Tag Archives: Steve Distler

Chefs Team Up with Griggstown Farm; Mistral Opens in King of Prussia; Where to Dine on Excellent Ramen & Breast of Veal, Finding Nectar on a Human Scale

Talk about a mixed bag! Today’s post runs the gamut from coq au vin and crispy pork riblets to authentic ramen and hard-to-come-by Italian-style breast of veal. Oh yes: and how you can experience collecting nectar like a bee.

Inaugural Video of Griggstown Farm Chicken Channel Features Chef Chris Albrecht of the Ryland Inn


Coq au Vin, Griggstown Chicken Channel


Chris Albrecht & George Rude, Sr., Griggstown Chicken Channel






The folks who raise Griggstown’s chickens and other premium, all-natural birds have launched a YouTube channel that has New Jersey’s top chefs demonstrating how to put those birds to excellent use, and pairs each video with related special offers. I sat in on the first taping and got the behind-the-scenes scoop while Albrecht demonstrated making coq au vin. My full report here, in the March issue of The Princeton Echo.

A Second Mistral Opens in Newly Expanded King of Prussia Mall

The folks behind Princeton’s popular Elements and Mistral restaurants – Steve Distler & Scott Anderson – opened their second Mistral on March 1st, across the river in Pennsylvania. As I reported a  few months back, chef de cuisine for this newly constructed space is Craig Polignano, who left the Ryland Inn (and moved to Conshohoken) to take the post.

The bright and airy restaurant is larger than its older sibling – 111 seats inside and  48 outside – but just as stylish, although with a different aesthetic, dominated by pale, whitewashed wood tones accented with bright azure.

Below are highlights from my first meal there. Three of us shared seven dishes, each so impressive that it was hard to pick favorites. The menu structure is mostly small plates (like its Princeton forebear), but the selections are unique to KOP. If you go: locating the restaurant is tricky. It’s next to Nieman Marcus. Look for the sign for Grand Lux Cafe – Mistral is below.


Pork Riblets w/scallion pancake, shiitake, English cucumber – Mistral KOP


Ricotta Cavatelli w/roasted squash, capers, pecorino tartufo, & yolk – Mistral KOP









Olive Oil-Poached Organic Salmon w/onion, baby beet, mustard, buttermilk – Mistral KOP







Food for Thought logo

My Food for Thought column in March’s Princeton Echo is chock-full of happy finds, including:
A don’t-miss, 3-course ramen meal prepared by an expert is coming up for one night only inside Princeton’s Nomad Pizza restaurant. Here are pics from a previous one:


Frank Caponi’s Mushroom Ramen



Frank Caponi’s Chasu Ramen






A Central Jersey Italian restaurant offering roast breast of veal that beats my own mother’s version. Here’s a pic from the meal that won me over:


Breast of Veal, Chick & Nello’s Homestead Inn

Think you know all about how bees gather nectar? I guarantee you’ll be gobsmacked by what you didn’t know at this small but captivating display in Ewing at The College of New Jersey.


Jessica Rath, Resonant Nest, Photo by Brian Forest

All details here.


Princeton Restaurant Veterans Spread Their Wings; Lillipies Opening @ Princeton Shopping Center; Update on EDDY Awards Voting

New Restaurants from Familiar Names & Faces in Union, Asbury Park, & King of Prussia Mall

Jamie Dodge, Beverage Manager at Barrio Costero puts a finishing touch on his Hotel Nacional cocktail

Jamie Dodge, Beverage Manager at Barrio Costero, puts a finishing touch on his Hotel Nacional cocktail

Here in my June “Food for Thought” column in the Princeton Echo I have the scoop on the latest projects & whereabouts of folks like Jamie Dodge (formerly of Elements & Mistral), Derek Brousseau (One53 & Mistral), David Viana (Kitchen @ Grove Station & Battello), Carlo & Raoul Momo (Terra Momo Restaurant Group), and Scott Anderson & Steve Distler (Elements & Mistral).

Jen Carson Shares Plans for the June Opening of Lillipies, Her Bakery-Cafe on North Harrison Street

Jen Carson, Lillipies, courtesy The Princeton Echo

Jen Carson, Lillipies, courtesy The Princeton Echo

Besides the sweet and savory baked goods that have earned her a large following, Carson’s first brick-and-mortar spot will offer scratch-made soups, sandwiches, coffee, ice cream, and live entertainment. Details here, in my June feature story in the Echo.

