As I type this I’m doing something I haven’t done for weeks: cooking. And don’t believe the efficiency “experts” who say multi-tasking doesn’t result in increased productively. For me, it definitely does. The asparagus sauteed in olive oil is delicious and I’m almost 50 words into this blog post. If all the would-be writers in the world would just put fifty words down a day their big dream to write a book would one day be a dream-come-true. But that’s a blog for another day.
Today I continue my tour-de-foodie with an update of the restaurants I visited now that I am living and working in Happy Valley. To review the epic events of the past few months, my husband Geoff and I have relocated from Allentown to State College because I get to work at the wondrous Schreyer Honors College surrounded by passionate professionals who are devoted to their work, led by a visionary, inspiring leader who brings out the best in everyone. I keep pinching myself. But besides all the pinching and working I’ve got to eat, too, so I’ve been having a ball trying the many diverse and delicious restaurants in Happy Valley.
All I kept hearing was “You’ve got to try Cozy Thai.” So I did. I definitely get the adulation. One professor who was bubbling over with enthusiasm said, “There are a few places here that could make it in a big city and Cozy Thai Bistro is one of them.” I would agree. Being a vegetarian, I delighted in the many vegetarian offerings and settled on the vegetables with fried rice. It was really flavorful and the portions are big, too. Geoff didn’t like his as much but I think that’s only because he tinkered with the ingredients by requesting less coconut in his coconut shrimp. (He drove the waitress, who was trying to be patient, a little nutsy, nutsy coo-coo), but she was trying to maintain her poise, which she did for the most part. I mean what did he expect when he ordered the coconut shrimp ‘light on the coconut?’
My very smart and sweet new assistant Tatyana suggested Inferno Brick Oven Bar for lunch and being a major Italian food lover, I was enthusiastic to try it. It was good, and the pear salad I ate was a whopping $6. Tatyana had a chicken salad that she liked but there is no tea and no dessert at lunch (why no tea?) and the menu is very limited. The service is good and fast, the location awesome (pretty much right across the street from SHC on College Avenue) and the prices low. A few evenings later I ate there for dinner with Geoff and we ordered the pizza. That’s what Inferno does best: it was really delectable. Brick oven baked and perfect with lots of fresh toppings.
For lunch I ran to “Baby’s Burgers and Shakes” one day, “Chili’s” another day and “Golden Dragon” during the Arts Festival for my Asian fix. Maybe partially because I almost never eat breakfast (another myth: breakfast eaters weigh less – not this one), and I’m ready to start eating the copier paper by noon, all three places were good. I love veggie burgers and Baby’s Diner’s is a little greasy, but good. And I got a kick out the fake-rude “Eat and Get Out!” slogan. I lingered with my New York Times and my nice young waiter kept bringing me more hot water (my favorite drink). It was really cheap, too. I like the fun vibe and the cheesy music.
Chili’s also makes a mean veggie burger served with fries that’s very inexpensive ($6) and was served by a very cheerful young person. LOVE the place. And, the Golden Dragon’s broccoli and rice were really delicious, too and you get a lot of food, really enough for two people for lunch. Xie-xie!
On the suggestion of Tatyana, who speaks Italian and loves Italian food, my husband and I tried Rotelli’s. It wasn’t bad, but again, we are big Italian food snobs and in the Allentown area it is easy to find Italian food as good as the food we ate in Rome. Rotelli’s is a chain and the food is a bit “chain-y” but like Mario’s, if you need your mozzerella cheese fix, it will probably suffice. AND, we will definitely go back this summer because on the patio, dogs on leashes are welcome and we would love to bring Roo for an epic Italian food outing. It isn’t every day you can bring your furry friend for dinner. There was an awfully cute dachshund who was doing his best to behave while his parents were having their dinner and he only once jumped up at a nearby table.
All of these meals were supplemented by Geoff’s outstanding coffee and a number of trips to The Creamery. One evening, as Geoff made his way back to the car, savoring his Peachy Paterno cone, he enthused (somewhat matter-of-factly and uncharacteristically) “This is a good life.”
Oh, and remember my little tug of war with wanting to eat at every new place I see and stay in my size 6 petite suits? Well, I made my way over to the Weight Watchers on North Atherton last week and to my delight I was 2.5 pounds less than I was last month. I’ve got to keep my commitments.
In State College I feel a little like Dorothy when she opens the door after her house crashes to the ground. The technicolor choices of places to go is as good as New York City and all I could think is: “I’m not in Fogelsville anymore!” And at Rotelli’s you can bring Toto, too.