Category Archives: Cocktails

BEER, BOURBON, BBQ YEAR OF THE CHICKEN: AN EPICUREAN ADVENTURE

Annual events have a tendency to become stale and in time mundane. An exception is the happily titled Beer, Bourbon, BBQ, Year of the Chicken, a suburban, backyard food and drink extravaganza that sprang from the minds of Sissy and Rick Norman. That spark of an idea would become an epic conflagration — with the help of Dave Mayhew and his wife Jen — into the 2017 celebration of professional chefs, bartenders, beer brewers, and entertainers seen in the pictures below.

Norman and Mayhew, bartenders at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank, NJ have acquired many friends over the years and I am fortunate to fall into that category. Their unshakable enthusiasm for trying new and unusual ingredients along with their love of culinary tradition is contagious. So much so that the original party has grown from a handful of like-minded foodies to about 200 people last year, to this years astonishing attendance of 400.

This year, Rick, Dave, and Andrew Rasizer (general manager at B2 Bistro and Bar in Red Bank, NJ) brewed a Brett pale ale at Jughandle Brewery in Tinton Falls, NJ. Named Pink Shorts, the brew with an ABV percent of 4.7 is currently sold at Jamian’s and B2.

 Additionally, cocktails were served at the bar by Kacey Corsentino, Michelle Roe, Lauren Mass, Robin Morris, Jason and Anna Norman, and Mike Niosi. Sheri Wilson, owner of the Harlem Tavern, Row House, and Crazy Annies — all in Manhattan — supplied the bar with ten gallons of Sangria, “Hot Enough to Last” jalapeño bourbon cocktails and pineapple mojitos.

Ask any of the guests and they’ll tell you with mouths still full of food that they can’t talk to you right now because there’s something good to taste. And, drink. But it’s also about the live entertainment supplied by Pat Guadagno and Richie Blackwell this year. Separately, each component is extraordinary, but together, this is what “the real Jersey Shore,” is all about. Locally sourced ingredients, recipes prepared by many of the guests as well as the pro’s, and camaraderie that is exceptional.

Food options set up buffet-style ran the gamut from slaws, salads, and rice-based vegan friendly dishes to a sweat-inducing chili made by Bruce Ericson. My contribution was a gluten-free, Cabot cheddar and  jalapeño flecked corn bread. Everyone brought their A-game as it takes a heap to impress those in the restaurant industry. Ben Mayhew, Dave’s brother and a professional chef and master gardener at the University of Rhode Island showed up with 300 Salt Pond Oysters. He also roasted the pig in a Caja China Roasting Box.

Enormous, U13 head-on shrimp were grilled on a flat-top BBQ by Matt Cosenzo in a spicy tomato based sauce but it was the addition of African blue basil grown by Ben Mayhew in his community garden that got my attention. It was a pungently noticeable inclusion and a fresh surprise to the dish.

Bob Travis brought “Grandpa’s Chicken,” to the outdoor kitchen. Its aroma elicited a mouth-watering-groan and not to be outdone by the other chefs his wife Lisa told me that he basted the bird pieces with sprigs of fresh mint.

Laercio Chamon — aka Junior — executive chef and owner of Graze Restaurant in Little Silver, NJ took his turn on one of the many grills with a Portuguese rendition of grilled clams, mussels and chorizo. The garlicky mix popped with big flavors. His hyper-local farm-to-table restaurant is a favorite for us. The knowledge of who grew/raised the food the chef prepares is a precious thing. Chamon also contributed braised ribs.

Missing in the pictures are additional dishes such as venison made by Bob Soden, brisket made by Dave Mayhew, Sliders made by Brendan Day (of which my husband Bruce said that was the single most delicious slider he’s had all year) and ribs made by Jessica Parker. Andrew Rasizer made a guava braised lamb leg with barbacoa sauce and Nick Estephan, owner and chef at FIG Catering in Monmouth County, NJ graced the table with a Mangalista rib loin marinated sous vide and grilled.

