Friday, February 27, 2009

Light and Simple

By Millicent K. Brody

Recently, we were invited to brunch at friends’ whom we had not seen for quite a while. After giving us a tour of their new home, we sat down to a table laden with a grand assortment of unrelated dishes. As I perused the table, I realized that most of the food remained in their respective bowls and platters rather than moving to the plates of the ten guests. Which brings up an important point: When planning a luncheon or dinner, it is always wise to consider the occasion, the guest list, and of course the menu. For a successful feast, choose foods that compliment one another.

In a recent blog, we talked about the acceptance of brunch as the meal between breakfast and lunch. I also spoke about the current trend of “Lupper” replacing lunch and supper. I thought of the guests I had recently invited for dinner and decided to call and invite them for “Lupper”.

Knowing that most of them rise early and usually eat lunch at noon, I asked them to dress casually and arrive at 5:30 p.m. We began with drinks and appetizers of assorted cheeses, crudités, and passed potato pancakes with applesauce and or sour cream. By 7:45 p.m., we were seated at the dining room table for our first official “Lupper”.

The table was laden with fresh bagels, lettuce, scallions, sliced green and red peppers, tomato with ranch dressing, a bowl of perfectly white tuna salad, a bowl of egg salad, cream cheese, butter, and my famous noodle pudding with apples, cranberries, and yellow raisins. Dessert consisted of a bowl of fresh fruit and an absolutely delicious homemade Blueberry Crumb Cake, (courtesy of the 2006, “Barefoot Contessa at Home” cookbook), and coffee. Yum!

Delicious Noodle Pudding

Baking time: 45 minutes


12 oz. pkg. of wide or slightly wide noodles

1/2 stick of butter

1 cup sour cream

3 eggs, beaten

1/3 (heavy) cup sugar to taste

3/4 (heavy) cup yellow raisins

1/2 large Golden Delicious apple sliced thin

2 oz. dried cranberries

1/2 cup large curd cottage cheese

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. sugar


Heat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly grease an 8x11 Pyrex baking dish with butter

In a small cup, toss 1 tsp. cinnamon with 2 tsp. sugar

Boil noodles, drain, and place in large bowl

Add eggs and toss lightly

Cut butter into small pieces and add to noodle mixture

Add all but 2 Tbs. sour cream

Add raisins, apple slices, and cranberries. Toss ingredients

Add cottage cheese and sugar. Fold into other ingredients

Pour into glass baking dish. Smear remaining sour cream over the pudding. Cover with aluminum foil. Place into the oven.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove aluminum foil. Bake for another 15 minutes. (Watch to see the noodle pudding does not burn.)

Remove from oven. Let cool. slice into squares and serve

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oscar-Worthy Wine

By Maureen C. Petrosky

After the Oscar buzz began, I started wondering: How does the Academy actually choose the winner? Movies, like wine, are so subjective. In my industry every wine ego has their own scoring system, whether it’s numbers, letters, thumbs up or down, how many emblematic little bottles a wine receives, how many glasses are granted, or even star ratings. It’s much more convoluted than just siding with Siskel or Ebert. When it comes to award-worthy wine, what makes up my mind is ultimately the effect of the total package. It has to look great, intrigue me with its perfume, dazzle my palate, and leave me wanting more. I guess the critics award movies the same way. The big difference is I can get through about forty bottles in the time it takes to watch one movie. A lot of wine is spit out before I find the winners. Luckily, I found the perfect pick.

