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

Bibi’z Restaurant and Deliciously Alicia Team Up for Gluten-Free Menu Options

bibiz LOGO 11 copy2

Bibi’z Restaurant | Lounge, a Bergen county pioneer in offering gluten-free and vegan menu options, is now sourcing quiche, muffins, scones, focaccia and pizza dough from Englewood, NJ gluten-free baker Deliciously Alicia.

Deliciously Alicia

“I am thrilled to support a local small businesswoman while giving my patrons delicious, healthy gluten-free options that are a great alternative to wheat-based baked goods,” said Ida Martin, Bibi’z founder and co-owner. “The demand for gluten-free baked goods and menu offerings has exploded in recent years and we’ve tirelessly worked to create tasty options for our customers who cannot eat wheat. Deliciously Alicia Focaccia is the perfect foundation for a crispy GF flatbread appetizer and the pizza dough will be a canvas for more culinary creations. Texture, mouth feel, taste and quality ingredients are essential components of delicious gluten-free baked goods and dough.”

The new gluten-free pizza option, made with dough from Deliciously Alicia.
The new gluten-free pizza option
Deliciously Alicia/Bibi'z Gluten-Free
Bibi’z flatbread appetizer

Bibi’z uses Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour with corn meal to make the restaurant’s acclaimed mini corn dogs’ tender, golden crust. Also, their Chicken Florentine is dredged in all purpose flour before cooking to create the perfect exterior. Bibi’z also carries gluten-free beer and vodka. The menu displays a “V” or “GF” next to items which are vegan or gluten-free. The restaurant also welcomes requests for GF alternative preparations to entrees on its menu.

About Bibi’z Lounge

Founded by Ida Martin in 2011, Bibi’z offers Global American cuisine with a Mediterranean twist.  Located at 284 Center Avenue in Westwood, NJ, Bibi’z is open Tuesday-Thursday from 12:00-10:00PM, Friday and Saturday from 12:00PM – 11:00PM and Sunday 11:00AM – 9:00PM.  Bibi’z bar is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.  Happy hour is offered six days a week from 3:00-6:00PM.  Catering and private dining facilities are available.   Bibi’z offers thoughtfully- sourced, eclectic cuisine in healthy renditions, much of it coming from local sources. The restaurant provides top shelf organic and conventional spirits, wine, and beer.

Bibi’z also offers “Girls Night Out” every Thursday with happy hour drinks all night long in the dining room and lounge.

(201) 722-8600

www.bibizlounge.com.

Endangered Species Chocolate: Indulge in a Cause with Natural, Dairy Free Filled Bars

Endangered Species Chocolate - an indulgence that does good
Endangered Species Chocolate – an indulgence that does good

Chocolate, in its many delectable forms, is often labeled a guilty pleasure – something that we try to enjoy in limited quantities when what we really want to do is devour it by the pound. Fortunately for chocoholics everywhere, there’s a way to mitigate some of that guilt.

Endangered Species Chocolate, founded in 1993, is a company that blends a passion for making delicious chocolate with its desire to make an impact on the ever-growing number of animal species that are facing the threat of extinction.  Every year, Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of its net profits to environmental NGOs focused on wildlife conservation and habitat protection.  So basically you can indulge in your favorite cocoa confections and do something good for the planet at the same time.  Yes, please.

Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free
Dairy free, gluten free, guilt free

Endangered Species Chocolate has just launched a brand new product line which consists of premium chocolate bars filled with natural, dairy free and gluten free crème. Currently available varieties include almond butter crème, blueberry vanilla crème, coconut crème, lavender mint crème, raspberry orange crème, and sea salt and lime crème, all surrounded by decadent 72% dark chocolate. All are quite delicious, with my favorite being the lavender mint combination – at once herbal and sweet with a wee bit of bitterness to balance the flavors. Thanks to Endangered Species’ PR folks, I received an assortment of all the new flavors.

These are the very first chocolate bars in the industry to incorporate 100% natural, dairy free and gluten free filling.  These new additions complement the company’s already impressive selection of milk and dark chocolate bars, pouches, and bites.  Each chocolate comes with a wrapper insert that gives details on an endangered species that your purchase helps protect. Cute animals and creamy chocolate – this is clearly a win/win situation. The line’s available at better markets and specialty natural foods/gourmet retailers around the country.

