Sunset Dinners at The Shrimp Box

One of my favorite restaurants in Point Pleasant Beach is The Shrimp Box. It makes me think of summertime and good, homey seafood dishes. This afternoon, I went there with my mother for Palm Sunday. Unfortunately, Matt had to work today and couldn’t join us.

We had a reservation for a booth by the window, overlooking the harbor. The sun was shining and the breeze was gentle. It was a lovely view.

The best thing that The Shrimp Box offers, in my opinion, is their sunset dinners. They are available Sunday through Friday from 12PM to 6PM and on Saturdays from 12PM to 5PM. Your choice of entree includes a cup of clam chowder or salad bar, potato, vegetable, dessert, and beverage. I think it’s an excellent deal.

To start, we ordered fried calamari. It was light, crispy, and came with sides of marinara and chipotle sauce to dip. For my entree, I ordered the broiled seafood trio (shrimp, scallops, flounder) with a baked potato, and mixed vegetables. My mother ordered the stuffed twin fillets of flounder with mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables.

IMG_20170409_141859_473

My seafood was cooked perfectly. The flounder was moist and flaked apart easily, the scallops were rich and sweet, and the shrimp was deliciously buttery. I literally couldn’t stop eating. The baked potato was cooked well, too, and I topped it with butter and herby sour cream. Yum!

By the time we were finished with our entrees, the waitress came and asked us what we would like for dessert. We told her up front we would definitely be taking it to go, but we had the following treats to pick from: carrot cake, chocolate cake, apple crumb, rice pudding, or Jell-O. I went with the carrot cake and my mother picked the apple crumb. I’m still too stuffed to eat it, but it will make a nice treat for later tonight!

I’ve never been disappointed at The Shrimp Box and always look forward to eating there.

Do you have any favorite local seafood restaurants? What do you like to get when you go there?

Advertisements

Tia Tries Blue Apron

Last night, I had dinner with our friends Alex and Bryan. Unfortunately, Matt had to work so he wasn’t able to join us.

Alex was excited because they recently started using Blue Apron. She told me that their first three meals were free, and with their current plan they get three meals per week. Blue Apron has a two person option as well as a family option (for four). I’ve heard good things about the meal delivery service from other friends, and I was looking forward to seeing what it was all about.

On the menu was spinach and fresh mozzarella pizza. All the ingredients were fresh and individually packaged: pizza dough, spinach, mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta salata, oregano, green pepper, shallot, tomato sauce, and red pepper flakes. Each meal comes with its own recipe card. There were even full color pictures and wine pairings. I also saw nutrition facts for each meal as well as some other literature about food.

17523586_10154649150508074_7019398675359073515_n

Alex and Bryan prepared everything together. I tried to help, but mostly ended up drinking wine (I brought over a yummy red moscato). What I thought was interesting about this recipe was that the sauce didn’t actually go on the pizza, but was instead reserved for dipping as per the directions.

When everything was ready, we sat down to eat. I think we were all pretty impressed with how the pizza came out: the dough was nice and crispy and I loved all the fresh veggies on top.

17522783_10154649150518074_123935280456422404_n

What I liked best about my Blue Apron experience was that the recipes are ones you might not typically think to make while cooking at home. For example, Alex mentioned that she and Bryan made kale quesadillas with fried egg one night and shiitake miso burgers another. I feel like it really allows you to explore new foods. What I didn’t like was how much package waste was leftover. While it’s great that the ingredients are pre-portioned, there was a lot of plastic to throw out.

Have you ever used Blue Apron before? What are your thoughts?

*This post is not sponsored by Blue Apron.

Date Day in Asbury Park

Hi everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Matt and I have both been very busy with work and haven’t had many days off to spend together. However, we were finally off on Wednesday and decided to spend it in Asbury Park doing what we do best: eating.

We slept in before Matt made a little light breakfast of fresh Italian bread, tomatoes, basil, and balsamic. It was just enough to get us going. Although the air was a little brisk, the sun was shining. We hopped in the car and made a shopping pit stop before continuing to Asbury.

