Archive for the ‘Food and Restaurant’ Category


Paul's dessert at the Peking Pavilion

Paul’s  chocolate lava cake dessert at the Peking Pavilion


By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger–Blogfinger.net  


We like to go to the Peking Pavilion in Manalapan every few months. This is not your mother’s Chinese restaurant.  It is a fine American restaurant owned by the Kuos family, serving spectacular Chinese cuisine. In 2007 it was rebuilt after a fire and is a striking building with a big red front door.  It is spacious and modern–like a Soho restaurant.  There is a lively bar scene where you can eat and watch Chinese sports like American football.   Most of the help are Chinese, and the service is superb.

He greeted us out front, but he didn't speak a word of English, or Chinese, for that matter. PG photo

He greeted us out front, but he didn’t speak a word of English, or Chinese, for that matter. He used to be a terra cotta soldier before going into the restaurant business.   PG photo

We have been going there for years and we  always have the same thing:  peppercorn calamari appetizer  (share) and then Peking Duck (share–allow about 20 minutes to prepare).  This recipe is identical to the kind served in Beijing.  It is now considered the national dish of China  (but not because we eat it all the time.)

They brought over the duck and carved it as we watched.  The dissection was perfect, and the waiter held up the finished product and showed it off while flashing a big smile.  He prepared  the perfectly cooked and moist meat in thin pancakes with bits of crispy duck skin, celery and scallions.  There also were crispy drumsticks and legs on the side.  The hoisin sauce was dark and tasty.

The people next to us were eating giant shrimp with a glaze. We also saw wonderfully prepared steaks and big bowls of wonton soup. Also they have spicy sautéed soft shell crabs, grilled halibut over shiitake mushrooms, moo shu vegetables and many other choices. No one was using chop sticks. That’s good because I would not have been able to eat the rolled up duck with chop sticks.

The wine list was fine, the hot steamy tea arrived in little tea pots, and the white rice was sticky.  We each had a glass of wine. Eileen chose an Italian Pinot Grigio while I got the 5 River Pinot Noir from California.

We usually skip dessert, and Eileen did, but this night, after a bad week, I refused to deny myself.  It was the first dessert we ever ordered there and it was marvelous. The lava cake  interior is warm molten chocolate.  Accompanied by a scoop of high grade vanilla ice cream and a single shot espresso, it was something.

In keeping with the tradition of Chinese take-out, we took home enough left-over food for 1/2 a dinner the next night.  I even, believe it or not, took home half my chocolate lava cake after eating all the ice cream.

Next night, at home,  Eileen made sweet and sour duck/beef meatballs with fresh asparagus  for the other half of the meal—a recipe by a Chinese chef.  We finished it with a half bottle of Louis Jadot Burgundy  (smooth and light–about $12.00)  No need for a salad. No dessert at home. The lava cake is still waiting in the fridge for me to have a weak moment.

We have never had  bad luck or bad duck at the Peking Pavilion, located at 110 Route 33 west.  It is right after business 33 joins highway 33.  The prices are reasonable ($15.00-$25.00 per most entrees—except ours). Our meal was about $80.00, but I don’t have the exact breakdown because I usually toss away the receipt without looking too closely–an old habit that makes  Eileen  mutter.  In fact she’s the mutter and I’m the fatter.  I think the duck was about $42.00, but it was for two and lasted into the next day.   Note that we did get a fortune cookie and my fortune, as usual in a Chinese restaurant, was dopey–something about feeling like a million bucks–all green and wrinkled.



CINDY SCOTT  with a Jerome Kern song that makes me seasick and romantic at the same time:   (it’s a repeat song, but with a different version)


Read Full Post »

Snaking our way into Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck. Paul Goldfinger photos © Snaking our way into Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck. Paul Goldfinger photos ©  2013.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  @Blogfinger   (“Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Blogfinger fans and all of you who aren’t but are reading this anyhow.”)

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013:        Some years ago we used to buy Bell and Evans chickens at the Pathway Market in Ocean Grove, back when they had a resident butcher there. We liked those chickens, so Eileen decided to try a fresh B & E turkey this year from Delicious Orchards.  We went there this morning to pick up the bird and we found ourselves in a line of traffic on route 34, waiting to get into the store. It took about 20 minutes to enter the crowded parking lot.  Once there we followed the line of cars and found a space way in the back. We walked towards the entrance, and it was quickly evident that we would not be able to get in right away.

