Tag Archives: foodie

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan

The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival – Pier 94, Manhattan – October 17, 2015

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard's Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda Background: Grand Tasting Banner with Shop Rite Logo

Inset Photos Clockwise from Top Left: Thai Taco and Pork Belly Slider from Barcade, Pralines from Bernard’s Pralines of New Orleans, Eggplant and Pepper Puree from Between the Bread, Lamb Slider from Pergola, and Shrimp Ceviche with Cricket Salt from Ofrenda      Background: Grand Tasting Banner

Today was a very exciting day for me, and I got out of bed with a great deal of enthusiasm! My husband and I were fortunate enough to attend The Grand Tasting at the New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF). This was our first time attending the NYCWFF. The NYCWFF website described this event best:

NYCWFF invites you to spend the day exploring our signature Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite – our 130,000-square-foot culinary wonderland and the centerpiece of our Culinary Campus.

Nowhere else can you meet the greatest food stars in the country, sample food from local NYC restaurants representing cuisines from around the world, taste the most sought-after wines and spirits alongside up-and-coming labels from the Southern Wine & Spirits of New York portfolio and take part in exciting interactive experiences with your favorite brands and foodie products – it is truly a food and wine lover’s dream!” (http://nycwff.org/mcgtsat, 2015)

(To view more videos and photos of the NYCWFF beyond those featured here, including two short videos of chefs Aarón Sánchez and John Besh cooking together, visit my Instagram.)

The event had a plethora of food and drink to try, and try we did. We ate everything from lamb sliders to quinoa salad to grasshopper cotton candy. Yes, grasshopper as in the insect. Since we sampled so many things, I will feature the highlights here.

Barcade offered two phenomenal samples: Thai Tacos and Pork Belly Sliders with Beer Cheese. The tacos (seen in the photo below) were on tiny flour tortillas. The standout flavor was the nutty peanut sauce which made these a great departure from traditional tacos. I removed the cilantro before eating the taco. The sliders were so rich and unctuous from the pork belly and beer cheese, that the flavors filled my mouth instantly. These sliders would be a hit at any event.

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Thai Tacos from Barcade

Magnolia’s booth offered their Southern Sundae, and this was a decadent masterpiece. It consisted of dark chocolate buttermilk cake, pecan pie ice cream, bittersweet fudge sauce, salted caramel sauce, bourbon brown sugar chantilly cream, and pecan brittle. This sundae had salty, sweet, and bitter flavors along with a mixture of textures: creamy, smooth, crunchy, fluffy, and crispy. It did live up to its name by bringing southern flavors to the forefront: pecan, bourbon, and buttermilk.

Magnolia's Southern Sundae

Magnolia’s Southern Sundae

Hank’s Oyster Bar offered a magnificent smoked oyster spoonbread. The buttery spoonbread melted instantly on the tongue giving up the briny, smoky flavor from the oysters. While I am not one who loves raw oysters, I could eat this dish for days.

Main: Hank's Oyster Bar Logo Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Main: Hank’s Oyster Bar Logo      Inset: Smoked Oyster Spoonbread

Chopin Vodka gave samples of Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer. They infused their Chopin rye vodka with dark chocolate to produce this luscious liquer. To me, it tasted like I was drinking a perfectly rich chocolate pudding. Completely delightful and indulgent!

Dorda Chocolate Liquer Bottles

Dorda Double Chocolate Liquer

We had to sample the grasshopper cotton candy from Black Ant. The cotton candy was sweet, as expected. The whole grasshopper inside the cotton candy was crunchy, similar to eating soft crab shells. While many describe the flavor as nutty, I found it to be more acidic. I can now say that I have tried it, but it was not a flavor I would seek out again.

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

Grasshopper Cotton Candy from Black Ant

As my regular readers know, I have a huge sweet tooth. So coming across the MarieBelle Chocolates table made me happy. Their packaging was colorful and gorgeous! They gave us samples of their chocolate chips, truffles, caramels, and ganaches. The chips packed a chocolate punch. While it was the simplest thing they gave out as a sample, it really was wonderful! When a chocolatier is able to make their simplest thing great, you know all of their other products will be fantastic! This was the case for the truffle, the caramel, and the ganache. Each succeeded in balancing the sweet notes with the chocolate’s bitter flavor.

Left: MarieBelle's Chocolates and Ganaches Right: MarieBelle's Chocolate Bars

Left: MarieBelle’s Chocolates and Ganaches      Right: MarieBelle’s Chocolate Bars

Finally, who knew that chocolates from Japan could be mind blowing? Royce’ Chocolate from Hokkaido, Japan makes exceptional chocolates. Their ganaches melt smoothly in your mouth, coating it with indulgent chocolate flavor. I adored their green tea ganache. The white chocolate base is blended with grassy green tea to produce a vibrant and creamy ganache that is decadent. I cannot wait to visit one of their stores here in New York City.

Left: Royce's Nama Chocolate Ganache Right: Royce's Green Tea Ganache

Left: Royce’s Nama Chocolate Ganache      Right: Royce’s Green Tea Ganache

I left the Grand Tasting stuffed and satisfied. Thank you to Shop Rite, Food Network, Cooking Channel, and all of the other sponsors for putting on such a marvelous event.

Accessibility Rating for The Grand Tasting, NYC Wine & Food Festival

I used my wheelchair to visit The Grand Tasting, NYCWFF.

  • Entryway – 3: First, I must apologize that I did not get a better photograph of the entrance. In my excitement, it completely escaped me. The entrance and exit doors were wide. There were no stairs. The only problem I encountered was that the transition upon exiting was so bumpy that it actually jostled my wheelchair wheel out of proper alignment to the point where it would not work correctly. We had to remove the wheel, and put it back into proper alignment.

    Pier 94 Pavillion

    Pier 94 Pavilion

  • Bathroom – 4 (Men’s): There are two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to get close to the sink. The faucet was tall, and it had an automatic sensor. The accessible stall was quite dark due to the overhead bulb being out. I was able to make a 180º turn within the space while in my wheelchair.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The space is enormous. I was able to navigate quite easily, with the exception of the crowds which were to be expected at an event like this. Almost every booth had tables that I was able to easily reach over. The event space was brightly lit. It was very noisy due to loud background music and a great deal of talking.

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Colorful Mural with NYC Street Scenesat the North Stage

    Scenes from The Grand Tasting (Clockwise from Top Left): Wine Gems Room, Mexico Booth, Walkways through Grand Tasting, and Mural at the North Stage

  • Staff – 3: Upon our arrival, a staff member was very kind. He escorted us to the front of the line so we could enter before it became too crowded. He left us to the side of the front of the line, and instructed a volunteer to make sure we got in ahead of the crowd. The volunteer appeared to have forgotten about us as they began to let people in. We spoke up to another staff member, and we were immediately allowed inside. Beyond this experience, we had no interactions with staff from the group running the event. People at most tables were nice enough to me, but no one went out of their way to help me or ask if there was a way to improve my experience or assist me.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Treat House – Upper West Side, Manhattan

Treat House – Upper West Side, Manhattan – October 3, 2015

Ah, Unique Sweets on Cooking Channel! One of my resources for finding all of the latest and greatest dessert venues to review. Treat House is the latest place that I have discovered as a result of watching this show.

