As a child, one of my favorite activities was coloring.  My father would take me on weekly trips to the grocery store and allow me to pick out a treat. I always picked out a box of Crayola crayons – and not just the box of the original 8 colors. Glitter crayons, metallic crayons, neon crayons, glow in the dark crayons, pastels, colored pencils, magic markers, I had them all.  And I remember the magical feeling of overwhelming joy and excitement I was filled with in anticipation of using these unique colors to paint a new canvas.

I get a similar feeling about dining at Aurants in Duryea.  Each time I go there, I feel giddy with anticipation about the endless culinary combinations on the menu, which includes many things I have never even tasted before. It’s slogan, “A separation from the rest,” appropriately describes this unique restaurant. A far cry from the diet of pizza and wings that are traditional in the area, Aurants offers bold and innovative creations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love pizza and wings, but, like the original box of 8 Crayola crayons, I tire of them and need more “color”!

Chef and owner David W. Ciminelli, Jr. (“Chef Davo”) has carefully crafted an extensive menu that changes often, offering a plethora of flavors and “proteins” in ever color. The menu is divided into different sections, “Easy pickings” (appetizers, small plates, soups and salads), “Hand held hotties” (described as modern gourmet sandwiches), “make a meal mayhem” (create your own entree section) and “Side car tag alongs” (your choice of accompanying sides that are available to be purchased separately for $5).

When I heard about Aurants, I couldn’t wait to try it. I was a huge fan of Chef Davo’s homemade potato chips with blue cheese dip and pretzel encrusted chicken bites when he was a chef at the River Street Ale House. I have heard that these chips sometimes grace the menu at Aurants and have been on the lookout for them ever since.
Here is a sample of some of the tasty treats we have tried at Aurants.

The first bite I ever had at Aurants blew me away. I ordered the chocolate jalapeno corn fritters, an appetizer described as “southern style corn fritters infused with minced roasted corn, pickled jalapenos, banana puree and saved which chocolate, pan fried and plated with a side of ancho chili maple syrup.”  Now, I have had corn fritters before, but this sweet and savory appetizer was unlike anything I have ever tasted. There were so many layers of flavor that were way beyond anything I could imagine. The deep fried, spicy chocolate taste made me feel like I had gone to heaven and hell at the same time. Hell because I knew it probably wasn’t the healthiest choice, but heaven because I loved it anyway and would order it again. Sometimes, it feels good to be bad.

Aurants boasts a wide selection of domestic and imported beers, bottled and on tap. They cleverly showcase this feature seamlessly in their menu by offering a Chicken Dogfish Chowder as an appetizer. A chowder of chicken tenderloin morsels, bacon, granny smith apples, corn, basic root vegetables, smokey cheese and random selections of dogfish head beers with crispy onions,” this chowder was the perfect remedy to the winter blahs. One bowl warms the soul, and if you are still in the mood for Dogfish Brews after your dinner, Aurants is open late every night. See below for details and hours.

The Aurants house salad is a colorful combination of the freshest ingredients and is by far one of the best salads in the area. Available in a small or large size, the house salad is a heaping pile of baby spinach greens with vine ripe tomatoes, english cucumbers, artichokes, portabella mushrooms, mixed kalamata olives, caper berries, fresh mozzarella cheese dressed with a house lemon garlic vinaigrette. The olives were jumbo and delicious, like homemade mix my uncle makes.  Be warned, the large size house salad is very large!  Definitely enough for a table of four, and a nice starter to accompany any appetizer on the menu.

One of the most popular items on the menu is the Blue Crab Grilled Cheese, composed of Muenster cheese, poached garlic, artichokes, and blue crab meat on a thick sliced ciabatta bread. As you can see, the portion is extremely generous.

My experience of living in Philadelphia provided me with a solid education on cheese steaks, and I have tried a wide variety of them but I have never before seen this version. Aurants offers a Gouda Duck Cheese Steak, made of pulled duck confit, smoked gouda cheese, portabella mushrooms, yellow peppers and sweet onions on a Philly roll. 
(They also offer a Chicken Garlic Cheese Steak, which I will absolutely be trying in the near future. It is served on a Philly roll with roasted free range chicken, mozzarella cheese, melted onions, poached garlic and lemon garlic aioli.)

Each sandwich and main protein dish comes with your choice of side car tag along, which includes the popular bacon smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese. 

