Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Siam Thai

Siam Thai
Colts Neck, NJ

Final Grade: B

            So it has been about a year since Hubby and I settled in and began to call Colts Neck our new hometown. During the past twelve months, we’ve definitely learned a lot: 1. Deer eat everything 2. Weeds grow everywhere 3. Dust settles on anything 4. Restaurants within 5 minutes- next to nothing! Now numbers 1-3 are all things I can deal with, but number 4 has been quite an adjustment. Yes, there are standbys in these parts- Huddy’s, Colts Neck Pizza and a few delis here and there. And of course, we have Delicious Orchards. But if you have gotten to know me over the past few years, I’m sure you know one thing- I like to get my restaurant pants on and get on to trying new spots. Which, if I want to drive 30+ minutes, is easy squeezy. However, when I just want to take a quick ride, grab a tasty bite, and head back home, is anything but easy or squeezy.

            Well, my complaining (for now) stops there as I have just found and tried a great new local place that will keep me (and hopefully you) at bay. Siam Thai, located on scenic Route 34, has been on my radar for a bit of time. A lover of Asian cuisine, I knew it was only a matter of time before I got my chopsticks out and got to indulging.
            Matt and I chose to dine there on a busy Saturday afternoon for us since we knew it would be a quick drive, a satisfying meal, and one that wouldn’t break the bank. If my memory serves me correctly, the location has been host to previous restaurants that obviously had to close. That being said, the layout is vast and tables are placed adequately spaced throughout.  The décor is a bit dim but accents of Thailand do a decent job to enhance the atmosphere while also transporting you from suburbia.
            The food was very good- fresh, spiced, and piping hot from the kitchen. We started with the Golden Shrimp ($7.95). Although on the small side overall, the seafood tucked inside each rice wrapper was perfectly cooked and delectable indeed. For dinner, I went with my favorite Thai dish- Pad Keemaw ($12.95) while Matt opted for the Spicy Fried Rice ($11.95). My dinner was definitely something the kitchen should brag about. The noodles were plentiful and plump, also being dressed just enough to let the veggies keep their bite while still permeating with decent heat from the fresh chili. I added shrimp to my plate and was impressed at both the quantity and quality of the additions I asked for. Matt’s dish was another one of their *-marked dishes, designating that it was going to be very spicy. Although it was hot, it didn’t have the same punch of heat that my dinner had. Luckily, the flavors were abound and he truly enjoyed the fried and fluffy jasmine rice that encompassed the chicken pieces, bell peppers and onions.
            We skipped dessert since our objective was to grab a quick dinner after a busy day so we could plop down on the couch ASAP. Needless to say, mission accomplished!

            Siam Thai is located at 323 Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ 07722. They are a BYO establishment. More information can be found here.


Total score 19/25

Final Grade: B

A: 21-25    B: 16-20    C: 11-15   D: 6-10    F: 0-5

Restaurant Rubric

Food Taste
Bland, boring, overcooked, underdone
Very little flavor, not much aroma
Flavors apparent, basic ability to please palates
Flavor worth discussing, chef’s use of ingredients impressive
Great flavor, taste lingers and leaves diner wanting more
Restaurant service
Inattentive staff, no regard for wait time
Staff average in helpfulness, timing alright, either more/less needed
Staff knowledgeable and attentive to needs without asking, timing very well executed
Remarkable and noteworthy, service so good you forget it is ever an issue elsewhere
Food Presentation
Cover it up please
Sloppy and the eater can tell little thought went into it
Descent presentation: looks alright, not worth a picture but enough to make you hungry
Admirable, it is apparent the chef plated with a consideration for presentation
Presentational talents are here. Looks beautiful and too good to dig in
Prices match quality
Prices are too high for quality
Prices are still too high but not outrageously
Some items are priced accordingly but not all
Most items are priced accordingly
All items are matched accordingly
Would I go back?
Not a chance ever
Looking forward to it
What time should I arrive?!?




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fusilli with Spicy Pesto

           Oh Giada, what a gem you are. If I had your phone number, I’d call you everyday text you a few words of gratitude for all your yummy recipes.

            I’d also let you know how much I loved this one, no doubt. But since I can’t tell you directly, I’ll do the next best thing…. Dish out the details to those who do listen to me!

            So this recipe….besides being obviously delicious, it really put a kick and spin on our usual pasta dinners. For one, pesto for us is normally a sandwich addition or chicken topper and is normally basil-based. Enter spicy arugula and jalapeno along with salty Asiago and what you have is a pesto that will make your basil shed a tear. And for two, our pasta sauce is rarely prepared in the food processor—I use that toy for pie crust and dips- not for my linguini!

            So when you liven up your pesto and tinker with your sauce prep, what you are left with is a pasta dinner that will have you paying much gratitude to Giada too! Enjoy…


Fusilli with Spicy Pesto
Serves: 2-3
Slightly adapted from: Giada at Home

½ C cup chopped walnuts
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 small red or green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 C grated (2oz) Asiago cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
½  tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 ounces baby spinach: 2-3 big handfuls
1.5 ounces arugula: 2-3 big handfuls
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

½ pound fusilli pasta
2 oz Asiago cheese, shaved
S & P (salt and pepper), to taste

1. In a food processor combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, 1 C Asiago cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth
2. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil- if too dry, add additional 1 TBS oil and continue to blend
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat
2.  Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes
3. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water
4. Add pesto mixture to sauté pan, heat thoroughly over medium flame. Add pasta to heated pesto and toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed
5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with 2 oz Asiago cheese shavings and serve
                  ** For a milder pesto, remove the seeds from the jalapeno pepper**

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Gnocchi with Spicy Sausage, Zucchini & Wine

        Wow, a recipe! Who would of thunk it?!? It seems all I’ve been writing about are events and happenings lately. Which, while being entertaining, do zilch for your dinner table. So I’m back this week with a super-duper recipe that was a first-timer for me. Let me quickly explain…

            Gnocchi- always intriguing, never convincing. Sure, I’ve seen them on countless menus, salivated over them while watching Giada or Mario plate them up, and even persuaded Hubby to order them. But when push came to shove and dinner decisions had to be made- it was always a no-go on the gnocchi. They honestly seemed a bit too boring for me. Heavy, one-noted and offer a lot less per serving than my best friend Mr. Rigatoni does. But one day, not sure how it occurred, I brought a pack home…

            As with anything Italian-oriented in mi casa, I decided to try it out with sausage, zucchini and some fresh basil. I figure anything can be covered up by pork and fresh herbs, right? (and butter and olive oil) Anyway, the end result was great- not heavy, definitely not one-noted and pretty darn satisfying in my pasta bowl. Needless to write, I am now a gnocchi folkie!

            Yes, I just did type that rhyme….I promise to refrain from those next week! Enjoy…

Gnocchi with Spicy Sausage, Zucchini & Wine
Serves: 2-3

OBJ: TCW be able to expand her pasta-cooking skills by using a potato-based version

1 package refrigerated gnocchi- cooked to the package directions, reserving ½ - 1 Cup pasta water
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 shallot, minced
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ C dry white wine (I use Pinot Grigio, but use what you booze!)
1 TBS unsalted butter
2 spicy sausage links, casings removed
2-3 small zucchini, sliced and cut into quarters
S & P- salt and pepper
½ C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8-10 fresh basil leaves, torn

1. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TBS oil. Add sausage to hot pan and cook- crumble well while cooking. Once browned, remove from pan using slotted spoon
2. Drain 1TBS sausage grease from pan. Add remaining 1 TBS oil and heat pan over medium flame
3. Add onions, garlic, shallot and a heavy pinch S & P. Cook over medium-low flame for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent
4. Add wine, scrape bottom of pan while upping flame to high and bringing wine to boil. Once boiling, lower to simmer and zucchini. Season zucchini with additional S & P to taste. Cover and let simmer for 8-10 minutes
5. Uncover sauté pan, add sausage back and mix to combine. Add butter and ¼ C reserved pasta water, stir
6. Fold in gnocchi and combine well over medium flame, adding more reserved water if needed. Top with Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and another small pinch S & P. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Summit Wine & Food Festival

Summit Wine & Food Festival, 2013
Summit, NJ

            Two days late, I know people. I figured it would be better to post today than make you wait until next Thursday. Aren’t I sweet? ;)

            So this week, an event Hubby and I were delighted to attend- The Summit Wine & Food Festival. We were given press passes and pretty much had free reign to attend almost all happenings. We decided to take two wine classes and partake in the Saturday evening Gala Wine and Food Tasting. Classes and the Gala were held at the Twin Maples Mansion. If historic beauty had a place in the dictionary, this place would be the definition. It had such glamour and warmth, I couldn’t help but imagine myself living there and waltzing among the many rooms (of course wearing some sort of Victorian dress too!). And although the venue was perfect for the wine classes and perusing, it was honestly too small for the Gala. The night was delicious-you will see below, but for the amount of tickets purchased, they underestimated the amount of space needed to allow guests to comfortably mingle, munch and sip.

