Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!  It was a year ago that I started this blog and it has been an amazing experience.  Over the past year I have met so many celebrity chefs, attended food related TV shows and had so many new average american foodie experiences.  Even though I haven't posted here in 6 months, doesn't mean I have given up on this project.   I will continue to share my experiences.  Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and new food experiences filled 2013!  Hope everyone was able to check off some items on their own Average American Foodie bucket list.  Stay tuned for new articles to come at averageamericanfoodie.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fresh to Death – Jersey Fresh

No, I’m not talking about Paulie D, he’s not from New Jersey.  I’m referring to the Garden State’s bounty of produce that comes every summer to local farmer’s markets.  I love this time of year in New Jersey when the everyone gets outside, the flowers are blooming and the vegetable gardens are planted.  The Red Bank Farmer’s market runs from May through November.  It’s the perfect place to get all your Jersey fresh, locally-grown treats, exceptional eats as well as a variety of unique art.  Farmers, Bakers, Artists and Picklers from all over New Jersey, particularly Monmouth County set up shop in a parking lot at the entrance to Red Bank.  This isn’t your typical farmer’s market, you can get fresh mozzarella that was made that morning to recycled furniture turned into planters, seedlings to start your own garden, specialty mushrooms and kettle corn, what more can you ask for?!!

In May I purchased seedlings to start my garden and have harvested plenty of zucchini, cucumbers and herbs already.  In June, the flowers were in full bloom and ready for my window boxes.  Now here we are in July and the fruits and vegetables are ready for everyone to enjoy!  Each week there is always something new to discover, can’t wait to see what I will find next weekend. 
Farmers markets help support your local farmers and community.  With such a short way to travel, you know those peaches were just picked and the zucchini flowers are fresh off the vine.  Farmer’s markets are a great way to spend time with your neighbors and enjoy a sense of community.  Next time you see a Farmer’s Market, stop in, chat with the farmers and vendors, you never know what you will learn, eat and experience.  Add going to your local Farmer’s Market to your Average American Foodie Bucket list.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Great American cook off - RIBS!!!

Do you think you are the best chef of your friends and family?  Are all your recipes award winning?  The best way to settle the argument is to have a cook off!  I was invited to be a judge at the "Rib Off" in Bayonne, NJ.  This group of amatuer chefs have a competition several times a year to determine who is the best of the best on different types of food.  In the past they have competed against each other on Macaroni and Cheese, Chili and Pasta sauce.  When I arrived, all 7 of the ribs that were up for evaluation were in their warming trays staying hot before the challenge begins.  The ribs were all in silver pans with only numbers identifying each tray.  The judges were all gathered around the table to get an explanation of the rules of the competition as well as the scoring sheet. Each rib was to be scored on presentation, aroma, tenderness, flavor and overall taste.  Let the games begin......Since there were 7 ribs to compare, I decided to do this in 3 shifts.  While sampling each rib, I put my scores down.  This led to quite a messy sheet when I finished.  While eating, all the chefs looked anxious and were trying to get a read on what we thought.  There was a wide variety of flavors from dry and over spiced to saucy and delicious.  An impartial party took all the score sheets to tally the results.  Once completed, there was hush over the crowd of party goers to see who would walk away with bragging rights.  The results were read from last to first.  I knew what my 2 favorites were and hoped they were on top....and they came in first and second!

A cook off is a great way to have a little friendly competition with your friends as well as a great opportunity to get together to have some fun and eat great food (hopefully).  Add creating a cook off with your family and friends to your Average American Foodie Bucket List.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hey Yo...Johnny No Slices in Jersey City

Tucked away on a beautiful tree lined street and surrounded by brownstones in Jersey City lies John’s Pizzeria. It is an unassuming storefront that brings you old school classic NY style pizza. When you walk in, you can see the brick oven pizza that will be baking the pizza we are about to partake in. There are so many varieties of pizza out there nowadays, I feel the best way to determine if you are going to return to a restaurant is try the traditional, a Margarita pizza. John’s Pizza originated in Greenwich Village in NYC in 1929 and John was trained by the legendary Lombardi’s pizza chefs who claim to have opened the first pizza place in 1905. They now have locations in NYC in the heart of the Theater district, 64th St. and Bleeker St. as well as the Jersey City one I visited. We take our seats inside and have a view of the pizza oven, classic NYC and Jersey City photos and art that line the wall. One photo stands out, a black and white of John leaning on a vintage Cadillac with a New York license plate that reads NO SLICES.  At the time when the photo was taken, it was the IT car of the time. We review the menu and order our personal Margarita pizza (no slices). The pizza arrives quickly and with a beautiful golden brown crust, fresh sweet basil, bright red sauce and gooey circles of mozzarella. Let’s see how this pizza holds up, will it flop when you pick it up? do you need to use two hands to eat it? or god forbid soggy to the point of needing a knife and fork? Success!!!  The slice is firm, the cheese stretches with each bite and the basil adds that fresh taste. Now I want to try all the other John’s Pizza locations. What is your favorite type of pizza? Remember, not all pizza is created equal. If you have never had a real nyc style brick oven pizza, add that to your Average American Foodie Bucket list.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lidia's Italy in Red Bank

