The peito sandwich from White Palm Tavern

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 26

It’s Week 26 of my journey to better health, and this week was a reminder that it really is a journey.

The Successes

It was a good week for walking. Though certainly warmer than late September should be, it was a dry week and I had plenty of time to get out on my lunch breaks.

I made it out on Monday, Tuesday and Friday for a total of nearly four miles of walking.

The weekend was spent cleaning and building furniture in Baby B.’s room. I finished emptying the room of my collectibles and assorted junk before assembling a new dresser.

It’s hard to quantify the calories that I burned during this time. My Lose It! app has “house cleaning” listed under exercise and values it as 176 calories burned per hour. Using that as the basis, I estimated about 900 calories burned over the course of two days.

Not bad for a weekend of work.

The Challenges

For the most part, it was an easy week, but I did dine out more often than usual.

On Thursday, my coworker Joe and I went to lunch together at Aroma Mediterranean Cafe in King of Prussia.

It has quickly become one of my favorite lunch spots. On this visit, I tried the kebbah kebob, a mix of ground meat (yes, the description is ground meat), cracked wheat and seasonings.

Dishes like this kebbah kebob are what makes Aroma such a great lunch spot.

The patties looked like hamburger sliders, but I would say it more closely resembled meatloaf in texture. As for flavor, it was deliciously seasoned, though I couldn’t put my finger on one particular spice.

It was served with a salsa-like dipping sauce on the side that had a kind of sweet and sour profile to it, too strong on its own, but one that worked really well when mixed with the kebbah and the rice.

I love baba ghanouj.

Every lunch entree at Aroma is served with your choice of hummus or baba ghanouj. I chose the latter, and the beautiful plate came served with four ultra-thin pitas. I may or may not have eaten the whole thing. OK, I ate it. All of it.

Saturday night was another meal that didn’t quite work with my diet. On our way to Bethlehem for a WWE NXT show at the Sands, my buddy Dennis and I stopped at the White Palm Tavern for dinner.

I haven’t been back to the Palm since my review there more than two years ago. Enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, we sat out on the patio for our meal.

I ordered a pepito sandwich. It was described as an authentic Costa Rican dish with peppered pork (I chose this over chicken and beef), sautéed onions, Provolone cheese, Lizano sauce and black bean dressing on a ciabatta roll.

The peito sandwich from White Palm Tavern

I’m declaring the pepito from White Palm Tavern to be one of the best sandwiches in Berks County.

I describe it as one of the best sandwiches in Berks County. The peppered pork was perfect – tender and very juicy – and I’d eat sautéed onions on anything. But what really made the sandwich was the black bean dressing. It gave the dish a distinctly Caribbean flavor, taking it from a pork sandwich to something more.

The side of fries were also very good, but not very good for my diet.

The Results

Current Weight: 161.2
Weekly Weight Loss: +0.4
Total Weight Loss: -28.2

This is the first time since the weight loss plan started that I have gained weight. I’m not discouraged, though. And I’m not going to drop my calorie intake to starve myself just to hit a number. I had two very good weeks in a row.

This week wasn’t a road block, just a very small speed bump on my approach to my goal weight of 160 pounds.

The Week Ahead

It should be an uneventful week. Normally, I would be heading to Dover for this weekend’s NASCAR action, but I’m taking a race off to be home with Julie. Hopefully she and Baby B will let me return to the track in May for the next race.

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Brooks Cafe

Brooks Cafe in Douglassville, PA

It’s not often that Julie and I get to go out for breakfast.

During the week, my commute to King of Prussia is a major hindrance to enjoying a morning meal together so we end up going out for dinner much more often.

So we usually reserve breakfast trips for weekends and holidays. And on Labor Day, with Julie and I hosting dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.

We needed a restaurant that was open, and one that we hadn’t yet checked off our list. The name at the top was Brooks Cafe.

The specials sound amazing too.

Brooks Cafe is tucked in a strip mall along westbound 422 in Douglassville. The location was formerly home to Don Julio Mexican Restaurant (whose logo still appears on the marquee along with Brooks’).

The breakfast-and-lunch joint took over the space in 2016 and has made it their own. Posters and portraits of Audrey Hepburn in her famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s style cover the walls around the dining area.

