Starting Off the Long Memorial Day Weekend

Though it felt like it may never come, the long Memorial Day weekend is finally here.  Yay!

Chicken caesar salad at the Bog Restaurant

Feeling “Bogged” Down..
It seems like the work weeks are getting longer and longer as the summer gets closer. One thing that helps keep some of my coworkers and me all going is the idea of a fun Friday afternoon happy hour.  Our favorite place to visit and start off the weekend is the Bog Restaurant at the Cranbury Golf Club in West Windsor.

Indoor seating near a fireplace during the winter or outdoor picnic tables in warm weather – like we’re having now – make the Bog a fun place to go any time of year.

The service is excellent and so is the food.

A Walk To Unwind..
As the weather gets warmer, I like to end the work week and begin the weekend with a quiet and peaceful walk.  In Franklin Park, there is a simple, little park called DeLar Park.  The park is small, but has a playground for kids, a ball field, and a paved path.  The path is not very long at all, but it winds its way through a small area of lush trees, and after a long week, it’s just enough to help create a calm and unwinding tone for the weekend.

My relaxing walk in Franklin Park

Time to Write…
When there are only so many hours in the day, sometimes I just can’t find the time to write.

Having a long weekend ahead of me means that there is going to be a little extra time, and hopefully I’ll spend that time writing.  I’m already off to a good start with this blog post, but now I’m going to work on some other projects.  Happily.  Then I’m off to some races, cookouts, and festivals to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday.

Have a great long weekend, New Jersey!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

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Pizza at the Reservoir Tavern

Shrimp Calabrese From Reservoir Tavern in Boonton, NJ

Though I love all kinds of food, every once in a while only a good slice of pizza will do.  In Boonton at the Reservoir Tavern, I found some really great pizza.

First, I tried an order of the Shrimp Calabrese appetizer that was out of this world.  This dish was highly recommended, and I couldn’t resist ordering it to check it out for myself.  The chewy bread and tender shrimp were scrumptious, and once I tasted the spicy and savory broth, I knew why it was such a favorite.  (If the pizza wasn’t already on its way out, I would have asked for more bread to finish up the broth!)

Then came the pizza.  Since this was my first time at the Reservoir Tavern, I figured I should try some of their plain pizza.  So, I went with half plain and a half broccoli rabe and sun-dried tomato combination (not one of their specials, but ingredients from the build-your-own menu).

Don't worry - I made a good dent in this huge pizza!

Piping hot when it was delivered to the table, the crust was crispy, the aroma intoxicating, and it was everything you would want a fresh pizza to be.  I tried a slice each of the plain and the toppings, and both were delicious!

I am looking forward to heading back to try a different variety of pizza – guess which appetizer I’m going to start off with when I do?

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

May 7, 2011

Amazing lunch!

A Grown Up Lunch 
Spending my Mondays through Fridays (between September and June) in a middle school, my lunches often consist of whatever the cafeteria is serving up for the day.  The salad bar we have in school is amazing, and the soups are usually out of this world; however, every once in a while it’s nice to sit down at a table (rather than a student desk) and eat a “grown up lunch.”

Yesterday, a group of coworkers and I got out for a little while and enjoyed an awesome Thai lunch at Tom Yum Goong in East Windsor.  I went with my default choice and favorite Thai dish, the Massamun Curry Chicken, and I was not disappointed! (And since the portion was so big, I have leftovers for lunch today!)

Farmers Market Time
In keeping with the theme of good food, I am excited to get out to local farmers markets to buy some fresh Jersey produce.  Many markets have already opened for the season and some are just about to.  Check out this link from the NJ Department of Agriculture for a listing of farmers markets and find one near you!

Have a nice Saturday!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

The Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Wrap-Up

Delicious BBQ served by Prime in Point Pleasant.

 

 

Good News and Bad News
The good news is that the last couple of days have been packed with really good NJ events.  The bad news, is that (sadly) Jersey Shore Restaurant Week has come to a close.

The fun entertainment for the day was just getting warmed up.

 

 

A BBQ at the end of the event, but at the start of the season…
Saturday, The Elks lodge in Point Pleasant served beer and BBQ when they hosted the event “Get to the Point.”   Guests got to sample a variety of beers (admittedly not something I know very much about).  I can tell you some beers were dark and others light.  (But I really don’t know what any of that really means.)  What I do know a little about is food, and the food served that day was simply amazing!  Prime, the official caterer of the Point Pleasant Elks, served ribs, corn, macaroni salad, chicken chili, and the most amazing pulled pork spring roll!  From the outside, this spring roll looked like it might contain some vegetables or other expected ingredients, but it was like an afternoon BBQ rolled up into a tidy, fried package and placed on our plates.  So delicious!

My parents, enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon at Avenue in Long Branch.

An elegant day at the beach…
Sunday brought a completely different venue and completely different food.  The Avenue, in Long Branch’s Pier Village hosted the final event of the week.  There, wines were paired with a variety of their own menu items.  There were salads, main courses, and desserts to try.  A favorite dish from this event for me was the stuffed zucchini.  The same stuffing was also served in tomatoes, and eggplant, but I think I got the best option!  Wrapping up the event (and the week), I sampled all the desserts that were offered; chocolate crepes with orange and pistachio, creme brulee, and a chocolate cream with fresh whipped cream were all absolutely delicious.

Healthy habits on the horizon…
I can’t use Jersey Shore Restaurant Week as an excuse for not sticking to my diet any more!  (Although it was fun and delicious and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year!)

Just one more, delicious, plate-full of desserts. I promise!

The warm weather is inspiring me to get back on a stricter summer diet and better exercise routine.  Like a lot of people, I can’t do this alone, but it doesn’t look like I will have to.  I found a fabulous, healthy, Jersey blogger and will be checking in on her blog periodically to find some inspiration and motivation to get back into a “healthier habit.”

Check out Erica’s Healthy Habit along with me, and let’s get ready for some warmer weather here in New Jersey!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Shaken, Not Stirred – Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest!

YESTERDAY

The voters' choice!

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week is now in full swing, and I attended a special event (The Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest) at The Mill in Spring Lake Heights.  There, nine bartenders from a variety of fabulous Jersey shore restaurants mixed their signature martinis, all competing for the title of Greatest Jersey Shore Martini.

Guests and invited judges had the opportunity to sample all the drinks and vote for their favorites.  As I walked around and spoke with other guests, it was clear that deciding on a winner would not be easy.  Each bartender had fans in his or her corner, boasting about the different concoctions.

The judges' choice! (photo by Christina Rudczynksi)

However, at the end of the afternoon, winners had to be selected.  Ryan Russell of Shipwreck Grill won the voters’ choice with his Black Pearl, a drink inspired by the women in his family!  The judges’ choice was Chris Asay from Remington’s, and his drink was called Brent’s Blueberry Bomber.  This is definitely a drink to check out, whether you like martini’s or not, because there is a lot of interesting science going on!  Asay injects blueberry puree into locally made honey to create droplets that look like blueberries.  It is really a fun (and tasty) drink!

Chatting with Alison Manser Ertl from The Coast Star. (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

In addition to the talented bartenders, I also met other really fabulous, New Jersey folks including a group of women from a Meetup group called Monmouth Rocks II. They had a great time at the event, and some of them even came dressed to drink in martini t-shirts!  Alison Manser Ertl, from The Coast Star was one of the contest judges, and we got to talk for a bit about how much we both love Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, and so many of the other great things to do in the area.  It was a tightly packed event, so it was easy to (literally) bump into someone new and start a conversation.  Everyone was in “good spirits” though, and so it was a fun time.

There’s still time to check out what other fun events are planned for Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, and partake in the specially priced menus at many Jersey shore restaurants this week.  Make sure to visit their website if you haven’t already!

A sampling of tasty snacks or "martini food." (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

TODAY

This Monday evening, I’ll be heading to 4Sixty6 (also known as NJ’s Vegas) in West Orange for an event sponsored by Palermo’s Bakery and Cake Gallery.  My sweet tooth is ready to try some cake, cupcakes, and pastries!

TOMORROW

I’m not doing anything.  Well, that’s the plan, at least.  I am going to work, but then coming home and resting!

(We’ll see if that actually happens…)

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Jen Flynn, of Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, and I try a martini from Langosta Lounge! (photo by Christina Rudcznski)

With the ladies of the Monmouth Rocks II Meetup group! (photo by Christina Rudczynski)

Kickin’ Off Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

Here's what I wish I was having for lunch today!

For a lot of people, yesterday marked the beginning of baseball season.  For me, it also marked the beginning of Jersey Shore Restaurant Week!  Mom’s birthday celebration continued at the beautiful Dauphin Grill as we sampled amazing appetizers from many of Jersey shore’s most fabulous restaurants.  My favorite dish of the night, by far, was a crab cake sandwich from Klein’s Waterside Cafe in Belmar.  The crab cake absolutely melted in my mouth and was served on a sweet and savory roll.  I could have gone back up to their table for seconds…and thirds.

Other favorite dishes of the night came from a restaurant I’ve been meaning to visit since it opened last year, Trinity and the Pope in Asbury Park.  Their cajun-creole inspired dishes, like Shrimp and Grits, were spicy and convinced me that I really do need to get over there soon for a full dinner!

With Mom, just before we discovered how great those crab cakes were!

I bumped into some old friends at the event and made some new ones as well, like Random Cravings blogger, Holly Burchaell of Monmouth County and Russ Bey of Ocean. Conversation at our table was as great as the food, and we all enjoyed trying some “new” things.  For me, the Rabbit Stuffed Pasta with Marscapone and Truffle Oil (yes, rabbit!) was my something new from Tre Amici.  I was surprised at how delicious it tasted.

And there was more, so much more!  Harpoon Willy’s in Manasquan, Shipwreck Point in Pt. Pleasant, Bay Head Cheese Shop, Matisse in Blemar, Spicy Cantina in Seaside Heights, and Brando’s in Asbury Park all brought scrumptious appetizers that have made their restaurants move up to the top of my “to do” list for this summer.

Beautifully presented (and tasty) dish from Brando's.

Believe it or not, but at the end of the night, I still managed to find room for dessert.  (I admit that I’m usually pretty good at doing this!)  Cookies with creamy fudge bottoms from Sweet Bottom Cookies and mini cupcakes from Sweet Tease topped off a fun food experience.

As I mentioned, this was just the first day the event!  My next stop during Jersey Shore Restaurant Week will be at The Mill in Spring Lake Heights this Sunday for the Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest. Hope to see you there!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

It’s Almost April!

Sometimes Things Get Blurry
Being so close to New York City, many New Jerseyans work in the Big Apple, several major NY sports teams play in NJ (Giants, Jets, Red Bulls) bringing New Yorkers to NJ for the big events, and the line between NY and NJ is a little more blurred than many New Yorkers (or New Jerseyans, for that matter) would like you to believe.  Don’t get me wrong, we still maintain distinct identities, but I, for one, happen to appreciate the blurriness every now and then.

Futhur at Radio City Music Hall in NYC

This past weekend, I crossed the river with a Grateful Dead fan to see a Furthur show.  Furthur, for those of you who are like me and don’t already know, is a band made up of  the remaining members of the Grateful Dead.  The band also plays in NJ (Atlantic City and Asbury).  This show at Radio City Music Hall was a good time and I would definitely check out another Furthur show in the future!

Well-Deserved Pizza
I also got to spend time with John Conde and work on the Notes on the State of New Jersey website this weekend.  I’ve never taken on a project of this magnitude before, and it’s been such a fabulous learning experience for me to see what all goes into building a website from scratch.  I’m so excited about the progress we’ve made so far and can’t wait to share the new updates with you soon!

Also pretty exciting was the delicious lunch break we took while working on the website.  We went over to Inzillo’s Pizzeria and Restaurant in Jackson for some pizza.  While we can compromise pretty well on topics pertaining to the web development, the selection of a common pizza topping was not so easy.  The folks at Inzillo’s worked with us to make a pizza that we both enjoyed.  The next time we work on the site, I’ll definitely suggest going back there for a lunch break!

Mom's birthday dinner at Chili's

 

 

Mom’s Birthday
Yesterday was Mom’s birthday and we celebrated at the Chili’s restaurant in North Brunswick.  My nephews love the chicken tenders and burgers there, and Mom loves the food as well.  To her surprise, the excellent wait staff came out singing with a special birthday dessert for her – and I caught it on camera!

The busy work week at school continues, and I am certainly looking forward to a fun-filled weekend.

It’s almost April and that means lots of awesome springtime New Jersey events coming up…like Jersey Shore Restaurant Week! Make sure you check it out!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl