Gladstone Tavern - Ghost DinnerOn Thursday, October 26, 2017, 7:00 p.m., the Gladstone Tavern, 273 Main Street, Gladstone, New Jersey, will host a “Paranormal Dinner” with special guest Joanne Emmons of Paranormal Consulting & Investigations of New Jersey.

The 90-minute presentation will discuss paranormal activity, ghost hunting, and the history and haunting of the Gladstone Tavern.

The complete Paranormal Dinner menu is noted below…

The Spirit: Nuestra Soledad Mescal, Rapa Giovanni Liqueur, Campari

Harvest Salad: Local Pear, Dry Fig, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese, Kale Frisée, Pumpkin Seed

Main Course Selections: Cornish Hen, Wild Mushroom Sauce… Baby Pot Roast, Fines Herbes Gravy… Baked Sole, Lemon Hollandaise… Entrées served with Duchess Potato Ghosts and Shaved Brussels Sprouts

Ghost Cake: Smoked Devil’s Cake, Chocolate Fire Logs, Red Buttercream Meringue Ghosts

“Re-Awakening” Coffee or Tea

The cost of the Paranormal Dinner is $75.00 per person, inclusive of dinner, gratuity and tax. Seating is limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 234-9055.

Bon Appétit!



Wonderful Wines of Abbazia di Novacella

by artfuldiner on September 22, 2017

in Artful Diner Review, Opinion, Wine

Abbazia di Novacella - ExteriorLocated in the Alto Adige – or Südtirol – region of Italy, bordered by Austria to the north, the Abbazia di Novacella, one of the oldest wineries in the world, was established in 1142 by Augustinian monks. Despite its long history, the abbey’s winemaking facilities are state-of-the-art. Modern in outlook, yet steeped in tradition, the abbey’s wine production is consistently world class.

Abbazia di Novacella - Clestino Lucin, WinemakerIn 2009, for example, oenologist Celestino Lucin was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Vini d’Italia, Italy’s most prestigious wine publication. The world-wide sale of wine (over 650,000 bottles annually; 2/3 white, 1/3 red), the local sale of farm produce, the tourist trade, and a small school specializing in the study of viticulture, combine to make Abbazia di Novacella entirely self-sufficient.

As you may recall, I first mentioned this winery in a previous post with reference to their 2015 Abbazia di Novacella Riesling, a delicious, slightly floral, Italian Riesling. However, the abbey is famous for other white wine varietals as well… On a recent “Road Trip,” for example, I picked up a bottle of the 2016 Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio at Gary’s Wine and Marketplace in Bernardsville, New Jersey. If you’re accustomed to downing the usual generic versions of Pinot Grigio, this wine will be a welcome treat. The 2016 is structured and elegant with hints of herbs & citrus and a bright & balanced acidity. An excellent wine for the money, $19.99, it is also available online from a variety of sources.

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Another wine you’ll definitely want to check out is the 2015 Abbazia di Novacella Grüner Veltliner. A relatively new wine to the American wine-drinking public, Grüner, as it is sometimes colloquially called, is quickly growing in popularity. A peppery, dry white wine that is known for its flavors of lemon, lime and grapefruit, Grüner is the perfect match for almost any cuisine; and, like Chardonnay and Riesling, ages extremely well.

Native to Austria, where it has been enjoyed for decades, Grüner did not make its mark on the international scene until 2002. At that time, British wine writer Jancis Robinson staged a blind tasting in which Grüner Veltliner scored above some of the top white wines of the world, including white Burgundies from France and Chardonnays from California. Following this event, Grüner began to appear on wine lists and in wine shops across the globe. The 2015 Abbazia di Novacella Grüner Veltliner, which just received 90 points (100-point scale) from the Wine Enthusiast, is available around the $20.00 mark.

Abbazia di Novacella - Kerner 2Then, of course, there’s the not-to-be-missed 2016 Abbazia di Novacella Kerner. Huh? Anticipating your thoughts: “So what the hell is Kerner…?” Kerner is an aromatic white grape variety that was bred in 1929 by August Herold by crossing Trollinger (a red grape also known as Schiava) with Riesling. The grape was subsequently named in honor of poet and physician Justinus Kerner, whose works included songs and poetry on wine, including, appropriately enough, Wohlauf, noch getrunken… which translates as “Arise, still drunk.”

As you would surmise, Kerner has a Riesling-like quality but with more exotic, slightly floral aromas, a mouth-watering acidity, and a slight hint of apple on the palate. As one wine writer put it: “With each sip, it reminded me of green fruits, almonds and baking spices, making it a perfect wine to uncork as we head into fall.”

While Abbazia di Novacella is best known for its white wines, the monastery also owns vineyards in the warm central region of Alto Adige that produce red grapes. These include the full-bodied Lagrein, Pinot Nero (Noir), and the lusciously sweet Moscato Rosa, Rose Muscat; the name derived from this variety’s typical scent of roses.

Wines that you may wish to try include the 2015 Abbazia di Novacella Lagrein and the 2013 Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Nero. The former (89 points, Wine Enthusiast) is rife with dark berries & spice, a lively acidity and velvety tannins. The latter (91 points, “Editors’ Choice,” Wine Enthusiast) is medium bodied and elegant on the palate.


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LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

The Abbazia di Novacella remains one of the most important religious and cultural centers of central Europe. It is home to an incredible collection of religious & secular antiquities, works of art, and a two-story library boasting more than 65,000 print volumes, especially scientific and theological works, in addition to hundreds of hand-written and decorated volumes. Included in the library’s treasures are the world’s smallest manuscript and two Gutenberg Bibles (of the only 180 produced).

Abbazia di Novacella - Basilica of Santa Maria AssuntaThe abbey, a fortified complex accessed through a small covered bridge, is made up of several buildings of different epochs and styles. The main room of the library (pictured above), for example, a masterpiece of South Tyrolean Rococo, was made by Antonio Giuseppe Sartori in 1773; the basilica of Santa Maria Assunta (pictured at the right) was entirely restored in the 18th century in Baroque style by Giuseppe Delai, retaining the Gothic presbytery. Other items of interest include the “Angelo Castle,” the historic garden, and the Renaissance well.

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LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

In addition to the above, visitors to the abbey may also tour the main winery, which produces white wines, where the grapes are crushed, matured, and then bottled and bottle-aged. Following the winery, guests may visit the monastery shop, where produce from the monastery’s estates – wines, brandies, apple juice, teas and infusions – plus two hundred other products, mainly from monasteries, abbeys and convents from all over Europe, may be purchased. Last, but certainly not least, thirsty pilgrims may pay a call at the monastery tavern, which serves the estate’s wines, as well as Tyrolean snacks such as cured ham, smoked sausages, and various cheeses & breads.

The Abbazia di Novacella is located 52 miles south of Innsbruck, Austria, via the scenic Brenner motorway. If you happen to be touring in the area, the abbey would make a marvelous cultural and libationary stopover.




Restaurant Alba

7 West King Street

Malvern, Pennsylvania

(610) 644-4009

Alba - Entrance to BarAlthough it hardly seems possible, Restaurant Alba, a mainstay on the Malvern dining scene, has been packing them in for over a decade. Originally opening its doors as a BYOB, in December 2011, Alba expanded into the corner property at King Street and Warren Avenue and acquired a liquor license. The result was a warm & intimate bar/lounge that now serves up inventive cocktails, an award-winning Italian wine list, first-rate bar menu, and “Happy Hour” specials Tuesday – Saturday.

Chef/proprietor Sean Weinberg, a graduate of the CIA, continues to do an absolutely superb job of giving vent to his passionate and inventive culinary spirit. His eclectic menu – ranging from Italy to Mexico, with numerous intriguing ports of call in between – features slow-braised game, homemade pastas, and the scintillating sensuality of meats and seafood kissed by his open kitchen’s wood-fired grill.

Alba - BruschetteTo start things off, nothing quite beats the Bruschetta. The five options include: smashed avocado; wood-grilled pancetta, cipollini onion butter; garlicky fava bean, aged pecorino; sheep’s milk ricotta, local honey & sea salt; and mozzarella burrata with charred green onion. Diners may mix and/or match, ordering 1 for $4.00, 3 for $10.00, or 5 for $15.00. Three is just right for two people; five, unless both have the capacity of a ravening hyena, is a bit too much. Just for the record: The rich and savory garlicky fava bean proved to be the table favorite.

Alba - Roasted Beets & PeachesIf greenery is more to your liking, the Baby Gem Lettuce is adorned with radishes and finished with a green goddess dressing; while the Arugula & Radicchio is companioned by pickled grapes, shaved Manchego, and tossed with a zesty sherry vinaigrette. The real winner, though, is the Roasted Beets & Peaches (pictured), with fennel & arugula and an intriguing hazelnut goat cheese adding their own unique contributions. Equally recommendable is another form of greenery: Wood Roasted Broccoli garnished with lime tahini, raisins, sumac, and ground almonds.

As you move on to the main courses, some interesting choices await. However, if you happen to be feeling Italian and lyrical, the rotating pasta dishes are always worth a look-see. I’ve sampled a number of these over the years and have yet to be disappointed. The current batch includes tempting dishes like Rabbit Agnolotti; Hand-Cut Spaghetti with shrimp and broccoli rabe; Cencioni (oval & petal-shaped pasta) with fava beans, mint, and pecorino cheese; and ethereal Gnocchi (pictured) adorned with San Marzano tomato and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Alba - Sauteed Halibut w Lemon & Chili Roasted PotatoesThe current entrées proper lean heavily upon pork and matters piscatorial with a Grass-Fed Flank Steak thrown in for beef lovers. At the top of the seafood chain, the Sautéed Halibut (pictured with a side of lemon and chili roasted potatoes) is perfectly prepared and beautifully and simply presented. The exterior is pan seared to a golden brown, the interior flesh pristinely white, and the texture invitingly succulent. The filet is crowned with an onion fondue, sided by roasted cherry tomatoes, and swims to table in an aqua pazza. In Italian, the phrase literally means “crazy water.” However, the term generally refers to an herb-infused broth… in this case, basil. Finny creatures are best served by those accompaniments that intrude the least; and Alba’s halibut is a marvelous example of what a top-notch kitchen can do with a minimum amount of carefully chosen ingredients.

The Wood Grilled Lancaster Trout is also quite good. The trout itself is presented skin side up with the flawless kiss of the grill much in evidence. The flesh is extraordinarily flaky and rife with that unique “trouty” flavor. Embellishments include a delicious hazelnut brown butter, grilled escarole, and red grape segments. My only quibble is that the smattering of hazelnuts is a bit too generous, detracting from rather than enhancing both the dish’s eye appeal and combination of flavors.

Alba - Slow Roasted Suckling Pig w Broccoli RabeMoving on to meatier matters, the Overnight Berkshire Pork is characterized by an incredibly moist, cut-like-butter consistency. Fennel and radicchio add a nice “bite” and splash of color, while the burnt orange vinaigrette contributes an ever-so-subtle hint of sweetness. But even better, in my opinion, is the incomparable Slow Roasted Sucking Pig (pictured with a side of garlicky broccoli rabe). It is served up with a variety of stone fruit and a marvelously contrasting tzatziki sauce, a sauce made of salted strained yogurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil and various herbs, usually dill.

All main courses, with the exception of pastas, come with a choice of contorni, one side dish per diner; additional sides are $5.00 each. Unfortunately, these appear to be something of a culinary afterthought, lacking the precision and presentation of the restaurant’s appetizers and entrées. The Garlicky Broccoli Rabe with parmesan and red pepper flakes was inordinately chewy; while both the Honey & Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes and the Lemon & Chili Roasted Potatoes simply lacked spark. The pick of the litter proved to be the delightfully creamy Sweet Corn Pudding that surprises the palate with a pleasant hint of spice.

Alba - Peach Bread PuddingDesserts are right back on track. Tasty possibilities include the alternating Fruit Crostata (Italian tart) highlighted by seasonal local fruit and vanilla ice cream; Sticky Date Cake with toasted walnuts and orange-star anise anglaise; Butterscotch Budino (pudding) with caramel sauce and toasted pecans; and Affogato, a scoop of vanilla ice cream “drowned” in a shot of hot espresso and splash of Frangelico. The Peach Bread Pudding (pictured), however, reigned as the table favorite. Fabulous crust; generous dollop of vanilla ice cream.

 As noted at the outset, Alba sports an award-winning wine list, so be sure to take advantage of the interesting variety of Italian vintages. Of particular note is the 2016 Kerner, a lovely and distinctive white wine from Abbazia di Novacella. If you would prefer red, the 2014 Planeta “La Segreta” from Sicily is a beautiful blend of Nero d’Avola, Merlot and Syrah. Both are in the $60.00 range; and the La Segreta may also be ordered by the glass for $14.00.

Bon Appétit!



Crystal Springs - Chef's Garden 2On Sunday, October 8, 2017, 7:00 p.m., Crystal Springs Resort Chef Anthony Bucco and Chef David Viana of Heirloom Kitchen will join together in a fun collaboration by serving guests “The Bird Dinner” in the Chef’s Garden at Crystal Springs Resort.

The three course menu will feature each chef’s unique preparations of different birds and fall seasonal vegetables, all cooking in the Chef’s Garden wood-fired ovens and stoves. The dishes will be true collaborations with elements from both chefs on every plate. Some dishes include Chef’s Bucco’s Pheasant Sausage paired with Chef Viana’s roasted pears and walnuts, and Chef Viana’s Stuffed Quail served with Chef Bucco’s baked heirloom beans. Black Dirt Applejack cocktails, Naked Flock hard cider and wines from Alba Vineyard will be paired with the menu.

The complete menu will be posted as soon as it becomes available.

Seats for the dinner are $105.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Reservations may be made by calling (855) 698-2283.

The Chef’s Garden is located at 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, New Jersey.

Bon Appétit!



Wine 3On Friday, October 13, 2017, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will host a walk-around wine tasting featuring 15 world class wines from France, Italy, California, Oregon, and Argentina. Nicholas has specifically selected these wines as they pair beautifully with fall flavors: roasted meats, hearty soups, and harvest vegetables.

To complement the tasting, a selection of hors d’oeuvres will also be served.

Wines to be Tasted…

 Bolognani Pinot Grigio 2016

Domaine du Carrou Sancerre Blanc 2016

Terre Bianche Vermentino Riviera Ligure di Ponente 2016

Domaine Terre des Veles Chassagne Montrachet La Platieres 2015

Longoria Chardonnay St. Rita Hills Covée Diana 2013

Domaine Barmes-Buecher Riesling Tradition 2015

Domaine de la Citadelle – Le Châtaignier Rosé 2016

Thibault Ligier Belier – Moulin-A-Vent 2013

Lyric – by Etude Pinot Noir 2015

Domaine Pierre Amiot Morey Saint Denis Rouge 2015

Maurizio Lambardi Brunello di Montalcino 2012

Xavier Vignon Cairanne 2015

Stolpman Vineyards Syrah Estate 2014

Catena Cabernet Sauvignon – Agrelo 2014

Fiancetto Cabernet Sauvignon Stage Leap District 2014

The cost of the fall walk-around wine tasting is $75.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). Fifty dollars of the $75.00 fee will be put toward the first wine purchase.

For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!



Iron Hill Brewery - PhoenixvilleBeginning on Friday, September 29 – Sunday, October 15, 2017, all twelve (12) Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant locations in Delaware, Pennsylvania & New Jersey will celebrate Oktoberfest with a special menu of German-inspired favorites and new classics, along with the highly anticipated annual release of Iron Hill’s Oktoberfest Lager Beer.

The following menu items will be available at all locations…

Apel und Butternut-Kubis Suppe: Butternut squash soup with spiced crème fraiche

Oktoberfest Egg Rolls: Bratwurst, Sauerkraut, Cheddar, Green Onion, Beer Mustard Sauce

Pommes Jager: House-Cut Fries with Gruyère, Smoked Bacon & Mushroom Gravy, with option to add Fried Egg

Lachs: Mustard-Crusted Salmon with Scallion Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Buttery Asparagus Spears and Roasted Mushroom Sauce

Schlachtplatte: Grilled Butcher’s Plate with Cheddar Bratwurst, Kielbasa, Marinated Pork Loin, German-Style Potato Salad, Bacon-Vienna Red Lager Kraut, Beer Mustard Sauce

Huhner Schnitzel: Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets with Haricots Verts & Almonds, Buttered Egg Noodles, Lemon-Herb Sauce

Apfel-Rosinen Brotpudding: Warm Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream

Bon Appétit!



Penns View HotelOn Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 6:30 p.m., Panorama Restaurant in the Penn’s View Hotel, 14 North Front Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will host a special five-course dinner paired with the extraordinary wines of California’s Cakebread Cellars.

Primi: Red Pepper Rhubarb Soup, Yellow Tail Crudo; Wine Pairing: Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2016

Pasta: Lamb Tortellini – Lamb Shoulder Caponata, Sunchoke, Black Garlic; Wine Pairings: Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2015… Cakebread Cellars Two Creeks Pinot Noir, 2014

Duck Breast: Goat Ricotta Polenta, Grilled Fermented Parsnip, Huckleberry; Wine Pairing: Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Merlot, 2013

Wagyu Beef: Wagyu New York Strip, Carrot, Olive Oil Poached Egg Yolk, Black Truffle; Wine Pairing: Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014

Dessert: Rhum Baba: Neapolitan Rum Cake, Lemon Curd, Whie Chocolate Mousse; Wine Pairing: Cakebread Cellars Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2016

The cost of the Cakebread Cellars wine dinner is $185.00 per person, which includes five courses tasting menu, wine, tax & gratuity.

Advance tickets only for this limited seating event. To purchase tickets, please click on

Bon Appétit!



Autograph Brasserie - Sycamore RoomOn Thursday evening, September 21, 2017, Autograph Brasserie, 503 West Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, Pennsylvania, will host a special four-course dinner paired with wines from Spain.

The complete menu and wine pairings are noted immediately below…

Cava, Anna de Codorniu, NV, Penedes, Spain

Plancha Seared Bronzino: Apple Fennel Slaw, Stone Fruit, Mustard Verjus Blanc; Wine Pairing: Albariño, Ramon Bilboa, 2016, Rias Baixas, Spain

Berkshire Pork Belly: Black Pepper-Port Cherries, Parsnip, Brown Butter Pistachio, Petite Watercress; Wine Pairing: Rioja “Crianza,” Franco Espanolas, 2013, Rioja, Spain

Honey-Glazed White Crescent Duck Breast: Organic Swiss Chard, Autumn Spiced Butternut Squash, Five-Spice-Cassis Duck Jus; Wine Pairing: Monastrell, Bodegas Juan Gil, 2013, Jumilla, Spain

Valrhona Flourless Chocolate Torte: Spiced Currants, Sherry Essence, Crème Fraiche, Cassis Reduction; Wine Pairing: Sherry “Eloroso,” Emilio Lustau, NV, Jerez de La Frontera, Spain

The cost of the Spanish wine dinner is $85.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call Autograph Brasserie at (610) 964-2588.

Bon Appétit!



Antica - ExteriorIl Granaio Italian Restaurant in Glen Mills, PA, and its younger sibling, Antica in Chadds Ford, PA, recently initiated corkage fees at their respective restaurants.

Both restaurants were originally BYOB; however, Il Granaio recently acquired a liquor license and opened a service bar replete with a modest wine list. You may still BYOB; but patrons who do so will be charged a wine service/corkage fee of $8.00 per bottle. Once a restaurant acquires a liquor license, a corkage fee for those who still wish to tote along their own vino is certainly understandable.

What is not understandable, however, is why the owners also decided to initiate a wine service /corkage fee of $5.00 per bottle at their sister restaurant, Antica, which remains a BYOB. Antica has always been a BYOB restaurant and has never charged a corkage fee. To initiate one now, for no apparently good reason other than squeezing a few more bucks out of their patrons, sends a definite message to the restaurant’s loyal clientele – and it is not a particularly positive one.

The owners are certainly not newbies to the restaurant game and they should know better; but apparently they do not – and that also sends a less than positive message. I have always praised Antica – food, service and ambiance – in my reviews; but I will certainly think twice before paying a return visit. And I have no doubt that other diners will do the same.

A paraphrase of a line from the movie Casablanca comes immediately to mind: “How extravagant you are throwing away customers that way… some day they may be scarce.”

Bon Appétit!



Iron Hill Brewery - VoorheesOn Tuesday, September 19, 2017, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, 13107 Town Center Boulevard, Voorhees, New Jersey, will host a playful 90s dinner. Guests will enjoy a five-course menu of retro dishes, each paired with a craft beer, on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. In addition, patrons will also be delighted to hear a memorable soundtrack of classic 90s hits playing during the entire evening.

The menu and beer pairings are noted below…

“No Soup for You!” Blossom Salad: Baby Greens with Micro Blossoms, Roasted Butternut Squash, Crumbled Goat Cheese, Dried Cherries, Toasted Sunflower Seeds, Maple-Cider Vinaigrette; Brew Pairing: Das Boot: A traditional German-style Pilsner with delicately balanced hop bitterness and clean, dry finish

My So-Called “Lunchable: Pork and Chicken Terrine with Pistachios, Grilled Baguette, Manchego Cheese Wedge, Blackberry Jam, and Stone-Ground Mustard; Brew Pairing: Peter Dunkelage: A German-style dark lager with pronounced toasted and lightly roasted malt aroma and flavor

Black Hole Sun: A Dried Tomato Bagel Bite with Seared Diver Scallop, Roasted Black Garlic Confit and Whipped Rosemary Butter; Brew Pairing: Rosemary Bedotter: Iron’s Hill’s Gold-Medal winning Belgian Tripel, with notes of banana, stone fruit and spices, infused with fresh rosemary to emphasize the natural spice and herb characters

Reality Bites Beef Brisket: with Coffee-Smoked (and Angst-Ridden) Red Bliss Potatoes, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, and Apricot Compote; Brew Pairing: Rauch ‘N Rye: A Bamberg, Germany-style lager made with smoked malt and rye for distinct smoked aroma and subtle earth and spice

Central Park Cappuccino Mousse: In a Chocolate Coffee Cup Shell with Frangelico Whipped Cream and dusting of Cinnamon; Brew Pairing: Coffee Russian Imperial Stout: A full-bodied stout aged on coffee beans, wonderfully balancing the roast with citrusy American hops

The cost of the Retro 90s Dinner is $65.00 per person. For more information, or to make reservations, please call Iron Hill Voorhees at (856) 545-9009.

Bon Appétit!