Tag Archives: Nicholas Harary

Review: Christine Nunn’s Picnic on the Square

I can count on one hand the number of restaurants I’ve awarded three-and-a-half stars over the last (gulp) 19 years. Nunn, the award-winning Bergen County chef who’s also the author of The Preppy Chef, got me to do it a few years back with her first restaurant, named simply Picnic, in Westwood. What do I allot her latest, Picnic on the Square in Ridgewood? Check out my review in the February issue of New Jersey Monthly.

NJ Monthly cover feb15

And while I’m looking backward, I’ve only ever given four-star ratings to two NJ restaurants: Craig Shelton’s Ryland Inn and Nicholas Harary’s Restaurant Nicholas.

Groundbreaking NY Times Review; Truffle Season at NJ Restaurants

Am I the only one who thinks it’s a huge deal that NY Times restaurant critic Pete Wells crossed the Hudson for his review of Thirty Acres in Jersey City in last Wednesday’s Dining section? Maybe not as huge as George Washington crossing the Delaware, but still…

English: Washington Crossing the Delaware 1856...

English: Washington Crossing the Delaware 1856-71 George Caleb Bingham oil on canvas, 93 x 146 cm, Chrysler Museum of Art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I admire Wells for being open-minded, and more importantly I think he is the best Times reviewer since Ruth Reichl, both for his culinary insights and his skilled prose. Do you agree or disagree? btw: Wells’ review was a rave. Here’s the link to the restaurant Thirty Acres. Congrats to everyone there!

Truffle Menus at Avenue & Nicholas

Have these restaurants snagged some kind of special deal on black truffles, despite the Perigord beauties going for record prices? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is they’re offering some pretty super-sounding menus that also appear to be fantastic bargains. (Everything being relative, of course).

Avenue, Pier Village, Long Branch

French-born executive chef Dominique Filoni has two distinct truffle menus on tap for January, each at $50 for 3 courses.

From now through the 15th:Avenue Truffle Scrambled Duck Egg
Scrambled Duck Eggs Infused with Truffles

Truffle Risotto with Celeriac, Pine Nuts, and Truffle Espuma

Valrhona Chocolate Truffles
(Pictured above: Avenue’s scrambled duck eggs infused with truffles. Eggs are sealed in a container for a couple of weeks to absorb the aroma, with truffle shavings added during final prep.)

Then, at Avenue from January 15th through the end of the month:

Sea Scallop and Truffle Carpaccio
Trio of Braised Beef Tongue, Oxtail, and Tripe with Truffle Brunoise
House-made Truffle Ice Cream

Chef Filoni is also offering to add shaved truffle to any dish for $15, and will point to which dishes are paired best with truffles.

Nicholas, Red Bank

Black Perigord Truffle, wikipedia.org

Black Perigord Truffle, wikipedia.org

Starting Thursday, January 10th until “the supply of fresh truffles runs out,” here’s what Nicholas Harary and crew are featuring at NJ’s top-rated restaurant, for $125:

Amuse: Black Truffle and Foie Gras Macaroon
First Course:Wild Mushroom, Celery Root Puree, Coconut and Black Truffle
Second Course: Lobster, Black Truffle Dashi, Tokyo Turnip, Red Wine
Third Course: Duck Egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, Tagliatelle, Black Truffle    Fourth Course: Duck Confit and Black Truffle Pot Pie
Dessert: Strawberry, Black Truffle, Sabayon
———————————————————————————————

A Very Personal Hurricane Benefit Dinner

I hadn’t planned on posting anything this week. I didn’t want to distract attention from hurricane relief efforts (not to mention the election). But I just can’t let the following poignant notice from Nicholas Harary go unnoted. If you have ever enjoyed a meal at the hands of these folks, please support them now.

5-Course Dinner to Benefit Hurricane Sandy Victims

“Along with the rest of the Jersey Shore community, our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Our home and restaurant came out of the storm unscathed. Four members of our Restaurant Nicholas family were not as fortunate. Our Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Wilkins, Pastry Chef Kelly Kennedy, Captain Dominic Aviles and Food Runner Jay Bitner lost everything in the storm. Their homes, clothes, belongings…everything. I’m a firm believer that charity begins at home. That’s why this year, instead of our annual anniversary dinner, we will be holding a 5-course dinner with wine pairings to benefit these four individuals and their families. Our food purveyors and staff are donating their resources and time and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Wilkins, Kelly, Dominic and Jay. FEMA and The Red Cross do amazing things, but these four need immediate relief. This money will not change their lives, but it will go a long way to help them take the first steps of their new journey. We hope you will join us.”

Monday, November 26th
6:45pm
$200 per person
Reservations: 732.345.9977
Special Menu to Follow 

www.restaurantnicholas.com

Too Much Restaurant News! Ryland, Nicholas, Brian’s, Rat’s, Eno Terra

Here are pics from a sneak-peak party held on Monday night at the Ryland Inn, which should be open for business in a few weeks. Stay tuned.

This quintessential horse country scene greeted guests

A highlight of the cocktails-and-canapes offerings was a porchetta slider

Brian’s in Lambertville

The first special dinner held last week at this red-hot restaurant (read my 3-star review here) sold out within hours. Here are pics from Brian Held’s 20-course (!) Tour de France. Next up is a more reasonable 10-course tour of Sardinia. I expect it will sell out just as fast, so act fast if you’re interested (details follow below).

The Menu. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Boudin. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Beef Cheeks. Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Courtesy of Fred Ehmann

Here’s the scoop on the Sardinian dinner straight from the restaurant: “Monday ~ September 24 ~ 6:30 pm. Think spit-roasted meats like suckling pig, homemade breads and cheeses, briny gifts of the sea like fish, spiny lobsters, or sea urchin, and much more. One seating—10 courses—$70/person. Call now and reserve a spot; the available tables vanished in no time for the last tour. And please—arrive hungry. 609.460.4148″

Restaurant Nicholas: NJ’s top-ranked chef/restaurateur Nicholas Harary was so impressed with the dozen eggs he was given while touring the farm at Impact OASIS in Middletown that is hosting a walk-around wine tasting/buying benefit there on September 9, from 4 to 6 pm.  A former employee of Restaurant Nicholas is involved with the non-profit Impact OASIS (Ongoing Autistic Success in Society), which led to the visit by Harary and now to this benefit, which includes a copy of Restaurant Nicholas: The Cookbook. For event details, click here.

Rat’s: New Restaurants for 12th Annual Epicurean Palette at Grounds for Sculpture

The nature and architecture of the park

The nature and architecture of the park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On September 30th, regulars among the 1,000 folks who attend this prestigious food and wine benefit will notice some new faces and foods, among them Kevin Sbraga, who was chef at the host restaurant, Rat’s, until his Top Chef win and the opening of his eponymous restaurant in Philly. Other first-timers include The Orange Squirrel (Bloomfield), Daryl Wine Bar (New Brunswick), Kuzina by Sofia (Cherry Hill), and The Peacock Inn (Princeton). For the full line-up and event details click here.

Eno Terra’s Canal Farm in Kingston has a bumper crop…

…and you can buy the surplus. Here’s the info from the folks there: “We offer you box shares. This is a limited offer which will last while our farm’s supplies last. Each week we will choose the best, ripest produce, add our chefs’ recipes and pack them for you. Selection will vary upon what’s ripe and bountiful but you’ll most likely enjoy heirloom tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and greens. The boxes will be available for pickup at Eno Terra on Tuesdays between 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Upon pickup you may also enjoy complementary stuzzichinni (snacks) in the Enoteca. Price: $25 per box; including vegetables and chefs’ recipes. This price will cover our farm costs. We are also looking for volunteers to harvest produce which we will donate to the Crisis Ministry.” You must reserve boxes in advance each week. To register, phone Nirit Yadin at Eno Terra at 609.497.1777.

Restaurants Galore: Brian’s Review, Bernards Inn, Nicholas, Ryland Inn; Plus Win a Trip to Portugal

My 3-star review of Brian’s – chef/owner Brian Held‘s French/Italian bistro in Lambertville that opened earlier this year in the space on Kline’s Court that had been No. 9 – is in the August issue of New Jersey Monthly. Check out the online version here.

NJ Seafood is Having Its Moment

seafood

seafood (Photo credit: kiszka king)

I don’t know if it’s just coincidence or what, but this summer the state’s top-tier chefs are showcasing fish and seafood from local waters like never before. Just a few of the most exciting examples:

The Bernards Inn: For the Garden State Bounty dinner he’ll be cooking at the Beard House on August 9, executive chef Corey Heyer will combine NJ seafood with ingredients from the Inn’s own garden. In a nutshell (or perhaps sea shell):

Hors d’oeuvre of smoked blue fish, Cape May salt oysters, clams (in the form of a shooter), blue crab, and lobster (in the form of a summer roll).

Four courses featuring fluke, Barnegat Inlet scallops, skate, and striped bass.

Dessert is fish-less, and rightly so: Jersey peach tart Tatin with local honey and lavender ice cream.

Bernards Inn wine director Terri Baldwin has selected wines for each course. For the full menu and to make reservations for the Beard House ($130 -$170) click here.

Nicholas: On August 23, Nicholas Harary will feature a one-night-only Tastes of the Sea menu at his top-rated Red Bank restaurant. Cape May salts, NJ Canyon bluefin tuna, Jersey blue crab (joined by sea urchin – not a NJ creature, but oh my!), Barnegat Light scallops, and lobster. $125, or $175 with wine pairings. For the full menu, details, and reservations, click here.

Ryland Inn: No, Ryland 2.0 in Whitehouse is not open yet, but I hear tell it will be soon. Meanwhile, I had a chance to preview the kinds of things executive chef Anthony Bucco has up his chef-jacket sleeve when he guest cheffed at the Stone House in Warren one evening in June. NJ seafood starred in several courses of a memorable meal, among them a perfectly nuanced crudo of yellowfin and yellowtail with baby herbs and Jersey strawberries, and steamed black bass with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and a puree of English peas and mint that was the embodiment of spring in a bowl.

btw: If you haven’t read Tammy La Gorce’s excellent story in the August issue of  NJ Monthly about the Ryland’s new owners, Jeanne & Frank Cretella of Landmark Hospitality, read it here.

Win a Trip to Portugal!

Portuguese wine center of Oporto along the Dou...

Portuguese wine center of Oporto along the Douro river. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The trade association ViniPortugal has launched a U.S. Facebook contest with a grand prize of a five-day trip to Portugal.  The contest runs between now and September 25th, with the winner announced on September 28. I have to admit I haven’t read the rules, but you might want to. Just click here.

A Blind Tasting of NJ Wines & Results of My Llama Meat Experiment

wikipedia

The March issue of NJ Monthly is all about wine. As part of it I was invited to be a judge in and to chronicle a blind tasting of NJ wines. The heady group of experts I was thrown in with were:

*Sue Guerra, marketing director, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace

*Nicholas Harary, chef/co-owner, Restaurant Nicholas (and, btw, former sommelier at Jean Georges)

*Brian Hider, wine director, The Pluckemin Inn

*Tim Hirsch, wine consultant, The Wine Library

*Dr. Gary Pavlis, NJ wine expert & specialist, Rutgers University

*Sharon Sevrens, proprietor, Amanti Vino

*George Staikos, wine consultant, educator & proprietor of The Educated Grape

Click here to find out how we rated 50-plus white, red, and fruit wines submitted by 25 wineries from every corner of the state. The good, the bad, the ugly. And feel free comment here with your own opinion on the state of our state’s wines. Salute!

 As I reported in a previous post, I recently purchased two pounds of ground llama meat from WoodsEdge Wools Farm in Stockton. I cooked it three different ways over three nights, the upshot being that while some experiments worked better than others, I’m happy to make llama meat a part of my life. Why, you ask?

Well, it’s a tasty, lean red meat. As Jim Weaver of Tre Piani had told me, it does indeed resemble pork in texture. But it has its own unique flavor – pronounced but not overpowering, simultaneously tangy and sweet. The first night I made two versions of pan-fried burgers, one with only truffle salt and pepper. It was OK, but when I topped it with First Field Jersey Ketchup, the flavor rounded out beautifully. For the other version I smeared a plain burger (regular salt & pepper) with some herb butter I had left over from a salmon dish the night before. When the butter melted into the cooked burger, it was a match made in heaven.

The next night I created a quick-and-dirty Stroganoff of the llama, sauteed onions and sliced portobello mushrooms, and sour cream. The richness of the sour cream proved a perfect foil; I will never use ground beef for this weeknight go-to dish again.

With the remaining llama I made mini-meat loaves in muffin cups, adding bread crumbs, fresh herbs, minced red onion, an egg, a squirt of lemon juice, and (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit) one finely diced mozzarella stick. This was my least successful dish – bland and a bit dry – although more of that Jersey ketchup helped.

In the end, I realized that any recipe I now have for pork can be substituted with the same cut of llama. (I’m particularly keen to try stew.) Since llama has tons more flavor than most pork, while being leaner, I think it’s a win-win. And here’s a scoop: Plans are in the works at WoodsEdge for offering yak meat by the end of March.