Friday, July 24, 2009

Big Fish in a Small Mall

By Millicent K. Brody

Last Saturday proved to be a nice day for a drive, so we met friends at the MarketFair Mall on U.S. 1 at Meadow Road, in Princeton. We decided to browse, and dine at Big Fish. MarketFair is considerably smaller than the Mall at Short Hlls (my usual shopping destination) but nonetheless houses a discerning collection of shops: Smith & Hawken, White House/Black Market, Chico’s, Restoration Hardware, Anthropologie, and Barnes & Noble.

For the foodies, MarketFair also has a Williams Sonoma and Harry and David. If you hurry into Harry and David before July 31st, you’ll be able to mix and match from the following categories:Gourmet Relishes, Savory Salsa, Premium Preserves, Snack Mixes, Moose Munch Confection, chocolate truffles, fruit chocolates, Mondo Malt Balls, gummies, licorice, nuts, and more! The deal is, buy 3 and get the 4th Free. Villeroy & Boch, an excellent stop for anyone looking for attractive dishes, is also having a sale: save an additional 25% off their regular savings price. Available patterns include :Petite Fleur, Vieux Luxembourg, Design Naif, Switch 3, Manoir, Flora, and Cascara.

After dashing in and out of all the shops, we were starving, so we headed for one of only two restaurants actually inside the mall: Big Fish Bistro (there are also a few restaurants just outside the mall building). To celebrate the bistro's name, there's an enormous splash of color spanning the wall that is designed to resemble a BIG FISH. Adding to the decor are gigantic, blown glass globes of light, patches and swatches of color, and crisp table settings.

You’ll like the menu. Hitting various price points, it offers something for everyone. Starters included Tuscan shrimp marinated in garlic and herbs, paired with a tomato and cannellini bean salad, ($9.99); a crab cake with mustard sauce and roasted corn salsa, ($10.99); and shrimp mango spring rolls, or a mixture of shrimp, mango relish, Napa cabbage, cucumbers, and carrots in rice paper, served chilled with peanut sauce, ($8.99). You can choose a salad or cup of soup for an additional $2.99. We all started with a fresh and delicious Caesar salad. I moved to cedar planked Atlantic salmon, roasted with a tarragon-mustard glaze and served with a gaggle of roasted vegetables and redskin potatoes ($19.99). My friend Phyllis enjoyed the potato-encrusted tilapia, served with fresh vegetables ($17.99). My husband ordered the crab-stuffed sole with lemon butter sauce ($21.99), and Stan chose salmon Rockefeller stuffed with bacon, jumbo lump crab, and classic Rockefeller stuffing, ($21.99). A blueberry-hazelnut crisp with Hammonton blueberries, served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce ($6.99), was enough for each of us to share. Both food and service were a fine contribution to a delightful Saturday.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

That's News to Me

By Judith Garfield

As you may have heard, newspapers seem to be going the way of the eight-track tape, but I still start my morning ritual with my perp walk to the end of the driveway to retrieve my New York Times.

There is nothing like a newspaper opened in front of you as you have your morning coffee. I find it a relaxing and effective way to de-stress. My time with the paper helps me deal with the constant pressure of thinking about what to make for dinner everyday and then thinking about ways to avoid making it.

Some of you might think I am out of touch to be actually reading a print edition of the paper, but I just can’t get into reading the newspaper online. I know it’s all there and it’s free, but for me reading the newspaper online is nowhere near as pleasant an experience. In fact, I find it rather annoying--too many links to follow, and I don’t like all that navigating. Besides, my favorite part about reading the paper is the random stories that you weren’t necessarily looking for, but hook you and suddenly you’re learning about countries you never even knew existed.

The ads in the newspaper are never intrusive. Nothing flashes, bounces, spins, or pops up and informs me I am the lucky winner of a gazillion dollars, or this is absolutely my last chance to “refinance”.

And soaking in the tub with your laptop is not an advisable activity.

Nor is holding your laptop over your head in a sudden downpour. No rolling it up to whack that annoying fly. You wouldn’t try to train your puppy to go on your laptop, and if you take your paper on the train or plane and someone steals it, it’s not grand theft.

Even though last year was the worst year on record for the U.S. newspaper industry, I am optimistic the printed-paper will survive. Call me sentimental. Or call me old fashioned. I predict reading the news digitally will never completely replace the newspaper.

Has anyone seen my Walkman?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Grigio vs. Gris

By Maureen C. Petrosky


Last week was a short and sweet send-off to angry people, and while I did try to ignore the little things that wrinkle my linens, an ordinary trip to a nearby PA wine shop turned into sour grapes.

I was on my way to a friend’s that sunny afternoon, and I thought a chilly bottle of white would be a great way to enjoy the rest of our day. However, the only offerings of cold white wine were large-format bottles and four different Pinot Grigios. So, my choice was basically to get hammered or drink PG. I know I’ve been down on the Pinot Grigio lately, but I just think wine shops and wine lists aren’t giving their customers enough credit. While I realize a lot of people find one wine they love and stick to it (apparently this wine is Pinot Grigio), a lot of us are still seeking adventures in wine.


