• Forgive me consumer for I have sinned

    The story is simple. We were in NYC, and needed a restroom stop. Starbucks was just in front of us (try to find a place in the US that you don’t have one in front of you), so we stepped in.

    I was waiting and was thirsty, plus I felt that I need to buy something as we were after all using “the facilities”.

    I’m not a big fan of Starbucks coffee, to phrase it gently, so I was looking at the cold drinks and saw the Cool Lime Refresher. Sounded good, and I was thirsty, so I ordered the large one, which had an outrageous price tag of $4.45, but I figured that for a good refreshing drink and a brief use of the plumbing I’ll for once bite the bullet and pay the price. Plus tax. And waiting in line.

    While waiting between a Grande Latte suit and a Tall Mocha Light Frappuccino brunette I watched the dedicated employee making my Cool Lime Refresher, not expecting a gilded rim and a carbon nanotube straw but at least a drink made of something that looks like it’s worth the money.

    Ha. This is what happened next: Into the not-that-huge cup the young-and-restless loyal Starbuckhipster  poured a concentrated liquid out of a carton, added some ice cubes, topped it with, no, not freshly spring water from the melting snow of the Upper Peninsula but with NYC’s own tap water, stirred a bit, threw in a slice of lime to make it look au natural and placed a good plastic lid over it.

    I’m not sure what I expected. Maybe some fresh lime juice? Something that looks like an effort to make a real drink for $4.45? Like a virgin cocktail? I guess I’m naive.

    But I paid.  So why do I say  forgive me consumer for I have sinned? Because by the act of  me buying that drink for that price I legitimize the price point, so I need to apologize to my fellow consumers for buying a (maybe) $1 drink for $4.45. So I said a few Hail Marys (being an atheist that was born Jewish it might seem a bit strange though) and I promise I’ll never buy it again.

    Though we did use the facilities.

    MoreBucks
    MoreBucks

  • Patisserie Florentine

    Patisserie FlorentinePatisserie Florentine
    10 South Dean Street
    Englewood, New Jersey 07631

    Map     Patisserie Florentine       Facebook      Yelp

    It makes me happy to find a place that I enjoy going to, gladly recommend and eager to schlep with me to anyone I can, anytime I can.

    My first bite at this place was at a croissant. That by itself is enough to get one addicted to this place. But by far it wasn’t my last bite, nor it is the only thing that will keep you coming.

    The baked goods and the food – I get an uncontrollable grin on my face when I’m there. Chef Tomer provides us with a mix of french, Israeli and originality that hits the senses in a perfect way – and makes me smile with joy. There are really so many good things there, and I’m yet to try something that wasn’t excellent. Here’s a sample:

    The croissant – so perfect, baked in a few batches during the day to assure freshness (really!) and on such a different class than these industrial crescents you get around here pretending to be a croissant and leaving that terrible margarine feel on your tongue. This one is a perfect  croissant au beurre and has nothing ordinaire ’bout it. You’ll fall in love.

    Lava cake. Well, just try it. ‘nough said.

    Omelet – choose your two fillings, and enjoy a great omelet with generous surroundings –  an excellent bun, Israeli salad, herbal butter, jam, feta – a beautiful tasty dish.

    Almond croissant – covered with almond, filled with the real thing, rich in almonds, butter and sugar (not the almond extract flavored gunk you get in other places), as perfect as you can get.

    Waffles – well, actually to be accurate it is  “Liège Style Waffle” – my daughter couldn’t stop smiling while “working” on these. I risked my life and asked for a bite, and I got the same smile she had. So good. No really. So good!

    Coffee. In a word, excellent.

    The staff – young, pleasant, smiling and attending staff, including the chef’s wife Amy, all making it a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

    The place and décor – pretty small, cute European style cafe’ setup, perfect for what it is, with a baker’s prep table at the far end where some of the baked goods are being worked on.

    To sum up, as you can understand, I’m sold. The place opened just a couple of months ago, but the chefs and staff are providing a place that serves baked goods that will proudly compete with any top notch bakery not only in the US, but pretty much anywhere include France. Excellent food, welcoming staff and in a pleasant environment.

    My predication? They’ll need a bigger place soon.

