#SCBDExclusive: Highlights down the #Shore at The Style Room!

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So almost two months ago, I went to get my complimentary hair colored at The Style Room in Brielle, NJ. My hair was colored by one of my former co-worker, who is training to be a colorist there, Nina. I decided to change my usual gold highlights up and get gold and blonde highlights. It was great experience and I’d definitely go back for future haircuts when I’m home. The staff at the salon was so friendly and it was great to meet the owner who was training Nina.

This was also my first experience as a hair model and I’d definitely do it again!

The finished product

The finished product

I also have a salon that I’m loyal to in Hoboken so look out for my post!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!)

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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!

Fraternizing at Fratello’s- Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week (JSRW), where to go, where to go? For those of you not familiar with Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, they have it fall and spring. This past fall event was cancelled due to Sandy’s arrival. Living in Monmouth County, so hard hit by Sandy, I’m always trying to help our local businesses and Restore the Shore. As a writer for Small Chick, Big Deals, I just HAVE to love the offers of $20.13 and $30.13 for 3 course lunches and dinners and the fact that many restaurants and/or chefs choose this time to ‘show off’ a little something special.

Our first choice this year was Fratello’s, 810 The Plaza, Sea Girt, NJ. Since it was JSRW we knew it was a good idea to go early. On a Sunday we got there about 5:45 and there were already 2 tables filled in the front dining/bar area. There is also a back dining room, but I like to see the bartenders in action. We were greeted at the door by a hostess who gave us a choice of seating. We chose a booth on the side. The busboy came and poured water in small goblets and the waitress came shortly after and asked if we wanted something else to drink aside from the water. I asked about their house white wines and she was very knowledgeable. She went through every house white and a little description. I knew then we were in for a fine evening. I chose a Pinot and my companion chose an unsweetened iced tea. She also asked if we were familiar with JSRW, as there is a separate menu. We said we were and had chosen Fratello’s because of its larger selection than many of the other JSRW restaurants. She smiled and agreed.

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While she went to get our drinks, the bus boy appeared and gave us a plate of brushetta. It was yummy, not over garlicky so it set the tone for the food to come. Shortly after, the busboy stopped by again with warm Italian bread and butter, in a covered basket. We ordered our appetizers and entrée at the same time. The waitress said she would ask us for our dessert choices later. (Some JSRW venues ask for your entire meal choices at once). Our appetizers were shrimp angels, which were butterflied shrimp covered with angel hair pasta and a very complementary horseradish and dill sauce, was that cognac in there? The other appetizer was mushrooms stuffed with sausage and fontina cheese and a hearty brown sauce. It is clear they know what they are doing in this kitchen!
In between appetizer and entrée we were asked if we wanted another drink. My companion asked for a 2nd unsweetened iced tea. We were surprised to a charge for refills on our bill. Not many places charge for that today.

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Our appetizers were cleared and our entrees arrived. My companion ordered the Seafood Della Casa. And man, they were not kidding about that fish. Shrimp, scallops and what seemed like unending pieces of lobster. All this served with angel hair pasta and asparagus in another delicious sauce. I had ordered something a little out of my usual choices. It was a veal chop and shrimp dish called Veal Chop and Shrimp Scapreciatta. I was just amazed that a veal chop could be as tender as a veal scallop. And let me tell you it was huge, this was a no skimpy chop and again, rich brown gravy covered it. The shrimp were tender and seasoned well and it was accompanied by seasonal veggies, carrots, zucchini and mashed potatoes. What a wonderful meal!

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Of course, since it’s JSRW there is a dessert to be had. My companion picked the apple cobbler and I chose the chocolate chip cheesecake. Both of these were apparently made on premises. The apple cobbler came warm and was more of an apple cake with a crumb topping. It got a very positive reception from my companion. And I have to say, my chocolate chip cheesecake had to be one of the best cheesecakes I’ve eaten. It came with chocolate syrup and just enough whipped cream.
While there are so many choices during restaurant week, we just might go back to Fratello’s once more before it’s over.

#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!

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

#Sandy hits home in many ways for #SCBD

Sandy has hit home for me in many ways. My hometown, Howell is about 15 minutes from the Jersey Shore’s well known beaches such as— Belmar, Manasquan, Lavalette, Seaside Heights. These beaches gave me childhood memories with my family, moments of peace throughout my young adulthood and were a haven for me constantly. I can’t even tell you how many times I used to go to the Manasquan inlet just to think and take a deep breath of the ocean and relax. It was my getaway that wasn’t too far from home and now it’s gone. I also met my boyfriend and shared numerous memories at the Point Pleasant boardwalk which is now destroyed. It breaks my heart in so many ways.

My best friends & I on Manasquan Beach before Hurricane Irene last year. 😦

The Mansaquan Inlet post-Sandy

Point Pleasant boardwalk post-Sandy

Sandy brought me home. First off, I haven’t been home since I’ve moved out officially into my apartment which is actually 4 months ago this weekend. Due to the loss of power in my new apartment in Bergen County after four days of surviving on gas & hot water (which we were fortunate to have) with my boyfriend Jason, his dog Aby, and my roommates we decided to come home. I’m now safe in my hometown Howell which has power, visiting my grandma’s who weren’t doing too well, and trudging through trying not to cry. My boyfriend is now home still waiting for power in his town in Somerset county now. As far as I know one of my roommates is safe somewhere with power while the other also waits in Northern Monmouth county.

