Nothing Beats Hawaiian Husky Organic Shave Ice on a Hot Day

Hawaiian Husky Organic Shave IceThe summer is known for hot weather and its cold treats. And boy was it hot on the day I went to the Freedom Fest State Fair in Allentown, New Jersey.

It felt like it was 100 degrees on that farm in the middle of nowhere, so I was definitely feeling dehydrated. That’s when I saw the Hawaiian Husky Organic Shave Ice food truck. Honestly, I thought it was “Shaved” ice until I looked at the business card closer and did my research.

But I digress. I walked up to Hawaiian Husky and the first impression I got was “wow, there are a lot of options here.” I’m used to carnivals only providing a couple of flavor choices… the hits if you will. But there was so much variety that it took me 5 minutes to choose.

Cucumber Watermelon Lemon Organic Shaved IceI debated between a few flavors of organic shaved ice, but the one that won was Cucumber Watermelon Lemon… I think it was lemon, but I know it was cucumber and watermelon for sure. It beat out pink lemonade (which is more commonplace) and I made a good decision.

Not only was it very tasty, it was also organic so no processed nonsense was in it. I can picture the vile syrups that would go into something like an Icee, but this legitimately tasted so refreshing. It was light yet flavorful and it wasn’t too pricey, so I’d definitely stop by their truck again.

Hawaiian Husky Organic Shave Ice have a variety of combination flavors, as well as single flavors that looked appetizing. There are also a variety of toppings that looked interesting, but I don’t think I would get since the ice itself was so good.

Business Card Count: 35,881

Business Card Redesign: New Shan-E-Punjab in Iselin NJ

New Shan e PunjabI discovered Indian restaurant New Shan-E-Punjab a few months ago and have regularly gotten takeout from there since it’s conveniently located in Iselin NJ. Since then, I’ve had satisfying Indian meals like chicken mahkani, chicken saag & chicken tikka masala along with basmati rice & garlic naan.

I also discovered that they changed business cards from the first time I went (on top) to the times I’ve gone over the past couple of months (on bottom). Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Old New Shan-E-Punjab Card

I personally prefer the top business card for a few reasons. For one, the yellow color really makes the logo pop out even if it’s smaller on the card itself. Additionally, it lists the website… which by the way is probably the best way to get a customer to see your menu, especially since the business name is a bit confusing to the naked eye.

I honestly wrote New Shan & Punjab at first. I also noticed another thing on the old business card: the catering number. I think it’s easier for a small restaurant to have just one phone #, so I see that # being eliminated as a strategic move.

New New Shan-E-Punjab Card

Yes, I see new new as repetition, but I find it funny… sort of. Anyhow, the new business card is much simpler to look at with a bigger company logo that includes the phone number. I personally wouldn’t have a phone number in a company logo since it could change… much like the catering number ceasing to exist.

Other than that, a lot of the same elements are in both business cards. Both show the address, phone number and what you will get by ordering from the Indian restaurant: fast food, eat in or take out, Halal & catering available. This redesign isn’t as dramatic as some of the others I’ve spoken about in the past, but I wanted to emphasize it since they make good food and I’d recommend trying them if you want Indian food in 15 minutes.

Business Card Count: 35,844

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

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

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

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

Tony’s Italian Kitchen: Good Pizza, Unique Business Hours

Tonys Italian KitchenIt’s been a while since I wrote about pizza. Whenever I commute to work, I pass by a place called Tony’s Italian Kitchen in Midland Park, New Jersey. It always strikes me curious since the sign for the company is on the ground due to renovations to the strip mall.

Finally, after months of it seeming not to be open during the renovation, I decided to say “what the hell” at 3 in the afternoon and get a slice of pizza as a snack.

When I walked in, the buffalo chicken pizza instantly drew my eye. And it also drew my taste buds, as it was one of the best slices of buffalo chicken I ever had since it had just the right thinness, grilled chicken and no blue cheese.

Pizza Midland Park NJThe experience was unique for a couple of reasons. First were the business hours that I saw laminated on the counter, which I thought was hilarious. It explained why sometimes the place didn’t look open and made it seem like they were real people working there.

Speaking of employees, the 4 guys there seemed to just be as relaxed as can be. When I asked for their business card to write this blog post, one guy said: “you aren’t going to sell my phone number, are you? People do that type of thing.”

I was so tempted to tell him: “no, but I’m going to write a blog post about it reviewing my experience here.” I didn’t want to freak him out and get banned for life or something. Especially since I enjoyed the buffalo chicken pizza.

Business Card Count: 35,016

Patria Latin Bistro: Why You Should Only Go For Drinks

Patria Latin Bistro Rahway NJI’ve been enjoying more Latin food since I met Jess. And one of the places that I tried and really enjoyed was Patria Latin Bistro in Rahway, New Jersey. And we went there a couple of times.

And the experiences were very different even though we got food and drinks both times because of one key thing: a renovation/revamp at the restaurant. It had the restaurant closed for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t know what an impact it would have on the food.

I will say that the drinks were amazing both times, specifically the Buen Amor (champagne and hibiscus liqueur with an edible flower inside the glass) and the Patria in Paris (Grey Goose melon vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice & lime juice).

The First Time

When we went pre-renovation, we ate:

  • Chorizo: paprika spiced sausage sautéed with garlic & sherry
  • Guacamole served with plantain chips
  • Pernil Asado: slow-cooked oven-roasted suckling pig served with yuca con mojo, sweet plantains & black bean sauce
  • Salmon a la Plancha: sautéed salmon with shitaki mushrooms, zucchini & fingerling potatoes in a chili pasilla malta sauce

Everything was so delicious and well-flavored. We went to go back again for a fun night and that’s when we found out Patria was closed for renovation. We eventually did.

