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Fish Tales
191 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201-6423
(718) 246-1346‎

{Google Maps | Website}                      

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I’ve lived in the Cobble Hill / Boerum Hill / Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, New York for the better part of a decade amidst a changing backdrop of restaurants, retail, and residents.  One of the few constants during my tenure, however has been Fish Tales Gourmet Seafood Market on Court Street.  My wife and I cook a lot, and try to make fish of some sort for dinner at least once a week.  I’ve made the mistake of buying the frozen varieties from Trader Joe’s – a fine marketplace, however when it comes to seafood the fresher it is, the better even if it’s a little more expensive.

Since 1996 the men at Fish Tales have been providing the neighborhood with some of the freshest seafood in the borough of Brooklyn.  John, Lewis, & Alex know most of their customers by name, or at the very least by face.  They’re up at 2AM six days a week picking out the best to satisfy the most discerning of pallets.  They carry a superior selection of fresh & salt water fishes, plus shellfish varieties, prepared foods including precooked entrees, salads, and shrimp cocktail, and everything the local gourmet would possibly need to cook a delicious seafood meal minus the pots, pans, & stove.  Their soups have gained significant local attention by food celebrities like Bobby Flay who even challenged owner John Addis to a Manhattan Fish Chowder Throwdown.  Bobby won the challenge – perhaps due to the fact he used bacon in his recipe.  I’m sure I’d have enjoyed both!

The men who run Fish Tales are not only friendly, but are also extremely knowledgeable of their product having given me suggestions on what herbs to stuff into grilled black bass, how long to pan sear tilapia, and even how to shuck an oyster – a video of which is forthcoming.  Not sure what to cook tonight?  They’ll tell you what’s good based on your personal tastes.  And whatever those personal tastes may be, you’ll be sure to find something fresh & delicious at Fish Tales.

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Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant
343 43rd Street (& Bay)
Sea Isle City, NJ 08243
(609) 263-3471‎
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Call me crazy, but when I go away for a weekend at the beach I want the total treatment.  This should include warm sunny days, swimming in the ocean, afternoon naps, sandwiches on the beach, beer and summer cocktails, BBQ, and of course fresh seafood. 

For this past Memorial Day Weekend the wife and I went with some friends to a house in Ocean City, NJ on the famed Jersey Shore.  Everything about the weekend delivered as expected, but only one aspect went beyone my expectations.  That was Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant.  We’re all in our late 20’s and 30’s – the crowds at the clubs are not for us.  We chose to spend our Saturday night having a late dinner of shellfish, and other good beach town stuff.

Toasting Oysters

Carmen’s is BYOB – bring your own beer (or wine). The menu is ample with plenty of shellfish and regular fish options, fried, grilled, and steamed, raw selections, and other non-seafood options. I started with an order of raw oysters which I split with two friends.  They were big, cold, briny, and meaty.  There was a slight chewiness to them – yes, I chew my oysters.  Look, if you’re one of those people who likes to slather on the cocktail sauce, and swallow without even tasting the slimy little sucker, that’s your prerogative.  I do not advocate such behavior.  I like to taste my food.

Anyway, for an entree I ordered the whole crabs.  My wife, who is normally picky and orders fried shrimp got the peel-and-eat shrimp instead…on my suggestion…because fried shrimp is a snack along with fried clam strips, and you get them at the beach snack bar.

The crabs were big & meaty.  My wife had a little trouble peeling her shrimp – lack of experience, probably.  I tasted them, and they were pretty good.  My meal came with cole slaw and a potato, but I barely touched them.  I was in the zone – the crabs and beer zone, that is. 

Carmen’s is BYOB, so we brought a case of Bud Light Golden Wheat – which, if you’ve never tried it is actually really good beer…ok, pretty good beer.  I like it.

There wasn’t really anything about Carmen’s that I didn’t enjoy.  The service was great, the view is spectacular, the food is fresh and delicious, the decor is fun, & the atmosphere is relaxed.  It’s hard to ask for much more from a summer seafood restaurant.

