Monday, December 31, 2012

A Tale of Two Pies - The Pumpkin and the Pecan

Christmas is a time for celebrating with great food- and with great food, you need to have a great dessert. Pies are always fairly easy to make, and usually make everyone happy. For this past Christmas, I was called upon to produce two pies for the family dessert- a traditional pumpkin pie, and (by request), one of my favorites- a chocolate covered pecan pie.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Eggs and Corned Beef Hash - Brookside Diner, Whippany NJ

The classic diner breakfast is an integral part of the local culture in the state of New Jersey. New Jersey has more diners per capita than any other place on the planet- and just about all of them take special pride in their breakfast offerings. It had been a while since I've been to any of the Garden State's many diners. My travels took me back to an area near where I once worked, so I took the opportunity to stop and have a little breakfast at one of the places  I used to eat at from time to time- the Brookside Diner in Whippany, New Jersey.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thin Crust Pizza from Chimney Rock Inn, Bridgewater, NJ

Chimney Rock Inn is a place high on the list of local favorites in the Somerset County area of New Jersey. For one, they have been in business for over 200 years- and is probably one of the oldest businesses in the state. The inn has a reputation for serving classic Italian fare, and has a reputation for great thin-crust pizza. By a quirk of the local Postal system, the Inn is located in the town of Bridgewater, but has an address in neighboring Bound Brook- this quirk has obviously not made it difficult for customers to find- it is always busy.  The area was the focal point of a conflict between two native american tribes, and the restaurant is named for a lanmark where, according to local legend, star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of the conflict met with their untimely end in a murder-suicide scenario that plays out like the ending of Romeo and Juliet. So with a quirky location, a long and storied local hostroy, and an association with a fascinating local legend certianly makes for lively conversation, and an interesting place- but does the food live up to the setting?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gnocchi Bolognese, Gianna's, Carlstadt, NJ

Gianna's is a cozy little Italian Restaurant located in the middle of a large business dsitrict in Carlstadt, New Jersey. I've been there before on business lunches, so it is a natural choice when it's time to talk business over a nice meal. Gianna's was also one of the first retaurants in the area to reopen after Hurricane Sandy and an over-topped levee caused considerable flooding for large parts of town. Even one of the worst natural disasters to hit the area failed to put a dent in the quality of their food...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, enjoy your holiday meal wherever you may be!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shiraz - Greenwood Village, Colorado

As I've said in my last few posts- the Denver area appears to boast a very lively, varied, and vibrant restaurant scene- especially to the south of town near the concentration of technology companies known as the Denver Tech Center. When I stopped for my sushi lunch, I noticed there was also an interesting Persian restaurant in the very same shopping center, so when the opportunity arose, I paid a visit to the restaurant called Shiraz...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Samurai Fine Japanese Cuisine and Sushi, Greenwood Village, Colorado

The south side of Denver is home to a large concentration of technology companies, and the money that comes with them. It also means that the area is a melange of many cultures. In my travels through the area, I found not only a large number of restaurants, but a wide variety of food cultures represented- all within a few scant minutes drive of my hotel. The area had at least three sushi restaurants almost within walking distance- so I took a spin around the neighborhood, and went with the one that my gut told me would be a good one- Samurai Japanese Cuisine and Sushi.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Las Brisas, Greenwood Village, Colorado

Denver is a city that runs mostly under the radar for most people from the northeast. What most of us don't realize is that the mile high city is a bustling, lively community, and home to a surprising number of technology companies and big businesses of all types. This is most apparent in the area callen the "Denver Tech Center" about 30 minutes south of downtown. The area is filled with office buildings, industrial and commercial parks, and all manner of smaller supporting businesses, includinga surprising number of restaurants of all sizes- Las Brisas is one of them.

Friday, November 2, 2012

For the New Jersey Shore

This week, Hurricane Sandy tore through the northeast, devastaing homes and businesses, including many of our old favorites. Many of them may never recover.

Here are some of the places we've visited that we hope will make it through this trying time. The shore may never be the same, but let's all hope that some semblance of normalcy can be restored soon.

