Red Pepper Rasa/ Red Pepper Diner

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover

Never Judge a Book By Its Cover is one phrase one could use to describe the Red Pepper Rasa or Red Pepper Diner. The outside of this Sri Lankan restaurant does not impress, but do not judge by appearances. I’ve come to learn sometimes that hole in the wall establishments can have the tastiest food.

Red Pepper Diner on Route 9D , north of I-84, just north of Beacon in Wappingers. The sides of the building have red vertical stripes.

The server said their meals are all gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. They ask you when you order how much heat or spiciness you prefer. I ordered my food with mild spice on the first visit. The food was very flavourful.

Sri Lankan Tea with Kithul Jaggery

The first item I was served was Sri Lankan tea with with milk. Sri Lankan tea is Ceylon tea. The country of Sri Lanka was formerly known by the name Ceylon. According to Healthline and other websites there are health benefits to Ceylon tea. Some of the benefits these sites list is it boosts your metabolism, it is high in antioxidants ( which boosts the immune system) and it may help regulate blood glucose. This tea contains potassium.

The Sri Lankan tea came with Kithul jaggery. I was told this treat was to be nibbled on with the tea. Kithul is made from the sap of a fishtail palm tree. They get this sap from the flowers of the fishtail palm. It was naturally sweet. Some websites say this treat has iron, potassium and calcium. It is said to be a remedy for cough and cold, reduces migraines, improves digestion, detoxifies the liver, and cleanses the respiratory tract, among other things. The owner told me that the fishtail palm grows mainly in the centre of Sri Lanka.

This is Kithul Jaggery before it is cut up into pieces.
Appetizers

The next items that arrived were the appetisers I ordered. I chose the sampler, which included fish cutlet, vegetable spring rolls, and vegetable samosa. I prefer these Sri Lankan Samosas over ones I have eaten at Indian resturants. They were lighter and the flavours were very appealing.

String Hopper Kothu Roti

After that, the main course of String Hopper Kothu Roti arrived. This is a rice noodle dish with stir fried onion, ginger, garlic, cabbage, leeks, carrot, and egg. I choose to add chicken to it. Next time I plan to order this I will ask for medium heat.

Dessert- Watalappan

For dessert I had Watalappan. This is a custard with coconut milk, palm sugar, cashews, cinnamon cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. I find desserts at American restaurants are overpowering with sweetness. This dessert was mildly sweet, and felt just right.

Second Visit Kothu Roti with Curried Beets
Kothu Roti with shredded curried beets.

On another trip to this restaurant I ordered the Kothu Roti. I asked for medium heat. This dish is considered a roadside speciality in Sri Lanka. This stir fry contains eggs, onions, vegetables, spices with a curry sauce with shredded flat breads. You can add different meats to this dish. On the side I ordered shredded curried beets. This is by far one of the best ways I have experienced beets. It is prepared by flavouring it with coconut milk and traditional spices.

The food at this restaurant was very tasty and I plan to return. I thank my relative, Max, who found this gem. I love experiencing ethnic restaurants that serve healthy food and this spot was right up my alley. Not only was the food outstanding, but the service was too.

On a side note, the owners told me they grow a variety of vegetables themselves. Leeks, tomatoes, peppers, squash, spinach, beans and ocra are among some of the vegetables they grow to use in their recipes. Other items they import from Sri Lanka. Saman Munaweera says their diet includes a lot of vegetables. He attributes the fact that his family is rarely sick with colds or viruses to their native diet.

Pre-Covid Buffet
The above photo was provided to me from the Red Pepper Diner. This photo was taken pre- Covid. This is a sampling of their buffet. Many hope conditions become such that they can have this once again in the future.
Hours

Check their website to see their current hours. I was told they are open from about 10:30-8 six days a week. They are closed Tuesdays. I recommend calling ahead to make sure what their hours are for that day. This restaurant is small. However, both times I visited it was not a problem with Covid restrictions to get in. The hours and menus are limited due to the pandemic. Pre-pandemic they had a buffet and a larger menu. This is typical of many restaurants during these times.

