Pernil & Arroz con Frijoles Colorados (Roast Pork with Rice and Red Beans)

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Ethnic, Food Porn, New Jersey, Recipes, Step by Step

When I moved to Columbus from Vineland, New Jersey over ten years ago, I moved away from much of the culture and the heritage I grew up with. Vineland, a small town smack dab in the middle of South Jersey, has very large Puerto Rican and Italian populations, so much of the food you could get there was – yup, you guessed it – Puerto Rican or Italian. Authentico. Which means that this New Jersey transplant is very disappointed when it comes to Columbus’ (non-existant) Puerto Rican cuisine. And the only place I’ve been able to find authentic (at least the sort of authentic I grew up with) Italian food in town is at Carfagna’s – and that’s not even a restaurant. I do admit, The Florentine comes somewhat close, but something is still missing from their food that the stuff from Carfagna’s has in spades – the comfort factor. Carfagna’s meat ravioli and meatballs and to die for marinara taste like they could have come from your Nonna’s kitchen – you can almost hear the “manga, manga – you’re too skinny” as you’re trying to push yourself away from the table after your second serving. And no, I’m neither Italian or Puerto Rican – but the great thing about Italian and Puerto Rican mothers is that they pretty much adopt anyone who spends any amount of time at their house as one of their own. Luckily, most of my friends were Italian or Puerto Rican growing up, so I learned to cook from the best. 🙂 But I digress.

Roast Pork and Rice and Beans

I miss Puerto Rican food. I miss going to the Margarita Penalvert Food Deli on the Boulevard in Vineland and getting enough food for $5 to last me two or three meals (a small rice and beans, for example, fills your average sized white styrofoam take out container to overflowing). A large? More than enough for a large family. They’ve got the best roast pork and rice and beans in town. This dish is dedicated to them. The best of the best, nothing ever comes close, you’ve got to eat it to believe it comfort food dish of all time. This is the dish you can make for a potluck and have everyone in the office ask you for a recipe.

First things first. To make pernil (roast pork), it’s important to have the right cut of meat. Traditionally, it’s made with a pork shoulder (preferably with skin on) or picnic roast, but can be also be made with a pork blade roast. Whatever you use, be sure that it’s a fatty cut, as that (combined with the paste below) is where most of your flavor is coming from. Pork loin won’t cut it for this dish. A 3-5 lb. roast should do quite nicely. If you pick a cut that isn’t pork shoulder with skin, make sure the meat has a nice fat layer on it, which you want to leave untrimmed. This definitely isn’t diet food.

Making Pernil Step 2

The most important component of the dish (other than the meat) is the paste – this is where your flavor and seasoning is coming from. This is what makes the dish so memorable. You’ll need at least four packets of Sazon (with Annato), a container of Goya Adobo seasoning (both can be found locally at either Giant Eagle or one of the many Latino markets in town), and a bottle of olive oil. Empty the packets into a bowl, add an equal amount of Adobo, and enough olive oil to form a paste. At this point, keep adding Adobo and olive oil to maintain the paste consistency (you want it to be able to be spread easily, but don’t want it to be extremely watery) until you have about the amount of paste shown in the picture below.

Making Pernil Step 1

You can make more if you like your meat highly seasoned, but this is the minimum amount you want to be making. I’ve left the fork in the picture for scale.

Place the pork roast in a bowl slightly larger than the roast. With a sharp knife, pierce the roast deeply on all sides, twisting the knife once it’s inserted. Use your fingers to widen the holes. Scoop up the adobo-oil paste and stuff it into the holes until all holes are thoroughly filled with the paste. Rub any remaining paste all over the outside of the roast.

Making Pernil Step 3

Return the roast to the bowl, and fill the bowl 2/3 full of white distilled vinegar. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator overnight, turning the roast over after 4 hours. Here is a picture of what it will look like after marinating all night.

Making Pernil Step 4

Remove the roast from the bowl and discard the vinegar. Place the roast in a 5-6 quart dutch oven or similar oven-safe pot, cover tightly, and let cook in 275 degree oven for 6-8 hours or until the meat is fall-apart tender and a good amount of liquid is in the pot with the roast.

Making Pernil Step 6

This liquid is very much like a highly seasoned au jus that you can use to season the meat and/or red beans and rice by drizzling some on top.

With this dish, you’ll want to serve a side of Rice and Beans. Typically, this is served with Arroz con Gandules, but we prefer Red Beans and Rice, because it complements the dish so well.