As this shop had no chiller, I was forced into the aisles to find something suitable for my current cravings, all the while bummed that my first sip would be delayed. In this situation there’re a couple of options- wine on ice (in the freezer it will take 30 minutes to get cold) or ice in your wine.  I’m often asked if it’s OK to put ice in your wine. I find certain wines to actually be more fun with a clink of the cubes- those big bottles (called magnums, equal two standard sized bottles) of white, for instance.  If you can buy a magnum for under $20, don’t expect complexity. These are more likely quaffable picks that lack personality, so adding ice won’t be watering down the nuances. This day, I went for grey- Pinot Gris that is. Yes, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, but the style is, in a good Gris, dramatically different. Italian Pinot Grigios are usually clean and light- bodied. The French version, Pinot Gris, most famed from Alsace, is voluptuous and full of ripe fruits. For my Gris, I stayed stateside and found a winner from Cali well worth waiting for the chill.


MacMurray Ranch, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Gris, 2008, $20- This white was whimsical, with peach and honeysuckle aromas and filled my mouth with melon and splashes of citrus. Skip the cubes and let this chill for a lovely lesson in the difference between Grigio and Gris. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Natural History

By Molly McGrath

Experience the power of nature and learn a little of our country’s history this summer. The Morristown National Historical Park offers both a historical learning experience and a chance to become closer to nature and enjoy the warm weather! With activities for all ages that are both fun and educational, this park is the perfect place for a day trip with the whole family.

Morristown joined the historical map when it housed the Continental Army during The Revolutionary War. The area offered great natural defenses—the Watchung Mountains and Great Swamp—while still being only a two-day march away from the British based in New York City. This natural defense eliminated the threat of a surprise attack from the British, and the many roads passing through the area allowed the Continental Army to move in any direction, countering any British maneuvers. The area where the army was encamped has been preserved as part of the Park.

Immerse yourself in the region’s history as you walk the same ground as George Washington and the Continental Army. Visit Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center for historical exhibits and presentations and a chance to browse for a souvenir. Or, tour The Wick House, which you can explore on your own or with a park employee in period dress. Tours of The Ford Mansion, which served as George Washington’s Headquarters, are also offered and begin at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.

If the great outdoors is what you seek, check out the 27 miles of foot and horse trails in the Jockey Hollow area of the park. Color-coded maps are available at the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center. Other outdoor activities including bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, bird watching, and leaf peeping. The park provides the perfect way to spend a beautiful summer afternoon.

For families with youngsters, consider the Junior Rangers program. Stop by Washington’s Headquarters Museum or the Jockey Hollow Visitor Center when you get into the park and pick up a free Junior Ranger activity booklet. Spend the day learning about the history of the region as well as park preservation and stewardship—the complete Morristown National Historical Park experience!

Whether it’s learning, fitness, relaxation, or a little of everything that you seek, the Morristown National Historical Park has it. For more information about the park, hours of operation, and a schedule of activities visit or call one of the following numbers: Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 973.539.2016 x210; Jockey Hollow Visitor Center, 973.543.4030; Ranger Station, 908.766.6841. Morristown National Historical Park, 30 Washington Place, Morristown.

Monday, July 20, 2009

When Fancy-Restaurant Fatigue Strikes

By Pat Tanner

As a restaurant reviewer I am often asked which I prefer: high-end or down-home restaurants. I reply that I value and happily patronize both and would hate to be relegated to just one category. But there are times when my body and soul say basta! to elegant, multicourse chef’s meals. At those times I search out holes-in-the wall with authentic homestyle vittles. Here are three from recent ramblings. 

Smoke’n Dudes Barbecue. I don’t need to tell you that topnotch barbecue is hard to find ‘round these-here parts. The low-and-slow hickory-smoked ribs, pork, and brisket that are the handiwork of father-son team Tom and Bill Christine is worth the drive to Bensalem, PA (not far from Neshaminy Mall) or to Bellmawr in South Jersey (not far from the Walt Whitman bridge). Heck, I’d drive twice that far. Tom is a veteran bbq competition winner and former president of the Mid-Atlantic BBQ association.

El Jose Mexican-American.  Instead of a 7-11, the Getty gas station at 980 East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin features this minuscule Mexican takeout and grocery spot. Affable owner Jorge Salazar makes everything from scratch – even the cooked salsa for the tamales, which are wrapped in banana leaves. Everything is delectable and more than reasonably priced. Standouts include soft tacos with shredded beef and chicken enchiladas. I normally turn my nose up at refried beans, but not here. Phone: 609.597.5099

Tete Peruvian. The cuisine of Peru is a delicious convergence of many cultures - Incan, Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian among them. Johnny Villaviciencio named his tiny, mostly takeout spot not far from the courthouse in New Brunswick after his mother, Teresa, the nickname for which is Tete (pronounced Tet-TAY). Among the most popular dishes are ceviche, lomito saltado (sliced smoked beef, red onions, and tomatoes mixed with French fries and served with rice), Latin beef stew, and la butifarra (Peruvian ham on a Portuguese roll). 7 Spring Street. Phone: 732.246.1502