Category Archives: Blog

Dina’s Best of 2017

As 2017 ends, it’s a time to reflect on all the delicious meals and treats I had this year.  I had some firsts this year that have become favorites:  pupusas,

pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg custard tarts),

pasteis de nata

adjaruli khachapuri (a Georgian boat-shaped bread filled with sulguni cheese and topped with an egg and butter)

and hot pot. 

hot pot at Good Harvest

It was a year of great food with the exception of two disappointing meals, one at one of those cheesy (pun intended) fondue restaurants that served mediocre cheese and another at the much-acclaimed Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina.  I had high hopes for Chef & the Farmer, especially since I lived in southeastern North Carolina for a number of years and know its farming history, but it turned out to be up there with my Dovetail experience a few years back as one of the worst restaurant meals I’ve ever had.  Regardless, I ate well this year, especially on my New Jersey pizza tour. 


I declared Star Tavern in Orange, NJ, and Brooklyn’s Coal-Burning Brick-Oven Pizza in Hackensack, NJ, as the best overall pizza in New Jersey with Papa’s Tomato Pies in Robbinsville, NJ, having the most traditional and flavorful crust. 

ice cream

I did a best ice cream in New Jersey tour too.  My favorite ice cream was from 

  1. Denville Dairy in Denville, NJ–the creamiest soft-serve ice cream.
  2. Magnifico’s in East Brunswick, NJ–best cherry-dipped cone.
  3. Cookman Creamery in Asbury Park, NJ–delicious vegan options.

I discovered Calandra’s Bakery and returned to my childhood with delicious pepperoni bread as well as many other great pastries.

There was a lot more, but these stand out as the most memorable of the year.


Foodie Mysteries + A GIVEAWAY

Contest closed. Congratulations Natasha!

Some Enchanted Eclair

To celebrate my 1000th post, mystery author Bailey Cates has graciously offered to send one copy of her latest mystery novel, Some Enchanted Eclair, to one lucky reader of Hunting for the Very Best!

I love anything that has to do with a bakery, so when I saw the cover art for the first novel in this series, Brownies and Broomsticks, with its shades of pink, its magical swirls, and its pastry case filled with cakes, cupcakes and pies, I had to buy the book.  I’m glad I did because I fell in love with the characters and stories.  The novels follow Katie Lightfoot who moves to Savannah, Georgia, to open a bakery with her aunt and uncle.  Here, she learns that she is a hedge witch.  Before reading this book, I had no idea what a hedge witch was.  I’ve since found out that a hedge witch is a witch who uses herbs to create spells or for medicinal purposes.  Turns out, Katie’s aunt is a witch and Katie becomes part of the coven, a group of very colorful and interesting ladies.  Murder follows Katie wherever she goes.  With her special powers, she winds up being better than the local police at solving crimes.  Katie also has some romantic love interests who vie for her attention.

There are four books in the series so far , each as delightful a read as the first.  They are perfect for foodies like us!  Each book contains recipes of some of the goodies Katie bakes up in between sleuthing.  I love these books and am so happy to share them with you.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment answering What is your favorite Hunting for the Very Best post? 

Don’t forget to like like Hunting for the Very Best on Facebook here and follow me on Twitter here though doing so will not count as another entry.  Winner will be contacted via email, so please be sure to include your email address in the field when you leave your comment (it will not be visible to the public).

Contest closes on December 15, 2014 November 30, 2014, at 12 Noon EST.  One winner will be chosen randomly.  Winner will be announced on December 16, 2014.  Open to residents of continental US only.  Winner will be mailed a copy of Some Enchanted Eclair by Bailey Cates.  Not responsible for lost mail.

Good luck and thank you for following me as I go hunting for the very best!

1000th Post

This post is my 1000th!  Hooray!  I had no idea where this food blog was going when I started it five years ago.  It’s still going strong.  Through the years, I’ve written most on New York City foods and restaurants, Italian food and sweets.

My top ten posts of all time are

Taste of Home Christmas Cookies

Dina’s Guide to NYC Italian Bakeries

Tropical ice cream from the Philippines

Delish is Delish

Wilton’s Giant Cupcake Cake Pan

Traditional Neapolitan Treats

The 20 Most Popular New York Foods

Halloween Treats

Icelandic food

Dina’s Guide to NYC (& Beyond) Restaurants

Food Bloggers Cannot Require Facebook “Likes” for Giveaway Entries

Facebook has banned “like-gating,” a practice that involves requiring a contestant to “like” a Facebook page in order to enter a contest, sweepstakes or giveaway or otherwise participate in a promotion.  The new Facebook terms will go in effect November 5, 2014.

196 Flavors Contest Winner

Yes, that’s me.  I was one of the winners of a contest recently held by the food blog 196 Flavors.  196 Flavors has a great concept–to feature recipes from the 196 countries of the world.  The recipes also have stories pertaining to the recipe’s origin.  The blog is the only bilingual blog written in both English and French.  Its End of the World giveaway celebrated the 196th recipe on the site.  I won a fabulous gift basket of Italian and Mediterranean products from Bella Sun Luci. It included olive oil, pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato sauce and more in this gorgeous colander.  I also got some coupons for and recipes using Bella Sun Luci products.  I shared this lovely basket with my mother, who has been gravely ill, and it had just the right ingredients to brighten the spirits of a little old Italian lady.


196 Flavors is such an interesting site.  I’m very excited to see what it will feature in the future. I love learning about food and culture from different parts of the world.  And 196 Flavors leaves no stone unturned, showcasing rare and interesting recipes from countries that are often underrepresented in food blogs.

No Photos at Restaurants?

How would you feel if you couldn’t photograph your food at a restaurant?  Would you still want to eat there?  I was disappointed not to photograph my food at Per Se, but then it was Per Se, so it was an exception.  I would think twice about eating somewhere if I couldn’t take photos.  I’m not obnoxious about it though.  I just use my phone to take photos and if I can get a decent picture without flash, I don’t use it.  I can see how it would get annoying to other customers if one is there with a tripod and huge lens, etc.  But is it any more annoying than customers having phone conversations?  I think it should be up to the restaurant, whatever its culture/policy is, but I do think that a lot of people want to blog today and that restaurant may miss out on potential diners if they do prohibit photography.

4 New or Updated Apps for Foodies

Here are 4 new or updated apps and games for iPhone or Android users.

Flickr iOS 7–This updated app allows you to automatically upload and  adjust your photos.

Find. Eat. Drink.–What differentiates this app from other restaurant review apps is that the reviews are written by those who work in the food industry.

The Whole Pantry–The “world’s first health, wellness and lifestyle app,” it has recipes and shopping lists for meals that are sugar and gluten-free.

Bakery Story:  Fall Treats–This game allows you to create your own bakery inspired by fall treats.