Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Today we have a little treat for you – a Jersey City treat.

On a recent outing with some friends, our friend Justin waxed poetic about the Landmark Loews Theatre in Jersey City. He went as far as to say it was his favorite place in New Jersey.


Well, it might now be one of mine. Opening its doors in 1929, the Landmark Loews is more “Movie Palace” than “Theatre”. It is a decorative masterpiece that seats over 3,000, complete with balconies and broad, winding staircases.

And they still show films there. You can check out the full schedule here, but I went for a viewing of Beetlejuice, which I haven’t seen in forever. Let me tell you, both Beetlejuice and the Landmark Loews have something in common: they stand the test of time. It was quite an impressive experience to watch Tim Burton’s 1980’s humorous horror flick in this film cathedral.

It even has a display case filled with vintage candy wrappers! Food, design, crazy decoration and 1980’s flicks all in one outing – I could barely contain my glee! In fact, I didn’t contain it, and was bouncing around the place like a child hepped up on old-school Root Beer Barrels.

Justin also mentioned an Indian restaurant in the vicinity that we should check out called Sapthagiri.

I will say two things:

1. I don’t know that much about Indian food.

2. I FRICKIN’ LOVED this place. And here is why:

All the food we tried was excellent: well-prepared, plated, and demonstrating a wide range of tastes from sweet and mild to spicy and tangy. And the people were incredibly nice. And I am referring to BOTH the waitstaff (who brought us bonus mango-yogurt drinks) and the patrons (a nice Indian family seated next to us offered to help us out with the menu and point out all the good stuff  – SCORE!).

Here are some stand outs:

The Dahi Poori: these were crispy little buckets of the thinnest dough filled with chana, potato, tamarind and mint sauce. Upon biting into them, the savory and sweet filling ran into your mouth – a fine combination of flavor and texture.

Onion Kulcha: White flour bread topped with onion, red bell pepper and cilantro and baked in a clay oven. This was like the Indian version of pizza. The dough was so soft and flavorful, I couldn’t get enough. And check out the char spots! Some Neapolitan pizzerias I know of should take note.

Mango Lassi: This was the mango flavored yogurt drink. I admit, I was skeptical of it at first. I don’t usually enjoy drinking yogurt. But I downed this thing mighty quickly. And would do it again.

The Experience: The Shawshank Redemption – The Happy Ending

In conclusion, take a trip to the Jersey side for the Landmark Loews/Sapthagiri double feature. If you’re lucky, you’ll run into those very helpful patrons to point out all the tasty stuff (hint: everything!).

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We would like to congratulate West End Station in Hoboken, New Jersey for snagging the Bathroom of the Month award this month. They really went all out with this bathroom. Our favorite part is the farmhouse sink. Just look at that contrasting dark-colored wood table it sits on! The subway tiles in slightly varying shades of light gray and white are also a nice touch. Fantastic attention to detail.

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Today we bring you a comparison review. Since it is still pizza month and we like to stress using fresh ingredients on pizza, we bring you a review and comparison of three hunks of mozz (muzz) from three different places.

From left to right we have pictured mozzarella from:

1. Fiore’s Deli in Hoboken, NJ

2. Eataly in New York City’s Flatiron District

3. Lisa’s Deli in Hoboken, NJ

First, we would like to say that this is obviously not an exhaustive list of possible places to purchase fresh mozz. What about the Bronx? What about Little Italy? And so on….We will just say this: we know. We thought we’d start small. An intro, if you will, into the world of comparison tasting, with a few easily accessible candidates.

So, without further ado, here are our thoughts:

1. Fiore’s: This rendition was very tasty. It was lightly salted, which gave the cheese more flavor overall. It was not overpowering, but just right. Compared to the other two, it was a denser cheese. The color was also darker, an off-white instead of a bright white. I’m not really sure what that means, but I just thought it should be noted. This would be a great cheese to put on a Margherita pizza, as you wouldn’t have to add any salt. The flavor from the mozzarella would be all the seasoning you would need (excepting basil).