Brooks Cafe is much larger than it looks from the outside.

The dining room itself is much larger than expected. There is seating for at least 80 – fourteen tables, five booths and one combination of the two fill the room. Audrey watches over them all.

Also larger than expected: the menu. Breakfast is two full pages, with a wide selection of bowls, omelets, eggs, pancakes, waffles and French toast.

When I say a wide selection of French toast, I’m not just talking about toppings. I’m talking about French toasted croissants, banana nut bread, cinnamon buns, and my choice – Hawaiian bread.

Mmm...Hawaiian bread French toast

Brooks’ Hawaiian bread French toast featured three slices of Hawaiian bread (duh) topped with stripes of pineapple, toasted coconut and yogurt.

The meal was also served with a cup of pancake syrup that I found entirely unnecessary. Hawaiian bread has a sweeter flavor to begin. The pineapple – and to a lesser extent, the coconut – added to that. And the yogurt gave it the same consistency.

It was a filling and enjoyable start to the day – quite a pick-me-up.

The best kind of homefries

Not being able to help myself, I also ordered a side of homefries. Everyone does homefries a little bit differently, and these were the kind that I like best – large slices of potato that are browned on one side and perfectly soft on the other.

While I always go for the French toast, Julie leans toward pancakes. And at Brooks, it was banana nut pancakes.

The pancakes had walnuts cooked into them with slices of banana and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Banana nut pancakes and bacon. Don't forget the bacon.

I always enjoy walnuts in pancakes – for both the flavor and the crunchy texture that they add. It contrasts nicely with the soft banana slices and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

Unlike me, Julie was not shy about adding syrup to her pancakes. Either way, they were also very good.

She also couldn’t resist an order of bacon. Crispy, savory bacon. There’s not much else to say about them.

The only other thing left to say about Brooks Cafe is that it is priced perfectly. We both had excellent breakfasts, left feeling full (too full for a real lunch) and spent less than $20.

Everything combined to make our first visit to Brooks one to remember.

And while Julie and I may not dine out for breakfast as often as we would like, Brooks is on my way to work. So I will definitely stop in again.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Brooks Cafe
1139 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Douglassville, PA 19518

Brooks Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Weeks 24 & 25

It’s a double update this week as we catch up on the last two weeks of my journey to better health. It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, but the results keep coming. Here’s a look at the weeks that were:

The Challenges

As we begin this blog, I have a confession to make to my readers. If you’ve followed along with my successes, you’ll have noticed that I have recorded a lot of house cleaning in my exercises over the past few weeks.

That’s because Julie and I are getting ready to expand the Berks County Eats family when we welcome our first child (due in November).

Julie has a baby on board. I have a food baby on board.

It’s a Boy!

I wanted to make a big announcement on Facebook months ago when we announced it to our family and friends, but just never did. Part of that is because it’s been a bit of a challenge for both of us.

That challenge was never higher than last week when Julie was admitted to the hospital last Sunday (September 10). Everything is fine, but the doctors were a little concerned so she was admitted and we spent two nights at the Reading Hospital.

Chicken panini and cole slaw from the Tower Cafe

The Reading Hospital puts out some pretty good food for a hospital.

Again, I would like to reiterate that everything is fine. Julie and baby are good, and we are excited about becoming parents in two months.

We were even able to celebrate on Saturday with Julie’s surprise baby shower.

Cupcakes are the enemy of diets.

Cupcakes are the enemy of diets.

Between the four meals in the hospital and a day of noshing on Philly Pretzel Factory Rivets and celebratory cupcakes, it wasn’t the best time for my diet.

The Successes

With the exception of those few days above, I have really entered into a routine that is working.

My breakfasts consist of Honey Nut Cheerios and fat free milk. I’ve measured it out and eat about 1.5 cups of cereal with a cup of milk. Amazingly, Weis’ generic cereal is 20 calories less per bowl than the real thing.

Lunch usually consists of a bowl of soup and chips. Whenever I need it, I stop at the Wegmans grocery store in King of Prussia and pick up a quart of fresh-made soup. It lasts me two meals and it’s significantly lower in sodium than canned soup.

My chips are almost exclusively low sodium Pringles. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to count out the 16 crisps in one serving of Pringles than it is to figure out how much is in one ounce of traditional potato chips.

Lightly salted Pringles are perfect for my low-sodium diet.

150 calories and just 75 grams of sodium.

In between, I always eat one of my Graze snacks – usually between 100-200 calories. Occasionally I will indulge in a second snack after lunch, but I usually mitigate that with a walk around the office complex.

Dinner varies, but we try to plan out healthful meals: chicken stir-fries, homemade soup and portion-controlled casseroles are favorites that usually come in between 500-800 calories.

And that leaves plenty of room for an evening treat. Julie and I have found some great sweet snacks in the freezer aisle at Weis.

Yasso frozen yogurt bars are only 100 calories.

Mmm…100 calorie sea salt caramel

One is Yasso brand frozen yogurt popsicles. Flavors include sea salt caramel, raspberry chocolate chip and peanut butter. And they are all just 100 calories each.

Outshine Fruit Bars

Only 35-45 calories per bar.

My other go-to is Outshine fruit bars. These are actually fruit bars, not fruit juice bars. And Outshine makes a 12-count box of snack-sized bars that are between 35 and 45 calories each.

If I have more calories available, I will pull out the blender and make a fresh fruit smoothie. Peaches and bananas are my favorite. I mix each with almond milk and ice (and a little sugar for the peach smoothies). Two bananas and a cup of almond milk is only 240 calories. Peaches are even less. But both are delicious and filling.

In the last two weeks, I have only missed my target calorie count twice – once while we were in the hospital and once when we dined out for a review.

The Results

Current Weight: 160.8
Two-Week Weight Loss: -3.4
Total Weight Loss: -28.6

Last week, the update that didn’t happen, I was at 162.6, so I had back-to-back weeks of great success. I’m also just 0.8 pounds away from my original goal weight of 160 and 1.4 away from the 30-pound weight loss I promised myself at the start.

The Week Ahead

What I am trying to avoid now is falling out of my groove. Things are going so well that I don’t want to take a step backward by overdoing it. Other than a church picnic coming up on Sunday, it should be a fairly routine week.

Food Blogger Vs. Fat
Texas tenders and fries from Austin's: delicious, but not fine dining

Reading Eagle Winner’s Choice Award Winners Announced

The Reading Eagle released its annual Reader’s Choice Award results on September 17. The people got a lot of things right, came close on a few more, and had a few whiffs. Here’s my take on this year’s winners:

The People Got It Right

Billy Burger earned the title of Best Burger

Best Burger: Billy Burger & Bakery

There are a lot of supporters for Frank & Diannah’s Arbor Inn – I’m one of them. On burger night, I agree. The rest of week, give me Billy Burger & Bakery in Morgantown.

Mikura was named Best Chinese in Berks.

Best Chinese: Mikura Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar

I could make a case for Zhuang’s Garden or China Penn, but Mikura is excellent so I’m not going to argue this one.

Best Diner: Exeter Family Restaurant

Best Diner: Exeter Family Restaurant

It’s close between Exeter and Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery but Exeter gets the nod for two reasons: a larger menu and 24-hour service. Also, Wyomissing won Best Family Restaurant so both get credit in the end.

Best Italian: Mom Chaffe’s Cellarette

It’s the oldest Italian restaurant in Berks County and it’s still the best.

Crave Cafe gets my vote, partially because of the cool ambiance

Best Lunch: Crave Cafe

The only other place that comes close for me is Cafe Sweet Street. Sweet Street has the edge on flavor. Crave has the edge on ambiance, location and healthful options.

Best Outdoor Dining: Jimmy G’s Beverly Hills Tavern

It’s the best beach in Berks County.

Best Pizza: Nonno Alby's

Best Pizza: Nonno Alby’s

Rocco’s was better, but it closed earlier in the year. That puts Nonno Alby’s back on top until someone can knock them off.

Best Seafood Market: Adelphia
Best Seafood Restaurant: Coastal Grille
Best Sushi: Mikura Asian Cuisine & Sushi Bar

I don’t eat seafood so I’m going to assume the people got it right.

