Month: October 2016

Italy lands in Bernardsville kitchen with pasta-making classes

Back in the day, if you knew the best recipe to make your own Jamaican jerk chicken, Polish pierogis or Creole red beans and rice, it was because your grandmother taught you.

However, thanks to the exploding popularity of the Food Network, food knowledge isn’t limited to family history — which has led for a search for cooking knowledge like never before.

“We are so surrounded and saturated with food and we always want to know more,” said chef Kevin Knevals, of Raritan Borough, who has worked at Osteria Morini, a northern Italian restaurant in Bernardsville, for five years (since it opened) and with the Altamarea Group, which owns the restaurant, for nine years. “People are not just wanting to cook — they want to cook great things and get involved in the process.”

It was because of this demand of knowledge that Osteria Morini began offering pasta making classes led by Knevals about one year ago. The restaurant that had been housed in the space before it — Due Terre — held the popular classes, and after the restaurant was replaced with Osteria Morini, guests continue to come in and ask for them.

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Teylev brings international teas to Somerville

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/18/16

Although many of us in New Jersey chug down cup after cup of coffee to get through the day, in other countries, busy people go for coffee’s much more healthful sibling — tea.

Stephen Bonsu of Hillsborough has always been one of those people.

“I became a tea drinker long ago because coffee has a negative effect on my system — I’m energetic and I crash quickly,” he said. “I was always looking for a place to go that was tea-focused, since tea people have always been subject to coffeehouses which usually only have three or four types of tea and it isn’t good quality.”

Bonsu shied away from many of the typical Victorian-style tea houses because he found them to be too formal and dated. Instead, he searched for a place that would be more modern and relaxing. He found it — by opening his own shop, Teylev Café and Lounge, at 37 W. Main St. on the corner of Division Street.

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Lake George for the autumn tourist

Before New Jerseyans are forced to deal with our never-ending winter, we are blessed with fall, a season so packed with colors and activities that I refuse to go on any long-distance trips during September or October – to me, fall weekends are precious, and needed for pumpkin picking, apple picking, haunted hay rides and cider donuts.

However, for the last two years, my family and I have been taking a trip designed for fall – a long weekend getaway to Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes. For a few days, we check out fall foliage, visit wineries throughout the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, stay in a rustic cabin and sail down the lake.

This year, however, Seneca Secrets, our usual hangout, was all booked up and we figured we would mix it up and head to Lake George, which has always seemed to be a favorite destination of New Jerseyans.

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Retro arcade adds new tourism element to Metuchen

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 10/11/16

Most bustling downtowns have an abundance of popular restaurants and colorful retail shops. But in the age of the internet, there’s one component that can sometimes be left out — or more fittingly, at home — a business that can offer an experience or an activity.

Eric Berger, Metuchen Downtown Alliance chairman and property owner of Hailey’s Harp, Pub and Harp-Cade as well as several other properties throughout Central Jersey, thought that downtown Metuchen could use some more activities for locals. He also saw the success that Yestercades, a classic video game arcade, has enjoyed in Somerville at 29 Division St. since its May 2014 opening.

So Berger, who is also the property owner of Yestercades Somerville, brought up the idea of a classic video game arcade to Chris Flynn, owner of Hailey’s Harp and Pub at 400 Main St., about six months ago.

“I thought it was something the Metuchen downtown could really use because this kind of concept really draws people in,” he said. “It’s really important for a town to have experiences as well as shops. That does exist in Metuchen in terms of businesses such as our yoga studio or karate school, but this adds another piece to the mix — something that you can’t do online.”

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Meet the bread baker behind your favorite local restaurants

Written for MyCentralJersey.com

There’s nothing like a bite of fresh, homemade bread – crispy on the outside, warm on the inside – to start off a meal at one of Central Jersey’s flagship restaurants.

Jackie Mazza, owner and founder of Knead Baked Goods based in New Brunswick knows that – which is why she puts a little extra TLC in all of the bread products that she bakes, including hand-rolled German-style pretzels, creaked wheat fat boys, olive loaves with citrus and herbs de Provence, challah and brioche.

“Bread is your opportunity to knock it out of the park,” the Somerset resident said. “Everybody loves bread and as a society we have just started to accept kind of crappy bread. So when you get great bread, you know it.”

Mazza, who currently does all of her baking out of Elijah’s Promise’s kitchens at 211 Livingston Ave. in New Brunswick, is the one you can thank for the delectable bread found at the Dinky Bar and Kitchen in Princeton and several restaurants in New Brunswick including the Frog and the Peach, the Dillinger Room, Inc. Restaurant, Destination Dogs and Destination Dogs’ new location in Philadelphia.

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Ironbound Wine and Food Expo showcases the best of Iberia

During one of the first dinners I ever had in the Ironbound, Newark’s bustling neighborhood filled with over 200 Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish restaurants, wine shops, bakeries and markets, I was shocked to have my dining companion, a Portuguese immigrant and frequent Ironbound visitor, abruptly pull my menu away from me.

“Trust me,” he said. “We are only going to need one entrée for the two of us.”

I didn’t believe him until our chosen dish — carne de porco à alentejana, otherwise known as cubed pork and clams braised in a garlic, white wine and fresh coriander sauce — arrived and I was greeted with more than enough food to feed two hungry people, for about $20.

This perception — that one can get a huge, nice meal for cheap — in the Ironbound is, as any Ironbound visitor knows, correct. However, as the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID) plans to prove through its first Ironbound Wine and Food Expo on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8, there’s a lot more to Iberian cuisine in America than a low-cost meal.

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