Stubb's President & CEO Kurt Koegler With Rocky Stubblefield

This past weekend I attended New York’s Big Apple BBQ festival, and had the distinct honor of chatting with Rocky Stubblefield, the grandson of the famous CB “Stubb” Stubblefield, of Stubb’s BBQ in Austin, TX. 

Rocky and company President and CEO Kurt Koegler were in town not only for the festival, but as a stop on their The 2ndAnnual Stubb’s “Feed the World” TourRocky was kind enough to step away from the BBQ pit for a few minutes to answer what I consider to be 5 (6) very important questions:

Eating Everywhere– As the grandson of CB Stubblefeld you carry a large legacy.  Are you ever experimented with the recipes on your own, or have you kept them the same?

Rocky Stubblefield – We wouldn’t change his recipes.  Maybe one day I’ll try to do something for myself, but like you said he left a great legacy and we want to keep it the way he wanted it.  It’s doing great as it is; we don’t want to tempt fate.

EE – You’re in your second year of your Feed The World Tour, which is pretty amazing.  How many meals did you serve this year at the Bowery Mission (in NYC)?

RS – That was actually one of our smaller missions; I think we only did about 200 there.  Usually it’s from 200 on the low side, but we’ve served up to 1,000 meals in one day at a mission in Dallas, TX.  We go all over the country.  My granddad always said, “I was born hungry. I want to feed the world,” so we just continued what he started.  In his restaurant he actually gave away more food than he sold because if somebody was hungry he’d just feed them.

EE – What made you turn your grandfather’s concept of feeding the world into what it is today?

RS – The country was coming off hard times with the recession, and we just wanted to give back; help people out.  We noticed it wasn’t just homeless persons; it was entire families affected.  Our company was doing well, and this was our way of giving back to the community.

EE – What does a nationally renowned brand like Stubb’s stand to gain from participating in an event like The Big Apple BBQ?

RS – We are a national company, but a lot of people have come up and said, “I’ve never heard of Stubb’s”  So this is a way to get out name out there more, and we’re again giving back to the community.  Everything we’re doing here today is free; free chopped beef sandwiches, free sausage…just giving back.

EE – What’s next on the horizon for Stubb’s?

RS – We have two new flavor (sauces) we just released earlier this year.  We have a Honey Pecan BBQ Sauce which is a sweeter sauce, and a Hickory Bourbon BBQ Sauce which is also a sweeter sauce.  Our main sauces since day 1 were tomato-vinegar based with our Mild, Original, & Spicy.  A lot of people like sweet, so we delivered.

EE – What do you consider to be the Stubb’s signature dish? And which is your favorite to eat?

RS – My favorite is the ribs, of course which also happens to be our number 1 seller made with our original sauce.  When you go to the sweeter sauces they’re probably better on ribs or chicken, but Original is pretty much good on everything.
Ok, so it was six questions, but to be fair the second question about the tour wasn’t planned.

Rocky talked up the sauces and meats so much that it would have been a crime for me to leave without sampling some of the goods.  I tried the pulled beef sandwich which was so tender it nearly fell apart in my hands.  Rocky stood by as I licked my fingers, then dug into the sausage.  I am a big fan of BBQ sausage as is, but Rocky insisted I try it with some sauce.  I chose the spicy and, oh yes!  Oh, yes!  I also managed to give the new Honey Pecan a try on some chicken a couple days later.  To be honest, I’ll find it hard to buy other BBQ sauces.

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is located in Austin, TX.

Stubb’s sauces can be found in grocery stores nationwide.

Taqueria Downtown
‎236 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302-4665
(201) 333-3220‎

{Google Maps}

I’ve been to Mexico three times.  I’ve always enjoyed my meals while in Mexico, however I find it pathetic and sad that I’ve eaten more authentic Mexican food in New Jersey than I have in Mexico.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve eaten at fancy hotels and resorts that cater to Americans?  Or maybe it’s just that the best of Mexico’s chefs & cooks have all moved to Texas & New Jersey?

Here’s what they declare (los diez mandamientos):

Tacos, tacos, & tacos!

1. no fajitas.
2. no nachos.
3. no cute clay or adobe plates to match the cute clay or adobe decor.
4. crema fresca…not sour cream.
5. no tableside guacamole show.
6. no fajitas.
7. no fancy menus with a history lesson on Mexico.
8. no “mini tacos” or “mini chimis” or anything else “mini”
9. no pillow-size burritos.
10. no tacky red, white, and green uniforms with a red sash around the waist.
did we mention no fajitas?
There’s no substitution for the real thing.

That’s a heck of a declaration for a restaurant that has been blasted online for their shoddy service, even though the food has been consistently praised.  Me?  I will praise both their food & their service.  My wife & I had never eaten here until one rainy evening last week.  We just happened to be in the area, and someone had recommended it to us.  We both love Mexican – especially authentic Mexican.

You walk in to a small dining room with a big front counter.  The waiting time increased just after we got there – the line was nearly out the door.  We ordered first at the counter, then sat ourselves.  I asked what they recommended, and the guy very enthusiastically went through the choices with me.  I decided on three tacos – carnitas (pork), bistec (spicy steak), and chorizo (sausage), plus a side of rice & beans, the tortilla soup – their daily special to start, and a can of Tecate beer – the only alcohol they carry.  My wife also got three tacos – pescado (fish), barbacoa (lamb), and picadillo (ground beef), a side of rice & beans, and a 7Up.  I paid (came to like $32) and we took our drinks over to a table they cleared for us.

Tortilla Soup

The soup came first – and very quickly.  It was perfectly spiced with tortilla chips and big chunks of avocado.  The wife tried a slurp, and nearly didn’t give it back.

Before I could get halfway through the rest of our food arrived.  The tacos were bigger than expected, and we could have shared the rice & beans.  Whatever, we didn’t complain.

The rice & beans are nearly perfect.  The re-fried beans are pureed into creamy goodness, and mixed with the rice you get exactly why they are such a diet staple in Mexico.

Rice & Beans

The tacos, however are in a league of their own.  These aren’t the little chits you get from Taco Bell (although, I would never knock the Bell) or Chipotle (blech!).  Each taco is a double flour sof tortilla loaded with your meat of choice, onion, cilantro, and salsa, and topped with a wedge of lime.  If I were to go back today, I may only get two (but probably not).  They are a good size…and cheap!

Other dishes include tamales- cornmeal wrapped in cornhusk and steamed with pork, spicy chicken, or jalapeno and cheese, flautas- 3 rolled crispy tacos with lettuce, salsa, avocado, cheese, & crema with chicken, potato, or rice & beans, tortas – pork, steak, or Milanese (breaded steak) sandwiches on a Portuguese roll with beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, & jalapeno, enchiladas – two rolled corn tortillas topped with red or green sauce, stuffed with cheese or chicken, and served with rice & beans, tostadas – pork, chicken, beans, or avocado on a fat corn tortilla topped with lettuce, salsa, avocado, cheese, & crema, burritas – ground beef, eggs, or eggs with beef in two flour tortillas served with rice & beans, quesadillas – steak, sausage, cheese, or ham & cheese, and finally big plates (entrees) including chuletas verdes – pork chops in green salsa, bistec encebollado – steak & onions, and cecina- salt-cured flank steak with chilaquiles.

Carnitas Tacos!

They also serve Mexican brunch – declared “great for hangovers!” on Saturday & Sunday from 11 AM – 4 PM that includes huevos rancheros – fried eggs over tortillas with salsa, huevos a la Mexicana – scrambled eggs with onions, tomato, & peppers, huevos con chorizo – scrambled eggs with Mexican sausage, huevos con machaca – scrambled eggs with shredded beef, chilaquiles – tortilla strips with chicken & green salsa, torrejas – Mexican French toast, and finally – one of my most favorite soups homemade pozole – hominy & pork soup.  Talk about great for hangovers…pozole will make you forget you ever drank a drop…in a good way.

We finished our meal and left the tip on the table.  The staff said goodnight as we left, and promised ourselves we would return…perhaps sooner than later, and more often…we shall see.

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