Red Beans and Rice

1/3 cup olive oil
2 packets Goya chicken bouillon
4 packets Sazon with Annato
3/4 cup Goya (or comparable brand) Sofrito
3/4 cup Goya (or comparable brand) Recaito
2 cups dry medium grain rice
1 15oz. can small red beans, drained
2 cups water

Combine oil, bouillon, Sazon, sofrito, recaito, and rice in nonstick saucepan over medium heat until mixture is thoroughly combined with rice and rice has taken on a deep red color.

Add two cups water. Add drained can of red beans and stir well. Cover and cook on stovetop at medium heat until almost all liquid has been absorbed. Turn the rice and beans from top to bottom, reduce heat to the lowest setting possible, cover and cook 10 minutes. Turn the rice and beans from top to bottom again then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. The adobo pork’s au jus makes an excellent seasoning for this side dish.

The pork freezes well, so if you have a small family, don’t let the fact that it’s a roast put you off from making it. It really is easier than it sounds, and your taste buds will thank you.

5 For $20 Challenge: Authentic Puerto Rican Chuletas and Arroz Con Gandules

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: 5 For $20 Challenge, Recipes

To close the chapter on our 5 for $20 Challenge, I decided to take the package of pork chops and, with a little bit of assistance from B’s bestie Ronni, got the recipe for Chuletas (Pork Chops) and Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas).

I’ve written previously about my version (adapted from one I cajoled out of B’s mother) of this dish; to be completely honest, this one is far better than mine.

Pork Chops and Arroz Con Gandules

Note that to properly prepare this version of Arroz con Gandules, you need to use a thick-walled caldero; nothing else will allow the coveted golden-brown pegao (a layer of deep-brown, crisped rice) to form in the bottom of the pot. If you wish to purchase one, you can find it at Amazon through the link below.



2 pork chops (I used boneless loin chops, but bone-in center cut loin chops work best)
Goya Sazon con culantro y achiote, to taste
Goya Adobo con pimienta (red cap), to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray pan lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Season the chops lightly on both sides with sazon and adobo. Place them in the pan.
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on thickness, or until internal temperature reaches 165F. Serve with Arroz con Gandules.

Arroz con Gandules


4 C rice (I use medium-grain; long-grain will work as well)
1 packet Goya caldo de pollo (chicken bouillon)
2 packets Goya Sazon con culantro y achiote
6 oz Salchichon (summer sausage will also work), sliced then quartered
15 oz can gandules (pigeon peas), drained
12 oz jar of Goya recaito
sufficient canola oil to coat rice (about 1/4 C)
2 T tomato paste or 1 C tomato sauce
4 C water if using tomato paste or 3 C water if using tomato sauce


  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a thick-walled caldero on medium-high heat. Stir well to coat rice evenly. Allow the rice and seasonings to warm up for about a minute.
  2. Add either 2 T tomato paste and 4 C water, or 1 C tomato sauce and 3 C water, to caldero. Stir well and raise heat to high, bringing contents of pot to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook until liquid is nearly completely absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn bottom to top. Cook another 20 minutes, until a nice layer of pegao has formed at the bottom of the caldero. Serve with chuletas or roast pernil.

August 2010 Roundup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Meta, Monthly Roundup, Recipes

