The Chocoholic Buffet on the Norwegian Gem

One of the special events that was on the itinerary for our week on the Norwegian Gem was the Chocoholic Buffet. On the first full day at sea on the way back to New York, they planned the white party, the family white party and the Chocoholic Buffet. I didn’t think it was a good idea to have everyone wearing white while serving them dozens upon dozens of chocolate desserts, but I don’t run or own a cruise ship, so my opinion really doesn’t matter.

At 9 p.m. the Garden Cafe Buffet transformed from a regular buffet to a full display of chocolate pastries, cakes, tartlets, puffs and even sushi. There were trays and trays of things dipped in chocolate or covered in chocolate or made of chocolate. It was kind of overwhelming, but I did my best to not eat everything that was presented to me.

What did make it to my plate were a couple of Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (good), Chocolate Cream Cups (good), a slice of Chocolate Cheesecake (very good), a S’mores Square (not good) and a Chocolate Tart (OK). And, I was able to wash them down with a glass of cold milk. Like I’ve said more than once, I was completely shocked that there was not one brownie, cookie or cupcake. They are my favorite ways to get chocolate into my belly and not one of them showed up for the party.

The Chocoholic Buffet was delightful, but there was a lot of repetition. I would’ve liked some chocolate mousse, brownies, cookies or cupcakes, and unfortunately, they were MIA. I did get my fill though, of course.

Cruising on the Norwegian Gem: Grand Pacific Dining Room

My family and I took a cruise on the Norwegian Gem and we enjoyed a lot of wonderful dinners at the Grand Pacific Dining Room. It was one of the dining rooms on-board that was included in our cruise fare. Of the seven nights that we cruised, we ate at the Grand Pacific three nights and one morning. The waitstaff was very easygoing and accommodating, and the food was delicious.

The first night, I decided that I would try something new and ordered the Louisiana Blackened Red Snapper with Andouille Gumbo. I planned to eat something I had never eaten before prior to the cruise, so when I saw the Red Snapper on the menu, I knew my chance had come. It was a little spicy, but so good, like gumbo should be. After that meal, I came to the conclusion that if I saw Red Snapper on any future menus, I would consider ordering it. I always eat shellfish and mollusks, but don’t usually eat fish unless it’s flounder or cod. This changed my mind about fish in general; that’s how good it was.

The second night, I ordered the Potato Leek Soup and a Caesar Salad, because on a cruise, you can have whatever you want. You can eat all desserts for dinner or have all bite-size versions of the entrees or even double lobster with your Surf and Turf. It is great to have that kind of freedom, and since Norwegian Cruise Line practices freestyle cruising, so you don’t have a scheduled time for dinner every night. You can just show up whenever you want, as long as the time is within the time that they serve the meal you want to eat. For instance, dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. until midnight.

OK, back to the soup and salad. The Potato Leek Soup was good, but a little grainy. The Caesar Salad, however, was delicious and so was the crostini that came along with it, surprisingly. For dinner, I ordered the Potato Gnocchi in Pumpkin and Sage Sauce. It was buttery and delicious with just a hint of sweetness probably from the cinnamon in the sauce. That night’s meal was the perfect amount of food.

On the third night, I wanted to try the Cream of Tomato Soup to start off my meal. It was very good and a little tangy. Then, I had the Prime Rib and it was also good, but nothing really stood out about it. However, when it came around to dessert, I was in heaven. They finally had a real chocolate option on the menu and it was called Chocolate Decadence. This was a warm and gooey chocolate cake with berries trickling down its sides. This was my favorite dessert of the week, hands down! It was a full dish of completely indulgent chocolate; the kind that you have stuck on your teeth for a few minutes and stuck in your head for months. I loved it, but my dad said it was, “Too much chocolate.” Have you every heard such lunacy? I don’t even think “too much chocolate” even exists. I shared my dessert with the entire table because I wanted them to share in my joy. OK, enough about the chocolate …

The Grand Pacific Dining Room was a great option for dining on the Norwegian Gem and anything we ate was included in our cruise fare. There is a dress code, so you cannot just show up to eat after a swim in the pool. Shorts and jeans are not allowed to dinner. When you dine there, it really feels like you are getting pampered, so you might as well dress the part. Fortunately, I packed all dresses and I enjoyed every meal.

