Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
Double Brook Farm Autumn Zinnias by Tasha O’Neill
Those of you who know me, know [-- long before my own year in Provence --] that my favorite fragrance in the entire world is lavender. A close second, –with the added benefit of that pungent evergreen flavor–, is rosemary. When I lived in Cannes, lavender honey was the key treat of weekly visits to its marche/market. Fresh herbs were a given, in that land where the mistral infused the very air with rosemary. However, never did I expect to taste rosemary ice cream.
[As a food stylist in Manhattan, there was nothing trickier than photographing ice cream --Robin McConaughy's masterful image of their unforgettable new specialty: ]
Robin McConaughy’s Rosemary-Caramel Ice Cream!
I tasted this remarkable creation, –rich as Devonshire cream, darkly complex with caramel, redolent of rosemary–, in next-door Hopewell, at Double Brook farm. There is no better flavoring for lamb — but ice cream? Splendid, never-to-be-forgotten, and probably unequaled. Even Shakespeare insists, “rosemary — that’s for remembrance.”
Double Brook Farm Fresh Bean Array by Tasha O’Neill
Those of you who read D&R Greenway newsletters and the local media, know well that sustainable farming is alive and well in Hopewell, thanks to Robin and Jon McConaughy. This past Friday, friend and fine-art-photographer Tasha O’Neill attended Jon and Robin’s Friday farm produce sale, our first visit to the farm for that purpose.
Double Brook Farm Hot Peppers by Tasha O’Neill
(This energetic young couple had hosted D&R Greenway’s Down-to-Earth Ball a year ago. Their handsome cattle are carefully moved a prescribed number of times per day, from grass field to grass field, on D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve off Aunt Molly Road in Hopewell.)
Double Brook Farm Tomatilloes, Tasha O’Neill
THIS day, Tasha and I encountered Double Brook Farm’s raison d’etre, FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE and salumi (exotic meats from their own tenderly animals — Tasha bought lardo and I soppresata) cameras in hand. She was kind enough to send her images this morning, so I’m sharing them with you.
Double Brook Farm Salumi, Slow-Food-Snail-Seal-of-Approval Tasha O’Neill
As we insist, over and over in these virtual pages, New Jersey is beautiful. She produces such spectacular produce, ‘right in our own back yards.’
Garden State Bounty, Double Brook Farm by Tasha O’Neill
Here is Double Brooks web-site — Robin herself could be a fine art photographer: http://www.doublebrookfarm.com/
Double Brook Okra by Tasha O’Neill
Put yourself on Robin’s e-mail list, so you’ll know when the farmstand is open again. When the store on #518 is fully restored and providing this sort of bounty year-round. When the restaurant, on #518, that exquisite red brick home, is brought back to life and its brick-lined paths trimmed and ready for visitors. Tasha and I and I had been invited to explore the flower paths, the herb gardens behind the soon-to-be restaurants. But we “had promises to keep…”, in another dear old NJ Town, Kingston. So we don’t have herb pictures for you.
Robin’s and Jon’s Rubies - Red Onions of Double Brook Farm by Tasha O’Neill
But we do have some of the essence of Double Brook Farm in these new scenes.
Succulent, Tender, Subtly Irresistible Shiitakes of Double Brook by Tasha O’Neill
I am awash in gratitude, as you know, to those who KEEP THE meaning of GARDEN in the Garden State.
Preserved Farm, Salem County, New Jersey cfe
I thank you for reading NJ WILD so often and so studiously. Last month’s statistics included 3500 viewers, most of you staying on for a page and a half, from virtually every country/continent. How can that be? Because New Jersey is beautiful and bountiful, and we’re lucky enough to live and farm-shop here!
Internet View of Bouillabaisse Outside, as it was created by fishermen
NJ WILD readers may not know that I am blessed in friendships with two very special food-writers, Pat Tanner and Faith Bahadurian. NJ WILD was named in honor of Faith’s NJ SPICE blog for the Packet. You’ll see a generous comment from Pat Tanner on my recent post on the Brigantine.
We are all three great fans of Julia Child. I can say to them, without protest, “Without Julia, the world of American cooking would still be a desert.”
It’s Julia’s 100th birthday this week — I can never speak of her in the past tense. Therefore, people who relish savory foods, regional foods, traditions of other lands, France in particular, are reminiscing about the years of “The French Chef.” “THE” - what on earth must the French have thought of WGN’s designation of ‘our’ Julia? Faith and I will literally raise a glass to Julia at supper this week.
My children as toddlers, –although none of us cared much for television, inexplicably would insist that their doctor-father and I stop everything whenever ‘Junior Child’s” music came on. We would sit, riveted, in our apartment living room high above the Raritan in New Brunswick, throughout Julia’s culinary journeying.
Is it Julia who saw to it that the girls grew up as omnivores? They came to relish virtually everything, except those tiny fish (”Daddy, they have eyes!”) - petit friture, in Villefranche on the Mediterranean. My most amusing memory is that 1976 morning (you know how they woke you before dawn on flights to France, with that terrible fake American orange juice) when we had just checked in to Voile d’Or in Cap Ferrat, and we had to go straight to the lunch table before the sea-blessed dining room closed. We were with friends from Piscataway, and their two young children who had never been abroad. I remember, all four of them, actually, still rubbing sleep from their eyes. Placed before us as what the French logically call the ‘entree’ were little plates of salad garnished with something pink and mauve. Not only octopus, but baby octopus… Diane and Catherine tried them — wouldn’t choose them for breakfast, but did not reject.
