Polaner Selections - WineOn Thursday, November 6, the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, New Jersey, and Morgan Rich, Italian Brand Manager of Polaner Selections will offer diners a tour of the best of the “Old World” Italian producers perfectly paired with a delicious four-course dinner.

Barolo Wine Dinner Menu

Amuse: Sea Scallop: Pumpkin, Sage, Parmigiano; Wine Pairing: Roagna Langhe Blanco, 2012

First Course: Acquarello Risotto: Wild Mushrooms, Fontina Val d’Osta; Wine Pairings: Francesco Rinaldi Barolo, 2010; Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Brunate, 2010

Second Course: Buckwheat Bigoli: Muscovy Duck Ragout, Pecorino Romano; Wine Pairings: Roagna Barolo Pira, 2008; Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, 2008

Third Course: Cervena Venison: Chestnuts, Wheat Berries, Brussels Sprouts; Wine Pairings: Giuseppe Mascarello Barolo Monprivato, 2006; Giacamo Conterno Barolo Cascina Francia, 2006

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Tart: Cherry Compote, Toasted Almond Ice Cream; Wine Pairing: Roagna Barolo Chinato, NV

This cost of this special Barolo wine dinner is $215.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 658-9292.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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PumpkinBeginning this coming Wednesday, October 29, and continuing through Sunday, November 2, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will be celebrating “Pumpkin Menu Week” with special culinary and libationary offerings.

FROM THE BAR – Pumpkin-Tini: House-Infused Pumpkin Vodka, Local Cider, House Bitters; Smashing Pumpkin: Bulleit Rue Whisky, Pressed Pumpkin, Cinnamon; Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale: Easton, PA, 8%

STARTERS – Pumpkin & Pulled Pork Chili: Local Pumpkin, Hickory Smoked Pork Shoulder, White Bean, Chili Peppers, Queso Fresco; Crispy Pumpkin Straw: Chipotle Dip; Pumpkin Patch Salad: Roasted Pumpkin, Serrano Ham, Manchego Cheese, Toasted Pumpkin Seed, Baby Arugula, Dijon Vinaigrette

MAIN DISHES – House-Made Pumpkin Ravioli: Chanterelle Mushroom, Duck Confit, Baby Kale, Roasted Garlic, Sherry, Roasted Duck Broth; Grilled Mahi Mahi: Pumpkin Curry Broth, Butternut Squash, Snow Pea, Shiitake, Black Rice; Pumpkin Spiced Short Rib “Chop”: Pumpkin Grits, Pumpkin Seed Gremolata, Three Squash Julienne

DESSERTS – Baby Pumpkin Cake on Chocolate “Dirt”; Pumpkin Cheesecake: Gingersnap Crust, Pumpkin Seed Brittle, Cranberry Compote, Maple Whipped Cream

For more information about the “Pumpkin Week Menu,” or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Just Falafel - Edison, NJJust Falafel, one of the fastest growing Mediterranean street food concepts, is set to debut their first East Coast restaurant in November 2014. Located in the food court at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ, Just Falafel will offer residents a new and convenient quality dining option.

Just Falafel’s dynamic growth continues as it promises to bring the goodness of old-world cuisine to local neighborhoods with over 150 franchises in North America and Canada. The Vege Group, LLC has signed a franchise agreement with Just Falafel to open at the Menlo Park Mall Food Court in Edison.

The “Just” in Just Falafel stands for being far, just, and honest – principles the company strives to live by in all that they do. Falafel, simply, is what they sell; and it is the world’s first authentic street food. Just Falafel always uses the highest quality ingredients that are, where possible, organic, locally sourced, and non-GMO to provide a healthy meal for families and friends to enjoy together.

Just Falafel redefines street food, serving authentic Mediterranean flavors with a New World twist. The menu selection continues to evolve with more choices: The New Jersey restaurant will be one of the first in the world to offer hand carved shawarma on the menu, adding meat selections to their vegetarian offerings. Each delicious menu item – including a New Jersey-specific entrée – is made fresh to order.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Chef Georges Perrier

Chef Georges Perrier

Al Paris has unveiled the menu for the six chef collaborative feast that pays homage to the legendary career of Chef Georges Perrier. This historic event, which will benefit the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship program, will take place at Paris Bistro, 8229 Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, November 11, beginning at 6:00 p.m. with a champagne reception and silent auction.

Guest chefs include Kevin Sbraga (Sbrago, The Fat Ham), Nicholas Elmi Laurel), Pierre Calmels (Bibou, Le Chéri), Chip Roman (Blackfish, ELA, Mica, The Treemont), and Robert Bennett (Classic Cake Company), all of whom worked with Chef Perrier at Le Bec-Fin and were hugely influenced by the master chef during their careers.

The format for the evening will include each of the chefs producing hors d’oeuvres for the reception, and commanding one course, which will be paired with wines selected by Paris Bistro’s sommelier, Wendy Wolf.

“Paris Celebrates Perrier” Menu

Les Hors d’Oeuvres

Al Paris: Colorado Lamb Rack, Green Horsradish Sabayon, Sumac… Kevin Sbraga: Seasonal Crab Salad, Country Toast, Benton’s Bacon… Nicholas Elmi: Crispy Veal Terrine, Purple Harvest Mustard… Pierre Calmels: Escargot, Champagne Foam, Green Cauliflower, Hazelnut… Chip Roman: Kombu Poached Scallop, Kaffir Lime, Caviar, Lardo Cream…Wine Pairing: Champagne Pierre Peters, Cuvée des Reserve, Blanc de Blanc, NV

Les Menu

Al Paris: Autumn Sea Urchin Flan, Lobster Consommé, Langoustine, Savoy Spinach;

Wine Pairing: Gasnier “Cravantine” Sparkling Brut Rosé, Loire Valley

Kevin Sbraga: Cool Hdson Valley Foie Gras, Lentil Tajine, November Seckle Pear; Wine Pairing: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Muscat, Alsace

Nicholas Elmi: Alpine Arctic Char, Licorice, Late Harvest Citrus, Chicory; Wine Pairing: Cornu Camus, Hautes Côtes de Nuits, France

Pierre Calmels: Local Guinea Hen, Natural Truffle Mousse, Celeriac Purée, Wild Mushroom Fricassee; Wine Pairing: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Guigal, 2007

Chip Roman: American Venison Porchetta, Sunchoke, Coffee, Fermented Huckleberry; Wine Pairing: Lalande-de-Pomerol, Château Tournefeuille, 2010

Robert Bennett: Legendary Le-Bec-Fin Pastry Cart, Traditional Petit Fours; Wine Pairing: Pineau des Charentes, Ferrand, Cognac, France

Silent auction items will be showcased on Paris Bistro’s website shortly, www.parisbistro.net. Notable mentions include: Fishing With Chip: A fishing excursion about Chef Chip Roman’s boat for four… Top Chef Stagiere: Spend a day as Chef Nicholas Elmi’s sous chef and then enjoy a multi-course dinner at Laurel with three friends… Dessert Lessons: A dessert class for four taught by Robert Bennett in the buyer’s home… Dinner With The Master: Eight guests will sit down with Chef Georges Perrier for dinner at Paris Bistro for a five course indulgence, featuring dishes from Perrier’s boo, Le Bec-Fin Recipes, prepared by Chef Al Paris… Dinner In The Incubator: A 5-course dinner for up to six people at the Sbraga Dining Test Kitchen hosted by Chef Kevin Sbraga… A Divine “Dîner de Vin”: A wine dinner at the chef’s table for eight at Le Chéri, prepared by Pierre and Charlotte Calmels

This special event, “Paris Celebrates Perrier,” is priced at $250.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity); $225.00 per person for James Beard Foundation members; and, as noted above, is a fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship program.

