Quarantine Cuisine – Do’nut Pass Me By! (part 1)

The Donut or doughnut, however you choose to spell it, is perhaps my favorite food group, just behind bacon.  The one handed, treat of the Gods (not confirmed) has been around, in the US, since the early 1800’s.  Today, you’ll find a cornucopia of variations, fillings, shapes and donut shops. Road To Plate will highlight some local and maybe not so local donut shops and their sometimes, unique take this American treat and what makes me Drive.Stop.Eat


Long’s Bakery

Considered by many to be the Godfather of all donuts in Indy, Long’s was established in 1955 by founders Carl and Mildred Long. Long’s has been a personal institution of mine, since my teens, as I went to church just a few blocks away.  Just as true, as passing the offering basket during service, an after-church visit was expected for warm glazed yeast and cinnamon fries.  Long’s produces a host of other items such as Long Johns (I guess they would have too), cake donuts, brownies, cookies and traditional cakes. All their staff wear traditional bakery whites and personally know many of their patrons by name.  Though the glazed yeast is by far most fans favorite, I’m definitely a Cinnamon Fry guy.  Moderately iced and with a cinnamon spiced dough make this perfect.  The glazed cake usually rounds out my purchase.

Prices are fantastic and I don’t remember when they’ve ever had a price increase. Just under $7 got me nine donuts.

Cinnamon Fry, Glazed Cake & popular Glazed Yeast

Lines are always long, often draping outside the door and cars are often jockeying for the few street spots, in front of the store.  A word to the wise…with long lines, you have plenty of time to decide what you want…..be ready to order; and remember it’s Cash Only!




Rise ‘n Roll

Rise-n-Roll came highly recommended by several friends and to you….RnR did not disappoint. Rise n Roll is an Amish style bakery with several locations throughout the state. Some of those double as both bakery and deli. Based in Middlebury, Indiana, Rise offers an assortment of donuts, danish, muffins and cinnamon rolls. You find an array of other products such as pasta and breads.  Back to the donuts. I opted for a few different options; their classic Cinnamon Caramel, Traditional Glazed Yeast, Lemon Custard, Jelly, Bavarian filled and Apple Fritter.

Jelly Filled, Caramel Lemon, Cinnamon Caramel & Bavarian Cream

Prices are on par with most upper tier donut shops. Two bottled OJ’s and donuts set me back about $14.  Although all donuts (I didn’t eat them all myself) had excellent taste and texture, I did find the abundance of powdered sugar just a touch much. Now I love some sugar but found myself knocking off a little before each bite. Be forewarned, brace yourself and clothing for a big dust off. Very Cafe Du Monde like.  Both the Lemon custard and Bavarian were atypical as having a very light and airy custard. The lemon let you know but didn’t overbear.  The Bavarian, was extremely light, which I loved. So many times, some Bavarians can be too much.  The Cinnamon Carmel was my favorite. It hit with just the right amount of cinnamon to dough ratio.  I didn’t feel like I was taking some type of “how much cinnamon you can eat challenge on Youtube”. I’m looking forward to my next visit!


Carl’s Donuts and Bakery

Decorative interior

Glazed Yeast, Iced Red Velvet and Vanilla Cake

Just a little over six weeks ago, Carl’s Donuts and Bakery brought to Avon a much needed local bakery. They’ve already become a fixture to the area by providing sweet treats to many healthcare facilities and local law enforcements. Taking care of those that take care of us, is always top billing. I’v been clamoring for a place that I can get my quick donut fix, so was excited to finally give them a try. You’ll find their interior extremely welcoming and friendly. Great staff and a warm decorative seating area.  Pristine white bakers uniforms, shinny equipment and real-time POS training all led to the familiar look of a brand new establishment.  Anyone in food service can relate to that feel.

