Tailgating Party by Denville Meat Shop

Tailgating Party by Denville Meat Shop

I’ve written about Denville Meat Shop (see past post here) in the past and how amazing it is on all levels: to-go foods, meats, service, classes, etc….the past weekend, I was privy to its delicious, meaty catering via a tailgate party at MetLife Stadium.

The private tailgate party served about 15 of us with lots of leftovers. Denville Meat Shop owner, Jeff Orel, personally manned the grill, which was a treat, and served a variety of meats: ribs, brisket, steak, pulled pork, sausages, hot dogs and burgers. There was also potato salad and coleslaw. Note that the package of store-bought cookies and the bags of burger and hot dog buns in the photos were brought by me and NOT short cuts by Orel.

Not sure how this was possible, but the brisket was perfectly tender and juicy, not an easy thing to do via catering. The ribs were meaty and flavorful; the burger meat with bacon-packed; the hot dogs snappy and some of the best I’ve had; the steak was expertly-grilled and med-rare; the pulled pork was juicy with great porky flavors.

Denville Meat Shop offers tailgating packages, so don’t feel like this amazing lineup can’t happen to you too! Orel also offers a variety of catering options and even ‘rents’ himself out as a chef for private events – he was, after all, an executive chef before opening the shop.

Just a great experience with some amazing foods that my group is still talking about!

Denville Meat Shop – 28 Diamond Spring Rd, Denville, New Jersey 07866.

Cheers,

Veronique

Best Dishes 2016

My job had me on the road more than not in 2016 and while I’ve had many, many unforgettable meals this past year, I’ve tried to narrow down the 15 best dishes I enjoyed during the past year. Here’s the list in restaurant name alphabetical order.

Ai Fiori – New York, NY. Eating at this Chef Michael White restaurant is a luxurious treat and lobster seems to be an appropriate ingredient to have in the beautiful dining room. The Lobster with Asparagus and Morels was one of the best lobster dishes I’ve had.

Buca Yorkville – Toronto, ON. Branzino is my favorite fish and at Buca, the Cyprian sea bass is expertly-carved tableside in its pure raw state and topped with Prosecco, olive oil and lemon.

Escape – Montclair, NJ. The seafood grits with a giant portion of sea urchin was just a fabulous dish at the now defunct Escape.

FLX Table – Geneva, NY. Very cool dining experience at Chef/Master Sommelier Christopher Bates’ new chef’s table restaurant in the Finger Lakes. The multi-course dinner showcases locally-sourced ingredients and the dish I thought stood up among the winning lineup was the Uber B.L.T. consisting of tomato, sweet summer corn and lamb bacon. The presentation was glorious with a pool of tomato water in the bowl of the plate and beautifully-arranged raw and dried tomatoes, the bacon and corn then avocado and Thai basil.

Grace – Chicago, IL. I treated myself to Grace this year and wasn’t sorry for the splurge. The Alaskan King Crab dish was gorgeous, light yet flavorful. It’s served artfully with char roe, cucumber, floral cream and tangerine lace. The king crab salad is positioned at the bottom of a v-shaped glass filled with herbs and flowers then a flavor-neutral tuile seals the salad. Crack the tuile with a spoon and the crunchy bits add an unexpected texture to the delicate crab.

Heirloom Kitchen – Old Bride, NJ. Chef David Viana cooked up perhaps the best duck I’ve had. The masterly-seared duck breast is served with sherry herbed barley, granola, parsnip, date purée, maitake mushroom and duck jus. The earthiness of the roasted maitake and the sweet/savory date purée compliment the rich duck perfectly.

Hot & Soul – Ft Lauderdale, FL. My year-end best dishes compilation wouldn’t be the same without an entry from my favorite Ft Lauderdale restaurant. The Mushroom Manchego Toast is a must to start off a meal at Hot and Soul. The shareable dish with its creamy sherry sauce is a winner.

Kalofagas – my home in NJ. Toronto-based chef and cookbook author Peter Minaki prepared a dish of spaghetti with uni (sea urchin) sauce at my home this year that was simply outstanding. Briny uni-tomato sauce coated the al dente pasta perfectly.

Lorena’s – Maplewood, NJ. Meals at Lorena’s are never less than stellar and this year, my favorite dish at the popular restaurant was the Cavatelli Carbonara. Instead of the eggs being incorporated in the sauce in a traditional way, Chef Campos serves it poached with a runny yolk to coat the pasta.

