Eating · Travels

Pizza Pilgrimage: Sally’s Apizza, New Haven, Connecticut


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Waiting in line
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As the end of summer approaches (code speak for returning to work/school), Raj and I thought we’d make one last trip to visit family in Connecticut while setting off to accomplish something that we attempted five short years ago. You see, the last time we took this same trip, we stood in line at Sally’s for one and a half hours with no end in sight, grumpily standing in the hot, humid, unforgiving Connecticut afternoon. We got to the point where Raj broke and my dad and uncles weren’t much help either, regaling us in stories of gruff and unattractive servers, dirty bathrooms, and so-so pizza. We questioned whether the wait was worth it. I was ready to wait it out, but Raj raised the flag and we headed to Ernie’s, my dad’s favorite, which was fine, but left us with some unfinished business.

For those of you not in the know, Sally’s is one of the best pizza places in the country. It’s repeatedly in the top 10 lists year after year: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2013/11/30/best-pizza-in-america/3785309/.  Sally’s (number 7 on the list) and Pepe’s (number 1) are both on Wooster Street in New Haven’s Little Italy. Pepe’s pizza is known for its ‘white clam pie’  while Sally’s for their ‘tomato pie.’ Sally’s was actually an offshoot of Pepe’s– nephews Salvatore (Sally) and Tony Consiglio, who worked for Pepe as teenagers, left in 1938 to open Sally’s.

We got to Sally’s strategically on a Sunday night at around 6pm. The line was about 20 deep, not too bad, not too good. We waited about 45 minutes until we were directed into a booth by the host who served as our waiter too. Sally’s is small and dark and not particularly nice (bring hand sanitizer). It probably looks the same today as it did 76 years ago, minus the upgrade sometime in the 1950’s when they added some spectacular lighting fixtures (I tried taking a picture of the fixtures, but my iPhone didn’t do the vintage glass justice). We sat below the aging picture of Frank Sinatra, appropriately crooked and covered in grime.

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Tomato pie
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Pepperoni pie

The service is legendary and lived up to its name. Sally’s is no frills and devoid of customer service, but that’s the appeal–it’s all about the pie. Nothing more. We ordered two pies:  tomato (tomato sauce, no cheese) and pepperoni. Both were excellent: the crust was perfect–thin and not too burnt, and the sauce was slightly sweet.

We walked away full and elated, down the block to the Italian bakery to finish off the night with a cannoli. Perfection!

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With Sally’s off the list, next time we will pay homage to Pepe’s, hopefully sooner than five years from now.

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Travels

Sailing to Two Harbors, Catalina, CA


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The Captain
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Sunrise on our departure

Growing up, my sister and I hated going  ‘to the boat.’ We liked inviting our friends down to swim on the dock, sailing in the Snark (a smaller version of a Laser and much more kid-friendly), going out in the dinghy (with the motor), and I loved fishing, but sailing, not so much. Once we were old enough, my parents would take the sailboat out, leaving us happily behind to hang out on the dock, go to the candy store (in Oceanside Harbor), and tool around  with our friends (whose parents were probably on the boat with ours).

Years have gone by and age has a way of softening the memories of seasickness and claustrophobia, which used to haunt me on our sails and overnight trips. Since Raj and I have been together, I’ve reminisced about the fun times we had growing up on the boat, going to Catalina, and spending time just hanging out on the water with my family. Raj bought into the fantasy and has been telling my parents for years now that once we got back Stateside, we would be up for a sail to Catalina on the boat.

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Looking over Two Harbors
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View from the trail into Two Harbors
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Satin Doll

We originally were going to sail first to Avalon, as we’ve done in the past, but in the interest of avoiding the crowded and kitschy scene, we chose to go straight to Two Harbors, the less crowded harbor about two hours further of a sail than Avalon.

We left very early in the AM and immediately faced gail force winds and six to eight foot swells–so much for forgetting about seasickness. Luckily, my mom was prepared with wrist bands and some type of non-drowsy, motion sickness pill, which did the trick. My strategy, since being a child, has always been to sleep it off, so in the interest of everyone, I nodded off for as much of the eight-hour trip over there, as evidenced by my horrendous sunburn.

We arrived to great weather and immediately got to work doing nothing, which was the plan. We spent two nights and three days reading, soaking up the sun, running along the coast, walking, eating at the one restaurant on shore, checking out the Banning House (the one B & B located on shore), watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm, and sleeping. It was a great time followed by an easy and pleasant sail home.

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Raj working hard…
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Two Harbors Yacht Club
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One room school-house
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One of the many ravens

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The Banning House, B & B

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View of the second harbor from the Banning House

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Inside the Banning House library

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This is the type of trip whose memories get sweeter over time.

