#SCBDEvent Recap: Dishcrawl Jersey City

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If you love to eat as much as I do then you’ll want to attend a Dishcrawl event in your area. I was fortunate to attend the debut Dishcrawl in Jersey City. The event took place in the Paulus Hook area, which was new to me but it was tons of fun. The crawl started off at Cityside Bistro where we had mini crabcakes, panisse with tomato chutney, and croque monsieur. My favorite dish was the mini crabcakes.

Dishes at Cityside Bistro in Jersey City Photo courtesy of Mickey Mathis

Dishes at Cityside Bistro in Jersey City
Photo courtesy of Mickey Mathis

Next, we went to the Iron Monkey where we sampled the monkey mac ‘n’ cheese, couscous with veggies, and crab dumplings. The monkey mac ‘n’ cheese has mushrooms and pancetta in it and it was delightful, one of their signature dishes.

Mac 'n' cheese, couscous & dumplings from The Iron Monkey Photo Courtesy of Mickey Mathis

Mac ‘n’ cheese, couscous & dumplings from The Iron Monkey
Photo Courtesy of Mickey Mathis

Our next stop was HopsScotch, which specializes in different beers. We sampled their German bun dumpling, mussel shooter, and grilled cheese with pesto.

Our sampler at HopsScotch Photo of Mickey Mathis

Our sampler at HopsScotch
Photo of Mickey Mathis

After that we finished the crawl at O’Connells where we had a choice of their homemade bread pudding or chocolate cake. I got the chocolate cake and it was pretty delicious.

Dessert at O'Connells Photo taken by Mickey Mathis

Dessert at O’Connells
Photo taken by Mickey Mathis

Interested in coming to the next Dishcrawl? Buy your tickets to the 2nd Jersey City Dishcrawl, here. They are $45 but you get to try dishes from some of Jersey City’s best restaurants like Michael Anthony’s, VB3 and more! But you’ll just have to go to find out!

I loved my first dishcrawl and plan on going to more in Jersey City and Hoboken. Have you gone? I’d love to know what you thought?

Look out for more 4-1-1 on events in NYC & NJ!

Cheers!

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#SCBDFavorite: Delicious Meal For Two at The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield!

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A week or so ago, Jason and I celebrated our anniversary by having dinner at The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, NJ since I was invited to check it out earlier in the week! The Orange Squirrel is centrally located at 412 Bloomfield Ave, not too far from the hustle & bustle of Montclair. Founded by Chef/Owner Franseco Palmieri, The Orange Squirrel
brings your Italian favorites and comfort food to new heights, not to mention everything is made fresh. We were knocked off our feet and are already thinking of when we can go again! I also forgot to mention how great the atmosphere is– the decor is orange and brown and stays on theme.

The Pink Squirrel

The Pink Squirrel

When we got in we were greeted by Chef Palmieri who was greeting guests that came in. He sat us down and gave us menus which we devoured. I decided to start the night off with the Pink Squirrel cocktail which screamed my name and Jason had a Sprite. It was one of the best cocktails I’ve had, it had grapefruit juice in it which can be overpowering at times but it wasn’t because it was freshly squeezed. We were already on our way to foodie heaven.

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Photo taken by Jason Ferrera

Since we still weren’t sure what to get for an appetizer and meal to share, we decided to start off with Squirrel Nuts (shown above) which are crisp truffled potato, cheese puffs and so delicious. They are less than ten bucks to great to start with for a shareable snack before you dig into Chef’s delicious food. After looking at the menu awhile we decided we were in the mood for Italian so opted on getting the Baked Veal Meatballs as an appetizer and the Manicotti to share for dinner. As we waited for our order, the chef sent out theese salmon fritters with an amazing aioli for us to nibble on. A few minutes later, our meatballs came out. I’m not a huge veal eater, but I would gladly eat them again– they were cooked to perfection and had great flavor.

