#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

#SCBD February Fun Foodie Favorites

February is well underway and I’m here to report some of my favorite foodie products.

1. Go Organic NYC

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Go Organic NYC, a food delivery service bringing boxes of fresh, organic produce to homes and offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, is now expanding to northern New Jersey. Consumers in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union counties can sign up to customize their own boxes of produce, or choose to receive a preset selection of fruits, vegetables and seasonal produce, delivered straight to their doorstep. There are no commitments, upfront fees or contracts, just boxes of fresh, organic, high quality produce delivered to consumers at intervals of their choosing. I received a box from Go Organic NYC a few months back and loved it! It was great having the best quality of produce delivered to your door! Go Organic NYC is offering all new customers a 20% off discount when they place their first order, here. To claim the coupon, enter GOORGANICPROMO upon checkout.

2. Eight O’ Clock K-Cups

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I love good coffee and was thoroughly impressed with the Eight O’ Clock K-Cups. I feel that most k-cups aren’t as strong as regular coffee but these are definitely an exception. I even came up with my own Cafe Mocha recipe that works great with them.

Cafe Mocha

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. In a large mug, make Eight O’ Clock K-Cup in Keurig machine.
  2. Add hot cocoa mix of choice– add milk or sugar if needed.
  3. Top with whipped cream.
  4. Enjoy!

3. Wawa Single Serve Cups

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I grew up in Central Jersey kind of near the shore and Wawa is a staple down there. So when I was home for the holidays I had to pick up the Wawa Single Serve Cups. I love the Wawa brand and there is nothing like their coffee. Since there are no Wawa’s near me up in Bergen County these definitely conquer my craving and they are so cheap– only $10! If you don’t live near a Wawa you can also buy them online, here.

4. Love With Food Box

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I came across Love With Food when I was looking at a HARO email a few months ago so I had to check out for myself. I got the holiday box sent to me in the mail awhile ago and it is perfect. It was filled with fun holiday snacks, some flyers and a note from Love With Food. Love With Food is the easiest way to discover what’s tasty, delivered to your door! Every month, Love With Food members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty bites which varies based on seasonal themes. Say goodbye to boring grocery selections and HELLO to a monthly tasty surprise! Join Us on this tasty journey.

At Love With Food, they are passionate about helping the more than 16 million children in America who are at risk of hunger. For every box sold, they donate a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength – No Kid Hungry. Join Us to help end childhood hunger one meal at a time!

5. Santa Teresa Rum

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During the storm this weekend I was able to open up my bottle of Santa Teresa Rum— the Santa Teresa Rum 1796 bottle. This is a great artisanal rum, best served on the rocks. It’s an aged, dark, delicious rum. Cheers!

6. Crave Jams

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Sisters & best friends, born and raised in the birthplace of the grass roots, Artisan Foodie movement, Brooklyn, NY. They currently live and work in the heart of the Garden State and are riding the crest of the current Food Entrepreneur/Small Business wave!
They specialize in creative twists and takes on traditional favorites! Each batch is lovingly prepared, using the freshest seasonal produce and finest quality ingredients & flavorings available. All Crave products are handmade, in small batches, from market fresh ingredients and canned with care.We source locally whenever possible and are very passionate about the quality of what you crave. All of their jars & labels are all made of recycled materials and we compost! Crave jarred products have a shelf life of 12 months unopened; please refrigerate and consume within 3 months of opening.

Here’s a peak into the Crave varietal menu (7oz jars – $10.95):

  • Balsamic Fig
  • Blueberry Mojito
  • Blackberry Bliss
  • Caramel Apple
  • Chunky Vanilla Pear
  • Cran-Marnier (Best Seller – Limited edition thru New Years)
  • Morning Glory Marmalade (Best Seller)
  • Strawberry Lemon Poppyseed (Best Seller)
  • Texas BBQ Sauce
To place an order or for more information:

Those are just a few of my foodie favorites for this month!

