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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SALAD MIGHT WORK

031115 saladworks1Nuevo Nicoise salad from Saladworks on Broad Street in Red Bank, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

031115 saladworks3If you’re seeing red-breasted robins in the garden and shirt sleeves on the street, can spring be far behind?

It’s time to put away the bulky sweaters, and that means those extra pounds you added to your waistline this winter need to be shed, too.

Saladworks on Broad Street in Red Bank is one answer to the question, “where can we have a quick inexpensive and nonfattening lunch this week?”

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SHREWSBURY: GARDENERS EAT THEIR OWN

091414 shrwsbry gdn feast3Community gardeners celebrating their harvest at the garden, located adjacent to Borough Hall. Below, Pam MacNeill and Maureen Collins in the gazebo. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091414 shrwsbry gdn feastSipping wine amid tables festooned with bouquets of flowers, the Shrewsbury community gardener’s celebrated the end of the growing season with a potluck dinner recently.

In the gazebo, a table laden with casseroles and salads made from this year’s harvest looked like a picture from a home and garden magazine.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A CLUB WE DIDN’T ORDER

no joes clubPieHole was bested by the immensity of this turkey club at No Joe’s Café. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumRed Bank’s protean coffee house, No Joe’s Café, is once again trying something new.

Born in the depths of the town’s ‘Dead Bank’ phase, the Broad Street stalwart has been through a number of repositionings in recent years. It was seen most recently here on PieHole when owner Mike Tierney brought on a pastry chef after a short-lived rebranding of the place as ‘Beasty Burgers.’

Late this summer, the business underwent yet another transformation, and now the kitchen, helmed by chef Keith Genovese, is focused on churning out lunchtime staples with a new menu that features salads and sandwiches.

This one deserves to work.

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CIAO, BASIL’S. IT’S ‘BIRRAVINO’ NOW.

091014 birravino ralloVictor Rallo in the bicycle-decorated atrium of Birravino. Below, one of the long communal, or feste, tables in the dining room.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091014 birravino5The Old World charm of Basil T’s Brew Pub is gone, along with its popular mug club, where members had personalized mugs hanging at the bar. Remodeled and repositioned as Birravino, however, the Red Bank trattoria is just as welcoming, warm and suds-friendly as its predecessor.

Nursing a broken leg from a running accident, Victor Rallo showed up earlier this week to make sure everything was running smoothly after a makoever that included completely restructuring and redecorating his Riverside Avenue institution in about a month. Before some customers even realized  the restaurant was temporarily off-line, a new name was on the building and the changes were well underway, he said.

The result? “I wanted an industrial, rustic look like you see in the trattorias or osterias of Italy,” he told PieHole,  amid the exposed brick walls, honed wooden tabletops, galvanized metal seats and an open kitchen. “Definitely something more casual” than Basil’s, he said.

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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: SMUT AND WEED AT THE MARKET

082414 rbfarmers mktCorn smut, or huitlacoche,  for sale at the Twin Pond Farm table.   (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumThe Red Bank Farmers’ Market can be counted on as a great source of fresh-picked tomatoes, corn on the cob and sunflowers, all of which and more PieHole found in abundance last Sunday.

And then there were the oddball items, one of which came with an eyebrow-raising name.

“Corn smut is what it’s called,” said Jen from Twin Pond Farm in Howell,  referring to the strange amalgam on the table between us. We looked from her to the container and back, thinking maybe we didn’t hear her correctly. “Corn smut is a fungus and a delicacy that came from some blue Peruvian corn we are growing,” she added.

Returning home, we found recipes for corn smut in a Mexican cookbook, and it is, indeed, considered a delicacy. Used in a quesadilla with cheese, it isn’t that different from a mushroom.

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SEA BRIGHT: FRESH-PLATED BY YOUNG CHEF

080714 Chuck lesbirelChef Chuck Lesbirel in the dining room of Ama. Below: a seasonal salad of Jersey peaches, Jersey tomatoes and lobster.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

080714 ama lobster2How does a 26-year-old become an executive chef?

For Chuck Lesbirel, now presiding over the kitchen of Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright, it starts with an impressive résumé that goes back to a 14-year-old kid washing dishes at Palate Pleasers in Keyport.

Working in restaurant kitchens, Lesbirel watched and learned the chef business with stints at a kosher restaurant, a few small places, an educational rounding-out at the Culinary Education Center at Brookdale, and then a big jump to sous chef at David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson.

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SHREWSBURY: GROWING COMMUNITY ROOTS

073114 Shrewsbury garden cukesEileen Olson and Carla Fiscella discuss the day’s bounty in the Shrewsbury Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

073114 Shrewsbury garden adaIn its third year, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is a thriving example of team spirit. Inclusive to the point of having two raised beds that are ADA approved with ample room for a wheelchair, this garden is a modern model of neighborly spirit.

In addition to the 83 gardeners who presently share this Eden, there is a PAR – or plant-a-row – garden where extra plants are tended, with the produce donated to Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“It’s fun, because everyone does different things,” said Eileen Olson.

“I go to the pool and give away my produce to my neighbors,” Carla Fiscella added.

They were deep in discussion about the enormous size and bounty of Fiscella’s cucumbers this season.

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FAIR HAVEN: GARDENERS SHARE HARVEST

071214 FH garden SkoeMaster gardener Cindy Skoe in the Fair Haven Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

070614 FH garden signAmong the plots in Fair Haven’s community garden is an area with two small signs. One reads “UMW,” and  the other declares that Master Gardeners worked here.

The UMW stands for United Methodist Women, from United Methodist Church on Broad Street in Red Bank. The master gardener is UMW member Cindy Skoe, who along with five other gardeners from the group, is growing vegetables with the intent of sharing half the bounty with Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“They have a program on Tuesdays to drop off produce.” Skoe said, adding, “They are very excited to get whatever one can bring.”

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FAIR HAVEN GARDEN: BLACK IS THE NEW GREEN

061514 community gdn WestonCarol Weston in the community garden, where black coverings in different materials can be found among the plants this year. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

053114 fh garden blackThe Fair Haven Community Garden is starting to look a bit like an airport runway.

The slick black blankets that cover swaths of the garden are actually a new-ish technology that several gardeners have chosen to make the backbreaking work of weed control a bit easier.

Some use polyethylene plastic mulch sheets. Others opt for biodegradable coconut fiber sheeting. Still others are experimenting with their own coverings.

Borough resident Carol Weston is trying a woven plastic fiber covering, hoping it will allow fewer weeds and keep the roots moist.

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RED BANK: TOMATOES, JUST OFF THE BOAT

dibartoloJimmy DiBartolo gives PieHole a crash course in imported Italian tomatoes. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

A few months from now in the fertile fields of Foggia, Italy, farmers will sow seeds for Roma plum tomatoes. Prized for its role in red sauce, this variety of tomato will mature and ripen under the warm Mediterranean sun. Come August, there will be an enormous crop of sweet, slightly acidic tomatoes with just a few seeds inside.

What’s got PieHole hot on the trail of these particular tomatoes is that if you’ve eaten red sauce or had pizza anywhere on The Green lately, there’s a very good chance that you’ve tasted these exact tomatoes from Foggia.

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