17814585_10154638993803074_3297461003965349480_o

When we got there, it was pretty foggy, but we decided to take a stroll to the boardwalk anyway. There wasn’t much open. Even so, we walked all the down to the Convention Hall to check out the shops. Asbury Park Roastery’s Boardwalk Cafe was open and we got two big cups of cold brew. It was excellent coffee.

After we walked back to Cookman Avenue, Matt and I were a bit peckish, so we stopped in at Brickwall. We ordered the deviled eggs and six middleneck clams (they were only $1 each). I loved how briny the clams were, and adding a little lemon juice made them even better.

Once we were finished, our next stop was Taka, where Matt recently started working as a sushi chef. They have happy hour from 3 to 6. We each got a Sapporo draught for $3 and Matt got a large hot sake for $6 (but I really don’t like sake). For food, we ordered the kara-age (Japanese fried chicken). It was served on a bed of cabbage and the sauce was sweet and spicy. We also decided to get an order of house made chips and guacamole as well as beef negimaki (thinly sliced beef with scallions and teriyaki sauce). Everything was so delicious!

17799301_10154640246118074_3604191112022052871_n

We walked around town some more, even though it was getting colder out. Matt and I weren’t starving, but we still wanted to have some food at Pascal and Sabine: a European-style brasserie which a few of Matt’s coworkers had recommended. The interior was beautifully decorated – sleek and dark with moody lighting. Our server, Jeff, was knowledgeable and attentive making our dining experience absolutely impeccable.

For cocktails, I had Sabine’s Mimosa and Matt had the Spiced Paloma. We shared some charcuterie: pork pâté en croute and Sainte-Maure goat cheese. It was presented beautifully with honey, jam, candied pecans, apples, tomatoes, cornichons, and pickled mustard seeds. For a small plate, we ordered the pan-seared sea bream with creamed wild mushrooms. The fish was prepared perfectly and the sauce was rich and full of flavor.

17499438_10154640246128074_2550146141489976168_n

17795928_10154640246143074_1949397025990516926_n

We left feeling incredibly satisfied. What a wonderful day!

What are some of your favorite local restaurants? What do you like to order when you go there?

Celebrating St. Paddy’s… with Ramen!

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Yesterday, Matt and I planned to go out and have a nice, big Irish breakfast and some beers. Too bad when we got to the pub, there was an hour an a half wait. We moved on to Plan B, which was another pub less than ten minutes away. It was also crowded, but we got our beers and waited about 30 minutes for a table. After realizing how incredibly overpriced the menu was, we got up and left.

After a little more driving, we found ourselves at Squan Tavern in Manasquan. While they weren’t offering any St. Patrick’s Day specials, they did have some good lunch deals. We got a cheese pizza for $5 as well as a chicken parm sub (also $5, but I added fries for .99). The pizza was honestly some of the best we’ve had in the area. It was very well-seasoned with thin, crispy crust. The sandwich was good, too, but the fries were definitely not crunchy enough. I should’ve stuck with the potato chips that were originally included.

17359333_10154582330888074_2947180078807691165_o

Overall, we thought it was a good deal and would  go back again for the pizza.

For dinner, Matt wanted to get creative with some Irish-inspired ramen. His mom had been cooking corned beef and cabbage all day, so he planned on using some of the meat. He also made a shoyu broth from the juice. A few days before, he made an Irish style kimchi with cabbage, red cabbage, and scallions, and let it ferment. The ramen also included pickled mustard seeds, scallions, a caraway rye crumble, and a sweet mustard sauce. It was one of the most unique dishes he’s ever cooked for me and I really loved it!

17389141_10158382628775582_2994655461693404730_o

The rest of the night, we got to relax and watched some Twin Peaks together.

How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? What traditional (or non-traditional) foods did you eat?

 

 

 

MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos

Matt and I didn’t know what we wanted to do today. After deliberating, we drove to Long Branch only to discover that the cafe we were planning on visiting didn’t open until 6:30 PM! So, we took a drive and ended up in Asbury Park – one of our favorite places. We thought about where we could go and ultimately decided on MOGO Korean Fusion Tacos after I mentioned “unlimited kimchi bar.”

17156224_10154568271543074_9072537547653622942_n

MOGO is a casual Korean fusion spot right on Cookman Avenue. Their basic menu boasts tacos, burritos, bowls, and salads plus your choice of protein: beef, chicken, fish, pork, shrimp, or tofu. They also offer a bibimbap burger, boki cheesesteak, and Korean fried chicken, among other selections.

Today, I ordered the bowl with veggie fried rice, pork with citrus mayo slaw, and added the Korean esquites (corn with cotija cheese, lime, and kimchi) for an extra $1. Matt ordered the burrito with bulgogi beef and Asian pico de gallo. The pork was marinated very well – a good mix of salty and spicy. I’m also very happy I added the esquites because the corn/kimchi combo brought some extra flavor. Matt’s burrito was very good, too (he liked it better than my bowl). The beef was very tender and definitely had the sweetness that is so characteristic of bulgogi.

We also sampled the cucumber kimchi, daikon radish kimchi, and traditional cabbage kimchi. The cucumber was my favorite (it wasn’t too spicy). Matt liked the daikon, which was sweet and vinegary. We both agreed that the cabbage kimchi was a little bland.

17103259_10154568271573074_3316993720228846631_n

The prices were very reasonable (both the burrito and the bowl cost $9) and the portions were a good size. We left feeling very full and would 100% go back again.

After lunch, we took a nice drive through Deal and Spring Lake. Although it was very cold out, we enjoyed looking at all the beautiful houses.

Have you ever been to MOGO? What’s your favorite thing to get?

Food with Friends

Yesterday, I spent the day up in Sussex County with my friend Amanda since Matt had to work. Whenever I visit, we always make a point to get breakfast together. This time, we went to the Sparta Classic Diner with our friend Chris. You really can’t beat a good New Jersey diner.

I ordered the French Toast Tiramisu Tower, which came with strawberries, bananas, mascarpone cream cheese, raspberry sauce, and chocolate powder. Now, I don’t usually order sweet breakfasts, but I was craving one and this totally hit the spot. I loved how much fresh fruit actually came with it, and the French toast melted in my mouth. Amanda got the Short Rib and Egg Tacos, which came with a healthy portion of fresh guacamole. She let me try them, and they were pretty out of this world. The meat was so juicy and tangy. Finally, Chris got the Lumberjack Pancakes, which came with eggs, bacon, and sausage.

17076858_663715267164701_7624513917674323968_n_002

After breakfast, Amanda and I just spent some time catching up. We stopped by her job, Electric Land Tattoo, and then we went to the mall to try and walk off what we ate for breakfast!

We weren’t too sure what we wanted for dinner, but eventually settled on Indian. We went to The Clay Oven in Ledgewood. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures because it was a little fancier than we had anticipated and I felt a little awkward doing so. But I’ll tell you all about what we ate anyway!

To start, we got the assorted vegetarian platter appetizer which came with samosas, veggie pakora, and paneer pakora. Everything was delightfully crispy and very well seasoned. We were also served a complimentary crispy bread which came with two spicy sauces and a side of marinated onions. Delicious.

For entrees, I got the Chicken Makhani and Amanda got the Lamb Vindaloo. The chicken was cooked in a buttery tomato-based sauce. It was so tender! The lamb was served with potatoes and Amanda said it was exceptionally spicy (and she loves spicy food). Both entrees came with seasoned rice. We also got a side of garlic naan. It was crispy, chewy, and slathered in a delightful garlic spread.

For dessert, we tried rasmalai (cottage cheese dumplings in sweetened milk) and gulab jamun (golden brown milk powder dumplings in syrup with pistachios). The rasmalai was served almost frozen. They were rich and creamy, but not too sweet. The gulab jamun were almost like an Indian zeppole. They were very soft, but a little too sweet for us. Amanda also got a mango lassi, which was super thick and fruity.

How did you spend your Saturday? Did you eat anything good?

A Korean Food Oasis in Edison

Today, Matt and I decided to have a little adventure and visit the H-Mart in Edison, NJ. For those of you don’t know, H-Mart is a supermarket chain that specializes in Asian groceries (predominantly Korean). It wasn’t too far from Ocean County and as we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that there were several Korean restaurants, a jjimjilbang, a Daiso (which is a popular discount store in Japan and Korea), and a Paris Baguette (one of my favorite Korean cafes) in the same shopping center.

There was a large food court and a beautiful display of Japanese and Korean snacks as soon as we walked in. The produce department had a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Near the back of the store, the seafood department boasted tanks and tanks of live fish. Many of the containers were even self-serve. It was really nice to see products I hadn’t seen since leaving Korea. Matt and I loved looking at the snacks, ramyeun, and cookware. There were cosmetics, clothing, and accessory shops. We also might have bought a super spicy ramyeun bowl to try.

After making our way through H-Mart, we were getting hungry for lunch. We looked in the window at a Korean BBQ buffet, but it was a little more than we were looking to spend this afternoon. Matt and I ultimately settled on So Kong Dong Tofu House. He had really wanted to get the naengmyeon (cold noodle soup), but we were told it was a summer specialty. Instead, Matt got the “very spicy” seafood tofu soup and I got the hot stone bibimbap. Our meal was served with cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, marinated fish cakes, bean sprouts, and a lettuce salad.

Everything was delicious. My bibimbap was piping hot, and I let it sit before mixing everything together so the rice could get a little crispy on the bottom (that’s totally the best part). Matt’s soup came with lots of shrimp, clams, and silken tofu. Out of all the banchan, my favorite was definitely the cucumber kimchi. Matt’s was the fish cakes.

When we finished lunch, we went to another Asian grocery called 99 Ranch Market. It wasn’t as big as H-Mart, but it also had a pretty big selection of products. Inside, there was a CoCo Bubble Tea. I got the winter melon and Matt got traditional bubble tea. Mine was sweet and unexpectedly cinnamon-y, but I like it.

Do you like Korean food? What are some of your favorite dishes?

Hot Empanadas and Cold Drinks: Jersey Shore Edition

There is something beautiful about things wrapped in dough: sweet things, savory things. And they’re usually better when they’re fried. That’s exactly what Matt and I were craving today, so we hopped in the car and went to one of the Empanada Guy food trucks. The one we went to was located on Chambersbridge Road in Brick, NJ, in the parking lot of the Ocean Ice Palace Ice Skating Rink.

received_10158276524990582

 

Empanada Guy has nine food trucks in total and one brick and mortar restaurant located in Freehold, NJ.

We ordered the chorizo, pulled pork, and guava and cheese empanadas, and a side order of the sweet corn tamales. The tamales were fresh from the fryer and everything else smelled so good. We grabbed our bags and sat in the car, with the top down (it was 73 degrees today!).

 

First, we unwrapped the tamale from its corn husk. It was soft and steamy, and we poured hot sauce on top. The sweetness of the masa and the acidity of the hot sauce combined perfectly. Next, we tried the chorizo empanada. The filling was bright red and the dough was crispy. It was a little spicy, but not enough to deter me (Matt, on the other hand, loves spicy food). After that was the pulled pork. It was super juicy and meaty. Adding some salsa verde made it even yummier, too. Finally, it was time for the guava and cheese. The guava paste was sweet and tangy, and the mozzarella cheese was oozy and delicious. There was no disappointment with this meal at all.

After lunch, we took a drive up to Asbury Park where we went to Asbury Festhalle and Biergarten. I had the Blanche de Bruxelles and Matt had the Hacker-Pschorr Dunkel. We were able to sit at the roof garden and, although it was a little windy, the sun was shining and got to relax. We spent some time checking out a few shops before stopping in at Bond Street for another drink. Matt had a PBR and I had a cranberry vodka. Bond Street is definitely a local dive, but the atmosphere is chill and the drinks are cheap. We really love going there!

Moving on, we took a walk down to the boardwalk and ventured out onto a jetty. It was so nice being able to put our toes in the sand and being surrounded by beautiful, crashing waves in February. Another day off well spent.

What are some of your favorite food trucks and bars to go to in your area? What makes them great?

 

 

Let’s Do Brunch: Matt Talks Eggs Benedict

16931055_10154516229858074_1710279495_o
Matt getting excited about Eggs Benedict!

Eggs Benedict is a staple of brunch dining and, in my opinion, one of the most versatile of all egg dishes. It might even be more versatile than the omelette! The concept seems like a simple one: eggs, some sort of protein (usually a type of ham), toasted English muffins, and Hollandaise sauce. However, given these simple constructs it allows the individual cooking to get a little creative and maybe even bend some rules.

I have always had a fond interest in this saucy, buttery dish. I have actually created several variations, but today I’d like to share with you my most recent, and perhaps most succulent: Sweet Chile Shrimp Eggs Benedict.

Now, Eggs Benedict may seem like a simple, easy to prepare dish on the outside – but do not be fooled. There are a few classical French cooking techniques present in this dish that may pose a challenge to the amateur cook. The perfect example of this is the Hollandaise sauce. This gorgeous, buttery beauty is one of the 5 Mother sauces in French cuisine, and certainly the most fickle. Seeing that it is a simple combination of butter and egg yolk leaves very little margin for error. This sauce can break or curdle on you in a heartbeat, so be wary, but don’t let this discourage you!

Have you ever made Eggs Benedict before? Do you keep it classic, or get a little crazy?

Sweet Chili Shrimp Eggs Benedict

16819056_10158265023960582_2817501696725160489_o

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 12 41/50 count raw cleaned, shelled shrimp
  • 4 (1″) thick slices of crusty Italian bread
  • 6 eggs
  • Scallions sliced lengthwise
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

Sweet Chili Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp. miso paste
  • Cornstarch slurry to thicken
  • 1 tbsp. neutral oil (like vegetable oil)

Miso Sriracha Hollandaise:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 oz. clarified butter
  • 1 tbsp. miso paste
  • 1-2 tsp. Sriracha (to taste)

Directions:

To start, gather your eggs. You can’t have Eggs Benedict without them. In this case, they are going to be soft boiled. Classically, the eggs are to be poached, but this method is more efficient in regards to both time and energy.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and place 4 large eggs gently into the pot. Make sure not to crack the egg as it will ruin the shape and, potentially, the entire egg. Cook them at a rolling boil for 6 minutes. Then, place them in an ice bath and peel the shells off when they have cooled. Set aside in a bowl for later use.

Next, it is time to make the sweet chili sauce for the shrimp.If you are using fresh shrimp, make sure that you have them deveined and shelled. If you are using frozen shrimp, you can buy them shelled and deveined.

For the sweet chili sauce, first place a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Next, add in the oil and let it get hot. Add the chili garlic paste and stir quickly. Wait 15-20 seconds, and then add the sugar. Mix with a wooden or plastic spoon until dissolved. After the sugar and the chili paste are bubbling nicely, add the soy sauce and miso paste. Stir until the mixture bubbles again, and then add your cornstarch slurry. Only add enough to thin the sauce. Then, allow it to thicken via the cornstarch.

After the starch has come together, add the shrimp and saute them until cooked thoroughly. If your sauce gets too thick, add a little water to the pan. You want it to coat the shrimp, but not evaporate away and burn in the pan.

Now that two of the four main items are prepared, it’s time to prepare the bread. Make sure you have a fresh loaf of bread – preferably one with a thick crust, like Italian bread. The slices should be a little less than an inch thick. The bread can be toasted, but it can also be left soft and chewy in order to absorb all of the sauces.

Now for the hard part: the Hollandaise.

The first step to any Hollandaise is tempering the egg yolks. In order to do this, separate the yolks and the whites. In a small metal bowl, prepare the yolks by breaking them with a whisk. Turn on one of the burners on your stove and slowly add a little heat to the bottom of the bowl while steadily whisking. Do this until the egg turns a lighter shade of yellow. If this method seems too complicated, the same thing can be accomplished with a double boiler.

Once the yolk is tempered, slowly start whisking in all of the butter. Make sure to add the butter in parts – ideally three or four. If you add it all at once, or aren’t whisking swiftly enough, the sauce will separate.

Once you’ve succeeded in making the Hollandaise, whisk in the miso paste and Sriracha.
The only step left is to compile all of the items in the appropriate fashion. Using the bread as your base, layer the shrimp, egg, and sauce on top. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds. Enjoy!