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From Finicky Eater to Gourmand

David Valiante keeps you updated on what's happening in the Collingswood and Haddonfield food and restaurant scenes.

Hi, everybody.  I’d like to introduce myself.  My name is David Valiante, I’m from Mount Laurel, NJ, and I’m excited to begin blogging about the Collingswood and Haddonfield food and restaurant scene, arguably the most dynamic food spots in South Jersey.

Food and I have a storied, rocky history.  I grew up a picky eater; bold flavors and new textures frightened me, and through most of my adolescence and into my early adulthood, I survived on a strict diet of hotdogs and PB&Js.  I mean, I’d slip the occasional pizza (plain) in here and there, but it was pretty limited.  Lunchmeat?  Wouldn’t touch it.  Same went for anything that came from the sea, anything Mexican, and just about any and all vegetables.  Point is, I’m the last person anybody expected would stick a piece of raw fish or fatty duck liver in his mouth.  It wasn’t until college, when I climbed the ranks of table-jockeying from bad chain restaurant, to better chain restaurant, to casual and finally fine dining, that my curiosity finally got the better of my timid palate and I began experimenting.  When I discovered that not only would food not kill me, but, oh my GOD, some of this stuff was really really good, there was no looking back.  I began devoting myself to the discovery of wonderful new flavors.

For the past five years, my life has been tied up in food.  I began doing restaurant reviews in Philadelphia three years ago, from storied Le Bec Fin to new favorite Blackfish in Conshohocken and everywhere in between.  Not content to just eat food, but wanting to really understand it, I spent time in culinary school and gained an awesome appreciation for just how hard working, talented and passionate you must be to succeed as a chef.  And finally, I’ve come full circle to Collingswood and Haddonfield, where a trip to Sagami when my culinary adventures first began  told me all I needed to know about the how much beauty and elegance can come from a piece of fish in the hands of an expert.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to be checking in often with all the latest news and updates on what’s happening down here.  I’ll keep my ear to the ground, but feel free to contact me with any tips or suggestions at davevaliante@gmail.com

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davidbdale May 20, 2011 at 12:18 AM
I hope you won't limit yourself to fine restaurant dining only, Dave, but will also remember to cover the small but special delights of finding new flavors at the Collingswood Farmers' Market, new stores in town like Gourmet Popcorn Creations and My Little Kupkake, or something small and surprising like the care the Westmont Diner takes with its home fries, just to name a few.
libsrsic May 20, 2011 at 12:45 PM
I'd be interested in a review of the new Prime Steakhouse on Haddon Ave. in Collingswood.
Harry May 21, 2011 at 01:08 AM
We liked it when it was Mom's Kitchen, but it couldn't match West Side Gravy for the 'comfort food' go-to spot - so we stopped going. Is it the same chef? Haven't been there yet, but may stop in for one of the new 3-course specials they're offering. Seems like a low-risk way to sample the menu.
Harry May 21, 2011 at 01:12 AM
It might just be me, but I think that My Little Kupkake got way better after the initial week. I had a lemon cupcake the other night that was fantastic. A great place to visit on the way home from a restaurant that doesn't have great dessert options.
David Valiante June 02, 2011 at 01:43 AM
Hey guys, sorry I just saw these comments. As a matter of fact, I just stopped by My Little Kupkake and loved their rum raisin cupcake; I know I'll be trying them again soon. I'm interested in everything Collingswood has to offer, from the simple to the complex. Let me know what's happening so I don't miss out on anything. My email is davevaliante@gmail.com

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