Archive for breakfast

Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park

This post is a long time coming. I first heard about Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park earlier this year. I’ve now been there several times and it has quickly become my new favorite place to dine. My first time was for an Oscars Night Dinner a few months ago. I wanted to check that out, especially since they were giving away swag bags to diners. So I headed there with my sister and one of her friends. I loved the decor as soon as I stepped in, kitschy (spelling?), warm and inviting. Great decor, comfy booths with a great ocean view.

We started with the fried olives appetizer. These were little balls of fried heaven. They were green olives with cheese fried and served with a delicious lemon basil mayo. The warm bread was also great. It had a different, almost sweet taste to it, can’t put my finger on it. That was accompanied by some olive oil with roasted garlic and red peppers.

My sister and her friend both had the Skirt Steak, “marinated and roasted –sliced and topped with spring onions . Served with rice and beans – Grilled asparagus and a side of spiced fruit salsa” It was actually served with a Spanish potato cake. I’m not sure know if it noted that change on the menu. I tried the steak and it was cooked and seasoned perfectly. And that potato cake? Luscious.

I had the Langosta Caldo Verde (the paella on the website menu): “In a not so traditional cilantro broth with mussels, shrimp and seafood mixed with chorizo and vegetables over Ruby’s special Mexican rice and spice roasted garlic aioli toast points.” It was more seafood than rice and it was great. Not too spicy, 3 large mussels, lots of shrimp, a few scallops, and other white fish.

For dessert, the two girls had the the pu pu platter, which was essentially smores. It had some fabulous dark chocolate, one with cranberries and one with pistachios, marshmallows, graham crackers, peanut butter cups, and strawberries.

Now for the slight negatives…Service was a bit shoddy. The waitress was overall friendly and nice but not on the ball. When first sat down I ordered a club soda with lime, it came out with lemon. She was no where in sight so I asked the busboy for lime. He brings me back a plate of lemons. OOOOkay….So I gave up on the limes. She also forgot to bring my sister’s friend’s tea. She wasn’t really around to get her attention much either for these two issues. Empty glasses were left on the table after new ones were brought as well.

And the kicker…During dessert I asked if we were getting our “swag bags” as noted in the email I received. She didn’t seem to know what the deal was and said the wait staff didn’t really know what was going on. Oh boy….Then we got ONE bag ONLY because I paid $10 to participate in the Asbury Park Film Initiative’s Oscar Raffle (swag bag was pretty cool though – mostly candy, but a candle, glass work, pottery, and the actual bag were neat). So I”m thinking I missed something in email. When I got home it says “Attendees receive swag bags….” So a bit misleading and unorganized.

But I loved the food so much I went back again (and again and again). After that first timer, service was always fabulous.  I’ve been back for lunch, breakfast, tapas and drinks. Each time was fabulous. I freakin love this place. The menu is different, creative, exciting. I absolutely love love love the decor. The vibe is chill and I feel right at home here. I noticed that as the Summer moves along, it’s getting more and more busy. I overheard a group say on Friday afternoon (while I was enjoying some tacos at Pop’s Garage next door, owned by Langosta) that they were completely booked for Friday night. Good for them. I want to see this place around for a long long time. Furthermore, they have some sort of special event going on every night!

Sundays – Jazzy Brunch and Lobster Bakes, Monday – Bistro Prixe Fix, Tapa Tuesdays, Mexican Wednesdays, Tiki Surf Nite Thursdays, Funky Fridays with DJ’s and Serenity Saturdays. They often have live music as well.

Langosta Lounge Website

On the Boardwalk across from The Stone Pony in Asbury Park

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Aaarrggghhh! Pirate’s Den, Brigantine, NJ

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Last weekend my friend Agnes and I headed down to my favorite sinful place in NJ – Atlantic City, of course. These two broads hit up the casinos one night to celebrate my 21st birthday! Okay, who am I kidding, 34th. It’s all good. After having a disappointing dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s in the Borgata Friday night, Saturday morning we were desperate for a good breakfast. Now, for the most part, breakfast is limited to buffets and the such in AC and they typically, in my experience are not that good. I called my mom who suggested I head over the bridge into Brigantine to Pirate’s Den for breakfast.

