Sister Cities Food and Shop Tours get New Hope visitors off beaten path

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 12/11/17

LAMBERTVILLE – I’ve been to Lambertville and New Hope many times. However, virtually every single time, I end up wandering into the same shops, the same restaurants and the same bars.

Sisters Liz Horvath and Kat Pacelli, who founded Sister Cities Food and Shop Tours in August of this year, get that in an area so bustling, it can be easy to fall into this trap – which is one of the reasons why they started their tour company.

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Photo by Jenna Intersimone

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6 ways to get in Christmas spirit in Lehigh Valley

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 12/4/17

Surrounded by elaborately decorated Christmas trees, jolly holiday music, leisurely strolls by horse and carriage, and holiday markets stuffed with artisan goods, you may have a feeling that you might be in the North Pole, but there’s just as good a chance that you’re in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley area, which becomes a Christmas epicenter during December.

“Whether visitors are experiencing the holiday spirit in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton or the dozens of picturesque boroughs that make up the Lehigh Valley, the holidays are special thanks to the small-town charm and age-old traditions that truly exemplify the region,” said Alicia Quinn, strategic brand manager for Discover Lehigh Valley.

~Courtesy of Discover Lehigh Valley

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Fell Stone Manor in Hampton opens in time for holiday bookings

If you’re in the process of planning your holiday party and you’re sick of that same old place you’ve been heading to for years, you’re in luck. A new Hampton venue on a 40-acre farm that includes a barn, manor, English gardens and restored milking station is now open for reservations for weddings, corporate events and other private events.

Fell Stone Manor, completed in 1920 and named because it was created using only stone from the property, is “rooted in classic European architecture and gardens juxtaposed against the heart of Hunterdon county farms,” said Becky Geisel of Califon, executive chef at the Manor.

Courtesy of Fell Stone Manor

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Is Hillsborough next foodie town?

Although it lacks the publicity and downtown appeal that Central Jersey foodie towns such as New Brunswick and Somerville possess, Hillsborough, which has welcomed six new restaurants this year, is slowly catching up to its neighbors.

“For Hillsborough, restaurants are spread throughout town, so some people may not think of Hillsborough as a place to go out to eat,” said David Kois, business advocate for Hillsborough Township. “But, we are seeing more restaurants locate here that are attracting people from outside of town to check Hillsborough out.”

Today in Hillsborough, there are 14 American, 17 Italian, nine Asian, three Indian, two Mexican, one Caribbean and one Middle Eastern restaurants, totaling 47. According to Kois, the increase in the variety of cuisine available in the township is because of the changing population and changing food tastes of consumers as people watch and read about food from around the world.

Courtesy of the Falafel House

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Exit Eleven N.J. combines all things Americana

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 11/13/17 

ASBURY – Alyson and William Malenchek of Lopatcong have always loved all things Americana. With a passion for seeking out unique, vintage items, it was only natural that William Malenchek and business partner Josh Kohn formed the Jugtown Mountain Motor Club in 2002 and in 2015 organized the official group, which holds events for car lovers to benefit local charities.

However, the Motor Club needed a home, and Alyson Malenchek was eager to find a home for her own genre of unique goods — handmade jewelry, ceramics, textiles, furniture, homewares and antiques.

That home was found in 2011, when the three stumbled across a 12,000-square-foot run-down building on 11 acres off of Interstate 78’s Exit 11 in Asbury. For five years, the Malenchecks and Kohn renovated the property, finally opening about one year ago as Exit Eleven N.J., the home of Exit Eleven Gifts, the Jugtown Mountain Motor Club and Immortal Ink 3, the third Hunterdon County tattoo location owned and operated by Kohn.

Photo Courtesy of Exit Eleven N.J.

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NYC Marathon dreams realized by reporter

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 11/7/17

During my high school days, my cross-country team and I would hop on a train each year and head out to watch the New York City Marathon.

Every time, I would feel star-struck by the runners that ran by me on the streets that are normally stuffed full of cars. To me, to be able to run 26.2 miles was absolutely otherworldly, something that could never be in my grasp.

However, on Nov. 5, crossing the finish line of the New York City Marathon became my memory rather than a dream — but it didn’t come without physical therapists, podiatrists, injuries, tears, weekends spent in, hours spent running and hundreds of dollars spent.

Photo by Jenna Intersimone

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Cake Boss, Canal House of Frenchtown featured in new America the Great Cookbook

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 11/7/17

As every foodie knows, America is a lot more than hot dogs and milkshakes — the real American food scene includes homemade comfort food from the South, fresh produce from the garden, tasty ethnic desserts brought to the United States from all over the world, and everything in between.

The newly published “America the Great Cookbook” seeks to capture this diversity by featuring an intimate glimpse into the lives of more than 100 food personalities, ranging from the mega-famous to the baker down the street.

The $40 book, published by Weldon Owen, seeks to eliminate the lines between the five regions of America and instead, showcases what makes up the various pieces of the nation’s food “pie.”

And this pie is also getting a serving of help. The publisher is donating $20,000 to No Kid Hungry, which provides meals to needy children.

Courtesy of America the Great Cookbook

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5 drool-worthy Central Jersey food trucks

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 11/6/17

Gourmet hot dogs, vegan goodies, boardwalk snacks and custom ice cream sandwiches — the vast diversity of food trucks that can be seen parked all over the Garden State is one of the many reasons why the casual, inexpensive food concept has exploded in popularity.

If you’re a foodie used to sitting down at a white table-clothed table, don’t turn up your nose just yet at the thought of grabbing a freshly-made slider from the back of a truck — food trucks are worth checking out the next time you see one hiding in the corner of a fair or festival.

And if you happen to spot one of these cool-concept food trucks at one of those said events, don’t let their long lines fool you — these are some of the most interesting four wheels you will see cruising Central Jersey.

Bourbon bacon jam grilled cheese from CheezeN. ~Courtesy of CheezeN

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4 places to get scared in Central Jersey

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/18/17

Halloween may be falling on a Tuesday this year, but for fans of everything that’s creepy, chilling and gruesome, all that means is that we have two solid weekends left to celebrate one of America’s favorite holidays.

Here in Central Jersey, we have plenty of haunted attractions lurking in the darkness, armed with fake blood, costumed monsters and bloodcurdling screams. If you’re ready to get your annual dose of Halloween scares, check out these local haunted attractions for a hair-raising good time.

Courtesy of Norz Hill Farm

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Zombies run amok for laser tag at Schaefer Farms

Usually, there’s not much you can do to redeem yourself after being scared silly by zombies at Schaefer Farms’ Schaefer’s Frightfest in Flemington, which includes a haunted hayride, a walk of terror, a haunted corn maze and the Carnival of Chaos.

However, thanks to zombie laser tag at Bullseye Virtual Combat, an outdoor laser tag arena at the farm, you can seek revenge on those pesky flesh-eating monsters.

“This game is a complement to Schaefer Farms’ haunted attractions,” said Vic Pellegrini, who opened Bullseye Virtual Combat last year. “People want to take revenge on all the things that scared them. Now, they can fight back.”

~Courtesy of Bullseye Virtual Combat

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