In savory recipes, Zrab Cakes from 990 Square, Pan Seared & Roasted Halibut, Summer Garden Succotash and Yellow Lemon Rice from A Feast for the Eyes, Fried Eggplant Balls from A Full Belly, Shrimp Cakes with a Grain Mustard Remoulade from A New York Foodie, Plantain Chips with Mojo and Creamy Cilantro Garlic Dip from A Spoonful of Thyme, Zucchini Pickles from A Well Fed Seed, Slow Cooker Mulligatawny Soup from A Year of Slow Cooking, Spicy Duck Meatballs from All Our Fingers in the Pie, Beet Goat Cheese Gnocchi in Rosemary & Sage Butter Sauce from Always Order Dessert, Peach Rucola Salad with Mozzarella and Truffle Linguine with Tomatoes and Pancetta from Angie’s Recipes, Hunan Eggplant with Bacon and Shiitakes from Appetite for China, Mile High Biscuits from Bakin & Bacon, Sloppy Bombay Joes from Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen, Poblano Chicken Salad and Yellowtail Snapper with Corn Salsa from Bitchin’ Camero, Shoyu Chicken from Boston Chef, Chicken Tikka Masala Naanwiches from Cake, Batter and Bowl, Southwest Sausage and Egg Bake from Cassie Craves, Sweet & Spicy Salmon from Chef Fresco, Stuffed Baked Zucchini from Ciao Chow Linda, Burrito Bowls from Closet Cooking, Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites from The Comfort of Cooking, Double Decker Mexican Pizza from Cooking with my Kid, California Burgers with Guacamole Mayonnaise from The Cutting Back Kitchen, Fried Egg Sandwiches on a Pretzel Roll from Diana Takes a Bite, Creole Chicken Done Right from Drick’s Rambling Cafe, Steak and Guinness Pie from East Meets West, Summer Strata with Spinach, Basil and Roasted Garlic Custard from eat me, delicious., Cheddar-Crusted Broccoli Soup from The English Kitchen, Tomato and Pepper Risotto from The Flavors of Abruzzo, Steak with Chimichurri Sauce from Framed Cooks, Slammin’ Summer Salmon from Gavan Murphy, Pasta with Spinach and Asiago Cream Sauce and a Bunch of Delicious Cheeses from Good Things Catered, Tusca White Bean Bliss from green shakes and giggles, Duck, Orange and Honey Stir-Fry with Lots of Greens from Half a Pot of Cream, Florida Avocado Summer Wrap from Healthy Happy Life, Rock’n Rotini from Hope in the Kitchen, Toad in the Hole from Hungrywoolf’s Food Blog, Pork Katsu with Soba Noodles, Ahi Tuna Tacos, and Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad (Bo Bun) from JBug’s Kitchen Antics, Chicken Scampi, Beef Kofta Kebobs and Chicken Pot Pie Penne from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, Garlicky Tortellini Soup from Kacey’s Kitchen, Crispy Zucchini and Potato Pancakes from Kitchen Belleicious, Pao de Queijo from Kitchen Corners, Spanish Pork and Chorizo Stew from Kitchen Diaries Challenge 2010, Savory Foccacia Pie from Krista’s Kitchen, BLT Sandwiches with Avocado and Red Onion from Lynda’s Recipe Box, Chicken Galliano from Mangos, Chili and Z, Pernil Estofado con Mofongo (Roast Pork Stuffed with Green Mashed Plantains) from My Colombian Recipes, Lamb Chops Sizzled with Garlic and Refrigerator Dill Pickles from One Perfect Bite, Layered Salad from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Torta Loco from Pork Drunk, Bacon and Kimchi Fried Rice from Serious Eats, Corn, Jalapeno and Green Tomato Fritters from She Eats Bears, Philly Cheese Steak Pizza from Southern Recipes, Pepper Jack, Chicken and Peach Quesadillas from Stylish Cuisine, French Crepes with Pecan-Crusted Chicken and Sauteed Peaches from Sugar & Spice by Celeste, Puerto Rican Bean Soup from Sweet Artichoke, Puerto Rican Sancocho from sweetpaprika, and Indian Potato Salad from VeganDad.

In sweet recipes, Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies from A Cozy Kitchen, Peach & Walnut Oatmeal Pancakes with Maple Syrup from A Feast for the Eyes, Salted Honey Butter Caramels from Always Order Dessert, S’mores Oatmeal and Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes from Annie’s Eats, Easy Corn Chowder from Behind the Skillet, Creamy Pistachio Pops from Big Flavors From a Tiny Kitchen, French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes from The Busty Baker, Mixed Berries with Double Vanilla Creme Anglaise from ButterYum, Peach Custard Pie from Chef Fresco, Peach Tarte Tatin from Chefdruck Musings, Soft Blueberry Swirl Mini Cheesecake from ChicKy EgG, Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake from Clara Bakes, Peach Amaretti Crumble from Closet Cooking, 10 Minute No-Bake Peach Crisp from Cooking During Stolen Moments, Tiramisu Cupcakes from Cupcake Project,Neapolitian Semifreddo from dailydelicious, Strawberry Cheesecake Icebox Pie from Deliciously Organic, Rum and Raisin Ice Cream from Diary of a Ladybird, Strawberry Peah Crisp from EZ Home Cooking, Watermelon Jelly from Food in Jars, S’more Cookie Bars from Jane’s Sweets & Baking Journal, Peaches and Cream Cupcakes from Just a Taste, Watermelon Agua Fresca from Mommy’s Kitchen, Glazed and Sugared Cake Doughnuts from My Baking Adventures, Individual Boston Cream Pie and Whole Wheat Fig Raspberry Bars from Pastry Studio, Honey Roasted Cashews from Simply Scratch, Peach Clafoutis from Sugar & Spice by Celeste, Chocolate Strawberries ‘n Cream Cupcakes from Sugar Duchess, S’mores Cupcakes from Sugar High, and Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine.

Redbirds need a W’ with Bradley coming in

The Pantagraph Bloomington, IL January 30, 2010 | Jim Benson NORMAL – Lloyd Phillips doesn’t seem to grasp this Illinois State- Bradley rivalry thing.

