OTB Economic Stimulus Dinner I: Chengdu 1

April 26, 2009

I’m happy to report that our first OTB Economic Stimulus dinner was a fantastic success. On April 25, 2009, 14 foodies converged on Chengdu 1 restaurant in Cedar Grove, New Jersey for a night of major league, mouth numbing and mucus membrane burning Sichuan goodness.

Related OTB Post: NJ Dining – Chengdu 1

Chengdu 1
89 Pompton Ave (Pilgrim Shopping Plaza)
Cedar Grove NJ, 973-239-7726

Web Site: http://www.chengdu1nj.com/

OTB Stimulus Dinner I Collage by you.

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NJ Dining: Ultimate Banh Mi Sandwiches at Mo Pho and Saigon R.

April 25, 2009

MoPho
212 Main St, Fort Lee, NJ
(201) 363-8886

Saigon R.
58 W Palisade Ave, Englewood, NJ
(201) 871-4777

Related Article: Saigon R. and Mo’ Pho’

If you’ve been following the latest trends in the New York City dining scene, no doubt you’ve read and heard about the most recent Vietnamese sandwich craze — also known as the Banh Mi that’s sweeping the Metropolitan area. If you take trends at face value, you’ve probably also read the reports from Eater that the Banh Mi has “Run its course”.

The fact of the matter is, the Banh Mi is the right sandwich at the right time. And let’s face it, here in New Jersey, we’re a little slow on the uptake when following up on New York City trends. But I submit to you that when we set our mind to something, and when we get around to it, we do it better than anyone else.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

A few weeks ago — prior to the publication of the New York Times article which catapulted the Banh Mi into the front and center collective foodie consciousness — Chef KT Tran (of Mo Pho and Saigon R. fame) decided that she needed to add some new offerings to her menu, and I suggested Banh Mi, particularly as I knew KT could put her creative skills and 30 years of Vietnamese cooking expertise behind it. KT’ and her family have operated Vietnamese restaurants since the 1970’s in the New York Area, and we’ve been very lucky to have her in Northern New Jersey, where her bold Southeast Asian flavors are tailored to meet the tastes of a very diverse customer base.

The Making of the "Oink Mi" Ultimate Vietnamese Sandwich by you.

A typical store-bought Banh Mi from New York’s Chinatown. Usually these go for 2 or 3 dollars apeice. But there’s not much meat on this thing.

Fully aware of my past “Ultimate Sandwich” exploits with Chef Christine Nunn, at Picnic Caterers, Chef Tran knew she had to up the ante in over-thet-top sandwich insanity, particularly when competing with Nunn’s Rendevous at Burger Mountain, the Ultimate BLT and the Foie You.

We knew of one weapon in the Vietnamese culinary arsenal that could hold up to these giants: PORK. And lots of it.

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The Open Source Reptile Hunter

April 21, 2009

constrictus by you.

The Open Source Community’s strength has always been in its numbers and the will of developers contributing to projects to drive project initiatives in the direction they desire simply by voting with their time and willingness to contribute. If a project no longer meets their requirements, be it from a licensing or political perspective, they simply cease working on it and go onto other things that interest them instead.

That is the beauty of of Open Source, in that it is pure Social Darwinism and Software Phylogenetics at work. Even if you have a bunch of large natural predators, such as Constrictus Siliconvallis, it’s not possible for them to swallow entire communities, even if they buy the companies that run the projects themselves. And like evolutionary trees, if projects are to be compared to Phyla, they do indeed branch off.

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Go Foie Yourself

April 19, 2009

The Making of the "Foie You" by you.

The “Foie You”, a croissant sandwich prepared especially for our friends at Farm Sanctuary. The “Foie You” can be purchased for $24.00 at Picnic Caterers in Emerson, NJ. This is a limited time offer and you must order the sandwich by noon Thursday the 23 st of April for pick-up on Friday  the 24th. All profits from the sales of the  sandwich will be donated to the Center for Food Action. The sandwich will be offered weekly via special order until demand subsides.

Like other industries, the restaurant and food business is no stranger to being targeted by extremist groups which have some bizarre notion that the animals which are being used for foodstuffs and other products  have the right to be treated like human beings. Typically, however, these organizations, such as PETA, are more likely to spend their energies on large food distribution and manufacturing entities, and not on individual restaurants and small businesses. However, this is not always the case.

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A Visit to D’Artagnan

April 18, 2009

D'Artagnan and Ariane Daguin, Newark NJ by you.

D’Artagnan is one of the most important suppliers of luxury proteins and ingredients to many of the nation’s top restaurants.

My chef friend Christine Nunn, of Picnic Caterers in Emerson, was recently invited over to visit the D’Artagnan facility in Newark. For those of you not familiar with D’Artagnan, it is the premier supplier of luxury ingredients to many of New York City’s top restaurants. What D’Artagnan is most famous for, however, is that it is one of the largest (if not the largest) distributors of domestically produced Foie Gras in the United States. Rachel and I decided to come along and take some photos, so we could show you what this very impressive operation is all about.

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NJ Dining: A Taste of Greece 2.0 (UPDATED)

April 18, 2009

A Taste of Greece
935 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge NJ
(201)967-0029

Back in April of 2005 one of the first restaurants that I chose to profile during my 2-year stint as NJ Quick Bite writer was A Taste of Greece, a tiny Greek takeout in River Edge. One of the things I liked about this restaurant was its attention to detail and authenticity in its dishes, choosing to buck the “homogenized” Greek restaurant trend found in most Northern NJ Greek eateries with its real Pork Gyro and use of real imported Greek ingredients.

The original owners moved on two years later. One of them, Vasili Mastrokostas, went on to open Vasili’s Taverna in Teaneck. For a brief period A Taste of Greece was ran by the owner’s children and retained most of its original staff, and was recently sold to a new owner, Themis, a young, friendly, service-oriented and health-obsessed marathon runner. Themis took a rather unattractive, small takeout and put some money into the place, adding nice ceramic tile and other positive aesthetic changes, such as new wooden tables and chairs.

Themis has kept much of the restaurant’s original flavor (including its signature pork gyro) and has added more fresh and healthy Mediterranean dishes such as more grilled seafood plates. I actually think the place is a better restaurant now and is more compatible with my current lifestyle, and along with my other favorite Mediterranean options in the local area, such as Joeyness and Bennies, has now become one of my favorite places to eat well and eat healthier.

A Taste Of Greece on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge, Photo April of 2005.

A Taste of Greece’s new owner, Themis. Themis is extremely accommodating to special requests (such as low-carbing the entrees) and is himself a health and fitness nut.

You too will want A Taste of Greece. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Cue “Eye of the Tiger” and the Jaunty Jackalope DVD

April 14, 2009

desktopfight by you.

The fight of the century? GNOME vs. KDE , the two titans of the Linux desktop. Sure there are welter and lightweights that shouldn’t be ignored, such as XFCE, Enlightenment and GNUStep/WindowMaker, but let’s face it, it’s the two heavyweights that rule the roost on all of the desktop Linux distributions that are getting the lion’s share of attention, that being Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE.

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