A huge line outside had formed, wrapping around and heading back towards the highway. It didn’t seem too bad until we wound up in a tent-like space where people were snaking their way, Disney-style, and thus making a long line seem shorter.   Most people on line, including children,  seemed calm and patient.  The mood was one of anticipation and optimism.

The snake kept coiling and uncoiling,  and it was weird the way people were simultaneously walking toward you and away from you, all the while heading to the same place.  Luckily it was 41 degrees and not 21 degrees.   The specter of a big storm today probably accounted  for an especially huge crowd this early.  We spent about 30 minutes on line, and then we entered the store where people were dispersing in every direction.

The pie department. Boxes piled high. By Wednesday, there will be a pie line. The pie department.  By Wednesday, there will be a long pie line.   ©   2013

Inside, the pies were piled high. They are known for pies. Pie specialists were on duty.

Our turkey was waiting for us in the meat department. It is a young bird, 10 pounds, wearing its logo proudly.  Bell and Evans turkeys are grown in Pennsylvania Dutch country  where the business has been there for over 120 years.  Their turkeys are supposed to be “natural,” bred for slower growing and bigger breasts, and not injected like Butter Balls. (Yes, I am considering a joke here, but never mind)  So more white meat means less fat and calories.  But we were actually thinking “tastes better.”   You can’t worry about fat and calories on Thanksgiving.    That’s why they call it Thanksgiving.

Check out . We found a good aisle at the end of the row. Check out . Look at all the pie boxes.  We found a good aisle at the end of the row.

We also waited in a crowded checkout area. We made it to a cashier;  I asked our Delicious Orchards bagger, a delicious young lady with long red hair, how things were going. “It’s a madhouse,” she said.  I replied that I have seen real madhouses, and this is no madhouse.

“Does everyone in your family have red hair?” I asked her.

She smiled and said, “My four brothers work here also, and they all have red hair.”  She wished me a happy holiday as she resumed filling a bag with groceries for the next customer.

On the way out they gave us a small cup of excellent hot cider, and we bought one of their cider donuts. I ate about 80% of it.–Eileen slowly finished her part, savoring every crumb.  When we lived in Chester, we would go to Hackelbarney Farm—basically a country store in the middle of an apple orchard. Go there and you can watch them make cider, and the donuts and pies are famous. It’s worth a drive into beautiful Morris County.

Then it took about 15 minutes to get from the parking lot out to 34 again.  The whole experience  lasted about one hour, not counting the trip and time spent drinking cider in the parked  car.

I asked Eileen, “Will you do this again next year?”

She said, “I don’t think so.”

But we had fun going for our turkey. We experienced a special event filled with hope as everyone was there preparing for a wonderful American tradition.  It was actually a good time—good vibes–and hopefully an extra good turkey.

As we drove off I said to Eileen, “Let’s not decide now about next year. Let’s taste the turkey first.”

JAMIROQUAI.   From the soundtrack of the movie “Valentine’s Day.” (crank up the volume a bit)

Read Full Post »

Making guacamole at the Lakes Park Farmers Market in Fort Myers, Florida.    By Paul Goldfinger. Left click for larger view.


A  Blogfinger Guacamole Festival

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger:


Guacamole was invented by the Aztec Indians in Central Mexico. They grew avocados and tomatoes and they even had corn from which they made tortillas. It’s unlikely that they used tortilla chips and guacamole dips while watching their equivalent of Monday night football, which was human sacrifice on a grand scale.

Aztec mask. Louvre. Note the guacamole color. If you eat too much mole, you can get that color.

Cortes, the Spanish invader, conquered the Aztecs in the 16th century, taking over Tenochtitlan, the capital. He introduced horses and onions to the Indians. Maybe he liked guacamole (the ‘g’ was pronounced like a ‘w’) and improved the recipe with his onions, because the dish and its name have survived to this day. He apparently didn’t like the name of the place, because it became Mexico City.  And Montezuma, the Aztec loser-king, wound up having a gastrointestinal disturbance named for him.

