Hoboken Farms: Small Town Sauce, Big Town Flavor

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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. 

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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.

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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

BareBurger: Putting (Organic) Meat on the Table – New Restaurant in Edgewater, NJ

Talking to Oguz Buyukbas, owner of BareBurger in Edgewater, NJ

When we talk about organic, sustainable, all-natural food we tend to devote a lot of attention to fruits and veggies while giving meat the cold shoulder. That’s because the meat found in many restaurants and grocery stores contains traces of pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics – a far cry from organic. But environmentally conscious carnivores in the tri-state area can rejoice because the restaurant micro-chain BareBurger is demonstrating that you don’t have to take meat off the menu to be sustainable.

BareBurger started back in 2009 in Astoria and has since expanded into eight restaurants with more on the way.  At the invitation of BareBurger, we had the opportunity to try out their brand new Edgewater, NJ location. There’s a sophisticated, earthy vibe that fills the space with glass garage doors serving as a front facade in the tony City Place complex. The bamboo floor, tables and chairs made from reclaimed wood add to that atmosphere while driving home the fact the BareBurger is concerned with sustainability.

Our server was friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu, where the food comes from, and so on. I was particularly impressed with the sheer variety of items on BareBurger’s menu – not to mention the fact that the majority of items are organic. They proudly emphasize the fact that their meat comes from free range animals that were humanely raised without the use of pesticides or other substances.  All dairy, produce and even ice cream are organic.

Starting out with a root beer float with organic ice cream and root beer from Maine Root
Starting out with a root beer float  made with organic ice cream and root beer from Maine Root

Carnivorous fare – with standard options like beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb along with more exotic alternatives like elk, bison, and ostrich, are the primary draw and offered up in a tantalizing array of themes and with myriad toppings.  Milkshakes and root beer floats were promptly ordered (16 oz., thank you) and come with a shovel-ended straw for sipping convenience. My daughter Olivia thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate milkshake with dark chocolate chunks suspended in the rich, custardy conconction.  Shakes also come in vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, and raspberry flavors ($6.95 for 16 oz.). Multiple salads are offered and dressings taste homemade and fresh.  The caesar dressing went over well. Fries are hand-cut and portions are large, arriving with dipping sauces. Thick cut onion rings are freshly battered and crispy.

Close-up on crazy thick and dark chocolate chunk-studded shake
Close-up on crazy thick and dark chocolate chunk-studded shake

Burgers were cooked as ordered and nicely flavored, even if somewhat eclipsed by the brioche bun.  BareBurger offers gluten-free buns. Multiple varieties of buns are available. You get the concept:  start with the 6 oz. bare burger (animal of your choice) and build from there.  The location is right across the street from the multiplex theater and I imagine it’s caught on quickly in its first month+ of business as a good dinner option pre- or post-movie.  It’s worthy as a destination as well though and is popular with the stroller set.  Large flat screens are tuned to cartoons (muted) while rock plays in the background.

Lamb burger on GF bun with Carolina slaw
Lamb burger on GF bun with Carolina slaw
Fries and onion rings
Fries and onion rings
Interior shot
Interior shot
Cheeseburger with slab bacon
Cheeseburger with slab bacon
A loaded up burger
A loaded up burger

Desserts are unexpectedly decadent, presented with decoration in the style of fancier eateries.  The flourless chocolate cake (GF) with amarena cherries was decadently rich as was apple tart.  Milk shakes are listed under desserts/sweets, and for good reason. The hot honey milk shake is on my must-have list for my next visit. Multiple options for breakfast diners are also available. Menu items are all noted with a GF for gluten-free, V for vegan and N for nuts. Numerous wrap and sandwich options are offered as well.

Cranberry Blue Salad

Cranberry Blue Salad

View their full menu and restaurant locations by visiting their website at http://www.bareburger.com/.  Oguz, the owner, tells me he has plans to open several more BareBurgers in the Garden State, with Ridgewood his next stop.

Flourless chocolate cake with cherry compote
Flourless chocolate cake with cherry compote
Apple tart with caramel
Apple tart with caramel

BareBurger

78 Promenade
Edgewater, NJ 07020

tel: 201.941.2273 (BARE)

Monday to Friday  11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

www.bareburger.com

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

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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.

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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.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Drink

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Drink:

Galilee Tisanes – Galilee Tisanes has made it their mission as a company to find the perfect balance between agriculture, herbal medicine and technology.  Each tea blend targets a specific malady and provides a tasty brew as well.

FRESH Natural Spring Water – FRESH Natural Spring Water offers a natural pH balance of 7.9 to hydrate on a deeper level than plain H2O.

Wild Poppy – Wild Poppy juices are small batch, organic juices in vibrant, sophisticated blends.  Their branding is as delightful as the line is tasty.  This one’s a winner.  Wild Poppy Organic Peppermint Lemonade is our favorite.

Pukka Organic Teas – The British know tea.  The word ‘pukka’ is Indian for the best, and indeed, this line is indeed pukka.  Pukka offers thoughtful blends based on Ayervedic medicine.  The line succeeds for pure sipping pleasure and sensuous fragrance.  The branding of this exquisite line of organic herbal blends has elevated their packaging to art form.

