Arepas Reina Pepiada

In translation, “the chubby queen.” Reina Susana might have been the namesake for this sandwich, a fluffy arepa shell stuffed with avocado chicken salad, but god damn, if it doesn’t ring true. Hell, the chubby queen? Might have well just saved some time and called it “El Foodetta.”

Keepitcoming described these as having a mixture of seductive textures. She’s right. For street food, this is awfully complex and even a little sexy, like the voluptuous queen herself. The outer layer is crisp and buttery, with an inner fluffiness from the cornmeal, and then the filling hits the senses. It’s chicken salad, but more buttery, thicker, sticker, from the avocado. It’s spicy. It’s meaty. It’s cold and chewy and utterly delicious.
You will fall in love.

The best part about these Venezuelan vamps is that they take ten minutes to make. Less if you have your fillings handy. And they’re so versatile and taste so fresh. Try them out- the fillings can be swapped out for anything. We recommend the sexy- caviar and avocado. Grilled shrimp and brie. Cream cheese and smoked salmon. These might nudge out sesame chicken for our Valentine’s Day menu.

Arepas
Ingredients (makes ten four inch buns)
2 cups of harina- pre-cooked white cornmeal. We used the Goya one and it worked fine, though everyone on T3H INTARNETZ swears by Harina P.A.N. Pro-tip: any kind works.
3 cups of lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
Butter for the griddle.

1. Mix all the ingredients, except for the butter, together. Let them sit for five minutes.
2. Prepare a griddle pan with butter- roughly a teaspoon for every four cakes.
3. Make small cakes, roughly four inches in diameter, and a quarter inch thick. Smooth out any cracks and make sure they are of an even width.
4. Fry the cakes until they are golden brown on both sides and puffy. Split them with a fork and spread with a filling of your choice.Arepas Reina Pepiada Filling
Ingredients (serves four, makes enough to fill ten buns)
2 pounds of chicken tenders or skinless chicken breasts
2 avocados, ripe
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise- we used chipotle mayonnaise and it gave it a nice kick and a lot of extra flavor
Seasonings to taste- salt, pepper, smoky paprika, red pepper flakes

1. Set a pot of water on the stove. When the water starts to boil, place your chicken breasts in and let them cook, stirring occasionally.
2. While those are cooking, mash your remaining ingredients in a bowl. When the chicken is done, a process that shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes if they are thin chicken breasts, take them out of the water. When they are cool, shred them into small pieces and put them in the bowl. Mix thoroughly until combined and mushy. Spread on arepas.

God damn, these are tasty. And surprisingly, not too bad for you. They use about a quarter of the mayonnaise you would use in a regular chicken salad and are also gluten-free.

Hot Chocolate Snackdown

Ohhh, snap. We haven’t done this in ages. New England has been hit with more crap than Poland in 1939, and by “crap” I obviously mean snow. It’s no longer a winter wonderland. This is war. So Keepitcoming and I have been keeping the chills at bay with hot chocolate. And sex, but also hot chocolate. After accumulating a few different brands, we thought it would be fun to compare them. Two, Chuao and TCHO, are more upscale and can be bought at your local Whole Foods or organic co-op, and the other, Ghiradelli, is available at any grocery store. Except Food Lion. ‘Cause it sounds strange.All three of these took vastly different modes of preparation and had different ingredient compositions. The Ghiradelli was completely powder, with the first three ingredients being sweet ground chocolate, sugar, and soy lecithin. Considering that 2/3rds of those were just permutations of sugar, it didn’t seem promising. The TCHO listed unsweetened dark chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder, and the Chuao listed dark chocolate, dehydrated milk powder, and sugar, making it the mix with the least sugar. The TCHO was completely chunks of chocolate with no powder to be seen, and the Chuao resembled a cross between the previous two.Each of these took eight ounces of boiled milk in a saucepan, the difference being the time one added the chocolate and the amounts. Of the three, the Ghiradelli used the most powder, clocking in at four tablespoon’s worth. It ended up being extremely sweet with a very watery consistency, a strange topnote of burning plastic, and coated my mouth with an unpleasant chalkiness. Despite that this is commercially viable and easy to pick up, it would not be my first choice next time.The Chuao fared much better. Unlike our ill-fated Vosges chocolate, this seized up in a pleasant way and gave the drink a pudding-like, custardy texture. The flavor was rich with a slight bitterness and was scented of vanilla. It really opened up over time, because at first it was not at all aromatic or scented, leading us to believe it was blander than it actually was, but it was truly a treat to consume. Even lukewarm, it was rich and had a defined dark chocolate flavor and left no chalkiness on the palate afterward.After that, we were pretty much convinced that gourmet drinking chocolate was the way to go, so we gave the TCHO a try. Huge mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever been this let down by a gourmet product before. The first red flag this raised was the inconsistent melting. I was most excited about this because it was completely chocolate chunks, but after allowing it to boil down to a liquid, I was dismayed to discover that there were still gritty chunks leftover in the pot. The little bits that made it along with the milk rendered the texture grainy and chalky, even moreso than the Ghiradelli! If I had bought this for full retail value, I’d have been very disappointed, as everything about this fell flat- the texture, the flavor, the aroma. Everything was falling short with this hot chocolate.Overall, I think we’d easily get Chuao again in stores, or even order it online if we could wait that long. It comes in different varieties as well, and it seems like a pleasant combination between a dessert and a drink that I wouldn’t get bored with easily. The other two are disappointing and should be avoided. I think it was the dehydrated milk powder in this that thickened it up to a drinkable, yet indulgent level, so that might be an ingredient you wish to look for in stores.TCHO and GhiradelliChuao

