Tag Archives: US 1 newspaper

Some Thoughts on the Art of Restaurant Reviewing

Chamber of Commerce talk

Photo courtesy Barbara Figge Fox. On left: Barbara Figge Fox & Rich Rein, both of US 1 newspaper

Last week I spoke on this subject to members of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce – and had a ball. In the audience was Rich Rein of US 1 newspaper and Community News Service, who was my editor and my patron for many years. Here in the February 21st issue of US 1, he provides a very nice, thoughtful recap of my talk, for which I am very grateful.



Hungry? (A) Join Me at Lawrenceville’s Premier Tasting Event & (B) Read My Story of 3 Central NJ Restaurants that are 3 Generations Strong

It Really Does Take a Village

Lawrenceville night in the village

In my neck of the woods, Princeton gets all the restaurant glory. But these days I’m enamored of my (new) home base of Lawrenceville. So I was honored when the local non-profit, Lawrenceville Main Street, asked me to be part of its premier annual event, A Night in the Village, which is happening this coming Sunday, October 1st. The weather forecast is for a beautiful fall day and evening, so if you don’t have dinner plans, please meet up with me and a few hundred other locals as we restaurant-hop through 11 outstanding eateries for tastings of food and beer, first at 4:30 and then again at 6:30 pm. All the details here.

We’ll also be reporting live on facebook and twitter during the event!

They’ve Been Going Strong in the Same Location and with the Same Families Behind Them Since the 1930s. Three Restaurants that Have Stood the Test of Time

9-27 Cover & Front (1-9).indd

What is the magic that allows a restaurant to weather- even thrive despite – economic depressions, world wars, and ever-changing cultural and dining norms? I interviewed the folks behind Conte’s in Princeton, Chick & Nello’s Homestead in Hamilton, and Freddie’s Tavern in Ewing to find out. I guarantee that their answers, here in the September 27 issue of U.S. 1,will surprise you.

From Dishwasher to Exec Chef; Upcoming Events: 1 on Nature & Creativity & the other, Halloween Fun; News re Brick Farm Tavern & First Field Ketchup

3 Princeton Area Chefs Tell Their Stories of Working Their Way from the Bottom Rung to the Top of the Restaurant Kitchen Ladder


For the 2016 Harvest Dining issue of US 1, I approached executive chefs at 3 of the Princeton area’s most popular and revered food establishments for the stories of how they navigated their way from the lowest to the top position. That all 3 are Hispanic immigrants with no English at the start speaks volumes. (Donald T***p please take note.) Read about the journeys of Juan Mercado of One53, Jose Lopez of Nassau Street Seafood, and Edgar Urias of Blue Point Grill here.


Nature-as-Muse Workshops at Princeton’s Mountain Lakes Preserve Feature Successful Perfumer, Food Artisan, Graphic Designer, and Poet


Gab Carbone of the Bent Spoon, Courtesy Princeton Echo

The bad news is that this series of October workshops mounted by Friends of Princeton Open Space is sold out. The good news is there probably will be more to come. So if you’re interested in upping your creativity quotient, check out this unique series of open-air walks and a related workshop. Each is led by a different successful professional on four consecutive Sundays: a perfumer from Firmenich (scent), an independent graphic designer (color), a poet (words), and the inimitable Gab Carbone of the Bent Spoon ice cream shop (flavor).

I share all the fascinating details here, in the October issue of the Princeton Echo. Bonus: Get to know Princeton mover-and-shaker Fran McManus, the genius behind the workshops.

Halloween Fun for Grown-ups and New Milestones for Brick Farm Tavern and First Field (the NJ Ketchup Folks)

Food for Thought logoCheck out my “Food for Thought” column in October’s Princeton Echo for details on:

  • Tre Piani & Planet Apothecary teaming up for their Witches & Warlocks Ball
  •  Menu details for the upcoming (and already sold out) dinner at the Beard House by Brick Farm Tavern Chef Greg Vassos on October 22
  • The newest product from the First Field Jersey Ketchup folks which surprised even owners Theresa Viggiano & Patrick Leger in its popularity. (Hint: it’s not ketchup)

Top NJ Taprooms; Princeton’s Largest Restaurant Dynasty (It’s Not Who You Think);Central NJ Food News Galore

