Trying Many Different Foods at the Woodbridge Food Truck Festival

SiROCKSNY.comThis past weekend was the Woodbridge Food Truck Festival at the Woodbridge Mall Sears parking lot. I saw this event advertised when I drove down Route 1 on the mall’s interchangeable billboard.

I love food and have done a couple of food trucks, so that’s enough incentives for me & Jess to come on down. The event was presented by a company called SiROCKSNY.com, which is weird since New Jersey isn’t Staten Island, though Woodbridge is right over the Outerbridge Crossing (no more than 15-20 minutes).

The Woodbridge Food Truck Festival happened rain or shine… and it rained, so good thing we brought our umbrellas! It also helped that there was a tent set up with tables for just such an instance. It was a very well-run event, but you’re here to read about all of the food I ate. Well, here it is!

Hispanic Food

The Lab Food TruckOne of the foods I’ve really enjoyed more over the year is Hispanic food, whether it’s Mexican or otherwise. The first truck we ate from was The Empanada Monster, a Colombian food truck that offered a variety of foods and had a long line. We decided to try their namesake empanadas, 1 chicken and 1 beef, & they were delicious for this monster appetite!

Not to mention the spicy but tasty green & red salsas that came along. Just the opposite of spicy was the first dessert-type food of the day: a sweet arepa topped with dulce de leche, aka mozzarella-stuffed cornbread with Nutella on top. To my shock, the cheese and Nutella combination worked along with the subtle flavor of the cornbread when mixed all together.

And here I initially passed on Arepas last year. I guess chocolate-hazelnut spread was the missing ingredient from my first experience trying this Hispanic food.

The second place we tried was The Lab Food Truck based on the line alone. I like how their beaker logo is actually a spoon and a fork, neither of which I used for my order because I opted for the shortrib taco.

This taco combines sweet-chili braised shortrib with cilantro ginger-lime slaw, fire-roasted scallion sauce and hoisin. The meat was so well cooked that it melted in my mouth, while the other ingredients balanced quite well together for an ideal taco on the go. I also saw that The Lab will be opening a restaurant in Kenilworth in the very near future, which I’ll definitely go to.

More Savory Treats

Mama Dude's Food TruckOf course, there were so many more places to try (seemingly half of which were Hispanic). We opted not to go to the burger truck, soup truck, BBQ truck or the typical fried fare since we wanted something that we can’t get on a typical day.

That’s why we chose to go to Mama Dude’s Food Truck. They were offering their courses at $6 or 2 for $10, so we opted to get 2 different things: the English pea risotto and a pork belly & polenta dish. The English pea risotto was so smooth that it went down like butter… it may have been the winning dish of the day, though I think the shortrib taco is a tie.

However, the definitive losing dish of the day was the pork belly and polenta. I will start by saying that the pork belly was very well cooked and well seasoned. However, there was not enough of it to cover up the blandness of the polenta… even though it did have a little sauce on it and did contain a not-so-sharp cheese. If there was more sauce or definitely more pork belly, perhaps I’d feel differently about this Mama Dude’s dish.

The final savory food items came from a place called I Got Balls. I love puns and do enjoy a rice ball once in a blue moon. Let this be 2 blue moons since these I Got Balls offered 2 unique flavors for these treats: pesto and buffalo chicken. I’m a big buff chix fan, but I think the pesto was just as good… which is really saying something. Too bad they had a business paper and not a business card.

Dessert Sampling

Khalila's Corn KrushThe last part of the day containing partaking in some free samples from a couple of dessert vendors that were ironically not food trucks. The first one for me was Just One Cookie, which is a high-protein snack (14 grams, which to me isn’t high since I take in at least 30 grams per meal).

I tried the chocolate and it tasted good, but I suspect that it might have too much sugar for my liking. I can’t find any nutrition info on the Just One Cookie site, which I feel is important for your target audience looking for a high-protein snack replacement. The $3-per-cookie price point seems reasonable for other products on the market.

