If Only…Private Pub Tour of New York

We began our day with brunch at classy Philip Marie before we met our tour guide at the White Horse Tavern across Hudson Street. Some clouds, temps in the high forties–a comfortable day for some light walking and more pub hopping coupled with knowledgeable narratives by one of New York’s accomplished actors. (Hooray for employing actors.)

Philip Marie was scrumptious! We enjoyed hearty grilled chicken BLTs and waffle fries plus coffee to fortify ourselves for the brisk afternoon. We abstained from the hemp-infused coffee–a popular menu addition to the cuisine all along Hudson Street.

After brunch, we adjourned to the White Horse Tavern after a stop at Teich Toys , where you could spend a long time looking, and we snapped up the last unicorn clock.

At White Horse, we enjoyed a warm-up wine with our guide, Malka, from If Only . This tour group knows what it’s doing–all afternoon, Malka regaled us with her extensive knowledge of Old Greenwich Village, including tidbits of literary gossip and architectural oddities and building codes on our itinerary between the White Horse, the Kettle of Fish , and Marie’s Crisis Café , a dive bar whose “crisis” gets its name from pamphlets by Thomas Paine.

Along the route, we stargazed at the residences of everyone from writers Edna St. Vincent Millay to Hart Crane to e.e. Cummings to famous actors, Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, while learning about the drinking foundations of everyone from Dylan Thomas to the Beat poets and writers.

We enjoyed our walk back in time. When it was time to go, the New York sky did what it does so well (see photo) offering up a gorgeous sunset. A good day was had by all!

#New York

Where do you get the kale in the winter? Ask Farm-To-Table Agricola Restaurant in Princeton!

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So, it seems a little nutty to be heading to a farm to table restaurant when the mercury can’t find its way above freezing, right? But I’m on a mission to find kale salad, so I’m taking the 40-minute trek to Princeton.

Agricola: Fenwick Hospitality Group

With a nod to the previous establishment, Lahiere Restaurant, a nearly century-old Princeton institution, Agricola  opened to great fanfare in 2013. Big shoes to fill, and as a sentimental gesture, the Lahiere sign will continue to hang, in homage, above the street. Executive Chef and Partner, NJ-born Josh Thomsen has brought Napa credibility to the challenges of farm-to-table in the sometimes wintry Garden State. Along with partner Jim Nawn who owns the nearby Skillman farm cultivated by Steve Tomlinson, later joined by Kyle Goedde, Fenwick Hospitality Group has brought delight-your-mouth-and-senses meal experiences to the area. Fenwick also introduced the French brasserie Cargot, across from Princeton’s McCarter Theatre last year, and they also operate the nearby Dinky Bar & Kitchen. Welcome additions to the local scene.

Savoring the Farm-To-Table Experience

Ambience is casual and Agricola simply furnished with a lot of wood—tables, floor–and ceramics on the walls. When it’s crowded, the dining room is not the place for an intimate meal, but if you are looking for convivial and loud, you’ll enjoy. My meal was enjoyed near the end of the lunch hour where noise subsided gradually to more peaceful surroundings.

Needing to take off the chill, I began with the smooth, delicate local potato and leek soup finished with crème fraiche and chives and crispy croutons. The soup arrived at a perfect temperature for immediate consumption so necessary on a chilled winter day. I had planned ahead to try a desert, so I followed up with the crave-worthy organic kale salad, dressed with radish and carrots, pumpkin seed vinaigrette—generous and delicious. Next time, I will doubtless be tempted by various items, including LoRé Beet Rigatoni, or possibly Hangar Steak, if they are still available. Prices peaked at $17 for the Margherita Flatbread appetizer, or $25 for the steak, with plenty of options. The wine list is international and the bar presents whimsically titled libations—“Wake Up and Smell Four Roses”—along with non-alcoholic hot and cold selections, including house-made flavored sodas.

