Tag Archives: Shibumi Mushrooms

Catching Up: Fresh Local Pasta; Fresh Local Rice; Chefs with Non-Culinary Sidelines; New BBQ in Lambertville; Foodie Gift Idea for New Parents; More

t has been 2 months since I last posted here. One reason for this lapse is personal: lots of wonderful major life events, including welcoming my first grandchild and gaining a second wonderful son-in-law. The other is global: trying to regain my balance since the election, which I consider an unmitigated disaster. (This is a blog about food and dining, not politics. But I won’t be offended if you want to stop following it because of the preceding statement. In fact, if you voted for the incoming administration, I wish you would unfollow me.)

Here are the stories – some among my all-time favorites to write – that appeared in the interim:

edible-jersey-holiday-2016
1. My profile of the Zeck brothers and their fresh, inventive, all-natural LoRe pastas made with local ingredients – including grains. This story made the cover of the current (i.e. holiday 2016) issue of Edible Jersey

2. My interview with Jim Lyons about the rice varieties he grows on his Pennington farm, Blue Moon Acres, which was my November feature story in the Princeton Echo

3. I followed that up in the December Echo by having 3 Princeton-area chefs tell, in their own words, about the passions they enjoy outside the kitchen: Crawford Koeniger (auto engine rebuilding), Dennis Foy (well-respected fine artist), and  Max Hansen (hand-turned wooden spoons and spatulas; photo below).

max-hansen-princeton-echo

Max Hansen, courtesy the Princeton Echo

Food for Thought logoAmong the tidbits in my “Food For Thought” column over the last months:

  • More Than Q, the popular outlet for Texas-style barbecue, closed up shop at the Stockton Market and opened up in Lambertville
  • NJ resident and blogger Leena Saini has produced a beautiful and eminently useful book for introducing babies to a world of flavors. Read all about Around the World in 80 Purees here. (Scroll down)
  • New ventures for Shibumi Mushrooms, and musical chefs’ chairs: Chris Albrecht takes over the kitchen at the Ryland Inn, while Craig Polignano leaves that post to become the opening chef at the forthcoming Mistral II in King of Prussia, PA. Details on both here.

Lambertville, Princeton & NJ Monthly’s Best-Downtown Showdown; The Story Behind Shibumi Mushrooms; The Story Behind Rachel Weston’s “New Jersey Fresh”

NJ Monthly Turns the Spotlight on Our State’s Most Interesting Downtowns – and You Can Vote for Your Fave

NJ Monthly cover sept 2015

I contributed profiles of 2 downtowns that are dear to my heart: Lambertville & Princeton. They’re among 25 featured in the September issue of the magazine. Read them all, then vote for your favorites here, in the online showdown.

Ever Wonder About Those Beautiful, Delicious Shibumi Farm Mushrooms?

Shibumi Farm Mushrooms

Shibumi Farm Mushrooms

Where they come from and how they’re developed and grown? Me too. Up til now Shibumi’s owner, Alan Kaufman, has been tight-lipped about his business – both personal and professional. When I sat down with him for this in-depth interview in the September Princeton Echo , I knew it was going to be interesting. But he and his story turn out to be downright fascinating. Here’s just a sampling of what I learned:
– He started college at 15
– He has developed 28 strains of mushrooms to date
– Mushrooms are being used to remove Agent Orange from soil in Vietnam
– Shibumi mushroom customers range from Thomas Keller to Blue Apron
– Chicken-of-the-woods (not to be confused with hen-of-the-woods) taste like Chicken Francese all by themselves.

Take the full magical mystery tour here.

Then There’s Rachel Weston’s Story…

Rachel Weston Portrait

Rachel Weston Portrait

You’ve probably encountered Rachel either in print or in person in recent times. This “locavore provocateur,” as I dub her, has been crisscrossing the state doing cooking demos and signings since her book, New Jersey Fresh: Four Seasons from Farm to Table, came out in May.

I got the goods on this born-and-bred Jersey girl, here in the September 2nd issue of US 1. Among the things I discovered:
– She was for many years an award-winning night photo editor for The Star-Ledger family of newspapers
– She won a scholarship that allowed her to spend 10 days trailing and living with Nora Pouillon, whose Restaurant Nora in DC was the first certified organic restaurant in the U.S.
– How to make roux in the microwave.

 

3-Star Khyber Grill; NJ Cheap Eats; Oysters & Mushrooms

Lots of reasons to visit the New Jersey Monthly website right now: NJ Monthly cover feb13

  • My glowing review of Khyber Grill in South Plainfield, an Indian restaurant that manages to set itself apart from its many kin along Oak Tree Avenue.
  • 74 places around the state to dine well for $15 or less. I contributed 11 of the entries to Cheap Eats, and I’d love to know your recommendations.
  • Your chance to vote for your favorite Jersey restaurants in the magazine’s annual restaurant poll.

Eat Oysters, Win a Trip for 2 to the Caribbean, Help Fight Cancer – All at the Same Time

Oysters, opened, ready for consumption, raw

Oysters, opened, ready for consumption, raw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Sunday February 3rd is not just the Super Bowl, it’s Oyster Bowl XIV, the big event before the bigger event. How many oysters can you down in 2 minutes? The all-time record is 102 (accomplished by a tiny woman, I think), but you’ll only have to beat the other contestants that show up for this year’s competition. You can always go and just watch (and catch a good meal), but there are tons of prizes in addition to the trip, and all proceeds go Komen for the Cure. Festivities run from 11 am to 2 pm at the Blue Point Grill in Princeton. Details – and to register as a contestant – here.

Shibumi Farm Mushrooms in the Spotlight at Brothers Moon

Shibumi Farm Mushrooms

Shibumi Farm Mushrooms

This is my second mention within a month of the fantastic cultivated exotic mushrooms of Princeton’s Alan Kaufman on my website – that’s how good they are. Chefs from New York (hello, Daniel Boulud) to DC have discovered them. You can get an idea of the range and quality at two special 4-course dinners starting at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 30 and Wednesday, February 20 at the Brothers Moon in Hopewell.

Dishes (including dessert) feature pioppino, maitake, lemon oyster and grey oyster, shiitake, and lion’s mane mushrooms. Cost is $49. Check out the full menu here.

Dilly’s Done Different & 2 Slow Food NJ Farmers Markets

Dilly’s Done Different
Anyone familiar with Dilly’s Corner – the beloved walk-up hot dog and ice cream shack in the New Hope, PA area that had always closed down for the winter – will be astonished by a cold-weather transformation that began last year. On weekends from November to March, the shack magically transforms into a homey, charming, and surprisingly accomplished restaurant, not unlike Cinderella after the bippety-boppety-boo. Friends who prefer to think of Dilly’s Done Different as a sort of culinary Brigadoon finally got me there this past weekend.

Dilly's Corner Sign Touting Summertime Treats

Dilly’s Corner Sign Touting Summertime Treats

Several surprises struck me from the start: the warm greeting for my friends by Tom Massa, who owns Dilly’s with his wife, Nancy; tables set with smooth white linens, quality wine glasses (it’s byo), and one big, yellow rose in a bud vase; and a moderately priced menu of appealing modern American fare.

I started with the soup du jour:  shellfish stew with a rich (but not too rich) tomato-cream base, which I think cost something like $6.25. Like everything else, it was a good-sized portion and a wonderful combination of earthiness and finesse. So too my main dish of grilled, sliced teres major (an inexpensive, tasty, and bafflingly underutilized cut of beef) with a potato gratin that Escoffier would approve for both its flavor and good looks, and roasted asparagus – those ultra-skinny spears we’re seeing a lot in restaurants these days. Up til now, I’ve considered them silly and underwhelming in flavor. Somehow, these had been roasted so as to enhance their inherent flavor – a first for me. I finished up with a dense, rich, sticky hazelnut-espresso torte.

Meantime, I was feverishly swapping plates with my companions, and have to say that I was just as pleased with their selections, which included:

A big bowl of steamed mussels in red tomato broth/sauce
Pork schnitzel (a thick chop butterflied but still on the bone) with fresh fettuccine
Braised short ribs with smashed potatoes
Fettuccine with fresh vegetables
Three-cheese lasagne with homemade meatballs on the side
Lemon poppy-seed pound cake topped with meringue

Next time I’ll try the pan-roasted salmon ($26) or the roasted half-chicken ($22). I’m told that running Dilly’s year-round kitchen are two young chefs who conceived Dilly’s Done Different as an off-season way to give their cooking chops a workout. I hope that Kevin Gilbreath, a CIA grad and executive chef, and Steven Schwier, sous chef, feel that need for years to come.

Things you should know before going: Both incarnations – Dilly’s Corner and Dilly’s Done Different – are cash only. Dilly’s Done Different operates roughly from November to March, offering dinner on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings and brunch on Sunday. Reservations are pretty much required because seating is limited and, as you might expect, the place is becoming very popular. Although the address is given as New Hope, Dilly’s is technically in Solebury Township, immediately across from Stockton, NJ.  In fact, on the unusually balmy Saturday night of my visit we parked in Stockton and walked across the Center Bridge to the restaurant.
Dilly's Corner on Urbanspoon

Two NJ Slow Food Chapters Holding Winter Farmers Markets on the Same Day in January

Whether you live in North, Central, or South Jersey, mark your calendar for Sunday the 27th.

English: The main entrance of the Frelinghuyse...

English: The main entrance of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown, NJ. It currently houses the offices of county officials. There are plans to make this building into a museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That day, from noon to 4 pm, the Northern NJ chapter will be hosting no fewer than 21 “farmers, food artisans, and friends” at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morristown. These include two of our state’s premiere cheese makers: Bobolink and Valley Shepherd. A $3 entrance fee supports the chapter’s school vegetable gardens program. For the full line-up, directions, and other details click here.

Johnson Education Center www.d&rgreenway.org

Johnson Education Center http://www.drgreenway.org

Also on the 27th the Central NJ chapter of Slow Food will hold the second of three markets scheduled for the winter of 2012-2013. This one will run from 11 am to 3 pm at the gorgeous Johnson Education Center at the D&R Greenway Land Trust in Princeton. They’re also hosting two fab cheese makers – Bobolink & Cherry Grove. Here’s the complete line-up:

Beechtree Farm
Birds and Bees Farm (NJ raw honey)
Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse
Cherry Grove Farm
Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms
Fulper Farms
Good Times Kettle Corn
Hopewell Valley Vineyards
Jammin’ Crepes
Jersey Jams and Jellies
Pure Indian Foods (organic ghee)
Shibumi Farm (exotic mushrooms)
Stony Brook Orchids
WoodsEdge Wools Farm

A $2 donation to the chapter is suggested. For directions click here.