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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NJ Dining: Bennies

December 1, 2009

Note: with the recent review of Bennies in the New York Times, I decided to feature one of my favorite local restaurants. I’ve updated the post with a bunch of new photos from a recent meal.

Bennies Englewood
54 E Palisade Ave, Englewood, NJ
(201) 894-5700

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

When I’ve been eating hardcore pizza and hamburgers and meats for a couple of days, I crave refreshing Mediterranean cuisine that is dominated by vegetarian dishes. My favorite place to indulge in this is Bennies, a family-run Lebanese restaurant on Palisade Avenue in Englewood.

IMG_4634.JPG

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NJ Dining: Arturo’s Osteria

October 25, 2009

Arturo’s Osteria & Pizzeria
188 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood NJ
(973)378-5800

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

Dan Richer, Chef/Owner of Arturo’s Osteria in Maplewood.

After meeting the young and food passionate Dan Richer at the recent New Jersey Les Marmitons beer dinner, I knew that this was a guy who’s restaurant I needed to go eat at.

Richer, who has no formal culinary training but who has a passion for cooking Italian cuisine, purchased Arturo’s from the original owners (which opened in 1991 as a wood fired pizzeria) in 2006. Richer has staged at many restaurants in Italy, frequently travels to Europe and has taken what he has learned and brought it back to his small Maplewood restaurant, which has a focus on pasta, pizza, and locally sourced ingredients. While Arturo’s retains a basic menu of pasta dishes, salads, small plates and artisan pizzas, Richer has gained quite a following from his regulars and has introduced tasting menus where everything is completely off-menu and seasonal.

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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: 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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LARB!

June 13, 2008

Ah yes, the pleasures of the Thai Yum. When it turns summer and disgustingly hot, and you feel like your energy has been sapped from the oppressive weather, spicy and tangy Asian salads can be a refreshing and satisfying boost — and for the most part, they’re pretty healthy too.

Larb is one of my favorite Thai dishes. Chances are, if I am going to a Thai restaurant for the first time and they have Larb on the menu, its what I am going to be ordering — it’s one of those “benchmark” dishes because its so simple to make. Anyone can make a good Larb at home, because it doesn’t require difficult to obtain ingredients (fish sauce is easy to get these days) or technical skills to prepare. Larb was a huge subject of interest back when I was still involved on eGullet — it was one of those huge monster threads that kept on going, and going. The general rule of thumb is that If it’s a protein, you can larb it. I have to give fellow blogger tommyeats the credit for starting it, it was inspired genius.

Larb, Laab, Larp… doesn’t matter what you call it, let’s eat it! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Turkey Burger Redux (UPDATED)

February 22, 2008

The last time we visited Turkey Burgers here on OTB, it was nearly a year ago. And while I think the rules of bold seasoning still apply — I’ve personally gone from turkey burger as occasional curiosity to turkey burger as virtual necessity. Turkey burgers and ground turkey meat in general has become a staple in our household now that we have gone down the healthy lifestyle route. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a very malleable protein, which is great at absorbing flavors, be it used in a burger, sausage, kebab, chili or even stir-fry dishes. And it shouldn’t surprise you that in future cooking posts, you’re going to see this ingredient creep up a lot.

This last weekend we got particularly burger crazy, as we wanted something easy to cook because we were all burned out travelling to Connecticut and bringing back our new dog, Kona, from the folks at Flora’s Pet Project. And it didn’t help at all that we were all couch potatoed when we got back and watched dietician-chef Ellie Krieger on Food Network cook up some particularly tasty looking DIY Diner Food.

Our first Turkey Burger was a bit of a cheat, as it involved the use of pre-made frozen burgers from COSTCO. All hail the mighty Kirkland! But we amped up this burger with our Giant Mushroom Chili that we made for the Superbowl along with a small amount of melted cheddar cheese, served on a whole grain burger bun. But it was a quick and easy lunch, and really satisfied that Chili Burger craving. Hell, the last time I had a real chili burger was back in August at The Varsity in Atlanta. This one was just as good, and nowhere near as bad for you. Next time I’m going to use use fresh ground turkey meat instead of COSTCO pucks.

But wait! There’s more burgers in store. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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