Good Choice, but Not Mine

Best BBQ: Mission BBQ

I like love Mission BBQ. It’s a great concept with great food. I’ve purchased two commemorative cups – one supporting local first responders and one for the USO. But I don’t think that it is the best in Berks. I would probably still give my vote to Muddy’s, though both of Hamburg’s offerings (Backwoods Brothers and Smokin’ Brays) are excellent, too.

Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery won best breakfast

Best Breakfast: Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery

If you’re looking for a traditional breakfast or a good buffet, Wyomissing is the winner. I like it, but I love creativity. For me, Tom Cat Cafe in Sinking Spring or Letterman’s Diner in Kutztown rank higher.

Best Mexican: Plaza Azteca

Julie will tell you that her favorite item on any Mexican restaurant menu is the enchilladas rancheros from Plaza Azteca. I like it, but not as much as I like La Abuela or Alebrije.

PJ Whelihan's is Chickie's and Pete's kid brother

Best Sports Bar: P.J. Whelihan’s

The wings are fine. The fries are the kid brother of Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabfries. But P.J Whelihan’s does have lots of sports. The Pike Cafe was the runner-up, and it would have made a better winner.

Best Subs & Sandwiches: Screpesi’s Sandwich Shop

I still need to get to Screpesi’s. Not having been there yet, I can’t argue it. I do love Lavigna & Sons though.

Best Wings: The Pike Cafe

Close, but Dino’s Wings & Things still gets my nod. Too many great flavors to choose from.

What Were You Thinking?

Texas tenders and fries from Austin's: delicious, but not fine dining

Best Fine Dining: Austin’s

Austin’s is amazing. Their Texas tenders and shoestring fries are a guilty pleasure of mine. But any menu that includes chicken tenders and shoestring fries shouldn’t be considered fine dining. Dans at Green Hills deserved this one.

Best Ice Cream: Way-Har Farms

I’m not arguing that Way-Har Farms has good ice cream, but it’s not the best. I’m also admittedly biased toward Lori’s Candy Station.

Best College: Alvernia University

Go KU! #ItsGoodToBeGolden

Features Stories
The 20-ounce dry-aged ribeye at Willoughby's on Park

Willoughby’s on Park

Willoughby's on Park, a high-end steakhouse in Wyomissing

If you’re a long-time follower of the blog, you may remember our visit to Willoughby’s Bar & Grill.

It was three years ago that we enjoyed our first dinner at the Wyomissing restaurant. Living nearby, Julie and I had passed by the restaurant on our walks, watching the former T.G.I. Friday’s completely transformed.

When the restaurant closed for renovations in 2015, we couldn’t understand. It had just been completely redone and it didn’t make any sense to us.

Again we watched as construction workers descended on the building, filling and refilling the dumpster outside until the restaurant was once again ready for business.

This time, the transformation was from Willoughby’s Bar & Grill to Willoughby’s on Park, a high-end steakhouse that was going to have to wait for a special occasion for us to visit.

The remodeled dining room at Willoughby's on Park

That special occasion finally came this August as Julie and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

We arrived on a Sunday evening without a reservation, but it was no problem to get in and get a table. The dining room is still very large and with the additional outdoor seating, there was no danger of it filling up. Even on Fridays and Saturdays, the parking lot never seems full enough to equal a full dining room.

The renovated restaurant looks nothing like it did before. Previously, the center of the dining room featured a sports bar lined with flat screens. The TVs are now gone, and the bar is much more stately. The room is dimly lit by chandeliers with votive candles creating a soft glow on the back wall.

Romantically elegant is the best way I can describe it.

Votive candles line the wall at Willoughby's on Park

As for the menu, it is distinctly a high-end steakhouse, with 10 different steak cuts highlighting the entree selections. Additional choices include seared duck, rack of lamb and six seafood offerings.

There is also a range of salads, appetizers and cold bar options for starters, but we passed on those knowing we would be enjoying dessert at the end of the night.

Warm bread is a great way to start any meal.

Instead, we whet our appetite with the complimentary bread and butter – a pair of fresh-baked rolls that were soft, warm and enjoyable.

What else do you need when there’s a 20-ounce dry-aged ribeye on its way to the table?

This is hands-down among the best steaks that I have ever eaten. It was cooked perfectly to my liking (medium well) with just the right amount of pink in the middle. It lost none of the juiciness in cooking and had beautiful char marks on the outside. It was an all-around winner.