Razza Pizza Artigianale – Jersey City, NJ. While it’s best known for its outstanding pizza, my favorite dish at Razza is the Bread and Butter service featuring house made butter that has the right funky flavor and crusty, pizza oven-baked bread.

Redux – Madison, NJ. Chef Ubhaus serves up delicious, comforting food and calling out Disco Fries as my top dish at his restaurant undersells his culinary talents. Having said that, this dish is pure decadence with SLABS of St Andre cheese over properly-made fries and rich veal gravy.

Square Root – New Orleans, LA. The meal I had at Square Root was one of the finest I enjoyed this year. The Red Fish with Horseradish Bubbles was THE dish in the long list of dishes we were served. The red fish was properly-cooked and bubbles made from horseradish were blown in the open kitchen, right in front of us.

Stages at One Washington – Dover, NH. Yes, two of my favorite dishes were enjoyed at Stages this year: Lomo and Egg and Cabrales-Stuffed Raspberries. Chef Evan Hennessey is simply brilliant and raspberries and blue cheese are now a favorite.

The Bachelor Farmer – Minneapolis, MN. Pork Meatballs, Spätzle in Lobster Broth was one of the several outstanding dishes I had at this Minneapolis gem. Pork and lobster? Yes, it totally works.

I’m looking forward to 2017 and the food adventures I’ll enjoy.

Happy New Year!!

Veronique

My Best Dishes of 2015

My Best Dishes of 2015

My job has me on the road more than not and while I’m away from home, I’m going to be sure I have some fantastic meals.

From coast to coast, north to south, over the Atlantic and back, I’ve narrowed down all the great dishes I’ve enjoyed in 2015 into a top 15 list, in restaurant name alphabetical order.

Anthony David’s – Hoboken, NJ. Cacio e Pepe. I basically wanted to lick the plate after devouring this amazing pasta dish that was part of Chef Pino’s 10-course Monday night tasting menu.

Blu – Montclair, NJ (now closed). Crispy Duck Carbonara. I had the chance to enjoy this decadent dish right before Chef Zod shuttered the popular Essex County restaurant this summer.

The Cannibal – New York, NY. Bone Marrow Brulée. Perfectly-grilled bread, soft scrambled eggs, salt-studded grilled marrow – what could be better?

Escape – Montclair, NJ. Seared Foie Gras. Continuing on the “what could be better?” questioning…this. Chef Gregg is the king of foie and this seared version paired with corn bread was a winner.

Fricassée – Montclair, NJ. Cassoulet. This is perhaps the best cassoulet I’ve enjoyed. Tons of meaty pieces hidden under the perfectly-cooked beans. Top this whole thing with a confit duck leg? Oui!

Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark. Smoked Leg of Wild Duck. This was one of the many memorable dishes served during our group’s tasting dinner at this top Danish restaurant (see full recap here).

Hot & Soul – Ft Lauderdale, FL. Squid Steak. This place does everything right including a version of squid, a steak, that’s topped with olives and a perfect acidy pop.

Kinton Ramen – Toronto, Canada. Pork Belly Garlic Ramen. I’d been drooling over Kinton’s Instagram photos for a while so knew I had to drop by on a business trip to Toronto.

L’Express – Montreal, Canada. Beef Tartare. Can’t go wrong with anything featured on this classic Plateau restaurant. The tartare actually tastes like beef and has a perfect level of acidity and heat.

Roberta’s – Brooklyn, NY. Stracciatella. I know you go to Roberta’s for pizza but this starter – milky, melt-in-your-mouth fresh Mozzarella ‘stands’ served with perfectly-grilled bread is fantastic.

Ryland Inn – Whitehouse Station, NJ. Eggs Canapé. Scrambled duck eggs with lobster, caviar and uni – AMAZING.

Spoon & Stable – Minneapolis, MN. Squid Ink Seafood Pasta. Had an outstanding meal at Chef Gavin Kaysen’s new MSP restaurant but the star of the meal with the gorgeous and flavorful seafood pasta.

Stages at One Washington – Dover, NH. Flying Goat Farms Camembert, Lime Basil Custard, Green Strawberry. It’s a bit odd I’d pick another dessert for this list as I’ll always go for cheeses vs dessert if the choice is given, BUT, this dessert features stellar locally-sourced Camembert! Best dinner of 2015 by Chef Evan Hennessey – a must-visit (read about this dinner).