Diane was born a superb cook - so it is fitting that Julia was given an honorary degree by Smith College at Diane’s 1980’s graduation. They eagerly engaged with bouillabaisse in La Napoule-Plage in Provence, at ages 7 and 8, and speaking some French because of Littlebrook School.
In case I owe everything, daughter-and-gastronomy-wise, to Julia, here is the Smithsonian’s site for her recipe. You may know well that Julia’s kitchen, from the show, in its entirety, resides at the Smithsonian Institute. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/bouillabaisse.html
Over this past weekend, educational television featured some iconic Julia episodes, speeding me right back to the black-and-white days of “Junior Childs” with my little girls. In Julia’s honor, and in gratitude to my food-writer friends for our New Jersey gastronomic pilgrimages, I’ll share bouillabaisse memories with NJ WILD.
Faith probably correctly insists that bouillabaisse rituals so clearly remembered would have been the case only at ‘upscale’ restaurants. That word, of course, did not exist when I met this Provencal fishermen’s fish stew in 1964. So, I took out ‘the retrospectroscope’.
Even beyond the rituals, I remember the vividness of bouillabaisse itself. To my dismay, Julia’s black and white film seemed more grey, frankly, than anything — even or especially her ‘tomahtoes’. Provencal bouillabaisse, from La Napoule forward, was a symphony of reds and golds. Even its potatoes were gold because cooked in aromatic Provencal olive oil, onion, garlic, some tomatoes and saffron broth. [Not Yukon gold which didn't exist then, whether or not they do now in France.] The ‘toasts’ — so carefully placed in the bottom of each flat soup bowl, and served before any of the fish-of-the-rocks, which were steamingly and artistically mounted on a huge platter on a side table–, were golden-brown from long slow baking, probably in a wood-fired oven.
Saffron Fronds, from Internet
Rouille was mandatory on those toasts - opulent mayonnaise of olive oil carefully pounded to life in a mortar with garlic and the finest of chili pepper and cayenne. The subtle pungency of saffron, essential and impossible to describe, colored both flavor and hue of this redolent broth.
A few tomatoes had been newly cut and added, just enough to add color and piquancy, but not to melt into the final soup. Lobster and shrimp were never part of any Provencal bouillabaisse we found, from 1964 through 1988, when I ultimately lived the seasons round above Cannes. Rascasse was the essential fish - I found it rather like red snapper.
All fish, originally, for this specialty, had been the discards, the ones Marseilles fishermen could not sell at “le criee” - (the crying of the fishwives after the boats returned) each afternoon in that hopping port town. It was a point of pride never to be out more than a few hours, so that the fish in my Cannes market were always literally leaping off their oil-cloth-covered tables - and I usually shopped before mid-day. The fishermen of that region would then put a cast iron pot over a beach fire, add some sea water, and create this miracle. I’m assuming they knew to bring a folded paper of saffron always in a pocket remote from water.
Bouillabaisse Over Open Fire, as ‘invented’
By the time it became popular with travellers, it was the norm to serve ritually. First the fish were removed and artfully pyramided. Then the toasts were settled into the bowls, with the rouille passed so one could mound as much as desired onto the ‘toasts’. Then the broth was ladled with, yes, reverence. Rising steam brought the essence of sea, garlic, saffron, tomatoes and subtlest hints of all the varied fish. How could I forget — grains of fennel seed and usually unseen, because evolved into this masterful creation, dried orange peel, probably from Menton.
Grains of Fennel, from Internet
One of the reasons I don’t even think of making bouillabaisse myself is that I no longer live in Provence. Not only would I be lacking rascasse and gurnard and spider crabs and pretty often sea urchins. But even the orange peel would be from California or Florida and probably dyed and never so tangy as any citrus from Provence.
At La Mere Something in La Napoule-Plage, with my husband in 1964 and our family in 1971, waitresses were dressed in Provencal costume as immortalized by Vincent van Gogh and the poet Mistral in Arles. Their arrangement of the fish was a kind of ballet.
The soup bowls were removed after one or two fillings, and then the paradise of freshest fish arrived.
Without the costumes, eating in plainer but memorable bouillabaisse sites, there was also ritual. Particularly famous, though no-nonsense, were Nounou and Tetou (separate establishments side-by-side-, I remember them as IN the sea,) at Juan-les-Pins. I feasted on bouillabaisse on a rainy day (rare!) with friends from Morristown, along with my daughters, on our Mother’s Day trip, May 1984. Nounou and Tetou were points of bouillabaisse pilgrimage with Valerie Meluskey of Princeton, and other guests from home during 1987-88. One of my guests had an aversion to fish, which he swallowed (pun intended) there. This man was immediately won over, even though the Mediterranean was grey and rain-dimpled throughout our water-surrounded experience.
Another bouillabaisse ritual I can never forget was carried out by the elegant proprietress herself, across from Voile d’Or in Cap Ferrat. I experienced this with my lifelong Michigan friend, Bernadette Thibodeau, when we ‘discovered’ Provence in February of 1976. I returned with my daughter, Diane and Valerie Meluskey and Hope Cobb from Princeton in January of 1981. January and February became my favorite Provencal months, because of the fragrant blossoming of mimosa trees and almond trees, at the same time! Their aroma filled closed cars, even as we drove away from the sea into the pre-Alps.
The one ritual I did not fully enjoy was at Restaurant Bacon, in 1988. With me was my new French friend, Jeanette, who managed the Observatoire Tower, next to which I lived above Cannes. She had helped me so much that entire year. Bacon was also on the Med but not in it — I think Antibes, near the Picasso castle. Bacon was the place to go then for bouillabaisse, but it did, indeed, turn out to be fancy. My friend, though she lived in Provence, [frequently the case when I took neighbors to favorite restaurants], had never tasted that regional specialty! Fame had gone to the head of that restaurant. My guest did not realize that we were not tasting the authentic specialty, nor that Bacon’s ritual outshone his soup. Rouille notwithstanding, the flavors did not sing. That soup and/or Bacon didn’t have Provencal soul!
Faith wanted to know if I’d managed hole-in-the-wall destinations for bouillabaisse. Frankly, no. The best were in Marseilles. I went there any number of times, returning to eat somewhere in the Esterel Forest or along that red-rock coast. Marseilles was a thorough city, beyond bustling. It was a tumult of traffic and shouting people. Its streets seemed all all one way the wrong way. Signs blazoned defense d’entrier! — do not enter. I, who’d traveled almost everywhere alone that year, never could find a place to park to walk the Canebiere.
What I’d do after these fruitless bouillabaisse quests was drive home and read Pagnol’s Fanny, Marius and then Cesar… These three volumes sent me to my Provencal neighbors for translation of patois, but were absolutely irresistible in terms of the characters. Central to the stories was Panisse, for whom Alice Waters named her iconic California restaurant, from which America learned the miracles of local food.
The French Oscar is named Cesar because of Pagnol’s Marseilles trilogy. Hardly anyone knows that this quiet man of Aubagne and thereabouts founded and funded the film industry. Pagnol wrote, cast, directed, produced and filmed legendary movies on Provence. You know Jean de Florette and Manon les Sources – the world doesn’t always realize that this renowned teacher who specialized in Shakespeare also is the author of those spectacular books. And La Gloire de Mon Pere and Le Chateau de Ma Mere, — memoirs we also saw as films in our country. In fact, all my friends at home saw the Pagnols before I did, in Provence.
In Cannes, I ‘virtualed’ Marseilles with Pagnol.
In Princeton, I do the same with Julia Child. But that grey soup she served up this past weekend bears no resemblance to the vivid ones that piqued journey after journey to the unique authentic South of France.
Even so, it’s clear to me that there will be no ‘next Julia Chlld.’ That no one can equal her, let alone surpass Julia, as a person and as influence on our cuisine.
Far beyond the kitchen, Julia Child brought America out of its crippling provincialism.
Thank you, forever, Julia — and Happy Birthday!
When both branches of the Millstone River, at #518 and Canal Road, show more pebbles than water
When you can see white rocks, like rip-rap, ringing islands and fringing land along the Delaware River
When the Mississippi River, in an aerial view, is more beige than blue - with surf-like curves of blonde sand like corn-row haircuts and her barges cannot carry full loads, and their pilots describe “the new river”, “the unknown” river when the Mississippi has turned from “The Big Muddy” to “The Big Sandy”
When a meteorologist shows you a pie chart that is 90% hot red, 10% blue - (pie chart representing the year 2012; blue sliver cold extremes; all-conquering red being heat extremes) and she terms this a mere “anomaly”
It’s time to face the C-words: CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE.
When Terhune Orchards reports most fruit crops coming in one month early at least
When any farm stand showed you that our strawberries not only began early, but finished bearing early
When corn was head-high by the Fourth of July, some even tasseling out, now browning, then blackening with ceaseless drought
It’s time to admit “the times are out of joint” weather-wise, as we have been warned for decades, re our ceaseless unremediated carbon emissions
When there is no more soft rain, but only monsoon-blinding-downpours on the heels of waterless weeks
Pollan and Hansen and Gore have alerted us for decades that extremes are the toll we pay for carbon excesses
When hours of thunder and lightning don’t even dampen paving stones out my study window
When trees along local highways, in July, sp0urt yellow brighter than highway stripes and it’s not flowers
It’s time to FACE IT
Not only is the weather severely out of balance in our time — it may well be past the famous tipping point.
What we are experiencing on all fronts is the logical outcome of runaway consumption, ice-cap melt, glacial melt, and so forth and so on, ad infinitum the sky IS falling and nobody’s drawing correct conclusions, let alone turning excess around
As your NJ WILD reporter, I cannot rhapsodize about nature, today, let alone insert pretty pictures.
Nature is turning into a corpse before our eyes, and we’re talking about the equivalent of curls and manicure upon a corpse.
Yes, I’ve been to what’s left of her beauty, a forest here, a river there, kayaking on the canal.
I feel no better than Nero, fiddling while my beloved Nature burns, sometimes quite literally up in flames…
Who is doing WHAT to turn this around?
(to paraphrase Pogo re meeting the enemy) — There is extinction on the menu, and it is us.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?
Winter’s Fruits from Farm Markets cfe
NJ WILD readers know I have been ‘hors de combat’ for some months now, recently remedied with hip/femur replacement. Beginning walks in nature — so glad to have feet on green growing matter and real earth after all those hospital and rehab strolls.
One of the first events I’ll be visiting, of course, will be Indoor Winter Farm Markets - always a treasure to me, as NJ WILD readers know.
Bill Flemer’s Riverside Bluegrass Band at D&R Greenway Johnson Education Center cfe
January 14, D&R Greenway, where I work, will host this constellation of foods, hand-made items, homemade music, and the like.
