Columns

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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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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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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