Review: August 2005 Archives

Fresh Direct Comes To Hoboken

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Fresh Direct, the online market which specializes in fresh, organic products announced last 082305a.jpgweek that they were delivering to Hoboken residents. From their website, you can browse the various departments from fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese, deli goods, dairy, breads, pastries, full meals, household goods, beverages or even frozen foods. Once you fill up your shopping cart - FreshDirect will arrange delivery to your door, for a $4.99 delivery charge - during the weekdays or weekends, at a specific 2 hour window you specify. FreshDirect claims that their food is fresher than a supermarket because they get their food directly from the source, circumventing the layers of distributors and middlemen that others use. They prepare the food at their own facilities - from roasting green coffee beans, aging their own beef or baking their own breads. There are no retail locations for FreshDirect - which allows them to keep their costs down and even less expensive than your local supermarkets.

Hype? Reality? Somewhere in-between?

So I decided to 082305b.jpgdiscover this on my own, and ordered up from FreshDirect last week, on a Wednesday. I went on the website, registered, and first found out that first time users of their site get a $20 coupon towards any fresh food. I ordered up filet mignon, ground veal, chicken breasts, tuna steak, vegetables, pasta, canned goods and some paper products, along with a whole wheat baguette. My focus was to order foods that I would use over the next week to prepare dinners at home. Normally, I stop at the Kings at 333 River St or the A&P on 6th street on my walk home to buy the ingredients for my dinners.

The ease of use on the website was incredible. 082305c.jpgI was floored at the pictures and information that FreshDirect provides. It was like using Amazon.com - but just ordering up your favorite foods. I also found that I ordered more than I expected. I kept searching on various items, like Prosciutto, real Prosciutto di Parma Ham. They had that from Citterio or Leoncini, for example.

Also what was unexpected was the various qualities of meats that are available. Most supermarkets get "USDA Choice" meats. If you are unfamiliar with the meat grading system, USDA Choice grade beef is tender, juicy and good flavor - but is second in rank to USDA Prime. USDA Prime is normally only available to hotels and restaurants. I don't think any A&P would ever carry USDA Prime. Places like Peter Lugers, Old Homestead and Sparks would only serve USDA Prime to their customers. Premium beef does carry a premium price, and is more expensive. I ordered up two USDA Prime filet mignons, and had them vacuum sealed for freshness. All meat orders on FreshDirect 082305d.jpghave rubs and marinades available with your purchase. Chicken is available in different forms, from money saving bulk packs or individual orders. Available antibiotic free or grade A chicken, if you prefer.

Simply put - this website caters to everyone. Are you a discerning cook that wants very specific kind of cheeses? Are you simply trying to get some quick meals ready for the week? Are you hoping to find specialty foods? FreshDirect blew me away.

I made arrangements to have the order delivered between 11am to 1pm on Saturday, since I was busy on Thursday and Friday. The FreshDirect truck and delivery person appeared at 12:20pm and delivered 3 boxes and 1 frozen bag. It was brought to my door, I signed the delivery paper and brought the goods inside.

After you open the boxes, you first notice the attention to detail that FreshDirect takes with their packaging. Each box was seperated by the type of goods: 082305e.jpgOne box was boxed & canned items. One box was meats and vegetables, which was still cold from the refrigerated truck. The frozen bag was the frozen bread I ordered. Every meat was seperately wrapped in a styrofoam container, with plastic and then wrapped in another plastic bag. Each meat had a label inside, identifying the product, along with care instructions.

Monday night I grilled up a tuna steak, using the blackened rub from FreshDirect. Tuesday night I made meatballs using the ground veal. Tonight I plan on searing the filet mignons. The food has been delicious, and I am extremely satisfied with what they offer.

My total bill was around $100. I paid a premium, for example, on the filet mignons. I was curious. Was Fresh Direct ripping me off? I took my bill and walked over to the Kings on 333 River Street and decided to compare prices.

Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks

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Last week I was reading New York Metro, and they had an article on "Best Cheesesteaks in New York", which is an oxymoron, since it's like saying "Best Italian Ices in Iraq" -080905c.JPG just not gonna happen.

Interestingly enough - I was pleasantly surprised with Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks. I scurried down to 34th and 3rd from my office in midtown during lunch of last week (took the 6 train to 32nd and Park) and walked in to a nondescript deli. At first I was thinking "This place sucks" - then thought of 080905b.JPGmy favorite cheesesteaks at Dalessandro's in Roxborough or Pat's and Geno's - they aren't anything special.

Suffice to say - I really like Carl's. It is much better than our own Philly's Cheesesteaks in Hoboken (sorry guys) and totally worth a trip if you work in New York City on the East side. They deliver, too - but I was just outside their delivery range. Plus they have a second store at 79 Chambers St. downtown.

The staff at midtown were very friendly and accomodating. I didn't have to spell out what I needed for my provolone pizza steak with onions. I figured that I was already damning my diet so I did order cheese fries and a coke. Also don't expect to sit down and enjoy your steak - Carl's has 2 tables and 6 seats. I was expecting it to be larger, but it really is just a hole-in-the-wall shop.080905a.JPG

You know what else? Carl's is fairly priced. My Pizza cheesesteak was $6.25! Along with cheese fries and a coke and my total was around $10.

I wouldn't recommend eating here every week like you did if you lived around South Jersey/Philly - but if you have that cheesesteak itch and you are in New York - hands down try Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks.

Get one, and post a comment. Take the Carl's Challenge.

For the record, nothing beats a Philly steak - but this place sure comes close to making me happy.

Grolsch Lager

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Grolsch.

The name, rolls off the tongue with a strong Dutch accent just as much as the beer stays true to its ethnic heritage. First brewed in the seventeenth century by Peter Cuyper of Grolle (present day Groenlo) who developed the brew in 1615. By 1677, he was the Master Brewer, 080805.JPGin charge of all the other brewers in Grolle. He mastered his own method of brewing and his own style of beer, which to this day is the same recipe passed down from generation to generation.

I have heard of Grolsch before, but never tried one - but it is a lager, and I decided to take the plunge. It is very crisp and refreshing, it has a faint hoppy taste that you get from drinking other Holland imports, but not as strong as a Hieneken's.

Unlike the Hop Devil, this beer packs a normal punch of 5% alcohol by volume.

I kept these beers all to myself this time, Jon decided to wimp out and buy his favorite Hoegaarden white beer.

My verdict? I think Grolsch is good, but I still would like a Yuengling Lager over it. If you like that Dutch/German hoppy flavored beer - I think you will like Grolsch. If you are more of a malty person - like Yuengling or Newcastle, you may not enjoy it as much.

But hey, give it a try - always fun to try something new, right?

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This page is a archive of entries in the Review category from August 2005.

Review: July 2005 is the previous archive.

Review: September 2005 is the next archive.

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