    Opine Away rating of Patisserie Florentine:

    Rating index:  0 – Don’t bother. “-“ – irrelevant.  1 to 10, 10 is best. Price $ to $$$$ (* changed from 5 $ range to match Yelp.)

    Style of visit Food Décor Atmosphere Price
    Family 8 8 $$
    Friends 10 10 10 $$
    Out of towners 10 10 10 $$
    Unmarried 10 10 10 $$
    In and out

    The reason for the lower family rating – the staff is extremely friendly to kids, but I do not believe it is great for the average family with young kids (i.e. they will not serve chicken fingers with ketchup).

    L.


  • Red Wine and Sage marinated Pork Chops

    Half an hour marinating, with onions to grill with the pork.

    Serves 4

    Port Wine and Sage Marinated Pork Chops
    Port Wine and Sage Marinated Pork Chops With Mashed Peas
    • 4 boneless pork chops

    Marinade:

    • 1 cup port wine
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • 1 large onion, cut to thick rings
    • 6-8 big sage leaves, crushed
    • 2-3 oregano leaves, crushed (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/3 cup sugar in the raw
    • 1/4 tsp mustered powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    1. Place all marinade ingredients in a 1 gallon ziplock and mix
    2. Add the pork chops, remove air as much as possible and seal ziplock
    3. Let marinate for half an hour, working the chops inside the ziplock every few minutes
    4. Remove onion rings and chops from the bad and discard marinade.
    5. Grill chops and onions on medium-high heat. Chops need about 3 minutes on each side.

    Great with mashed potatoes, mashed peas, fries or any side you like.


  • Mashed Peas De la Broth

    I love Irish mashed peas. This recipe is very untraditional but hold its own. Great as a side to pork or meat.

    Serves 4

    Mashed Peas De la Broth with pomegranate reduction.
    Mashed Peas De la Broth accented with pomegranate reduction.
    • 1 16oz pack of frozen peas
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp sugar in the raw
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • A pinch of white pepper
    • A pinch of smoked habanero or Cayenne pepper.
    1. Place all ingredients but the peas in a medium pan and bring to a boil.
    2. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
    3. Add peas to pot, bring back to a boil and simmer covered for 5 minutes.
    4. take off the stove, let cool for a couple of minutes.
    5. Use a hand blander to mash everything together to a smooth but not pasty consistency.
    6. Simmer covered on the lowest flame settings possible for 5 minutes.

  • Quick Maple Syrup Marinated Grilled Boneless Short Ribs Strips

     

    Excellent with a side or in a salad. Minimal effort and great results.

     

    Serves 2

    Maple Marinated Grilled Short Ribs
    Maple Marinated Grilled Short Ribs
    • 2 Short Ribs Strips 2″  wide (8″-10″ long, 1″-1.5″ thick)

    Marinade:

    • 2 tbsp Maple Syrup
    • 1/2 Lime’s juice
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp sugar in the raw
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 2 tbsp port wine
    1. Place all marinade ingredients in a gallon size ziplock bag and mix.
    2. Place the meat in the ziplock bag, take out as much air as possible and seal it.
    3. Let marinate for 10 minutes while working the meat inside the bag every couple of minutes to “encourage” the marinade to get inside the meat.
    4. Heat the grill to highest setting.
    5. Grill the meat on high for 3-4 minute each side. Discard the ziplock with marinade.
    6. Let the meat stand off the grill for 2-3 minutes.
    7. Slice the meat to 1/4″ thick slices.
    8. Enjoy.

    When serving, pour the juice that came out from the meat when cutting it over the sliced pieces and/or mashed if served together.


  • No Mayo Salad

    Crunchy, sweet, sour and spicy combo, no mayo dressing makes this a favorite.

    Serves 5-6 as a side salad

    OpineAway - Mint
    Mint
    • 2 Tomatoes
    • 2 Cucumbers
    • 1 romaine lettuce heart
    • 1 Apple
    • 10 baby carrots
    • 5-6 fresh mint leaves

    Dressing:

    • 2 tbsp honey
    • Juice from 1 lime
    • Juice from 1 lemon
    • pinch smoked habanero or cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • pinch white pepper
    • pinch garlic powder
    • 3 tbsp heavy cream
    1. Cut and place into a large salad bowl:
      • Tomatoes and cucumber to 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces
      • Lettuce to strips about  1/4″ by 1″
      • Apple to tiny 1/8″-1/4″ inch pieces
      • Carrot to 1/8″ slices
      • Mint finely chopped
    2. Place all dressing ingredients but the heavy cream in a bowl and whisk till combined.
    3. Add heavy cream and whisk for 20 seconds to combine and aerate.
    4. Add dressing to salad bowl and mix together.