Brilliantly Crafted and Named Cherry Grove Cheeses at D&R Greenway cfe
Our barn is always a convivial setting for parties - usually art (new exhibit, Textures and Trails, awaits on its weathered walls.) Music reverberates among the ancient beams, most from 1900, some from the 1800’s. Horses, cows, chickens, pigs and eggs once filled the stalls where we now work and you enjoy art and science to further preservation.
Home from Indoor Winter Farm Market - Slow Food/D&R Greenway cfe
This from Jim Weaver, Founder/Chef of Tre Piani Restaurant at Forrestal as well as co-founder of Slow Food Central Jersey. Enjoy and join us! You’ll not only be happier for it, you’ll be healthier, And so will New Jersey land, farmland and her farmers.
New Jersey Farm Market Produce - grown and sold the ‘Slow’ Way… cfe
Contact: Beth Feehan, 609 577-5113, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stockton, NJ: Slow Food Central New Jersey presents an indoor winter farm market at the Johnson Education Center, a beautifully restored barn from 1900, on the grounds of the D&R Greenway in Princeton. D&R Greenway is located at One Preservation Place off of Rosedale Road in Princeton. This market will run from 10am-2pm. Visit www.drgreenway.org for directions.
Why NJ Farmstands, cfe
On February 19th, Tre Piani Restaurant in Forrestal Village in Princeton hosts the Market from 11am-3pm. Tre Piani is the original site where the Markets started seven years ago with Slow Food Central New Jersey. For directions to Tre Piani, visit www.trepiani.com.
Terhune Orchards at Slow Food/D&R Greenway Indoor Winter Farm Market cfe
Saturday, January 14
D&R Greenway Land Trust, Princeton
609 924-4646 www.drgreenway.org
For more information, call 609 577-5113. For up to date information on vendors, visit Slow Food Central New Jersey on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/279661868722992/.
SEEKING CHRISTMAS IN NEW JERSEY
Little Caboose That Could, Bordentown, (from the Christmas of 2009)
With rain pelting down, highways clogged, people on either side of cash registers surly, I cannot help but ask, “But, where is Christmas?” One thing I have always known - Christmas is not at the malls. This time of year, we can change that spelling to ‘The Mauls’. I must go searching for Christmas, and right now, in NJ:
Baubles of Yesterday - Mystery Destination, NJ
I have searched for Christmas before: Married, with daughters, my Swiss husband and I would travel in quest of Christmas, seeking to evade the mercantile, to recapture sweet, even tender Christmases of his childhood and mine. Some of the most memorable:
Carolers in sleighs at Waterville Valley. Snow sifting down upon their down jackets. Swiss chocolates and quaint gilt-trimmed, native-Swiss-scened Christmas cards upon our pillows when we came in from Midnight Mass. Snow and sweetness everywhere.
Walking Aspen streets to the scent of woodsmoke, mountain stream singing that year’s carols outside our town condominium. Red and gold vintage popcorn wagon, spilling white kernels, while an ink-sky spilled the next day’s powder. In restaurants , firelight on copper, warmth in every welcome.
“Froeliche Weinachten!” – the (non-written) Swiss language wish for a blessed Christmas, mingling with “Au Guri” in Italian and Happy St. Stephen’s Day, (more important than New Year’s) in the Christmas-card town of Zermatt, [where Werner was right at home at last, but which he'd never visited until we found it in 1964.]
But this is New Jersey. Where do we go to find Christmas here? (Not to celebrate Christmas - that’s another story, to be told), but to feel it?
Where better than a town whose residents helped give us two Trenton and one Princeton victories for Christmas in 1776 and 1777, whose residents gave us and continued to nourish Independence?
My simple nearby answer - Bordentown. Where everything still breathes of long ago.
My Christmas recipe calls for a very large dose of history; an aura of peace; warmth of welcome; and sparkly diversions I find nowhere else. It is enhanced by vintage bookstores, and art galleries and purveyors of jewelry of other days. My Christmas always involves feasting, — easy, relaxed, memorable, casual or opulent, even reasonable, in Bordentown.
Bordentown’s Bon Appetit - The Storied Farnsworth House
In Bordentown, history peals forth like Christmas bells.
Bell of Bordentown
NJ Wild readers know, I crave above all Revolutionary history. Thomas Paine is the Revolutionary of choice in Bordentown. This is the only place anywhere in the world, in which the man whom the Founding Fathers credited with forging the Spirit of ‘76 ever owned property.
Thomas Paine Statue, High on a Bordentown Hill, where we lost a Revolutionary Battle
Rights of Man - Jefferson Credits This Book with The Spirit of ‘76
Patience Wright - Sculptress - Lived Here
America’s first sculptress, who took her 1700’s fame and sailed to London where she perpetuated her fame, increased her skill and success. Her son, Joseph, became a renowned painter. One Patience Wright sign suggests she may have been a spy… In which case, she, also, secured the rights of man.
Bordentown’s Restorations are Stunning, Even When Trees are Bare
Cleaved Bonaparte Tree and Architectural Dig, Point Breeze
Strolling Bordentown’s brick sidewalks (I convince myself each brick came from the brickworks at the nearby Hamilton/Trenton/Bordentown Marsh, where I love to hike and bird, especially after new snowfall.) Charles Lucien Bonaparte, –when he lived on the Bluffs above the Hamilton-Trenton-Bordentown Marsh–, discovered and named new species in the Marsh. He would send news of such creatures as the mourning dove, named for his wife, Zenaide, and the Cooper’s hawk to scientific colleagues all over Europe. His species discoveries, and who knows what from that consummate politician, his Uncle Joseph, traveled under sail, from the confluence of the Delaware River and the Crosswicks Creek, at Bordentown.
