Tag Archives: Griggstown Farm

Chefs Team Up with Griggstown Farm; Mistral Opens in King of Prussia; Where to Dine on Excellent Ramen & Breast of Veal, Finding Nectar on a Human Scale

Talk about a mixed bag! Today’s post runs the gamut from coq au vin and crispy pork riblets to authentic ramen and hard-to-come-by Italian-style breast of veal. Oh yes: and how you can experience collecting nectar like a bee.

Inaugural Video of Griggstown Farm Chicken Channel Features Chef Chris Albrecht of the Ryland Inn

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Coq au Vin, Griggstown Chicken Channel

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Chris Albrecht & George Rude, Sr., Griggstown Chicken Channel

 

 

 

 

 

The folks who raise Griggstown’s chickens and other premium, all-natural birds have launched a YouTube channel that has New Jersey’s top chefs demonstrating how to put those birds to excellent use, and pairs each video with related special offers. I sat in on the first taping and got the behind-the-scenes scoop while Albrecht demonstrated making coq au vin. My full report here, in the March issue of The Princeton Echo.

A Second Mistral Opens in Newly Expanded King of Prussia Mall

The folks behind Princeton’s popular Elements and Mistral restaurants – Steve Distler & Scott Anderson – opened their second Mistral on March 1st, across the river in Pennsylvania. As I reported a  few months back, chef de cuisine for this newly constructed space is Craig Polignano, who left the Ryland Inn (and moved to Conshohoken) to take the post.

The bright and airy restaurant is larger than its older sibling – 111 seats inside and  48 outside – but just as stylish, although with a different aesthetic, dominated by pale, whitewashed wood tones accented with bright azure.

Below are highlights from my first meal there. Three of us shared seven dishes, each so impressive that it was hard to pick favorites. The menu structure is mostly small plates (like its Princeton forebear), but the selections are unique to KOP. If you go: locating the restaurant is tricky. It’s next to Nieman Marcus. Look for the sign for Grand Lux Cafe – Mistral is below.

Maitake

Pork Riblets w/scallion pancake, shiitake, English cucumber – Mistral KOP

Cavatelli

Ricotta Cavatelli w/roasted squash, capers, pecorino tartufo, & yolk – Mistral KOP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salmon

Olive Oil-Poached Organic Salmon w/onion, baby beet, mustard, buttermilk – Mistral KOP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought logo

My Food for Thought column in March’s Princeton Echo is chock-full of happy finds, including:
A don’t-miss, 3-course ramen meal prepared by an expert is coming up for one night only inside Princeton’s Nomad Pizza restaurant. Here are pics from a previous one:

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Frank Caponi’s Mushroom Ramen

 

ramen-chasu

Frank Caponi’s Chasu Ramen

 

 

 

 

 


A Central Jersey Italian restaurant offering roast breast of veal that beats my own mother’s version. Here’s a pic from the meal that won me over:

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Breast of Veal, Chick & Nello’s Homestead Inn

Think you know all about how bees gather nectar? I guarantee you’ll be gobsmacked by what you didn’t know at this small but captivating display in Ewing at The College of New Jersey.

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Jessica Rath, Resonant Nest, Photo by Brian Forest

All details here.

 

Agricola’s New Chef; Savory Squid Guts in Berkeley; New Offerings at Central NJ Farmers Markets

Meet Executive Chef Crawford Koeniger of Agricola

Crawford Koeniger, Agricola Princeton

Crawford Koeniger, Agricola Princeton. mercerspace.com

As you likely know by now, that Princeton restaurant’s opening chef, Josh Thomsen, has decamped to Florida. Rising up in the kitchen to take his place is Crawford Koeniger, whom I chatted with as we strolled Great Road Farm, which supplies much of the raw materials for his kitchen. Here’s my profile, in the June issue of The Princeton Echo.

Ippuku: Not Your Usual Sushi Joint

There are many excellent restaurants in downtown Berkeley (CA), but none more exciting than Ippuku, an izakaya renowned for its uncommon but authentic small plate offerings and large selection of shochu – Japan’s clear, distilled spirit. On a recent visit I found even its familiar dishes, such as skewers of grilled chicken breast, uncommonly good. Here are some highlights.

Favas with black sesame, Ippuku

Favas with black sesame, Ippuku

After a freebie of a wedge of raw cabbage with excellent miso mayo – you peel off one leaf at a time and dip it into the creamy sauce – we dug into the above favas. Fresh, perfectly prepared, with a deep umami hit. We couldn’t stop eating them. They, and everything that followed, matched perfectly with 2 shochus (the one shown above is Kura No Shikon) that our excellent server guided us to. Both were made from sweet potatoes (other bases can be barley, rice, or buckwheat), and both seemed to me to be akin to vodka, only much softer and more mellow. Mine also had a slight smokiness that brought to mind peaty Scotch.

I apologize in advance for the photo that follows, for 2 reasons. 1. It’s not the best pic I’ve ever taken and 2. It’s of squid sashimi in salted, fermented squid guts. But I am compelled to include it because this is one of the best and certainly most intriguing things I’ve eaten in a long time. Keep in mind these words of wisdom from Anthony Bourdain: ““Always entertain the possibility that something, no matter how squiggly and scary looking, might just be good.”

Squid sashimi in salted squid guts. Ippuku, Berkeley

Squid sashimi in salted squid guts. Ippuku, Berkeley

“It tastes like the ocean,” was my guest’s rapt reaction.  I enjoyed the contrast between the pleasantly chewy strands of squid sashimi and the rich, salty, silky sauce-like substance.

Ippuku's chicken skewers

Ippuku’s chicken skewers

Not your everyday yakitori. Here, it’s chef’s choice of chicken parts that can include cartilage, tail, and skin. Ours had gizzard (most tender I’ve ever had), wings (my guest’s fave), breast, thigh, and neck (my fave). We also enjoyed a skewer of beef tongue and grilled, split salted horse mackerel.

Tofu pouch stuffed with local megumi natto, Ippuku, Berkeley

Tofu pouch stuffed with natto, Ippuku, Berkeley

Another showstopper is an uncommon tofu dish: Local, organic Megumi natto (fermented soy beans) in a tofu pouch. Salty, pleasantly bitter, with a stringy cheese-like funk. The textural contrast between the slightly sticky (some might say slimy, but in a good way) beans and the grilled pouch (think: dry omelet exterior) is masterful.

Ippuku is the brainchild of Christian Geideman, who learned these techniques in Japan. The space, a mash-up of Japanese roadhouse and modern industrial, matches the food and includes semi-enclosed tatami rooms as well as booths. A $6 per person table charge is assessed in lieu of tip, and the drinks list includes craft beer and sake in addition to shochu.

Farmers Market Updates: Griggstown, West Windsor, Princeton

lillipies at Central NJ farmers markets

lillipies at Central NJ farmers markets

Kielbasa, breakfast sandwiches, & panini are among the new offerings at this season’s batch of farmers markets. Get the delicious particulars, here, in my June Food For Thought column in the Princeton Echo.

 

Big Bad Dad’s NJ Jams; Fancy Food Show Finds & Recipes

“South Jersey Jam” Just One of Big Bad Dad’s Homemade Jams & Jellies

Dan Freeman isn’t really big or bad as far as I can tell (although he is recently back from duty in Afghanistan, so clearly he’s tough). But he is definitely a dad to two little girls, one of whom came up with the name Big Bad Dad’s for his line of all-natural jams, jellies, and fruit toppings. I was happy to make the acquaintance of Dan, his wife, and his jams at the Princeton Farmers Market. I was drawn in by his imaginative combinations, like this curried carrot butter:

Big Bad Dad's Curried Carrot Butter

Big Bad Dad’s Curried Carrot Butter

But what most piqued my interest was his South Jersey Jam, a savory blend of tomatoes, peppers, and garlic seasoned with lemon juice. It’s fresh tasting and nicely balanced – not too heavy on the garlic. Here’s what Freeman says about it: “This jam was born when my friends and I were taste testing a tomato jam I had made. We started by adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that next thing you knew I had the flavor of the old neighborhood. Great on hoagies, hamburgers, hot dogs, eggs, or whatever you can imagine. Enjoy the flavor of the old neighborhood.” Hoagies? Instead of subs? Clearly, the man hails from South Jersey.

Big Bad Dad's South Jersey Jam

Big Bad Dad’s South Jersey Jam

Big Bad Dad’s flavors reflect the seasons, and often sell out. Blackberry Basil Jam should be available soon; Blueberry Lime already is. Fall flavors include Cranberry Horseradish, Pear Chocolate, and Pear Ginger. Hotheads will enjoy Orange Habanero Marmalade and Hot Pepper Jelly but will have to wait for Inferno Jam to come back online.

Speaking of online, you can order jars ($7 for 8 oz.) through the Big Bad Dad’s website. In addition to the Thursday Princeton Farmers Market, Freeman has a table at the Ocean City Farmers Market on Wednesdays, and some of his jars are stocked at Savory Spice in Princeton.

Trends, Finds, & a Cache of Great Recipes from the Fancy Food Show

Summer Fancy Food Show 2014

Summer Fancy Food Show 2014

My full report on the Summer Fancy Food Show, held a few weeks ago in NYC, is coming out the first week in August in US 1, but in the July 18th issue of the Princeton Packet I preview the trends (e.g., sriracha in everything) and share these four excellent recipes I snatched up that make the most of Jersey’s summer bounty:

– Bibb salad with red onion, oranges, and feta drizzled with super-trendy beet finishing vinegar (you can substitute balsamic)

– Mexican grilled poussins with avocado-tomato pico de gallo. An ideal summertime use for butterflied poussins from Griggstown Farm

– Oven-baked candied bacon with aromatic bitters. This is what my next breakfast or brunch guests can expect to be treated to.

– Maple peach yogurt parfait with granola. Jersey peaches are now in high season, but they reach new heights when paired with Jersey maple syrup from Hopewell’s Sweet Sourlands Farms.

The full the recipes and details here.

Ryland Inn Earns 4 Stars; Last-Minute Thanksgiving Side Dishes from NJ Chefs

It’s one stop shopping for both the review and the side dishes at NJMonthly.com! The Ryland review – by my sometime-boss and tough cookie Eric Levin – represents the first “extraordinary” rating bestowed by the magazine in a decade. I dare you to not laugh out loud at Levin’s reporting on being imprisoned in the men’s room.

While you’re at the magazine’s website, take a gander at the collection of holiday side dishes I’ve glombed from chefs and cookbook authors around the state. Among these jewels:


Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins
from Chef Matt Sytsema of Griggstown Quail Farm

Orange Ginger Carrot Puree from Aaron Philipson of Blue Bottle Cafe

Cranberry Acorn Squash from Carol Byrd-Bredbenner’s Fresh Tastes from the Garden State

Potato Turnip Bake from me.

btw: These sides work equally well with ham, so keep them in mind if that’s your Christmas dinner centerpiece.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!