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RED BANK PRIMARY HOSTS SOME FRESH VIPs

On Friday, Red Bank Primary School hosted a VIP contingent — that’s Very Impressive Produce — as the school was recognized as the winner of the state Department of Agriculture’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Press release from NJ Dept. of Agriculture

On Friday, March 31, New Jersey Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Division Director Rose Tricario and USDA representatives presented Red Bank Primary School with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program VIP (Very Impressive Produce) Award.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? GUILT-FREE SWEETNESS

A “Stupid Cupid” from Playa Bowls. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

From the day it opened last month, Playa Bowls in Red Bank has drawn long lines of teens and tweens waiting to get inside, and the after-school and weekend mania hasn’t let up. This might give the impressions that one, it’s a place for kids, and two, that it’s a fad.

Time will tell if the craze lasts, but on the coldest day of the year so far, What’s For Lunch paid its first visit to the West Front Street business and found a full house of mixed-age customers at midday. Manager Robin Krieger tells us that many are employees of Riverview Medical Center, just two blocks east.

 

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BITE AT BUBBAKOO’S

Customize your meal by mixing and matching ingredients in a bowl, burrito or taco at Bubbakoo’s Burritos. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

For this week’s What’s For Lunch, PieHole takes a a lighthearted romp through a menu of fun ingredients at the new Bubbakoo’s Burritos on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

Taking some of the best features from other fast food joints on the Greater Red Bank Green — such as the ordering system at Jersey Mike’s Subs, where you watch as your plate gets prepared conveyer-belt fashion— and Surf Taco, where light menu options offset the heavier ones, Bubbakoo’s creates quick meals prepared from fresh, made-in-house ingredients.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DRINKING TO OUR HEALTH

010417freshicasrb6An eye-catching peppermint-and-spinach-based Grinch Bowl topped with granola at Freshica’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?It’s the first week of a new year, which means PieHole is trying to stick to its annual get-fit resolutions. So we headed over to Freshica’s in the Red Bank’s West Side Lofts building on West Front Street for a convenient, quick, and healthy lunch.

Open just six months, Jessica Dalmedo’s second store is already busier at lunchtime than her original spot inside Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven, opened more than four years ago, she tells us. She and her experienced employee, Lee Ann Caporicci, patiently explained the benefits of some of the new-to-us ingredients in their recipes.

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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BRUNCH, AT GAETANO’S

090316gaetanos6French toast garnished with fresh berries from the brunch menu at Gaetano’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Taking a metaphorical broom to the cobwebs left behind in Tom Capello’s old restaurant, Louis Andrianos, the new owner of Gaetano’s on Wallace Street in Red Bank, leaves PieHole gobsmacked by the refreshing updates he’s instituting.

Gone are the stale Sinatra-era infused soundtrack and the granny-style oilcloth-covered tables, replaced with more contemporary stylings. The menu’s also been altered to include a daily brunch.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A HEADFUL OF ACAI

062816melonhead8A jam-packed Island Bowl from Melonhead in Sea Bright. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Ravenous after a recent walk on the beach, PieHole headed to downtown Sea Bright in search of the newest kid on the block: Melonhead, whose menu basis is the acai (pronounced ah-SAH-ee) berry, a super fruit native to the Amazon.

How did partners and Monmouth County natives Nick Frangipane and Steve Barnett come to be acai acolytes on Ocean Avenue? Theirs is a story that begins on a surfing trip in Costa Rica and continues through Brazil, Puerto Rico and other stops on the planet.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.
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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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RED BANK: FLAVOR’S ORGANIC FOR KITCH CHEF

110515kichorganic6Kitch Organic chef Jennifer Freeman stirs a mixture of ground turkey and vegetables while Liam Splane cuts down a flat of wheat grass.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

110515kitchorganic8In the exquisite, state-of-the-art kitchen at Kitch Organic on Leighton Avenue in Red Bank, the cooks are busy preparing some extraordinary recipes.

All the food here is gluten-free and certified-organic, but that isn’t what makes it exceptional. Health benefits aside, chef Jenny Freeman is producing meals chock-full of flavor — and she’s doing it with home-grown and carefully sourced ingredients.

The 42-year-old chef went to the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York “to learn how to help heal people through food,” she tells PieHole. “I wanted to learn good nutrition and use it in my cooking.”  Read More »

RED BANK: ‘COCKTAILS’ AT THE COFFEE CORRAL

061715cofcorralCourtlyn Crosson makes a High Roller, seen below complete with grapefruit foam. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061715cofcorral2Tired of getting the same old latte or mochaccino from your local coffee shop? Baristas, the mixologists of caffeinated beverages, are raising the bar by creating new and interesting coffee “cocktails.”

Twenty-four-year-old Courtlyn Crosson, barista at the Coffee Corral in Red Bank, brings PieHole up to date on some of the latest innovations.

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QUENCHING A CINCO DE MAYO THIRST

050315 downtown  butler3 Downtown bartender John Butler makes PieHole a fresh strawberry margarita.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

050315 downtown margarita4Maybe it was the sterling weather this past weekend, or maybe it was the swarm of happy folks packing the restaurants and bars in town that put us in a celebratory mood.

Remembering that Cinco de Mayo is this week, PieHole made its way to the Downtown in Red Bank with its enormous open front window view of Broad Street. Finding a couple of empty bar stools at the ready, we joined the already cheerful customers.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ‘BIG EASY’ EGGS BENEDICT

030315 turning point3The Big Easy Benedict at the Turning Point. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

030315 turning point2Appetite and easy parking were all the motivation PieHole needed to stop in for a quick breakfast-for-lunch at the Turning Point on Prospect Avenue in Little Silver.

Grabbing a stool at the sturdy oak coffee bar next to a woman who had just ordered a big bowl of oatmeal for lunch, we weren’t the only ones seduced by the smell of fresh coffee, the breakfast-all-day options and the clever menu selections.

“I don’t know why,” she said, “but the oatmeal here always comes out creamier than at home.”

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LITTLE SILVER: CATERERS FIND NEW KITCHEN

021915 walton1Linda Walton in the new Whistling Onion kitchen with some of the foraged artisanal products that she has been creating, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

021915 walton5Tucked behind the Little Szechuan Chinese Restaurant on Prospect Avenue in Little Silver is a good-sized, fully stocked kitchen that is now home to the Whistling Onion, a catering business.

As previously reported, Whistling Onion owners Linda Walton and Lynn McKittrick found a temporary fix at Via45 in Red Bank, where they could meet their catering commitments made before to Hurricane Sandy wiped out the Riverfront Cafe , their restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

Now, they’ve got a kitchen of their own again.

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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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LITTLE SILVER SZECHUAN’S SECRET: COMFORT

101514 little szechMoo Shu Pork, fried rice and condiments crowd a table at Little Szechuan Restaurant. Below, a view of the comfortable booths.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

101514 litte szechBefore so many take-out joints started popping up all around the greater Green, there was Little Szechuan Restaurant on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Church Street in Little Silver.

It was the only place to find sit-down Chinese food back in the day, and that day goes all the way back to 1981. Today, there’s still a good chance that you will run into neighbors you haven’t seen in a while when you visit for lunch or dinner. It is part of the charm and civility of this neighborhood eatery.

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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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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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SEA BRIGHT: FRUITY JAMS WITH ZING

082814 jollyjam2Holly Hindin at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market last Thursday. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumWhat’s the difference between jelly and jam?

“Jelly is clear, while jam contains pieces of the fruit it’s made from,” Holly Hindin explains from across her table at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market, one of three local markets where she sells her Holly Jolly Jams.

And while the 40-year-old Fair Havenite has an array of fruity jams to entice shoppers and samplers, she also makes some with real zing.

“The Apple Pie jam, Balsamic Fig jam, and the Jalapeno Jelly are probably my best sellers,” she said, “but the Cowboy Candy is maybe the most unusual.”

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SEA BRIGHT FARMERS MARKET: DIVE DEMO

082814 sbfarmrs mkt1Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market. Their salsa, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

082814 sbfarmers mkt2Last week, the still-new Sea Bright Farmers’ Market added a weekly feature: local restaurant chefs’ demonstrations and tastings.

First up were Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni, both 29 years old, who brought youthful exuberance and a vat of salsa for shoppers to try.

Not so much a demonstration as a tasting, the event gave the pair a chance to offer suggestions on what to buy at the market and how to use it.

“The fresh white peaches and watermelon in the salsa came from two local farms,” Hopfensperger said. Jalapeno peppers – pickled in-house at Dive, across the street on Ocean Avenue – gave the salsa a spicy kick. Finely chopped white onion added additional bite, making the salsa less sweet than you’d think.

“We’re bringing  bar food to a new level,” Ciameroni said.

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LITTLE SILVER: SEEDS OF A TOMATO DYNASTY

083014 sickles tomato1083014 sickles tomato3For the third year in a row, Michael Mansfield of Oceanport won the the biggest homegrown tomato contest at the annual Sickles Farm Market weigh-in on Saturday, with a 4-pound, 2-ounce giant.

This time, though, Mansfield was “tickled,” according to his wife, Linda, to finally meet 88-year-old Minnie Zaccaria, right, the Long Branch tomato breeder whose hybridized seeds Mansfield uses to grow his juicy monsters.

First prize was a $100 gift certificate to the Little Silver market. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

RED BANK: THE JUICIEST PART OF SUMMER

rbms watermelon 081414 rb peach 1Ah, to be a kid again: off for the whole summer, enjoying the warm sunshine, not giving a thought to… YIKES! Like some sort of devious enticement, this watermelon was growing in flowerbed near the entrance to the Red Bank Middle School as seen last week.

Meanwhile, the juiciest stretch of summer is also evident in the peaches growing outside an office at the corner of Broad Street and Irving Place in Red Bank, as seen above right and below.

School reopens September 4, by the way.  (Click to enlarge)rb peach 2

COCKTAIL WEEK (SORRY) MUDDLES ON

081314 cocktail mixoff4Bartenders, preparing to compete at Taste Tuesday night. Chris Paseka, below, emceed the well-attended event. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

081314 cocktail mixoff3A feeling of autumn was in the air Tuesday night at Taste in Red Bank.

A Laird’s Applejack mix-off, a continuation of Cocktail Week, was in full swing, featuring nine enthusiastically adept bartenders and their apple-inspired concoctions.

Dressing up table displays with brightly colored fall motifs, the imaginative bartenders mixed cinnamon apple margaritas – and muddled everything from sage to peaches – while dipping the rims of tiny shot glasses in cinnamon sugar.

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