Monthly Archives: November 2012

No Joe’s Cafe (Formerly No Ordinary Joe’s)- Red Bank, NJ

It’s 1995 and you just stumbled out of Jack’s music after spending an hour at your guitar lesson. Now deaf from the headphones from listening to the wall of latest CD releases, your allowance has just been spent on mood rings and hemp bracelets. After all of this hard work and in celebration of your new finds, you decide it is time for a coffee. So, you head up to Broad St. to see what the daily brew is at No Ordinary Joe’s and hem and haw over Torani syrups and how your barista can make your latte taste like a milky way bar… Sound familiar?

If you are from Monmouth County, chances are you are just as nostalgic about this joint as I am about Red Bank as a whole. Whether it was the first town you could commute to at the ripe old age of thirteen via NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast line for an afternoon of vintage shopping and coffee houses, or for the first venues you drank at when you turned 21 (cause lets face it NYC was just way too far away)… There is no denying that Red Bank had it goin on!

Whatever the case, we’ve grown up and so has this RB staple and its neighbors. No Joe’s Cafe, formerly known as “No Ordinary Joe’s”, has revamped their style and their offerings while maintaining (most) of its original “90’s Seattle Style” charm.

Opened in 1993 as a formerly purely coffee and dessert maison-du-cafe, they now have a full menu advertising their new “Beasty Burgers” along with a random mix of appetizers, salads, and mexican inspired entrees. Having frequented this venue since I was eleven years of age, I can’t really take The Beast very seriously. Does anyone? How did they decide that their new product would be The Beasty Burger? How do you transition from coffee to burgers? How does the Beast fit in with the rest of their seemingly Mexican inspired fare?  Maybe it’s a Mexicano-Beasto-Burger?

I was able to revisit this establishment during Hurricane Sandy. They had electricity in Red Bank before Matawan, and it was a really nice chance to give back to the local businesses that took a serious hit. We arrived early everyday for “work” and left at closing time. No Joe’s had their wireless and all of their extension chords ready to go! The owner was impressed by our diligent work ethic, and of course my boyfriend’s Australian accent. He was curious as to how he made it all the way to Red Bank, NJ.

We started our work days at Joe’s with their brunch menu consisting of various egg based dishes. For my first brunch experience I chose their farmer’s omelette. I was not in the mood for anything fancy, and it did the job. It was a three egg omelette with cheddar, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro. Props to them for not requiring the salt shaker!  For my second days selection, I chose their breakfast sandwich with eggs, fried green tomatoes, greens and bacon which came with a red pepper aioli.  I had to ask for extra aioli because it was quite dry.  Since I wasn’t in the mood for the bun I ate it open faced.  This did not work out well for me  with a foil lined basket.  It was breaking off into my meal. Is it strange that I thought this dish was going to be served open-faced in the first place like eggs Benedict or Florentine? It’s always the most awkward moment when a plate arrives and it is not what you envisioned.

As the days progressed and our caffeine levels rose to new heights, I decided I needed some lunch since I was actually shaking. If you google No Joe’s you’ll find out that they are considered to have the best soups around RB.  I had the tomato corn chowder which was exceptional.  Considering we had two meals there, and coffees all day with the occasional bottle of Poland Springs, our tabs were tres cheap! They had other soups that I felt guilty for not trying such as a crab bisque, veggie chili and vegetable and brown rice. However, as they say you can have it all, just not all at once.

Finally, what you were all waiting for: dessert. There was no way I could leave this establishment without my last course. They have their old school variety of cookies, cakes and pastries, but they also have an extensive list of milkshakes available.  Of course I gravitated to the first thing that had peanut butter in it, even though I was never a fan of Captain Crunch per se. Well hey, they knew better than I when they combined the two with peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. Our icy friend is served with a nice long sundae spoon to make sure you get all of the crunch out of this experience and leave no man behind.

Well Joe, whomever or whatever you are, you can try to fool us with your Beasty Burger, but you’ll always be “No Ordinary Joe’s” coffee shop.  In spite of RB’s inflated parking meters and infiltration of upscale snooty and unattainable shopping boutiques, I’m just happy this town has held onto one of its original gems that still smells like “Seattle Style coffee” that we all loved so much.

In spite of its short lived reputation as “Dead Bank” the town’s spirit has certainly been revived. If you’re looking for the ultimate 90’s flashback experience, don’t forget to visit the Doc Shoppe located on River Road www.docshoppe.com and your friends at Backward Glances vintage store now located on 43 Broad Street. We must not forget the people that put Red Bank on the Map, Jay and Silent Bob: We thank you for the phenomenal comic book store,  Clerks 1&2, Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Dogma and for Striking Back. Your 90’s legacy lives on.

      

Peace,

~PeanutPimpMama

 

 

 

 

The “Mardi Gras” Cuppie~ Available for Orders (inquire within)

Introducing: The Mardi Gras Cuppie  A real party in every bite!

The Hunt was upon us and my cousin Kristen had texted asking if I was bringing cupcakes. I wanted to, the only question was could I? The move this year had been stressful leaving half of my life in storage. It had been months since I had last baked anything, and I did not even know where my cupcake pans were. Luckily one evening I mustered up the energy to poke around my parents kitchen to see if I had remembered to bring them home last summer. Sure enough my mother reminded me of where she had stored my pans, and offered to let me borrow anything else I may need.

After brainstorming as to how I could stick with our theme “Mardi Gras” I googled all kinds of cupcakes and images. Most of them were really ugly. I decided to make a pecan cupcake since pecans are one of Louisiana’s “local treats”. The batter ended up being quite intense and very thick. It was so thick, I killed my mother’s 20 year old hand mixer. I think she was secretly happy about that one. I tried to thin it out with some bourbon for “Bourbon St.” (wah wah) but opted for Rum in the end. Butter and rum go sooo well together!

I decided to go with metallic gold cup liners because I thought they would be the perfect contrast to all of the loud party colors I planned on using, while giving the ultimate party glitz to my little cakes! Normally I love the way silver and gold liners look. My one and only gripe is that I always end up with a few that have a concave side. Bizarre I know! It tends to cause some complications for icing intricate designs on the top of cuppies.

 

When these bad boys came out of the pan I got scared. They were heavy and hard on the top. I thought I might break teeth. That is the general effect baking with nuts will get you, but I was pleasantly surprised by their flavor. I would have changed up the icing situation a bit and stuck with a cream cheese base, but that would not have been easy to work with for detailed shapes. They took at least 40 minutes to cool completely. This was the longest 40 minutes I’ve had in a long time because I was so anxious to create the prototype with the full deal icing/beads shebang and my mom was anxious to eat it. As the cuppies cooled, I got my icing prepared and threw the entire bowl in the fridge. I always have issues keeping my icing super cold while working with it. This makes fun designs near impossible.

I left the icing to encorporate the “party side” of things. I chose the typical mardi gras color scheme, and made sure I bought some really good quality icing dye. Although I kind of wonder if that was actually a waste of money, seeing as this turned into a $100 dollar batch of cuppies.  It is always easy to spend tons of money building up your kitchen and particularly with decoration supplies. When I was baking regularly it was nice to always have some stuff on hand. I had to buy everything fresh and new  this time around.

For some reason as I was adding color it was really loosening the icing. I made sure to be careful and put it back in the fridge each time I had to transition between using each color’s pastry bag. I’ll be honest and say that by the time I was done, my world was covered in gold, green and purple dye. It is still under my finger nails after a whole week gone by and a manicure. I cannot imagine what my mother thought when she woke up the next morning to find her kitchen floor sprinkled with metallic beads and traces of rainbow finger paintings on the fridge and table. I tried to clean up as best as I could at 2:30 am when they were finally completed. However, the eyes of an Italian mother are just as affective as an entire team of forensics. If you’ve got one you know what I mean.

The next day we had a 7:30am rise. Five hours later… I got ready to find that my new cupcake tote (which was recently purchased at Sur La Table) was not completely foolproof. While rushing around the house and delegating tasks to leave as quickly as possible my boyfriend placed them in the passenger seat of the mini and “they committed suicide”… Or so the story goes. PeanutPimpMama was heartbroken due to the demise of her cuppies and was forced to place the “less pretty” ones on the second level of the cupcake tote. After about an hour at The Hunt, everyone was too drunk to notice the travesty.  Thank God for Bloody Marys and “The Purple Drank”.

To my surprise they were a complete hit! I watched as I turned the tongues of my friends a lovely shade of grey post consumption.  It was a small price to pay for a delicious treat I suppose. The Mardi Gras theme was a success, and we definitely drew some attention to our lot with our creative flare and Louisiana spirit.

This little girl gets a special feature since she spotted the PPM cuppies from miles away. I couldn’t resist spreading the Mardi Gras love. I will definitely be at The Hunt next year cuppies in hand. Can’t wait to see what theme we line up for 2013!

~PeanutPimpMama