Treat House makes unique flavored rice cereal treats using their own homemade marshmallow. They also make breakfast treats. As per their website:

“Treats are always made with the customer’s health in mind. All Treats are certified Kosher Dairy; and unless specified otherwise, are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. Our Homemade Marshmallows are made using raw cane sugar — never corn syrup. Breakfast bars contain brown rice, oats, flax, dried fruits, and seeds (some contain nuts.)” http://treathouse.com/philosophy/, 2015

The rice cereal treats cost $2.50 each or you can get four treats for $9.00 or twelve for $26.00. I ordered a birthday cake rice cereal treat to eat in the shop. I also ordered four treats to bring home (chocolate pretzel, salted caramel, coconut, and butterscotch (seasonal flavor)). As of the writing of this post, I have not had the chance to try the treats I brought home. The treats are small. They are just two to three bites each.

I really enjoyed the homemade marshmallow in the treat. I was immediately able to taste the difference in quality between this treat made with homemade marshmallow and those made with store-bought ones. This treat did not have any artificial flavors or textures, which was great! The birthday cake treat was topped with blue marshmallow frosting and rainbow sprinkles. I was not able to detect was any birthday cake flavor. Additionally, the treat I had was a bit stale.

Clockwise From Top Left: Birthday Cake Rice Cereal Treat, Seasonal Flavor Butterscotch Rice Cereal Treats with Candy Pumpkins on Top, Treat House Bag, & Display Shelves with Rice Cereal Treats on Display

Clockwise From Top Left: Birthday Cake Rice Cereal Treat, Seasonal Flavor Butterscotch Rice Cereal Treats, Treat House Bag, & Display Shelves

Accessibility Rating for Treat House

I used my wheelchair to visit Treat House.

  • Entryway – 4: There is one somewhat narrow door at the entrance. I was able to get through the door itself without a problem. There is a ramp that is part of the sidewalk that goes up to the door. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the ramp to the inside of the shop is not smooth because the floor inside the shop is not flush with the end of the ramp. As a result, there is a large bump that actually tipped me backwards in my wheelchair as I entered. That was a bit frightening.

    Entrance

    Entrance

  • Bathroom – Not Applicable: The shop does not have a bathroom available for customers.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The space between the service area, counter, and wall is narrow but passable. The seating area was only passable when the employee working there moved furniture out of my way. The space is brightly lit. The shop was silent when I was there. I was the only customer in the shop at the time I was there, and there was no music being played in the background. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table with my feet resting on the footrests of my wheelchair.

    Left: Seating Area (with main area plus another area up three steps) Right: Service Area & Counter (Narrow space between display shelves and wall)

    Left: Seating Area      Right: Service Area & Counter

  • Staff – 5: The employee was helpful once she noticed me. She offered me a choice of tables to sit at, and she moved a bench and other furniture out of the way so I could access the table I chose. She offered me water to drink, which I politely declined. Upon leaving, she held the door open for me, and she answered my question about where I would be able to find a bathroom in the area. She went beyond normal service expectations.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Treat House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Atlantic Antic – Brooklyn, NY

Atlantic Antic – Brooklyn, NY – September 27, 2015

The Atlantic Antic:

“is (the) oldest and largest street festival in New York City!…

The Atlantic Antic™ is a living tribute to the myriad of heritages that coexist in Brooklyn. Spanning four neighborhoods (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Downtown Brooklyn) from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue, the Atlantic Antic™ brings together people from all ages and diverse backgrounds to celebrate in the heart of Brooklyn!…

Comprised of local Atlantic Avenue Merchant’s trendy restaurants and boutiques and vendors from all over the country, the Atlantic Antic™ features live music stages that showcase free outdoor performances from various cultural genres. Families can enjoy an entire block dedicated to kids! …Best known for its eclectic delicacies up and down the 10 blocks, the Atlantic Antic™ has been given the saying “Eat it at the Antic, Walk it off on Atlantic!” (http://atlanticave.org/atlantic-antic/about-the-antic/, 2015)

And eat and explore is exactly what my husband and I did. We started off with three tacos and rice and beans from the Palo Santo stand. They were making their tortillas fresh at the event, and we ordered chicken, lamb barbacoa (pronounced bar-bah-coh-ah), and pork. Each one was delicious, but I really loved the gamy lamb flavor. The chicken had a vinegary bite to it, while the pork was definitely “porky”, but not my favorite. The rice and beans were mildly seasoned and flavorful, and they were not salty as rice and beans can be, especially in this type of setting. Of course, the freshly made tortillas were delicious. This platter cost $12.00. To see a video on my Instagram account of the tacos and tortillas being made click here.

Palo Santo Tacos Clockwise From Top Left: Chicken, Lamb Barbacoa, and Pork with Rice and Beans

Palo Santo Tacos Clockwise From Top Left: Chicken, Lamb Barbacoa, and Pork with Rice and Beans

After tacos, we stopped by a Brooklyn Soda Works stand for a Blueberry Lemon soda. For $5.00, for a small cup of soda, albeit artisanal and natural, I felt cheated. The cup could not have been much more than eight ounces, though I did not measure the volume exactly. The soda had a vegetable-type flavor to it, which I did not enjoy. This was a disappointing experience.

Foreground: Cup of Blueberry Lemon Soda Background: Brooklyn Soda Works Stand

Foreground: Cup of Blueberry Lemon Soda      Background: Brooklyn Soda Works Stand

Next, we stumbled upon the Red Star Sandwich Shop stand. We split their Korean fried chicken sandwich with twice fried chicken, gochujang (pronounced go-chew-jang) sauce, pickled daikon (type of radish) and dill, lettuce, and mayo. According to Wikipedia 2015, gochujang is:

“a savory, spicy, and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt.”

This was a great sandwich! Spicy, sour, sweet, crunchy, crispy, and savory. The chicken was crunchy and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The roll was wonderful: it had the perfect texture – fluffy and with just the right amount of chew to it. All in all, this was a really enjoyable sandwich. It cost $9.00.

Foreground: Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich Background: Red Star Sandwich Shop Stand

Foreground: Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich      Background: Red Star Sandwich Shop Stand

Finally, I was very excited when I spotted the Cannoli Queen stand. What was even more exciting was what they listed as “exotic flavors.” Let me write a disclosure before continuing that yes, I do jump on the pumpkin flavor bandwagon every autumn. I really enjoy the warm, spicy flavor. That was the “exotic flavor” that immediately jumped out and grabbed my attention.

