Restaurant Scene: The Buffet offers Valentine’s chocolate weekend

Restaurant Scene: The Buffet offers Valentine's chocolate weekend There are many meal options available during a visit to The Buffet at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan.The eatery, which is open daily, stars an assortment of food stations with international offerings in the spotlight.Guests visiting the restaurant this weekend will be in for a treat. In honor of Valentine's Day, The Buffet will offer a Valentine's Chocolate Weekend from Friday through Sunday. Sweets lovers will find a chocolate fountain, assorted chocolate desserts and made to order chocolate beignets.The Buffet regularly features an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of varied dishes. Stations include Italian, Asian, Mexican, Salad Bar, American fare, a separate Pasta station and more.There's a spacious dining area at The Buffet and most seats are not far from the food area.For those starting with the salad bar, selections include everything from tossed salad, pickled herring, kidney bean and seafood selections to noodle, vegetable and other creations.Guests can choose everything from tacos, beans, chips and salsa at the Mexican station to sweet and sour chicken, egg rolls, salt and pepper shrimp, sweet and sour soup and more at the Asian station.If you want helpings of meat, visit the carving station which usually features turkey and beef with prime rib on certain days.Have your fill of mashed potatoes, corn, ribs, pot roast and other items at the American side of the restaurant.Breakfast dishes are available during both breakfast and lunch hours.And desserts are plentiful at The Buffet. Included on the list are hand-dipped gelato, chocolate cake, specialty pastries, cookies and much more. Look for a surplus of chocolate sweets this weekend.Other special days at the eatery include Signature Seafood Buffet from 4:30 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and Sunday Supper from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every Sunday. Gather for breakfast or lunch at The Pancake Club Diners looking for a place to have breakfast, won't Continue Reading

DIY Super Bowl buffet: Steak fajitas are sure to score with fans

This year I'm looking to shake up the Super Bowl gathering a bit. Normally, a pot of chili anchors our party, but this year I'm thinking fajitas. They are customizable, have lots of visual appeal, and will definitely fuel the armchair athletes as they offer their unsolicited advice to the television. Fajitas are surprisingly easy to make, especially if you use a pre-made fajita seasoning or some other Mexican seasoning blend. I use red onions because I like the way they add even more color to the dish, but if you have yellow or white onions, no problem, use them. For more color, use two different color peppers. And don't shy away from a tiny bit of sugar, which just enhances the caramelization of the vegetables. If you want a little more heat, you could either use two jalapeños or stick with one but leave some of the seeds in (that's where almost all of the heat is in a hot pepper). Tempting though it might be, don't skip the part where you warm your tortillas in the pan. This adds flavor, those nice brown spots bringing out a toasty wheat taste, and also makes the tortillas more pliable. It takes only a few minutes, and I think it makes the meal. If you want to toast them before cooking the meat, that's also a fine order of events -- then you might want to heat them for about 20 seconds in the microwave once the meat is cooked up. Multiply the recipe as needed, but don't crowd the pan when cooking the vegetables and meat -- especially the meat, which needs to brown as it cooks. Cook the meat in batches. If you want to make this meal just that much more special and restaurant-like, pick up more than one kind of salsa -- maybe a green tomatillo version and a tomato-based red-style jar. And go to town with the rest of the toppings; assembling the perfect fajita is part of the pleasure of this meal. • Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at Continue Reading

Vegan chef offers hot foods buffet in Newark

Nicole Marie Karam took slow steps when she decided to become a vegan. "I had a lot of friends who were vegan," says the Wilmington University instructor, who teaches introduction to critical thinking and empowerment strategy online classes.  "And my friends who are vegan are really happy."But, I was one of those people who was like, 'I could never go vegan. I need meat. I need cheese.' It was gradual."First, she gave up chicken. And then, fast food. Karam next phased out red meat and pork."I went pescatarian," she says, meaning her mainly vegetarian meals consisted of no meat, but she did eat fish. Karam says she began to feel better and had more energy. She ultimately gave up all fish, along with dairy and eggs. As her diet changed, Karam, now celebrating her sixth year anniversary as a vegan, found herself spending, and enjoying, more time in the kitchen and at local farmers markets. "I taught myself everything I know. I started reading recipes. I was a terrible cook before I went vegan." Karam began cooking vegan dishes for the Delaware Local Food Exchange. The store, in Wilmington's Trolley Square, sells certified organic, organically grown and pesticide-free foods as well as seasonal produce. It supports the farming community."It made me passionate about local foods." She founded Yay, Nomz! a vegan food and events company. Karam now cooks plant-based dishes for various community events and festivals.She offers cooking demonstrations and holds pop-up dining events. Sometimes, Karam shows up at Liquid Alchemy, a local meads and ciders company and tasting room in Wilmington. She also has done food events at The 3rd Place, a community gathering space in Wilmington's Cool Spring/Tilton neighborhood.Two months ago, Karam created a hot food vegan buffet at Cafe 67, the Continue Reading

Not feeling Famously Hot? Check out one of these other New Year’s Eve parties

Everyone knows there’s a famously hot New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown Columbia. But that’s not the only “hot” way to spend New Year’s Eve in the Capital City – or even downtown. There are several events downtown that provide a “home base” if you want to visit the Famously Hot New Year’s, or you can just enjoy a smaller party. Here are a few events that will give you a smaller New Year’s Eve experience with various levels of access to the bigger party downtown: Timeless Edition Red Carpet Event An upscale red carpet way to spend New Year’s Eve, with food, drinks models and two levels of entertainment. Details: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, 930 Richland St. Reservations: $20 at through Friday, Dec. 29, then $30. Alcohol packages and black car service available for additional costs. New Year’s Eve at The Oak Table Enjoy heavy passed hors d’oeuvres prepared by The Oak Table’s executive chef, Todd Woods, an open bar and specialty handcrafted cocktails. There will be a midnight countdown with a great view of the downtown firework show. Details: 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Oak Table, 1221 Main St. Reservations: $150 at or New Year’s Eve Party thru the Decades Dance and enjoy a blast from the past. Darius Starks & the Absolute Band with vocalist Demi Bannister are set to deliver your favorite hits from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and today. Dress to impress in the attire of your favorite decade – or, if you prefer, classy-casual will do. Ticket includes heavy hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Wyatt Tallon, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Details: 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at Chayz Lounge at Nonnah’s, 923 Gervais St. Reservations: $50 to $60 at New Year’s Speakeasy Celebrate the glitz and glam of the early ’20s and lodge Continue Reading

Kentucky Derby day won’t stay quiet furlong at NYC hotsots like Red Rooster, Maison Premiere, Union Hall and Warren 77

The Kentucky Derby makes up the two most exciting minutes in sports — but what are you supposed to do for the rest of the day? Every bar in town will be hosting a hat contest and pouring mint juleps to kill time on Saturday before the big race at 6:24 p.m., but why settle for the usual Derby doings when you can celebrate the 140th Run for the Roses by competing in a tricycle derby, beating a pony pinata or listening to the race over an old-fashioned radio? Step into your best sundress or seersucker suit, and giddy-up to these off-track shindigs found only in New York. RED ROOSTER 310 Lenox Ave. (212) 792-9001. Harlem churchgoers parade in beautiful over-the-top hats every Sunday, so it’s fitting that Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant hosts the Goorin Brothers haberdashery on Derby Day so that guests can pick the perfect topper on site. Sip $7 Bulleit bourbon cocktails and dig into the eatery’s famous deviled eggs and roasted yardbird while jamming to the Adam Rongo Trio bluegrass band before the race. Free admission; 5-7 p.m. MAISON PREMIERE 298 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, (347) 335-0446. Take a nostalgic trip at this Brooklyn bar, which eschews oversized HD flatscreens to air the epic race over the radio instead. Nosh on oysters, Kentucky “hot browns” and pecan tarts with bourbon whipped cream. After you try all seven of their $9 juleps (such as the “High Stakes” mixed with Crème de Mure and Blackstrap bitters), it won't matter that you can’t see the race — or see straight, for that matter. Free admission; 2-8 p.m. UNION HALL 702 Union St., Brooklyn An actual bugler will call your attention to the screen as the horses make their way to the track — and that’s a good thing, since guests at this Park Slope bar will be plenty distracted by games of corn-hole toss, $6 mint juleps and grilled burgers and franks. Don a fancy-enough hat and it could even cover your Continue Reading

Top caterers dish on 5 hot topics

We've seen them running around the party in a white shirt, sometimes sporting a black vest and tie. They have politely interrupted a conversation to offer you some delectable treats — an opportunity for you to indulge in something new.They've greeted you with smiles as they serve you sizzling specialties from stainless steel trays along a buffet table, or seamlessly set them up in your own backyard.But how well do you really know your caterers?"Catering is a unique business," says Joe Leone of Joe Leone's Italian Specialties, Catering, Bakery and Gastronomia with retail locations in Point Pleasant Beach and Sea Girt. "You gotta be a certain type of a personality to be a caterer. There's a lot of hidden things behind the scenes." 1) What's new to the businessFalco's Catering in Ocean is going into its 20th year in business, owned by brothers Stephen and Joey Falco. They do both on and off-premise catering, with event locations at The Renaissance in Ocean, The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park, Watermark in Asbury Park, Water Witch Club in Highlands, The Chapel in Sandy Hook and more.A typical Saturday? Stephen Falco says it includes two events at The Renaissance, one or two at The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, and two trucks going to off-premise events. 'The Price is Right' may have Jersey boy as next modelHuge sellers are the business' "mini meals:" smaller portions of some of their most popular entrees served in martini glasses, wine glasses, or Chinese take-out boxes and is passed butler style. Get the sliced filet mignon over portabella infused smashed potatoes with a bordelaise drizzle, or the sauteed shrimp provencal over risotto milanese."It's nice to have a cocktail glass but not for cocktails," says Joey Falco, the business' executive chef who is nicknamed 'The Rock' in the kitchen.In catering trends, more people are requesting the mini meals and handcrafted hors d'oeuvres, especially in lounge-type settings, Stephen Falco finds."They're going to Continue Reading

Hot pot dining sets Jade Palace apart | Review

Our server, Victoria, placed a platter of assorted raw delicacies on our table, including shrimp, squid, tripe, tofu, cod, and paper thin slices of beef and pork forming an imposing tower before us.“I’m so jealous, this is making me hungry,” said our Jade Palace server, Victoria, laughing.Beside us sat a bubbling pot of pork broth, aromatic herbs and slices of scallion bobbing about. This broth is the key ingredient in the hot pot experience, a Chinese dining tradition only available at a few restaurants in Louisville. A collection of ladles, chopsticks and tongs were laid out and an additional table pulled up ensuring we had plenty of room for the multitude of components required for hot pot dining.“Drop the meat in the broth and, once it has cooked through, dip it in your sauce,” Victoria said, as bowls of ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a rich paste were on hand, meant to be mixed to each individual diner’s preference. “We make this at home on the weekends. It is my favorite.”As we tackled the mountain of food before us on a cold winter afternoon, it was easy to see why.Located in Westport Village, Jade Palace’s dining room is open and sparsely decorated, the vibe casual and unadorned. A long buffet bisects the space and is laden with various go-to Chinese dishes — think lo mein, fried rice and sesame chicken. Three different, multi-page menus are handed over upon arrival and I can understand why the buffet would be a popular choice, the seemingly endless list of culinary delights — both well known and unfamiliar — were intimidating, to say the least. MORE RESTAURANTS  But before the hot pot comes the dim sum, another Chinese dining tradition and a must for anyone visiting Jade Palace, particularly those dining on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. We watched Victoria and her fellow servers roll carts through the maze of tables during our weekend lunch Continue Reading

At this Utah desert spa, you’re happy to see red

It's the red that really gets you, as in the red rock mountains and canyons and formations of the Mojave Desert landscape. The setting of the Red Mountain Spa in St. George, Utah, about a two-hour drive through the desert from Las Vegas, is simply spectacular. New arrivals at the spa may find themselves standing with their jaws open as they take in the red mountains reaching into blue sky. Some of the surrounding terrain may look familiar. Many a western movie was filmed in these parts - the spa is adjacent to Snow Canyon State Park, where they shot the final scenes of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Given the scenery it's not surprising that Red Mountain, as a destination spa, is known foremost for its comprehensive hiking program, which includes daily hikes at three experience levels - from beginner to advanced - to explore the red limestone rocks and spires, lava flows, caves and desert flora of Snow Canyon. There are also excursions to hike or mountain-bike to see the amazing towering cliffs of Zion National Park and the stunning sandstone pinnacles of Bryce Canyon National Park - both parks are located within an hour's drive of the spa. In fact, Red Mountain began in 1983 as a few rustic huts designed for hikers who wanted to tackle the desert landscape. It expanded in 1999 into a destination spa and more recently in 2006 into a fancier destination spa combining outdoor adventure and luxury pampering - with the addition of a gorgeous spa facility, Sagestone, located in a striking three-story geodesic dome. The property adopted the slogan, "Find yourself between a rock and a soft place," which is just about right. You can hike and bike and do other outdoor adventure activities such as horseback riding in Snow Canyon, kayaking and rock climbing. Or you can choose to spend your time relaxing your mind, body and spirit at the 55-acre resort. The Native American Card Reading ($150) caught my eye on the extensive menu of daily Continue Reading

Get yer red hot Yanks & Mets tix

The hottest tickets in town right now are the Mets and Yankees. Fresh on the heels of last year's stunning record-setting ticket sales, both teams look like sure things to once again eclipse box-office records. With two weeks to go before the home opener April 9, Mets fans have so far snapped up about 2.4 million advance tickets - an 18% increase over last year. Total 2006 season sales topped 3.5 million. "We're very pleased," said Dave Howard, Mets executive vice president of business operations. But not surprised. "We have had a great team," Howard explained, "and the marketplace responded last year. And, historically, when a team does well, there usually is an uptick in sales the next year." The Mets finished behind the Yanks and Los Angeles Dodgers in attendance last year with a franchise record 3.36 million coming to games. On eBay, tickets for the Mets' Opening Day game against the Phillies went for as much as $275 each, with cheap seats way up behind home plate fetching $100. "For the Mets opening game, I've gotten offers for three to four times the value of my tickets," said a 23-year-old college student named Claudio, who paid $45 for his field level box tickets. "There's a lot of anticipation this year, a lot of fans asking for various games, even for games against lower-level teams." No slouches themselves, the Yanks are on pace to set a record with 3.4 million advance tickets sold, a 6.2% jump over last year at this time. Yankee assistant director of media relations Ben Tuliebitz said there are two reasons why tickets are going like hot cakes. "Yankee Stadium no longer is just a place to watch baseball," he explained. "It's become a tourist attraction. Fans want to come and see the place at least one more time before it comes down in 2009," he explained. "But when it comes to the bottom line," he said, "we put a great product on the field and the fans show they appreciate that." A record 4.2 million Bombers fans attended Continue Reading

A.C.’s hot tables are for diners, too

Casino buffets may still be Atlantic City's biggest dining scene, but these days, A.C. is gaining back some of its former Rat Pack-era glory. It all started when the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, the area's first Vegas-style operation, opened up three celebrity chef-driven restaurants last year. The move brought the city a whole new standard of fine dining, one that existing casinos like The Trump Taj Mahal (which just opened six spots in a new shopping area called Spice Road) are now hoping to reach. In fact, between all the hot new destinations and the old classics going strong, you won't even need a win to enjoy an Atlantic City weekend - especially if you put your money on one of these lucky seven spots. SEABLUE BORGATA: For some foodies, this sleek spot from San Francisco chef Michael Mina is worth a trip alone. He's known for his whimsical, globe-trotting ways with seafood, and Seablue doesn't disappoint. A five-course tasting menu is $175 per person, but you could always grab a seat in the bar and try one of his famous "trios," a $24-$32 tasting sampler of sea creatures raw, steamed or fried - the latter, for example, features addictive lobster corn dogs served with a creamy whole-grain mustard. (Bobby Flay Steak and Wolfgang Puck's American Grille are on the same floor.) Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, 1 Borgata Way; (609) 317-8220. THE IRISH PUB AND INN: Tucked off the Boardwalk, this low-slung tavern is the real deal: a 24-hour operation stuffed with knick knacks, stained glass and signs for Irish Stout. Wait for a table in the maze-like dining room or grab a few inches at the marble-topped, wrap-around bar, where buttoned-down bartenders man the ever-flowing taps. There, buy a Guinness and a sloppy corned beef sandwich and fries for $4.95. 164 St. James Place; (609) 344-9063. WHITE HOUSE SUB SHOP: Arguably Atlantic City's most famous restaurant, this sandwich shop is nothing but a counter with a few booths, a row of stools and Continue Reading