On the other hand, let’s remember that the Aztecs also gave us chocolate and popcorn. Currently you can find a big selection of avocados at Wegmans where they can show you how to select the ripe ones and how to ripen the hard ones.

They even have recipes for “mole” (pr. mo’lee), which is how the dish is called at our house, so named by our sons Michael and Stephen.  Eileen must be related to the Aztecs (Jewish Aztecs are called Jaztecs) because she makes a mean mole while playing Miles in the kitchen.

Several years ago  we were at the Lakes Park Farmers Market in Fort Myers, Fla.  where some guys have a business making big batches of mole to sell to the tourists — maybe like Montezuma’s guacamole makers did.

It’s fun to watch them make their recipe in big stainless steel vats. They have an assembly line including a device for quickly separating the pit, the skin and the green  fruit that actually goes into the recipe.

Wegmans  sometimes has a special display for May 5  to promote guacamole among the gringos of Monmouth County.


Selecting avocados at the Farmers market. Paul Goldfinger photo. Ft.Myers, Fla.


GUACAMOLE RECIPE:  by Eileen Goldfinger, house and garden editor  @Blogfinger

2 Haas avocados 2 Campari or small plum tomatoes seeded and diced,  ¼ cup diced red onion,  ½ Jalapeno pepper sliced and minced  (optional,) ½ lime,  ½ teaspoon garlic powder,  ½ teaspoon sea salt,  ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, Tabasco sauce to taste (optional.)

Cut two ripe avocados in half and remove the pits and the skin. Use a fork to mash one avocado in a medium size bowl. Add the tomatoes, onion, Jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt and black pepper to the mashed avocado.

Stir gently together. Dice the second avocado into half inch pieces and add to bowl and stir gently.  Squeeze the juice from the half lime into the avocado mixture and stir.  Add Tobasco sauce, one or two drops at a time, and taste to adjust seasoning.

Serves four   (that would be four regular people or two Goldfingers)


SOUNDTRACK:  Oh no!   It’s those mariachis; they follow me wherever I go in Mexico.  Montezuma’s revenge is not gastrointestinal, it’s those darned  mariachis.

Quick, Eileen, let’s run away and buy a fajita from the guy  with the horse and wagon on the street.  Don’t worry—I’m a doctor.


Read Full Post »

The long and the short of bagel making---taken at the Hot Bagel Shop in Oakhurst, September 1, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo The long and the short of bagel making—taken at the Hot Bagel Bakery in Oakhurst, September 1, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo   ©


Hot Bagel Bakery one Friday morning August, 2021.  . Paul Goldfinger photo.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Two years ago I wrote a piece extolling the bagel artistry at Wegmans in Ocean.  I went there most mornings where they had a custom bagel ready for me.

In the comments, some Grovers chimed in with their favorite bagel bakery in Monmouth County—the Hot Bagel Bakery in Oakhurst.

This is the custom bagel which they make for me at Wegmans. They bake it about 10 minutes longer to get it darker and crunchier on the outside. This is the custom bagel  (my grand bagel) which they used to make for me at Wegmans each morning.  But the Wegman brand has now declined in quality.


Paul Goldfinger, bagel maven–a revised review for 2021.


I did review the Hot Bagel Bakery back in 2014  but I didn’t think it was as good  as Wegmans.  There are three comments below from that article on September 4, 2014.

In the years since the 2014 article was written, I have come to know the Hot Bagel Bakery in Oakhurst (65-67 Monmouth Road)  a lot better.   I now believe that I under-appreciated that bagel place.  It deserves its reputation as the best in the area.

You really should visit it one morning just to see the excitement as the hand rolled bagels are made in front of you.  It brings back the sense of another era—-the time when kosher deli’s were all over New York City providing the equivalent of soul food in Harlem.

The New Yorker. August, 2021.



The HBB attracts a crowd each summer morning, but the line moves quickly.  The attraction is called “authenticity.”

The Hot Bagel Shop is a hot bed of an old-country eating tradition:  the smells, the enthusiasm of workers and customers, the multiple conversations all at once, the hurry-up of the counter help…and even an old oven. They have been in business for about 40 years.

I also discovered their onion bagel, scooped, toasted twice and then with a shmeer of cream cheese. The heat of the toasting provides additional crunch, taste, and aroma. The cream cheese begins to melt immediately, so you have to be careful to eat it without dripping  cheese all over yourself.   They hand over your bagel in a white bag, and inside the bag are napkins.