The Dirty Truth Beer Hall, Northampton, MA

After trials and tribulations, The Dirty Truth was exposed- as a fantastic restaurant. Having heard good things about their atmosphere and even better things on their menu, it seemed essential to give this a go.

For a bar that happens to serve food, The Dirty Truth (TDT for now) has a very eclectic and indulgent menu, spanning multiple continents and favoring the liberal usage of duck confit. That’s my kind of place. The appetizers looked tame and prosaic, standard carbohydrates that would undoubtedly sop up the copious of alcohol one generally consumes, so those were passed over. However, the entrees were strange and flavorful. Eventually, the menu was whittled down to one familiar and one foreign- macaroni and cheese with truffle oil and a side of fries and onion bhaji with moussaka, an Indian napoleon with peas and rice on the side.

It’s necessary to preface this with a warning about the obnoxious, pretentious commentary one will encounter upon reading this menu. Hipsters, approach! Neurotypicals, begone! The vintage Windows 97 “chiller” font and chatty side notes are unnecessary. Just say what’s in your crab cakes, please, and check the Def Leppard references at the door. Calling something unctuous is up to me. And finally, a disclaimer with fine print is completely unnecessary. Is this the café at Fear Factor?
The food arrived in moderate portions and steaming hot. Both were presented simply but aesthetically on the plate, treading the line between artisan and rustic. At first glance, the truffled macaroni could not be taken seriously. Having never been to a restaurant where the base for the mac and cheese was elbow noodles and not off the kid’s menu, this was a little off-putting. Soon, all fears were assuaged as it was obvious this was an intentional choice, the cheese sauce clinging to the noodles like a silk slip and adhering perfectly. The sauce was beautiful, all the cheeses mingling together and gently keeping the noodles in intact clumps, but easily breaking apart should one desire a smaller forkful. Truffle oil is one of the best ingredients for pasta, and it added another layer to the flavors, never overpowering or yielding an oily texture, but providing a fantastic earthy and nutty flavor all unto its own.

The fries on the side were beautiful and hearty, neither shoestring nor steak but achieving a glorious medium in between. They were cooked to a golden crisp, but might have been in oil a hair too low, because there was a slightly unpalatable oily presence. However, the thickness of the pieces and size was delicious, and the simple combination of salt and potato made these addictive.

As for the onion bhaji, it was presented like most Indian food- in a delightful duo of fried foods and mush. Or it should have been. Valiant attempts at ethnic cuisine are best left for the experts, because this was all mush and no crunch. The overall texture was somewhere between baby food and overcooked, and the negligence of leaving the eggplant skin and flesh ratio high resulted in a bitter flavor. If one’s eyes were closed, the cloyingly sweet flavor was reminiscent of a chunky applesauce with a blend of interesting spices, but the dish on its own was too heavy and too clashing to enjoy. The side dishes, though simple, fared quite well. Peas, a typical staple of prisons and mental institutions, were given an extreme makeover. Turns out they needed only a little fresh mint to make them fresh and snappy.

The Dirty Truth offers a wide array of food and drink to keep anyone entertained and sated during a blind date or night out with the girls, but one must be open to partying hard in a dark and cave-like environment. The bright side of this is that the art changes monthly, so the disturbing and macabre Looney Tunes portraits (a la Gacy) of our last visit are, like most misunderstood and obscure things, ephemeral. Thank god for that.

Clif Shot Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Roks

I don’t know about you, but I think this “Year of the Diet” theory is bullshit. People balk under pressure, and hearing that 2011 is the year to stop fucking shit up is going to only encourage failure. Personally, I’m in the “Year of the Rabbit” ilk. It combines the Chinese (sorry, lunar)New Year and this new idea and allows you to eat all rabbit, all the time. Bun? Indeed.But for those of you who aren’t too keen on wolfing down a laegomorphe with every meal, Clif offers another alternative- protein in the form of rocks. I’ve always been keen on the Clif bars, but I wasn’t sure how keen I’d be on this product. The Clif Roks boast 40% of your daily fiber in a package of ten. Each rock is roughly between the size of a malted milk ball and a grocery store gumball, and oddly enough, roughly between their textures as well. I’m not sure if protein melts, but in anticipation of that ill-fated future, Clif has opted to coat these with a protective shell to avoid this. Protein melts in your mouth, not in your hand.Yeah, that’s a bacon wallet. Gotta keep up my street cred.

The texture of these is a little off-putting. From the packaging and formula, these appear to be optimized to eat while running or exercising, anything you do that requires a little extra protein. I’m sure you wouldn’t chew gum and sprint a mile on the treadmill. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t eat these, either. Eaten whole, they’re extremely unwieldy and difficult to bite through. When I gave up and decided to cut these in pieces, I found it trying to cut them with my knife. The shell shatters under the knife and the inner core is hard. When I finally cut them into smaller pieces, the chew was tough and grainy. Maybe I should have stuck with the rabbit diet. The predominant flavor is actually that of a malted milk ball, with a neutral sweetness that satisfies my craving for something sugary, but an artificial flavor shortly after. It’s like cookie dough in the Uncanny Valley way that Cookie Dough Bites are- not.Also, there’s no money in that wallet. I didn’t bring home the bacon.

I feel like these are bulky and more gimmicky than they make out to be. They seem to serve no real purpose aside from mildly suppressing hunger, whether lying sedentary or actually using them for exercise, and have eschewed taste and texture for a ton of protein. And yet they still manage to have as much sugar as a regular Snickers bar. I doubt I’d get these again, but I like to think I’ll nibble on them from time to time when I’m craving something sweet but don’t want to overindulge.

Archer Farms Blueberry Pomegranate Real Fruit Twists

My suitemates and I are obsessed with Target. Ever since we won a gift card for the third most awesome looking suite, we’ve been buying snacks by the dozen. Third most awesome. That’s going on the resume. Likewise, Keepitcoming and I love the snacks at Target, so most of my life is infused with Target joy. When I reviewed the Sharkie-like fruit twists a month or so back, I was enamored. Now there’s a new flavor in town. A powerful flavor. A powerfruit flavor. Blueberry pomegranate.Pomegranate is hit or miss. For that matter, so is blueberry. When done correctly, it can be satisfyingly sweet with the perfect balance of herby, tea flavor and fruity love. When done badly, it’s astringent yet achingly sweet, like being saddled up and strapped by Daria. Or Pepper Ann. Ah, Rule 34 at its best. In this case, they straddle somewhere in the middle. The chews are very aromatic, moreso than their strawberry mango counterparts, and smell sticky and slightly chemically. Luckily, their flavor fares much better. They are not very pomegranate heavy, but rely more on the sweetness of the blueberries and taste natural rather than relying on artificial additives.Again, I loved the chewy texture on these, because they had that organic graininess and jammy lush mouthfeel, but they had to be at least twice as sticky as the last ones with that strange wet, slippery feeling. It made me want to wash my hands or wipe them on the couch. Overall, though, not a bad snack.