The second was an interesting concept called Corn Krush, which is run by a Marist alumni like me… we even high-fived since I was wearing a Marist shirt. As the Corn Krush name says, they offered a few sweet cornbread and we decided to try the CinnaMaize.

Not only do I love puns, but I love cinnamon as well… and they really Krushed it with this sweet treat. And I also crushed it with that pun… bam.

I’d definitely do the Woodbridge Food Truck Festival again next year and hopefully the weather will be better to try some more new foods.

Business Card Count: 35,764

Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish: My 1st Minor League Baseball Game

Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish

I’ve been to plenty of baseball games in my time: the Mets, the Yankees, little league. Hell, I’ve even been to some spring training games when vacationing in Florida as a kid. Not to mention my dad’s softball league when he was part of a team called Top 40, where all of the players were over 40.

But, I went to my 1st-ever minor league baseball game over Memorial Day weekend between the Somerset Patriots and the visiting Bridgeport Bluefish with Jess & the kids. It was a fun afternoon/evening out with nice seats right behind home plate. They sold one of my favorite alcoholic beverages at the stadium, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, along with a variety of food such as ice cream (soft serve and flash frozen Dippin’ Dots style), Oreo churros, cheesesteaks and more (most of which I did not eat though I would have if I was hungry).

In between each inning, they had a number of shenanigans with the most notable being a race between a carrot, apple & another piece of produce, kids racing on horses, kids rolling up a buddy in a carpet & rolling them back out and my favorite: shaving cream, bug spray and sunscreen racing to put cans in a recycling bin that turned into a wrestling match. The night ended with the home team winning 5-1 and fireworks. A fun time was had by all.

Where The Business Cards Come In

Allied Wealth Partners Martinsville NJThe part of the story where business cards are associated are the vendors I saw. Apparently, minor league teams like the Somerset Patriots and perhaps even the Bridgeport Bluefish at their home stadium have local businesses pay for space to get in front of a diverse audience of baseball lovers.

The first one is Allied Wealth Partners out of Martinsville NJ. They had a couple of advisers on hand to I assume help people in need of keeping track of their finances. I would venture to guess that you must have some money if you can plop down for a minor league baseball game.

I can see how that can make sense.

Seton Hall ROTC Pirate BattalionThe second one is for Seton Hall University. But not for the school: it’s for their ROTC Pirate Battalion program. As I approached the table, the national anthem came on and the two reps turned around right away & saluted the flag as it played… while I snagged their business cards in between God Bless America and the Star-Spangled Banner.

I also see the logic in a university military program setting up shop at a minor league baseball game. I’m sure there are potential high school students who would consider serving their country and like baseball, America’s pasttime.

There were other vendors at the Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish game, but they didn’t have business cards. I’d definitely go to another game in the future between the nice weather, fun atmosphere and great company.

Business Card Count: 35,749

I Got a Gift Card: Did Miller’s Ale House Redeem Themselves?

Joseph Amore Millers Ale HouseI previously blogged about my one bad experience in Orlando at Miller’s Ale House. After tweeting my blog post, their social media team responded and eventually let me know I’d be emailed.

And that message came in from Joseph Amore, Executive General Manager at the Orlano location. He basically apologized for the money going missing and asked if I spoke to a manager onsite, which I did along with other employees.

Amore also asked if I knew the employee’s name, which I did not since I didn’t notice a name tag, since he would have given corrective action.

He redundantly defended me having to “chug” (yes, he used quotes around the word) by saying they give advanced warning, which they did though dealing with the issue cut into my time to drink the beer regularly.

After a few emails, I received a $30 Miller’s Ale House gift card. There’s a location near me in Woodbridge, New Jersey that I ate at recently and used said gift card.

