Friday, September 11, 2009

  Westfield Restaurant Week: Dine at the Best of the Best for $25 or Less

By Millicent K. Brody

Ok, so it’s not New York City, but it can certainly be as much fun. Become part of an exciting new tradition by visiting downtown Westfield for their first Restaurant Week. Starting Monday, September 14 and continuing through Friday, September 25, (excluding Saturday, September 19), shop and dine in one of New Jersey’s most charming communities for $25 or less. Whether you’re in the mood for great seafood, fine Italian, continental, French cuisine, sandwiches or salads, you'll find it here.

“We’re happy to be hosting this exciting event,” says Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation. “We hope everyone enjoys their dining experience and discovers all that our that our downtown has to offer.”

During Restaurant Week, you can enjoy some of the participating restaurants' best dishes at a reduced price. You can also find two-course lunches for $15 and three-course dinners for $25. To add to the bargain, participating cafes and delis will be offering menu selections for $7.50 or less. During the two-week period, (and as a special incentive), CoolVines will be offering wine pairings for each BYO Restaurant and a 10% discount for customers who mention Westfield Restaurant Week.

Save room for dessert. Many of Westfield’s dessert shops will be offering special promotions.

Participating restaurants include: Chez Catherine, Limani Seafood Grill, Xocolatz, 16 Prospect Wine Bar & Bistro, Aquaviva delle fonti, Boulevard Bistro, Ferraro's, Mojave Grille, Theresa's, Isabella's American Bistro, The Brick Oven, Splash of Thai, Jeffrey's of Westfield, Clyne & Murphy, Ana Beall's Tea Room, Cosimo’s, Gabi’s Sushi & Noodles, The Office Beer Bar and Grill, Rockn’ Joe Coffeehouse + Bistro, Robert Treat Deli, Vicki’s Diner, Windmill, Manhattan Bagel, Cheeburger Cheeburger, Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, Cold Stone Creamery, I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt, and Rita’s of Westfield. To view the list of participating restaurants and for more details, visit or call the Downtown Westfield Corporation at 908.789.9444.

Please note: Discounts do not apply on Saturday. All beverage, tax, and gratuities are not included for any Westfield Restaurant Week price-fixed menu.

For those who go, I'd love to know what you thought of your dining experience! Happy Eating!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fall For Fall

By Molly McGrath

Summertime brings “summer loving” and in spring “love is in the air.” We even have a holiday where a little man in a diaper shoots us with arrows and makes us fall in love with one another right smack in the middle of winter.

Fall is all alone. Fall gets a bad rap sometimes, stealing summer away the way it does. In my humble opinion, though, it is the greatest time of year. I have had an ongoing love affair with fall since I was a little girl. I can smell it in the air in the last weeks of summer. I can’t help but smile the first day it’s cool enough to wear jeans and a jacket. My feet jump for joy when I retire my flip-flops and pull out my socks, sneakers, and boots. I believe that there should be a celebration of love in autumn, just as there is for every other season. That celebration will start right here—it’s time to fall in love with fall.

The first reason to love fall is a no-brainer—just open your eyes. Our state isn’t called “The Garden State” by accident. Fall in New Jersey is beautiful. The changing leaves paint a picturesque backdrop to our daily lives for an entire season! Go outside and take it all in. There are plenty of parks and forests calling your name. Find one near you at the New Jersey Department of Parks & Forestry’s website,

Reason #2 to fall in love with fall: Harvest activities. Apple picking, pumpkin picking-carving-or-painting, corn mazes, festivals. Who could ask for anything more? What could be better than spending the day with your family sipping apple cider and munching on donuts in a sweater and jeans? Who doesn’t love crisp, cool, sunny days? Or grab your friends and make your way through a corn maze—you may become hopelessly lost, but at least you’ll be together. Check out the Tewksbury Harvest Festival on September 26 at Christie Hoffman Farm in Califon, visit one of the many “pick your own” farms in our state, or head out to Stony Hill Farm in Chester for “Maize Quest” the biggest corn maze in the state!

Foliage and fall festivals are the obvious reasons to love autumn, but for me, there is a less recognized one too.

Fall is a great time to help others. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Women, join the fight for yourselves and for each other. Men, join the fight for the women in your life. The Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation will hold three walk-a-thons across the state this September. Visit to find out how you can get involved. Then, in October, take up the fight during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Visit and find out how you can participate in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k.

