Laura 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)
Linares 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
On 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.
Elias and Eleacer Ayala in their Red Bank take-out restaurant, La Esquina. The Ayalas came to Red Bank from Mexico City via Brooklyn. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)
By JIM WILLIS
In the middle of our lunch at Red Bank’s La Esquina, a regular customer walks in to pick up his order and tells PieHole that he often suggests to the owners that they hang a sign in the window that reads, “We Speak English.”
If attracting non-Spanish-speaking customers to the corner of Bridge Avenue and Oakland Street is part of the business plan, we’d second that advice. Taco Bell regulars won’t find any Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme here, and the large menu hanging behind the counter ranges from confusing to unintelligible to a non-Spanish speaking customer. Fortunately for us, owner Elias Ayala is not only fluent in English, but clearly enjoys deconstructing the menu items for his customers.
“The menu is authentic Mexican,” he says. “We have everything from tongue to carnitas – the real carnitas, with cheeks, ears and pork skin.”
Produce from the vegetable garden outside Pop’s Garage in the Grove West will be used in dishes. (Click to enlarge)
Pop’s Garage, a popular Mexican restaurant on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, opens its third outlet today in the Grove West shopping center in Shrewsbury.
The taqueria is the seventh in a cluster of varied restaurants owned and run by Marilyn Schlossbach, the brains behind Langosta Lounge, another Mexican place on the boardwalk; Trinity and the Pope, offering Cajun dishes in downtown Asbury; the Dauphin Grille, a seafood spot in that city’s Berkeley hotel, and the casual-themer Labrador Lounge, in Normandy Beach, where the third Pop’s Garage is also located.
But this one represents a breakout for Schlossbach, and not solely because it’s located in a highway shopping center. Along with her partner-brother Rich and husband Scott, Schlossbach created the Shrewsbury Pop’s as a prototype for what they hope will grow to into a national franchise.
redbankgreen caught up with 46-year-old Schlossbach who is also running for state Assembly as a Democrat in the new 11th District at a pre-opening party in Shrewsbury last Friday for the scoop on her empire-building plan.