In 2021 that is my go-to morning place even though it takes about 10 minutes longer to reach than Wegmans.  And yes, their coffee is very good  (although Rook is across the street.)  And take your snack outside and eat it in your car—it’s that good. (Rook coffee shops do not have seating either)

I now give it 4 /4 Blogfingers.    And, is it better than Wegmans?  Yes because  Wegmans has made COVID-compromises including changing the authenticity of their bagels—they are now just OK

HBB bagels are oversized, but they are hand rolled, and you can watch the process.   Their crust, texture and flavor are superior, so I like to order it “scooped” to reduce the volume  and increase the crunch.   After that I have given up toasting and cream cheese, and just get  it  with butter, and that is a unique treat.

They also have great muffins and challahs.

The Hot Bagel Bakery is in Oakhurst, but it only takes 15 minutes from OG.  Just go up 35 and turn right onto West Park.  Go to the end and turn right and a quick left into the parking lot.    An alternate route is to take Monmouth Road via Asbury Park and  Interlaken.


THE PARROTHEAD ALL STARS with CLINT BLACK and  FRIENDS perform this Jimmy Buffett song. These country all stars  may have somethin’ cookin’, but I bet none of them could tell a good bagel if they actually saw one.

Read Full Post »

Eileen's steamed clams in spicy red sauce. Blogfinger photo © 2014.

Eileen’s steamed clams in spicy red sauce. Blogfinger photo © 2014.


By Eileen Goldfinger, Food Editor @Blogfinger.net   Re-post.


Sauce :


6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes

1 24 ounce jar marinara sauce

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup salt-free chicken broth or clam broth

1 6 1/2 ounce can chopped clams, drained

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped   (a garnish)

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano.


In a 5 quart Dutch oven heat oil on medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until onion wilts. Add garlic and simmer for 1 minute. Add whole tomatoes and mash them in the pot. Add the remaining ingredients, except the parsley. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes.

Leave sauce on low heat while you prepare the pasta and the fresh clams.

See directions below for cooking the clams and assembling the dish.

Sprinkle parsley on sauce when ready to serve.

Cook pasta  (I use linguine) according to package instructions, 1/4 pound per person. (Cook the pasta and the clams at the same time because they both take approx. 10-12 minutes to cook)



1  50 ct bag little neck clams (We got ours at Wegmans.)

Clean clams: (This step can be done while the sauce is cooking.)

Fill a large bowl with cool water, 1/4 cup of ground corn meal. Stir. Place clams in the water (the water should cover the clams) and let them sit for 1 hour. This step causes the clams to disgorge any sand they may have ingested. Discard any clams that are cracked. If a clam is open, tap it gently on the counter top—- if it doesn’t close, discard it.

Remove clams from bowl by lifting them up out of the water so that any sand in the bowl stays at the bottom.   Place clams in a colander and rinse them with cool water.

Check again to see if any are cracked or open.


Steam clams:

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot or small onion, minced

1 cup salt-free chicken broth

1/2 cup white wine or clam broth

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a 5 quart pot, heat oil on medium. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Add clams and cover the pot, lowering the heat to medium-low.  After 5 minutes shake the pot so the clams cook more evenly. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the clams open. As they begin to open, remove them from the pot and set them aside in a dish.  The reason for removing the clams from the pot is so they don’t overcook and become tough.


Assembling the dish:

Place a 1/2 cup of sauce at the bottom of a wide individual pasta bowl.   Next put 1/4 pound pasta on the sauce. Place half  the cooked clams on the pasta. Then ladle more sauce on top of the clams. Sprinkle parsley on each assembled bowl.

Serve with ciabatta bread.

Repeat for the 2nd serving.

Serves 2.



Read Full Post »

Cabbage soup, Russian style. Blogfinger photo. 2014

Cabbage soup, Russian style. Blogfinger photo. 2014. Click to enlarge.


By Eileen Goldfinger, food editor @Blogfinger.net


1 large head green cabbage, slice into 2-3 inch pieces

2 24 ounce jars marinara sauce

4 24 ounce jars water

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon

2 medium onions, diced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

salt to taste

2-3 pounds short ribs, trimmed of fat

6 tablespoons vegetable oil


In an 8 quart stock pot heat oil on medium low. Add short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove ribs from pot and set aside. Add onion and cook until it wilts.