With Labor Day behind us it’s time to face the facts: summer’s days are numbered. But the doldrums of winter are still months away! So before you let your summer lovin’ go into hibernation, try having a fling with fall.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back to School Brew

By Maureen C. Petrosky

True, I’m a sommelier and wine writer, but like most who toast I started out with suds instead of swirling Chardonnay. Every year as the air turns the slightest bit brisk, I crave the bite of Pale Ale. It’s something about back to school. In fact, at the Culinary Institute of America I did my Fellowship thesis on “Beer Appreciation”. That was quite a big step from the beers of my college days. Speaking of college, the other day my cousin stopped by to pick up her graduation gift before heading off to her first year at college. Her excitement was contagious as she chattered about decorating her dorm room and how she’d met her roommate on Facebook. I thought of all the beer in her very near future.

Inevitably, the change of seasons conjures up nostalgic moments in each of our lives and for me the fall is about digging out my favorite jeans and enjoying a beer or two while I reminisce about my college crew. Luckily for me and other beer lovers, we have tons of great brews to choose from right here in the Garden State!

Local Jersey breweries have been pouring up delicious drinks for decades now. Whether you like yours light, high octane, with a touch of sweetness, or perhaps on the bitter side, you can find a New Jersey-made brew to please your palate. If you are a die-hard wine drinker, try a wine-like ale from Belgium or look for a Lambic style. These sips are usually higher in alcohol and have a bit more finesse than fizz.

Every beer falls into one of two basic categories: Ale or Lager. Basically, the difference is in the type of yeast used and the fermentation. Unless you want to brew your own there’s no need to get too technical. For love of your home state and in celebration of the season I suggest this weekend you pick up a six pack and sip your way through to find your fave. For information on a brewfest near you and to find your closest craft brewer go to

One of my faves for fall-

Flying Fish Brewing Company-Extra Pale Ale

This brew is a little party in your mouth, with bursts of bitterness and plenty of flavor—it’s great at a tailgate!>

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rock On—Raise Money

By Brianne Harrison

Summer may be officially over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still go out and enjoy a great party while the nice weather lasts. This weekend, your best bet might be the Union County MusicFest, a two-day outdoor concert that is luring in big-name bands and an array of fans that runs the gamut from toddlers to grandparents.

On Sept. 12 and 13, Oak Ridge Park in Clark will play host to They Might be Giants (who will play two concerts—one for kids and one for adults), Pete Yorn, Uncle Kraker, Tonic, Gin Blossoms, Third Eye Blind, Tommy James and the Shondells, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and several local bands, as well as their loyal followers.

The festival, which started in 1998, has outgrown its previous home at the 10-acre Nomahegan Park in Cranford. The 65-acre Oak Ridge Park will probably more easily accommodate the bands and crowds, along with a four-day county fair that features carnival rides, a Kids Kingdom with laser tag and bungee jumping, and food vendors.

MusicFest’s purpose, first and foremost, is to raise funds for charities. The festival raised $80,000 for cancer charities last year, and this year will boast a two-mile walk-athon and 5K run on Saturday morning. Proceeds will go towards supporting children with cancer and blood disorders in New Jersey, as well as global cancer centers.

For more information, visit

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Weekend’s Worth of Food, Music, Art, and Fun

By Pat Tanner

If you’ve been meaning to spend a day touring picturesque Princeton or roaming the lush, beautiful, sculpture-filled acres of Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, there is no more opportune time than this coming weekend, which features two of my favorite autumn events back to back.


Princeton’s historic Palmer Square will be closed to traffic from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, for the 18th annual open-air, rain-or-shine festival that features free performances by leading jazz groups. Food and drink is on offer by 17 Princeton eateries this year and among them are some of my local favorites. To whit: Scott Anderson’s new restaurant, elements, which is, in my opinion, currently the most exciting restaurant in the state; Mediterra, which last year brought on board the noted Spanish chef, Luis Bollo; and the very modest Tiger Noodles, which just happens to cook up the best home-style Chinese food for miles around. For more info visit

Epicurean Palette

Kevin Sbraga, the new executive chef at Rat’s Restaurant at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, will be host chef on Sunday, September 13th for this year’s food and wine benefit for the 35-acre public sculpture park founded by Seward Johnson.

When the STARR Restaurants Catering Group took over management of the food facilities at Grounds for Sculpture earlier this year they recruited Sbraga, who has worked for some of Philadelphia’s leading chefs and restaurateurs, among them Georges Perrier, Stephen Starr, and, most recently, Jose Garces.

The sculpture park is closed to the public for the day, so only guests will meander the beautiful paths, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., as they sample fine wines and other beverages and fare from about 20 restaurants and food artisans, among them Rat’s, Bobolink Dairy, Brother’s Moon, Eli’s Bread, Miele, One53, Piccola Italia, Provence Catering, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Starr Restaurant Group, and The Yardley Inn.

Tickets must be purchased in advance, at $99 per person ($85 for Grounds for Sculpture Members). Visit or phone 609.584.7760.