Lidia’s Italy in America Tour and Capellini alla Primavera

My love of New Jersey and Food has combined into a wonderful opportunity.  I have joined the Jersey Bites team covering Monmouth County with a monthly contribution.  I wanted to share this  exciting news with everyone!!  I took my mom to see Lidia at The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ and it is my first contribution to Jersey Bites, :


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Behind the door is a little Tuscany in Asbury Park

Walking through the door at Porta National Park in Asbury Park, NJ you are transferred to a rustic Italian bistro.  The exposed single bulbs dangling from strings light the dining and bar area provide the perfect ambiance.  In the back is the exposed kitchen with pizza ovens which lead to the wonderful experience we are about to have.  The seating is a communal setting at wooden picnic tables.  Our party is seated along the wall covered with antique doors (porta in Italian, hence the name of the restaurant).  Then menu consists of Nepolitano pizzas and pastas, but this is not your typical Italian American pizza joint.  Our group of 5 decided to share 3 pizzas and started with a bowl of mixed olives.  The huge bowl of olives arrived and we begin munching on these little nuggets of salty treats.  These treats are marinated in an olive oil of lemon and orange zest with fennel and rosemary.  This is something I will definitely try to recreate at home.  Our pizzas arrive: Arugula - San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella,
garlic, arugula, truffle oil; Porta Porta - spinach, garlic, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, basil; and the special of the night – Spicy Pepperoni.   The Arugula pizza is piled high with crisp peppery arugula that is the perfect compliment to the sauce with fresh mozzarella.  Next up was the Spicy Pepperoni with a spicy sauce that enhances the pepperoni on top.  The Porta Porta pizza is folded over like a Stromboli, the house made ricotta just melts in your mouth.  Oh how I wish they sold that cheese to take home.  Porta National Park is located behind the iconic Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.  When in Asbury for a music festival, the beach, the boardwalk or shopping, add Porta National Park to you Average Foodie bucket list.    

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Yankees, Brussels Sprouts and Truffles, oh my!

It is time for my annual trip to visit one of my roommates from college who now lives in Tampa, FL.  We went to a Yankees Spring training game. Don't worry, I'm not going to write about the dirty water dawg I had at the game, though I still don’t understand why the Yankees never have spicy mustard?  I asked a chef that I met recently for a restaurant recommendation in Tampa, he suggested, Ocean Prime, a modern supper club serving seafood and steaks.  I checked out the website, menu looked fabulous so I took his suggestion and made reservations.   Ocean Prime is located in a high end mall in Tampa.  The restaurant can be found nestled next to a Crate and Barrel.  Once you walk in the door, you forget you are in a mall and can feel the vibe of this trendy upscale restaurant.  There is a large open bar area that is overflowing with a high energy piano player.  I scan the crowd hoping to see Derek Jeter or any Yankee, but none were to be found.  The hostess takes us to our table.  Our waiter introduces himself and walks us through the menu.  He lets us know the house specialties and the  snapper that was caught today at Madeira beach in Clearwater.  I ordered a bottle of Quivira Zin, had to support Pete and oh, how I wish they sold it in NJ. 
We started off with a Caesar salad that was dressed lightly and contained Parmesan crisp surprises throughout.  I ordered the fresh blackened snapper while my friend ordered a filet.  Our sides were caramelized brussels sprouts and black truffle mac and cheese.  The service was so prompt that the food almost arrived before the salad.  As they placed our entrees and sides in front of us, they looked superb.  I dove into the blackened snapper and it was fresh, light, flakey with just enough blackened to be flavorful.  I’m giving brussels sprouts every opportunity to turn me on and they have slowly started to rev my engines.  There was enough carmelization to make them sweet and enough crunch of bitterness to create a balance of flavor to make me smile.  I’m beginning to see what all the hype is about, but I still need to be woo'ed a little more.  Of course you can never go wrong with anything that contains black truffles, especially mac and cheese.  This was my friend’s first truffle experience and she was over the moon when she tried it.  Never be afraid to try something new or give an old food with new tricks a try.  Add trying new foods and experiences to your Average American Foodie Bucket List.