In the “make a meal mayhem” portion of the menu, your choice of protein can be prepared in one of six signature ways. The protein list at Aurants is updated daily, and specifically provides that the meats are raised free range style, without any hormones, antibiotics or unnatural farming practices involved. The seafood is wild caught and ocean farmed. This may account for the high price ($12-$40) for some of the first class selection of meats and seafood, but you get what you pay for, and it’s nice to know where your dinner comes from.
 Seafood protein offerings have included: diver sea scallops, yellow fin tuna loin, atlantic coast mahi mahi, new zealand king salmon, and east coast halibut. Meat protein offerings have included angus top sirloin filet, pork mignon, baby veal chops, New York Strip steak, and even game meats like Canadian buffalo tenderloin, Red Elk Rib Chops, and even KANGAROO! But vegans and vegetarians, don’t stress. Tofu is available as a protein, and is also available as an appetizer. 

These protein offerings can be prepared in six different fashions as described on their menu:

basic pan roast style
rubbed w/ dried herbs, lightly seasoned, pan roasted and finished w/ port wine shallot butter, pan juices and crispy tumbleweed onions.
au poivre diane clash
pepper tarragon spiced, pan seared and plated over dijon green peppercorn sauce w/ poached garlic, caper berry pods, shaved asiago and set afire.
spanish thai on the fly
rubbed w/ chili spices, painted w/a mojito mole aioli, baked and plated over coconut curry cashew sauce w/ crispy cellophane noodle and blackened candied cashews.
spinach pesto parmesan
ginger coriander rubbed, pan seared, brushed w/ spinach walnut pesto, ambushed w/ parmesan, baked and finalized w/ a tad more spinach walnut pesto and lemon garlic aioli.
mediterranean style
caraway dill weed infused, pan seared and displayed over zinfandel remoulade, cucumber dill sauce, topped w/ olive tapenade and asiago.
east vs. west
sesame seared one side, blackened on the other, plated w/ maple mustard, wasabi wing sauce, sriracha stripe, cellophane noodle and crispy onions.


If the choices overwhelm you, no need to worry. The wait staff at Aurants are patient, kind, and professional. More importantly, they are knowledgeable of the offerings on the menu and available to make a recommendation.  Here are some of the proteins and side dishes we have tried:
Filet mignon with a side car risotto tag along.

Pork mignon prepared East and West style, with a side of spinach garlic artichoke saute.

Atlantic Coast Mahi Mahi prepared Mediterranean style, a perfect choice for seafood dishes, with the gorgozla polenta pumpkin plank. The Mahi Mahi was cooked to perfection, and the olive tapenade really created a nice layer of flavor. I loved the polenta and plan on ordering it again. (Note to those unfamiliar with polenta: It’s just another carb made of cornmeal that you will love. Try it!)

Colossal diver sea scallops, prepared Mediterranean style with a side of pan fried asparagus and portabella mushrooms.
Each time I visited Aurants, the food blew me away. If I HAD to offer complaint, there are two things I would like to change. First, it seems like a good number of the patrons order sandwiches, which eradicates the need for a bread basket. But for those patrons that order entree selections, especially the pricer items that can cost upwards of $38 and $40, an accompanying bread basket and/or a  modest house salad of mixed greens would be nice.
Second, I would really love a side of mixed greens with my sandwich. The sandwiches, which range from $12-$15, are already accompanied by your choice of a generous side dish. While you can chose a vegetable, the natural and more popular choice of side with a sandwich is a starch like potato salad or the restaurant’s popular mac and cheese. Add in some mixed greens with vinaigrette on the side, and your plate would be a more balanced dish of perfection.

Lastly, Aurants offers desserts made in house, including flan. My personal choice is the rich chocolate cherry creme brulee, which I always order with a nice hot cup of tea.

I hope you enjoyed my sampling of photos from my delicious dining experiences at Aurants. Their menu changes daily and they are always offering new items, so please let me know if you go and try something amazing and it brings the color back into your life! 🙂
If you go:  Aurants is located at 941 Main Street in Duryea, PA 18642. Aurants is now open for lunch and its hours are as follows:
Tuesday- Thursday: 11am-midnight
Friday: 11am-2am
Saturday: 5pm-2am
Sunday: 5pm-midnight.
I suggest you make reservations well in advance. I called the day of my birthday (too late) and was SOL. While the staff is always very accommodating, they’re always packed for dinner, especially on a weekend!! But it’s well worth the wait. 🙂
Highlights from An Evening of Fine Food and Wine at the Scranton Cultural Center – the Ultimate Fairytale Feast!

