after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

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ramen, soondubu, and sushi

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t says:  Over the past few weeks, g and I have had quite a few dinners featuring Korean and Japanese cuisine, so I figured I’d put them all here in one post.  Sure – it’s scatter-brained, but would you have it any other way?


After an old Asian lady bumped us from our spot in line at Han Il Kwan (seriously), we left in search of another Korean joint.  Fortunately, g’s friend’s sister recommend My Tofu House, which we walked into and were seated within 10 minutes.  We must have been super-lucky because right after us there was a line of hungry patrons nearly out the door.  This place seems to specialize in soondubu (soft tofu soup), bibimbap (rice bowls), and pajeon (“Korean pancakes”).  I was there for the soondubu …


In the foreground, you see the bubbling hot stew with chunks of soft tofu and cooked kimchi.  It was actually quite delicious.  I was “sweating-like-grandpa” by the end of the meal (my Korean grandfather is notorious for sweating when eating spicy foods), but it didn’t stop me from eating every bit of the soup.  I do wish it had a few more additions (vegetables, egg).  However, for my first soondubu of SF, it was certainly a stupendous way to start, as the broth was rich (I wonder if it was pork-based?).  In the background you see some bulgogi (which was “meh”).  g had the bibimbap which was a little heavy on the rice:stuff ratio, but came out with a hot enough pot to really sear some rice (if your rice doesn’t get a little burnt, it’s not hot enough).


Unfortunately, they only had 6 banchan … no props until they crack double digits …



and the Pajeon was pretty good as well – it could have used a bit more char towards the center of the pie.  However, given the impressive soondubu, we’re definitely going back again.  The prices were pretty good, too!



Meanwhile, my second soondubu adventure was in a little tiny Korean restaurant in NJ called “Eden”.  Cheesy name aside, I have to praise them for some high-quality additions to their soondubu: mussels, clams, egg.  The broth was a bit on the thin side, however – not really having much more flavor than spicy kimchi.  If I could somehow mix My Tofu House’s soup with Eden’s additions, I’d be set!  Unfortunately, Eden also had less than 10 banchan, so they’re going to lose points there – but if you’re into traditional Korean fare, it’s among the best in town (and there are quite a few places in Cherry Hill).


For ramen, I have to warn you: it’s going to be a bit of a cop out: it’s two visits to the same place … and it’s from a truck.  Ha!  Torraku Ramen can be found in the Spark mobile-food-park in Mission Bay.  For ramen coming out of a truck, I have to say that I’m quite impressed.  The tonkotsu was better than pretty much every ramen in Philadelphia (back when I was still living there circa 2015).  How does it compare to the myriad offerings in SF?  No idea!  Somehow this is literally the first ramen I’ve had here!  I’m so ashamed.  Hopefully it’ll be a good introduction to the scene, as the broth was well-developed, the noodles were firm, and each addition was welcome.  If I could have one gripe, it’d be that the soft-boiled egg was almost hard-boiled, but for a food truck, I’d rather they trend towards an overcooked egg rather than an undercooked one.  The miso (pictured above) didn’t have the miso depth that I was hoping for (whereas that tonkotsu had clearly been simmering for hours), so I’m listing that one as a pass.  As far as where am I going to go next?  I heard a tip from a well-respected source that Orenchi Beyond has the best ramen in the city despite getting nearly no recent press.  We’ll check it out and report back.


For our last review, I have no pictures of the food.  I’m sorry.  Let me explain (there’s a lot of explaining …).  I had read a lot about Sushi Hon, a relatively new place in the Mission touted as having SF’s “most reasonably priced omakase”.  Whoa.  That’s a weird title, right?  Does it mean that the fish is akin to gas station sushi and they charge $5 for all I can eat?  Or is it that they have some super-famous Jiro-dreams-of-sushi descendent and only charge $200 for 6 pieces?  Unfortunately, Sushi Hon’s website made it nearly impossible to figure out the menu ahead of time, and the yelp reviews are a bit misleading as it turns out that Sushi Hon has at least two different types of fixed-price menus.  The first is what I’d call “omakase” and it includes an assortment of cooked dishes, sushi/sashimi, etc.  I think Sushi Hon calls it something more like “fixed price dinner” or something like that (I can’t remember as I have no pictures – duh!).  What they call “omakase” is more like “a sushi dinner”, feature ~10 bites and served only at the sushi bar (piece by piece).  Coming in at $60, it is not cheap.  g and I were very hesitant, but figured we needed to treat ourselves and went for it.  We didn’t regret it at all.  The chef’s selections for the evening were wonderful, ranging from lighter pieces where you could really taste the ocean to heavier fare (medium fatty tuna) and even some uni.  The man knew how to put together a sushi meal with progression.  We have no pictures because we were literally sitting in front of him – and while other diners were freely snapping pics, my intention to do the same was vetoed (g played the wife-veto!!).  So you’ll just have to take my word that the fish was pristine, the rice was perfect, and the wasabi was delicately balanced (maybe once piece was a little heavy-handed with the wasabi).  As a result, g and I will keep Sushi Hon in our back pocket, as it joints the ranks of places like Saru and Kiss: sushi spots that are absolutely delicious but a bit too expensive to visit on the day-to-day.  Wasabi bistro (during happy hour) will retain the title of weekday-maki-champion (and also the title of “decor consistent with most 90’s Asian restaurant ever”).  So why did I chose a picture of a knife?  Prepare for some full-on knife nerdery.  One thing that did bother me at Sushi Hon was that the chef used a fake kiritsuke.  As a Japanese knife enthusiast, I know that kiritsukes (like the one above) are traditional, single-beveled Japanese knives wielded by masters.  It’s a bad-ass knife for bad-ass chefs, usually old, wizened bad-ass chefs.  If someone gave one to me, I’d have no choice but to lock it away and never use it because I wouldn’t be worthy. (Seriously.)  The chef at Sushi Hon had a knife with the exact silhouette of a kiritsuke … but it was thin and double-beveled like any old Western chef’s knife would be, making it more like every other knife in every department store ever.  Sorry dude: that’s the wrong knife for the job.  If you’re gonna rock the sushi bar, and have me watch you cut some fish, then you’re going to have to show off some single-bevel skills.  It’s part of the game.  End rant.

An interesting conversation topic came up during our meal at Sushi Hon.  It went something like this:
t says:  Would we ever eat at Jiro’s place in Tokyo?
g says:  No.
t says:  Why not?
g says:  How much is it?
t says:  I don’t know – $300 for 20 minutes of eating.
g says:  Definitely not. <As she gets ready to play a pre-emptive future-wife-veto>
g smiles: <insert smile here> –> translation:  “Wife-vetoes are awesome.”

Written by afterdinnersneeze

14 October 2016 at 8:35pm

July-to-August Review!

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t says:  We’ve had a pretty month since coming back from London – the summer is flying by!  We need to play a little catch-up.


V Street!  That’s right – we finally did V Street.  Well, to be clear, g had done V Street several times before, but I had not.  This is one of her favorite dishes, and was demonstrative, in general, of the style of food there.  What you see above I think is called their “Peruvian Fries”.  In an interseting-taasting aioli, herbs, and peanuts, the nicely cooked potato wedges were fantastic!  However, I have to say that I wasn’t quite as blown away as she, as I was expecting something “punchier” – tangier, spicier, louder.  The other dishes, too, just felt a little muted to me, not quite hitting the expectations that I had after having eaten at Vedge and reading V Street’s interesting menu.  It’s not “bad”, but I’ll leave this place for the vegans (and g).


oh – and don’t do the custard – the texture is atrocious.  (unless you’re used to vegan ice cream).


Hop on over to Jersey and visit Vineland, our hometown.  It’s a quaint little city, Vineland, with not a lot of the craziest gastronomic advances going on – but that’s fine – that’s just Vineland!  That said, I’ve had these pretty amazing ravioli at Larry’s so I just had to give them a shout-out!  Often filled with ricotta+vegetable (pea, or caramelized onion, or whatever) and sparsely dressed, it’s my new favorite when visiting our parents!


