A rockin’ good wine time in south Jersey

Hey Anne!

I’m so terribly sorry to hear that you had bad pizza. I never thought that really would ever be a thing–to actually experience bad pizza. That may be a cardinal sin, especially when a pie is popping out of a brick oven at every  NYC corner establishment. Well, let me wash down that poor experience by telling you my adventure in southern Jersey’s wineries.

It was Barrel Tasting weekend in the southern part of the garden state and quite a few of the wineries took part and hosted events. I met a friend at Bellview Winery in Landisville, NJ, and our intention was to winery hop around the few that were in the same proximity. Even though we ended up staying at Bellview for the whole Saturday, we had a great time partaking in a $5 wine tasting and enjoying the vineyard and our BYOP (bring your own picnic).


We had the opportunity to try two wine tastings. We opted for their regular one on offer all the time because we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. The barrel wine tasting was hosted inside and featured their wines not normally sold year round or created. Both of us picked eight wines to try from a very long list with red, white, rose, dessert and other options.

You know I had a number of full-bodied reds checked off on my the list, but I did branch out and try a few whites. To my total astonishment, I enjoyed this white wine called Jersey Devil White. I was floored I liked the white over the red. I actually found the reds a little disappointing and underwhelming. All in all, we bought a bottle of the albino devil and plopped down at a table and started to feast.

Girl, I made homemade hummus, mini chicken & sun dried tomato skewers and brought an array of freshly cut fruits and veggies.


Hummus with Kalamata Olives recipe

Step 1: Drain standard can of chickpeas. Save some of the chickpea juice/water.

Step 2: Put chickpeas in blender with pinch of salt, 1TBSP of EVOO, 1TBSP chickpea juice and 1 TBSP of Kalamata olive juice.

Step 3: Blend together until creamy. Taste and add more salt if desired. Check consistency and add more EVOO and olive juice.

Step 4: Cut up olives and place on top of hummus. Serve!

#allloveforolives, #platebystaterecipes #americabitebybite #platebystate


 

The bottle was done and the food we offered it to the event staff because we had so much! I was so full of chickpeas it reminded me of the week prior when I unexpectedly ate at this vegan place.

Vegan, raw and rockin’

Rockin’ Raw near NYU campus was a slit in the bricks that I came across. My friend (another friend) and I were on a hunt for sushi. We reached our destination, but had no intention of waiting the 30 minutes, so we decided to go back out hunting for food. We opted to try Rockin’ Raw because of its inquisitive description. The restaurant menu was comprised of food featuring an Argentinian Creole vegan fusion. I know it is a mouthful, but I was satisfied. They served some hearty meals. I was shocked at how full I was. Also, they did not skimp on the guacamole in my cheezy burrito, which I was so thankful because I feel so many places never give you enough avocado or guacamole that are in line with your expectations. My burrito casing was made out of sun dried tomato and the filling featured the hefty guacamole, seed meat, greens, sour cream, cheese and salsa. I really focused on the guacamole and the jicama fries, which were unexpectedly good. Of course, I thought they would be fried jicama fries, but they were raw and coated in a Cajun sauce. I love Five Guys Cajun fries and these, though the taste was different and way lighter, were still A+.

 

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My friend ordered the jambalaya, which left her in need of a nap! (We couldn’t though because were due at a bar close by to watch a coworker’s band, they go by LoveDeep.) The bowl had a mix of brown rice, mushrooms, peppers, onions, carrots, tomato, zucchini, sea veggies, fresh herbs all coated with creole spices. I had a bite of hers and it was no NOLA dish. There was a difference in texture and taste. I almost thought it should be considered more of a chili. I also found it very thick. I don’t know if the “holy trinity” (onion, celery, green bell pepper) was in there, but I couldn’t taste it. I also know that there weren’t beans in there, but it tasted like there were. Lastly, we shared an appetizer. Jalapeno poppers. They were good, they were raw and they were filled with “cheese” that tasted (and resembled) like a 50/50 mix of tahini and hummus. Again, I was expecting fried, but those raw jalapenos were bare naked, juicy and crunchy when we cut them. The filling was slowly sliding out as we pressed our knives into the flesh of the evergreen colored pepper. The dish was cool and not warm and the jalapeno had just enough bite to it that the crunch and kick of spiciness was a really nice texture and flavor when paired with the vegan cheese. As I bit down into the pepper, its watery juiciness tempered the spiciness. The poppers were the best, I would totally make them for company, but I would stuff them with hummus.

 


I did come away with one critique. I find it hard to order vegan food that is named after popular, everyday dishes. There is this expectation that the vegan version will look and taste the same as it’s omnivore counterpart, but that assumption is inaccurate. Up until the other day, I hadn’t noticed how vegan food was relabeled. In that one experience at Rockin’ Raw, I almost wish they would rename vegan food altogether so it takes on a whole new identity. I am so used to knowing what to expect from a burrito, a jambalaya or jalapeno poppers that I figured there would be substitutes. By not having those substitutes, it really shows the artistry and creativity of vegan chefs to adapt and curate such tastiness, and I wish from that standpoint they named their dishes differently than what the general population knows because many people have expectations and those expectations may not be met when there expecting the same flavors as what they’re used to. That expectation from outsiders (non vegan/veg) I think hurts the vegan dish and chef. I can see the other side that vegans would want their equivalent to be named in relation to the mainstream meal names. I see both sides. It’s a learning curve. I feel as if this is a niche where we can get really punny, Anne. If we came up with great puns for the vegan equivalents of dishes that may help ease expectations to adventurous eaters, inquisitive eaters or anyone.

Pun one: How about holapeno crunchers?

On a side note, I have never seen so many seeds in a toilet bowl the next morning. #toilethumor #bathroomjokes #dadjokes

I’ll check out the churros in NYC in KTown on Wednesday.

Xoxox and ciao for now.

-Katherine

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