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CRAVINGS: A PASSION FOR PUMPKIN

091816rookcrave1Katie Katzgrau satisfies her craving for pumpkin at Rook in Red Bank.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsWhat are you craving these days? PieHole‘s asking for a new, occasional feature called Cravings, which we see as a way of shining a quick spotlight on gotta-have culinary yearnings — and, of course, ways to satisfy them right here on the Greater Red Bank Green.

In this one, with pumpkin-flavored everything showing up even before the tree leaves begin turning our world gold and orange, we chat with a woman who dreams of pumpkin flavor all year long.
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CRAVINGS: A BUSHEL IN A BURRITO

90516calientecantina1A fried sweet apple burrito covered in two sauces and ice cream. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsSeasonal changes can induce all sorts of fresh cravings, and with September screaming “apple season,” PieHole stumbles on a dessert so tasty, and in such an unlikely place, that sharing our bonanza is all we can do.

Read on to see where you can feast on this crave-able cinnamon-scented apple burrito.
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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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BOOSKERDOO: NO LONGER JUST COFFEE

111914 booskerdoo4Amelia Caverly, below, and at center above with fellow Booskerdoo bakers Carolyn Kroeper, left, and Diana Richter preparing the day’s bread and pastries (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111914 booskerdoo1For the past 16 months, the sleepy town of Fair Haven has awakened to the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee wafting from Booskerdoo, at the corner of DeNormandie Avenue and River Road. Cars start pulling up as early as 6 a.m. as customers run in to grab a cup of French Roast or Jersey Diner.

Now, they can pick up something sweet and baked on-premises for breakfast or dessert, too.

Having made a transition from teacher to baker, Amelia Caverly – who owns the three-store chain with her husband, James – is there to start the day’s work at 4 a.m., overseeing a small baking crew in the back of the store.
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SOUP’S ON, AND GOOD TO GO

111014 zaitooni 2Laudy Hage of Zaitooni Deli with a quart of her popular lentil soup. Below, the vegan Mediterranean eggplant soup from Healthy Habits Natural Foods. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111014 soup healthSoup is hot this time of year, as a go-to meal for dinner, a spicy, flavorful lunch, or a soul-warming remedy for what ails you.

It’s also an affordable takeout item to grab when that holiday rush kicks in.

PieHole is here to give you a round-up of restaurants and delis on the Green that have soup simmering and ready to be ladled into containers just for you. Carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, we’ve got you covered.

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RED BANK: NOT FANCY BUT SO TASTY

101014 international2The platter of Tacos al Pastor, served on a melmac plate, at the International Mexican Food Restaurant. Below, a sampling of the sauces that accompany the tacos. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

101014 international3Walk down Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank and you are almost certain to miss a terrific taqueria.

The International Mexican Food restaurant is something of a stealth business. You wouldn’t know what lurks inside at number 92 if someone didn’t tell you. There is a tiny sign above the door that reads, “International,” but that’s it.

Don’t let the bare-bones exterior stop you, though, or the fact that no one inside speaks English; even the takeout menus are in Spanish. This place is busy because the food is fairly unique to the area and seriously good.
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SPICING UP THE LARDER WITH TANGY SAUCE

101314 linares sauceLinares Grocery on Monmouth Street sells squirt bottles of the chamoy sauce found in Mexican restaurants. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

LARDER-270_100414On a recent culinary tour of Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank with our friend and guide, David Prown, PieHole discovered a little secret: some of those big flavors you come across in Mexican restaurants can be found in the bodegas along Shrewsbury Avenue.

Linares Grocery owner Alfredo Linares showed us an eyecatching fruit salad: a pineapple shell filled with sliced peaches and pineapple, and then covered with chamoy dipping sauce. Tangy, slightly sweet, slightly sour, chamoy sauce is sold in a squirt bottle like ketchup or srircha, but this condiment is made from fruit pulp, usually apricot, lime, and spices.

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RED BANK: COOKIES THAT LAST… AND LAST

larosa (1)Peter LaRose behind the display cases at his family bakery, where one is reserved just for biscotti. Below, a box of hard, fresh biscotti. (Photo above by Jim Willis; below by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

092014 la rosas2Is it possible that a centuries-old Roman recipe still holds pride of place on many tables today?

The Italian cookie, biscotto – ‘biscotti‘ is the plural version, and really, who can eat just one? – is just as popular today as it was when the Romans were marching across Europe.

La Rosa’s Pastry Shop and Bakery in Shrewsbury, PieHole‘s go-to place for biscotti, has been baking these tasty, dunkable, treats for years, satisfying our yen for a grown-up’s cookie. With sweet aromas wafting from its ovens, the retro neon lights and the shiny cases filled with mouthwatering pastries, La Rosa’s serves up a magical sensory mix that gets little noses pressed up against the glass, too.

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SEA BRIGHT: PUTTING OUR PIEHOLE TO USE

sb pie 100214 8The three judges at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market’s first apple pie bake-off: Eric from Estonia, Susan Ericson and Susie Markson. Below, the winning apple caramel tart. (Photos by John T. Ward and Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

100214 SB farm market pieAn invitation to judge the first annual apple pie bake-off at the Sea Bright Farmers’ market Thursday afternoon was too tasty an opportunity for this PieHole writer to turn down.

With a bakery background – I grew up in a Queens bakery – my opinions on apple pie are pretty specific. A good one needs a flaky crust, a non-mushy apple filling, and most important, fresh apple flavor.

Fall is apple season, of course, and you can find many varieties of apples at farm markets and pick-your-own orchards right now. The best for pie baking are the Granny Smiths and Honey Crisps. They hold up better through the baking process, with a tart and tangy flavor that plays well with the added sugar and spices.

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RED BANK: CHEF RENEWS PASSION AT DISH

091817 ferrando dishAnthony Ferrando discusses his newly rediscovered appreciation for hands-on cooking while preparing ravioli from scratch. Below, the completed ravioli. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091714 ferrando ravioli lighterLike movie stars who return to their roots by taking a role in a Broadway play or indie film, experienced chefs sometimes also need to revive themselves.

For chef Anthony Ferrando, a partner in the restaurant Dish in Red Bank, that means returning to the kitchen, where many of the routine tasks have been taking up by helpers, to do more inspired cooking. It also means means bringing together raw ingredients to form a recipe.

“I have a great kitchen staff here,” Ferrando said. “My sous chef, John Bonilla, has been with me for nine years, and Antonio Comacho started here as a dishwasher and is now in charge of the grill. They know what to do. They can run this kitchen.”

“There are going to be some great changes here, though,” he added in the next breath.

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RED BANK: BREAKFAST ALL DAY LONG

092014 rbdiner lighter2A breakfast of fried eggs, homefries and sausages from the Red Bank Diner on Broad Street. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumSince the unexpected closing of the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street two months ago, the question of where you can get breakfast for dinner in Red Bank has been on some ravenous minds.

Although it’s not open 24 hours a day, you can indeed have the customary first meal of the day when others are eating their last at the Red Bank Diner on Broad Street.

“We serve breakfast all day long, including pancakes,” says diner owner Louis Kanellos.

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