Terre à Terre – Carlstadt, NJ. Duck Prosciutto Canapé. I was fortunate to have been invited to Chef Villani’s dinner at the famous James Beard House this summer where guests were served house-made duck Prosciutto as a canape.

Toro – New York, NY. Cuttlefish Risotto with Squid Ink and Jamon. I loved the whole vibe of Toro including eating at the chef’s counter. Of all the tasty tapas we enjoyed, the cuttlefish dish was the greatest.

Hope you had tasty bites in 2015 and wish you all the best for 2016.

Cheers,

Veronique

Jersey Spirits Distilling Company Opens in Fairfield, NJ

Jersey Spirits Distilling Company Opens in Fairfield, NJ

Sue and John

Sue and John

Last week, I stopped by the coolest little tasting room I’d visited in a while. The space in question is the brand new storefront by Jersey Spirits Distilling Co., owned and operated by business partners John Granata, Susan Lord and Elizabeth MacDonald.

The craft distillery is located in Fairfield, New Jersey and features a stylish area in the front that can accommodate up to 35 imbibers with tables and a bar where liquor is poured and cocktails are mixed. There’s also a back room where Jersey Spirits’ custom still system is located and where tours are given from Wednesday through Sunday.

During my visit, I had the pleasure of sampling two of the featured cocktails: Jersey Mule and Moscow Mule. The Jersey version is made using the company’s Barnegat White Whiskey and it was just great. Since I’m a traditional Mule fan, I also tasted that version made using Main Street Vodka. While both were really enjoyable, and served in the appropriate cooper cups, the traditional version was my favorite.

Jersey Spirits Product

Jersey Spirits Product

Unlike other distilleries in the area, the entire process of mashing, fermenting and distilling is done in-house at Jersey Spirits’ Fairfield location. Everything is created in small batch, by hand with very little machinery outside of the still and transfer pumps. 

In addition to the Main Street Vodka and Barnegat White Whiskey, Jersey Spirits plans to launch several other spirits before end of 2015 including DSP.7 Gin (infused with 13 different botanicals); Jersey Apple Hooch; Jersey Pumpkin Hooch;and Boardwalk White RumLimoncello and Orangecello are planned for release in time for this holiday season. 

Jersey Spirits will be offering hands-on classes in Infusion in October 2015, Mixology in November, 2015 and a barrel sharing program will also be available to customers starting in October. Connect with these fine folks on Facebook to keep abreast of all the happenings.

The distillery is open Wednesday & Thursday 4-7pm, Friday 4-9pm, Saturday 1-9pm and Sunday 1-5pm. Private tours are available by appointment. 

Jersey Spirits Distilling Co. – 1275 Bloomfield Avenue, Building 7, Unit 40B, Fairfield, NJ 07004 (973-441-0947). 

Cheers,

Veronique

Bracco Farms CSA 2015

Bracco Farms Field

Bracco Farms Field

Once again, Bracco Farms will be offering its popular CSA Program this season. The basic idea of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is that a farmer grows for a group of members who have purchased “shares” in the harvest. Members pay at the beginning of the season, when the farmer most needs the money. When the crops start coming in June, the farmer delivers a weekly (or bi-weekly as is the case with Bracco Farms) assortment of vegetables, herbs and some fruit. This is not a co-op, there are no wholesalers or distributors. All of your food dollars – 100% – goes to the person who is growing it.

I joined the Bracco CSA in 2014 and loved it on so many levels:

  1. Healthy products I know are good for me.
  2. Variety of products that pushed me to try new recipes and new preparations.
  3. Surprises in my box every time I picked up – new things as the seasoned progressed.
  4. Restaurant-cool things like edible flowers and micro greens.
Anthony Bracco

Anthony Bracco

New this year – customers have their choice of seven pick-up locations in northern New Jersey and also directly from the farm in Pine Island, NY. 

A few facts about the Bracco Farms CSA Program:

  • Bracco Farms only sells what it grows.
  • Bracco Farms only uses Non-GMO seed from safe-seed pledge sources.
  • Bracco Farms never uses herbicides (weed killer) or pesticides.
  • Bracco Farms does not use any type of fungicide, insecticide or any other type of chemical.
  • Bracco Farms does not use any type of fertilizer, nor any type of artificial irrigation, nor any type of tomato hormone.
  • Bracco Farms hand-cultivates its wonderful weeds!
  • Bracco Farms never supplements its CSA with outside produce.