            My duties here centered around the food as Hubby has volunteered to be a guest blogger asap and post about the 2 wine classes we sat in on. Announcement: Grill Master Matt has now become Grape Guru Mr. Glazier! Haha, kidding kidding….he is still GMM but as some you know, the man loves his vino too. So that being said, I am allowing him to do the write up on the wine part of our weekend.

            Back to the food…..mmmmm….such little bites but such big flavors we enjoyed….

Maritime Parc - Pork Belly……

Your Delicious Balance -  Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse……
Park Avenue Club - seared Baby Shrimp over Roasted Corn and Bacon…..

Jesse James Catering – Blackened Shrimp over Maque Choux Spoon Bread (I don’t know what that is but hot damn, that was good!!) ***My favorite of night***……

Bobolink- Various cheeses….

            I must also add that we decided to stay the weekend in Summit and chose a great B & B indeed. The DeBary Inn was within walking distance to our events and was such a nice place to stay. The front porch was quintessential bed & breakfast while the service was fittingly opposite from any hotel chain you’ve been to. We loved the breakfast provided too as it was offered to us in their oversized Library and oval dining room. I never knew what the big deal was with B & Bs, but now get it completely.

            While attending some events of the festival and relaxing at the Inn, we somehow found time to go out for lunch. Correction, we knew this town had great eats so we made time to go out for lunch! Long story short, we had lunch at Roots. De-li-cious for sure. We kept it light but honestly still over-indulged which, when offered fresh popovers and salty fresh-from-the-fryer fries, is easy to do. So now that I have had their lunch, I need to get a ressy soon for dinner.

            So that was our weekend…delicious, fun, and worthy of a special Saturday write-up.

Selfie- Enjoying the Gala

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Culinary Classic- What a Night!

Culinary Classic- What a Night! 

            Well before I go on and on about our night, I must first say welcome back, my hungry friends! As you know, I recently took an itsy bitsy break and am now back and ready to write. Although I took a break from blogging, from my tweets and FB Page, I’m sure you are well aware I’ve been out and about and barely resting! It has been quite a blast and so for the next few weeks, I’ll be detailing my adventures.

            So let's start with the event that I’ve been telling you about for weeks…..The Monmouth & Ocean County FoodBank Culinary Classic 2013. The event was an astounding success and I’m sure the peeps at The FoodBank are still smiling and oh-so grateful for all of those who sponsored, donated, cooked, and attended.

            I was so thrilled to be a part of this event and had a delicious evening indeed. Hubby and I are still talking about how truly grand it was! Here are just a few highlights……warning: drooling may occur as well as instantaneous stomach grumbling….

From Joe Leon’s Italian Specialties & Catering- Roman Flat Bread with Figs and Goat Cheese….

From Danny’s Grill & Wine Bar- Beefushi: sushi roll of rice mango, avocado & crab, layered on the outside with thin sheets of filet mignon….

From Chef Mike’s ABG- 24 hour Braised Short Rib Mac & Cheese…

From Good Karma Café- Bahn Mi Vietnamese Sandwich…
From Porta – Homemade Mozzarella…

From Molly Pitcher Inn- Slow Roasted Pork with autumn squash, toasted pumpkin seeds & smoked-bourbon maple glaze…

From Pearl @ The Oyster Point Hotel- Scallop & Truffle En Croute…
From McLoone’s Restaurants- Crab Cakes…

From Shipwreck Grill & Point – Seared Shrimp…

From David Burke Fromagerie- Gourmet Lollipops…


                       So with that, I’m sure you’ve seen enough and are kicking yourself that you didn’t go so glad you ate some of those delicacies yourself. I am honestly still dreaming about a number of those dishes but beyond that, I feel darn good about supporting a great cause and being a part of this year’s Classic. Cheers to that!