Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Morgantown Edition: Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies

WVU's apartment and commercial space University Place is beginning to open some of the shops, with Insomnia Cookies being the first.

Insomnia CookiesInsomnia Cookies was started in 2003 by a student at the University of Pennsylvania who baked cookies in his dorm room and sold them to those who had a craving late at night. Now, there are locations all over the eastern United States. The company offers cookies, brownies and cold milk for delivery (or takeout) from noon to 3 a.m. seven days a week. Takeout starts at 11 a.m.

Insomnia CookiesMorgantown used to have an Insomnia Cookies truck years and years ago - I think I was a freshman/sophomore, if that tells you anything. But they're back with a permanent brick-and-mortar location and began dishing out fresh-baked cookies last week.

Insomnia CookiesIf you follow them on Twitter, they offered a free cookie coupon, so I couldn't let that pass me by. We finagled a parking spot nearby, speedwalked in the arctic temperatures and raced inside the doors. As soon as we were inside, I could smell the cookies baking.

Insomnia Cookies
They have chocolate chunk, chocolate mint, m&m, oatmeal raison, peanut butter chip, snickerdoodle, sugar, white chocolate macadamia, chocolate peanut butter cup, s'mores, brownies PLUS ice cream and chocolate milk and cakes.

Only certain ones were available with the coupon, but that wasn't much of a concern for me since I knew what I wanted anyway: white macadamia nut.

I'm teased often for not liking chocolate chip cookies. I don't hate them; I just don't think they're very good. Ice cream can vastly improve them, but, in general, the semisweet chocolate chips just don't do it for me. It's kind of bitter, and I'd much rather have the cookie without the chocolate chips. Now that I've lost all credibility because you know I don't care for chocolate chip cookies, let's get back to the task at hand.

White chocolate chip macadamia nut was soft and chewy (hate those crunchy ones) and very sweet. It was a good cookie. BUT. I'm not sure how often I'd go out of my way to just get a cookie? Or just get cookies delivered? But then again, at 1 a.m., cookies and milk might be just perfect. I'm guessing they're getting most of their business late at night or from foot traffic already going through the area.

Insomnia CookiesStill, pretty tasty. And, nah, no grade since it's a chain.

Insomnia Cookies on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cleveland, OH Edition: West Side Market

West Side MarketCleveland's West Side Market is incredible. If there's a reason I would ever move to Cleveland, it would be for this market.

West Side MarketThe beautiful historic building houses more than 100 vendors - fresh meat, vegetables, seafood, baked goods, cheese, flowers, candy, pasta, cannoli, spices, juices, honey, coffee, tea AND prepared foods, like gyros, hot dogs, falafel, crepes, Cambodian, and so much more. It's really amazing the depth in variety here.

West Side MarketIt's difficult to capture how much there is to offer. Just booths after booths after booths of people who are pouring their love into their products. And so many options for everything you could possibly want - all fresh! And SO many people who are really invested in this local food movement.

We walked up and down all the aisles to take in the diverse offerings. And since we were traveling all day, I wasn't able to scoop up any of this deliciousness. But it's clear they don't have any problems selling product. After fighting for a parking space and swimming through a line to get to the buildings, it was shoulder-to-shoulder craziness. But, with that said, it was still my very favorite part of the trip.
West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

West Side Market

Sunday, February 22, 2015

ICYMI

The Dunkin Donuts on Chestnut Ridge Road is open. And, Chipotle has confirmed to me that they are indeed coming to Morgantown.




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cleveland, OH Edition: Melt Bar & Grilled

MeltMELT! I've heard about this wondrous grilled cheese haven for years.

There are few things more soothing to the soul than a perfect grilled cheese - lightly brown and buttery on the outside with cheese oozing out the edges.

Maybe a large fuzzy blanket. Or maybe the way the sun beats on your back during a warm summer day. Those are both pretty soul-soothing. I think I'm just missing summer at this point.

But a grilled cheese is really the quintessential comfort food for me - add in a thousand different KINDS of grilled cheeses, and this is some sort of cheesy restaurant god.

Inside, it's not very big, which can result in a long wait time. We got there right as lunch started, so we were seated right away. No problem.

The feel inside is pretty cool. Kind of like a punk rock/alt vibe with funky lights and artwork.

MeltThe menu had me pretty split, to be honest. I had it down to the lasagna grilled cheese "Godfather" (which was on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate") and the Parmageddon, which has potato & onion pierogi, kraut, sautéed onions and sharp cheddar. The latter was mentioned in many reviews, and is named after a nearby Polish town, Parma.

MeltUltimately, I went with the lasagna grilled cheese. Because, I mean, three-cheese lasagna, with fresh fennel-oregano pasta sheets, basil marinara, roasted garlic, provolone and romano. Plus I can get my pierogi fix in Pittsburgh fairly easily.

MeltLOOK AT THIS BEAST. I don't know if you can tell how huge this is. But I had trouble finishing just one half. It's a solid layered lasagna sandwiched between two thick pieces of bread topped with some parmesan. So much oozing marinara and mozzarella. So messy. So tasty.

I couldn't finish it. But I sure enjoyed trying it. A damn good piece of lasagna loaded with more carbs and cheese - I don't need to explain how delish that is. Marinara is flavorful, but lets the ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella shine.

Grade: A
Melt Bar & Grilled on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 13, 2015

Cleveland, OH Edition: Campbell's Sweets Factory

CampbellsMy Saturday was going to start off in an epic way - a visit to Melt. We arrived just a few minutes early, so we traversed a giant snow mountain and stopped in Campbell's Sweet Factory first for some treats.

Campbells Sweets FactoryThe store has floor to ceiling covered in popcorn, fresh made candies, chocolates and more.

Campbells Sweets FactoryThe cases held so many goodies, I can't even describe - turtle cupcakes, strawberry cupcakes, peanut butter cups, chocolate-covered pretzels, and so much more.

CampbellsI had to get a buckeye, because Ohio. And I had to get the salted caramel cup because it's impossible for me to pass that up.

Campbells Sweets FactoryBuckeyes are delicious. I didn't realize they were an Ohio thing until, like, two years ago. We always had them in grocery stores and stuff. But that may be because I grew up near Ohio? Not sure.

The caramel cup was also good, but not light and delicate.The cup took some power to bite through. All in all, I'm not sure you can give a candy store a low grade.

Grade: A  
Campbell's Sweets Factory on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cleveland, OH Edition: Greenhouse Tavern

Greenhouse TavernGreenhouse Tavern





















I had read many, many good things about the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. So, when I visited last weekend, it was my first stop as soon as I entered the city borders.

Greenhouse TavernThe restaurant is hip, with bicycles hanging from the walls and an eclectic, antique feel. So, yes, I loved it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The menu is unique with some "firsts" or appetizers. "Seconds" include crispy chicken wings confit, foie gras steamed clams and pork ramen. "Thirds" are seared market fish, bucket of tabasco chicken, pig head, pan fried pork chop saltimbocca. Plus burgers like a lamb, rib steak or beef tartar.

Greenhouse TavernGreenhouse Tavern




















I had read about their crispy chicken wings, so I went with that. They're roasted with jalapeno, lemon juice, scallion and garlic.

Greenhouse TavernWhen they came out, they were presented as a unique dish with scallions and garlic topping them. They were pretty crispy, and the bones just fell right out. But as far as flavor, the lemon juice dominated. Everything just tasted super acidic, and there wasn't much layering or depth here.

Greenhouse Tavern
Or maybe I had gotten my hopes up.

Anyway, dessert was next, and a buttered popcorn pot de creme could not possibly sound any better.

It was small, but delicious. A thick layer of caramel with just a touch of sea salt gave way to the vanilla custard underneath. Very faint hints of buttered popcorn shined through, but it was enough to get a taste.

Overall - the atmosphere as fun, the chicken wings were hyped up a bit more than I thought they should be. The dessert was creamy and delicious.

Grade: B 
The Greenhouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Clarksburg Edition: D'Annunzios (Health Bread Company)

D'annunziosD'Annunzios is another well-known pepperoni roll bakery in Clarksburg. Well, they also have bread, of course. But I was here for the pepperoni rolls.

D'annunziosI'm not sure if I just hit it at the right time, but there was only a person or two in front of me. I made it up to the counter quickly and was able to get my bag of pepperoni rolls in a few minutes and be on my merry way.

The first thing I noticed was that this was a bit more "branded." My day job is spilling over into my blogging, I think. But the bags had their logos, instead of the customer's name scrawled on them.

D'annunzios
The pepperoni rolls were actual bun shapes - not flat like Tomaro's - and also had cubed sticks of pepperoni inside. D'Annunzio's is less spicy than Tomaro's. A fluffy, hot pepperoni roll is a treat.

I don't want to pick favorites, but I think I may have liked this one a little better. But, try for yourself and let me know.

Grade: A
D'Annunzios (Health Bread Company) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Clarksburg Edition: Tomaro's Bakery

TomarosNorth Central West Virginia is home to the pepperoni roll. Fairmont's Country Club Bakery is credited with founding the pepperoni roll. Though, two bakeries in Clarksburg are keeping up the tradition. One of those is Tomaro's Bakery.

TomarosNatalie Tennant is definitely Team Tomaro's and has passed out these pepperoni rolls at events and touts them whenever she can. Tomaro's is known as one of THE bakeries for pepperoni rolls. So, I did a mini pepperoni roll tour and woke up early on a Sunday to check them out.

TomarosYes, Sunday. Tomaro's is open Monday 8-5, Tuesday closed, Wednesday-Friday 8-5, Saturday closed, Sunday 8-1. So, Sunday was really my best option. A lot of other people had the same idea.

I found parking along the street in front of the building. The turnover in this spot was pretty quick - people were entering empty-handed and leaving with bags full of bakery goodies.

TomarosI went inside the building - but not too far. It was packed with people waiting for the fresh pepperoni rolls out of the oven. People were inside chit-chatting, obviously knowing each other or have grown up together. I mostly tried to awkwardly stay out of the way when new people came in through the door.

TomarosFinally, my name was called, and a white bag holding two hot pepperoni rolls was handed off to me. I took them to my car and immediately had to try one. There's something special about a hot pepperoni roll right out of the oven. Tomaro's are more flat on the tops and bottoms with a slightly spicey stick pepperoni. It's a pillowy soft texture with a nice bite inside.

The pepperoni roll is a part of our culture, and it doesn't get much better than a freshly baked one from one of the best bakeries in the area.  If you haven't, give them a try.

Pepperoni RollsGrade:A 
Tomaro's Bakery on Urbanspoon