Tag Archives: Rosie Saferstein

Sake Wisdom & I’m on the Radio AND in the News

Sake and the City, or Everything You Ever Wanted to Know but Were Afraid to Ask

Sake-and-the-City-2 posterBefore attending the guided sake tasting and subsequent walk-around sampling at this cleverly named event in NYC, I knew about as much as the average American about this brew. I was familiar with the 3 basic types (junmai, ginjo, daiginjo). I knew that good sake should never be warmed. I enjoyed drinking sake with sushi.

Of course, like fine wines, there are endless facets and nuances to sake, which is one of the oldest fermented beverages in human history. So what I didn’t know could fill a cedar barrel, which, it turns out, is what some sakes are aged in. Here are just a few of the nuggets I took away, many from Timothy Sullivan of Urban Sake, who led the guided tasting:

  • Since sake consists basically of water, rice, and the koji mold, the quality of the water plays a key role. Water from a fast-running snow melt is the best, since it’s soft and low in minerality. Yuki No Bosha Junmai Yamahai is one example.
  • Just as in other areas of food & drink, local and organic translate into a premium product. Many different rice varieties are used to make sake, but those indigenous to the brewery’s region (prefecture) and grown organically often result in superior product. One of many examples: Daishichi Shizenshu Jumai Kimoto
  • Kimoto (as in the above) is something you might want to look for on a label. It refers to an ancient method that allows lactic acid to develop naturally “along with funky organisms,” according to Sake Samurai Sullivan.
  • Even more important is how finely the rice as been ground down/polished, which removes imperfections. Sake is classified by the percentage that the rice has been polished. The highest percentage of milling I noted that day was 75%, for Murai Nigori Genshu, which Sullivan termed “a piece of work.”
  • Alcohol content can range from about 7.5% to 25% – or at least that was the range in Sullivan’s picks. Weighing in at 25% is one of his particular recommendations, Minato “Harbor” Nama Genshu, which he described as “very full bodied.”
  • Sake pairs with a wide range of foods – including Wagyu beef, like the “bone dry” (Sullivan’s words) Kan Nihonkai Cho +15. Check out the pairing notes for this French dinner at wine-zag.com.

Even these considerations don’t cover it all. There’s filtered and unfiltered, pasteurized and non….you get the picture. Plus who knew there is such a thing as sparkling sake (Mio, which is sold at Mitzuwa Marketplace in Edgewater), strawberry sake (Homare Strawberry Nigori), and sake made in Oregon, which is the specialty of Sake One, whose slogan is “America’s Most Honored Sake.” Their website has a particularly lucid tutorial on sake under the heading “Our Kura.” (Kura is the term for brew house.)

Here’s a Twist: A Princeton Packet Story ABOUT Me, Not BY Me

It’s a bit surreal, but this time I’m on the other side of the reporter’s notebook in this article about my radio show, Dining Today with Pat Tanner in the 11/5 issue of the Princeton Packet. Thanks, Keith Loria, for the great job!

This Week on Dining Today with Pat Tanner

From wikipedia

From Wikipedia

If you missed last week’s premiere of my radio show, you’re in luck: it will be reprised this Sunday (11/10) at 2 pm on radio station 920 The Voice on your AM dial. If you’re not in the Central NJ listening area, you can listen live at www.920TheVoice.com. Thanks go out once again to my special guests Rosie Saferstein & Chris Walsh.

Jersey Gets Some Love This Week From Cowgirl Creamery, Andrew Zimmern, & Me

California’s Premier Cheesemakers Coming to Stockton Market

Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, founders of Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, will be at the Stockton Market this Friday (11/8) and Saturday (11/9) to celebrate the publication of their first cookbook, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks.

On Friday from 6:30 to 8 pm, you can chat with them while tasting their award-winning cheeses (hopefully including my personal fave, Mt. Tam) with wine. $35 gets you into the tasting plus a signed copy of their book.

