Friday, October 16, 2009

Keeping Up with Foodies

Haimowitz and Rob Russo

By Millicent K. Brody

Guest Chef Michael Haimowitz Does Tuesdays at Girasole in Bound Brook
Somerset County residents and fans of Girasole in Bound Brook should plan to visit the restaurant on Tuesday evenings.

Michael Haimowitz, the former Executive Chef at the now defunct Arthur’s Landing in Hoboken, is serving as consulting executive chef at the restaurant. Guests are being treated to his menu of fabulous favorites. Come and enjoy his featured sea scallops, risotto, rack of lamb, grilled salmon, halibut, and veal dishes.

“Michael never ceases to delight the crowd with his wonderful array of salads and fresh vegetables,” said Proprietor Rob Russo. “He is doing what he does with passion and zeal.”

A fond and old friend of the Russo family, Haimowitz is looking forward to greeting former dining clients, and many new friends.

Girasole, 502 W. Union Ave., Bound Brook, 732.469.1080.

Flamenco Dinner Show at Spain 92
Amigos, plan to attend the Flamenco Dinner Show at Spain 92. The festive evening takes place on October 21 at 7 p.m.

The menu: Salad of baby greens, cherry tomatoes, red onions, garlic croutons, shredded Manchego cheese, citrus vinaigrette; a tapas platter; grilled New Zealand herbed lamb chops with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled mixed vegetables, sherry wine sauce; Arroz con leche, rice pudding, coffee or tea. Serving Red and White Sangria with the meal. Cost: $60 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). Entertainment: Ricky Santiago Flamenco Show ( Reservations required. For more information and/or reservations contact Sergio at: 908. 872-9591 or

Spain 92, 1116 Route 202 S., Raritan

Gary’s Wine & Marketplace Hosts Wine Tasting Event
If you have a passion for wine, circle October 26. Gary's Wine will be hosting a huge wine tasting event at the Madison Hotel, with all proceeds going to charity, This year’s recipients include: Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute at Morristown Memorial Hospital and the Interfaith Food Pantry.

Although the event will feature spirits, beer, a buffet, and gourmet cheeses, fine wines will clearly be the main attraction. At Wine Tables, guests can experience 2004 Brunello di Montalcino-Vintage: Score: 97 points; 2005 Bordeaux-Vintage Score: 95-100 points; 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape - Vintage Score: 98 points; GF Family of Wines, (Gary Fisch); Go Figure, Going Forward, and Grand Finale. Each label comes from very prestigious partner wineries. General Admission Tickets: $75.00: Taster's Guild Members $65.00. Hours: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at any Gary’s Wine & Marketplace Stores: 121 Main Street, Madison, 973.822.0200; 100 Morristown Rd., Bernardsville, 908.766.6699; 1308 Route 23 N.,Wayne, 973.633.3900

Fall at Restaurant Nicholas
A graduate of the famed Culinary Institute of America, Executive Chef Nicholas Harary has worked in all aspects of the restaurant industry. Along with his wife Melissa, he opened Restaurant Nicholas in December of 2000. Over the next nine years, Restaurant Nicholas garnered four stars from The New York Times, The Star Ledger, and the Bergen Record, as well as many others.

Harary can now add author to his impressive resume: he's just published his first cookbook: Restaurant Nicholas. To order a copy, call the restaurant at 732.345.9977 or visit

New fall offerings in the dining room and bar include Venison "Carpaccio", Jicama & Fig Salad with Pine Nuts, and hazelnut crusted bass, red pearl onions, fingerling potatoes, and banyuls broth.

Nicholas, 160 Rte. 35 S. (between Navesink River Rd. & Pine St.), 732.345.9977

Bargains at Restaurant Plan B in Asbury Park
Visit Plan B on Thursday nights for their three-course Dinner and a Movie, $25 per person, or their four-course prix fixe dinners from Tuesday to Thursday, $25 per person. The restaurant served brunch every Saturday and Sunday.

