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Stone Harbor, NJ in the Off-Season

28 Oct

Source

Hi again, it’s Jennifer.  Welcome Bestie Bites contributor Amy!  A great first post, don’t you think??  I can’t wait to make that cornbread…

My in-laws have a house in Stone Harbor on the Jersey Shore.  They rent it throughout the summer, but after Labor Day (when the weather is really nice!) it’s usually open for us to enjoy.  This is (IMO) the best time at the shore.  All the crowds have gone home, no more traffic, no more kids…  My husband and I enjoy going down in the off-season just as much as in the heart of summer.  Most of the businesses close their doors at the beginning of October, but there are a few places that stay open year round.  One of them is the Windrift Hotel and Restaurant.  It’s technically in Avalon, the shore town next to Stone Harbor, but close enough.

We stopped by a few weekends ago and enjoyed dinner and a few drinks.  We started the night off with some edamame.

Jennifer

Served warm with plenty of sea salt, it was delicious.  I wasn’t too hungry, so I picked a light dish as my entrée – white bean dip served with mini toasts.

Jennifer

I thought it was going to be a pureed dip, but it was whole white beans, roasted red peppers, basil and black olives.  Tasty and light.

My husband opted fo the clams.  Another light entrée.  I think we were anticipating some adult beverages later in the evening and we didn’t want to feel too heavy….

Jennifer

Spicy, brothy and perfect for dunking toasty bread.

The Windrift just went through a huge renovation and it looks great!  The downstairs is closed in the off-season, but the brand new upstairs has a lot of tables, two bars and a stage for bands.  It’s a landmark in Avalon and a great spot for those of us that frequent the shore in the Fall and Winter.

Another spot, this one in Stone Harbor proper, is 96th Street Bar and Grill.  It’s open year round on the main street in Stone Harbor.  It’s a great bar with lots of TV’s and great food.

Source

We headed over early for lunch and to watch some football.  My husband got the wings – they’re really good.  Curry, cinnamon?  There’s something interesting about them, but really good, nonetheless.  I always want to try something new, but I can’t get away from their Buffalo Chicken Salad.  The sauce is totally different from the wings and so good!

Jennifer

It’s served in a taco shell, which is always weird to me.  I don’t mind it, but I never eat it.  Does anyone?  As a restaurant, I would think serving anything in a taco shell would be a waste of money,.  But what do I know!

Anyways, it’s a huge salad with lots of chicken and veggies.  I prefer my buffalo-anything served with ranch instead of blue cheese.  Though my husband thinks I’m crazy…  I think it’s a Southern thing, but again, what do I know!

Both the Windrift and 96th Street Bar and Grill are good options for the Jersey Shore in the off-season.  Good drinks at both, though 96th Street has better food.  Enjoy our Jersey Shore, a much nicer place than our ‘Jersey Shore’ neighbors to the North…

World’s Greatest Cornbread

20 Oct

Hi Everyone – I’m Amy. Affectionately called AmyLynn by my besties. I’m 1 of the 4 friends spread across the eastern seaboard. There’s no better way to say it —       I love food.

Since it’s taken me a few months to contribute to this fabulous blog, I thought I’d start with a post of something that gives you an insight into me. I was raised in the city and somehow I ended up with a salt of the earth man raised on a dairy farm in the middle of southern Tennessee. This image is my mother in law’s home cooking – Am I lucky or what?!

I’m not sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse that we live 3 hours away from my in-laws as I don’t get to eat like this but every couple of months. I think my butt thanks me and my tummy hates me. Her cornbread sticks are her signature side and they’re served up with every meal. There’s only one catch – you better get a stick hot out of the oven from the first batch as we all know odds are she’s bound to burn the second batch. Bless her heart.

So, rather than share one of my favorite restaurants or a great wine for my first post, I’m giving the world her one of a kind priceless recipe for her signature cornbread. Eat your heart out.