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Fourth of July Harbor
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Cherry Cove

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Alexandria · Baking · Cooking · Travels

Lancaster’s Central Market: One of the World’s Ten Best Fresh Markets?


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I love farmer’s markets and Raj and I frequent Old Town’s very own regularly on Saturday mornings to buy DSC05130produce, flowers, and freshly baked bread. [In case you didn’t know, Old Town’s market is thought to be one of the nation’s oldest continually operating farmer’s markets and George Washington sent his produce from Mount Vernon (just down the road) to be sold here.] Anyway, we were searching for a day trip to take and I came across this CNN Travel article, Ten of the World’s Best Fresh Markets. Considering the article’s glowing recommendation and pairing it with my desire to shop for Amish jams and jellies (and perhaps a quilt–Lancaster is the heart of Amish country), it sounded like a perfect day!

DSC05132Lancaster’s Central Market is located in the downtown area of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s nice, but in no way, shape, or form does it belong on a list of the ‘Ten Best’ in the WORLD (let alone the country). It’s relatively small (think Eastern Market in DC), indoors, and not particularly Amish (as I mistakenly presumed). There were a couple Mennonite and Amish (not sure which and I’m no expert) merchants selling their wares, a couple of flower vendors, a fair sampling of beautiful farm raised vegetables, herbs, fruit…, a few bakeries, a small food court where sandwiches and such were prepared, along with the requisite tchotchke profferers. We bought a couple of loaves of bread from a cute couple and three jars “Amish” jam, which turns out are ‘made in the Amish style,’ meaning we were hoodwinked.

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DSC05150After a short jaunt through the market,  I wanted to get out of the city and onto the country roads where I envisioned bucolic farms and out-of-the-way stands selling unique, one of a kind items along with jams and jellies packaged by unjaded Amish women and girls and made in’ authentic’ ways (without corn syrup–the first ingredient on one of the jams we purchased). We headed towards the towns of Bird in Hand and Intercourse, but my fantasy was left unfulfilled. We stopped at a few ‘Amish’ markets that were less than noteworthy and ended up buying nothing. Nada. Zilch.

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This was an enjoyable day trip that I would highly recommend (preferably on a sunny day), but one needs to go with the understanding that this is a nice fresh market, not a mecca of amazing foodstuffs. Your local farmer’s market is probably better than this one, and if you’re in the mood for authentic Amish wares, you’re better off driving to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, where a much more impressive array of items are readily available.

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After a long drive home, we settled in for the night with a few items we picked up along the way.
Travels

Paris and Purchases


 

As I mentioned in the previous post, France was freezing (not really, but it was cold after our jaunt to Portugal) and I only packed for warm, sunny weather (sun dresses and sandals) so I had to wear the same thing over and over again (this was very difficult for me). As a result, you will not see ANY pictures of me (picture me with my dad’s red sweater, jeans, and running shoes, walking though the streets of Paris. I would have been shown the exit had I walked into Hermes dressed like this). In fact, ALL pictures of me from this part of the trip have been burned…SO, we’re skipping past the photos of Paris and ending the European vacation on the few items that I purchased.

One of my favorite fountains by Niki de Saint Phalle. (Remember the Howard Jones video (What Is Love?) from a million years ago filmed here?)

 

 

 

 

First up, a bottle of wine we purchased on our way home in Paris, which was quickly consumed…and the wine bottle holder from Chambord (it’s some kind of a wild boar, though it’s difficult to tell from the pictures).
Kusmi Tea: I’ve never tried it, but it smelled divine and I like the packaging. I’ll keep you posted when I sample it.
Some bowls from Portugal, in the southern style that were oh so cheap. I can’t wait to use these!
A trio of condiment bowls atop a small platter that I purchase in Lisbon.
…and a close up of one of the bowls taken off of the serving platter…

I also purchased a couple of scarves in Paris, but I’m not sure where they’ve walked off to. It’s hard to believe that I didn’t buy anything else. All of these pieces, like everything else that I’ve bought will go into storage in Amman until we’re reunited in the States in a few months. At this point, it will be like Christmas when I get to unwrap all of the treasures that I’ve been collecting over the course of 15 months–all of the items from Egypt (which I never got around to posting), the icons and bowls from Israel, the pottery from Jordan, the mosaics, the Syrian furniture…

Travels

The Last of the Loire: Chartres, Chateau de Chambord, Amboise, & Clos Luce


I’ve been a lazy blogger but I have been meaning to finish posting the last of our R&R trip through the Loire Valley. I’ll try not to drag it out by posting three days trips into a single post.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres

Visiting this cathedral is every art history major’s fantasy. Just like visiting the pyramids, seeing Chartres in person is an amazing experience. Constructed between the years 1193-1250, Chartres is considered one of the best examples of the French High Gothic style. What a testament Chartres is to human ingenuity!