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a truly magical evening of fine food and wine at the Scranton Cultural Center. This event showcased a diverse array of food and wine from many of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s best restaurants. Chefs performed a live cooking demonstration of their featured dish and sommeliers were on hand to explain the featured wine pairing.  This event was an absolute fairytale in itself and the food was a spectacular fairytale feast!


Upon arrival, each individual was placed into a group and given a label. I landed in the Chardonnay group, which was perfect because that is my favorite wine.  ðŸ™‚ Everyone then entered the grand ballroom of the Cultural Center to feast on appetizers from different restaurants until we had to separate into our groups.

My first bite set the tone and the bar for the night: a spinach and riccotta ravioli from Angelo Bistocchi’s restaurant in Scranton served by executive Chef GianLuca Fremiotti. This homemade pasta plumply filled with spinach and creamy ricotta cheese and pressed together was delicious. When I asked what Bistocchi’s specialized in, replied: fresh food that is homemade. That’s more than enough reason for me to add Bistocchi’s to my list of restaurants I need to try immediately!

Another notable appetizer was the crab bisque from Coopers Seafood House served with mini toasted croutons. This soup was really a crowd pleaser. The only way I could have loved it more is if I were having it on a beach somewhere with someone else who really enjoyed it too 🙂 Coopers generously provided the recipe, which appeared in Bon Appetit Soups and Salads, Copyright 1983 by Knapp Communications Corporation.

Cooper’s Bisque of Crab Soup
As it Appeared in Bon Appetit

3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 medium onions, minced
1 medium carrot, finely minced
1/2 stick celery, finely minced
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsely
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 quart heated milk (4 cups)
3 tablespoons cream sherry
1/2 lb of lump crabmeat

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and saute’ until soft. Reduce heat to medium and add flour, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook 5 minutes, whisking frequently. Stir in parsely and seasonings. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Add cream sherry, crabmeat and salt to taste and simmer 15-20 minutes. DO NOT BOIL! Serve hot.

If bisque is thicker than desired, stir in the whipping cream or milk to thin.

My next tasting was another soup but this one was very different. Chef Kate Gabriele of the Rustic Kitchen (one of my go-to restaurants in the area!) presented wonderfully light and flavorful gazpacho. Chef Kate hosts a live cooking show every Friday night at the Rustic Kitchen, “Cooking with Kate.” The show is currently featuring a cooking lesson on how to prepare a “Not Your Everyday Chicken Dinner.”  Chef Kate also offers an array of personal chef services including personal cooking classes and parties.  She can be reached at

Other appetizers included a jumbo sized meatball from Gilly’s Steak and Seafood in South Scranton, a grilled shrimp and tortellini kebab from Constantino’s.

The State Street Grill in Clarks Summit prepared a very flavorful mushroom risotto that I would love to get the recipe for so I can have it again!


After feasting on the above appetizers, each group was called to begin their journey into the various rooms of the Cultural Center.  Our first stop was the newly renovated third floor of the Cultural Center, which the Masons used to use as a museum.  There we sampled food from the eloquent French Manor in South Sterling in the Poconos.  On the menu for the night was a tender seven pepper and coffee rubbed filet mignon medallion with horseradish potatoes and pickled twirled red beets with a muchroom cognac cream. A lavender and honey glazed baby carrot delicately accompanied the dish. Each bite was absolute perfection!!!
It was accompanied by an El Portille wine from Argentina, a spicy and peppery wine with notes of chilies and earthy vegetation.

Next we then made our way to Robert P. Casey Library on the second floor of the Cultural Center, which featured walnut walls, a stone and tile fireplace, and leaded glass windows to feast on food prepared by Patsels in A porcini mushroom encrusted Chilean Sea Bass topped with a lemon aioli.  Accompanying the sea bass was one of my all time favorite salads: shaved fennel and orange. I really loved this dish and can honestly say that it was the best piece of sea bass I ever had! Bravo Patsels!

Next we made our way to the Ladies’ Parlor on the second floor of the cultural center for a tasting from Casey’s Corner at the Scranton Hilton.  I enjoyed learning about the history of this room, which has undergone recent enhancements, and learned that there were secret passage ways leading to the room throughout the building so that the woman could enter without being seen.  I also learned that there was a kitchen on each floor of the cultural center because the Masons used to have social events there in the 1930s and 1940s. The lead chef from Casey’s prepared an excellent meal of teriyaki salmon with sauteed spinach over a soba noodle cake. The salmon was cooked perfectly – it was warm with a bright pink center. It was so good I almost asked for another one!

