The Pizza of Affliction

March 26, 2010

Matzah Pizza of Affliction by you.

Ah yes. The Matzah Pizza.

Many gentiles know of Matzah, and that Jews eat it on Passover. However, even those that do know of Matzah and when it is consumed probably do not realize that Matzah is not just consumed during the Seder itself, but for seven days during the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread.

That means if you are an observant Jew, you are stuck with eating this stuff several days after the turkey and brisket leftovers have all been consumed.

While Matzo meal is used for a number of enjoyable culinary applications, such as the beloved Matzo Ball Soup, and Kugels, Matzot themselves don’t rate particularly high on the enjoyment scale on their own.

Oh, there’s Matzo Brei,  but at that point the physical properties of the shitty cracker in question have been completely transmuted into something resembling French Toast.

So Jews have been trying for an eternity to do something ELSE with Matzot. Sometime in the 20th century, American Jews got the idea of using  them  for half-assed salami sandwiches, PBJs and the like.

And then in the 50’s or the 60’s the Matzah Pizza came, which no sane pizza enthusiast would ever put in their mouth or even remotely call a Pizza. Especially since virtually all Matzah Pizzas were made with horrible processed jarred sauces which were Kosher for Passover knockoffs of stuff like RAGU or Pizza Quick.

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Miami Dining: Late Night on Calle Ocho

January 31, 2010

South Florida may be the land of senior citizens and early bird dinners, but late at night, Calle Ocho is hopping with activity.

Last week I went on a last minute business trip to Florida, with my base of operations being very close to Miami International Airport.

While I dreaded the idea of having to work what would certainly be very long days confined to conference rooms and then emerging late at night ravenously hungry, there was some consolation in the fact that unlike other parts of South Florida, where your food options late at night are restricted at best, downtown Miami and the neighborhood surrounding 8th street (“Calle Ocho”) which calls itself Little Havana (home to Free Cuba in Exile) has some of the best late-night eating anywhere in the state, and probably in the entire country.

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Ultimate Chef Bergen County 2010: Battle Cranberry

January 16, 2010

That’s right folks. It’s time again for your favorite culinary battle competition, Ultimate Chef Bergen County, sponsored by Chef Central in Paramus, New Jersey. For the opening round, Chef John Marsh of Green Door Cafe in Tenafly went up against Chef Jesse Jones of Heart and Soul Catering.

Click Here to view High-Res Photo Slide Show.

The ensuing battle was a clash of titans, a 40 year veteran of the New York restaurant scene with a classic cooking style versus a Southern style, North Carolina down-home cook. As with with many of these TV-style competitions, the focus was on a “Secret Ingredient”. For the opening round this year, it was Cranberries.

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Hangin’ with Les Marmitons de Jersee Nouveau

October 17, 2009

Dinner with Les Marmitons, Oct 9 2009 by you.

I recently had the opportunity to be the invited guest of the president of the New Jersey chapter of Les Marmitons, an international social cooking club for male epicureans that has been in existence in North America for 32 years.

The October 12th dinner, which was held at the Don Bosco Knights of Columbus Hall in Port Reading, was a Beer-themed event in the spirit of Ocktoberfest, but with an Italian twist. The chef who prepared the menu for the evening was the young and energetic Dan Richer, proprietor of Arturo’s Osteria in Maplewood. Dan is something of a beer fanatic and was the perfect choice to select the dishes for the Marmitons to prepare.

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NJ Dining: Al-Safa (Bab Al-hara)

August 23, 2009

Al-Safa (Bab Al-hara) Restaurant
960 Main Street, Paterson NJ 07503
(973)569-4545

Web Site: http://babalharapaterson.com/

In a previous post about the very excellent Al Basha Palestinian restaurant, I spoke a bit about the Middle-Eastern community on Main Street in South Paterson, which my friend Victor Sasson likes to refer to as “Little Damascus”, due to the large population of Syrian-owned businesses there.

My forays into South Paterson have been limited, mainly due to my general lack of familiarity with the Arabic language. I’ve certainly eaten a ton of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, primarily Israeli, Greek, Lebanese and Turkish, but in the Bergen County area. For lack of a politically correct way of saying it, being a Jew and someone of clear Semitic ethnic origin by general physical appearance and given the current geopolitical climate, historically I would tend to not venture into a predominantly Arabic-speaking area of New Jersey for shopping and eating purposes.

However, I’ve been exploring the area much more lately — for reasons entirely unrelated to food. Paterson is also home to a large retail outlet of Micro Center, a gigantic computer parts store, one of the few places in New Jersey you can still walk in and buy actual PC components. It used to be that we had CompUSA and many independent retail computer shops, but now they are mostly extinct, destroyed by companies such as Amazon and Tigerdirect who can undercut them on price and volume. Such is the way of the new economy.

So if I’m going to schlep down to Paterson (actually, it’s really only about 30 minutes from where I live, as long as traffic cooperates) I might as well get some stuff to eat. I brushed up on my basic Arabic and went exploring. After living in the Northern NJ area for nearly 20 years, I now wish I had done this years ago.

Al-Safa Restaurant, Paterson NJ by you.

Al-Safa Storefront on Main Street in Paterson.

Looking for Kebabs and Schwarma? Eat like a Sheikh in Paterson.

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NYC Dining: Telly’s Taverna

July 26, 2009

Telly’s Taverna
2813 23rd Ave, Astoria, NY 11105-2707
(718) 728-9056

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

Telly's Taverna, Astoria NY by you.

Telly’s Taverna, one of the oldest operating Greek restaurants in Astoria.

As I mentioned in my previous post about Ali’s Kabab Cafe, Astoria is starting to get more of my restaurant business as LaGuardia has become a more frequent departure and arrival destination for my business travel. Traditionally Astoria has been one of the largest Greek communities in the United States. Considering that I love Mediterranean and Greek food, that happens to be a fortuitous combination.

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NJ Dining: Fire & Oak at Westin Newport

June 27, 2009

Fire & Oak Restaurant / Westin Newport
485 Washington Boulevard, Jersey City NJ 07310
(201) 610-9610

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

Fire Oak Restaurant, Westin Hotel, Jersey City NJ by you.

South City Restaurant Group’s latest, Fire & Oak restaurant at the brand-new Jersey City Westin Newport.

Rachel and I were recently invited to dine at a press luncheon for Fire & Oak restaurant, a brand new casual dining restaurant attached to the recently opened Westin Newport hotel in Jersey City, which is conveniently located near the Jersey City PATH and only a block and a half away from the Port Imperial Ferry to Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.

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