Whether you are a novice behind the stove or on par with Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay and Rachael Ray, La Belle Cuisine-Fine Cookware in Emmaus can help heat up your culinary game.
For nearly 40 years, the business has supplied chefs of all skill levels with top-of-the-line cookware — from Mauviel copper and Revol porcelain to Swiss Diamond nonstick and Romertopf German clay.
The shop’s commitment to quality, along with its large collection of kitchen accessories, has now garnered national recognition with the Food Network recently naming it one of the “10 Great Cookware Shops from Coast to Coast.”
Food writer Andrea Strong called it “the place to head for those gadgets you didn’t even know you needed … but suddenly must have.”
“The essence of the store is hard-to-find kitchen tools and gadgets,” said owner Nancy O’Keefe, who lives above the shop with her husband, Joseph Colosi. “Yes, we have pretty linens and other items from all over the world, but the real draws are those rare finds that make preparing your favorite dishes fun and easy.”
O’Keefe took over the business, which originated in 1977 on Allentown’s South Ninth Street, 11 years ago. She moved it to 447 Chestnut St. in Emmaus in 2008.
The quaint shop, with hardwood floors and painted brick walls, sells common kitchen tools and accessories such as cake pans, julienne peelers, meat thermometers, salad spinners, soup ladles, wire whips, timers and tongs, along with specialty items such as almond grinders, dumpling and ravioli presses, ginger graters, French fry and lattice pastry cutters, mushroom brushes, strawberry hullers, trussing needles and pizza stones.
Internationally made products range from German knives and French tablecloths to Spanish tajines and Greek salt and pepper mills while items made in the United States include bakeware, salad bowls, carving boards and rolling pins.
“I try to promote local products as much as possible,” said O’Keefe, while pointing out Valley-made merchandise such as pottery, stained glass windows and embroidered lavender sachets.
Specialty coffees from a Pennsylvania roaster are a big seller, along with Colosi Garden Kitchen Marinara Sauce, originally developed on-site by O’Keefe’s husband.
The gluten-free and vegan sauce, with no preservatives or added sugar, became so popular in recent years that customers began buying the 32-oz. jars by the case.
In response to the explosive demand, Colosi and O’Keefe a few months ago started having the sauce professionally made in Reading and selling it at other local specialty shops such as Saylor’s & Company in Hellertown and Stravino’s Italian Store in Whitehall Township.
The recipe was untouched and the label showcases a Sicilian village where Colosi’s family lives.
“Some of our regulars were worried it might taste different, but we assured them it’s being made the exact same way with the exact same ingredients,” O’Keefe said. “We oversee it very closely.”
La Belle Cuisine, which offers registries and complimentary gift wrapping, is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; noon-6 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. most Sundays (call first).
Info: 610-928-0070 or cooksite.com.
Emmaus is full of good news these days.
First, Let’s Play Books! is planning to move in September from its 2 1/2-year-old spot at 379 Main St. (on the borough’s Triangle) to a larger location up the road at 244 Main St., said owner Kirsten Hess. A grand reopening event is planned for Sept. 22-25.
The new space is currently occupied by Turn the Page, a children’s learning center, that is growing and relocating to a larger Emmaus property of its own at 148 Main St. (between Vitality Natural Healthcare Center and Emmaus Moravian Church).
Let’s Play Books! sells children’s, young adult and crossover books, along with other merchandise such as bags, cards and stuffed animals.
It also offers children’s literacy programs such as book clubs, story times and an upcoming “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” book release party.
Info: 610-928-8600 or letsplaybooks.com.
Second, Pedone’s Deli will open by early August at 346 Main St., on the Triangle, said Tony Pedone, who will operate the business with his wife, Lisbeth.
The deli, using Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, will offer breakfast items such as bagels, muffins and egg sandwiches; paninis such as the Naples (fried eggplant, roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese); signature sandwiches such as the Soprano (homemade chicken cutlets with provolone cheese and sweet red peppers); sides such as knishes, pierogies and soup; and homemade desserts such as biscotti, cannolis and cheesecake.
The Kutztown couple added new tile flooring, wall paint and other cosmetic touches to the space that previously housed Impulse Boutique.
Hours likely will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Info: 610-928-7151 or pedonesdeli.com.
In the past few weeks, center city Allentown has become a tastier place to live, work and play thanks to two new dining destinations: Wok Box Fresh Asian Kitchen at 818 Hamilton St. and Sugar Hill Jazz House at 39 S. Ninth St.
