#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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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!

#SCBDExclusive: #NJWFF Grand Tasting Recap

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This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending of the Grand Tasting at the 5th Annual New Jersey Wine & Food Festival better known as NJWFF with my boyfriend, Jason. The NJWFF takes place at the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, NJ.  The ride to Crystal Springs was breathless, even with the snow, which if anything made it more magical.

Jason & I at NJWFF

Jason & I at NJWFF

The event was huge and got a great crowd, each room filled with other foodies like us trying the best food and wine New Jersey offers. The amount of food we consumed was overwhelming and it was hard to take food pictures because it was so crowded and I couldn’t wait to get each sample in my stomach, but I still remember our favorites. Our favorite room was the Spanish charcuterie room that was just added on the weekend of the event. The men behind the charcuterie were awesome at answering at answering questions we had. Plus, the charcuterie was some of the best I’ve had.

Some of our favorite dishes we tasted were:

  1. Braised Short Rib from American Cut
  2. Bison Bruschetta from The Orange Squirrel Restaurant
  3. Filet Mignon with Truffle Creamed Spinach from Strip House
  4. Applewood Smoked Trout, with Compressed Apple, Pickled Breakfast Radish, and Celery Root Puree from Ho-Ho-Kus Inn

Those were just some dishes that stuck out to us at the tasting! It was great to see the chefs in their element! I definitely want to check out the restaurants mentioned above, since I haven’t. All of the dishes stood out to us because they were unique and memorable!

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Chef Jose Andres & I at NJWFF!

One of the highlights of the night, was meeting the chef of honor and legend, Chef Jose Andres. I even got a picture with him! He was so sweet and it was unexpected which made it that much better! After meeting Chef Jose we continued to explore the different food and wines a bit more, and catch some of the entertainment including a really talented tapper.

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It was definitely a night to remember and I would love to attend NJWFF again next year and try to stay at Crystal Springs if possible! We were both so proud to be from the great state of NJ with so many talented chefs!

Hope to see you at NJWFF next year!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

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.

Crocking Away…Tasty Turkey Chili

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Hello all! I am Katrina, and have been writing since I was 17, and have been interested in food since I was 15, and got my first “real” job, working in a bakery down the block from my high school. I however, like to cook and eat healthy 24/7. Yes, I will grab a slice of pizza every now and then, but why bother, when I can make my own on whole wheat dough, with low-fat cheese, low-sodium sauce, and turkey pepperoni? You catch my drift…I love food, and love to cook and bake…healthy…at home.

I am in love. With my crock pot. Not what you thought I was going to say, right? Well it’s true. I discovered this hidden gem in my kitchen cabinet not too long ago, and have been whipping up tasty turkey chili for my whole family ever since.

The machine literally is fool-proof. You prepare a meal in the morning, toss it in the slow cooker (crock pot, as I grew up calling it), and let it simmer all day until you get home from work. Because let’s be honest: who wants to cook chili after working an 8 hour day?

And that is just what I did today. I had to be at work at 9:30 so I got up a little after 7:30AM and sauteed my turkey chop meat in 2 TBS of olive oil on the stove. I broke it up with a fork, and then poured in a little bit of cumin and S+P to my liking. When that was almost all cooked, I transferred it over to the slow cooker, which I had plugged in and set to “Low for 8 Hours.”

I went back to my stove and poured another TBS of olive oil, and chopped up two small cloves of garlic, one small onion, and one green pepper and tossed those into the pan on the stove. Then I added in a can of cannelloni beans, a can of low-sodium diced tomatoes, and one can of low-sodium chicken broth. I let these ingredients simmer in the pan for about 5 minutes, before transferring it over to the crock pot.

Once I poured in the remaining ingredients, I mixed them together with the turkey chop meat. Then….that’s it! I put the lid on, and left for work, and left my trusted Hamilton Beach crock pot do the rest of the work. Now some people, (like my cousin) are convinced leaving a crock pot on all day while you go to work, is a sure way to start a fire. And yes, I was worried about this too at first. But then you realize, it will be fine. It is meant to be fine. And just for safe measure, I always clear the space around it, so it is the only appliance plugged into the wall at that particular unit, and I make sure no other appliance is rubbing up against it…give the crock some space 😉

And viola! You come home to a nice meal, that only took you 25 minutes of your morning to prepare. So dust off your cookbook, and invest in a crock pot. I guarantee soups and chili will never taste the same!

