Gypsy Grub

A fine food enthusiast travels the world, and her own backyard in search of the best eats.

Month: May, 2012

Off to Dingle


The Old Presbytery B&B has the most wonderful breakfast. I encourage all of you who are thinking of traveling to Kinsale to stay here. The hosts are very warm people, the rooms are delightful and the breakfast are gourmet. It started with a buffet of fruit, yogurt, muesli, a selection of dried fruits, and a selection of cereals.

irrelannd 002 The yoghurt was very good, just like the one I had at the Powerscourt gardens. The fruit was fresh, and delicious. They had an unusual cold cereal mix (seen in the picture on the right) of muesli, raisins, grated apple, and yoghurt. All of these were perfectly excellent.

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The bread selection was small. There was a white cake with a layer of icing, raisin soda bread, and home made brown bread. The white cake and raisin bread were disgusting, and tasted old and store bought. The homemade brown bread was not as good as the previous ones I had tasted, but still filled with nuts and grains.irrelannd 004 For my main breakfast I got the traditional Irish Breakfast. It is very similar to an English breakfast, except without the beans, and with mushrooms and black and white ‘pudding’.irrelannd 005Everything about this plate was perfectly done. The sausages were soft and meaty, the ham was perfectly cooked, and the mushrooms were exquisite. The egg especially impressed me. As I have said before, I am a bit of an egg snob, and this egg was even better than my fathers (who made eggs professionally for nine years).

I was apprehensive about trying the two puddings. I am not exactly sure what is in the white pudding, but I am positive there is blood in the black one. After about ten minutes of sitting at the table trying to muster up the courage to try the black pudding, I decided I was a coward, and settled on only tasting the white. It tasted nutty, dry and savory with a hint of nutmeg. It wasn’t anything truly special, but it is a traditional Irish staple.

irrelannd 006 I also was lucky enough to try a bit of the Crab Frittata that was on the menu. It was very good, and had a good amount of crab in it. The only downside was there were bits of shell in it, but this is a common occurrence when the crab is fresh.

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After a lovely breakfast I decided to indulge, and take a soak in the huge tub in my room. Thankfully there was a place to put my after-breakfast cup of tea.



After breakfast, while walking around dingle, I came across a fresh, artisan, family owned chocolate shop. I went in with great expectations, and finally they were met. The chocolate was beautiful, and looked like art. I decided to try a few from the showcase.

irrelannd 017I picked a Dark Chocolate Peppercorn Passion Fruit, Plum Truffle, and Vanilla Truffle.

irrelannd 018All of them were excellent. Probably some of the most high quality chocolate in Ireland. I was surprised when I bit into the truffles, and found that they were filled. All of the truffles I’ve had have been smooth thick chocolate balls infused with various flavors. But these were filled with cream that contained the flavor.

irrelannd 019The first was the Vanilla Truffle. I believe that to have something truly delicious, you must first master the simplest type. The Vanilla Truffle had definitely been mastered. The crème inside was very fresh and homemade. It was made with high quality beans which really brought out the rich cream, and chocolate flavor. The Plum Truffle was my favorite. It was unexpected, but the crème had the perfect mixture of creaminess, sweetness, and slight tartness.  The Dark Chocolate bite was very good as well. It was probably my least favorite, just because it was so dark. Because of the dark taste I felt that I couldn’t fully appreciate the passion fruit flavor. There was a nice peppery-ness that did play off both the dark chocolate element, and the passion fruit element.

irrelannd 041I loved it so much, I got a pack of Crystallized Fruit for the road. Unfortunately it was gross. All the fruit were citrus, and it was very bitter.


driving to dingle 001After arriving in Dingle, I figured I was ready to cool down. Contrary to the usual weather in Ireland it is was very hot, with temperatures rising to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  I stopped off at Murphy’s Ice Cream Shop, which was crowded. They make their ice cream fresh, with cream straight from the local Dingle cows. I picked two flavors; Rum Raisin, and Dingle Sea Salt. Both tasted incredible because of the local cream. You can really taste good quality in local things. The Rum Raisin tasted very strongly of alcohol which I didn’t like. But for anyone who does like that, that is the flavor for you. I love the Dingle Sea Salt. When done right, savory and sweet are a lovely pairing, and here the sweet cream was really brought out by the saltiness.


