Best dishes: of 2017

Another year, another 5 lbs sagging from my increasingly sore frame. And another roundup of some of the best dishes that contributed to those issues.

Looking back at this year's list, it's hard to not notice a theme of burgers, tongue, and pizza. And not a single salad. Who woulda thunk. Some of these dishes were found in New Jersey, which is good for you if you live in New Jersey and want to try them. But many were from some travels. As I've noted in the past in these year-end wrap-ups, it should come as no surprise that I'm eating stuff that I find exceptional when traveling. I mean, that whole idea of traveling is to eat exceptional things that you can't find at home. And maybe go to a museum or some shit. I'm not really sure.

On to the list, a list which is in no particular order.

Husk : Nashville, TN

Husk Nashville Burger

Husk most certainly has to be one of the finest restaurants in Nashville. So fine that I found myself there twice during two trips. Only during the second visit did a Nashville-sized hangover lead me to order the burger. I had some hesitation when the bartender said they don't take a temp on it, but any concern was unfounded.

This is a double patty burger with gooey cheese and a monster sear on the exceptional beef. On a perfectly-sized bun. This thing is a work of art in its simplicity. Balance, salt, sear, fat. Every note was perfect.

Nashville Hot Chicken and waffles
Kitchen Notes in the Omni Hotel : Nashville, TN

Nashville Hot Chicken Kitchen Notes Omni

And to think I'd never heard of Nashville hot chicken before 2017. And to think even KFC now has it.

I was able to sample Nashville hot chicken from several places (Prince's, Hattie B's, Acme Feed & Seed) during one visit. And they were all fantastic. I had low expectations for the restaurant in the Omni Hotel, especially with respect to this regional specialty, as you might. And that was wrong. Glorious hot chicken, a waffle, a perfectly cooked egg, pickles, a gallon of water, and a coffee. Holy cow did I need that on this particular morning. I returned the next day to have this again, but, alas, they weren't serving this dish that morning. This left a hole in my heart.

Tripe with long pepper and peppercorn
Joyce Chinese : River Edge, NJ

Joyce Chinese River Edge Tripe

As I noted earlier this year on the blog,

"The flavor was intense. The heat was searing. The notes were herbaceous and fruity. Again, two elements I'm not used to experiencing in Sichuan food. The bowl was loaded with tripe, and Chinese celery, and bean sprouts, and pickled peppers, and ginger, and hot chili, and wood ear mushrooms. Textures swimming all around. I didn't know where to start, but didn't want to stop."

This was quite a dish. Not for the faint of heart. In fact, don't order it unless you are an expert like me.

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Latham House BBQ Team: Red, White and Que KCBS 2014: Cresskill, NJ

I had the opportunity to spend some time at the 2014 Red, White and Que KCBS event in Cresskill, NJ, this past weekend.

dbroc, from the Latham House BBQ team, invited me down, and of course I brought my camera. I didn't expect to shoot any video (rather, I was going to take photos), but when I got home I had quite a bit of video on the card.  Here are some highlights from the Latham House team's day.




Fat Gangnam Boy Hero: from Kimchi Smoke BBQ

Fat gangnam boy

Robert Cho, the pitmaster and operator of Kimchi Smoke/Fatboy BBQ Shack, a North Jersey-based mobile BBQ outfit, and I have become internet acquaintances, largely because he follows this blog and seems to revel in busting my balls, thereby drawing much of my attention to himself. It's infuriating at times, I must admit. But we also both share a passion for BBQ, and we've had a bunch of conversations on that subject.

More interesting to me than his incessant ball-busting and his love of BBQ is his approach to BBQ--he's a fan of Texas brisket, and he's incorporating the food of his Korean culture into the mix.

A few weeks ago he posted a picture of a new creation to Twitter/Facebook called the Fat Gangnam Boy Hero: bulgogi ribeye, cheese, kimchi pickles, BBQ sauce, on a hero. The idea of this sandwich immediately resonated with me and I have really really been looking forward to getting my hands on one. I was finally able to eat this thing this past Saturday at the Fort Lee Arts and Music Festival.

Fort Lee PD

For some reason I rolled into the festival at 10.30am. I had no idea it was that early, and had thought that things kicked off at 10. They didn't. Things didn't kick off until after 11, and the Kimchi Smoke team wasn't going to be ready to about noon.

I killed some time taking pictures of the motorcycle cops doing low speed slaloms around cones in the parking lot. This was pretty impressive maneuvering and interesting to watch. They'd come to a complete stop and take hard turns at a snail's pace, in tight formation and on top of each other. You can see how these skills would come in handy for a motorcycle cop in a town largely known for being one of the 3 arteries into Manhattan from New Jersey.

I checked out some of the other food stalls and trucks. The Callahan's hot dog guys were there. That Johnny Meatballs fellow was there. I saw a guy making wood-fired pizza. Just to name a few of the options. There seemed to be some stiff competition, but I'd suggest that the Kimchi Smoke boys were probably making the most interesting food there. This opinion, of course, formed from nothing but ignorance, since I didn't try anyone else's food.

Kimchismoke tent

Let's get back to this sandwich.

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Sunshine's Beach Bar and Grill: Pinney's Beach, Nevis

Table with a view at Sunshine's, overlooking the compound   

Sunshine's website says "no visit is complete without a stop in at Sunshine's where you can meet the legend himself, Sunshine."  I think they're right.

The colorful little shack call Sunshine's is located on Pinney's beach just south of the Four Seasons resort on Nevis.  In a compound which also includes Lime and Chevy's.  No doubt you've heard this a million times if you've looked for info on Sunshine's.  I suspect the rest of this report will sound familiar as well, but that won't stop me.

Sunshine's interior.  Casual and comfortable, much like Nevis.

My expectation was that I'd be going to Sunshine's for their famous rum cocktail called "The Killer Bee."  I did not realize that the food is outstanding as well.  But first those Killer Bees...

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Taylor, TX: Louie Mueller BBQ



Have you had enough of New Jersey?  Here at the t:e organization, we get that way, generally several times a year.  But, this is a self-proclaimed "New Jersey-centric" blog, so the "editor" refrains, for the most part, from talking about food from other parts of the globe.  

On the one hand, I think this focus makes tommy:eats a unique blog; after all, its purpose isn't to focus on the "editor-in-chief" and his personal exploits and various interests outside of food (you know little about me, and I prefer to keep it that way).  But rather, its purpose is to focus on the good stuff in, and sometimes around, New Jersey.  You come here, and you read about food.  No bullshit, no filler.

But, alas, I, the "managing editor" of tommy:eats, do run out of New Jersey-centric topics on which to opine, as any reader no doubt realizes.  This is largely due to the fact that I rarely post about a restaurant that I simply do not like...of which there are many, at which many of my dollars are spent.  These are wasted meals, and wasted opportunities to share a good experience...not to mention wasted money. 

So what's an "editor-at-large" supposed to do?  Just ignore his fan base? Well, yes, usually.  And you will be especially ignored if you think I fancy myself an "editor."  Maybe change the rules a bit?

There is, I should note, a precedent for this rule tweaking.  As you no doubt don't recall, I enjoyed the hell out of the navel-gazing Lollapalooza report from my first year with this blog.  I wrestled with posting it, as it wasn't NJ-centric.  But at the end of the day it made me very happy to share that experience with people.  After all, it contained reports of hot dogs, steaks, burgers, pizza, and music.  And if you don't enjoy at least one of those things, you're probably not reading this right now.

Something's got to give here at the t:e organization.  To heck with it!  We love NJ, but there's a lot more good stuff out there, just over the Jersey border somewhere, right? And some of you might even end up where that stuff is.

So who wants to hear about Texas BBQ?  WOO-HOO!  Let's do this thing.

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Best of Bergen Restaurants: 2010

201 Magazine recently published their yearly readers poll of the Best of Bergen 2010, online here (click).  It doesn't seem to be online yet, but I'll update this post once it is.

Since I haven't done a "best of" in a while, I figured I'd list their winners, and then provide the real (my) answers. 

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Fire & Oak: Montvale, NJ

Fire and oak

Walking out of Montvale's Fire & Oak after our recent meal, I felt a feeling that I hadn't felt in quite some time.  I had just given someone 100 bucks, and I wasn't pissed off about it.  I felt like I actually got my money's worth.

Granted, this was just one visit, but my experiences at South City Prime, the now defunct restaurant which begat Fire & Oak (the "Prime" concept wasn't going to fly in this economy, so the owners scaled back their existing restaurant in Little Falls and the two they had planned to the more casual "Fire & Oak"), were always pleasurable, and I would like to assume Fire & Oak is on the same track.  

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