#SCBDExclusive: Mother’s Day Dining Destinations!

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Mother’s Day is approaching quickly. Looking to go out and celebrate in New York or New Jersey? We have a couple of recommendations to enjoy this day to honor our Mother’s…

Photo Credit: Eventective.com

Photo Credit: Eventective.com

SouthWest NY, nestled in the heart of Tribeca, serves up Southwestern classics with a refined twist. Infused with the bright and bold flavors of Mexico and Latin America, Oaxaca-born Chef Antelmo Ambrosio has created a Mother’s Day menu that will be sure to please your turquoise earring-wearing, Southwestern loving mom. Or any mom for that matter. SouthWest NY’s special Mother’s Day menu is on offer from 12 pm to 9 pm. Dine outside and enjoy starters like Smoked Salmon Flat Bread ($13.50) with shaved red onion, capers, crème fraiche and chives or Duck Foie Gras ($15.00) with mixed berries compote and fennel crostini. Healthy delicious entrees like Jumbo Grilled Shrimp ($19.00) with grilled asparagus and blood orange vinaigrette will undoubtedly leave room for a Raspberry Lemon Drop ($ 8.00) with lemon mousse, raspberry preserve, lemon glaze and fresh raspberries. 

galli

Galli in Soho this Mother’s Day and really give mom a treat — the luxury of not having to cook! She can enjoy Italian classics (such as baby rice balls, mozz chips, Pasta Norma, Chicken Parm, & more) passed down from Steven Gallo’s (Chef & Owner) own mother.  So this Mother’s Day come to Galli and really feel like your at home with the family!

Sarabeth’s is the quintessential Mother’s Day restaurant and in addition to their full dinner menu on May 12th, the sprawling Tribeca location will also offer a specialty menu. Executive Chef Lee Scheffler cooks from the heart, which is evident in items like Filet Mignon ($31) with sautéed spinach, Portobello mushroom and mashed potato, Lobster Salad ($17) baby vegetables, frisee and citrus vinaigrette. And for a sweet end to your meal, try the Plum Peach Tart ($8.50) with fresh whipped cream.

RAYMI, NYC

Let mom enjoy dishes inspired by Chef Ramirez’s own family dinners as a child at Raymi in Flatiron. Mouths are sure to water with a variety of dishes rich in flavor and cultural influence. The prix fixe menu is only $38 a person and offers a variety of dishes sure to please anyone.

Mother'sDay 2013

The Orange Squirrel – offers Mother’s Day Brunch with 3 seatings at 11 am, 12:30 and 2pm.  Brunch includes choice of a main dish, a dessert and one complimentary cocktail or beverage for $35/adult or $30/child (see menu above).  Make your reservations today!

RARE The Steakhouse: Will be serving their a la carte menu from 1 to 6:30pm reserve at www.rarestk.com.

 The Dining Room at Anthony David’s brunch:  $22.95 includes fruit & donuts, entree, & coffee/tea.  Reserve at 201-222-8359.

Photo Credit: Lisa Curran

Photo Credit: Lisa Curran

 Bin 14 is offering a make your own “Momosa” Bar $8 with fresh fruits/juices. Reserve at 201-963- 9463.

Cheers to a great Mother’s Day!

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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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Take Your Gluten-Free and Vegan Friends For A Delicious Dessert At Papa Ganache in Matawan, NJ

About a month ago, my boyfriend Luke and I were driving through Matawan, NJ when I noticed a sign that said, “Bakery Amazing Delicious Vegan Treats… Gluten-Free Too!” When I pointed it out to Luke, we immediately looked at each other and said “Let’s try it!” It wasn’t until after we turned into the parking lot when I realized that it was the new location of a gluten-free bakery I’ve been dying to try — Papa Ganache.

lauren post

I first heard of Papa Ganache a few years ago from an old co-worker who was vegan. One day he brought in a slice of their vegan sponge cake and allowed me to try a small piece. It was delicious but it never gave me the incentive to go and check out their other desserts. I wasn’t gluten-free at the time (or vegan, but I’m not vegan now), so I didn’t think there was a need to go when there were plenty of regular bakeries around. Now that I’m gluten-free, it’s an entirely different story!

papa ganache

Before I get into all of the delicious treats I had, I want to mention how awesome the atmosphere is in this place. It’s perfect for the cafe junkies, especially the ones who inhabit Starbucks on a daily basis. It’s quiet and comfortable; perfect for a study session a work environment (if you telecommute), or a place to bring clients for a lunch or a snack. I would highly recommend this place for any of these instances or any occasion really!

cupcake

Now, about these desserts! It was really hard to choose from so many options (imagine a case full of snacks, I was in gluten-free heaven!), but I decided on a gluten-free red velvet cupcake and the chipwhich (one of Papa Ganache‘s specialties!)

chipwich & cupcake

The red velvet cupcake was moist that it practically melted in my mouth. It was so delicious that I seriously wish I had gotten two of them! The chipwhich was also great, but I had a lot of problems finishing the entire cookie. As you can see it’s huge and it was also too sweet for my taste! I definitely think that they should make smaller portions of it, like some of the other cookies I saw on their shelves.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first official Papa Ganache gluten-free experience! If you call the Jersey Shore home, I highly suggest you stop by their new location at 106 Main Street, Matawan, NJ! It’s a beautiful environment, filled with the most delicious goodies! I definitely plan on going back and dragging my friends and family along with me!

#SCBDFavorite: Stay Chi Collection by Chi Flo

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In honor spring deciding to show itself this week, I thought it was about time I tell you about Chi Flo‘s latest collection. If you didn’t read my post on how Chi Flo began, read ithere. The Stay Chi collection premiered a few weeks ago and it has perfect shirts, tanks, crop tops, and beanies to add to your summer collection!

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Wearing my Chi Flo sea flo crop top & shades!

I ordered the Sea Flo crop top and wore it yesterday, it was so comfy! I’m definitely looking into getting the Chi Flo Label Loose Crop Top and the Drippy Yang V-neck once it’s back in stock! The line is a huge deal and nothing is over $20!

Here’s some pictures of the line (by Rob Roselli):

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Buy your Stay Chi summer wear by Chi Flo, here.

More Spring fashion and beauty news soon!

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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!

cupcakes

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.

faces

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.

sweet 16

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!

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Mexico Lindo-translation –Pretty Mexico, Beautiful Mexico, the choice is yours.

Looking for some authentic, yes….really authentic Mexican food at a price you just can’t beat? Then Mexico Lindo at the Monmouth/Ocean county border is where you want to go. It’s in a little unassuming building in a little unassuming strip mall on a busy road at 1135 Burnt Tavern Road in Brick, NJ. 732-202-1930

When you walk in the door it seems like everyone knows everyone and you feel welcome to the party, too. It is decorated in the colors of Mexico and there are pictures and decorative items from Mexico as well. On this visit we sat near a poster with ingredients for tamale detailed on it! It was fun to read while waiting.

We really did not wait long for anything. Our waitress came right over and asked if we wanted something to drink. Mexico Lindo is a BYOB and they are happy to help you with whatever you bring, but they also have a tempting array of Mexican sodas. Tonight we both chose Mango. They serve it to you in the bottle with a side glass of crushed ice. And just as quickly they bring you homemade chips….still warm, with homemade salsa. Most times I’ve had the red, but on occasion they will serve the green. It is fresh and tasty, middle of the road spicy. Since they make all their own here you can ask for what level you’d like. The same goes for the food heat, too.

dinner

Fajitas

We debated about an appetizer, but really wanted to save room for the desserts on this trip, so we went right to main dishes. My companion always gets the same thing, the shrimp burrito. You might ask why would someone get the same thing all the time. I would guess, why mess with perfection? That is what their shrimp burrito is, perfection. I’d have to say it’s about a foot long and 3 inches round and filled with rice, beans, veggies and lots of decent sized shrimp. It’s definitely a knife and fork type of burrito, and plan on half of it for lunch for the next day. Yes, it’s that big! And I think the price is ridiculously low at $8.95. My choice was a bit more difficult to make. I’ve had some of their dishes that are traditional Mexican dishes in the past, such as chilaquiles, which are tortillas, broken up and marinated in a creamy green sauce and picante (spicy) . However, tonight I thought I would try a Mexican restaurant staple, the fajita. Now, everyone knows that good fajitas come in 2 parts, so first came the tortillas, in a tortilla holder to keep them warm, and with a plate on top to keep the steam in. on top of that plate was all my fajita goodies. There was guacamole (homemade), sour cream, pico de gallo and yellow rice. Next, came the steak, red and green peppers and onions on a sizzling platter. It was hot, hot, hot! Now, anyone can tell you, the steak is the test of a good fajita and this steak was hot, juicy and full of flavor. It was delicious just to eat alone. Also, the tortillas are fresh, very fresh and that makes a difference as well. I have to say these were the best fajitas I’ve ever had.

dessert

Usually we are way too full to have dessert, but with half the burrito packed away for lunch the next day, we decided to try something. Our server knew the desserts and their descriptions by heart. Ya gotta love that. We decided on the sopapillas. These were lightly fried tortilla chips with honey, cinnamon, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. All this for $3.50.  A nice light, sweet finish to our meal and certainly enough dessert for 2 or more.  A nice meal of real food for the price you now pay for fast food. Whatever we get rarely costs us over $30. Now, that’s a deal!