Friday, September 4, 2009

Spending Labor Day with Livingston Bagel

By Millicent K. Brody

Believe it or not, the “official” final weekend of summer 2009 is here, and many of us are hosting one last summer party with family and friends. At my house, as we’ve done for many years, we’re celebrating with Sloppy Joes from Livingston Bagel.

Unlike the Sloppy Joes that arrive on soft, round, buns stuffed with mounds of sauteed ground beef, onions, green and sometimes red peppers, and your favorite brand of tomato sauce, Livingston Bagel Sloppy Joes are sure to wow the crowd.

Displayed on a tray garnished with sour pickles, three large slices of fresh rye bread are topped with layers of three different cuts of deli meat. Depending on where you go to purchase your Sloppy Joe, meat choices might include roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, turkey, and possibly tongue. After each layer of bread has been adorned with the deli meat of your choice, it’s then topped with a very generous amount of coleslaw and slathered with Russian dressing.

“We prepare our Sloppy Joes with first quality deli meats,” says executive chef Kris Wojciuk. “Each Sloppy Joe has eight cuts. Depending on the size of your crowd, we believe one Sloppy Joe can serve three to four people. For a party of 10, we suggest three Sloppy Joes, two pounds of potato salad, and two pounds of our special health salad, which we prepare with marinated cabbage, sliced cucumbers, peppers, and carrots.”

If Sloppy Joes are not your thing, Livingston Bagel offers a huge array of deli meats, hot dogs, hamburgers, and turkey burgers. Add a container of their own house-baked beans, and sauteed onions and mushrooms, and you’ve got a successful party.

Once a tiny mom and pop bagel shop, Livingston Bagel has grown into a multifaceted food emporium. Whether you’re coming for breakfast, lunch, or a really early dinner, you’ll find shelves and glass-enclosed, refrigerated cases filled with everything you’ve always wanted to eat. The moment the door opens, you’re greeted with counters and shelves filled with trays of barbecued chicken and ribs, veal, mac and cheese, pastas, salads, ravioli, spreads for your crackers, and even tuna, chicken, and egg salad.

But that’s not all. You shouldn’t leave without one of their very special chocolate babkas, a few black and white cookies, a selection of hand-sliced cheeses, and of course, a dozen bagels.


Location: Livingston Bagel, 37 Northfield Rd., Livingston

Call: 973.994.1915

Hours: 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A French Country Tale

By Judith Garfield

Life was so simple before I ever heard the words French Country.

I mean, technically I knew about French, because I took it in high school, and I knew about Country, because I live in one, but I had no idea stringing the two together could cause me such anxiety.

B.F.C. (before French Country) I lived in a lovely apartment in New York decorated eclectically, although I think quite nicely. I leaned toward weathered, chipped antiques, and in my high-floor Manhattan apartment with a spectacular view, shabby looked chic. In the country it just looked shabby. Something got lost in the translation.

So I realized I needed some decorating ideas for my farmhouse. I poured over shelter magazines and internet articles about pretty interiors for my new setting. Believe me, it’s not easy finding your way in a world fraught with terms like toile, anduze, and Quimper. (that’s keem-pair for all you city folk)

I have since learned the following…. Roosters are F.C.; chickens are not. Grapes are F.C.; raisins are not. Brittany is F.C.; Britney is not. There was a definite learning curve, and many times S. had to pull me back when I was about to go too far with the roosters. The French probably think roosters are tacky. This is pure speculation, but I suspect you would not find roosters in a high-end French kitchen.

My mismatched dinnerware always looked interesting and bohemian. Now it was just looking second hand, and not in a good way. I became enamored with Quimper-style pottery and ordered dinner plates, serving pieces, trivets, and candlesticks, not to mention sconces. I couldn’t stop myself. I was bingeing. On French Country. Mon Dieu!

I finally got things under control with help from my family and friends. I admitted I had a problem, and that was the first step. Now I can casually browse through any Pierre Deux catalogue, the authority on all things French Country, and put it down with very minimal yearning.

But that wire breadbasket sure looked cute.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Red Wine and Coke?

by Maureen C. Petrosky

Somehow summer has slipped by, and just last weekend we finally got together with one of our favorite couples for a drink. On a whim, we decided to do cocktails instead of usual bottle of wine. With the abundance of blueberries still in the fridge, I was intrigued by the idea of blueberry vodka. We poured it over ice with club soda and a squeeze of lemon or lime and enjoyed a refreshing, light, and definitely blueberry-tasting sip.

With all the wine in my world I often forget how much I enjoy the rituals of consuming a cocktail. From the shakers right down to the clink of the ice, we all agreed it's just as much fun as swirling and sniffing. The topic of cocktails stopped my friend in her tracks and, dead seriously, she said, "I've been meaning to ask you something... A friend of mine said mixing red wine and Coca-Cola is all the rage in Europe, and I knew you would be able to tell me this isn't true!" I couldn't help but smile. As you know, I was recently running around the south of France tasting tons of offerings from bubbles to stickies and lots and lots of Grenache ( a red grape that struts its stuff in the Sud du France). It wasn't until the very last night of my trip that we dined with a twenty- something who was working to help educate us Americans about the Sud du France.

