch or moderate dinner portion.

Ingredients:

1/3 c. jasmine rice

1/4 c. canned (sweet) corn

1/4 c. canned black beans (no salt added preferably)

2-3 tbsp. halved grape tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes

1-2 tsp. cumin

1-2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground chipotle pepper

2 tbsp. Mexican-blend shredded cheese

Preparation:

Boil rice with 1 tsp. each of cumin & chili powder according to package directions. Just before rice is done with heat still on low/simmer, stir in the rest of the spices, corn, black beans and tomatoes. (Add more spice to taste, I like it spicy!) Cover until tomatoes are soft and begin to create a reddish color in the rice. Stir until tomatoes have broken down completely, then sprinkle cheese over the top and cover to melt. Serve with chucks or slices of avocado on top.

 

I wish I had a photo of that rice bowl because I was so thrilled when the recipe turned out the results I had been looking for, but I don’t. I’ll try to provide photos with my recipes whenever possible in the future. I don’t have ANY photos, unfortunately, of the delicious bites I’ve had recently either, but I will share a couple.

The Italian Corner, East Providence: Absolutely 100% authentic Italian deli serving up some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting. They’re house dressing is the most delicious basil-pesto-y concoction I’ve ever had in my life to date. Of course I had a caprese sandwich (tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil) with some added Proscuitto di Parma, but I can’t wait to go back and explore the  menu more.

Corner Bakery Cafe, Warwick & Cranston: This place is a chain, I know, but I’ve been waiting for it to be built in Garden City Center and now there is also one on Route 2. I loved it from my first visit because everything is made FRESH to order! (Unlike Panera, blegh.) I had a delicious chicken tortilla soup here (which inspired me to try making my own tortilla soup – recipe coming soon!) paired with a club sandwich of turkey, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato & mayo. YUM! There’s also table service for your food so you don’t have to carry a big heavy buzzer with you and get up to go get your food off of a counter where there is a crowd of people waiting and worry about leaving all your personal belongings unattended. It’s great!

The Mooring, Newport: I enjoyed a lovely dinner with my mom and grandma on a snowy Saturday night in Newport before attending Christmas at the Breakers. I was not 100% satisfied with my choice of entree, which was mostly my own fault, but the crab cakes I had as an appetizer were outrageous. There were a few options on the menu that I would return to test before making a decision based on that one menu selection (it was sort of a take on a Monte Cristo but was way more than any person can handle in one sandwich).

I can’t wait to have some more new bites in the upcoming months and try out some more recipes that I can share with you. I’ve been trying to eat the most balanced diet possible and include as many greens as my appetite will allow. I’m also excited about juicing and trying some of Giada’s mixtures as well as others in order to get that delicious kind of raw flavor I’m always looking for in the shakes/juices I buy at the market. I’ll be sure to include my successes and failures in upcoming posts.

Until next time,

❤ The Food Snob

Posted in Food & Travel, Restaurant Experiences

Fall is Coming… :)

Hello blog world!

I apologize for abandoning you for so, so long. However, the summertime is for fun and outdoors and not sitting inside on the computer typing about what I eat, where I eat, what I’m cooking up… I’ve been too busy DOING those things, and maybe checking out a few Thug Kitchen recipes? Maybe.

This broke graduate student also managed to do a bit of traveling this summer, as well as a bit of concert-attending. So, in this August post, I am choosing to update on all of my summer activities, good eats, adventures and travels.. Complete with photos when available. I also promise – and I will hold myself to it this time – to continue posting, somewhat weekly, when classes begin and I am able to spend time typing on my computer. I am sorry for being away for so long, and I hope you can forgive me.

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Exhibit #1: Dad’s leftovers chowder. YUM.

One lovely afternoon, I came home to find this delicious mixture of corn, cream, chicken, tomatoes and other kinds of deliciousness sitting in the fridge waiting for me to devour it. Summer is never complete without at least one taste of corn chowder, and this was out-of-this-world yummy. Dad never disappoints with his what’s-in-the-fridge meals.

Exhibit #2: General Tsao's Grilled Chicken & White Rice
Exhibit #2: General Tsao’s Grilled Chicken & White Rice

I found a delicious  General Tsao’s marinade that is made by Trader Joe’s and I have not stopped using it for grilling, stir fry, etc. This, for me, was a huge success. I bought some chicken breasts – I may use some thighs next time, they’re my favorite – and marinaded them in this delicious mixture, then threw them on the grill to get a nice crust. Now, I like my grilled, marinated chicken (BBQ or what-have-you) nice and crispy on the outside. I like to almost break my teeth when biting into it. To me, there is nothing better than the taste of a grill char. Yum. I tossed the chicken in more sauce when it came off the grill to both cool it off and to make sure that it was still nice and moist. This made a great week’s worth of lunches for me, paired with some Jasmine rice – which I buy by the pound at Trader Joe’s for super cheap and it lasts me months.

