Thursday, January 19, 2012

Resolutions for Foodies

As advertised, Trenton style Tomato Pies served up in Titusville

It’s that time of year again. Gym memberships surge and diet books fly off the shelves as holiday indulgengces have us committing to resolutions of losing pounds and running half-marathons. While we admit these are worthy goals, we decided to create our own list of resolutions that require a little less willpower. In fact, it’s more of a 2012 “to do” list for Mercer County foodies. We start with a health- oriented resolution, but the bulk of our suggestions fall squarely into the “indulgence” category. 
Cherry Grove Farm

Kerr's Fresh Peas from Pennington Farmer's Market

Support Your Local Farmer
If you haven’t taken advantage of the number of local farm and farmer’s markets that have cropped up across the county, make a point to do so this year. A great option for anyone interested in keeping fresh produce on the table throughout the season is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) cooperative. CSA members purchase a share (a full season’s worth of produce) in advance, then enjoy freshly harvested produce weekly throughout the season. Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington and Cherry Grove Organic Farm in Lawrenceville are two successful CSA farms. There are various options for share sizes and pick-up locations, and some CSAs include pick-your own privileges for certain crops such as strawberries, peas and flowers. If interested you need to act quickly as shares often sell-out long before the first crop is harvested.
Locally Sourced Ingredients star in the cuisine offered at
Chamber's Walk Cafe

Support the Local Restaurants that Support Your Local Farmers
It may seem like an easy lift, but using local sources to produce a menu usually requires more time, effort and money by chefs and restauranteurs than purchasing through regional and national vendors. The local market’s variability alone demands more creativity and spontaneity.  However, the results are extremely beneficial for the farmers, chefs and, of course, the restaurant patrons. Several restaurants that have committed to local sourcing also happen to provide some of the best dining in the area. Our favorites include: Chambers Walk, in Lawrenceville; The Brothers Moon, in Hopewell; Blue Point Grill, Mediterra and elements, in Princeton; Eno Terra, just over the border in Kingston and Hamilton’s Grille Room, just up the river in Lambertville.

Kalbi, marinated & grilled ribs from Hon Sushi
Expand your Culinary Horizons 
We are fortunate in Mercer County to have such a rich variety of ethnic foods in our neighborhoods. Most of us are well aware of the abundance of restaurants serving popular cuisines such as Italian, Chinese and Japanese. But it’s also nice to find ethnic restaurants offering cuisines less common in the county. One example is Hon Sushi in Lawrence, which serves Korean food, a rare find in Mercer. Equally rare, is finding a non-diner restaurant offering authentic Greek dishes. For that reason, Mikonos in Ewing is a welcome addition to the dining landscape. Craving Chicken Paprikas? A visit Eastern European specialists Barbara’s Hungarian Restaurant in Ewing or the long established Blue Danube in Trenton should suffice.
The real thing from Papa's Tomato Pies of Trenton
Skip the Chain Restaurants & Choose a Local Alternative
The corporate restaurant world has attempted to nationalize our favorite foods, with some efforts more successful than others. The next time you’re in the market for an American favorite, we suggest you skip the mass produced options and choose a local establishment serving the real deal. Following are a few suggestions to get you started.
Burgers: The burgers at Rossi’s Bar & Grill in Trenton are not likely to be duplicated at a drive-through. 
Seafood: In Princeton, the Blue Point Grill offers the best selection (i.e., nine varieties of oysters) of the freshest seafood available, all expertly prepared.  
Tomato or Pizza: We will miss DeLorenzo’s on Hudson Street, but are grateful that the tradition continues at their Robbinsville location. Meanwhile, the equally magnificent Papa’s Tomato Pies will ensure great pies will continue to be made in Trenton. For those north and west of the city, roadside gem It’s Nutts in Titusville serves an outstanding Trenton-style tomato pie.
Mexican: Previously located in Trenton, Tortugas Mexican Grill has found a new home in Hamilton to serve their fresh-made fare from south of the border.

Bread - the chocolate croissants at Witherspoon Bread Company are worth feeding the pesky quarter-munching meters in Princeton. The bakery offers a variety of artisan and specialty breads daily.
Ice Cream/Gelato: Princeton’s Bent Spoon has taken the concept of fresh, original ingredients to new heights. They aren’t the only shop making their own ice cream, but they are the best and most adventurous.
Don’t Save the Best for Last (even though we did)
If you’ve already dined at elements in Princeton, we don’t have to remind you to return, we’re quite certain you’ve come to that conclusion on your own. For those who have not, we urge you to mark your calendars and confirm your reservations.  It is rare that a celebrated dining establishment with a highly touted chef ‘on-the-cusp-of-super-stardom’ lives up to its reputation. Chef Scott Anderson, whose accolades include being named one of Esquire Magazine’s Best New Chefs of 2011, marries taste and texture to produce food that can be simple yet complex, and always thought provoking. The fine service matches the food; there may be no better trained, nor more accommodating, front of house staff in the state. There is a price to pay for such excellence, but we find it worth every penny.
Details for our suggestions are listed below. Join the conversation and add your suggestions and favorites that belong on 2012's list of must-vistis.
Honey Brook Organic Farm, 260 Wargo Rd., Pennington, 609-737-8899,
Cherry Grove Organic Farm, 11 Carter Rd., Princeton, 609-306-5139
Chambers Walk, 2667 Main St., Lawrenceville, 609-896-5995,
The Brothers Moon, 7 West Broad St., Hopewell, 609-333-1330,
Blue Point Grill, 258 Nassau St., Princeton, 609-921-1211,
Mediterra Restaurant and Taverna, 29 Hullfish St., Princeton, 609-683-9680,
elements, 163 Bayard Lane, Princeton, 609 924-0078,
Eno Terra, 4484 Old Lincoln Highway, Kingston, 609-497-1777,
Hamilton’s Grill Room, 8 Coryell St., Lambertville, 609-397-4343,
Hon Sushi, 3349 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, 609-269-5800,
Mikonos Restaurant, 50 Scotch Rd.,  Ewing, 609-883-9333
Barbara’s Hungarian Restaurant, 1400 Parkway Ave., Ewing, 609-882-5500
Blue Danube, 538 Adeline St. Trenton, 609-393-6133,
Rossi’s Bar & Grill, 501 Morris Ave., Trenton, 609 394-9089,
DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies, 2350 US Hwy 33, Robbinsville, 609-341-8480,
Papa’s Tomato Pies, 804 Chambers Street, Trenton, 609-392-0359,
It’s Nutts, 1382 River Road, Titusville, 609-737-0505,
Tortugas Mexican Grill, 1280 US Hwy 33, Hamilton, 609-838-9962, 
Witherspoon Bread Company 74 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, 609-688-0188, 
The Bent Spoon, 35 Palmer Sq. West, Princeton, 609-924-2368,

A version of this article was originally published in Mercer County Woman Newspaper.

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