Browse the selection and order chocolate at:  http://bit.ly/1m7Z7D8 

Gluten-Free Italian Dinners Offered at La Riviera Trattoria, Clifton

I received the below invitation from La Riviera Trattoria’s owner, Maria. The last dinner I attended was excellent in terms of quality, quantity and value.  The program is set up with communal tables adding a festive ambiance. Follow the instructions as per below if you are interested in attending and don’t wait. These dinner parties fill up FAST and they are absolutely worth every penny. See you there!

YOU ARE INVITED TO THE GF ITALIAN DINNER ON MONDAY FEBRUARY 24TH AND MARCH 10TH at 6:30pm.

Because of the high volume of people, I can accept a maximum of 55 people each night. PLEASE CHOOSE ONE DATE AND LET ME KNOW YOUR ALLERGIES WHEN YOU BOOK IT. You must reserve first via email and then mail the check to: LA RIVIERA TRATTORIA.  

THE MENU:

1st Course (Family style):

Fried Calamari

Stuffed Baby Artichokes

Clams Oreganata

Meatballs

Pizza

2nd Course (Family Style):

Penne Vodka

3rd Course (Individual):

Salad

4th Course (Family style):

Veal Parmigiana

Chicken Milanese

French Fries

Eggplant Siciliana no mozzarella

Basa with baby shrimp in a scampi sauce

5th Course

Coffee

Dessert

It will be $50 per person including everything above, sodas, gratuity, and tax.  All liquor will be cash bar. Remember to save up for the products I will be selling. 

Thank you and look forward to our Party!!!!

Maria

La Riviera Trattoria

421 Piaget Avenue

Clifton, NJ 07011

www.larivieratrattoria.com

info@larivieratrattoria.com

973-478-4181

Sous Chef Antonio and Sister Maria Carlino, Crafting Italian Traditional Cuisine With Gluten-Free Ingredients at La Riviera Trattoria
Sous Chef Antonio and Sister Maria Carlino, Crafting Italian Traditional Cuisine With Gluten-Free Ingredients at La Riviera Trattoria

The Other Macaroon: NJ Bakery Brings a Bakery Fresh Favorite to Your Freezer

The Other Macaroon is their creative take on the delicious French pastry

The Northern Valley Baking Company got its sweet start in 1986 when pastry chef Tricia Vanech and her business partners, Elyse Pressner and Eve Megerle founded their first pastry shop in Jersey City.  Their first venture was a hit, and they launched La Petite Patisserie in Dumont, NJ in 1993.  Tricia, Elyse and Eve proved they were much more than another cookie-cutter pastry shop.  They made hand-crafted treats with the best ingredients and a meticulous eye for detail.  The trio have recently perfected another popular dessert—the macaroon.

The Othe Macaroon is a bakery fresh cookie you can keep in your freezer!

Inspired by the French cookie, The Other Macaroon is a frozen variety that has a lovely, chewy texture and the right amount of almond essence.  And, now that the Northern Valley Baking Company has began manufacturing their products for national reach, The Other Macaroon can be shipped right to your door.  In addition to the traditional almond flavor, The Other Macaroon is available in mocha, lemon, orange and raspberry.  The Other Macaroon can be purchased in bulk and kept in your freezer for a perfect bite-size treat to satisfy your sweet tooth at any time.  Whole Foods Market now carries the line in its frozen section.

The Other Macaroon (T.O.M.)

For more on The Other Macaroon and the story behind it at Northern Valley Baking Company, visit www.nvbaking.com.

Post by Jodi Kovacs

La Riviera Trattoria in Clifton, NJ – Paradise for a Gluten-Free Diner

Eating at Italian restaurants since giving up gluten has been challenging.  Dining at La Riviera Trattoria in Clifton on Route 46 rekindled my hope that there was more to gluten-free dining than gummy brown rice pasta.  Chef Franco Carlino, owner, had a robust business for decades when his daughter Maria was diagnosed with Celiac disease.   Along with his son Sous Chef Antonio Carlino cooking by his side, the two came up with several new ways to cook and promote gluten free food.

Sous Chef Anthony and Sister Maria Carlino, Crafting Italian Traditional Cuisine With Gluten-Free Ingredients at La Riviera Trattoria
Sous Chef Antonio and Sister Maria Carlino, Crafting Italian Traditional Cuisine With Gluten-Free Ingredients at La Riviera Trattoria

Experimentation began by altering ingredients with gluten-free substitutes, some imported from Schar and Italian corn pasta makers.  A modest gluten-free menu was soon published and word spread about the restaurant’s gluten-free options (now a full two page menu), causing a small group of devoted gluten-free diners to eventually swell to over 500 today.