I opted for their traditional glazed yeast, red velvet and iced caked donuts. The day I visited, they were down in inventory but understandably supply deliveries have effected everyone and bakers are using what they have at the moment. The glazed yeast was the star of this visit.  It had a very traditional fry crisp and airy center.  The glaze wasn’t too sweet and gave a very familiar taste….dare I say a bit like a Long’s yeast.  I did feel both the red velvet and vanilla cake fell a bit short. An ample thick dip of icing really masked the cake itself and I was left wanting more from the red velvet. That chocolate finish normally associated with a red velvet was missing. Prices are fair, an $8 total got me these donuts and a cream cheese iced cinnamon roll. I’ll attribute most of this to both a fairly new opening and our current state of affairs, so I hope that over a short time, my next visit will build upon a good start already. Always support your local mom and pops!

Look forward to part 2 when I check out Tim’s Bakery, Red’s Donuts and Hilligoss Bakery.


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Quarantine Cuisine – Pintxos

Road to plate stays in Spain, in this addition, with a visit to its northern Basque regional towns of Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian.  I’ll get to the food but a brief explanation as to why I made the flight from Madrid to Bilbao and ultimately a local bus ride to San Sebastian.

My love for Spain has always been prevalent in my cooking when it comes to flavors and textures and I found tapas dining a great way to explore many dishes without the sacrifice of picking just one.

Bilbao, Spain – Nervion River

I made a last minute travel change, in Bilbao, that allowed me to spend a couple days in San Sebastian, to not only take in its food, but to catch the opening day of its annual Heineken Jazz Fest. What better place to experience two of my favorite things, Jazz music and eating, while sitting on the beach!

San Sebastian

San Sebastian view from Mount Igeldo

When it comes to small plate dining, pintxos reign supreme in Basque cuisine.  Unlike traditional tapas, which are usually plated and smaller versions of main course dishes, pinxtos are truly, one to two bite, sliced bread samplings, topped with an array of cheeses, seafood, meats or croquettes.  The combinations are endless and are usually characterized by a small toothpick or skewer holding everything in place. Pinxto bars dot the landscape in Old Town San Sebastian as well as Bilbao.

In general most pinxto bars, top their bar with an array of room temperature offerings. You either pay for a “flight” of eats, in addition to a local beer or wine or you just pay for your selected pinxtos.

Pinxto bar offerings – San Sebastian
Pinxto Bar – Bilbao Spain

I found myself both mesmerized and anguished during my selections, as I knew, I planned to visit several bars and didn’t want to over do it at any one place.  Pinxtos are not complicated and are meant to be more like appetizers or bites to have with friends and drinks before one goes out to dinner.

The pinxtos I’ve created here are just a small sampling of the combinations of flavors that I like and that I found to be an underlining base of offerings during my visit.  Use this form of dining as a way to include family members in the kitchen.  Build a selection of ingredients and let everyone construct their own versions.

A few basics:

Use good bread. The Basque region boarders France so crusty baguettes are a must.

Both Bilbao and San Sebastian are coastal: sardines, tuna are very prevalent

Cheese: Manchego is Spain’s pedestal cheese – use it often but don’t be afraid to use a good French Brie. Baguettes and Brie hopefully will be served in heaven.

Meats: Iberico Ham (Jamon Iberico), pork is popular, small beef cuts – use a good cured ham if you can’t fine Iberico. Chorizo always works

Vegetables: piquillo peppers, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, pickles, olive oils add spice and freshness

Tomato Bread | Manchego | ChorizoIMG_6801

I borrow the popular Catalonian tomato bread as the base for this pinxto. (Catalonian Tomato bread is a popular table bread served in Barcelona: traditionally toasted bread topped with a smear of ripened tomatoes and garlic)

6-10 pieces sliced baguette

8oz shaved Manchego cheese

8oz stick chorizo – sliced

Garlic clove, sea salt and pepper

Lightly toast sliced baguette pieces. Rub with raw garlic clove. Spread a small amount of grated ripe tomatoes and top with shaved manchego and chorizo. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Spike with toothpick. Room temperature manchego allows its natural buttery and slightly toasted nut flavors to come out. 


