Friday, September 18, 2009

Holiday Blessings

By Millicent K. Brody

I find myself feeling particularly grateful this Rosh Hashanah season. As Jews all over the world look forward to the year 5770, I can only share my heartfelt wish for a world of peace and harmony filled with good health and happiness for all.

One thing I’m very grateful for is the fact that many of my favorite markets, delicatessens, and grocery stores are not only stocking prepared Kosher and Kosher-style foods, they’re catering entire meals and ready-to-eat side dishes, making holiday entertaining a snap for myself and other busy families.

The centerpiece of every table should include a round, fresh-baked challah from a local bakery. At the Swiss Pastry Shoppe in Scotch Plains, proprietor John Cioffi has been at his huge ovens for hours and hours. Not only are his challah delicious, his rugalach are baked fresh daily. Filled with nuts, raisins, apricots, and chocolate, they’re worth the trip

A traditional holiday meal should start with appetizers of gefilte fish and chopped chicken liver. Then, of course, it’s a bowl of chicken soup with matzoh balls or noodles, or fresh vegetable soup. If you’re considering purchasing chicken soup and matzoh balls, consider taking your own soup pot to the University Diner in Union. The staff will be more than happy to ladle their steaming brew into your container. Then all you have to do is heat, serve, and enjoy.

Rosh Hashanah, entrees often feature roast chicken, brisket of beef, breast of capon, or stuffed Cornish hen. But oftentimes it’s the side dishes that really wow the guests. They could easily include potato latkes (pancakes), zucchini cup cakes, carrot souffle, a fruit compote, and a platter of freshly prepared garden vegetables.

At my house, the featured dessert is always a fresh plum cake, chocolate chip cookies, and, of course ice cream.

Suggested Places to Shop for the Jewish Holidays:

Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, 101 E. Broad Street, Westfield

Deli-King Clark, Clarkton Shopping Center, 3090 Clarkton Dr., Clark, Linden; Deli King of Linden, 628 W. Saint Georges Ave., Linden

Fairway, Market, Fashion Center Mall, Rt. 17 North and Ridgewood Ave., Paramus

King’s Super Markets, 100 Morristown Road, Bernardsville; 450 U.S. Highway 206, Bedminster; U.S. Highway N. 22 & 513 Whitehouse; 64 Mountain Blvd., Warren, 908.226.4988

Swisse Pastry Shoppe, 1711 E. 2nd St., Scotch Plains

Shop Rite of Bound Brook, Kosher Experience, 611 Union Ave., Bound Brook and the local Shop Rite Supermarkets in your area.

University Diner, 580 North Avenue, Union

Wegman’s, 724 Route 202 S., Bridgewater; 2100 Route 70 W., Cherry Hill; 55 US Highway 9, Manalapan; 2 Centerton Rd., Mt Laurel; 1104 Highway 35, Ocean; 240 Nassau Park Blvd., Princeton; 15 Woodbridge Center Drive, Woodbridge

Whole Foods: 222, Main St., Madison; 2245 Springfield Ave., Vauxhall; 701 Broomfield Ave., Montclair; 235 Prospect Ave., West Orange.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


By Judith Garfield

Comedian Kathy Griffin says, “I was brought up right. I talk about people behind their backs. It’s called manners.”

Ahh, the rules of etiquette. What exactly is proper these days? Especially when it comes to meeting people and saying hello. Shaking hands can seem so formal, yet a cheek kiss may be overly familiar. I wish there were some Federal guidelines for greeters. It can be downright embarrassing recovering from badly mistimed social greetings.

You extend your hand and none is offered in return. Instead you realize they’re coming in for the air kiss. But which side. Quick, make a decision and go with it. You go right, they go left, and a mid air collision occurs. Now you must decide if you should ignore the crash and go for a double or was one sufficient.

It seems whatever I decide to do it’s instinctively wrong. The worst outcome is the dreaded pull back, when you go in for the second air kiss only to find the other person has drawn away after one. Can you say awkward?

My family considers me a bit affected in my greeting customs. I always try to go with the air kiss, mostly because there are some people who insist on planting big fat wet ones right on the cheek. Don’t they know this plays havoc with blush? And five o’clock shadow as a visual can look sexy, but who wants to get up close and personal with sandpaper?

Of course these days there is also the concern of germ spreading, what with the swine flu pandemic. Doctors now advise not shaking hands at all. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s medical correspondent, has jokingly advocated the elbow bump as a greeting. Not a bad idea in my opinion. I like it and intend to popularize it.

Or how about just a good old-fashioned nod? Or the Chinese/Japanese style, palms pressed together with a slight bow of the head? Or the snap and point with a ‘hey’ and a smile?

It’s all very stressful. My wish for you is that you make the appropriate choice and all your greetings are warmly received.

With extended elbow, I say TTFN. (ta ta for now)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bottoms Up in Belmar

By Maureen C. Petrosky

True, our beach days may be numbered, but you wouldn’t know it last weekend. Droves of people flocked to Jersey’ beaches for just one more shot at the shore. Belmar was no exception, but its events on Sunday and Monday were indeed exceptional. The 7th Street Beach on Sunday mirrored Maui as dozens of surfers, beach patrol, and an endless sea of spectators arrived for the beach’s annual Surf Camp and Beach Bash for Autistic Children. Sponsored by the Autism Family Services of New Jersey, the beach drew in over 5,000 people who enjoyed music, dancing, informational booths, and, of course, surfing, not to mention ideal weather!