Spicy Cantina, Seaside Heights

My Vacation Breakfast in Seaside Park

Jimbo's, Seaside Heights

Rivoli's, Toms River

Berkeley Sweet Shop, Seaside Heights

Klee's Bar and Grill, Seaside Heights

Best of luck to all of you on the shore who are still without power, who have lost homes or businesses, Please keep them in your thoughts, and lend a hand if you can.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, Memphis Tennessee

When in Memphis... if you ever travel to the south, you absolutely HAVE to sample the local food. Your "must have" list should have barbecue and fried chicken as the first two items. If you're from the Northeast US, like me, you've probably had pretty good fried chicken and/or barbecue at some point in your life... but even the best and most authentic in the northeast pales in comparison to the real thing. The place to go for fried chicken in Memphis, according to my contacts there, is Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken - featured on multiple TV shows such as, $40 a Day, Man Vs Food, and Best Thing I Ever Ate. Gus's is the real deal, no hype, no fuss, just the best fried chicken I've ever dug into.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Asia on the Parkway, Philadelphia PA

During a business trip to Philadelphia, I happened upon a restaurant that had a nearly ideal location. It was situated on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, sandwiched right between several large hotels, a bustling business district. It sits almost exactly between theparks at  Logan Square and at JFK Plaza (aka LOVE park). The front of the restaurant has a good amount of outdoor seating with a great view of the Basilica of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It's the kind of location that guarantees plenty of foot traffic, plenty of business lunches, and plenty of tourists. A restaurant almost CAN'T fail at a location like this one.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Return to Brasitas in Norwalk, CT

Just over a year ago, I had a great dinner at a little Latin Fusion spot in Norwalk Connecticut. I returned to the area on a business trip recently, so it was almost a foregone conclusion that I'd be paying another visit. It was everything I remembered, so I took the opportunity to try a few dishes that I missed the first time around.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bouillabaisse - Harbor Lights, Norwalk CT

Western Connecticut is one of the wealthiest areas in the country. It should come as no surprise that there is a fairly high concentration of quality restaurants in the area. I had heard some of my coworkers thought highly of a certain seafood restaurant on the bay in Norwalk called Harbor Lights- so naturally I made sure to urge the team to give the place a try the next time a business trip took us to the area.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

El Papi Burrito - Alex's Cafe and Aztec Nights, Chester, NJ

Chester is an interesting town in the middle of northern New Jersey- lots of old-style houses, and lots of little shops that get plenty of foot traffic near main street, in an area that is part "main street" part pedestrian mall of sorts. The alrea exudes the kind of charm and sense of community that was largely gone in most areas by the time I came of age. In areas such as this, you are bound to find all manner of small, specialty restauants- in my travels through the area, one such place was "Alex's Cafe and Atec Nights" - which proclaims to serve authentic mexican and american cuisine. It seemed like an interesting little place to stop for lunch...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Three Brothers from Italy, Boardwalk Pizza from Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Pizza is probably the most common food item found on the Boardwalks all along the New Jersey Shore. If you have to walk more than the length of a block along one without runnign into a pizza joint, you should wonder if you've made a wrong turn and ended up somewhere other than the New Jersey shore... In Seaside Heights, probably the most iconic of the Jersey Shore towns, Three Brothers From Italy is probably the pizza that should be considered the gold standard- so much so, that they actually have several locations spanning the entire baordwalk from end-to-end (I counted at least three, there are probably more), and there is good reason for their success...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia's foodie paradise

Any self-proclaimed "foodie" worth their salt should feel compelled to visit the Reading Terminal Market if they are in Philadelphia. It is a place out of an earlier time, when refrigeration was rare, and produce had to be sold as close to the transportation bringing it into a young and rapidly expanding city center. This market occupies an entire city block underneath the Reading rail terminal (now the Market East rail station). It's location in the heart of a hungry city, and arms length from the trains that brought in supplies and produce made it a natural place for a market to develop and thrive. Now that food can easily be stored and preserved anywhere, such a market is no longer a necessity, but Philadelphia's has been preserved out of tradition, and is now part marketplace, and part food court- a center of activity, and a place to go for high-quality food and produce still made with artisan-level care and skill. Below you will find a series of photos I snapped, along with the meal I enjoyed there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Truffled Cheese Steak Empanadas and Chicken Chili- Return to the Good Dog Bar and Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