The Second Time

Post-renovation Patria Latin Bistro was a much different experience, especially since all of the food we enjoyed was off the menu. We ate:

  • Bay scallops with olives in a romesco sauce
  • Croquettas: confit pork, dijonaise & pickled shallot conserva
  • Pork tacos
  • Yuca chorizo hash

This food this time around was very underwhelming outside of the hash side dish. We couldn’t put our finger on it at first, but then we realized what the issue in every dish was: a lack of seasoning. The main parts on each dish (scallops, croquetta, pork) tasted so bland and relied on other ingredients & sauces to make them tasty. The food was well cooked (i.e. not raw), but the taste left a lot to be desired.

Upon doing research for this blog, including digging around their Facebook page for some menu items since their website has the much more appetizing old menu, I read that they hired a new chef. I guess that explains things.

I’d go back for drinks, but make sure I have a full stomach. Or some snacks in my pockets.

Business Card Count: 34,893

The Le Malt Experience: Classy Ambiance, Delicious Food

Le Malt Colonia NJ

One thing I love doing is going out to eat at different places. And Le Malt in Colonia, New Jersey has to be one of the more fancier places I’ve ever eaten at.

I was told by my partner that Le Malt was an experience I had to try. And so we did one night.

It looks so innocent in a strip mall, unexpectedly hiding a classy treasure inside. It looked like an old-school lounge with comfortable leather seating. I would find out later that it’s a James Beard House Featured Restaurant Lounge.

James Beard is a name I recognize from cooking shows like Top Chef, Chopped and [INSERT FOOD SHOW HERE]. So I knew I was in for a treat.

Ferrari Martini

MorimotoLe Malt Drinks

The first thing we ordered were drinks. I chose to get the above drink known as the Ferrari Martini and apparently, Le Malt partners with Ferrari in some capacity. This somehow inspired the martini I drank with mango rum, 100% pomegranate puree and an edible flower. It was smooth and delicious in every way, even the flower… though it didn’t remind me of a sports car.

My partner opted for The Morimoto. This Japanese-sounding drink contains Milagro silver tequila, agave nectar, lime, pineapple & yuzu juices and a shiso leaf. It was also pretty good (not as good as mine, but I’m not a huge tequila guy), but the highlight was the HUGE ice sphere used to cool the beverage.

Gourmet Cheese Plate

Kobe Beef SlidersLe Malt Food

As good as alcohol is, I enjoy food more. And one of my favorites is cheese, hence why ordering the Gourmet Cheese Plate was necessary. The manchego, gorgonzola, mango ginger & brie cheeses were all very tasty.

Another delight for the palate were the Kobe beef sliders. Even though there were just 2 of them, the 100% ground wagyu Japanese kobe with caramelized onion & brioche literally melted in my mouth. And the presentation on a slice of tree trunk made for a unique experience.

Last and least (not for a bad reason) were the fries that were tossed in a unique blend of the spices. Disappointingly, they ran out of truffle oil that day… otherwise, truffle fries or truffle popcorn would have been the side dish of choice.

There’s always next time… and there will definitely be one at Le Malt because of its atmosphere that inspires good conversation, romance and overall joy.

Business Card Count: 34,872

Some Quality Brother Time and Mexican Food in Poughkeepsie

Mexican Restaurant Poughkeepsie NYIt’s always good to spend time with family, but it’s usually for a family gathering so it’s a lot of moving parts in a very finite window of time. This time around, I got some 1-on-1 time with my brother since his wife was away on business.

I arrived to his house in Poughkeepsie, New York Friday night and we talked a lot about life over some good BBQ (they didn’t have a business card, so no free plug though I thoroughly enjoyed the Billy Cheesesteak and New England clam chowder) & played video games.

The next day is when some more fun started after sleeping for a while and also watching some TV. I went to school at Marist College up in Poughkeepsie and I actually saw the updates made to my campus, including the destruction of my sophomore housing where a famed message was left by me on my friend Jon’s voicemail falsely implicating my other friend Jerry causing the fire alarm to get pulled.

That was not the only place I went.

El Azteca Mexican Deli

El Azteca Mexican DeliWe went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant called El Azteca, which triples as a grocery store and a DVD market. It was a bit confusing at first since we weren’t sure whether to order at the counter or sit & get served.

I ultimately decided on a taco salad with chipotle chicken, cheese, lettuce, black beans, queso fresco, pico de gallo and guacamole inside of a taco shell. It’s one of the better Mexican salads I’ve ever had and I’ve enjoyed so much Mexican food over the years. I’d definitely go to El Azteca again.

Locust Grove

Locust GroveA real highlight of the trip was going to Locust Grove. For those who don’t know, it’s the house that Samuel Morse is most known for living in and it’s turned into something of a tourist attraction.

The private organization that owns the land kept it as historical accurate to when the Young family moved there in the early 1900s as possible and the posh lifestyle in that time was quite interesting from the rooms in the house to some of the “advanced technology” used during the time period.

We also hiked the trails to get some nice nature views including a great one of the Hudson River. Not to mention seeing some of Samuel Morse’s inventions, art (he painted before he invented the telegraph) and products inspired by him like 2 antique board games I’d be curious to play.

All in all, it was quite the fun experience. I hope to spend some more frequent quality family time together in the future… though the stack of business cards I’d get would be smaller… womp womp womp.

Business Card Count: 33,885