Month: January 2017

Valentine’s Day getaway in historic Frenchtown

With Valentine’s Day coming up, many of us are finding ourselves scratching our heads trying to plan something special for our valentine.

Should we go on a romantic getaway? Head to a nice dinner out? Or do something more low-key?

Luckily for Central Jersey residents, there’s a destination for all of that and more right in Hunterdon County’s Frenchtown, a small town with countryside charm, locally owned shops, romantic walking trails, historic hotels and fine dining eateries.

“Frenchtown provides visitors the opportunity to choose just what type of Valentine’s Day getaway they want,” said Marie D’Costa, co-owner of the National Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel built in 1833 in Frenchtown at 31 Race St.

“This little gem of a town offers an expansive range of culinary outlets, a gold-standard spa, athletic endeavors such as biking, hiking on 300-plus acres of preserved land at the outskirts of town, yoga and more,” said D’Costa. “Plus, there is the simplicity of strolling hand-in-hand with your loved one down beautiful streets lined with Victorian and period houses.”

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New Somerset business makes meal delivery service personal

It’s dinnertime again.

And instead of having a meal planned, with ingredients laid out and ready to cook for our not-so-patient families, many of us find ourselves peering in the fridge, wondering what we are going to make and how we are going to find the time to do it.

In today’s world of long commutes, busy schedules and extra hours at work, this is a familiar conundrum, and it’s is why meal delivery services such as Blue Apron, Plated and Home Chef have grown in popularity. They allow subscribers to select a variety of meals in advance, and then have the ingredients, accompanied with cooking instructions, shipped right to the customers’ doors.

Now, such services aren’t the perfect recipe for everyone. They usually require customers to subscribe for weeks at a time, and convenience comes at a fairly high price right at the start. Not everyone likes the idea of meals sitting on their doorsteps all day long, and of course, while you have the ingredients, you still have to assemble and cook everything. And in today’s transparency-valued world, people like to know where the ingredients are coming from, too.

Sesame chicken from Simply Delicious Dinners. (~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

Sesame chicken from Simply Delicious Dinners. (~Courtesy of Simply Delicious Dinners)

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Down Home Cookin’ brings the South to Central Jersey

FRANKLIN PARK – Southern food — and people — both have one thing in common when it comes to their reputation: comfort.

Traditional Southern foods, such as collard greens, cornbread and fried chicken, are known for making you feel right at home and Southern people tend to do the same. Those are also two of the reasons why Down Home Cookin’ and Catering, a new restaurant and catering business in Franklin Park, seems like it was dropped in Central Jersey straight from the South.

“Someone commented on our Facebook page and said, ‘The food is amazing but the people are better,’” said Ariene Wilson, an East Windsor resident who co-owns the business alongside her husband, Arman. “I think they go in hand, which keeps people coming back. This is where we grew up, so we feel right at home.”

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Skunktown Distillery ready to pour in Flemington

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 1/17/17

Throughout Central Jersey, craft breweries have been popping up as quick as you can pop off a cap, pulling in visitors eager to tour the facilities, sample beer and learn about brewing.

However, in terms of distilleries, Hunterdon County has been lacking. That is until Skunktown Distillery — named for the original name of Sergeantsville, “Skunktown,” which is the hometown of co-owners Caine Fowler and Paul Hyatt — opened for business on Dec. 22, making it the first in Hunterdon County and one of the few in the state.

“America is currently going through a distillery trend which is similar to what craft beer went through,” said Fowler. “It’s currently a challenge to go through the licensing process, paperwork and investment. However, we were enjoying some moonshine in May or June of 2015 and we said to ourselves, hey, we’re smart enough, we can figure out how to make this.”

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Portuguese Fisherman takes diners to Portugal from their plate

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 1/10/16

Here in chilly New Jersey, we’re all dreaming of a seaside getaway. Thanks to the Portuguese Fisherman, a staple of Portuguese cuisine in the South River community for the last 40 years, you can escape to picturesque Portugal — without ever getting on a plane.

To take visitors on a much-needed post-holiday “trip,” The Portuguese Fisherman will host “A Tasting Dinner Through Portugal” on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m., a six-course meal with specifically paired wines for $125 per person, which includes tax and tip.

Although the full menu will only be discovered by attending guests on the date of the dinner, they can expect to taste items such as bacalhau, or Portuguese salt cod, octopus from Algarve, a region in Portugal, marmalade and cheese as well as game, such as goat, rabbit or duck.

Bacalhau, or Portuguese salt cod. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Portuguese Fisherman)

Bacalhau, or Portuguese salt cod. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Portuguese Fisherman)

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5 best small towns in Central Jersey

Now that the holidays are over, many of us are finding ourselves scratching our heads — what are we supposed to do on chilly, winter weekends now that Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s are behind us?

Luckily for Central Jerseyans, there are plenty of quaint small towns throughout the region filled with shops, restaurants and unique attractions that make for great day trips.

Since most of the attractions within these bustling small towns are housed indoors, you’ll have a respite from the cold throughout most of your trip — plus, as long as you don’t spend too much time inside one of the eateries or bars, you’ll be able to walk off some of those holiday cookies.

Somerville. Photo by Jenna Intersimone

Somerville. Photo by Jenna Intersimone

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