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For dinner I decided on trying out some Pub Grub. It was my first ever experience, and I expected greasy sub-par food. I was delightfully surprised when both dishes I tried were flavorful and artfully balanced.I got sausages cooked in Guiness, with gravy and mustard mashed potatoes. Everything about this dish was lovely, especially the potatoes. I have never tried mustard potatoes before, and the tastes really marry well with one another. The sausages were also very good, but in my humble opinion were a tad over cooked. The gravy was not too salty, and tasted smoky and delicious!driving to dingle 021 I also got to try the Fish Pie. It was a very visually appealing dish, and equally appealing to my taste buds. The top was adorned with grated strings of potato which looked beautiful. The filling was very creamy, and not too salty. It contained a diverse assortment of fish which was also refreshing to the palate.

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Before going to watch traditional Irish music in a cathedral, I decided to stop once again for a sweet treat/cool-me-down at Murphy’s Ice cream Shop.

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This time I spotted a new flavor – Brown Bread. My mind was blown! How was it possible that they could make my absolute favorite thing (good brown bread) into an ice cream flavor!? but it was possible, and I got it. The lady working the counter was very sweet and told me how the store loved to experiment with weird new combinations of flavors, and personally brown bread was her favorite. This time I got Brown Bread (shown above as the top scoop) and Dingle Sea Salt once again. I loved Brown Bread, apparently they simply crush up brown bread, caramelize it in some sugar and butter, and then mix it into the ice cream. It is my all time favorite flavor, I’m gonna have a hard time selling it to the Americans.


Driving to Kinsale


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In the morning, it was breakfast again at the lovely Queen of Tarts. This time I was not as impressed by them. I ordered a fresh orange juice, a tea, and a blueberry scone with preserves and clotted cream.

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The juice was fresh, and the tea was excellent. The preserves also tasted handmade, and the clotted cream. Sadly, the star of the show- the scone- was bland. You would think that because a scone is 90% butter, it would always be good. This was not. It was rather hard and dry, and there were hardly any blueberries in it.


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On the way to Kinsale, we stopped off to see the Powerscourt gardens. They reminded me a lot of Versailles, and were vast and beautiful. The best part for me though, was the small miniature doll house museum which was being shown upstairs. In the Powerscourt area there is a small food market, that sells home baked and healthful packaged foods. I got a snack of prunes, and some local handmade yoghurt. I was very impressed by the prunes. Usually in America the prunes are hard, dry and remind you of an old persons behind. These however were soft, plump and pleasant to eat. Best prunes ever.

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This local yoghurt was amazing. They say when ever you go to a new country you are suppose to eat some of their yoghurt so your body can adjust to the new bacteria. This yogurt did taste different from the one in the States. It was rich and perfectly sour, with no sweetener whatsoever. At the bottom was a generous layer of sweet stewed rhubarb. Together the mix was a delight to my palate. If your ever in Ireland, you must try the Glenilen Farm yoghurt.

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While driving on the left side of the road (I know, its terrifying) I spotted an organic strawberry stand, and decided to get a carton and try them. The woman selling them told me they were special Wexford strawberries. I didn’t think anything of it, and tried one. They taste nothing like any strawberry I have ever had. In fact, its rather hard to explain how they tasted without having one yourself. So get on the plane, now! I’m only kidding, I will do my best to try and explain their taste. The strawberries were sweeter than the ones in America, and also more subtle. It was like what an Asian pear is to a regular pear. It was sweeter, more watery, and juicy, but equally if not more delicious.

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Any time I’m on the road in a new place, I always stop at the stands on the side of the road. I have met many amazing people by simply stopping at a small stand, and talking to the locals.


We decided to dine a little more elegantly, and go to Max’s Wine Bar in Kinsale. We had been told by our B&B The Old Presbytery that it was the spot to eat. The French chef their is supposedly one of Ireland’s best, so I went with my expectations very high.

As a side not I would like to say that the Old Presbytery is an enchanting place to stay. My room was very beautiful and homey, with a huge bathtub! I highly recommend it if your ever in Kinsale.