Danica and Maria, along with the servers, are keenly interested in their patrons’ diet needs.  Before being shown to a table, patrons are asked if they will be choosing from the regular or gluten-free menu.  Once seated with appropriate menus in hand, there are more questions from the server or Maria herself:   Are you gluten-free?  Other allergies?  Dairy?  Soy?  The kitchen, we are told, is quite eager and ready to accommodate any allergies.  Gluten-free dishes are prepared in segregated pots and pans and served on brown rimmed plates to avoid contamination.  People who are gluten intolerant or allergic as well as patients diagnosed with Crohn’s, autism, ADHD, Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other conditions all follow a gluten-free diet.  Many diners are choosing a gluten-free lifestyle believing that it is healthier.

Even if I wasn’t living a gluten-free lifestyle, I would want to dine at La Riviera Trattoria.  With its expansive gluten-free and regular menus, everything we enjoyed was deftly prepared and fresh tasting.  The restaurant incorporates local and organic ingredients into dishes as well.  GF beer and liquors are available, along with bread and desserts.

Stuffed Artichoke
Stuffed Artichoke

Stuffed artichoke (GF – $12.95) was delicious with a delicate breadcrumb and parmesan stuffing and a light broth to dip leaves into.  Shrimp salad ($12.95) is served in a light lemon dressing and is an enormous portion.  This was a stand-out.  Spruzo ($16.95) is a medley of marina, garlic, basil and olive oil with penne, full of flavor and cooked precisely al dente.  Veal Milanese ($22,95) had a light, crispy exterior and texture that was identical to traditional gluten-based breadcrumbs.  The tender, flavorful veal inside was juicy and required no knife for cutting.  Entrees are served with a tasty vinaigrette, thankfully without balsamic or sweet, overpowering flavors.  This is very much an old-school style restaurant, where red wine vinegar has its rightful place.  Gluten-free pizza is available and we very much enjoyed a personal size drizzled with olive oil, flaked salt and olives.

Veal Milanese
Veal Milanese
This may look like a dish of penne with tomato sauce, but it is a flawless dish of gluten-free pasta
This may look like a dish of penne with tomato sauce, but it is a flawless dish of gluten-free pasta
Here's that delicious gluten-free pizza with olives, olive oil and a scattering of flake salt
Here’s that delicious gluten-free pizza with olives, olive oil and a scattering of flake salt

Once you have dined at the restaurant, I recommend you join their database by giving Maria or Danica your email.  Four or five gluten-free dinners with a price fixe menu are offered throughout the year and reservations available on a first come first served basis.

Service is usually quite good with dishes arriving at a comfortable tempo from the kitchen.  Tables are spaced comfortably in the dining room and the restaurant has an overflow/private dining room in the back.  Make sure you do not confuse La Riviera Trattoria with another restaurant by a similar name next door.  Reservations are strongly recommended.   Danica, Maria and Chefs Carlino are very warm, gracious hosts.

La Riviera Trattoria
421-27 Piaget Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07011

973.478.4181 

www.LaRivieraTrattoria.com

OPEN TUESDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
Mon: Closed
Tues: 11:30a – 2:30p & 4:30p – 9:00p
Wed: 11:30a – 2:30p & 4:30p – 9:00p
Thurs: 11:30a – 2:30p & 4:30p – 9:00p
Fri: 11:30a – 2:30p & 4:30p – 10:00p
Sat: 4:30p – 10:00p
Sun: 2:00p – 8:00p

Gluten & Allergen Free EXPO in Secaucus – Exhibitor Top Picks

We visited the Meadowlands Expo Center recently for the Gluten & Allergen Free EXPO and came across some note-worthy companies and brands.  With over 150 exhibitors, this Expo was designed as a lifestyle show for those with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/inflammatory diseases as well as as athletes and the health conscious community.  There was a nut-free section for GF companies that are are dedicated peanut & nut-free facilities.  Classes were offered on GF baking, sugar addiction, eating corn-free and dairy-free and converting gluten recipes into gluten-free recipes.