The Good Dog Bar is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places to visit in Philadelphia. When you pair great food with the comfortable atmosphere of a pub that features an excellent selection of beers, you have a vibe that is hard to beat. While the menu is not particularly large, it represents enough variety that you could return time and time again and never be bored with it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dinner and Tournament, Medieval Times, Lyndhurst NJ

Medieval Times is one of the most well known "Dinner Theater" type places. The main event is the show- a campy version of a knight's tournament and show of animal handling skills. The diners are herded into sections corresponding to each Knight's colors, and are encourage to cheer on their knight (and his allies) and jeer at the knights represented on the opposite side of the arena. It is presented in a family friendly way, although the bar, and the freely flowing alcoholic beverages seem at odds with that. If you can look past the ever present gift shops and attempts to get you to buy photos with various cast members, it actually is a fun experience when you embrace it for what it is. The food, while mass produced, actually has quite a few redeeming qualities, with some parts of the meal standing up to, or surpassing anything found in a more conventional family restaurant.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "Best Sandwich In America" - Roast Pork with Broccoli Rabe and Sharp Provolone - DiNic's, Philadelphia, PA

I finally had the pleasure of transferring one of these to my stomach. This sandwich just works- thin sliced, juicy slow cooked pork, the slight bitterness of the sauteed broccoli rabe, and the sharp bite of the high-quality provolone all meld together. I tucked into this one on a particularly stressful day, and it washed all of my worries away. The next time you are in Philadelphia- you should run, not walk, over to Reading Terminal market and grab one of these. The cheesesteak doesn't even compare. Dinic's is it- even the Travel Channel's Adam Richman agrees- he recently declared this sandwich the winner of his "best sandwich in America" series. Check out Adam's thoughts about Dinic's sandwich after the jump...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Nice Bacon Jerky

The title on the package says it all. This is one of those time where the photo says it all. "Nice!" is apparently the store brand name at a nearby drug store chain. It's a very appropriate word to put in front of "Bacon." I'm also a fan of the tag-line "ache'n for some bacon."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chile Relleno with Pork Carnitas from Spicy Cantina, Seaside Heights, NJ

The Boardwalk at Seaside Heights has a reputation as a place for party animals, guidos, steroid freaks, and young ladies with loose morals and a low tolerance for alcohol. So, naturally, you'd go there and climb the stairs from the first floor beach bar and quick pick-up grill to find yourself in....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bistro Twenty Five, White Plains, NY

Bistro Twenty Five is a recently renovated restaurant and bar located on the edge of the Maple Moor golf club in White Plains, New York. The menu reads classic Italian-American, and what you'll find on your plate is true to those roots, yet still has a bit of modern touch to it. I had the opportunity to dine there two nights in a row, so I was able to sample a good variety of dishes and appetizers. This restaurant was clearly worth the second trip.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast - A Vacation Breakfast

So we were away on vacation with the kids at a small beach condo down on the Jersey Shore. The rental came with a full kitchen and some basic cookware, plates, and silverware, but no supplies. A quick trip to the local market solved that problem- with the discovery of a nice, on-sale loaf of quality cinnamon-raisin bread. So, with a small selection of cooking gear- not my usual complement of familiar tools and very sharp knives, and a few basic groceries, I was able to whip up a simple, fun breakfast that even the kids loved...

Friday, July 13, 2012

When in Philadelphia...

