Friday, July 3, 2009

July Restaurant Happenings

By Millicent K. Brody

* The Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market in Hightstown has been offering fresh Jersey produce, flowers, and nursery stock from local growers for sale since 1931. This year, the night auction opened in mid-May rather than July and has been featuring early season South Jersey produce trucked north by Flaim Farms. The auction is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the rest of the season.

* The South Jersey Independent Restaurant Association (commonly known as the South Jersey Hot Chefs) is again planning a week-long celebration of special dinners called “Farm to Fork Week”. Taking place July 19th-25th, special four-course menus will consist of produce grown by local farmers for $35.00 per person. A series of four “Feast in the Fields” special dinners will also take place between July 11th and September 13th at South Jersey farms. Each event will feature the cuisine of three or four restaurants. For more information, visit

* Planning a picnic this weekend? Make it easy on yourself and pick up a July 4th Snack Pack at Rosie’s. It includes one bottle of bubbly and two champagne glasses, hummus with crudite, a French baguette and several cheeses, an assortment of fruit, a few chocolate sweets, and glow-in-the-dark wrist bands, all packed in a green Rosie’s Wine Tote: cost: $40 plus tax. Snack Pack orders must be in by noon on Friday. Pickup is after 4 p.m. on Saturday, the 4th of July. If you visit Rosie’s restaurant on the 4th, there’s good news: corkage fees will be $4 all night. Enjoy $4 drafts; house wine at $4 a glass, and a 4% discount on all dine-in dinner bills. Rosie's, 514 North Ave., Garwood. Call 908.518.WINE

* Restaurant Serenade is catering to the 4th of July with a picnic. Proprietor and Executive Chef James Laird is offering culinary fireworks with 4th of July picnic food. Enjoy a grilled picnic entree and dessert for $30 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Seating for the special event begins at 5:30 p.m. The menu features hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, corn bread, cole slaw, and flag tarts. An a la carte menu will also be available. For reservations, call 973.701.0303. Restaurant Serenade is located at 6 Roosevelt Ave., Chatham.

* The Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster has a new chef: Juan Jose Cuevas. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Cuevas worked directly with Chef/Owner Dan Brown at 81 in Manhattan. In San Francisco, he worked at Jardiniere and the Ritz-Carlton. In New York, he opened Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and served as sous chef at the four-star Lespinasse. The Pluckemin Inn is located at 359 Rte. 202/206 S. Bedminster. Call or stop for a drink at their Plucky Bar. 908.658.9292.

* Visit the Mountainside Spanish Tavern from Friday, July 3rd to Sunday, July 5th and indulge in Maine lobsters at dramatic savings. Enjoy two 1/1/4 lb. lobsters for only $20.95 (plus tax and gratuity; no special offers or coupons will be accepted for this event). Regular lobsters (2 lb - 3 lb) are priced at $14.95 per lb. The menu features a variety of your favorite Spanish dishes. Be sure to order a pitcher of their famous sangria. The Spanish Tavern, 1239 Route 22, Mountainside. Call 908.232.2171.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Something Worth Celebrating

By Maureen C. Petrosky

With all of the recently deceased celebs in the news it starts to make you think hard about your own life. If there’s an upside, it’s that these tragedies help us keep the balance and remind us not to sweat the small stuff so much.

Last weekend this was easy to do, as we reveled in the beauty of Pennington’s Hopewell Valley Vineyards. The weather was perfect and the vineyards glistened in the sun as we kicked back and savored some of Jersey’s best offerings from the vine. This Fourth of July weekend, families and friends will undoubtedly gather to watch fireworks fill the summer night sky, and hopefully you’ll take a moment to pause and enjoy this life a little. But if you can’t see through the chaos of your day-to-day, I promise the magic of walking through a vineyard can transform even the most stressed out workaholic into a serene smiling soul. Maybe you’re not looking to whoop it up on the fourth and need something a bit more sublime, so head to Alba Vineyards on Sunday instead. Skip the shore traffic and sunburn and enjoy Music Under the Arbor. Pack a picnic lunch and pick up a bottle of Alba’s Dry Riesling to go with while you relish the sounds of live jazz from 1 to 5 p.m. With all of the bad things going on in this world, wine is truly one of the simplest indulgences to help you Carpe Diem.

Alba Vineyards, Dry Riesling, 2007, $14 This white is full of vibrant fruit in the nose, delivers a crisp clean sip, and makes your mouth water with its highlights of acidity. It’s perfect for a picnic of cheeses and a fresh baguette, works alongside most salads, and dazzles when paired with sushi. It is the perfect accompaniment to any porch swing or picnic blanket.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Fun-Filled Fourth

By Brianne Harrison

For many people, this will be a long weekend, which makes it an ideal time to hit the Jersey Shore to relax and (hopefully) soak up some sun. There’s little risk of boredom once the sun goes down: there are plenty of events planned to keep you busy this Fourth of July weekend.

If you head down early, you can get things started on Friday when Chelsea Palermo performs live jazz and blues at Tim McCloone’s Supper Club in Atlantic City. Enjoy drinks, dancing, and beautiful ocean views on the boardwalk. If you’re going to be in the LBI area, you may want to check out the Chocolate Bar Surf Soiree at the Chocolate Bar LBI, which will feature the launch of Joe Freeman’s Old Soul Surfboards and the opening of a new surf photography exhibition from Matt Schwartz’s She Hit Pause Studios. You can continue to pay homage to beach culture on Independence Day with an evening of Surf Art, Film, and Fireworks at Lightly Salted Surf Mercado in Asbury Park. Check out the new exhibit of surf photography by Ryan Tatar at 7, a screening of the Australian surf documentary “Under the Sun” at 8, and a fireworks display at 9.

If you’re in AC, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and Harrah’s Resort will join forces to present a July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza. Take in the sights from the two hotels starting around 9:15.

If at any point you want to beat the heat and escape into a cool theater, there are a number of shows on in Atlantic City this weekend, including Cirque Dreams Pandemonia at the Trump Taj Mahal—a show that unleashes “inventive acrobatics and free-ranging whimsy in a playground of imagination and Technicolor atmospherics.” Shows are 3:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and best of all (in this economy, at least) tickets are surprisingly affordable, ranging from $25-35. Also affordable is the Carnival of Wonders, playing at the Trump Plaza theater. Carnival of Wonders combines magic with comedy and spectacle to keep the surprises coming. Tickets are $25.

If you’re a history buff or just want to learn something new, What Were They Thinking? 160 Years of Bad Taste is currently running at the Carriage House Gallery at the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May. Featuring fashion follies throughout history, the show will have you constantly wondering: Just what were they thinking? Also in Cape May is Historic Cold Spring Village, which is hosting an Independence Day Celebration July 4 and 5, featuring a 19th century baseball game, patriotic programs, live music, and the history of Old Glory.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Seriously Sustainable—and Scrumptious

By Pat Tanner

The month of July offers some spectacular opportunities for those of us interested in eating well while respecting the earth’s resources.

On Sunday, July 19, Sustenance on the Farm, a new company formed by Margaret Noon, a founder of the Northern NJ chapter of Slow Food, will hold the first in a series of dinners taking place in the green fields of Garden State farms. The dinners bring together farmers, top chefs, and organic/biodynamic wines, aiming to introduce guests to top-notch local and sustainable food while leaving behind the smallest possible carbon footprint. The inaugural dinner will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. at Griggstown Quail Farm. Guest chefs are David Felton, recently of the Pluckemin Inn, and Chris Albrecht of Eno Terra, who will prepare desserts. Live music is also part of the event, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and costs $145. A portion of the proceeds goes to Slow Food Northern NJ’s earth stewardship and food justice programs. For info and tickets visit

For those who want to learn to preserve their own seriously sustainable goodies, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) is offering two Saturday afternoon demonstration workshops on canning, freezing, drying, and root cellaring. Both will be held in the kitchen of Princeton Day School. The first, on July 11, focuses on fruits. The second, on July 25, is all about vegetables. The workshops run from 1 to 3 p.m. and cost $18 each. You can sign up by calling NOFA-NJ at 908.371.1111, or by simply showing up on the day of the workshop, following signs to the kitchen, and paying at the door. For more info about NOFA-NJ, visit