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I must say, after driving all day, I was quite moody, so I pumped some tea in me, and had some of the bread basket. It was homemade brown bread with hummus, which tasted like it was made from pine nuts. The bread was nothing special, it was the worst bread I have had so far in Ireland. I liked the pine nut hummus, it was creative and new, and the sweetness from the different nut really zipped on your tongue.

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For starters I got a crab cake with avocado salad on the bottom. It was adorned with fresh tomatoes, and a few leaves of arugula. I enjoyed it, and especially thought the arugula played well with the crab. Unfortunately, overall it was not extraordinary. I could have made it at home equally as good.

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For dinner I also had a starter. On this trip, I have been so excited about the food, I have been eating ten times more than I usually eat and so I decided to order something small this time.

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This is my Langosta with courgette and risotto. I’ll start with the bad. The risotto was very dissapointing. It was in fact not a risotto at all, but just plane rice. The Langosta was superb. It was cooked to perfection, and the butter lemon sauce complimented it with grace. When you took a bite, every part of your mouth new it was right. When I bit into the Langosta, it literally melted on my tongue. Absolute perfection.

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I love going to a restaurant with a friend, so I can taste two dishes instead of one. That happened this time and I also got to try the Fennel Hake.

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Unfortunately, this dish was very un-extraordinary. The hake is a bland fish, and needs some surprise to liven it up a bit. This had a simple wine sauce, that was also bland.

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For dessert I got the special – Passion Fruit Crème Brulee, my companion got a Chocolate Ganache with Kumquat Coulis and Vanilla Ice Cream.

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I absolutely love everything about passion fruit –  but only when its done correctly. The sweetness and tartness of a passion fruit tickles my palate, and floods my brain with endorphins. This Brulee was disappointing. The passion fruit taste was there, but only in the sweet aspect – there was no tartness. It could have easily been made better.


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Three butter biscuits came on the side, which were much better than the Brulee itself.


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The chocolate ganache was also disappointing. It was a simple chocolate cake, with a molten filling, ice cream, and whipped cream. The only thing that I thought was worth eating was the Kumquat Coulis which was perfect and fresh. Next time, I’ll just have a plate of coulis thank you very much.

Ireland moms camera 103 Unfortunately, I would have to say the meal at Max’s Wine Bar was forgettable. I don’t highly recommend it as a spot to eat in Kinsale. I have heard The Stolen Pizza restaurant was amazing Salmon Lasagna, and next time I plan to go there for dinner.

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Tomorrow we head out for Dingle! Happy eating to all of my readers from around the world!

Dublin Day 2

Dublin is really a delightful place. Unfortunately my sleep last night was not so delightful. After being extremely jetlagged, I was woken up every fifteen minutes by the Cathedral right outside our hotel. But, nonetheless, I rose to the sun (at 5am) and was ready to seek out new adventures… and breakfast.


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Queen of Tarts is the breakfast destination. Located on a quiet, artsy side street it has a modern, yet old fashioned vibe and delicious bakery goods. After pondering my very cute and quaint menu for quite some time, I decided to go for something savory and new. I picked the Smoked Salmon Scramble, with a Granola Parfait, and of course a cup of tea.

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I liked the Smoked Salmon Scramble very much. It was a lovely surprise that the smoked salmon was on the side, rather than mixed in with the egg. This way I could control how much salmon was in each bite. I still have to get used to the texture and concept of smoked salmon. It feels like a raw fish to your mouth, but yet has a cooked yummy flavor. The eggs were good, but not perfect. I have been spoiled egg-wise. My father is the egg master, and so, my standards for eggs are abnormally high. I found these eggs to be a little dry, and to ‘slab-like’ rather than scrambled into small pieces. The brown bread here is way higher quality than in the U.S, it was very wholesome and nutty, and tasted homemade. Unfortunately the top of my toast was burned to a crisp.

Ireland, Dublin 009The parfait was different from what I am used to. It had nice tasty fruit on top, granola, and then yogurt at the very bottom. The granola was a bit strange. It was more powdery than I’d like and also a bit overcooked – on the verge of tasting burnt. The yogurt was perfect. It was light, but creamy and most importantly it was unsweetened. That is the key to the best parfait. Americans sweeten everything, but plain yogurt is heaven.

