Roxy’s Best Of… Bernardsville, New Jersey

The Best of Bernardsville, NJ, from kid stuff (including summer camp) to restaurants to shopping

Oct
20

Kitchen Tours of Somerset Hills Planned for Thursday, November 20, 2008

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It’s a brisk autumn day in the Somerset Hills, and I am heading in on the train from Bernardsville, New Jersey to our office in New York City. As I waited to board the train this morning, I happened to see a poster at the Bernardsville Train Station for the upcoming Kitchen Tours of Somerset Hills. On November 20, 2008 from 10:00am until 2:00pm, the H.S.A. of Somerset Hills invites all you ladies (and gentlemen) who lunch to get a peek at ten (10) prestigious kitchens in Bernardsville, Far Hills, and Gladstone, New Jersey. The kitchens have been decorated by local designers and florists (including Laura Clare, Flowers on Ridge, and Jardiniere), and will be catered by local restaurants, including Le Petit Chateau, Bernards Deli, The Station, and Bamboo Grille. Rex and I have enjoyed the kitchen tours we’ve taken down at the beach in Bay Head, New Jersey, and this one promises to be every bit as tasty and entertaining. For $50 per ticket, participants will spend a delightful day viewing some of the area’s most magnificent kitchens. It seems a small price to pay for the chance to peek into some of the spectacular kitchens of the neighboring Roxiticus Desperate Housewives.

All of the funds will go toward long-term spending initiatives to benefit the Bedwell Elementary School and Bernardsville Middle School, such as technology, LCD projectors and laptops, SmartBoards, sound enhancement systems and literacy programs. For more information, call (908) 766-7335 or e-mail kitchentoursofsh@yahoo.com. You can also pick up ticket purchase forms at Bedwell Elementary School.  Sure beats the days of the bake sale for raising money!

Sep
30

Lunch on a Rainy Friday at Grill 73 in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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When our family first moved out to the Roxiticus Valley from New York City’s West Village, Rex and I commuted in to our NYC office a lot more than we do now, but we had a hard and fast rule of “never on a Friday.” Instead, on Fridays we ventured out to explore the local restaurants and catch up our “couple time” over a business lunch….at the Limestone Café in Peapack, Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, or Grill 73 in Bernardsville. A couple of Fridays ago, Rex commented that we hadn’t been out for one of our Friday lunches in far too long, so we tried out the new Equus restaurant in Bernardsville, New Jersey. We had such a good time (and a delicious lunch) that we decided to get back in the weekly habit last Friday with lunch at Grill 73 in Bernardsville.

I must apologize in advance for neglecting to take pictures of our food, as it was both beautiful and tasty. Some days I forget the photos, other days I take lots of photos and never get around to posting the restaurant review. One day Goldilocks will get it just right, but in the meantime, I’ll share the photo I snapped of the restaurant, as well as some photos from the Grill 73 web site.

With so many great choices on the Grill 73 menu, you’d think Rex and I would have ended up with two different appetizers and two different entrees. Surprisingly, we both chose exactly the same thing: the fried calamari with spicy marinara to start, followed by the Thai Beef Salad (marinated flank steak over romaine with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber & soba noodles, sweet thai chili soy dressing). Rex remembered the calamari appetizer as small, so he refused to share, but when he saw how huge the portions were, he immediately regretted his decision…even though Grill 73’s calamari is amazingly crunchy and flavorful, there was no way either of us could finish, so they packed it up for us to take home. Turns out it heated up just fine in our toaster oven for Sunday leftovers. The Thai Beef Salad was just the right combination of flavors, textures, and some serious heat (spicy spicy!), and unlike our appetizer, the size was just right.

We didn’t have room for dessert, so it was time to head off to Gary’s Wine and Marketplace in Bernardsville to pick up our wine order and a couple of cases of Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

Grill 73, 73 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, NJ.  Phone (908) 630-0700.

Sep
27

Don’t Forget the Beer! Rex and Roxy Stock Up at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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Back in August, Rex and I organized a table full of Roxiticus Desperate Housewives and Husbands and headed out to the 14th Annual Seafood Dinner at Pierre’s Restaurant.  Just as I’m only getting around to posting about that evening over a month later, we recently headed over to Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Bernardsville, NJ, to see if we could find two of the wines we enjoyed:  the Marco Felluga Molamatta 2006 (artistically pictured at left, if I do say so myself) and the Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 2005 (served with the braised striped bass with cucumbers, under which Chef Michael tried to hide a taste of satanic mushrooms).