Dining at Miller’s Ale House in Woodbridge NJ

Millers Ale House Woodbridge NJI decided to use my gift card on a Wednesday night when it was not very busy. It was off to an auspicious start when I asked for a table for 1 and was told to seat myself in the other room (a bar off to the side).

After noticing a distinct “old beer” smell coming from that room, I opted to sit at a high table. I was almost immediately greeted by my server whose name I forgot, but I know he had a tag on since he lives in Keasbey & that was laid out on the tag.

I ordered chili to start and 20 zesty garlic wings (most of which I took home as leftovers). The food came out timely and was good for what chain restaurant food is.

The server really made my mind turn around about dining at Miller’s Ale House again. The check came and I used the gift card, but there was of course a snag.

Millers Ale House Buffalo Wings

When I wanted to leave the tip using what remained on the gift card, I was told I could not since their system wouldn’t allow it. Good thing I had $3 in my pocket, otherwise he wouldn’t have been tipped.

I’ve used gift cards to leave tips at other restaurants, so I don’t get why it couldn’t be done here. It’s not a good experience when you have to write apologies to employees for how their company’s faults lower their tip.

The ultimate question is: did Miller’s Ale House redeem themselves? The hard work of the employees says yes, but I can’t help but remember the negative feelings I had leaving both times.

If I’m spending my limited hard-earned money, my mind is not going to gravitate towards a restaurant associated with a bad feeling.

Business Card Count: 35,619

Cool Business Card Concept: OTC Compliance, LLC

OTC Compliance

Sometimes, I get business cards that just tickle me. That’s the case for OTC Compliance, LLC. I would normally think that quality and regulatory compliance would be somewhat dull. But this business card is like a mullet… business in the front and party in the back.

On the front, there’s vital information including the OTC Compliance company logo, their mission statement and the contact info for an employee. The only thing missing is where the company is based out of… my research shows that they’re in Johns Creek, Georgia. Who’s John and why does he have a creek?

Moving on, the party in back looks similar to the back of over-the-counter drugs with some clever use of facts like the Active Ingredient, Uses, Warnings & Directions. It’s always fun to have something unique on your business card to stand out from the pack and I can’t recall seeing any other compliance company being so whimsical. Then again, I can’t recall any compliance company business cards in my collection… though I’m sure I’ve got them.

Business Card Count: 35,599

My Very First Meetup at Blu Alehouse in Woodbridge NJ

Blu Alehouse Woodbridge NJI wanted to write about this experience for a little while, but my 4-part trip to Orlando delayed this, as did my my timely horrific experience at H&R Block.

For a while, me and my girlfriend wanted to expand our social circle since we don’t have any local friends who are our “couple friends”. I get along with all of her friends and vice versa, but a lot of our friends either aren’t local or are quite busy/aren’t often available.

That’s why we decided to start a Meetup group to seek out other couples in our area who are looking for “couple friends”.

She previously had success meeting people through the Meetup networking site, so we decided to give it a whirl and we got a group of people… well, couples… who signed up for the group. By the time our initial meeting occurred, it was only us and one other couple.

Shannon Rose Woodbridge NJWe opted to have our first Meetup at Blu Alehouse in Woodbridge, New Jersey because we wanted to try it. The Shannon Rose Irish Pub used to be there, but they went out of business for some reason. It had a good old-timey pub and I certainly enjoyed their lamb shepherd’s pie.

But I digress. The Meetup was successful, as got to know another professional couple who just had a child not too long ago. I’m usually somewhat introverted upon first meeting people, so I did my best to open up about myself and have good conversation.

The food was also good, as I had a chilled asparagus salad with grilled chicken, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and candied pecans on a bed of baby arugula. The atmosphere was very modern, as you can tell by the business card above, which was clean but I enjoy the more old-timey look of The Shannon Rose.

Will we continue with this Meetup? Most definitely… we have some event ideas in our heads to apply for the summer. Will I eat at Blu Alehouse again? I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I’m not into beer & a lot of their menu/theme revolves around beer. Not to mention that there are other restaurants that provide similar food at a similar price point.

But it was more about the enjoyable company and conversation that day than the food.

Business Card Count: 35,582

How H&R Block of Piscataway NJ Delayed My Tax Refund

Ellen Sowers H&R BlockTax time has come and gone once again. I used the same accountant… I mean Senior Tax Advisor that I had last year: Ellen Sowers at the H&R Block in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Everything went smoothly when the taxes were done in the middle of March, long before the April 18 deadline. Or so I thought.

I awaited my refund… and waited… and waited. Funny story: it turns out that the forms were all signed for the longest time and H&R Block never sent them in! And this was after the tax deadline no less.

H and R Block Piscataway NJIt’s partially my fault for not checking in sooner. Wait, no it’s not! H&R Block should take all of the blame for this since the paperwork was literally not sent when it should have been sent a month before.

The person on the phone gave an “oh, of course Ellen didn’t do that” type of response. I’m assuming it’s on Ellen because she is my accountant. Or should I say WAS my accountant.

No matter what happened, I feel like H&R Block is in some way to blame for this. At the very least, Ellen was thrown under the bus in this case. Either way, I don’t trust H&R Block to do my taxes anymore, especially the location in Piscataway NJ. Well, maybe I’d trust them to do my taxes, but I’d have to send them via carrier pigeon or Pony Express… not worth my money or peace of mind.

Business Card Count: 35,566

My Decadent Dessert at Cafe Tu Tu Tango: Orlando Part 4

Cafe Tu Tu Tango Orlando FLHere it is: the conclusion of my trip to Orlando and the last meal I had in the city before flying out: dessert at Cafe Tu Tu Tango, where the slogan is “Food. Art. Fun.”

Let’s start with the food. It took me literally 2 seconds to decide on the banana, cinnamon and caramel pizza. Even though I had way too much Chicago-styled pizza for dinner at a restaurant that didn’t have a business card (boo), I still decided to have more pizza.

Let me tell you: I gobbled this up. I’m not the biggest lover of chocolate, so this dessert gave me the sweetness I desired with my favorite fruit (banana), a favorite spice (cinnamon) and caramel & whipped cream to bring it all together.

Oh, and the dough, too. I’d definitely get that dessert again, but maybe I’d be open to sharing it.

I also got a drink and the first bottle that caught my eye was Western Son prickly pear vodka. The vodka is described as having a “freshly picked cactus fruit and melon scent with a long refreshing semi-sweet and tart finish with wild strawberry.” I decided to have this vodka mixed with cranberry juice and it tasted good the 1st, 2nd and 3rd time I ordered the drink.

I wish that Cafe Tu Tu Tango could make its way to New Jersey, but alas it’s only in Orlando. After doing some further research, I found out that art is a big part of the Cafe Tu Tu Tango culture. That’s right: the artwork on the walls was original by local Orlando artists that are for sale.

Needless to say, I didn’t go home with any art: just a feeling of a full tummy, happy taste buds and that feeling we always have after something decadent: “I’m never having dessert again.”

Business Card Count: 35,160

Working Out at the YMCA Aquatic & Family Center: Orlando Part 3

YMCA Aquatic Family Center Orlando FLWorking out is important to me, even when I’m away. That’s why I was happy to find out that there was a YMCA Aquatic & Family Center located right next to my hotel: the Orlando Metropolitan Resort. And it was free because I was staying at that hotel.

I walked into the gym and was greeted by signing in. After that, I walked in and saw that it looked like a typical gym ala Planet Fitness… just without the judgment-free zone jargon and free pizza. There was one of every piece of equipment, which was more than adequate for my workout.

That day, I chose to do arms because it was the quickest workout and I was with a friend. I didn’t want to be that guy who took too long, but I did want to burn some calories. It was a good workout and I did some core afterwards.