Kristy’s Kitchen Artisan Graham Cracker Mix

Graham crackers are a quintessential staple of childhood. In my own experience with growing up, they seem to have been a persistent phase until my preteen years, making a comeback as an essential component in the almighty campfire snack, s’mores. These days, I don’t really seem to eat them. They’re cumbersome to throw in a backpack and take away without crumbling up, and aren’t nearly as satisfying as a cookie or another carbohydrate.And yet I find myself compelled. Maybe it was the Smitten Kitchen post on homemade graham crackers, or the buttery Tiny Trapeze cookies I used to pick up at Whole Foods, but the draw has gravitated graham crackers enough to shift them from gritty to glamorous. When I got this artisan graham cracker mix, I couldn’t resist baking them right up.
The mix came in a brown paper bag, but was filled about a quarter of the way up. It seemed like a waste of packaging to include the rest of the bag. I needed butter and a honey-water slurry to complete the remainder of the recipe. It wasn’t bad preparation, but I found it difficult to incorporate the cubes of butter in with the rest of the batter. At first, I was a little worried. The flour had an artificial scent to it that overpowered even the honey and when mixed, was very wet and crumbly. Without wax paper, it was arduous to roll out the dough to the correct thickness without it sticking or snagging and tearing, and it was possible to obtain either an even surface, minimal stickiness, and a thin cookie, but not all three. Because I have a touch of the OCD, I opted for slightly thicker cookies with smooth tops and as little stickiness as I could achieve.However, this made for graham crackers that were more like soft cookies. I wasn’t really able to get that wheatmeal flavor adjusted. All that crispiness and buttery, crumbly goodness was translated into a cookie that resembled a hermit or my personal local favorite, Sand Dollars. It had a honeyed flavor that wasn’t overbearingly sweet, but definitely with syrupy flavors abound. At the last minute, I poked some holes on top and sprinkled some sugar. While the holes seemed aesthetic only, the sugar gave the tops of the cookies a pleasant crunch. They still came out thick. I noticed that around the edges, the honeyed flavor was a little more caramelized and far more concentrated, which is what I’m basing the overall flavor off of if the recipe had come out perfectly. I’m still dying to make homemade graham crackers, but these make a terrific lunch box treat or deconstructed dessert base, and lent a spiced streusel flavor to our Riesling pear sorbet.

Nick’s Roast Beef, Beverly, MA

I have two phases of food consumption: drunk and not drunk. It’s impossible to predict the trend, either. One day I’ll be slicing up leftover steak in truffle oil with a gin and tonic, another day I’ll have Pizza Hut and a Donnhoff QBA. Sometimes I’ll eat a granola bar and pass out on my couch sober. But, and this is a large, grotesque but, if I reach a point in my drinking where I’m sloppy enough to be more open to different foods yet not so trashed that I can’t taste what I’m eating and end up confusing crab cakes for profiteroles. I’ll know something is good when I am first exposed to it inebriated, and maintain a high opinion for it after I’ve sobered up in the morning.Aggie brought some delicious food from Beverly, Massachusetts. I ate two sandwiches from this roast beefierie, both the same. Both were incredible, and both were perfect at the exact moments I ate them. This is a classic example of good drunken eating. Compared to eating popcorn out of a trash can, eating stale coconut cake, and drinking more, this was actually accurate and a good choice. Aggie tells me there is an intense rivalry between the roast beef shops of Boston and that everyone thinks theirs, eternal presences on street corners, is the boeuf of the boeuf. I can’t tell you if this was the most superior, but it was damned good.This seems like a sandwich that could only improve if grilled. After all, what food isn’t enhanced by a little olive oil and a blast of heat? Some sliced jalapenos, too. The roast beef was tender and had a creamy blend of fat and meat, but was cut lean so that it fell apart at the slightest touch. It was topped with a generic cheese which, though not sharp, added a creaminess to the beef, and a delicious spicy barbecue sauce and mayonnaise. Given a list, and a long list at that, of condiments, barbecue is always placed at the bottom, somewhere around mushroom and weaksauce, but this barbecue sauce had a kick to it, a fresh kick similar to a horseradish barbecue. A kick to the ‘nads. If you’re into that. It was spicy and very tangy without falling into the trap of cloying sweetness that barbecue sauce often lies in.The condiments worked their way into the meat, rather than sitting vaguely on top, and created a messy, creamy, tasty treat. I was especially impressed with the mustard. Even after a few hours to a day and a half in the refrigerator, it was still smooth and had not been absorbed by the bread. The little bits of meat that fell out during the pillage and ensuing carnage were merely delicious meat treats for me to eat later. The proportions were perfect. I don’t know what the other roast beef shoppes are offering, but if they’re anywhere near this, they have some serious competition.

Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato

Gelato is not something you fuck around with. It’s too creamy and too delicious to overeat. Unfortunately, with the new attraction of all things pseudo-Italian as a result of the upcoming third season of Jersey Shore, we can expect to see new, mass produced gelato flavors from Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Dasz, like “Snooki S’More Smirnoff” or “Paulie D-ulce de Leche” or, gross- “Ronnie’s ‘Smush Captain Cannoli Crunch.” All of these will be overly oily, with a swirl of real pubic hair and fake tanning oil. Gives you sugar and carbs for GTL! Talenti Gelato does not screw around, though. We recently tried the salted caramel gelato, a new flavor soon to be released in a store near you.This was so unctuous. And it matched our cat perfectly! Seriously. I once reviewed a dulce de leche caramel sauce, and this was like the frozen, creamy equivalent of it. It perfectly mimicked the flavor of Brach’s Soft Caramels, but better in all possible ways. It was very buttery, but not too sweet, and was infused with sea salt in every bite, giving it a bite and a contrast to cut through the cream. My favorite part about this gelato was that it was not only salted caramel, but had salted caramel truffles studded throughout the pint. That’s a perfect Yo Dawg if I’ve ever heard one. The little truffles were cold, but not frozen through, and had gooey liquid caramel inside. What I really liked about these was that they weren’t plain truffles, but were also clearly salted to enhance the experience on a whole other level. The chocolate was smooth and creamy. My only complaint was that the truffles were very unevenly dispersed. In two half cup servings, one had one truffle and another had seven. It’s not fair, especially when they’re so delicious.That being said, I’d stock up on this the next time I was in the supermarket. It’s rich enough to savor and prevent overconsuming, and sophisticated enough to serve as a dessert to friends or someone you want to impress. Keepitcoming’s birthday is coming up and I’m thinking this would go well with the salted caramel frosted cake I’m making her.

Vitamin Water Zero Rhythm

Haha, zero rhythm. Zing! Again, not funny. We picked up this new Vitamin Water in Tar-Jaaaay today. Seems like Vitamin Water is really out to market flavors that protect you…from yourself. Last month’s flavor release was Stur-D, meant to help you strengthen your bones in the event of an inevitable fall, and now they’ve come out with Rhythm, meant to help you dance like a Guido? What? Sounds like a little conspiracy theory. I’ll get the freaks on it.Vee Dubs Rhythm is billed as a starfruit and citrus blend with magnesium and potassium to give your heart a more regulated beat after you’ve wolfed down your Big Mac and aid you in your perpetual quest to choreograph those moves to The Humpty Dance. It also looks like what you’ll be pissing out after you inevitably attempt that at a real wedding, get laughed at by hot bridesmaids, and soothe your broken soul at the cash bar. Seriously. The first thing we noticed about this was its blatant visual resemblance to urine. Good news for squeamish pee enthusiasts! Bad news for kindergarten teachers.But this pee drink is actually pretty good, despite really, really looking like pee. It’s a dark, cloudy yellow. Honestly, it looks like nothing else. The flavor is mild, but not diluted. The citrus fruits give it a gentle tang similar to fruit punch or lemonade. It’s quenching and has a slightly sweet aftertaste, but nothing off or chemical about it. I can imagine that this could be enhanced even more with another exotic citrus fruit, like yuzu. It also had a more pleasurable mouthfeel than juice or even the sugared Vitamin Waters, with a softer texture and less stickiness in the back of the mouth after.

This is really starting to sound like pee. Fuck.

My main complaint with this, aside from it not being congruent with my particular fetishes, is that it did not make me a better dancer. The typically smarmy Vitamin Water packaging recommended I try the two-step instead of the tango but I still found that to be a stretch. I am a complete fool with the ladies, but at least now I have a delicious drink to ease the pain.

Bella’s Restaurant, New Haven, CT

I grew up in Connecticut. My first word was “brunch”. When they say people from Connecticut are born with silver spoons in their mouths, they don’t tell you that it’s because you actually use them to stir pancake batter. So I’d say I’m familiar with good brunch. It’s just in my blood. Currently majoring in brunch communication and ovological studies also helps. When my mother told me she visited Bella’s, a popular restaurant in New Haven, three times in the span of a month, I knew I had to go and check it out.

Problem number one with Bella’s: they’re a little too modest. Their awards are displayed as overly stretched GIFs on their homepage and their middle name is “Westville’s Best Kept Secret.” Yeah, that’s a lie. Since being voted New Haven’s Best Breakfast in Connecticut magazine, that place is harder to crack into than a nun’s anus. Keepitcoming and I tried to go earlier in the year and were met with tens of pacing hipsters outside and had to leave because we’d rather perform DIY gastric bypass surgery than wait in line with Pitchfork trashing douchebags. I went earlier this week with my mom at an obscenely early hour and expected a miracle to literally crap on my plate.

Problem number two with Bella’s: their brunch menu changes weekly, a feature that both terrifies and intrigues me. On one hand, it is fascinating and exciting to have a rotating menu that both reflects the whims of the chef and the seasonal offerings. On the other hand, what if my brunch isn’t the best brunch? It kept me up one night worrying and I wet my bed. But I left my chances to the wind and went along. Just kidding, I peeked at the menu first. My choice was simple- I knew I wanted something a little strange and something a little sweet. Bella’s Short Cakes, with battered and fried Portuguese egg biscuits stuffed with Amaretto mascarpone cheese, almond creme anglaise, and grilled apricots. Delicious. Intense. Boozy. It even beat out a Brie-stuffed French toast.

It was gorgeously presented with autumnal colors and scents rising from the plate. But god damn, as soon as I saw it, I knew that we’d have some problems. The biscuits were not stuffed with mascarpone, they were topped with it- massive, ice cream sundae scoops of solid cheese, topped with creme anglaise, and then to seal the deal, whipped cream on the side. I eat indulgently, but I inwardly cringed. There was too much fucking cream here. I had to dissect the entire dish to get adequate bites of all the elements and reassemble each one. A little too much work for eight in the morning, and for $13, I want my food prepared so that I can sip my Bellini and actually eat and relax without having to worry about the proper cream to biscuit ratio.I started by scraping the whipped cream off. It was from a can and you won’t be hearing about it. Deal. And then I cut into one of the grilled apricots. This was easily the best part of the dish. They were delicately charred and could have even stood for a little more browning, but were perfectly juicy and sweet inside. I liked that they were a little salty from the griddle, because it brought out the fruit’s natural sugars and the heated pectin made it seem more gooey and indulgent than it actually was. I could have eaten a plain bowl of these with a little creme anglaise and called it a day.

The mascarpone would have fared better had it been billed as a plain cheese, because I tasted no Amaretto. And folks, uncut mascarpone is tough stuff. Two large scoops just made me feel sick. The only purpose it served seemed to be similar to Elton John’s only purpose, which is to be over the top, rich, and placed there to buffer the style of a crusty, gross counterpart. The biscuits.Or the Gaga.

The slightly burnt biscuits were tough and rubbery and difficult to cut, and never really absorbed any of the thirty sauces on top, so maintained the same condition throughout the dish. With the vague nuttiness of the creme anglaise and the saving grace of the nectarines, I enjoyed a few bites but simply lost my appetite for all the sugary, creamy breakfast halfway through. I asked for a miracle to crap on my plate. Turns out they sent a Care Bear.
My little sister, Fashionette, joined us for brunch, but because of hereditary lactose intolerance (that apparently skipped me) wasn’t really able to partake in the richer selections. The French toast was presented very nicely, tender, eggy grilled French bread that had been soaked so long there wasn’t a crusty bite to be found. It was served with real maple syrup and a bowl of fresh strawberries. This was a tasty dish but rather unremarkable. It was French toast. With a little finesse, I could make it at home. But I did appreciate the simplicity of the dish after the carnival of lame that the short cakes presented, and later deemed her the intelligent sibling for bypassing all the heavy cream.

My mother ordered another dish from the specials and swapped with Fashionette halfway through. This was another sweet dish that looked tempting but had the added benefit of being more fruit based without all of the dairy. The French crepes featured two thin pancakes stuffed with a lime ricotta filling and topped with fresh berries and a maple raspberry sauce. What I especially liked about these was that the ricotta provided a little textural differentiation in the consistency of the overall dish. With the short cakes, it was drowning in thick, smooth cream, but the little curds in the crepes made it feel fluffier and milky without weighing it down. The lime juice in the ricotta was the dominant flavor here and was light and tart in the cheese base. Mom tells me Bella’s makes many different flavors of ricotta for fillings but this seems like the best logical choice. I especially enjoyed how tender and soft the crepes were, despite their inability to hold in their cheesy filling. The syrup erred toward the side of coulis and was devoid of maple flavoring, but the pancakes were the clear stars here and I lavished as much of my appetite as I could on them.

Bella’s is highly touted amongst quite a few people I know, and now that I’ve gone, I’m just not as satisfied as I thought I’d be. I would be game to give it another chance and sample their savory offerings, but unless I see something on their menu that absolutely blows my mind, I don’t see myself trekking back home for another potentially inconsistent experience. Call me simple, but the $4 pancakes at Christy’s beat the pants off this meal.