Draped in fondant flowers and bright swirls of buttercream, Buddy Valastro's cakes would catch anyone's eye?but that's especially true for fans of reality TV. The master baker and his visually stunning creations both star on TLC's Cake Boss, which has filmed at the Valastro family's Hoboken confectionery, Carlo's Bakery, since 2009.
Buddy's cakes have also won national notice beyond the show, including features in publications such as The Knot and Brides. And beyond designing delectable cakes for special occasions, Buddy shares his secrets through hands-on cake decorating classes, which are taught by his dedicated team of bakers at locations throughout New Jersey.
A cake decorating specialist for Carlo's Bakery, Gabby Parisi, talked to us about what it's like to attend the bakery's fondant cake decorating classes (buttercream cake decorating classes are also available).
Are the fondant classes beginner-friendly?
?People find fondant intimidating because the tools and know-how aren?t readily available, but when you come to the class, you realize it?s even easier than working with buttercream."
What types of decorations can students put on their cakes?
"We use water and a paintbrush to apply flowers, fall leaves, bows, and other shapes. It?s super easy once you know all the tricks?you can do almost anything [with fondant], it's really kind of magical. Buddy likes to describe it as the Houdini of cake decorating.?
Are classes available at all Carlo?s Bakery locations?
"Classes are available at our Morristown, Red Bank, and Ridgewood New Jersey bakeries as well as at our Jersey City/Lackawanna Cake Factory. There are no classrooms at our Hoboken, Westfield, or Las Vegas bakeries."
What?s the craziest cake ever made in Carlo's Bakery?
"I?m sure a lot of people will be familiar with the cakes from the TV show, Cake Boss. Buddy always says the craziest cake we?ve ever made was the Transformer, or the life-size Nascar cake."
Maybe you'll be drawn in by the window, displaying baskets filled with rustic baguettes and sweet tarts. Or perhaps the enticing aroma of freshly baked bread will beckon you inside. Either way, it's hard to walk by Choc O Pain's storefront. Step inside one of the bakery's two locations, and you'll be greeted with glass cases displaying French treats such as flaky croissants, fresh fruit tarts, and cookies just like the ones hanging on the walls of the Louvre. Though the menu abounds with treats for sweet teeth, guests can stop in for simple, yet elegant meals of veggie quiche and sandwiches served on homemade ciabatta.
The Embankment’s robust menu revolves around the concept of eco-gastronomy, carefully crafting cuisine with sourceable, environment- and animal-treatment-conscious ingredients. Let all the guilt-free goodness melt into your mouth abyss with the cassoulet, a medley of duck confit, house-made sausage, white beans, smoked bacon, and sage ($19). Or indulge in an ocean potion of baked snapper atop a bed of rice, stewed tomatoes, pine nuts, seasonal veggies, and basil ($22). If you're a sandwich lover, the goat-cheese sandwich with red peppers, mushrooms, baby spinach, and a balsamic reduction ($12) is a vegetarian bombshell. The Embankment is open for lunch and dinner six days a week (closed Mondays), as well as for brunch on the weekends.
Founded by a bodybuilding and fitness enthusiast, Muscle Maker Grill supplies nutritious high-protein dishes that serve as a healthy alternative to traditional fast food. Guests can commence with a bowl of steamed edamame ($3.75) or shake hands with the buffalo wing's well-behaved younger brother, the texas chicken nuggets, served with fat-free sour cream and celery ($4.75). Grilled chicken breast and turkey bacon team up in the MMG signature wrap, backed by romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions with reduced-fat cheddar cheese and a zero-carbohydrate signature sauce ($8.95). Pastafarians can peruse the selection of whole-wheat penne (regular penne available as well) in dishes such as the sesame-chicken teriyaki pasta ($9.25).
With Hoboken's picturesque shoreline as its backdrop, The Quays fuses stunning waterfront views of Manhattan with an innovative menu of upscale cuisine. Taste buds take a warm-up lap around appetizers such as the asian crab cake cradled within a hammock of napa slaw and mango-chili sauce. Anchored by a lineup of succulent meats, entrees arrive in the form of barbecue baby back ribs or red-wine-braised lamb, which stews atop blue-cheese polenta and fall-root gratin. Southern black beans and rice abut piquant cuts of Cajun catfish, and pork tenderloin boasts a chile-maple glaze aftershave. Pairs can tipple drinks from a robust menu of beers and wines, including sips from small-lot artisanal producers and larger vino crafters such as Shafer Vineyards.
It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers—homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry’s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.