Director’s Cut, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2007, $23
Francis Ford Coppola delivers an Oscar-worthy wine wrapped up in a little movie history. The bottle is decked in a simple black and white swirled number replicating a Zoetrope (zoe: life, trope: movement) that was used to produce the illusion of a moving picture back in the day. It mentions “uncompromising standards necessary to make great films and great wine”. So true, Mr. Coppola! This Pinot is stunning in a shimmering full-length gown, simple yet sophisticated with just the right amount of bling. Perez Hilton, Tim Gunn, and Cojo would all be swooning over this sassy redhead on the red carpet. Oozing cherries, cedar, chocolate, and smokiness, the fun follows through in your mouth with a smooth and sexy body, great balanced acidity, and a totally tasty finish. At $23 a bottle, this is far from a big budget wine, but it’s definitely worth the splurge.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Jersey's Theater District

By Brianne Harrison

I had the pleasure this past weekend of attending the Dublin Symphony Orchestra's performance at the State Theatre of New Jersey in New Brunswick. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, despite the fact that I've lived less than 40 minutes away for the past three years, I'd never been to the State Theatre. I'd hardly ever been to New Brunswick. After this weekend's performance, however, I definitely plan to return to both.

The State Theatre looks tiny from the outside, but once you're inside you're in a huge space that doesn't appear to have a single bad seat. The acoustics are great; the decor tastefully art deco. And the entertainment's top-notch too. The Dublin Orchestra has moved on, but there's something for everyone in the coming months: The Russian National Ballet Theatre will be performing Cinderella, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra takes the stage on March 7 and 22, Dora the Explorer Live runs March 10-11, Hairspray takes its bows two nights in a row, the National Acrobats of China will arrive in April, and Opera A La Carte will present the Mikado. If you're looking to introduce the younger members of your family to theater, there's Milk and Cookies, a lively, interactive series of free performances featuring storytelling, music, puppetry, and more. Six of these events (three in spring and three in fall) are staged each year. The next one is scheduled for March 14.

The State Theatre's location, in the middle of the cultural district, means it's easy to make a trip to the theater a night out. The Heldrich Hotel, which houses Christopher's Restaurant and Daryl Wine Bar and restaurant, is right across the street, and surrounding the theater are a number of chic restaurants and bars offering anything you could possibly want for dinner (or lunch, if you're catching a matinee).

If nothing at the State Theatre appeals, there are several other theaters in the immediate area, including the George Street Playhouse and the Crossroads Theatre Co., which won a Tony Award for best regional theater in 1999.

New Brunswick is one of New Jersey's most successful urban-renewal stories, and the cultural district is an excellent example of that. It's definitely worth a visit--or three.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Philly Beer Week

By Pat Tanner

Philly Beer “Week” is in reality a ten-day extravaganza with events to delight every kind of beer drinker in and around what is arguably the nation’s “best beer drinking” city. Over 500 events at dozens of venues are planned from Friday, March 6 through Sunday, March 15, among them five major festivals, an awards ceremony, beer and food dinners at restaurants, and, of course, walk-around tastings.

Eastern Pennsylvania really is a hub of excellent beer making, although at last count the 58 breweries slated to participate hail from all around the country and the world – including four Garden State representatives: Cricket Hill (Fairfield) Flying Fish (Cherry Hill), Riverhorse (Lambertville), and Triumph (Princeton, as well as New Hope and Philadelphia).

Beer Week kicks off with Opening Tap, a celebration and awards ceremony honoring 30-some regional breweries (including our own).

Each event over the ten days has its own ticketing and prices. The Craft Beer Fest is already sold out but here are highlights of others:

BREWER’S PLATE: This walk-around at the U PENN Museum on Sunday, 3/8 includes unlimited tastings of gourmet food and beverages proffered by some of the region’s most well known chefs and brewers. Proceeds support the nonprofit Fair Foods.

REAL ALE INVITATIONAL: Both Sundays at Yards Brewing Company, ale lovers will enjoy light food, music, and incredible beers. Co-sponsored by Triumph.

ZYTHOS AMERICA: Belgium’s premiere beer festival comes to America with 8 brewers from Belgium and Italy at the U PENN Museum on 3/15.
RESTAURANT BEER-PAIRING MEALS: Among the hundreds are a collaboration between Jose Garces’ Amada and rare brews from Sly Fox (Saturday, 3/14) and on both Saturdays at City Tavern, “Revolution Was Brewing! Ales and Recipes of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin.

SEPTA is offering special “Sip Safely” passes and some events include discounts for designated drivers. For information on these and ever-expanding info on Philly Beer Week visit