The only regret I have is not bringing a bathing suit to Orlando. Not only was the weather great, but the YMCA had a HUGE pool with an open-air atmosphere and loads of Olympic-sized lanes for swimming laps. If I ever go back there, I’d love to take a swim in there and have a longer workout.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never been to a YMCA before, but I had an enjoyable workout. I was expecting something with not-the-best equipment and maybe an aerobics class set to some oldies.

I’m not ashamed of that joke. Or to blast the Village People at full volume while driving slowly through a rough neighborhood.

Business Card Count: 35,125

My Visit to Hogan’s Beach Shop, Brother!: Orlando Part 2

Hogans Beach Shop Orlando FLThe big reason why I went to Orlando was because I was wrestling down there. And I knew that I had to do something wrestling related outside of my business while I was in town.

That’s where Hogan’s Beach Shop came in. They opened their Orlando location just in time for WrestleMania 33, which was on the Sunday after I left. And it took a couple of attempts to actually get into the store.

That’s because they were doing autograph signings as part of the grand opening with none other than Hulk Hogan himself. I didn’t have the urge to pay at least $100 (I heard $150) to meet the Hulkster and get his autograph. I was just curious to see what kind of things they sold at the Beach Shop.

And boy is there a lot of Hogan merchandise & memorabilia. The first thing that popped out at me was the custom Hulk Hogan Dodge Viper sitting in the middle of the store that was bright red and yellow. I just took a look and said to myself, “eh, I don’t drive stick.”

I moved onto seeing 3 life-sized Hogan figures (one in each corner not occupied by the cash register), as well as a NWO motorcycle, numerous signed pieces of unique/vintage merchandise, championship belts, old VHS tapes and even a random Van Halen backstage pass. The non-signed merch included T-shirts of all colors & sizes, action figures of himself & other WWE superstars, a Hulk Hogan Halloween costume kit, weight belts, protein shaker bottles, glasses & much more.

What was even more fascinating were the few non-Hulk items in the store that looked like you can just get them at any gift shop. I guess they sell them just because some people might be dragged to Hogan’s Beach Shop against their will during their trip to Orlando. I also enjoyed that they played Hogan-related wrestling clips and movies on the multiple TVs in the store. I found myself watching a bit of Mr. Nanny when visiting the store.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience even though I didn’t buy anything. It was a fun detour in the AC on an 85-and-sunny day.

Business Card Count: 35,102

My Scamworthy Experience at Miller’s I Drive Ale House: Orlando Part 1

Millers Ale House Orlando FLI took a 3-day trip to Orlando last week for my wrestling passion and will be documenting some experiences I had down there over the next few weeks. This was not the one that came first, but it’s the one that sticks out the most in my mind.

I feel like I got scammed at Miller’s I Drive Ale House. Here’s what happened: I paid for a drink at the bar that came out to $5 and change. I left $6 to include a tip and thought that would be the end of it.

When closing time came, I was informed that I did not pay for my drink. I argued that I left my money right there under the receipt, but apparently it was never received.

Millers I Drive Ale House

I had an unfortunate solution to resolve the issue when I had to pay for my drink again. I also got food and a couple of drinks at the table I was sitting at and the bill was $20 and change. A $5 and change drink would be 25% of the tip I would have left my waitress had I not been ripped off.

I feel really badly that Tamika R didn’t get a tip for her hard work running between multiple tables of 6, but Miller’s Ale House really dropped the ball. Someone could have taken the cash since Orlando is a tourist destination and they would have gotten away with the crime with minimal odds of getting caught.

Orlando being a tourist destination could also mean that the Miller’s I Drive Ale House staff could pull something like this off often since many people will never go back. I know that I’ll probably never go back to a Miller’s Ale House.

And to add insult to injury, Florida law says that no establishment can serve alcohol after 2 am (not even a liquor store). So, half the group I was with was forced to chug their drink (even when full) including me. I paid for a drink twice that I had to chug more than half of.

Business Card Count: 35,077