RED BANK: A FEW HAPPY HOURS

062915birravino2Happy hour choices at Birravino included organic house wine, beer and an appetizer, while at Robinson’s Ale House, below, a martini starred.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

063015robinsonsThough it’s ubiquitous in Red Bank, happy hour – that late-afternoon, discounted bar-tab menu option – should not be taken for granted. Many states, according to the National Center for State Courts, prohibit or limit what has become a traditional time of day to meet with friends and acquaintances in New Jersey.

Although most bars and restaurants offer special deals to lure customers, you might be surprised at how differently those two or three hours are interpreted. PieHole breaks down what can be considered an early bird special for the economically minded while others might call it a snack before dinner.

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RED BANK: FOLLOW THE LEADER… READER

rb library 092214The new Leader Reader series at the library is meant to introduce children to different careers. First up: redbankgreen publisher John T. Ward, below. (Click to enlarge)

jtw 3 083113 4The Red Bank Public Library introduces a new monthly feature called “Leader Readers” this Saturday.

“The idea for Leader Readers is to introduce the kids to old-fashioned community role models,” says children’s librarian Sira Williams.

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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: 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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RED BANK: PRE-BIRD APPETIZERS, CHEESEWISE

alternate thanksgiving cheeseMike Vaccaro and Stephen Catania of The Cheese Cave prepare a customer’s platter. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

PIEHOLE logoFor the Thanksgiving host, there’s always the question of what snacks to put out for guests while they wait for the big meal – something that won’t spoil their appetites but will keep them conscious enough to feign interest in a Lions or Cowboys game.

PieHole checked in with some cheesemongers from the Green to see if perhaps they could come up with an alternative to the ubiquitous Chex Mix or chips and veggies with sour cream and onion dip combo.

Read their recommendations here at PieHole, redbankgreen‘s food page.

RED BANK: CHEESE, THAT’S A GREAT IDEA…

thanksgivingcheeseCaitlin O’Neill of Sickles Market suggests some alternatives to the usual Thanksgiving Day pre-eats. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

For the Thanksgiving host, there’s always the question of what snacks to put out for the guests while they wait to sit down to the big meal – something that won’t spoil the appetite but will keep the crowd conscious enough to feign interest in a Lions or Cowboys game.

PieHole checked in with some Red Bank-area cheesemongers to see if they could come up with an alternative to the ubiquitous Chex Mix or chips and veggies with sour cream and onion dip. And cheese, they sure did.

“There are a range of cheeses that would allow you to offset the richness of the Thanksgiving dinner plate,” says Caitlin O’Neill, cheesemonger at Sickles Market, in Little Silver.

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