Or maybe he sees it better than most.

It will be a sold-out Redbird Arena at 4:35 p.m. today when ISU and Bradley renew their Interstate 74 rivalry for the first time this season. Yet to Phillips, the Redbirds’ senior point guard, all he can think about is stopping a two-game losing streak. go to website fox sports midwest

“It doesn’t matter who we play right now. We need a W,’ ” said Phillips. “Hopefully it will give the guys some extra energy and motivation to come out and play hard because we need it bad.” ISU (14-7) and Bradley (10-10) are stuck in a logjam in the middle of the Missouri Valley Conference standings. Both are 5-5 in the league and tied for fourth place with Drake and Missouri State, a game behind Creighton but only a game ahead of Southern Illinois and Indiana State.

When ISU coach Tim Jankovich was told about Phillips’ comments, he approved.

“Maybe it’s a mistake, but I don’t want them to think this game is any more important than the next two. That’s a dangerous trap,” said Jankovich. “I’m glad to hear him say that because we haven’t talked about it.

“I love rivalry games, but only because I like the crowd noise. The louder a crowd is the more fun it is for everybody. There’s a little different energy in the building. That’s what it’s all about. I wish every game was a rivalry game. But, at the same time, they count the same.” Bradley coach Jim Les agreed.

“You get into a situation where they’re all important and all big games,” said Les. “That’s the way we like it. This one more so when magnified by the proximity, rivalry and so-called bad blood.” Asked what he meant by bad blood, Les smiled when thinking about his playing days with the Braves in the 1980s.

“I’m not sure I dislike Jankovich as much as (Dick) Versace disliked (Bob) Donewald,” said Les. “Jank is a nice guy. That makes it difficult to dislike him.” There are only eight games left until the Missouri Valley Tournament in St. Louis. That should make jockeying for seeding position in the next four weeks interesting.

Phillips was under the mistaken assumption the top four teams avoid the play-in round in St. Louis. The top six seeds actually gain byes into the quarterfinals on March 5.

“We all know we have a challenge ahead of us right now, and we have to start winning starting (today),” he said. “We can’t be 5 to 10 (in the league). That would be a rough spot to be in for the Valley Tournament.” Bradley lost four of its first six Valley games before an improved defensive effort led to a three-game winning streak. However, Creighton went into Carver Arena on Wednesday and handed Bradley a 73-68 defeat.

ISU could have trouble matching up with Bradley’s two leading scorers – 6-foot-5 junior guard Andrew Warren (14.8 points per game) and 6-6 sophomore forward Taylor Brown (13.7 ppg). Junior guard Sam Maniscalco was named Valley Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 20 points on 57.9 percent shooting in victories over Southern Illinois and Evansville last week.

Coaches in sneakers Both coaching staffs will be wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes today as part of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Suits and Sneakers Awareness Weekend. The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society and National Association of Basketball Coaches to raise cancer awareness. site fox sports midwest

—————————————————————– ——————-Redbird essentials Bradley vs. Illinois State Time: 4:35 p.m.

Site: Redbird Arena, Normal Television: Fox Sports Midwest, Comcast Chicago Radio WJBC-AM (1230), WJEZ-FM (98.9) Records Bradley 10-10, 5-5 Valley; ISU 14-7, 5-5 Series history/last meeting: Bradley leads, 61-47 (ISU won 69-65 on Jan. 31, 2009).

About the Braves: Bradley was picked to finish sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference in a preseason poll of coaches, sports information directors and media … Andrew Warren, who sat out last season with a foot injury, is the leading scorer in Valley games only at 15.8 points, while Sam Maniscalco is tied for third at 15.1. Maniscalco needs 16 points to become the 43rd player in Bradley history to score 1,000 … Freshman forward Jordan Prosser of Eureka, who was the Pantagraph Player of the Year last year, is being redshirted.

Next up: Wednesday at Indiana State, 6 p.m.

Prediction: Illinois State 66, Bradley 62 Probable starters (Scoring, rebounding averages) BRADLEY F – Taylor Brown, 6-6, So. (13.7, 6.7); C – Will Egolf, 6-9, So. (8.2, 5.2); G – Sam Maniscalco, 6-0, Jr. (11.9, 2.7); Chris Roberts, 6-4, Sr. (9.9, 4.2); Andrew Warren, 6-5, Jr. (14.8, 5.0).

ILLINOIS STATE F – Dinma Odiakosa, 6-8, Sr. (11.5, 8.3); Jackie Carmichael, 6- 9, Fr. (7.5, 4.5); G – Osiris Eldridge, 6-3, Sr. (16.9, 3.5); Lloyd Phillips, 5-10, Sr. (10.9, 2.0); Alex Rubin, 6-1, Jr. (4.9, 1.1).