A Quick and Painless Lunch at Bobbique

My colleagues and I decided to have lunch out one day at Bobbique in Patchogue, NY. They have a good deal on lunch with a full menu of items for $6.99 with mugs of tap beer for $3.

I decided on the Watermelon Wheat for my beverage and the Pulled Chicken Salad with Baked Beans for my lunch. The beer was refreshing, but it did not taste like watermelon, unfortunately. I don’t think that many watermelon beers actually do, but I am willing to keep trying them until I find one that does. The Pulled Chicken was tasty and the salad was light. It was an interesting combination because I usually get pulled chicken or pulled pork sandwiches. It fit in with my diet, but I think I would prefer it on bread because carbs are better than lettuce. (No surprise there.) The Baked Beans had a good mix of sweet and smokiness, and I actually preferred them over the Macaroni and Cheese.

My colleagues ordered a variety of other items from the menu and they were all very pleased with them, and not just because they were all lunch specials. The food at Bobbique is great for lunch or dinner, or even a snack out with friends because their happy hour specials include sliders, wings, beer, etc. Perfect.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Let’s meet at That Meetball Place

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At first, I thought name was a little strange, but then I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. The outside of That Meetball Place looks like it was cut out of a New York City street and plopped in the center of Main Street in Patchogue, N.Y. Then, you go inside and you feel like you are in downtown Manhattan and not in downtown Patchogue. One night, we went out to “meet” our friends and enjoy a nice meal together.

We started off by ordering our drinks because the menu took a little getting used to. You pick the type of ball you want, then you pick the sauce and then you pick the way you want it. You can also add some extras, like Dynamite Fries and Macaroni and Cheese, or even a dollup of Ricotta. Yum!

I ordered the Vegetarian Risotto Balls with Pancetta Cream Sauce. They were very good. The creamy sauce was a nice pairing with the seasoned rice balls. Interestingly enough, TK ordered the Balls of Fire with Spicy Marinara Sauce over some Rigatoni. His mouth was on fire (hence the name), but he enjoyed them. He also ordered Ricotta to put over the top. Maybe he thought that the Ricotta would save his taste buds from the heat. They didn’t.

I had visited That Meetball Place once before for a business lunch, so we were able to sample the dessert menu. At that time, I loved the PBNJ Sandwich, but on this night, it wasn’t warm enough, so I was kind of disappointed. Usually, the deep-fried peanut butter, Nutella and jelly sandwich is nice and warm and the whipped cream is a cooling and sweet accompaniment. Unfortunately, that was not the case on this night, but I am not one to ever turn away Nutella, so I partook in dessert.

This meal was yummy and the beer selection was pretty good too. If you are looking for somewhere to “meet” friends and have a few bites, this is a pretty good spot. Just try to not get too carried away with ordering extras because your eyes can easily become larger than your stomach.

Pizza for Lunch

Pizza

Meatballs & Ricotta

 

My husband had heard about Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Bohemia and said that he heard it was delicious. So, we went for lunch with our kid and it was a pleasant experience. They have a very large bar and the decor is dark and comfortable with flat screens hanging from the ceiling.

First, they sat us immediately and the waitresses and waiters were super friendly. Everyone said hello to our son as they walked by and after we ordered our beverages, which came in plastic bottles, our waitress asked if we wanted to sample their wings for free, to which we said, “Sure!”