NJ Monthly’s March Issue Devoted to Beer in the Garden State

NJ Monthly cover Mar16
Among its finds are 15 hot new taprooms. In it, I turn the spotlight on:

Brickwall Tavern, Burlington. The folks behind Brickwall in Asbury Park (and Porta Pizza and Pascal & Sabine) have breathed new life into downtown Burlington. THIS JUST IN: Brickwall’s new downstairs dining room is having its unveiling this coming Wednesday, 3/9, at 5pm. Full raw bar, cask ale on tap, etc.
BLEND Bar & Bistro, Hamilton. From the same family behind the ever popular Brothers Pizza right next door, as well as the Central Jersey Beer Festival.
World of Beer, New Brunswick. Rapidly growing franchise (about to expand to Hoboken, btw), offering 50 drafts and 600 bottles.

Read the full descriptions of these and 35 other NJ taprooms here.

Princeton’s Largest Restaurant Dynasty? With 9 Eateries and Counting, it’s….

3-2 Cover & Front (1-7).indd
…not who you might expect. As I write in the March 2nd issue of US 1, “The Princeton area boasts its fair share of food and restaurant dynasties, among them Jack Morrison’s JM Group (Blue Point Grill, Witherspoon Grill, Nassau Street Seafood); Raoul and Carlo Momo’s Terra Momo (Mediterra, Eno Terra, Teresa Caffe, Terra Momo Bread, Terra Libri); and Jim Nawn’s Fenwick Hospitality Group, which in addition to Agricola and the acquisition last month of Main Street’s European Bistro & Bar and its cafe in its Kingston [see more in next entry], has partnered with Princeton University to develop a bar and a bistro in two former Dinky train station buildings as part of the university’s ongoing arts and transit project.”

Meet the team behind Gretalia, which has them all beat, here in my cover story for the March 2nd issue of US 1.

The Times They Sure Are A Changin’

Echo March 2016 Cover

In my latest “Food for Thought” column in the March Princeton Echo I report on: the acquisition of longtime Princeton fave Main Street by the folks behind Agricola; the details behind Bucks County high-end caterer Max Hansen developing a large, swanky catering venue in a farmhouse in Hopewell; and the imminent opening of a specialty grocery in the village of Lawrenceville.


US 1Fall Dining Issue; Double Brook Farm’s Kinder, Gentler Slaughter Facility; Slow Food & Chef Todd Villani Team Up

6 Transformed and/or Transformative Central NJ Restaurants

Chris Bryan, Liberty Hall Pizza. Photo by Guy Ambrosino

Chris Bryan, Liberty Hall Pizza. Photo by Guy Ambrosino

In this year’s fall dining issue of US 1 I turn the spotlight on new or newly transformed eateries that have bravely planted their flags in towns either not known as dining hubs (hello, Hightstown) or that once were hubs but have lost a step or two (apologies, New Brunswick). Here’s the story, in the September 23rd issue. Other locales include Lambertville (photo above), West Windsor, Stockton, and Trenton.

Robin & Jon McConaughy Add a USDA-Inspected Slaughter Facility to Double Brook Farm, For “A Kinder Kill”

NJ Monthly cover sept 2015Read why the couple is committed to providing a compassionate end for their pasture-raised animals, and how the design of their abattoir was influenced by Temple Grandin, here in my story in the September issue of New Jersey Monthly.


Chef Todd Villani & Slow Food NNJ Team Up to Benefit School & Community Gardens

Todd Villani, Terre e Terre (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Todd Villani, Terre e Terre (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Villani’s Carlstadt restaurant, Terre e Terre, is a fitting site for this farm-to-table, 4-course benefit dinner. In her NY Times review, Fran Schumer wrote that Villani “prepares some of the best locally sourced New American dishes in New Jersey.” (I tagged his smoked Berkshire pork loin “perfect” when I reviewed his previous work for a Union City restaurant.)

On Thursday, October 8 at 7 pm, Villani will offer the following menu, at $80 for Slow Food members and $85 for everyone else. The price includes tax and tip. Be sure to BYO wine and beer.