2. Eataly: This version was fairly bland in taste. It was unsalted. The texture was milkier, and it was definitely the softest of the bunch. This may have been because, while the other two were removed from their watery holding pens when I purchased them (many times fresh mozzarella is packed in water until it is ready to be used), this one came with its own little portable aquarium (tupperware container filled with water). We liked this softer texture, but weren’t blown away by flavor. This would be an excellent cheese to use on a pizza that had flavor from other toppings – pancetta or a similar meat for example.

3. Lisa’s Deli: This little one was also unsalted, and had a texutre somewhere in the middle of the other two in terms of softness….not too soft, not too firm, but juuuuuuust right. However, it didn’t pack a whole lot of punch in terms of flavor. This would be a nice mozzarella to use for a Caprese salad: sliced tomatoes placed on top of slices of cheese, crowned with a few basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.

So instead of declaring a winner from these three, we feel like they all have their strengths and are appropriate for different uses. We are going to keep looking for THE mozzarella, though, so if you have a suggestion for one you would like us to try, please leave it in the comments section. Also, if any of you would like some mozzarella, I have a TON of it in my fridge right now. I think I was a little overzealous in my cheese purchasing.

* Disclaimer: The funny faces drawn on the cheeses in no way represent any real or actual person. I just thought it would be funny to give cheese faces that kind of look like gangsters. But not real gangsters. Just imaginary cheesey ones.

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I know it’s pizza month, but even the most dedicated of bloggers feel the need to include some variety here and there.  Those warm for iconic, Jersey burger joints should be familiar with White Manna in Hackensack which, quite possibly, may have invented the modern slider.  The place has been around for ages; its decor appears to pre-date the 1950’s actually.  I was in the area recently and decided I was in the mood.

Ironically, White Manna is located directly across the street from a McDonald’s.  But, in terms of quality, the two establishments could not be further apart.  Approaching and entering White Manna is an experience.  I opened the front door at about 12:30 p.m. and it was packed.  I walked right into the last person in line – the place is tiny.  I patiently waited my turn to give my order – “Three cheeseburgers, grilled onions please.”  The woman takes my order, reaches into a metal chest, pulls out three balls of fresh ground meat, splatters them on the grill, and proceeds to whack the hell out of them with a metal spatula until they are flat.

One end of the grill represents the burgers which are almost ready to be served.  The other end cooks the newbies.  It’s a slightly confusing process; particularly at lunch, where dozens of hungry, drooling patrons would be more than happy to jump ahead of you and steal your order, but the woman working the grill seems to know the exact destination of each slider.

The time spent waiting for my burger gives me a chance to inspect the place: funny tiled floors, old time decorations, and hilarious orders (one high school kid ordered 12 burgers. From the looks of him, he was not sharing) pass the time. The woman at the grill is the diner equivalent of a Hibachi grill chef – using her metal spatula to flip, serve, organize, scrape, chop and whatever else she feels like.  It’s like a poor man’s chef table.  Good stuff.

After about 15 minutes, my burgers are ready to be served.  I am seated at the right hand side of the semi circular bar/table, and the woman puts the burgers and onions, which are now sandwiched between a  Martin’s potato roll , on a paper plate.  The masterpiece comes along with a side of pickles.  I never have to put my hand up or anything, she just knows those bad boys are mine.  Side note on Martin’s potato rolls – for my money, these are the best hamburger buns in the galaxy.  Fluffy, moist, substantial, yet not so much as to dwarf the presence of the burger – there is simply no better compliment to a burger in my mind; or a pulled pork sandwich; or a hot dog.  You can see the “give” in the bun as I hold the slider.  So tender and wonderful.

The final result is just fantastic.  A hot mess of satisfaction. The meat is perfectly cooked (typically, they only cook it one way; Medium well-ish. I’ve yet to hear anyone have the audacity to ask for a “medium rare” slider at Manna), the onions provide a slightly strong complimentary taste, the cheese is melted just right – not overwhelming or bubbly – and the Martin’s rolls are solid as usual.

I devour the three sliders in record time.  Manna is definitely one of the ultimate destinations if you are fixing for burgers.  Affordibility is off the charts as well.   A recession buster!

