This Week’s Menu: Quinoa, Ribs, Grilled Meat & More!

this weeks menu 7-6-15 I miss writing about food, you guys. I took all this time around Christmas to import my old food blog Monkeying Around The Kitchen over here and really haven’t taken advantage of the new digs. So, in an effort to get back on the horse, I figured I’d tip everyone off to the week’s upcoming menu on Monday and return to it either at the end of this week or early next. I also started writing the menu on this old chalkboard-painted pizza pan my mother-in-law gave me so we’ve got a nice visual.

A few weeks back I got all the ingredients for One Pan Mexican Quinoa from Damn Delicious. I’ve made this a few times before and it’s not just easy, but a great dinner that works well for a Meatless Monday if you’re down with that. I also appreciate how this one comes mostly from canned or boxed products meaning you can swing back around to it if you don’t get to it when planned. I will also be returning to the excellent Chicken Asiago Pasta from Chef Mickey.

Another pick-up for this week will be The Crockin’ Girls’ My Crock of Ribs using the St. Louis variety which were on sale last week. I’ll be doing this one on Thursday when I’m home along with the kids (if I remember to get them in the Crock Pot on time).

After I get everything ready for the quinoa dish tonight, I’m also going to work on the brine for Grilled Pork Chops with Corn, Tomatoes and Basil from Cooking Channel and grill that up tomorrow. Finally, as you can see, we will have some grilled beef. along with a vegetable. What kind? Not sure yet, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

Cooking Damn Delicious’ One Pot BBQ Chicken Pasta

I’m all about Damn Delicious these days. I’m pulling a recipe or two a week for my menus these days including this one last week for One Pot BBQ Chicken Pasta. I was a little leery about this one, not because of the recipe itself, but because I sometimes have trouble getting into a dish if I associate it with one style of food. I had this problem when I made Taco Stuffed Shells a while back. Stuffed shells are just an Italian dish that should have ricotta or cottage cheese as far as my taste buds are concerned. Would I have the same problem with this barbecue sauce-infused pasta dish? Luckily, no!

I’m a big fan of the one pot method for cooking this dish. You cook the bacon in the pan (I skipped the olive oil because of the bacon fat) and then toss in the diced chicken breast. From there you add the garlic and onion followed by the rest of the ingredients, including the pasta which actually cooks in the tomatoes, chicken stock and milk. Cover that up and let it cook for about 15 minutes, mix in the cheese and bbq sauce — we had Sweet Baby Ray’s on hand — and you’ve got dinner!

I wasn’t sure if the the sweetness of the sauce would throw my tongue for a loop, but this whole dish worked so well together that I didn’t even think about Italian food. In fact, the sweetness really popped and worked well with the saltiness of the bacon and the tomatoes. It all worked really well together and you can’t complain about making a whole meal in one pot!

Bonus Food Pic: Handsome Devil’s Hot Mess

handsome devil hot messA few months back my in-laws discovered a new barbecue place near us called Handsome Devil that happens to be inside the local ice rink. This past weekend we celebrated Father’s Day by heading back over there to get some food on Saturday. As we have in the past, we had a great time with wonderful food and a nice selection of beers on tap. We all started off with some fried pickles (forgot to photograph because I got so excited for one of my all-time favorite apps). The pickles themselves were nice and briny, but they also came with some sriracha mayo dipping sauce that was fiery and fun. I’m just recently discovered the wonder of sriracha, so this was auspicious timing.

Better than the appetizer, though, was the meal I got. I wasn’t hungry enough to tackle my usual barbecue meal of “as much meat as I can stuff into my face,” so when I saw the Hot Mess on the menu, I was sold. The dish has a layer of beef brisket topped with mac and cheese which has pulled pork on the very top. This was a great choice because you not only get the best side of all time — mac and cheese — but also a sampling of their brisket and pulled pork. Considering their food is so great, this is an easy sell for anyone looking to try a few different elements all in one big pile.

My wife also had the Three Little Pigs smoked ham sliders which were just bonkers good. I was lucky enough to get one half of those little sandwiches and could have eaten about 10. The salty, smokey ham worked so well on the sweet bun and covered in Gruyere cheese.

As an added bonus, Lu got to watch some hockey because there was a kids game going on and you can walk into the stands right from the rink. I bet they do a pretty great appetizer/beer business during those games.

Bonus Food Pics From Yummy Taco, Handsome Devil & Fiddlestix

yummy taco chicken and beef burrito

One of the more frustrating things about where we live is that there’s not a great taco place that we can run into when we have that hankering. There’s a nice Mexican place, but it’s sit-down and sometimes I want to just call in a bag of tacos and have my wife pick them up on her way home from work. So, we got pretty excited when we were leaving Target one day and saw a new place called Yummy Taco opening up soon. Well, the other weekend it was actually in business, we gave it a shot and all had pretty delightful food. Above you can see the chicken and beef burrito I had which was more of a giant taco, but who’s counting? I will say that this is a rather interesting establishment because everything about it screams “Chinese food place” from the decorations and staff to the picture menu above the ordering station. But, none of that matters when you realize they’re making their own tortillas on the spot and making killer food. It’s still not super close, but it’s nice to know there’s a solid taco joint nearby we can hit up while running errands.

handsome devil bbq

About a month ago, my inlaws came into town and watched our daughter while my wife and I went out for a nice Italian dinner around Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, they discovered a new barbecue joint we didn’t even know about called Handsome Devil that’s actually above an ice skating rink (that we also didn’t know about). We’ve actually got a lot of solid BBQ joints nearby, but I think this one will be tops on our list. Brothers has been so-so and Johnny D’s is a bit far away for more of a casual dinner, so Handsome Devil takes the top spot. I had the ribs and pulled pork along with some mac and cheese and onion rings, all of which were delightful. Plus, they’ve got a variety of local beers on tap which I always appreciate.

fiddlestix bangers and mash

And finally, I have to sing the praises of Fiddlestix once again. The above photo comes from their St. Patrick’s Day menu which, as always, was some of the best Irish food I’ve ever had. This is the bangers and mash which was so good I wish I could have it every day. The mashed potatoes had a healthy, but not overpowering dose of horseradish which made for a delightful side. Looking at this picture is actually making me hungry.

Recipe Roundup: Closet Cooking Part 1

As any regular readers will know, it’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted here on Monkeying Around The Kitchen. Unfortunately, with work and all kinds of other things going one — raising our two year old and prepping for a new little baby — MATK can fall to the wayside. But, I’m still cooking almost every night which means I have a huge backlog of meals to talk about going back to last fall. So, in an effort to try and document the good recipes I’ve tried out in the last few months, I figured I’d implement a new kind of a post called Recipe Roundup that will gather a bunch of meals from different places, throw in a few pics and do my best to remember how they turned out.

Today’s subject is one of my favorite new cooking sites, Closet Cooking which is great because there’s tons of older recipes on there and the site gets updated constantly. I also appreciate that Kevin Lynch seems to be cooking in a kitchen even smaller than mine which is no small feat. So, without further ado, hit the jump to check out the first batch of CC recipes I’ve tried out in the past few months!  Continue reading

Walt Disney World Bonus Food Pics: BBQ At Whispering Canyon Cafe & Pork Belly From Waves

bbq On Monday my wife, dad and I went on the Disney Backstage Magic tour which takes you on an all-day tour of the park behind the scenes. Since it really does last all day they stop at a place called Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge hotel that’s got a real country western theme. They’ve got a regular menu, but also a family style barbecue thing where they bring big plates of food to your table and you all just dig in. As it turned out, there were the perfect number of people on the tour to fill three big tables and then one with just three people. We were that table of three which was great because I don’t like the idea of other people accidentally touching my food.

Anyway, the food itself was pretty great. The menu describes the Family Platter as including “Kansas City-style Smoked Pork Ribs, Herb-baked Chicken, Hand-carved Oak-roasted Beef Strip Loin, Citrus-crusted Market Fish, Western-style Sausage Sides fro Sharing: Seasonal Farm Fresh Vegetables, Herb-crushed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cowboy-style Baked Beans, Corn on the Cob.” I’m pretty sure we didn’t have fish or beef stip loin, but the ribs were fall-off-the-bone cooked and super tasty but the real star of the show was that sausage which I could have eaten a whole plate of. I’m not sure if a huge heavy barbecue lunch is the best idea when doing a Backstage Tour, but it was tasty.

waves pork belly and tenderloin For dinner we ate at a restaurant called The Wave…Of American Flavors in the Contemporary Resort. I feel like I kind of screwed up while eating at The Wave. While my family went with some fancy steaks, I decided to try the “Thompson Farms Naturally Raised Pork Belly and Tenderloin with White Bean Cassoulet and Locally-sourced Vegetables.” What drew me to this dish is the fact that so many chefs and food personalities that I like and appreciate say that pork belly is supposed to be one of the best foods around. Unfortunately it didn’t do a whole lot for me and just kinda tasted like fatty bacon. It wasn’t bad and I didn’t really know what I was expecting, but it didn’t exactly send fireworks through my brain like in Ratatouille. However the tenderloin — small as it was — was fantastic as was the cassoulet, though I wound up passing that to my daughter who really loved it.

waves sherbert dessert

Since the Disney Dining Plan comes with dessert (I’d personally rather have an appetizer, but I’m a team player) I had a lot more dessert during that vacation than I normally would. The desserts at The Wave are pretty neat because they all come in little tiny dishes and you get three of them. I went with “Our Spring Gelato Trio: Mandarin Orange Gelato, Chocolate Malt Gelato, and Toasted Marshmallow Gelato” because I didn’t want to pile it on too heavy. And it was actually really tasty. My favorite was the marshmallow gelato because it really did taste like toasted marshmallows which are one of the desserts I really enjoy.

Wok This Way: Barbecued Pork Lo Mein

I’ve said in previous Wok This Way posts how surprised I’ve been by the ease I have cooking in the wok. Depending on how I’m feeling a particular day that can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If I’m really looking for a challenge or to try something different, it falls on the negative side of things, but if I want to make something really simple but also always tasty, it’s a good thing. When flipping through my copy of Grace Young’s Stir-Frying To The Sky’s Edge I came across her recipe for Barbecued Pork Lo Mein (page 273). While reading through the ingredients, I saw that I would need some Chinese Barbecued Pork which took me to page 285 and another recipe. I figured the multiple day process would make for a more interesting dish.

Of course, because I’m still less than a novice when it comes to cuts of meat, I got the wrong kind of pork. Instead of getting shoulder or butt I wound up with Blade Steak. I can’t remember now if it’s because they were out of shoulder or what, but that’s just what went down. Anyway, you rub sugar over the cubed up pork and then get it in the marinade which includes soy sauce, hoisin sauce, dry sherry, beans sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and honey. Once that’s all combined, the marinade goes into the fridge. The next day you broil it. If you’re doing shoulder there’s a whole rack system involved and water, but since I was using a different cut and don’t actually have all the necessary equipment, I just cooked my pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet and everything turned out fine.

The actual cooking of the main dish actually takes a lot less time than all that. I was pleased to discovering my grocery store carries both Chinese round noodles and packages of bean sprouts, so I picked up the appropriate amounts and felt like this one turned out a little bit more authentic than it might have otherwise. I liked the candy-like quality of the pork which popped in different bites along with the noodles and firmer bean sprouts. Next time I’m going to get the right kind of pork though, I even know where it is at the store now!

Bonus Birthday Food Pics: Sushi From QQ & Brothers Barbecue

qq sushu1One of these days I’m going to remember to write down what I order from our favorite nearby sushi place, QQ Asian Bistro. I want to say that these are pictures of the 007 Roll (above) which consists of “Spicy tuna, crabmeat, avocado,lightly deep fried, eel, spicy mayo sauce, topped with scallion, masago” and the Spider Roll, but I can’t quite be sure. qq sushu2

Anyway, when my parents were in town for Second Christmas and New Year’s we decided to celebrate another holiday: my wife’s birthday. Instead of going out for a big meal, we instead ordered the big meal and ate it at home. It was a great experience and as usual, the QQ food was wicked good. IMG_2474But that’s not all the food goodness we enjoyed to celebrate my lovely wife’s birth. On her actual birthday I made her a cake and we also went and got dinner at Brothers Barbecue. Brothers actually opened a while back, but they had a fire and shut down for around two years or so. Well, they’re back open and we had some awesome food there. Above you can see the corn bread which was super thick and sweet and yummy. IMG_2478And then there’s the entree. I had the two meat plate with two sides and decided on Kansas City ribs and pulled pork with mac & cheese and collard greens with bacon. The ribs were delicious and fell right off the bone, the pulled pork was perfectly tender. Both were complimented very well by their barbecue sauce which reminded me of a homemade version of Arbys Sauce. The collard greens were really tasty too, I don’t think I’d ever had them before, but they had a very cabbage-y flavor to them. The mac and cheese was alright. Having made several versions of that as a main course and as a side, I know how hard it can be to keep in good shape. It wasn’t bad by any means, just not mind blowingly awesome like everything else. Welcome back, Brothers!

Bonus Food Pic: The Pulled Porktato At Billy Joe’s Ribworks

To celebrate Father’s Day, my wife, daughter, inlaws and I walked around the Newburgh waterfront to figure out what we wanted to eat. After looking at all the displayed menus we, not surprisingly ended up at Billy Joe’s Ribworks. I wasn’t as hungry as I usually am when we go there (I tend to take it easy and not eat too much in preparation), so I decided to try something I’ve always had my eye on but never ordered: the Pulled Porktato.

According to the menu, this particular spud sports “Pulled Pork, Baked Beans, Coleslaw and Melted Cheddar Cheese” and come with sides of butter and sour cream. Oh man, this was good. I don’t know about you guys, but I am a big fan of baked potatoes with all kinds of ingredients on them. This love stems from my time working at The Bagel Place in Toledo for many many years. We had several different kinds of baked potatoes for sale with toppings like beef tips, gravy, cheese sauce, broccoli, bacon, mushrooms, chives and plenty of others. As an employee we had to pay for sandwich meat, but potatoes were free, so I would often eat those and eventually got pretty creative with toppings.

So, this meal reminded me of those fun days working at a bagel shop back home with my friends, but also that a huge stuffed baked potato acts as a perfectly good and filling meal. Heck, I even took some home with me!

Cooking Jeff Mauro’s Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Grilled Pineapple Relish

As I said back during the last season finale of Food Network Star, I was pretty happy that Jeff Mauro won. I dug his Sandwich King idea of taking regional sandwiches and giving them a spotlight while also turning recipes you wouldn’t usually put between bread and doing so. I even watch his show when I stumble upon it, which is something I can’t say about most Food Network shows. I happened to see an episode he did about making a few different kinds of barbecue and decided to give his recipe for Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with Grilled Pineapple Relish.

This one was actually pretty simple, though you need time to get it done. The first step was making a dry rub out of brown sugar, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper and cinnamon. I rubbed the rub on the pork butt and then wrapped it up in plastic wrap for a few hours in the fridge. Two hours later, I popped it in my Dutch over and then put it, covered, in the oven for three hours.

With about an hour left in the oven cooking, I moved back into the kitchen and put the pineapple relish together. That involved slicing a pineapple and grilling it, chopping up some onions and ginger. I had already used my limes on another recipe, so instead I used orange juice which seemed to work out well. Oh, I also skipped the cilantro and the jalapeno for this because my wife hates the former and I’m not a huge fan of super heat.

After that, it was time to put the chili sauce together. Again, this one was pretty simple. The only changes I made were not crushing the red pepper flakes because I just couldn’t get them to grind with my mortar and pestle. What I did instead was actually strain the sauce as I poured it onto the pulled pork.

And it’s really that simple. I think not replacing the ingredients I left out of the relish might have negatively effected that flavor which wound up being a little more acidic than I think it was supposed to be. I also completely forgot to make or get red cabbage which bummed me out because I think the red cabbage I’ve made before and love would have been the perfect compliment to these flavors. I think that’s what seemed like it was missing from the flavors as they combined with this sandwich. That’s something to remember for next time.

Bonus Food Pic: Ribs & Meat At Billy Joe’s

I know I post a lot of Bonus Food Pics from Billy Joe’s Ribworks in Newburgh, New York, but that’s because the food is just so dang good! When my inlaws visited for Mother’s Day weekend, I was able to convince everyone to head down to the waterfront for some nice barbecue. And by “convince” I mean that I floated the idea out there and everyone was game. I was a hungry boy that day so I decided on the Ribs and Meat, opting for ribs (can’t remember which kind) and pulled pork with a baked potato and broccoli and cheese as a side (you know, to be healthy). I’ve had the pork and ribs before and they were great — I know it’s a little barbaric, but I do like digging my hands into my food on occasion — but the sides were a new venture for me. My father in law said he liked the broccoli and cheese, so I figured I’d give that a shot and I went with the baked and smoked potato instead of mashed to mix things up a bit. As you’d expect, everything was delicious. After devouring the ribs and most of the pork, I smashed the potato myself, mixed in the butter and sour cream and then swirled everything left on the plate together. I highly recommend this unless you’re one of those people who don’t like your food to touch in which case I’m sure the previous sentence made your stomach churn just a little bit.

Bonus Food Pic: Smoked Prime Rib At Billy Joe’s Ribworks

I will most likely never stop writing about the excellent food I have at Billy Joe’s Ribworks on the Newburgh water front. A few weeks back a group of friends all got together there to hang out and enjoy the food and sites. My wife, daughter and I actually got there early and happened to spot a guy kite boarding on the Hudson river for a good ten minutes. It was a pretty amazing sight.

An equally amazing visual for me happened to be a new menu item: Smoked Prime Rib. I think I’ve only had prime rib a handful of times, maybe only once. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t ready for that particular cut of meat with it’s ring of fat or if I just didn’t have a very well prepared kind, but I didn’t have a great impression in my mind. This, however, changed that impression. According to the menu, the prime rib is “Dry-Rubbed and Smoked Low and Slow to Tender Perfection. Served Thick and Juicy with Natural Au Jus and Horseradish Cream Sauce.

A big, smoked delicious hunk of meat can only be improved on by macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes in my personal opinion, so those are the sides I chose. I also got the 12 ounce cut for what that’s worth. I think my tastes have changed a lot over the years and I’m more interested in checking out new things. I used to get freaked out by fat, I couldn’t handle that rubbery, chewy texture, but I’m getting more accustomed to it and now know that that’s where  a lot of flavor comes from. As an added bonus, after I finished my meat, I combined the remaining au jus with some of the horseradish sauce and the potatoes which was a tasty treat. I personally would rather finish a meal with more of my entree than a desert, so that was a good way to end things.

Bonus Birthday Food Pics: Fish & Meat!

My actual birthday was back on February 6th, but things have been bonkers busy lately, so I’m only getting around to posting these pics now. I had some excellent food between a visit from my parents the weekend before my birthday and then an outing my wife, daughter and I went on on the actual day. My parents took us out to a place we’d never been to in Cornwall called The Trestle (2 Idlewild Avenue, Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY 12520). The place had a great vibe and some interesting specials. I’m actually having trouble remembering exactly what kind of fish I had, but it was covered in sesame seeds and this excellent sauce. It was sandwiched between some tasty spinach on top and fingerling potatoes underneath. The pic kind of yellowed out the whole thing, but it was a tasty fish. I don’t think I’ve ever had sesame crusted fish, but I liked how it tasted all together.  On my actual birthday, the wife, kid and I headed to the wonderful Billy Joe’s Ribworks in Newburgh. I got the ribs and meat combo with macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. The ribs were St. Louis variety I believe and the meat was pulled pork. The great thing about Billy Joe’s–and barbecue in general–is that it’s not only great food but also fun to eat!

I should also mention that my wife and mom both made some excellent desserts, though I don’t think I snapped a picture of them. My wife made Smitten Kitchen’s Monkey Bread recipe which I’ve had before while Mom made carrot cake bars that I liked when I was a kid. I’m not much of a dessert guy, but these are two that I really dig. Thanks to Mom and Em both for that!

Trying The McRib

I know I spend a lot of time posting on this blog about trying out new recipes and eating at local restaurants, but don’t be mistaken, I love me some fast food. I try not to eat too much of it because it’d make me even fatter, but I don’t consider myself above fast food by any means.

Last week, I was knocked out of the kitchen thanks to a wicked head cold, so I didn’t do much cooking. One night my wife called and asked if I wanted her to just pick food up, through sniffles and sneezes I said sure. She suggested McDonalds and I agreed, adding that she should pick up a McRib so we could try it.

Turns out, neither of us had ever had one. I don’t really know why I never made my way to a McDonalds during the McRib’s reign, but I just didn’t. Maybe it’s because it always sounded a little funky: a ribless rib sandwich. There was also a time when I wasn’t very high on ribs after a few bad run ins.

Anyway, last week I finally tried one and you know what? I don’t see what all the fuss is about. My wife took the first bite and then handed it back to me immediately. She didn’t like the texture of the meat. It didn’t bother me so much, but I wasn’t a huge fan. It’s got a kind of meatloaf texture, but unlike good meatloaf, it’s all uniform. What got to me, though, was the general lack of flavor. I didn’t taste much in the way of that shaped, uniform meat. I also didn’t get much flavor from the barbecue sauce they used. The stand-out flavors were really the pickle and the onion.

What do you guys think? Any McRib fans out there? Am I missing something? Did I get a bad one? It’s not like I’d never try a McRib again, but if I’m going to eat fast food, I want to eat something I really like, like a Big Mac or pretty much anything at Arby’s, I don’t want “enh.”

A Whirlwind Weekend Of Food Firsts

I’ve been having a lot of food epiphanies lately and one of them is that I want to try new things. My mom always said I was always a great kid to cook for because I was never picky and enjoyed pretty much everything she put in front of me. As I grew up, I think I got a little more closed off, especially if a food looked or sounded unfamiliar. But now, I’m opening myself back up and want to eat as many new foods as I can, which is exactly what I did this weekend. My wife’s parents came in for a visit, which always means lots of eating out, but I made a conscious effort to look at the parts of familiar menus I’d only glanced over previously and wound up having a variety of great new foods that me from a few years ago would probably have balked at. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was so excited about actually eating that I forgot that I wanted to start writing about the process. Anyway, here goes.

Edamame, Avocado Salad & Zhang Zhang Guo
QQ Asian Bistro
367 Windsor Highway
New Windsor, NY 12553
(845) 569-7108

QQ is a fairly new Asian bistro near our place that serves a variety of Asian food from Chinese and Thai to sushi. I’ve gotten food from there a number of times, but Friday was the first time we ever dined in. We started the meal of with edamame and Thai Herbal Calamari which were both new experiences. I’ve had edamame a number of times before, but at QQ, they salt the pea pods, so they wind up having a little extra flavor when you pop them in your mouth. Some might have been overly salty, but for the most part I enjoyed the added flavor. Meanwhile, the Thai Herbal Calamri came very lightly fried and had a nice taste to it. I’m no squid expert, so I have no idea how fresh it was or tasted, but it was an enjoyable dish. I wanted to try the squid salad, but the sushi chef informed the waitress that that was a no go, so I wound up trying the Avocado Salad. A simple dish made up of slices of avocado on top of a bed of lettuce with a gingery dressing that was pretty good. I figured I needed some greens in my life, plus I always enjoy trying new dressings. Then came the main course, which for me was Zhang Zhang Guo. The menu describes the dish as “Soup style noodle pot with chicken, shrimp and scallop.” I was intrigued and dove right in. The pot also included octopus or squid, I’m not sure which, but the bowl, when uncovered, revealed tiny purplish tentacles sticking up like something out of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. It was exactly what I was looking for. I dove in alternating between chopsticks and a spoon, quite enjoying the spicy, seafood filled soup. The broth was enjoyable and again, I’m not a seafood expert, but I liked what I had, though I’m not sure if the squid/octopus flavors really jumped out. A few days out, I couldn’t tell you what they tasted like, but I know I liked what I had.

Reheated zhang zhang guo, minus seafood.

I actually just heated the leftovers up for lunch and it tasted just as good the second time around, though it only consisted of broth and noodles. That same spiciness was still there and lasted for a while, but it was a good kind of spicy, the kind I’m getting used to after avoiding hot stuff most of my life.

Soppressata, Sheep’s Cheese, Olive Tapenade & Tomato Sandwich
The Cheese Plate
Water Street Market
10 Main St.
New Paltz, NY 12561

On Saturday, the inlaws wanted to head to New Paltz, a combination liberal arts college town and hippie strongold about 30-40 minutes from where we live. As you would expect from such a place, they have a unique version of a strip mall called Water Street Market that looks more like two sides of a small town’s main street up on a hill and separated by a sidewalk. There’s a few antique stores, a pet boutique and a wonderful place I’d never been to before called The Cheese Plate. As I tend to do, I hadn’t eaten breakfast before leaving, so when we got to the Market, I was getting hungry. While the others walked around, I ducked into the good smelling place, looked around for a bit and decided on ordering the Soppressata, Sheep’s Cheese, Olive Tapenade & Tomato Sandwich. I’d never had soppressata or sheep’s cheese before but wound up really enjoying this snack (okay, it was actually pretty filling, but I still had a dinner coming up to focus on, so I told myself and my traveling companions that it was a snack). The sheep’s cheese had a nice bite to it, kind of like Swiss cheese as far as my inexperienced tongue could tell, though I didn’t detect the gaminess that people talk about when discussing sheep or goat cheese. The soppressata–a cured salami made from ham–that lives somewhere around salami and pepperoni in my mind and on my tongue was so tasty I want ro add it to my life on a regulat basis. It wasn’t spicy, but had some tingliness to it that I appreciated. All that combined with the tartness of the olive tapenade made for a delightful sandwich that I relished eating while first walking around and then while sitting on one side of a table set up with a chess board. I could eat that every single day. If you’re in the New Paltz area, I highly recommend stopping by and trying one of their sandwiches or just buying some bulk cheese or even some cured meat. My wife dug the brownie I got for her, but that’s not really my scene, you dig?

The view at Billy Joe

Catfish Po’ Boy
Billy Joe’s Ribworks
26 Front Street
Newburgh NY, 12550
(845) 565-1560
I’ve talked about Billy Joe’s Ribworks before. After enjoying it so much the first time around, it’s become one of our favorite places. I even had my birthday lunch/dinner/eating-before-the-Superbowl there this past February. I usually stick to some combination of meats that always leaves me very satisfied. After chowing down on the awesome soppressata sandwich, though, I wasn’t as hungry as usual. I still wanted to try something new, so I scanned the sandwich section of the menu and wound up getting the Catfish Po’ Boy. As far as I can remember, I’ve never had a po’ boy or catfish, so I was still able to try something brand new. The menu describes it as “Catfish Fillet Dredged in Cornmeal and Spices, Fried Golden Brown and Served on a Soft Hoagie Roll with House-Made Cole Slaw, Pickles and Cajun Remoulade.” When it was served, I first tried a chunk of the fried catfish and really liked the cornmeal crust on top, plus the fish itself was nice and light. The sandwich itself was pretty good, but I wish the remoulade had more of a flavor to it. I’m a strong believer that a sauce can save a boring sandwich and elevate a good one to greatness. This one was just good, but it still opened my eyes to the joys of catfish. Plus, we got to sit outside on their awesome deck which sits over the Hudson River!

Restaurant Review: Billy Joe’s Ribworks

Originally posted UnitedMonkee, 1/21/11

BILLY JOE’S RIBWORKS
26 Front Street
Newburgh, NY 12550-5622
(845) 565-1560

I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing some restaurant reviews here on the blog. I realize they won’t be as interesting for folks who don’t live in my immediate area, but I’m looking to broaden my writing horizons and I happened to have an amazing meal last night that I really want to tell the world about (plus, maybe I’ll get more hits from local folks). Last night, the missus, the inlaws and I went to a place called Billy Joe’s Ribworks down on the Newburgh Waterfront. The newly opened barbecue joint sits in one of the many old buildings right on the Hudson River.

The place is huge, but was pretty well packed for a Thursday night. Going in I was a little worried that it would be pretty expensive or overly fancy because places on the Waterfront tend to be, but I was glad to find that neither was the case. The wait staff wore basic T-shirts and everyone seemed really nice and friendly. It wasn’t until we opened the menus though that things got really interesting. Sure they’ve got the usual BBQ stuff like smoked meats and ribs, but two sections of the menu that really grabbed my attention were the macaroni and cheese mixed with meats and vegetables and baked potatoes packed with similar ingredients.

Even as intriguing as those items were, I had to go with something classic and got “Ribs and Meat” with St. Louis ribs and brisket with sides of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. Before that, though, we started with a dozen smoked wings that were amazing. They fell right off the bone and tasted like angel wings. A great start to a great meal. Once the main courses came, I dove right in. Like the wings, the ribs fell off the bone with a great rub and sauce and the brisket was cooked perfectly, but the real star of the show was the mac and cheese side. It was so rich and creamy, possibly the best I’ve ever had. The missus got the Porky Mac which I sampled and was also amazing (basically my side but covering an entire plate and infused with pulled pork and bacon). I didn’t try the baked potato or other ribs the inlaws got, but everyone walked away happy and full. Heck there was so much Porky Mac left over that the missus will be eating it for the next three days.

Best of all is that the prices are very reasonable. All that food I ordered was only $16.99. I want to go back every week and try something new from the menu every time. I’ve got my eye on those potatoes and the mac, plus the series of sandwiches. Everything on the menu sounded interesting and everything seems reasonable price wise. All that mixed with a fun environment (crazy crap on the walls and everything) make Billy Joe’s Ribworks a new favorite restaurant in the area. I want to go to there all day long!