Jim Benson

Columbus Food Bloggers @ Wild Goose Creative

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Meta

Ever wanted to meet your favorite food bloggers in person? Here’s your chance! Wild Goose Creative’s monthly Too Many Cooks series is featuring a panel about food blogging this month.

A group of us food bloggers, including myself, Jim Ellison from CMH Gourmand, Nick Dekker from Breakfast With Nick, Rose Rings from Bitchin’ in the Kitchen, Dave Scarpetti from weber_cam and Dave’s Beer, and Bethia Woolf of Hungrywoolf’s Food Blog will be on hand to answer all questions about food blogging, by sharing our anecdotes and experiences. In addition, each of us will be making a dish (or dishes) that represent our food specialties.

I’ll be making cuisine that is near to dear to my heart. I grew up in South Jersey, in an area that was very culturally diverse. In my time in New Jersey, I gained a number of friends and then later on, family members (by marriage) who were Puerto Rican. Puerto Rican food is my comfort food, and the thing I make for myself when I’m feeling homesick and need some reminder of New Jersey. I’ll be preparing a pernil (pork roast, oven braised for 8 hours), arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), and pastellios (meat turnovers) using recipes from back home, so I can share my love of Puerto Rican food with those of you who attend.

The event begins at 7PM, and costs $5 at the door. If you need more information, contact 614-859-WILD or email If any of you readers are attending, don’t hesitate to come up to me and say hi – I’d love to meet each and every one of you. 🙂

If you’d like to go: Wild Goose Creative, 2491 Summit Street, Columbus, OH 43202

The World’s Biggest Potluck?

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Columbus, Events, Food Porn

Not quite. But not for lack of a valiant attempt by a couple hundred people who made 379 different dishes. Definitely short of of the 602 needed to beat the record, but an impressive spread nonetheless. I mean, when is the last time you went to a potluck that had almost 400 different dishes?

The event, which was held this past Sunday the 12th at the Maple Grove United Methodist Church in Worthington, was attended by a huge variety of people – other food bloggers (I saw Jim, Anne, and Bethia there), reporters and photographers, heck, I even saw my former boss there. Go figure. The weather couldn’t have been better – clear and sunny, but the 80-degree heat kept me at least away from any dishes containing mayo (better safe than sorry!)

Here’s just a few dishes that we saw there:

Fruit Salad

4 Bean Salad

Pasta Salad

Chicken Pot Pie

So what did our party make and bring? Well, Joe made a really delicious pork loin that was wrapped in peppered bacon and cooked all night in a low oven. It really disappeared quickly, being one of the few protein items:

Joe's Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin

He also made a really good 32-Bean soup.

Joe's 32 Bean Soup

I made my Puerto Rican Roast Pork (Pernil), and my mom whipped up a batch of her Arroz con Gandules (Rice and Beans), which both seemed to go over well.

Roast Pork (Pernil) and Arroz con Gandules

All in all, it was an enjoyable afternoon. I hope they give it another try next year, because I had a blast.

Recipe Index

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category:

This is an index of recipes or links to recipes that have appeared in my entries. New recipes will be added as we go along.


























Open Sesame

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Life, Meme

Inspired by a look into Sam’s fridge this morning and a challenge to show our own, I’m going to give you a glimpse into my everyday life: a look into my fridge, completely unedited and messy. 😉 In any case, it will give you a good idea of what the interior of my fridge looks like at any given time.


On the top shelf is a bag of spinach from the farmer’s market this past weekend (which I’ll be making tonight), some leftover yellow rice from this past weekend, a package of corn tortillas, sea salt butter from (in the basket with the blue and white paper). In the two stryofoam containers are creamcorn cakes from Tensuke Market (which they use to make Idaho rolls, which they unfortunately were out of, so I got the cakes so I could make them at home). Under the creamcorn cakes is a bowl of leftover wedding soup froM Carfagna’s, and above them is a container with leftover goat cheese, upon which a container of Giant Eagle’s Swiss Appetizer spread is sitting. On the far right is leftover juices from the pernil this past weekend, a mostly gone container of grated Parmesan, and behind that is the ubiquitous orange juice.

The second shelf is pretty messy, but items you’ll find on that shelf is a container of cheap Parmesan, some jelly, a can of cinnamon rolls, some leftover vinaigrette that came with the salads we had the other day from Carfagna’s, a can of lump crab, truffle butter, flatbread, a container of potato salad from City BBQ, British mustard, balsamic dressing, and some sliced provolone cheese.

On the third shelf? A jar of canola mayo from Whole Foods, a container of masago for sushi making, the better part of a pint of banana pudding from City BBQ, leftover rice and beans and lots and lots of eggs. I always have lots and lots of eggs.

On the bottom shelf, a half eaten bag of baby greens/spinach salad mix, a couple of containers of homemade kheer, more rice and beans, and a container of vindaloo from last night’s batch.

In the drawer is a ton of cheese and smoked bacon. Out of the picture completely are a produce drawer, which is filled to the brim, and another overflow door, which is currently storing some cheese, and the fridge door, which has diet pop, milk, more mustard and hot sauce than is necessary, and tons of other condiments.

So fess up, what’s in YOUR fridge?

South Jersey Edition: Downtown Deli

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Food Porn, New Jersey, Restaurant Review, Travel

After having lunch at Penalvert’s the other day, everyone told me I had gone to the wrong place – that if I wanted *really* good Puerto Rican food, I’d have to head to center city Vineland and go to the Downtown Deli.

In the mood for more Puerto Rican food, and eager to finally get about comparing the two, I headed there for lunch yesterday. And I’ve got to come clean – I wasn’t impressed.

Forewarned that the English of the proprietors was limited, I had written down my order in Spanish beforehand, since my understanding of the written language trumps my ability to speak it without butchering it. I toddled in, and handed my paper to the woman behind the counter. I had wanted to have enough for the weekend (assuming it would be really good), so I ordered a “grande pernil asado w/ arroz amarillo”, “dos empanadillo de carne asada”, un “pequeno carne guisada w/ arroz con gandules”, and on an impulse “dos chuletas”. The good news? This massive amount of food only cost $14. I can’t really give you a breakdown of the cost because there are no menus, no prices listed on the wall; you pretty much just point to what you want, and they give you a paper with a total on it that you take to the register. The bad news? It wasn’t really that good.


The roast pork (pernil) and rice, while a substantial amount of food, was off for a couple of reasons – the pork was much tougher and drier than it should be, and lacked flavor. The rice and beans had a weird smoky vibe going on, which I really didn’t like too much. The potatoes brought nothing to the table, and I had no idea why they were even there.


The empanadillos were underfilled (more discos than filling), and the filling inside wasn’t what I usually get when I get this dish – typically, the ground beef is flavored with a combination of adobo, sazon, recaito and sofrito – these tasted overwhelmingly of adobo and nothing else. Since adobo is salt based, this made these very salty and almost inedible.


The flavor of the carne guisada wasn’t bad, the beef cubes were a bit tough, but the rice at the bottom was very hard. While I did eat the beef stew part of it, if I ever got this dish again, I’d skip the rice at the bottom.


The chuletas were completely inedible. While by their nature, they are naturally tough, a few hours under a heat lamp did them no favors whatsoever. Also, they were mostly fat and gristle, and had the consistency of jerky. I joked with my husband on the phone last night that instead of calling them “chuleta” they should call them “chuleather”.

This place is very popular with locals, so maybe I just got there on an off day. The problem is, when they misfire on so many levels, I’m just not willing to spend my hard earned money to give them a second chance. So it’s back to Penalvert’s for me, I suppose. 🙂

If you’d like to go: Downtown Deli, 705 Wood St, Vineland, NJ, 856.690.9315

Downtown Grocery & Deli on Urbanspoon

South Jersey Edition: Penalvert's Market

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Ethnic, Food Porn, New Jersey, Travel

After setting in to my hotel last night, today I was ready to branch out a bit – and one of the other things that I was craving (and knew I could get in South Jersey) was Puerto Rican food. I decided to hit another little hole in the wall that I used to frequent regularly – Penalvert’s.

They have so many different items, but I got my usual – pernil (roast pork) and yellow rice and beans. This huge serving (which is a “small”, believe it or not) was $4.50 – and was still too much for me to finish in one sitting. It was very good, but not quite as I remember it. Everybody tells me I need to try Downtown Deli near the police station, that they have the best Puerto Rican in town now – if the “not as good” is as good as this was, I can only imagine how good the “best” is.

That’s the thing about Vineland – it’s not a “fine dining” sort of town. Sure, there are a few upscale places in town, lots of chain restaurants, but the places where you can find the kind of food I’m looking for are almost all ethnic takeout spots. Cheap, huge portions, delicious food that I can’t get back home in Columbus.

My husband demanded I ship home some Tastykakes and Utz potato chips, which I did this morning. Plus a couple of interesting sounding potato chip flavors, which I asked him to wait until I got home to try – Herr’s Philly Cheesesteak flavored Kettle Chips and Herr’s Old Bay Seasoning flavored chips.

I’m going out with my best friend from junior high and high school later this evening. I’ll let you know where we end up. 🙂


US Fed News Service, Including US State News March 28, 2006 University of Maine issued the following press release:

The UMaine Page Farm and Home Museum in Orono is celebrating maple syrup season with a public field trip to a sugaring operation on Friday, March 31.

This year’s annual spring field trip will travel to Breakneck Ridge Farm near Monson to see the family-run sugaring operation and its buffalo and deer herds.

Please call (207) 581-4100 for reservations before March 29 or for further details. Participants should plan to dress warmly and wear appropriate shoes, as some walking will be required.

The motor coach from Cyr Bus Tours leaves at 8 a.m. from the museum and will return to the Orono campus by 4 p.m., says Patricia Henner, Page Farm and Home Museum director. The coach is fully equipped with comfortable seating and restroom facilities.

The cost is $35 per person and includes transportation and a light lunch in a Guilford eatery. Participants also will visit Griff’s Blacksmith Shop near Guilford for a blacksmithing demonstration.

Breakneck Ridge Farm will offer demonstrations of its maple syrup operations and a tour of the farm’s sugarbush. A sugarbush is where sugar maple trees feed sweet sap, often through plastic tubing, to the sugar house, where it is simmered into maple syrup, sugar or caramelized for candy. this web site farm and home

Both Breakneck Ridge Farm and Griff’s will open their gift shops for visitors during the day.

Maine is one of the biggest producers of pure maple syrup in the world. “Sugaring” is one of New England’s oldest agricultural enterprises and is traditionally the first harvest of the year following winter, Henner says. Maple syrup season also is one of the first harbingers of spring.

Sugaring was first practiced by Native American Indians, and learned by colonists and settlers in New England. Settlers referred to maple syrup as Indian sugar or Indian molasses.

Patty Henner, 207/581-4100; George Manlove, 207/581-3756.

December Roundup

Author: swampkitty05  //  Category: Friday Round Up

It’s been a busy, busy, busy month for me, and before it ended, I just wanted to take a few minutes to round up everything that caught my eye in the blogosphere this month for posterity. I’ll be returning to the normal Friday roundup format next week. Weekly events will now be replaced by a Event Calendar that you can find on the right side pane.

If you haven’t made plans for tonight yet, here’s a list of the various places in town that have something going on. Many of them require reservations, which may be filled at this point, but it’s a place to start.

And speaking of the New Year, I guess it’s time to reflect on what I’d like to accomplish, at least with food, in 2007. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

– I’d like to have a healthier relationship with food in 2007. I’d like to gain enough control over it to lose 100 lbs. by this time next year. This will mean more moderation on my part, something which I severely lacked in 2006, and also increased activity, which means I’ll need to incorporate exercise into my life. Kalyn’s post about the South Beach Diet is almost enough to convince me to give it a try, especially considering my known insulin resistance problem.

– I’d like to attend more food related functions this year – last year I attended the North Market Apron Gala and Taste the Future, which I hope to attend this year as well. I’d like to attend more industry functions and more festivals next summer.

– I’d like to learn how to take better photographs, which means learning how to use my new photo in a box for lighting, and acquiring and learning to use a DSLR by the end of the year.

– I’d like to learn how to preserve food, either by canning or cold storage, so that I can enjoy nature’s bounty in the months of no local food.

– I’d like to expand the site to include links to more restaurant menus, more local resources for foodies, and more things that make this a Columbus-centric site rather than having the focus so much on myself and my family.

– I’d like to get to know more local artisans and food producers.

– I’d like to eat out more often – I’m shooting for one restaurant review every 2 weeks, since we have plenty of places in town yet to try.

– I’d like to either establish or join a supper club this year.

There are many more small things I’d love to do, but these are the biggies for 2007.

In local restaurant news, it looks like DaVinci, which had been torn down several months ago to make way for a new strip mall, has reopened as a much smaller Caffe DaVinci at the same location. I wonder if they still have that wonderful lunch buffet?

Speaking of pictures, check out the amazing color of the fruit in this entry by It makes me long for early summer and Ohio strawberries!

I wish I would have seen Dumneazu’s post about Katz’s Deli before my trip to New York. I had the hardest time trying to find a decent corned beef sandwich while I was there.