You support sustainable local agriculture and get freshly-picked organic produce at reasonable prices. In addition, you know the farmer growing your vegetables and can visit the farm (I highly recommend doing this) -establishing a personal connection with your food supply.

If you want to experience the organically-grown, beautiful produce grown at Bracco at your homes, sign up TODAY.

Cheers,

Veronique

Denville Meat Shop To-Go Foods

Denville Meat Shop To-Go Foods

DMS PorkJust when I thought I couldn’t love Denville Meat Shop any more, Owner Jeffrey Orel goes and offers to-go prepared foods that are better than what most folks can cook at home…and at affordable prices!

I was in the meat paradise storefront in Denville last week to pick up a few things, and was amazed at the multitude of prepared foods that Jeffrey (former Executive Chef) had on display. From sides like the sweet potato hash with Chorizo and sage to prime beef lasagna with organic tomato sauce, the “heat and eat’ products are special.

DMS DisplayThere are also cuts of meat that, while in their raw state, are ready to cook, like the gorgeous apple and Gorgonzola-stuffed pork I eyeballed for an upcoming dinner party.

I’m a bit of a meatloaf snob and think my version’s pretty special, but I tried Jeff’s and was blown away by the moistness and burst of flavor…mashed potatoes were pretty darn tasty also.

Thanksgiving is in less than a month, go check out all the tasty dishes Denville Meat Shop has in store for folks who don’t want the burden of cooking the whole meal.

If you haven’t paid Denville Meat Shop a visit yet, or lately, you owe it to your taste buds to.

Denville Meat Shop – 28 Diamond Spring Rd, Denville, New Jersey 07866.

Cheers,

Veronique

Coming Soon – The Butcher and The Chef Web Series

Coming Soon – The Butcher and The Chef Web Series

Photo Credit : Boozy Burbs

Photo Credit : Boozy Burbs

A series of 10 webisodes titled The Butcher and The Chef will be starting on Tuesday July 15th on www.boozyburbs.com. Each episode will air each Tuesday starting next week.

The show will cover a wide range of food and dining topics as butcher Sal Petruso of Westwood Prime Meats and chef John Vitale of Caffe Anello go on informative and entertaining culinary adventures.

The primary focus of the show centers on how local chefs create their modern foods using of old world techniques but will target international culinary talents in future webisodes.

To view the Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je_cA6Jp_No

It should be a fun series with unexpected surprises. Let me know how you enjoy it by posting comments here.

Cheers,

Veronique

Bracco Farms CSA Program – Say Yes to Organic and No to GMO

Bracco Farms CSA Program – Say Yes to Organic and No to GMO

Anthony Bracco

Anthony Bracco

At a farm-to-table dinner at Escape Montclair late in 2013, I was fortunate to meet and spend time with Anthony Bracco, Owner of Bracco Farms in Pine Island, NY. While Anthony helped explain the variety of produce used in the 5-course dinner, I learned that his produce is organic, is never grown from GMO seeds and never gets treated with commercial pesticide or herbicide. I also learned that Bracco Farms offers farm-fresh vegetables through a Community Supported Agriculture program.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a concept where a farmer grows for a members who have purchased “shares” in the farmer’s harvest. Members prepay at the start of the season when the farmer needs money for harvest purchases like seeds and other materials. Weekly or bi-weekly deliveries of vegetables, herbs and fruit are made by the farmer as crops start coming in, typically in June.

Bracco Farms Field

Bracco Farms Field

Not only do members benefit from having freshly-picked organic produce at reasonable prices all season, they help support sustainable local agriculture also.

The Bracco Farms CSA will run from June 3, 2014 until November 4, 2014 with a bi-weekly pick-up in Cedar Grove every other Tuesday between 4pm and 8pm. The deadline to sign up is May 31, 2014 but clients can sign up after the start of the deliveries at a pro-rated price.

The cost of a full share is $550.00 and is enough vegetables for four people.

The cost of a half share is $300.00 and is enough for two people.

“We have many new varieties of produce this year among them are leeks, three varieties of onions, red choi, radicchio, celery, broccoli and broccoli rabe, red cabbage, purple snow peas, a new variety of sweet corn, yellow and purple string beans, four new varieties of radishes, more varieties of heirloom tomatoes including “Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter”. I’m also excited to have five varieties of beets, edible flowers and watermelons – as always started from non-GMO organic seeds. We are also expanding our herb selection to include chervil, dill and fennel in addition to our basil, cilantro and parsley,” said Anthony Bracco during a recent interview.