Next add marinara sauce, water (use the marinara jar for measurement), lemon, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until liquid begins to simmer. Add cabbage and short ribs, then stir.

Place lid askew on pot and cook at a simmer for 2 hours or until meat is ready to fall off the bones.


Serve with boiled potatoes and Russian rye bread.*


Serves 4


* We like Pechters Russian rye bread (made in Harrison, NJ) with seeds, purchased at Wegmans. It’s not packaged, it is displayed at the fresh bread section


THE GRASCALS  featuring music from the Andy Griffith show  “Boil Them Cabbage Down”


Read Full Post »

Restaurant BT:

Restaurant  BT: “Authentic, healthy and French.”   Tampa, Florida. PG photo.  Original post 2013.  See comments.  Re-post 2018 and now 2020. ©


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net   (Don’t miss the comments—wonderful celebrity stories!)

Yesterday was a bit chilly by Tampa standards. About 60 degrees in the evening. The three of us were going to spend our last meal in Florida going to a trendy gourmet eatery.

Restaurant BT is in an artsy neighborhood. Michael, our youngest son, who lives in Tampa, parks his Jeep Wrangler in their private lot, next to a long BMW sedan—black and exquisitely shiny. Eileen tries to climb out of the back seat of his Jeep. It is a terrifying thing to watch, but we finally help extricate her.

She regains her composure, and we sashay into the restaurant, a very fine French-Vietnamese place where sophisticated people go.

The crowd is in its 30’s and 40’s. Three young couples sit at one table, but the three women huddle together at one end, laughing and chattering. They all have straight long hair, and the blond wears black with a plunging neckline—plunging in the back. Many of the men wear jackets. Glasses are clinking all over the room, and the music is so subtle that all you can hear are the swishes of a snare drum.

I’m very sensitive to music in restaurants. This place wants to appeal to your subconscious. The decor is minimalist/elegant. The menu is exotic and complex. The chef, a tiny but beautiful Vietnamese woman, circulates around the room in her short white cook’s jacket.

The host, dressed in a suit, seats us in the corner, but it is a small place, and you get a good look at everyone. A couple walks in. They are dressed in black, head to toe, but he is wearing a T shirt and some cut-off pants with flip flops. He is a giant who could easily be an NFL lineman. She is stylish and she is all over him. “They should get a room,” whispers Eileen. “Why,” I said, “They’re just having fun.” Michael takes it all in. He says nothing but sees everything. It’s the nature of his work. We order—just ordering is a sensory experience because of the menu descriptions.

Kobe beef with hand made noodles. PG photo

Kobe beef with hand made noodles. PG photo


The food is marvelous—who cares about the price?—-gulp! This is a special night. But then, something happens that changes everything.

A group of 3 walks into the place and heads towards the bar while their table is readied. I look at them (I am an unrepentant people-watcher). The man in the middle, also all in black, is short but has a commanding presence. I study his face—BAM! It’s Emeril Lagasse. No doubt .

I grab Eileen’s arm. As he walks by our table, our eyes lock, and I know instantly that he knows that I know. The moment ends in a flash, and he sits at the bar, back to us. I look around the room. No one has noticed.

Then, as if someone has set off an alarm, the room comes alive as most everyone looks over at the bar. Emeril is very cool and seems oblivious, chatting with his friends. Evidently he has recently launched a TV show about Florida cuisine. He now lives in the Sunshine State.

Emeril Legasse (Internet photo)

Emeril Legasse (Internet photo)

Soon, as they lead him and his party towards the best table—the one near the door—the three sophisticated ladies jump up simultaneously and, like teenagers at an Elvis concert, they grab Emeril and insist that he pose for a photo with them. The heck with the men at the table—it’s Emeril and them. They shoot two photos and then he moves on. I noticed that as he posed, he did not stretch his arms around them. The ladies sat down and began to post on their Facebook pages.

Of course the staff catered to him, and rightly so. This was his second visit to BT, according to our waitperson who was taking care of us.

As we left, I didn’t dare take his photo or even look in his direction.   I wish I knew what he ordered, but no way. After all, we Grovers are also very sophisticated.


