Cooking at Home: Korean Style Lettuce Wraps

Sometimes, I seriously crave Korean food. When I lived there, I obviously got to eat it anytime I wanted. It was so much fun being able to go out and try new things with friends. I especially loved how communal dining in Korea was. At most restaurants, the food was cooked right at the table and you usually cooked part of not all of your meal yourself.

I’m really happy that I’ve introduced Matt to Korean cuisine because now he always wants to cook it!

Last night, we decided to make Korean style lettuce wraps. For protein, we used chicken and cooked it in a dak galbi inspired sauce. Dak galbi is a spicy stir fried chicken dish featuring flavors like gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic, and ginger. It definitely had a kick to it, but it was delicious! The traditional dish also includes sweet potato, carrot, cabbage, and rice cakes. (If you’re interested, there’s a recipe here.)

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Matt also makes his own kimchi (cabbage and cucumber). The cabbage kind is not my favorite, but I always enjoy the cucumber. He also made pickled Korean radish, spicy bean sprouts, sauteed mushrooms, chives, and shiso (we didn’t have Perilla leaves, which are typical in Korean cuisine). For the wraps, we used red lettuce. Matt and I had so much fun mixing and matching all the veggies in our wraps to see which flavor combinations worked the best. It was probably the most authentic Korean dinner he’s made to date.

Have you ever made Korean food at home? What’s your favorite dish?

The Speakeatery: Sandwiches in Asbury Park

Yesterday, Matt and I went to Asbury Park (along with my friend Brit from college) to watch the LGBTI Pride Parade and Festival. We were a little hungry and decided to go to a relatively new restaurant, The Speakeatery, where Matt’s friend Jake happens to work. It’s a cute little place with an old-school feel. Orders are taken at the counter and there is even chalk board in front of the seats for guests to draw on.

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They offer deli sandwiches, specialty sandwiches, salads, soups, and a variety of sides. It took us all quite some time to figure out what we wanted since everything sounded so good!

I got the Pickle Focker, which was made up of pickle brined fried chicken, pickles, bacon, pickle slaw, and dill shallot aioli served on a round roll. I also added fries for $1. This sandwich absolutely did not disappoint. First off, it was so big I could barely take a proper bite. The chicken was incredibly juicy and I loved the flavor that the pickle brine gave it. The shoestring fries were also piping hot and very well seasoned. There was also enough for the three of us to share.

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Matt got the Angry Al Capone: ham, prosciutto, hot capocolla, pepperoni, hot cherry peppers, and provolone on a hero roll. I only took a little bite, but it was very good from what I tasted! Finally, Brit got the Pork Chop Express: garlic and herb shaved pork chop, broccoli rabe, and provolone served on a soft pan baked hero. She said it was delicious.

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We all agreed that we would definitely go back. Next time, though, I want the Hand Grenade: smoked bone-in BBQ rib, baked bean puree, five cheese mac-n-cheese, house whiskey BBQ sauce,and cole slaw. How amazing does that sound? (Also, click here to see a video about the sandwich.)

What’s the best sandwich you’ve ever had?

Eating for the Insta

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to this blog, Matt and I also run a foodie Instagram (click here). It is dedicated to meals we eat out together as well as dishes Matt cooks at home. We recently experienced our first little “surge” of followers and are becoming increasingly determined to grow our Instagram.

Matt and I are both so passionate about food and we would like nothing more than to share that passion with the world. We are constantly looking for new recipes and types of cuisine to try.

So, we wanted to reach out to our followers and ask you guys about any tips you may have for us.

What have you done to successfully increase your following? What have you tried that didn’t necessarily work out?

Let’s talk about it!

 

A Little Lunch Date at Wang Sushi

Yesterday, Matt and I went out for lunch at a great little spot called Wang Sushi. They advertise themselves as Asian Fusion, so they offer a little bit of everything. One thing in particular I really enjoy is that they offer bubble tea (because it’s usually pretty hard to find around here).

We decided to stick to the lunch menu, which is offered from 11 AM to 3:30 PM and comes with white rice and your choice of soup. Matt got the Korean BBQ pork and I got the pork mei fun (which actually doesn’t come with rice since it’s a noodle dish). We both got hot and sour soup.

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I also ordered a honeydew bubble tea which was super fruity and refreshing. It also had a bunch of tapioca balls, which made me happy. The soup was tolerably spicy, but full of flavor. It had chunks of tofu and wisps of egg throughout the broth. Matt ordered his dish extra spicy, but as I tasted it, I decided it was markedly less spicy than authentic Korean food – but it was still very good. My pork dish was also delicious. There were chunks of carrots and green onion, and everything was very well-seasoned.

