Friday, November 23, 2012

“Tree to Jar” Jams Hand Made in New Jersey

Looking for a delicious gift for your hard to please food-obsessed friends? How about preserves with unique flavors, made by hand with local produce, in beautiful packaging? Let me introduce you to Kitten and The Bear.

I met the founders of Kitten and The Bear, Sophie Kaftal and Bobby Zielinski, a few months ago after reading a blurb in the WSJ about their products. Since we live relatively close, we met for coffee and a sampling. Actually, once I tasted their jams, the coffee sat untouched. Sophie is a graduate of culinary school and Bobby is a photographer. They met in Toronto but now reside in the NJ. They have combined creative forces to develop a line of small batch preserves cooked in old-fashioned French confiture unlined copper pans (made by a family in France). The flavors they produce are nothing like your typical grape jelly. Their process and ingredients are very traditional and these products contain no commercial additives or pectin.

Their brand concept is that the flavors never reoccur. They only use ingredients that are available from their local suppliers or farmer’s markets. I asked how they develop their flavors and Sophie told me they use “flavor mapping,” similar to Chef Grant Achatz in Chicago. She keeps a scrap book and prowls ethnic markets for interesting spices and distillates. Just read some of the flavors and dream of ways you can use them:
·       Strawberry Eucalyptus
·       Donut Peach, Basil, and Lime Zest
·       Ruby Pluot Cinnamon, Apple, and Aperol
·       Cherry Wood Smoked Italian Plum
·       Yuzu and Red-skinned Plum
·       Spiced Tomato and Tawny Port
·       Concord Grape and Violet

How about the Smoked Italian Plum on a burger or with pork tenderloin? The Donut Peach would be heavenly mixed into Greek yogurt. If you’re more of the savory type, try the chunky Spiced Tomato (with a hint of cayenne, cloves, and cinnamon) on a thick slice of hearty toast.

As the seasons change, so do the flavors. The web site has the current availability, but I have a sneak peek for you at the next collection about to be released:
·       Green Apple & Eucalyptus Jelly
·       Quince & Evergreen Jam
·       Persimmon & Rooibos Chai Jam
·       Ground Cherry, Quince & Vanilla Marmalade
·       Concord Grape & Orange Blossom Jam
·       Hickory Smoked Pear, Hazelnut & Vanilla Bean Jam
·       Seckel Pear, Tobacco & Rye Jam
·       Winesap Apple, Pomegranate & Pimm's Jelly
·       Quince & Fresh Anise Marmalade

Can you say “heavenly?”

Sophie and Bobby do everything themselves, from macerating the fruit and jarring it, to packaging, and finally to writing each note that goes into every box. Nothing is outsourced to maintain the quality.

As I view their web site, I see some flavors are already out of stock so don’t get left out (like me). If you’ve got palate discerning friends, order some of these preserves and give them something they won’t get anywhere else, truly unique combinations of fruit forward preserves. Your friends are sure to thank you, and if you’re lucky, maybe they’ll share!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving Burgers in Wayne, NJ

What’s the next best thing to Thanksgiving dinner? A Thanksgiving burger! The crew at Burger Deluxe in Wayne has come up with a unique way to usher in the holiday season.

They’ve taken the turkey burger and elevated it to new heights (literally)! The burger, topped with a delicious roasted chestnut stuffing, on a freshly baked brioche bun, is served with cranberry sauce and pumpkin mashed potatoes on the side. This might be just the ticket for you non-traditionalists out there.

And not only can you stop by the restaurant to enjoy this (or one of the many other delicious burgers), but they have provided us with the recipe so you can make it at home!

Let me know if you try this. Send me a photo of your Thanksgiving burger and we will post a compilation of our reader’s delicious results!

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!

1420 Rt 23 North
Wayne, NJ

The Thanksgiving Burger is available the entire week before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

NJ Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

Hope all is well in your part of the world.
Quick post about two local food-related businesses doing their part to help those in need.
Fairway Market in Woodland Park will host a fund-raiser shopping night on Thursday, November 15 to raise money for Wayne Police Officer Bob Franco, who was seriously injured when a tree fell on his patrol car during the storm.  Franco, the father of three young children, suffered a severe spinal injury and remains in the intensive care unit of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson after seven hours of emergency surgery. Fairway Market will donate 25 percent of the sales received from registered shoppers to the Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 135 to help with Officer Franco’s medical bills.  Please stop by Fairway, register to shop this Thursday evening and help Officer Franco.
On another front, one of the area's best loved chefs is doing his part to lessen the burden on people affected by the storm.  Zod Arifai, of Blu and Next Door in Montclair, and Daryl Wine Bar in New Brunswick is offering a special menu in all locations. As Zod noted in his e-mail to me, many people are looking to go out for quick, inexpensive, hot meals, and in response to this, he has created a three-course prix-fixe menu.  For $19.50, restaurant customers can choose two courses plus ice cream for dessert (not including tax, beverages, or gratuities). This menu will be available everyday including weekends until November 30. From December 1 until December 30, 2012 it will be available weekdays only. Zod is offering this in appreciation for his customers and their needs during this time of crisis. The menu follows below.
I hope you will be able to help Officer Franco by shopping at Fairway in Woodland Park this Thursday evening, November 15. And for a relaxing night out and a wonderful meal, please visit one of Zod's restaurants.
Salad of Baby Lettuce with Roasted Beets, Pear, Toasted Walnuts and Gorgonzola

Butternut Squash Soup with Apple and Cranberry


Linguini with Shrimp, Tomato, Chili Flakes, Basil and Mint

Idaho Brook Trout with Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Truffle Broth

Brisket of Beef with Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Potato Puree and Portobello


 A scoop of Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Greetings from New Jersey!

One week post-Sandy, I hope this finds you and yours safe and warm. We had power restored to our home yesterday (Sunday), but still have no Internet, cable, or phone (all minor inconveniences in the larger scheme of things).  I am writing this courtesy of a friend's computer.

Life is slowly (very slowly) getting back to normal here, but there are still thousands without heat, electricity, or a place to live. On my way to work today, I saw several convoys of out of state utility trucks rolling down Route 80 - what a great sight that was!

But we are not out of the woods yet. In fact, today, not far from where I live, a magnitude 2.0 earthquake was registered, and Wednesday night a traditional nor'Easter is expected! I shudder to think what that could do to the recovery efforts underway.

Some of you may have seen the Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together telethon broadcast Friday night with New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and many more entertainers who volunteered their time and talents to raise money for victims of the hurricane. If you'd like to help, please visit the Red Cross web site.

Once things are back to normal, I've got a number of articles pending:

  • We visited Maritime Parc in Jersey City a few weeks back and had an incredible dinner.
  • I met the charming owners of The Kitten and Bear Preserves and can't wait to introduce you to their delectable creations!
  • Burger Deluxe has a cool new Thanksgiving-themed burger that I will preview for you.
  • And, finally, a newcomer to the northern New Jersey area, Brio Tuscan Grille, has opened. It was one of the few restaurants open during the days after the hurricane and it provided a welcome relief from eating cold cereal (sans milk), crackers, and pretzels!
So, if you live along the East coast and were affected by the hurricane, I hope things return to normal for you very soon.

I look forward to reconnecting with you all in the near future!

Jersey Strong!