Fiddleheads - InteriorTomorrow, Sunday, September 25, 2016, from 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Fiddleheads Restaurant, 27, East Railroad Avenue, Jamesburg, New Jersey, invites the public to a free opening reception to meet the artists whose work was just put on display: watercolorists Joni Milano of Monmouth Junction and Bob Virgadamo of Cranbury. Also featured is the continuing exhibit of “Woodspirits,” a collection of woodcarvings by Fred Linke of East Brunswick.


Fiddleheads will not be open for à la carte seating during the reception, but will be open for Sunday brunch until 2:00 p.m. (reservations accepted until 12:45 p.m.) and will reopen for dinner at 4:30 p.m. at the conclusion of the event. No RSVP is necessary to attend the reception.

Bon Appétit!



hogue-cellars-father-sonsAlthough it hardly seems possible, Hogue Cellars began life in a child’s playhouse. In 1974 Mike Hogue began using 6 of his father’s 1,700 acres to plant Riesling grapes, which he sold to other wineries. Seven years later, Mike and a friend started making wine in Mike’s Daughter’s playhouse. In 1982 the Hogue brothers, Mike & Gary, made their first appearance as Hogue Cellars at the Prosser Wine & Food Fair, an event that still goes on today. The following year, the Hogue Cellars winery and tasting room took over a vacant building in Prosser, where the tasting room still remains.

Today, Hogue Cellars is the third largest winery in the state, producing 650,000 cases per year and nearly 8% of Washington’s wine market volume. Hogue is now owned by Canadian conglomerate Vincor International, a division of the world’s largest wine company, Constellation Brands, which also owns the likes of Inniskillin, Robert Mondavi, Hardys, Clos du Bois, Blackstone, Estancia, Ravenswood, Jackson-Triggs, Kim Crawford, and Nobilo wineries.

But don’t let Hogue Cellars corporate ownership fool you. The winery continues to bring high quality Washington wines to the marketplace – showcasing the state’s exceptional fruit quality and depth of grape diversity. Hogue wines are not super jammy, overripe, or lethally alcoholic. Rather, the winery produces vintages that are on the conservative side, preferring to err on the side of under-manipulation and respect for the fruit, rather than over-manipulate and destroy the character. Hogue Cellars is a cornerstone of Washington State wine scene…

hogue-cellars-wines… And this is certainly echoed in their consumer friendly three tiers or price points: Hogue, Genesis, and the Hogue Reserve, which features upper-end wines. Hogue is the winery’s entry-level wine tier, priced at approximately $10.00 per bottle. These wines are soft on the palate with fruit forward flavors, laid back tannins, and a decidedly food-friendly character. Genesis wines make up the winery’s mid-range offerings, which are priced at approximately $15.00 – $20.00 per bottle. Here you find increased flavor intensity, more structured tannins, and added depth & complexity. The grapes from the Genesis series are sourced from upper-end vineyards with a history of producing excellent vintages. Finally, Hogue Reserve provides consumers with striking high-end wines that are remarkably free of expected “high-end” prices (expect to pay in the $22.00 – $30.00 range). The reserve wines deliver both intensity and character complexity; they also enjoy more concentrated fruit and additional spice from extended oak aging.

I recently sampled the Hogue 2013 Riesling, which is a lightly off-dry and beautifully balanced wine. And the 7% Gewürztraminer blended into the mix does a marvelous job of elevating the aromatics and adding significantly to the characteristic “petrol” nose. Wonderfully distinct flavors here – lemon, Key lime and grapefruit – and all seamlessly integrated. As noted above, this wine retails for $10.00 per bottle (PA State Stores currently have it on sale for $8.99) and received 90 points and a “Best Buy” designation from the Wine Enthusiast. However, the Jersey Shore restaurant where I first sampled it, listed it as $10.00 per glass and $38.00 per bottle, which demonstrates just how blatantly many restaurants commit what amounts to “mark-up extortion.” Just one word of caution: Make every effort to find the 2013; the 2014 is also good, but lacks the aromatic punch flavorful complexity of its elder sibling.

