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Some favorites of late: August with The Lunch Belle

...because not sharing this list would be selfish.

Dear readers,

TGIF!  With summer coming to an abrupt end, I wanted to share some of my favorite/most memorable meals, treats, and trips that I've experienced within the past month.  Enjoy and have a lovely weekend!  

Read it & eat,

The Lunch Belle


Chip and Cookie

Where's Wally?  In Hawaii! 

Everyone's favorite chocolate-chip cookie pioneer, Wally Amos, is back in the kitchen.  Doing what he does best.  Making cookies!  Only now, his operation is on a much smaller scale, at least in comparison to his Famous-Amos (owned by Kellogg's!) days.  Mr. Amos owns Chip and Cookie, a single-store unit located within Waikiki's posh Royal Hawaiian Center.  In addition to handmade cookies born from Wally's personal recipe, Chip & Cookie also sells t-shirts, books, toys, ball caps, etc.  

I'll be honest with you, I've never been a huge fan of Famous-Amos Cookies.  I found them stale, over-processed, and flavorless.  So you can imagine my hesitation when my mom brought me a bag of chocolate-chip cookies from Wally's store in Hawaii.  *I should mention that, in 2007, I had visited a Chip and Cookie store - now closed - in Kailua, HI.  While the fresh product was undoubtedly delicious, I couldn't help but wonder how the contents of this particular bag - having traveled from Hawaii to San Diego - would fare.

I immediately turned the package around and read the ingredients: pure butter, Watkins Vanilla extract, chocolate chips, to name a few.  There were absolutely no artificial flavors, no preservatives and no trans-fats.  I opened the bag and placed one of the silver-dollar sized chocolate-chip cookies in to my mouth.  "Mom!  These are amazing," I gushed.  "How are they still this fresh - without the help of preservatives - after one-month?"  She just smiled and shrugged.  

I literally had to hide my bag of cookies so that I would not eat every last one during my week in California.  "I'll be damned if I can't bring at least some of these back to New York with me," I thought to myself. 

It's almost been a month since I've returned from San Diego, making the cookies 2-month's old.  Believe it or not, they still taste every bit as fresh and delicious as they did when I took my initial bite in California, on August 15th.  I have to wonder, how can a product - made only with the most natural ingredients - endure such longevity? 

For my dear circle of close friends in NYC - sorry for the spoiler if you're reading this post - I plan to send each one of them a 1-lb. bag (filled with 65-70 small cookies) for the December holidays.  Yes, these cookies are that good.  Plus, their size and price is right.  Mark my word, you will never come across a chocolate-chip cookie, outside of a bakery, that gets it right on every level: 

  • No skimping on chocolate chips
  • Crunchy, with a buttery intensity that flirts with your mouth
  • Perfect amount of salt (yes, I said salt)   
  • None of that mass-distributed/conveyor-belt/aluminum after-taste

Go getcha' some today and thank me later.  Click *here*


Juanita's Taco Shop Encinitas, CA

Juanita's is situated in a shack-like dwelling in the sleepy California beach town of Encinitas, located north of San Diego.  Don't be fooled by its appearance or lack thereof - barred windows and doors, graffiti, unisex bathroom, Styrofoam cups & plastic utensils - because this modest taco-shop turns out some of the best Mexican food this side of Tijuana.

Bienvenidos!Nothing screams "sanitary" better than an industrial-sized trash can holding the dining-room door ajarTablescapeJuanita's Taco Shop: combo plate with 1 beef taco, 1 cheese enchilada, rice & beansLook at the picture above.  Now, if that's not the poster-child for food porn, then I really don't know what is. 

On the plate, from left to right:

  • Cheese enchilada smothered in homemade red chile sauce - topped with lettuce, pico-de-gallo, and shredded cheese
  • Shredded-beef taco house-fried shell stuffed with beef, lettuce, pico-de-gallo, and shredded cheese
  • Rice flavorful Mexican rice with notes of cumin, saffron, tomato & chicken broth
  • Refried pinto beans a rich and creamy elixir that blow black-beans out of the water

To my taco, I add a squirt of both green and red homemade salsas (as seen in the photo above my lunch) before I wash my meal down with a tall glass of ice-cold horchata.

*To view all of my pictures from California, please visit Flickr


The Jersey Shore sans Jersey Shore Long Branch, NJ

Please enjoy some of my favorite photos from a fabulous Labor Day weekend.  Oh, and in case you're wondering, we stationed ourselves at the Ocean Place Hotel.

*To view all of my pictures from this trip, please visit Flickr

View from our hotel roomTikki bar at our hotelBack pubes!!!

A bride takes her pre-wedding photos on the beachStarfish were strewn all over the sand, so I picked a couple of them up and tossed them back in to the water.~

And with that, dear readers, I bid the month of August and Summer 2010 adieu!  Wishing all of you a happy and bountiful fall season.  Until next week...

Your Lunch Belle

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