Tag Archives: Peacock Inn

HomeFront’s Teaching Kitchen Helping Families Become Self-Sufficient;Yet More Restaurants Opening in Princeton; Making Perfect Porchetta

Long-time Princeton Caterer & Cooking Instructor Teaches Homeless Adults and Children in New State-of-the-Art Kitchen

Christina Crawford’s Wooden Spoon Catering Company was Princeton staple for 15 years. After that, she taught children and adults at the culinary center inside Princeton’s Whole Food. But now that she’s heading up HomeFront’s Teaching Kitchen in Ewing, she told me, “This job is a thousand times better than anything I could have thought about doing.” Find out why, here in my profile in the February issue of The Princeton Echo.

Christina Crawford & Students

Christina Crawford & Students

February Food for Thought: 3 More New Eateries Coming to Downtown Princeton; Dining Deal at the Peacock Inn; Mediterranean Farm-to-Table Dinners at Hopewell Valley Vineyards

Hopewell Valley Vineyards Chef Nikiforos Vaimakis, courtesy Infini-T Cafe Princeton

Hopewell Valley Vineyards Chef Nikiforos Vaimakis (courtesy Infini-T Cafe Princeton)

Gosh, how I love having the central part of our state as my base of operations. One prime example: this February Echo column that’s chock-full of exciting developments. Details on: Jules Thin Crust Pizza, Marhaba, Kung Fu Tea & Noodle House, a new Osteria Procaccini outpost, $49 to dine at the Peacock Inn, $70 for a 5-course meal with wines in Hopewell. My, oh my.

Picture Perfect Porchetta

For some reason I got it into my head that I wanted to attempt porchetta for Christmas this past year. It turned out to be a showstopper (my family took to calling it the Meat Log), and it would make an impressive centerpiece for any winter dinner party.

My porchetta

My porchetta

Now, I’m not going to tell you that forming a jelly roll out of thick slabs of meat and fat is easy, but it’s worth the effort. I followed this Martha Stewart recipe and video for Porchetta with Salsa Verde, using wonderful boneless pork loin and pork belly from Double Brook Farm (which I had pre-ordered from butcher Cole Dougherty at Brick Farm Market).

You know you're onto something when your canine guest plants himself outside the kitchen

You know you’re onto something when your canine guest plants himself outside the kitchen and won’t budge

The stuffing of fresh Mediterranean herbs and garlic featured exceptionally fragrant fennel pollen from Princeton’s Savory Spice Shop. And added bonus was that for days afterwards we enjoyed leftovers of porchetta sandwiches on Terra Momo Bread focaccia.

Peacock Inn’s New Chef is AlreadyGone; Corkscrew Wine Shop Expands; Lillipies on the Move; More

Sam Byrne Summarily Departs Peacock; Lillipies Moving into Princeton Shopping Center; Turning Point Opens 11th Eatery at Mercer Mall

Details here, in my August Food for Thought column in The Princeton Echo

Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop Expands

Princeton Corkscrew, Courtesy The Princeton Echo

Princeton Corkscrew, Courtesy The Princeton Echo

Owner Laurent Chapuis tells which marketplace demands he responded to by adding more showroom space to his shop, which has been on Hulfish Street since 1997. My interview, here, also from the August issue of The Echo.

 

All-Princeton Post: Scott Anderson Dishes on the New Elements; Manuel Perez Departs The Peacock Inn; Aurelio’s Opens on Leigh Ave.

Everything You Wanted to Know about the Re-launching of Elements

Turns out that since its closing last year to relocate to a new space on Witherspoon Street, every aspect of the Elements experience has been examined, reconsidered, and altered – if not radically transformed. I sat down with chef/owner Scott Anderson and got the who, what, where, why, when, and how of the new Elements, which is expected to debut within weeks. Here’s my 2,500-word report, in the July issue of The Princeton Echo.

