Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

IMG_2634
Hoboken Farms Big Basil tomato basil sauce

Store-bought sauce can be a pretty contentious subject for fans of sauces with that just-made fresh flavor. I was one of those snobs, always stressing to squish San Marzano tomatoes in the can as a pot of salted water cooked pasta. I’d pull out the woody stems and toss the broken down tomato meat with fresh smashed garlic cloves sizzling in olive oil. That simmering concoction would meld as it cooked, was seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with torn fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of EVOO.

My work-life balance wasn’t in sync enough for homemade sauces to be on the menu and I always kept a few jarred options to resort to when the kids were lobbying for lasagna, pasta and a protein or chicken parm. I’d get complaints when I hadn’t sufficiently labored at the stove and produced a luxurious sauce that had flavor rich with the taste and aroma of freshly made tomato and basil sauce with the wonderful texture of those hand-swished tomato chunks. 

IMG_2479
Hoboken Farms sauce comes in three varieties (L to R): Big Red, Big Boss and Big Basil

When the folks at Hoboken Farms asked me to sample their three sauces–Big Red, their marinara sauce; Big Boss, their vodka sauce; and Big Basil, their tomato basil sauce– I agreed without expecting much. I had read the reviews and readied myself to see what all the fuss was about. 

I popped off the lid of the Big Basil sauce and took stock: wonderfully fresh aroma; great texture thanks to meaty tomato chunks; beautifully seasoned and full of fresh taste. These sauces are the real deal. They have the taste you’d expect from a chef that perfected marina, tomato basil and vodka sauces by simply relying on excellent quality ingredients prepared classically with minimal fuss.

IMG_2638
Big Basil sauce served over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne

Here’s how I enjoyed Big Basil over Tolerant Organic Red Lentil Penne: talk about elevating the natural flavor of pasta! Hoboken Farms defies you to sauce your pasta  modestly the way you’d be served them in Italy. I flunked, happily and greedily over-saucing and enjoying every spoonful. 

Other ways I’d serve Hoboken Farms Big Basil or Big Red sauces:

– Spooned over a layer of pesto atop a grilled slice of sourdough or ciabatta

– Layered with plain Greek yogurt for a savory parfait that’s topped with minced celery and parsley for crunch 

– Spooned over zucchini noodles or baked potato

– Blended with summer veggies like squash and kale for a refreshing smoothie or chilled soup

– Stir a cup or more into bean or vegetable soup

– Baked on top of seasoned chicken cutlets or fillets of fish like char

You are only limited by your creativity with Hoboken Farms, a pantry essential for uncompromising sauce enthusiasts. 

Contributions made by Samantha (Sam) Donsky

D’Vine Bar, Sparkill, NY – Equal Parts Whimsy and Wine

Joe Printz Talks About D’Vine Bar

Open since September 16th, D’Vine Bar, the brainchild of Grape D’Vine wine boutique owner and four-time restaurateur Joe Printz, offers a playful menu and smart curation of wine and beer in a polished, urbane ambience. Printz relocated his Tappan, NY boutique to Sparkill and constructed a jewel box-sized atelier where diners could commune over wine, conversation and a menu that irreverently brings together eclectic ingredients in playful compositions. With 46 seats, including bar and communal table, in a handsome interior and an outdoor area that can seat another 30 guests in warm weather, D’Vine Bar has been welcomed with open arms by Rockland, Westchester and Bergen patrons. These folks have long-awaited Printz’s vision realized through the skill of Chef Christopher Holland, a self-taught cook who, since leaving Session Bistro, a storefront in Maywood, NJ and AXIA Taverna in Tenafly, has developed a menu that balances sophistication with playful renderings of classics with largely successful results. Front of the house is managed by 29-year old Monika Riley, GM, who was sommelier/beverage director at ’76 House in Tappan, NY and also had stints with Mario Batali’s Tarry Lodge in Portchester, NY.

IMG_1070
Joe Printz, D’Vine Bar and Grape D’Vine owner
IMG_1058
Monika Riley, GM

D’Vine Bar’s whimsical menu is divided into seven sections:  Ruffage (salads), Pizzaaas, Six (apps), Cheese, Please!, Twelve (small plates), Eighteen (entrees) and Escorts (sides).

IMG_1050
The fedora-clad kitchen team led by Chef Christopher Holland, left.

Expect seasonal changes to the menu. Four types of pizza are offered, starting with the Scattiatta with grape, black pepper, fennel seed crust and a parm/regg and arugula topping ($12), the Heirloom Pie with white bean crust underneath heirloom tomato blend and house made ricotta ($14), the Greek Pie cleverly incorporating rosemary into a chewy crust and topped with house made lamb sausage, feta, olives and mint tzatziki ($15), and the mushrooms and goat cheese version with an arborio rice crust, blend of mushrooms, goat cheese and drizzle of 50 year Balsamic ($15).  Each Neaopolitan style pizza is cooked in a custom 1,000 degree oven and presented on a round wooden slab. These are well-executed pies and generously sized making them ideal for nibbling at the bar over a flight of wine. While this is Holland’s first experience making pizza, it’s clearly something he’s skilled at. Look for more developments in this area, as crusts showcase delightfully unexpected textures and flavors, all working harmoniously.

“Ruffage,” the first section of the menu, has five items to choose from: the House Salad ($9), Seizure Salad ($11), Compressed Watermelon & Tomato ($11), Heirloom Tomato ($12), and Greek Quinoa Salad ($12). The watermelon salad was intensely flavored and left me wanting a portion three times the size. Sadly, the item is moving off the menu for more fall-inspired ruffage creations, hopefully returning in the summer. It’s a winner.

In the Six category, selections include the Elote’, which combines Mexican street corn, pecorino, romano, cilantro, smoked paprika, house chili powder, and lime, and the Cornflake Chicken, which is marinated with sriracha, covered with a crisp cornflake crust, and served with bleu mousse.  There are six choices to choose from, $6 each. Chef Holland continues to use the fryolater with abandon, producing tasty, crispy and caloric delights ranging from Cornflake Chicken, a play on Buffalo Wings with simply tenders coated with cornflakes and deep fried and served with traditional accompaniments with a twist.

IMG_1039
Cornflake Chicken
IMG_1042
D’Vine Fries with Aioli

The Cheese, Please! category offers an assorted cheese plate for market price. The “Twelve” category has seven selections to choose from. There are some delicious offerings in this section, among them Catalan Shrimp and the Bacon & Eggs.

IMG_1041
Catalan Shrimp flavored with jalapeno, garlic, lemon and parsley
bacon&eggs
Bacon & Eggs, pork belly topped with poached egg and paired with crouton atop slaw

The Eighteen section has at least three fish items and two red meat items.  Some notable items include the Cast Iron Fish (changes daily) and the Campfire Steak.

IMG_1044
Cast Iron Octopus – tender and tasty
IMG_1045
Campfire Steak, four ounces of sliced strip with bacon BBQ sauce, gorgonzola stuffed fingerlings

Escorts/sides section includes Mashed Potato Casserole, Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms, Cauliflower Croquettes, and Hot Slaw, each $6. Desserts are made on premise and on my visit, two of three offerings were deep fried. Reservations are strongly recommended. The restaurant plans to add another day of service; they are open only Tuesday-Saturday now. Watch for Sunday wine dinners.

D’Vine Bar

4 Depot Square

Sparkill, NY 10976

845.359.2141

www.grapedvine.com

Beef Shoulder Tenderloin Introduced at Bibi’z in Westwood, NJ

Where’s the Beef? At BiBi’z in Westwood

Bibi’z Restaurant/Lounge specializes in global American fare with a decidedly Mediterranean twist. In response to popular demand, the Bergen County restaurant is adding its prime Angus beef shoulder tenderloin special as a feature on its menu. The…

Continue reading “Beef Shoulder Tenderloin Introduced at Bibi’z in Westwood, NJ”

The Cuban Restaurant and Bar in Hoboken Offers Traditional Cuban Fare with a Twist

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 12.31.52 PM
Interior of The Cuban

At 333 Washington Street in Hoboken resides a culinary gem wrapped neatly in an ultra-sexy package. The Cuban, opened in January of 2012, is a Havana-centric restaurant that embodies the essence of traditional Cuban fare while playing on flavorful twists all in an intimate, plush setting complete with live music that serenades.

photo
Chef Alexis Lahens

Chef Alexis Lahens is the brains behind The Cuban’s extensive menu. Each dish boasts seasonally driven ingredients that are slow cooked to a tasty perfection reminiscent of the Cuban dishes Chef Alexis knew as a child. You will find spicy, braised oxtails, slow simmered skirt steaks and sweet, juicy plantains sure to satiate any hunger. Pair your meal with the house-made Sangria for palate perfection.

The El Classico at The Cuban
The El Classico at The Cuban

The Cuban is a far cry from the usual fare found on Washington Street. With its intimate setting, delectable dishes and wide array of cocktails, The Cuban is a must-try for any and all foodies.

The Cuban is located at 333 Washington Street in Hoboken, NJ.  Visit www.thecubannj.com.  To make reservations, please call 201-795-9899.

Hours:

Tuesdays through Wednesdays 4:00 – 10:00

Thursdays through Saturdays 4:00 – 11:00

Sundays 4:00 – 10:00

This review was conducted by Sarah Davies.

Welcome to Redhead With A Fork!

Thank you for visiting Redhead With A Fork, a blog dedicated to adventures in eating, cooking, lifestyle and consumerism.  Here you’ll find musings about dining out, cooking, nifty products, noteworthy places and programs and other things I stumble upon that I’d like to share.  I am a mother of three, feeding two teenage girls and a 10 year old boy, all great eaters and very opinionated.  By (week)day I run the boutique public relations agency I founded, tending to clients in and beyond the Garden State.  But from the moment I enter my home in the early evening, I tie on an apron and (often wearily) plot and prepare dinner. With homework overseen from afar at my stove post, I, like millions of other mothers and fathers, wear multiple hats.  We have a core rotation of favorite dinner mainstays, which I’ll be sharing, and I often experiment with new recipes and twists on classics.

I cook simple preparations that are going to be enjoyed.  I aim for healthy and for the most part, succeed.  We are omnivores.  My older daughter Isabel is the most finicky of my kids, telling me she no longer eats chicken at dinner when she subsists on grilled chicken wraps for lunch.  Cooking for kids can be among life’s least rewarding experiences at times.  But on those occasions when everyone is happily eating around the table and the kids are getting along, I know that I am blessed and feel so appreciative of life, family and the dinner gathering.

Because my time is limited on evenings and weekends (homework, kids’ sports events, spending time with my kids, food shopping, yoga, dog walking and the occasional round of golf), I will focus here on things that I think and hope will be of value to you.  Things as mundane as good organizing tools for the kitchen or a nifty shortcut to a satisfying weeknight meal will be presented.

I welcome hearing from you.  If you wish to submit a review idea, please email me at heidi@redheadwithafork.com.  Thank you for reading this blog and sharing it with others you think may enjoy.

Love,

Heidi, Redhead With A Fork