Ireland, Dublin 010Of course I ordered some tea. It was perfectly brewed, and the milk was not too creamy. I loved it!

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Here is the counter with all of the fresh out of the oven- baked goods. Later in the day I ended up returning, and getting a piece of Carrot Cake (awarded “best carrot cake in town”) and a piece of Lemon Rhubarb Cake.

Queen of Tarts is located on a side street off of Dame Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. There two locations on Dame Street are Cows Lane, and Cork Hill.


After breakfast we were off! Along with being a devout foodie, I am also passionate about fashion. Therefore our next stop was in Jervis’s Topshop. Next, was the Leprechaun Museum which didn’t open for a while, so we stopped to get a bite to eat. I had seen many coffee shops called “Insomnia” around and figured they were like what “Starbucks” is to the U.S. So I decided to give them a visit, and taste what they had to offer.


Insomnia, you crushed my high hopes. It was very unsatisfying, and actually rather repulsive. Except for the coffee, and bottled water, it was a waste of time.

Ireland, Dublin 029 I got a tomato, chicken and spinach Panini. You would think that would be a pretty hard order to screw up. But somehow they managed to make it utterly repulsive. There was hardly any tomato in it, one sliver of chicken, and about two leaves of spinach. The bread was good, but was covered in lots of red- very sweet sauce that contained chunks of raisin. I am all for a good mix of sweet and salty, but this missed the mark by too much. I did enjoy my Americano coffee, and was happy they offered Soya milk as an alternative.


After being enchanted by the cheesy Leprechaun Museum, we stopped in the Cathedral. By then I was already craving more tea, so we decided to grab tea and a bite to eat in their cafe located in the crypt. It was a little scary, but very beautiful and medieval. The waitress was very helpful and kind.

Ireland, Dublin 047I do hope my tea obsession continues, and I bring the Tea Time tradition to the United States when I return. I got Earl Grey, which came with a digestive biscuit. The sugar was formed into a rustic sugar cube which impressed me.

Ireland, Dublin 049 No one should ever let me peek at the dessert menu. Because, quite frankly I will end up getting something. The name of this dessert seduced me as soon as I saw it; it was dubbed The Rickenbocker Glory. It was amazing. At the very top there was freshly whipped cream, sprinkled with chocolate chips, and drizzled with caramel sauce. Then, a layer of fresh, tart, strawberry ice cream. next came a layer of kiwi and banana slices. Then a layer of homemade vanilla ice cream. This repeated until it got to the bottom. It was surprisingly light and fruity.

SNACK (again)

Ireland, Dublin 050After hours of walking along the river, and very soar feet, we decided to return once again to the decadent Queen of Tarts. I got the Carrot Cake, and my companion got the Lemon Rhubarb Cake. They were both very nice. Carrot Cake is my favorite cake. I have had it done perfectly only twice, and unfortunately this time was not one of those times. I found that they made it a bit more bready than cakey. The frosting was sweet and light, but I do prefer a cream cheese frosting on carrot cake. The Rhubarb Lemon Cake was very good, but I don’t feel it had enough Rhubarb in it.

Ireland, Dublin 056 This was a very strange fruit which adorned my Carrot Cake. I have no idea what it is, but it’s very good. It looked like a cross between a cherry and a Mexican tomatillo.

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If you are ever anywhere near Dublin you must must must! go to The Sweetest Thing. They specialize in chocolate, and all things wonderful. I personally, am not a huge fan of chocolate, yes its creamy and sweet, but I often find it overpowering. Here, it was absolutely perfect, I can easily say it was the best hot chocolate I have ever had. Here’s what it is; first is the liquid Belgium hot chocolate and Cadburys hot chocolate mixed. The milky part itself is extraordinarily perfect and balanced. next there is a layer of clotted cream covering the surface of the hot chocolate, then mini marshmallows scattered generously. Lastly the marshmallows are topped with fresh whipped cream, and a chocolate Flake is served on the side.


When I travel, I usually go out of my way not to be labeled as a tourist. However, sometimes there are things that intrigue you, that you cant pass up. For me, it was the Irish Folklore and Faerie Stories at The Brazen Head, the “oldest pub in Ireland”.

