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RED BANK: FROM THE SOUTH TO YOUR MOUTH

011516charlestonshop3Clare Destoppelaire, manager of the Charleston Shops in Red Bank, shows off some of the Low Country food she sells.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011516charlestonstonshop4Filling in the space on Monmouth Street recently vacated by Toad Hollow is Red Bank’s newest purveyor of epicurean delights: the Charleston Shops. And it’s got a Southern accent.

Owners Isa and Peter Hewitt, a couple who live in north Jersey, love visiting the coastal Low Country area of South Carolina, where they have a home. So much so that they now have three Charleston Shops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, betting that other northerners will enjoy what Charleston has to offer as well.

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LINCROFT: ALEO’S MOVEABLE FEAST

121215aleo3The helpful employees at Aleo Italian Specialties get customer orders out quickly. Below, some of the many gourmet takeout options.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121215aleo4Stepping into Aleo Italian Specialties in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, PieHole was immediately hit with a feeling of deja vu.

The aroma of cheese and garlic surrounds you, calling to mind Arthur Avenue, the famous Little Italy shopping area in the Bronx. Then there’s the sight of food — everywhere. Hanging salami and cheese; shelves filled with rustic fresh breads from Brooklyn; imported dry pasta; and deli counters teeming with house-made delicacies. Your mouth waters and you forget what you came in for.

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RED BANK: THANKSGIVING SIDES AND SWEETS

111715semprecannoli1Seasonal treats from Red Bank include pumpkin-filled cannolis from Sempre Cannoli, above, and pumpkin truffles from Chocolate Works, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111715chocolateworks1Whether you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner or you’ve been invited to a feast, making everyone happy can be tricky.

Were you asked to bring a side dish or dessert? Do you need a hostess gift? PieHole has you covered with a cornucopia of sweet treats and savory sides available in the pumpkin-tinged town of Red Bank.

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RUMSON: FRENCH MARKET AGAIN? OUI!

071015frnchmkt1The charming facade of the newly opened French Market on East River Road in Rumson. Below,  a variety of tarts and pastries.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

071015frnchmkt4What happens when three gourmet-food-loving friends get together for a meal? In the case of Carli Windsor, Pamela Best and Robert Smith, they decide to open a store in Rumson.

And if the resulting French Market feels a little like deja vu to locals, it’s because the new owners were fans of Le Bon Panier, the French-inspired food market that previously occupied the same building at 114 East River Road.

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RED BANK: PLAIN DECOR BUT GOURMET GRITS

053015inbetweengritsSouthern style shrimp and grits from the specials menu at the Inbetween Café. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

What magnetic pull does the Inbetween Café in Red Bank have that keeps loyal customers waiting to share a table with others for breakfast or lunch?

Achieving almost a cult-like status, in part because of  the gourmet fare his kitchen churns out seven days a week, owner and chef Bob Koehler may sling hash a little more slowly than some others, but that’s because he makes sure every plate comes out just right. Showing off his experienced chops, he’s not afraid to try a new recipe on his hungry legion of devoted connoisseurs.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SURF TACO’S SALSA ROCKS

052715surftacosTwo beef tacos and a Hawaiian salad hit the spot at Surf Taco on Broad Street in Red Bank. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumFast food joints came and went quickly for years in Red Bank, but none of them seemed to connect until four years ago, when the Point Pleasant-based chain Surf Taco opened on Broad Street, offering “coastal style” fast-food.

A regular customer in the early years, PieHole hadn’t stopped into the Baja style eatery in quite a while. Why? Lots of other restaurants opened in town, and this former fave was somewhat forgotten. But, needing a quick lunch, we decided to pay the simple, brickwalled tacqueria  a visit.

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RED BANK: CINNAMON SNAIL, IN GLOSSY COLOR

062214 cinnamonsnaildonuts A sample of pastries from Adam Sobel’s Cinnamon Snail food truck and copies of his new cookbook, ‘Street Vegan,’ below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051215 sobelstreetveganGet out your aprons, Cinnamon Snail fans: Adam Sobel, four-time winner of the Vendy award for food trucks has penned a collection of recipes and stories that will keep you chained to your stoves.

While awaiting the truck’s expected return to the Red Bank Farmers Market, Snail-starved disciples wondering what just goes into the making of “Mexican Hot Chocolate Glazed Twists” can now take a shot at it themselves.

Sobel shares his secrets in an often-funny, non-preachy way, with chapter after delectable chapter of addictive recipes in “Street Vegan,” all while eschewing animal products.

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RED BANK: INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR RETURNS

RBIFF 042714 27Last year’s International Flavor Festival in Red Bank’s White Street parking lot served a variety of choice tidbits. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

RBIFF 042714 22With sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s in the forecast, the Red Bank International Flavour Festival should pack the White Street parking lot once again this Sunday.

The first food festival of the year in a restaurant-crazy town is like opening day for revelers and foodies alike. Seventeen or so of the borough’s finest eateries will be on hand to dispense culinary treats – savory, sweet, and exotic, including:

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ON THE GREEN: EAT YOUR HEART OUT, LOVER

021015 carlos bakery heartCarrie Zensinger shows off one of the several heart-shaped cakes available at Carlo’s Bakery in Red Bank, above. ArtSea Gallery in Sea Bright carries chocolate Kewpie dolls, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020715 artsea chocolate cupidWith the approach of Valentines Day, the heart swells – especially for those foodies who like their treats in the shape of a heart.

And there are plenty to set culinary hearts a-flutter, as PieHole discovered earlier this week on a tour of the Greater Red Bank Green in search of heart-shaped foods and desserts.

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RED BANK: GETTING CHILL WITH BUBBLE TEA

013115 bubbletea2Fabiana Villegas holding a vial of boba, above, and her “anatomy of bubble tea” wall drawing, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

013115 bubbletea3The latest attempt to satisfy the thirsts and sweet tooths – teeth? – of visitors to downtown Red Bank is a tea shop offering cold beverages with a chewy finish.

The new Chill Bubble Tea Bar, at 15 White Street, blends drinks that combine several types of tea and fruit juices with “boba,” or tapioca, that’s been infused with fruit flavor to deliver an intense, chewy mouthful that proponents claim is healthy stuff.

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MIDDLETOWN: WINGING IT OVER TO CLAUDIE’S

011715 claudies lowensteinKathy Lowenstein in the kitchen of Claudie’s, a gas-station convenience store/chicken joint. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011715 claudies1Really good fried chicken in a gas station quick-stop? Working off of a tip from a friend, PieHole made its way over the Cooper Bridge from Red Bank to Middletown, where we found Claudie’s hidden behind the pumps of a former Sunoco station, now selling fuel branded “76.”

Further concealed in the back of the convenience store, Claudie’s is owned by Craig Ford and Kathy Lowenstein and named for Ford’s mother, Claudette. Ford, who also owns the multi-location Sea Breeze Cleaners, partnered with his employee Lowenstein to create this venture about a year ago.

“Craig is the financial background here, and the chicken is mine,” Lowenstein said.

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RED BANK: FEEDING A HUNGRY MULTITUDE

121214 feast4Laura Pena, center, and helpers prepared a feast for 1,200 guests in the kitchen of Saint Anthony’s Church. Below, every little container of salsa verde was filled by hand.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121214 feast2What does it take to feed some 1,200 hungry Hispanics at a religious feast following a long procession through Red Bank?

If the event is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we’re talking many trays filled with slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone, juicy spiced pork infused with pineapple.

The aroma from the kitchen of Saint Anthony’s Church on Bridge Avenue certainly got a multitude of mouths salivating.

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HOLIDAY FOOD TRADITIONS? DO TELL!

120314 davis rhubarb cakeRhubarb coffee cake baked in the kitchen of Red Bank resident Sue Davis. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumLike Tevye, in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ PieHole has tradition on its mind this holiday season.

We’re calling on all home cooks and bakers to share with us the holiday food traditions that grace your table every year.

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WHAT YOU WANT IS OFF THE MENU

112014 temple2Pineapple cashew fried rice: available, but not on the menu, at Temple Gourmet. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumWhile waiting for friends at Temple Gourmet Chinese in Red Bank recently, PieHole perused the menu and listened to our waitress describe the specials. But what, we wondered, had those people ordered?

A nearby table held a gleaming platter of golden fried rice lavished with sweet pineapple, golden raisins and cashew nuts.

It turns out to be a dish the kitchen will whip up for anyone who orders it. The secret?  You just have to know it exists.

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FORGET WINE: BRING A RAFTER OF TURKEYS

111514 rbchocolate3A five-pound milk chocolate cornucopia filled with chocolate goodies at the Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe. Shop owner Amy Dunfee, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111514 rbchocolate2Need an impressive host’s gift for Thanksgiving dinner this year? Forget the traditional wine and flowers. Wow them with some unexpected handcrafted chocolates.

Better still, bring a rafter of turkeys (yup, that’s what they call a group of turkeys) in dark and milk chocolate from the of Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe. And if you really want to knock their socks off, spring for the chocolate-filled horn of plenty.

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