When in Philadelphia, grabbing a quick cheese steak is practically a requirement. The last time I was there, and had to find a quick lunch, I ended up stopping at a nondescript food truck sitting at the corner of North Broad and Callowhill, next to the Philadelphia Inquirer building. This is the classic Philadelphia street food- a piece of comfort food that is to Philadelphia what the dirty-water hot dog is to New York. This sandwich doesn't even try to be anything other than a good, hearty, utilitarian lunch. It is not high-end, just good solid street food, just like it should be. It did not come from a kitchen as well known as the highly publicized Genos or Pat's King of Steaks. This Cheesesteak came from a more humble origin- and is possibly more authentic in it's own unassuming way. It comes from Gus' Lunch Truck - apparently a local neighborhood fixture that's been in place for 21 years. Gus' future is uncertain- Gus plans to retire and may sell the truck if there is no longer enough business to keep them going. I didn't know any of this when I enjoyed my cheesesteak, but now I appreciate having the chance to have had a part of this little piece of the city's history.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Octopus Salad and Mussels at the Good Dog Bar, Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is a city with a tough image. Many areas within it's sprawling borders are filled with old buildings that look like they have been slowly crumbling for decades, juxtaposed against a more modern downtown area. You get a sense of age from the place- similar to what you would see in Manhattan, and you also see the newer, more ambitious construction. Philadelphia is clearly a city with one foot in the old, and traditional, and one foot in the new and forward-looking. This combination of opposites seems to be fertile ground for good food - the kind that innovates and takes risks, while remaining respectful of the underlying traditions behind the food. Last time I was in Philadelphia on business, a tip from an old friend led me to a small pub and restaurant that captured that idea perfectly - the Good Dog Bar and Restaurant.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fried Cheese Curds- Miller Brewhouse, Milwaukee WI

So I was on my way home from Milwaukee- inside General Mitchell International Airport actually- I had plenty of time to kill before my flight out- so there was also plenty of time for a little lunch.  The Miller Brewhouse restaurant seemed to be the most promising choice just outside the security checkpoint for concourse E. Over the two days I was in town, I heard that "fried cheese curds" was a local thing to have, and Miller Brewhouse had them on the menu...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blackened Ahi Tuna- Jerome Bettis Grille 36, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh has come a long way from it's origins as a dingy steel town. In recent years it has been booming- many large companies have been moving in, and the downtown area is built up, and has an abundance of jobs available. The city is built densely, but does not feel crowded or dirty in comparison to the much bigger cities of the East Coast, such as New York. As an up and coming city, Pittsburgh has, naturally become the home to a large number of restaurants. Pittsburgh is also a city with a love for professional sports that rivals that of New York- the downtown area features three major sports venues all within walking distance of each other. With that in mind, paying a visit  to a sports-themed restaurant seemed a natural choice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Trip to the Cheesecake Factory, Bridgewater, NJ

So, we all know chain restaurants are typically held to lower standards than most restaurants. In recent years, the chain restaurants seem to have made a concerted effort to step up their game- so when my young daughter innocently asked to go to the Cheesecake Factory after her pre-school "graduation" ceremony, I was curious to see how they would do (and have a nice big hunk of cheesecake too...)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nehari from G. Mirch Masala, Milwaukee, WI

Nehari is a traditional Pakistani dish- usually served as a breakfast. It is typically made from slow cooked beef, lamb, or mutton, in a rich and spicy curry-based sauce- and it goes great with traditional tandoori naan bread... so what is a traditional Muslim dish from South Asia doing in the heart of America's dairy land? I don't really know, but I'm not going to complain...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The freshest vegetables and herbs...

The freshest vegetables and herbs are the ones growing in your backyard.

Last year's garden managed to produce a small amount of produce after a major setback- the day after I planted my seedlings, a 72 hour nonstop downpour hit my neighborhood, leaving my newly planted garden partially flooded. Several plants just didn't make it, and the survivors never fully recovered. I was lucky to get what I did from it. This year is shaping up to be a better crop - although I planted probably three weeks later than I should have, my plants appear to be well on their way to giving me a large amount of produce to work with in the kitchen...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pork and Veggie Grill with a Veteran- Memorial Day 2012

Grilling for Memorial Day is a true American tradition. Here we have a country style pork rib, marinaded and slathered in sweet, tangy barbecue sauce, served with grilled summer squash and zucchini and asparagus roasted in a tin foil pouch with lemon and butter, and a nice hunk of my wife's home made potato salad. The pork was good, but the asparagus was actually my favorite part- I wrap up a pile of asparagus in a tin foil pouch, season with salt and pepper, and give it a good squeeze of lemon. I top it with a large knob of butter, close it up, and drop it on the grill off to one side where it isn't quite as hot. The squash and zucchini were simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and coated with a little olive oil. I don't know what my wife puts in her potato salad- but it is creamy without overpowering the natural flavor of the potato with lots of other stuff.

All that aside, memorial day isn't just about the cooking- it's about the people that defended our freedom to do such things with our free time. We shared this meal with my father-in-law, veteran of the war in Vietnam. The kids had fun running around the yard, and I got to start a large fire then cook things in it, but it was really his day more than anyone else's.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Foot-long Chili-Cheese Dog - Jimbo's, Seaside Heights, NJ

The many Boardwalk areas that line the vacation towns of the Jersey Shore are dotted with eateries of all kinds- from the tiny one grill lunch counter to full service restaurants. Most lie somewhere in between- like Jimbo's Bar and Grill in Seaside Heights. The food they serve is the simple, quick, comfort foods you'd expect to find in a carnival setting. Jimbo's has the usual array of grilled items and pizzas, with both self-serve, and sit down service. Despite being primarily a bar, it is a kid-friendly setting.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Italian Hot Dog at Davy's Dogs, Mount Arlington, NJ

Hot dog spots are a familiar sight in the northern part of New Jersey- they dot the landscape along the major roads in many towns- so much so that the hot dog stand qualifies as a New Jersey institution. Davy's started as a single hot dog cart that grew into a full sized restaurant that is practically a landmark. The typical New Jersey hot dog spot typically looks like something out of the 50s or 60s, but always has some sort of nostalgic charm that captures the hearts of the locals. Davy's Dogs, is no exception.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tuna Tartare and Fish Tacos at 3 in Franklin, MA

Tuna Tartare Starter from 3
We were out on a business trip, and no one could decide where to eat, so we turned to our hotel clerk for a recommendation. This recommendation led our party straight to a restaurant called 3 that advertises itself as "New American" cuisine- classic dishes with a modern twist according to their website. This description, we found, is pretty much right on the money...

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Oldest Restaurant in the U.S. - Union Oyster House, Boston, MA

When in Boston, there is a place where everybody knows your name... well, this isn't that place. The place I'm really talking about is about halfway across town... No one there, aside from my dining companions, had any idea what my name was. Yes, it's something of a tourist trap, given it's historic status, but it's a place that you really can't pass up if you only have one night in town. The place is the historic Union Oyster House- which has been in operation since 1826.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sashimi Lunch at Hanami II, Branford CT

While traveling on business, I happened to have the good fortune to stumble upon a Sushi spot so new that it didn't exist in our GOS, or even on Yelp yet. The experience we had for our roadside lunch stop was so good, that I felt the need to plug the place into Yelp on the spot, at the table, while enjoying my sashimi. The place in question is Hanami II in Branford Connecticut. At the time, the restaurant had only been open for a few weeks, so I was eager to put my thoughts on the place on-line quickly- especially considering that a high quality lunch entree, with a soup and a salad for starters clocked in at under $12...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Power of First Impressions

Advertising Fail
Never underestimate the power of a first impression... A small "greasy spoon" style lunch counter near my day job recently changed names (the original actually had pretty decent burgers)- I, however, will probably not eat there or ever give any real review- simply because- well, you can see the photo above... I can understand that the sign company maybe made a mistake, or the owner scribbled the text on the order form in a rush, but when the sign comes back from the printer like this, and you still put it up in the window, I have to wonder if this is the type of establishment I'm willing to trust handling my food! Sorry to stadium pizza in Carlstadt, New Jersey- but I won't be reviewing your establishment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Simple Steak Dinner

My readers may have noticed that I've been posting far fewer home cooking articles, and more about restaurant food. Over the past few months, my "day job" has been going through a few changes- I'm not home as often, so my wife ends up doing most of the day-to-day cooking, plus my job now involves occasional travel and more meetings with clients, vendors, and whatnot- meaning more opportunities to eat out at interesting places... In any case, this was my first opportunity in a while to spend a little time really cooking, so I chose something simple and classic that stands on it's own with little need for adornment...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stuffed Peppers - Paradiso Deli & Cafe, Moonachie, New Jersey