There’s still time to vote for my EDDY-nominated story, “The First Ladies of Cape May!”

Dot Thompson & Lucille Burton. Photo by Aleksey Moryakov

Dot Thompson & Lucille Burton. Photo by Aleksey Moryakov

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am honored that my story from Edible Jersey is 1 of 5 nominees in the Chef Feature category of the EDDYs: the national writing awards of the 90 Edible Communities magazines. You can cast one vote a day every day from now through Wednesday, June 8th by clicking here. (As of this writing, my story had accumulated 66% of the votes!!!)

All-Princeton: Review of Scott Anderson’s Mistral; Savory Spice Shop Sweeps Salsa Slam


So, was I blown away by Mistral, the self-proclaimed “breath of fresh air in Princeton?” Does it stack up to Elements, the first and highly acclaimed restaurant by the same team of Scott Anderson and Steve Distler? And can its chef, Napa Valley import Ben Nerenhausen, make it here on the East Coast? In Jersey? With Princetonians?  All and more are elucidated in the September issue of New Jersey Monthly. NJ Monthly Sept 13

Salsa Slam 2013

Salsa Contest 018
Salsa Contest 003

For the second year in a row, I was delighted to be a judge at the Princeton Library‘s Annual Salsa Slam, which involves both the condiment (that’s where I came in) and the dance. Congrats to first place winner Savory Spice shop, with its sweet-hot mix of Asian pear, mango, and chile pepper. Close behind were Masala Grill and Mediterra from a field of 10 Princeton-area businesses. Masala Grill’s pureed salsa containing green chiles, fenugreek, and cinnamon (as well as other ingredients) also took the People’s Choice Award. Fellow judge and food writer Sue Gordon writes it up and shares photos here in the Examiner.

Fancy Food Show Report, Orange Soda BBQ Sauce Recipe, Breaking Restaurant News

My annual round-up of the best and the brightest at the Summer Fancy Food Show is out – check it out here in the July 3 issue of US 1 newspaper. Bonus: one additional find I don’t mention in my story:

Jansal Valley Basil Crystals, basically bits of shelf-stable fresh basil mixed with sugar. Interesting, to say the least, and the flavor of fresh basil really shines through. I came across it at the Sid Wainer booth, but it does not appear to be available online yet.

You Asked for It: Orange Soda BBQ Sauce Recipe Redux

I’ve been getting lots of requests for the recipe for Grilled Chicken with Orange Soda BBQ Sauce that was featured in my Princeton Packet column for Father’s Day. I linked to it in a previous post, but the article is no longer free at centraljersey.com so I’m reprinting it here – just in time for your Fourth of July cookout.

Don’t let the seemingly long list of ingredients fool you. It couldn’t be simpler: Basically, you combine all the dry rub ingredients in a bag and all the bbq sauce ingredients in a saucepan. That’s it. You could even omit the spicy rub and use only the sauce.

The recipe is the creation of Chef Jeremy Stahl,  who teaches for-credit and non-credit culinary classes at Mercer County College. This recipe is just one of several he’ll feature in the class he’ll conduct on July 21st called Great American Summer.


Two 2-1/2 pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
For the BBQ rub:
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated garlic
3 tablespoons granulated onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground ginger
For the orange soda BBQ sauce:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
One 12-ounce can orange soda
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup molasses
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika

1. Make the BBQ rub by placing all ingredients in a bowl and mixing them together well. Store in a sealed plastic container until ready to use. (Can be made well in advance.)
2. Make the BBQ sauce by combining all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heating to just a simmer. Allow to cool, cover pan, and set aside or refrigerate.
3. The morning of the day you’ll be grilling, rub the chickens with the BBQ rub and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook.
4. Preheat the grill to medium heat (325 to 350 degrees). Divide the BBQ sauce between two bowls.
5. Place the chicken on the grill rack as high above the flame as possible to minimize flare-ups and charring. Cook chicken with the lid down. Total cooking time should be between 30 and 35 minutes. During the final 10 minutes, brush the chicken with some of the BBQ sauce. The chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Serve chicken with the remaining bowl of BBQ sauce on the side.

Breaking News: Mistral in Princeton

Scott Anderson and Steve Distler, the fellows behind Elements in Princeton – one of the state’s top-rated restaurants – have announced that they have a new collaboration in the works. Mistral will open in Princeton this September, in  the space that for many years had been Ichiban.