Friday, January 15, 2010

A Friend in Need

By Brianne Harrison

Massachusetts’ ban on greyhound racing, which recently went into effect, is both good news and bad news for hundreds of former racing dogs. On the one hand, they’re spared further racing, and the risk of injury that comes with it (not to mention the possibility of a horrible fate if they cease to run profitably). On the other hand, many of these dogs are now rendered homeless, and greyhound rescue groups are finding themselves overwhelmed.

One such group, Greyhound Friends of New Jersey, Inc., has taken in about 135 dogs from two recently closed tracks. Seventeen dogs came in last week alone. The group is now actively seeking foster homes and adopters for these beautiful dogs, which make excellent pets, even for those who don’t have large houses or a lot of land (surprisingly, greyhounds are major couch potatoes and prefer snoozing in a sunny spot to running all day.)

“These dogs are a joy to live with,” says GFNJ president Linda Lyman. “They’re not only beautiful; they’re calm, gentle, and loving. Some people may think that retired racing greyhounds are over-active and hyper, but the opposite is actually true. While they want a good walk each day, they spend most of their day snoozing.”

Interested? GFNJ is now holding regular adoption events, where you can meet the dogs, spend time with them, and get expert advice on the breed from GFNJ volunteers. Prior to adoption, all the dogs are spayed or neutered, tested for heartworm, and have their teeth cleaned.

For more information, call 732.356.4370 or visit

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dollars and Sense

By Lauren Johnson

This past weekend I had the pleasure of spending a lovely evening at The Arts Council of Princeton to see the opening of Consumed: An Exhibition about Art, Money and Consumption, which consisted of a variety of works that showcased the diverse perspectives and relationships artists have with money.

I found this theme intriguing in regards to the contemporary art world, since a shaken economy makes it impossible for any creative person to not face economic reality. While some artists may repurpose the marketability of their work, others may use it as a springboard for new ideas. This show was a refreshing showcase of both.

Plus, they had cookies. Shaped like dollar signs.

Upon entering the Arts Council building, my friends and I were immediately whisked into the mass of a buzzing crowd of people still wearing hats and jackets, thawing out from the frigid outdoors. After a few minutes of letting our toes regain feeling, we hung our jackets and proceeded into the exhibition.

The first piece I unintentionally noticed (though it was on the other side of the room, a crowd had gathered around), were two very bright, crisp, (and stylistically obvious) dollar signs by none other than Andy Warhol. The inclusion of these two pieces was entirely appropriate seeing how influential he was in the translation of consumerism to pop art (and later, vice versa). Nearby was a series of line drawings by Rachel Perry Welty, which turned out to not be line drawings at all, but rather razor-thin cut fruit stickers and barcodes arranged in round, organic shapes on paper. On the opposite wall hung Andrew Wilkinson’s piece, ‘MY GOD IT’S GOOD,’ a wry parody of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper that consisted of Pillsbury Doughboys feasting on fast food and Coca Cola.

Consumed is a refreshing look at art, money, and the modern day interpretation of both. The show is currently on view and will run until February 27th.

For more information, please visit

**Images courtesy of Arts Council of Princeton**

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hard Work Pays Off

By Maureen C. Petrosky

I receive, on average, three phone calls/texts a week from family, friends, and colleagues who find themselves in a wine shop with a question. Last Friday night after exiting the movie theatre and turning my phone back on, the incessant buzzing erupted as if there was a true emergency. Upon retrieving messages I found not one, not two, but four messages in regard to the above-mentioned quandary. I am honored to be the “go to wine girl,” especially when those messages are coming from celebrity decorators, TV hosts, and members of a certain family whose compound you’re familiar with. To them I say- Sorry I missed your calls. I have no excuse other than I was watching Alvin and the Chipmunks-the Squeakquel.

Yes, your wine girl was taking the night off. It’s fun to take a break from the serious side of work and just kick back as if nothing matters but you and your popcorn. While I don’t highly recommend sitting through this particular film, I do recommend you take a time- out. I know many of you work 24-7, but the truth is you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, so take time to stop and smell the rose wines today. With the new year comes promise of new adventures and new experiences. So don’t let another one pass you by. Take that road trip to the North Fork you’ve always thought about, or head to Napa for a long girls’ weekend. If you’re looking for adventure close to home, wine is just the thing. Splurge on something you normally wouldn’t at the wine shop, or next time you’re out to dinner, order a bottle from the Reserve or Library List. A Grand Cru may cost you upwards of $100 a bottle, but you get to taste luxury. Besides, what is it you’re working so hard for anyway? Go ahead, indulge. You deserve it.

One to Splurge on: Tenuta di Biserno, Il Pino, 2005, Tuscany, Italy, $65 This is what they call a Super Tuscan, an Italian wine that doesn’t follow the typical blending rules. In this case, they are using some Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

This is like a giant mouthful of rubies and garnets. This is luxury in a glass. If I could I would wear this wine on the red carpet. Stunning, and suitable for when you feel like you could use a little pampering. This sip is all about balance. From first glance to the final sip she’s worth every penny, and will leave you feeling like a million bucks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nice and Easy Does It

By Brianne Harrison

After a full day of work and an hour at the gym, what I want for dinner is something fast, healthy, and satisfying. With that in mind, I opened the fridge last night and contemplated my options. The pork chops weren’t completely thawed yet, so I went to plan b: leftover roast chicken.

