Sampling 4 Treats From the House of Cupcakes Food Truck

House of CupcakesI’m not usually one to deviate to sweet food. I usually go for saltier snacks or desserts that aren’t as sweet.

However, I couldn’t resist when I saw the House of Cupcakes food truck at the Edison Fall Family Spectacular. That’s because I noticed that they won an episode of Cupcake Wars, a popular show on the Food Network.

I sometimes watch cooking competition shows since they’re like game shows… aka reality shows without the overproduction and scripting like the Real Housewives or Kardashians. So they already had my respect walking up to the truck.

I decided to get 4 of the cupcakes on their menu since I wanted to try a variety… plus they were only $12 and came in a case, so what’s the harm? I was also sharing them, which helped reduce my caloric intake.

Specialty Cupcakes Princeton NJHere are the flavors I got (going from top left counter-closewise):

  • Peanut Butter Cup: This cupcake was both delicious and definitely the most filling. The peanut butter alone helped do that trick, but the peanut butter cups on top and the thick chocolate cake did their part.
  • Cookies & Cream: This cupcake was the sweetest of the 4. The flavor was very bold and I had to take a bit of time in between bites to not overload on the sweetness. But, this is coming from someone who isn’t a big sweets person.
  • S’mores: I think this cupcake was my favorite of all. I enjoyed the contrast in texture and flavors of the chocolate cake, marshmallow-flavored frosting & graham cracker crumbles on top.
  • Boston Cream: I can tell from the quality of the ingredients that it was a good cupcake. However, I don’t feel like there was enough cream to get the specialty flavor profile through the massive heap of chocolate on top of a vanilla cake. For that reason, it was my least favorite although it was still tasty.

I’d definitely stop by the House of Cupcakes location for dessert when I walk around Princeton NJ one day in the future to try other flavors they have like the chocolate chip cookie dough, banana cream pie and mint chocolate chip.

Business Card Count: 36,355

My Food Eating Experience at The Pizza Parlor in Wyckoff NJ

Pizza Parlor Wyckoff NJA new pizza place opened up recently by my job in Wyckoff, New Jersey aptly named The Pizza Parlor. It took the place of another pizzeria that either changed its name or sold their business.

I tried the previous business’s pizza and it was nothing to write home about. And they didn’t have a business card either, which is always a disappointment in my book. However, The Pizza Parlor does have a business card and some good food.

I tried a slice of their plain pizza along with a Tuscan panini (grilled chicken, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella & balsamic vinaigrette). The pizza was a good-quality slice, which is the norm for the NJ area, and the panini tasted good.

However, the peeve I have is many restaurants’ definition of a panini. Like others, The Pizza Parlor put the Tuscan panini contents in between pita bread. Pitas are flimsy and putting a lot of content on them makes the bottom soggy, which is what happened with mine.

The ideal bread for a panini, which I first tried in Europe, is either focaccia, ciabatta or baguette since they’re thicker & can handle being toasted while the juices of the meat & condiment flavor the sandwich. This is why I try to avoid ordering paninis here in the US.

However, that doesn’t stop me from recommending The Pizza Parlor, a name which I love because I used to call my childhood pizzeria a “pizza parlor” and it reminded me of how excited I got walking to the parlor & getting a slice or my parents picking it up for us. The staff I dealt with is a family that seemed to be very nice. It’s always good to see family-run businesses and I’m proud to dine at local restaurants as opposed to chains.

Business Card Count: 36,076

Almond-Milk Swirl FroYo and Foot Fetishes in Westfield NJ

Almond Milk Swirl Frozen YogurtI had 2 of the most unusual experiences of my life at FroYo in Westfield, New Jersey. Both of them are very different in terms of why they were weird.

I feel the best way to describe this is chronologically. I entered the frozen yogurt stop since I wanted a small cool down.

I was promptly greeted by the man who was serving the FroYo… I’m not sure if he’s the owner or an employee. As I was deciding on what flavor to sample, he started just giving me samples of a bunch of flavors.

Almond-Milk Swirl

FroYo Westfield NJOne flavor I got to sample was the chocolate version of Almond-Milk Swirl, a vegan frozen yogurt alternative. They call themselves a creamy dairy-free soft serve.

What’s cool about the business card itself is that it lists the ingredients and nutrition info about the product. However, the product itself can’t replicate the exact texture of frozen yogurt.

Even though I like almond milk, the product tasted like a more solid version of chocolate almond milk. So not my cup of tea, but I can see it as a vegan alternative that’s healthier.

Possible Foot Fetish Request

I ultimately chose a small cup of graham cracker frozen yogurt with a multi-cookie topping. It tasted great and was smartly layered with yogurt-topping-yogurt-topping.

And at a $3.50 price tag, I would have went back to FroYo if I was in the Westfield area. Except for the interaction I had with the employee as I was leaving.

He requested to take a photo of my shoes (or the bottoms of my shoes). I asked why he wanted to and it took him some umms & pauses to respond with “for a collage.”

I immediately felt uncomfortable since I didn’t see said collage anywhere in the store and politely declined. I walked out and drove away as fast as I could with FroYo in hand.

Business Card Count: 35,941

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