They have photos and art from Sri Lanka on display.
Location

This restaurant is located north of I-84 on Route 9D. Some information online lists the location in Beacon, while other sites list it as Wappingers. The owner says it is in Wappingers. It is very close to Beacon however.

If you are coming by train from Manhattan, take the Metro North Hudson Line to Beacon from Grand Central Station. Taxis are usually available at the Beacon station or look up a local taxi company when you arrive. It is a couple of miles from the train station, but it is along a busy road, so I do not recommend walking it. Beacon station is the closest train station to this restaurant. The next station further north, New Hamburg, is more secluded with no taxis waiting.

Whether you are visiting DIA Beacon, the Hudson Valley, or Beacon itself, if you want healthy, flavourful food with friendly, outstanding service include Red Pepper Diner on your itinerary. It is a hidden gem.

Websites:

Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/Red-Pepper-Diner-1586749234894224/

https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/redpepperdiner/

https://www.yelp.com/biz/red-pepper-diner-wappingers-falls-3?osq=red+pepper+diner

French Christmas Market in NYC

New York City has several Holiday/ Christmas Markets that are currently running, but did you know this year there is one straight from France? It’s the Christmas Market of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse. This was the first year this market was held in the city.

Each stall was in a little chalet style hut.

This market was sponsored by the cities of Strasbourg, Colmar, and Mulhouse. The Alsatian tourist board set up the market that included 30 chalets brought over from the French region of Alsace. The city of Strasbourg actually holds the oldest Christmas market in France.

Location

This market was located in Bowling Green Park in front of the entrance to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan at Broadway and Whitehall Streets.

What Was Available

This market had a variety of foods and crafts from the Alsatian region of France. Unfortunately today was the last day. It ran from December 5-22nd. Drinks included mulled wine and other alcoholic drinks such as champagne. Other food items included jams, chocolates, pastries, chestnuts, soup, and tarte flambé among other things.

Some of the handcrafted items for sale. Other craft items included ornaments and pottery.
Jams- some of which I was told include the ingredients commonly found in fruit cakes.

Tarte flambé is an iconic Alsatian dish. It had a very thin crust with a mixture of cream and soft, smooth cheese. You could choose to have onions and bacon on it or cinnamon apples. This was wood fire grilled in an outdoor oven. Everyone who bought it seemed to be very pleased with this offering. This booth had a long line.

Tarte flambé with cinnamon and apples.

Santa was available in a tent. Most of the people I saw posing with him were adults. Most of the items in the market were geared towards adults, however, I did see some families with children who seemed to be able to go outside the box on food choices.

Posing with a French Santa , Father Christmas or Papa Noel

They did have a seating area near where the alcoholic drinks were served with tables.

Payment

This market only accepted credit cards. That was a disappointment for me as I like to pay cash. I feel others need to be aware of that.

This market was a nice way to have access to another culture and its offerings. It was a good way to experience a European Christmas market on a small scale. Let’s hope this one returns or another region from Europe brings in their own products and experiences next year. For those of us who have always wanted to experience the European Christmas markets, but are unable to go, this was a nice introduction.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Did you know there were holiday markets outside Europe? Where can you find holiday markets in New York City? One location is at the southwest corner of Central Park at Columbus Circle.

Hours

Monday- Saturday 10-8 Sunday 10-7

Items

More than 100 vendors sell hand crafted items and specialty foods. Some items are environmentally friendly. There is a food court area with vendors and tables to sit at. In other areas vendors sell hot drinks and other food items as well.

Clocks were made of various vintage books.
Chocolate covered soft meringues- Italian
Lanterns of many colors
Meditating Santa

If you are interested in buying a unique handmade item, head over to Columbus Circle- 59th Street and Central Park West by December 24th. You may be surprised what catches your eye.

Meow Parlour NYC

Have you ever been in a coffee shop that shares its space with cats? Do you want to experience a relaxed setting where you can play with cats and kittens up for adoption? Perhaps your building does not allow animals and you want to spend time with a furry buddy. If any of this interests you head for Meow Parlour on Hester Street in Manhattan.

One of the younger kittens available for adoption.
How Does it Work?