Amuse: Shibumi Farm deviled mushroom stuffed with truffle/duck/thyme

First Course: Fire-roasted butternut squash soup/crispy farro/sage

Second Course: Sockeye salmon/cauliflower puree/bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts/charred chive and caper vinaigrette

Third Course: Slow and low-braised short ribs/goat cheese potato gratin/ sauteed greens/cipollini onions

Dessert: Apple croissant bread pudding/cinnamon gelato

Seating is limited and tickets must be bought in advance by Sept. 30 at Slow Food NNJ’s website, www.slowfoodnnj.org

And just because it bears repeating, here is the explanation of Slow Food’s mission of good, clean, and fair food for all:

Good: Our food should be tasty, seasonal, local, fresh, and wholesome
Clean: Our food should be produced in ways that preserve biodiversity, sustain the environment, and ensure animal welfare – without harming human health
Fair: Our food should be affordable by all, while respecting the dignity of labor from field to fork.

Fine Dining in Point Pleasant; Big Doings @ Great Road Farm; Join Me @ Salsa Slam 2015

Fine-Dining in Point Pleasant Beach

There comes a time when even the most devoted sun worshiper or boardwalk fan relishes a chef-made meal in a civilized, air-conditioned setting. In the High Summer issue of Edible Jersey I profile three possibilities:

Edible Jersey high summer 2015Daniel’s BistroThe Picard family resurrected their popular restaurant after it and their home were devastated by Superstorm Sandy
Poached Pear. This first solo restaurant of Scott Giordano (last of Whispers in Spring Lake) was just this week named among the top 25 restaurants in the state by New Jersey Monthly
Shipwreck Point. Readers of NJ Monthly designated it the best steakhouse in South Jersey

Great Road Farm: Big Plans Underway for the Farm that Feeds Agricola

Tomlinson Family. Photo courtesy US 1 Newspaper

Tomlinson Family. Photo courtesy US 1 Newspaper

I sat down with Farmer Steve Tomlinson and Jim Nawn, owner of both Great Road Farm in Skillman farm and Agricola, the Princeton restaurant it supplies, to talk about their latest plans and accomplishments. Foremost among them is the Food Barn project, well underway, that will feature its own kitchen and chef and will be the site of on-farm dinners, demos, and other events. I spill the beans here in the July 8 issue of US 1.

Judging Salsa (the Condiment) in Princeton

As I have for the past three years, I will be on the panel of judges in the Princeton Library‘s annual fun event, which crowns the local eatery with the best salsa. There’s a People’s Choice winner, too, so come on down this Wednesday night to sample the salsas and vote for your favorite. While you’re there, stop by the judge’s table to say hello – and not just to me, but to the star judge: Gab Carbone of the Bent Spoon, who won the first Salsa Slam.

Salsa Slam 2015 Flyer

Review: Amuse, Westfield; Round-up: Hot Dogs in Central NJ

Engaged Couple, Alumni of Chez Catherine, Open Modern French Bistro Across Town

C.J. Reycraft and Julianne Hodges aim to entice regulars to dine at Amuse, their relaxed BYOB, once a week. Will they succeed? Here’s my take on their new Westfield restaurant in the July issue of NJ Monthly.

NJ Monthly cover July14

Just in Time for Summer! Where to Find the Best Franks from New Brunswick to New Hope

Admittedly, the central part of our state is not exactly a hot spot for hot dogs. (Jimmy Buff’s, why have you forsaken me?) Or is it? My recent survey of eateries specializing in this American icon turned up some delicious surprises, including:

– 2 stands that share a hot dog heritage dating back to the same beloved vendor and his 1950s cart

– a cool, full-service, bona fide, liquor-license-carrying restaurant in New Brunswick that specializes in every form of “encased meat.” So successful, its 2nd location is opening in Atlantic City this Fourth of July weekend. (Congrats to you, Destination Dogs.)

– several eateries that specialize in Trenton-style Italian hot dogs (I repeat: Jimmy Buff’s, why have you forsaken me?)

– Filipino-style dogs. A neon-red breakfast staple – and as beloved in the Philippines as they are here

– An open-air stand at a sleepy country crossroads that causes traffic mayhem on summer weekends

Relish all the details – complete with hotlinks to 7 hot-link emporia – here, in the July 2 issue of US 1.



Yet More Restaurants: Ricky’s Thai, Skillman; FunniBonz BBQ Smokehouse, Robbinsville; Szechuan House, Hamilton; Peony Pavilion, West Windsor; Cafe Vienna, Princeton

What I stated in my previous post holds true: I am still playing catch-up since my daughter’s wedding, and I continue to burst out in restaurant-related print. Here’s the next batch. I am still not current. Consider yourself warned.

Ricky’s Thai, Skillman

Heaven knows, there’s a dearth of good Thai restaurants in the Princeton area. Check out my review of newbie Ricky’s Thai, from the May issue of the Montgomery News.

Spicy duck

FunniBonz BBQ Smokehouse

Jim Barbour, the originator of the highly successful line of FunniBonz barbecue sauces, opened his first restaurant, the small, casual storefront FunniBonz BBQ Smokehouse in Robbinsville, in December 2013.

Courtesy Community News Service

Courtesy Community News Service

I recently sat down with him over lunch to get the scoop. Midway through our chat, he confessed that he had revealed things about himself that he’s never spoken of in public before. That includes his goal of turning FunniBonz into the Chipotle of fast-casual barbecue chains. My profile of Barbour-the-entrepreneur and Barbour-the-man is here, in the May issue of the Robbinsville Advance. In a subsequent post I’ll report on my lunch at FunniBonz. (Spoiler alert: I thought it was terrific.)

Lisa Shao of Szechuan House, Hamilton & Peony Pavilion, West Windsor

Assorted dim sum, Peony Pavilion

Assorted dim sum, Peony Pavilion

I’ve previously posted about Peony Pavilion, Shao’s Asian fusion restaurant that opened late last year on Farber Road, just off Route 1: reviewing it for the Montgomery News & blogging here about a dim sum lunch I later enjoyed. And I’ve long been a fan of the traditional Szechuan House on Nottingham Way, which Shao took over in 2010.

4-30 Cover & Front (1-8).indd

So for the cover story of the 2014 US 1 Spring Dining issue (above), I wanted to learn what makes this 44-year-old dynamo tick. Over lunch with Shao at Szechuan House I discovered how her love of the fine and performing arts led to her path as restaurateur. (I’ll report on that lunch in a subsequent post, too.)

Cafe Vienna, Princeton

Although there are already several fine coffeehouses downtown – Small World and Rojo’s to name just two – Cafe Vienna, which opened on April 26, sets itself apart by offering the beverages and sweet treats of a traditional Wiener Kaffehaus, including Sacher torte. It comes by them honestly: proprietor Anita Waldenberger is an Austrian native and many of the recipes are old family recipes.

Cafe Vienna, Princeton

Cafe Vienna, Princeton

I did a quick reconnoiter on Thursday afternoon. Sitting out on Nassau Street during the balmy post-deluge weather, my Jause for Kaffee und Kutchen consisted of a fine apple strudel and cafe mocha (hot chocolate with a shot of espresso). Clearly, more research is warranted.



Gift Ideas from 6 Jersey Food Writers; Holiday Celebration at the Canal House

Still Searching for the Perfect Gift for the Cook or Gourmand in Your Life? These Experts are Here to Help!

This time of year I customarily offer up my own gift ideas for the food lovers on your holiday list, based on what I would relish finding in my Christmas stocking or under my tree. This year I decided to change things up a bit. I solicited 6 other freelance food writers, all based in the Princeton area, for the culinary visions that are dancing in their heads right now. Their amazingly helpful and varied suggestions appear in the December 11 issue of US 1 newspaper but I’ve reproduced the story in its entirety below, in part because it includes links to the writers and to many of the gifts. (Cookbook collectors alert! Be sure to check out Faith Bahadurian’s terrific find, Eat Your Books!)

12-11 Cover & Front (1-7).indd

Pam Parseghian is a veteran food writer, editor, and cooking instructor. Her latest story, on fish, will appear in the February issue of Prevention magazine. “As far as stuff goes, I’m in love with Staub’s Pumpkin Cocotte, the 3-1/2 quart pot. It’s too cute for words. And my other new crush is with Scanpans because the nonstick surface doesn’t come off even when you use metal utensils. So I’d specifically enjoy an IQ Nonstick Grill Pan.  For stocking stuffers, I would be very happy with a bag of Arborio rice, jar of truffle salt, and a tiny silicone spatula. The rice makes lovely risotto. You get a super truffle flavor with truffle salt, and the spatulas that are teaspoon size are great for getting every last drop out of a jar of mustard.”