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Bruce Cost Ginger Ale – Bruce Cost Ginger Ale out of Brooklyn is made with only fresh ginger and pure cane sugar.  Unlike mass produced syrupy ginger ales, hand crafted Bruce Cost Ginger Ale is light, refreshing and full of ginger vibrance.  Love this line.

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Suja Juice – Crafted for elevated wellness, Suja Juices are packed with fresh fruits, vegetables and flavors.  Each juice has a distinctive taste and tastes freshly squeezed.  The Master Cleanse is my favorite.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Heal

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Heal:

Intimina – Intimina is a European line of washes, accessories, personal massagers and kegel exercisers designed with women’s health (and pleasure!) in mind.  This beautifully branded line uses graduated weight balls for insertion to improve pelvic floor muscles.  A sexy, sleek and intuitive line.

Squatty Potty – Squatty Potty wants to know, Have you pooped today?  They sported tee shirts and oversize buttons with the same question and invited passersby to sit down on the toilet in their booth to get into squatting position.  Founder Bobby Edwards is on a mission to get his ergonomic footstool (inspired by his mother’s struggle with colon problems) into bathrooms and get people squatting to improve colon health, maximize elimination, reduce hemorrhoids and constipation and even strengthen pelvic floor muscles.  Squatting is ideal for laboring women and just about anyone else who enjoys the myriad benefits of this humble position.

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Woo Bamboo – Woo Bamboo are eco-friendly toothbrushes made of organic bamboo.  Unlike the traditional plastic toothbrush, they do not get sticky and are compostable.  No reason not to woo, we say!  This three-month old line is quite eco-friendly and likeable.

Dairyface – Dairyface is a line of dairy-based skincare lotions that have a rich, creamy texture and are loaded with skin moisturizing healthy fats.  The line must be refrigerated.

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Worker B – I have used Worker B Raw Honey Face Wash every morning since my return from Natural Products Expo.  Worker B is based in Minneapolis and uses locally sourced raw honey which is loaded antioxidants.  All of their products are hand-made in small batches and ideal for ultra-sensitive skin.

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Dr. OH Patch – The Dr. OH Patch uses essential oils and herbs in a transdermal delivery system to alleviate menstrual cramps.   A smart concept for women who want to avoid OTC pain relievers.

Natural Products Expo East Highlights: To Eat

The Natural Products Expo offered thousands of companies a platform to showcase their goods.  There were thousands of visitors as well so apologies for the poor sound quality in the videos below.  Here are notables in the category of To Eat:

Smart Flour Foods – Anyone who is gluten-free knows how hard it can be to find a delicious gluten free pizza.  Smart Flour Foods has solved that problem for gluten-free foodies by creating a line of pizzas that feature a crunchy crust reminiscent of wood-fired pizzas.  This is an outstanding pizza line.

Wild Friends Foods – Wild Friends Foods are a tasty line of nut butters featuring ingredient pairings started by two very clever twenty-somethings.

Bill’s Best Organic BBQ Sauces – Bill’s Best organic BBQ sauces are based on family recipes passed down to Jason Fehon by his father who suffers from  Frontotemperal Degeneration.  10% of each bottle purchased is donated to finding a cure for the disease.  Jason’s a young, passionate entrepreneur who runs the company with his brother.  Ingredients are first rate, from organic Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to exotic imported spices.   Beautiful packaging.  Regular and spicy versions, both excellent.

DF Mavens – DF Mavens call themselves the finest producers of dairy-free ice cream.   Bright, fresh flavors impressed.

Mamalicious – Mamalicious protein powder uses brown rice as a protein base, providing an easy option for mixing with liquids or smoothies to up vitamin, mineral and nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

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Real and Wonderful – Real and Wonderful are the makers of delicious raw foods.  With a line of snacks ranging from Vanilla Macaroons to Red Pepper Herb Crackers, Real and Wonderful offer feel-good raw snacks in tempting flavor combinations.

Bear Branch Milling Co.  –  ‘A man full of grits, is a man full of peace.’  That’s the motto of Ash, North Carolina’s Bear Branch Milling Co.   This is the real deal.  The line is made in a 100+ year old mill and includes all natural stone ground yellow and white cornmeal, grits, as well as whole wheat flour milled from whole grains, free of additives or preservatives.  Its corn is not genetically modified.  The entire line is gluten-free.  Beautiful packaging, honest and simple.

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Gunshot Sauce – Gunshot Sauce, a versatile vinegar-based gourmet sauce from Shade Tree Sauce Company, is a natural to pair with proteins, to punch up salad dressings and slather on eggs.

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NoTatoes – NoTatoes are from Sorilito Foods in Bethel, CT blending cassava with corn.  The result is a crispy, lightly salted alternative to tortillas.  Kid-friendly with enough sophistication to appease adults.

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Treeline Cheese – Treeline Cheese dares people to be dairy free.  These artisanal cheeses are made from Brazilian cashew nuts but still have a delectable creamy texture and tang.  I particularly liked their smoked hard cheeses.

Seasnax – Seasnax make noshing on seaweed as a snack rather addicting.  Made with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, Seasnax are a healthy snack both mother and child approved.  My favorite is the regular although multiple new flavors have emerged.