For $6.00, I got three mini cannoli: plain with lemon zest, pumpkin, and almond joy. I am sad to say that I was disappointed by all three. The plain cannoli was unremarkable, and I have had plain cannoli that have blown my mind, but this was just not one of those. The pumpkin cannoli had hints of autumn spices and pumpkin, but it was not enough. Finally, the almond joy cannoli came in a chocolate covered cannoli shell. The almond and coconut flavors tasted artificial.

Foreground: Cannoli Background: Cannoli Queen Stand

Foreground: Almond Joy Cannoli on top, Pumpkin Cannoli underneath in front, and Plain Cannoli with Lemon Zest underneath in back      Background: Cannoli Queen Stand

Accessibility Rating for Atlantic Antic

I used my wheelchair to visit Atlantic Antic. We walked from Atlantic Avenue and Court Street to Atlantic Avenue and Fourth Avenue. Due to time constraints, we were only able to walk these seven out of the ten blocks that the event encompassed.

Various Street Scenes from Atlantic Antic showing street, tents, vendors, and crowd

Various Scenes from Atlantic Antic

  • Entryway – 5: As the event is a street fair extending from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue on Atlantic Avenue, and there is no official entrance, they scored well because it was accessible from many points along the entire route.

    Atlantic Antic Map showing Atlantic Avenue and how the Atlantic Antic goes from Hicks Avenue to 4th Avenue and how The Disabled Foodie went from Atlantic Avenue and Court Street to Atlantic Avenue and 4th Avenue

    Atlantic Antic Map with The Disabled Foodie’s Route

  • Bathroom 3: Along the route we traveled, we found port-a-potties along one sidewalk, but none of them were wheelchair accessible. I am unsure whether these were provided by Atlantic Antic or another organization. (September 29, 2015 – I received a Tweet from the Atlantic Antic organizers stating, “ADA portable restrooms were located at Smith/Atlantic.”)
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The outdoor street setting made for an easily passable space. Beyond the crowds, I had no problem getting around. At points, the event was quite noisy due to the crowds and music being played and amplified through speakers. The lighting was natural outdoor lighting.
  • Staff – 3: None of the staff members I encountered, either from Atlantic Antic or at vendor’s tents, reacted to me at all. I did not receive any offers of help at this event, but I did not have many expectations that I would.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By’s Wafels & Dinges Factory Tour Event & Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus, Brooklyn)

The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By’s Wafels & Dinges Factory Tour Event & Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus, Brooklyn) – September 19, 2015

September’s exciting event involved teaming up with Emily Ladau from the popular blog, Words I Wheel By, to tour the Wafels & Dinges factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Wafels & Dinges are the popular food trucks around New York City that serve phenomenal authentic waffles in true Belgian style. I want to thank Emily for co-planning this event with me. I also want to thank everyone who attended. It was great to finally meet Ron from the drool-worthy food blog, Gratuitous Foodity, and Taylor from Zomato, a restaurant review website. I appreciate Stephanie from Wafels & Dinges for arranging everything for our tour. Thank you to Tyler for taking us on the tour of Wafels & Dinges, and for making the delectable Liège (pronounced lee-ehzh) waffles for us.

David and Emily

David and Emily

Prior to hearing an episode on The Sporkful about Belgian waffles, I, like most Americans, did not know that there is no true Belgian waffle, as each town in Belgium has its own waffle made in its own way. Wafels & Dinges (W&D) makes Brussels waffles (made from batter) and Liège waffles (made from dough filled with pearl sugar). After listening to that episode, I immediately visited the W&D website, and I learned that for $10.00 a person you can tour the factory and enjoy a freshly made waffle with unlimited toppings.

The W&D factory is in their food truck garage. In the rear of the garage is the kitchen where employees make both Brussels waffle batter and Liège waffle dough. Check out videos (including Liège waffle dough being made and Tyler making Liège waffles) from the tour on my Instagram (Click here to visit Instagram).

After the tour, Tyler made each member of the group a Liège waffle. I topped my waffle with spekuloos (pronounced speck-you-lohs) spread on one half of the waffle. This is a spread made from caramelized gingerbread cookies. Emily described the spekuloos spread accurately when she said, “It tastes like magic!” It’s spicy and sweet, and is exactly what it sounds like, spreadable gingerbread cookies. On the other half of my waffle, I asked for their seasonal pumpkin pie topping, walnuts, strawberries, whipped cream, and crumbled spekuloos cookies. The waffle itself was light, fluffy, and sweet from the pearl sugar in the dough, which caramelized beautifully. The entire thing was a decadent treat and the perfect indulgence.

Liege Waffle with Spekuloos Spread on Front and Pumpkin Pie Spread, Walnuts, Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Spekuloos Cookie Crumble on Back

Liege Waffle with Spekuloos Spread on the Front Half and Pumpkin Pie Spread, Walnuts, Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Spekuloos Cookie Crumble on the Back Half

Accessibility Rating for Wafels & Dinges Factory

I used my wheelchair to visit the Wafels & Dinges Factory.

  • Entryway – 5: There is one large garage door, which was open while we were there. There are no stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the sidewalk to the inside of the factory is smooth.

    Entrance to Wafels & Dinges Factory

    Entrance to Wafels & Dinges Factory

  • Bathroom – 2: The doorway to the bathroom is narrow. It took some maneuvering on my part to get inside. The toilet does not have any grab bars around it. I was unable to get close to the sink in my wheelchair as the sink had a cabinet underneath it. The faucet has short handles. I was able to make a 180º turn while in my wheelchair inside the bathroom. The bathroom is well lit with outside light from windows. I was unable to find the light switch while inside, but the ambient light was adequate for me, but I could imagine this being difficult for a person with a visual impairment.
  • Walkways/Space – 4: The interior is spacious and passable, with the exception of the bathroom door and some cracks and divots in the floor. The space is moderately lit, with the kitchen being the most brightly lit part. Most of the noise came from vehicles passing outside since the garage door was open.

    Interior Photos from Wafels & Dinges Factory (Clockwise from Top Left): Pearl Sugar, Entrance to Kitchen, Wafels & Dinges Cart, Waffle Making Station, Breakfast Special Sign, and Tyler, Our Tour Guide Center: Wafels & Dinges Guiding Principles (We Aspire, We Take Pride in our craftsmanship, we own our actions through integrity, responsibility, & accountability)

    Interior Photos from Wafels & Dinges Factory (Clockwise from Top Left): Pearl Sugar, Entrance to Kitchen, Wafels & Dinges Cart, Waffle Making Station, Breakfast Special Sign, and Tyler, Our Tour Guide      Center: Wafels & Dinges Guiding Principles

  • Staff – 4: Upon our arrival, the staff that was there was unaware that we had a tour scheduled for that afternoon. After describing that I had spoken with Stephanie to arrange the tour, everything was sorted out. Our tour was scheduled for 1:00 PM, but Tyler did not show up until almost 1:30 PM. This made our time schedule tighter, as I had Access-a-Ride scheduled for our return trip at a specific time from the Ample Hills Creamery Gowanus location. This made the experience feel a little more rushed, but it all worked out in the end. The staff did not react to the users of mobility assistive devices at all, which is great to be treated equally, but we also were not asked if there was any way to meet our needs to make for the best visit possible.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus at the factory, but Tyler described everything in detail to the entire group.

Following our visit to the Wafels & Dinges factory, I could not resist visiting the nearby location of Ample Hills Creamery in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Having been to their Prospect Heights location (Click here to read the review of that location), I am a huge fan of their ice cream. I, personally, believe it is some of the best ice cream that I have had in New York City. I had not been to this location before, but my husband had ordered and picked up a cake for my birthday (It was divine!) from this location last year. Ron joined us on this part of our visit to Gowanus.

I ordered one scoop in a cup of a flavor they only offer at this location: It Came From Gowanus. It is a salty dark chocolate ice cream with hazelnut crack cookies, white chocolate pearls, and orange-scented brownies. Naturally, I had to have rainbow sprinkles on top. After all, I am an overgrown five year old when it comes to ice cream. The flavor was deep and complex with bitter and salty flavors from the ice cream itself. The other components added chewy texture and the flavors of nuts and oranges. It was a unique flavor experience that I completely enjoyed.

Cup of It Came From Gowanus with Rainbow Sprinkles

Cup of It Came From Gowanus with Rainbow Sprinkles

 

Accessibility Rating for Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus)

I used my wheelchair to visit Ample Hills Creamery (Gowanus).

  • Entryway – 5: There are two wide doors at the entrance. There is a ramp that goes up to the doors. There are stairs at the entrance.  The transition from the ramp to the inside of the ice cream parlor is smooth.

    Foreground: Top Right - Entrance Doors, Bottom Right- Entrance Ramp Background: Ample Hills Creamery Building

    Foreground: Top Right – Entrance Doors, Bottom Right- Entrance Ramp      Background: Ample Hills Creamery Building

  • Bathroom – 3: There are two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to get underneath the sink with ease. There are short handles on the faucet. The bathroom is dimly lit. I was able to make a 180º turn while in my wheelchair inside the bathroom.
  • Walkways/Space – 3: The interior space is largely passable, but the area at the ice cream case where orders are placed was quite crowded while we were there. The space is brightly lit. There was loud music playing while we ate. The table area is tight for someone using a wheelchair because there is no convenient area where I would have been able to sit at a table (They were all banquettes) and not have been sitting in the middle of people walking past.

    Interior of Ample Hills Creamery (Clockwise from Top Left): Ice Cream Case, Kitchen Where Ice Cream is Made, Ice Cream Case, and Interior Seating Area

    Interior of Ample Hills Creamery (Clockwise from Top Left): Ice Cream Case, Kitchen Where Ice Cream is Made, Ice Cream Case, and Interior Seating Area

  • Staff – 1: The staff did not acknowledge me at all. There was no offer of help, nor was there anyone who asked how they could accommodate me to make my visit better.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


Ample Hills Creamery-Gowanus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Disabled Foodie on The Sporkful

The Disabled Foodie on The Sporkful

From Left to Right: John Hockenberry, Dan Pashman, and David Friedman (Photo by Anne Saini)

From Left to Right: John Hockenberry, Dan Pashman, and David Friedman (Photo by Anne Saini)

This past July, I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak about my experiences as The Disabled Foodie on the always entertaining, hunger-inducing, and informative The Sporkful podcast with Dan Pashman (the host of The Sporkful) and John Hockenberry of The Takeaway podcast. I am very honored and excited to have been included in this episode of The Sporkful, and I thank Dan and Anne Saini (The Sporkful producer) for having me there, and I am especially excited to share it with all of the readers of The Disabled Foodie.

During a great meal at The Good Fork in Brooklyn (They make an amazing burger, as an aside.) John and I talked with Dan about our experiences in restaurants as people who use wheelchairs.

To listen to the episode click here. Enjoy!


The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By September 2015 Event

The Disabled Foodie and Words I Wheel By September 2015 Event

This event is a collaboration with Words I Wheel By, a blog I admire. It features a visit to the Wafels & Dinges factory. Wafels & Dinges food trucks sell Belgian waffles around NYC. On the tour, we will tour the factory and eat fresh waffles afterwards. The tour and waffle cost $10 (Paid in cash at the factory on the day of the tour).

Wafels & Dinges Event Digital Flyer with Illustrated Waffles & logos from The Disabled Foodie & Words I Wheel By

When: Saturday, September 19, 2015 from 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM (2:30 to allow enough time for Access-a-Ride users to schedule)

Where: 264 Butler Street, Brooklyn, NY

RSVP to thedisabledfoodie@gmail.com with “W&D RSVP” in the Subject Line by Wednesday, September 16, 2015Please note in your email if there are any accommodations you require, and include a phone number should the event be canceled. Make sure to RSVP so we do not start without you.

 

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan

Time Out NY Battle of the Burger – South Street Seaport, Manhattan – August 19, 2015

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token in Upper Right Corner, Sign says, "Come on in! Burger Shop is now open!"

Sign at Entrance to BotB and Voting Token (Upper Right)

Twenty burgers! How was I going to be able to eat twenty burgers? That was my thought as I headed to Time Out NY’s Battle of the Burger 2015 (BotB) presented by Amstel Light at the South Street Seaport. The event pitted 20 burger makers against each other to win the title of top burger in NYC. It was not a cheap event to attend, but I paid extra for VIP admission, so I could enter early and have a little more space and time to get around. After sampling the burgers, I was supposed to pick my favorite, and use a token to vote for that burger. The event did not go as planned for me, as you will read in the accessibility rating.

I arrived early, and ended up being the first person on line for the 5:30 PM VIP Group. This was good because for about the first 10 – 15 minutes I was able to move around the event somewhat well (with the exception of the cobblestones, which I will detail later). The cooks served either miniature burgers/sliders or burgers cut into halves or quarters. In the half hour that I was there, I sampled about 10 of them, but I do not recall many of them. This was due in part to my high stress from the crowd and the cobblestones, and from several of the burgers being unremarkable.

There were burgers with bacon, burgers slathered with various spices and sauces, and burgers topped with macaroni and cheese. But, the one burger that stood out was made by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer. The burger was made with Kobe beef (as described to me by one of their workers), and it was topped with house buttermilk-dill sauce, blue cheese and arugula. The beef was really rich, and I loved the salty, funky bleu cheese against the peppery arugula. (For a video of the preparations being made for BotB click here.)

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) a Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

Various Burgers Including (Top Right) Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer’s Kobe beef burger with bleu cheese and arugula and (Lower Left) a burger topped with macaroni and cheese

I only drank one-half of a cup of Strongbow Hard Cider, due to the difficult bathroom situation, as described in the accessibility rating below. The cider was mediocre, slightly sweet and slightly crisp. I have had other ciders that I prefer to this one.

What made this event even more unfortunate was that while I did not overeat, I ended up getting sick overnight. (No worries. I am all better now.)

Accessibility Rating for Battle of the Burger 2015

I used my wheelchair to visit BotB. (This is an annual event.)

Before I get into the formal accessibility rating, I need to let you know about the research I conducted about the event before choosing to attend. I contacted the staff at Time Out NY numerous times via both phone and email to find out if the venue is wheelchair accessible. I was reassured via both phone and email that the venue is wheelchair accessible. The mistake I made was thinking that the event would be held indoors. I thought this because all the media for the event listed it as taking place at 19 Fulton Street. I know that this is a building in the South Street Seaport. I should have been more specific in my questioning, but the event ended up being outside on the cobblestones. Additionally, Time Out’s staff should be more informed about what makes for true accessibility. (Yet again, a running theme on The Disabled Foodie, I find that educating staff as to what true accessibility is is crucial, but it does not seem to be happening.)

As any user of a mobility-assistive device knows, cobblestones are horrific to negotiate and move around on. This was surely the case for me. I had to negotiate a huge crowd that frequently would not move for me (which I expected and was prepared for from attending other large events), but this was made even more difficult by adding in the cobblestones. I know that the outdoor area of the Seaport is paved with cobblestones. I would have not attended had I asked for/been provided with the correct information I needed to make an informed decision. Namely, that it would be held outside on the cobblestones. I admit my role in not asking the right questions, and I should have thought about how all of the burgers would be cooked if the event was indoors.

The Americans with Disabilities Act states the following about cobblestones:

“A4.5 Ground and Floor Surfaces.

A4.5.1 General. People who have difficulty walking or maintaining balance or who use crutches, canes, or walkers, and those with restricted gaits are particularly sensitive to slipping and tripping hazards. For such people, a stable and regular surface is necessary for safe walking, particularly on stairs. Wheelchairs can be propelled most easily on surfaces that are hard, stable, and regular. Soft loose surfaces such as shag carpet, loose sand or gravel, wet clay, and irregular surfaces such as cobblestones can significantly impede wheelchair movement.” (http://www.ada.gov/reg3a.html, 2015)

The stress of negotiating the crowd and the cobblestones upset me so much, that a staff member helped me leave early. I paid for a ticket that would have allowed me to stay until 8:00 PM, but I was so stressed that he helped me leave at 6:00 PM. I was only there for 30 minutes. I did not even get to use my token to vote for my favorite burger.

I regret choosing to attend what was a very expensive event where I ended up leaving very early due to the aforementioned difficult and upsetting circumstances.

  • Entryway – 1: The stanchions for the entryway aisles were placed too closely together to allow my wheelchair to get through easily. Staff had to move them further apart to allow me to pass through. It seemed to me that there may not have been any forethought about how to make the entryway accessible until it was necessary to make it so. Additionally, the cobblestones made passing through even more difficult.

    Outdoor Venue for BotB with caption inserted indicating cobblestones

    Outdoor Venue for BotB

  • Bathroom 1: There were no bathrooms within the enclosed event area. The nearest accessible bathroom was one accessible port-a-potty a little over one block away. It had two grab bars inside, and outside there was a foot-pump operated sink. Since it was foot-pump operated, I was unable to use it. I am sure this bathroom situation was not part of Time Out New York’s doing, but I would have appreciated an accessible bathroom within the event. It would have alleviated one of the concerns I had on my mind while attending the event.
  • Walkways/Space – 1: The aisles, once crowded, were very difficult to negotiate. I knew this would be the case no matter where the event was held. The reason for my low rating, yet again, was due to the cobblestones. Additionally, the lighting was good due to the event being held outdoors. The noise level was high due to the combination of people speaking loudly because they were competing with the loud music being played throughout the event.

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Left) One of the twenty burger stands (Center) Cook prepping burgers(Right) crowd before it became even more jam packed

    Various Scenes from BotB Including (Right) crowd before it became even more jam-packed

  • Staff – 3: Some staff were quite helpful. The security personnel moved the entryway stanchions out of my way so I could get into the event. As described earlier, a staff member helped move the crowd out of my way when I needed to leave. The score is lower due to the fact that it seems to me that some education may be necessary for those staff members I communicated with who seemed to believe that the venue was easily accessible/negotiated when it was not.
  • Braille Menus: They did not have any material printed in Braille for blind patrons.


The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market

The Disabled Foodie’s First Anniversary Celebration at the Queens Night Market – August 15, 2015

The Disabled Foodie is one year old! Thank you for a great first year and your unflagging support. To celebrate, I went with my husband and our friend, Matthew, to the Queens Night Market (QNM). The market is New York’s first Asian-style night market featuring vendors selling food from around the world, art, and merchandise.

I have to thank John, the founder of the QNM, for working with me to make this a successful celebration. He was kind enough to allow us to skip the line to enter the event earlier than the rest of the crowd. I also need to thank Karl and Tammy, from Karl’s Balls, for their hospitality, and taking some of their valuable preparation time to speak to me about their food.

Karl, from Karl's Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie     Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl's Balls

Karl, from Karl’s Balls, with David, The Disabled Foodie      Photo Taken by Tammy from Karl’s Balls

Additionally, I want to thank my friend Matthew for joining my husband and I at this incredible event. Finally, thank you to my husband for his never ending support on this amazing journey through food and disability.

I must begin by stating that QNM quickly became one of my favorite food venues because it is highly accessible, and the variety of food from around the world is a foodie’s dream come true. John, the founder of QNM, has curated an incredible selection of foods from around the world to rival the selection found at Smorgasburg. John told us that he hopes the QNM serves as a place where the community comes together, and it showed last night through the hundreds of people, including entire families, who came out. John and his team provide activities at the QNM for all ages: music and dance performances for adults, and games and temporary tattoo artists for children. Furthermore, there is no entrance fee, and most food items that we tried cost between $2.00 and $5.00 each. We shared almost everything we ate.

Karl’s Balls makes takoyaki.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion. Takoyaki are brushed with takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise, and then sprinkled with green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried bonito (katsuobushi). (Wikipedia, 2015)

Karl prepares all of the octopi himself to be “sashimi-ready”. He and his team prepare all of the ingredients by hand, and the takoyaki are served in Karl’s “Man Mayo” and his “Ball Sauce,” which is smoky, fruity, spicy, and sweet. Forget any thoughts of rubbery octopus. Karl’s octopi are tender. The takoyaki were vibrant in flavor, wonderfully gooey on the inside, and were a fun way to start a great evening.

Takoyaki from Karl's Balls

Takoyaki from Karl’s Balls

Our next stop was the Burmese Bites booth where we tried the Burmese shaved ice dessert. This was another completely new experience for me! The shaved ice was combined with grass jelly, palm seeds, agar agar (gelatin made from seaweed), crushed peanuts, sweet syrup, and condensed milk. My friend, Matthew, said it best when he described the dessert as tasting, “like a frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Not only did it taste delicious, but it was visually impressive.

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

Burmese Shaved Ice Dessert

The eating just kept going, as there were so many great things to try. At the Pancake Rolls booth, we tried both braised beef and honey pork pancake rolls. Both came on a freshly made scallion pancake with scallions, cucumber, cilantro (I asked for that to be left out of the honey pork roll), hoisin mayo, and pickled carrots. The pancake was perfectly flaky and had a great toothsome bite! There is a video on my Instagram account of the pancakes being prepared. (Click here to view that video.) I preferred the beef roll to the pork. While the sweetness of the pork was nice, the beef’s savory notes against the vegetables provided a satisfying contrast.

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef Background: Pancake Roll Booth

Inset: Pancake Roll with Beef      Background: Pancake Roll Booth

At the Chiflez (pronounced Chee-flayz) booth, we had roasted, grilled corn with Peruvian sauce and seasonings. The corn was sweet and smoky from being charred on the grilled, The sauce was piquant and just slightly spicy. Finally, it was sprinkled with cheese and salt to add savory and salty notes. It was the best corn I have had so far this summer.

Inset: Chiflez Booth Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

Inset: Chiflez Booth      Background: Peruvian Corn from Chiflez

And it just kept coming. At the Flauteria (pronounced Flau-teh-ree-ah) booth, they prepare Mexican food and drink. I had a cup of tart, sweet hibiscus tea, and we shared flautas (pronounced flau-tahs) filled with chicken. Flautas are similar to tacos, but they are formed into  cigar-like rolls. The chicken was so tasty and moist!

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea at Flauteria Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas at Flauteria Background: Flauteria Booth

Top Inset: Jar of Hisbiscus Tea      Bottom Inset: Chicken Flautas      Background: Flauteria Booth

I am a huge fan of duck, and CBao did not disappoint with their mind-blowing Peking Duck Bao.

A baozi or simply known as bao, bau, humbow, nunu, bakpao (Hokkien), bausak, pow, pau or pao (Hakka) is a type of steamed, filled, bun or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) item in various Chinese cuisines, as there is much variation as to the fillings and the preparations. In its bun-like aspect it is very similar to the traditional Chinese mantou. It can be filled with meat and/or vegetarian fillings. (Wikipedia, 2015)

The bao was fluffy and light. This worked beautifully with the tender, gamy duck that was carved at CBao’s booth right in front of me. The scallions and cucumbers added crunch, and the house sauce added a touch of umami flavor.

Inset: Peking Duck Bao Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

Inset: Peking Duck Bao      Background: Cook at CBao Carving Duck

The savory duck bao was followed up with a delectable Portuguese treat, Pastel de Nata (pronounced pah-stehl day nah-tah) from the MoNata booth. This small egg custard filled puff pastry tart packed luscious, creamy, sweet flavor into a bite-sized dessert. My friend, Matthew, who has been to Portugal twice, told us that he was able to find these all over his travels there.

Inset: Pastel de Nata Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Inset: Pastel de Nata      Background: Sign at MoNata Booth

Finally, we tried a mango and raspberry crêpe from T-Swirl Crêpe. These rice flour crêpes are served with fruit and pastry creme. The fruit was fresh and juicy, and they did not overload the crêpe with the creme. (Click here to watch a short video of crêpes being made.)

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Mango and Raspberry T-Swirl Crepe

Accessibility Rating for Queens Night Market

I used my wheelchair to visit QNM. This was the QNM’s last night at this location near the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens. QNM will be moving to Jamaica, Queens starting on September 5 for the remainder of this season.

  • Entryway – 5: The QNM is held in a parking lot. Since this is the case, the entry is smooth, and there are no stairs. It is the most accessible entrance a person with a disability could desire.

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

    Inset: QNM Welcome Banner      Background: Aisle with Booths at QNM

  • Bathroom 4: There are wheelchair accessible port-a-potties in two locations at the QNM. There is a grab bar that wraps around the toilet. QNM provides stand-alone sinks with faucets that operate by using a foot pump. The foot pump is difficult for those who have limited or no use of their feet, but the fact that there are sinks at an outdoor venue is great! I was fortunate enough to have my husband help me with the sink.
  • Walkways/Space – 5: The aisles are wide and spacious. Even with hundreds of people all around, I had plenty of room to move around. During the daylight hours, the QNM was well lit, and due to humongous flood lamps, the same could be said for the night hours. The closer we were to the musicians and performers, the louder it was. But, overall, the noise level was not loud considering the size of the event and the number of attendees. (For a short video of the QNM click here.)

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

    Views of Booths and Aisles at QNM

  • Staff – 5: The staff was welcoming and I encountered no issues. John was kind enough to allow us to enter the QNM a few minutes early to explore and meet with Karl and Tammy. Staff and security were available throughout the event to help people with any questions or concerns they might have.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


David Burke Kitchen – Soho, Manhattan

David Burke Kitchen – Soho, Manhattan – August 9, 2015

I love NYC Restaurant Week! Twice a year, New York City restaurants throw open their doors and lower their costs on three course, prix fixe menus. Lunch menus cost $25 per person, and dinner costs $38 per person. I only wish I had the monetary resources and unlimited time to try all of the restaurants that participate.

After looking over many menus, my husband and I chose to have lunch at David Burke Kitchen. We were excited about the large number of options available. Overall, it was a good lunch, but I was not blown away as I had hoped I would be.

From the list of appetizers, we selected the house-made ricotta and the chicken dumplings. The ricotta came with pickled strawberries, honey, black pepper, and toast. The ricotta was creamy, fresh, and had the perfect balance between smooth and grainy textures. I also detected a hint of lemon in the cheese. The strawberries, while pickled, still brought a vibrant sweetness along with the honey.

The chicken dumplings introduced a barbecue spin to Asian-style dumplings. They came with Jack cheese, schmaltz (chicken fat), cowboy barbecue sauce, and green onions. They were tasty, but the vinegar in the sauce dominated the entire dish’s flavor, which was disappointing.

For our entrees, we chose the Skuna Bay salmon and the crispy chicken thigh Caesar. The salmon came with sun choke and leek hummus, grilled zucchini, cucumber and radish, lemon, and olive oil. The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicious! The vegetables and hummus that it came with added crunch and brightness to the fish’s fresh flavor. The chicken in the Caesar salad was tender, juicy, and flavorful. The salad was decent, but I was not wowed by it.

Appetizers and Entrees Clockwise from Top Left: House-Made Ricotta, Chicken Dumplings, Crisp Chicken Thigh Caesar, and Skuna Bay Salmon Background: Woven Leather

Appetizers and Entrees Clockwise from Top Left: House-Made Ricotta, Chicken Dumplings, Crisp Chicken Thigh Caesar, and Skuna Bay Salmon      Background: Woven Leather

Dessert was the best part of the meal. We chose the cheesecake lollipop tree for two to share. It came with a variety of lollipops: cherry pink cashmere, triple chocolate tuxedo, and toffee top hat. The cheesecake itself was creamy and tangy. The toppings were crispy and crunchy, and it came with light and fluffy strawberry whipped cream. We both detected a hint of sage in the whipped cream, which brought an herbaceous element to this indulgent dessert.

Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

Cheesecake Lollipop Tree

Accessibility Rating for David Burke Kitchen

I used my wheelchair to visit David Burke Kitchen.

    • Entryway – 5: The entrance has one set of wide doors at the main entrance. There are no stairs. Once inside the main doors, there is an elevator available to go down to the restaurant or up to the Treehouse Bar.

      Entrance

      Entrance

    • Bathroom (Men’s) 4: The accessible stall is enormous. I was able to turn my wheelchair around a full 360° within the stall. There are two grab bars around the toilet, and I was able to fit comfortably underneath the sink while in my wheelchair. The faucet had one handle that was of a moderate length. The bathroom is dimly lit.
    • Walkways/Space – 4: The main pathways are easily passable when the restaurant is not crowded. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table while seated in my wheelchair. The space is well lit due to many windows along one side of the restaurant. The music got progressively louder as our time in the restaurant passed.

      Left: Bar Area Inside Restaurant     Right: Interior of Restaurant     Background: Wood Ceiling

      Left: Bar Area Inside Restaurant       Right: Interior of Restaurant      Background: Wood Ceiling

    • Staff – 5: The staff asked me what I would need to be comfortable, and after explaining that I would prefer a table with space for my wheelchair and space around it, the hostess gave me a choice of tables. She pulled the chair away from the table I selected, and she waited for me to make sure I fit comfortably at the table. The hostess even offered to push two tables together, so that we could have more space. I declined this kind offer.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


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The Disabled Foodie’s New England Vacation – July 28 – August 2, 2015

The Disabled Foodie’s New England Vacation – July 28 – August 2, 2015

This past week, I vacationed with my husband in Rhode Island. We also took a side trip for his birthday to have dinner with friends in Dorchester, Massachusetts. It was lovely to get away and enjoy a change of scenery and some fresh ocean air. Naturally, I had to review a few places, including the introduction of a new type of venue as you will see.


Meritage – East Greenwich, Rhode Island – July 28, 2015

Meritage is a lovely restaurant in the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island. They are known for their thin crust pizzas. We arrived there for dinner on the first night of our vacation.

Dinner started with the lobster macaroni and cheese. The creamy casserole was loaded with huge chunks of sweet, briny lobster. Some places skimp on the lobster in their lobster macaroni and cheese, but Meritage did not. It was perfectly creamy and cheesy, and crumbled crackers added just the right amount of crunchy texture.

Next came the portobello mushroom thin crust pizza and the house salad with bleu cheese dressing. The pizza had tiny cubes of sautéed portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, and caramelized onions. The crust was crisp. The earthiness of the mushrooms was lusciously balanced by the sweetness of the onions. While the salad was beautiful and filled with plenty of vegetables, I did not detect one bit of bleu cheese flavor in the dressing. That was disappointing since the other two dishes were so good.

Left: Lobster Macaroni and Cheese     Center: Portobello Mushroom Pizza     Right: House Salad

Left: Lobster Macaroni and Cheese      Center: Portobello Mushroom Pizza      Right: House Salad

Accessibility Rating for Meritage

I used my wheelchair to visit Meritage.

    • Entryway – 5: The entrance has one wide door with a slight bump. There are no stairs. The outside entry is covered, which is nice during inclement weather.

      Entrance

      Entrance

    • Bathroom (Men’s) 1: The accessible stall is not accessible at all. While I was able to enter the bathroom, I was completely unable to get my wheelchair into the accessible stall. There are two grab bars around the toilet, but there is a large piece of furniture inside the stall which blocks wheelchair access. Additionally, the stall door swings open toward the toilet, which blocked off any possible accessible pathway to the toilet. The bathroom was brightly lit. The faucet had long handles on it, and I was able to fit underneath the sink in my wheelchair.
    • Walkways/Space – 3: The pathways are easily passable when the restaurant is not crowded. The space was quite dark, and there was loud music and talking contributing to a noisier setting at the time we were there. I was unable to fit underneath the table while in my wheelchair, so I had to transfer to a chair.

      Left: Seating area Right: Bar area

      Left: Seating area      Right: Bar area

    • Staff – 5: The staff offered me the option of remaining in my wheelchair or transferring to a chair at the table. They waited patiently while I tried to fit underneath the table in my wheelchair. Upon finding that this did not work, they offered to help me transfer to a chair. Additionally, the hostess was very open to my complaints about the bathroom’s accessible stall not being accessible at all. She told me that she would inform the manager about the problems.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.

 Tavolo – Dorchester, Massachusetts – July 29, 2015

My husband chose Tavolo in Dorchester, Massachusetts for his birthday dinner with our friends who live there. The menu sounded very good, so we were excited to dine there.

To start the meal, we shared an antipasto plate. This came with Prosciutto di Parma, Genovese, cured olives, asiago cheese, mozzarella, marinated roasted peppers, and Tuscan beans. The meats were salty and savory while the cheeses were fresh and creamy. Everything on the plate was good, but nothing really blew me away.

I chose the seared potato gnocchi with applewood smoked duck, charred scallions, and pecorino. I always become excited over a dish with duck, and applewood smoked duck was particularly intriguing to me. Unfortunately, the dish was mediocre. The gnocchi were seared perfectly and had a delightful creamy texture. The duck lacked any duck flavor. I actually thought I was eating pork at one point, which indicated that the duck lacked its characteristic gamy flavor which is what I enjoy so much. For $22, this dish was disappointing and overpriced.

Left: Antipasto Plate Right: Seared Potato Gnocchi

Left: Antipasto Plate      Right: Seared Potato Gnocchi

I have to give credit to Sweet Tooth Bakery in Boston. I arranged for them to make a cake for my husband’s birthday, and deliver it to Tavolo. They made a scrumptious vanilla cake with lemon butter cream and cream cheese filling. The cake was so light, fluffy, and moist. The lemon flavor was bright, but not overpowering. I emailed them photos of our two dogs, and they created fondant sculptures of them for the cake. The sculptures looked just like them!

Birthday Cake with Fondant Sculptures of Our Dogs on Top

Birthday Cake with Fondant Sculptures of Our Dogs on Top

Accessibility Rating for Tavolo

I used my wheelchair to visit Tavolo.

    • Entryway – 5: The entrance has one set of wide doors on the outside, and then one wide door in the vestibule. There are no stairs.The transition from the sidewalk to the interior is smooth.

      Entrance

      Entrance

    • Bathroom 3: The designated accessible bathroom has two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to turn my wheelchair around easily within the bathroom. I was not able to get close to the sink while in my wheelchair, but it does have an automatic faucet. The bathroom is dimly lit.
    • Walkways/Space – 3: Some of the spaces within the restaurant were tight and took some effort to get through while using my wheelchair. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table while in my wheelchair. The restaurant is dimly lit,andat the time we dined there they had low music playing in the background. Most of the sound came from talking patrons.

      Interior Space

      Interior Space

    • Staff – 3: The staff removed a chair for me at the table ahead of our arrival as I had told them I would be using my wheelchair when I made a reservation. They did not let me select where I sat, as they had already done that for me. They did choose an appropriate area with more space around it, but I would have preferred being allowed to make my own decision. Beyond that, they did not offer help to me in any way.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.

Culinary Arts Museum – Providence, Rhode Island – July 31, 2015

I was excited to learn that Johnson & Wales University has a Culinary Arts Museum on campus that is open to the public. Our tour book for Rhode Island made it sound like this is a tiny museum, but it turned out to be quite large, and it is incredibly interesting for those who love all things having to do with food.

Clockwise from Top Left: Old-style Frankfurter Cart, Sign for Stanley's, Student's Pastry and Chocolate Work, Old-style Bar, State Fair/Carnival Exhibit, and Ice Cream Soda Counter

Clockwise from Top Left: Old-style Frankfurter Cart, Sign for Stanley’s, Student’s Pastry and Chocolate Work, Old-style Bar, State Fair/Carnival Exhibit, and Ice Cream Soda Counter

The museum has a great deal of things on display including an exhibit about diners, which includes the Ever Ready Diner (You can view the actual diner, which is not accessible, though I was able to see inside from my wheelchair). They have exhibits about travel and food, food preparation throughout the ages, chefs, and the list goes on and on. An adult ticket costs $7.

Foreground from Left to Right: Front Entrance to Ever Ready Diner and Side Entrance to Ever Ready Diner Background: Moody's Diner sign

Foreground from Left to Right: Front Entrance to Ever Ready Diner and Side Entrance to Ever Ready Diner      Background: Moody’s Diner sign

Accessibility Rating for Culinary Arts Museum

I used my wheelchair to visit Culinary Arts Museum.

    • Entryway – 5: There is a ramp up to the entrance. There are designated accessible parking spots near the foot of the ramp. The wide doors have a button that can be used to open them automatically. There are no stairs. The transition from the outside to the interior is smooth. (I apologize that I do not have a photograph of the entrance.)
    • Bathroom (Men’s) 5: The designated accessible stall has two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to turn my wheelchair around within the stall. I was able to get close to the sink while in my wheelchair. The faucet has long handles. The bathroom is brightly lit.
    • Walkways/Space – 4: The museum is spacious and has wide pathways throughout. The museum is well lit for the most part, though there are some darker areas. It was almost silent when we visited. The only problems were that some exhibits are placed up high making them difficult to see from a wheelchair, and the Ever Ready Diner is not wheelchair accessible.

      Inset and Background: Interior of Culinary Arts Museum

      Inset and Background: Interior of Culinary Arts Museum

    • Staff – 3: The staff member (who appeared to be a student) pointed out that the entire museum is on one level. There was no offer to help beyond that should I have required any assistance.
  • Braille Documents: The staff member I spoke to at the time (who appeared to be a student) did not know if there is any information printed in Braille for blind visitors. She did not offer to find out.

Mediterraneo Caffe – Providence, Rhode Island – July 31, 2015

After visiting the Culinary Arts Museum, we were both really hungry, so we went to Federal Hill, an area of Providence known for its Italian restaurants. Our guide book suggested dining at Mediterraneo Caffe, so that is what we did. I am really glad we ate here, as the food was great!

We arrived in time for their prix fixe lunch. For $17.95, you get a choice of one of three salads, a choice of an entree, and either tiramisu, gelato, or sorbet. I started with a delicious Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, ripe, red tomatoes, and floral basil. The balsamic vinegar drizzled on top was deliciously sweet. This was a Caprese salad done right.

I selected the penne al pesto as my entree. The al dente pasta came in a creamy pesto with sun-dried and grape tomatoes. This dish was so good. The bright basil flavor worked in harmony with the nutty pine nuts and the cream.

My husband and I shared a side of cold green beans. The beans were a beautiful bright green, and they were in a vinaigrette that brought an even brighter flavor to the dish.

The tiramisu was luscious and bursting with the flavor of espresso. The lady fingers were soft and nutty from soaking in amaretto liquer. What was a pleasant surprise was the complimentary shot of house made limoncello that came after dessert. The bright lemon flavor was a great palate cleanser after this fantastic meal.

Foreground Clockwise from Top Left: Caprese Salad, Penne Al Pesto, Tiramisu, and Cold String Beans Background: Exterior of Mediterraneo

Foreground Clockwise from Top Left: Caprese Salad, Penne Al Pesto, Tiramisu, and Cold String Beans      Background: Exterior of Mediterraneo Caffe

Accessibility Rating for Mediterraneo Caffe

I used my wheelchair to visit Mediterraneo Caffe.

    • Entryway – 5: There are wide exterior and interior doors at the entrance. There are no stairs. The transition from the sidewalk to the restaurant is smooth.

      Entrance

      Entrance

    • Bathroom (Women’s is the designated accessible bathroom) 2: The designated accessible stall has one grab bar next to the toilet. I was unable to turn my wheelchair around within the bathroom. I was not able to get close to the sink while in my wheelchair. The faucet has standard length handles. The bathroom is brightly lit.
    • Walkways/Space – 3: The main pathways within the restaurant are wide, though the spaces off of the pathways could be tight for some. I was able to fit comfortably underneath the table while in my wheelchair. The lighting is brighter near the windows than further inside the restaurant. They were playing light jazz quietly in the background at the time we dined there.

      Interior Views

      Interior Views

    • Staff – 4: A staff member removed a chair from the table so I could sit in my wheelchair at the table. Upon our arrival, I needed to use the bathroom, and the staff member sent me to an inaccessible bathroom off of the bar. When I brought this to her attention, she kept apologizing for not thinking about this. She immediately offered the use of the designated accessible women’s bathroom.
  • Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.


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