Although we ended up with a cartload of pinot noir and several six-packs of pumpkin ale and Oktoberfest, Gary’s didn’t have either of the two selections on our earlier visit, but they promised to see if they could get us a case (6 bottles) of each.  We got a voice mail earlier this week letting us know that both of our wines were in, so we planned a rainy Friday of errands and lunch at Grill 73 in Bernardsville.

Our afternoon was a huge success.  In addition to picking up the Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico ($14.99/bottle on sale) and Marco Felluga Molamatta ($15.99/bottle after Gary’s 20% case discount), I was able to procure two cases of Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale.  At $60 per case, the Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin ale is, hands down, the best, most expensive, highest alcohol content (8%) beer I’ve ever had.  As they say on the Weyerbacher web site, their Imperial Pumpkin Ale is heartier, spicier, and more “caramelly” and “pumpkiny” than its faint brethren!  It is a perfect finisher (or 4 o’clock beer) on a cool autumn night, or match it up with a slice of pumpkin pie and fresh whipped cream.  Yum.

Sep
21

Rex and Roxy’s Perfect Tenth Anniversary Dinner at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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I’m sitting out on our porch in Bay Head, New Jersey, finishing up the weekend-long celebration of our tenth wedding anniversary, and reflecting on our perfect Friday evening at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

London and Maddie were giggling about our plans all day, excitedly insisting that I must wear my “poufy black dress” with the feathers at the bottom.  All three girls wore fancy black dresses, and we headed out for our 7pm reservation, arriving at about 7:15pm.  We started the evening with a minor disappointment…Rex had asked for a table for four near the piano, overlooking the bar, but we could see that someone else’s wine had already been set up there. Later, after the other party arrived and the silver-haired ladies covered their ears and abandoned “our” table in favor of a quieter spot in the back, the Maître d’ came over and asked if we’d like to move, explaining that the gentleman reserves that table every Friday night, but that his guests wanted to sit elsewhere. At that point, the girls were settled into their coloring (brand new abstract art coloring books that Rex and I picked up at the Jewish Museum in New York City earlier in the week), so we stayed where we were.

We kicked off the celebration by toasting our ten years of marriage with glasses of Rose Champagne, then turned to the menu and wine list. We had peeked at the menu online, and felt like we wanted to try EVERYTHING!  Luckily, Executive Chef Coery Heyer was offering an amazing six course Autumn 2008 tasting menu, so we could get a taste of just about everything on the menu. We decided to have one tasting with wine pairings (second tier of wine, $185) and one tasting without wine ($85) and shared the six glasses of wine.

For our first course, we both chose the Coriander-Spiced Tuna Sashimi with white soy-marinated savoy cabbage, fresh wasabi, and pomegranate reduction, which Wine Director Terri Baldwin paired with Paul Laurent Champagne Brut, Epernay NV.  The sashimi was delicious and the champagne kept us in a festive mood.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that London and Maddie enjoyed some tasty french fries from the bar as their appetizer, and both girls shared a few fries with their mom.

For the second course, I chose the Sweet Potato Ravioli with Pecorino, toasted pumpkin seeds, and sage brown butter sauce, once assured that the chef would prepare it without the evil black truffles.  Maddie caught me lying to our waiter about being allergic to (rather than disgusted by) mushrooms, but I’ve found over time that feigning a deadly allergy is the only way to be absolutely certain the Satanic fungus would not appear in my food.  Rex chose the Day Boat Sea Scallops with celery root, green apple, frisee, fried celery leaves and black truffle emulsion (he’s not “allergic”).  Every bite of both dishes was scrumptious.  We shared the wine that Terri Baldwin had paired with my ravioli, a Ramey Cellars Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2006, as we’ve been fond of Ramey Chardonnay for several years.

Rex and I diverged on our third course as well. Rex opted for the Rice Flake-Encrusted Halibut with almond puree, haricots verts, grapes, and piquillo pepper vinaigrette. I selected the New Zealand King Salmon with barley, Brussels sprout leaves, butternut squash, and bacon vinaigrette. Again, every bite was perfect, but the Spatburgunder Pinot Noir was “small” and didn’t stand up to the salmon.

For our fourth course, Rex and I both chose the Crispy-Slow Cooked Suckling Pig with MacIntosh apple puree, bacon wrapped peanut butter stuffed dates (my favorite!), and black cardamom jus, which was paired with a Lail Vineyards “Blueprint,” Napa Valley, CA 2004. I was feeling kinda stuffed, so I gobbled up the “cracklin” off the top and let Rex double up on pork. At this point, our servers also presented a dish of angel hair pasta with butter and cheese for Maddie, as well as London’s Twenty-Eight Day Dry-Aged Sirloin ($48), cooked medium and with the kohlrabi & black truffle gratin, haricots verts, roasted pearl onions, and horseradish-lemon butter on a separate plate.

The fifth course was a selection of artisanal cheese, accompanied by Graham’s 30 Year Tawny Port. And last, but never least, was the dessert tasting: almond mousse stuffed poached seckel pear, warm pumpkin tartlette topped with marshmallow (!!), and apple cider ice cream. The dessert wine was Dobogo Mylitta Irabella Tokaj Late Harvest, Hungary 2004.  London enjoyed an extra large serving of chocolate ice cream, while Maddie feasted on a huge apple dumpling ($11).

We took our customary photos in the “queen’s chair” in the reception area, and recovered Maddie’s missing charm bracelet. By the time the evening was over, it was three hours later…10:15pm! Feeling stuffed and satisfied, we took the long straight route home through Far Hills, NJ, and look forward to our next celebration at the Bernards Inn.

Sep
19

Rex and Roxy Celebrate Our Tenth Anniversary Tonight at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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Wow. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since Rex and I were married on the beach in Bay Head, New Jersey, but it’s true: Rex and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary tonight. We’re taking the girls with us for dinner at the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville, New Jersey, one of our favorite restaurants for a real celebration. I’m a bit busy at work today, tying up loose ends before the weekend, but I’ll take some pictures tonight and try to share the experience with you from the beach on Saturday.

Sep
13

Rex and Roxy Share a Delicious Lunch at Equus Restaurant in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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The girls were busy at school and we didn’t have any business conference calls scheduled on Friday afternoon, so Rex and I decided to slip away to drop off a donation at the Visiting Nurses Rummage Sale in Far Hills, pick up a case of wine at Gary’s and to try out Equus, a new-ish restaurant in Bernardsville, New Jersey.  Mysteriously, the Equus web site claims that they were “established 1848,” but my recollection is Spring 2008.  Before that, the building housed a not-very-good pizza and casual food establishment called the Stone Tavern where Rex and the girls and I had some of the worst steamed clams in our family history.

Luckily, Equus is a dramatic improvement over its predecessor.  We looked over the menu and decided that, while I was ravenous from my morning workout and the descriptions were so good that we could eat almost anything on the lunch menu, we would stick with two appetizers each.  I started with the Crispy Fried Calamari with sambol aioli & wasabi honey drizzle ($10)…it was quite good and the wasabi really had a nice kick to it.  As my entree, I enjoyed the Tuna & Rice Paper Wrap appetizer with cucumber & green papaya slaw with nuok chem sauce ($14)…there were four pieces, enough for two people, so I shared half with Rex.  Now, here comes trouble…our waiter didn’t have any menus that we could take home, promising that the menus are all on the Equus web site, but so far I haven’t found either of Rex’s dishes online.  His first appetizer was a “perfectly executed” pulled pork over cornbread pancake that disappointed Rex only because he remembered (too late) that he doesn’t really enjoy cornmeal based items such as tortillas or corn muffins.  Rex’s second dish was his favorite — charred tuna.  I’m afraid I didn’t take any pictures of the food, just the surroundings, which gave Equus just the right ambiance.

Equus, 1 Mill Street, Bernardsville, NJ.  Phone (908) 766-3737.

Aug
24

From Roxy’s Mailbag: The Cottage Schools Open Doors to Grades Pre-K through 4th Grade in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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Dear Roxy,
I’m also a local mom (in Gladstone) and have read through portions of your blog - lots of fun commentary. I think it would be an ideal place to post information about a new Pre-K to 4th Grade school opening in Bernardsville, New Jersey. You may be familiar with the Cottage School in Peapack-Gladstone. Both of my children attend that school and love it. This additional school in Bernardsville is run by the same director (Laura Soulages) and is held in the St. Bernards Episcopal Church in Bernardsville. It is the location of a former Little Lamb program there. Please let me know if it is something you might add to your Bernardsville section of the blog.

Thanks,
Amy Dietrich
Gladstone, NJ

Dear Amy:
Since London and Maddie attend Mendham Township Elementary School and none of the other Roxiticus Desperate Offspring have any experience with The Cottage Schools, we can’t offer you the Roxiticus Desperate Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but are happy to introduce The Cottage Schools and the new Pre-K through 4th Grade addition to our loyal readers…if you’re a mom in the Greater Roxiticus Valley (Mendham, Bernardsville, Chester, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Bedminster) and you’d like to learn more about The Cottage Schools in Gladstone and Bernardsville, New Jersey, you’ll find the press release in its entirety below:

The Cottage Schools Open Doors in Bernardsville to Grades Pre-K to 4
Cottage Elementary School Offers Alternative Educational Programs

Beginning in September 2008, The Cottage Elementary School will open at 88 Claremont Rd. (St. Bernard’s Episcopal Church), offering a unique and alternative educational program for grades K-4. The Cottage Elementary School expands upon the well-established early childhood education program of The Cottage School, LLC, which continues to offer its programs in Gladstone, with additional pre-K enrollment available in Bernardsville.

The Cottage Elementary School’s academic program integrates the traditional subject areas of language and literature, mathematics, social studies, natural sciences, fine arts and physical education in a cooperative, non-competitive environment, teaching by immersion without the use of textbooks or tests.

Using the educational philosophy of The Cottage School, the School fosters a unique environment for learning by:
• expecting the best that each child can offer, not in comparison to the group;
• encouraging children to discover, explore, and develop their innate abilities;
• supporting creativity in all activities and subject areas;
• inspiring expression, curiosity, and imagination;
• allowing ample time for children to focus, create, and fully develop the project at hand;
• using an open classroom model;
• rotating teacher assignments to model community support and provide opportunities for teachers and students alike to stretch beyond their comfort zones;
• using natural materials and hand-made teaching tools;
• hearing and telling traditional tales from around the world;
• reading and reciting poetry;
• reading classic literature;
• immersing children in foreign language as an integral part of the curriculum;
• dancing and participating in drama and music;
• visiting museums, farms, libraries, and other workplaces;
• participating in community service projects, building responsible citizenship.

Ashley McNeill-Pohle serves as director of The Cottage Elementary School in Bernardsville, and contributes experience from The Cottage School community where she teaches French and has been engaged since its inception in 2002. A long-time resident of the region, McNeill-Pohle is a home-schooling mother of two, has been actively involved in a charter school community, has taught ballet, and held positions in market research, data systems and statistical programming. She holds a B.A. in Applied Mathematics and French from Goucher College.

The Cottage Schools are based on the teaching experience of the School’s founder and principal, Laura Soulages, as well as the training and philosophy of the Argentinean teachers college known as Instituto Superior Roberto Themis Speroni, of which Ms. Soulages is a graduate. Ms. Soulages successfully brought the program to New Jersey where, in 2002, she began her vision for the school in the form of The Cottage School. That vision included that one day the school would extend the offer of alternative education to elementary and, eventually, higher grades.

“At The Cottage Schools, teachers are committed to doing research and studying from original material, thus inspiring students to do the same and go deeper in knowledge. Great importance is placed on the learning process to develop patterns of learning; free of pressure and sustained by a spirit of discovery. When adults are too concentrated on results, children and teachers alike lose the joy of learning and teaching,” said Laura Soulages regarding the school’s emphasis on learning in an alternative environment. “The expansion of the school through 4th grade is the continuation of my life-long mission to guide children to develop and keep alive a desire of learning that will, in turn, last them a lifetime. Given Ashley McNeill-Pohle’s history with the school, refined educational experience and administration skills, I am confident she can fulfill The Cottage Elementary School experience in Bernardsville.”

Initial enrollment is offered to all applicants on a first-come, first-served, non-selective basis. Enrollment continues year-round with priority given to current students and their siblings. The Cottage Elementary School does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs. The school is graciously welcoming tax-deductible contributions.

About The Cottage Schools
Registration materials for the 2008-2009 school year are available now. To find out more about the schools’ unique, well-established early childhood and elementary education programs, please call (908)766-4418 or e-mail info@cottageschools.org.

######
Media contact:
Amy Dietrich
908-741-4345
amydietrich04@hotmail.com

Aug
21

Bernardsville Realtor with the Patience of a Saint: Ann Tannen, Realty Executives

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If you’re thinking about joining Roxy and the rest of the Roxiticus Desperate Housewives by moving to the Greater Roxiticus Valley (Bernardsville, Mendham, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone, Bedminster, and Basking Ridge, New Jersey), have I got a recommendation for you!

Ann Tannen, a great realtor with the patience of a saint, spent 2 years searching Bernardsville, NJ and Mendham, NJ and helped us to find our dream home in the Roxiticus Valley. She stayed with us even after 12-month-old Maddie puked in the back seat of our GMC Yukon XL on one of the twisting turning roads of Mendham Township….hey, at least it wasn’t Ann’s own car!

Here’s a link to Ann Tannen’s Realty Executives web site: http://www.tannenrealty.com. Before Roxiticus Desperate Housewives and our Best of Mendham, Chester, Bernardsville, NJ directories existed, Ann was our only resource for a handyman, tailor, pre-school, etc. Give Ann Tannen a call at (908) 221-9900 and tell her Roxy sent you.

Aug
21

Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville, New Jersey

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Rex and I “diverge” when it comes to the Station Pub & Grub in Bernardsville, New Jersey. After a disappointing experience there about a year ago, Rex will not likely go back. That afternoon started with the opening of Charlotte’s Web at the Clearview Bernardsville Cinema, where the seats smelled rank and moldy and the film came to an abrupt end after reversing course and playing upside down and backwards, and the evening ended with a refreshing glass of cranberry & seltzer in Rex’s lap (accidental, but nonetheless chilling).

However, Rex and I also diverge on the subject of beer. My side of the fridge: 12 different seasonal microbrews. Rex’s side of the fridge: V8 juice, flax seed, and a couple of $40 bottles of California Chardonnay, maybe Grgich Hills or Ramey.

If you’re looking for a Michelin four-star meal to celebrate your wife’s birthday, better skip the Station Pub & Grub and go up or down the street to The Bernards Inn, Grill 73, Vine, or Pierre’s. However, if you’d like to drink beer at the bar with the boys and watch the game on TV, maybe grab a burger or some appetizers when you come home on the train, don’t be so quick to say no to the Station Pub & Grub. Station Pub & Grub celebrates Happy Hour with half price appetizers as well as beer and drink specials from 4-7pm every Monday through Friday. There’s live entertainment every Thursday and Friday night with D.J. Paul Anthony. See the Entertainment Schedule on the Station Pub & Grub web site, or call (908) 204-1227 for information and reservations. Check your local Clipper Magazine to get a coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of $60 or more.

The aptly named Station Pub & Grub is across from the Bernardsville train station, 45 Mine Brook Road in Bernardsville, NJ. Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Wednesday, 11:30am to Midnight; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30am to 2:00am; and Sunday 11:30am to 10:00pm.

Jun
25

Pierre’s Restaurant 14th Annual Seafood Dinner: July 16th or August 14th, 2008

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Okay, readers, I know I deceived you once before about my availability to attend the Chef’s Table Dinner at Pierre’s on June 12th and then ditched you for a prior commitment to Movin’ Out at NJPAC….but this time, I’ve marked my calendar and I’m pulling together a table of ten or more for Pierre’s 14th Annual Seafood Dinner. We’re going to the one on Thursday, August 14th, during a brief break from the beach in Bay Head, but if that date doesn’t work for you or if you like to wear orange pants for your night out on the town (see note below), Chef Michael is serving up the same menu and wines on Wednesday, July 16th. It just won’t be as much fun.

NOTE TO ORANGE PANTS, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE (or should I post last year’s photo of you with a special finger in the air?): Please make plans to attend Pierre’s Summer Seafood Dinner on Wednesday, July 16th, or be forewarned, we will have one or two tables full of Roxiticus Desperate Housewives in cheerful attendance on Thursday, August 14th.

Now, moving on to the dinner, this year Chef Michael has paired his seafood dishes with white wines from Italy. Good friend and Italian wine aficionado Roberto Rosenfeld will be at Pierre’s on both nights to talk a little about the wines. The Roxiticus Desperate Housewives will try to keep it down so that others can hear, but we may not be able to restrain ourselves from helping ourselves to seconds of our favorite wines.

If you enjoy fish and shellfish this is a dinner you do not want to miss. Casual dress is welcomed, especially if the weather is warm. And now, without further adieu (Tish, you spoke French!), here’s the menu for Pierre’s 14th Annual Seafood Dinner:

Reception (likely to be held on the porch if the weather is nice):
Mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, marinated salmon, crabmeat
Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico

Menu:

Tuna tartare with wasabi caviar
Pojer e Sandri Muller Thurgau della Dolomiti 2006
Soft-shell crab a la provencale
Alois Lageder Lagrein Rosato 2007

Fresh pasta with lobster and julienne vegetables
Marco Felluga Molamatta 2006

Braised striped bass with cucumbers
Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 2005

Blueberry tart and crème fraiche
Paolo Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2006

Please RSVP to Bree at Roxiticus Desperate Housewives dot com and let me know if you’ll be able to join us for Pierre’s 14th Annual Seafood Dinner on Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 7:00pm. Alternate Date: Wednesday, July 16th at 7:00pm (Orange Pants and the Sophisticated Elderly Set, Please). The price is $95 prepaid per person (tax and gratuity included). If you’re planning to attend on your own, please call Pierre’s at 973.425.1212 to make your reservation or click here for the resevation form. Please let Chef Michael know the Roxiticus Desperate Housewives sent you, and do drop by our table (oh, you’ll know which one) and raise a glass with us!