Overall Movie EquivalentThe Big Lebowksi

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This week’s review is of café la rustique, located at 611 Jersey Ave in downtown Jersey City, a pizza joint with other basic italian dishes to offer as well.  This is our first “Pizzeria” that will be reviewed, but definitely not our last.  A brief intro about Pizza:  myself and Elana are pretty knowledgeable about Pizza.  Granted, there are a couple of pies within reasonable geographical range that, admittedly, we have yet to try… but we’re pretty good on the subject.  We make it, we study it, take classes on it and  argue about it.  There are various types, shapes and tastes which are now classified as “pizza” but I, myself, like to generally break it down into three categories – (1) American Pizza (such as Di Fara) and (2) Naples-style brick oven pizza (such as Zero Otto Nove and Keste) (3) a Hybrid of the two (such as Grimaldi’s or Lucali).   Sure, there are other niche categories that exist – but these are the main categories.  I love all kinds, provided it is well made stuff, but have a soft spot for categories (2) and (3) – types of pizza usually crafted in a brick oven for that charred yet chewy crust.  This whole fascination with Pizza intensified two years ago, when I was fortunate enough to eat at one of the world’s oldest and best pizzerias – Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples.

Just look at this effing thing.  A charred, yet chewy circle of fine crafted slop.   Yes, slop.  That’s how they roll in Naples.  No neat and defined slices.  Just a piping hot, flattish charred bread bowl filled with the finest tomatoes and mozzarella. It was absolutely delicious.  Nonetheless, the bar was substantially raised (and has yet to be reached since then), but there are good nearby options.

It would be unfair to expect café la rustique to meet such lofty standards as those depicted above.  Rustique is an interesting place, and we were suspicious from the start.  We entered this non-air conditioned establishment on a warm autumn night.  There was literally only one other patron there while one woman seemed to make up the entire staff.  Not typically the greatest of signs.  There was an old television set sitting on top of the bar and jeopardy was on.  You may recall our boy Trebek appearing in a previous post.  I took this to mean something.

Right out of the gate, it earned a pizza demerit by offering the dreaded Buffalo Chicken Pizza as one of its offerings.  This is typically just a bad sign.  Pretty sure this is one of Dominos best sellers. I’m just not sure if I can take your pizza seriously but, alas, a glance into the back room revealed a brick oven…so there was hope.  Keep an open mind, I tell myself.

A bowl of bread was first served in a curious fashion.  Curious, because the butter that accompanied the bread was just sort of smeared on the inside of the bowl.  It just looked weird. For an appetizer, we ordered the Fresh Mozzarella Salad with tomatoes, roasted peppers and olives.  The mozzarella was very good, it was very fresh and not too salty.  Also, it was warm which led me to believe that it could be homemade.  If so, props. The tomatoes, however, were sort of tasteless and not so tender.  Roasted peppers were adequate.  I just could not get a feel for this place.

On to the pizza.  Elana selected their white pizza.  I, on the other hand, selected the Margherita pie.   I think it is important that when going to a Pizzeria, a plain or Margherita pie needs to be eaten, for two reasons.  First – the taste; fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on perfectly cooked bread is still an unbeatable combination.  Second – the Margherita tells the story of the pizzeria.  Essentially, it is the easiest way to differentiate between the qualities of various pizza.  I don’t think I’m saying anything groundbreaking here. How was this particular pie?  It was not bad.  The ingredients, particularly the tomatoes, were good.  As with the appetizer, it had good full flavor without a salty aftertaste.  The mozzarella had been carefully cooked in the brick oven.  It was not overcooked and was just right.

The crust, on the other hand, was pretty bland.  It just did not mesh well with the pizza.  It was also a little overcooked and tough for a brick oven pie which, traditionally, should be charred, yet fluffy due to its intense heat.  This was an average pie.

The service was fine i guess… the woman casually breezed in and out of existence and did what she needed to d0.  The atmosphere, as noted, was lacking.  Combined with being empty and hot, the door was left open for interesting stragglers to float in and out; some of which were mosquitos.  Mosquito count – Elana 3.  Me – 1.  I had been bit squarely in the center of my forehead.  This was no way to eat.

The bathroom, as Elana put it, was sort of like a supply closet and had the smallest sink imaginable.

If I end up living in the downtown jersey city area, I could see myself going back for a pie every now and then.  It is indeed located in a cool spot in town, and the pizza is decent.  But i can’t say I will go out of my way to go back.

Overall Experience – Vanilla Sky

Afterwards, however, I did have my first 3D HDTV experience at best buy.  Pretty damn sweet, minus the uncomfortable glasses.

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Things to do with apples:

Roast ’em

Poach ’em (with honey)

Juice ’em

Cut ’em up in bake them in bread (really good)

Crisps, crumbles and tarts – oh my!

Throw ’em (the rotten ones)

Juggle ’em

Use ’em for target practice (for your bow and arrow)

Sauce ’em

AND DON’T FORGET TO PUT ‘EM IN PIE! And then send me one.

These red beauties are at Sobsey’s right now – very crisp, and a good combo of sweet and tart.

MORE FOOTBALL TOMORROW! Don’t forget to check out our pulled pork, and vote on whose hair you like better, John’s or Mark Sanchez’.

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Ok, not really, but I wanted to get your attention. These guys are actually teeeeeeeeny-tiny. The hand-held variety. But they’re super cute, are they not? And even if you can’t eat them (I tried), they make a lovely seasonal centerpiece or paperweight. And you can get them at Sobsey’s in Hoboken right now.

Many of you have heard me talk about Sobsey’s. It’s my favorite produce joint in Hoboken. I’m going to try and give you all a weekly update on what’s fresh and good there. Of course, this will only be helpful to our Hoboken readers, but maybe it will inspire the rest of you to go find a similar place that is local to you and search out the same items.

For something you CAN eat, you can find these Brown Turkey Figs at Sobsey’s as well.

Make sure to get these when they are soft. Or at least wait until they are soft before you eat them. Like their name suggests, they have a brown hue to them (along with some green thrown in there for fun). And they are a bit larger than either the purple or green figs that I’ve found. Their taste is very similar to purple figs, maybe a bit more mild. Because these guys are large, they’re great for sandwiches (for example, layering them with arugula and brie would be nice), or cutting into slices for a salad. Go git ’em!

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Hopefully by now you’ve either made sweet bacon or have spent the morning eating copious amounts of it. You might be thirsty by now. I know I would be.

Might we recommend the above: Rejadorada Temple? It pairs well with pork (and other meats). I know because I asked the helpful staff at the Chelsea Wine Vault where I encountered a free tasting last night. I admit to liking it so much that I impulse purchased a bottle.

Like the website says, it’s very rich and almost chocolately red wine. Gooooooood stuff. I would like to be drinking it right now.

Anyway, go get yourself some (and some more bacon while you’re at it). If you need some reading material while you are sipping your cinnamon and cassis aroma’d wine, please review the week here at Elana and John Talk About Food:

Elysian – tomorrow will be a great day to enjoy their outdoor seating.

Get ready for the Vendy Awards with Kelvin Natural Slush Co.

Last day! Post a comment to win honey.

Have a great weekend! More fun coming to you next week.

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This week’s review: The Elysian Café located on 10th and Washington in Hoboken.  A pretty cool and classy venue, as far as the ‘Boken is concerned.  And with charming decor both inside and out, it’s the perfect local spot to wash away my Labor Day blues, which have set in exceptionally hard.  I pick up Elana at her apartment, and we make the walk uptown.

Upon being greeted by the hostess, we are lucky enough to get a table outside which didn’t look possible at first.  The outdoor seating is packed, as it should be.  The weather is still nice, and the Elysian’s outdoor scene is one of the best in Hoboken.  Its curbside location is great for people watching, yet it feels deceptively secluded with its trees (or is it just a tree?) that create an intimate feel.  Inside, there are two rooms: both of which have considerable, yet quite dissimilar, character.  After all, the brownstone building dates back to 1895, and, throughout its history, housed both an ice cream parlor and hair salon. (This interesting factoid prompts me to daydream of getting the dome trimmed as I sit in an old time barber chair while eating spoonfuls of Haagen Dazs).

Our outdoor table is small but equipped with cool dishtowels with a faded stripe down the middle in lieu of a napkin.  I like these things, just way cooler than some ol’ napkin flapping around in the breeze.  I’m pretty sure only good restaurants do this, but I’m probably overreacting.  Like I said, it is Labor Day – and I am emotional and reading too much into things.