Surfer’s Healing, a non-profit organization that aims to enrich the lives of autistic children and their families by exposing them to the joy of surfing, handled the surfing aspect. It was breathtaking to witness children forget their fears and truly transform as they caught their first wave. A once-small event that catered to 50 or 60 children, this year saw almost 200 kids in the ocean. The day went off without a hitch and it wouldn’t have happened without the endless volunteers in the water and those who dotted the beach, handling crowd control, trophies, and logistics. After a full day in the sun and salt air the volunteers, the brave moms and dads, and especially the kids who braved the waves deserved a standing ovation, but they’ll have to settle for a toast. Which brings us to our weekly wine pick:

Longboard Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, $19 This Sauvignon Blanc is soothing after a day in the sun. It’s got soft acidity so your mouth is watering but you won’t be puckered up like a fish. Speaking of, this luscious white works with all things from the ocean--think briny oysters and lots of sushi here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harvest Treats for Food and Wine Lovers

By Brianne Harrison

It’s just about harvest time in New Jersey, and food and wine lovers will have plenty of opportunities to celebrate autumnal abundance this weekend.

Starting on Saturday, Sept. 19 and running through the 27 is the 13th Annual Cape May Food & Wine Festival. This week-long foodie’s delight will feature a Gourmet Marketplace at the Cape May Winery, a chef’s cook-off, People’s Choice Chowder Contest, a beer-tasting dinner, cooking lessons, and, of course, meals and special offers at the area’s best restaurants. While you’re in the area, you can swing by the Carriage House Tearoom & Café at the Emlen Physick Estate for the Cape May Harvest Food & Wine Tasting on Saturday. The café will be serving a sampling dinner inspired by local products, co-sponsored by the Seaside Cheese Company and Cape May Winery. Representatives from both companies will be available to discuss their offerings and appropriate pairings. The four-course dinner will start with hors d’oeuvers and will be paired with wines from Cape May Winery.

If you like to have a little entertainment with your wine, Valenzano Winery is hosting WineFest, the state’s largest blues, jazz, and wine festival this Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy live entertainment, wine and cheese tastings, and helicopter rides over the pine barrens. Some of the top crafters from around the state will also be there, so you can get a nice head start on your holiday shopping. For more information, visit or call 609.268.6731.

Love a good craft beer? Trump Marina invites beer lovers to toast the end of summer at their Craft Beer Fest on Saturday. A $25 ticket allows you to sample featured beers like Jack’s Pumpkin Spice, Victory Fest Beir, Magic Hat #9, and offerings from 25 micro-brews. Send the summer of ’09 off in style as you enjoy live music, good beer, and delicious food.

Those looking to give back as they dine out have three upcoming events to choose from. From September 20 to the 26, The Bernards Inn will participate in the Great American Dine Out. A portion of the inn’s proceeds from this period will go to Share Our Strength, an organization committed to ending childhood hunger in America.

Head to the Renaissance Plaza in Flemington on September 21 for The Culinary Affair, an evening of wine, beer, entertainment, and delicious food from restaurants in Hunterdon, Somerset, and Warren counties. This event benefits the Hunterdon Hospice and Visiting Health and Supportive services.

Finally, the Women on the Move luncheon will take place September 22 at Dogwood Hills Farm in Locust. This luncheon raises money for the New Jersey Chapter of the National MS Society. To learn more, call 732.660.1005 or visit

Monday, September 14, 2009

Uncovering a Gem of a Museum in D.C.

Image courtesy of

By Pat Tanner

Truth be told, I have almost never enjoyed touring Washington’s grand government monuments and museums. (Sorry, Smithsonian. The Air & Space Museum is O.K. but…) So for a recent jaunt to our nation’s capital I looked for an alternative and came up with a real winner: Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens.

Even my acquaintances, who have lived in the D.C. area for years, weren’t aware of Hillwood, centrally located near Rock Creek Park. The mansion was home to the heiress to the Post cereal empire, Marjorie Merriweather Post. (Her name will ring a bell with those of a certain age, who may also remember Postum, the coffee substitute – made, believe it or not, until 2007! - and be familiar with Ms. Post’s daughter, the actress Dina Merrill.)

It’s hard to say which part of Hillwood I enjoyed most. Merriweather Post was an avid collector of Russian imperial art, so her collection is the most comprehensive outside of Russia, comprising Faberge eggs, Russian porcelain, and Russian Orthodox icons. But she was also a world-class collector of 18th century French decorative art and furnishings, including Beauvais tapestries and Sevres porcelain. From October 20 to May 30, more than 90 examples of Sevres will be on display in a special exhibition. Many of them have never been seen before by American audiences.

A top contender for my favorite part of Hillwood, besides the informative docents who lovingly guide visitors through the mansion and its many treasures, is the stroll through the gardens, nestled into which is a full-sized replica of a Russian dacha. (The Sevres exhibition will be on display there.) But also vying for top honors is lunch at the museum’s café. Its menu pays homage to each of Marjorie Merriweather Post’s passions with its offerings of borscht, quiche, and good old American egg salad sandwiches.

The tagline for Hillwood is “Where Fabulous Lives.” For a close-up glimpse of the exact fabulousness that awaits, visit