Restaurant Plan B, 70 S. Cookman Ave., Asbury Park, 732.807.4710

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's Your Name?

By Judith Garfield

I’m outdated.

My name gives me away. Nobody is named Judy anymore. It’s a name that reveals more about me than I would like. It didn’t start out that way. It was a perfectly fine name when it was bestowed upon me. But the longer I have it, the more troublesome it becomes.

Yes, I have some fine company. Judy Garland, Judi Densch, Judy Holiday, and Judge Judy. What do we all have in common? We’re old. Or dead. You won’t see any modern parents calling their new twins Judy and Barry, or Phyliss and Bruce. The baby boomer names are waaaaay out of fashion. And according to the experts, it will probably take four generations for them to become popular again.

Perhaps the most difficult thing you will ever do as a parent is give a child a name. Charlize may sound real cute now in 2009, but fast forward to when little Charlize is sending out resumes and is relegated to the “too old” pile without even an interview.

Celebrities these days go out of their way to come up with unique names. Nicole Ritchie just named her new baby boy Sparrow Midnight. David and Victoria Beckham have Brooklyn, and Ashlee Simpson has Bronx Mowgli. Rachel Griffiths has Banjo and Jason Lee has Pilot Inspektor. Naming your baby a noun and or a geographic location somehow seems a little unfair to the baby, but luckily in this country one is allowed to change one’s name to anything one wants. The secret is to be different enough to stand out, but not weird enough to be teased.

Remember in the old days, when actors always changed their original names to blend in? Archibald MacLeish became Cary Grant, Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis, and-- you probably didn’t know this--but Sandra Dee was once Alexandra Zuck.

So Bronx, Pilot, and Banjo, don’t despair. Let us not forget that having a funny name did not stop a certain someone from becoming President.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spirit-ual Advisory

By Maureen Petrosky

With Halloween on the horizon I’m happy to say our lulling social calendar seems to be gaining momentum. Not one, but two neighbors are hosting soirees and an old college roomie even called to say she’s throwing her own costume bash. While I am still without the required “awesome costume” (clearly printed as mandate on one of the invites), I have been successfully fielding calls on which ghoulish delights go well with ghosts and goblins. Since my forte is wine and spirits, I stuck to what I know and the first rule of thumb is that no matter what holiday you’re pouring for, the drink must taste delicious. Gimmicky cocktails are abundant at adult-only Halloween parties, but being served syrupy sweet swill is not my idea of a winning affair.

So skip the mind erasers, smashing pumpkins, and gremlins and add Crystal Head Vodka to your bar instead. You may be surprised that famed actor and funny guy, Dan Aykroyd, is responsible for this super delish sip. His fascination with other-worldy beings inspired the creation of Crystal Head Vodka, and working with artist John Alexander, they decided the skull seemed the ideal spot for a pure spirit. True, its packaging is totally effective as a centerpiece this season, but what’s inside is sure to suit you all year long. That really round mouthfeel, a.k.a. smoothness, comes from its quadruple distillation and then a triple crystal filtration through Herkimer Diamonds. These quartz formations in Herkimer, NY are said to emit positive energy. I’m not technically a guru but as your spirit-ual advisor I suggest you break out this crystal for a Halloween toast to die for.
Crystal Head Vodka- $49.95/ 750ml It’s smooth with a touch of sweetness and is fabulous as a straight up chilled vodka martini. This Halloween, shake it up and encase the standard olive in a hollowed out radish for a ghoulish garnish that looks eerie but tastes divine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Happenings

By Brianne Harrison

The countdown to Halloween 2009 is on, and New Jersey is getting right into the—er—spirit of things, starting this weekend.

Never one to miss out when there’s a holiday to be celebrated, Victorian Cape May will host two weeks of specially themed tours and events, including Historic Haunts tours, Ghostwriter Trolley Rides, Miss Parmentier’s Psychic Teas, and Phantoms of Physick Estate. For more information, visit

Few things say “Halloween” or, at least, “fall” than pumpkins, which get their very own celebrations this weekend. The 18th Annual Pumpkin Festival at Cape May’s Cold Spring Village will feature a craft show, music, games, pumpkin painting and, in honor of the season, a haunted hayride and a Halloween parade.

Speaking of pumpkins, have you ever wondered how far a catapult can launch one? Find out at the second annual Flying Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. Representatives from NJ Hurl will use medieval war machines to send pumpkins flying about 500 feet. You can also build and race your own cars out of ears of corn, participate in a cake walk or miniature pumpkin launching challenge, and pick your own pumpkin. The event benefits America’s Grow-A-Row (, which provides fresh produce to feed the hungry through volunteer efforts of growing, gleaning, picking, and delivering.

Also on Saturday is the Gardner’s Basin Oktoberfest and Steel Pier Reunion. The event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m., will have live music, food, fun, and appearances from some of the luminaries from Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier. Meet Ed Hurst, host of the popular ‘Summertime at the Pier’ television show, one of the ‘high diving horse’ girls, and some of Tony’ Grant’s ‘Stars of Tomorrow’. (While you’re in the neighborhood, why not stay over to Sunday and run off some of the bratwurst in the Annual Atlantic City Marathon?)

Busy this weekend? Tuckerton Seaport’s hosting its Haunted Seaport Halloween celebration on October 23 and 24. See the seaport come alive with spirits who haunt the waterways and woods. Visitors can stroll the boardwalk and search for the Jersey Devil or long-lost pirates. For more information, visit

Finally, on Halloween proper, go trick or treating at the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May or, for the grownups, swing by CoolVines in Princeton and Westfield to taste some Candy for Adults—wines to pair and serve with dessert.

Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Dining Blast from the Past

By Pat Tanner

I recently found myself back in my hometown of Newark, in the Ironbound section to be precise, participating in one of several experimental farmers’ markets mounted by Brick City Corporation. After preparing and giving out samples of a salad that incorporated apples, peppers, and cucumbers from farmer Raj Sinha of Liberty Farm in Sussex County, my husband and I were in need of an early dinner. We “settled” on nearby stalwart Fornos of Spain, which for more than two decades has been serving up more or less traditional Spanish fare, albeit with concessions to Americans’ penchant for Italian.

Nothing about Fornos is modern or trendy. The white-tablecloth décor of this large, sprawling restaurant conjures bad banquet rooms with its heavy emphasis on dark wood and chandeliers. Some of the staff have been there from the start. Portions are huge – I mean really huge. Large wine glasses come filled to the brim. These factors usually spell disaster.

Not here. The décor may not be sophisticated, but the chairs are comfortable and the linens plush. The staff evinces Old World graciousness, and they’re efficient. A glass of house Rioja is not only enjoyable, it’s a great buy. Oversized portions make the seemingly hefty prices a bargain.

None of this would matter if the food weren’t good – and it’s very good. Even those dishes I generally turn up my nose at, such as breaded veal cutlets slathered in cream sauce and topped with a blanket of melted mozzarella. That’s because the ingredients are superior and the execution precise. All details are attended to, from a warm, crusty loaf of Portuguese country bread to espresso as good as any in Europe.

Generosity rules. Entrees come with simple but fresh green salads. Crunchy garlic bread is provided in addition to the country loaf. Big bowls of fluffy yellow rice, thick homemade potato chips, and bright green broccoli – perfectly al dente – crowded our already groaning table, which included my Chicken Navarre. For that, succulent cutlets were rolled up with slices of Serrano ham and asparagus and napped with white wine-cream sauce. Not my customary vittles, but thoroughly enjoyable.

What was the tab for this Old World, old school experience that, counting leftovers, kept us fed for two days? $73.51. Tax included.