NJ Dining: Green Door Cafe (CLOSED)

June 30, 2009

Green Door Cafe suffered a devastating fire on July 30, 2010. The owner plans to rebuild, but the restaurant is closed until further notice.

Green Door Cafe
1 Highwood Avenue, Tenafly NJ
(201) 567-8226

Green Door Cafe, Tenafly NJ by you.

Green Door Cafe’s Storefront in downtown Tenafly, NJ.

As a few of you may be aware, I am a resident of the sleepy hamlet of Tenafly, which is situated on the northeast side of Bergen County, adjoining the towns of Cresskill, Bergenfield and Englewood. Tenafly, while being a wonderful residential neighborhood, has a bit of an unfortunate reputation of being the town that eats restaurants.

One of the restaurants that recently got the axe was Blockheads, an outpost of a NYC-based burrito chain. So I was rather surprised this week as I was driving by its former location to find Green Door Cafe, a self described “Doorway to real food” which only serves “proteins which are antibiotic and hormone free or organic” and produce that is “organic or locally farmed seasonally. We restrict our purchases to foods raised naturally without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.”

I was expecting the place to be owned by a bunch of hippies wearing hemp clothing. What I wasn’t prepared for was being greeted by the former owner of Blockheads when I went in, Leon Bell. “Hey! Jason! The Off The Broiler Guy!”

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NJ Dining: Shish! at Whole Foods, Paramus

June 20, 2009

Shish! at Whole Foods Market
2701 Bergen Mall, Paramus NJ
(201) 226-1244

Other locations: Tribeca, NYC

Shish! Collage by you.

The new Shish! stand at Whole Foods’s new Paramus. New Jersey location serves Middle-Eastern kebabs and mezze with an organic twist.

I recently had a chance to try the new Shish! middle eastern food stand at the brand new Whole Foods market in the recently revamped Bergen Mall, accompanied by former Bergen Record staff writer and experienced foodie Victor Sasson, who recently has started blogging about healthy and chemical-free shopping options in New Jersey. Victor is a Syrian Jew by birth, with a very discerning palate, and has an even greater level of experience with Middle Eastern food than I do, so I was interested in seeing his reactions to the food there.

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Updates 6/15/09: Christian Albin, Tenafly Farmers Market, Adonisa’s, Victor Sasson

June 15, 2009

Chef Christian Albin, who passed away this last weekend at the age of 61. Albin was the long-time Executive Chef of The Four Seasons, pictured here in his marvelous kitchen in October of 2006.

Adonisa's Restaurant, Fort Lee NJ by you.

Grilled Squid over Greek Salad at Adonisa’s in Fort Lee

Tenafly Farmers Market June 14, 2009 by you.

Tri-Color Beet Bundle from Yuno’s Farm at the Tenafly Farmers Market

Shish! at Whole Foods Market, Paramus NJ by you.

Victor Sasson and I lunch at Whole Foods’ SHISH! shwarma/falafel joint and discuss his love of Middle Eastern food and his new mission to help you find the best chemical and hormone-free shopping options in Northern New Jersey.

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Podcast: Victor Sasson’s “Do You Really Know What You’re Eating?”

June 12, 2009

victorsasson by you.

Victor Sasson’s Do You Really Know What You’re Eating? Blog has a focused mission on finding the best chemical and additive-free meat, fish and produce in Northern New Jersey.

When most people retire, they play golf, they go to the Senior Center, they join Facebook and post pictures of their grandchildren, they crochet, or they do various things that don’t involve actual work. Not Victor Sasson.

I’ve known Victor for a number of years, and before he retired from a long career as a professional journalist only about a year ago, he was a food writer  for the Bergen Record. Now, like a travelling culinary rogue, he hunts down the very best places to buy groceries and meat and fish and all sorts of things in Northern New Jersey for you to cook at home, with a focus on natural, organic,  hormone and chemical-free foods. Victor has only been blogging since late March, but he’s already amassed over 50 posts on various shopping venues in the local Bergen County/North Jersey area. It’s going to take me a while to catch up.

I recently had a chance to meet up with Victor over lunch at Whole Foods in Paramus’  Bergen Mall. Click Here to listen to Victor and I talk about the changing New Jersey restaurant scene, and his love for Middle Eastern and Korean cuisines.

Off The Broiler Podcast: Victor Sasson

Victor may be retired, but he’s definitely not tired — definitely check out his blog.

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NJ Dining: Tenafly Farmers Market (2009)

June 7, 2009

Tenafly Farmers Market
Open June 7  thru November 21, Sundays 9am-2pm

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

Tenafly Farmers Market Collage by you.

The Tenafly Farmers Market had its grand opening June 7, 2009. The Market will run on Sundays 9am-2pm all through the summer and into November.

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New York Dining: Fire + Ice

May 31, 2009

Fire + Ice
Level 4, Palisades Center Mall, West Nyack NY

Web Site: http://www.fire-ice.com

I usually go out of my way to avoid mall food — this goes without saying in that I go out of my way to avoid malls in general, because I hate the entire experience of having to fight for parking spaces and then schlepping around and being exposed to screaming kids and families that look and behave more like throwbacks to their Cro-Magnon ancestors rather than modern humans.

More often than not, the food in most shopping malls is more expensive than what you can get at a regular local restaurant or diner and of considerably less quality. I also hate the gimmicky-ness of most mall restaurants.

But sometimes it’s unavoidable that you have to eat in a mall, particularly if it’s a timing issue, such as when you want to go see a movie, which are increasingly becoming attached to large shopping complexes.

Recently I had a chance to eat at Fire + Ice, one of the newest additions to the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, which sports an AMC theater multiplex as well as a SONY IMAX.  While I wouldn’t call Fire & Ice a destination dining location, if you’re going to be heading out to a movie, it’s not only one of the most reasonably priced venues at the mall but it can also be a relatively healthy place to eat, as well as an entertaining experience.

Fire & Ice, Palisades Center Mall, Nyack NY by you.

Get your pan-cultural Teppanyaki here. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Fun with COSTCO Frozen Scallops, Hong Kong Style

February 14, 2009

Welcome to the recession folks. That means all of us should be mindful of how we spend our money, and that means for some of us a lot less dining out.

But eating at home doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t even have to sacrifice on quality, “Luxury” ingredients that would otherwise cost you an arm and a leg at a restaurant to eat. You just need to think about buying in bulk and doing a lot of meal planning.

One of my favorite things to eat is jumbo sea scallops. At a decent restaurant, particularly if they are using high-quality dry pack scallops, you can expect to pay between $18.00 and up for an entree with five or six of these guys in them. At a quality fishmonger fresh dry pack sea scallops command a hefty price.

But COSTCO has them frozen, and if you buy a large bag of them the price becomes much more economical per portion. You can eat them over a couple of weeks or even longer, if you have the ability to re-seal the bag with a home vacuum sealer. I also like COSTCO’s shrimp, they are of exceptionally high quality for frozen product, and when COSTCO has their “Seafood Roadshow” events every month, they are even cheaper than the regular discounted COSTCO price.

Oyster Sauce-Glazed Pan Seared Scallops with Stir-Fried Vegetables in Spicy XO Sauce, Nasi Goreng Brown Fried Rice by you.

Oyster Sauce Glazed Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Spicy XO Vegetables and Nasi Kuning Brown Rice.

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NYC Dining: Eating Healthy at Le Pain Quotidien

September 27, 2008

Le Pain Quotidien
124 Seventh Avenue
between 17th & 18th streets

Other Locations: (Various)

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

Two weeks ago I was in the city during the evening for the PEPCOM Holiday Spectacular press event, which was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea, on 17th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  I was hungry, and I knew that the show was going to be busy and serving lots of fried and carby appetizer-type crap I probably shouldn’t be eating. I also knew that I would be racing around like a lunatic taking photos and talking to PR people for two hours, so I should probably eat something before going in there.

Anyone who is familiar with the Chelsea neighborhood near the Metropolitan Pavilion will probably tell you its slim pickins in terms of good food choices. So I walked down to 7th avenue, looked around, and noticed this particular branch of Le Pain Quotidien. I’m not usually one to visit bakery type cafe restaurants these days — since I’m limiting my bread and carb intake, and there’s usually too much temptation to eat something I shouldn’t. But I was literally starving and it was better I ate there than eat what was likely awaiting me at the Pavilion, along with an open bar.

Le Pain Quotidien, NYC by you.

I had never been to a Le Pain Quotidien before, but I was hungry and intrigued, so I went in and had a look.

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The Evolution of Re-Engineering Chinese “Takeout”

August 10, 2008

Since I embarked on my “course correction” in October of 2007 and becoming 67 pounds lighter, and with Rachel herself carrying 50lbs less — we’ve been doing a lot of Asian-inspired stir-fry cooking at home as our “go to” typical dinner when we are very hungry but want to eat something healthy. Where we used to order from our favorite Chinese American local delivery places, we now cook our own healthier, albeit different versions, with higher amounts of vegetable and protein content and much less fat. To be perfectly honest, I actually prefer eating this way now, even though I really miss my egg rolls, fried rice, lo mein, and egg foo young soaked in gravy.

The photos I am going to show you should give you an idea of how we’ve been approaching our typical, non food porn meals. You will notice a common theme is that we incorporate a lot of green vegetables as well as tofu in our cooking, and many of our sauces are stock based. We also now use a large, nonstick wok and “paint” it with a small amount sesame oil using a silicone basting brush instead of free-pouring oil, which also cuts down on the fat content quite a bit. We also use a lot of alternative whole grains to just plain brown rice as the beds for our stir fries, such as Quinoa, Kamut, or Barley.

Beef with Oyster Sauce by you.

Here is one of the earliest attempts to actually “re-create” a takeout dish, Beef with Oyster Sauce and Chinese Broccoli. Note that we are now using portioned controlled amounts of brown rice instead of white rice.

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More 50mm Fixed Focal Length Food Porn

July 20, 2008

The F/1.4 50mm SIGMA lens continues to be a bundle of pure joy. I still wouldn’t say I’ve entirely mastered its use, as I find myself having to take more exposures with it than I normally would to get good results, but the results I do get are often stunning. Take a look at some of my most recent shots.

Ah, escarole and bean soup. I love the way you can control the depth of field by adjusting the aperature far more creatively than with the kit lens.

The only thing I did different on this one was adjust the F stop. Totally different effect on the picture.

Even one of our pedestrian Chinese stir-frys looks quite exciting through the new SIGMA F/1.4

I really like this particular wok shot.

Tasty results.

The tower of Barbecue Ribs. Full sunlight, ISO 100, F/5, at 1/500th of a second.

Mmmmm. Meat.