Let me back up here. Sud du France is the new name for marketing the Languedoc- Rousillion region of the south of France. While it is a lot easier for us to say, it still causes a little bit of confusion. Sud du France means south of France. It's not beer or soap as some have thought. In fact, it is simply an umbrella name for the loads of delicious bargains spilling from this region. Our guide represented a part of the future of French wine and I wanted his insight. So I asked him what music he listened to, and what he and his friends drank. There's no doubt he truly loved wine and knew how lucky he was to be in a place that had an abundance of delicious juice for him to drink. He also liked heavy rock, and some of his friends still prefer beer--in fact, he almost sounded like an American twentysomething. Until he mentioned that lots of his friends enjoyed wine cocktails like... red wine and coke! So this trend is alive and well. But I was more surprised that the idea isn't actually a trend, it's been around the block. Mixing 50% red wine and 50% coke is called a Kalimotxo in the Basque region of Spain; in other parts of Spain it's Rioja libre. In Chile the drink is known as jote, and in Bosnia, and Croatia it's sometimes called a Musolini. The list goes on and on. From South Africa to Germany and so on, this wine cocktail has plenty of names.

So I started mixing a few to find out which reds really work with coke. I found that the luscious Grencahe was indeed the perfect fit for this mix. In fact, when shaking up yours, be sure to choose a red that can take the chill. Beaujolais and Rhone reds work too but Grenache packs in the fruit, resulting in an adult version of cherry coke. In particular, the reds from a winery that is technically in the Sud du France but lies at the base of the Rhone region-Chateau d’Or et de Gueules rock when mixed with Coca-Cola over a glass packed with ice. The winery from which this hails is full of art from up-and-coming talents, and the winemaker is a hip chick who handles grapes as gracefully as some girls do their Gucci bags. Like a great pair of shoes, she makes wines that are fashionable yet functional. At about $15/ bottle, this Grenache from Chateau d’Or et de Gueules is delicious on its own or lovely with a chill on one of the last of these hot summer days. As part of this wine-tail it's also ideal for tailgating and sipping with friends on the first of fall's cool evenings. So next time you’re toasting with friends, grab your shaker and mix it up a bit.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Celebrating and Elevating Urban Art

By Brianne Harrison

For the most part, we look at graffiti and see narcissistic defacement—someone so enamored of themselves they simply have to scrawl their name on a train car or a highway overpass or a wall. And typically, that’s exactly what graffiti is. But every now and then, an actual artist takes up this medium, and instead of a sloppy, drippy name, we see an astonishing mural, usually colorful and packed with meaning, that moves beyond vandalism and becomes art, in some cases, actually elevating its (oftentimes) rundown surroundings.

That type of “street art” is what’s being celebrated in Fresh from the Streets, an exhibit at the Mikhail Zakin Gallery at the Art School at Old Church, which will draw to a close on September 10. The exhibit brings a typically urban form of art to the suburbs and features an 8’ x 20’ collaborative mural created by street artists Leon Rainbow; Demer; Will Kasso, and Chris, Veng, and Kev/Psyn of Robots Will Kill. Other artists, such as Karlos Carcamo, Michael Ciccotello, Joe Egan, Dan Fenelon, Jerry Gant, Peter Krsko, and Sue Zwick are showing stickers, posters, stencils, paintings, and sculptures influenced by street art and urban culture.

If you’re interested in pursuing art yourself, you might want to take the opportunity to check out the courses offered at the Art School at Old Church. A $40 annual membership fee (for an adult, teens 15 and under are $20) allows you to participate in the school’s courses. Life drawing studio time (Saturday mornings) and workshops are separate. Regular courses include ceramics, drawing, fiber arts, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, sculpture, and watercolor. Workshops for fall 2009 include papermaking, sculpting with books, functional pottery, creative dollmaking, introduction to stained glass, and jewelry making.

The Art School at Old Church is located at 561 Piermont Rd. in Demarest. They can be reached at 201.767.7160 or For more information, visit

Monday, August 31, 2009

Riverton, The River Line, and Zena’s Patisserie Café

By Pat Tanner

If you’ve never ridden the RiverLINE – the light rail system that runs between Trenton and Camden – you’re in for a real treat. The system is inexpensive and efficient, the trains airy, clean, quiet, and stylish. Best of all, stops include some of New Jersey’s most charming and historic Delaware River towns, among them Bordentown, Burlington, and my new favorite, Riverton.

Located south of Cinnaminson and north of Palmyra, Riverton is a sleepy, enchanting little community (home to just 756 families, according to the 2000 census) chockfull of well-maintained Victorian homes, some of which are former sea captains’ houses. Real gas lamps light the streets, which lead down to the river and a quaint yacht club. The town library is housed in a small, yellow cottage with a flower garden in front.

The RiverLINE stops right across the street from Zena’s Patisserie Café, a small, casual spot with a low-key European feel to it. Fresh, interesting soups and salads augment a lunch menu of sandwiches, some in the form of panini, croissants, and wraps. A complimentary helping of Zena’s lush rice pudding makes the already reasonable prices even more so. Homey touches include housemade lemonade and sweet tea (which can be mixed together) and self-service ladling of soup into oversize chipped mugs.

Accomplished baked goods range from European classics such as éclairs, cream puffs, and fruit tarts to all-American pound cakes and chocolate chip cookies.

Soup of the day on my visit was something I hadn’t encountered before and took an instant liking to: baked potato soup, a simplified but satisfying version of potage Parmentier. I later discovered that both Alton Brown and Rachel Ray have recipes for baked potato soup on the Food Network site. But here’s a link to the simplest and, to my mind, closest replica of Zena’s recipe:,1748,146189-255196,00.html

Zena's Patisserie Cafe

308 Broad Street (corner of Church Street)


Phone: 856.303.8700