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Posts from December 2013

Things food writers should: stop doing


2013 is winding down, and I thought I'd wrap it up on a positive note, helping those who are less fortunate: those who write about food, horribly.

While I can't make people more interesting than they are, I can, and will, point out a few things that food writers people who write about food should stop doing/writing/typing/thinking. This goes for everyone, including Yelpers, posters on the big food boards, and writers for traditional media outlets*.

In no particular order, please stop this:

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Best Dishes of 2013: The not-necessarily-NJ edition

It's time for a list, right? End of the year type thing? Wrap-up? Is that what they call it?

Every now and again I'll put together a year-end wrap-up thing, generally focusing on the most notable dishes that I ate (rather than the "best" restaurants). When I started reviewing Amex statements and photos for this year's list, I quickly determined that we enjoyed a greater number of memorable meals outside of New Jersey than we did inside. And this list reflects that fact. So if you're not interested in ever leaving NJ, you should probably close your browser's tab now.

For those still reading, I present to you, my completely self-indulgent list of the Best Dishes of 2013: The not-necessarily-NJ edition.

Let's start with a cocktail, shall we?


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Hot Italian Sausage: Swiss Pork Store: Fair Lawn, NJ

Swiss Pork Store Sausage 001

You probably know that the Swiss Pork Store, in Fair Lawn, NJ, makes some sort of veal loaf that is just other-worldly.

You probably also know that they grind their beef to order, and it's always very, very good (you'll never buy supermarket ground beef again). 

And of course you know that they have all sorts of smoked sausages, breakfast sausages, and a very fine lamb sausage indeed.

But I'm here to tell you about their hot Italian sausage.

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Pimaan Thai: Emerson, NJ

Pimaan fishcakes

A reader recently asked if I have ever been to Pimaan Thai, in Emerson, NJ. The answer was "yes," but that it has been some years.

I recall one or two pleasant enough meals at Pimaan in what I have to imagine was the early 00s. One dish in particular stood out: steamed fish with cilantro, lime juice, hot chilis, maybe some garlic, maybe some other stuff. A very simple dish, packing a ton of balanced flavor and texture. Through the years I've made my own version of this dish many times, always with the memory of what we had at Pimaan as the inspiration.

Since I was in the area and that dish was on my mind, I figured I'd stop in for a quick meal. 

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Carrot Ginger: dressing


You know that bright orange salad dressing that you generally find at Japanese restaurants? Of course you do. It's delicious, right? Of course it is.

I'm here to remind you, or tell you, depending on how much thought you've given it, that it's super simple to make.

Am I going to sit here and convince you that I have come up with a recipe? Don't be ridiculous. Am I going to post "my" recipe, and suggest that it's "adapted from" someone else's? Nah. I don't see much point in doing that. You know and I know that I googled the recipe. You do the same thing.

What I tend to do is google a recipe and review a bunch from reliable sources and look for the commonalities. I'll also note the outliers. The commonalities generally end up being the base of the recipe. The outliers are considered, and sometimes incorporated. For example, while all of the recipes for carrot ginger dressing that I saw call for carrots, ginger, shallot and sesame oil, one might call for a bit of sugar. Another might have a bit of soy. Some don't have any miso, for some reason that I cannot fathom.

The ginger carrot dressing I generally land on is from the folks at I know nothing about that website, but I like their recipe.

You don't need to use a blender as they suggest. I just throw the stuff in a food processor. The stuff?

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BUCU in Paramus: has closed

BUCU's Facebook page confirms the closing of BUCU after a run of three years.

"It is certainly with a heavy heart I write this. Unfortunately after serving our customers for the past three years Bucu Paramus has closed. We enjoyed every single moment that we were there. We loved making the burgers, making the cupcakes and the donuts and serving our customers the best we possibly could. We will miss you all..! .... Thanks for the memories....!"

I was smitten with BUCU when I first visited a few years back. It was really one of the first of its ilke to open in the area: an independently owned burger (and cupcake) joint making a delicious roadside stand style burger. Hard to come by (but let's not forget Steve's in Garfield!)

There is no indication in the FB post as to what precipitated the closing. However, I have to think that the recent explosion of burger places around NJ and in the area could have been a contributing factor. Since or around the opening of BUCU, at the very least, Smashburger, Boom, and most recently, Shake Shack have all opened, some with multiple locations, adding to the already crowded market.

BUCU always seemed like a well-run operation to me. While many restaurants can't be bothered to keep their websites updated with hours and menus, the BUCU people, proving down to their final hour that they know how to run a business, offer their customers a message on their website.

We'll miss you, too.

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Give a little bit: now's the time that we need to share, oh yeah, we gotta sing


I'm not here to preach or suggest to which organizations you should donate your money.  Goodness knows we all donate one way or the other. But it couldn't be easier to grab one of those little tickets (you see above) at the checkout counter of any of our many participating food stores when you're picking up supplies for your family and friends, and have the cashier scan it, to donate to a local food bank. A buck from many can mean a lot to many.

And if you don't care much for food banks, maybe a couple of bucks to the ASPCAToys for Tots, or your favorite charity, or even just being a pleasant human being for a day, will add some nice to karma our section of the planet.

Thank you for listening.