But Parseghian also dreams big, including with a splurge on restaurant meals near and far. “Experiences are always great! A trip to eat my way around cities I’ve never been in Spain, Denmark, or Brazil would be a dream come true. Closer to home I would be very excited to go on a one-day eating spree in New York City. I’d start with lunch at Krescendo in Brooklyn, which was opened by chef Elizabeth Falkner. She’s a serious talent who was based in San Francisco until this year. Then I’d go into Manhattan and have dinner at The NoMad Hotel where I hear chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara are creating exciting experiences. I love going to new places!”

Parseghian allows that she doesn’t have to travel even that far for her wishes to come true. “I’d be thrilled to get a gift certificate to any of the exciting new places in Princeton that I haven’t eaten at yet – Mistral, Despaña, and Agricola. And I’m always happy to visit any of my old favorites – elements, the Peacock Inn, and Rhong Tiam in Plainsboro and Nomad in Hopewell.”

Sue Gordon, who reports online as Princeton Food Examiner and blogs at Food Network Musings says she “may have gone little crazy” with her list. Although her suggestions are many, they are modest. “My first idea is an Aerolatte Milk Frother (under $20). Maybe it’s because I can’t live without mine that I think anyone who enjoys homemade cappuccino and latte HAS to have one. In the same vein, a K-Cup Replacement Coffee Filter (anywhere from $6 up to $20) is good news for people who love their Keurigs but want to use their own coffee. You can finally go through all the coffee that’s stashed in your freezer that’s been unused since you discovered the convenience of the Keurig. It’s also good when you’re buying just a small amount of flavored coffee for the holidays or decaf for Aunt Sally and you don’t want to invest in an entire box of K-cups.

“I love the little Herb Stripper ($7.95) from Sur La Table. It makes quick work of getting thyme leaves (and other herbs) off their stems in a hurry. This is the season of pumpkin breads and I really want (to give OR keep) this gorgeous Pumpkin Loaf Pan ($30), also from Sur La Table. I love The Sugar Diva for pretty Paper Loaf Pans ($8.50 – $10). They have big and mini ones and I always include the recipe of whatever I’ve baked with some extra loaf pans, that way your friends or family can pass on the good cheer with their own baking. The Sugar Diva also has a huge selection of Paper Straws (from $4.50 up), which are kind of fun. A set of Milkshake Glasses with those straws makes a great gift.

“My last two ideas: Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar from The Tree And Vine is surprisingly delicious and versatile. It’s perfectly lemony with a bit of sweetness. It’s good in salads, to deglaze a pan, or even to pour in a rich autumn soup. The Tree And Vine is an olive oil and balsamic vinegar shop with an amazing selection of high quality oils and vinegars – everything from Cinnamon Pear, Fig, or Merlot Balsamic Vinegars to an Aged Chocolate one. And if you’re in Asheville, North Carolina or Knoxville, Tennessee, you can taste all of them in one of their two shops! Luckily, they do mail order and every oil and vinegar I’ve tasted has been first-rate. The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg is a famous outpost for nuts of every description. The Handcooked Virginia Peanuts are a classic choice, but you may be tempted by the Praline Glazed Peanuts ($25.99 – $39.98) or Praline Glazed Pecans  ($35.99). You can’t go wrong here. Nuts are the perfect hostess or house gift and it’s always good to have a few cans yourself for holiday entertaining.”

holly sprig clipartFaith Bahadurian is a freelance food writer whose recipe columns, restaurant reviews, and features have long appeared in Packet Publications vehicles, including the Princeton Packet, TimeOFF, and PM Fine Living. She also blogs at www.njspice.net. “Some of these are gifts I’ve given or already received myself. I don’t have room for more gadgets in my kitchen, so am mostly focusing on comestibles. I swear quality fruitcake is poised for a comeback, I see it in gourmet markets all over, like the Bien Fait Tea Cakes at Lucy’s Kitchen and Market. And in Zingerman’s catalog, an aged Vintage Rare Citrus Fruitcake (the $90 version, as opposed to the regular, mere $65 version!). Zingerman’s has a stollen that sounds really good too, and they offer gift baskets and food club memberships for many tastes (bacon, anyone?).

“Speaking of gift baskets, a co-worker put together a fabulous one for me, based on my blog posts and tweets, with much of it from Despaña, the new Spanish market and restaurant uptown. They even have boxed paella kits, or you can put together all the fixings yourself.

