My 1st Time Trying Arepas at the Edison Fall Family Spectacular

Over the weekend, I went to the Edison Fall Family Spectacular and enjoyed myself. It’s a street fair with a lot of vendors and some rides/activities. I did two of my favorite things: collected business cards and ate food.

Edison Fall Family SpectacularThe business cards were mostly from banks and other obscure places I’d never shop at. That’s where I turned to food and saw several offerings including The Guac Spot who I mentioned in my NJ Taco Festival blog post.

However, the only food place who brought a business card is an arepa stand. I had no idea until that day that arepas are a sweet cornbread fried up with mozzarella cheese in the center. I decided to get hot Italian sausage inside as well for an added treat.

That experiment was not the best thing. That’s because the sweetness of the cornbread conflicted with the spiciness of the sausage. Not to mention that the mozzarella was not very detectable at all. Then again, mozzarella doesn’t have too distinct of a flavor.

I’m not saying that they were improperly cooked by any means since I got a crisp outside with a fluffy inside. I’m just saying the arepas are not my cup of tea. I do enjoy corn bread with some butter. I do enjoy mozzarella with some meatballs or chicken parm. I do enjoy some hot Italian sausage. The combination of the 3 just did not work for me.

You live, you learn, you eat different foods to see if you like them.

Business Card Count: 33,694

What I Sampled at the Second Annual NJ Taco Festival

I went to the 2nd Annual NJ Taco Festival this past weekend and got to try a lot more than I did last year. To clarify, the place where I wrestle primarily had matches at the festival and it rained last year (making it hard to try anything).

This year, I wanted to sample a lot. The way the festival is set up is that there are booths and food trucks set up at the Sussex County Fairgrounds (aka a bunch of dirt) with vendors selling their wares (tacos, hot sauces, liquor & other food).

With that being said, let’s dive into my sampling.

Jersey Barnfire Hot Sauce

Jersey Barnfire Hot Sauce

The first place I went was Jersey Barnfire. I sampled their Black Garlic hot sauce since I’m a huge fan of garlic and it was delicious.

I even tried it with a chicken taco and it still tasted good. I might buy the Black Garlic sauce in the future if I remember to.

Sam and OliverSam & Oliver

Next up is Sam and Oliver, who apparently offers a promo code for a 10% discount… smart move. They offer a variety of sauces, but the one I tried was the Stoke Chipotle pepper sauce.

It was described to me as medium heat. It was fine, but nothing really stood out.

Whitehouse Station Sauce CompanyWhitehouse Station Sauce Company

What really piqued my interest was the Whitehouse Station Sauce Company and that’s because of their Carolina Reaper sauce. The Carolina Reaper is the hottest pepper in the world and there was even a pepper eating contest with these.

I tried the sauce on a chip and I walked away thinking it was pretty good and a little hot. Ten steps later, I felt the burn and started to sweat. Wow, that’s powerful.

Voodoo Chile Sauces

Voodoo Chile Sauces and Salsas

The one booth where I actually bought an item was Voodoo Chile Sauces and Salsas. That’s because they had a Bacon Taco sauce that packed a good amount of punch while tasting like bacon. I’ve already used it on egg white omelettes and it was pretty spectacular.

I also tried food from the following places that did not have business cards:

  • Empenada Mania’s bacon burger empenada
  • Taqueria Autentica’s pollo con pipian rojo
  • The Guac Spot’s vegan black bean taco
  • Mexi-Flip Taco Truck’s 3 amigos (1 chicken, pork and chicken mango taco each)

And to cap off the night is exactly what you expected of course…

Clydes Homemade Italian Ices Ice CreamClyde’s Homemade Ice Cream

No NJ Taco Festival is complete without ice cream, apparently. I opted to get a cup of the mint chocolate chip and boy did it feel good! I was sweaty at the end of the day, as it was 90 degrees out, and nothing makes a hot sweaty man feel cool better than good ice cream.

Business Card Count: 33641

How Lyndon Diner Took Care of Business With Their BTO Omelette

Lyndon Diner York PAOver Labor Day Weekend, I visited my friends Jon and Alison in the middle of Pennsylvania. Before driving back to New Jersey, we got breakfast-ish at the Lyndon Diner in York PA.

As a lover of diners, I always peruse the menu to see all of the different options. But I’m usually a fiend for an egg white omelette when it’s breakfast time or lunch time… sometimes at dinner as well.

Lyndon Finer DinersOn this day, I decided to get the BTO Omelette. I guess that named it that because it’s what Bachman-Turner Overdrive ate when they were on tour. I’m just kidding, that was a bad joke.

If you think that joke was bad, well… You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. Okay, I’ll stop now.

It’s called BTO because of the ingredients: basil, tomato and onion. Oh, and there’s also goat cheese on the omelette… but I guess BTOG didn’t sound right.

What is right is the taste of this omelette since the goat cheese dominated my palette, which is what I wanted. I tasted the other elements as well and the hash browns were just right with a little salt added. Surprisingly, the wheat toast (which I skip half the time) was quite toasted and enjoyable especially if you add some more butter.

Lyndon is one of The Finer Diners according to the business card. I had a finer experience and would love to be Takin’ Care of Business (satisfying appetites) there in the future. Okay, that’s all the Bachman-Turner Overdrive jokes I’ve got since I can’t name another song off their discography.

Business Card Count: 33,552

Throwback to Malletti Pizzeria: The Best Pizza in London

Malletti PizzeriaThe year was 2005 when I studied abroad in London. I traveled around Europe, saw all the sites and ate the food of the culture.

I also interned while there and always had to find spots for lunch. One spot that intrigued me was Malletti Pizzeria since I saw a line out the door and down the block. It intrigued me because most pizza in London was horrendous since it was way too doughy with a sliver of cheese and sauce.

Pizza LondonI knew I had to try it and arrive at an off time where the line wasn’t down the block. And the first time I did was so worth it. The pizza was thin and square… I guess like a Grandma slice here in the states. What they did was give you 2 small pieces and then flipped one on top of the other into some sort of amazing pizza sandwich.

I could not believe the feeling of pure jubilation when I took my first bite. It redefined what I thought what pizza could be. It was hard to handle, but amazing after letting it cool for a couple of minutes.

I wound up standing on that queue multiple times a week for the almost half year I interned in what is my favorite city.

What Malletti is Up to Now

I found out that the location I enjoyed so much closed in 2009 to the sadness of many. However, there is still have a Malletti Pizzeria location in London at 174-176 Clerkenwell Road that I encourage people to go to if they ever visit the city. I’ll note it if I ever go back.

Business Card Count: 33,486

Happy Birthday to Me: Restaurant Hopping in Little Italy

Well, this might be a first for me: writing a business card blog without the main business card of the story. That’s because my mother still has it and will be giving it to me the next time I see her.

However, I wanted to write this while it was relevant… only a little time after my birthday dinner on July 31. I met up with my family at a restaurant called Puglia, located in the midst of Little Italy.

Puglia Restaurant NYC

I anticipated this meal since I wanted to see my family. Plus, my mom raved about Puglia and I will say the food was pretty delightful. They made their own in-house wine, which was smooth (I had the white).

It went well with my water and all the food I ate. We started off with appetizers, comprised of really good garlic bread (crispy on the outside & garlicky on the inside), fried calamari (always a favorite), a rice ball (yummy although I had to avoid the ricotta cheese) and an artichoke (also pretty good, but not my favorite).

Then came my salad, which was comprised of arugula, grilled pears and Gorgonzola cheese (an enjoyable menage-a-trois that all played off of each other). My main meal was the Chicken Travolta that wasn’t Staying Alive (okay, poor Saturday Night Fever reference) for long on my plate, as the combination of chicken, sauteed spinach, mozzarella and tomato in a white wine sauce was good as well.

I was really craving seafood, but the only seafood they really had was shrimp, which I wasn’t in the mood for since I wanted an actual fish. Since it was my birthday (and 2 other people’s at the table), we each got a birthday treat: a piece of cheesecake (that I did not eat since cheesecake is yucky), a pretty good cannoli and a straw-shaped pastry that was also appetizing when dipped in the whipped cream on the plate.

Restaurants Little ItalyRoaming Little Italy

Since I had never been to Little Italy, I decided to look at each restaurant’s menu that was posted outside. A lot of the places had people standing outside whose sole job was to lure people into the restaurant. I decided to ask them all for a business card of their respective restaurants, so I added them all to my collection.

The only disappointment is that I arrived 5 minutes too late to snag the one for America’s oldest cheese shop Alleva. I was crushed, especially since I wanted to browse their cheese selection. Oh well, I got gelato and some Asian business cards just outside of Little Italy as a consolation prize.

Business Card Count: 33,437

I Went to Primanti Bros and Got One of Their Famous Sandwiches

Primanti Bros York PAI recently went to visit my friends Jon & Alison to see their new house and hang out for the weekend. They live 2 1/2 hours west in Manchester, Pennsylvania and they insisted that we have lunch at a restaurant called Primanti Bros.

Primanti Bros (the location we went to was in York PA) is known in the area for their sandwiches. They started in Pittsburgh and you can now order online according to the business card I picked up.

The Primanti Sandwich Experience

Primanti Bros Corned Beef SandwichI’m not going to lie: I was hesitant to order a sandwich because I was told that the sandwich contained coleslaw. However, I found out it was a vinegar-based sweet and sour slaw… so I decided to give it a shot and boy did it pay off.

Besides the slaw, the sandwich contains a meat of my choice hot off the grille (I picked corned beef), provolone, french fries and tomato on Italian bread. I must say that this sandwich was quite good.

After unhinging my jaw, everything meshed together well. The slaw and corned beef dominated my taste buds, while the tomato and fries gave some extra texture. The only flaw in my opinion is the bread, as it’s really too thick for my taste.

Then again, I don’t like eating an excessive amount of fluffy bread like those slices clearly have. Perhaps if the bread was toasted, then the sandwich would have been that much better. Either way, it was a lot of sandwich and I wound up eating less than half the bread.

Primanti Bros offers more than just sandwiches, like the loaded nachos that we had & tasted like good-quality nachos you’d get at other restaurants. Also, they have “almost famous” chicken wings, pizza and other American restaurant fare. I’d definitely go again for a sandwich, especially since the service was also top notch.

Business Card Count: 33,057

Thanks for the Gift Certificate and Meal Manalapan Diner

Diner Gift Certificate NJ

This is one of the first pieces of mail we received at the new house: a $25 gift certificate from the Manalapan Diner. Well, $25 is motivation enough to try a new restaurant, especially a diner like the Manalapan.

Manalapan DinerMe and my wife decided to go to this restaurant as the second diner in our new area, the first being All Seasons II. The first thing that I noticed was the artistic theme, which I later found out was inspired by Gustav Klimt and his work “The Kiss.” It was a nice touch to see that it didn’t look just like any other diner.

But a diner’s look isn’t what I came for: we had to try the food. The first thing ordered were the potato skins, which were some of the best I ever ate since their taste resembled that of a baked potato vs an unhealthy bar snack.

The main event was a chicken avocado panini that also had jack cheese and roasted red peppers on it. Like with many other “paninis”, it technically wasn’t a panini, but it was pretty close… though the mess that came from all of ingredients was just the same as ones done by other faux paninis. However, this combination tasted very good, as did my side order of broccoli.

I also must say that the service was nice as well, although it was strange how we had a shift change and 2 different waiters. The man who took our drink order was nice enough, but the girl who took the rest of our order (Nicole) treated us great. I would definitely come back to the Manalapan Diner in the future.

Business Card Count: 32,800

All Seasons II: Why the Sequel is Better Than the Original

All Seasons 2 Freehold NJOne of the closest diners to my new home is All Seasons 2 in Freehold, New Jersey. My wife and I decided that this would be the first new place we’d try. It also helped that it was open and had no wait.

I had the Bronx Tale egg white omelette (grilled chicken, mushrooms, spinach, onions & mozzarella that I replaced with cheddar) with breakfast potatoes and whole wheat toast. It was a good omelette, but it’s pretty tough to screw up an omelette.

That’s why I had to test another food item from All Seasons 2: the Santa Fe grilled chicken sandwich, which is topped with guacamole and melted cheddar cheese on Italian bread. That was even better than the omelette, especially with the waffle fries on the side.

All Seasons Eatontown NJIt was a lot better than the experience I had at the All Seasons location in Eatontown, New Jersey. I can’t remember what I ate, but I know it was pretty lousy. The lowlight was the canned brussel sprouts which looks too repulsive to eat.

I guess it goes to show that there are exceptions to the rule that sequels aren’t better than the original.

Business Card Count: 32,612

That Meetball Place: So Many Balls, So Little Time

That Meetball Place

I always enjoy seeing family on special occasions even if the drive out to Long Island is sometimes a hassle. This time, it was my nephew Dante’s birthday and he wanted to go out to a restaurant: That Meetball Place in Patchogue NY. The town is apparently being built up since I don’t remember the downtown being as nice the last time I went there long ago.

It was a lunch reservation and we got appetizers to start such as hummus, cheesy garlic bread, garlic french fries and literally the biggest pretzel I’ve ever seen (seriously, this pretzel was the size of my head). It was all tasty, but the highlight appetizer was what are called Ballchos that were basically nachos with guacamole and crushed beef chili meatballs on top, which I eventually turned into a makeshift salad.

Naturally, I had to get meatballs as well. Unsure of what I wanted and with so many different beef, chicken, seafood, spicy and veggie balls to choose from, I opted to get the sampler.

Restaurant Patchogue NY

After carefully choosing from the meatball types and the sauce options, I opted to get:

  • Moroccan Lamb (blended with 8 spices) in pesto sauce
  • Balls of Fire (ground pork, Chorizo sausage & black beans) in pancetta cream sauce
  • Vegetable Balls (wheat free with wahini rice, lentils & fresh veggies) in spicy marinara

Each of these meatballs were really good in their own way from the Moroccan’s flavorful bite to the way the vegetable balls with a little kick from the sauce. I’d definitely grab another bite at That Meatball Place.

And the quality family time was also fun as per usual.

Business Card Count: 32,341

Business Card Redesign: Al Dente Ristorante

Al Dente Ristorante Piscataway NJ

My wife always told me that Al Dente Risorante, which is located right down the road from her old townhouse in Piscataway NJ, is a fancy place to eat. When visiting their site to see their menu, it looks like a typical Italian restaurant for a moderately more expensive pocketbook.

But I’m not focused on the food since I’ve never actually eaten here before. I just grabbed the business cards a couple of times when picking up Chinese to add to my collection. At some point in the past year and a half, Al Dente changed their business card from the one on the left to the one on the right. And to be quite honest, I feel like it was not a change for the better.

Here are the key differences and what I think:

  • The font: The new business card feels cheaper because the old one’s font pops out. The new one just looks like it was printed out, but that’s probably because of the next element…
  • The wine glass: I understand that Al Dente an classier Italian restaurant and drinking wine is synonymous with eating that cuisine. I don’t think putting it on the card makes your Ristorante feel any classier.
  • The tagline: “Great company, great wine, great food” is the one part of the card I actually think is an improvement. It’s good to make your restaurant stand out from the pack with your card and a tagline does just that. I guess that’s the reasoning for the wine glass, but that was a fail.
  • The styling: If you implemented the tagline on the old card, it could still stick out with a different font color or style. But the Al Dente Ristorante name is the same unique font style, which I like.

Just because the card is different doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eat there. Maybe I will one day… but probably not.

Business Card Count: 31,966