By the numbers, there were 300 oysters, 400 hot dogs, 100 hamburgers, 200 sliders, 60 lbs of pig, 30 lbs of lamb, 40 lbs of brisket, 40 lbs of chicken, 5 lbs of bacon, and countless side dishes. Three cases of booze, 10 gallons of premixed cocktails, 40 cases of beer, and 1 keg… and over 500 lbs of ice.

An interesting side note: Working in a hot-as-hell environment over countless grills in the outdoor kitchen, professional chefs and first-rate amateur cooks must have left their egos at home because all we saw was good will and agreeable spirit.

A testament to good taste in friendships forged and combined, the little spark of a pig roasting on the grill has grown to an astonishing day in the suburbs. Our hosts hope to monetize the event next year, planning to raise funds to support a charity of their choosing.

Opinions, ideas, or if I left anyone out, please leave comments to add to this post. Your contribution was appreciated and we’d like to give credit where it is due.

Photo’s and food from last years blast can be seen here.

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LEMONS: TWISTED AND SQUEEZED

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At what point in the English language did lemons become a metaphor for life? Eggs in my opinion make more sense. My life has become scrambled, or things are going over-easy. Maybe life has become deviled or hard boiled? We’ll go with lemons though.

Six months ago, through a series of events, our household became business not-as-usual. Fortunate or not, life moves forward and we roll with the changes.

One change that I have been craving for quite a while is the sale of our house. It was the perfect place to raise children. A cul de sac location in a seaside borough where kids ride their bicycles to school. It served its purpose and my husband and I wanted to be free of the hassle of taking care of house, gardens and lawn.

We didn’t expect our real estate agent to have offers for us the first weekend on the market. But there we were. Three days in and we have the offer we were hoping to get.

The buyers wanted a six week closing and the deal was just too good to walk away from.

So six weeks after we took their offer, we find ourselves lightened by the enormous amount of energy it takes to run a big house. We have also lightened the load of our belongings. An estate sale run by a professional helped.

navesink viewWith no time to look for or even consider a new home we were incredibly lucky to find an apartment in the same building that our daughter and her boyfriend live in. A perfect, mid-century two bed, two bath with gleaming parquet floors and a river view.

You are now up to date. Food articles will be written from a new place with culinary creations coming out of a new kitchen. Flavor Chronicles/ Chefs in Motion resumes this week with a good-neighbor going away party post.

When life gives you lemons, squeeze them into a Bloody Mary. Sit down, enjoy the view and savor the opportunity to try something new.

BOURBON, BEER, BBQ – BLOW TORCH, TOP HAT AND DRONE INCLUDED

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Land-locked: A canoe filled with a wide variety of beverages, primarily craft beer was just one of the eye-popping abstract concepts put to use at a barbecue hosted at the home of Rick Norman and Sissy Starr Norman.

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NEW ORLEANS: DELECTABLE BITES OF THE FRENCH QUARTER IN FOUR DAYS

neworleansstreetartandmusicCafe du Monde is as touristy as it gets and a stones throw from the Mississippi River. Gator on a stick is offered at the French Market. The Old Legends Park was the best place to grab a beignet and a cup of coffee while listening to a jazz quartet.

New Orlean’s French Quarter — a walk-able feast for eyes, ears and taste buds — is the real deal. Gritty, sweaty, and as down-to-earth as a city might get.

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NOLA: FLAVOR CHRONICLES ON THE ROAD

nolabetterSoup of the day with corn muffin and bloody mary.

NOLA, an Emeril Lagasse restaurant located in the French Quarter of New Orleans is the first stop for Sunday brunch of a four day work/play adventure.

Just a few blocks from our hotel on Bourbon Street, the decor is a mix of crumbling brick walls and modern chandeliers. An ancient glass-enclosed elevator is both fun and inventive artistry and it’s also the only way to the second floor.

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