On Saturday from 10 am to noon, the cowgirls will be back in the saddle selling and signing their book, which they describe as featuring “cheese-centric recipes and wisdom on tasting, buying, serving, and appreciating all kinds of cheese.”

Bizarre Foods America Takes a Bite Out of Jersey

Be sure to catch tomorrow night’s (11/4) episode of Bizarre Foods America. For this season’s premiere, host Andrew Zimmern focuses on the tasty underbelly of Garden State grub. He visits 7 locations, including Jersey City’s Little Manila (where he eats balut, bless his soul), the cultish Sun Noodle ramen factory in Teterboro, and Rutgers’ Acquaculture Center in Cape May, where he creates an entirely new type of oyster. The Jersey episode airs at 9 pm on the Travel Channel, but you can get the full scoop on it today. How? Read on!

Tune in to “Dining Today with Pat Tanner” Today at 2 PM

920TheVoice logoThis is a not-so-subtle reminder that my new radio show premieres today (11/3) at 2 pm on AM 920 The Voice. The hour includes a complete rundown of the Bizarre Foods USA episode, interviews with Rosie Saferstein of “Table Hopping with Rosie” and Chris Walsh of River Horse Brewing, a recap of my NJ Monthly restaurant review of Brian’s in Lambertville, and – as we say in radio land – much, much more! 920 The Voice is broadcast throughout central NJ and Bucks County, but you can also listen live at www.920TheVoice.com.

Breaking News: I’m Back on the Radio, with My Own Show!

old fashionedI’m thrilled to announce the debut of my radio show Dining Today with Pat Tanner! It premieres this Sunday, November 3rd from 2 to 3 pm on 920 The Voice, a new AM station in Central NJ. Joining me as my first guests are Chris Walsh of River Horse Brewing and Rosie Saferstein, whose njmonthly.com column, “Table Hopping with Rosie,” is a prime source for NJ restaurant news.

Actually, Sunday marks the return of Dining Today. As you may recall, for six years I hosted this popular one-hour weekly program on food and dining in the Garden State. It was broadcast over Nassau Broadcasting’s WHWH until that station went off the air. In 2012 Nassau Broadcasting was bought by Connoisseur Media, and among its holdings are its flagship, WPST (94.5 FM), and two AM stations. Starting in November, 920 The Voice will feature locally produced, community-based talk radio on weekends – Dining Today included. Coverage area encompasses Central NJ, Bucks County, and Philadelphia, and the show will stream live over the station’s website, www.920TheVoice.com.

And as before, I will interview the movers and shakers of our local culinary scene: chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, artisan food producers, vintners and brewers, cookbook authors, food and wine merchants, and others. I’ll share my latest food and restaurant finds, as well as those of guests who, like me, are restaurant critics. And you’ll find me and Dining Today once again broadcasting live from the region’s finest food and wine events.

Me interviewing Emeril

Me interviewing Emeril

For me, one of the biggest surprises (and delights) with Dining Today the first time around was that it attracted the brightest stars of the national and international culinary scene. Among those I was honored to have as guests were Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich, Tom Colicchio, Rick Bayless, Pierre Herme, and Mark Bittman. I even hosted a one-hour live broadcast from Marketfair mall with special guest Emeril Lagasse. I look forward to more of the same and hope you will join me, starting Sunday, November 3rd at 2 pm on AM 920 The Voice.

See you on the radio!

Too Many Fall Events; Dining in San Francisco (part ii)

I know summer is really and truly over when…

…my inbox overflows with food & wine events. Here are some that captured my attention for one reason or another – like for being good deals; having big-time names associated with them; generously aiding important non-profits; or all of the above. See if you agree. btw: My good buddy Rosie Saferstein maintains a complete, definitive list of upcoming statewide events on Table Hopping with Rosie at www.njmonthly.com.

champagne wikipediaStarting Wednesday, 9/18 Elements in Princeton is featuring Sparkling Wednesdays. Ladies will be offered a different complimentary sparkling wine or sparkling cocktail. I am so there!

Sunday, 9/20, 7:30 pm: Slow Food Northern NJ is screening “La Cosecha” (“The Harvest”), a documentary about the estimated 300,000 children who work in American fields harvesting 20% of the foods you and I eat. Shameful and important. At the Ethical Culture Society, Maplewood. Suggested donation is $5. RSVP (by 9/18?!) to slowfoodnnj@yahoo.com.

Grape ExpectationsSaturday, 9/28, 6:30 to 11 pm: NY Times wine critic Eric Asimov will headline “Great Expectations,” a fundraiser for the Montclair Public Library Foundation, along with Montclair’s leading chefs and Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino Wines. There are 2 events and 2 prices. Details here.

Sunday, 9/29, 1 to 4 pm: The 13th annual Epicurean Palette at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. VIP tickets have already sold out, but you can still sample the 40 restaurants (from NJ & PA) and 25 wine, beer, and spirits wineries/vendors/importers on the stunning grounds of this 42-acre sculpture park.  Details here.

Shane Cash of Rat's, Epicurean Palette 2012

Shane Cash of Rat’s, Epicurean Palette 2012

Monday, 10/7, 7 pm and/or Friday, 10/13, 6 pm: How fun is this? On 10/7, chef Anthony Bucco of the Ryland Inn will take over the reins of Fascino in Montclair from Ryan DePersio for 1 night. Then, on the 13th, the tables (and stoves) will turn, when chef DePersio takes over the Ryland for the night. Each will offer a prix fixe 5-course meal for $75. Call Fascino at 973.233.0350 for reservations for the 10/7 dinner and the Ryland Inn at 908.534.4011 for reservations for 10/13.

Shoot It Eat ItTuesday, 10/8, 6:3o to 9:30 pm: Admit it: like me, you’d jump at the chance to get professional help with taking food pics. Here’s your chance – while enjoying a terrific 3-course meal. Eno Terra in Kingston and professional photog Frank Veronsky of Princeton Photo Workshop are teaming up for “Shoot It, Eat It.” Each course will be specially plated and lighted so you can learn the tricks of the trade before devouring your salad, 3 main dishes (served family style), glass of wine, and dessert. Cost: $159 includes photography lesson, shooting, dining, tax and gratuity. $75 for your dining-only guest(s). To register click here.

Nopa: Restaurant Envy in San Francisco

NopaHere are just a few of the thoughts running through my head as I enjoyed dinner at Nopa (shorthand for NOrth of the PAnhandle), which last year the New York Times termed “a cult favorite” in a city full of cult restaurants:

“Any restaurant in New Jersey would kill for Monday night business like this!”
All of its 110 seats were filled early on – and people were lined 2-deep at the very long bar.

“Why can’t restaurants back home offer food of this caliber at these prices?”
Nopa’s contemporary “rustic California” cuisine embraces organic, farm-to-table, wood-fired and Mediterranean elements. The food, drink, and setting are exciting but not stuffy; painstaking but not precious. Here are some of the “bargains:” $14 for the best hamburger of my life. And it was grass-fed and came with pickled onions and fries. $9 for a starter of baked duck egg, romesco sauce, summer squash, and shaved pantaleo (a hard goat cheese from Sardinia by way of Cowgirl Creamery). Likewise, wood-baked butter beans, feta, oregano pesto, and breadcrumbs.

“Why can’t restaurants back home offer cocktails and wines of this caliber at these prices?”
Interesting, well-concocted cocktails made from premium and housemade ingredients, all at $9 and $10, like the Summit: St. George Terroir gin, grapefruit, lime, and honey. And a nicely curated international wine list plus reasonably priced by-the-glass options like Daniele Ricci “El Matt” 2010 Bonarda, $9.

“How can I get NJ restaurants to adopt Nopa’s “Monday Magnums” program?”
Every Monday they crack open a different magnum-format wine and offer it by the glass. On my visit it was a 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Monpertuis for $16.

“How lucky am I to have found myself here?”
It wasn’t by virtue of my own research, or the recommendation of any of my food-world friends, or serendipity. It was through my brilliant future son-in-law, Ryan, who lived in NoPa when the restaurant opened, knew a good thing when he saw it, and watched it bring about the transformation of this neighborhood.

Reservations are hard to come by at Nopa, which currently has 3,291 reviews on Yelp, but if you find yourself without one, know that the bar (and communal table) open at 5 pm and serve snacks til 6.
Nopa on Urbanspoon

Tavro 13 Review; Rosie S. Dishes NJ; Oaxaca @ City Grit; Eating Bugs

Tavro Thirteen: South Jersey’s Hottest New Restaurant

The Colonial-era Old Swedes Inn in sleepy Swedesboro (that would be Exit 2 of the NJ Turnpike) has been deliciously brought into the 21st century under Philly star chef Terence Feury (Striped Bass, Fork). NJ Monthly cover may13 Here’s my review, from the May issue of New Jersey Monthly.

Sounds Like a Fun Time with My Pal Rosie Saferstein

Rosie SaferstesinLearn how to cook dishes from Rosie’s favorite restaurants on Thursday, May 9, when Rosie Saferstein of Table Hopping with Rosie and Suzanne Lowery of Soup to Nuts – both bloggers at njmonthly.com – will be at Kings Cooking Studio in Short Hills for a “Rosie Dishes-Suzanne Cooks” cooking class. Chef Lowery will demonstrate the following recipes, Rosie’s personal faves:

Shrimp-corn chowder with apple-smoked bacon from Boulevard 572, Kenilworth: chef Scott Snyder

Cauliflower steak with fregola; stuffed, roasted tomato; wild arugula; golden raisin and pine nut sauce from Satis, Jersey City: consulting chef is Michael Fiorianti. Chef de cuisine is Galice Ryan (btw: This dish happens to be on my own top list as well. Here’s my NJ Monthly review.)

Duck breast with red cabbage, caramelized turnip, and red-wine fig emulsion from Blu, Montclair: chef Zod Arifai.

French apple galette from executive chef Mitchell Altholz of Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange

Rosie will also dish about the NJ restaurant scene. Bring your questions and bring your appetite for a fun-filled evening. 6:30 to 9:30 PM; $65. Click here to register, or call 973-258-4009.

Ode to Oaxaca Dinner at City Grit

When I trekked down to NoLIta for a Hurricane Sandy benefit dinner recently, my main motivation was to connect with my friend Ruth Alegria, who was up from Mexico City taking time away from the food tours and cooking classes she conducts through her business, Mexico Soul and Essence.  My second motivation was to help Fany Gerson, a young New Yorker whose La Newyorkina all-natural ice pops with Mexican flavors – paletas – had been hugely successful. Until, that is, she lost her Red Hook kitchen – equipment, supplies, inventory, everything – to the storm.


What I wasn’t expecting from the evening was (a) an introduction to one of the coolest dining spaces in the city and (b) a Mexican meal as good as any I’ve had in, well, Mexico itself.

Fany’s Ode to Oaxaca – she was raised in Mexico, where she had a beloved nanny from Oaxaca – was staged at City Grit on Prince Street, which describes itself as a culinary salon. It’s the brainchild of Sarah Simmons (among Food & Wine magazine’s “America’s Greatest New Cooks”). Sometimes she mounts dinners there; other times she turns the salon over to guest chefs – often from out of town, and often young and high-profile – which is why the NY Times calls City Grit a sort of Off Broadway, “scrappier” Beard House.  City Grit operates evenings in the back room of what by day is WRK Design, a funky, hipsterish furniture store. Just about everything you see in the photos that follow is for sale.

The Menu

The Ode to Oaxaca Menu


The Crowd

The City Grits Crowd

Fany Gerson (left) & Sarah Simmons

Fany Gerson of La Newyorkina (left) & Sarah Simmons of City Grit

Orange-Mezcal Marinated Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce

Orange-Mezcal Marinated Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce, Fany Gerson’s Ode to Oaxaca @ City Grit

The dinner opened with antijitos – street food – that included a corn “boat” topped with sautéed crickets. Several guests had carted ingredients up from Oaxaca, among them the crickets, Oaxacan cheese, and pinole (toasted corn flour).

of Eating Bugs…

Compared to most North Americans, my personal history of consuming insects (on purpose, as an adult) is fairly extensive. On the first occasion no less a personage than chef Bill Yosses, now at the White House, convinced me to try an oatmeal-toasted mealy worm. Then my buddy Ruth Alegria got me hooked on dried crickets, called chapulines (in their crushed form) sprinkled over guacamole and in quesadillas.

A basket of Chapulines (Roasted Cricket) in a ...

A basket of Chapulines (Roasted Cricket) in a market in Tepoztlan, Mexico, December 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The mealy worm was just OK (notice the singular “worm”). The flavor was actually good, but its squishy interior put me off. Chapulines, though, are delicious without qualification. Like potato chips they are crunchy, salty, and have a satisfying umami quality.

With the impending invasion of countless hordes of 17-year cicadas about to hit the East Coast, some sources recommend eating them.  They are supposedly super-high in protein and have a nutty taste. Recipes and more at cicadainvasion.blogspot.com.

So, would you eat insects? Before you say no, check out this report from fastcoexist.com. I think these grad students may be onto something.

ento bento

My Julia Child Story; NJ Expat’s Mexico Cooking School Among Saveur’s Tops; Progress at the Ryland Inn

New Jersey & Julia: Perfect Together

English: Julia Child, Miami Book Fair Internat...

English: Julia Child, Miami Book Fair International, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I met the wonderful, inimitable Julia Child only once but, amazingly, New Jersey (and her wry sense of humor) figured prominently in that encounter.

About 14 years ago, having more or less fallen into food writing as a sideline I was contemplating leaving my day job. (A move, clearly, I have never regretted.) To help me decide I signed up for a food writers’ workshop at The Greenbrier. Among the slated presenters was Ms. Child. On the first morning each attendee was asked to give a short personal introduction. Sitting in the first row was that famous face and six-foot-plus frame. Even though she was a speaker, not a student like the rest of us, she stood up when it was her turn and without a hint of irony said, “My name is Julia Child and I teach cooking on television.” The room erupted, as you may well imagine.

Going down the line, a fellow from the culinary program at Atlantic Cape Community College introduced himself. The next person quipped something to the effect that he was delighted to hear that New Jersey had a cooking school in addition to oil tanks – and oh, yeah – which exit off the turnpike was it anyway. When it came my turn, I began by saying that I write for newspapers and magazines in New Jersey because contrary to popular belief, we do actually have them.

After that, many of the attendees made humorous references to our fair state and their connection to it. When everyone had had a turn, Julia Child stood up again and, with a twinkle in her eye, said that she had left out something extremely important from her introduction: that she, too had a connection to New Jersey. This time the room erupted in gales of laughter. It turned out that her husband, Paul, had been born in Montclair and she and Paul had often visited his parents there. By the way: when it came time for our first writing assignment, Child completed the exercise as if she were just one of us students.

Congrats to Ruth Alegria of Mexico Soul and Essence

The cooking classes of my good friend Ruth Alegria, founder and original owner of Princeton’s Mexican Village II (now Tortuga’s Mexican Village), rank among the top 5 in all of Mexico in the current issue of Saveur magazine, which is devoted entirely to the culinary traditions of that country. Alegria, who established Mexico Soul and Essence when she relocated to Mexico City several years ago, leads cultural and culinary tours of that city and conducts cooking classes in her kitchen. She’s a real insider – co-founder of a local Slow Food chapter who knows all the top chefs, the best local markets, and the best street food.

Rosie Has the Latest Goods on the Ryland Inn Opening

Speaking of good friends, my buddy Rosie Saferstein has lots of details on the renovations and progress at the Ryland Inn, which is scheduled to open soon. Check them out (including photos) at her Table Hopping with Rosie column at njmonthly.com.