Salmon Fritter

Salmon Fritter

 

Baked Veal Meatballs

Baked Veal Meatballs

Shortly after we devoured our meatballs, our Manicotti came out, nicely presented in a small cast-iron skillet. It was the perfect size for us to share. The pasta is made in-house and you can really taste the difference. It was probably some of the best Manicotti I’ve ever had and I don’t eat it as much as I used too. It was so light with a perfect balance of cheese and pasta, melted it in your mouth. I definitely recommend it to anyone and would gladly get it again. I’d also want to try more of the pastas next time I come in.

Manicotti

Manicotti

Another staple you must try at The Orange Squirrel is their monthly dirt tasting for dessert. Chef Palmieri’s wife comes up with innovative flavors every month. When we came in the flavors were Easter-centric with Cadbury in it and more. They were the perfect size for both of us to share.

Photo by Jason Ferrera

Photo by Jason Ferrera

The Orange Squirrel was the perfect spot for Jason and I to celebrate our anniversary and we’d gladly go again. In fact, we were already trying to plan our next visit on the way out. Everything is made fresh, they have innovative specials daily & weekly, and the staff is incredibly friendly. In the mood for tartare, pizza, or chicken pot pie? I suggest you dine at  The Orange Squirrel because you can find them there and won’t be disappointed. Whether you are looking to dine like a king or queen or share some appetizers and cocktails with friends or family, it’s the place to go!

Cheers! 😀

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#SCBDExclusive: Interview with Abbey & Lindsay, Owners of Cake Couture NJ!

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Cake Couture NJ is a home-based custom cake company founded by two Jersey girls from my hometown of Howell, Lindsay Mauser and Abbey Lanz. Last time I was home I had the opportunity to interview them on the company, their cakes, and more!

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SCBD: How long have you been baking and cake decorating?

CCNJ: We’ve been baking as long as we can remember. We started getting into cake decorating by taking classes at Michael’s when they had them locally. Abbey received her degree in pastry from the Culinary Education Center of Monmouth County in 2011 where she performed in pastry competitions too. She’s always been more passionate about cakes rather than general pastry, you can see it in our work.

SCBD: Who came up with idea to start Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: We started making cakes for family about 4 years ago and then came up with the name and really started our business three years ago. When we first started it was Abbey and my (Lindsay’s) sister Erin but Erin wasn’t as passionate about it after a while so I stepped in and we’ve been successfully working together since. We feel that our cakes aren’t just any cakes so we felt that Cake Couture was the perfect name for us.

SCBD: What is special about your recipe compared to others?

CCNJ: Well, you can’t really compare us to any other cake or cupcake out there. We’re very creative and are constantly coming up with new recipes to try. We love coming up with new recipes for flavors we like.

SCBD: I’ve seen pictures of your cakes and the artwork looks so professional. How did you learn this?

CCNJ: We learned the most by doing it all the time and through trial and error. It’s all about finding the right temperature, etc.

21st birthday beer cake

21st birthday beer cake

SCBD: What’s a new flavors are you working on?

CCNJ: We are currently working on summer flavors, our latest creation is working on some summer cocktail cupcakes like margarita, and more!

SCBD: What’s the most popular cake flavor order you get?

CCNJ: Our vanilla with vanilla butter cream and red velvet with cream cheese frosting are our most popular.

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Cupcakes with faces of Aunt & Grandma

SCBD: What’s the most unique order you’ve had?

CCNJ: Our most unique order so far was for cupcakes with our client’s grandma & aunt’s faces on them. It took a lot of work but it was fun to do and rewarding at the end.

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21st birthday cake

SCBD: What was your first order? Who was it for?

CCNJ: Our first order was for a 21st birthday at a big banquet hall, we were pretty nervous but it was a success. The cake had pink quilted zebra print on it.

SCBD: What’s a quote you both live by?

CCNJ: “She who leaves a trail of glitter, is never forgotten.”

SCBD: What’s Cake Couture NJ‘s motto?

CCNJ: “Made with Love” which we always have on all of our orders and “Edible Art For Magical Moments”.

SCBD: Where do you see Cake Couture NJ in five years?

CCNJ: We have high hopes and would love to be doing bigger events and have it turn into our full time job. We are looking forward to having bigger orders and to be in demand in the tri-state area. We are  working with the Ronald McDonald house on their event in May and donating a cupcake tower to their silent auction on May 19.