Needed: 1 cast iron skillet for breadsticks. Pre-heat skillet in the oven at 500 degrees for a solid 10 minutes. While skillet is warming, mix ingredients in a bowl. INGREDIENTS: 3/4 cup Martha White Yellow Corn Meal, 1/4 cup self rising flour, 1 egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, a dash of water to consistency (~2 table spoons), 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Pull empty HOT skillet out of the over. Coat the skillet with ~1 tablespoon of butter. You can simply take a stick of butter and wipe the skillet with it. Pour the mixed ingredients into the skillet. Cook at 500 degrees until golden brown (~12-15 minutes).

Mussel Bar at Revel

27 Jun
Mussel Bar at Revel

Jersey Georgia

I live about an hour away from Atlantic City, New Jersey.  I actually work just outside of AC in Northfield at Cat Country 107.3.  So, whenever I have to work at a concert or event in Atlantic City, my husband and I try to make a night out of it.  We’re not huge gamblers, but we enjoy playing.  And you can’t beat AC for the dining options.  Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck and Joses Garces are among some of the celebrity chefs with restaurants in AC.

A couple of days ago, Sugarland played Revel, the newest casino on the strip.  We didn’t have reservations anywhere and it was a Friday night, so we weren’t expecting much more than a taco from Jose Garces’ Distrito Cantina, a Mexican “take-out” window inspired by the popular Guapos Taco Truck in Philly.  Much to our surprise, Distrito had a line the length of the casino….

So, we opted to wait for a table at Mussel Bar.  We figured we could have a glass of wine and survive the 45 minute wait.  Just as we got to the bar to order a drink, some cocktail seats became available, so we snatched them up.

The picture above is a view of the kitchen from our seats.

At a place called Mussel Bar, we figured we HAD to order some mussels.  So we did.  We got a half order (means they are served alone, not with frites) of mussels with wild mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon and truffle cream.  We also got an order of the spicy gulf shrimp, they were good, but it was pretty damn hard to beat the mussels.

Mussels and shrimp

Jersey Georgia

I don’t know where the mussels came from, but they were white, not orange.  I know you know what I’m talking about….  Maybe you don’t!  Anyway, I prefer white mussels to orange mussels…..

For our entrees, my husband ordered the Mussel Bar steak frites.  Because, why not?

Mussel Bar Steak Frites

Jersey Georgia

I ordered the beef shortrib carbonnade.  According the menu, “Belgian beer braised shortribs, black kale, Gruyere grits and creme fraiche. Oh my.  This was heaven.

Shortribs

Jersey Georgia

Everything was delicious!  I highly recommend checking out Revel when you come to Atlantic City.  Make a reservation at Mussel Bar, gamble for a few hours and then grab a taco from Distrito.  That sounds like a perfect night!

Botto’s Italian Line

25 May

Botto's Italian Line

Botto’s Italian Line is a strange name for a restaurant, don’t you think?  It has something to do with a freight liner or a cruise ship…..  just look at their logo.

Anyway, Botto’s is a landmark in Swedesboro, New Jersey. If you live in or near the Northeast United States, then you have seen Botto’s Italian sausage in your grocery store.  You should buy it next time, it’s fabulous.  Botto’s restaurant is connected to their market (aptly named Botto’s) and you can purchase lots of Italian specialties including their sausage.

From around April until around October, Botto’s restaurant has a seafood buffet on Wednesday nights.  This is when we frequent Botto’s the most!  My husband loves seafood and this buffet is to die for.  I know what you’re thinking…. a buffet, really?  Gross.  I know, I know, I felt the same way.  But tell me another buffet that has 2 carving stations, steamed crabs and a raw bar?  And it’s fresh seafood (we’re about an hour from the ocean) and it’s delicious.  And not crazy expensive, either.  For $29.99 you get a salad or soup, the buffet and dessert.

For me, and my small stomach, I always order off of the menu.  A huge buffet is too much for me.  It’s just not worth it.  But thankfully Botto’s has the best calamari I’ve ever had in my life.  That’s a VERY bold statement considering I order it whenever I see it on a menu.  It’s fried perfectly crisp with thin slices of mushrooms, banana peppers and tomatoes.  It’s called Calamari ala Botto’s, appropriately.  I get it each and every time and I always walk away with enough food for the next couple of days.  The portions are huge!

Next time you find yourself in sleepy Swedesboro, NJ, give Botto’s a try.  You won’t be disappointed.