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The story telling package came with dinner. Here is the menu. I appreciated the diversity.

Ireland, Dublin 066Since I had eaten a lot of sweets that day, I settled on the Vegetable Soup. Of course, I tried out the Irish Soda Bread. It was nice, but not as sweet as I like it. The Vegetable Soup was surprisingly good for a pub, but nothing extraordinary.

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I also got a bite of the Fish Pie. This was a dish that could have easily been good. The Fish Pie itself was decent, but the sauce and salad ruined it. The salad was completely un-dressed which made it bland and boring. The sauce on the Fish Pie was sweet. I have come to realize that the Irish use this sweet raisin sauce very often in their cooking. Only God knows why.

Ireland, Dublin 068 I got to taste the Traditional Irish stew. It was probably one of the better dishes of the night. I especially liked how the lamb flavor played off the other vegetables, but unfortunately this stew wasn’t anything special either.

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For the main course I ordered the Poached Fillet of Salmon. I wasn’t expecting this to be good, and just wanted some nice Omega –3’s. This was surprisingly the best dish. The fish was nicely cooked, and the creamy pesto sauce complimented it quite well. The potatoes were lovely, and the broccoli on the side was perfectly blanched. It was the best dish of the night.

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For dessert I got the Fudge Cake which seems to be a big hit in Ireland. It was very bad. The cake itself tasted old, dry, and stale, and the whipped cream tasted strange. The best part of the dish was the small smear of raspberry coulis on the side.

Overall, the day was filled with mostly – treats. It is such a delight to explore different cultures through food. Can’t wait until tomorrow!

Dinner in Dublin

I love to research the restaurants around where I am staying before I arrive, usually. This time I didn’t have time to, so I went with my gut and chose to trust in Rick Steves’ palate. Now, you wouldn’t think that a man like him would have a very developed palate, I know, but I went with it. After all he is the man who lead me to the dish that changed my life in Siena, Italy when I was only twelve. So I decided to trust him again.

I grew up in a family where health was very important. I have always been surrounded by wholesome organic foods, and like to keep my body and soul happy. Therefore, I decided to go for the restaurant that was dubbed “the healthiest restaurant”, a hole in the wall called The Farm. The walk isn’t far from my hotel, and I was excited to taste organic authentic Irish food.

When I walked in I immediately loved The Farm. The ambiance is chic and inviting and the waiters are warm and helpful. I sat down at a single booth and was greeted by a kind waiter who gave me the menu. He answered all my ‘American’ questions (such as “what is Appletiser?”) with a smile, even though my naivety even annoyed myself a bit. I ended up getting said Appletiser, along with the vegetable of the day which was Garlic Roasted Courgette, and the soup of the day. All their dishes are made to order, so I expected to wait a while for good, fresh food. Surprisingly it took little more than eight minutes for my meal to come out.

United Kingdom 022Appletiser – how to explain it… It is a light bubbly version of apple juice. It is not sickingly sweet like most apple sodas, but rather refreshing and cool.

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The ‘courgettes’ which to me is known as ‘zucchini’ were amazingly delicious. They were perfectly cooked, tasted very fresh and light, but also very buttery. I am a harsh food critic, and this dish melted my harshness right away!

United Kingdom 027The Vegetable Soup was also good, but a bit over salted for my taste. Unfortunately, I would not get this dish again.

United Kingdom 028My soup came with freshly baked bread; Homemade Brown Bread, and a Tomato Rosemary Scone. They were both extremely delicious. I absolutely fell in love with the brown bread, and could eat it, and only it for the rest of my life if I had to. It was filled with nuts and seeds, and was amazing. Bread is one of my biggest loves. I would rather eat good bread than any sweet in the world. The only downside to this was the ‘butter’. It was really margarine, which I am not a fan of. I believe they did this in an attempt to make the meal 100% vegan, but I was a little disappointed nonetheless.

United Kingdom 026Although I did not order it, thankfully I also got to try this Fish Pie. At first I was quizzical, ‘Fish Pie’ does seem a little strange does it not? But I was so glad I did. It was probably the best savory pie I have ever eaten. The smokiness of the salmon really played off he creaminess of the potatoes. The melted cheese on top added extra crunch that really pushed it over the edge onto the brink of perfection.