SCBD: Last, what do you want SCBD readers to know about Cake Couture NJ?

CCNJ: Nothing is impossible for us, we are willing to take any order. We take our time with every order and are very critical of our cakes. We do consultations and tastings for cakes for any event.

Harry Potter cake

Harry Potter cake

Make sure you like Cake Couture NJon Facebook  follow them on Twitter @CakeCoutureNJ! I’m definitely looking forward to working with them more because they have such a great thing going!

Cheers– let’s eat cake!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

Think Spring! Cups Froyo opening in Rockaway, NJ this Thursday!

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One of my favorite froyo companies– CUPS Frozen Yogurt – That’s Hot™, the beach-themed self-serve fro-yo concept, will open its first franchise location at 7 pm on Thursday, March 28 at Rockaway Townsquare, 301 Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway, New Jersey.

From March 28 to March 31, the Rockaway CUPS will donate 15 percent of sales to the Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. Also, during the grand opening week, each Rockaway customer will be given a “scratch off” card, which contains prizes such as wristbands, beach balls, water bottles, beach towels and  CUPS coupons. One lucky winner will receive free fro-yo for a year. Susan Witham, the Rockaway CUPS franchisee, is a successful businesswoman and long-time supporter of the Rockaway community.

Since opening the first CUPS in Clifton, New Jersey in 2010, CUPS has taken the Tri-State area by storm, becoming the local hot spot for teenagers and adults alike who make their own fro-yo concoctions choosing from 24 yogurt flavors and over 50 different toppings and three sauces.

The Rockaway CUPS will be open from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm Friday and Saturday and from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm on Sunday. For more information, call 973-328-1730 or visit their site, here.

Here’s to more froyo weather!! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

#DealAlert Tacos & Tequila at Tenth Avenue Burrito

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This month, I’ve been going home every so often to clean my room since I’ve moved out since I have time, and to just get my thoughts together. Oh yeah, can’t forget of course spending time with friends & family. Last week, one of my best friend’s, Sam who is in graduate school was coming home for her spring break so we decided we’d hang out since I had time and didn’t mind coming down. I saw her earlier in the afternoon and had to pick a place for us to grab dinner that night along with our friend Katie.

 I was scrolling through Facebook that afternoon and saw that 10th Ave Burrito (which has been featured in Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) had a $10 All You Can Eat (AYCE) Taco Special. That sounded great and since Christie granted the places that have their seasonal liquor license early since the Belmar St. Patrick’s Day parade was the week earlier, they had their liquor license. Going by the beach followed by tacos, tequila, and a three musketeer reunion (what my girls and I call ourselves), what could be better?

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Before we went to 10th Ave Burrito we wanted to see how Belmar looked since Sandy, it was devastating– the boardwalk was barely there. We saw what we wanted and were starving. When we first arrived we were seated immediately, we each took a look at the drink menu and ordered our tequila cocktails. I started off with The Oaxaca Old Fashioned which was served in a martini glass, it was really delicious and a deal for only $7. Katie & Sam each got the Tequila Sunrise ($6) which they loved!

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Next, we ordered our AYCE tacos– Katie & I started with steak tacos and Sam stuck with chicken the whole night. The way the AYCE tacos works at 10th Ave Burrito is that you start off with two tacos of your choice, when you feel your getting low and want to order your next round, you can (any kind of taco excluding shrimp). Sam stuck to chicken but I tried the chicken, fish, and chorizo. Katie tried the chorizo and chicken. We both liked steak best and Sam really enjoyed the chicken tacos. The three of us sort of had a contest of who could eat the most, Katie & I were close but I won.

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We got to the meet the owner of 10th Ave Burrito while we were there. He was incredibly friendly and is constantly making sure everyone is enjoying their meal there. Our waitress was very attentive and was always there when we were ready to order another round of tacos. The tequila cocktails are great and are reasonably priced for what you get. The tacos are delicious and you get a ton of food, especially if  you eat a lot for $10!