Scott Anderson, The Princeton Echo, July 2015

Scott Anderson, The Princeton Echo, July 2015

Change of Chef at The Peacock Inn

Manuel Perez, who had been executive chef since the Peacock Inn’s own relaunch five years ago, has departed. Barry Sussman, the owner, is expected to announce his replacement at any moment. Here are the details, as I reported them in my Food for Thought column in that same issue of The Echo:

Manuel Perez Representing the Peacock Inn at Epicurean Palate, 2012

Manuel Perez Representing the Peacock Inn at Epicurean Palate, 2012

“Owner Barry Sussman announced in mid-June that Perez, who had been executive chef since 2010, when the inn and restaurant’s dramatic, multi-million dollar renovation debuted, was leaving to become chef de cuisine at Bouley restaurant in New York. Perez had worked for famed chef David Bouley early in his career, eventually moving to NJ to work at Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank and then moving over to the Peacock. Departing with Perez is his wife, Cynthia, who was the restaurant’s pastry chef. At press time Sussman was close to naming a replacement. He told New Jersey Monthly that chefs from two-star Michelin restaurants were in the running. Stay tuned.”
Update: Sam Byrne, formerly of Cross & Orange in Asbury Park, has been tapped for this position.

Aurelio’s Cocina Latina Opens on Leigh Avenue

Aurelio's Princeton

Aurelio’s Princeton

Rocio Lopez hails from Oaxaca; her husband, Marco Gonzalez, from Guatemala. The menu of their cheerful, lemon-yellow cafe reflects both homelands. In truth, I wish the menu had more Guatemalan dishes, because the standout dish on a recent lunch was housemade pupusas with chicharron and cabbage slaw.  Aurelio’s took over the quarters of what had been Tortuga’s Mexican Village, before that restaurant moved directly across the street. Tortuga’s is a longtime favorite of Princetonians. Lopez says she’s not worried, though.

Sweet flowers at Aurelio's, Princeton

Sweet flowers at Aurelio’s, Princeton

More details are here, in my July Food for Thought column in The Echo, along with tidbits about two new Central NJ farmers markets that have out-of-the-ordinary missions and unique rosters of farms. And, oh yes: I divulge my favorite source for fennel pollen.

Fall Festival in Princeton (with recipes); Epicurean Palette Report

Witherspoon Grill’s Upcoming Harvest & Music Festival Hits Me Where I Live (literally and figuratively)

I like nothing better than when several local businesses and organizations team up for a family-friendly event that benefits a worthy area non-profit. If it also combines good food, drink, music, and fun activities in an outdoor setting during my favorite season and in my hometown, well so much the better.

These elements and more will come together on Sunday, Oct. 13, at this all-day festival to be held on Hinds Community Plaza – downtown Princeton’s popular gathering spot adjacent to the library on Witherspoon Street. A portion of the day’s proceeds will benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Get the details in my Princeton Packet column, right here.

And here are the associated recipes for crab cakes, uber-restorative “green monster” juice, and chocolate crepes with chocolate chip ricotta filling (restorative in their own way).

WITHERSPOON GRILL’S CRAB CAKES

1 pound crabmeat
1 tablespoon chopped green onions or scallions
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon horseradish
1 tablespoon Creole mustard (such as Zatarain’s)
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs

In a large bowl, mix together onions, mayonnaise, lemon juice, horseradish, mustard, Creole mustard and Old Bay seasoning. Carefully fold in (by hand) the crab meat, until thoroughly combined. Add bread crumbs and gently mix until fully incorporated. Form into 4 or 5 patties. Broil or pan-sear until golden brown.
Makes 4 to 5 patties.

TICO’S EATERY & JUICE BAR “GREEN MONSTER JUICE”

3 large leaves organic kale
3 handfuls organic baby spinach
4 stalks celery
1 small organic cucumber
1 inch organic ginger
1 medium lemon, rind removed
1 medium granny smith apple

Put all ingredients through a juicer or a press.
Makes 1 serving.

BUTTON’S CREPERIE CHOCOLATE CREPES WITH CHOCOLATE CHIP RICOTTA FILLING

For the filling:
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup of semisweet mini chocolate chips
For the chocolate crepes:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for sprinkling
Semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, for sprinkling

  1. For the crepe: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine all the crepe ingredients and process for 10 to 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides and process again for another 5 seconds. Transfer the mix to a medium size bowl, cover, and chill for 1 hour.
  2. For the filling: In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer set at high to beat the heavy cream and sugar until a soft peak forms. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the ricotta cheese until well blended. Using a spatula, add the chocolate chips. Cover and chill.
  3. To assemble: Heat a crepe pan or small skillet over medium-high heat and lightly butter or grease. Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter while tilting to coat the bottom evenly. Cook for about 1 minute, or until the crepe is slightly browned, and then begin to gently pull the edge of the crepe away from the pan. Flip to cook the other side for 15 to 30 seconds. Transfer the crepe to a plate and continue making crepes one at a time.
  4. For each crepe, scoop 1/4 cup of the ricotta filling down the middle and fold. Top with powdered sugar and a sprinkling of mini chocolate chips. (Serving suggestion: Feel free to add fresh fruit on top.)
    Makes 4 to 6 large crepes.

Epicurean Palette 2013

Well this is certainly a first for me. While I thoroughly enjoyed eating my way through this, the 13th annual food and wine event at Grounds for Sculpture this past Sunday, it turns out that of the many photos I took, not one of them is of food! Below are some of the, um, other delights I relished.

Here’s Jeffrey Karlovitch of The Lost Distillery, who divides his time between Scotland and NJ:

Lost Distillery

Lost Distillery

The Lost Distillery states it mission thus: “In the last century, almost one hundred of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries have been closed or destroyed. This accounts for nearly half of all distilleries that have ever existed in Scotland. Global economic downturn, over-production, world wars and prohibition have all contributed to the loss of so many distilleries. As a result of all of these factors, many unique and venerable brands have been lost to the world. Until Now.” Yep, they buy up old casks of single malts and blend them (with the help of a Scotch ‘archivist’) to approximate what they may have tasted like. Here are its first 2 whiskies, Auchnagie and Stratheden:

Lost Distillery Scotches

Lost Distillery Scotches

The photo below of the Peacock Inn table was almost about the food, although once owner Barry Sussman (in pinstripes) told me that chef Manuel Perez (center) and pastry chef Cindy Lukens (left) were recently married, it became all about the love.

Peacock Inn Crew

Peacock Inn Crew

When I saw that the folks at The Ship Inn in Milford had created a brew using Tassot Apiaries honey, I had to try the ESB (extra special bitter). It did not disappoint:

Ship Inn Killer Bee Bitter

Ship Inn Killer Bee Bitter

If you’ve ever roamed Ground For Sculpture’s 42 lush acres while viewing its 270 contemporary sculptures, you’ve undoubtedly encountered one of its flock of wandering mascots:

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But this year there were other colorful additions. Namely, live artists working throughout the park, like GFS sculptor Michael Gyampo (at the rear, in white shirt):

Michael Gyampo at work

Michael Gyampo at work

Can you spot the non-living (sculptural) revelers among the living ones enjoying music at the gazebo?

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Here they are, on the left:

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And just to keep things interesting, there were 2 beautiful young women who dressed up as the park’s sculptures, just for the hell of it. Here’s one in her finery:

??????????When I told her that I was delighted that the folks at GFS had come up with this idea, she told me that she (and her friend, not pictured) were simply guests, not affiliated with the park, and that they had designed and sewn their costumes on their own. I thought they were putting me on, so didn’t get their names. If this is you, please contact me so I can give you credit!

 

Cafe Blue Moose; Epicurean Palette Highlights & Recipe; Got Goat?

“The nation’s only completely youth-run restaurant” proclaims the website of Cafe Blue Moose located on Mechanic Street in New Hope, PA. Owner/chef Skylar Bird began his professional culinary journey at the age of 14, when he formed a supper club in his parents’ home. Then it was on to culinary school and France, and now, at the ripe old age of 20, his sweet byob

employs only high school and college students – so expect to uncork your wine yourself. And then dig into Bird’s home-style fare. $20 gets you 2 courses – your choice of starter and main, or main and dessert, or starter and dessert. Another $5 and you’re good for 3 courses at this cash-or-check-only spot.

The menu changes frequently, but on a recent weeknight I and a friend enjoyed starters of butternut squash soup and a salad of mixed greens, goat cheese, apples, and walnuts:

Each table is hand-painted with a different free-form design that includes a blue moose. Freebies (freebies! even at these prices!) include hot buttered popcorn and soft country-style bread. On the way out we picked up homemade cookies – another lagniappe. Before that we had enjoyed housemade fettuccine with sausage and sweet corn, and short ribs with squash puree. We skipped dessert, although this description of Moose Tracks tempted: “Our signature chocolate sherry whipped cream cake.”
Cafe Blue Moose on Urbanspoon

Epicurean Palette 2012

About 1,000 people strolled Grounds for Sculpture last Sunday for what many agree was the best iteration yet of this food, wine, and beer gala that’s the sculpture park’s major annual fundraiser. Let’s start with the home team, Rat’s restaurant.

Here’s executive chef Shane Cash (he’s a distant relative of Johnny Cash, although he doesn’t tout it) tending the star ingredient of his Moroccan lamb with harissa oil. He cooked the lamb in a China box, usually used for barbecuing whole pigs.

Over at the Eno Terra table, Chris Albrecht and crew are clearly enjoying themselves dishing up hand-rolled garganelli pasta with pecorino Sarde and baby eggplant:

While Manuel Perez and the folks at Princeton’s Peacock Inn wow guests with ricotta gnocchi, which somehow I neglected to take a sample of!

Meantime, a typically intense Scott Anderson of elements forms countless quenelles of spicy short rib tartare. Short rib tartare? As meltingly tender – but more flavorful – than tartare made with high-end cuts. What sorcery is this?

At left, Scott Snyder (right) of Boulevard Five72 plates lobster roulade, while below, Nina & Jonathan White stand behind their Bobolink cheeses, literally and figuratively.

The Epicurean Palette would not be complete without two signatures: the chocolate rats produced by, well, Rat’s and the chocolate pots de creme of Brothers Moon. I devoured the chocolate rat bonbon before thinking to take a pic, but here is Brothers Moon owner/chef Will Mooney (on the right) and his assistant, Nicolas Angelus. Even better, here’s the recipe:

CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO POT DE CREME FOR A CROWD
(
20 six-ounce portions)

3 tablespoons espresso powder
6 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate, chopped small
16 ounces egg yolks (approximately 24 eggs)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large heavy-bottom pot combine espresso powder, milk, sugar, and cocoa powder and heat until hot and all sugar is melted. Combine chopped chocolate pieces and egg yolks in a large bowl. Drizzle milk mixture slowly into the chocolate and yolks and then add the vanilla. Divide mixture among ramekins. Bake in a water bath in a preheated 300-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until set. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, overnight. If desired, serve with fresh berries, cookies, and/or whipped cream.

Sourcing Goat Meat: No Goat Left Behind

Did you know that goat is the most widely consumed meat in the world? Whenever I encounter it on a menu (thankfully more common than in the past) I never pass it up. I’ve cooked it at home, too, although I have to confess that, before the days of local, grassfed farms, I was always wary about its origins. Even now, fresh, local goat meat isn’t always easy to come by. So I welcome Heritage Food USA’s celebration of Goatober, which offers three different cuts and 2-day shipping. Now I just have to decide how to cook it: Italian, Jamaican, Indian….?

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.