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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Lambertville-New Hope app showcases area happenings

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/9/17

LAMBERTVILLE – With fall in full swing, Lambertville and New Hope are budding with visitors looking for a place to hike, bike, shop or even just enjoy a night out are heading to the popular Central Jersey-Pennsylvania destination.

And now, thanks to the Lambertville-New Hope app, which can be downloaded by visiting mycj.co/2xbeK8w or by searching for “Lambertville-New Hope” in the app store on your phone or tablet, visitors can browse every event, restaurant, shop, business and even parking lot right from their devices.

“It’s a who, what, where, when and how all in one spot on the thing that everyone has in their hand,” said Marianne Romano, founder of Mountaintop Marketing and creator of the app.

~Courtesy of Mountaintop Marketing

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Millennials are rocking the N.J. foodie world

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/3/17

When was the last time you walked into a chain restaurant?

How about the last time you called an eatery to voice your feedback?

Or the last time you ordered a standard dish like chicken fingers or meatloaf?

If you’re a millennial — someone roughly between the ages of 20 and 40 — there’s a good chance you won’t be able to answer any of these questions. That’s because today’s typical millennial foodie doesn’t have a lot in common with older generations.

“Millennials are different because they’ve grown up accustomed to expecting better,” said Erika Desimone, director of marketing at Capital Craft in Green Brook, a modern gastropub with an ever-evolving menu. “They are not a generation of kids who grew up on chicken fingers and fries; they have long been familiar with locally grown produce, organic meats and dairy, and they aren’t afraid to try exotic flavors and cooking styles.”

~Courtesy of Barca City Cafe and Bar

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Where to celebrate Oktoberfest in Central Jersey

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/2/17

Although Central Jersey may be much more than a short drive away from Munich for the city’s annual Oktoberfest celebration, there’s no reason to hop a flight to enjoy authentic German beer, food and music because our region will be holding Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the month.

Whether you’re a full-blooded German or you just want to grab a bite of some bratwurst and schnitzel, check out these Oktoberfests happening right around the corner.

~Gannett file photo

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Not your average joe: How today’s coffee has evolved

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 9/26/17

To our parents and grandparents, coffee meant one thing — a steaming cup o’ joe.

To today’s Central Jersey java aficionados, a cup of coffee can mean many things — varying brewing techniques, farming practices, milk mechanics, flavors and much more.

This is reflected in the growing number of local coffee shops which have sprung in popularity in recent years due to changing coffee trends. And we’re not just talking about Starbucks here. These days, people don’t just want to grab a cup of coffee and go — they want a community experience with a hot cup with a traceable background.

Hidden Grounds is in the process of developing two additional locations. ~Courtesy of Hidden Grounds

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