Protein decided, I reached for one of my favorite, most versatile pantry staples: whole-wheat pasta. A few leaves of fresh spinach, a lemon, and some capers rounded out the dish, which was done in less than 15 minutes with little fuss and very little mess to clean up. Want to try it out? Here’s the recipe:

Weeknight Pasta
Serves 2

1 C cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 C fresh spinach (or ¼ cup cooked or frozen. If frozen, thaw before cooking).
Juice of ½ lemon
1 to 1 ½ tsp capers
½ lb whole wheat pasta of your choice (I used regular spaghetti)

Boil pasta according to package instructions and drain.

While pasta is boiling, add about 1 tsp olive oil to a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the olive oil is warm, add the spinach and chicken and sauté for about 2 min, until spinach is wilted and chicken warmed through.

Add the lemon juice and capers to the spinach and chicken. Saute for another 30 seconds or so. Taste, and add a bit of salt if the dish needs seasoning (it might not, since capers tend to be a bit salty). Keeping the skillet over medium heat, add the drained pasta and toss over heat for another 30 seconds.

Weeknight pasta with chicken? Done.

Healthy Roundup: Lean meat? Check. Whole grains? Check. Leafy green? Check.
Plus: Capers contain Quercetin, a plant-derived flavonoid which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Spinach is high in vitamins A (which is an antioxidant that can help protect your heart) and K (which helps prevent osteoporosis), as well as manganese and folate, while remaining low in calories. Spinach also has at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that function as antioxidants and have cancer-fighting properties. Olive oil can help protect you against heart disease and certain cancers. Lemons, naturally, are high in vitamin C, an immune system booster—not a bad thing to have during flu season!

Local Harvest

By Brianne Harrison

In last week’s blog, I mentioned the 2nd Annual Local Harvest: Farms, Food, & Family, but considering the growth in interest in sustainability and eating local, I think it deserves a bit more attention.

Local Harvest is being hosted by Slow Food Northern NJ in partnership with the Morris County Park Commission. From Noon to 4 p.m. on January 16, you can meet local farmers and food artisans, shop for some delicious pantry staples or intriguing new additions, and learn more about sustainable farming and local CSAs.

Help yourself to grass-fed beef and pork from Plaid Piper Farm in Branchville; artisan cheeses and breads from Bob-O-Link Dairy & Bakeyard, Appleridge Farm, and Valley Shepherd Creamery; organic teas from Ducky Life Tea; and organic handcrafted herbal aromatherapy products from Degage Gardens. Plus, you can bone up on your history with the Morris County Historical Society and Fosterfields Living Historical Farm. If you’re really dedicated to supporting local agriculture, you can purchase seasonal farm shares at Genesis Farm and Rogowski Farm.

New Jersey is one of the most densely populated states in the country, and its farms are disappearing fast. This is your chance to sample and support some of the best the Garden State has to offer and help ensure it’s still around for future generations to enjoy as well.

For more information, visit

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ready, Set, Go…To Winter Restaurant Week

By Pat Tanner

Restaurant weeks lure us in with what appear to be terrific opportunities to try out new spots. Sure, seats fill up in the blink of an eye at the big-name venues and yes, some restaurateurs dumb down their offerings, turning what should be a bargain into disappointment and resentment.

My experience is that these downsides are more likely to occur in major cities like New York. Here in Jersey, I have enjoyed first-rate dining experiences and have had a much easier time getting tables at my favorite places (and without playing on my name, btw). My advice? Rather than choose a restaurant you haven’t been to – even if it’s one you’ve been longing to try – stick with restaurants you know and like. And make reservations now.

Below is the scoop on several upcoming restaurant weeks. I’ve noted my favorite participants in each. Admittedly, the last entry is in Philadelphia – a major city – but the geographic scope is limited. Plus, it happens to feature some of my favorite spots.

Note that prices do not include beverages, gratuity, and tax.

Montclair Restaurant Week
Runs: Two weeks, from January 25 through February 7
Restaurants: 36
Offers: Fixed price dinners at $31, $1 of which is donated to local food charities
Best Bets: Either of Zod Arifai’s restaurants, Blu or his more casual Next Door;
CulinAriane, hotter than ever since Ariane Duarte’s star turn on Top Chef
Info at: (click on Restaurant Week icon)

Hudson Restaurant Week
Runs: February 1 through February 12
Restaurants: 31
Offers: Not yet specified, but you can sign up for email notification
Best Bets: From A to Z: the always pleasing Amanda’s and Zylo, the Tuscan
steakhouse at the W Hotel, both in Hoboken
Info at:

Atlantic City Restaurant Week
Runs: February 28 through March 6
Restaurants: 70, both casinos and independents, inside and outside the city
Offers: 3 course lunch: $15.10; 3 course dinner: $33.10 (some offer only one)
Best Bets: Izakaya and SeaBlue in the casinos; Tomatoes and Steve & Cookies in
Info at:

Center City Restaurant Week
Runs: Two weeks, January 17 through 22 and January 24 through 29
Restaurants: 119
Offers: 3 course lunch: $20; 3 course dinner: $35 (some offer only one)
Best Bets: Again A to Z: Amada (and other Jose Garces properties) and Zahav; not to
mention Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts and Le Bec-Fin
Info at: (click on Restaurant Week icon)