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

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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)

Tom Brislin is back in New Jersey this week!

YESTERDAY

Tom Brislin, a native New Jersey musician, songwriter and producer is currently living in Nashville to work on his music, but he is back New Jersey for a limited time!

For many years, Brislin was known as part of the NJ-based indie-rock band, Spirling, and now he is recording a solo album and performing solo gigs.  He performed last night at the Barron Arts Center in Woodbridge, and I was lucky enough to get reservations for the “sold out” performance.  Brislin describes his music as, “pop songs with special features” and has worked with legendary artists like Yes, Debbie Harry, Meat Loaf, OK Go, Josh Kelley, Renaissance, Glen Burtnik, and many others.  The house at the Barron Arts Center was packed, and dedicated fans, as well as new ones like me, enjoyed a lively and thoughtful show.

Brislin’s music is available on YouTube and he will be performing one more show here in NJ before he leaves to go back to Nashville again for a while; you can check him out this Friday, April 8th, at the Rockin’ Joes in Kendall Park.

TODAY

I’m taking it easy today…Trying to get caught up with paperwork and email and maybe, just maybe, actually make it over to the gym.  It looks gorgeous outside and as soon as I can peel myself away from this computer, I’m going to get out there and enjoy the nice weather!

TOMORROW

The Jersey Shore Restaurant Week fun continues for me with the Great Jersey Shore Martini Contest at The Mill in Spring Lake Heights.  It’s an afternoon event, and tickets are $40 at the door ($30 if you get them in advance).  They’re boasting that along with the martini samples, there will be “martini food” to taste; I’m looking forward to find out exactly what that means!

Enjoy your Saturday.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

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

Back in the Swing of Things…

I hate to start a post with, “Sorry I haven’t written in a while.”  So I’m not going to.  😉

Instead, I’ll just inform you that the most persistent cold virus has decided to keep me company for the last few weeks, making exploring NJ (and pretty much anything that has required me to be awake) difficult.  I am (finally!!!) starting to feel better and becoming super excited about all of the fun things coming up here in NJ!

This weekend, the Sugarloaf Craft Festival is back in Somerset.  I can’t wait to go check out all the talent artists who will be displaying their work.  Each time I’m there, I pick up something fabulous for my house.  Even if you’ve been there before, you are going to want to go again this weekend; they promise that this show is going to be the best one yet!

The Arts Guild New Jersey up in Rahway has held some pretty fun events lately (which I was luckily able to go see) like an animation night featuring 21 short animation films by artists all around the country, including NJ, and a special listening event for Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, which is set in none other than Grover’s Mill and Princeton, NJ!  If you missed those events at the Arts Guild, rest assured that there are more good things to come; next on the Arts Guild calendar is a fun new exhibit called Bling to check out.

And, my mouth is already watering just knowing that Jersey Shore Restaurant Week is just around the corner.  Beginning on April 1st, for just $20.11, you can enjoy a delicious, three course meal from a number of amazing restaurants along the Jersey Shore.  There are several new participating restaurants that I can’t wait to try!

Hope to see you soon at some of these awesome events!

~Melissa
The Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

If you ask my mother, she’ll tell you that the “best meals she’s ever had” are the ones that she didn’t have to make or serve herself.  (And my mother happens to be a wonderful cook!)  I think a lot of people share her same sentiment and it’s why so many of us enjoy dining out, but simply going to a restaurant doesn’t guarantee quality food, service, or ambiance.  Therefore, many of us get stuck in a rut of going to the same old restaurant time and time again, if we go out to eat at all.  There is nothing wrong with having a favorite restaurant (I certainly have a few of my own), but it’s a good thing to expand your horizons every once in a while and try out someplace new.

Brandl in Belmar, NJ during the April 2010 Jersey Shore Restaurant Week

Searching randomly online or driving down the street looking for “cute” places are options, of course, but they aren’t the best ways to find the quality dining experience you’re ultimately looking for.  You could try asking friends or coworkers where they recommend going, but chances are that they’re stuck in their own ruts and aren’t the greatest of sources.   Well then, what do you do?  If you’re anywhere close to the Jersey Shore, you check out Jersey Shore Restaurant Week and follow their suggestions.

With Jim Flynn at Brandl in Belmar, NJ.

Founder of Jersey Shore Restaurant Week, Jim Flynn, grew up in the Jersey shore area and loves restaurants.  While traveling with his wife, Flynn noticed advertisements for various Restaurant Weeks and wondered why there had never been such an event around the Jersey shore.  Seeking to immediately remedy this oversight, Flynn established Jersey Shore Restaurant Week and quickly began collaborating with the 56 restaurants that would participate in his first, week-long event back in November of 2009.  Three course dinners at participating restaurants cost either $20.09 or $30.09 because Flynn “wanted to give the consumers real value” whether they were interested in casual or formal dining.

In April of 2010, 75 restaurants participated in the second, week-long event (when prices were $20.10 and $30.10),  and six restaurants hosted special events including Brandl in Belmar, NJ.  After consulting with the list of restaurants and events on the Jersey Shore Restaurant Week website, I signed up for the Sam Adams Beer Pairing event at Brandl – four courses (all prepared by Chef Brandl himself), each matched with an award-winning Sam Adams brew.  And to sweeten the deal even further, $5 from each ticket sold was donated to a local food bank.

Each table at Brandl, a compact and uncomplicated restaurant with a checkered floor, red walls, and blue painted tin on the ceiling – known for its “innovative cuisine,” was full when I arrived (a little late) for the beer pairing.  The staff was welcoming and accommodating and the food started coming out right away.  The evening’s focus, of course, was on the beer as well as the food, and not knowing much about beer, I was excited to learn something new.  Representatives from Sam Adams were on hand to advise diners about why the beers were paired with each course and answer questions.

Black Lager

We were first served the Black Lager along side a cheese plate with a variety of tastes and textures including Humboldt Fog goat cheese on truffle toast, apple compote, and assorted nuts.   Next, was a delicate course of warm Cesaer salad and the Coastal Wheat.  The main course, served with the Boston Lager, was (melt-in-your-mouth) braised, slow cooked short ribs, with a port wine demi glace, potato puree, passion fruit, and grilled scallions.  For dessert, a special beer of the Imperial Series, the Double Bock, was served with a warm chocolate souffle.

With Brooke O'Scanlon and the guest of honor at the Brandl Sam Adams Beer Pairing

Having had such a good time at Brandl, I am already looking forward to what Flynn and the Jersey Shore Restaurant Week have cooking November 5th through 14th for the third, week-long event, (when 100 restaurants are expected to participate).  Though, I’ll also have to go back to Brandl to see what their Lazy Lobster Sundays are all about!

The Jersey Shore Restaurant Week special events sold out last time, so you’ll need to make sure to book early if you see one you’d like to attend.  And don’t worry if there are multiple restaurants that you want to visit; Flynn says that many patrons actually go out three or four times during Restaurant Week!  Of course, if November seems like a long time to wait for one of the “best meals you’ve ever had,” made and served by a Jersey Shore restaurant,  you can always visit this list of participating restaurants put together by Flynn and know that each one comes with his expert approval.

Enjoy!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

INFO:
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Brandl
703 Belmar Plaza 9th & Main
Belmar, NJ 732-280-7501
http://www.brandlrestaurant.com