Tag Archives: Tre Bar

Meet Max Hansen; Catch 3 Central NJ Dining Deals

The Star-Studded Story Behind One Bucks County Chef-Caterer-Shopkeeper-Best-Selling Cookbook Author

Late last year when I attended Customer Appreciation Day at the new Max Hansen Carversville Grocery I was so impressed that I not only blogged about it here, but knew I wanted to dig deeper. His life story doesn’t disappoint! To name just a few of the key players: Julia Child, Thomas Keller, Carly Simon. I tell all in the January 15, 2014 issue of U.S. 1.

btw: The US 1 cover story by Dan Aubrey on his firsthand experience dealing with the Christie administration makes for timely, powerful reading.
Update: On January 28, 2014, the NY Times picked up Dan’s story, as a “portrait of a smear.” Here’s the link.

January Dining Deals in the Princeton Area: Get ’em While They’re Hot

1. Outback Steakhouse (Have I lost my bloomin’ onion mind?)

Regular visitors to this site know I have a soft spot for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Which explains why I’m suggesting you eat at Outback Steakhouse. One time, one location, one day only. The generous folks at the Outback on Route 1 in Mercer Mall are donating 50% (up to $5,000) of their sales tomorrow, January 20, 2014, to the Mercer County chapter of BBBS. That’s for lunch or dinner, from 11 am to 1o pm.

Tomorrow also happens to be MLK Day, as well as the restaurant’s opening day. The restaurant isn’t listed yet on either the Outback or Mercer Mall homepages. Here’s the phone number: 609.799.3039.

2. Calling All Brunello Lovers

Montalcino (Wikipedia)

Montalcino (Wikipedia)

I consider $80 for a 4-course dinner by Eno Terra chef Chris Albrecht paired with Lisini wines of Montalcino a steal. The dinner, at which proprietor Carlo Lisini will preside, takes place on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 starting at 6:30 pm at the Kingston restaurant. Featured wines include 3 Rosso’s and the 2007 Brunello. Tax & gratuity not included in the price. Reservations: 609.497.1777.

3. $5 AYCE Mussels at Tre Bar

How did I miss this one? I love mussels and every Monday night at Tre Bar, the eatery attached to Tre Piani in Forrestal Village on Route 1 near Princeton, they’re apparently all you can eat for $5. (Plus, wines by the glass are half price from 4 to 6:30 pm.) I hope to report back with a firsthand experience soon.

Update: Turns out that I hadn’t missed the word on this offer; it was just implemented on January 20th. Which is when I and my buddy Faith Bahadurian, who blogs at NJSpice went. We were among the first to try the mussels. They’re in a terrific marinara, come with lots of excellent country Italian bread and, yes, they’re AYCE for $5.

The Sorry State of Food TV; 2 NJ Slow Food Events; Craig Shelton’s New Gig; NJ & Beard Awards; Mistral Preview

This essay by Andy Greenwald on the state of Food TV is the best I’ve encountered. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with everything Greenwald writes – I thought I was the only one who felt this way! I was gratified in particular by this sentence about Emeril Lagasse‘s role as a Top Chef judge:

“Stripped of his catchphrases and his band, Emeril has revealed himself to be kind, patient and insightful, able to articulate the nuances of food we’ll never taste with expert, understated flair.”

Not only do I agree with that assessment as a viewer, but it reflects the conclusion I came to when Emeril was a guest on my radio show years ago. We did an entire hour show live from Marketfair mall in Princeton.

Pat & Emeril1

I expected lots of bam! and bluster, and instead I got a thoughtful, soft-spoken, gentle man who answered my questions with insight and modesty. It was only when a young boy in the audience shouted out, “Emeril, say Bam!” that he did – and talked about how great it was to have youngsters interested in cooking.

Slow Food Farmers Market (Central) & Expert Talk on GMOs (North)

Slow Food Central Snail

This Sunday, 2/24/13, will see the final Slow Food Central NJ winter farmers market of the season. This one is being held at Tre Piani restaurant in Forrestal Village along Route 1 in Princeton, from 11 am to 3 pm. There’ll be live music and you can sit down for food and drink at Tre Bar in between stocking up on meats, breads, mushrooms, cheeses, wines, baked goods, and sweets from these vendors:

Beech Tree Farm….Birds and Bees Farm…Bobolink Dairy and Bake House…Cherry Grove Farm…Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms…Donna and Company…Fulper Dairy Farm…Funni Bonz Barbecue Sauce…Happy Wanderer Bakery…Hopewell Valley Vineyards…Judith’s Desserts…Jammin’ Crepes…Pure Indian Foods Ghee…Rocky Brook Farm…Shibumi Exotic Mushrooms…Valley Shepherd Creamery and Woods Edge Wools Farm.

For information, phone 609.577.5113.

Slow Food SnailThen next Sunday, March 3rd, attend an afternoon meeting of Slow Food Northern NJ at the DeHart Community Center in Maplewood that starts at 1 pm with a tasting of local foods and includes talks on school gardens and the impact of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) on our lives. Speaker for that will be Michael Hansen of Consumers Union, who will “describe what genetic engineering is, the lack of required safety testing, and why you should be concerned.” Click here for info and to purchase tickets ($8 for members; $10 for the public).

Craig Shelton, Consultant

Craig SheltonNew Jersey’s most well-known chef (check out the interview with him I posted here last December) is now consulting at Mediterra in Princeton. Laurent Chapuis, the proprietor of the Princeton Corkscrew wine shop just a few doors down, was impressed with a recent  lunch overseen by Shelton. If you know Monsieur Chapuis, you know he is one tough customer, so his praise bodes well for this match.

Mediterra’s general manager, Carmine DePasquale, says that Shelton will be at the restaurant four to five days a week, mainly during lunch service, for at least the next three months. He isn’t so much behind the stove tweaking dishes or changing the menu as he is, DePasquale says, “showing us a different hospitality factor, a new way of managing how guests perceive things.” He’s working hand-in-hand with Mediterra chef Terry Strong and his sous chefs, yes, but also servers and the management team as a whole. Shelton, DePasquale says, has set his task as observing, commenting on what’s being done correctly (or not), and addressing issues around hospitality and even marketing. “The beauty of Craig,” DePasquale says, “is that he holds himself up to the Relais and Chateaux guidelines, and it’s always good to strive for that with every single person who walks through our door.”

Congrats to 2013 James Beard Awards Semi-finalists Scott Anderson, Joey Baldino, and Thirty Acres

If you call yourself a New Jersey foodie, you’ve likely heard by now that the Garden State receive three nods on the first round of balloting announced this week. Both Scott Anderson of elements in Princeton and Vetri-alumnus Joey Baldino of Zeppoli (his Sicilian restaurant in Collingswood) are among 2o chefs vying to be one of 5 semi-finalists for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Thirty Acres in Jersey City is one of 29 hopefuls for Best New Restaurant in the USA.

Thirty Acres, Jersey City

Thirty Acres, Jersey City

Five finalists in each category will be announced on March 18, and the ultimate sole winners on May 6.

Sneak Peak of Mistral Menu at elements, Princeton

Mistral-Logo

Speaking of elements, the projected opening of Mistral, the second (and more casual) restaurant by the same team, is now set for April. Those of us who can’t wait for its small plates of interpreted Mediterranean classics can get a smattering at elements between now and then. Prices start at $7 for fennel salad with lemon basil, red onion, and orange and run to $12 for bronzino with potato puree, black olive, and caramelized red onion.

In between are house-cured lomo (Spanish-style dry-cured pork tenderloin) with trumpet royale mushrooms, pimentos, and garlic; pressure-cooked octopus with “papas bravas” (their quotation marks), and caper aioli; and dark meat chicken with yuzu and soy honey glaze.