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Author Archives: Bluejeanfoodcritic

Cameron’s Seafood Market – Philadelphia, PA (Broad Street Location)

2015-01-22_12-41-17_414Cameron’s Seafood Market – Philadelphia, PA (Broad Street Location)

Seafood is by far one of my favorite categories of food. It has so much variety and flavor. Yet it is probably the most ruined type of food around by poor execution, lack of freshness, and most times small portions due to its high costs. With a few locations in Maryland and two in Philadelphia, I decided to give Cameron’s Seafood Market’s (CSM) Broad Street location a try. As soon as you step inside CSM you are welcomed with a beautiful array of fresh looking seafood with decent prices on display in ice at the tiny market section of their store. I did not want to cook myself, so I decided to order a bowl of lobster bisque, fried scallops and shrimp, with a side of fries at the restaurant side of things.

As dreamy and wonderful as the market seemed, those few steps away into the restaurant side was more of a nightmare with what I was served.  The lobster bisque lacked any sort of flavor except salt, extremely thick and pasty, did not seem fresh at all, and I have had better lobster bisque come out of a can from my local supermarket. The scallops were beyond over cooked, dripping with grease, and were so rubbery they would have been better suited to be a child’s bouncy ball then anything resembling something to eat. The shrimp were of decent size, but were overcooked as well causing them to be dry. Also, the stiff and tasteless breading was three times the size of the shrimp negating anything the shrimp could have offered if they were cooked properly. To add injury to insult, CSM then threw double-breaded fries to my meal, which everyone already knows my feelings on this atrocity done to potates and is the bottom of the barrel French fry with the only reason to buy them is because you are cheap and worried about your bottom line.

Would I ever go back to CSM? Never to eat, but the market did look nice and service was friendly so at least that had that going for them.

Overall

One Star out of Five

South Jersey Bacon and Beer Festival

Poster

How many ways can you cook bacon?

Popular SJ Festival offers tasty insight.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets

South Jersey…Michael Snyder, CEO of Crossroads Programs, is bringing out the big guns:

Though his nonprofit runs several events during the year as fundraisers, none is more successful than the South

Jersey annual Bacon & Beer Festival. This year the festival will be held on Thursday, August 20, from 5-

9pm at the Grand Ballroom of the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood. Tickets for are $37.50 and

are available online buy CLICKING HERE .

The popular event features a dozen restaurants all offering tastings of a wide variety of dishes.

“Our only requirement is that they have bacon,” says Snyder. “Aside from that they chefs can use their

imagination…and they do.” Last year’s festival featured bacon chowder, bacon pasta, bacon doughnuts

and bacon infused bloody marys. “We can’t wait to see what’s on the menu this year.”

Crossroads Programs runs homeless shelters for teens and has built an extensive network of

foster treatment parents. Still, the organization has struggled to make itself known to the public – until

they developed the SJ Bacon and Beer Festival. So popular has the combination of both foods been that

Snyder often has donors calling him months ahead of time to insure they get a ticket.

This year the organization had no trouble signing up new restaurants eager to compete (“best

bacon dish” and “best beer” are awarded by popular choice contests), spanning Gloucester, Camden

and Burlington counties. Fifteen restaurants will be on hand to offer tastings of their bacon favorites and

11 breweries will offer craft beer tastings.

“I’d recommend coming hungry,” suggests Snyder. “You’re gonna have a lot of choices.”

CLICK HERE to buy tickets

For details please contact Lydia Cipriani, 609 880 0210, ext. 111.