Drinks are first.  And while the selection looked pretty awesome, our ultimate cocktails were just ok.  My drink, the English Dandy (Hendrick’s, Lemonade, mint and club soda) was great. It was mild and tangy, like a gin drink should be.  Elana got the Hendrick’s Pink 75: (Hendrix, Maple Syrup, lemon juice, rose champagne). It was a bit too tangy and tart for both of our tastes.

For appetizers, we ordered 12 Kumamoto oysters (we had asked for Blue Point, but they had run out, and gave us the Kumamoto oysters at the Blue Point Price – a nice gesture) which were nicely presented in a bucket of ice. These suckers were extremely fresh and came with some garlic vinegar sauce which paired well with the oysters.

For entrees, I ordered the Burgundy Braised Beef Short Ribs with Yukon gold taters and tempura onion rings, and Elana selected the Cod, which was new on the menu.  The ribs were very good – juicy and flavorful, and when I was too lazy to pick up my knife –tender enough to accommodate fork-only cutting.  The taters and onions were a great compliment.  Elana’s cod was equally impressive, it came in a tomatoey-white wine broth with little neck clams, and chorizo (!!). The cod was perfectly flaky, and the broth light and smoky (flavored by the chorizo).

Since Elysian is a French Bistro, we had to order their Crème Brulee, which was fantastic.  A snappy, slightly burned outer crust, which, when cracked, gave way to a cream of perfect consistency and taste.  Lots of visible vanilla beans too.  I could have eaten 15 of those things.

Elana took one for the team and made the to trip to the bathrooms which she described as “very clean and orderly….With….wait for it….and Xlerator!!!”  ‘Nuff said.

The service at Elysian was ok. The dinner took slightly longer than expected, and our waitress (a nice young girl) forgot our fries…which, by the way, are awesome here. But we were so full that we did not care, nor were we charged for them.

Also, for those wondering, Elysian has a good cheese selection.

We really enjoyed our experience at Elysian.  While it falls short of the ultimate food experience, their dishes are well presented and made.  It’s a solid, upper echelon choice for those dining in Hoboken. We’ll be back for sure.

Overall Experience – Top Gun

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So, we had a question on the blog. An actual question! Directed at us! We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. Actually, John gets questions all the time (what do you use in your hair…how do you pick up chicks at a bar…etc.) But not me. So I was excited. The question had to do with picking out mangoes. How do you pick out a good one?

Well, I am here to tell you, I just don’t know. WAIT! But keep reading, I swear, actual information follows.

For most of my produce needs, I frequent a place called Sobsey’s in Hoboken, NJ. This place is amazing. It’s a tiny little shop, stuffed full of amazing fruits and veggies. They hand pick every mango that comes in to the shop. I’m not even joking. So, when I need a mango, I just run in there and grab one.  I don’t think about it because every mango (and every piece of fruit I’ve ever picked up) there is perfect. Perfectly ripe, and ENORMOUS. Please see the photo below to better demonstrate how HUGE they are:

Toby is my dog, by the way.

Sobsey’s mangoes are from Brazil. I don’t know if mangoes from Brazil are better than the mangoes from other places, but they seem to be. However, for all of you who don’t have a Sobsey’s near you or aren’t in Brazil, I have the following helpful information:

If you would like a ripe mango (ready to eat), Squeeze the mango gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft to the touch. Like a…um….bag of sand…No, nothing like that, really. But you should be able to indent them slightly with your thumb. Don’t pick one that feels mushy and don’t pick one that has brown bruising marks on it. If you’d like to wait a few days before you eat it, you can pick out a firmer one. It’s kind of like picking out a peach or an avocado.

It should also be slightly fragrant when you smell it. Go on…take a whiff, no one’s looking.

Don’t go for the puny ones either, get one that’s plump and heavy.

Finally, don’t focus on color. It doesn’t mean much in terms of the ripeness of this particular fruit.

Disclaimer: We would like to note that we are NOT mango experts. Use this information at your own risk. No animals or fruits were harmed during this blog post’s photo shoot.

We would also like to thank Sobsey’s Produce and the National Mango Board (yes – there is a National Mango Board!) for their assistance obtaining this information.

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