Since she couldn’t tell us exactly where it was, and the fact it was pouring with low visibility, it took us a little while to find this charming little place. It’s so small and inconspicouous you can miss it. Despite the heavy rain and lack of beachgoers, there was still a wait to get a table. It’s not too small with a good amount of tables, but I can imagine on a sunny summer day, the wait would be more than our ten minutes.

They have your standard breakfast items but also offered up some unique ones as well, such as Bananas Foster French Toast, Eggs Benedict with Crabcakes, and a few smoked salmon choices. Agnes went with the traditional Eggs Benedict and I went with the Smoked Salmon, Tomato, and Red Onion Omelet. I ordered my home fries with onions as well. Portion sizes were huge! We both ended up taking half of our food home. Very good, down home food. Really good. My only complaint was there was tooo much onions in my home fries – the whole top layer was onions. Now I know. Service was quick, friendly, and attentive. Very kitchsy, beachy decor. Reasonable prices as well.

I would most definitely hit this place up again next time I’m in the area. Not sure if they are open in the off-season though. Definitely worth a trip away from the casinos for a great breakfast.

Pirate’s Den
1219 E Brigantine Ave
Brigantine, NJ 08203-3201
(609) 266-1927

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Farewell Summer…

It’s a sad, sad week…This week marks the end of Summer as we welcome Autumn. I love the Fall but living 15 minutes from the beach, I’m a beach bum at heart. I’m at my second week at my new job but the week before I started I took the entire week off from my last job and spent more or less the entire week at the beach.

I started off with a trip to Atlantic City and Cape May with my friend Mel. We started the day venturing down to Cape May where we immediately hit up my favorite spot, The Mad Batter, for breakfast. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know every time I go there, I can’t stay away from the Croustade. But maybe it was a sign…they were out of it. I went Chesapeake Bay Benedict – poached eggs on toasted English muffin with super lump crabmeat & caper Hollandaise, home fries $12.00, which was delicious, not as delicious though as my Croustade. Mel went with the Country Breakfast which she enjoyed and a Peach Tea Cooler (booze). Mad Batter also has THE best coffee in Cape May, though the locals say the Wawa does. Never tried it though. I also had a Chambord Mimosa. Perfect way to start a beautiful day! After spending a lovely day at the beach, we hit up Washington Street Mall for some shopping and of course some fudge from Cape May Fudge Kitchen and we were off to Atlantic City where a heavenly room at Caesar’s awaited us…

Once in AC, we decided later that night to hit up The Tropicana Casino to head over to Cuba Libre for dinner. Now as a ballroom dance instructor/student I wanted to check this place out since on the weekend they have Latin dancing. But alas, on a Monday night, ain’t much going on. Very cool place to go dance, but eat? NEVER again. It started out alright. Mel had a fabulous Manjo Mojito and I had a refreshing Watermelon Mojito followed by some darn tasty Pappas Rellenos and some nice bread with a Mango Butter. Then the entrees came. Oh how terrible. One of the worst meals we both every had. Her Arroz Con Pollo was rubbery and my Vaca Frita (short rib steak) was fatty and burned. ugh….

After a long night of drinking and gaming we needed to fuel up. We headed over to Cafe Roma in Caesar’s for a breakfast overlooking the ocean. Mel ate from the buffet while I went with the ham and egg (hold the cheese) croissant sandwich with home fries. This was pretty tasty overall and since I had some comp dollars most of it was paid for!!

After spending a few more hours in the casino and boardwalk we packed it up and headed home. Not before stopping off at the legendary White House Subs. We got ours to go and Mel loved her’s while I thought it was good, it wasn’t the best I’ve had. It was definitely tasty and fresh but I like my lettuce shredded and I WANT to taste the olive oil, vinegar and spices on my sub. But definitely worth a trip any time.

The rest of the week I beached it. As you can see, one of my beach days I was the ONLY person on the beach. Kinda cool, kinda creepy. I was also able to really take in the beach, hence the floral picture.

After the beach one day, I hit up Red Bank for some window shopping and found a little treasure of a restaurant. I was starving but wanted something quick, healthy, and affordable. I found it at Sogo Sushi. This place is so small, it’s easy to miss. It is really a take-out place as it only has two small tables and enough room to seat four. And they only serve brown rice, which works for me as I favor brown over white. I ordered here a spider roll and a salmon roll. I was pleasantly surprised at the good taste and great value.

Overall, it was a relaxing week before getting back to the grind. With the new job I somewhat hesitantly welcome Fall. Good-bye summer, good-bye beach, I’m miss you, as will my bike…

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Food porn ala Flakey Tart


I challenge The Flakey Tart bakery in Atlantic Highlands, NJ to make something I don’t like. With that said, here’s some recent delicious treats from a recent excursion down to my favorite bakery.

In the first picture, we have a Monkey Muffin (croissant dough with sweet cream cheese and nuts baked in), a half eaten almond croissant, and a ginormous blueberry muffin.

In this pic, we have their luscious key lime tart.

And finally. a mini pound cake that was sweet and heavenly.

I also recently stopped there for breakfast last week on my way to the beach and had the most delicious little brioche topped with sweetened cranberries and filled with an orange curd. wow….

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The Flakey Tart, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Moving down to Monmouth County a couple of years ago has proved a culinary challenge to some degree. Sure, I’ve found some great restaurants in the area and recently found a good pizza place (Denino’s in Aberdeen). But there have been some areas where it’s been lacking. And bakeries were no exception. I’ve tried a few in the area and they were all terrible. Growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I was spoiled by Saraceno’s Italian Bakery. I can still remember going there after church on Sunday at St. Anthony’s and getting a cream puff or chocolate eclair. But alas…even Saraceno’s isn’t the same anymore….

But then I started hearing all this buzz over on the boards at Chowhound…. Everyone was talking about a little bakery, not far from my home (7.4 miles to be exact, 12 minutes) in Atlantic Highlands. So Mother’s Day was coming up and I needed something for mom. Years ago, while in college, I started a tradition for Mother’s Day by giving her a baby cake from Cafe Beethoven in Chatham, NJ. I continued this tradition while I lived in the area for several years but when I moved down to Monmouth County, that tradition faded due to the lack of bakery. So I figured The Flakey Tart would definitely have something for her. And I was right.

As I stepped into the tiny bakery, my heart started to pitter patter. Trays and shelves full of brownies, croissants, scones, cakes and other beautiful pastries. Now reading all the buzz over at Chowhound, I was looking for a few things in particular. First things first though, something for mom. And there it was, a lovely baby carrot cake. I’ll take it. And then the fat girl in me came out. I then got started on those buzz-worthy items from my fellow chowhounds – the mac ‘n’ cheese, pan au chocolat,  and a ham and Gruyere croissant. Then I tried a few other items – a maple-walnut scone, a spinach-bacon frittata, and a little cinnamon-cream cheese muffin with “Monkey” in the name I think?? And not all in the shop people, please! I took it home and pigged out! 

I was having heart palpitations as I drove home with those pastry boxes next to me. Oh dear God, please just let me make it home before I tear into these I thought. As soon as I got home, before I touched one heavenly morsel, I paused and remembered you my dear readers and whipped out the camera.

Everything was out of this world. I closed my eyes with each taste and wondered why I hadn’t taken the 7 mile ride down there before. The mac “n” cheese were made with a combo of cheeses and a delicate topping. It was gooey and cheesy and sinful. The frittata was bursting with flavors of smoky bacon, spinach, and some other vegetables that have escaped me. The maple-walnut scone, covered with a light layer of sweet glaze, was moist, light, and delicious. The ham-gruyere croissant was fabulous with the ham and cheese baked right into the croissant. A few seconds in the microwave to warm the ham and melt the cheese. Perfection. The monkey muffin was a little tart with a sweet, danish-like flavor that was great. And last but not least, my favorite, the pan au chocolat, a flaky, delicate croissant with just the right amount of chocolate. To die for. The next day, my family enjoyed the moist, spicy carrot cake with a light, sweet cream cheese frosting with crushed walnuts on the rim of the cake.

The Flakey Tart has found a place in my heart. I am thrilled to have found some an incredible bakery where it’s obvious that the owners care about the quality of the product. I urge you to take a trip out there and give it a try. In fact, if you are a visitor to the Jersey shore and have to head down Route 36 to hit up Sandy Hook or any of those locations in the vicinity, the Flakey Tart is on your way there! A few minutes right off of Route 36 at 145 First Ave., Atlantic Highlands, NJ.

I know I’ll be making the trek many, many times in the near future….

 

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Peanut Butter Split Smoothie

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I know crappy pic…..

Peanut butter and bananas. Hey, even Elvis like this combo. How could you go wrong with it? I personally love it (particularly the Reese’s Special Edition Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Cups, but that’s another story….). But I’m all about being healthy so here’s a quickie recipe for you from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave: Luschious Recipes for a Healthy Life.

Smoothies are a great way to get a quick meal in there if you are always on the run like I am. I typically make mine without yogurt and found the addition of yogurt made the smoothie thicker. If you’d like it a little sweeter I suggest a packet of Equal (or Splenda or Sweet ‘n’ Low) or even a drizzle of honey. I thought it was perfect as is. I also used low-fat peanut butter instead of natural, which may have accounted for the slight sweetness that others seemed to miss. The recipe can also be found on The Food Network’s site with some additional reviews here.

Peanut Butter Split Smoothie  

Copyright 2006, Ellie Krieger All rights reserved

1 ripe banana, quartered and frozen
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons creamy, natural, peanut butter

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information
Nutritional analysis per serving Calories 325
Total Fat 12.5 grams Saturated Fat 1.5 grams
Cholesterol 3 grams Sodium 90 mg
Carbohydrates 43.5 grams Protein 13.5 grams
Fiber 4.5 grams

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Scones

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Here’s another recipe from my Christmas Brunch for scones. I had actually never had a scone until several years ago. I was living in South Orange, NJ and there was a little gourmet deli in town. I was looking for a quick bite one day and the owner suggested her raisin scones. Well….they were the most buttery, moist, delicious morsel I had eaten in quite some time. Her scones were so good they often sold out the day she baked them. I would have to pre-order them on the days she made them just to make sure I’d get some.

I’ve since moved from South Orange and never found a scone like those. I’ve tried many a dry, baking-soda flavored scone since and a few years ago, decided I  needed to add a scone pan to my breakfast bakeware. Now, you don’t necessary need a scone pan to make scones. You can form the dough into a scone shape and just bake on a regular cookie sheet.

The recipe I use for scones comes from Williams-Sonoma, where I purchased the scone pan from. In fact, the recipe was on the packaging. Anyhow, I think it’s a great recipe for scones. They’ll never be as good as the ones in South Orange, but I think they’re a good substitute! I used raisins in these but you can also use dried cranberries.

Overall rating – 4.5 stars

Orange-Currant Scones A Scottish quick bread, scones may have derived their name from the Stone of Destiny (or Scone), the place where Scottish kings were once crowned. Other sources claim that the word comes from schoonbrot or sconbrot, meaning “fine white bread.” Scones were traditionally made with oats and cooked on a griddle, while modern versions are generally prepared with flour and baked in the oven. 2 cups all-purpose flour
1
4 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1
2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into
small pieces
1
2 cup currants
1 egg
1
2 cup heavy cream
Zest of 1 orangePreheat an oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a scone pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until pea-size crumbs form. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the currants.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, cream and orange zest until blended and add to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir to form large, moist clumps of dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press together with your hands until the dough comes together. Roll out the dough, flouring as needed, into a 10-inch round about 3D4 inch thick. Cut into 8 equal-size wedges. Press each wedge into a well of the prepared scone pan, or place the wedges 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.Bake until the scones are golden, about 25 minutes. Invert the scone pan onto a wire rack and lift off the pan, or transfer the scones from the baking sheet to the rack. Let the scones cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 scones.

Adapted from a recipe given to Chuck Williams by Judy Rodgers, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Zuni Café, San Francisco.

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