View of the Confluence of our Delaware River and the Crosswicks Creek
From Bordentown’s River Line Train Station
Here lived a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Frances Hopkinson, who also created the Great Seal of New Jersey, and his son, Joseph, who wrote Hail Columbia.
Frances and Joseph Hopkinson House
Here Clara Barton founded her free school, the tiny building still crowning a triangle of land not far from Jester’s Cafe.
Clara Barton’s School
Jester’s Cafe, a Warm Welcome In All Seasons
Warm Welcome of Summer
Venerable Bricks: Quaker Meeting House
Quaker Meeting House, with early Bordentown mural on side wall hidden here in shadow
Old Bordentown Mural near Quaker Meeting House
Nearby is the Point Breeze land on top of the Bordentown Bluffs, where Napoleon ordered his brother Joseph, former King of Spain and of Naples, to live but not to rule, because so convenient to Philadelphia, New York and Europe, under sail.
View from the Bonaparte Estate, Point Breeze
Next to the Farnsworth House is the impressive John Bull memorial, first steam engine in America, which pulled the legendary Camden and Amboy Railroad across Farnsworth Avenue — the railroad that carried Abraham Lincoln to his Inauguration and his grave. See what I mean about gliding through time’s veil?
Please, Santa? Bordentown for Christmas….
River Line Trenton Sign (Trenton is one stop north — through the Marsh)
This Way to Camden and Walt Whitman’s House
BAHR’S — THE DOOR
In 2010, I gave myself two Sandy Hooks to one Bahr’s, treasuring every moment –
scintillation at ‘The Hook’ and succulence at Bahr’s.
Bahr’s - The Pause that Refreshes, near Sandy Hook
Friends who ‘excurse’ with me and NJ WILD readers know well that a good part of my errantry in New Jersey is food-related.
‘Errantry’ means ‘wandering around in search of adventure.’ I do a good bit of this in Central and Southern Jersey, as often as possible near the waters of our three [count them!] coasts.
My errantry tends to begin and end as a nature quest. But, in the middle, there is memorable food.
Home are the Fishermen, Home from the Hunt: The Long Shot
It has to be good, local, fresh and real. Bahr’s, across that new bridge from Sandy Hook, down at the base of ‘The Highlands’, scores on all points. All during lunch recently, I watched the mate of a returning fishing vessel, docked below my table, lift and dress (well, it’s more like undressing) striped bass after striped bass of a size about which fishermen dream. My waitress confirmed my guess, from sleekness, heftiness, rosiness and a kind of nobility, as to the species of their catch.
Talking later to Captain Mark McColgan, of Sea Bright, I would learn that there had been twelve aboard with fishing poles in hand, with a limit of three per person. They’d filled their quota, waiting in proud and quiet eagerness for fishy treasure brought back from the deep.
A child at the table next to me, –equally rapt at this transformation so prosaically termed ‘cleaning’–, spoke my personal longing: “I want THAT fish.”
Well, we didn’t have ‘that fish’ - buckets-full of luminous bass went home with the happy hunters of the morning, disembarking from the Long Shot.
I’m a sucker for anything nautical — happy memories of sailing on the France, the Mary, the QEII; simpler souvenirs of time in fishing towns of New England, especially Cape Cod, especially Chatham and Provincetown. Bahr’s transports me to simple joys of other eras, other regions — and yet, here it is, pristine, spic and span, by the sparkling waters of the Navesink and the Atlantic Ocean, the scrubby dunes and salt-pruned woodlands of Sandy Hook just across the small waves, as we feast.
View of Sandy Hook from Our Table at Bahr’s
View AT Our Table at Bahr’s
Notice not only my cherished scallops, which are, in effect, just-fried sushi! - luminous within their classic coating, though nearly too hot to eat, and never needing sauce atall. Check out those random real carrots - none of the fake baby sort, tough and hard and dry, curiously lacking in flavor. Every slice of Bahr’s carrots is different, determined by the carrot, not by some machine. And worthy of the journey in themselves. But no, that designation is reserved for their steaming biscuits, which arrive with the beer, puffing clouds of heat as they fall into fragments in eager hands. Not even needing the generous butter. Redolent, delicate, yet hearty. Their potatoes are the red ones, –merry healthy skins still in place–, a few herbs scattered here and there, perfectly cooked, and, again, full of welcome variation revealing their authenticity.
Legendary Biscuits and Slaw, and, oh yes, Yuengling of Pennsylvania
America’s Oldest Continuously Operating Brewery, and not always available
I try, I really do, to order something other than scallops. Cod, for example, although I thought there wasn’t any, any more. Well, they call it scrod, which is so Boston, bringing back other joyous memories with daughters in their college days, alongside other dancing waters. Oysters, but only if they’re not blue points — I’m sorry, I mistrust Long Island as a source for oysters I would want to eat. Once, with Betty Lies, we were given oysters from the Chesapeake that were so savory that we had to stop our intense (usually bookish) conversation over and over, in awe of their meatiness and memorability. My sister’s been with me there, she of the Midwest — satisfying her longing for lobster rolls that she remembers with us when we had our Chatham house on Nantucket Sound.
So often, memory deceives, or is deceived. At Bahr’s, memory is equalled and possibly surpassed.
There is merriment in the place, and a hearty crew always at the bar. Deep laughs at the blackboard ordering us to SAVE CHICKEN/EAT LOBSTER.
There are canned seafoods and stews to take home, and I always think I’ll try them. But they won’t be the same without the ’shining big sea waters’ just below our table.
ONE BELL, ALL’S WELL, BAHR’S, ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS
Driftwood’s Wild Tangle, Sandy Hook
Pristine Flotsam and Jetsam, Sandy Hook
“BY THE SHINING BIG SEA WATERS”, SANDY HOOK
AUTUMN CASCADE, PARKING LOT, SANDY HOOK
PARASAIL PARADISE, SANDY HOOK, LOOKING BACK TOWARD MAINLAND
and this is New Jersey — PRESERVE IT!
Why Choose Jersey Fresh: West Windsor Farm Market cfe
Cumberland County Fall Farm Bounty, CFE
NJ Wild Readers are well aware of my passion for farms, farmers, farmlands and farm markets.
The legendary Michele Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, gives me willing, even eager permission to quote her recent column on these topics. Because, after all, she exults, “It’s all about education, spreading the word.”
Count yourselves fortunate to have read and experienced the glory of NJ farms in these posts. And support Michele anywhere, everywhere, everyhow - in her campaigns to keep our NJ Green and Garden-y.
Farm Market Central - West Windsor Farm Market, NJ cfe
by Michele S. Byers, Executive Director, New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Cumberland County Autumn, cfe
Cumberland County Harvest cfe
Gov. Chris Christie recently approved a new package of bills that reinforce
A Ripeness of Melons, West Windsor Farm Market cfe
One of the new laws requires “Jersey Fresh” and “Made with Jersey Fresh”
Cumberland County Decorative Corn cfe
New Jersey grows more than 100 different varieties of fruits, vegetables and
An Apple A Day, Trenton Farmers Market cfe
Only those growers who abide by the state’s quality grading program are
Cumberland County Bargains cfe
So if you can’t make it to your local farm market in the upcoming fall
Cumberland County, Jersey Freshest cfe
Just as New Jersey is a top national producer of fruits and vegetables, New
Symphony of Yellows, West Windsor Farm Market cfe
The farmland preservation funds approved by Governor Christie will help
Home From the Trenton Farmers Market cfe
For more information on the nation’s most popular farmers markets, go to
Peach Abundance, Trenton Farmers Market cfe
To learn more about Jersey Fresh products, including
Awaiting Vincent West Windsor Farm Market cfe
And if you’d like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious
NJ WILD readers may remember this from the ‘dog days’ of last August. As we endure triple-digit heat days in JUNE, no less (while politicians debate the reality of Catastrophic Climate Change, I find myself newly compelled to seek out dappled roadways.
We, in Princeton and near, are blessed with places where shadows caress windshields and shiny metal hoods of vehicles. Sometimes, we can even drive where trees hold hands over our cars. On Pinelands roads, we may enjoy shadowed beauty and solitude even on Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day and the like.
Come DAPPLE with me!
In this summer of drought, when enormous swathes of corn have turned the color of camels on either side of Route 518 West of Princeton, I have had to develop a new modus operandi for driving. To evade that broiler-sun, I have come deliberately to tool along, up hill and down dale, on the outskirts of towns, and through the middle of small ones, as far as possible from highways, let alone anything named ’super’. I have to go in search of dappled roads.
This searing summer, I have been taught that shade is far more important than elapsed driving time.
When I endured 1988’s Provencal August, I wrote a poem beginning, “the sun strikes its flat sword blade…” I never before knew sun as enemy. As a child, my parents would sing, “Rain, rain, go away. Little Carolyn wants to play.” And this was perennially true. Now I feel I should do penance for this wish — now I find myself singing, “Sun, sun, go away.”
Day after day, “severe thunderstorms forecast”. Night after night, I carry my too-heavy new watering can around the rudimentary garden outside my new apartment on a wooded hill. Sometimes my parched plants cry out for me to repeat this procedure in mornings before work. People near my Canal Road dwelling have been saying, “We to live in a valley, a valley where it always rains on either side of us.” The ground outside is hard as concrete. Water from the golden can skids off the soil like mercury, like a garden snake, hurrying elsewhere, not sinking into roots.
I’ve had to find ways to escape the searing sun. I drive the dappled roads.
Blue Hills Above the Delaware from Hunterdon County
One of my all-time favorite books is William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways. I turn to it over and over, like Thoreau and Beston, Leopold and Abbey. W.L.H.M. took off in a van on the day he lost both wife and job, traveling the blue highways of our land, the ones without ’super’. He sought out cafes, measuring them by the number of photo calendars they displayed near their cash register. He brought to life each bossy waitress, each curmudgeonly fellow traveler at a stool at his side at the counter. Moon was not on a gastronomic quest, as I often am. Rather in search of humans, real people, what we used to call Americans before a certain recent president made ME ashamed to BE one… That simple travelogue held its place on best-seller lists for months. That basic journey sustained me in many a challenging ordeal of life.
“Where ya goin’?,” a fellow feeder asked William L.H. Moon. “Dunno,” he truthfully answered. His interrogator grinned: “Can’t get lost then.”
When I travel the dappled roads, it doesn’t matter if I get lost. On the dappled highways, still green and feathery above, the smokey wash of shadow alters both my car’s blinding finish and my own dessicated mood.
Provence didn’t have shadows. I never realized shade was essential. The most important description of any Inn was “terrace ombragee”. Until I sat at on those shaded terraces, surrounded by white linen and heavy silver and Provencal specialties beneath leather-leaved plane trees, (our sycamores) I didn’t know how priceless is shade. In Provence, I tried and failed to remember a favorite poem, “Glory be to God for Dappled Things.”
This summer, I learn the value of shadows in our own country. Without linen, without silver, sans cuisine.
When you travel ombragee’d roadways, you’ll either be pretty much alone, as in the Pine Barrens. Or you’ll be surrounded by people in a pretty good mood, soothed as shade comes and goes, as the road rises and falls, as trees create sanctuaries of silence.
Dappled roads don’t just funnel one - dappled roads lead somewhere.
As to rivers - the Wading, the Delaware. As to forests — Wharton, Brendan Byrne. As to mountains, so they say, as in Sourlands. Past a funny old road house, beloved of locals. Alongside farmstands, “cucumbers, 50 cents each”. “Our own fresh eggs.”
As you drive along dappled roads in South Jersey, you can check on the blueberry crop, the busy-ness of rented bees among tiny white cranberry blossoms. If you ‘dapple’ West, you’ll study the state of the sorghum crop, and puzzle as to whether corn tassels out later, the closer you get to the Delaware River (my theory. In this year of the drought, the later-tasseling corn is faring better.)
I’d far rather know how the sorghum’s doing, than the latest catastrophe of some celebrity of entertainment or politics (it is becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference.) I can stop thinking, for a few hours, about the perilous migratory journeys of all our New Jersey birds headed toward and over the Gulf.
When you choose dappled roads, even in town, as in Princeton, you’ll pass homes and graveyards of any number of signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as the imposing residence of the current governor. Signs exult, “Tree City”. Oxymoronic, to be sure, but I’m grateful for every monarch of old, waving leafily, dreamily above my sheltering car.
When you drive shadowed south Jersey roadways, you course along beside pristine sugar sand. Here and there will be spurts of blinding ferns despite apparent lack of water. This year, you’ll read Smokey Bear signs with exclamation points after the single word “WILDFIRE!”, where fire danger used to be listed as low, medium or high. When you drive shadowed roadways west, you see gleaming silos like cathedrals in the distance. White horses and black-and-white cattle stand so peacefully, lessons in tranquillity. Red barns and redder farmhouses rise like exclamation points in the surrounding text of crops. You’ll clunk over a white covered bridge (as in Sergeantsville).
If I’m lucky, I can take dappled roads BOTH into and out of Sergeantsville, coming and going from my shadow-quest.
Shade will bless you as you pass any number of Washington’s Headquarters, perhaps pondering the fate of America without those stony shrines and their plain but brilliant occupant during the 1770’s and 80’s…
The edges of dappled roads could have been embroidered. This morning, bright sturdy chicory lined my path all the way to Stockton, like blue French knots embroidered by impeccable seamstresses. Here and there, a brook would keep me company, its quiet gleam no match for the bonniness of chicory. Behind the blue ‘knots’, entire fields of white lace, –yes, Queen Anne’s, short and tough yet delicate–, nodded in the half breeze.
An entire field of sunflowers, right west of here on #518, caused homesickness for France, for Arles, for Vincent, sane or mad, but no better chronicler of roadside flowers in the history of art.
Blessed by leaf-flicker, I am far from matters troublous. Weaving through Washington-shrines, I either forget the nightly news, or set it firmly in perspective. Taking the shady roads, I also manage to avoid most who exhibit road rage, although there was one harsh driver at the gas station at dawn for whom the attendant apologized three times. “He is not nice, that one…”
Dappled roads are nice. Good for the soul. Gateways to the beauties of New Jersey of which so many are absolutely unaware, and even the best of us can tend to forget, in hurly burly or in drought.
On dappled roads, embroidered roadways, weekend errands don’t even feel like tasks.
Find the Photographer - Anne Zeman - at her task…
Sundays are the hardest days for expatriates, even in Provence.
Old Cannes — Le Suquet — from Old Port
It was on Sunday that I most missed family, when I languished without familiar people, views and rituals.
Typical View as I’d Set Out for St. Tropez on Any Day But Sunday
Any other day, I’d be off on a jaunt, –through the Esterel Forest to St. Tropez; up to Nice for real Provencal foods at Lou NIssarda (where even my neighbors in the villa had never been!); over to the Picasso Castle, then the Musee Napoleon in Antibes; a walk out the back way, away from the sea, toward Vallauris; Roman days in Frejus. But Sundays, no. On Sundays, the French were likely to be out on their roadways, with their own unique responses to traffic, signals, signs and laws. On Sundays, I didn’t want to learn new things. I needed something familiar. Hard to come by in a strange land, even one I’d chosen with my entire being.
View From My Cannes Balcony - though I was closer to hotels
In my Cannes life, I quickly learned the only antidote for the homesickness of the expatriate - a very early visit to the Marche Forville in the steep and stony Old Town. The part of Cannes nobody knows - on rue Meynardier in Le Suquet, where I would attend Midnight Mass given in Latin, French and Provencal with dear new neighbors in a matter of months.
What would be somewhat familiar, of course, was food shopping.
What was anything but familiar was the sight of all those farmers, at 8 a.m., literally belly up to bars strung all alongside the old market, downing the local red wine from glasses more like tumblers than ‘ballons’. They’d had long hard drives into ‘the city’ from the country. They had a long day of sales ahead of them, followed by another drive back to their carefully tilled fields. One must be fortified.
Open-Air-Sided Marche Forville, Rue Meynardier, Cannes
It was fortification enough for me to stroll those echoing (open-air-sided) lanes. What always surprised was that the weather followed us IN there. Yes, certain rains - during my first days there, Nice Matin headlines blared, “The Rains of One Month in One Week-End” That was more urgent news than the dire stock-market plunge back home, October of 87. Pompiers - Firemen - were called and called, to pump out wine cellars… I was definitely not in Kansas.
Probably the only truly familiar food was olive oil. The charming man (all the Cannes stall people were charming - real, hearty, hardy, in peasant garb, proud of hands most often in the soil, and eager to share and to teach) asked me what kind of olive oil I preferred. I didn’t know there there was more than one kind. “Well, what kinds are there?,” I managed to ask. He answered at length, and I chose the one with the most beautiful name – ”fruitier”. He absolutely beamed: “C’est mon favorite!”, and gave me the bottle. As in, refused my francs. He had grown and harvested and pressed all the olives that rendered these varying hues and flavors of oil. His full life and pride were in every bottle. Needless to say, I went to him every time I needed olive oil thereafter! Which happened a whole lot more frequently than it had in my American life.
Tomatoes look this ripe in Provence all year round
I knew chevre (goat cheese) - so I went to the chevre lady. “Which chevre to you prefer?,” she inquired, glowing like the parent of a newborn. “What kinds are there?,” I asked anew. This belle dame offered me the chevre of the morning, the chevre of the week, the chevre of last month, or aged. These came four to a squat canning jar; submerged, of course, in olive oil the color of the sun. It was divine. In later weeks, I would try each ‘vintage’, savoring major and surprising differences. What really amazed were “crottins”, which the no-nonsense Provencals loved to offer to foreigners, because “crottins” are goat droppings - in other words, smaller rounds of chevre.
Next came the honey lady. “I would like to buy some honey, s’il vous plait,” I began. You KNOW what she asked. You know my response. This savvy apicultrice took me on a tour of the products of her very mobile bees. Acacia, I remember, and wild flowers (des fleurs sauvages), orange blossom of course. Absolutely new to me, and irresistible forever was lavender honey. Milky in color, slightly granular and yet so smooth - I who never put honey or sugar in tea or coffee, who don’t even LIKE sweets that much, could not sip tea at home from that morning on, without lavender honey.
You would think shopping for chicken for Sunday dinner would be normal (same word in French), familiar. Wrong! I had to wait for the chicken lady to finish her previous transaction (actually, I really wanted to buy her eggs.) A man bought a chicken. It was alive. She tied its legs together. After weighing it and the exchange of francs, she handed it to the man who walked out of the market, chicken flapping like an upside-down angel, until he faded from sight in the increasing crowd.
Very obvious foreigners were rare in the Marche, except for the date sellers. Childhood’s had come in long gold packages from my California aunt, the only good cook in that (former Ohio) family. Her dates had a kind of skin that was papery, a little unpleasant to little girls’ tongues. We usually chopped Aunt Helen’s dates into ‘her’ cookies or ‘her’ date/nut bread. The dates of the datesellers of Cannes came on a long gold stem, fresh from the tree! I had to have a golden string of dates- even though it looked like a life supply. When I sampled the first one, back home on l’Observatoire hill, the fruit was stunningly moist - as though the honey of my new apicultrice had somehow been infiltrated into these strange brown things.
Lavender Crop at Abbey of Senanque - which I did visit, but not in Lavender Time
(all pix from internet - not easy to come by old Provence nor La France Profonde…)
Fish - o.k. — Cannes is a working fishing port. I love fishing villages. This should be familiar. No, indeed! The small fishing boats of my new town, –brightly colored, very Van Gogh–, were only out for a handful of hours. The men would arrange their catch upon oilcloth, UNDER which was ice. The fish came from salt water, you see; Provencals insisted it dies in fresh water - loses all flavor, than which there is no greater crime in France. Each fisherman’s table was right out of Cezanne’s The Card Players – rickety dark legs, the top small and square.
A slendr tuyau, tube, drained meltwater from invisible ice into a bucket that had seen better days. Each fish table looked like a relief map of the mountainous region between Cannes and St. Tropez, without the cork oaks and the stunted pines. Lying on the mountains and slanting down into the valleys were fish. Only they didn’t lie. They actually leapt! into air, flipping bright tails, arching supple necks. Sometimes launching themselves right off that cold oilcloth and onto the Marche floor.
The Old Port, the hill of Le Suquet
There was absolutely not one whiff of what my daughters had called, wrinkling their pretty noses, “eau de fishmarket.” On the contrary, a hint of sea breeze was the present at best, ever enticing. No fish fresher. Living bouillabaisse.
By this time, my string bags were cutting into my fingers. If there were a wind, let alone a mistral, it would be whipping around my ankles, chilling feet and legs despite serious walking shoes and thick socks. Time to return to the car. (that tiny little, tinny little, expensive Renault, then Peugeot which passed for a car…)
First, however, to read with my Sunday meal - a new copy of Nice Matin. In the kiosk outside the Marche, I stopped to buy the paper (they don’t have Sunday papers on Sunday in Provence.) The venerable woman behind the cashregister, also waved away my francs. “Mais, pourquoi?”, I protested.
“Vous etes Americaine. Vous avez sauvez nous,” was her heartfelt answer.
“You are American. You saved us.”
I wasn’t homesick any more.