Sandy hit my other ‘homes’– NYC & Hoboken. As you may know I am constantly commuting into the city and/or Hoboken constantly. I was actually supposed to go do an interview with the owner of Sweet Revenge in NYC the Sunday Sandy hit but due to high winds I had to re-schedule. I’ve seen so many posts of New Yorker’s pulling through and it makes me which I could I #DineOutinNYC in a flash but I am so far away and have no way in. I actually just got a haircut for a deal I will be telling you about when appropriate in Hoboken last Friday. The salon is now damaged and will need to be rebuilt. Hoboken has it the worst in North Jersey. It saddens me so much, I’m lost for words.

Hurricane Sandy’s toll on Hoboken

PATH station destroyed

The waiting game. As I wait for power to come back to my apartment and fortunate to have power where I am at home. All I want to do is help but I don’t know where to start, there are so many options which I will mention in my next posts or two. It’s uplifting to see so many people coming together in the area in a time of need.

Gas lines. The gas lines are crazy up in Northern Jersey especially near my apartment,  the gas lines are ridiculous and were long before the rationing even begun. It’s also bad near my school in Morris county. Rationing has effected all the counties I have and/or currently reside in. I never imagined this happening but I know it’s effective.

This post is very personal for me, this is just a local’s point of view on Sandy’s destruction to the places that mean a lot to me. Take this post however you’d like but it comes from a deep place.

The bright side. The bright side is that there are ways to help whether it be a donation, volunteering, eating local, giving family/friends a place to stay warm and charge up or even a warm meal. It’s so great to see residents of New Jersey & New York come together.

Before I start posting multiple ways to donate the easiest and most effective way is through the Red Cross, you can see this link on the side of my page & throughout my next few posts. If you can afford to donate, please do, anything helps:

On that note, please look out for my posts regarding Sandy within the week, ways to donate in New York & New Jersey which are hurting bad. I will resume my normal reviews, recipes, interviews, etc in a few weeks when I feel appropriate but until then look out for post- Sandy dining destinations both locally & nationally, organizations to donate to, post-Sandy recipes for those of us who may no longer have anything in the fridge (like me), comfort food recipes, and more.

Be well, stay blessed & strong…after every dark night there is a brighter day.

Bar Anticipation is everything you’ve anticipated!

The second trip I made last Friday night was with my former roomie Ashley from college who has seen Small Chick grow from its beginnings, so she knows how I roll. Since she’s more from the Northern Central Jersey area and the weather was nice we decided to have a girls night out by the beach, after shopping at the Jersey Shore Outlets of course. It was her first time at the bars in the Belmar area so we knew we were going to have to go to my favorite bar at home, down the shore…

Bar Anticipation aka “Bar A”  (703 16th Avenue, Belmar, NJ)

Customer Service: 5- It was a Friday night at a bar at the Jersey Shore. Luckily, we had the best waiter anyone could’ve asked for. He was attentive answered all our questions and made it a carefree girls night for us.

Atmosphere: 5- Bar A has an awesome atmosphere and their own beach, better known as the Grotto. It’s a huge bar and restaurant and I prefer sitting outside anytime I’m there. You literally feel like you’re on a beach, and you’re only a block from the shore.

Food/Drink Quality: 5- When I first decided to to have a quick bite at Bar A I wasn’t expecting anythings special and I definitely  wouldn’t have expected a bar like Bar A to make their Buffalo Wing sauce on site. But they do and it’s awesome and they range from traditional wing sauce to Mango BBQ. I went with my man a week or two before I went with my roomie and he loved the Mango BBQ. When I went with my roomie Ashley, she loved the traditional we got. I’m addicted to them now! But it doesn’t stop there. We also ordered sandwiches since it was dinner time and we were hungry so we picked a staple– Grilled Cheese with tomato & bacon, they didn’t disappoint and were huge and only $6. Let’s just say I’m pretty impressed with their menu.

The drinks at Bar A are great too. We came in on a Friday which is the day they have a happy hour that starts at 4pm and goes until 9pm and they also have specials from 9pm til close. The drinks are always made well and they have a great liquor selection to compliment their bar grub. Drinks aren’t horribly expensive after happy hour ends but it’s so worth it. They always make my 007, Malibu Bay Breeze, and Jolly Rancher to a tee! I’ve also been to Bar A for their famous Beat The Clock Tuesday’s— draft beers start 50 cents starting at 8pm & go up 25 cents every hour. Let’s just say Tuesday’s are like high school reunions for locals. You can find more info on their daily deals here!

Price: $- Bar A always has deals so it’s possible not to break your budget for a great night out at the Jersey Shore. I am constantly checking the event calendar and follow them on Twitter & Facebook! The best deal they have is beat the clock– beer and wings, sounds amazing right? You can definitely have a date or enjoy a girls night for $30 & under. I can’t emphasize the beer & wings enough!

Final Score: 15/15– When I first started going to Bar A, I wasn’t sure if I was going to impressed or turned off and i was impressed. It’s the bar I prefer to go to anytime I’m home. The daily specials are great, food is up to par for a bar and it’s a great variety, the staff communicates well and it’s always a good time. Just be prepared, beat the clock over the summer tends to grab a huge crowd, but as I mentioned you’re pretty safe any day you go with all the deals they have. They also serve brunch which I have yet to go to but plan on it. I love it and highly recommend it!

And then there was one…we were the ‘skinniest fat girls’ that night!

The delicious grilled cheese with french fries & a pickle, for $6!

Taking a trip to the Jersey Shore soon, let me know if you agree and what your verdict is about Bar A!

Until next time…

 Happy Eating & Drinking! 🙂