Tag Archives: Canal House

Brooklyn Comes to Princeton; Best Coffee Houses in NJ

Frankies Spuntino @ Whole Foods Princeton for a Good Cause

So how often do I make it to Brooklyn to dine? Try almost never. So when I heard that The Franks – Frank Falcinelli & Frank Castronovo – from Frankies Spuntino were cooking a meal at my local Whole Foods to raise funds for the Whole Planet Foundation, I jumped at the chance. I knew I was in for a great meal, and that happened. But the evening came with several unexpected bonuses.

Courtesy Whole Foods Princeton

Courtesy Whole Foods Princeton

Among the surprises? That the evening’s 5-course menu was Sicilian from top to bottom, that assisting The Franks was their director of operations who turned out to be a longtime chef at Princeton’s Nassau Inn (and an old friend), and that the 24 guests included luminaries from the current Princeton-area restaurant scene AND  a 13-year-old whom I predict will someday be a noted restaurant critic.

Frank Falcinelli & Frank Castronovo @ Whole Foods Princeton

Frank Falcinelli & Frank Castronovo @ Whole Foods Princeton

CrudoBeetThe Franks led off with these two light courses: fluke crudo with Sicilian sette anni peppers & pistachio, and blood orange segments with 1 sunburst of a golden beet topped with shards of caciocavallo. The unbilled star of both dishes was the zingy, deep green Sicilian extra virgin olive oil (made from nocellara del belice olives) that Frankies imports and which Whole Foods carries. The can made for a gorgeous centerpiece:

TulipsThese dishes were followed by a pasta course. Not just any pasta: fettuccine with jumbo lump crabmeat in ricci de mare sauce. For the uninitiated, that’s sea urchin. This dish had the evening’s 24 guests unabashedly going back for seconds.

Frankies Spuntino Pasta & Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Ricci di Mare Sauce

Frankies Spuntino Pasta & Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, Ricci di Mare Sauce

Among those who named it as their favorite of the night was Shaun Orssaud, age 13, who came from Moorestown with his mother, Lisa.

Budding restaurant critic?

Budding restaurant critic?

Perhaps Mr. Orssaud owes his sophisticated palate  to the fact that he was born in France and lived there until he was 6.

Ribeye with Catanese Olivd Relish, Frankies 457 @ Whole Foods Princeton

Ribeye with Catanese Olive Relish, Frankies 457 @ Whole Foods Princeton

The centerpiece of the meal was this amazing slow-roasted ribeye. It was served with Ca’ Di Ponti Barbera, 1 of 3 wines poured.

Josh Thomsen, Chris Harkness, Jim Nawn

Josh Thomsen, Chris Harkness, Jim Nawn

Seated in this photo are Josh Thomsen, executive chef at Agricola in Princeton, and its owner Jim Nawn. (Sitting across from them, not pictured, were Lambertville’s famed Canal House duo, Christopher Hersheimer & Melissa Hamilton. As I said, even the guest list was star-studded!) Serving the 2 men is Chris Harkness, who I knew years ago when he was chef at the Nassau Inn, and who has been working with The Franks for years now. The photo below shows those 3 plus Scott Allshouse, president of Whole Foods’ Mid-Atlantic region.

??????????Proceeds from the dinner went to the Whole Planet Foundation. Maybe I’ve been under a rock, but up until now I’ve been oblivious to the good work this organization is doing. Through its mission to alleviate poverty by providing micro-loans, it has assisted 875,158 women entrepreneurs in 61 countries (89% go to women) with $62 million in credit. To talk about Whole Foods’ charity work was an unexpected star of the evening – Michelle Mac Arthur:

Michelle MacArthurMs. Mac Arthur has been a part-time cashier at the Princeton store for only six months, but during the last holiday season she single-handedly brought in $8,000 for another Whole Foods initiative, Feed4More. By asking customers to donate $10 (or any amount) at checkout, she alone beat out 13 other Whole Foods stores in the region! She’s standing in front of an end display featuring, among other things, Frankies olive oil and the Frankies Spuntino cookbook.