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Even though we had lunch portions, Matt and I were both very full by the time we left. So, we decided to take a drive to Island Heights and walk around near the water to help us digest. There were so many gorgeous Victorian houses to look at, too. Eventually, we sat in the shade for a while and watched the water until we decided it was time to go home.

How did you spend your day?

Bacon Donuts and Boardwalk Adventures

Yesterday, Matt and I weren’t sure how we should spend the day, so we took a little drive until we ended up in Point Pleasant. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we headed down to the boardwalk. After we parked, I noticed the sign for Top That Donuts. We just had to go in!

It was a funky little joint, with bright orange chairs and retro accents. The was only one girl in line ahead of us, and we looked at the menu while she ordered. Matt and I settled on the hangover (maple glaze with bacon crumble) and the lemon drop (lemon glaze with graham cracker dusting and Boston cream).

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All the donuts are made to order, so we watched while the girl behind the counter did her thing. It was really interesting to see the machine plop out the dough into the fryer. When our donuts were ready, she called us over to pick them up. They were piping hot and the glaze looked so glossy.

I liked the hangover the best. The glaze was quite thick and the bacon crumbles were ample. That combination of sweet and salty always gets me. The lemon drop, while it was still very good, lacked something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe I thought it would be more lemony? Even so, I think we would still go back for more.

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After the donuts, Matt and I took a nice little walk up and down the boardwalk. We even went onto the beach and stuck our toes in the water. Too cold, but still refreshing. We also popped into some of the arcades here and there. I can’t believe summer is almost here!

How are you getting ready for summer? What are some things you like to do during the season?

Shut Up and Eat!

Yesterday, Matt and I decided to have breakfast at a Toms River favorite: Shut Up and Eat. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw a sign letting us know that this little spot has won Best Breakfast in Ocean County for ten years in a row! Now, that’s impressive.

When we got inside, the waitresses (who were dressed in pajamas) greeted us cheerfully and told us to have a seat. The walls were decorated with eclectic knick-knacks. It was so fun to look around at everything.

Next was the hard part – deciding on what we wanted to eat. The menu was incredibly extensive, with everything from breakfast classics to “shoe-sized schickhaus dogs” and “the bread filled with stuff section.” I loved how every aspect of dining here was whimsical and fun!

Matt and I started with two BIG cups of coffee (in mismatched mugs, of course). I went with the stuffed french toast (with cream cheese, strawberries, and chocolate chips). Matt decided on the South Toms River scrambler with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and avocado. It also came with toast.

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The portions were huge. So huge, in fact, that I had to take half of mine home (and that never happens). Even so, the french toast was phenomenal – crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. It was exactly what I was craving. We left feeling so satisfied, and can’t wait until next time!

Shut Up and Eat also serves lunch and their hours are 6:30 to 3:30 Monday through Saturday and 6:30 to 3:00 on Sunday. They’re located at 804 Main Street in Toms River, NJ 08753.

Are there any award-winning breakfast spots in your area? What’s your favorite thing to get there?

Tapas at Europa South

Yesterday, my friend Kate was in the area for a wedding dress fitting. Since she lives up north and we don’t get to see each other too often, we decided to make a day of it.

We took a drive to Asbury Park to visit Matt at Taka (and indulge in their happy hour specials). Then, we went across the street to Cookman Creamery for some ice cream. I got cookie butter and lemon cookie. Kate got cookie butter, too, as well as peanut butter crunch with whipped cream. It was quite possibly some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had – so rich and creamy. Cookman Creamery also offers a wide variety of vegan and gluten free options, which is great!

The absolute highlight of our day, however, was dinner at Europa South in Point Pleasant. Kate and I really ended up there by accident, mostly because we both had to use the restroom. It was packed, but we got a small table in the bar area. They offer an extensive tapas menu (at the bar only) and we looked over everything carefully before picking three things to share: fried calamari, Prince Edward Island mussels, and pan amb oli with Serrano ham.

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We also ordered a half pitcher of white sangria and had a basket of fresh bread with butter. Everything was presented beautifully. The mussels were seemingly never-ending, cooked in a buttery white wine broth. The calamari was hot and crispy, served with a sweet chili sauce. Finally, the pan amb oli, might have been the tastiest thing on the table. There were thick pieces of Serrano ham atop fresh bread with olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes. Just wow.

While the food was incredible, it wasn’t even the best part of our experience. What we didn’t know when we walked in was that there was live music and dancing. It was wonderful to eat and chat while hearing a live singer and watching couples on the dance floor. And, better yet, the whole bill was only $44!

I definitely have to go back here with Matt. It would be perfect for a date night.

 

 

A Day in Cape May

Today, Matt and I took a day trip to Cape May with our friend Brian. Cape May is located at the southernmost tip of New Jersey where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and is famous for its beaches and colorful Victorian architecture. Although the sun was hiding, it was still warm enough to walk around and explore.

Before we arrived at the downtown area, we stopped at the Cape May County Zoo. The admission is donation-based, so it’s a very budget friendly activity. In addition to all the exhibits, the zoo also has a zip line, train, carousel, and rock wall. We got to see so many different animals including giraffes, zebras, reptiles, and amphibians (among others).

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By the time we left the zoo, we were all starving. A quick Google search pointed us in the direction of the nearby Bellevue Tavern, where we decided to have lunch. I got the Black & Blue Burger with crumbled bleu cheese, red onions, and Creole mayo on a brioche bun with a side of French fries & coleslaw. It was huge! The patty was cooked perfectly for me (medium rare) and the sauce was very flavorful. Matt got the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich with au jus, horseradish, and hot peppers. I tried a bite and the meat was incredibly tender and extra juicy.

Finally, we drove down to the Washington Street Mall to park and walk around. We stopped in at the Iron Pier Craft House for a drink: Matt got a margarita, I had an orange crush, and Brian got the Slack Tide Cedar Plug IPA. They were located right across from the beach had some good happy hour specials.

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We did some more walking and looked at all the beautiful Victorian houses. I noticed the Red Cottage, where I’ll actually be staying this fall for my very good friend Kate’s bachelorette party (it looked gorgeous). There were so many cute shops to pop into including one selling Swedish goods, toy stores, candy and fudge shops, ice cream parlors, and much more! I bought some almond crunch from one candy shop and could not have been happier.

We had an amazing day, but it would have been great to spend more time in Cape May. Hopefully, we’ll get to go back soon!

Have you ever been to Cape May? What are some of your favorite places to go?

Grounds for Sculpture and Downtown Princeton

I know this blog is usually for sharing our foodie adventures, but Matt and I decided we had to write about the day we spent at Grounds for Sculpture and exploring downtown Princeton.

For those of you who don’t know, Grounds for Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton, NJ. They have life-size replicas of famous paintings as well as an expansive permanent collection of contemporary works.

There are so many different styles of art located throughout the gardens as well as many hidden surprises to discover along the way. At times, it was difficult to determine what was a sculpture and what was real life; it was so fun and surreal! I lost track of how many times Matt and I would come across something and I was completely in awe.

One of the best parts of visiting Grounds for Sculpture is how interactive it is. You can actually touch and climb on many of the pieces (unless otherwise stated). There are many opportunities for unique photos – something I always enjoy.

While there is a lot of ground to cover, there are plenty of places to sit and relax as well as a full service restaurant, two cafes, and a snack gazebo. The Van Gogh Cafe was decorated like Starry Night (Matt and I took a break there to enjoy some cold drinks and an almond croissant).

In my opinion, some of the best replicas were that of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, Manet’s Olympia, Munch’s The Scream, and Wood’s American Gothic.

After spending over two hours walking around, Matt and I took a drive to Princeton. We stopped in at Princeton Record Exchange (excellent selection if you’re a music collector) before soaking in the beauty of the University campus. We also stopped at The Princeton University Art Museum, which has a very impressive collection. Some of the galleries included European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Art of the Ancient Americas.

Now, we’re completely exhausted and ready to have some dinner while doing nothing for the rest of the night.

What are some of your favorite local museums and gardens to visit?

 

Great Local Eats: Mexico Lindo

This afternoon, Matt and I made an impromptu visit to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants for lunch. Mexico Lindo, in Brick, is actually where we had one of our first dates. We discovered it last summer while on the hunt for a good burrito. It’s small and easy to miss, but once you’re inside you feel like you’re in a good friend’s kitchen.

The staff, particularly the owner, is incredibly friendly and accommodating. Each time we’ve gone to eat there, he has gone out of his way to make genuine conversation with us. While Matt and I were looking over the [extensive] menu, we were brought tortilla chips with fresh, flavorful salsa. To drink, we ordered some tamarind-flavored Jarritos soda. Not too sweet, but very refreshing.

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For lunch, Matt ordered the poblano burrito with mole sauce. It was literally the size of his arm and stuffed with chicken, fluffy yellow rice, beans, and poblano peppers. The mole was rich and chocolatey. So tasty! I had the shrimp taco platter. The tacos came in corn tortillas with yellow rice, refried beans, and a tangy salsa verde.

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We left completely satisfied, practically in food comas. There are so many other things I would love to try on the menu. Some of our other favorites are the shrimp burrito and the pork verde burrito. When we went last summer, we got to eat outside on their patio. It’s modest, but there is something so satisfying about eating great food outside. Additionally, the prices are reasonable and the portions are very generous.

Unfortunately, Mexico Lindo doesn’t have a website, but I’ll leave the info below in case you’re in the area and would like to go there:

Mexico Lindo

2063 NJ-88

Brick, NJ 08724

What are some of your favorite Mexican dishes? Feel free to share with us!