Editor’s note: Did you ever spot a celebrity in a restaurant ? Please comment below. –PG


EARL HINES plays “Sophisticated Lady” by Duke Ellington.

Read Full Post »

Sautéed grouper with cherry tomato sauce. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Sautéed grouper with cherry tomato sauce. Paul Goldfinger photo ©



By Eileen Goldfinger, Food Editor   @Blogfinger

1/2 pound  grouper fillet (or any mild white fish)

1/2 pint  cherry or grape tomatoes

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 scallions, diced

2 cloves garlic, grated or minced

2 tablespoons Smart Balance Original “buttery spread”

1/4 cup white wine

4 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon freshly ground  black pepper

1 tablespoon searing  flour

4 teaspoons canola oil, plus 1 teaspoon to rub into fish

salt and pepper to taste


Make this early in the dinner  preparation. It needs to cook slowly.

In a sauce pan place cherry tomatoes, scallions, extra virgin olive oil, margarine, garlic, white wine and a pinch of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Cook on low to medium heat until the  tomatoes get soft—-approximately a half hour.

The sauce should simmer not boil.


Heat a 10″ non-stick fry pan on medium until it is hot.

Rub flour, paprika and black pepper on both sides of fish fillet.  Sprinkle with a little canola oil and rub spices into fillet

When the fry pan is hot add 4 teaspoons of canola oil to the pan and place fillet in pan. Reduce heat to medium low.

Then cook on one side until the fillet turns brown, then flip fish over and cook until the meat flakes and is white in the center. Add more oil to pan if the pan gets dry.

Pour sauce on plate and place fillet on top of sauce.

Serves 2.  Heart healthy recipe.*



Mama Eileen on the way to a tea party. Captiva Island, Fla at the Mad Hatter gift shop.

Mama Eileen on the way to a tea party. Captiva Island, Fla. at the Bubble Room gift shop.


CLIFFORD CURRY   from his album Shagadelic.   “Mama’s Home Cooking”


Read Full Post »


“Sure you can take my picture.”   Ft.Myers Lakes Park Market. By Paul Goldfinger.  Jan 31, 2014.  © Click image to enlarge.


The best radishes. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The best radishes ever.  $1.00 per bunch.   Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Customer:  (He picks up two bunches of bright red radishes)   “These are the best I’ve ever had.  I eat them with beer.”

Veggie man:  “Buy ‘em now, because next week I’ll be on the road to Morocco.”

Me:   “With beer?  Are they really the best?”

Veggie man:  “I don’t know—I don’t eat them.”

Eileen:  “Are you taking Lauren Bacall with you?”

Veggie man: “I’m taking her great great great grand daughter and she’ll be about 47.”

Eileen:  “I’ll take one bunch. A second would get soggy.”

DON AZPIAZU  and the Havana Casino Orchestra:  “Me Odias.”

Read Full Post »

Frank's 1406 Main Avenue near Sunset Avenue. Blogfinger file photo

Frank’s  at 1406 Main Street  near Sunset Avenue. Blogfinger file photo



Frank's Deli. Late morning in October. All photos by Paul Goldfinger ©

Frank’s Deli.  Late morning in October, 2015. All photos by Paul Goldfinger ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @blogfinger

In 2015  we featured Frank’s Deli and Restaurant in a BF post, and now we re-post it for 2017, with some updates. Not much has changed.  Here is a quote from that piece:

“You might also be tempted to turn into Frank’s Restaurant where everybody goes for  breakfast and lunch including cops, contractors, politicians,  bloggers, realtors, homeboys, celebrities, wayward Grovers, and stylish types from across the border on Cookman Avenue.”

UPS man waits for his sub delivery. Blogfinger photo ©

UPS man waits for his sub delivery. Blogfinger photo ©

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Frank’s, a local family-owned place where they have been cooking breakfast and lunch since 1960. It has a very down-home feel.  You can sit at a table or at the counter where you can watch the chefs work—poetry in motion.  “Those fries are getting cold; dump them and serve some hot ones,” says the cook; he is at the grill and he is a perfectionist.