Go to Meow Parlour at 46 Hester Street on the Lower East Side in Manhattan. They have a window where you will make your appointment. Then you head next door to the Macaron Parlor Patisserie featuring Harney and Sons tea, macaroons, scones, muffins, cookies and other baked goods. Order your food and sign the online form releasing responsibility in case you get scratched or bit. Then wait to be called. I only had to wait about 15-20 minutes. You can take your food with you when you hang with your feline friends.

When you return you take off your shoes. They have plenty of toys to tempt the cats with. There are areas in the store for cats to sleep in. There are sitting areas for the humans. When I visited there were some older kittens and younger ones as well as one cat that appeared to be full grown.

This gal is named Coffee Mate. She is in the window watching the action on the street.
They had boxes with see through tops and entrances shaped like cats that were used for cat naps.
Older kitten watching the humans at the window.

You pay on the way out. The cost is $8 for thirty minutes. This helps them pay their heating and electric costs for the premises.

Decor

The location is filled with cat related items for decoration and some for sale. There are books on the shelf you can sit and read while you spend time there, all about cats of course. There are children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat and others.

Cat decor

They also sell cat related items such as t-shirts.

Hours
Purpose

Meow Parlour partners with the shelter Animal Care Centers of NY. The kittens and cats that are at this location are up for adoption. There are opportunities to foster as well.

For more information look here: https://www.meowparlour.com

If you are looking to adopt, foster, or just spend time with a feline friend, travel to Meow Parlour. Its the cat’s meow.

Taylor Farm

More and more farms have to get creative to stay afloat in the age of mega farms. There are less and less small family farms. One such small farm that is getting creative is the Taylor Farm in Londonderry, Vermont.

They have chickens, horses, and cows.

You can get up close and personal with some of their animals. Among their animals are chickens and cows. They have a piano next to the cow barn, so if you are talented enough you will get a four-legged audience gathering behind you. I did not take a picture of the piano because a youngster was sitting at it trying to play scales repeatedly while I was there. Not interesting enough for our animal friends.

They have a farm store on the property with a variety of items. Outside they have a wood oven. They sell wood-fired bagels in the morning. You can add a variety of toppings including guacamole, their own cheese, and other choices. They will stick the bagels back in the oven to melt the butter and cheese for you. It appears they sell wood fired pizzas in the afternoon. I saw a sign on the road for that while I was there.

Wood-fired bagels. They made plain, everything, and maple the day I was there.

If you are traveling through the area, make a stop at Taylor Farms. It is a nice location for a break in your travels.

Pub Signs-The Bucket of Blood

The Bucket of Blood Pub in the Hayle area of Cornwall.

Which pub in Cornwall most likely has a name that is not duplicated with any other pub in England? The Bucket of Blood is very unique. It is a pub in Hayle that is said to be haunted and there is an interesting story behind it.

It is said an inn has been on that site for hundreds of years. It had a well from which they drew water for the inn and to brew the beer, a dark ale. Cornwall has been known for its miners, sailors, fishermen and smugglers.

The story is the innkeeper went to draw water, but instead drew blood. Upon search of the well a corpse was found. It is said the identity was unknown.

They say at night footsteps can be heard on creaking floorboards. There have been reports of people seeing ghostly figures crossing the road and then disappearing.

They say during the reign of King George III the name of the Bucket of Blood was changed to the New Inn. That lasted for about 250 years. In the 1980s the owner changed the name back to its original name- the Bucket of Blood.

I asked locals where the well was. They pointed me out to a well across the street and around the corner. However, a person who worked at the pub said there is no longer access to it. It is under what is now the ladies restroom/loo.

This inn serves nice meals. They do not serve puddings/desserts. If you are in the Hayle area make a stop at the Bucket of Blood. Its worth the trip. Ghost sightings are not guaranteed.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

What is one dessert that you can associate with England? What dessert is found at many restaurants and pubs in England year round? One could say the answer to both of these questions is Sticky Toffee Pudding.