There is a small Italian Deli/Cafe occupying part of the ground floor of an office building very close to where my "day job" is. Paradiso is a classic, traditional Italian deli, with a handful of tables crammed into their relatively small space. They have a small deli counter packed with a tempting assortment of cured meats whose names end in vowels, and generally make a nice Sicilian boy from New York, like me, feel right at home. Their location makes them a perfect spot for hungry workers in this mainly industrial/commercial area, so they also feature a selection of high quality hot food specialties. Despite the fact that the food is served in styrofoam take-out containers, they get it right, absolutely, wonderfully right.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

McDonald's Shamrock Shake

Writing about anything from a fast food restaurant isn't a very "foodie" thing to do, but I'm doing it anyway. I haven't had McDonald's annual St. Patrick's Day treat in, I'd estimate, at least 20 years- So this week, on a whim, I decided that I had to give in to this guilty pleasure.

The Shamrock Shake I remember from my youth was a mass of weird green goop served in a tall paper cup that looked just like every other McDonald's beverage. The modern 2012 Shamrock Shake has had a significant facelift- it now sports a clear plastic cup with a domed lid (so there's no mistaking it for a non-green beverage). It is also adorned with ribbons of whipped cream (I think) mixed in with the green stuff, and capped off with a generous helping of the same. It looks considerably more "sexy" than it did back in the 70s or 80s, and it is surprisingly lighter than expected, with a refreshing minty flavor. There's no mistaking this for anything healthy or "high end quality"- but the Shamrock Shake has taken great strides towards outgrowing it's humble roots as a novelty item.

It still is a yearly novelty item, but, I feel, it brings more to the table than it used to- or at least that's how I'm rationalizing my purchase! With March 17th right around the corner, you'll miss your chance to dive into this guilty pleasure if you don't hurry up and get one. Yes, I'm beginning to sound like a commercial, I think fast food has that effect on me, so I'll quit while I'm ahead!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rivoli's - Toms River, NJ

So we took the family down to the Jersey Shore to take a look at vacation rentals for the summer. This year's vacation spot is a short walk from the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, made famous (or infamous) on the reality TV show "Jersey Shore". In our experience, the town bears only a passing resemblance to the 24/7 party shown on TV. We've been going there for day trips and short vacation getaways since well before the show brought the shore into the national spotlight. Despite this, we couldn't resist the urge to check out a restaurant featured on the show. After reading the harsh reviews on Yelp, and wondering if we were making a big mistake, we threw caution to the winds, and drove a few minutes inland to Rivoli's in Toms River, New Jersey...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Frank's Pizza and Italian Restaurant, Manville, New Jersey

Frank's is one of those unassuming pizza places that also has a full restaurant attached. They have a combination of reasonable prices, convenient location, and local charm that makes it a busy place all week long. Their pizza is considered a staple by many locals, and their restaurant menu, packed full of the kind of Italian-American classics that everyone craves from time to time...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shogun 22 - Why do they call it Hibachi when it's really Teppanyaki?

We took our kids out to Shogun 22 in Green Brook, New Jersey for a meal and a little entertainment. The odd thing is that they call themselves a "Hibachi" restaurant! As you can see in the video of the ever popular onion volcano, the cooking is done on a flat top grill- known in Japan as a "Teppan". If you look at the actual definition of  "Hibachi" you'll find that it is an open grill (like that on an american barbecue), and the cooking is done over an open charcoal or gas flame.

So why are places such as this frequently called "Hibachi" restaurants America- even by themselves? The proper term is "Teppanyaki" (cooking done on a flat iron grill), and a reasonable alternate is "Japanese Steakhouse". The answer? I really don't know. Maybe "Hibachi" is less of a mouthful for native English speakers? Either way, Teppanyaki is as much about the entertainment value as it is about the food. The food at Shogun 22 is good, and served in massive portions, but it's the entertainment that keeps the kids happy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fish Tacos at the Rainforest Cafe, Edison New Jersey

The Rainforest Cafe is an entertaining chain restaurant located at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. Since it is a chain restaurant, I expect the food to be decent, but not five-star quality- generally chain restaurants are about the atmosphere and convenience as they are about anything else- so I keep my food expectations realistic. We were there mainly for our kids, who love the jungle-themed decorations. The food was likable, and the atmosphere was fun- meaning I had happy kids on my hands. There is, of course, more of a story to tell...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wawa Turkey Gobbler Hoagie

Sub sandwiches are, without a doubt, a "New Jersey thing." There are many sub shops, big and small, including large chain stores. Most convenience stores- notably the two most common in the state, Quick Check, and Wawa have deli counters that feature fresh subs  - and remarkably, despite the fact that they are convenience stores, actually put together a really good Jersey style sub. One of the more recent additions to their menu is the turkey gobbler hoagie...