Ah, yes – the good ‘ol blurry photo.  Why bother including it?  Because it’s a reminder to one and all that Mercato is still frickin’ killing it, Italian-BYO-style.  Remember when Philly was reknowned for its Italian BYOs?  When Mercato, Melograno, Modo Mio, and La Viola were all the rage?  Before we cared about celebrities and expensive tasting menus.  Well, we won’t forget those good ‘ol days (obviously we are old and crotchety and resistant to change).  The above is a dish from Mercato during the “Summer Tuesday Tastings” they got going on.  Pasta, braised meat, pistachio, and some shreds of cheese?  Yes please.  God it was good.


It has been a while since we did brunch here on adsz – we just kept going to the usual suspects.  But now, check out the newest king of the hill: TRIA!  Yes, that’s right – TRIA (the one on Fitler Square).  These blueberry ricotta pancakes were absolutely insane!  So delicately light and fluffy, (but substantive) and full of flavor.  It was incredible.  And there were still like three other dishes we wanted to try!  Get their early, avoid the lines, order a glass of Riesling (obviously!), and enjoy breakfast!


Now here we go … here we go …  Look at these four beignets, sitting in a row. Stuffed with apples or chocolate or crawfish, Brenda’s does the most amazing sweetly fried dough that I have ever had.  The catch?  Brenda’s is in San Francisco (  Consequently, we’ll just have to keep going back every time we visit …


Oh – and Brenda’s does upside-down peach cobbler pancakes, too – imagine peach pie (with crumble topping) but in pancake form.  Seriously – blew my head off.  So delicious.


Also on a recent visit to SF, I dined at Saru, a place we first visited for lunch some time.  As usual, it was delicious, from the charred shisito and daikon salad …


… to the nigiri I chose from the menu.  Now, because I dined alone, I had the chance to make a few observations.  The first one was weird.  I arrived at restaurant opening, which meant there was a line.  While there were parties of 2 and 3 and 4 being turned away with wait times of about 30 minutes, I knew that a solo diner like me would just sslliiddee right in.  So when I finally got up to the host and hostess, I told them, “party of 1, please” and looked over to the bar, eyeing an open seat, smiling.  So he nodded and I swear he was about to seat me, right up until, I overheard her lean in to his ear and telling him, “make him wait”.  WTF!!  But it’s ok – I waited the 20 minutes (I visited a nearby chocolate shop) and it was worth it.  The sushi is crazy.  The other observation is that Saru is only prepared for a single ordering for each party – the “oh if we’re hungry we’ll just order more” tactic doesn’t work.  The kitchen is small, busy, and doesn’t have time to go back and make another order for you  – they want you in, ordered, fed, and gone, ready for the next party.  Lingering, ordering “just a few more” is discouraged – that messes with their workflow.  The couple next to me didn’t understand this.  It was an interesting exchange to say the least: “another 45 minutes for just 1 more roll and a few nigiri?”.  So remember: order, eat, leave.


k and cm took me to a wonderful little restaurant for seafood pasta, cioppino, and oysters – so great.  No idea what it was called, but I can’t wait to go back!


Remember when we said we needed to go back to Mercato more?  Done!  Boom!  My dish: pasta, meat, cheese – done!  g’s dish: pasta, meat, cheese – done!  So simple,  SO GOOD.  It used to be second fiddle to Melograno, but no more – Mercato is our new-old-fave Italian BYO.


Oh, yes, this.  I’ll just leave this right here.


And to close: check out our pseudo-porchetta.  Let’s zoom in:


From “All Abour Roasting”, the lovely sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic sang between the two slabs of meat (5lb pork belly, 3lb tenderloin).  Yea – it was as good as it looked – had it with some broccoli rabe, provolone, potato rolls.  Next time, I’ll cook it a little slower so it’ll be a bit more tender, but nevertheless, 6 people demolished 8lbs of meat over two days.  Success!

a month has passed us by!