This is the Sticky Toffee Pudding they serve at the Cock and Bull, a British pub on 45th Street in New York City. This dessert includes chunks of hard almond toffee brittle on the side and a light cream on top. Although I love all the ones I tried in this post and my friends loved all the ones they tried, this is my personal favorite.
History

Although this dessert is associated with England it actually had its roots in Canada. The story behind it is during World War II two Canadian Air Force officers passed a recipe for sticky toffee pudding to a hotelier in Lancashire. The recipe was tweaked and the rest is history. It caught on in England and became popular. Many restaurants and pubs carry it.

This is from the Hole in the Wall pub in York, England.

It is a very rich, delicious dessert. Many people list this as their favorite. A few of my friends said they wanted to tour England and try the sticky toffee pudding at various pubs and restaurants along the way. They would call their tour the Sticky Toffee Pudding Tour.

This is from The Shakespeare, a high end pub on 39th Street in Manhattan, NYC. It came with ice cream.
Ingredients

What is it made of? It usually consists of date sponge cake drizzled in toffee sauce. Some people enjoy it with cream, while others enjoy it with ice cream. Some restaurants and pubs give you the option of accompanying it with cream, ice cream or whipped cream. It is rich and delicious.

Sticky Toffee Pudding at the Lillie Langtry in London

There are other options if you plan to make this at home. There are recipes for gluten-free versions online through different culinary websites. There are also websites carrying vegan recipes for this dessert.

This is the Sticky Toffee Pudding at the White Horse in Oxford, England. This was a personal favorite of a friend who joined me on my trip to Great Britain.

This is so popular that British pubs in the United States often have it as a regular item on their menus. The Shakespeare and the Cock and the Bull in Manhattan include it on their menu. Look up a recipe online or stop in to a British pub or restaurant. You will be happy you did.

Eton Mess

What is a traditional British dessert that is popular during summer? Which dessert includes those luscious British strawberries? It is my favorite dessert Eton Mess.

Every establishment may vary it slightly. This is the Eton Mess made by Lillie Langtry on Lillie Road in London.

This dessert originated at Eton College. It was traditionally served at Eton’s annual cricket match against the students at Harrow School.

What are the ingredients? It has traditionally included strawberries, hard meringue, and double cream. Why is mess a part of its name? It is because all the ingredients bare mixed together in a big mess. The hard meringues will soften as they sit.

How can you make a healthier version? If you are making it at home you can replace half the cream with plain greek yogurt. To mix it up further you can even substitute other berries.

Eton Mess one evening on the patio at Pedn Olva in St. Ives, Cornwall.

This dessert is gluten-free and vegetarian. Hard meringues are usually made with egg whites and sugar. In the U.K. hard meringues are readily obtainable at different food stores such as Whole Foods and Sainsburys. When dining out always make sure the chef did not add in additional ingredients if you have food sensitivities.

Eton Mess at the White Horse in Oxford, England

I am partial to British strawberries. I think they are the best. Eton Mess is my favorite English summer time treat. If you fancy strawberries, you may want to order Eton Mess. It is delicious!

Sunday Roast

When most people think of traditional British food the first thing that comes to mind is Fish and Chips. Fish and Chips is the most loved food, but what comes in second? The next most loved food in England is the Sunday Roast.

What is a Sunday Roast? It is a traditional main meal served on Sunday in pubs and restaurants. It usually consists of a roast meat, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and roasted vegetables. Usually you have a choice roasted meat that could include beef, chicken, or lamb.

This is Sunday Roast at Lillie Langtry on Lillie Road in London. I choose roasted chicken. It came with roasted potatoes, roasted caramelized carrots, green beans, and Yorkshire pudding.
History

The tradition of the Sunday Roast seems to have started in the 1800s. During that time many average families did not have a large fireplace in their residence. They also may not have had enough money to cook a large amount of food. As a result, what they could afford to buy was dropped off at the bakers on the way to church. Bakers had ovens that could handle the job. It is thought that this is when most started following the tradition of the Sunday Roast.

If you want to enjoy this meal, check to see ahead of time which pubs or restaurants are serving it. You may need to make reservations in advance. It is a very delicious tradition to enjoy.