5 Central Jersey towns for family-friendly fun

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/22/18

Everyone knows that Central Jersey is full of award-winning restaurants, unique bars and lounges, stunning venues and theaters and bustling shopping centers.

However, most Central Jerseyans are certainly not taking their 7-year-old to a five-star restaurant or seating them for a two-hour show.

If you’re looking for some family-friendly fun, though, Central Jersey has a new crop of activities on tap that make for a great weekend out as well as family bonding that will keep everyone satisfied.

Check out these towns throughout Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and Union (and Mercer) counties to find out where you can take the kids for some family fun.

~Gannett File Photo

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Taste of Middlesex is cultural mecca of cuisine

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/19/18

With almost 1 million people living in Middlesex County from every corner of the world, it’s no surprise that the food scene has exploded with restaurants, food trucks and markets highlighting cuisine from India, Greece, China, France, Mexico, Italy and more.

And with that, each year, the Taste of Middlesex, hosted by the Edison Chamber of Commerce, sets up shop in the Pines Manor after nine months of planning to showcase that food scene, steadily growing in attendees, restaurants and demonstrations.

This year, the 21-year-old event will take over the Pines Manor on Monday, March 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for $50 per person in advance or $55 at the door.

Photo by Jenna Intersimone

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5 things to do in NJ if you blew Valentine’s Day

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/15/18

Uh-oh. Did you forget Valentine’s Day? Did your bouquet delivery get lost in the mail? Did you mistake that box of chocolates for a midnight snack?

Even if your Valentine’s Day didn’t exactly go as planned, there are still lots of things you can do throughout Central Jersey to redeem yourself from this year’s holiday flop. Until next year, that is.

Courtesy of Island Spa

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Somerville welcomes 5 new eateries

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/13/18

The Somerset County seat has also become the seat of choice for the region’s foodies, with new eateries popping up constantly to coincide with the area’s rapid development.

Already, three new eateries have opened up in recency, with two more slated to open later this year. Kuay Tiew Noodles and MoreFresh Tiki Bar and the Salad House are now open for business, with Village Brewing and Grumpy Bobas well on their way.

As of Feb. 2, the Salad House, which specializes in fresh customized and signature salads, has also opened its doors at 58 W. Main St.

Courtesy of Fresh Tiki Bar

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5 places to get your Valentine’s Day chocolates

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/8/18

Roses, romantic meals and heartfelt gifts are nice, but everyone — whether single or married to the love of their life — knows that the best part of Valentine’s Day is the amazing chocolates that we finally have an excuse to indulge in.

No matter if you plan on enjoying some truffles on your living room couch on Feb. 14 or if you’re giving them to your sweetheart, finding amazing, quality chocolates is a must on Valentine’s Day.

To find out where you should pick up a box, check out the chocolate shops located throughout Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Union counties.

Birnn Chocolates.

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Best restaurants to share a meal with your sweetheart

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/5/18

Love is in the air in Central Jersey!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner on Feb. 14 and everyone is busy searching for that perfect eatery to book their romantic meal.

Are you planning on taking your sweetheart out for a night on the town? Consider booking at one of these popular restaurants that are sure to make your holiday one to remember!

Courtesy of Juniper Hill

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AJA Asian Cuisine brings tapas to Asian eats

Tons of restaurants are launching small plate menus where diners either on-the-go or looking for a little sampling can try everything that an eatery has to offer.

Now that AJA Asian Cuisine and Lounge is open in Montgomery and New Brunswick, Asian eats have gone shareable, too, with dishes that fuse Asian flavors and those from other cultures such as berries duck breast draped over Asian pears and mixed with blueberry and cherry sauce ($15) and yuzu sake with sliced pepper salmon layered with mango, pine nut and coconut yuzu sauce ($15).

“If you focus on just one type of food, everyone will get tired of it,” said Edison resident Cindy Lim, manager of the Montgomery location since day one. “But here, we think that everyone should have the chance to try something new.”

Courtesy of AJA

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5 things to do with drink in hand in Central Jersey

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 2/1/18

Gone are the days when people looking to let loose can be found simply hanging around a bar. Instead, they reason, why not have a drink when you can also in the meanwhile create a beautiful painting, craft a piece of home décor or design a terrarium?

During the last few years, BYOB activities have exploded in popularity, with studios popping up in many Central Jersey towns. Making for a great way to catch up with friends and family or just unwind after a long week, These activities have made sipping a drink much more exciting.

Want to learn a new skill yourself while also enjoying a glass of wine? Check out some of these interesting BYOB activities that can be found throughout Central Jersey.

Gannett File Photo

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Eating healthy in 2018 made easier at Clean Plate Kitchen

Many of us hunkering down on our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier have been left staring at our plates with dread, unimpressed by yet another salad.

However, the Clinton-based Clean Plate Kitchen, which serves fare that is organic and sourced sustainably and locally whenever possible, is showing its customers that eating clean doesn’t have to mean eating boring.

“We are doing our small part to provide a choice for people to make healthy decisions and feel good about eating food that makes themfeel good,” said Nicole Piazza, who co-owns the Clean Plate Kitchen with her husband, Anthony. “It’s a real treat for us when people come in here and we are able to change their opinions about healthy eating. It’s not just sticks and twigs.”

Courtesy of the Clean Plate Kitchen

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Classic Thyme Cooking School is Westfield man’s dream realized

Working for a car insurance company in 1989, David Martone, now the owner of Classic Thyme Cooking School in Westfield, used to dream about what he would do when he “grew up.”

At 31, the newly married new homeowner dreamed of following his culinary dreams but saw no way to do it with a wife and mortgage — until he fatefully met a pharmacist-turned-attorney.

“I was out to dinner with my friend, Rick DiDonato, and George Jurecky, an attorney we worked with at The Archers Ristorante, a very nice restaurant in Jersey City at the time,” he said. “I told them that I loved to cook and wished I had gone to culinary school, but how could I now that I was newly married and just bought a house?”

Jurecky laughed. He said that he had come to the United States from the Czech Republic as a pharmacist, and he finally decided to act on passion for law and go back to law school. Martone felt so inspired that within two weeks, he was registered at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Courtesy of Classic Thyme Cooking School

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