Frog and Peach - Peach FesitvalThe Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick, New Jersey, has announced its favorite summer tradition, the ninth annual festival of local peaches, a five-course tasting menu featuring local peaches throughout. This special menu will be available every evening through mid-September.

Festival of Peaches Tasting Menu and Wine Pairings…

Sea Scallop Crudo: Lemon-Peach Gelée, Osetra Caviar; Wine Pairing: Acústic Blanc, Montsant, Spain, 2011

Peach Carpaccio: Crispy Duck Confit, Spiced Almonds, Arugula, Prosecco Vinaigrette; Wine Pairing: Gueissard Bandol Rosé, Provence, France, 2011

Berkshire Pork Strip Loin: Pecan Whipped Potatoes, Peach Butter; Wine Pairing: I Cacciagali Rosso Anglianico, Roccamonfina, Campania, Italy, 2009

Bobolink Dairy Aged White Cheddar: Grilled Peach, Crispy Tortilla, Tomato Salsa; Wine Pairing: Emilio Lustau “Don Nuño” Oloroso Solera Reserva Sherry

Peach Crisp: Streusel Topping, Local Maple Ice Cream; Wine Pairing: Oremus Late Harvest Tokaji, Hungary, 2011

The cost of the five-course tasting menu is $62.00 per person; $107.00 per person with wine pairings. Every Friday, as a date night special, the peaches tasting menu with wine, normally $214.00 for two, will be offered at $144.00, a $60.00 discount.

For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (732) 846-3216.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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gladstone8Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, July 30, and continuing through Monday, August 4, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will be celebrating “Jersey Peach Week 2014” with a special menu…

Many of the peaches used in the menu noted below are sourced from Melick’s Farm in Oldwick, NJ.

LIBATIONS – Hot Peach Margarita: Tanteo Jalepeño Tequila, Triple Sec, Agave, Lime; Peach Sangria: Pinot Grigio, Peach Schnapps, Basil, Lemon; Maggie’s Farmhouse Peach Ale: Terrapin Brewery, GA 6%; Peaches ‘n’ Herb: Redemption Rye, Amaro, House Peach Jam, Thyme, Lemon, Orange Bitters

FIRST COURSE – Pork ‘n’ Peach Award-Winning Chili: House-Smoked Pork Shoulder, Fresh & Dried Chili, White Bean, Queso Fresco; Serrano Ham Wrapped Peach: Grilled Peach, Ricotta, Toasted Almond, Micro Basil, Balsamic Syrup; Chicken Sate with Peach Chutney: Toasted Quinoa Salad, Mint

MAIN COURSE – Seared Local Swordfish: Chipotle Peach Salsa, Grilled Summer Vegetables, Plantain; Peach Barbeque Baby Chicken: House-Smoked Bir, Local Heirloom Roasted Vegetables, Potato Straw; Grilled Pork Tenderloin: Peach Sweet & Sour, Julienne Snow Peas, Peach Fritter

DESSERT – Peach “Melba”: Chardonnay Poached Peach, Soaked Sponge Cake, Frozen Vanilla Yogurt, Raspberry Sauce; Peaches & Cream Parfait: Spice Roasted Peach, Hazelnut Honey Oat Granola, Vanilla Ice Cream Blueberry Compote

*Menu subject to change.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Frog and Peach - Troegs Beer DinnerThis coming Friday, August 1, 7:00 p.m., the Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host a special beer dinner pairing each course with a brew from the Troegs Brewing Company of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Troegs is one of the country’s most esteemed brewers and has developed an almost cult-like following… Come and fine out why…

Reception: Troegs Sunshine Pilsner

First Course: Clam Ceviche: Corn, Lime, Bacon Fat; Beer Pairing: Troegs La Grave Tripel

Second Course: Grilled Local Beets: House-Cured Pastrami, Pickled Vegetables; Beer Pairing: Troegs Pale Ale

Third Course: Steamed Scallop Dumplings: Local Asian Greens, Lemongrass Beer Broth; Beer Pairing: Troegs Scratch #149 White Ale

Main Course: Griggstown Quail Schnitzel: Braised Fennel, Buttermilk Truffle Vinaigrette; Beer Pairing: Troegs Hopback Amber

Dessert: Salted Caramel Pretzel; Beer Pairing: Troegenator

The cost of the Troegs Brewing Company beer dinner is $110.00 per person, all-inclusive.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 846-3216, ext. 0.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Gladstone Tavern - Scotch DinnerOn Thursday, August 7, 7:30 p.m., the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will host a special dinner, pairing each course with an exceptional Scotch whiskey.

The menu and Scotch pairings are noted below…

Deanston Virgin Oak Peach Cocktail: Jonah Crab & Corn Cake, Candied Bacon, Crab Spiced Popcorn, Wilted Dandelion, Smoked Tomato Butter

Tobermory 10yr: Foie Gras Torchon, Pickled Cherry, Walnut Bread, Port Syrup, 5 Spice Walnut, Mâche

Deanston 12yr: Hot Smoked Pastrami Spiced Salmon, Rye Blini, Mustard Crème Fraiche, Pickled Cabbage, Salmon Caviar, Potato Chip

Bunnahabhain 12yr: Root Beer-Black Pepper Glazed Short Rib “Chop,” Roasted Parisian Carrot, Baby Turnip, Rutabaga, Whipped Parnsip

Ledaig 10yr: Chocolate Butterscotch Layer Cake, Burnt Orange Anglaise, Almond Bark

Cigar Finale: H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon (Dominican Republic)

*Menu subject to change

The cost of this special Scotch dinner is $100.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity).

The dinner will take place on the restaurant’s outdoor dining terrace, so space is limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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undici4On Tuesday, September 9, 6:30 p.m., Undici Taverna Rustica, 11 West River Road Rumson, New Jersey, will host another in its popular series of wine tastings.

Featured at this tasting will be Italy’s extreme wines – five great estates from the Italian Boot and Sicily.

The wines to be tasted are noted below…

Marco Felluga Collio Bianco Molamatta

Russiz Superiore Cabernet Franc

Tascante Buonora Carricante

Ghiaia Nera Nerello Mascalese

Casanova di Neri Rosso

Brunello White Label

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Podium

Rosso Conero Grosso Agontano

Ripasso Monti Garbi

Amarone Selezione Antonio Castagnedi

The cost of this wine tasting is $79.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). If you’re interested, better secure your ticket early, as the tasting is limited to 25 seats. For more information, or to secure tickets, please call (732) 842-3880.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Chow Bistro

454 East Main Street

Collegeville, Pennsylvania

(484) 902-8495

www.chowbistro.com

 You don’t have to be a rocket scientist – or a food critic – to recognize that the chain restaurants have invaded Collegeville’s Providence Town Center like a plague of locusts. A fact, in my opinion, that doesn’t bode particularly well for those in search of an even semi-decent dining experience. Fortunately, there are still a sufficient number of independently owned & operated eateries in the area to provide welcome respites from the all-too-familiar corporate cookie cutter cuisine and service.

One such is the newly opened Chow Bistro, which adds a much needed touch of class to the chain-inundated Collegeville dining scene. Ensconced in the first floor of a stately old stone building adjacent to Ursinus College, Chow is owned by Chef Guy & Cathie Clauson, former proprietors of Phoenixville’s Garden Café and Black Lab Bistro.

Chow Bistro - Interior 2The well-spaced comfortable interior is a decorative potpourri, replete with paintings, wall screens, and assorted objets d’art. And the cuisine is similarly eclectic, ranging from Thai red curry to fish tacos & chicken enchiladas to hand-cut tagliatelle to surf & turf & all-American Yankee pot roast. For the most part, the food is carefully prepared and attractively presented.

Appetizers offer diners such diverse options as fried calamari “South Philly Style” with marinara sauce and long hot peppers; flatbread with duck confit, sliced mission figs, chèvre cheese, and onion jam; almond crusted Brie; and spiced lamb kebabs with tzatziki sauce (a blend plain yogurt, cucumbers, olive oil, and garlic).

Chow Bistro - Watermelon & Arugula SaladThe kitchen, however, does seem to have a particular talent for turning out first-class greenery, so salads make absolutely marvelous starters. The baby kale, for example, combines red onion, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds & Gorgonzola cheese with the tender greens and tosses all in a warm apple-wood bacon-honey vinaigrette. Extraordinary. Even better, though, is the baby arugula salad (pictured), which incorporates chunks of seedless watermelon, crumbled feta cheese, and a marvelous lime-honey dressing.

Chow Bistro - Cobb SaladThe Caesar salad – freshly torn romaine leaves, garlic croutons, and shaved Asiago cheese – is also quite good, although I found the dressing extremely astringent. On the other hand, a special Cobb salad (pictured) – finely chopped chicken, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes, avocado and cheese tossed with an excellent vinaigrette – is always a good bet for lunch.

Menu main courses, supplemented by a number of daily specials, offer diners some very interesting possibilities. So let’s begin with a personal fave, the chicken caprese. In many upscale eateries, chicken dishes have come to be looked upon as somewhat pedestrian; but Chow’s rendition is a real crowd pleaser.

Chow Bistro - Chicken CapreseCaprese (pronounced kuh-prey-zey), literally means “prepared in the style of Capri.” Here the boneless breast is lightly crusted with parmesan cheese and then topped with melted mozzarella, diced tomatoes, and basil leaves. The kicker, though, is provided by a perfectly seasoned pillow of zucchini “noodles”; that is, lengthwise slices of wafer-thin zucchini. The presentation, a feast for both eye and palate, is a beautiful combo of colors, tastes, and textures… but the whole is infinitely more than the sum of the parts. Incredibly delicious.

Chow Bistro - TagliatelleThe hand-cut tagliatelle (long, flat pasta ribbons similar in shape to fettuccine) is yet another presentation that is sublime in its apparent simplicity. The pasta is tossed with truffle butter, parmesan, and diminutive slivers of asparagus and then crowned with a fried egg. At an additional charge, you may also opt for morsels of duck bacon… and I highly recommend that you do, as their presence contributes a flavorful intensity and exciting textural kick to the dish.

Chow Bistro - Hawaiian ButterfishChef Clauson is also quite adept at seafood preparation… and the Hawaiian butterfish* (see note at the end of this review) is obviously his magnum opus. The filet is seared with adobo (a seasoning composed of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic, and vinegar) and grilled. It is then set on a seabed of Mexican green rice and topped with mango salsa. The fish itself is as white as the driven snow, buttery & succulent. But more than this, it is incomparably delicious; and the interplay of sweet & spicy flavors on the palate is completely seductive.

Chow Bistro - Red SnapperThe red snapper with marinated grape tomatoes & zucchini risotto, a daily special, is also quite good; but it can’t hold a candle to the aforementioned butterfish. Other seafood possibilities include a sesame crusted salmon filet with wasabi aioli, scallion noodle cake, and cucumber-seaweed salad; fish tacos; shrimp & lump crabmeat risotto; and lump crab cakes. There’s also a version of “surf and turf” featuring char-grilled filet mignon and lump crab cake.

Chow Bistro - Club SandwichSandwiches are offered at dinner as well as lunch, and the roast turkey club is certainly worth trying. The restaurant’s baked country white toast is packed with roast turkey, apple-wood bacon, Boston lettuce, and tomato and slathered with house-made mayonnaise. This all-American classic arrives at table with an attractive tiara of shoestring fries.

In three visits, the only major disappointment was an appetizer serving of mussels, a dinner special. Depending upon the broth in which they are served, mussels can often exude a somewhat “funky” aroma. But this was way beyond “funky”; the smell was overwhelming and totally off-putting. In fact, neighbors of ours, who arrived sometime after we did and were seated with a group several tables away, even commented that the mussels did not smell good.

And the taste… well, they were totally tasteless. In addition, instead of being plump and easily removed from their shells, they adhered tenaciously and, when finally extricated, degenerated into jelly-like shreds. The broth, which was billed as garlic-herb butter & white wine, looked and tasted like dirty dishwater.

I have no way of knowing whether they were improperly stored, or improperly prepared – or both – but they emerged from the kitchen at the speed of light, which is never a good sign in my book. I do know, however, that they were absolutely the worst mussels we have ever encountered in all our years of dining.

To the restaurant’s credit, they were immediately removed from our bill… But I do wonder how a kitchen that can turn out such excellent dishes as described above could allow such a horror to escape its precincts apparently unnoticed. I can only surmise that this was undoubtedly some absurd culinary anomaly that is highly unlikely to be repeated.

Chow Bistro - Meyer Lemon Curd TartOn a happier note, desserts are excellent across the board. Topping the list is the exquisite Meyer lemon curd tart. The Meyer lemon is a citrus fruit native to China and thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange. It was introduced to the United States in 1908 by agricultural explorer Frank Nicholas Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture. Chow’s lemon curd is addictively tart and intensely creamy, garnished with whipped cream and mint chiffonade. A marvelously refreshing ending to your evening at table.

Chow Bistro - Choc Belgian Waffle NapoleonComing in a close second in the sweets department is the chocolate Belgian waffle Napoleon, a feast for both eye and palate. The chocolate waffle is light and airy, and the coffee-toffee ice cream pure delight. Warm ganache and caramel complete the delicious scenario.

Chow Bistro - Creme BruleeThe kitchen also puts out a first-rate crème brûlée with fresh raspberries (pictured), a down-home warm peach cobbler with granola & vanilla bean ice cream, mascarpone cheese crepes, and a tres leches cake embellished with roasted coconut and fresh mango sauce.

According to the proprietors, Chef Guy and Cathie Clauson, they are attempting to fill a much needed niche in Collegeville’s dining scene. For my money, they have most assuredly succeeded. Chow is already quite popular; and the restaurant’s clientele is certain to grow as word gets around.

Chow is open Tuesday – Saturday for lunch/Sunday brunch and dinner; closed on Mondays. The restaurant is BYOB… and an excellent vintage is certainly called for.

 

*Note: “Butterfish” has become quite popular on restaurant menus of late… But this designation is really a misnomer. The correct name of the fish is Escolar; and its current roster of pseudonyms also includes “Rudderfish” “Hawaiian Walu,” “Super White Tuna” and “King Tuna.”

With several varieties of fish in danger of being over-harvested and other species questionable due to their high mercury content, seafood purveyors need a fish that’s delicious, inexpensive, sustainable, and low in mercury. Escolar certainly fits the bill, as it is economical, politically correct and, as noted above, extremely tasty… Unfortunately it comes with a side effect that fishmongers and restaurateurs fail to mention.

Escolar is a type of snake mackerel that cannot metabolize the wax esters that are found naturally in its diet. These esters are called gempylotoxin, and they are very similar to castor or mineral oil. As a result, when Escolar is consumed in full portions, these wax esters cause gastrointestinal problems… So much so, in fact, that the species enjoys the dubious distinction of being dubbed the “Ex-Lax fish.” Beginning to get the picture…? I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Some government agencies actually warn consumers about the fish: In 2004, Washington’s health department issued a bulletin on it; and the European Union mandates that Escolar and its relatives be sold only in packaged form with health warnings. The fish is banned outright in Japan and Italy. However, in this country, the FDA lifted the Escolar ban in 1992, noting that, while it can cause rather embarrassing things to happen, it won’t hurt or kill you.

In spite of all this, however, the fish is very buttery, downright delicious, and should be enjoyed – as my wife and I did during a recent visit with positively no ill effects – but never in portions larger than six ounces. Portions below six ounces supposedly will not cause any peristaltic indisposition.

… But, it’s your call… Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Rastelli Market Fresh MarltonRastelli Foods Group, a food service company specializing in the processing of gourmet meats and international distribution, has announced that South Jersey’s newest foodie location, Rastelli Market Fresh at Willow Ridge Plaza, Route 73 & Commonwealth Drive, Marlton, New Jersey, will kick off its grand opening celebrations with a private V.I.P. reception the evening of Monday, July 21. A public grand opening will be held the following day with tastings, prizes, and store tours.

The grand opening festivities for Rastelli Market Fresh in Marlton will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, July 21, with a star-studded by-invitation-only V.I.P. preview that will host media personalities, local dignitaries, and celebrity chefs. Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 22, patrons and guests will get their first experience of South Jersey’s newest foodie destination and have opportunities to sample premium meats, fresh seafood, and local produce. Visitors will also enjoy an international assortment of made-to-order foods, as well as blended juices, specialty coffee, and artisan baked goods.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Lobster ImageFrom Tuesday, July 22, through Sunday, July 27, Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will be celebrating “Lobster Palooza Week” with a series of appetizing dinner specials.

BAR FEATURES – Belfast Bay Lobster Ale: Belfast, Maine, 5% abv, $5.29; Watermelon Cooler: Ketel One, Solerno, Watermelon, Lime, $8.49; Peach Sangria: Local Peach, Pinot Grigio, Schnapps, Basil, $8.50/$32.00

COMPLETE LOBSTER DINNER, $29.98 per person: New England Clam Chowder or Garden Salad… Steamed Whole 1 ¼ Lb. Lobster… Green Bean, Cobb Corn, Baked Potato… Peach Cobbler A LA Mode (Sorry, no substitutions)

A LA CARTE – Classic New England Clam Chowder, $6.49; Fried Clam Strips: Horseradish Sauce, $9.49; Giant Shrimp Cocktail, Each $2.49; Steamed Mussels Bowl (2 Dozen): Drawn Butter, $11.98; Steamed Clam Bowl (1 ½ Dozen): Drawn Butter, $15.99; Blue Point Oysters (6): On the Half Shell, $10.99; New England Lobster Roll: Tomato, Lettuce, Split Hot Dog Roll, Fried Spiced Potato, $14.99; Steamed Whole 1 ¼ Lb. Lobster: Green Beans, Cobb Corn, Baked Potato (Sorry, no substitutions), $21.98… Add a Second Lobster (no sharing allowed), $12.99; Grilled Twin Pork Chops: Country Gravy, Green Beans, Cobb Corn, Baked Potato, $22.99; Jersey Peach Cobbler: Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, $6.98

*Menu subject to change and while supplies last.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Black Powder - ExteriorOn Wednesday, July 23, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., the Black Powder Tavern, 1164 Valley Forge Road, Wayne, PA, will host a special beer dinner paired with brews from the Allagash Brewing Company of Portland, Maine.

Allagash Brewing Company was started in 1995 by Rob Tod as a one-man operation in a small space on the outskirts of Portland, Maine. Today, Allagash has six year round beers in its portfolio, seven yearly releases, and numerous one-offs and keg only releases. Allagash began as New England’s original Belgian-style brewery and has grown into one of the industry’s most distinguished and well-respected brands.

The Allagash beer dinner menu is noted below…

Reception Beer: Allagash White

Atlantic Salmon: Charbroiled Salmon, Red Wine & Amaretto Poached Pears, Gorgonzola Cheese, Spinach & Arugula, Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette; Featured Beer: Allagash Saison

Chicken Tacos: Chicken Strips, Grilled Corn Tortillas, Sweet & Spicy Poblano Spread, Pico de Gallo, Shaved Lettuce, Side of Guacamole; Featured Beer: Allagash Tripel

Slider Trio: Mini Southwest Chicken, Steakhouse Prime, Veal Burgers, Summer Potato Salad; Featured Beer: Allagash Dubbel

Summer Peach Tart: Grilled Peaches, Bourbon Caramel, Vanilla Whipped Cream; Featured Beer: Allagash Curieux

The cost of the Allagash beer dinner is $50.00 per person, and reservations are required. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (610) 293-9333.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Rob's BistroI just received word that Rob’s Bistro, a mainstay on the Madison, New Jersey, dining scene, will close its doors on Friday, July 25. Noted below is a personal message from chef/proprietor Robert Ubhaus…

“After five fantastic years of cooking and serving you through birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, not so special occasions, good weather and some pretty big storms, I’m sorry to say that we are closing on Friday, July 25th.

“It has been my pleasure over the years to get to know you and your families. It is my hope that my staff and I have provided for you many great memories of the times you’ve spent with us and the meals we were lucky enough to cook for you.

“Best wishes to everyone.”

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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