Belly Up Roll

Bacon Fest 2013

If there was a town called Baconville, I would be the Mayor; if there was a Baconland, I would be the ambassador; and if there was a Bacon Church, I would be the fracking Pope O’Pork. What I am trying to say is that I like; no, love bacon, like the interwebs loves cats, the Kardashians love attention, and Jim Jones apparently loves Julius Caesar. It is this obsession for all things salty and cured that gave birth to my annual Bacon Fest Celebration, which Kat and I host for all of our friends who are swine inclined.

Jim Jones' Giant Julius Caesar Head!

Jim Jones’ Giant Julius Caesar Head!

Bacon Fest is one part food competition and two parts all out, bacon celebration. Each year we gather between 13 and 16 foodies who love to cook and ask them to let their imaginations run wild, the only rule is that the star of their dish must be Bacon! This once small gathering has been growing each and every year and this year. This year it became obvious that I could no longer host it at my house, so we decided to upgrade to a hall.

The Creed Of Bacon Fest

The Creed Of Bacon Fest

After calling around to several local halls for rent, we found that it was quite difficult to acquire a hall that would allow you to utilize their kitchen. That is until we stumbled upon the Ridgewood Elks Club, located at 111, North Maple Ave., in Ridgewood, NJ. The Ridgewood Elks club had everything our bacon soirée could possibly need, a large main room, tables, chairs, a deluxe industrial kitchen, and a very reasonable price tag. They also had a cash bar so our guests could wet their whistle in between courses, named the Jolly Cork.

Ridgewood Elks Club

The Ridgewood Elks Club

Once the hall was booked and the invites went out, my next challenge was to decide what I would concoct as my entry to this year’s contest. The competition for Bacon Fest has been increasing exponentially with each iteration. What began at first as a friendly rivalry has evolved into a passionate tournament that would make Tyler Durden proud.

I originally created an entry in my head that I was generally content with, but I knew I could do better. I racked my brain, spending damn-near every waking hour thinking about how I could improve my dish for what has become the Academy Awards of salty meat. That is until one fateful night when I got a little tipsy and passed out while visions of bacon fairies still danced in my head. I only slept for about an hour that night, because I was awoken from my restless slumber after tasting the most amazing baconey goodness that had ever crossed the threshold of my lips.

Counting Pigs Instead of Sheep!

Counting Pigs Instead of Sheep!

Still groggy and now all worked up on dream bacon, I grabbed my smart phone and began researching, like I had never researched before. My thumbs were moving a mile a minute, it was as if St. Anthony, the patron saint of bacon and the namesake of the Bacon Fest Cup, himself had possessed my fingers and they were doing his bidding. After an hour of zealous obsession, my bacon fantasy had come to fruition. I returned to my slumber counting pigs one by one that evening, knowing that I was well prepared for this year’s pork laden prizefight.

Me As The Bacon Pope!

Me As The Bacon Pope!

On the day of the event, each cook was issued a number designation and a time slot when they would present their dish to the judges. Each dish would be explained to the lucky people that were chosen at random and then judged based on Taste, Presentation, and Originality. As time ticked by the anticipation of the salty and savory war that was about to be waged on the culinary battlefield began to increase. Slowly but surely you could feel the tension in the kitchen as the cooks were doing their final preparations.

The following was the artery-clogging lineup that rocked Bacon Fest 2013, in the order that they were presented:

Sweet Potato And Bacon Lettuce Wrap

Sweet Potato And Bacon Lettuce Wrap with Yogurt Dill Sauce Presented by Stephanie Bates.

Sueyy-shi

Sueyy-shi: Loaded mashed potatoes wrapped in bacon, dressed with BBQ sauce, and bacon skillet spread. Presented by Dave Michaels and Allie Maurer.

Bacon Maple Popcorn

Bacon Maple Popcorn Presented by Jennifer Sellers

Apple-Bacon Empanada

Apple-Bacon Empanada with dried cherries, mascarpone, and Apple-Bacon Caramel Presented by Keith Shatsoff and Bryan Barnhart.

Bacon Cassoulet

Bacon Cassoulet: Medley of bacon, beans, and pancetta prepared in a traditional cassoulet in bacon cups. Presented by Tyler Hutchinson and Sara Toth

Bracon Bad:

Bracon Bad: Bacon Confit Brulee with Fring’s Blue. Presented by Tyler and Jessica Ochs.

The Heaven Hog

The Heaven Hog: Mozzarella, Spinach, and Bacon Pork Tenderloin. Presented by Timothy Hurwitz and Michael Pindilli.

Belly Up Roll

Belly Up Roll: Braised Pork Belly and Avocado Sushi Roll with a bacon maple chutney. Presented by Michael and Katherine Arp

Candy Bacon Chocolate Brownie

Candy Bacon Chocolate Brownie with Jameson Caramel Sauce topped with candy bacon. Presented by Kevin and Kimberly Feehan.

Dude Food Magic Bars

Dude Food Magic Bars: Dessert Bar with pretzels, potato chips, chocolate, peanut butter and Bacon Presented by Brian Massey and Kristen Dyak.

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Bacon Mac and Cheese with Spiced Bacon Twists presented by Chris Buro.

Pork Star Ice Cream Cake

Pork Star Ice Cream Cake Presented by Matthew Arp and Emily Holmgren.

Pancetta Meatballs

Pancetta Meatballs in Joan’s homemade sauce Presented by Joan Perreca.

Clearly even though this was a competition and there was a winner declared, the judges were the actual victors in this epicurean struggle because they got to eat the above mentioned food. Granted the cooks were also judges, so I guess we all won, but this ain’t some new age hippy dippie coed baseball league where there is no score kept, and everyone wins ribbons for participation. This is Bacon Wars!

The Cup of St. Anthony

The Cup of St. Anthony

The reason all the cooks wake up at 6:00 A.M. on the morning of Bacon Fest and shovel their own money into their dish, is to the have the honor of taking home the Cup of Saint Anthony! The Cup of St. Anthony is similar to Lord Stanley’s Cup, only it is better, because people actually care who wins this cup. (Hockey Burn!) Whoever takes first place in Bacon Fest is granted the righteous reward of placing their name on the cup and displaying it at their house for an entire year.

In this culinary death match that lasted 2 hours and featured more bacon than most regular folks eat in a year, only one dish reigned supreme. Alas, it was not my dish this year, although I did take third place, with the Pork Star Ice Cream Cake taking second, and all of the dishes bowed down to the Apple-Bacon Empanada which made most people let out a louder moan of satisfaction than they do in their own bedrooms.

Bacon Empanda Inside

The Winner Dissected!

While baconey goodness followed baconey goodness in this divine swine parade, our guests were placing money in the donation jars that were being passed around and tickets in the raffle prize baskets. All the proceeds of Bacon Fest 2013 were donated to Eleventh Hour Rescue, a local animal rescue agency, which saved our own dog from a kill shelter and delivered her to our hearts.

Tickets

Charity is fun!

All the raffle prizes were generously donated by some of the fantastic businesses that this Blue Collar Foodie frequents on a regular basis. I would like to take this time to give a shout out and some electronic love to these wonderful businesses that did not think twice to support this remarkable rescue agency through our event. These benevolent establishments and every single person that donated their hard earned money at our event have helped this rescue agency not only save the lives of animals but also connect them with their forever family.

Lilly Likes Bacon

Lilly Loves You For Supporting Eleventh Hour Rescue Almost As Much As She Loves Bacon!!!

These are not your standard, everyone be damned but me corporations; these are honest companies that are aware of their societal footprint and want to help their community. Please help me say thank you to these exceptional establishments by supporting them as they supported us.

Meatball Obsession: At Meatball Obsession®, it’s all about the meatball. That’s why we call it an obsession. We use the original, all-natural old-world Mancini family recipe and slow-cook it in pots. At Meatball Obsession we serve grandma’s beef, turkey and sausage meatballs in her Sunday Sauce. Our food is meant for people on the go so you can enjoy your meatballs in a cup with dipping bread or stuffed in a custom-made Italian pocket bread. We deliver too. – 1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus NJ 201-843-3888.

Twisted Elm: Twisted Elm is a gastropub in Northern NJ. We are a casual, pub-style restaurant with an award-winning chef in the kitchen and a fun, relaxed atmosphere at the bar. Our creative menu is prepared using the finest local and seasonal ingredients, and we proudly serve delicious, naturally-made wines. We have hand-tossed brick oven pizzas – even for our gluten-free guests! Bringing the craft beer scene to Bergen County, we offer a rotating selection of the finest American and imported brews. – 435 River Dr. Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 (201) 791-3705

Baconery: Two ingredients that make everything taste like heaven in your mouth. Apart, these ingredients represent a delicious cornucopia of different tastes, but together they create an explosive flavor that is seldom rivaled in the food world. Everyone has talked about it. People have dreamed about it. Most were afraid to put them together. It’s a secret, twisted fantasy that everyone hides their love for. And now it’s a reality. Available Online and at their Brick and Mortar location at 911 Columbus Avenue, New York, New York (104 & 105th)

J&D’s: We’re Justin and Dave, and this is our improbable bacon-flavored story. Who are we? We’re just two regular guys who love grilling and football on Sunday afternoons, eating until we can’t get off the couch and of course, the taste of great bacon. And it’s our dream to make everything taste like bacon. Whether you’re a regular griller or a gourmet chef, are counting calories or are a vegetarian who craves mouth-watering bacon taste without the bacon guilt, this is what you’ve been waiting for.

The Swiss Pork Store: It’s a throwback, a dinosaur, a trip to the old country. In the same location since 1950, time has moved forward only on the other side of the door. Even the customers will tell you how long they’ve been coming here to shop.

A local legend of the original owners is that one of the two men who opened the place in 1950 was German, the other was Swiss. They were concerned about anti-German sentiment just after WWII, so they named the shop the Swiss Pork Store, with a wink and a smile. 24-10 Fair Lawn Avenue, Fair Lawn, New Jersey 07410

Breaking Bad Bacon

For those of you who did get the Breaking Bad Reference.

Photo Credit and many thanks to Evan Bindelglass!

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One Visit To Empanada Mania Will Make You An Empanada Maniac!

Living as a foodie is very similar to walking through life as a perpetually pregnant lady, we are always hungry, we constantly have cravings for strange food at all hours of the night, and unless our desires are met we are not fun to be around. Living as a foodie’s significant other is in turn comparable to being the partner of an expecting mother when these oddly specific and damn near impossible requests come out of left field. So, this past weekend when Kat did not get any empanadas at a certain Food Truck Mash-Up, I sensed the storm approaching and devised a proactive plan to conquer the impending category 5 foodie tornado that was about to rain fire and brimstone upon my house.

My strategy was simple and sound. I figured the googles knows everything, except for what the hell Korri Sabatini’s freaking infuriating forehead tattoo means, so I consulted my favorite online resource to find Bergen County’s best Empanada’s.   Upon researching this topic I found that most people whom answered this question on Yahoo answers or other forums designed to help wandering internet souls such as myself, enjoyed rubbing in the fact that the best place to get Empanadas in Bergen County was at their grandmother’s house.   Well smart asses, my Abuela does not specialize in Empanada’s she specializes in Matzo Ball Soup, so your answer does me no damn good and deserves the thumbs down rating I gave it. After I sorted through all the responses that were trying to make me visit their elderly family members in order to satisfy Kat’s craving for a fried stuffed pocket of awesome, I stumbled upon Empanada Mania, located at 62 S Washington Avenue,   Bergenfield, New Jersey, 07621.

Empanda Mania

The interwebs informed me that Empanada Mania was voted Best New Restaurant in 2013 by 201 Magazine and almost every review that I read stated that they were serving the best Empanadas in the county as well. Trusting my fellow Bergenites and internet gastronauts, I informed Kat that her craving would be quenched thanks to Empanada Mania. Since I was in disaster mode, I was unable to sense that I too, caught the empanada bug when we were turned away from the food truck with empty stomachs, and I soon realized that if the Empanadas at Empanada Mania did not meet or exceed our expectations, the ride home would be akin to traveling with two pregnant women, ready to pop, on a 100 degree day, with no air conditioning. Needless to say no one wants that at all.

When we arrived at Empanada Mania we were greeted as soon as we walked in the door with a smile and a genuine welcome from the owner’s father. This family orientated business approach honestly makes my soul smile, and it helped even more that this gentleman was kind, helpful, and made us chuckle on numerous occasions while we were at this establishment.   This kind of service and mindset is what is missing from all the chain restaurants that are unfortunately pushing the mom and pop shops out with every flavorless catchy named appetizer that is sold.

Empanada Mania Menu

Empanada Mania has a rotating menu of at least six empanadas a day, which in turn creates a daily menu that is ever changing. On the day that we decided to give Emapanda Mania a whirl, they were offering the following varieties Beef, Buffalo Chicken, Pizza, Chicken Quesadilla, Spinach and Feta, Two Cheese, and Cheese Burger.  Kat and I were trying to be conservative, and since we were only eating lunch, we ordered five of the seven that were on the menu. We decided to order a beef for the traditionalist is us, a buffalo chicken to kick it up a notch, a Pizza because if not Kat’s father would disown her, a Chicken Quesadilla because I am a cheeseaholic, and a Spinach and Feta in a vain attempt to healthy.

After ordering, we once again began to speak with the front house manager of Empanada Mania and soon enough the proprietor of the shop, Mr. Galo Grijalva, came out to greet us. He introduced himself, and we spoke for a few minutes about the business and his future plans to climb aboard the food truck band wagon and use his mobile munchie maker as a promotion device and a as a way to give back to the County. After mere minutes of speaking to him, I could tell right away that this man was truly passionate about not only his Empanadas but his business as well, which only got me more excited about the food that I was about to chew on.

Empanda Mania Platter

When the food arrived at our table, Kat and I were so elated that our Empanada feast was about to begin that we could barely contain ourselves, none the less wait for these fresh fried morsels to cool down, but alas we are smarter than your average Hot Pocket eater.   I took the first deep fried purse of holding out of the basket and divided it into two pieces thus allowing the heat to escape quicker and permitting us to see what type of empanada we were about to ingest.

Spinach Empanada

Our first victim was the Spinach and Feta Empanada, and as I was cutting it, I already knew that it was going to be remarkable. The crust was the perfect consistency as I could feel the flawless crunch and flakiness under my knife as I pressed down firmly. After I broke through the outer layer, my plastic cutlery flew through the moist savory filling faster than A-Rod can deny any and all allegations of wrong doing.   Our first bite instantly converted us to Empanada Maniacs, and there was no turning back. The Spinach was seasoned expertly and the ratio of feta to greens was spot on.

Buffalo Chicken Empanada

Next up was the Buffalo Chicken Empanada. As soon as I saw this inventive and whimsical item on the menu, I knew I had to try it. I was very pleased that it was among the empanadas that we chose to sample.   The expressive flavor of the filling combined excellently with the crunchy texture of the shell to create a wonderful marriage in my mouth.

Pizza Empanada

The Pizza filled empanada was next on the chopping block, and we were not disappointed yet again. The quality of the cheese as well as the quantity was not unnoticed by this foodie.   The addition of just the right amount of marinara sauce only added to the charm of this vegetarian friendly empanada.

Chicken Empanada

The Chicken Quesadilla empanada fell just as its brethren did; one fantastic bite at a time. As Kat and I finished off this fanciful fowl, we were saddened that we only had one more of these miraculous pleasure stuffed indulgences left to consume.

Forkin' Empanada

Fortunately Kat and I saved what was in our opinion the best for last, the straight up, traditional Beef Empanada. I was surprised that I, an aficionado of all things strange and odd in the culinary world, would find myself choosing the seemingly “boring” beef empanada as the winner of our little taste test, but this deep fried mighty meat package was anything but boring. The seasoning was impeccable and created a fresh and crisp palatableness that was simply insurmountable.

As we looked down at our empty basket, the realization sank in that we were all out of these amazing delicacies, but then a smile come over my face. This Joker-esque smirk was followed by me returning to the counter and ordering two more Empanadas before even discussing it with Kat. We ordered one more beef, because it was that kind of good, and I also ordered a Cheese Burger. The Beef was saved for last because we were well aware of its foodgasmic powers. As we ate the Cheese Burger Empanada, I began to comprehend that it was not just one of their Empanadas that are noteworthy, but it is all of them. Every last empanada that we ate on our first of many outings to this eatery was simply divine. They all have their merits, and I could literally eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next month and still come back for more.

Empanada Mania Sauce

Empanada Mania also offers a homemade hot sauce to pair with their tasty treats. The house manager informed us that he came up with the recipe for this phenomenal sauce while he was still in his mother’s belly, and I believe it.   This prodigious sauce was the ideal companion to the already sublime taste of these Empanadas. As Kat and I ate each of them, we tried them without sauce first, which caused us to swoon, but after adding some of the sauce we fell in love. Since this sauce is homemade it may be somewhat spicy for the average consumer, so it is recommended that you taste the sauce first before slathering it on.

Empanada Mania Closeup

If reading this article about the outstanding things Empanada Mania is doing with fried dough does not make you wish that you could beam down to Bergenfield immediately and try their culinary delights, than maybe this will. Galo, The Empanada Master, recently added a new addition to his cooking staff, Ms. Emma Scher from Ridgewood, N.J., who recently competed on the Teen episode of the Food Network Show, Chopped. Mr. Grijalva has agreed to show Ms. Scher the business end of working in a restaurant, in order to give back to the community that has helped him realize his dream. During our visit to Empanada Mania, we had the pleasure to meet Emma, and after our short conversation, Kat and I could see she is destined for greatness in the epicurean world.

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The Q-Crew BBQ Catering Company Rocks Out With Thier Hog Out!

So, you want to throw a backyard Barbecue that will make one of Andrew Jackson’s epic White House parties seem like a lame Jack and Jill shower, but even though Yan Can Cook, You Can Not.  You may think that you have no options and sheepishly accept your fate as merely a party attendee and not the host with the most, but you would be wrong.  Perhaps you can cook with the best of them, but you are lazier than a freshman in college after partaking in your first all night weed and fast food festival. Not that I condone that sort of thing, I mean fast food is horrible for you.  Maybe you are not lazy or gastronomically challenged but just want to be able to enjoy the legendary soirée that you are planning without having to man, or woman, the grill all night while your friends enjoy the giant bouncy castle and life size wrestling Ring full of Jell-o shots that you rented for this event.  If you fall into any of the aforementioned categories you need to request the Q-Crew to come to your next event!

Andrew Jackson sure did love to party!

Andrew Jackson sure did love to party!

Recently, I had the honor of officiating the wedding of two of my friends, one whom happens to be a fellow blogger. (Check out his humorous child rearing blog by clicking here.)   You read that right, I not only have a 9-5 job and write about some of the best Blue Collar Food I can find, but I also happen to be an ordained Reverend!  I thoroughly enjoy performing marriage ceremonies, and I have a blast at every wedding that I get the chance to preside over, although, this wedding had something that made this member of the cloth salivate like never before.  Instead of a pretentious indoor, five course meal, offering the same menu that has been served at receptions for 35 years, this couple made the executive decision to call in the Q-Crew to cater their special day.

Whole Pig Roast

Here Piggy Piggy Piggy

The Q-Crew is not your stereotypical catering company.  Instead of chasing stuffy white gloved waiters throughout a banquet hall, creating a live action Pac-Man like game that ends in you eating three shrimp and one pizza bite that you had to wrestle from your Great Aunt Bertha, you get to watch the Q-Crew in action as you mingle with the other guests during the cocktail hour.  Q-Crew does offer many different packages for any event that you could imagine, but by far their most impressive is the roasted whole pig complete with Pre-dinner photo ops.

Grilling

The Q-Crew hard at work!

This particular event not only featured the whole roasted pig, but the privileged guests of this amazingly meaty shindig got a one way ticket to flavor country courtesy of the Bride and Groom, via the Q-Crew express.  The menu for this grand affair consisted of St. Louis Style Ribs, Pulled Pork, Barbecue Chicken, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Grilled Vegetables, and a plethora of fixings that paired perfectly with this meatgasmic offering.  Although the Bride was beautiful, the Q-Crew spread gave her a run for her money as the most stunning attendant of this fine affair, but since she was the one who brought this eating orgy to my world, I will say she beat the pig by a snout.

So much meat! TWSS

So much meat! TWSS

Once the food was ready, I was like Alex Rodriguez in a Performance Enhancing Drug store; I did not know which wonderful concoction to try first.  Since there was only limited plate space and I am a carnivore at heart, I decided to fill my first plate to capacity with the tantalization flesh of my most favorite farm animal, the pig!  As I was scooping the hearty portions of this fantastic meat onto my plate, the wafting aroma overwhelmed me with so much joy and happiness; I could barely make it back to my table before shoveling copious amounts of this picturesque BBQ into my drooling mouth.  Before I damn near ran to my table, I hit up the sauce bar to dress my swine properly before eating the hell out of this masterpiece that I created.  Not knowing which sauce was going to be the best on the pork I added a small amount of each type strategically so they did not comingle and contaminate each other.

