By Millicent K. Brody
I remember my friend Alvin drooling over a cup of hot chocolate he had while visiting his friendly Lexus dealer last year. It happened to be on one of those cold and snowy mornings. He had an appointment to get his car serviced, and he wasn't about to be deterred by the weather. He made the trip to North Jersey with glee, for his just reward would be his cup of delicious, hotter-than-hot chocolate. But that’s not all he had waiting for him. Along with the hot chocolate was a wicker basket filled with fresh bagels and sides of cream cheese and butter. Not bad, you’re saying. Not bad!
I’m saying, “WOW!”
A great way to start the day, and it’s on the house.
Another friend, Susan, has been getting her hair cut at the same salon for years. She always schedules her appointments bright and early in the morning. Why?
“I come in with the staff,” she says. “That’s when the bagels arrive hot and fresh from the oven, and the coffee is perking. I eat like a queen, and it’s always on the House. I love it!”
Having never been privy to breakfast on-the-house at any place I’ve visited, I was totally blown away when I arrived at Lexus of Edison this past week. As I walked through the showroom, I came upon a group of people lounging in comfortable seats. Some were reading the morning papers, others brought their books, and still others were chatting on their cell phones or text messaging their buddies.
And as I got closer to my destination, I noticed a small counter filled with baskets of muffins and bagels. Being a foodie, I naturally had to inspect the selection. There was a generous variety of chocolate, blueberry, and corn muffins, plain bagels, and a coffee station replete with cups, sugar, milk, and artificial sweetener.
I had just had my breakfast, so I only checked out the fare and headed to my appointment.
But, suddenly it was early afternoon, and we were taking a break. As I left the showroom, I couldn't help but notice that the morning repast had been replaced by a gorgeous platter of sandwiches. There were all kinds of freshly prepared turkey, ham, cheese, chicken, and deli sandwiches, along with some really tempting wraps. Finding this much too difficult to pass up, I indulged in a wrap. It was delicious. I was not handed a bill. I did not leave a tip.
From there, I headed to an appointment with my friendly ophthalmologist. Lucky me. It was time for dessert. There on his special counter was a container of cookies, a big dish of candy, and would you believe more coffee?
So what did I learn?
Time your appointments to coincide with breakfast, lunch, and possibly a mid-afternoon snack. If you’re lucky, you’ll be invited to enjoy a cup of coffee. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get to bite into a bagel with cream cheese or enjoy a Danish pastry. And if you’re really, really lucky, and it’s lunch time, you’ll get the opportunity to choose between a tuna on rye with tomato and lettuce, a sub sandwich, or a generous grilled chicken wrap with lettuce, tomato, and balsamic vinegar.
You cannot afford not to take advantage of every bit of generosity during these tough economic times. Just don’t forget to say, “Thank-you!”
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
By Brianne Harrison
I’ve never been a big coffee drinker, but like most people, I need a little something to get me going in the morning (and, admittedly, to keep me going all day). So what do I turn to? Tea. The venerable drink once most closely associated with Victorian tea parties and meditative Japanese ceremonies has recently become hip again, which is good news for us tea lovers (newcomers and lifers both!) because it means it’s much easier to get our hands on the good stuff.
A lifetime of drinking tea has turned me into a major snob, I’ll admit it. I can’t stand tea from teabags* and instead make it the old-fashioned way—by brewing loose-leaf tea. Plenty of people think loose-leaf tea is a pain—and yes, it is messier and slightly more work than tossing in a bag that can just be thrown away, but loose-leaf tea’s the best kind—it’s typically tastier than what you get in a teabag because it’s a higher grade of tea. It’s definitely worth trying at least once, so you can taste the difference.
But where does one buy this type of tea? As I said, the rise in tea’s popularity has meant an increase in places to buy it. Wegman’s carries loose-leaf tea, and there are quite a few teashops scattered throughout New Jersey. I, however, prefer to order my tea from Adagio, which is based in Clifton and offers pretty much any tea you could possibly want—black, flavored black, oolong, white, green, rooibos, herbal—you name it, they have it. And if they don’t have it, you can easily create a custom blend through their website. If you just want a taste without the commitment of a whole canister, you can order small sample tins for as little as $2. As a bonus for us New Jerseyans, since Adagio is a New Jersey company, your order will most likely be on your doorstep within a business day, maybe two, depending on when you place your order, so no need to pay for overnight shipping!
Another nice thing about Adagio is its website, which provides a wealth of information. If you don’t know the first thing about tea, you can learn everything you need to know there, and if you’re so obsessed you want to live, breathe, and eat the stuff, you can learn how to do that too (their recipe section is great—I can’t wait to go home and make the fresh fig and Assam Melody tea bread or the Darjeeling braised pork).
If you’re still not quite sold on tea, consider the health benefits. Tea has been credited with helping to prevent cavities, fight allergies, improve memory, lower the risk of certain cancers, lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, increase the strength of your immune system, and boost your metabolism. You can’t say that about coffee. And, if loose tea is too much of a hassle, Adagio sells many of its teas in tea sachets, so you get all the benefits of the loose leaf in the convenience of a teabag.
Chocolate/Valentine’s teas: I know what you’re thinking—Chocolate? Really? Ew. But bear with me. This tea really does taste like chocolate. Not Hershey’s chocolate, but a nice, mellow, dark chocolate. It has all the (many) benefits of black tea, and it helps me fight my cravings for sweets, which obviously helps keep the waistline in check. For extra indulgence, try their Valentine’s tea, which tastes amazingly like a chocolate-covered strawberry.
Golden Monkey: This one’s a little bit of a splurge, but it’s worth it. The tea brews up a beautiful golden color and has a wonderful, rich caramel taste to it. It’s great for after dinner.
Assam Melody: My new go-to breakfast tea. A wonderful, hearty basic black with a slightly malty taste to it.
Silver Needle: The queen of white teas. White tea is, apparently, one of the healthiest teas you can drink. This particular tea is the best of the best, which means it, too, is a splurge, but also one that’s worth it. The tea brewed from it is light, floral, and the tiniest bit sweet. Unlike most teas, you can brew this one over and over again all day long without really affecting the flavor.
*When I say teabags, I mean the flimsy paper ones filled with tea dust, not the lovely silky ones filled with whole leaf teas. I consider those tea sachets. I told you I was a snob.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
By Maureen C. Petrosky
You’ve all heard me ‘wine’ about house hunting, so I thought you’d be glad to know it’s over. These past few weeks I’ve been diligently packing boxes, boxes, and more boxes of stuff destined for our next home. When we moved out of our one-bedroom in Manhattan I never thought we’d fill even the attic of this home, which happens to be the size of said apartment, but drunk on space, we have successfully accumulated more than we could possibly ever need. As an admitted serial redecorator, I am weak when it comes to estate sales, flea markets, and yes, I have been spotted taking other peoples’ trash and transforming it into my own treasure. Which is probably why we have so much stuff—not to mention the twins, who have joined us since the last move. Even with all their gear, and my junk habit, this time I have found myself in an unforeseen predicament.
Ordinarily, I pride myself on being two steps ahead, clearing out the clutter in my life and maintaining an annoying level of organization. But I’ve been had. The above-mentioned boxes do hold many necessities most other families of four possess, but it’s our kitchen that’s creating all of the chaos. Whoever thinks about all of the food? Here we are in the final countdown and I am challenged by the odds and ends that have accumulated in my pantry. We are laden down with tons of ingredients I just don’t feel like cooking. The food pantry down the street isn’t interested, as most items are already open—a bag of flour, brown sugar, rice, grits… and the list goes on. I’ve jumped into manwiches, banana breads, and chili already, but now it’s time to pack the pots and pans. So the rest, I’ve decided, will go to friends and neighbors who I know love to cook, and I’m celebrating this decision with an old favorite sip- Chateauneuf- du- Pape. A tongue twister maybe, but this sultry French red is just what I needed to toast a farewell to the adorable galley kitchen I’ve loved and with a heavy heart I raise my glass to images of the next owner stirring his or her own pots and swirling their own glasses and adding to the love and laughter that has been cooking in this home for almost a hundred years. Adieu 813.
Perrin & Fils Chateauneuf- du- Pape, Les Sinards, $40- Smooth and graceful like a ballroom dancer, this red is silky and finishes with finesse. Enjoy with a celebratory dinner or on the kitchen floor knee-high in boxes and glassware. Either way, this wine is smashingly delicious.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
By Brianne Harrison
Why should pets miss out on all the Halloween fun? Especially if that fun helps raise money for animals in need? Dress your pets in their sweetest or spookiest outfits for these “Howl”-oween fundraisers:
The 6th Annual Costume Pet Parade will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Historic Smithville. The event, hosted by PawDazzle Pet Boutique, will feature more than 100 costumed pets. Donations can be made to benefit the Atlantic County Humane Society and Safe Haven Cat Rescue. Take Note: pets must be pre-registered by the 21!
The Greyhound Friends of New Jersey will host their Go Green with Greyhounds Clothing Collection Drive on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Every pound of clean, wearable clothing, shoes and accessories, and soft household items such has bedding and curtains will generate cash to help pay for housing and healthcare for the organization’s rescued greyhounds. For more information, visit greyhoundfriendsnj.org.
Give your dog (and yourself) a treat by enjoying the lovely fall weather at the 10th Annual Bay Head Dog Walk. The registration fee of $10 per dog will benefit the homeless animals at the Jersey Shore Animal Center. The event will include a costume contest with prizes for best costume, as well as adoptable dogs from JSAC. For more information, contact Susan at 732.920.1600 x208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Animal Alliance’s 5th Annual Pet Masquerade will be held at Ely Field on North Main St. in Lambertville from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Enjoy food from the Union Fire Company’s grill team, enter to win door prizes, and enter your pets in the costume contest and parade. Proceeds benefit Animal Alliance, which helps rescue, rehabilitate, adopt, spay, and neuter animals.
If costumed pets aren’t your thing but good food is, you may want to check out the Murder Mystery Dinner on October 25 at Charlie Brown’s Restaurant on Route 70 in Lakewood. Tickets are $40 and include the show, dinner, salad bar, dessert, coffee, and tea, with proceeds benefiting the Jersey Shore Animal Center. To make a reservation, call 732.477.3299.
For those whose tastes run towards the finer things in life, Devon Fine Jewelry is partnering with Meche, a manufacturer of the “Nice Doggies & Pretty Kitties” charm line to host a Jewelry Sale and Showcase October 29-31. Customers can browse selections and submit pet photos for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. Ten percent of revenue raised from the event will be donated to the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge.
And finally, on October 30, Morris K9 Campus will hold its Howloween Costume Party and Movie Night. Bring your dog and enjoy tricks and treats, as well as a showing of Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. There will be a costume contest for both canines and humans, as well as games and refreshments. A portion of the proceeds will benefit 11th Hour Rescue Group of Rockaway. One dog per family. Reservations are required. Call 973.252.5100.
Monday, October 19, 2009
By Pat Tanner
My first trip abroad, shortly after I was married, was to Morocco and I have had a special place in my heart for the foods of North Africa ever since. So on October 29 I plan to make the much shorter but still exotic trip down to Sickles Market for special tastings and demonstrations. Special guests, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, will be members of the Mahjoub family, whose Tunisian estate produces olives, sun-dried tomatoes, harissa, olive oils, and other traditional, authentic condiments. The event, which is free and open to the public, will introduce a new line of specialty food from all around the Mediterranean, Tunisia included.
Shortly after my Moroccan adventure I came across the recipe below in Deborah Madison’s first cookbook and it as been one of my go-to party dishes ever since. It can be made in any season, looks gorgeous in a big glass bowl (you can add black oil-cured olives for contrast), is inexpensive, and can be assembled in a matter of minutes. The carrots are sliced lengthwise into thin, fettucine-like ribbons. Using a swivel-action peeler like Oxo’s makes the job a snap. If you haven’t used orange flower water before, be advised that a little goes a long way. Start with half a teaspoon, taste, and add quarter teaspoons after that.
MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD
“The Greens Cookbook” by Deborah Madison, Reed Business Information, 1987
1 pound carrots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Orange flower water to taste
Peel the carrots and discard the peels. Continuing to use the peeler, scrape the carrots lengthwise, working your way around them, removing strips of carrot about 3/8 in wide. Set them aside in a bowl. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Taste and add more orange flower water if needed. Pour this dressing over the carrots and toss them very lightly with your fingers. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
Makes 4 cups, serving 4 to 6.
Sickles Market is at 1 Harrison Avenue, Little Silver, 732.741.9563, sicklesmarket.com