Highlighted below in short video interviews are some of the most interesting companies/tastiest products we found (in no particular order):

SuperSeedz – from Kathie’s Kitchen, this addicting, delicious line of dry roasted shelled gourmet pumpkin seeds come in a variety of flavors like Coco Joe, Sugar & Cinnamon and a surprisingly good Tomato Italian variety.  I walked away with a couple pouches of Sea Salt and love the fresh taste of this line.

Everybody Eats – this Brooklyn-based bakery at 294 Third Avenue is owned by Pedro Aroba and Bruce Bassman and produces excellent bread, rolls, bagels, desserts and sweets, even pasta.  The bread products are best served warm or gently toasted.  Pedro sliced samples handily with a meat cleaver (no kidding and not a statement about the texture of the bread) while Bruce loaded thin slices into a warming oven, admonishing visitors to their table to not eat any samples that hadn’t been toasted first.  Once properly heated and spread with Irish butter that they supplied, sales briskly mounted. The products can all be frozen, thawed and re-frozen without losing their integrity.  They won’t last that long in my home though.  The texture is wheat-like and the flavor robust and satisfying.

Bread Empire Gluten Free Breads – gluten-free breads inspired by the traditional breads of South America, Bread Empire Gluten Free Breads have a crispy exterior and a warm, doughy center. Dominic and Paolo offered a robust sampling of warm dinner rolls infused with just the right amount of olive oil.

King Arthur Flour – a long-time, major player in specialty flours, was serving up samples of GF coffee cake made with their new GF All-Purpose flour blend.  This trusted name would be ideal as a go-to product for bakers looking to swap out their AP gluten flours with a quality blend.  For those wanting to mix their own blends, check out Silvana Nardone’s cook book and her website Silvana’s Kitchen which has a great recipe using very specific brands and blends of tapioca flour, potato starch, Xanthan gum and other ingredients.

Hail Merry – based out of Dallas, TX Hail Merry offers a variety of desserts, each celebrating a carefully selected raw plant based oil. I came away with with the most delicious macaroons that were promptly enjoyed.

Luce’s Gluten Free Artisan Breads – launched in 2012, Luce’s Gluten Free Artisan Breads are reminiscent of what bread should be. Their Bold Buckwheat Premium bread is a perfect blend of hand-ground buckwheat meal, pumpkin and chia seeds.

Deya’s Gluten-Free Flour – these flours are tailor-made for specific baking needs.  Each flour has a 1-to-1 ratio to wheat flour.  Deya’s offers Cake Flour, Bread Flour and Sauce Flour.

Feel Good Foods – ‘don’t worry, eat happy’ is the motto of this gluten-free food company offering the world’s first gluten-free and dairy-free Asian Dumplings and Egg Rolls.  The Egg Rolls were great.

Gluten Free Oats – created by a family of Celiacs, Gluten Free Oats have made it their mission to create products that those who eat gluten-free, can trust.  Gluten Free Oats offers a wide variety of granolas and rolled oats that are sure to amp up any breakfast.

GoBites: Whole Snacks Delivered

GoBites are portion controlled “snack packs” made with healthy ingredients from around the world.  The ingredients are 100% natural and include nuts, seeds and grains, fruits and exotic berries.  GoBites offers over 26 varieties of snacks and works with a variety of diets including:  Mediterranean, Glycemic Index, High Fiber and Gluten Free.  What is nifty about this product is that the palm-sized, low cal snack packs have custom delivery options and the variety of the packs included is based on customer preference.  We tried the Pomegranate Punch pack, which includes organic pineapple, mango and pomegranate, and what we enjoyed most was the sweet-tart flavor of the pomegranate pieces.  The Apricot Gluten Free Granola was a bit tough to chew, as the apricots were happily non-preserved, but really stuck to the teeth and left a slightly unpleasant after taste.  I would have liked a kick of ginger in this granola, perhaps delivered through crystallized ginger chunks instead of the organic ginger powder which was likely the culprit behind the aftertaste.

All in all, this is a fine option for people who want pristinely packed organic snacks conveniently delivered to the home, office, college dorm.  The dried fruits are excellent quality and the serving sizes are perfect for a couple handfuls of fresh tasting dried fruit.

Subscriptions start at $27.86 a month, with free delivery. For more information visit www.gobites.com

GoBites Snack Packs in the delivery package
GoBites Snack Packs in the delivery package
GoBites Apricot Gluten Free Granola
GoBites Apricot Gluten Free Granola

GoBites was sent to Redhead With A Fork free for review purposes.

Nicolette Bussanich, research associate, contributed to this piece.