Saving the best for last, I had to try the ricotta beignets and fruit, and I am so happy I did.  Don’t scold. The fluffy beignets arrived with sweet roasted seckel pears, currants, milk chocolate crema, almond crumble. These accompanying flavors were the perfect complement.

Beignet

What about the Kale?

The kale salad is one of Agricola’s specialty items, so I had to ask because it’s February, and the local farms are covered with snow and ice. The answer was gladly researched by the wait staff, and I learned about Zone-7 Farm—a New Jersey farm-fresh distribution service for 120 sustainable area farms.  They deliver produce, grains, meat, and dairy to restaurants, school services, and supermarkets from New York to Philly. The Great Road Farm itself cultivates 120 different vegetables during the growing season. In the summer, yes, there’s also some greenhouse farming to keep the kale flowing.

Treat Yourself Well

Agricola is a warm and welcoming restaurant, serving brunch on the weekends, lunch on weekdays, dinner, and an abbreviated afternoon bar menu. Ahem—it’s almost Valentine’s Day—take a look at the menu.

Open every day, Agricola is located at Eleven Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08542.

Reservations recommended, especially for large parties:
(609) 921 2798
info@agricolaeatery.com

 

 

Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!–Happy Birthday, Eddie Palmieri.

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I always approach tribute concerts for elder musicians with a some trepidation—don’t ask me about the last time I saw Brian Wilson—but last night’s performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center, featuring the belated 80th Birthday Celebration for Eddie Palmieri (continuing tonight at JALC and then on tour) transcended any hopeful expectations I might have entertained. Mr. Palmieri, who turned 80 in December, took to the stage at the Rose Theater just after 8 pm, and the self-described “frustrated percussionist” delivered two hours of muscular performance energy in a dazzling array of styles, each infused with the Latin Jazz of the moment. Happy Birthday! I am celebrating, still. I sometimes like to sit behind the band to watch the organization, and last night, it was fun to watch the collaboration between Palmieri and trumpeter Brian Lynch—a former member of Eddie’s Afro-Caribbean Jazz group—corralling their joyful anarchy into smooth sound. You can catch some of the energy at this link to a rehearsal, and I’d say run to get a ticket to some event on this tour, which is also promoting Palmieri’s newest release: Sabiduría. An apt title, the music celebrates the wisdom the Spanish Harlem-born virtuoso has gathered in a 50-year career.

 

My day began with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art highlighted by an exhibit on 1960s artists. I particularly appreciated the photography sections, led by the works of Diane Arbus. I appreciated the Picabia exhibit though sometimes the put-on’s taxed my patience. I was glad for the exhibits on the Ourslers and their interest in the occult. Strange museum site—the great hall surrounded with photographs of people from birth to age 100, hardly anyone was looking at the photos. In the center of the hall a huge, inviting seating area beckoned, and nearly everyone on it was engaged with a cell phone. We are never where we are anymore, are we? Maybe these are “un-happenings,” and we should consider the artistic moments? Still pondering that, but I can’t beat back the tide anymore.

 

Later on, since I planned to attend the pre-concert lecture at JALC, I savored an early dinner at Maison Kayser on Broadway and Columbus Circle. A quite reasonably priced and delicious prix fixe menu gave me that feeling of being in Paris for an hour and a half. Dining room or take-out to Central Park when the weather is better—this beautiful store is a find, open 7 am to 10 pm. Dinner begins at 4, and no one will rush you. Almond croissants, desserts with names like Adagio and Moccacino were irresistible. Several locations in New York City, 100 shops in 20 countries. Do not ignore!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blooming November in Kennett Square, PA: The Chrysanthemum Festival

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I needed to escape the election noise today, and, November not usually being flower-full, the road took me to Longwood Gardens, a guaranteed Chrysanthemum Festival. Thousands of chrysanthemums–an early birthday treat for me. So I “rolled down the window and let the wind blow back my hair” to get there. Now, as I go through my photos of the day, I’m listening to the Boss, and feeling full of hope about tomorrow. Don’t tell the roses it isn’t summer any more. There’s something about a rose beside the topiary. The blooms never end at Longwood–open all year.

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My Light Bulb Moment: Menlo Park Museum

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In a tower monument that you could easily miss, near the Menlo Park Mall, hidden uphill in a wooded area of Edison, NJ, at 37 Christie Street, the turn marked by a tiny sign (thank goodness for GPS), sits a testament to human ingenuity: Edison’s first incandescent bulb, invented in 1879 (patented 1880): The Menlo Park Museum, home of the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.

With other more energy-efficient bulbs or lights eclipsing this once universal symbol of progress, it may soon get lost in our memory. Not wanting this to be the secret known only by school children whose districts still fund field trips, I decided to visit to see what all the fuss was once about. I once wrote about Edison’s contribution to the mechanical toy industry for the Encyclopedia of New Jersey (Edited by Maxine Lurie and Marc Mappen), and it felt like time to check in  with my topic again. Dancing Uncle Sam atop the phonograph did not disappoint.

The 131-foot high deco tower and neighboring tiny museum structure do not disappoint. Edison’s friend Henry Ford moved some of Edison’s buildings to his Greenfield Village  museum in 1929 to recreate the lab and the Thomas Edison National Park in West Orange, NJ houses Edison’s equipment, but a genuine feeling for the late nineteenth and early twentieth century life of an American inventor unfolds at this little museum that can in New Jersey.

My highlights: Listening to the sounds of the first phonograph in the museum and trying to capture the eerie presence of an “Eternal Light” lit by Thomas himself in 1929 that has been glowing ever since at the tower site, even through a 1937 lightning storm that destroyed the earlier tower around it.

The docents are excellent, and the adjoining Edison State Park provides a woodland retreat to savor all those lively thoughts  you’ll be having about invention and creativity in the eleventh American colony. Make some time for inspiration!  #MenloParkMuseum #ThomasEdison

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If Looks Could Fill!–Overheard at the Rutgers Farm Market

“…Well, I just came from Whole Foods because I wanted to check out the chard here.”  And what a wise woman she turned out to be. Look at these colors from the organic vegetables presented by Chickadee Creek Farm:

Every Friday throughout the summer, 11-5, Rutgers hosts a cornucopial feast for the eyes and other senses. You can make  a meal of it all as you walk around, lunch on the prepared meals, have a few tasty snacks, and find all the ingredients for dinner in one trip.

I couldn’t resist the possibility of specialty granola, particularly a gluten-free variety prepared by Smart Snackbites, which was not only tasty, it was healthy and light. The owner, Alpana, uses juice to bind it, and the result is delightful.  I had a lovely chat with Alpana and her husband, Gautam, who founded their delicious business thanks to a recession.

The owner has a gift for blending spices–I also sampled the vegan oatmeal and sesame nut cookies. Very light, featuring apricot and ginger in the one, and lemon and cardamom in the other. Yes, sometimes you need to have a cookie lunch.

Next door was Bounty granola–also delicious if you prefer maple syrup and brown sugar. Don’t get me started! Flowers for your table? New plants for your garden? No problem. The Display Gardens have you covered. Natural soap? Eric, a chemist, knows his stuff. We had a long talk about what lathers and what doesn’t.

Located at 112 Ryders Ln, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, Phone: 732-932-8451, the Rutgers Farm Market fronts the awesome display gardens, which you can visit before lunch and make a day of it.

Links:  Smart Snackbites

Chickadee Creek Farm

Franklin Soap Works

All photos and text Copyright 2015 Deborah S. Greenhut

Certain Pleasures of Travel

On the road again. Thanks to the Doubletree Suites by Hilton in Boston,Cambridge, MA, I enjoyed this gorgeous view of the Charles River during a stay in 2014. They gave me a top floor room, which included a private terrace. I almost never left to enjoy the surrounding sites because it was so wonderful to watch the world go by. Anything but beige here!

Sunrise Charles River Cambridge MA 2014-08-07 16.30.30