Review: Murphy’s Bistro and Tavern

Murphys-Chicken-pot-pie-300x225Kristen and I, and my sister, brother in law and niece all went to Murphy’s Bistro and Tavern in High Falls, NY, the restaurant which replaced the Northern Spy Cafe.

The staff was friendly and the food was amazing! I ordered the Chicken Pot Pie which was delicious. The crust on top was light and flaky, the chicken was tender and the gravy was to die for! Kristen had the burger which came with potato wedges. I sampled both, the wedges were awesome and the burger melts in your mouth. My brother in law had the Shepherd’s Pie which he said was the best he ever had.

For dessert, I had the Bailey’s Cheesecake, Kristen had the Chocolate Mousse, and my sister had the Flourless Chocolate Torte. I sampled all of them, and each one was amazing. The mousse and the torte were both deliciously chocolatey and the cheesecake was rich and creamy.

I will definitely be going back, the hard part is going to be choosing between the Shepherd’s pie, the Pot Pie of the Day, the Philly Cheese Steak Panini or…. Obviously I’ll be going back a lot.

Using the New Bread Pan

I finally had a chance to use the new bread pan John got me over the holidays! It’s for French/Italian type loaves, and, at least in my case, it REALLY helps them keep their shape instead of spreading out too much and going too flat during the second rising.

The pan is about a foot and a half long, so the loaves you’re seeing are a bit on the small side (as compared to, say, Italian bread you’d see in the grocery store), but that worked well for us as we ate one and put the other one in the freezer.

This pan is a Chicago Commerical II pan, and it did a GREAT job – loaves were much rounder and ‘normal’ shape and the holes let the underside get baked properly as well – I’d definitely recommend this pan!  🙂

GuS – Grown-up Soda – Extra Dry Ginger Ale

For a number of years now, John and I have been buying only soda with sugar, and not high-fructose corn syrup. We might each have, at most, one or two a week, but we often end up splitting one, sometimes doing a half and half with a can of seltzer. We like to think it’s because our tastes have, *ahem*, “matured” over the years, but even a whole soda is sometimes too much sugar when you just want a bit of fizzy sweetness.

[Note: I did just find Sierra Mist in the store in little 7 oz. cans, which is also made with sugar instead of HFCS, so it looks like we’re not the only ones thinking this way!]

Another habit we’d picked up in restaurants is making/requesting a glass of seltzer with just a wee bit of a lemon-line soda to sweeten it up a little.

If you’re a die-hard, regular 2-liter soda, full everything, drinking fan, you’re probably shuddering as you read this. LOOK AWAY NOW!!!!

Recently I ran across GUS – Grown Up Soda – a not-inexpensive 4-pack in the grocery store specialty drink section. It’s a 12 oz. bottle of soda, and it’s made with about half the sugar (not HFCS) of a regular 12 oz. soda, and is flavored with real ingredients! The ginger ale is made with real ginger and has a hint of ginger-hotness without being overwhelming, and the cola is made with real cola nut! (Haven’t tried the pomegranite yet – that’s next.) But… seriously…. real cola nut!  The last cola we knew of that actually had cola in it was Blue Sky Cola, and we haven’t seen that in years now. Oh, and no caffeine.

GuS’s are exactly as advertised – “not too sweet”, and they have terrific refined flavor and excellent fizz. It really is a grown-up soda! We highly recommend trying these if you’re looking for the less-sweet, still tasty alternative without going the way of artificial sweeteners.

(And if you’re a fan of the tv show Psych, there’s the added bonus of always trying to think up funny replacement names for the brand. If you don’t know what I mean, go watch a few episodes – LOL. )

Delicious Ginger Cookies

Our friend Tom not only gifted us with a fantastic (and fantasically heavy) new cookbook, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt In Your Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich, full of all kinds of amazing cookie recipes, he got us started by baking up some of the most amazing ginger cookies – with THREE kinds of ginger: candied ginger, minced ginger AND ginger powder. They were sooo delicious – with that cracked and sugared exterior and the soft, chewy insides, and the sweetness mixed with that hint of hot ginger spice. Just AWESOME. What? You want a photo? FINE…

We’ve only started to delve into all of the deliciousness promised in this cookbook, but even just on these cookies alone I highly recommend it! Click on the cookbook below to go to amazon and check it out in greater detail!

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Heartbreaking Dawns Hot Sauce

Recently, we acquired some excellent products from the good people at Heartbreaking Dawns, including a hot jam/chutney, hot sauce, and hot rub. I decided to try some of the Jalapeno Pineapple Hot Sauce on a batch of chicken wings and legs, and was not disappointed. I barbecued the chicken on the outdoor grill – I coated it with a little oil and garlic powder at first and cooked about 3/4 done before brushing on the hot sauce.I used a very light touch with the sauce since it’s pretty potent, and I’m definitely not the bravest hot sauce eater out there.

The Jalapeno Pineapple sauce has a distinctive sweet, citric flavor which greets the tongue first. It’s immediately followed by the kick (that’s an understatement) of jalapeno and habanero peppers. The overall flavor was delicious, enhancing the chicken without overpowering it, with a spice that’ll leave your tongue and lips tingling with heat.

I’ve already been thinking of recipes I can add this sauce to. I have a teriyaki sauce variation which it should compliment nicely. I think it would also go really well with kielbasa.

One final note, the ingredients in the sauce are all quality, with nothing you can’t pronounce. And there are no artificial preservatives, MSG, HFCS, or any other evil initials you can think of.

If you love hot sauce, this will be a variety you’ll like to try – something a little different. Their website is Heartbreaking Dawns – check out their entire product assortment – gift packages also look to be available right now as well.

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Peppino’s Family Pizzeria in Rosendale, NY

Peppino’s Family Pizzeria and Restaurant has recently opened it’s doors in Rosendale, NY (Mid-Hudson Valley area, just south of Kingston and north of New Paltz) – it’s on route 32, just north of the Rosendale bridge. (They have at least one other pre-existing location in Callicoon, NY,  hence the ‘Est. 1990’ in the awning below.)

As you can see from the picture, on the outside, it’s a rather unassuming place in a rather unassuming plaza, but the charm in this restaurant lies inside, in the tasty, tasty food!

First off, let’s discuss the pizza. The thin-crust pizza is the perfect blend of firm, yet thin and crispy. They say they have a secret to what makes the crust so light (rather than thick and doughy and overly filling) but they wouldn’t tell me what it is when I asked – drat! Their red sauce is, to me, just the perfect mix of sweet tomato and Italian spices that sets the stage perfectly for whatever you want on it or under it. Our latest favorite is a cheese pizza with sausage and fresh sliced tomatoes, with the sausage coming in easy to chomp strips instead of chunky coins or ‘pebbles’ like a lot of chain pizza restaurants use. The perfection in the dough carries over into their other items like their calzones as well (which are usually too big to eat in one sitting unless you really want to stuff yourself!) – crispy and all melty with really creamy ricotta and melted mozzarella. Doesn’t get much better than that!

(Probably not the best photo – and it’s so hard to really photograph food well – but you get the idea.)

Another favorite we have (although it’s only opened recently, we’ve been there a LOT, can you tell?) are the subs. John likes to order the 12″ eggplant parmigiana sub sandwich. They get their sub rolls from one special place because of the great quality – excellent taste, supportive of the heavier sandwich fillings, but also light and crispy on the outside. They also make great panini’s, and even great burgers if you’re with a group that wants pizza but you just feel like something different sometimes.

The staff is always friendly too. And although the walls could use a few more decorations, and it’s certainly not a fancy linen-tablecloth type place, they’ve got cozy booths and tables big enough for large families too.

So if you’re in the area, we highly recommend Peppino’s. As we said, they’re at 1157 Rt. 32 in Rosendale, NY, in the same plaza with 32 Lunch. (Their number is 845-658-8887 if you want to call for specific directions.)

Note: Unfortunately, Peppinos has now closed. We’ll keep the tasty memories forever though!

Wine Catch Up (Not Ketchup)

Over the last few months (probably about four) we’ve sampled a few bottles of wine: a 2009 Lancatay Cabernet Sauvignon (Argentina), a 2008 Henry Lagarde Malbec (Argentina), and a 2008 Umbria Pinot Grigio (Italy).


Both of the Argentina reds were excellent, had tasty, bold flavor, and packed a bit of a punch alcohol-wise too. The Italian Pinot Grigio was actually a bit too mild in flavor for either of us. The bottle we had seemed a bit on the light side taste-wise.

Sorry I can’t be more specific – next time I’ll try to post about the wine within a week of having tried it, instead of months, when I can’t remember many details! In any case, we’d both recommend either or both of the Argentina wines if you’re up for some robust reds.

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Blue Sky Cola

Blue Sky Cola was one of the first ‘colas’ we’ve run across in a LONG LONG LONG (long!) time that had any HINT of the origins in it – namely the cola nut. Now, Blue Sky Cola has ‘cola nut flavoring’ and we’re not sure EXACTLY what that means, but the important thing is that it tasted like what we thought it should taste like!

We were very happy with the cola-y flavor of this soda and will be getting more of it next time we find it on the grocery shelves. Now, it doesn’t have any caffeine, and it doesn’t have any phosphoric acid, and perhaps it’s this lacking combination that gives the texture of this drink a ‘softer’ feel than coke/pepsi or even Jones cola, which are sharper in the mouth. Still, the ‘softer’ feel doesn’t detract at all from the experience. So we can heartily recommend Blue Sky Cola – they also have a root beer and maybe some other varieties. In any case, we were just very happy to find a locally available cola made with much tastier CANE SUGAR (Jones cola doesn’t seem to be in stores in Upstate NY yet – alas!) instead of high fructose corn syrup. Go Blue Sky!

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Virgil’s Real Cola

Since moving to New York from California one of the hardest to find food items for us has been cane sugar colas. When we saw Virgil’s in a local grocery store we were thrilled! We love Virgil’s Root Beer with it’s unique spices and figured their cola would be equally distinct.

Well, it was distinct, there’s no doubt about that, but I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like it at all. The first sip seemed mediciney at first and after a while I realized that it reminded me of carbonated Listerene. It’s either the clove bud oil or the cassia oil (or both) that coat your tongue when you drink it, slightly numbing it and drowning out the other flavors. There are also lemon, orange and lime juice extracts which you can barely taste but when it does come through it hits like orange juice right after you brushed your teeth. Bleh.

I’m very confused as to why they called this a cola, as it is not like any cola I have ever tasted. And like most, it has no mention of cola nuts in the ingredients. So where did they get the idea that this is a “real cola?” Maybe the marketing department thought calling it a cola would attract more buyers. (It worked on us.)

We’ve actually found one brand of cola that has “cola nut flavor” in the ingredients, but that’s the subject of another post.

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Relax Riesling

Since we’ve moved to Upstate New York we’ve been trying to find some good local wine & liquor stores to browse for wines. We found this riesling at a little store who’s owners had trained their little white dog to greet customers and also bring them their change – it was very cute.

This white wine was from Germany; a pleasantly sweet riesling with such citrus and apple-ish overtones it reminded me of the hard apple cider I also like. But the finish was much dryer, which was an excellent combination. It’s easy to drink for people who aren’t sure they like wine much, and goes well with crackers and cheese. We had it with a smoked provalone and lappi, which is swiss-ish. We’re thinking about getting another one just to have on hand. Oh, and as you can see it comes in a bright blue bottle, with a cool modern label!

Price: $9.99.

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