If you want to step up a notch, the Hogue 2013 Genesis Riesling is also an excellent choice. It finishes dry with great length & balance and a wonderfully refreshing minerality. Retailing at the $16.00 mark, it received a whopping 91 points and an “Editors’ Choice” designation from the Wine Enthusiast.

hogue-cellars-exteriorAmong the red wines, I would definitely recommend the Hogue Cellars 2013 Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a full-bodied, elegant wine with plenty of dark fruit and hints of toasty oak. The 14% alcohol is extremely well integrated and beautifully balanced with the ripe fruit and remarkable acidity. As the cooler weather sets in, this wine will make a wonderful companion to grilled beef. Retails around the $18.00 mark.

Also high on my list is the Hogue Cellars 2012 Genesis Meritage. In order to be considered a true red “Meritage” a wine must be a blend of two or more of the “noble” red Bordeaux grape varietals. The 2013 Genesis is an artful combination of 38% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. This is a supple, full-bodied wine, velvety and appealing on the palate, with appealing flavors of rich dark fruit, spicy oak, soothing hints of vanilla. Priced at approximately $15.00 – $18.00.




not-your-average-joes-oktoberfestOn Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 6:00 p.m., Not Your Average Joe’s in Ardmore & Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, will be celebrating Oktoberfest with a five-course dinner of local, seasonal & German brews paired with Oktoberfest specials.

The brew pairings will change based on restaurant location, but the food menu is noted below…

Pumpkin Apple Bisque: House-Made with a hint of Nutmeg

House-Baked Pretzel: House-Baked Bavarian-Style Pretzel with Hot Cheesy Beer Dipping Sauce made with Sam Adams Octoberfest

Schnitzel and Kugel: Pan-Seared Breaded Pork Cutlet with Home-Run Mustard Sauce, Braised Red Cabbage and Crispy Potato Kugel

Pumpkin Chicken Molé: Grilled Citrus-Marinated Chicken with Autumn Pumpkin Molé, Sautéed Garlicky Spinach and Delicioso Corn Cake

Hot Apple Cinnamon Sticks: Spiced Apples in Pastry, Fried Crispy and rolled in Cinnamon Sugar, served with Hot Caramel Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

The cost of the Oktoberfest five-course pairing menu is $30.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Not Your Average Joe’s: Ardmore, (484) 708-1500; Glen Mills, (610) 500-2222.

For those who cannot make the brew pairing dinner, Not Your Average Joe’s will be serving the Oktoberfest menu items à la carte for both lunch and dinner through Monday, October 3rd.

Bon Appétit!



gladstone-tavern-san-gennaro-2016Beginning today, Thursday, September 15, and continuing through Tuesday, September 20, 2016, the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will celebrate Italian food & drink in honor of the Feast of San Gennaro. Featured will be special libations, a vintage Italian menu, and Friday night music by the Lucas Lasagna Jazz Trio.

DALLA SBARRA – Sophia Loren: Ketel One Vodka, Aperol, Prosecco, Blood Orange, Basil… Al Capone: Redemption Rye, Punt e Mes Vermouth, Campari, Orange Bitters… Cavallotto Nebbiolo 2014Fattoria Di Pizzano Chianti 2012

PER LA TAVOLA – Garlic Bread: Toasted Ciabatta, Four Cheeses, Garlic, Olive Oil, Herbs

PRIMO CORSO – Tuscan Kale, Sausage & White Bean Soup: Parmesan, Natural Broth… Marinated Baby Artichoke Salad: Arugula, Trevisano, Celery, Carrot, Lemon, Olive Oil… Baked Cherrystone Clams: Garlic, Oregano, Parmesan Crumb Crust

PIATTI DI PASTA – Shrimp Fra Diavolo Linguine: Hot Pepper, Fresh Chopped Tomato, Basil, Garlic, Lemon, White Wine… Sausage & Broccoli Rabe Rigatoni: Sweet Sausage, Sun-Dried Tomato, Roasted Garlic, Chicken Broth, Pecorino

PORTATA PRINCIPALE – Chicken Breast Scarpariello: Hot Sausage, Mushroom, Potato, Cherry Pepper, Garlic, Red Wine Vinegar Sauce… Grilled Tuna Puttanesca: Zesty Tomato-Caper Sauce, Zucchini Ribbons, Gorgonzola Polenta, Walnut… Eggplant Parmesan: Rustic Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Broccoli Rabe Side

