NJ Dining: Lebanese-French Fusion at Uncle Moustache

September 21, 2012

I stumbled into Uncle Moustache one Saturday afternoon because my daughter liked the name.  I’m glad she did, since that wonderful afternoon I’ve returned to Uncle Moustache at least six times for brunch, lunch and dinner.

So what’s behind the funny name? The owners, of Uncle Moustache, Chef Wisam El Masri and Ali Lyoussi, are dedicated, charming hosts, and the former managerial team of  Uncle Moustache in Manhattan.

Read more on Hot From The Kettle.

Ribs Within: The Taste of Victory

August 5, 2012

For those of you watching Chopped: Grill Masters I wanted to bring back a great post about Doug Keiles, one of my best buddies and who is appearing on the show as a competitor this evening.

For the past year, I’ve have had the privilege of being able to photo-document the inner workings of Ribs Within, a New Jersey-based BBQ team run by my good friends Doug and Laura Keiles.

Last weekend, Doug and Laura achieved something they have wanted for a very long time. They won the Grand Championship at Grillin’ on the Bay, a Brooklyn-based grilling contest.

Also Read: Ribs Within Wins “Grillin’ on the Bay”, March 26 2011. (RibsWithin.com)

Also Read: Grillin’ on the Bay 2010 (Off The Broiler)

Nineteen teams competed on a bitter cold, 25-degree day in five separate categories.

While I was not able to attend this year’s contest as I did last year, I did attend the practice session at Doug and Laura’s home in Hillsborough the weekend before. As to not tip off the competition as to the team’s winning strategy, I did not post the photos here until now.

Here you’ll see all the winning dishes, as well as a few that were possible candidates for entry but didn’t make it.

Ribs, which won first place at the contest. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

Read the rest of this entry »

NJ Dining: Taqueria Autentica

August 1, 2012

On a recent, lazy, hazy summer day, the Lil’ Kettles had a hankering for tacos. But the Lil’ Kettles didn’t want the tacos Mommy makes. They wanted tacos “like the ones we had in Mexico, Mommy!”

Just about one year ago, Michael Natiello opened Taqueria Autentica, the brick and mortar version of the very popular food truck by the same name. Hot From The Kettle was at Taqueria Authentica for their Grand Opening and Elizabeth Palmer raved about it!

So, the Kettle’s made the journey out of Montclair, and over to 1035 Broad St., Bloomfield for authentic tacos.  Read more on Hot From The Kettle.

NJ Dining: Interview with Chef David Burke

July 12, 2012

Hot From The Kettle’s, Elizabeth Palmer recently interviewed renown chef, David Burke:

Does the name David Burke ring a bell? It should. He’s everywhere in the culinary world. Burke has competed on both Iron Chef and Top Chef, won countless awards and accolades, and has amassed quite the collection of restaurants that he owns and operates, from Las Vegas to Chicago to NYC to our very own New Jersey. Oh, and he writes cookbooks and dabbles in culinary gastronomy as well, branding GourmetPops (ready to serve cocktail lollipops) and Flavorsprays to enhance your cooking with less fat and more flavor. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Chef Burke a few weeks ago about his time as a private chef in Norway, cooking for Prince Charles and Julia Child; his train ride travels around Europe, and his most memorable meal ever.

Read the rest of Elizabeth Starnes’ interview with David Burke on the Chef’s Table.

New Jersey: So long, but not goodbye.

June 11, 2012

Some of you may or may not already be aware that Rachel and I have sold our home here in Bergen County. We are closing at the end of the month and are moving to South Florida.

This is a bit of a bittersweet ending since moving from New York State to New Jersey in 1992 and calling the greater NYC metro area home for over 40 years.

My job will not change — I’ll still be doing a lot of travel for my primary employer and will continue my computer industry writing at ZDNet.

While I am sure it will bring me back to the area fairly often, it will no longer be possible for me to continue my food and restaurant coverage in Northern New Jersey on a reliable basis.

I’m going to continue food writing on the site, but it will have a Florida focus on the restaurant side and more emphasis on the cooking (outdoor grilling, etc.) and the other restaurant coverage will be travel-related depending on where I go.

However, I have no intention of leaving New Jersey in the lurch. You’ve probably already noticed that there has been a significant amount of new restaurant coverage being supplied by Melody Kettle and her writers from the Montclair-based Hot From the Kettle blog.

Melody and I are now the best of friends and I can assure you that she will be covering all the major centers of Northern New Jersey restaurant activity on Off The Broiler, including Bergen, Morris, Passaic and Essex counties.  She has an incredible passion for food and an unbridled amount of energy, and I know she will do a fine job.

What I hope to accomplish is to allow OTB to have a mix of New Jersey and Florida coverage. Many people who live in New Jersey travel to Florida frequently, live there part time or are even considering moving there permanently, so I think it will be a good mix.

There are other changes which I am planning for the blog later in the year which will greatly increase the scope of what we do, and I will keep you updated as they occur.

To everyone who has been following me here since February 2006 — and to all the New Jersey restaurants that have enriched my life (and my stomach) for the past five and half years, I bid you so long, but not goodbye.

And to South Florida: Prepare for a wild ride.

NJ Dining: Tabboule Fine Lebanese Cuisine

June 7, 2012

My husband and I recently had the opportunity to join Jason and Rachel Perlow at Tabboule Fine Lebanese Cuisine in Ridgewood, NJ.  Tabboule offers fine Lebanese cuisine in a casual, comfortable setting.  Parking for the restaurant is easy and plentiful, as the restaurant is located in the Kings Shopping Center on N. Maple Ave.

We began our mid-day marathon eating session with traditional Lebanese Za’atar Chips.  Rich with spices of thyme, sesame and sumac, these crunchy, golden triangles are very savory and very addictive!  Red Lentil soup accompanied the chips.  Rachel had the fabulous idea to sprinkle some crumbled Za’atar chips on the soup.  It was perfect; like Saltines in chicken noodle soup – only much better!

Read more about Tabboule on Hot From The Kettle!

NJ Dining: VB3 in Jersey City & Muscle Maker Opens in Montclair

May 30, 2012

Hot From The Kettle contributor, Elizabeth Palmer Starnes, recently had the pleasure of dining at the newly opened VB3 in Jersey City.  Elizabeth, “tried the arugula and baby artichoke salad, with shaved caciocavallo cheese and lemon juice, and the scallop crudo, zingy with tangy grapefruit and basil.”  She also enjoyed “the Raviolo di Ouvo (homemade oversized ravioli with an egg cooked inside) swathed in luxurious truffle oil and Parmigianino cheese, and laced with springy fava beans and morels.”

Read all about the tasting on Hot From The Kettle!

In Montclair, Muscle Maker Grill opened it’s new location in the former site of Mexicali Rose. According to HFTK writer, John Lee, at Muscle Maker “everything  is either grilled, or sautéed.  There is no fryer to be found! There’s also a huge compliment of salads, juices, and protein shakes. But the most important thing about the menu is that everything is filling, satisfying, and leaves guests wondering why they never realized healthy food could taste so darn good.”

Click to read more about Muscle Maker Grill and check out John Lee’s slide show.