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Exhibit #3: Culinary Affair Chili with Cheddar & Scallions

When the Bruins were fighting the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup Championship, I was eating this bowl of deliciousness. It’s got a nice big kick, it was perfect for a summer night that was below perfect temperature, and it was an excellent meal to have while watching full-contact sports. I always love to eat something strong and hearty when I watch football and hockey. This chili is tomato-based and made with beef, onions, hot pepper rings, cannelini beans and tons of love. It is easily one of my favorite things in the world, and as the fall approaches I will be eating A LOT of it. I will also have to post a recipe for a delicious chili that I like to whip up at home… to be eaten in front of a big screen TV while watching the Patriots of course.

I am going to take a quick moment before I finish this post to point out my adoration for the season of Fall. I do not refer to it as autumn, even in my poetry, and I love every single second of it. There is nothing more comforting in this world than wearing warm sweaters without having to wear a winter coat. There is nothing more wonderful than apple cider, football, pumpkin seeds, chili, Fall seasonal beers and the leaves changing color. Maybe it’s because I am a born and bred New Englander, but I literally cannot get enough of Fall. I savor every moment from September to Thanksgiving, and only AFTER Thanksgiving do I fully throw myself into Christmas Mode. With that being said, the weather that occurred in Rhode Island last week was absolutely perfect and I wish it would continue.

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Exhibit #4: My first Bloody Mary

I had my first Bloody Mary this July in a wonderful little bar in Philidelphia, PA with my best friend. The bar was called North 3rd, and it was amazing. These Bloody Mary’s will knock you on your ass, but they taste like pureed pepperoni and are absolutely out-of-this-world. Nice and spicy, the perfect amount of tomato, a nice gigantic stalk of celery and ice cold (I visited Philly in the middle of a massive heat wave). Along with the Bloody Mary, I tried a couple of dishes off their menu: Fried Calamari dusted with Cornmeal & served with Spicy Tomato Sauce, a side of Baked Mac N’ Cheese & a side of Cut Fries with Spicy Mayo. Everything was delicious and surpassed my expectations. It was the perfect meal to help start off a night of drinking.

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Exhibit #5: Adam Sandler on DDD

Now, I have previously discussed my obsession with Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives. This past month, new episodes were being aired and Mr. Fieri managed to completely blow my mind and make me infinitely happy when he invited the cast of Grown Ups 2 to travel around LA with him. To top it off, he let Adam Sandler drive the Camaro and also arranged a meatball cook-off between the teams of Adam Sandler & Kevin James vs. David Spade & Chris Rock. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I found this on the DVR. As always, the food this man gets to consume because of his awesome job is just unfair.

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Exhibit #6: Food Prep

The final photograph in my Mini Summer Slideshow is a food prep that I did for myself last week. Using some items I already had in the fridge and making a small, cost efficient trip to Trader Joe’s, I was able to make a nice little selection of food for myself for the week ahead. Featured here are a Strawberry Smoothie, courtesy of Thug Kitchen; a Tomato-Spinach-Scallion Fritatta, which I modified from a recipe by Bon Appetit; and an Orzo Pasta Salad, which was inspired by different recipes that I found on the Internet involving wheat pasta. The pasta salad I made with wheat orzo, fresh baby spinach, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted garlic, red onions and mint leaves. I later added some grape tomatoes and red wine vinegar in order to offset the taste of the wheat pasta (I always forget that I should just say f*ck it & make it with regular pasta, since I hate wheat pasta).

I hope this little update was satisfactory and I promise to visit the blogosphere again soon with some recipes, or new bites, etc. I do have a few little food adventures that were not included in this post… And, as always, Tuesday night is date night which usually means a delicious new indulgence, or a visit to an old favorite.

❤ Food Snob.

Posted in Restaurant Experiences

The Never-Ending “Search for Delicious”

I watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives obsessively. If it’s on TV, I can’t get anything done. If there’s a marathon on – which happens often – I’m probably going to be late for work. So, imagine my excitement when I turn on the TV to find that Guy Fieri is standing on Federal Hill in Providence, RI, minutes from where I live, in a place that I have visited an innumerable amount of times. It’s pretty awesome, and it gets me to thinking about how much I envy this extremely entertaining, blonde-haired mad-man who gets to go all over the country searching for the most delicious bites America – and sometimes Canada – has to offer.

First off, I stole the title of this post from a children’s book that I read in the 5th grade. It’s still one of my favorite books to this very day, and I recently purchased and re-read it. The book is “The Search For Delicious” by Natalie Babbitt (check it out here), and it is a wonderfully written children’s novel about a silly king who sends a messenger out into his kingdom to find the definition of the word “delicious.” This, of course, causes chaos in each and every town that the messenger visits. There is more to the story than that, but for the purpose of this blog I am only including the relevant details. So, I am using these two examples to a) Define what I mean by “food snob” and b) Mention some of the best bites I have had inside & outside of RI, on my own search for delicious.

Being a food snob is not a bad thing (unless of course, you are actually a snob). Being a food snob simply means that you expect a certain standard inside your own kitchen, in the kitchens of others and – especially – in restaurants of all shapes and sizes. My twin cousins have been disappointed by being given a Kid’s Menu since they were 6 or 7 years old. My family breeds these types of food snobs. If they’re at a restaurant, they’re having something along the lines of prime rib, or mussels, or pasta – forget chicken fingers. What many may not recognize, is that we – food snobs of the world!, which includes Mr. Fieri – are the ones that make great food possible. Without our high expectations and crazy standards, amazing chefs would not receive epic praise! Simon Mjumdar, king of the food snobs, makes Iron Chef contestants grovel at his feet to please his taste buds. Guy Fieri makes restaurant owners and head chefs stop to think about whether or not their food is good enough to be sampled by his seasoned taste buds. Without this pressure food would never change, chefs would never explore new flavors and the world would suffer.

When I mention “best bites,” I am just talking about the ones that stick out in my mind at this moment, how I remember them, as I write this post. I am sure that I will be leaving some out and some details may be hazy, so bare with me. (My father has this uncanny ability to remember every epic meal he has ever had, along with what every other person at the table was eating. I hope I inherit that at some point in my life.) We’re going to start, of course, with my roots and hometown – Cranston, RI – and we’ll go from there.

  • Cranston, RI: Macera’s (Italian) – Gnocchi in pink vodka sauce
    • Culinary Affair (American — My dad’s place) – Potato Pancakes
    • Carmine’s (Italian-style Sandwiches) – Pepperoni, Potato & Egg Sandwich
  • Providence, RI: Luxe Burger Bar (American) – Build Your Own Burger & Chili Cheese Fries
    • Gracie’s (New/American/Fine Dining) – Duck Breast with Quinoa & Summer Vegetables
    • Mill’s Tavern (New/American/Fine Dining) – Grilled Swordfish with Watermelon Slaw & Summer Vegetables
  • East Greenwich, RI: Cafe Fresco (American/Italian) – Mozzarella Caprese Salad with Basil Pesto
  • Boston, MA: b.Good (Burgers) – Cousin Oliver with Hand-Cut Fries
    • Boloco (“Inspired” Burritos) – Chicken Teriyaki Burrito, Mango Passion Smoothie
    • The Upper Crust (Pizza) – Pepperoni & Cheese Pizza
    • Wagamama (Japanese/Noodles) – Miso Beef Ramen
  • Portsmouth, NH: 43 Degrees North (Now Closed!!) – Corn Chowder
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico: Armando’s (Mexican) – Skirt Steak Quesadilla
    • Budatai (Puerto Rican/Asian Fusion) – Duck Fried Rice, among MANY others!
    • La Playita @ Hotel La Playa (Puerto Rican) – La Playa Burger & Fries, Coco Loco
  • London, UK: Busaba Eathai (Thai) – Crabmeat Egg Fried Rice, Thai Calamari, Char-grilled Duck

Again, these are only the bites that are coming to mind at this exact moment. I have eaten at so many place in RI from the top of the state to the bottom and tried so many little eateries when I lived in Boston that it’s all a blur. However, I watch Triple D as if I’m going to travel all over the country and try each and every restaurant that looks amazing, interesting and delicious. For example, the other day I saw that there is a place in America that actually serves french fries that are called “Death by Duck.” How can I not try this at some point? It was literally created for me. I am a duck fiend. And yet, I am not Guy Fieri. So, try though I might, there is a possibility I will not taste this incredible bite in my life.

On days like this, I can only continuing searching Google and/or Yelp! and trying out all the restaurants that are close to me. I am very rarely disappointed, and I will continue my food snobbery for the benefit of myself, and the rest of you. 🙂