Savory Spice Shop put together a custom collection of herbs and spices for my niece, complete with rack, as a housewarming gift for her first home. They put everything in labeled jars, and we did it all by email and a phone call. When it was ready, I just swung by and they brought it out to my car.

“I had so much fun adding various bitters to my gin and tonics this summer, so an assortment of trendy artisanal bitters could make a good gift for adventurous imbiber. (Amazon has a huge selection.) For cold drinks, I like those double-walled insulated glasses, made of borosilicate glass, because it keeps them from sweating and the ice lasts longer, rather than diluting the drink quickly. (Of course, the handled ones are good for hot toddies.)

For a baker, a lovely new book, Wintersweet, by Tammy Donroe Inman (Running Press) came out this fall, with seasonal dessert recipes that sound (and look) delicious. The chocolate-pomegranate Pavlova on the cover might be worth the price alone. These are mostly rustic desserts, and not too difficult. For someone who has too many cookbooks (guilty!), a membership to Eat Your Books is only $25 per year. Thousands of cookbooks, magazines, and blogs have been indexed for their library; you add the ones you own to your virtual bookshelf, and then you can search for recipes by main ingredients (or name, whatever). The recipes themselves are not online, but you’ll know which of your books, etc. have the kind of recipe you’re looking for. Brilliant!” For the cook who loves detailed instructions (the America’s Test Kitchen fan, for instance), a membership to Rouxbe online cooking school might be just the thing, plus they’re about to launch special online wellness programs with a board of medical advisors.

Linda Prospero is creator of the blog Ciao Chow Linda, (ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com). Like Pam Parseghian, she is a fan of the widely available Scanpan line. “It’s time to throw out those old nonstick pans that can be hazardous to your health and replace them with ‘green’ nonstick pans. I would be happy to own some of the good Scanpan CTX ceramic nonstick pans from Williams Sonoma. And while it has sentimental value, I need a replacement for the 40-plus year old pizzelle iron that was my mom’s. Every time I put the dough on the old iron, I have to weigh it down with a brick to keep the pizzelle flat. I like the one from Cuisinart that has different temperature settings. I’ve always used parchment paper for cookies, but it’s time to try a Sil-pat liner. Sur La Table carries several. With the holidays coming up, serving a bit of the bubbly is always festive. I always lean toward prosecco rather than champagne, and would be thrilled if I got a case from Prospero Winery.” (Note: I asked Prospero if is there is a family connection, and she replied that she doesn’t know of any, but perhaps if she dug deeper, she might find one.)

Like Pam Parseghian, Prospero also dreams big. “For my gift-giving friends and family with deep pockets: A five-day cooking vacation with Fabrizia Lanza at her family’s estate in Regaleali, Sicily. The estate produces world-renowned wines and emphasizes traditional cooking using seasonal ingredients grown or raised on the property. For anyone who has seen the movie or read the Italian classic The Leopard, Lanza hails from the author’s (Giuseppe di Lampedusa) aristocratic family. You might be working in the kitchen during the week, but you’d also feel like landed gentry.”

Fran McManus is also a freelance food writer and the creator of  UnderstandingFlavor.com. “This Christmas I would love to get Chef’s Essences from Aftelier. Mandy Aftel sources a broad and interesting range of essential oils for cooking and perfume. She has added some new Chef’s Essence Oils to her collection as well as sprays that allow you to add a misting of aromatics such as blood orange, sarsaparilla, and litsea cubeba (lemon) to dishes. Spice blends and biscuits from La Boite. Lior Lev Sercarz creates complex, aromatic spice blends that are gorgeous to smell and fun to explore. I’ve never tasted his biscuits and I am eager to try them. Cookbooks! Three of my culinary heroes have new books out and I want them all: David Kinch (Manresa: An Edible Reflection), Daniel Patterson (Coi: Stories and Recipes) and Edward Behr (50 Foods).”

(On the topic of cookbooks, I’d like to insert a couple that are on gift-giving list this year. Pronto! is the latest in the Canal House Cooking series from Lambertville’s own Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer. Its “easy and delizioso” put the Canal House spin (i.e., updated but still simple) on classic Italian recipes. The other is Cowgirl Creamery Cooks, a collection of 75 recipes for cooking with cheese from founders Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of that award-winning creamery, as well as their expert accumulated knowledge about tasting, buying, serving, and appreciating all kinds of cheese.)
Leslie Mitchner describes herself as a “food lover and a food writer,” including for Princeton magazine. When she is asked to dream, she dreams big! Her list starts with one fantasy and moves on from there. “A kitchen twice as big as the very nice one I already have, so that I could have an island in the middle for prep and plating. A La Cornue range or an Aga cooker because either would fulfill a lifelong fantasy and look great in my far larger wished-for kitchen. A copper risotto pan to put on the La Cornue. Some truffles to go with the risotto. A bottle of Pouilly Fuisse 1961 because one of my best friend says it was the best vintage ever. Real Toulouse sausages for my first fall cassoulet. Old beautiful Moroccan serving dishes for my North African cooking. Beautiful nineteenth-century art nouveau or aesthetic movement silver serving spoons to use with the Moroccan dishes.”

Wow. While any foodie can get on board with Mitchner’s flights of fancy, everyone can share her concluding wish: “Finally and most importantly, for no one in this country or anywhere else to go to bed hungry.”

Holiday Celebration at the Canal House

2013 Beard Winner!

2013 Beard Winner!

For the second year in a row, Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hersheimer are throwing open the doors to their cooking atelier in Lambertville. Below is their gracious invitation. Be sure to rsvp if you intend to stop by.

Join us for our 2nd annual Open House 

Come by for some delicious food and a liquid refreshment.
We’ll have plenty of signed copies of all our books at special holiday prices for your purchasing pleasure.
Pick up our newest book
Canal House Cooking, Pronto!
or our
2013 James Beard Award winning
Canal House Cooks Every Day

Open House at Canal House
Sunday December 15, 2013
11:00 to 3:00 pm
6 Coryell Street, Studio B
Lambertville, NJ

You don’t have to buy to come by.
We’d just love to see you.
Peace and Love
Christopher & Melissa
If you think you might be able to make it, rsvp so we have plenty of bubbles on ice.

Spring Dining & How This Year’s Taste of the Nation in Princeton is Different

2oth Year for Share Our Strength’s Princeton Benefit will be a Locavore’s Dream

Share Our Strength

Share Our Strength (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve been attending this event over the years – in Princeton or elsewhere around the state – you know the drill. Tastes of great restaurant food and great drink – wine, beer, and spirits. Nifty foodie-centric auction items. You know that 100% of your money goes to an excellent cause because nationally Taste of the Nation has raised more than $73 million to fight childhood hunger.

Jim Weaver

Jim Weaver (Photo credit: pplflickr)

This year’s event mixes things up a bit. Sure, there will still be impressive restaurants (Elements in Princeton and Michael White’s Due Mari in New Brunswick to name just two). But it will also be a celebration and reunion of sorts for the pioneers of our state’s locavore movement, whose stories are captured in the book Locavore Adventures. In it, chef Jim Weaver relates how he and a small group came to found one of the first Slow Food chapters in the US, and introduces readers to the wildly diverse cast of characters whose businesses have changed the way New Jerseyans and the entire New York metropolitan area eat.

Among those with products on hand for tasting: Atlantic Cape Fisheries (which brought the Delaware Bay Oyster to national attention), The Bent Spoon, Griggstown Quail Farm, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Mosefund Mangalitsa, Salumeria Biellese, and Zone 7.

Other key differences and changes this year:

Tre Piani at Princeton Forrestal Village

Tre Piani at Princeton Forrestal Village (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Location: Tre Piani Restaurant in Forrestal Village off Route 1 – Jim Weaver’s own place, and the site of the first meeting of what would become Slow Food Central NJ

Day and time: Sunday afternoon, May 20, from 2 to 5 pm. (In the past Taste has been held on a Monday evening)

For a complete list of participating restaurants and vendors (I have only scratched the surface here), and to purchase tickets visit www.strength.org/princeton/

The Spring Dining Issue of US 1 is Out!

I’ve had the privilege of writing the cover stories for US 1 newspaper’s spring and fall dining issues for years now and the latest issue has hit the newsstands. In it I profile the folks behind six Central New Jersey ethnic restaurants – a couple of which you’ve read about in this blog (Alps Bistro & Mercer Street Grill) the rest of which are new finds that I haven’t featured previously: Antimo’s Italian Kitchen, El Tule, Ploy Siam, and Tete. Bon appetit!