Next we made our way down to the next station: Carmen’s Ristorante, at the Radisson Hotel, also known as the Lackawanna Station. We feasted on kurobuto pork chops with port glazed peaches and red onions, topped over an herbed mashed potato croquette. The chef from Carmen’s gave a really nice and detailed presentation. He told us that kurobuto was the Japanese name for black hooves. He explained that because pigs have no sweat glands, they cool themselves down by wallowing in mud, hence the phrase, “sweating like a pig.” However, these kurobuto pigs get freshwater streams to cool themselves down in – I am guessing that is what makes them so good!

Carmen’s Kurobuto Pork Chops with Port Glazed Peaches & Red Onion
Serves 2
Chef de Cuisine: Stefen Purta

2 10 ounce Kurobuto Pork Chops
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Season Pork Chops with Salt & Pepper. Place on grill for 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and roast in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes for medium to medium well.

Port Wine Bordelaise
1 Shallot (Minced)
1/2 cup Port Wine
1 cup Demi Glace
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Saute’ Shallots in oil until they turn translucent. Deglaze with Port Wine and cook until flame disappears. Add Demi Glace and reduce sauce by 1/2.

Glazed Peaches & Red Onion
1 Shallot (Minced)
1 Clove Garlic (Minced)
1/2 Red Onion (Julienned)
1-2 Fresh Peaches (Pitted & Sliced)
1 cup Port Wine
1 tsp Sugar
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Saute shallots in garlic and oil until they turn translucent. Add onions and peaches and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add Port Wine and sugar and reduce until liquid is almost evaporated.

Last, but certainly not least, was a tasting from one of my favorite restaurants in Northeastern Pennsylvania (besides the Gramercy, of course!): Fire and Ice on Toby Creek. This place is truly a gem of our area and in my opinion, not given enough credit! Their food is anything but boring. They take risks and it pays off.  Executive Chef Gary Edwards was on hand to explain the dish he had prepared: Skate Wing Beurre Noisette Sauvignon Blanc Reduction with Bacon Crushed Potato and Braised Leek Arugula.

I had never tasted skate before but I don’t know why I was worried. Anything prepared by Fire and Ice has been amazing and truly a Fairytale Feast. (Stay tuned for my complete review of my favorite dishes from Fire and Ice … coming this week!)  Chef Edwards explained the origins of skate and even handed out a flyer which stated that skate is a mild white fish, often compared to the flavor of a scallop and sometimes to crab or lobster. The French have long appreciate skate (“raie”) and it is also becoming more popular in the United States because of its flavor and quick and easy preparation.  It is often prepared in a beurre noisette (brown butter) sauce and finished with capers, lemon and vinegar, or poached in court bouillon (aromatic stock) and finished with fennel, celery root or lightly sauteed arugula or other like greens.

Skate Wing Beurre Noisette Sauvignon Blanc Reduction
6 oz. skate
3 tablespoons of flour
coarsely chopped curly parsley
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
juice and zest of one lemon
2 oz crisp Sauvignon Blanc
1 oz butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minched shallot
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed.

Pat skate wing dry. Season with salt and pepper, dust in flour and sear in hot saute pan with half of the butter and olive oil.  Cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden and remove to rest.  Add remaining butter and allow to brown slightly.  Add lemon, white wine, caper and parsley.  Reduce slightly. Sauté arugula and garlic in another hot pan until lightly wilted.  Serve fish over arugula and bacon crushed potatoes.


Finally, the guests convened back in the grand ballroom to feast on a gourmet dessert buffet. There was a chocolate fondue fountain.

I quickly made my way to the table of imported gourmet cheeses from, a perfect compliment to the wine I had been enjoying all night.

My favorite dessert was by far the strawberry and rasberry shortcake from Epicurean Delight. I only wish I had the recipe! The biscuits were so fresh and fluffy, the fruit was to die for, and the whip cream on top might have been the best I ever had. Simple, elegant, and tasteful: the perfect fairytale dessert.

Overall, the night was a magical experience! I loved learning about the history of the beautiful Scranton Cultural Center and being able to partake in a true fairytale feast! Can’t wait to see what is on the menu for next year! 🙂 Enjoy!