Chateau d’Chambord

You know the raspberry liquor that comes in the cool looking bottle with the crown atop its lid? Chambord (the liquor) is said to have been introduced to Louis XIV during one of his visits to this Chateau. Chambord is still being produced on the premises of this Chateau. In Paris, one of the pricey cocktails I kept seeing was the Cham Cham–champagne and Chambord. I’ll have to try it.

Needless to say, PETA, would not like this place…
One of the (too) MANY ‘trophy’ rooms.

Chateau d’Amboise & Clos Luce

The chapel where Leonardo is supposedly buried.

Located in Amboise and built on a spur above the Loire River, Chateau d’Amboise sits in a picturesque little village. The Chateau was confiscated by the monarchy in the 15th century and became a favored royal residence that was extensively rebuilt. King Francis I was raised at Amboise, which belonged to his mother, Louise of Savoy. Leonardo da Vinci came to Château d’Amboise as a guest to King Francis I in December, 1515, where he lived and worked in the nearby Clos Luce, connected to the château by an underground passage. It’s said that Leonardo is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Château, which was built in 1491–96. Who knows if this is true.

Clos Luce–the house where Leonardo lived

Last up…Paris…

Travels

Exploring the Loire Valley: Chateau de Chenonceau


Entrance to the Chenonceau with my dad

Our first day trip was to Chateau de Chenonceau, the Ladies Chateau. This château is considered by many to be the loveliest of all of the chateaus and I’d have to agree. It’s surrounded by formal gardens and wooded grounds and visitors are free to roam freely throughout the rooms of the castle.

Here’s a little history of the place, in case you’re interested. As Eyewitness Travel’s Loire Valley states:

“Chenonceau reflects the combined influence of five women, who brought a feminine touch to this grateful building. First came Catherine Briconnet, wife of the royal chamberlain, who supervised construction of the château. Later, Diane de Poitiers, Henri II’s mistress, created a formal garden and built a bridge over the Cher. After Henri’s death, his widow, Catherine de Medici, reclaimed the château and topped the bridge with a gallery. Chenonceau survived the 1789 Revolution–because of local respect for Louise Dupin, wife of a tax collector–to be restored by Madame Pelouze in the 19th century.”

To the right of the château is the Marques Tower (part of the original remaining fortified castle and mill belonging to the Marques family).
The formal gardens
In the kitchen
The château sits above the Cher River
In the gallery

My highlight to the château was the kitchen. I only have one picture of the pans (I must have been overwhelmed), but the kitchen is made up of two areas, located in two enormous bases forming two piers in the bed of the River Cher. The kitchen equipment, including ovens, pans, knives, bread baking equipment, etc., do a nice job giving the viewer an idea of what a working kitchen would have looked like.

On the day we visited it was freezing, which is really a shame because had it been a nice day out, we would have spent much more time exploring the formal garden, the vegetable and flower garden, and the 16th century farm. There’s also a lovely cafe that served lunch, pastries, coffee and wine. Perhaps next time…

Travels

Living in a Chateau, If Only for a Week


Our second leg of the trip was spent in the Loire Valley, France. Here we had the privilege of staying in a splendid Chateau (Chateau de la Noue) dating back to the 16th century.We stayed in one wing of the Chateau, equipped with all of the necessary creature comforts (including a DVD player, which enabled us to watch seasons 7 and 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm–the nights got a little long, but we were in good company with Larry David).

The Chateau is located in the quaint village of Villedomer, a perfect jumping off point to many of our day trips throughout the week. The Chateau is blanketed by a beautiful forest of trees, including pine, sequoia, and chestnut. The only sounds to be heard were frogs in the pond and an occasional ‘moo’ of the neighboring farm’s cows. During our stay, we saw two deer, hares, and rabbits, and enjoyed walking along the grounds foraging for mini strawberries.

Itty bitty strawberries

The owner of the Chateau is warm and friendly, without being intrusive. She welcomed us with a bottle of Vouvray (from Touraine, just east of Tours–my new favorite wine), made a delicious dessert for us one night, and invited us over for hors d’oeuvres and wine on another night.

The Front
The Chapel, behind our wing
The backside of the Chateau
Local Vouvray
Dessert one night

What I liked most about staying at Chateau de la Noue was the unique experience it provided. Rather than staying in a sterile, perfectly appointed hotel room, we were afforded a more authentic experience–we drove hundreds of miles on small windy roads, shopped in local markets, and made many a pit stop to the abundant patisseries in every town. After exploring Chateaus throughout the week, staying at a place like this gave me an appreciation for the workmanship, upkeep, and history of the Chateaus.