#SCBDExclusive Interview with Christina Aurrichio, Owner of Chi Flo

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This month, Christina Aurrichio, an FDU graduate like myself, launched an amazing new, up and coming fashion line, Chi Flo. The line is creative and unlike anything out there because of Christina’s passion and love for drawing and fashion. When I saw that she was launching the company and her premiere line, Grimm Street I had to get the 411 and have my readers get a first look because I see Chi Flo going places and you’ll probably want to buy your first shirt after you read this.

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Christina Aurrichio, Owner of Chi-Fl0
Photo Credit: Rob Roselli

SCBD: Thanks Christina for letting me interview you and give my readers the first scoop on your new line, Chi Flo. It’s great to see another peer and fellow Jersey Girl make their mark. Who or what inspired you to come up with Chi Flo?

CA: No problem Sara! Thanks for all the support and promoting, I’m very impressed by all you’ve accomplished as well. What inspired me to create Chi Flo was a mixture of things. I am very passionate about my artwork and always wondered how to properly display it. I also am very passionate about fashion and the whole city scene. You know—the girls in the city with a sketchpad  in their backpack, a cup of coffee in hand, and a keen sense of style…just trying to make it big. Chi Flo is all about the balance of my artwork, the fashion sense, and actual occurrences life occurrences. It also showcases my love for making light of bad situations. For instance, the BAD GIRLFRIEND shirt should be worn by girls with a sense of humor who have been maybe labeled as a Bad Girlfriend before, or just know how to joke about themselves. It’s just so much bigger than a t-shirt line for me, and I hope someday it catches on.

SCBD: How long have you been drawing for? What’s the best drawing you’ve made?

CA: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, maybe about 7. My big brothers and mother were always extremely creative and seeing them creating music/crafts/drawings made me want to do the same. I can remember looking at my Flinstones storybooks, loving the character Dino and just taking a piece of paper and drawing him. It was always an exciting challenge to get better at drawing every time I picked up a pencil. It still is an exciting challenge. I’ve never been classically trained in drawing. I think that says a lot as well.

My favorite drawing I drew would be the “Not Your Savior”.

SCBD: Chi Flo focuses on using original artwork, why do you think that’s crucial to any successful fashion line?

CA: I  think nowadays, every time you turn a corner someone is creating a new t-shirt line from scratch or a website that re-sells already made t-shirts the buyer purchased wholesale. Granted, I am supportive of anyone doing so. However, most of those people aren’t coming up with the designs themselves. They are either Google-imaging “skull and crossbones” or “graffiti letters” and just placing them on a shirt. Again, those people are smart and I support them. They may also sell faster because they sell shirts that are trendy with the times. But myself personally, I just couldn’t come up with another carbon-copy t-shirt line. I thought “I have the ability to create designs, why not use that to my full potential?” Plus, what’s better than wearing a shirt that no one else has? If I had a dollar for every shirt I see with an inverted cross, or a typical sugar skull, I wouldn’t have to hustle a t-shirt line!

SCBD: Chi Flo is not just a fashion line but it is also a lifestyle, what does that mean to you and your customers?

CA: When I say that Chi Flo is a lifestyle, I truly believe it is. Chi Flo sells shirts with meaning. For example, the “Not Your Savior” shirt is my favorite design because I drew it when I was going through a bad break-up. It was purely from my heart. To me, Chi Flo shirts are like listening to a good song. If you can relate to the lyrics, or in this case what the shirt says, then the design will jump out at you and mean so much more. Chi Flo is self-expression, but in a cute way!

SCBD: Your first line, The Grimm Street Collection is unlike any line I’ve seen. You’ve mentioned that every collection tells a story. What is the story behind The Grimm Street collection?

CA:The story behind the Grim Street collection is a blend of things. As I had mentioned earlier, I designed the Not Your Savior after a bad break-up. Literally, I couldn’t ‘save’ the other person and had to focus on myself. Next came the Bad Girlfriend. That was an “insult” thrown at me in retaliation. Why not wear it on my shirt then? After graduation and difficult situations, I started to find myself. I drew the Chief Flo as a representation of discovering who I was and my artistic ability. The Street Pigeon represents the cool-side to fashion and just feeling like a boss. Finally, the Smiths Tribute reads the words “Honey Pie, You’re Not Safe Here” . That’s my favorite line from a Smiths song. It represents power and rising to the top. Whoever was going to get in my way wouldn’t be “safe there”. That kind of thing.

Take a peek into The Grimm Street Collection (photos by Rob Roselli):

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SCBD: What shirt is your best seller?

CA: My best seller is the Street Pigeon! I think it is amazing how girls and guys both love the design. I give myself props for that.

SCBD: What’s your favorite shirt and why?

CA: My favorite is the Chief Flo because I truly think the design is beautiful. When I was drawing it on paper, I looked in the mirror so I could outline a face and hair (I was alone so I used myself as the face model). From there, I just drew everything else and made her a sugar skull. I think it’s great that people probably don’t know they’re wearing my face on their shirt!

SCBD: I ordered the Street Pigeon shirt and received it really quickly last week which was awesome. I loved the packaging and sticker that came with it. What separates Chi Flo from other designers out there? 

CA: Great to hear! I think what separates Chi Flo is the whole ‘hometown’ feel. I designed the shirts and everything. A good friend of mine, Rob Roselli, photographed the pictures. Another friend of mine modeled the pictures and more friends of mine will continue to model for me. I created Chi Flo strictly from what I know and love. I’m just not trying to be anyone else. The packaging ties in with the hometown feel because I wrap it myself and put in a thank you note signed personally by me.

SCBD: Chi Flo seems to be really taking off, where do you see Chi Flo in 5 years? 

CA: I hope it continues to take off. I need to constantly keep on top of the advertising and promotion. I stay humble and noticeably hopeful through it all. I have so much stock left still, but I knew I would. I took a big chance. Plus, it has only been two weeks since it’s launch date. I must continue to advertise and be creative. If I continue to do that, I hope Chi Flo will be sold in stores in 5 years. I’d also love to open a boutique with Chi Flo brand clothing. Let’s hope for the best.

SCBD: What are some goals you want to achieve with Chi Flo this year?

I’m so excited to continue to create more designs. The more I sell the Grim Street line, the more profit I can make, and the quicker I can come up with more shirts. I just really want people to love the shirts and recognize that I am an independent business owner and need to sell, sell, sell! I can’t wait to create hoodies for fall and cover-ups for summer. Stay tuned!

SCBD:  What’s one quote that motivates you everyday?

“Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better”

SCBD: Last, what’s one thing you’d like all the SCBD readers to know about Chi Flo?

CA: I’d like all the SCBD readers to know that anyone can rock Chi Flo and find the balance in their life. Chi Flo represents just that! Wear your heart on your sleeve and also wear art on your shirts. Self expression from deep within is SUPER important and don’t be afraid to be edgy. Stock is limited but there will be more as long as the sales go up! Chi Flo is a small business and needs YOU guys to help promote it! By people wearing Chi Flo, it sort of creates a little Chi Flo army. A bunch of people making a statement in favor of art, independent business, and staying Chi.

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I loved both of my purchases from Chi Flo, the Women’s Street Pigeon Crop Tee and neon pink beanie (pictured above) and I’m sure you will too!

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In honor of the launch of Chi Flo, Christina is offering Small Chick Big Deals readers an exclusive deal:

 Type SCBD into the code box at checkout to get 10% off entire purchase at Chi Flo from Monday the 18th-Wednesday the 20th! 🙂

Also be sure to sign up for the Chi Flo mailing list, here.

Happy Shopping and supporting Chi Flo! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

#SCBDExclusive: Potbelly to Open in Paramus this Tuesday!

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If you’ve been an avid SCBD reader from the beginning you know one of my favorite places to grab lunch while I interned at The Rachael Ray Show was Potbelly Sandwich Shop. It was an easy walk from the former studio in Midtown East, affordable, and delicious and I’m not normally a big sandwich person. Check out my original post featuring Potbelly, here.

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I loved eating Potbelly so much that I wanted them to open up in New Jersey. Now over a year later, they are opening their second New Jersey location (the first is in Jersey City) at Bergen Town Center in Paramus, NJ. The Potbelly official grand opening is this Tuesday, February 19th at 11am.

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In honor of the opening they are having an Oven Warming Party (which I found out via Twitter) tomorrow from 11am-1:30pm. The first 260 people to sign up (admits you and one guest) can enjoy a Potbelly Originals sandwich, a bag of chips, and a fountain drink, all for a $5 cash donation per person that will be going to Family to Family to raise funds for their projects.  Be sure to RSVP, here, tonight! I’m planning on attending, so maybe I’ll see you there?!

The MenuPhoto Credit: DNAinfo.com

The Menu
Photo Credit: DNAinfo.com

If you can’t make it out tomorrow, make sure you stop by for their official grand opening Tuesday or anytime the rest of the week.  I highly recommend the Roast Beef sandwich which is my personal favorite, I’ve even ordered it “Bigs” (30% more meat) because it’s that delicious!

Here’s to a successful grand opening and giving Potbelly a warm welcome to Bergen County!

Happy Eating! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited