Archive for the 'guacamole' Category

15
May
12

Viva Mexico! – Ladino Tapas Bar and Grill


Ayyy, que Churro! * I don’t mean the guy, I mean the churro. I know it’s putting ‘last food forward’, but it was my first churro, and it was – out of this world – delectable, what with its delicately soft center and doubly crispy sugary brown dough dermis.  It makes donuts and Chanukah ponchkes a distant also-ran. CS, who waxes nostalgic when prompted by food, especially Latino food, said he grew up on churros at home in Uruguay, I ‘d have been a South American version of Violet turning Violet at Wonka’s factory,  -a blimpy rolly- poly rotundness with an insatiable appetite for doughy decadent sweet sticks conveniently available at the corner street vendor, que problema! – and  so it was for CS as he re-tells his post-holocaust youth where a fat kid was a healthy, happy thriving kid-but I digress…
We walked into Ladino’s at 4:30 – about a half hour before dinner service officially begins, and the place was already filling up with cosmopolitan looking clientele looking to chat and chill at a place that already felt local and homey, though it just opened recently. I warmed to the burnt siennas, brown adobe and soft pillar candle lighting; the Diego Rivera/Alex Morales artwork, the modern spatulate flatware and artifact looking serving dishes, like the volcanic rock four legged guacamole bowl, gave the place an organic, native, Aztec feel.

The only tables available by the time we left at 6:30…

We asked Chef Alex Petard to surprise us with his choices, and were served ceviche de atún and ceviche de red snapper, the former in a nice lemon sauce, the latter in a more mayonnaise base. the crunch of the slawed red green and yellow peppers, the quality of the fish and combined flavorful sauces be-sided with  awesome guacamole and chips made  a palate whetting beginning.  The accompanying cilantro and the tomato dips were spiced’ just right, dipping well with all that followed.  
Spicy chicken wings followed, while the outer crispness was perfect, the meat was a bit dry. A plate with three succulent taquitos (veal breast, chicken, and beef) was brought us; I especially liked the red tomatillo sauce on the chicken taquito.  All three were good, but to my taste, the chicken  taquito was most piquant. The veal and beef taquitos, though texturally different , tasted somewhat similarly and were perked up by the fresh lime provided that CS squeezed onto them; the home made taquitos were perfect.
Tamales with chicken and green tomatillo came next, the look authentic-laid out organically on a corn leaf; the taste  interesting but bland – too heavily starched- insufficient contrasting sauce and/or spicy flavoring though it had potential.

Dessert, made by Pastry Chef Jose Leon, was incredible! Between the churros  9mentioned above) the vanilla flan covered with coconut shavings, good latte and espresso, the meal ended with memorable parting flavors.

Vanilla flan with coconut shavings… Delicioso!

The wine (Lan Zur Merlot 2011)  young, with overpowering tannins and a bitter end  to my taste, became  more tolerable as it had time to aerate during the various courses. Service by Jeff was impeccable and most attentive; he described each dish in good detail and did small big things like wipe the table clean during service; it certainly was above and beyond the call of duty!

All in all, CS did not exaggerate in his praise of Ladino, yesterday’s early tasty dinner corroborated it. I liked the chilled munch and chat atmosphere and look forward to coming back on a motzey Shabbat, after Shavuot, when live Latino guitar music will be featured!

SYR

* Latin American expression for a very handsome guy

RELATED POSTS

Ladino Tapas Bar and Grill – Just Opened and Kosher for Passover
Chef’s Profile – Ladino’s Alexandre Petard
Tomorrow Evening’s Radio Show with Chef Alexandre Petard

05
Jul
10

Saddle-up for Some Fine Fixins’ at Smokey Joe’s!


You don’t have to be a Texas long-horn to enjoy this round-up of superbly smoked and southern rustic Tex Mex cuisine at Smokey Joe’s (494 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Telephone: 201.836.7427).  Décor is sun-burnt orange against ranch-rawhide woodsy panels; Marlboro manly man and stallion photos adorning the walls. Brown butcher block paper covers tables set with colorful southwestern china (don’t forget to ask Joe for doodling crayons).

A partial view of the dining area

Joe, the owner, looked for a unique niche in the market and not only found one, but honed it like an art form till it yielded a product that fills the house on a regular basis. Joe, or Yossi to his chevra, told us “Food is life; food is kodesh.” “It’s about craft and high quality. You’ve got to give it the time and attention it takes to develop.” And indeed Joe has done so. His 74” smoker (which he lovingly dubbed Dimona-2) is the nucleus of his operation, but just as important is his approach to food and business. “You’re not producing a widget or stereo; my personal commitment to making great food is a life-time journey!” “It’s also about having a good sense of hospitality when Jews come calling at your restaurant. It’s a little different than the hachnassas orchim (welcoming guests) we do at home.” Joe certainly shared that hospitality with us.

...it was hard to keep myself from reaching into that smoker... I confess...

Joe served up vittles Stephen J. Austin or Sam Houston would raise armies to fight for! The table started to fill up with outstanding home made cornbread with onion jam spread (you got to taste ‘em together to understand how awesome those flavors are together), refreshing iced tea and fresh squeezed lemon-ade and home made. Still warm tortilla chip (seriously, dangerously, addictive!) with freshly made guacamole for starters.

We were then treated to an assortment of Smokey Joe’s favorites. The Joe Dawg, the lamb merguez sausages, were marvelous; superbly smoked and flavored.

Lamb Merguez Joe Dawg

They’ve got six types to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding which to try…

We then demolished their Beef Brisket (well… really… CS did, he kindly let me have one forkful before it was gone!) – smoked for up to 14 hours. The smoked taste did not overpower the brisket taste which was rich, marvelous. In a very uncharacteristic (well you saw the pictures of those ribs, how can you blame me?) uninhibited Flinstonian way, I dug into their long ribs which had been basted in a secret BBQ rub and smoked for around 5 hours in Dimona-2. (Surely, not first date action, unless you want to provide an instant inhibitions dissolver, right from the get-go) They were meaty, packed with flavor and delicious. I literally felt the spices coming through my pores. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite smoked entrée was the chicken.

Brisket, Grilled Chicken and Sweet Potato... mmm, mmm!

I just loved the way the subtle smokey flavor worked its way into the soft flesh of the chicken resulting in a fabulous taste. We had no room for their burgers and chocolate mole sauce, which we heard are outstanding. We’ll have to come back and try those as well as some of their other popular dishes.

A great homey place to come with family and friends to chill an’ enjoy southern smokin’ Jewish hospitality.

SYR

Smokey Joe's on Urbanspoon




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