One day on Instagram, Midtown Philly Steaks liked one of my photos, and when I went to their page, my mouth was watering. I wrote back that they were making me hungry and they invited me in to help calm my hunger pangs. I love cheese steaks, but the problem most times is that they just are not that healthy. The things that are great about them leave them dripping with grease and oozing with fat, and I know that I can't do that to my body on a regular basis and live a healthy life. But something about the person on the other end of Instagram gave me the feeling that I might be finding something different at Midtown Philly Steaks, and so I stopped by one day to see if I could take some photos and talk to the owner. I'm sure glad I did - I had the best and freshest cheese steak I have had possibly ever, and I only tried one variety. Their menu is packed with delightful delicacies - every kind of cheese steak your heart could desire, and you can mix and match and add toppings because every one is made fresh to order. I've never seen anything like the way the owner Ayman and his staff work - they practically fly while they create masterpieces, taking orders and packing them up for delivery, while still maintaining an air of peace and calm that makes eating in or taking out a truly delightful dining experience. Ayman has been working at that location since 2004, and three years ago he became the owner. At the time he changed over the menu entirely, adding salads and low carb plates and chicken and vegetarian selections for people who are watching a stricter diet. I felt energized and ready to go out into the world again after eating, without any of the heaviness I remembered and feared from cheese steaks past. This was a truly happy new year discovery.
Midtown Philly Steaks
523 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Open Until 4:00am Friday & Saturday
Friday & Saturday 10:30am-4:00am
The Fastest And The Best
Old Time Goodness
A few blocks away is Schnackenberg's, a gorgeous vintage style luncheonette that has been serving Hoboken since 1931. Owners Joyce and Eugene Flinn have updated things in all the necessary ways while still keeping the quality and delightful hometown feel that Schnackenberg's is legendary for. I'm a donut connoisseur, and though I love donuts, I will not eat them if they are not amazing. Like the cheese steaks I mentioned above, too often the things that we like about donuts make them sink like lead weights in our stomachs. But just as I found a new haven for healthier and more wholesome cheesesteaks this new year at Midtown Philly Steaks, last year I discovered Schnackenberg's, and my life has made a change for the better. I first walked in to try their hand made chocolates, and not only was I pleasantly surprised by the cordial and delightful service and reasonable price per pound, but the chocolates themselves were some of the best I've had. I went back to try the donuts, and found a dream come true. I had a great Aunt who was legendary for her donut making, and I have a feeling that she would have been envious of Schnackenberg's. They have sandwiches and ice cream and egg creams and all of the things you need to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner or all three. Come early and stay for an extra cup of coffee - It's Kobrick fresh brewed and goes perfectly with anything and everything.
Joyce And Eugene Flinn
1110 Washington Street
Who Could Ask For Anything More?
After eating your way across Washington Street, head to the PATH train and 17th Street in Manhattan for a delightful vintage shopping experience. It's a great way to work off the calories if you've had one donut too many after your cheese steak and chocolates. Pippin Vintage is a feast for the eyes, with a jewelry store in front and vintage home goods through a hallway of Alice's looking glasses to the back. Their prices are so reasonable and generous that you can walk away with any number of gorgeous and lovely things, but if you're watching your budget and don't mind taking the chance that someone else might snatch up your treasure, they do mark things down regularly so you might just be lucky and save enough to have your cake and eat it too. It's hard to believe that a store like Pippin Vintage exists in Manhattan, but it does, so stop by and stop often and enjoy the lovely atmosphere and meet the knowledgeable and helpful staff - you'll be glad you did.
Stephen And Rachel Cooper
Jewelry: 112 West 17th Street, NYC
Home Goods: 112 1/2 West 17th Street, NYC
Open Every Day 11-7
Well Have You Ever?
What A Swell Party This Is!
Hot Soup For Cold Nights
I made a standing rib roast for Christmas, and one of the things I like to do when I have the time is make broth from the bones. If I don't have time right away, I freeze the bones until I have the ingredients I need and the stretch of time to do it. It's the simplest thing in the world, and over the years I've cut some corners to make it even easier. I used to strain it through cheese cloth and tie up my spices in a piece of celery and do all kinds of things you read about in books, but after a while I realized for the kind of hearty cooking I do, all you need to do is ladle it out once it's done, and if a few stray pieces of vegetable end up in the broth you use for your soup, it's fine. Here's the basic recipe, followed by a recipe for beef soup and dumplings. You can use this same basic recipe for chicken, turkey or fish stock too, and if you don't have the bones left over, you can ask the butcher for what you need. Wash the vegetables but leave them unpeeled, and if you don't have all the vegetables, use what you have. Perfect for a cold winter's night.
Place beef bones in a large pot for boiling, cover with water to an inch over the top, bring to a boil. While water is boiling, add a bay leaf, about six whole pepper corns, three cloves of garlic washed but unpeeled, one onion washed, cut in half but unpeeled, one or two carrots, washed, chopped in half but unpeeled, one or two stalks of celery, washed and chopped in half, a few sprigs of thyme, fresh or dried, or a quarter teaspoon if using packaged thyme. Parsley is also nice if you have it, as are the leafy ends of carrots and other root vegetables. Add more vegetables if you have them, old lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves can be nice or the tougher ends of vegetables you would usually not cook for eating. You can put the lid on the top while bringing to a boil, but once it comes to a boil, remove the lid and turn down the heat to simmer. Cook for a minimum of two hours if using leftover bones. You can cook as long as four hours if you have the time, but two hours is fine also. If using fresh uncooked bones, cook for four hours. Ladle into smaller containers with covers, about two or four cups maximum in each container, straining out the pieces of bone and vegetables and herbs, reserving and refrigerating the bones with any remaining meat for making soup. Refrigerate or freeze the stock. Use the refrigerated stock within four days and the frozen stock within six months. It's helpful if you label the stock with a letter representing the kind it is as all stock has a similar color and if you make it often and from different things, you might not be able to identify the fish from the beef when it's frozen.
Beef And Vegetable Soup:
In a soup pot, add one tablespoon of olive or other good quality cooking oil. Peel and dice two garlic cloves, peel and chop one medium onion, one carrot and one stalk of celery. Sauté in the oil briefly, about a minute or two, add other vegetables, any others you'd like. In the soup I made for the New Year, I added pumpkin, yellow summer squash and Brussels sprouts, but any and all vegetables work beautifully. Experiment with what you have and what you like. Add the meat from the cooked bones and any other meat you have left over. If using fresh meat, chop and brown it first and cook it thoroughly in the olive oil before adding the garlic and vegetables. Add four to six cups of stock, depending on the amount of vegetables and meat you have and how thick you wish your soup. It will cook down, but you can also always add more stock or water if necessary. Add one bay leaf, and a quarter teaspoon of fresh thyme. If you have any rinds from parmesan, Romano or other hard cheese, add one while the soup is cooking - it will add a lovely flavor. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and let cook for at least an hour, the longer the better.
Dumplings For Soup Or Stew
When the soup is about a half hour away from serving, mix together one cup of flour with a dash of ground white pepper and salt, and two to four tablespoons chopped fresh or one quarter teaspoon each dried parsley and thyme. Add milk or water until the mixture is still thick but the flour is thoroughly moist. Drop from a tablespoon into the boiling liquid or stew, cover the pot and let cook for 20-30 minutes and serve.