Stay tuned for more of my favorites next month!

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

#DealAlert: 50% Exclusive Events by IAdventure.com for #SCBD Readers

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A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending the Chili Cook-Off held by Iadventure.com— it was a great time and I got to try some awesome chili. If you love Iadventure.com and the foodie events they have, I have good news…

SCBD is teaming up with Iadventure.com and offering an exclusive 50% off discount code to the following foodie events:

It’s easy just the click the link to the event (above) and when you purchase your tickets, put in the code  SCBD50 (all caps & ends with a zero) and you get half off your tickets!

Cheers to fun foodie adventures! 😀

Sara SCBD Logo Edited

 

 

Skuna Bay Salmon Unlike Any Other

I recently attended a dinner at the renowned James Beard House, which featured chef Nicholas Elmi from Pennsylvania’s Rittenhouse Tavern. The James Beard House has adopted Skuna Bay as their official salmon and hosted the elaborate dinner to highlight it, along with other seafood. I was seated with Skuna Bay salmon farmers, as well as representatives from their local distributor, Gotham Seafood. While chatting with these dedicated men, what struck me was their enthusiasm and passion for their trade.

Unlike all other salmon companies, Skuna Bay truly has a personal touch. The craft-raised salmon company based in Vancouver raises their fish in their natural environment – the first year to year and a half in fresh water and a year or two in the ocean. Once the fish are fully grown, only 6% are chosen by the company’s salmon experts to be Skuna Bay salmon. Any fish with blemishes or imperfections are nixed from the mix. But one of the most impressive aspects of this company is that once the fish are packed on ice and boxed, the next person to open that box and touch the fish is the chef who’s going to prepare it. Their philosophy is that if the salmon farmers themselves can have the freshest salmon, why can’t everyone else? Skuna Bay allows its customers to experience that same fresh fish. Furthermore, the salmon is never flown, but driven right to its final destination.

I never imagined the process of cultivating salmon to be quite so meticulous and learned that it was really fascinating to learn about the lengths to which this company goes to ensure quality salmon to their customers. After hearing all about it, I was excited to try it! And luckily, I was not disappointed  Skuna Bay truly was the freshest salmon I have tasted and it was prepared excellently. Some of the best chefs nationwide are using this salmon, including Ed Brown and David Burke. If you want to see for yourself what all of the fuss is about, dine at the James Beard House or any of chef David Burke‘s New York restaurants to try it out! Best of all, right now Chef Burke is donating a portion of the proceeds from all his salmon dishes to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey. So not only can you eat well, you can do something good for others while you do it!

Amanda Mactas

Amanda originally hails from Connecticut, but has lived in the Big Apple for two years now. She has since scoured the bouroughs for the best food and cocktails she can get her hands on. As a contributor to Joonbug.com, SheckysNightlife.com, and SocietePerrier.com, she has a taste for all that is NYC – whether it be a good restaurant, an awesome cocktail bar, or a unique fashion show. When she is not exploring the city, she can be found reading a good book, cheering for the Yankees, or quoting Harry Potter. You can follow her @NYCNightlife411!

Pizza done the Italian way!

Finding authentic food in New York City can prove to be a challenge at times but worth every second. While attending an Italian play at Cherry Lane Theater (38 Commerce Street, NY, New York) for an extra credit assignment this past week, a restaurant suggestion was made for us to check out Numero 28 (28 Carmine Street, NY, New York). The restaurant offered our group of 20+ accommodations instantly and greeted us with pure Italian hospitality. The authenticity of the restaurants energy complimented the menu perfectly and the pizza dishes that arrived at our tables completed the experience with pure satisfaction.

Our dishes included the Margherita plain, the S. Daniele and the Prosciutto with Arugula pizzas. A bite into either one of these slices was like taking a trip to Italy every time. The texture of the brick-oven slices added to the experience and when complimented with a Birra Moretti (Italian beer), the meal was complete. If the endless pizza and beer werent enough to satisfy the tummies of our group, the torta di cioccolate was absolutely did the job and was heavenly. The hint of what seemed to be coconut allowed our senses to go wild and visit a sense of euphoria.

Take the trip to Numero 28 Ristorante and enjoy your bite of Italy today!

Tiffany Salisha

Tiffany is a born and raised true New Yorker. Having lived in 3 of the 5 boroughs, her taste for NYC life includes both the social energy of the city as well as the amazing eateries she can stumble upon. Her grandmother, who is a native to Puerto Rico, instilled her passion for food and boy was she sure to bring the flavor with her. Through the years, she has expanded her food horizons & has grown an appreciation for all shapes, sizes, & tastes of food allowing her to self-proclaim herself a “foodie”. Follow her @atiffanything!

#SCBD– A Concept that Started A Year Ago, Still A Work in Progress!

When I started this blog a year ago, well this week a year ago to be exact– I had no idea where it would take me, the opportunities it would bring me, etc. If you read my story you know I was just interning at The Rachael Ray Show in the field, post, & production departments and in the my 2nd to last semester of my Senior year at Fairleigh Dickinson University. On the Wednesday’s I interned I’d always tell my peers I interned with the best deals I found for lunch which would usually be Blarney Stone, or my craving for Potbelly. I was the deal finder of the gang and I took the title proudly. I’d also constantly look for deals on Twitter & Midtown Lunch. Thursday’s were also filled with great food experiences on set or just sharing a meal during the field department, never a dull moment.

As I mentioned in my story I was also involved with the Intern Queen Campus Ambassador program and would be blogging about food the next semester. I knew I could do it but I knew if I started a blog about food & deals it would be a head start. The idea sunk in my head more, so one Thursday when I was finished with my field work on the computer I decided to start the blog. As I mention above and in the title, this was just the manifestation of starting the blog and having the site. I wrote a little paragraph about my concept, etc. It was also written the day before my boyfriend Jason’s birthday last year. You can see my first post, here. As you may notice it’s not much but it’s something!

Like any good thing buying the domain didn’t happen until later. Since I wanted to be the best intern possible, I had to wait to share my eating adventures while I interned and went full on and haven’t stopped writing (except for maybe finals week) since January 11, 2012 and I plan on celebrating a year in 2013! I’m so happy that I can bring you all the information I have whether it be recipes, meeting you readers through Twitter, all of the interviews the last few months and of course my special deals and contest alerts! I also can’t forget where it all began with my restaurant reviews.

I want to end this on a happy note — I found this shirt at Forever 21 today at Garden State Plaza and had to buy it and share it with you all:

It screamed SCBD and was perfect timing with the one year concept anniversary!

I love the quote: Eat, Drink, Be Merry!

I love the colors of this banner with the saying also:

I promise I will have another reflection piece in January. I’d also love to have a happy hour or something to celebrate and would love invite fellow bloggers & readers to celebrate the one year anniversary of the launch so keep the week of January 11th open!

Make sure you are a fan and are following Small Chick Big Deals on Facebook & Twitter for the most ongoing updates! I am always posting deals, recipes, new posts, & more– so it’s the easiest way to get a hold of me also.

Before I get too carried away, I just want to emphasis once more how grateful I am for all you readers, the fellow bloggers I’ve met, businesses I’ve been fortunate to review & work with and all the people I’ve been able to interview & more! I’d also love to thank the staff of The Rachael Ray Show for bringing out my inner foodie last Fall!

I have tons of more posts on the way that you’ll love, but you’ll have to wait! I promise I won’t take too long, can’t wait to tell you all about my recent foodie experiences in the city.

Well on that note–Eat, Drink, and Be Merry! 😀

#SCBD Exclusive Interview: Apron Anxiety Author Alyssa Shelasky

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Apron Anxiety by Alyssa Shelasky

Apron Anxiety is a memoir by New York Magazine’s Grub Street writer, Alyssa Shelasky. Throughout the memoir we learn about Alyssa’s home life as a child, adventures as a teen, her journeys as an adult, and a relationship with Chef that turns her life around. We see how Alyssa overcomes trials and tribulations and some of life’s hardest decisions. It’s an Amazon best seller and has been big buzz in the food world since it premiered in bookstores in late May 2012.I was fortunate to get an exclusive interview with her where we discussed: food, writing, careers, dating, and success!

SCBD: Alyssa I’m honored that I am able to interview you today. Thank you again for being so open to me interviewing you. You are truly an inspiration to a fellow writer like me. For any of the readers who haven’t read the book, when did you know you wanted to write as a career?
AS: I’m lucky because I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and knowing that has guided me from a very young age. The majority of people really stress out over ‘what to be” when they grow up, and that’s a legitimately tough issue, so I caught a break there. One less point of confusion in my life! Maybe I would have made a great private detective/FBI agent too. SO random, but it’s just the only other job I’ve ever even considered for like 2 seconds. No clue why?!


SCBD: I love the fact that you are down to Earth and honest throughout the entire novel. Many people have a certain idea or stereotype of food writers being experts out of the womb, but like anything it takes time to really know your craft. Do you agree?
AS: Oh totally! I am not a natural born food writer, it’s just the journalistic “hemisphere” where I wound up recently  – and I’m trying to do a good job with it. I try to relate food to things I feel very comfortable with –  like relationships, sex, sense of self. Even comparing food to TV, or wine to music…that makes it more fun for me. Otherwise, honestly, it’s just food. And it’s kind of boring. Actually, the food “scenes” in my book were harder than anything else for me to write…like, I could much easier express the saddest break up of my life, than the smell of slow-roasted tomatoes.

SCBD: In the book you mention doing some public relations work as well, I am currently working for a firm and took courses while I was in college. Do you think it’s good for a food writer/blogger to know it works and have those skills?
AS: It’s daunting figuring out where you belong creatively, especially in NYC where there are infinite opportunities. So it’s great to try out all sorts of jobs, that’s the only way you’ll know what’s right. PR seemed like a glamorous media-type gig, where I hoped there would be writing, but I honestly had no clue what the difference between PR, advertising, and editorial work was back then.  What happened was, I kept pitching stories to these writers and reporters, and I was pitching them amazing stories because I was pretending to be on their end, fantasizing about how and what I would want to be pitched. Ultimately, I connected with the writers and reporters in a strong way because of that, so I was actually really good at PR. But the envy just kept growing. I wanted to be on the editorial end so bad, that was my calling and I knew it. But yes, VERY happy I worked in PR. I made incredible friends (all my best friends are in PR still – it’s crazy!). And knowledge is power.

SCBD: Like you, I’m still learning in the kitchen, in the book there are tons of recipes, what recipe do you recommend I try making first? Why?
AS: The chicken for “hungry and important” people is turning out to be one of the star recipes in the book. Delicious, healthy, easy. Or the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip cookies. Or the banana bread. Impossible to mess any of those up!

SCBD: What’s your personal secret to success? What do you think attributed to your success?

AS: Courage is Grace Under Pressure — it’s Hemingway, but someone I love and admire very much always said that, and I try to live by it.  Because here’s the thing: life is hard. And life can be cruel. But I’ve always kept moving forward. Always held my head up high. And I think that mentality has kept me from getting stuck in bad situations, or buried in self-doubt. I’ve had just as many hardships and disappointments as anyone else, but I’ve always been resilient. I bounce back. The only tricky thing with that kind of inner-strength, as a writer or an artist, is preserving a certain inner-spirit too.  Because you need both. You need to be tough, without being hardened. You need a thick skin but a beating heart.

SCBD: Working for New York Magazine is a big deal and writing for Grubstreet is a big deal in the food world, when you started your career did you ever think you’d end up there? Why?
AS: Writing for New York Magazine was definitely a dream. Grub Street was a big decision for me…I had a book coming out that demanded a ton of time and energy, and a personal life to rebuild after a bad breakup…However, I’m a major “When opportunity knocks” person. And I just knew that was an opportunity I had to grab hold of. Job offers like that don’t come around often. Even if I was scared (I was). Even if I felt completely out of my comfort zone (big time). I had to take it; there was nothing to discuss. 

Alyssa Shelasky, writer for New York Magazine’s Grub Street and author of Apron Anxiety

SCBD: I love going out to eat, which is why I started my blog and every so often I cook. Before Apron Anxiety was a book, it started as a blog. What is your advice for young blogger like me? What do you think will happen in the blog world in the future? Do you think blogs can expand into more?

AS: I don’t think I would have gotten a book deal if there weren’t a blog. Having that platform is so important. It makes all the difference these days. But a blog is definitely a commitment, it comes w/ all those nonstop social media obligations, and a responsibility to your readers. It’s not as breezy as non-bloggers think! 

Alyssa featured in Elle Magazine

SCBD: If the world was ending tomorrow where would you have your last meal out and with who and/or what would you cook/bake for? Why?
AS: Wow. It would be so much more about the company than the cuisine. It would be me, my family and my boyfriend, and maybe it would be like big, fresh delicious sandwiches on a picnic blanket somewhere, along with my mom’s brownies, and Dorito’s for my Dad and sister, and some old-fashioned bottles of Coca-Cola. But the thought of that makes me sad, actually. So, another scenario could be me and Clive Owen, and a lot of chocolate cake. 

SCBD: Apron Anxiety also discusses dating, what’s the best dating advice you ever received? From who? Do you think what your boyfriend/girlfriend does can make a big difference in a relationship?
AS: I’ve always had a few older girlfriends who I think are just innately cool, unique people. And in awkward dating moments, I’ve sort of just pretended to be them. Yes, of course, you should always “be you,” but it’s only human to get scared and nervous around boys/girls you like. It 100% helps to channel women you look up to. My friend Pippa Lord from SousStyle.com asks herself, “What would Madonna do?” I love that! And I know there’s a “What Would Gwyneth Do?” blog. Those little psychological tricks work!

SCBD: In part of the book you go on tons of dates with a man who loves dive bars and restaurants off the beaten track in NYC. What’s the weirdest thing you ate? What’s your favorite? 

AS: I’m not into weird foods. That in itself makes me a shitty food writer but I don’t care! I’m never going to choose goat brains over grilled cheese. But the best off-the-grid discovery was this Thai place called Sripraphai in Queens. Freaking insanely delicious. I dream about it.

SCBD: Is there a movie in the works? 

AS: I have agents in LA working on things, so we’ll see!!!

SCBD: I would recommend Apron Anxiety to any of my friends whether they cook or not. Food and fellowship with loved ones is a heavy theme in the book. In one sentence why should someone read Apron Anxiety? 
AS: Thank you so much. I’ve been getting the most amazing feedback. But every now and then someone will say, “Your book was really cute!” or “You’re book was like candy!” – and while I’m thankful for the kind words, I also think to myself…okay, they didn’t totally get it. Because it’s not all about sex and cupcakes or whatever. There’s a tenderness to those pages…a quiet depth. The best readers are like you…people who enjoy the lightness and sweetness of it all, but are also deeply sensitive to the struggle.

 Thank you again, for letting me interview you tonight! Reading Apron Anxiety has inspired me in so many ways as a budding food writer and has been a huge encouragement to me to not give up trying recipes in the kitchen. Apron Anxiety has made my top ten favorite books to read. Congratulations on the success of the book, you deserve it!

To find out more information on the book, go to Alyssa Shelasky’s blog: http://apronanxiety.com/
 Happy Eating & Happy Reading, ’til next time!