Savory recipes that I’d like to try are Pork Goulash and Sauerkraut Casserole from the Columbus Dispatch, Wasabi-Crusted Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Apples, Curry, and Honey from Acme Instant Food, Roasted Butternut Squash Puree with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Sage from Adventures of a Digestive Diva, Leek and Vegetable Gratin from Albion Cooks, Migas and Holubki from Coconut & Lime, Chicken and Dumplings from Cook & Eat, Osso Buco from Cookthink, Risotto with Leek, Broccoli, and Feta from Dinner for One, Tramps on Horseback from Eat, Mustard Pork Chops and Colcannon from English Patis, Porcupine Meatballs from Flavors, Hungarian Chicken Paprikash with Pierogi from Garlicster, Kalyn’s 2006 Herb Blend from Kalyn’s Kitchen, Chicken Thighs with Balsamic Vinegar from The Kitchen – Apartment Therapy, Potato Latke Master Recipe from The Kosher Blog, Two Onion Tart from Live to Nibble, Truffle Egg Pasta from Local Eats, Farfalle with Pistachio Cream Sauce from Pinch My Salt, Orecchiette with Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula from Smitten Kitchen, Poblano Rice Cake from Too Many Chefs, Bread Pudding with Ham, Leeks, and Cheese from Trivialissimo, and Finnish Meatballs and Hummus from The Wednesday Chef.

Sweet recipes that are keepers: Fleur de Sel Caramels from 28 Cooks, Ultimate Turtle Brownies from Cooking Debauchery, Croissant Bread Pudding with Pecan Toffee Sauce from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, 2006 Holiday Cookies from Dessert by Candy, Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Gastronome, German Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen, and Rolo Pecan Candies from Something So Clever.

In informative posts this month, The Columbus Dispatch tells us all about cheese, and in an older (but new to me and related to cheese also) post, Cake and Commerce tells us how to assemble a cheese plate. Also, Candy Addict gives us an amusing, but insightful look at Boxed Chocolate – Rules of the House. Cooking for Engineers explains how to temper chocolate, and Cookthink shows us how to prep and use leeks. The Ethicurean answers the question, What is a Whole Grain?.


A few new foodie sites have launched. Among them is Serious Eats, a collaboration of several food bloggers, and FoodCandy.


Anne from Anne’s Food had a post last month about what she misses from the US. Since I’ve moved from my hometown, it inspired me to reflect on what I miss from places of my past.

– I definitely miss Philly cheesesteaks something fierce. The stuff we get in Ohio doesn’t even come close – I miss the honest to goodness steaks at Jim’s Steaks, served on an Amoroso’s bun “wit Whiz” and fried onions.

– I miss cheesesteak strombolis, which are IMPOSSIBLE to find outside of the Philly/South Jersey area. If you’re lucky enough to find someplace in Columbus that makes strombolis in the first place, they will look at you like you’re insane if you ask if they can make a cheesesteak stromboli. I’ve yet to find a place that will.

– I miss Tastykakes, specifically Peanut Butter Kandykakes. So much so, that when we visitors from the East Coast, the price of admission for our accommodations are a couple of boxes of Tastykakes. We had some fantastic absolutely fresh Butterscotch Krimpets in a little corner deli in NYC, and it was pure heaven. Probably the best thing I ate my entire vacation.

– I miss Yocco’s Hot Dogs, based in Lehigh Valley, PA – this is my husband’s home area, and he introduced me to the crack which is a Yocco’s Dog. Paired with an order of three deep fried Mrs. T’s pierogies, this is manna in a paper bag. Again, we ask our East Coast visitors to bring a Doggie Pack with them when they visit.

– I miss Grandma Utz’ potato chips, the thick cut chips that are hand-cooked to perfection in lard. Sometimes, with the folded over chips, you get a caught dollop of lard, which is pure bliss.

– I miss Italian subs from Giovanni’s Deli on the corner of Oak and East in Vineland, NJ. Absolutely the best Italian sub I’ve ever had in my life, and from what I hear, 20 years later, the place is still going strong and is still the best Italian sub in Vineland, NJ.

– I miss apple strudel from Friedman’s Bakery in Vineland, NJ. This place closed a few years ago, and I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement since.

– I miss Philly/NY style pizza. Pizza in Ohio is either cracker crust or too thick. NY style pizza is huge slices, thin soft crust under the toppings (which makes it foldable), and nice chewy outer crust. The best of bost worlds. The closest I’ve found locally is Whole Foods, believe it or not.

– I miss Puerto Rican food. You absolutely, positively can’t find it here. I keep telling myself if I opened a Puerto Rican restaurant in Columbus I’d make a killing, because the food is so delicious. In particular, every time I visit my home town I must visit Penalvert’s. Of course, this desire for Puerto Rican may be driven by the fact I have a pernil roasting in the oven as we speak. ;P

Please comment and tell me what foods you miss the most, if you’re far from your hometown in this holiday season.

Have a happy new year, everyone. I hope to be back in 2007 with lots more stuff!