He watches his little assembly line, with his back to the counter  and he doesn’t miss a detail.  He turns around  and asks us if everything is OK. They make more eggs, toast  and bacon than any other place in the area.  Frank’s is a destination with a pedigree–more so than any of the newly arrived eateries on Cookman-by-the-Grove.

Grillmaster efficient and accurate

Grillmaster efficient and accurate

The waitresses are attentive. They seem to know everybody and they are friendly and accommodating—-not like the diner waitress who waited on Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. If there are any waiters, we haven’t seen one. Besides, gender is out these days—–they are all “servers”  However, at Frank’s you feel like political correctness is not on the menu. It is a place to relax and speak freely.

Joe Maggio, owner at FRank's. From a Bruce Springsteen music video.

Joe Maggio, owner at Frank’s. From a Bruce Springsteen music video.

Joe Maggio is the owner and the main-man at the grill. His father started the business.   We go there often, but he was on vacation this time. However, his staff wasn’t missing a beat. One of the cooks noticed an elderly man near the end of the counter near where we were sitting. He called him by name and said, “How about a grilled cheese; I’ll make you one now.” The man grinned and said, “Thanks.”

Everything at Franks is fresh and made-to-order. BF photo

Everything at Frank’s is fresh and made-to-order. The toast was ordered that way.   BF photo   ©

You can walk up to the deli counter and order a superb sub. made to order. Even Bruce Springsteen visits Frank’s, and he included Frank’s in a 2012 music video.  Bruce  likes the turkey club.  In 2015,  Anthony Bourdain and Southside Johnny visited Frank’s while CNN filmed the episode for Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” show.

We get a kick out of the diverse clientele who are going in and out of Frank’s which  reminds me of some places my friends and I frequented when we were in high school in Rutherford. We would go to towns like Lyndhurst or Passaic to get soul food:  pizza and burgers.

At night, after walking up and down Park Avenue in Rutherford, we would visit Stio’s, a family luncheonette and ice cream place near the tracks that was so old, everyone and everything there seemed to be in slow motion. But all sorts of characters would show up, and we would laugh and joke and kid the owners.  Frank’s takes me back to that sort of Jersey place.  If you are from Jersey, you need a dose of that every once in a while.



Read Full Post »

Brian is the barista who made our cappuccinos on Saturday at Booskerdoo

Brian is the barista who made our cappuccinos on Saturday at Booskerdoo Coffee and Bake Shop in A. Park.  Paul Goldfinger photo. 12/17/16 ©


Blogfinger photo 12/17/16

Blogfinger photo 12/17/16  ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Booskerdoo has been open for two months at their Asbury Park location, 1321 Memorial Drive, at the intersection with Sunset Avenue.  Not only do they roast and sell terrific coffee, but they have a free parking lot, table seating, a bakery on premises, and they are only a few minutes drive from Ocean Grove. (4 minutes as your car flies.)

This is the fourth  location for this young business which was started  in 2011 by a married couple from New York City. They are also located at Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, and Fair Haven.

Booskerdoo is an ambitious and excellent operation. The baristas get to work at a giant red Italian coffee machine.  It’s amazing how complex those devices are, and the best ones come from Italy.  In the back of the shop is a large bakery which looks as clean as an operating room.

The coffee is superb, based on the two cappuccino’s which Brian made us today.  Booskerdoo sells a wide variety of coffees, and their goal, which is the ideal of all coffee lovers, is that you should consume their coffee within a day of roasting or close to that date.  And, or course, you want to grind the beans right before brewing.  In the back of the shop is a huge black roaster which looks about the size of a 747 engine.

We tried a single serving of “Caroline’s coffee crumb  cake,” and it was delicious. We split it and we did not leave a single crumb.    The staff is professional and friendly.  Brian produced a heart on the surface of my drink, and he proudly showed it off to the cashier before handing it to me, whereupon I stirred the heart  into oblivion.  They also serve frittata egg  sandwiches, muffins, and other items.  I’m looking forward to trying some of their fresh roasted coffee beans.

After we got home, I realized that I was going topless;  i.e. I left my Irish cap at the coffee shop.  So I quickly returned, again parking without complications (what a treat,) and Brian, smiling, greeted me at the door holding my hat.  I guessed that he might be Irish, and that he probably liked my cap from County Donegal. (It’s really warm, and I got it in the Irish store in Spring Lake—-it’s a great idea for a holiday gift.)