Tuna | Yolk Aioli | Egg | Red Pepper


Fresh tuna gives this pintxo a lighter than look texture. Drizzled with fresh squeezed lemon and good olive oil rounds this out. Swordfish or other semi firm fish can be substituted for tuna. You need a fish that will hold up on the grill and not contain too much natural oils.

1/2 lb fresh tuna steak (1 1/2″ thick cut)

2 hard cooked eggs – yolk separated after cooking

1/2 cup home made aioli or purchased light mayo

Juice from half a lemon

1/4 cup roasted red peppers 

6-8 toasted sliced baguettes or other crusty bread (rustic sourdough or ciabatta can substitute)

sea salt, black pepper, olive oil

Season tuna steak with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill each side for approximately 3-7 minutes or until fish has cooked through. Careful not of over cook.  Let fish rest and cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, mash cooked egg yolk into prepared aioli or light mayo; add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the egg whites to be lightly chopped and held separately. Once fish has cooled, flake into another small bowl, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste

Smear each baguette liberally with yolk aioli, top with spoon full of flaked tuna. Top with chopped egg white, small strip of roasted red pepper and light drizzle of olive oil.  Spear with toothpick and serve. 

Remember, these are just a couple examples of the endless options you have.  Have fun with this!

Thank you for all your Likes and Follows! If you have a special place you eat, a special cuisine you like, or place you visited, message me for future highlights on what make you Drive.Stop.Eat





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Quarantine Cuisine – Paella

Road to plate has been parked, as may of you have, so I’ve created a series of recipes that can help offer some comfort and add a bit of variety.

Like every great dish, they all come with a degree of embellishment and an individuals own creativity. One of my favorite dishes is Valencia’s Paella. Throughout my travels in Spain, I’ve come across various versions, all equally delicious.  I’m sharing with you my version, of a mixed paella.

Paella is traditionally served in what is called a Paellera. Even though the pan allows for controlled even cooking and gives the dish its name, you can substitute with any shallow large, at least 14″ round saute skillet. Stay away from using cast iron of stainless steel. A non-stick pan will offer a decent substitute. Most paella pans are made of carbon steel so after use, make sure you coat with a little oil to keep from rusting and aiding in seasoning the pan. Many kitchen stores will sell paella pans or you can find several online retailers.  If your going through the labor to create this dish, make sure you get the pan!

Rice: you want to use a short or medium grain rice. This style of short round rice absorbs liquid effectively, much like Arborio in risotto making. Look for true paella rice such as Bomba in specialty markets or you can use any short round to medium grain rice.

In true paella fashion, many people fond over the Socarrat. This is the crusty bits of rice that form on the bottom or rim of the pan, during the final stages of cooking.  It’s prized in many households and restaurants.  It provides an additional level of texture and toasted flavor.

Mixed Paella

1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs – cubed
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups chorizo sausage – diced or coin cut (andouille can be used)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic – diced
1 tbs paprika
1 cup diced roasted red bell peppers (drained of oil)
3 cups short or medium grain rice
6 cups chicken stock
3 Generous pinches saffron
8oz firm white fish (mahi mahi or swordfish) – cubed
12-18 raw medium to jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tail off
1/2lb thawed squid rings and tentacles
1 cup sweet peas, frozen
1 lemon for wedges
Chopped parsley (optional)

Season the cubed chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep chilled until use. Separately, season the shrimp, squid, and fish with salt and pepper and keep chilled until use.

Heat additional oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage until browned, remove and hold. Add chicken thighs and brown using oil remaining in pan. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until chicken is nearly cooked through.IMG_5363

In the same pan add diced onions and garlic.  Sauté until onions until softened. Do not burn the garlic.  Add rice and saffron and cook for 2-3 minutes or until all the rice has been coated with oil.  Rice should start to become a yellow color.  Add diced bell peppers and cook for an additional 1 minute.IMG_5373

Add chicken stock to cover the rice, bring to a light boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add the shrimp, squid and fish and fold into the rice. Let simmer over a medium heat for about 6-8 minutes. You may need to add more chicken stock until rice is fully cooked and seafood has cooked through.IMG_5388 Near end of cooking process, when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, add peas and allow peas to warm through. You can let the paella continue to simmer over a medium to high heat to help create the socorrat; that’s the crusty rice bits that can form around the rim and bottom of the pan.IMG_5402

Note: when cooking over stove top, make sure to turn your pan often to help distribute proper heat.