The 20-ounce dry-aged ribeye at Willoughby's on Park

Guests can add on one of six “enhancements” to any steak, an assortment of sauces and rubs to suit many tastes. I decided to try the mission fig cabernet reduction and was not disappointed.

It was more jelly than sauce, with the mission fig giving it sweetness and the cabernet adding depth of flavor and strong overtones. With the steak, it played on the sweet and savory while also having a built-in wine pairing to enhance the flavor of the steak.

The steak was so good that it almost made me forget about the sides – a few carrots and a dollop of whipped potatoes. They both served their purpose, but let’s face it, we weren’t there for the sides.

An eight-ounce filet topped with gorgonzola gratin

Julie went with the smallest item on the menu, the eight-ounce filet Mignon, with a gorgonzola gratin for her enhancement.

Her steak was also cooked perfectly and would have stood on its own without any additional enhancements, but the gorgonzola gratin gave it a very different flavor profile. It was heavy and rich with the distinct deep flavor that the cheese brings to every dish.

Neither of us really had room left after our steaks, but it was our anniversary so dessert was a must.

Our waitress brought out the dessert tray highlighting a range of offerings that all sounded amazing. We settled on the carrot cake and were not disappointed.

Carrot cake for dessert.

The slice was gigantic and was served with whipped cream, strawberries and a caramel drizzle. Could we get carrot cake anywhere? Yes. Would it have been this good? Maybe. Did we care? Nope. We were just happy to finish off our romantic evening by sharing a lovely dessert.

Going into the evening we knew two things: one, that we were going to have a romantic dinner; two, that it wouldn’t be cheap.

When we visited three years ago, we spent $40. This time, it was more than double that as our total bill was just shy of $100. Willoughby’s on Park is not priced for everyday dining, but it’s not everyday that you get to enjoy a perfectly cooked steak.

With that in mind, I can say with certainty that we will be back. But we’ll save our next visit for another special occasion.

BCE Rating
Food: Excellent
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Excellent
Price: A Little Pricey

Willoughby’s on Park
305 N. Park Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Willoughby's on Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dessert Finer Dining Lunch & Dinner Reviews
Cosa's ragu bolongese has layers of flavor from the sauce, homemade pasta and herbs

Cosa Pizzeria & Restaurant – CLOSED

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant opened in May in the former Basil outside Sinking Spring.

Editor’s Note – Cosa Pizzeria & Restaurant closed in fall 2017 after less than a year operating in this location.

Restaurants close and restaurants open. There have been more than a few times on Berks County Eats where I have visited the same location more than once to try a new restaurant that has taken the place of one that went away.

Early in 2017, Basil Restaurant and Pizzeria outside Sinking Spring closed its doors for the last time. In stepped in Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant, giving us the opportunity to return to a familiar place for a new experience.

The dining areas look much the same as they did when Basil Restaurant and Pizzeria operated at the same location.

Cosa opened in the space on Fritztown Road in May, picking up where Basil had left off. And while the restaurant looks much the same as it did when it was Basil, subtle changes have already begun. Lunch service was ended and the restaurant now opens at 4 p.m. daily.

The menu is all-new. There’s a strong focus on pizza, but Cosa also offers 10 entree options and a selection of sandwiches.

Also new was the pairing for our complimentary bread. Along with the olive oil was a bowl with a mix of potatoes, tomatoes, herbs and oil.

Bread, olive oil, and a potato and tomato salad made for an interesting appetizer.

It was an interesting combination with the thick, airy slices of bread, but it worked. It felt like an Italian potato salad more than a bruschetta because there was no crunch of the crostini or strong balsamic overtones. The potatoes were soft and created a unique taste and texture. Julie and I both tried it and liked it, but left most of it because it was too heavy for us to finish without ruining our appetites.

Cosa offers the standard house salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes and croutons.

Our house salads were next to arrive a short time later. It was your basic starter salad with mixed greens, sliced onions, cherry tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers, topped with a handful of croutons. It was presented beautifully, and everything was fresh. It was everything I look for in a salad, setting the tone for a good meal to come.

Both Julie and I picked from the selection of entrees. My choice was the ragu alla Bolognese.

Cosa's ragu bolongese has layers of flavor from the sauce, homemade pasta and herbs

It featured house-made pappardelle pasta and a traditional ragu with ground veal, sofrito, red wine, crushed tomato and cream.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of veal, but I was a big fan of this dish. The meat added a richness that was perfect for the slightly creamy tomato sauce. The sauce was thick enough and the pasta cooked well enough that that sauce stuck, never sliding off to pool at the bottom of the bowl.

There was a depth of flavor to the dish as well with just enough seasoning to bring out the best in the ingredients.

Cosa's ricotta gnocchi is served in brown butter with pancetta and parmigiano reggiano.

Julie’s ricotta gnocchi was another excellent dish.

We have had gnocchi served many different ways. This was our first taste of ricotta gnocchi, using the rich cheese as a base instead of potatoes. It was tossed in brown butter with pancetta, fresh sage and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Brown butter is a favorite of both of ours – a guilty pleasure because a big pool of butter is not the healthiest sauce – and it worked really well with the ricotta gnocchi here. The fresh sage mixed in really shined through and gave a bright, herby flavor to the whole dish. And the pancetta added salt to the dish while giving it a savory element.

Both of our meals were very well done, and we took half of each home for later meals.

Our total bill was about $35, but we only had to spend about $10 because Cosa accepts gift certificates from the former Basil, including our $25 gift certificate that had gone unused.

We certainly did not want to see Basil close, but Cosa is proving to be a worthy replacement, carrying the mantle and providing delicious Italian food to the Sinking Spring area.

Hopefully others enjoy it, too, so we won’t be returning to review another new restaurant anytime soon.

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant
776 Fritztown Rd
Sinking Spring, PA 19608

Cosa Pizzeria and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Closed Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Food Blogger vs. Fat: Week 23

Week 23 of my journey to better health included the biggest roadblock so far: the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. Would my splurging on gourmet burgers derail my plan? Read on for this week’s update.

The Successes

Once again this week, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for outdoor activity but I found ways to get my exercise.

Julie and I snuck in a short walk on Monday evening. Afterward, I spent 45 minutes trimming shrubs.

Tuesday and Wednesday I went 0-2 on exercise, but I still managed to hit my calorie goal. Thursday, on the other hand, was more interesting.

Part of my real job, in addition to the digital marketing that I do on a day-to-day basis, has been to serve as the best friend of Monty the Fox, the official tourism ambassador of Montgomery County.

On Thursday, I spent the day with Monty for a photo shoot. We explored the towns of Narberth and Ambler, riding SEPTA’s regional rail system between the two towns. I estimated we walked for three hours, stopping to pose for pictures at various businesses along the way.

That was fine with me as it allowed me enough extra calories to enjoy a peach shortcake for dessert Thursday night.

I spent two hours on Friday cleaning up rooms of our house, then walked for an hour on Saturday (see more on that below) and 25 minutes more on Sunday.

The Challenges

Saturday marked our annual pilgrimage to the Taste of Hamburg-er Festival. It’s probably the least diet-friendly event that we attend every year.

Nothing like a chorizo burger to derail a diet.

You can read about all the delicious burgers (and smoothies) here. But from a calorie standpoint, my estimate is about 1,500 calories eaten during lunch. I bookended that with cereal for breakfast and dinner (and walking around the festival has to count for something) so it ended up being an OK day.

Friday was actually the worse day for net calories, as I came in more than 200 over my limit.

My first and only trip to Boehringer’s this season – I had to make it worthwhile.

It was a rare weekday off and Julie convinced me to go to Boehringer’s for lunch. OK, so it didn’t take much convincing as it was my only visit of the summer to the Adamstown restaurant.

I had a hamburger, fries and a milkshake, not exactly the healthiest choice at an estimated 1,300 calories.

I ordered a salad. Intentionally. That’s called progress.

We followed that up with dinner at Mangia where I actually made surprisingly restrained decisions, opting to share a 10-inch pizza with Julie with a wedge salad to go with. Lose It estimated the meal at 800 calories for a total of nearly 2,500 calroies going in.