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t says:  Geez, it’s been a long time.  Our poor blog has been neglected!  If this blog were a Tamagochi, it would be covered in cyber-poop-piles and likely dead (I always felt that those cyber pets were a little too graphic).  Let’s see what I can do to bring us all up to date here …


After tasting much of Tria Fiter Square’s new medium plates menu, a and I have decided that the above is their best dish.  Yes, this puddle-of-brown was quite amazing:  black pepper tagliattelle with mushrooms.  It sounded so simple, but it was like Mercato-good, or Melograno-good, or Barbuzzo-good.  We were presently shocked by the heartiness of the sauce and to this day swear that they stuck some beef broth in there or something …  So order it, don’t look at it (it ain’t gonna win any awards for being pretty), and just eat it.



Of course, we visited Night Market on South street and dined at the best-gosh-darn food truck of the market, helmed by a childhood friend.  If you see this truck, try it out, it’s totally worth it (but be fast! he sells out!).  Maybe go there first, Weckerly’s second (trust us – best ice cream in all of night market, and located in a tiny-ass easily-overlooked cart), and then spend the rest of the time chuckling at those waiting in line for things like “pizza”.


Did you know about the Han Dynsaty in NJ?  g and I have been there several times, but without ever posting about it – we just assumed everyone knew!  Turns out, no!  So perform this weekend routine: Cross the Ben Franklin Bridge, enter Cherry Hill, drive all the way to Wineworks (stock up on wine of any price point and ask for internet pricing), and then on your way back, hit up H-mart (for kimchi and veggies), Han Dynasty, and your choice of Wegman’s or Whole Foods.  And there you go – a delightful lunch and a fridge full of groceries and wine.  Consider your weekly shopping conquered.


Denver is a weird place. I just got done visiting for the first time, and I was told “yea – the convention center has a blue bear looking in the window – you can’t miss it”.  I thought, “gee, that’s an odd descriptor – what if I miss it?”.  Yea.  Can’t miss a five-story-tall  HUGE blue bear ACTUALLY looking in the glass facade.  SO weird!


I put up this photo because this way I’ll have documentation of the hotel I stayed in for one of my nights in Denver.  While it didn’t have the biggest rooms, it had the BEST food:


… like a perfectly executed burger, from the soft bun, to the perfectly seasoned and cooked meat, to the perfect condiments and the optional lovely bitter salad …


… to an octopus salad that was 90% perfectly poached octopus (seriously – it was so much octopus that I couldn’t finish it for lunch!) …


… down to a choose-your-own cheese board with excellent selections that made it a notch below Talula’s Garden (and charcuterie that I didn’t venture – I was trying to be “healthy”) …


… and a “serious” wine list of bottles including Scholium Project, Bedrock, Kivelstadt, Matthiasson (none of which I could afford, but it was nice to know they had).  So the food and wine was so good that i actually walked back to this hotel on days I was staying in another hotel just for the food!!


and finally – I’ll end on a Philly picture.  This is a Rival Bros “breakfast”.  With our apartment just down the street, I’ve been visiting here WAY too much.  And this is why: toast.  Yes, it’s yuppie-as-hell, the idea of paying $5 for a piece of bread and some jam, and not a second goes by between swiping my credit card and waiting for the order to come up that I don’t hate myself for spending so much money on something so banal … but if you could just tastes this potato bread, in all of its golden-crusted, salt-sprinkled glory, you would immediately understand that this is no mere “toast” – this is the bread incarnate of pure bliss … sitting next to what I truly believe is Philly’s best cortado (sorry – they call it a “Deringer” – whatever).  I hate the cost, I hate the lines of yoga-pant-wearing and beard-donning locals, and I hate the limited seating … but I love the bread, the coffee, and the free wifi.  Oh … and did I mention they have Weckerly’s ice cream sandwiches?  They do …  Mind blown.  Gray matter splattered all over the wall behind me …


Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 June 2015 at 11:49pm

Lightning Round!

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t says:  My phone has sooo many photos.  And while I wish I could have posted on each one, I know it just isn’t going to happen.  So get ready for another lightning round!!


Nom nom ramen has opened up an outpost in University City.  And you know what, despite our lack of enthusiasm when the original Center City location opened up (over 2 years ago!), this spot is actually pretty good!  I think you just have to go in with the mindset: “I’m here for a quick lunch”, and alluvasudden, their ramen really hits the spot.  Does that mean I have lower expectations at lunch?  Maybe.  But really, I suspect there is an element of Nom Nom stepping up their game – their broth is just so much more flavorful.  Be prepared if you order to go: they will pack it in separate containers for you to assemble at your leisure.


Nestled deep in Vineland is an eatery called Chestnut Diner.  They have a pretty amazing pancake with nutella, grama cracker, banana … and it’s pretty amazing.  Fancy?  No, but it sure hit the spot – and you know we’ll be back with this amount of sugar …


We held a farewell ceremony the other day … a farewell to summer.  While some people hold barbecues, g and I do something a little different.  You see, there is a dish that we can only make outside due to how much it reeks, and that is kimchi jige.   At the risk of patting myself on the back: it was damn delicious.  If you have access to kimchi, shove it in the fridge for at least 2 weeks (sealed), and make yourself some dinner … outside …


I didn’t actually have this one, but it looked awesome.  Talula’s Daily looks like it’s still killing it out there – we’ve gotta do dinner there again.


And, in our ode to kp (who we’ll be visiting in November), here’s some southern inspiration in chocolate form.



Written by afterdinnersneeze

20 October 2014 at 8:30am

hodge podge 2014

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t says:  I was looking through old pictures, and I happened to be reminded of a few new food experiences that I had not yet posted …  get ready for a hodge-podge!


So … let’s say you were sitting on the beach, baking in the sun, getting some rays in your bathing suit.  As you think to yourself, “gee, I’m kind of hungry”, what foods might pop into your mind?  Perhaps some boardwalk pizza, or a sandwich or fruit you may have packed, or maybe the bathing suit has made you self conscious, and all you’ll take in is water …  Well, this is the opposite of all of those options: mac and cheese balls from Steve’s Grilled Cheese in Sea Isle City.  They guys were absolutely crazy.  Never have I seen g lose control over a fried food item.  Sure, they’re sloppy, and sure, consuming any more than 1 will cause an instantaneous heart attack, but there’s nothing like a fried ball of cheese and starch.  And the best part: I believe you can even have these suckers delivered to the beach!  OH – did I mention there’s a cheese dipping sauce, too?


I also happened across this cool little PB&J themed food truck on Market street in University City.  It had a pretty interesting looking menu, with lots of attractive options (lookin’ at you, ‘The Elvis” and “The Stoner”) …


… be that as it may, I went for a PB&J&Cheese&Apple.  Not a bad combo – definitely worth checking out if you see the truck hangin there.



a and I also hit up Cozara, the new place in Uni City done by Zama. We were quite impressed. There was top-notch gyoza involved …


… as well as a very eggy katsu-don (Fuji Mountain does it a little bit better) …


… and a ramen that tasted like actual ramen!  yay!  All too often, the ramen at places lacks the alkalinity that ramen is supposed to have (like, the noodles will taste like a plain ‘ol flour-egg-water Italian pasta, and lack that ramen’y kick).  I feel like there could have been some other additions to the broth to give it a bit more flavor, but it wasn’t bad, overall!  I do have to say, however, that the gyoza was probably the best dish we had.

Ok … so now that I’m caught up to date … prepare for the barrage of posts from our vacation …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 June 2014 at 5:39pm

Battle Sushi: Sagami vs. Fat Salmon

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t says:  I love the classic battle between old and new.  Obi-wan vs. Vader.  Vader vs. Luke.  Ents vs. Orcs/goblins.  It’s so much fun!  Which is why when g and I happened to go on a sushi-splurge one weekend, eating at two fancier-than-normal sushi joints on a whim, I couldn’t help but think about playing up the “Old vs. New” idea …

Sagami  September 2012, Friday Dinner, Party of 2.  Sagami is a very old sushi joint.  How old?  I have no idea – I’m far too lazy to google it.  I can tell you, however, that sr and ha went there on their 2nd date in 1979.  So yea – Sagami’s pretty old.  BUT, I can also tell you that in 2012, they’re still packed on a Friday night – we only got in because we had a reservation.  So clearly, if we had to use “institution” to describe a restaurant, we’d totally use it here …

Now even though Sagami’s pretty old, don’t think that they’ve actually made the place look nice or anything – it’s on the bottom floor (more like a basement) of a house in Collingswood.  The sign is small.  The parking is limited.  The ceilings are low.  The lights are low.  The seats are few.  This is not a place with a “fine dining” experience – this is “we-have-sushi-if-you-want-it-come-on-in-but-if-you-want-anything-else-you’ll-be-sad”.  For example, as we sat, I wondered if there was any chance that the table I was sitting at could have been from 1979.

no frills, just sushi (and some other items on the menu)

g and I weren’t expecting something super-fancy, but we were shocked that ha would have continued to see sr after a date here – not because of the food or service or anything – just because ha seems like she’s a “fancy” kinda girl.  Of course, Sagami was probably pretty hip/happening back then, so maybe it was all about “the cool” (ha likes to be “cool”, too).

So let’s talk food …


The lights were so low that we had to use the flash.  Of course, this drew unnecessary attention to us, so g got embarassed.  I proceeded to take more pictures, feeling that if the first one didn’t look good, then clearly by repeating the identical set of steps without changing any positioning, it’d get better.  It didn’t.  Blast.  g’s chirashi was actually quite good.  She didn’t like the egg (even after I told her that in “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”, the making of the egg is a very advanced skill in the art of sushi), but everything else she felt was quite good.  A very fresh-tasting/smelling fish, nicely seasoned rice.  And that’s it.

assortment of rolls and a couple nigiri

I felt the same way with my dish – it was all very solid sushi, with a freshness that I don’t know I’ve had in Philly until spending some big bucks at Zama or Morimoto.  Maybe it’s all the turnover they have?  But it wasn’t just that – even the rice:fish ratio in the rolls/nigiri was well-done.

We left Sagami quite impressed with their fish.  Sure it’s tiny and dark and kinda-weird-that-you’re-eating-in-a-basement, but who cares if the food is good?  I’m surprised sr and ha haven’t come back for some kind of anniversary!

Oh … and did we mention … it’s BYO.  (It’s kinda moot because you have to drive there, but it’s still a nice bonus!)

Fat Salmon  September 2012, Monday Dinner, Party of 3.  So g, bw, and I chose to go to Fat Salmon after hearing about its accolade of “Best of Philly Sushi”.  We’d see about that …

deconstructed tuna dumplings

We started with “tuna dumplings”, not realizing that they were not quite “dumplings”.  It was more like an amuse bouche, but too big for a single bite (g says:  so I guess that’s not an amuse bouche …)  back to t: Touche.  The flavors were a fun mix of spicy tuna (I imagine it’s togarashi aoili and tuna) and all the flavors you’d associate with a normal dumpling and a twist of ?jalapeno?.  That said, I kind of wished we had a normal dumpling.  Call me old-fashioned, but if something’s not a dumpling, then one should refrain from calling it a “dumpling”.


rolls and nigiri (and dramatic lighting)

This time I went with the chirashi and g went with the nigiri and rolls.  Fat Salmon surely wins points for presentation – the dishes looked beautiful.  The fish looked far more attractive than they did at Sagami – the cuts were more precise and the color was more vivid (or maybe it was because we had more light?).  I buckled up and got ready for a ride … but in the end, I couldn’t quite give it the thumbs-up over Sagami – I couldn’t quite figure out why.  But then g hit in on the head: Sagami had a little edge in terms of the taste of the fish.  It’s not that Fat Salmon’s tasted bad – it wasn’t at all bad!  But there was something about Sagami’s fish that tasted a little more vivid – not “fishy”, but the salmon tasted more salmon-y, and the hamachi was more hamachi-y.  I’m not sure if it had something to do with the way the fish was stored or what day of the week we went on (Friday for Sagami vs. Monday for Fat Salmon), it fell just a little short of the Collingswood Hero.  bw appeared content with his sushi, agreeing that while not the best he’s ever had, it was respectable and a step up from local sushi joints (e.g. Tsuki Sushi).

So I guess Sagami’s the winner.  They must have figured out “good fish + good price = success” and have stuck with it ever since.  I guess the next time we visit d, we’ll have to drop on by Sagami!


Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 September 2012 at 12:13am

best pie in the world

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t says:  Imagine this.  You’re walking down Walnut.  Its getting dark.  Alluvasudden, a black, tinted-out limo pulls up next to you, matching the speed of your pace.  The window rolls down and a mysterious sun-glassed passenger asks in a raspy, smoker’s voice: “where’s the best pie?”  What would you say?

Now I’m sure there are great pies in Philly (I hear Percy Street makes ’em pretty good), but if a mysterious guy in a limo is involved, I’m not gonna screw around with the unknown.  I need a sure thing, as the last thing I want to do is piss off a scary guy in a limo … but that’s just me.  So I’d direct this guy to the best pies I’ve ever had: Penza’s Pies (at the Red Barn) in NJ.

Yea, this place is in the middle of absolutely nowhere.

I’m going to post the pix of what it looks like to go there, because it’s not like it’s in a city or anything.  It’s kind of like a farm stand on the side of the road:

driving down a NJ road

they don't call it "red barn" for nothing ...

But, go into that barn and you’ll see a pretty small area with lots of pies.  It seems like there are quite a lot in the picture below, but this one shot has pretty much all the pies they have on hand (unless they’re hiding some in the back).

pies pies pies

As you can see, the ingredients that are on top of the pie identifies the kind of pie they have.  In the past, we’ve had their pumpkin pies (and pumpkin ricotta pies) which are fabulous.  g’s fave might be the “multi-fruit pie” which has basically every berry that’s in season.  We’ve done apple-blueberry, strawberry, plain apple.  All fabulous.  My personal favorite is the one I bought most recently (and the inspiration for this post):

apple cranberry with a twist of orange ... i'm surprised i even made it home with the pie intact

our pie (enlarged to show texture)

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a side-shot of the pie when sliced, so I’ll just have to let you imagine what it looks like. I guess I’ll have to leave some of it to your imagination.  And the taste and textures are always perfect.

The drawbacks of Penza’s are as follows:
1)  Limited availability.  Especially during the holidays, it’s wise to call them to see what they have in stock
2)  Expense.  For a pie, they charge $20.  But it’s not a big pie.  I’d say that a single pie will give 8 “normal” slices (they’re pretty tall, but length and width per slice will look unimpressive).  However, realistically, because the pie is so damn good, I’d be inclined to say that it’s better to cut the pie into 6 slices and really give people a stomach-filling serving.
3)  It never tastes as good the second day as it does the first.  That crumb topping slowly absorbs the moisture from the pie, so it’s really the best on day 1.  Fortunately, the pie never lasts much further than day 2 when I’m around.

Now I know what you’re thinking.  You probably think I’m crazy.  You probably think that you’ll never go that far into NJ for just a pie.  You probably think that this was a wasted post.  Why must I taunt you?!  I don’t know.  But for those who know us, if they fork up the cost of the pie and give me a slice, I’ll be happy to pick one up the next time I’m in NJ.  As for that dude in the limo … well … he’ll just have to ride his limo about an hour or so … but trust me, he’ll be happy!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 February 2012 at 10:54pm