Tag Archives: Smithsonian Magazine

NJ Monthly’s Top 25 Restaurants & My Review of the (new) Saddle River Inn; Restaurant News & Events; Summer Reading

Whew! Lots jam-packed into this post: tacos, champagne & small plates, mind-blowing edible food packaging, and, of course, the NJ Monthly restaurant issue – including results of its annual readers’ poll, the top 25 critics’ picks, and my review of how the Saddle River Inn is faring under new ownership.

August 2013 NJ Monthly: The Restaurant Issue

NJ Monthly cover aug13

The Saddle River Inn has been one of the state’s most revered and beloved restaurants for decades. When I reviewed it a few years back, I thought it had lost its edge. Earlier this year it got new owners – one of whom is the chef. Here’s my review of the newly reborn Inn.

In this same issue: Top 25 NJ restaurants

In this same issue: Results of the 2013 Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll

Restaurant News & Events

 The Taco Truck: A new brick-and-mortar version is opening in August in Morristown. The first ‘brick’ location of this small but growing,sustainability-conscious group is in Hoboken, but Morristown will become the flagship. Get the scoop from this Morristown Patch post.

Mistral & CoolVines: You’ll have to hurry, but these two Princeton stars are teaming up on Wednesday, July 24 at 7 pm for a 3-course pairing of Champagnes and small plates at (normally byob) Mistral. $65 all-inclusive. Details and reservations (a must) here.

Elements: Scott Anderson will welcome super-hot chef Jason Yu of Oxheart in Houston to his flagship restaurant on Friday, August 9, for a collaborative dinner focusing on wild and cultivated local mushrooms. Joining them will be Alan Kaufman of Shibumi Farm. Details here.

 Smithsonian Magazine Does a Terrific Food Issue: Who Knew?

Smithsonian Mag June 2013

I am so glad I picked up this past June’s issue. In addition to stories by Ruth Reichl, Mimi Sheraton, and Roy Blount, Jr. I particularly got a kick out of these:

Burning Desire: The hottest chile pepper in the world – it’s not what you think it is – by the inimitable, offbeat science writer Mary Roach. (Her latest book, Gulp!, is beguiling and repulsive in equal measure. I highly recommend it.)

The Future in the Making: This short, back-page entry focuses on the WikiCell, a surprisingly attractive, futuristic edible food packaging concept. Designed by a Harvard bioengineer, it functions as both wrapper and box.

Undici Taverna; National Acclaim for 2 NJ Towns

Before I get to the terrific Sicilian meal I had recently at Undici in Rumson and before I name the two small towns that were tagged among the 20 best in the U.S. by Smithsonian Magazine, here’s the best photo I’ve seen of the space shuttle Discovery being flown to DC earlier this week:

This was the view outside my daughter Alice’s office in Northern Virginia, taken by her co-worker Jordan on his cell phone. Imagine looking up from your desk and seeing this out your window!

Smithsonian Magazine Names 20 Best Small Towns in the U.S.

Albert Einstein House, Princeton, NJ

Albert Einstein House, Princeton, NJ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congratulations to Princeton and Red Bank, both of which rank in Smithsonian Magazine‘s list of the 20 best small towns in the U.S. Here’s an excerpt on the criteria they used:

“…high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But we focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. We also tried to select towns ranging across the lower 48.”

Old train station building, Red Bank, NJ, USA

Old train station building, Red Bank, NJ, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow. Even though they were looking for a nice geographic spread, tiny New Jersey still managed to come in with two winners. The only other states to accomplish that feat were Florida (Naples & Key West) and California (Mill Valley & Laguna Beach). Go us!
Sicilian Dinner at Undici
As mentioned in a previous post, I had signed up for the dinner hosted by Sickles Market of Little Silver that was to preview that store’s excursion with 12 people to Sicily this coming October. Before the dinner, only 10 spaces were left to sign up for the trip; after it, well, I have no idea. The Taste of Sicily menu was superb. This marked my first visit to Undici, a Rumson hotspot, and the rustic decor reminds me very much of Basil T’s in Red Bank – not surprising since one of the owners is involved with both.

Undici is highly regarded for its authentic Sicilian pies, which sport crisp crusts from baking in the 800-degree brick oven. We enjoyed samples of five from the menu – originali, margherita, filetti, bianco, and arugula e prosciutto. All were superb, with the last two among the best versions I’ve had. The pizzas were served with two Sicilian wines from Undici’s list. Both had an amazingly velvety mouth feel. The white was the Firriato Chiaramonte Bianco 2010, which is 100% Ansonica, the grape customarily used to make Marsala. The red was the Feudo Maccari Maharis 2007, a blend of nero d’Avola, cab, and syrah. This and the arugula/prosciutto pizza were a match made in heaven.