Latin Extravaganza at the Connors

May 17, 2010

Parties sometimes come together without much of a reason. Our friend Sandi Levitsky-Connor, who we’ve profiled recently with her Jedi-master empanada making skills, decided to have a mega cooking and eating session at her house and invite a couple of friends over. As it was also my wife’s birthday that week, it also became an occasion for eating cake, which needs no excuses at all.

Sandi, who is a fantastic cook, and loves all sorts of cuisines, decided to make this party Latin themed. Dishes from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Trinidad, Peru, Honduras and Spain were prepared, with the assistance of our friends Eric Eisenbud and Efrain Raices from NJ Les Marmitons.

Green plantains. When you see this on a table, you know what’s coming.

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Grillin’ on the Bay 2010

April 3, 2010

There are many things to like culinary-speaking about Brooklyn. It’s a huge melting pot for different cultures and many of New York’s food traditions, and most of the country’s best and most iconic ethnic dishes originate from there.

It has some of the best Pizza imaginable in the entire country and is the cradle of Jewish cuisine as we know it in the United States. Arguably the best hot dog on the planet originated in Brooklyn. And so on, and so on. Brooklyn is America’s premium brand name for ethnic culture.

However, I don’t normally consider Brooklyn to be a huge barbecue town. But last Saturday, my views on this were seriously challenged.

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NJ Dining: Last Meal at The Citrus Grille

February 13, 2010

Last night, our friends who live in the Ramsey/Mahwah area introduced us to one of their favorite restaurants, The Citrus Grille, located in nearby Airmont, NY, which is owned by CIA-trained chef Steve Chrisitanson, who cut his culinary chops at New York City’s The Four Seasons Restaurant under the late Christian Albin.

I was extremely looking forward to adding another fine dining location to our list, only to hear from our friends that this was the restaurant’s last weekend after 13 years in business.

However, there is a silver lining to this story. While The Citrus Grille will be closing after Valentine’s Day weekend, Christianson will be opening a new restaurant in nearby Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, in a newly constructed space in the Fall of 2010. So think of this post as a preview of great things to come, and not a goodbye.

While the new restaurant doesn’t have a name yet, I’ll keep you apprised of upcoming developments.

I apologize in advance for the lighting/color in the photos, as we were sitting by a nice warm fireplace that was giving off orange light.

What do you start the evening off with? Why, a green tea Zen Martini.

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Keiles BaconBowl 2010 Re-Cap

February 8, 2010

Okay, the Saints won. WHO DAT! But more importantly, WHAT DID WE EAT? Here’s the play-by play for the most incredible (and insane) Superbowl party I have ever attended.

Are you ready to attend the ultimate bacon bacchanal of Superbowl parties that has ever been seen by the likes of man? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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The Finger-Lickin’ Ginormous Carolina ‘Q Post

September 6, 2008

carolinapig by you.

Over the summer months in 2008, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, in particular, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (The Triangle) and also the Columbia, South Carolina area. Two cities which are as different as can be from a cultural and socio-economic perspective, but which do share something in common — Barbecue.

Even if you are trying to shed the pounds like I am, when you travel, maintaining discipline can be extremely difficult, especially when you are surrounded by co-workers who want to go out and have a good time. And when you’re in the South with a bunch of out-of-town males, particularly in the Carolinas, evening entertainment can usually be classified into two distinct areas — ones which involve Pork and ones which do not. I’m not going to get into the details of the ones which do not, because that could get me in trouble with the wife.

Here are all my Carolina Barbecue sins exposed, some of which I am proud of and would repeat again, and some of which I would not.

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NJ Dining: Elsa La Reina Del Chicharrón

August 2, 2008

Elsa La Reina Del Chicharrón
1515 Teaneck Road, Teaneck NJ 07666

Web Site (Spanish): http://lareinadelchicharron.com/

About a week ago, we noticed that the vacated building on 1515 Teaneck Road which had been sitting fallow for two years was showing sign of life. Previously, it was Stickey’s BBQ restaurant, which had taken over and completely renovated the former Wonder Bread outlet before closing suddenly in 2006, about a year after it had opened. Curiously, Rachel and I pulled up to see that new blue awnings had been hung, emblazoned with the magic word — Chicharrón (CHEE-CHARR-ROAN). That could only mean one thing — Latino Cuisine!

This weekend was the restaurant’s opening, and we happened upon it on opening night. While the place hasn’t fully gotten its act together yet, I happen to think that the food itself was very good Dominican/Puerto Rican/Cuban fare, in particular when focusing on the items the restaurant excels at, such as Fried Pork (Chicharron), Roast Chicken and Roast Pork (Pernil) as well as the signature 7-meat Sanchocho soup flavored with Recaito (sofrito without tomatoes).

The New Jersey branch of Elsa is the chain’s 5th store, which has locations in Manhattan and the Bronx. For those of you not familiar with Dominican cuisine, you might want to look at my posts on El Malecon and La Estrella del Caribe.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Estas Listo para some serious Comida Latina? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry link” below por mas!

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NYC Dining: 2008 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party Web Site Launches

May 24, 2008

The 2008 Big Apple Barbecue Block Party Web Site has now launched. You might recognize some of the photos used here, courtesy of Off The Broiler :)

We will be returning to this year’s event as usual, with some spare tasters in tow. Atkins baby, Atkins. Until then, have a look at last year’s photos and podcasts.