DOLCE – Assortment of Italian Cookies: Pignoli, Rainbow, Biscotti, Almond Horn… Zepole-Misu: Fluffy Doughnut, Espresso Sauce, Mascarpone Gelati, Cocoa Powder… Gelati: Blood Orange & Gianduja (Chocolate Hazelnut

For more information about the San Gennaro menu, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



bernards-inn-terri-baldwinOn Friday, September 30, 2016, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., the Bernards Inn, Bernardsville, New Jersey, invites guests to sample over 100 wines from some of the most celebrated wine regions in the world. Many of these fine wines are not available in retail stores but may be purchased that evening.

Wines for the tasting event have been specially selected by Wine Director and Sommelier Terri Baldwin, who is now in her 24th year at the restaurant. “This is a great opportunity for wine lovers to taste some of the finest, hard-to-find wines from all over the world,” notes Ms. Baldwin. “Many of our guests stock up on their favorite discoveries for the upcoming holiday entertaining and gift-giving season.”

Hors d’oeuvres will be served to accompany the wine tasting. Reservations are $55.00 per person, with $20.00 credit toward the purchase of wine.

Attendees may turn the vent into an overnight getaway with the around-the-world package, which includes luxury guestroom accommodations, a welcome amenity from the pastry chef, entrance to the event, $20.00 cred toward the purchase of wine, and a $100.00 gift certificate for the restaurant.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 766-0002.

Bon Appétit!



Zacharias Creek Side Café

2960 Skippack Pike

Worcester, Pennsylvania

(610) 584-5650

 Nine years ago, when I first reviewed Andrew Gallo’s Zacharias Creek Side Café, the restaurant was very much the new kid on the block, having just made its debut in the Center Point Shopping Center. Now, almost a decade later, without appearing immodest, my original prediction – “There is absolutely no question that Zacharias Creek Side Café is destined to become exceedingly popular” – has certainly come to fruition.

zacharias-interiorThe restaurant’s interior design – courtesy of David Bruce Michener of Interior Dimensions Studio, who is also the decorative & artistic force behind Philadelphia’s late Le Bec-Fin, the Clubhouse at Coldstream Crossing in Phoenixville, Spice Kitchen in Lansdale, and Gino’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in Norristown, as well as numerous other restaurant & commercial projects – is an eye-catching amalgam of Modern & Mediterranean accents replete with textured abstract walls and striking mixed medium sculptures. Zacharias also boasts a bustling open kitchen and an attractive 50-seat front patio for al fresco dining.

And the cuisine, which may best be described as Mediterranean & Italian fare with eclectic subtitles, is every bit as impressive as the décor. You begin, for example, with a diminutive island of black olive tapenade floating in a sea of extra virgin oil; the perfect complement to the beautifully textured house-made focaccia – and a delicious harbinger of the good things to come.

zacharias-antipastoAppetizers offer a wide range of possibilities, ranging from Turkish fig tapenade on toasted crostini and Mediterranean pizza to crispy chicken livers, smoked duck & apple brandy sausage, and fried calamari. That being said, however, it’s difficult to top the luscious antipasto for two (pictured). In contrast to the usual innocuous representatives of this particular genre, the assortment proffered here includes perfectly grilled vegetables and earthy marinated mushrooms, as well as cured meats, wedges of aged provolone and shavings of mozzarella.

zacharias-cevicheSeveral other preludes, however, are equally commendable… the recently sampled ceviche, for example. This is a seafood dish that is extremely popular in Mexico and regions of Latin America. It is typically made from fresh raw white fish that is cured (“cooked”) in citrus juices. Zacharias’ kitchen prepares it with lemon juice, tomato, cilantro, tiara of chopped avocado, and serves it up with saltines. The fish is pristinely fresh and the spices are just potent enough to invigorate rather than incinerate your delicate taste buds.

zacharias-turkey-meatballsI also highly recommend the turkey meatballs. This is an appetizer I wouldn’t ordinarily order, as turkey anything can be the-bland-leading-the-bland unless properly seasoned – which it certainly is here. Yes, the meatballs had flavor to spare, were exceedingly moist, and were pillowed on a verdant bed of perfectly sautéed spinach. The real star, however, was the incredibly tasty honey-soy-ginger sauce that glazed the meat and permeated the greenery. A definite winner on all counts. By the way, for a variation on the theme, be sure to try the bison meatballs in Burgundy gravy.

As you move on, you will find that the main courses offer a variety of options that are every bit the equal of the apps. Matters piscatorial are represented by pan-seared wild salmon in a citrus beurre blanc, spice rubbed Saint Peters fish, and sesame-ginger crusted ahi tuna. All quite excellent. Meatier matters include stuffed pork tenderloin and house-braised short rib. And for those who can’t quite make up their minds, the restaurant also offers a top-notch surf and turf, headlining a 4-ounce filet and crab cake adorned with a red wine demi-glace and tomato & horseradish aioli, respectively.

zacharias-eggplant-napoleonDuring our most recent visit, however, my dining partner and I were feeling Italian and lyrical… so the eggplant Napoleon immediately drew my attention. Like its kissing cousin, eggplant parmesan, this is a relatively simple dish, but one that is easily mucked up. Zacharias’ Napoleon consists of two generous slices of perfectly sautéed eggplant swimming in zesty house-made marinara topped with a crown of delightfully gooey melted mozzarella. The key, though, is the texture. The bite is just right; neither too firm nor too mushy. The ultimate in Italian comfort food.

zacharias-creek-tagliatelle-bologneseAnd my partner’s tagliatelle alla Bolognese is another winner. Tagliatelle (from the Italian tagliare, meaning “to cut”) is a traditional type of pasta from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions of Italy. Individual pieces are long, flat ribbons that are similar in shape to fettuccine. Tagliatelle may be served with a variety of sauces, but the classic is a rich meat sauce or Bolognese. In this case, Zacharias’ kitchen pairs the al dente stands with a lush & lusty wild boar ragù.

By the way, if you’re into gastronomic trivia… Legend has it that tagliatelle was created by a talented court chef in 1487, who was supposedly inspired by Lucrezia d’Este’s outlandish hairdo on the occasion of her marriage to Annibale II Bentivoglio. In reality, this was a joke invented by humorist Augusto Majani in 1931.

zacharias-choc-cake-w-peanut-butter-choc-caramelTo conclude your evening at table, desserts, all made in-house, are simply not to be missed. When it is available, the Key lime cheesecake is always a sure bet. But when any combo of chocolate and peanut butter is in the offering, I simply can’t resist. Recently sampled, for instance, was the absolutely decadent amalgam of dense chocolate cake, peanut butter icing and caramel glaze. Fabulously rich and – notice the two forks – quite suitable for sharing.

Zacharias Creek Side Café continues to turn out an outstanding array of lovingly prepared and presented cuisine. Highly recommended and always worth a visit… just don’t forget to BYOB.

Bon Appétit!



Kildare's - West Chester, PAThis coming Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Kildare’s Irish Pub, 18 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA, will host a special four-course beer pairing dinner showcasing brews from Illinois’ Half Acre Beer Company.

First Course: Grilled Shrimp with Jicama, Lemon & Lime Vinaigrette; Brew Pairing: Akari Shogun Pale Wheat Ale

Second Course: Arugula, Orange, Walnut, Blue Cheese Salad with Daisy Cutter Vinaigrette; Brew Pairing: Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Third Course: Chicken Curry – Mango, Onions, Red Peppers, and Coconut Rice; Brew Pairing: Hot Tropic (Very Rare Coconut touched Pale Ale)

Fourth Course: Brown Sugar Grilled Pineapple with Vanilla Ice Cream; Brew Pairing: Vallejo IPA

The cost of the beer pairing dinner is $35.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (610) 431-0770.

Bon Appétit!



undici3On Monday, November 7, 2016, Undici Taverna Rustica, 11 West River Road, Rumson, New Jersey, invites guests to enjoy dinner and the wines of Italy’s Avignonesi Winery. Special guest of the evening will be Giuseppe Santarelli, Avignonesi Export Manager in North America.

The wines to be tasted and the complete dinner menu are noted below…

Wines: Avignonesi Marzocco Chardonnay… Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano… Avignonesi Grandi Annate… Avignonesi Desiderio… Avignonesi Vin Santo

Menu – Mozzarella: House-Made with Local Farm Roasted Vegetables, Extra Virgin Olive Oil… Mezzo Rigatoni: House-Made with Tuscan Wild Boar Ragu… Bistecca: Grilled Prime T-Bone Steak, Braised Winter Greens, Sea Salt… Mele al Forno: Roasted Apple, House-Made Vanilla Gelato, Caramel, Sea Salt

The cost of the dinner and tasting is $99.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to reserve your place, please call (732) 842-3880.

Bon Appétit!



Frog and Peach4Beginning yesterday, Tuesday, August 30, and continuing through Sunday, September 4, 2016, the Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey, will celebrate the last week of summer with a special three-course prix fixe menu.

APPETIZERS (Choice of) – Black Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi: Summer Squash, Bacon, Tomato Emulsion, Pecorino Tartufo… Baby Greens Salad: Puffed Amaranth, Hemp Seeds, Local Radish, Dried Currants, Dijon Vinaigrette… Soup: Chef’s Creation of the Evening

MAIN COURSES (Choice of) – Striped Marlin a la Plancha: Four Bean Salad, Marcona Almond, Charred Vidalia Onion… Gigli Pasta: Braised Mushrooms, Calabrian Chili, Tuscan kale Pesto, Smoked Ricotta Salata… Grilled Hanger Steak: Porcini Dusted Frites, Cherry Tomato, King trumpet Mushroom, Baby Carrots, Frog & Peach Steak Sauce

DESSERTS (Choice of) – Baba Au Rhum: Grilled Pineapple, Spicy Peanut Ganache, Coconut… Trio of Sorbet: Pizzelle… Clasic Crème Brûlée

The cost of the “Last Week of Summer” special three-course prix fixe menu is $35.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 846-3216.

Bon Appétit!



Pluckemin Inn - San GennaroOn Friday, September 16, and Saturday, September 17, 2016, the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, New Jersey, will “go Italian” with menus created by Executive Chef Andrew Lattanzio. The menus will also be served with a selection of Italian wines that will be available at retail prices at the restaurant.

ANTIPASTI (Choice of) – Capocollo: Spicy Cured Pork, Chicory, Olives, Pickles… Frittatine di Maccheroni: Linguine Fritters, Clams, Garlic, Parsley Pesto… Zuppa Fredda di Melone: Chilled Lemon Soup, Prosciutto, Basil, Mint… Fioridi Zucca Fritti: Fried Squash Flowers, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Anchovy, Olive… Insalata Caprese: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Basil, Mozzarella di Bufala

PRIMI (Choice of) – Bucatini all’Amatriciana: Plum Tomato, Guanciale, Parsley, Onion, Pecorino… Sqaguetti con Cozze: Mussels, White Wine, Garlic, Chiles, Lemon, Parsley… Pasticcio di Maccheroni: Baked Pasta, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato Sauce… Ricotta Gnocchi: Broccoli Rabe, Sausage, Chiles, Pecorino Romano… Ravioli di Melanzane: Eggplant, Cherry Tomato, Parigiano Olives, Pine Nuts

SECONDI (Choice of) – Cotolette di Maiale: Pork Chop, Mushrooms, Polenta, Spinach, Marsala Sauce… Zuppa di Pesce: Monkfish, Clams, Mussels, Calamari, Shrimp, Tomato Broth… Pollo allo Scarpariello: Braised Chicken, Sausage, Potatoes, Basil, Peppers… Pesce Spade alla Siciliano: Swordfish, Cherry Tomatoes, Capers, Olives, Pine Nuts… Bistecchina di Manzo: Angus Sirloin Steak, Fried Potatoes, Broccoli Rabe, Lemon, Pecorino

DOLCI (Choice of) – Budino di Cioccolato: Warm Chocolate Pudding, Pistachio, Olive Oil Gelato… Zeppole: Amaretto Cream, Chocolate Sorbetto, Cherries, Almond Florentine… Tiramisu: Espresso Soaked Lady Fingers, Mascarpone Mousse, Espresso Foam… Biscotti: Italian Cookie Sampler

The San Gennaro dinner is priced at $65.00 per person for three courses; $75.00 per person for four courses (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 658-9292.

Bon Appétit!