Friday, May 29, 2009

Color Mine Raging Red or Vibrant Pink

By Millicent K. Brody

It’s that time of year when all of us are in a barbecue and garden party mood. Regardless of whether it’s a Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon, whenever there’s a gathering of friends and acquaintances, everyone appears in their summer casual best...or nearly best.

Whatever the day or occasion, it’s kind of a sharing affair where every guest simply wanders into the host and hostess’ front or back yard, carrying a platter filled with appetizers, or a board filled with cheese, or a hefty pot of something delicious they whipped up in their kitchen. And of course there’s always an array of delicious desserts.

Once settled, we all stand around sharing our latest news. Then, without a master plan, everyone gathers in a circle of outdoor chairs and chaises or lounge around a table filled with chilled cans, pitchers, and bottles of cool drinks paired with chips, dips, veggies, and cheese. And somehow, as we enthusiastically chat about what’s current with our immediate circle of family and friends, we casually gaze at the attire worn by some of the guests.

Of course there are those that are the essence of fashion who appear in the most stylish seasonal attire wearing only the best of Ralph or Lilly P. Then there are those that appear looking fantastic in whatever falls out of their closet. But lately, I am totally mesmerized by their interesting choice of footwear. Not really knowing what’s really “IN” (besides something gold and strappy), I’m blown away by the sight of these well-dressed fashion plates appearing in sneakers in colors of brilliant red, schoolbus yellow, bright glowing orange, roaring purple, electric chartreuse, green, and even midnight blue....with rhinestones. Yes, sneakers.

At a friend’s barbecue this past Sunday, our host greeted us in a stunning pair of bright lemon-yellow Nike sneakers. Of course every guest had something to say about his backyard barbecue attire. Certainly they were eye catching, for he paired his rollicking footwear with a catchy Yuengling tee shirt. ($20 on Ebay).

And as the afternoon turned into evening, he returned to his house, and reappeared in a really outrageous pair of multicolored “Children’s Day” shoes from Reebok, (Cost: $30 on Ebay.)

When I asked him what was up, he replied, “Price and The Fun Factor.”

Surely there must be something to it.

This spring, we attended a glorious wedding at a seaside resort. Although the ladies were dressed in chic black, each wore fishnet stockings and sneakers in assorted brilliant colors. One even went so far as to dye half her head of jet black hair brilliant purple. The Groomsmen appeared in formal gray jackets, wearing either green or purple ties, white socks, and you guessed it...colorful sneakers. It was certainly different, lots of fun, and added to the excitement of the occasion.

Sneakers fashioned in a conglomeration of every color you can think of appear to be the rage...somewhere. If it’s where you are, I hope you are having fun!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This 'ol Barbeque

By Judith Garfield

It should come as no surprise that I did not do any barbequing this past Memorial Day.

I hate to cook outside as much as I hate to cook inside.

S. takes over when company comes. He is a barbeque purist. Only wood will do. He loves to grill. Anything, anytime, anywhere. A real grill seeker. He has his secret recipes and does not like sharing them, so don’t bother asking. However, the Loveless Cook has her ways. I have learned that for his chicken breasts on the grill, which always get rave reviews, he likes to brush them with a mixture of Dijon mustard and oil. Then he pounds them with a mallet so they lie flatter and cook more evenly The last five minutes of cooking he sprinkles seasoned bread crumbs on both sides. Crisp and moist, and quite delicious.

We have a very old stone barbeque pit that I believe George Washington and his soldiers might have used for a quick burger stop before they headed to the Delaware. He has written about attending a ‘barbicue’ in Virginia in 1769. Who knew? Father of our country….first in war, first in peace, first in…..barbeque.

My responsibility is to entertain the troops and keep them occupied while the grill sergeant rustles up the grub. I always make sure there is plenty to drink, and lots of chip and dip. The food is never quite ready when it should be, so I always have some activities lined up. The sillier the better. Did I mention there is always plenty to drink?

Last weekend we had fun with this.

Everyone must answer the following questions. What is your….

1. Rock Star Name (first pet and street where you grew up)
Heidi Tulpehocken

2. Gangsta Name (fave ice cream, fave cookie)
Mint Chip Milano

3. Star War Name (first three letters of your last name, first two letters of your first

4. Hippie Name (what you ate for breakfast, fave tree)
Waffle Dogwood

5. Detective Name (fave color, fave animal)
Blue Dog

Feel free to share any others you think might entertain the hungry and slightly intoxicated. July is almost here.

May the fourth be with you, GarJu

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hop, Skip & a Kick in the @#!

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Memorial Day weekend kicks off yet another summer season and the folks in Ocean Gate NJ served up some serious Americana with a big bumpin’ cookout complete with karaoke and kegs. This year the annual holiday hoopla celebrated turning 21. All the usual suspects graced the tables--spinach dip, chips, potato salad (regular and hot and one topped with what seemed to be crushed cornflakes), meatballs and sausage, hot wings, an amazing curried sweet potato dish, and several styles of pasta salad and all the while the grill was smoking up burgers and dogs.

There’s always someone behind the scenes at these events- the conductor of the feeding frenzy, the one who knows how many tables, chairs, plates and most importantly drinks will be needed to keep a content crowd. “Ar” to her four Jersey-grown boys and most of the Oceangaters, is this summer soiree’s sovereign. She boasts a tri- state crowd upwards of one hundred in attendance. Two things she said of this Memorial Day could be said of hundreds of other gatherings on this same holiday. First, “It’s come a long way since it started” and second, “everybody brings”. The covered dishes appeared with an endless stream of smiling faces. Those smiles turned to boisterous laughter as the beverages served up a healthy portion of guts and glory at the karaoke corral. Ar makes at least ten gallons of white sangria, as well as the partygoers’ fave- a drink called a Hop, Skip and a Kick in the @#! Here’s what’s in the cooler:

1 can frozen Limeade (save can)
1 can Vodka
1 can white wine
1 Beer
Load up the Igloo the rest of the way with ice and serve.

It’s a quick pick-me-up to start any summer celebration. Add this mix to your next summer shindig and you may just be kicking off a new annual tradition.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Need Inspiration? Try the Designer Showhouse

By Brianne Harrison

This week is your last chance to visit the Stately Homes by the Sea Designer Show House. This year's show house, Sheep's Run, is a beautiful, spectacularly preserved brick house built in 1915 in a style that recalls a Cotswold cottage. More than 50 of the state's top interior and exterior designers worked to transform the house into an example of sumptuous country living. The Showhouse opened with a gala kick off (for photos, click here) in late April.

If you need persuading, it's easy to make a day of it. Tour the house, and then grab a bite to eat at the David Burke Fromagerie Cafe or brows the designer boutique. If the weather's nice, the Monmouth County Jersey Shore is nearby. Enjoy a stroll on the beach before the crowds and humidity arrive!

Tickets are $35 and benefit the Visiting Nurse's Association of Central Jersey. For more information, visit

Monday, May 25, 2009

Albarino Appreciation, Continued

By Pat Tanner

Just about the time last week when my New Jersey Life blogging colleague Maureen Petrosky was posting a paean to Albarino - the crisp, straw-colored, summer-friendly wine from Spain’s Galicia region - I was immersed in a tasting of eight Albarinos and posting similar thoughts in my head.

The occasion was a guided tasting for media followed by lunch at New York’s Vermilion restaurant. (The official name of the restaurant is At Vermilion, but that seems unnecessarily awkward.) Here are some of the revelations/epiphanies I - already an avid aficionado of the Albarino grape - experienced during the course of the event:

- Only a focused, side-by-side tasting of several representatives of a wine – any wine – provides a true appreciation for the full range of its characteristics, expressions, and possibilities. I had always considered Albarino pleasant but uncomplicated, suitable for sipping on a summer eve and pairing with simple grilled seafood. In other words, a single-note wine. No longer!

- Albarino’s nuances, differences in expression, and complexity can be heightened even more with judicious oak aging (who knew?) and in blends. (There are some out there and they are worth seeking out).

- The wine stands up beautifully to spicy fare and complex dishes. With its contemporary menu of fused Latin American and Indian flavors, Vermilion was an ideal choice of restaurant to showcase this. One case in point: salad of lobster, hearts of palm, mango, jicama, and oak leaf lettuce tossed with passion fruit dressing and accompanied by a “shooter” of spicy green gazpacho with a noticeable kick.

The official tasting comprised six wines from Rias Baixas, as the Spanish DO (denominacion de origen) is called, plus two American takes on Albarino. I suggest you head to your favorite wine shops and assemble any range you can, invite over a few friends, and spend some quality time getting to know Albarino better.

Here, for the record, are the producers of the wines showcased at the seminar: Pazo Senorans, Condes de Albarei, Paco & Lola, Laxas, Terras Gauda (O Rosal, a blend), Don Olegario, Havens (VA), and Chrysalis (Carneros). For more information visit