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Truly, at heart I am a pastry chef. My passion has always lied in perfecting sweets as art so that your tongue can extract different meanings from each layer. Whenever I am handed the dessert menu at any restaurant, a great weight falls upon me. I know, it’s rather dramatic but I am always afraid I wont pick the right one, or the most perfect one. In a way I am worried for the cook, I want to try their best dessert, not one they put no passion into. Often times when I have this dilemma, I ask the waiter which is best, but this time I went with my gut feeling and chose the Irish Butter and Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise. It was a truly delicious cake. How could it not be, with all that sugar and fat? But unfortunately there was something missing for me. Many times people say desserts are good when they are not really good. Many palates are tricked into thinking a dish is very delicious simply because it tastes sweet and rich. I believe there is more than that in the art of cooking, and my palate was not fooled. The cake was moist, perfectly buttery and creamy but there was an element that was not there that should have been. It was really a beautiful dish – but not perfect.

United Kingdom 030 Overall, I would say this is an amazing place to come and eat. The quality of the food matters so much in a dish, and the fact that The Farm uses all wholesome Organic ingredients adds to their appeal. So if your ever in Ireland, definitely drop by and order my top three favorites; Garlic Courgettes, Homemade Brown Bread, and Fish Pie. Oh, and don’t forget that Appletiser!

The Farm Restaurant, 3 Dawson Street, beside Trinity College and Lord Mayors home, City Centre South.

Flying Away

Yesterday morning I woke up, and got dropped off at the airport at 7:00 California time, after about five hours I landed in New York where I was to have a three hour layover, and then board another plane (Dublin bound) at 8:20 pm New York time. After the three hour layover, all hell broke loose. Things went smoothly as I boarded my flight, and sat down in my assigned seat, but then chaos ensued. Because of bad weather there was a line to get out of the terminal, and we had another three hour wait whilst sitting down on the plane, waiting three hours for take off. Finally, everything was fixed and we flew for seven hours to Dublin Ireland. It was a very long day, but very worth the vacation. Ireland is green and beautiful, welcoming you with opening arms. The people walk fast, eat well, talk sharply, and are kind.

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My first Ireland eating experience was not at a restaurant or cafe, but rather in a wrapper. Although it was only a simple bar or rather ‘Flapjack’ it tasted wholesome, and good. Your first food experience in a place is always one to remember – and mine was very oaty.

Changing the setting

Everyone has experienced a time when they wanted to drop everything in their life, and start over. I have felt that many times, but now things are changing. I am taking action, and changing my setting. On May 21st I will board a plane, and fly to the United Kingdom.

Whenever I hear of the U.K. I think of English breakfasts, leprechauns, pubs, and baked beans. I am going to reinvent my perceptions of their food, and I am taking you with me. The idea of travel and change excites me like nothing else can. On my journey I will be blogging about all the interesting and new food experiences that come my way. My journey will take me to many beautiful places. First, I will road trip around Ireland, take a ferry to Scotland, and then on to London! The beginning is near, and so exciting.

The Start of Something Delicious

Everyone has a different relationship with food. We can eat food to live, or live to eat food, and it is hard to find a balance. In my journey through life, food has been my greatest enemy, and a comforting friend. However I find that it excites me, and sparks my very inner child. I am not talking about everyday meal food, or snack food, but that dish you tasted once in your life that was so heavenly, you will only remember it as a dream. The taste of that one dish you had can never be recreated, maybe because it has been glorified, or maybe because it was a secret that could only be told to your taste buds alone. I am in search of the best dishes, and I have made it my mission to tell you about it.

I am fortunate enough to live in an area where food is abundunt. Families can choose to eat from Mexican, Asian, or Middle Eastern cuisines nightly, and enjoy a very accesible and delicious meal. I find that the best eats are at restraunts that are least well known. Therefore, I have made it my duty to explore my city, and the world to tell you people the best of the best. I plan on making this my proffesion, because truly it is something I love. And, though it may seem simple, finding amazingly delicious high quality dishes is actually a very hard thing to do.

And so, here it is. The beginning – the start of something delicious!