The wings were light and tasty. Those were the only kind on the menu and they are the Coal Oven Roasted Chicken Wings and they are served with caramelized onions and focaccia bread. We didn’t get the bread with our sample, but we did get the onions, which were a nice addition. The wings don’t have a sauce, which I will forgive, but they do have flavor. However, I am not sure I would have ever ordered them if they weren’t offered to me for free, but I did like the onions and I probably would’ve liked the focaccia.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza

Meatballs & Ricotta Pie

Next, we received our pizza and it was a small Meatballs & Ricotta pie. There were balls of meatball, not slices, thankfully, and a mix of ricotta and mozzarella. It was great to have a chunk of ricotta every few bites. The crust was thin and crispy in spots. Even my toddler loved it and ate an entire slice.

The meal was perfect for lunch, but my husband and I would have needed more food or a large pie if it were dinner. We enjoyed the food and the service.

Summer is on its way!

How do you know that summer is coming on Long Island? SEAFOOD!

Yesterday, I had my first lobster roll of the season at the Harbor Crab Co. in Patchogue, N.Y. for a fundraiser luncheon and it was great. Can you see all that chunky lobster?

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll at Harbor Crab

Summer is when you eat steamers, oysters on the half shell (not me, other people) and steamed lobster on Long Island, and you don’t do so at a Red Lobster. You go to one of the dozens of seafood restaurants/cafes/shacks in the area. This may be my favorite thing about living on Long Island, aside from the wineries and beaches.

This Lobster Roll at Harbor Crab was a great option for lunch, or ever, but my favorite dish from them is still the creamy She Crab Soup, which is only on the lunch menu. If you like chowder, you need it.

But, if you want a delicious Lobster Roll on Long Island, try one from the list of Must Eat Lobster Rolls on Long Island that Newsday created. (I’ve only had #1.) I think I need to head out to the PJ Lobster House in Port Jefferson and have theirs (#3) because they offer the option of an actual roll or toast instead of a hot dog bun. When I am spending $20 or more for a sandwich, I would like some substance. Am I right?

Welcome to spring on Long Island!

Pizza, the way it should be

Like I’ve mentioned in my Food and Drink Bucket List, Coal Brick Oven Pizza is important to try at least once in your life, and I also recommend eating it more than a dozen times after that.

When I was a little girl, my family went to Patsy’s under the Brooklyn Bridge. We had pizza and Cherry Lime Rickey Snapples (they don’t make them anymore), and it was a simple, yet perfect meal. Now, the restaurant is called Patsy Grimaldi’s instead of Patsy’s because of copyright infringement. However, a family member opened up another location in Garden City, N.Y. , so we were able to get Grimaldi’s pizza closer to home.

To start out the meal, we ordered the Portobello Napoleon which is a layered, warm salad. It starts with a bed of arugula, then roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, a portobello mushroom topped with melted Swiss cheese and a balsamic reduction. The plate was not big, so it was probably only enough for two, but we were having lunch, so it was enough for three. It was a nice mix of salty, sweet and tangy. Even with the mozzarella, it was very light.

Grimaldi's Slice 2

Grimaldi’s Slice

Grimaldi's Pie

Grimaldi’s Pie

Then, the pizza came, and you can only order it by the pie, so we got half plain and half sausage. The plain slice was thin, crispy and fresh with a slight char on the crust. It tasted like it just came out of the oven because it did. Depending on where you sit, you can even see the chefs take the pizzas out of the ovens. The sausage slice was flavorful and crumbly. Sausage is the perfect topping for this pizza. It didn’t feel too heavy or fattening, even though it was covered in sausage.

This is not the kind of pizza that you eat with a fork, even though the restaurant sells espresso and cappuccino. After it cools down just slightly, you fold your slice and make sure you get every inch of the stretched mozzarella into your mouth. You will not be sorry and you won’t care that you are eating with your hands.

So, if you want to check off #33 on the Food & Drink Bucket List, stop into Grimaldi’s, but bring a friend so you have someone to share a pie with.