So give up your parking space in the Grove and go there to try the Booskerdoo experience.  As for that strange name, it seems there are a few theories about it.  I thought it might be an Australian boxing kangaroo, but it’s not.  When you visit the shop, ask for an explanation of the name’s origin (s).   The story of the name may or may not be believable, but it is fun to try and remember their name and how to spell it.

We will definitely go back and try some other coffee drinks.  If Booskerdoo can produce an espresso like we had in Italy, then my quest for a fine local coffee shop will be over.

GERTRUDE LAWRENCE   from The King and I.   (Original Broadway cast 1951)

Read Full Post »

Laurie's Market in Neptune. Blogfinger file photo. 2013 ©

Laurie’s Market on Atkins Avenue in Neptune. Blogfinger file photo. 2013 ©

Laurie Price in her greenhouse. Blogfinger file photo 2013  ©

Laurie Price in her greenhouse. Blogfinger file photo 2013 ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

Up until the closing this summer of Laurie’s market due to her untimely death, we had been closely following the progress of this year’s Jersey tomato crop.  We’ve always loved those delicious beefsteaks that we could look forward to each August assuming that the crop was in excellent shape—it was not always ideal.     Laurie kept us informed, like an obstetrician following the progress of a patient, and we would post the latest news in the Wassup section. She had a few favorite suppliers who would keep her bins filled and offered wonderful advice about how to select those delicate fruits for whatever plans you had for them.  I will never forget her instruction to look at the top of the tomato, and if you wanted one for tonight, you had to make sure it was red all the way to the stem.

Tara, Laurie's good friend,  who worked at the market.

Tara, Laurie’s good friend and colleague, who worked at the market.


It was a delight to visit  her rustic farm market to view the latest inventory. For me it was a “must-do” event.  Maybe it was Neptune, but pulling up to her place seemed like—maybe Sonoma or Napa.     She was so enthused to share her knowledge with us, that I felt like she was a member of the Blogfinger staff.  She showed Eileen how to make a watermelon salad.  You could make discoveries in her place, such as the beginnings of the planned winter garden or the select items that she was growing herself, laughing off the evidence of critters enjoying the goods.

Laurie’s friends wanted to keep her business going, but, for whatever reasons, it didn’t happen.  Every spring, as the fruits of the Garden State are set out at farmstands in this part of Jersey, it will remind us of Laurie’s.  Maybe someone else will bring her’s back to life in 2015.

Now it’s October, 2014, and those Jersey tomatoes are getting harder to find.  So we are currently buying tomatoes on-the-vine from Wegmans, grown in greenhouses in Canada.  They’re pretty good, but the Jerseys are the best.

We have posted Eileen’s recipe for insalata Caprese in the past (link below)—– a simple but elegant dish that uses all heart- healthy ingredients: olive oil, tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese, plus some secret ingredients.  Last week Eileen made that recipe again, but she’s always innovating in the kitchen, so this time she added  avocados, a truly amazing food with anti-oxidants, “good” fats, and vitamins. Many nutrition experts think so highly of avocados that they refer to it as a “super food.”

So, once again, you can find that recipe below—-part of an article on Florida tomatoes which we have run in the past.

Eileen's 's insalata Caprese with avocado.

Eileen’s ‘s insalata  Caprese with avocado.

Insalata Caprese by Eileen

DON ASPIAZU and the HAVANA CASINO ORCHESTRA:  “Aquellos Ojos Verdes”  (Trans. Green Eyes)  It’s not Italian, but it’s close.

Read Full Post »

Asbury Park, Sunset at Main.  Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.  Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Asbury Park, Sunset at Main. Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.


Jersey tomato ready to eat from the Asbury Saturday market. $1.50 each.

Jersey tomato ready to eat from the Asbury Park Saturday market. $1.50 each.

So, while I was there, a stretch limo with NY plates pull up, and  two women and a man get out.  They are having a conversation, oblivious to the fact that I was recording every word for Blogfinger “Conversations.”

Just then, from the limo, an actual Broadway cast emerged onto the sidewalk like one of those clown cars in the circus or one of those old musicals where there is dialogue and then everybody bursts into song and dance:



Full disclosure: The first recording is from Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies”  while the second is from a much older show “The Ziegfeld Follies.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »