Endless Roadtrip USVI: Caribbean Comfort at Gladys Cafe

Last month Rob and I embarked on a big, amazing Caribbean vacation to USVI. We mainly stayed in St. Thomas but went to St. John for a few days, Water Island for one day, and also embarked on a boating excursion around the BVI: Virgin Gorda, The Baths, Cooper Island, Norman Island, and Jost Van Dyke. Do I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY. The Virgin Islands were a badass vacation: the perfect mix of relaxation and activity, plus home to the best white sand beaches I’ve ever experienced.

Charlotte Amalie St Thomas

We stayed in Red Hook, on the east side of the island, but the main town (and cruise port) in St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie. While it’s very pretty (see the photo above – a clear day with no ships in port!), it gets crowded with tourists and shoppers when the ships are in. Charlotte Amalie is  home to tons of duty-free shops, jewelry stores, designer bag sellers, etc… not really my scene. But hey! If you love to shop you might dig it.

But you know what else Charlotte Amalie has? One of the most popular and beloved traditional Caribbean restaurants in St. Thomas: Glady’s Cafe.

Gladys Cafe St Thomas

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Points for Pittsburgh: The Pierogi Hot Dog

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I love talking about crazy sandwiches (clearly) but what I don’t like is when they cross over the border from genius to gimmick (it’s a fine line, people!)

For example, if you serve a hamburger with giant onions ring on top, but then even an extra-large-mouthed person has to deconstruct the burger and take the onion rings off to get any kind of decent bite in, then that’s not really that crazy of a dish. It’s actually just a burger with onion rings on the side, but presented crazily, with more work involved for the eater. #foodaddictproblems

In Pittsburgh this weekend, home of the great Primanti’s french-fry-on-a-sandwich, I was fortunate enough to stop in Franktuary and be offered a hot dog served “Pittsburgh style” — topped with housemade, slaw and a housemade cucumber-y ranch dressing on top. Now, this could easily fall into the gimmick category if they overloaded that dog with so many pierogies that you have to pick them off and eat on the side. But with just two crispy pierogies on top it’s just crazy enough that you can actually pick the whole thing up and get a taste of each element — dog and dumpling included — in each bite.

In fact, they didn’t even offer me a fork. Bravo, Pittsburgh.


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The Endless Road Trip, Philly: A Waffle to End All Waffles



At Philly’s new V Street, the all-vegan menu is inspired by street food from around the world, fusing flavors from as far afield as Hungary, India, Peru and the Philippines into an amazing array of meat-free snacks like jerk trumpet mushrooms and harissa-grilled cauliflower mixed up with spiced avocado, olive salad and chermoula, an intensely flavorful North African marinade.

The cocktails are particularly off-the-wall—the “Cruz Control” mixes tequila with horchata, lime and tepache—a Mexican fermented pineapple drink—but the true crazy prize has to go to this dessert waffle: it’s layered with rich chocolate ganache, gooey bites of banana, vegan ice cream and a chunky miso caramel, with Sriracha peanuts and syrup poured over the whole thing. Yes, please.

(Photo: V Street)

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Endless Road Trip, Philly: Chicken Schmaltz Rugelach


This savory, fat-filled take on the classic Jewish pastry is just the amuse bouche at Abe Fisher, but it’s a perfect introduction to Chef Michael Solomonov’s unique new restaurant, where he explores inventive takes on foods from throughout the Jewish diaspora. Solomonov offers a tiny, flaky take on the rugelach cookie and fills it with schmaltz (clarified chicken fat, a Jewish traditional ingredient usually used for frying or spreading on bread). It may seem like a gimmick, but it’s one of those gimmick-seeming things that actually work, and makes you wonder why they ever put chocolate in these doughy pastries when pure chicken fat works so much better.

Elsewhere at Abe Fisher, the borscht tartare is a deconstructed beet dish topped with trout roe, hard-boiled egg and onion potato chips (any dish that has both caviar and chips wins my vote). The smoked sable cakes are a crispy, crustacean-less Kosher answer to Maryland crab cakes, bursting with the surprisingly effective combination of Old Bay and dill, while the requisite Kosher-busting piggy dish subs pork belly in for pastrami on a delightfully cheesy rueben. Even the simplest dishes here impress, like a side of warm and juicy carrots amped up with aged gouda, little bits of pumpernickel bread pudding and savory prune butter. Overall, one of the best new restaurants in the country I’ve been too lately. Also, it’s March and still like 10 freaking degrees. Can I get some more chicken schmaltz in here please?

(Photo: Yelp / Melissa P.)

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The Endless Road Trip, Philly: A Thousand Layers of Joy

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At Rangoon, a Burmese restaurant in Philly’s Chinatown (one of only a few longstanding Burmese spots on the East Coast), there are curries and skewers and tea leaf salads (all delicious), but the star of the show is a not-so-humble slice of bread.

Their thousand-layer bread is similar to an Indian paratha — a buttery, crispy fried pancake of dough — except here the hot and greasy bread achieves such a flaky, pull-apart consistency that it’s only a slight exaggeration to bill it as having a thousand layers. Each time you tear into this thing it comes apart with such soft and gooey satisfaction, offering all the joy of pulling apart those endless Pillsbury biscuits (pretty much one of my favorite things to do as a fat little kid), albeit with a thousand times more flavor. It comes with curry or a thick white “vantana” bean sauce for spreading/dipping, but really nothing else is needed but this hot and heavenly roll of carb-y wonder.

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The Endless Road Trip, Philly: A Smorgas-bread of Brunch Foods

Most tourists only make it to South Philly for the gloopy fake-cheese fest at the intersection of Pat’s and Geno’s, but it’s worth going just a little further south for a taste of the North Sea at Noord Eetcafe. Dutch-born chef Joncarl Lachman pays homage to his home country as well as the foods of Denmark, Norway and the rest of Northern Europe at this homey BYOB spot. Anyone who thinks Sunday brunch is the time for chefs to phone it in should check out the full-fledged flavors on display here, from warm, caraway-studded grilled bread and butter plopped on the table immediately…


….to the pickled cauliflower, onions and green tomatoes that come with nearly everything, including the crispy fried mushroom and chicken kroket:


Noord’s daily-changing take on Scandinavian smorrebrod sandwiches always features an array of smoked fish—salmon, scallops and head-on shrimp when I stopped in—finished with a deliciously creamy, mustard seed-spiked dressing, plus more of those lovely pickled veggies.


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The Endless Road Trip, Philly: Breakfast Sandwich of the Year



A couple years back Endless Simmer took you to Philadelphia for an epic foodie road trip, taste testing everything from soup dumplings to Tastycakes. This week we’re returning to the city of brotherly love to find out what new foods Philly has on offer — and we were quite taken with several of Philadelphia’s newest restaurants.

Our follow-up on Philly’s five best new food items kicks off today with a breakfast sandwich that will make you forget it’s some ungodly low temperature outside.

Served at High Street on Market — a great farm-to-table find in the otherwise chain-y area near Independence Mall — the pastrami and has breakfast sandwich piles everything there is to love on breakfast onto one fresh-baked poppy seed roll: including a thick, extra-crispy square of hash browns (love that carb-on-carb action), a mound cheesy scrambled eggs, grilled red peppers, tender shaved pastrami and just a little Russian dressing, for a little Rueben-y kick to your morning,  along with a tart house-made hot sauce on the side.

I know it’s only February, but I’m confident saying this is the breakfast sandwich of the year.

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