Bracco Farms CSA Box

Bracco Farms CSA Box

Typical early season offering: peas, kale, arugula, spinach, lettuce, escarole, turnips, parsnips cilantro, basil, dill, parsley and more.  

Typical late season offering: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, corn, onions, carrots, beans, beets and more.

View and print the 2014 Season CSA membership form.

For more information please visit the Bracco Farms CSA Page on Facebook.

CLICK THE ICON BELOW FOR A DENVILLE PICK UP CSA FORM

Full shares can also pick up at the Denville Meat Shop. A one time $25.00 site charge is also included. Click here for the Denville pick up form.

Enjoy the very best produce this summer.

Cheers,

Veronique

Restaurant Latour’s New Chef – Jean Paul Lourdes

Restaurant Latour’s New Chef – Jean Paul Lourdes

Chef Jean Paul Lourdes

Chef Jean Paul Lourdes

Crystal Springs Resort’s Restaurant Latour has a new chef – Jean Paul Lourdes. Chef Lourdes has broad kitchen experience having cooked in some of the world’s finest kitchens. A New Zealand native, Lourdes was carefully recruited to create a menu featuring food that will complement the wines of Latour’s award-winning cellar.

Having worked at Pierre Gagnaire’s Michelin 3-star restaurant in Paris, Maison Pic in Paris, Joël Robuchon in Tokyo, Tetsuya in Sydney, several Shangri-La Hotels, Nihonryori-Ryugin in Tokyo and having done recipe development at Buddakan and Morimoto, Lourdes’ global experience changes the vibe at Restaurant Latour.

Chef Lourdes has created two tasting menus, a protein-focused “Grazing” and a vegetarian “Farmer’s Feast”, both available as five and seven course options, with or without wine pairings.

Chef Lourdes inspects every ingredient that is sourced daily and creates the day’s menu based on the freshest finds. 

Here is the March Restaurant Latour menu:

alliums / argan oil / barrel aged maple

borage / bonito / black garlic / celeriac

chanterelle / cinnamon / chrysanthemum

cultured cream / dandelion / duck

egyptian chamomile / emerald

earl grey tea / finger lime / fuchsia grapefruit / green-onion / horseradish honey comb / kinome / lavender

licorice / local milk / meyer lemon mushrooms / mexican tarragon

nasturtiums / olive / olive oil

organic hay / penny royal / pepper

pok pok vinegar / radish /root beer

rose apple / russian banana / salsify

succulents / sough dough / scallop

sea bream / salted butter / sheep’s milk

truffle / walnut / whey / yuzu

Restaurant Latour is located at 3 Wild Turkey Road in Hamburg, NJ.  For reservations, classes and more information call 973-827-5996 ext. 3 or visit http://crystalgolfresort.com

Cheers,

Veronique

Eat Shop Kitchen & Bar

Eat Shop Kitchen & Bar

TapsThe headquarters for my company is in Minneapolis and when I visited last, I tweeted about my upcoming trip, of course. Within a few minutes of my tweet, a restaurant located in the Plymouth suburb tweeted me back to say that I should really come try its duck salad during my visit. I thought “yeah, right, like my co-workers will just drive me there for lunch” and I thanked the person tweeting for the recommendation.

Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup

On my second day at the office, the team went out to lunch and to my amazement, the place my colleagues picked was Eat Shop Kitchen & Bar, my Twitter pen pal from earlier in the week! What are the chances that in all of food-friendly Minneapolis, that we’d visit this place, in that suburban town. I tweeted my delight at this good fortune and made my way into one of the neatest restaurants I’ve been to in that foodie town. There were beer taps everywhere, the space was modern yet casual in style with an open kitchen and the menu creative and tempting.

I opted for a soup of the day, mushroom lemongrass, which was bright with lime and lemongrass flavors and generous with wild mushrooms. How could I pass up my earlier recommendation of duck salad? Well, I didn’t. Executive Chef Jeff Anderson’s huge salad was topped with duck confit, duck bacon and a poached egg that had me in foodie seventh heaven.

Duck Salad

Duck Salad

The only thing I was sorry about was having to go back to work without trying the amazing craft beers being poured at this popular restaurant. I’ll definitely be back for that and some of the neat events held at this fun restaurant.

Eat Shop

16605 County Road 24, Plymouth, MN 55447

(763) 270-5929

www.theeatshop.com‎