I had such a great experience and loved dinner so much that I definitely want to come back when I’m home again soon!

Cheers!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

10th Ave Burrito is located at 801 Belmar Plaza in Belmar, NJ

Luce {Eclectic Italian in Caldwell}

While this area has no shortage of Italian restaurants, picking out the ones worth your time can be a challenge. Luce definitely rises to the top of this list, distinguishing itself with a creative menu and attentive kitchen and staff. A fixture on the Caldwell restaurant scene since 2001, Luce revamped its image and menu in 2011. They brought in Executive Chef Steve Saragnese (formerly of Babbo in NYC and Vetri in Philadelphia) to shake up their traditional Italian fare. Saragnese now serves an eclectic twist on Italian classics, showcasing a keen appreciation for flavor combinations and fresh, seasonal ingredients.

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When I had dinner at Luce last week, I was impressed with the number of specials tacked on to their regular menu. The favorite that stood out was the butternut squash ravioli. Pillowy and light, filled with silky butternut squash purée and swathed in a nutty brown butter sauce, and topped with parmesan and crispy sage, it’s the perfect cold-weather pasta dish. The flatbread we tried was also a special, and hit all the right notes with creamy fontina cheese, peppery arugula, and crispy bacon. The flatbread was sprinkled judiciously with truffle oil, such that it didn’t overpower but elevated the whole dish. The Toasted bread with provolone cheese and roasted red pepper purée also delivered a serious flavor punch. What it lacked in beauty it made up for in taste; the sharp provolone and the tangy red pepper purée balanced perfectly, and the bread had a nice crunch. The eggplant caponata that comes with warm bread at the start of your meal is also a real standout, setting the tone for a flavor-packed meal.

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Luce offers an ample entrée menu, complete with standouts like Berkshire pork chop, filet mignon, gingered tuna, and wild Scottish salmon.  For our dinner, we tried the grouper, accompanied by whipped potatoes and garlic spinach. The fish was flaky and tender, and  served with just the right amount of creamy, garlicky sauce. We also tried the shrimp, served over a risotto with garlic spinach. Everything was cooked and seasoned beautifully no complaints from out table! For dessert we had Luce’s homemade brownie served with espresso chip ice cream and an espresso chocolate reduction. Rich, dark, and chocolaty- it hit the spot.

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Everyone at Luce, from the owners to the kitchen to the staff are warm, friendly, and helpful. Prices are reasonable considering the quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail. Though they don’t have a liquor license, Luce provides a wine list and will place an order for prompt delivery to your table. If you haven’t tried Luce, or haven’t been in years, give it a try- you’ll be impressed!

Nothing Poor about Doyle’s Pour House

I’m Arlene, Empty Nester of Small Chick Big Deals. This weekend started out in the south Jersey shore area. Just some adults looking for some good food at a good price and some good company. Friday night, decided to meet up with some friends from southern jersey in a town about halfway between us is Barnegat. Heard there was a Doyle’s Pour House that had opened there. I’ve been to the one in Tuckerton and found they had some unique menu items and a comfort food/Irish bar atmosphere. It sounded just right for some adults on a Friday night. We met our friends there and they told us there was a 30 minute wait. Okay, on a Friday night, I could live with that. The bar was full, so we waited and chatted by the doors with our call buzzer in hand. Now, when I say the bar was full this was a bar that wrapped around 1/3 of the restaurant. There are also 2 pool tables on the opposite wall that were busy as well.

Guiness Stew

Guiness Stew

Once seated, we had great service. Drinks brought promptly and well made. I had an Absolute martini and it was made absolutely perfect with 3 olives. Now a little thing that is my own particular pet peeve about martinis; if you served martinis, you should be serving them with nice sized olives, not little salad olives. Here, Doyle’s gets an A+ with 3 huge, healthy olives. One of the specials was a Guinness stew served over mashed potatoes. One of my buddies and I decided to order that and the stew was great. The stew covered the mashed potatoes and filled the plate it was served in. The meat fell apart, no need for a knife for this meal. It was comfort food at some of its best. You know I’ll be going back to Doyle’s.