Remove from heat and garnish for lemon wedges and/or chopped parsley


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Market Day

As a chef and photographer, there’s not too many things I enjoy more than eating good food and photographing it; and spending time in City Markets are just the place to do both.
Throughout my travels, I’ve always had an affinity to the market, it’s people, food, smells and vibrancy of life. To meet the farmer, fisherman or shop owner and hear and see what their labor has produced, adds to the satisfaction. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a brief list of some of my favorite markets that you should… Drive, Stop and Eat.

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Barcelona, Spain

Located on the bustling avenue of La Rambla, Sant Josep is inundated with both locals and throngs of tourist, but that doesn’t take away from its rich history, over 800 years, in providing a wonderful array of fresh seasonal produce, fresh meats, cheeses and just caught seafood.Sant Josep de la Boqueria One can suffer from sensory overload, if not careful, as every turn of the head captivates you withSant Josep de la Boqueria rich colors and artfully displays fruits or the sounds of vendors hawking “street” food snacks and fresh squeezed fruit juices. Arrive early to beat some the tourist crowds and you’ll also catch many of the seafood stalls hand selecting a tremendous variety of seafood. During lunch find a tapas bar, sit back and people watch.


Marche Jean-Talon
Montreal, Quebec Canada

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Jean Talon Market mimics more of a traditional farmers’ market embellished with an array of small food stalls, cafes and coffee shops. You’ll also find small restaurants and bakeries dotted along the perimeter. From bagels to lox, you’ll find a wonderful selection of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable that are artistically displayed. From June to October, many of the streets are reserved to just pedestrian traffic, which for me, allowed me to eat and walk with great ease. Say Qui to French pastries without crossing the Atlantic!


Mercado do Bolhao
Porto, Portugal

Amongst the many of Porto’s rich characteristics, is the Mercado do Bolhao. Located in the center of Porto, this rustic market houses several fresh fruits, produce and butchers. A highlight for me were the fresh seafood vendors, who’s stalls, mostly run by women, had an endearing personality and were quick to both help me with my Portuguese as well as educating me on the vast amount of fresh seafood and shellfish they had to offer. The market has a couple first floor restaurants that prepares local fare, sourcing most of the ingredients from the vary booths I visited. I found this market to be less populated by tourist, which was welcomed as I got more a feel of true Portuguese culture. Florist, spice shops, local gifts and souvenirs and of course, Port wine are available from the other shops that span the perimeter of the market.


The Neighbourgoods Market
Cape Town, South Africa

This Cape Town, Woodstock area, market on the grounds of the Old Biscuit Mill is more of an epicurean delight than market. Among the throngs of trendy clothing boutiques, jewelry makers and gifts are some of the best restaurant quality food vendors Cape Town has to offer. From craft beers to artesian breads, and Halal to vegan, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your tastes or needs. Open year round, but only on Saturdays, this market has a great following of locals as well as visitors. Communal seating on large park style tables allows a wonderful mixing of conversations and taste sharing. Throughout the year Neighbourgoods host several food, wine and music related festivals and activities.


Darajani Bazaar & Market
Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania

If you like the air perfumed by a mélange of spices, the sounds of hawkers and buyers and the organized rawness of a traditional African market, then the Darajani Market is for you. Throngs of locals and tourist visit this market every day to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and everyday necessities. Early risers can catch the action during fresh seafood auctions or butchers just tending to their offerings, the sights and smells will alert you that you’re close. The main building is surrounded by a host of stalls and booths selling tourist driven spice kits and local clothing. As dates are grown in abundance on Zanzibar, you’ll find a whole street dedicated to this fruit, as well as vendors using mobile carts sell fresh bread. Take your time and you meander through alleys and streets lined with local crafters and shop owners.



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From Ethiopia to Indy

Ethiopia to Indiana. Taxi Driver to Restaurateur. You’re right; doesn’t quite seem the most logical, but that’s just what you’ll find on the west side of Indianapolis.

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

Nestled within an unassuming strip mall on west 38th street, you’ll find Abyssinia, and owner/chef Abraha Belachew. The Indy’s west side has been noted in becoming a clearing house of many ethnic and cultural based establishments and Abyssinia has been one of the originals serving authentic Ethiopian based cuisine since 2003.

Abraha a native of Ethiopia, fled with his family, as a refugee, to neighboring Sudan to escape his countries inner political turmoil and unrest. Originally arriving to the United States, via San Diego, to live with a cousin in 1988, he made his way to Indianapolis in 1996. While a taxi driver he fell in love with the area, its people and soon the location in which he wanted to open a restaurant. “No experience at all” he stated but untraditionally for his culture, his mother, enjoyed his cooking. Growing up, it was very uncommon for men to cook in the family. Much of his experience came from observing others cooking. Now he relies on past experiences and his own interpretations of Ethiopian cuisine.

Abyssinia, which in loose translation, is an ancient name of Ethiopia, has been, over the years, a true labor of love and commitment. A mom and pop in every sense of the phrase, his wife, who was back in Ethiopia visiting family, when I visited, makes their traditional flat bread, Injera, every night. Their daughter, a six year U.S. military veteran, has also served as hostess and server.

The interior of the restaurant is dimly lit and cozy, with most tables positioned close to one another. Posters of Ethiopian landmarks dot the walls while there’s a faint aroma of spice and roasted coffee beans. On my visit, during mid-week, there were a few guest scattered about. Diversity has been very important to Abraha and Abyssinia’s success. A frequent dining spot of many international college students, professors and doctors, all have led to a tremendous word of mouth following, within his own community and beyond. When not in the kitchen, you will find Abraha, personally greeting guest, friends, offering traditional honey wine, they make in house, or helping guest select from his vast menu. Whether dining on glass topped tables or from traditional basket weaved tables called, Mesob, family and friends are the focus and one of the main reasons why he enjoys having Abyssinia. Communal dining is a must and remember, eating with your right hand only, is a cultural tradition but forks are provided for us westerners.

The Food: African cuisine has been at the root of many American trends and cooking. From low country, in the Carolinas, to Creole in Louisiana. At Abyssinia, you’ll find many recognizable ingredients prepared in some very traditional methods. Abraha provided me a sampling of some his stable items including, Gommen Besiga, braised collard greens and Tikel Gome, stewed cabbage and carrots. While serving a vast patronage of vegetarians, beef, lamb and goat are at the forefront to many of his dishes. Siga Wett, braised beef tips, in a paprika laced sauce, (you can ask for REAL spicy) were and have been a favorite of mine. Stewed goat, steamed rice and turmeric spiced potatoes were also on my sampler plate; and all had a wonderful mix of earthiness and spice. Always ask for the traditional tea service that finishes your meal. Be prepared for a very hot but wonderfully soothing mint and fruit scented tea. When first arriving to Indianapolis, Abraha relied on fellow local Ethiopians to provide many of his native herbs and spices for his restaurant. Now, through his own successes, he currently provides many of those same individuals and much of the Indianapolis area with goods he sources directly from Ethiopia.

Tea Time

Tea Time

A true chef of farm to table and buying local, Abraha, personally visits and selects every cow, lamb and goat that he serves in the restaurant. He oversees each livestock purchase, follows during its butchering and packing, to insure both quality of the product and that it has been handled humanely and within cultural parameters. Now that’s knowing where your product come from!

If you appreciate good food, a warm environment and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, then Drive, Stop and Eat to, Abyssinia.




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