New Jersey Monthly Features Best Coffee Houses from High Point to Cape May

NJ Monthly cover April 2015See if your favorites made the cut in this April 2015 cover story. I contributed these 6 from Central NJ that the powers-that-be deemed among the best:

Buck’s Ice Cream & Espresso, Lambertville
Grovers Mill, West Windsor
Infini-T Cafe, Princeton
Lambertville Trading Co., Lambertville
Rojo’s Roastery, Lambertville & Princeton
Small World, Princeton

Clearly it was a tough assignment, drinking all those wonderful brews. But two in particular linger in my memory: the sidecar at Rojo’s espresso bar in Princeton, which are tandem, half-size espresso and cappuccino ($4) and a small pour-over of Crispy Hippie Dark Roast at Small World ($3.25).

 

 

 

 

 

The Man Behind Agricola; Big Wins for 2 NJ Cookbooks & Kids’ Cooking Magazine

Meet Jim Nawn, who traded in his holdings in 37 Panera Bread cafes in NJ to establish Agricola, the state’s hottest new restaurant – and hired a French Laundry alum for the kitchen and an artist who worked on Cristo’s “The Gates” to manage his farm, which supplies the farm-to-table restaurant. All in my May 1st cover story for US 1.US 1 Agricola

Maricel Presilla & the Canal House Gals Win Big at Beard Book Awards

Once again, congratulations are in order, big time. beard award image

Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America took top honors – Cookbook of the Year – at the 2013 James Beard Book Awards, held on Friday, May 3rd. This comes on top of the also prestigious IACP award for best general cookbook.

The latest in Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hersheimer’s Canal House series, Canal House Cooks Every Day won in the General Cooking category.

The 2013 restaurant and chef award winners will be announced on Monday night, May 6th. Last year Maricel Presilla won in the Mid-Atlantic category. Sadly, no NJ chefs are in the running this year.

In the journalism category, the publication of the ChopChop Magazineyear is ChopChop, a cooking magazine for kids. The only tie it has to the Garden State (as far as I know) is that I gave 2 subscriptions as Christmas gifts last year. I highly recommend it!

For the complete list of 2013 Beard Book, Journalism & Broadcast Award winners, click here.

All Good Stuff: Cardoon; Next Generation NJ Farmers; Sinskey Wine AND Food in NJ; Free Eats & Drink at Canal House

Do You Know Cardoon?

This hard-to-find member of the artichoke family (also called cardi or cardone) was a cherished part of my Italian-American childhood. Read how I found a local source for it – and recreated my father’s long-lost recipe – in my latest column in the Princeton Packet.

A Literal Grassroots Campaign

State fruit - Tomato

State fruit – Tomato (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People like you and me can put our money where our mouths are (literally) by contributing to a genius Kickstarter project of NOFA-NJ. The NOFA Beginning Farmer Incubator helps secure that down the line we will have more local, organic products than ever in our markets. Even a small contribution goes a long way toward making that happen!

Robert Sinskey Wines & Maria Sinskey at CulinAriane

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

You’re probably familiar with the acclaimed biodynamic wines of Robert Sinksey Vineyards, but unless you’ve visited the gorgeous Napa winery you may not know that his wife, Maria, is a terrific chef and cookbook author (The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons). So when Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino announced a five-course dinner in Montclair on November 7  by Ariane Duarte of CulinAriane featuring Sinskey wines and Maria as special guest, it’s no wonder it sold out within minutes.

Naturally, I wouldn’t be telling you this unless there was hope that you could sign up. Sharon, Ariane, and Maria have changed the original time to allow for a  second seating. The first is now scheduled for 6 pm; the second at 8:30. Since some guests switched to the latter, a few seats are up for grabs at both. For menu, prices, reservations, and other details, click here.

Open House Celebration at Canal House Cooking DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY THIS EVENT HAS BEEN RESCHEDULED FOR SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18 FROM NOON TO 4 PM

To celebrate the publication of what Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hersheimer are calling their Big Red Book, they are opening their gorgeous second-story studio along the canal in Lambertville on Sunday, November 4 from noon to 4 pm. “Come by for a nibble and a liquid refreshment,
and buy a signed copy (or a pile of them as holiday gifts),” the invitation reads. The book, just out, is Canal House Cooks Every Day. Its 250 new recipes and 130 photographs have garnered accolades from everyone from Lidia Bastianich and Christopher Kimball to Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Canal House is at 6 Coryell Street, Studio B. If you think you might be able to make it, rsvp to mail@thecanalhouse.com so they can have plenty of bubbles on ice. Tell them Pat sent you.