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Everything posted by njduchess

  1. Husband and I are meeting friends from Wisconsin in New Mexico in early May. We will be spending the arriving night and departing night in Albuquerque with three nights in Sante Fe in the middle. We are set with flights and rooms. Now it's time to think about dinner reservations and other dining options and we need some help and guidance. The two places mentioned for Albuquerque are Graze by Jennifer James and Prairie Star. When I looked through New Mexico threads here, I find no mention of either of these. Are they worth a stop or are some of the other places a better bet? As for Sante Fe, we thought we would spend one day in Taos and go to Joseph's Table. We also thought about Coyote Cafe. Is it tired and passe or still a good choice? I think Mark Miller has some other restaurants. Are any of them better? Even if we go with Joseph's Table and Coyote Cafe, we still have a third night to fill in the Sante Fe area. As for lunches, I have found many good suggestions in earlier NM topics. I'll bring a list and we'll choose, based on where we find ourselves during the day. Our hotels all include breakfast, but we can certainly skip that a morning or two. What are the best breakfast places these days? Thanks for your help. Marie
  2. njduchess

    All About Gin, Generally

    The gin in my liquor cabinet is drunk infrequently. (We have a preference for Vodka.) Does is lose quality after a period of time? If it does, how long would that time be? I'm not sure if this is a really dumb questions, but I ask at the risk of looking foolish. Marie
  3. We are going to try cheesecake on a stick as a dessert. I've seen pictures of the type that they sell at State Fairs, which is basically a wedge of cheesecake on a stick dipped in chocolate. There is also the David Burke type of cheesecake lollipops, dipped in chocolate and other confections. I think we are going to have to compromise and do something in the middle in terms of size. I think that the wedge of cake would be just too big to dip with home-kitchen equipment. Now here's the question: What kind of cheesecake would be the best to try for dipping. Do we need to make something firmer (maybe a little gelatin added)? Do you think we can freeze or almost freeze any type of cheesecake without spoiling the texture in order to get a neat dip? Thanks for your help. Marie
  4. I am a member of the Montclair-Bloomfield CSA. Although I don't use 100% organic produce, I try to do so as much as possible. This is worthwhile way to have a steady supply of wonderful produce and as a bonus you are supporting your local farmers. Last year, I belonged to another CSA but switched this year because of this one is closer and more convenient. Right now, we have had only two weeks of pickups, and today is the third. The produce has been nice although not as plentiful as it will be as we get further into the growing season. The thing that I most enjoy is the fact that I am forced to be introduced to items that I have never had before. Last year, I had garlic scapes for the first time. They are wonderful and couldn't wait to get them this year. This early on, we have a lot of greens - plain and attached to radishes, beets, and turnips. Salad lettuces and broccoli are also nice right now. The herbs are nice and the peas have been fantastic. The other nice thing about being a member of a CSA is that there are other things that are available. Every two weeks we can order eggs and/or chickens from Havenwood Farms which are delivered to our pick up spot. We also had an opportunity purchase flats of blueberries. Our farmer from Star Brite also offers fruit shares which he doesn't grow, but he delivers. All in all, I enjoy the CSA experience. It's nice to eat local food that is in season. Marie
  5. njduchess

    Rutt's Hut (with pictures!)

    John: I just have to give you a quick correction. Without getting too technical on the subject, the things you are talking about are saturated fats - not trans fats. You are correct that they have become the devil and they are not - in moderation, of course. Transfats were created in the lab, taking an oil that is liquid at room temperature and turning it into a solid. It increases shelf life and it's cheap. AND it's bad for you. This is the hydrogenated stuff. Beef tallow, animal fat, and butter are not transfats. Marie
  6. The thing that always astounds me about now and when I was married in 1970 is the accessability of recipes. In those early days, recipes were precious and most that I collected were hand written. I did own a few cook books: Betty Crocker for the basics and The New York Times Cook Book, but so many recipes were passed around a circle of family and friends. Now I own 150 or 200 cook books. None of them were so well-used as Mastering the Art of French Cooking which was my first written by a celebrity chef. I had book shelves of Gourmets in my attic, catalogued by year. Now when I want to get an idea of a new way to prepare something or put a menu together, I go to Epicurious and other food sights to browse. It's so quick compared to hours of leafing through magazines. Of course, I used to put food on the table for a week for $20. Now I run into Whole Foods and spend $50 for a few fill in items. I used to have a box of Morton Salt to use for everything, and now I have six different sea salts plus Kosher salt. I actually had MSG in my spice rack back in the 70's! Marie
  7. Thank you for your suggestions. Before I had a chance to get her the certificate, she had a medical emergency and went back to the hospital. Thinking that the time is not right for dining out, I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion for a restaurant that might deliver a couple of nice meals to a home in Hawthorne. Thanks for your suggestions. I am hopeful that things might be better by Christmas, when I can give her a night out to a nice restaurant. Marie
  8. I would like to give a gift of dinner at a nice restaurant to a friend who has been having health problems of late. She lives in Hawthorne, so I thought Ridgewood might have the most choices. But I'm open to anything that wouldn't be a long drive. I would like to keep the cuisine fairly simple since I'm not sure what kind of food she likes. American or Italian would probably be best. I don't know if she can drink alcohol right now so BYOB might not be an issue. If I found a nice BYOB, I might include a bottle of wine. Even if she can't drink it now, she might be able to save it for when she's feeling better. Your suggestions would be most appreciated. Thanks. Marie
  9. njduchess

