Bloggers’ Bites: Spring Break Bites

Bloggers’ Bites is a series of posts chronicling the foodie adventures of Penn Appétit’s blog staff. With a week off for Spring Break, we asked our bloggers, “What was your most enjoyable Spring Break food experience and why?

Nicole Woon: Yes, it is March (a month technically part of spring). Yes, Punxsutawney Phil predicted that winter’s bitter cold would come to an end six weeks early. But no, Mother Nature did not agree and blasted the East Coast with snow crystals, bullets of rain, and bone-chilling wind this break. I happened to be in Boston for a few days during break week and a warm brew of hot chocolate was just the ticket to combat the wintry weather. Thank heavens for L.A. Burdick Chocolate, which pours a hot chocolate that is akin to sipping pure melted chocolate, only better. The classic version is available in dark, milk, and white chocolate varieties. Shaved chocolate and cocoa powder are whisked into steamed milk, with the final concoction topped with foam and grated spices. There are also single-source options (think Grenadian with hints of lychee, nutmeg, and banana or Madagascan with a sharp fruity acidity and vanilla notes) and choices incorporating liquors. If you need to satisfy your chocolate fix, you can also visit them at their Cambridge, MA, New York, NY, and NH, locations.

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Jillian Di Filippo: Over spring break, I got my hands on a Kitchenaid stand mixer pasta extruder attachment. It’s a really cool attachment you can buy for the KitchenAid stand mixer than makes seven kinds of tubular pasta, including spaghetti, fusilli, and bucatini I used the attachment to make whole wheat rigatoni. The process is a bit labor intensive, but the attachment does a lot of the work for you. You feed the dough into a spiral that pushes it through a pasta plate. You then cut the pasta to the desired size using the attached wire cutter. After being formed, the noodles need to dry for an hour before being boiled for 3-5 minutes. The fresh whole wheat pasta is rustic and more dense than dry pasta. Since it’s very filling, it pairs best with a lighter topping, like fresh arugula and roasted tomatoes. We served this to my family for an early Sunday dinner and it was the perfect meal to conclude spring break.

Vera Kirillov: My family just moved from Massachusetts to Alabama a month ago, so my main goal for spring break was simple: to eat some authentic, fried, unhealthy Southern food. My parents got a recommendation for a popular diner a few miles from our home, so we headed over to the café one day for lunch. The menu was just what I was hoping for: all of the proteins fried, accompanied by large portions of side dishes like cornbread, hashbrown casserole, and coleslaw. The fried catfish which I ordered had a perfectly crispy crust and paired deliciously with the diner’s homemade tartar sauce, and the hashbrown casserole was a fantastically creamy and satisfying combination of potato strips and cheese.

Vatsala Goyal: The most memorable food event during break was definitely the Chocolate Lover’s Festival. The moment I entered, I was surrounded my chocolate. There’s were chocolate fountains, fudge, ice cream, pastries- it was absolute heaven in my mouth. I think the best thing I bought was the chocolate-covered caramel popcorn.

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Katie Behrman: It’s hard to go home to Georgia without indulging in Southern food at least once. This break, my family and I spoiled ourselves at South City Kitchen Midtown, a contemporary new Southern restaurant in Atlanta. Rather than serving bread, the restaurant begins the meal with a basket of fresh cornbread and flaky biscuits. Though I would normally limit myself to just one slice of bread, I couldn’t resist eating both the cornbread and the biscuit! My mom ordered the Caesar salad, which unbeknownst to her (though clearly stated on the menu!), came with grit croutons and fried okra. Grit croutons may be the one thing in your life that you MUST try. For lack of a better word, they’re simply heavenly. They’re slightly crunchy on the outside, perfectly creamy on the inside, and warm. And they melt perfectly in your mouth. After trying the croutons, we were fairly convinced that the restaurant would have difficulty matching them. But, much to our delight, the next course was perhaps even more scrumptious. My mom and I both ordered the traditional fried chicken, and it was done perfectly: tender, crispy, juicy and crackly. The meat fell off the bone with ease, and it came as no surprise that the restaurant has been using this recipe for decades! The honey-thyme jus added a slight sweetness to the dish which was absorbed by the smashed bliss potatoes and rounded out by the slightly acidic collard greens. Needless to say, we left the restaurant feeling stuffed and happy.

Chelsea Goldinger: I started the break as I begin all my trips home: cooking with my mom. As an appetizer, we made tuna tartare, served on a bed of mango and fresh guacamole. We then moved on to a recipe from our cookbook-of-the-moment, Jerusalemroasted chicken with Jerusalem artichokes and lemon. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sam Tamimi are geniuses in the culinary worlds; the ease of preparation and result of each recipe I’ve made continues to wow me. Plus, check out how closely our chicken resembles the photograph in the book! Finally, we ended the meal with something healthy. We made Joy the Baker’s chocolate beet cake. I mean, there are beets in the cake, so it’s okay that I had three pieces, right?

Jerusalem chicken
Jerusalem chicken
Chocolate beet cake with beet cream cheese icing: check out that naturally beautiful color!
Chocolate beet cake with beet cream cheese icing: check out that naturally beautiful color!

AJ Winkelman: The best meal I had over Spring Break was a dinner celebrating my birthday. I was visiting my best friend at Tufts and we went to an Italian place in Boston called Dante. The meal was five courses, none of which was too big, though when combined with the complimentary bread (which we quickly devoured), big enough that we almost felt full after each. Only because our phenomenal waiter helped us pace ourselves were we able to eat everything. The courses were: A Meat and Cheese Plate (sadly I do not remember exactly what was on it, but it was incredible) + Bread/Olive Oil/Vinegar, Baked Ricotta and Bruschetta, Octopus Cooked Sous-Vide, Ravioli with mushrooms for me and Steak for her, and A Chocolate Torte (complete with a birthday candle and singing) and Blueberry Gelato.

Abigail Koffler: Spring Break in New Orleans conjures images of po’boys, mufalettas, crawfish and other indulgences. On my urban agriculture focused alternate spring break however, the focus was on kale, quinoa and a vegan-kosher diet. While I found this diet delicious and encouraging of creativity, i needed to taste New Orleans. An opportunity arose at the popular Wednesdays on the Square festival, a food and music-filled evening in Lafayette Square, a place which oddly features a statue of Ben Franklin. Food was served in small, shareable portions and a friend and I dug in: first, shrimp and grits, with a cognac mushroom sauce atop the creamy grits. Shellfish, one of the least kosher foods ever, tasted wonderful after days of veganism. Next, we tried jambalaya, a good but forgettable bowl of rice, sausage, and hot sauce. The best savory bite came next, thanks to a tip from a fellow Penn student we ran into: we scored the festival’s very last brisket quesadilla. The stand had taken down its signs and was packing up when we walked over. Our luck was incredible as this quesadilla combined the richness of southern barbecue (including homemade sauces) with the portability and fun of a quesadilla. I didn’t want my piece to end and would have probably ordered another one, if that had been an option. After ending the night with baked alaska with french vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce (a decidedly underrated dessert), I headed back to our hostel and a vegan diet, knowing that thoughts of my night exploring would keep me full for the days to come.

Heejae Lim: I visited Nobu in South Beach, Miami during spring break. Nobu is an upscale fusion Japanese restaurant by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa. I really loved Nobu’s signature dish, Black Cod in Miso. Other menus, including Yellotail and Jalapeno Roll, Rock Shrimp Creamy Spicy, and Big Eye Tuna Tataki with Tosazu, were all amazing as well. And… desserts! Mmmmm desserts… Santadagi (Chocolate tempura with raspberry sauce and almond ice cream) and Harumaki (banana with dulce de leche spring rolls with passion fruit sauce) were perfect desserts to end this fine meal. Overall, although it was pretty expensive, every dollar I spent that night was worth it.

Elizabeth Kim: During my spring break in Los Angeles, my best food experience happened one morning at a donut shop famed for their celebrity fan base and mention in blog “Cupcakes and Cashmere.” Called “Fonuts” (originating from the term “faux-donut”), their donuts are always baked and/or steamed, never fried, making it a lighter, healthier option. They also had a variety of interesting flavors, some of which I would never have imagined on a donut- we ordered the blueberry earl grey, banana chocolate, salted caramel, and maple bacon. The blueberry and earl grey flavors surprisingly blended well together, and the maple bacon was the perfect balance of sweet and salty. However, my favorite by far was the salted caramel- there was just the hint of salt to balance out the cloying sweetness of caramel, and the soft, cake-like texture of the donut was an instant hit.

Jessica Chung: Borough Market in London, England is a foodie paradise. There are over 100 food stands selling international pastries, local cheese and produce, English pies and Cornish pasties–practically any food item you can think of. The vendors are very amicable, generously offering samples without expecting anyone to buy anything. Always bustling, and very charming, Borough Market is a place that food-lovers and non-food-lovers alike can enjoy and appreciate. It is an amazing part of London that is apart from the tourist scene and is necessary to visit more than once.

Taylor Karl: My most enjoyable spring break food experience was my trip to Princi Pizzeria in London’s Soho area. I think the reason I was particularly fond of this experience was because of the atmosphere in the establishment. Princi is both a restaurant with sit down service as well as a bakery with counter service that makes wood fired breads, pizzas, and Italian patisserie right in front of you. Both the dining and counter sections were filled with the hum of conversation as people packed in close together to find any available space to split a delicious pizza, or two. It was PACKED, with the line to get in trailing down the block. The gregarious owner would hand out fresh baked bread sprinkled with olive oil and herbs to anyone waiting in line while chatting in rapid Italian to employees or friends that dropped by. I tried the coppa pizza with copa, rocket, cherry tomato and mozzarella and it was superb. Although it wasn’t the typical London fare, this was definitely the high point of my spring break food experience.