Participating restaurants

The Pop Shop

The Tortilla Press

Tortilla Press Cantina

Bistro di Marino

Blueplate

Braddocks Tavern

Aunt Berta’s Kitchen

Andreottis Catering

Otts Tavern

Robin’s Nest

DiBartolo’s Bakery

Kitchen 519

Trattoria Figaro

Famous Dave’s

Local Links

Participating breweries

Downeast Cider

Evil Genius

Flying Fish

Founders

Neshiminay Creek

Pinelands Brewing

Saucony Creek

Sixpoint

Smuttynose

Troegs

Weyerbacher

CLICK HERE to buy tickets

Lemongrass – Cherry Hill, NJ

I was invited to attend a preview press dinner at Lemongrass. The owner Danny Dang was very welcoming and he stated that this was a dream come true for him to open his own restaurant. I do not review previews, but what I can tell you is that I had a great time there. Below each course is a description from Danny of the dish.

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1) To begin, we start with a Lobster Roll for each individual to show off our creativity, as well as presentation, since the Lobster Roll is our creation.

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2) We will follow up the Lobster Roll with the world famous phở from the Vietnamese people. This is as traditional as it comes, and any chef who is competent in Vietnamese cuisine should be able to prepare a phở properly. The broth must be hearty with a nice balance of ginger and herbs. We are quite proud with our phở.

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3) Banh Xeo. We choose this dish to display our finesse as it is very difficult to cook the Banh Xeo and keep it nice and crispy.

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4) Basa Fillet is a recent hybrid of fish, and it is not French-influenced, but rather, American-influenced. We are, perhaps, the only restaurant that offers the Basa this way.

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5) Flank Steak to demonstrate the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine.

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6) Mì Quảng, which is a traditional tossed noodles bowl from Central Vietnam, where I come from. Mì Quảng is a meal, like phở, that properly demonstrates the traditional Vietnamese culture and values. And as with phở, Mì Quảng will test a chef with his or her patience, care, and dedication.

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7) And to end on a lighter note, we serve our twist on the traditional dessert, Flan, to show off our creativity, and a rich and healthy tea to show our quality. As a tea-drinker, I have tried many, many teas. Some are quite expensive; however, we choose this particular tea because of its taste, quality, and aroma.

Jazz Age on the Delaware

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(The following is a special series on Bluejeanfoodcritic.com written by guest contributing writer William Knowles. He highlights his passions of of trying something new whenever the opportunity presents itself, or possibly something old, but new again since it has been a while. I hope you enjoy his very special perspective that I am sure many of you can relate to. Follow him on his exciting journey “Around Town”)

On Saturday, August 8th, a special event was held at the historic mansion known as Glenn Foerd on the Delaware.  Located just at the edge of Northeast Philadelphia city limits in the Torresdale neighborhood, the hidden estate on the banks of the river was the scene for a Roaring 20’s party known as Jazz Age on the Delaware. This celebration of almost a century gone by was innovative, spirited and fun.

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Upon walking up the long driveway to the main grounds of the estate, you instantly felt that you were transported to the past.  This was not only due to the theme of the event, but the location itself as well.  Torresdale was long ago the home to many wealthy individuals who were deeply involved in town civics.  It is where many notable mansions were built prior to the Main Line coming into prominence.

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The sounds of big band and jazz immediately hit you as you entered the main grounds of the estate, led by  such live acts as Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, the Gin Canaries and the Red Hot Ramblers (with lead singer Chelsea Reed).  A wood dance floor permitted the guests, almost all dressed in period appropriate garb, to cut the rug at their leisure.  Additionally, such professional acts like the Old City Sweethearts and the Minsky Sisters performed the dances of the day.  The emcee, Dandy Wellington, kept things exciting and moving at a fast pace.  Numerous food and drink vendors set up shop, and a pie contest was held with prizes awarded to the best baker by a panel of judges.  Apparel, jewelry and art with a 20’s theme was also available for purchase.  After the day’s events concluded, an after party was held in downtown Philly, at the great Prime Rib restaurant located in the old Warwick Hotel.

As I touched upon though, the true star of the show was the location itself.  Normally open for tours, the staff of the Glenn Foerd allowed guests of the party to walk through parts of the old home as part of the festivities.  The incredible art and architecture that has been preserved, along with what was then modern technology, presents a window into how life truly was different in past centuries.  The scenic view of the river is breathtaking.  For those that enjoy history as much as I do, it is a must to visit this part of Americana, and can be considered as vital as seeing the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall as far as our city’s past is concerned.

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This organizers of this event indicate that it will be an annual affair, and I look forward to enjoying it again next summer.  It truly was an experience in a time warp, and here is to hoping that there are more get-togethers such as this that are as innovative and thoughtful to form.  See you soon “around town”…

Woksabi – Collingswood, NJ

Woksabi – Collingswood, NJ

The streets of Collingswood are always a treat to stroll with all of their fun shops and eateries. I happened to be there around lunch time and happened to be right in front of Woksabi  (WOK) which I had never been to before. The interior of WOK is very nice and set me at ease with a relaxing vibe that was felt immediately. They had a decent sized crowd for lunch, but everyone seemed to be on a Zen level as it appeared you could hear a pin drop it as it was that peaceful in there. The order of the day would be their sushi lunch platter.

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The presentation of the lunch was quite appealing, everything I had to eat had a nice quality and freshness to it, and to top it all off it was very affordable. The service was attentive and friendly and I would definitely recommend giving WOK a try for a decent sushi lunch. WOK caught me by surprise, but they will be in thoughts for another visit and to try a wider array of their offerings next time. They did the basics well and have gained a fan.

Overall

Four out of Five Stars

Cool Dog Café – Cherry Hill, NJ

Cool Dog Café – Cherry Hill, NJ

When a local establishment receives national press, it makes me proud of the area I live in with the amount of diversity in food available. I would have to say for the most part when one of the places are mentioned nationally I usually say to myself, been there done that. Well Conde Nast named Cool Dog Café (CDC) as being one of the top fifteen hot dog destinations in the nation in 2013. Ever since I saw the list I wanted to try them as I had never been there. So finally after delaying for two years, a visit was in order ASAP.

CDC sits in a non-descript strip mall and has a nice cozy interior. The amount of hot dog variations is almost overbearing, but vastly entertaining to read. The staff was friendly and you order in the front before sitting down. I would go with their award winning Filipino Dog created by Alice Serenes and an order of fries.

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The hot dog is a Sabrett hot dog deep fried to perfection creating a nice crisp snap with every bite, topped with sticky rice, mango, and sweet chili sauce.  I must admit I quite thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a little bit of east meets west in all the right ways. The small order of fries were very nice and generous in the amount there were given.

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With the recent closings of Hot Diggity and Moe’s Hot Dog House in Philly and Hot Diggity Dog in Bellmawr it seemed like the day of the dog was numbered. Well CDC has given me hope that with an inventive twist, quality product, good service, and wallet friendly prices that we will still be seeing wieners slung around these parts for quite some time to come.

Overall

Four out of Five Stars

George’s Famous Roast Pork and Beef – George’s Luncheonette – Italian Market – 1007 S 9th Street – Philadelphia, PA

George’s Famous Roast Pork and Beef – George’s Luncheonette – Italian Market – 1007 S 9th Street – Philadelphia, PA

This is one of the few times I have to be very specific where I ate since this one block of the Italian Market has two of same named spots. George’s Famous Roast Pork and Beef – George’s Luncheonette (GFR) which is the one I went to and George’s Sandwich Shop up the other end of the street. GFR is a no frills, old school, but my kind service place. They do not mess around with any modern trends, deal with cash only, and has a charm that the Italian Market is losing every day. I would go with the pork sandwich with provolone.

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The pork was chopped nicely, sat in a nice gravy, just the right amount of cheese, and the roll did the job quite nicely. The pork was fresh and all the tasty fatty parts were included, which is the way all pork sandwiches should be served.

I like atmosphere in GFR, even though it is extremely dated and worn down. I just miss this kind of neighborhood eatery which was very common in my youth growing up in Philadelphia, but is going the way of newspapers and corded telephones. You are not going to get gourmet at GFR, but you will be nostalgic for the past when you are done eating.

Overall

Three Stars out of Five

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