    Slow Food of NNJ

    From time to time, I have posted about events being sponsored by the Northern New Jersey convivium of Slow Food. It occurred to me that perhaps there are many people who do not know about Slow Food, so I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about Slow Food in general and specifically what we are doing in Northern New Jersey. The movement started in Italy in the late eighties, as a response to the infiltration of fast food outlets into that country. Carlo Petrini decided that people needed to slow down and appreciate the pleasures of the table. At the same time, local farmers and artisan food producers needed to be recognized and supported. Today, Slow Food is an International Organization, and we are part of Slow Food USA. We are dedicated to spreading awareness and nurturing appreciation of slowing down to enjoy healthy, locally grown food by connecting New Jersey residents with earth-friendly farmers, chefs, and food makers. The goal of Slow Food NNJ is to develop school gardens in every town in northern NJ. These are some of the events that we have coming up: Tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 25th, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, we are co-sponsoring an evening with Floyd Cardoz of Tabla at the Montclair Adult School. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $20. May 19th is our major fund-raising event of the year and it will benefit the Greater Newark Conservancy. On Saturday afternoon from 1:00 – 4:00, we are hosting a Fine Food and Wine Tasting at the Van Vleck House in Montclair. We are bringing together chefs from top restaurants and artisan food producers specializing in cheese, bread, charcuterie, and chocolates. There is also a bounty of gift certificates and gift baskets mostly food-related that will be raffled off. Most of the participating restaurants and producers are listed on our website. In months when we don’t have a special event featured, we host a drop-in dinner at a restaurant where we will work with the chef on a special Slow Food menu. These are educational, fun, and delicious. We hope you will have an opportunity to visit our website and join us at an event. Slow Food NNJ
  10. njduchess

    Slow Food of NNJ

    I haven't posted about our events for a while, and I apologize for that. Our Italian Wine Education series is coming up at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum beginning on November 14th. Our wine tastings will be hosted by Gary Tonucci, our Italian Wine specialist. The first session will feature wines to pair with the Thanksgiving meal. We also will be tasting cheeses from Bobolink. A book discussion will be led by Peter Conway on Passion on the Vine by Sergio Esposito. The next two will feature Italian sweet and sparkling wines and Italian super whites. For more information about these events click here: Wine Series We have an event in January: Local Harvest: Farms, Food, Family. I will post more information as we get closer to the event.
  11. njduchess

    Savannah: A Week's Stay

    We used some of your suggestions for a long weekend trip to Savannah in late September. We happen to hit the Savannah Jazz Festival which was a particular treat. And for the food: We were trying to find Harris Baking Company for a great croissant. We didn't realize that it was on side alley and totally missed it. On the main road was a cavernous place called J Christopher's. We thoroughly enjoyed our pancakes and there were many types of offerings. As a matter of fact, the menu was extensive, but we were in the mood for some starch. Another day, we had breakfast at Clary's. My husband is still talking about his corned beef hash, which was excellent (and house-made). We had dinner at Sweet Potatoes, and it was as good as promised. We also had tapas at a place called "Jazz'd" in the downtown area. They had a tapas for two deal for $55 which included 2 salads, 4 tapas, and 2 desserts and coffee. I thought it was a pretty good deal, and the food was quite good. There were a few southern specialties, though the menu was quite eclectic. My husband was there for a convention, so we didn't get a chance to get to Mrs. Wilkes during the day. We did get a Sunday afternoon off and took off for Tybee Beach. We felt that we needed to try Crab Shack. I found it a bit off-putting to have a garbage can below a hole in the middle of your table. That's just me. One night we took off for Uncle Bubba's. It was like a cartoon of Southern cuisine rather than real Southern cuisine. All of the food was forgetable (or you wanted to forget it) except for the memorable side of grits that my husband ordered. There was so much butter in it, that you could hardly discern the grits. I would guess that there was more than a 1/2 cup of butter in his little side. On our last night, we decided to try Elizabeth's on 37th. It was a very beautiful restaurant in an old mansion. The service was lovely. It was fine dining, very influenced by Southern recipes and ingredients. We loved it, but the price for this dinner was the equivalent of all of our other dinners combined. Marie
  12. njduchess