It's a simple concept, that we've all made some variation of a day or two after thanksgiving, but, despite none of the ingredients being anything more than mundane convenience store fare, when it comes together, it's greater than the sum of it's parts. Start with a good New Jersey sub roll, pile on some stuffing, cranberry sauce, sliced turkey, and some turkey gravy, then wrap it tightly in a paper wrapper. By the time you get it home, the roll will probably be a little soggy from soaking up the gravy, and the sandwich will probably be somewhat ugly looking- but the while idea of wrapping your sub and carrying it around for a while is the secret ingredient. It allows all the flavors to meld together and get to know each other. Ugly? maybe, Good, yes!

The cranberry is key, the tart/acid cuts through all the heavy meat, gravy, and extra carbs from the stuffing, bringing the whole thing into balance. That said- this is far from a healthy sandwich- but if you like the thanksgiving leftover thing, you'll enjoy tucking into this one- it's thanksgiving in sub form.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Short Rib Sandwich - Taos, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Taos is a Bar/Restaurant in one of the residential areas a short drive from Giant's Stadium. I've had the occasion to grab a business lunch there twice in the past three months, and had the same dish both times, which, I think, can reveal a lot about a restaurant. I'm talking, of course, about the Beef Short Rib sandwich...

Friday, January 27, 2012

"Mommy" Pizza

Once a week, my wife makes home made pizza for the kids, so she can solve the problem of entertaining them while she cooks dinner on days when I'm away at work. Her recipe relies on common store-bought ingredients, but somehow manages to get just about the best results you can get without buying a much more expensive specialty oven. This is "Mommy's" Pizza. She won't let me take over and make it often, so this time, I had to make sure to document it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Home Made Whipped Cream

Once you realize how good fresh whipped cream is, and just how easy it is to make, you'll never go back to the stuff that comes in those aerosol cans (unless you're one of those people who likes to inhale the propellant...). If you have an electric mixer (a stand mixer is the easiest), just pour in a half pint of heavy cream, add a tablespoon or two of confectioners sugar, and maybe a few drops of vanilla extract, turn it on, and stand back. In a few short minutes, you'll have a fluffy whipped cream. It helps if you start with a cold bowl, so you may want to put your mixing bowl in the freezer for a bit before you add your cream. When you whip it yourself, and limit the amount of sugar you add, you get an incredibly fresh tasting end product, suitable for topping off all manner of desserts from pies, to ice cream, or even to dress up a cup of coffee.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

As American as Apple Pie

Apple Pie is considered to be the quintessential American dessert. Flaky pastry crust, soft apples with a little cinnamon... great warm or cool, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a little whipped cream. This pie is very simple, and honestly, the less you try to dress it up, the better it usually is- provided you start with a good batch of apples...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Standing Rib Roast - A Holiday Meal

You have to spoil yourself once in a while. This year, we went with a standing rib roast for the Christmas holiday, served up with some carrots, sweet potato, collard greens, and a little prepared horseradish on the side. I've done rib roasts in the past for the holidays, so I almost did something like a fresh ham or a leg of lamb instead, but I don't regret cooking this great cut of beef again.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas Mole - from the Blue Tortilla, New Hope, PA

The implications of dining out in the information age hit home this week. We had a day out to take our kids, and  our niece and nephew out to wander around New Hope, PA, see a few sights, and take the kids on a holiday-themed train ride on the town's old-style historic railroad. Afterwards, we were hungry, and looking for something a little more interesting than pizza and fish sticks to eat. We found our way to a cozy little Mexican restaurant named "the Blue Tortilla" that seemed to have promise...