Paris Bistro is located at 8229 Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. Tickets may be purchased at www.parisbistro.net or by calling (215) 242-6200. You may learn more about the James Beard Foundation by visiting www.jamesbeard.org.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Nicholas - White Truffle DinnerOn Wednesday, November 12, 7:00 p.m., Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will celebrate the white truffle season with a 5-course menu featuring truffles flown in from Alba, Italy. This is a one-night-only menu and space is limited.

White Truffle Menu…

First Course: Autumn Mushroom Bisque, Foie Gras Tortellini, White Truffles

Second Course: Slow-Poached Hen Egg, Butter-Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, White Truffles

Third Course: Classic White Truffle Risotto

Fourth Course: Porcelet de Lait, White Asparagus, Trumpet Royal, Palm Purée, White Truffle

Fifth Course: White Truffle Cheesecake

The cost of the white truffle dinner is $250.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). As noted above, this is a one-night-only menu and space is limited. To make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Cuba Libre AC - InteriorThis November 1 through November 30, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located in The Quarter at Tropicana Casino & Resort, 2801 Pacific Avenue, will celebrate their 10th anniversary in Atlantic City by offering 10-themed food-and-drink specials.

Guillermo Pernot, Cuba Libre’s James Beard Award-winning chef, will also introduce several new menu items to the restaurant’s authentic-yet-innovative menu of Cuban fare.

“We’re proud to have been a mainstay in Atlantic City for the past 10 years, and we’re having as much fun as ever. We want to pause and celebrate a bit with everyone who has helped us to make it this far,” notes Chef Pernot. “From $10 cocktails and small plates to 10-for-$10 empanadas, we invite one and all to join us as we honor this milestone anniversary.”

To commemorate their 10th year in Atlantic City, Cuba Libre will offer a trio of $10 food and drink specials: 10th Anniversary Blood Orange Mojito, a super-premium mojito made with Matusalem Gran Reserva rum, blood orange juice, guarapo, lime, and a splash of club soda; Paella Arancini Croquetas, croquettes of seafood paella with shrimp, clams, and mussels mingling in Calasparra rice, served with a side of romesco sauce; and a $10 Coffee & Dessert Combo – any full-size dessert and any specialty coffee or tea together are just $10.

In addition to these all-day specials, the restaurant will serve 10 Empanadas for $10 every Wednesday at the bar during Happy Hour, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Finally, guests who wish to host their own celebration with Cuba Libre will enjoy a 10% discount on all private events booked before November 30 (minimum 20 guests).

More than 10 years ago, Cuba Libre began as a vibrant window into a distant culture in Philadelphia’s Old City. Today, their four locations in Philadelphia, PA; Atlantic City, NJ; Orlando, FL; and Washington, DC, are restaurants whose décor and menu evoke the forbidden pleasures of Cuba.

Cuba Libre Atlantic City serves dinner daily from 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Brunch is served every Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. On Friday and Saturday evenings after dinner hours, the restaurant transitions into a late night part with DJs spinning Latin rhythms, bottle service, and dancing until the bar closes at 4:00 a.m.

For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (609) 348-6700 or visit www.CubaLibreRestaurant.com.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Di Bruno Brothers - ArdmoreOn Thursday, October 23, beginning at 6:00 p.m., culinary pioneers Di Bruno Brothers will host St. James School Soiree, an after-hours cocktail party at the Ardmore Farmers Market, 120 Coulter Avenue, Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Guests will enjoy two hours of gourmet food and drink for just $45.00 per person, with proceeds supporting Di Bruno Brothers worthy mission: to construct and operate a state-of-the-art Neighborhood Kitchen at St. James School in the Allegheny West neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

“Throughout our 75th anniversary year, we’ve honored the spirit of our founders by recommitting ourselves to bringing exceptional products to Philadelphia and finding ways to give back to and engage with our community,” notes President Bill Mignucci, Jr., third-generation owner and grandson of Danny Di Bruno. “With the St. James Soiree, we’re offering our fans and friends an opportunity to support a great cause and also enjoy some of the tastiest imported and domestic bites and beverages available.”

Food and drink offerings will represent some of Di Bruno Brothers most popular and delicious selections, including Prosciutto di Parma with truffle-burrata crema and Petrossian caviar “involtini,” paired with Hangar 1 Vodka, served chilled with stuffed olives, lemon, lime or sage, and Moscow Mules with ginger beer and fresh lime; Cacio e Pepe, featuring Rustichella Torchio Reggiano cheese, Tellicherry peppercorns, and Sicilian sea salt; Fried Cerignola Olives; Saffron Arancinetti; Crab Cakes with smoked chile aioli; Gorgonzola Dolce with lomo and fig jame; and Smoked Salmon “Buttons.”

Di Bruno Brothers has dedicated their milestone 75th anniversary year in business to raising $75,000 for St. James School’s new Neighborhood Kitchen. The school’s current kitchen is small, outdated, and can only warm food, limiting their ability to provide fresh, healthy meals to students, many of whom eat multiple meals a day at school. The new Neighborhood Kitchen will provide nutritional foods to students and their families and simultaneously encourage area youth to consider an education and career in the culinary arts.

Tickets are available online (click for ticket sales link).

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen - ExteriorThe long-anticipated opening of Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen is finally at hand. Restaurateur Chris Cannon has announced that the Phase I opening of his four-part restaurant concept in landmark Vail Mansion will take place today, Tuesday, October 21.

Phase I, the Oyster & Wine Bar will serve oysters from Jersey’s own Forty North Oyster Farm, with whom Mr. Cannon partnered last year. Happy Hour fans should take note: $1.00 oysters will be served Tuesday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Additional menu offerings will include crudo, salumi, and the signature Italian-influencec contemporary fare for which Mr. Cannon and Executive Chef Kevin Sippel are known. Soon-to-be signatures will be Sippel’s Scrambled Hen Eggs with Black Truffle; Lardo & Country Bread; CC Burger with Raclette, Slab Bacon and Salt & Vinegar Fries, and Cauliflower Agnolotti with Chicken Jus & Brown Butter Mirepoix.

Reservations are now being accepted via OpenTable.com for dinner at the Oyster & Wine Bar. Its communal table and bar will be first come, first served, as will seating in the clubby Vail Bar, at the rear of the main level.

“We’ll start with dinner, then open for lunch next week,” notes GM Ron Morgan. “Four weeks or so from now, we’ll begin holding private events in the downstairs Rathskeller. Last to open will be the Dining Room upstairs, which we plan to launch in November, just in time for the holidays.”

The Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen also houses an impressive contemporary art collection commissioned specifically for the space from acclaimed international artists. It will also be a center for health & wellness in the NJ public schools, thanks to Mr. Cannon’s affiliation with NYC’s Wellness in the Schools.

The Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen is located at 110 South Street, Morristown, New Jersey. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (973) 644-3180 or consult the restaurant’s website: www.jockeyhollowbarandkitchen.com.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Avenue Kitchen

789 East Lancaster Avenue

Villanova, Pennsylvania

(610) 525-3950

www.avekitchen.com

 Tucked away next to the Villanova Post Office, in a portion of the space previously occupied by the gargantuan, ill-fated Maia, Dana Farrell’s Avenue Kitchen appears to attempt to stake out a middle ground between her other culinary ventures: her former association with The Classic Diner in Malvern with ex-husband Tom Farrell; and her current interest in the Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar in Glen Mills with partner Dave Magrogan.

Avenue Kitchen - Interior 1Avenue Kitchen’s upscale décor – sleek all-white interior adorned with subway tiles, antique mirrors, and aluminum chairs – may at first strike one as unabashedly cold & stark au courant; but rustic wood tables, comfy booths, subdued lighting, and other subtle aesthetic touches soften things up significantly.

The cuisine, in the hands of Ms. Farrell’s brother, Chef Gregory Smith, provides some homey influences as well. It’s basically upscale American fare with a few interesting international twists and creative turns, but with enough familiar points of reference to appeal to a broad range of appetites.

Problem is… Avenue Kitchen has something of a split personality; it is, in reality, TWO restaurants. Drop in for lunch and you come away with one (generally positive) impression. Settle in for dinner, on the other hand, and you tend to harbor a few second thoughts.

However, let’s begin on a positive note, based upon several luncheon visits. Salads are particularly enjoyable (you may also add chicken, shrimp, salmon cake, steak, yellowtail tuna steak, or salmon to the greenery at an additional charge). The Mediterranean chopped salad, for example, replete with cherry tomatoes, English cucumber, sliced red onion, pitted Kalamata olives, and generous chunks of feta cheese, is obviously freshly tossed and enlivened with a subtle, palate-pleasing white balsamic vinaigrette.

Avenue Kitchen - Baby Arugula SaladEqually up to the mark is the baby arugula & goat cheese salad. The greenery is nicely trimmed, pristinely fresh, and supplemented by cherry tomato halves, and morsels of endive & shallot. Once again, however, it is the dressing – in this case, an ethereal sherry wine vinaigrette – that acts as a sublime culinary catalyst. Meanwhile, the deep fried golden brown goat cheese patty succeeds in providing a perfect crispy/creamy textural contrast to the peppery arugula.

Avenue Kitchen - Sweet Sausage PizzaMoving on… Although this is not an Italian restaurant per se, I would certainly recommend the wood-fired pizzas. Recently sampled, for instance, was the pie boasting sweet Italian sausage as well as mozzarella, spinach, roasted garlic, and San Marzano tomato sauce. The crust was thick but crispy and the toppings generously applied and alive with flavor. An excellent effort… ditto another Italian staple, the rigatoni Bolognese made with a first-rate short rib meat sauce.

Avenue Kitchen - Avocado BLTSandwiches also have a good deal to recommend them and represent a range of possibilities…from the upscale brioche lobster roll & grilled yellowtail tuna steak to the sublimely simple short rib cheese steak and three-cheese grilled cheese. In this latter category you also find a top-notch rendition of the classic corned beef Reuben on marble rye and a revved up version of the BLT (pictured), boasting wedges of avocado and thick slathering of zippy chipotle mayo on toasted sourdough.

Avenue Kitchen - BurgerBut if you happen to be in the mood for a burger, the kitchen does a fine job with a grass-fed prime beef patty on brioche companioned by caramelized onion, aged cheddar, and lettuce and tomato (pictured). For a variation on the theme, you might also consider giving the salmon burger a try. Accoutrements include roasted garlic aioli, arugula, and a soft pretzel roll.

Luncheon visits here were all thoroughly satisfying… Dinner, however, proved to be a different story. For starters, the kitchen seemed to lose its way. While the aforementioned salads were exceptional at lunch, the Caesar sampled at dinner was generic at best. The torn romaine leaves were undeniably fresh, but the promised homemade garlic croutons tasted mass produced, and the roasted garlic Caesar dressing was rather sparingly applied, rendering the greenery unappetizingly dry.

Avenue Kitchen - MusselsMy wife’s Prince Edward Island mussels, however, were the real problem. The pale ale broth awash with generous chunks of sweet sausage was just fine, but the mussels themselves were unbelievably tiny. Yes, yes, PEI mussels are small… But I have never, and I do mean never, seen bivalves so puny. Perhaps the restaurant purchased a truckload at bargain prices. Tiny, puny, minuscule, dwarfish, Lilliputian, call them what you will; one thing is certain, however: Their jumbo-size $16.00 price tag is no bargain.

Avenue Kitchen - MeatloafWhen it comes to entrées, the meatloaf with mac & cheese is about as homespun as it gets. The grass-fed meatloaf is set on a pillow of tender haricots verts and smothered in a rich dark brown gravy. The accompanying mac & cheese (also available as a side), a combo of Gruyère, cheddar, and provolone is a creamy, decadent delight. Excellent.

Avenue Kitchen - BranzinoOn the other hand, it’s difficult to believe that the pan-roasted branzino could have been produced in the same kitchen as that gloriously simple meatloaf/mac & cheese – yes, it was that bad… But let me qualify. The filet, set on a seabed of potato purée, was quite tasty on its own… when it was eventually discovered, that is. I say this because it was buried beneath an unsightly – and not particularly flavorful – mishmash of baby carrots, fava beans, roasted mushrooms & cherry tomatoes, and an artichoke barigoule (artichokes braised with onions, garlic & carrots in a seasoned broth of wine & water). I don’t expect culinary presentations to be works of art… but I do expect that they will appear at least semi-appetizing – and the branzino certainly was not. To paraphrase that old axiom: The palate can only ingest what the eye can endure.

… And, as if to add insult to injury, the branzino filet was also quite small. Both my wife and I have rather diminutive appetites; but even by our standards, the portion size was woefully deficient – perhaps the reason for the attempted camouflage. There’s nothing deficient about the price, however. At a whopping $28.00, it is the second most expensive item on the menu.

But it’s not only the food that makes a bit of an about-face at dinner; the general atmosphere takes a nosedive as well. On a recent visit, for example, we were greeted and seated by a teenager wearing a white shirt, bowtie, rose colored slacks, and Docksiders… At a typical family chow-down, hey, no problem. But is this the image a supposedly sophisticated Main Line eatery that has been variously described as chic and upscale wishes to project…? Apparently so.

Then there’s the clientele, especially the representatives populating the bar area, which, unfortunately, is merely an extension of the dining room, not a separate entity. It wasn’t exactly the From Dusk Till Dawn crowd – more like an impromptu cougars’ convention – but there were still some pretty strange vibrations floating around, which is not particularly conducive to a comfortable and relaxing dining experience.

The bottom line: If I happened to be in the area, I wouldn’t hesitate to pop back into Avenue Kitchen for lunch. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be terribly anxious to book a return evening’s engagement. There are simply too many other excellent restaurants in the area that offer better food, more pleasant surroundings, and a comparable – or superior – bang for your hard-earned buck.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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cornucopiaMealSharing.com announces its second annual “ThanksSharing” to promote food and togetherness for the classic American holiday.

Dubbed the “AirBnB of Home Cooked Meals,” MealSharing.com connects hosts and guests in more than 450 cities worldwide over home cooked meals. This year, MealSharing.com will continue its ThanksSharing initiative to connect thousands of people over one very special meal – Thanksgiving.

“Last year’s ThanksSharing helped people enjoy a meal with others who otherwise would have been eating alone,” notes Jay Savsani, founder of MealSharing.com. “As a popular celebration that promotes people coming together over food, ThanksSharing does just that – whether a person is traveling, alone for the holiday or simply wants a different experience – ThanksSharing is helping connect people over home cooked meals for a special occasion.”

To host a ThanksSharing event, hosts simply create a meal on MealSharing.com, specifying what they are making, how many people can come to their table, and the optional “chip-in” price per person to help offset the cost of ingredients. Then, by selecting ThanksSharing as the type of meal, guests from around the world can easily search and join a ThanksSharing dinner with one click. A special ThanksSharing webpage for those seeking a meal will also be readily available, with even a potluck feature to promote community involvement.

In addition, ThanksSharing hosts will be able to raise money for local food banks through the MealSharing.com platform. To urge participation, MealSharing.com will offer meal credits to any hosts who open up their table to guests for ThanksSharing.

To join the MealSharing.com community and host a ThanksSharing meal, please visit www.mealsharing.com/thanks.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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