    I joined a friend for the "soft opening", too. I hesitated to comment on this "practice run" (and a free night, too). I'm glad that Curlz stepped in, and I wanted to follow up a little, too. We got there at 7:00 p.m. - maybe the same Friday night. We skipped the bar and went straight to a table. The crab cake appetizer was really nice with a corn relish accompaniment. I had hoped for the scallops with barley, but they were gone and replaced with the hanger steak. I switched to the mahi mahi with white beans. The fish was truly delicious. My friend ordered the pineapple parfait and she was kind enough to pass along a delicious coconut truffle. I had the vanilla on top of chocolate creme brulee and I enjoyed it soooo much. We both felt that Anthony was at the top of his game with the dishes we had. The space was beautiful with organic components. I had been to this restaurant years ago for a burger and beer. The transformation was remarkable. (The ladies' room was worth a stop.) Other than our waiter wanting to confiscate our bread everytime he came back to the table, the service was fine considering it was a debut. It's on my short list of places to try now that they are open. Marie
  13. njduchess

    Slow Food of NNJ

    Slow Food is hosting a Savory and Sweet Chocolate Dinner at the Church Street Cafe in Montclair on Saturday, February 23rd. It is an interesting menu planned around this special ingredient. Here is a link to the menu and more information. Savory and Sweet Chocolate Dinner We have also joined forces with Terra Tea Salon, to host a Book Club. The upcoming session will be our third. The book choice is Slow Food Nation and the discussion will be at the Terra Tea Salon in Montclair on Saturday night, March 29th, at 7:00 pm. If you would like to participate, please e-mail us at slowfoodnnj@yahoo.com. Take it slow. Marie
  14. In April, I am going to be doing a cooking demonstration for our Slow Food members on Cambodian cooking. This past December, in addition to our visits to the Temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, my husband and I also took a cooking class that included a visit to the market of Siem Reap to gather ingredients for the meal that we prepared. There are some unusual ingredients I will need, but I was fortunate enough to find most. At the Asian Market in East Hanover, I found beautiful water spinach, Asian pumpkin or squash, and most importantly banana blossoms. They didn't have fresh tumeric, but I think I saw it at Patel groceries in West Caldwell. The one thing that I haven't found locally is fresh coconut milk. At the market in Siem Reap, we purchased it from a lady who had a little stand consisting of a press that squeezed out the fresh milk from shredded coconut. Right now I have 3 options: I can used canned, make it myself (sounds difficult) or go into Chinatown the day before the demo. Has anyone seen fresh coconut milk anywhere in Northern New Jersey? I do understand it is quite perishable and needs to be used within a day. Thanks for your help. Marie
  15. njduchess

    Slow Food of NNJ

    Slow Food of NNJ has a full season of food-related events planned for the first half of 2008. As they come up, I will keep you updated. Our first event is particularly for all of the Moms who are concerned about the food being served in their children's school cafeterias. We are holding a screening of "Two Angry Moms" at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, 53 East Hanover Avenue, Morristown on Thursday, January 17th at 7:00 p.m. This is a documentary that asks the question: What happens when two "fed up" moms try to change the school lunch program. Amy Kalafa, the film's creator and producer will be there to lead a discussion following the screening. We're also serving healthy snacks. Ticket information here: Two Angry Moms
  16. njduchess

    Syd's R.I.P.

    My first job out of school was at B'nai Jeshurun on South Orange Avenue - "just around the corner" from Seymour's. We used to go there for lunch or get take out and that was in 1969. They were well established at that time. Marie
  17. njduchess


    Has anyone tried this restaurant? It has been open for about a week and a half. We're thinking of trying it tonight, unless anyone wants to warn us off. Thanks. Marie
  18. njduchess

    Broad Street in Bloomfield

    There are lot of good choices for dining in the area between Bay Avenue and Belleville Avenue on Broad Street. Formia has always had reliable Italian Food (not red gravy). Then last summer, Brookside Thai opened and although not the best in the area, it is good and certainly well-priced, too. This winter, Michi opened. It is a lovely spot - definitely a cut above the usual neighborhood sushi place. We're not that adventurous in our sushi choices, but they offer a very large array of very interesting rolls and very beautifully presented. Cosimo opened several months ago. We haven't tried it yet, so we can't comment. Even Vinnie's pizza is moving into the same stretch of Broad Street. When I was driving down Broad Street last week, I spotted a new restaurant opening soon called Pandan, and their sign said "fine Asian cuisine." The gossip at my nail salon is that the owners are Vietnamese. The decor looked elegant and we're looking forward to trying it soon. I guess that restaurants like to cluster. The parking situation is certainly better than Montclair. We're pretty happy about what's happening in our neighborhood. Marie
  19. Thanks for your help. I'll let you know how it went. I'll even try to post pictures. Marie
  20. Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'll try the Cooks Illustrated recipe for a dense and firm type. With chocolate dipping, I think I would prefer a non-chocolate cheesecake. I think I'll give the "pops" less than an hour in the freezer before dipping. What I would really like to do is bake the cake in a sheet cake pan so I can get nice even squares. I wonder if it would bake properly in a non-round cake pan. Anyone know? Thanks. Marie
  21. We were there 2 weeks ago during that very rainy week. The first night we ate at Daddy-O. The food was just okay. They seemed to cater to families so the dining room was extremely noisy. The kids were unhappy with lack of beach time. On the other hand, we did also eat at the bar: afternoon snacks and lunch one day. The fried appetizers were good as were the salads and the sliders (just happy hour), but we certainly would have preferred to be out on the beach. By the way, the wireless internet at Daddy-O doesn't make it up to the guest rooms on the 2nd floor. However, internet reception was perfect at the bar. The meal at Vidalia was excellent. It is a BYO. I had a swordfish special and my husband had the seared scallops - both were quite good. For appetizers, my husband had thinly sliced pears on a flatbread which were nice and I can't remember what I had. The dessert was a seasonal peach cobbler - excellent!
  22. Can anyone report? Is Vidalia still open and a good choice? We're spending a few nights at Daddy-O next week. We'll eat there one night, and we're still trying to decide on a night two. Marie
  23. njduchess

    Slow Food of NNJ

    Slow Food of NNJ is sponsoring a Tomato Day at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown this Sunday, August 12th, from 1:00 to 4:00. This free event will feature cooking demonstrations by three chefs: Judy Mancini will offer cooking-with-children recipes, Joseph Cerniglia of Campania will feature Sicilian tomato dishes, and David Felton of the Pluckemin Inn will demonstrate tomato canning. In addition, educational walks, talks, and crafts are offered. It should be a fun day and here is where you can find more details: Tomato Day Hope to see you there. Marie
  24. Not in NJ, but across the river in downtown Philadelphia is a very fine market. I don't recall the exact location, but it should be easy enough to find. It's just 2 hours away instead of 5. Jack McDavid has a wonderful diner-like restaurant right in the market. It's a great place for a fabulous hearty breakfast. He's the guy who was in Chillin' and Grillin' with Bobby Flay. Then there's the Union Square Market in NYC. That's probably just 45 minutes away. We just don't have enough concentration of people in a small area as they do in NYC or even Philadelphia to merit such a market. I used to go to Seattle on business 5-6 times a year. I always made sure it was my last stop on the West Coast and booked a late morning flight to come home. I would hit Pike's Market at 8:30 a.m. and load up on Seafood and beautiful in-season produce. There is nothing like a great market. I wish we had one, too. Marie
  25. njduchess

    Atlantic City Fine Dining

    Last summer, we tried both SeaBlue and Flay Steak on consecutive nights. I should have done my homework and knew to skip the Lobster Pot Pie. It was hardly worth it. Then when we went to Flay Steak, I made a selection of a steak that had some spice to it. I figured Southwestern was a specialty of his and it should be good. It was very okay. This past Spring, we tried Mia at Caesar's. It is in the space of the former Temple Bar, which was always a favorite of mine. One of the partners in this restaurant is Perrier of Le Bec Fin of Philadelphia. It was a very wondeful meal. I had a white fish (maybe seabass) with a citrus emulsion that was very enjoyable and my husband's pork dish was equally good. I started with a beet salad and I think he had a pasta dish that was very rich and very good. I can't remember dessert. We thought the meal here was far better than either SeaBlue or Flay Steak. We're going to at the Borgata later in August and have a reservation for Ombra. We usually don't choose Italian restaurants as our first choice, but I've been wanting to try this one. We always had a nice lunch at the Wolfgang Puck tavern and want to try his fine dining restaurant. Should we switch it? Marie