The torrent of tasty options continues with the opening of Edie’s Eatery on Monday.
The restaurant is at 23 S. Ninth St., just a few doors down from Sugar Hill.
Opening menu highlights include breakfast sandwiches such as the Croque Madame (fried egg, honey ham, cheese and bechamel sauce on brioche); signature sandwiches such as the Crispy Chicken Cowabunga (buttermilk fried chicken, pickles, bacon and Cowabunga sauce); and wraps such as the Julius Caesar (grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, tomato, housemade Caesar dressing and parmigiano cheese); and pastries.
Citing a lack of quality patisseries in downtown Allentown, operator Matthew Suarez said he also is eager to offer various homemade pastries such as croissants, chouquettes and macarons.
“We’re bringing a really creative approach to our menu, which will be revolving and evolving as we don’t want to fall into any one specific genre,” said Suarez, who will be operating the eatery with his uncle, John Rivera. “We’re also using a lot of locally sourced, seasonal produce as people typically don’t want to eat the same thing in July as they do in October.”
Over the past few months, Suarez and Rivera have slowly introduced their business to the public by attending various local events, including Allentown’s Blues, Brews & Barbecue festival, where the duo offered fried tilapia sliders.
“I stand behind all of our products — whether it’s our quiches, tacos, fried chicken or other items,” Suarez said. “We really knock everything out of the park when it comes to quality.”
Inside, the duo added new kitchen equipment while facade enhancements include new paint and repurposed shutters from Suarez’s home a few blocks away.
Edie’s, which is named after Rivera’s late mother and Suarez’s late grandmother, will feature seating indoors and on the front sidewalk. Opening hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with a brunch menu being offered 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Info: 484-343-3677 or Edie’s Eatery on Facebook.
A couple other restaurants that are coming soon to Allentown include New York Gyro Restaurants at 513 N. Seventh St. and a yet-to-be named Greek restaurant at the formerColonial Diner & Family Restaurant at 701 N. 19th St.
New York Gyro Restaurants should open by the end of August, according to Moe Soonasra, who will operate the eatery with his brother-in-law, Vick Mahmood.
It will offer gyros, gyro platters, kebabs and lamb chops, among other items.
I was unable to reach the owner of the Greek restaurant, but will keep you updated.
In the Bath area, take note that Major’s Auto Body at 6007 W. Main Blvd., Unit E, in East Allen Township has signed on as a U-Haul neighborhood dealer.
According to U-Haul news release, Major’s now offers U-Haul trucks, trailers, towing equipment, support rental items and in-store pick-up for boxes.
Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. After-hours drop-off is available.
Info: 484-282-3446 or uhaul.com.
I have a few updates on alcoholic beverage producers nearing their debuts.
First, the Allentown Chamber of Commerce will host a grand opening of Sleepy Cat Urban Winery, 5-7 p.m. Aug. 11 at 1840 W. Allen St.
The business, filling the space left vacant by Ruffino’s Restaurant, will hold a soft opening sometime in early August, said Mark Gerencher, who will operate Sleepy Cat with his wife, Carrie.
“We do the same thing a regular winery does — from fermentation on,” Mark Gerencher said. “We’re not growing or pressing grapes, but in turn, we’re able to process juices from all over — from New York to Chile.”
Sleepy Cat, named after the Allentown couple’s three cats — Dante, Phoenix and Teemu, likely will be open 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Info: 610-360-6638 or Sleepy Cat Urban Winery on Facebook.
Second, Kilimanjaro Distillery is expected to open in mid-August at 995 Postal Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.
Owned by father and daughter Kishor and Niky Chokshi of Lower Macungie Township, the 4,000-square-foot distillery will feature a tasting room for vodka, gin and whiskey (aged and unaged). Rum production is a possibility later, Kishor said.
The duo originally is from Tanzania, and decided to name their business after Africa’s highest mountain.
The name of company, Xplorer Spirits, is a nod to their travels (they’ve studied, worked and explored nearly every continent) and quest to create “the purest, highest-quality distilled spirits possible.”
Holly jolly news from Carbon County:
If you’re looking to celebrate Christmas in July or any month, for that matter, consider stopping by Jingle Bells Christmas Shoppe, which held a grand opening celebration Thursday at 12 Race St. in Jim Thorpe.
The store, owned by Barbara Zehner, offers holiday-themed gifts and accessories — from stockings to ornaments. Zehner also operates Route 443 Flowers in Lehighton.
[Source:- The morning call]