    Sprinkle with toasted slivered almonds when serving.


  • Chicken Boozed Deux

    Can’t go wrong with a chicken that’s double drunk.

    Serves 2

    Chicken Boozed Deux
    Chicken Boozed Deux
    • 5-6 Chicken tenderloins
    • 10-12 pearl onions (fresh or frozen)
    • 7-8 sun dried tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup bourbon
    • 1/2 cup port wine
    • 1 cup frozen peas
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped.
    • 1 tsp sesame seeds
    • Spices: 1/4 tsp salt, a good pinch black pepper, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1/2 tsp sugar in the raw

    1. In a large pan, sauté onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes until golden browned

    2. Add sun dried tomatoes and sauté for 1 minute

    3. Place chicken, all spices, sesame in a ziplock and mix well to cover chicken.

    4. Turn flame to high.

    5. Make a clearance in the pan and cook chicken until brown film form, a couple of minutes each side, adding garlic midway.

    4. Add bourbon, let boil and flambe’

    5. Add port, cook for one minute and add peas.

    6. Let reduce a bit 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens a bit.

    I like to serve it by itself but it works great with wild rice or mixed in the pan with fettuccine.


  • Bacon Wrapped candy pork

    Meat Candy! A favorite.

    Serves 4

    Sweet and spicy bacon wrapped pork strips
    Sweet and spicy bacon wrapped pork strips
    • 1 package of smoked bacon
    • 3 boneless pork chops

    sauce:

    • 1/2 cup boiling water
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • Pinch (or more) of hot pepper (smoked habanero, cayenne, chipotle etc.)
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup port wine

    1. In a large bowl mix sugar and boiling water and then mix with all other sauce ingredients.

    2. Cut the pork chops to long strips 1/2″ – 3/4″ wide

    3. Mix strips in sauce to fully cover from all side.

    4. Tightly roll each strip in a bacon strip to fully cover it, place in a broiling pan.

    5. Pour remaining sauce over the rolls.

    6. Bake in 400 deg (F) oven for about 35 minutes or until bacon is brown and starts to get crispy.

    Excellent when served with white rice.


  • Sautéed Shrimp with Avocado

    The sauce makes this dish. Makes it irresistible that is.

    Serves 2

    Shrimp and Avocado
    Shrimp and Avocado in butter white wine spicy sauce
    • 12-16 Medium size shrimp  (thawed if frozen) peeled and deveined, butterfly cut.
    • Juice from 1 Lime
    • 1 Avocado

    Sauce:

    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 2 pressed (or finely chopped) garlic cloves.
    • Spices: pinch Black Pepper, pinch Salt, pinch Smoked Habanero or Cayenne, pinch White Pepper, 1/3 tsp paprika (smoked is even better), 1/2 tsp sugar in the raw
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 1/4 chopped cilantro

    1. Place shrimp in a bowl with the lime juice, mix a bit and leave until used.

    2. Cut Avocado to two halves, slice each half and plate.

    3. Place butter and oil in a big pan over medium heat until the butter melts.

    4. Add 2/3 of the garlic and all spices and let simmer on low flame for 5 minutes.

    5. Rinse shrimp (no need to dry) and place in pan on medium heat for 1 minute, stirring.

    6. Remove shrimp from pan and put aside.

    7. Add wine and broth to the pan. Reduce over high flame for about two minutes (at least 3/4 cup should remain).

    8. Reduce to medium flame, add remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

    9. Add shrimp and cilantro and stir for 30 seconds. Remove shrimp and plate, pour sauce over shrimp and some over the avocado slices.

    Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with toasted bread.

    Eat the shrimp with the avocado, soak the toasted bread in the sauce, and you’ll feel in heaven.

    Repeat.

    Note: Pictured is also quick pickled cucumber – toss Julienne cut cucumber with lime, vinegar, a bit of salt and a pinch of sugar.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then toss with some chopped dill and serve.