The Results

Current Weight: 164.2
Weekly Weight Loss: 0.0
Total Weight Loss: -25.2

A good beginning to the week followed by a not-so-good close to the week turned into a wash. I honestly believe that if the week had played out in reverse, I would have seen some better results.

The Week Ahead

As I write this, Labor Day has already passed and those calories will be reflected in next week’s update. I think I did well, but the scale on Monday will tell the tale.

It’s also been a rainy start to the week, but the sun looks like it’s going to be here to stay for a while so I will be looking to get outside and burn some calories between now and weigh-in day.

Food Blogger Vs. Fat

Taste of Hamburg-er Festival 2017

On a rainy Labor Day weekend, the 14th Annual Taste of Hamburg-er Festival took over the streets of Hamburg, Pennsylvania.

Berks County Eats braved the weather and enjoyed some of the unique burger creations that you will only find at the festival. Here’s a look back at our afternoon in Hamburg.

Driven by Food

I had not heard of Driven by Food until I saw the name on the festival website. But as soon as I saw that they were serving a chorizo burger, I knew the caterer would be my first spot.

The line wasn’t long, but the burgers were made to order so it was a good 10-minute wait until my name was called and my burger appeared in the window.

Chipotle mayo, cheddar jack cheese and a poblano pepper were piled atop a chorizo sausage patty.

The chorizo held its shape on the bun, but unlike a ground beef patty, this was melt-in-your-mouth. Chorizo itself has so much flavor that it made a perfect burger base.

While the poblano pepper served more as a garnish, the chipotle mayo added a zing to the dish. It wasn’t spicy, per se, but it was flavorful and tied all of the ingredients together.

Overall, it was an outstanding burger that I was glad I tried.

The Perk-Up Truck

Sometimes, you just want dessert first. The Perk-Up truck is Julie’s favorite food truck. Anytime she sees it, she has to have a smoothie.

With the Perk-Up Truck parked just a few stands away from Driven by Food, she just had to stop.

A peaches and cream smoothie was her choice on the day. It was rich, sweet and creamy, everything that you could hope for from a smoothie.

It was also filling, and helped calm Julie’s hunger until we found the burger she was looking for.

Scott’s Gyro Box

I knew that I wanted to try one more burger before I left. It came down to two choices: a gyro burger from Scott’s Gyro Box or a shepherd’s pie burger from the Hamburg Diner.

Both were on the same block as Driven by Food. In the end, the long line for the diner was the deciding factor for me choosing Scott’s.

I was going to get a gyro burger, but the tropi-terranean burger piqued my interest. Similar to the gyro burger, it was served on a pita and featured feta cheese, tzatziki sauce and lettuce (the Mediterranean) with the addition of pineapple (the tropical).

To make it worthy of a burger festival, sliced hamburger patties replaced gyro meat as the dish’s protein. This change didn’t result in much change in flavor as it was still very clearly a gyro. The biggest difference was made by the pineapple which added a bright, sweet flavor that worked surprisingly well with the more traditional ingredients.

It was a good second act, but didn’t quite match up to the chorizo burger.

Salem E.C. Church

Proudly proclaiming that its burgers are the most heavenly at the event, Salem E.C. Church is a multi-time award winner – again this year it was judged best burger for a local organization.

After hearing about it every year, Julie decided that this was the year to try it.

The Heavenly Hog burger is topped with bacon, French fried onions, balsamic vinegar and Italian cheeses, but what makes it unique is the blend of beef and pork in the patty.

It gave the burger a different flavor, almost making it sausage-like, but not as flavorful as the chorizo. The toppings were overloaded and fell out of the bun, but what remained were good. After experiencing the other flavors, the balsamic hits. It’s a lingering taste that evokes a love or hate reaction.

It’s a good burger that aspires to be great, but for us, it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Winners

While we tried three burgers on the day, judges chose winners in multiple categories and fans picked one winner for the People’s Choice award. Here is a full list of the day’s best burger winners:

People’s Choice
Deitsch Eck
Lenhartsville

Best Restaurant
Bull & Bear
Allentown

Best Organization
Salem E.C. Church
Lenhartsville

Best Mobile Food Truck
Uncle Paul’s Stuffed Pretzels
Hamburg

Best First Time Vendor
Video Burger
West Lawn

Food Festivals & Events