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November 14, 2009 / kormanmatthew

For Thanksgiving

Turkey

Eat It

For the regular readers of this site, some of you will remember my rant on the obsession of pumpkins in the fall season, catapulting with Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The upcoming late holiday, which marks the pinnacle of food consumption and the start of the everlasting Christmas season in the United States, has grown accustomed to routine. Sure, Websites like Chow and Epicurious offer some enticing variations on some of the holiday’s old staples (you know, Turkey), but more often than not regular people are reluctant to change the way the day is patterned (a problem that doesn’t solely exist on Thanksgiving, but  is more prevalent at the time).

What to do with the existing recipes that so crowd the tables on the last Thursday of November is quite the risk, too. Disappointing your family and friends who are constantly not trying to disappoint one another with a terrible variation on the one meal a year no one is trying to screw up.

So my advice? My advice, in all my collective ideologies about food and desire for greater and more invigorating tastes from across the world; don’t even try.

Cooks, chefs and anyone with a desire to create some great food have 364 other days during the year in which to experiment with flavors. The one day where you should just let things happen? Thanksgiving.

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November 12, 2009 / kormanmatthew

Diet of a gamer

The video game culture, when it’s not clouded in the dark depths of a student’s dorm room, is continually prevalent at any U.S. university. What’s all so notable about your typical college-age “gamer” are a few key physical stereotypes.

They are primarily men (lets go with a 98% accuracy here), because women don’t have the urge to make themselves appear so, well, gamer-ish. Their physical representation is usually limited to perilous high-school jokes of which are too obvious for me to mention. And their concern for the social world, for the most part, is usually not too high on the list of concerns.

Food-wise, an all-around diet isn’t too much of concern, either. Topless Robot, a nice little nerd blog, recently made a list of the gamer’s 10 Most Beloved and Unhealthy Gaming Snacks. The list (written by Shaun Clayton) details the little carved niche that the culture has created in terms of food, as uncreative and unhealthy as it is. While the actual piece isn’t from the most scholarly source, I’m really not going to debate its merit.

It’s very funny and true list, with an analysis of each selection, down to the facts that some people (namely myself, referring to #7) did not really want to know. Also to its credit, it makes complete sense.

November 7, 2009 / kormanmatthew

Rum and …

Rum, ragerdless of the brand, is one of the few hard alcohols that works well with a variety of different flavors and contents. When talking about the general rum mixture, most people tend to incline towards the obvious rum and Coke.

But when you want taste the exquisit variety of rum and not aim towards the general stereotypes, try one of the favorite renditions, Rum Sour.

The recipe, according to Esquire Magazine‘s immense drink catalog, contains 2-3 ounces of golden rum, 2-3 ounces of lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of (superfine) sugar. Add a little 151 proof rum give the drink more of a punch, but do not overwhelm it.

Rum Sour

Rum Sour photo courtesy of Esquire

In actuallity, the drink is incredibly similar to a Daiquiri, aside from the lemon juice. Drink in a cold martini glass with fruit, preferrably a cherry.

November 7, 2009 / kormanmatthew

Interview with Hops & Grapes owner Dave Sanchirico

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The halls of Hops & Grapes

Hops & Grapes, Glassboro NJ‘s mega-liquor store, is truly one of a kind for the South Jersey area. The massive aisles, filled with thousands upon thousands of varieties of wines, beers, spirits, and cigars, can in a lot of ways, put rival liquor stores to an impossible shame.

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H & G's immense wine selection

The two-story building, complete with its own floor dedicated to wine, is owned by the Sanchirico’s, who took over ownership of the store only a few weeks ago from the Cammarata family, who own the nearby Landmark Bar.

Dave Sanchirico, a tall, grey-haired man in his early 50’s, was born in Collingswood New Jersey, on the border of Philadelphia. A former Glassboro State (renamed to Rowan University in 1992) student himself, Sanchirico has known the town since the late 70’s. “It’s an up-and-coming town,” he said. “With everything they’re building near the school, and all.” But with all the construction, a good amount of traffic has been congesting the area. “It’s bad, but it’s getting better,” he said.

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A long beer selection

Infinitely proud of his store, Sanchirico talked about the look of Hops & Grapes. “Other liquor stores tend to look like warehouses,” he jests. “It’s actually very nice in here.” And, in all accounts of modesty, in truly is. The inside is massive but has a very pleasant aesthetic overall, with its own cheese selection for wine aficionados and a lounge area for the more patient shopper. The customer service is also superb, Sanchirico remarks. “You can’t go down an aisle hear without someone asking if you need any help.”

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H & G's second-story wine selection

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Upstairs view

The myriad of wine types don’t just vary from your ordinary Chardonnays and Pinots, but specific collections from various countries, from Spain, to New Zealand, to Portugal, to the U.S. What Sanchirico prefers, however, is still uncertain. “I really don’t know,” he sighs. “But if I had to pick any, I guess I’d say a Caberet.” Caberet, for those who do not know, is defined as “the name of both the grape and the wine it produces. Red Bordeaux, while mostly created with Cabernet Sauvignon, uses for blending in flavor both Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Cabernet Francs are also an important ingredient in Meritage,” according to WineInto.com. Sanchirico admits that he does not know much about wine yet. “I just started really drinking wine not too long ago,” he said. “But if you really want to know (about wine) I can get some of the other guys to tell you.”

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“We’re trying to think outside of the box,” Sanchirico says. But in regards to what Hops & Grapes holds in store for the future, the humble owner would “rather not say.” But I’ll just assume that whatever is in Dave’s plans, it could only add to the wonderful splendor that Hops & Grapes already has.

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Store owner Dave Sanchirico

Hops & Grapes is located at 810 North Delsea Drive, in Glassboro NJ. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. For those who don’t live in the area, the store also delivers across the U.S., another added bonus to an already great store.

November 7, 2009 / kormanmatthew

Quesadillas, because I can

Using my short amount of experience working at a Mexican restaurant at the promenade on the Ocean City Boardwalk, NJ, I have retained some minimal lessons necessary to make better, more efficient Mexican-style food. Most Americana (South-Western inspired) Mexican food (tacos, fajitas, etc.) is prepared in similar fashion usually no matter where you are. Why mess with recipes that have already proven to be successful and enjoyable just the way they are? Because – and this is always an important lesson when it comes to food – food can always be changed.

After leaving the small restaurant my alterations of the various recipes still continues. My favorite recipe that we made (and everyone else’s favorite, it seemed) was for quesadillas. Part of the benefit of working with the recipe in the restaurant was that all the ingredients were ready for use and the final product typically would take less than three minutes to complete. With that ease of access and pace, learning the recipe, methods, and ways to alter it were very simple. Attempting the same thing in one’s own kitchen? Not quite as fast.

Ingredients –

(1-2) chicken breast(s), cut into smaller pieces, raw; (1) onion, cut length-wise; (1) bell pepper, cut into small strips; (1-3) jalapeno pepper(s), diced;  red wine vinegar; olive oil; chili oil; black pepper; salt; cayenne pepper; cumin; butter; tortillas; sour cream; shredded cheese; salsa (optional)

  • Cut the raw chicken into smaller pieces, placing them in a small bowl. Add appropriate amount of red wine vinegar (about 1/10 of the bowl size), chili oil, black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, cumin, and any additional spices if see fitting.
  • Cut the onion lengthwise and add it a bowl with the chopped bell pepper and diced jalapeno(s)
  • Add the marinated chicken to a medium-sized pan with butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook until just about finished. Place in a bowl on the side.
  • Sautee the onion and peppers in a medium-sized pan until browned. Add chicken until all are fully cooked. Place in a bowl on the side
  • In another pan of similar size (or the same pan, cleaned), add a tortilla. The tortilla should be the exact size or smaller than the used pan (warm tortillas for several seconds in a microwave or the oven until their loose). Place bowl contents in the tortilla. Add appropriate amount of shredded cheese.
  • (Tricky part) Fold the tortilla with the contents inside into a half in the pan. Cook each side until tortilla is slightly browned.
  • Cut quesadilla into half, or quarters. Serve with sour cream or salsa (optional).
quesadilla

Finished quesadilla

The finished product should be spicy (as most of my food is) and very satisfying. Serving with sour cream and/or salsa usually adds a better finishing touch to the recipe, but either are not necessary for a complete quesadilla.

October 31, 2009 / kormanmatthew

And yes, health

My largest intentions for NJ College Foodie was for a site that devoted its content towards the better foods of life on a college-style budget. But one cannot solely create content like that in a college setting without address the obvious notations of health.

As for those who already know me personally, I detest health food. Not that I’m unhealthy and just enjoy sitting on my fat ass all day long eating decadent treats, it’s just that the majority of health food tastes a somewhat resemblance to compacted garbage and the bugs of the Amazon.

Sure, some people do actually enjoy the tastes of healthy food, and as far as natural foods like fruits and vegetables (you know, the basic damn tenants of food) go, it’s impossible not to enjoy those tastes.

But more or less, eating healthy in college and actually staying somewhat fit is no where near impossible. And as much as I don’t like talking about health food and eating healthy (I really don’t), the two go synonymous with each other to an extent.

A simple yet strict dietary regiment is key. Eat what you should eat. It’s a simple tact to follow, taking in at least something for breakfast, lunch and dinner and eating legitimate things, not ramen or microwave taquito’s.

I’m not saying become a daily gym rat – hardly. I’m just saying eat actual food. If you don’t have time to worry about the taste (which, disappointingly, I’m discovering about myself), worry about eating it in the first place. And that should be the last discussion of health we have to suffer through.

October 30, 2009 / kormanmatthew

The Girl Drink

As it is with most cultural obsessions and hobbies, drinking has two different perspectives – male and female. Certain drinks exude these declarative symbols; Mohitos, White Russians, Long-islands, etc. Those drinks are what could be perceived as feminine or expressing femininity. The male-orientated tastes are for more simple; beer, whiskey, and gin.

The reasoning between why drinks either fall into the male or female spectrum is beyond taste, although taste is the progenitor to what makes a drink “girly” or “manly.” What make those drinks take sides is permanently engraved in the mystery of the bar, long-standing through cultural regularity that will take years and years to etch away.

The point of this nowhere lecture is what continually frustrates me – why will masculinity prevent men from making good decisions, also known as The Umbrella Complex.

Now, The Umbrella Complex isn’t technically a coined term, it’s something I’ve discovered several years ago. What it means is that men will let their masculinity come between themselves and making good decisions, like electing to not use an umbrella even when it is raining because of the fear that using one will make them look feminine or weak – hence, The Umbrella Complex.

I use the term here because I feel as though that many men are neglecting drinks that are too good to pass up because of their own perceptions or stereotypes of them. A White Russian, for example, is a vodka-based drink mixed with Kahlua and heavy cream. This drink, because of its ease of flavor and overall pleasant taste, is perceived in this light.

Is this important? Hardly if you consider that this is more than likely no where close to any kind of revelation. But, if when is going to delve into the food world, one must also understand that will be preconceived notions of about certain cultural things and that ignorance will follow precedent. In the case of drinking, this is much of the case.