Plate of Pig

Meat my plate of pig! See what I did there?

My first plateful consisted of two ribs, a generous helping of the roast pig, some pulled pork, a piece of corn bread, and a few pickles.  Considering I had been peering at Wilbur throughout the afternoon much like a 12 year old boy studies the first playboy he finds hidden in his father’s garage, I decided that it was the most logical starting point for my adventure down BBQ lane.  As I took my first bite, all I could think is if I were Zach Braff in Scrubs, my favorite pork memories would be playing in my head in slow motion with a horrible 80’s ballad added in for good measure.  Alas, I am not Zach Braff, although I think Kat would not be opposed to it.

Divine Swine

Divine Swine

Even though there was no divine swine montage, the pig was uber tasty.  It was moist, yet firm, with the proper bite that should be associated with good, wait check that, great barbecue.  The smoke flavor was not overbearing but still created that slight wood cooked twang that barbecue aficionados search near and far for.  I also loved the fact that the meat was not over seasoned or over sauced. The Q-Crew allowed the meat to speak for itself and not only did it talk but it sang!

Ribs of plenty

Ribs of plenty

After demolishing the pile of roast pig I had liberated from the buffet table, I moved onto the ribs.  When most people discuss ribs they rave about the meat falling off the bone but not I and much to my euphoric joy not the Q-Crew either.  In my opinion, ribs should have a slight firmness that requires a small amount of effort to remove the succulent meat from the bone, which perpetuates the primal sensation one gets when eating a bone-in cut of meat. The Q-Crew’s rib was not only expertly prepared in this fashion, but it also had a flawless smoke ring that added to its esthetic appeal.   As for the taste, the sweet smoke flavor paired perfectly with the tanginess of the barbecue sauce and spices creating a cacophony of flavor that made me want to create a Facebook page for these ribs simply so I could become friends with this rib for real because we all know you ain’t really friends with someone until you are friends on Facebook!

Pulled Pork

Pork that is pulled makes me happy!

The pulled pork, which had been waiting patiently as I fell in love with the pig and then cheated on her with the angelic ribs, was finally ready to be devoured.  I created a sandwich with the pulled pork and topped it with a liberal slathering of BBQ sauce, because that is how I roll.  See what I did there, sandwich, roll, get it, get it… Oh to hell with you, that was funny.  Once again this pulled pork was not drowned in sauce but instead the Q-Crew let the natural flavors of the porky goodness be the star of the show.  Don’t get me wrong, this pulled pork had some righteous flavor, but the predominant taste was good ol’ fashion pig and that is just how pulled pork should be.

Hamburgers

Just in case you’re a traditionalist.

I would be remiss as a card carrying member of the foodie community if I did not try everything the Q-Crew had to offer, so as I explained to Kat, it was my civic duty to say to hell with our diet and rock some seconds. On this trip up to the buffet line, I had to try some of the Q-Crew’s chicken because I had yet to sink my teeth into that BBQ favorite, but I simply could not pass up the opportunity to grab some more pig, pulled pork, and ribs.  Once again, there just was not any room for sides or the hamburgers and hotdogs, but I was told by other guests that they were mighty good.

Corn Bread

Mmmmmmm Corn Bread!

As for the chicken, at this point if you expected anything lower than stellar marks for anything that graced the Q-Crew’s grill, you have not been paying attention to this review very closely.  The flavor profile on the chicken was simple yet palatable, and it was cooked impeccably.  Chicken can be tougher than Howard Wolowitz’s Mother’s brisket, to cook properly on an open flame in large quantities, but the Q-Crew’s professional staff made it look about as easy as finding a celebrity who has a drug problem.

If you are looking to be the envy of the entire Social Media community that was not invited to your next backyard bash, you need to contact The Q-Crew BBQ Catering Company at 908-256-1198.  I warn you though, whoever can’t make it to the event due to a prior engagement will have to be put on suicide watch after they read all your friends’ status updates.  Furthermore, if I was you, I would warn my neighbors that the Q-Crew will be cooking at your function so they don’t think that you rented your house to a purveyor of cinematic filth when they hear the sounds of pure ecstasy escaping from your guests’ mouths after they take their first bite of the serious barbecue that the Q-Crew will deliver.  The Q-Crew slogan pretty much sums up the awesomeness of hiring these BBQ connoisseurs to bring their epicurean treats to your next jamboree and that is, “You Chill…We Grill.”

Grilled Veggies

BTW, Their Grilled Veggies were pretty good too!

The Cloverleaf Tavern: Come For The Beer, Fall In Love With The Food

The Cloverleaf

Most Blue Collar Foodies would rather have a cool refreshing craft beer paired with their meal rather than a hoity-toity glass of wine. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for wine, and I do enjoy a goblet of grapes every now and again, but my heart belongs to the hops and barley that can be found in every mug, pint, or stein of carbonated class in a glass. There are only a few spots in the North Jersey area that stimulate craft beer enthusiasts better than a pill of Viagra at the Bunny Ranch, and there are even fewer that not only have a remarkable beer menu, but also a food menu that is worthy of praise. It is my goal as The Blue Collar Foodie to find these institutions of higher inebriation and shout their accolades from high atop my soap-box, known as the interwebs.

Welcome To The Clover

Welcome To The Clover

One such location is The Cloverleaf Tavern, located at 395 Bloomfield Ave., in Caldwell, NJ. Considering that The Cloverleaf Tavern has been continuously operating for over 75 years, this extraordinary establishment should not be a secret to any craft beer connoisseur that rests his or her rump within the Tri-State area. What these pint professors may not realize, and neither did I at first, is that The Cloverleaf Tavern, or The Clover, as it is known by the regulars, not only offers an awe-inspiring beer menu, but also serves up some serious eats as well.

First off, I feel that in order to properly discuss The Clover’s true appeal I will need to approach their exuberance for craft beer and their epicurean prowess separately. This way I can guarantee I will devote enough verbiage to each of these astonishing contributions that the Clover is making to the foodie community on a daily basis.

Mmmm Beer

Mmmmmmmmmm Beer

The Clover doesn’t just serve craft beer; they embrace the very notion of its very existence and attempt to house as much variety as they can possibly fit within their beer centric structure. Their ever changing beer menu reads like the phone book of Hop City, USA and is constantly updated via their website. The Clover is one of the first beer lists that I peruse as soon as the interwebs get all twitterpated about a specialty beer that has a limited release, because odds are not only will they have it but they will be throwing an event in its honor.

Lots of Beer!

Lots of Beer!

Furthermore, they have a free to join program known as the Masters of Beer Appreciation, MBA that now has over 1550 Alumni whose names adorn the walls on plagues that are updated with each new graduating class. This beer aficionado’s dream come true, escorts the participant in a veritable world tour of some of the best brews that can be procured on a regular basis by the Clover. To add to the charm of this intoxicating self-guided tour, after you earn 15 and 30 credits, you receive a $15 clover gift card. After you earn 45 credits your name will be added to the wall as an M.B.A. graduate and you will be entitled to a 20oz pour instead of the standard 16oz pour the common folk receive. There are also accolades for completing multiple MBA programs, like receiving your Doctorate, but don’t get ahead of yourself sparky, one degree at a time.

Masters of Beer Appreciation

You know you want it!

As for the Cloverleaf’s culinary prowess, I have to say I was initially surprised with the caliber of food that I was served the first time I ordered one of their insanely good burgers. Not to say that pubs serving decent food are unheard of but, the food that the Clover is offering to its patron is not just good, it is “shiv your best friend for looking at the last bite of your food” good. I am not just talking about the burgers either; I have thoroughly explored their menu and have not been able to find one thing on it that was not excellent. On top of their regular tasty menu, the Clover offers a weekly specials menu that allows even the regulars to indulge in something different.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled, straight from the heavens, Pork Sandwich

On my most recent visit to the Cloverleaf, I was in the mood for some good old fashioned American Barbecue, and since it was lunchtime, I decided to go with the Pulled Pork Sandwich served with homemade coleslaw, a pickle, and I opted to swap the fried for their jaw-dropping beer battered Onion Rings all for $10.99. One of the best things about The Clover is that even though they serve prodigious food and astounding beers they consistently keep their meals affordable for us Blue Collar folks that still want great tasting grub.

Onion Rings

Crispity Crunchity

When it arrived, the smell was utterly divine, and the pulled pork was blended with a BBQ sauce that was unearthly. Each bite of this sandwich sent shock waves of flavor from my mouth to my stomach, which in turn sent hate mail to my brain for only ordering one. After forcing myself to put down a sandwich that could only be described by using a made up word such as, amazeballs, I tasted one of the Onion Rings that were recommended by our awesome waiter, whose name I can’t remember because I am a horrible person, and I was in love… With the Onion Rings, not my waiter, I don’t think Kat would have been amused if it was the other way around. To add to these crispy and tangy fried rings of yummy, I dipped one into the Maker’s Mark Gourmet Sauce that the Clover places on each and every table, and I thought I had died and went to Texas, which as everyone knows is what BBQ heaven is called.

Maker's Mark Gourmet Sauce

Saucey Sauce Sauce

The moral of this article is that if you like food and/or beer and have not entered the hallowed walls of The Cloverleaf Tavern then you should be removed from the foodie guild immediately. Luckily, as a card carrying member of both the Clover and the Foodie Guild of America, or the FGA, which I just made up and am imposing an instant trademark on, I have talked both organizations into an amnesty program. They both agree that if you take it upon yourself to get your ass to the Cloverleaf before the summer is over; you will still be allowed to be a member of the FGA. Seriously though, all it will take is one visit to the Cloverleaf Tavern, and you will be sending angry emoticons to all of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers, for not alerting you to this food and beer sanctuary earlier.

Cloverleaf Tavern on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie gets his Fro-Yo fix on Plaza Road

The summer and I have a slightly cantankerous relationship with one another.  You see, I hate the sun, the heat that comes with it, and the fact that everyone want to go DTS, or down the shore, where sand finds a way to creep into every crevasse of my body.  On the other hand though, I love backyard barbecues, swimming pools, baseball, and of course ice cream.  So I will find the shade like a twinkling vampire in Seattle, jump from air conditioner to air conditioner, and take seven showers a day to remove the sand from places on and in my body that my wife has never seen, in order to partake in my favorite epicurean summer delights.

One of the aforementioned summer treats that I swoon over once the mercury in the thermometer goes above my comfort level is Ice Cream.  There are very few of us in this world that have not been subjected the Pavlovian conditioning of the Ice Cream truck.  There is something about those bells, whistles, or children’s songs being played over the loud speaker of a rusty box truck that is filled with overpriced ice cream bars that makes even an adult squeal with joy.  Unfortunately, as a 32 year old, childless, adult if I approach said Ice Cream Truck, I will look guiltier than Aaron Hernandez being led out of his mansion in handcuffs.  Furthermore, if I intend to go DTS, I would rather not be 40 pounds overweight sporting a muffin top over the elastic band of my once slim fitting bathing suit.

WWF

Best Ice Cream EVER!

There is however an alternative to having to deal with Chris Hanson approaching you while you spill out of your bathing suit like a sleeping bag that was poorly packed while trying to order a WWF Ice Cream Bar that hasn’t been made in 20 years.  This tremendous, low-fat substitute, and much less shady looking choice is none other than the frozen yogurt shop, and Fair Lawn is home to its very own.  Yogurt Plus, located at 14-25 Plaza Rd. Fair Lawn, NJ 07410, or the clock tower plaza for all the Fair Lawnites, is serving up delicious frozen yogurt complete with all the fixings.

Yogurt Plus

Yogurt Plus

Kat and I have started a weekly pilgrimage to Yogurt Plus every Wednesday evening.  After we get done with work, exercising, and dinner we walk the ¾ of a mile down the road with our dog, Lilly, to indulge in whatever magnificent flavors of Frozen Yogurt  are being served within the wondrous walls of this establishment.  For those of you that have never been to a Frozen Yogurt joint, you need to know a few things.

Fro-Yo Machine

Fro-Yo Machine

First off, the flavors rotate sporadically so you can always try something new and exciting.  There are only a limited number of machines at Yogurt Plus, so each machine churns a different flavor, thus creating a random flavor line-up from night to night.  If you are anything like me and enjoy variety, this system creates the same anticipation as going to a craft beer bar with a rotating tap list.

Toppings!!!

Toppings!!!

Secondly, and more importantly, the best part of these Willy Wonka-esque eateries, is not the Fro-Yo itself, but the bountiful toppings that are provided to create the perfect summer sundae.  I for one love my ice cream to have more junk in its trunk than J-Lo circa 1999, so this process is perfect for me.  Every time I go, I pile on cookie dough, chocolate chips, brownie bites, waffle cone crumble, Reese’s pieces, cookie crunch, and five or six other tasty calorie filled garnishes so my once healthy treat is about as good for you as deep fried green beans.   Kat on the other hand tries to keep her summertime delight a wee bit on the fitter side and adds more fruits than candy.

This is how I roll!

This is how I roll!

The last thing a Fro-Yo neophyte should know is that you pay by the ounce when visiting these shops.  This is something you should keep in mind when you are piling the toppings on your already full bowl of yumminess.  If you are not careful when building your leaning tower of deliciousness you may very well be creating a 10 dollar sundae.  Granted, I assure you that Sundae will be well worth the money, but if you are on a budget be conscious of what you are crafting.

Kat's Cup

Kat’s Cup

 

Most people think that they can eat Frozen Yogurt every day because it is 100% healthy for them.  The reality is that it is not healthy per sea but it is much better for you than traditional ice cream.  With that said, if your diet forbids you to have something that you truly love, like the delectable, smooth, and refreshing taste of Ice Cream, than perhaps you need to find a new diet.  I for one believe that moderation and making good choices is the key to nutritional bliss.  So the next time you get a hankering for some Ice Cream, stay off the neighborhood watches radar, forego the Ice Cream Truck, and walk down to Yogurt Plus for a guilt free treat that tastes great.

Yogurt-Plus on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie Eats His Way Through Bean Town

Every once in a blue moon the neurons in my brain fire just right, and I have a good, no, great, no, fantastic idea.  This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago when I found out I was going to Boston on a business trip.  I began searching the googles for the best foodie finds the city of Boston had to offer, and after about 45 minutes of dredging through one commercial advertising driven site after another, an idea popped into my head, one that was so damn prodigious that a freaking light bulb should have appeared over my head and shined brighter than Lil’ Jon’s grill.   This idea I am speaking so highly of was to forgo the internet search that is riddled with paid advertisers and subpar eateries and go to the heart of any great foodie scene, the blogosphere.  I aimed to contact the food bloggers of Boston that patrol the city night and day in search of the finest fare that THEIR city slings, and then take the time out to write poetic verses about these establishments so others will not be led astray by the likes of Bing and AOL.

With this thought in mind, I had only one problem, where the hell do I find a list of food bloggers from the Boston Area.  I once again fired up my internet browser, but this time I switched my search criteria around and was able to find that UrbanSpoon.com had just the list I was looking for.  Armed with the best of Boston Food Blogger List courtesy of UrbanSpoon, I began to contact the bloggers that seemed to match my style of epicurean adventuring.  I trusted the foodie community and the food bloggers of Boston would come through for me, and even though I did not know what to expect as far as return e-mails, I ended my research that faithful afternoon.  Shortly after sending the first message my inbox was inundated with responses from Boston’s finest foodies.  At that moment I knew just how Tim Tebow must have felt after being picked up by the New England Patriots, proud and excited to go to bean town.

Welcome To Boston

Welcome To Boston

The amazing food blogging community of Boston welcomed me with open arms and helped me compile a list of Boston’s Best, Blue Collar Foodie Approved, restaurants and watering holes. Considering I was in Boston for my actual nine to fiver, I was only able to hit up a few of the great suggestions these gracious gourmands had provided but the ones I did visit were absolutely amazing. Due to the tremendous out pour of assistance I received from the helpful blogging community of Boston, I will be doing this from now on, and I suggest you do the same. Not only will you be happy with the results, but I assure you it will make a food blogger smile when they receive your e-mail, so it is a win, win for everyone. Without further ado, buckle up gastronauts and prepare for the Blue Collar Foodie’s voyage to Boston’ belly!

Sweet Cheeks

Sweet Cheeks BBQ

The first stop on my gastro tour of Boston was a rather easy choice, as damn near every food blogger I spoke to, agreed this establishment was a must visit, and it was in walking distance of my hotel. This highly touted, often blogged about, and relatively new restaurant is none other than Sweet Cheeks BBQ in the Fenway area of Boston.  Now since it was the only BBQ joint I ventured to during my brief visit to Boston, I can’t proclaim that it is the best BBQ in the city, like most Bostonians, but I will say that anyone attempting to compete with this Texas style BBQ spot is in for quite a battle.

Sweet Cheeks Tray

Sweet Cheeks Tray

Sweet Cheeks’ offers all of the staples that you would expect a BBQ place to provide, such as Pulled Pork, Ribs, Chicken, and Brisket for the carnivore in you, and hot and cold sides featuring coleslaw, baked beans, mac and cheese, and collard greens. They also throw in some not so standard options for the adventurous foodies like yours truly, including their Berkshire Pork Belly, and Great Northern Short Rib. Furthermore, Sweet Cheeks allows you to create a combination tray of their offerings so you can create a custom metastatic mixture that is sure to please.

Sweet Cheeks BBQ Ribs

Sweet Cheeks BBQ Ribs

What further separates Sweet Cheeks from the BBQ spots that I have visited in the past, is their extensive and impressive craft beer list that adorns the back of their menu.  Even though I fancy myself to be somewhat of a novice cicerone, Sweet Cheeks offered more than just a few beers that not only have I never tried, but some that were not even on my radar.

Sweet Cheeks Biscuit With Honey Butter

Sweet Cheeks Biscuit With Honey Butter

After eating at Sweet Cheeks I fully understand why the foodie scene in Boston is all about this local eatery. The food was fantastic, and if you find yourself in Boston, you must at least go there for a cold craft beer, an overstuffed meat sandwich, and a biscuit with honey butter. If you do not, unfriend me on Facebook immediately before you return, because I will publically shame you until you cry. Although I highly recommend grabbing a fat cheeks tray and knocking down three of their righteously smoked meats paired with two sides like I did.

Citizen Public House

Citizen Public House

With happy bellies full to the brim with meaty goodness, my partner in crime and I decided to walk to our next destination, The Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar.  According to the locals that I spoke to the food here is really good, but what they are known for is their far-reaching whiskey menu that is a must see for travelers who enjoy a good stiff drink.  Since an entire pig was resting nicely in my gut and food was out of the question, I decided to take a gander at their spirit selection, and I was impressed.  After perusing the menu for a short period of time, I was overwhelmed by the enormous selection of Bourbons, Scotches, and Whiskeys that decorated the Citizen’s menu, so much so that I had to enlist the assistance of the bartender to aid me in this daunting task.

Hirsch Whiskey

Hirsch Whiskey

This was a fantastic decision, because the bartender was like a whiskey shaman from the isle of knowledge.  After speaking to him for about five minutes not only did I know what Whiskey I wanted to order, I felt as if I could write a Wikipedia article on whiskey and simply use him as the source.  The clientele was great as well, and as I sipped my Hirsch Small Batch Bourbon, I conversed about all things sports with a few delightful local Bostonians.  Sadly, as my glass ran dry, I had to call it a night, as I had to be responsible in the morning, so I walked back to my hotel in preparation of the morrow, so I could dream of the next Boston food adventure I would embark upon.

The Tip Tap Room

The Tip Tap Room

After a long day of work, I was extremely excited to hop on the T near my hotel and make my way to the Government Center stop, where my next eatery would be found.  The Tip Tap Room was recommended to me by a few of the food writers that I contacted and described as a place that was known for exotic meats and craft beer.  Friends, you had me at exotic meats, TWSS.  The moment I arrived at this eccentric eatery, located in the center of the bustling Government Center area of Boston, I knew I was going to enjoy my stay.  Their vast tap menu was proudly displayed on the wall and due to the beautiful weather the large front windows were open allowing the pleasant breeze of the fledgling evening to whisk its way throughout the dining area.

Antelope Meatloaf

Antelope Meatloaf

It took me seconds to realize what I wanted as my meal, Antelope Meatloaf, but as for the beer list that was a horse of a different color. I had some bad luck in the beginning, as I chose two beers that had literally just tapped seconds before the waiter had taken our order. Fortunately though, our server was well versed in the art of beer drinking and selected three small samples of beer that were similar to the ones that I had ordered so I could try them before I made my final selection. This small, yet greatly appreciated service elevated my appreciation for this trendy eatery immeasurably.

Beer

Beer

I would highly recommend that everyone hit up the Tip Tap Room while they are traipsing down the Freedom Trail or visiting Faneuil or Quincy Market, which are all very close. The food divine, the service was wonderful, and the location simply can’t be beat. Furthermore, where else can you eat succulent Antelope Meatloaf, while sipping on local craft beer in the city of Boston?

Regina Pizza

Regina Pizza

Another one of Boston’s restaurants that almost every foodie that wrote me back included on their list of must eats was the original Regina Pizza located in the North End of the city.  Being from the land of great pizza, the words best and pizza in the same sentence without being combined with the phrase, “other than in New Jersey,” is like uttering the phrase the Mets stink, without adding the caveat “because of their owners.”  With that said, I was not willing to ignore the endorsement of almost a dozen food writers because of my own New Jersey centric, pizza related hubris.

When we arrived, we soon found out that Regina Pizza is not a secret in Boston, as was evident in the fact that there was a line out the door to score a table in this famous pizzeria.  While waiting for our table, I researched the menu online and decided that I was going to partake in the most sought after pie Regina’s serves, The Giambotta, which consists of pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, peppers, onions, anchovies, and Mozzarella cheese.

The Giambotta

The Giambotta

Once seated which did not take too long, our order was in and a beer was in my hand in no time, thanks to the speedy service that is provided at Regina’s. Shortly after we ordered, our Regina’s masterpieces were delivered to our table, and I was ready to try what everyone was telling me was Boston’s best pizza. Now as I said, Pizza and Jersey are like Guns and Texas, Hockey and Canadians, or Lies and Politicians, so I know pizza, and Regina makes damn good pizza. Now I am not saying that Jersey pizza is not better in some places that I have been, but if I ever had to move to Boston, I could surely get my Pizza fix within the confines of this North End staple.

Mike's Pastry

Mike’s Pastry

If you read my blog regularly you know that I am infatuated with the cannoli like Courtney Love, well, loves her some crack cocaine.  So when multiple foodies tell me that Mike’s Pastry is the place to get a cannoli in what is basically Boston’s Little Italy, I had no other choice but to venture down the street from Regina’s and give one of them a try.  This decision was almost as good as the decision I made to marry my loving and supportive wife.   Mike’s offers a myriad of cannoli, filled with everything from the traditional cream to specialty cannoli such as peanut butter or pistachio.  To add to their appeal they also serve a wide array of other Italian indulgences that would make Kirstie Alley fall off the diet wagon once again.

I chose to treat myself to a Peanut Butter Cannoli topped with powdered sugar. Judging from the looks of this pastry shop and the fact that it was crowded at 9:00 PM on a Wednesday night, I assumed this decadent, overstuffed phenomenon was going to be good, but I was not ready for the shear awesomeness that this shell full of heaven was going to deliver. With reckless abandon for my shirt and pants, I could not stop eating this bliss wrapped in a flakey shell as powdered sugar rained down on my clothes like hell fire. Afterword, I not only looked like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan after a night at the Roxy, but I was just as happy as them as well.

Bleacher Bar

Bleacher Bar

There was only one thing left to do after treating ourselves to a wonderful evening in the North End of Boston, and that was, return to the Fenway area and drink a cold beer at the coolest bar in town. Once again my fellow foodies came through in the clutch and informed me of a place called Bleacher Bar that is located literally under the bleachers of Fenway. These Uber sports bar not only have a decent selection of draft beers, but they have something that no other bar in town can boast. This sport’s enthusiast’s mecca has an enormous window that overlooks Fenway Park on the field level. Not only do they have the greatest view of any bar in the city, check that, the country, they don’t charge a freaking cover! That is correct, you heard me right, NO COVER.

The Church Of Boston

The Church Of Boston

Considering that I am an Ordained Reverend with the Universal Life Church, when a few of my blogging cohorts suggested that I visit the Church of Boston for a pint and a meal I could not resist.  This chic Boston Eatery boasts a gourmet gastro pub menu combined with a notable selection of adult beverages.  Adding to the appeal of this epicurean sanctuary, The Church of Boston offers several choices of seating types for their patrons to enjoy, including booths, high top tables, and even couches for a relaxing place to rest your rump while imbibing a cold after work cocktail.  Boston’s holy bistro also has a separate room for live music where the area’s top local bands perform their unique hymns seven nights a week starting at 9 P.M.

Church's Noodle Bowl

Church’s Noodle Bowl

Church delivers a truly unique design premise with an accompanying relaxed ambiance that I have not yet to experience in any other bar that I have been to.  The stained glass windows that adorn one full wall of the bar are an additional luxury, which enhances the already chic interior of this amazing eatery.  To top it all off, their menu had so many delectable choices that it took me quite some time to decide what to have.  Furthermore, their drink selection is quite substantial and formidable in its own right.  When visiting Church, it would be a sin not to indulge in their specialty cocktails appropriately labeled the Four Horsemen and the Seven Deadly Sins.  If beer is what you’re after to pair with your amazing food, I suggest trying the always original and tasty Pretty Little Things Offering, which is basically whatever crazy concoction that four Massachusetts beer obsessed hop heads created that week.

El Pelon

El Pelon

 

After eating at the Church of Boston, we made our way to one of the last true Baseball Churches left standing, Fenway Park to catch a game and drink some beers.  After the game I was a little bit hungry and was in need of a midnight snack.  I checked my list of foodie approved eateries in the area and stumbled upon a place called El Pelon Taqueria.  Not only was this well-known Taqueria on our way back to the hotel, but honestly, nothing quenches a nighttime craving like a burrito.

El Guapo Burrito

El Guapo Burrito

After a quick look at the menu, I decided to go with El Guapo Burrito stuffed with pork, Mexican rice, black beans, fried plantains, Jack cheese, fire roasted Salsa, romaine lettuce and sour cream. Upon ordering this utterly tantalizing Burrito, the very cordial waitress simply uttered I hope you’re hungry. She was not kidding; the Burrito she handed me was so hefty that I could have done curls with it, and its girth would make Ron Jeremy blush. Not only was this burrito gy-freaking-normous it was bursting with such immense flavor that my taste buds decided to do the Mexican hat dance. This was the perfect ending to my culinary globetrot through Boston, and I went to bed that evening not only full but awestruck by the Boston Foodie Scene.

I have to thank all the wonderful foodies that helped steer the Gastro Express that I rode through Boston during the course of this week. Without them, my trip would have been filled with dirty water dogs and hot pockets. If you are ever thinking about going to Boston, I suggest visiting their blogs, liking them on Facebook, or following them on Twitter before you go so you too can get their expert advice on where to go in their magnificent city. The following is a list of their sites so you can find them:

A Boston Food Diary:  http://www.abostonfooddiary.com

Pig Trip:  http://www.pigtrip.net/

Blog and Tweet Boston:  https://twitter.com/BlogAndTweetBos

Peace, Love, and Food:  http://peaceloveandfood.com

Foodology (Actually from Vancouver but has visited Boston):  http://foodology.ca/

Hidden Boston:  http://hiddenboston.com/

The Economical Eater:  http://www.theeconomicaleater.com/

Chow Down Bean Town:  http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/blogs/chowdown/

Just Add Cheese:  http://www.justaddcheese.com/

 

The Best Pizzeria In Millville, NJ May Very Well Be The Best Pizzeria In The World!

New Jersey, in general seems to be everyone’s least favorite state, and to be honest our bulbous surly governor and the entire cast of the Jersey Shore does not help our cause. With this said, there are a few things that New Jersey is not only known for, but dare I say it actually loved for. First and foremost, we have Taylor Ham and you don’t, and if you are from this area you know all about this flavorful salty pork puck, that former Jersians crave so much, they have to make a yearly pilgrimage to a true New Jersey Diner just to get their fix. Secondly, New Jersey supplies its residents with bagels that are so damn tasty that no one seems to notice that this popular breakfast treat has about as much nutritional value as tree bark wrapped in bacon. Lastly, and at least in the context of this article most importantly, New Jersey is home to the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD! Calm down, New Yorkers, I can hear you cursing me out from across the G Dub, you are a close second, and seriously you are New York F-ing City, you beat us in every other category from Architecture to Zoos, so please let the red headed step child of the union that is New Jersey have this one.

Now that I have thrown the gauntlet down and expressed my love, no, obsession for New Jersey Pizza, and basically lost all of my readership from New York and Pennsylvania, I feel that I might as well further alienate myself, and piss off the New Jersey folks too, by proclaiming, in my opinion, which Pizzeria is slinging the best slice. Now, by making this statement I am breaking my own rule, which states one should never start a conversation which is bound to turn into a debate, and ultimately into a no holds barred battle royal, by bringing up politics, religion, or Pizzeria Prowess, but I have decided to throw caution to the wind and shout my declaration from the roof tops, or at least from the top of your internet browser. As I write this, I am anticipating a crap load of hate mail from every Tony, Don, and Horatio that trolls around the internet looking for blogs to flame, but remember first place is a lot like the Highlander, there can only be one, and this foodie, unlike our society today, does not hand out participation medals, so send your nasty grams somewhere else. Now without further ado, I, The Blue Collar Foodie, from atop my virtual soap box, proclaim, with the entire internets as my witness, that BIMS Pizza, located at 618 E. Main St. in Millville, NJ, is the indisputable champion of the Pizza World.

BIM's

BIM’s

As you enter BIM’s, which stands for Best In Millville, you will be greeted by Joe Pierce, owner, Chef, sole employee, and story teller extraordinaire who has been tossing pizzas around Cumberland County for over 35 years. This house, turned pizza shop, is literally a one man show, and Joe Pierce has been there from the beginning, taking orders, and making pizza. Surrounded by a seemingly endless army of conveyor belt frozen pizza shops that are taking over New Jersey towns much like the outlaws did in the Wild West, Joe, like a modern day Pizza Sherriff, remains persistent and dedicated to making fresh, consistently fantastic pizza for his loyal customers on a daily basis.

Joe Pierce

Joe Pierce, Owner, Operator, Chef, and Pizza Sheriff

BIM’s is not like your ordinary pizza shop; they don’t make chicken wings, meatballs, sandwiches, or salads, hell they don’t even sell slices. What they do sell, however, is a pizza pie in several sizes that is made fresh to order, using homemade dough and sauce which is made daily on the premises. Even though Pizza is all you can get at BIM’s that does not mean you can’t customize that pizza to experience a new BIM’s masterpiece each and every time you visit. They offer the following toppings that can be added to your pie for a nominal fee; Extra Cheese, Double Thick Crust, Pepperoni, Sweet Sausage, Mushrooms, Sweet Green Peppers, Anchovies, Onions, Bacon, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomato, Garlic, and Hot Peppers.

Bim's Pizza

Customized BIM’s Pizza

The Pizza at BIM’s is so damn good that I travel two hours and thirty minutes just to eat a few slices, before heading back to North Jersey until the craving strikes again. BIM’s expertly prepared pizza has many levels of perfection that when combined create a pie that is out of this world. Like all pizzas the first level, and the canvas to this piece of artwork, is the crust. BIM’s pizza is constructed on fresh hand-made and hand-tossed dough that when cooked crisps to just the right amount of awesome. Piled on top of this righteous crust is a home-made sauce that balances between sweet and savory flawlessly, and then Joe invites not one type of cheese, but two to join the party. This combination of cheese and sauce eventually turns into a masterful blend of gooey yumminess once the oven has done its magic. The result is a pizza pie unlike any other, because all the recipes are a Pierce family secret and therefore cannot be duplicated, believe me I have tried.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Building The Perfect Pizza

If you plan on visiting BIM’s you will not only get to taste the single greatest Pizza to ever grace the inside of a Pizza Oven, you will also get to meet and perhaps even hear a story or two from Joe. Much like the small business owners of yesteryear, Joe, embraces the idea of customer service and actually enjoys what he does, including interacting with his customers. Whether the conversation is about Millville, The Phillies, The Eagles, fishing, or life in general, Joe has a way of simplifying things and imparting wisdom about virtually any topic, like a zen pizza making life Sherpa, all the while continuing to take phone orders, toss dough, make pizzas, and restock extras. Joe epitomize the ethos of what a small business owner used to be and in a world where this style of business ownership is dwindling to damn near extinction, it is great to see that some people refuse to allow it to disappear forever.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Joe Multitasking

Attempting to explain the wonderfulness of a BIM’s pizza is much like trying to describe the Mona Lisa to a blind person. A person without sight, might mistake this extraordinary painting for just another portrait of a female, just as one might look at a BIM’s pizza and merely think that it is just another mundane pie. If, however, through the miracle of science that very same blind person’s sight was somehow restored, they would easily see that it is the intricate detail that makes Mona a true work of genius. Luckily for you though, you don’t need scientific intervention to have the same realization about BIM’s pizza, you only have to taste it to see the light. I assure you that after that first bite, you will be hooked on BIM’s like The Blue Collar Foodie is addicted to Bacon.

The Perfect Pie

The Perfect Pie

There are a few things you should know before you go to BIM’s Pizzeria. As stated before this establishment is an epic one man show and the operating hours reflect that. BIM’s is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 P.M. to approximately 10 P.M. Furthermore, BIM’s is a cash only restaurant, so leave your plastic at home. Lastly BIM’s does not have tables, so in order to eat your remarkable pizza pie you must pick it up and go elsewhere or get it delivered to your house.

BIM’s motto is,” We specialize in pizza because pizza is the only thing we make,” which can be found on their menu as well as a sign that hangs in the shop. This phrase scares some people off, because they want variety but I suggest that you embrace this unique singularity. BIM’s does not have 101 different items on the menu because Joe concentrates on his one true passion, Pizza, and anything else would only distract him from creating the best Pizza Pie on the planet!

Damn That Is Pretty

Damn That Is Pretty!

Bim's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon