House of Skip

Friday, July 11, 2014

A fun filled weekend- Part 2

Let's continue with the recap of the 4th of July weekend fun. Last time we checked in with Skip and her companion they hosted a small get together on the 4th. On Saturday, they had the day to themselves and couldn't think of anything to do, but knew they wanted to enjoy the good weather. Finally, Skip had an idea! Grounds for Sculpture! Oh my, genius idea! It's right here in Mercer County and it's not expensive ($15 per person to get in) and we can enjoy the outdoors!

It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon! Skip had been to the Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) a couple of times, however her companion had not. It didn't quite matter that I had been there before as there was new stuff and they've also adjusted the layout too. If you've been there you may recall pulling up to the booth in the driveway and paying there, well on this day they directed us to pull in and park behind the "Welcome Center" which I believe is new and pay inside. You get a wrist band so they can verify who has paid. There are some cool displays inside the Welcome Center itself and a new gift shop. I am not sure how new all this stuff is, I had been to GFS last year and have made a couple of visits to Rats (more on that later) but hadn't seen the whole park in a year. They have been focusing on the legacy of J. Seward Johnson and so there is a lot more of his work throughout the park as well as several (indoor) displays highlighting his process for sculpture. If you've grown up in NJ and especially in the Mercer County area, the life and work of J. Seward Johnson feels personal, but even to visitors from outside our County or State can appreciate it.

This was the perfect afternoon activity for us with the mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits, the ability to walk and get fresh air. We grabbed a map from the visitor center, Skip's companion is a huge fan of maps. We had fun exploring areas and finding art hidden amongst the different corners of the park. There is one new feature that is super cool and that is the "Meadow" area, it's a large field with a water feature and pebble walking path that has some really cool sculptures that are quite spread apart and are some of the largest pieces
Example of one of the large sculptures in the "Meadow".
featured a GFS, not only was the art in this area interesting, but it was quite peaceful there as well. We thought about stopping at Rats for a drink to take a break from our self directed tour, but it was getting late. I see a future visit including a stop at Rats. Skip and her companion have been a couple of times for dinner and it's a great local place for a unique dining experience.

After our tour at GFS, we headed out for a nice dinner. We hit the road and went a little further south in NJ to Marlton. There we had dinner at one of our favorite new spots,  Redstone Grill.

Redstone Grill is a chain, this one in Marlton and one in King of Prussia are the closest to the House of Skip home base. We have been several times and it continues to impress us.

Redstone is known for their rotisserie chicken, in fact, when you walk in you'll see the chickens rotating on a full wall of rotisserie racks. I've had the chicken and it's definitely delicious, but everything is good.And this visit was no exception. We started with a special appetizer they had, cheese steak flat bread. They always have flat breads on the menu and they usually have one on their specials menu too. We've had others on previous visits to Redstone and they are always good, really nice, thin, crispy crust. The cheese steak one was really yummy, nice tender pieces of steak, cheese sauce, pepper and onions, we enjoyed it. We paired it with a nice red wine, it was a blend and was listed on the featured drink list, the waiter (who was super nice) recommended it and we weren't disappointed, it was tasty wine that went great with the steak.

For our entrees we both ordered from the regular menu. I went with the Blackberry Jus Pork Tenderloin. It was super yummy. The pork was cooked perfectly, nice and juicy. The blackberry was subtle, it didn't overwhelm the dish. It was served with mashed sweet potatoes and brown sugar carrots. Both were great sides. And they were normal size portions, there was no huge overwhelming mound of sweet potatoes. The carrots were nice, not too sweet, I was worried they'd be really sugary, but they just had a touch of sweetness. My companion was in a seafood mood. He has had steak at Redstone previously and was impressed (since they are known for the chicken) how good the steak was. On this trip he ordered the Pesto Crusted Halibut. The fish was flaky and sweet, the pesto just the right amount. We did sample each others entrees and found that we both made good decisions. With our entrees, we both enjoyed a lovely Sauvignon Blanc, I probably could have gone with a light red, like Pinot Noir to pair with the pork, but I was in the mood for white and it was delicious- crisp and refreshing. We had no room for dessert but they did have a lot of really tempting desserts, including the banana cream pie, which I can only imagine is divine- if you have it let me know how it is!

I should also mention that Redstone has a really cool outdoor bar/dining area, we didn't sit there on this visit but we've been out there before and totally suggest you give it a try. Indoor or out Redstone is a classy chain and has quality food and service.

Thanks for visiting with Skip and listening to me ramble on about this recent weekend adventure. And come back soon. And if you happen to visit any of the place featured at HOS, let us know your take on them or send us suggestions of places to visit. Until next time- eat, drink and be merry! xoxoxo- Skip

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A fun filled weekend- Part 1

Skip had a great 4th of July weekend. There were visits to some old standbys and a lovely afternoon with family. The focus of this post is LOCAL!

Let's start with the precursor to the weekend, Thursday night. My companion was coming home late from a golf outing and so we decided to hit our favorite local spot for quick bite and a drink, Centro Grille. This is often are go to place when we don't want to eat at home but don't want to go to far. Now, there are a lot of great choices in Robbinsville, but we love to sit at the bar at Centro! We arrived and found ourselves a high top table in the bar area, we actually prefer to sit "at the bar" but it was packed, probably due to the upcoming holiday weekend. So, for this night, the little high top table suited us just fine. I started with a drink from the specialty drink menu, it was called the Centro Splash and it was passion fruit vodka, muddled strawberries, mint, lime and cane sugar. While the menu said just strawberries there were actually blueberries and raspberries in there too which was a nice surprise. We ordered the new bacon appetizer which we've come to love there. It is thick cut chunks of candied bacon and comes with broccoli rabe croquettes. The bacon is so salty and sweet, it's really super delicious and then the croquettes are a nice balance to the bacon, they are soft, with a little crunch on the outside. The croquettes also have the slight bitterness from the broccoli rabe that also make it pair well with the bacon. It's a great newer addition to the Centro menu and we really enjoy it. We also tried for the first time the jalapeno hummus. It was very tasty, the hummus was super smooth and creamy and had slices of jalapeno in it, not too spicy, just the right amount of kick and the crispy flat bread/pita things that are served with it? So amazing, really crispy crunchy on the outside, but soft and chewy inside, and not too thin, they are thick enough to stand up to a generous heap of hummus.
Centro Splash

For our main course, I ordered the grilled meatloaf which is one of my favorites (the ribs are also amazing). My companion ordered a special, he is always impressed with the specials at Centro. And this night was no different. My companion ordered a buffalo filet topped with gorgonzola cheese and served with kale (he got double kale instead of getting kale and mashed potatoes). My meatloaf came with vegetables and roasted red pepper mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes where really good, it almost tasted like they put Franks Red Hot sauce in them, they had a really nice flavor and went well with the meatloaf. The portion was huge, considering we had two appetizers, so I took about half home with me. I liked the Centro Splash so much, that I ordered a second and my companion had a lovely red wine with his buffalo.

As usual, the service at Centro was great. We have been there enough that we've gotten to know some of the staff. They always have a smile and are always willing to joke around and chat with us when they have time. We are glad to have this little treasure right in our own town. And luckily just a few steps away we were able to satisfy our sweet tooth with a stop into Maggie Moos. I had the coffee ice cream with cookie crunches mixed in and my companion had the mint and sweet cream with cookie crunch. It was soooo delicious and perfect sweet treat to start the holiday weekend.

Now, I have to of course mention my 4th of July celebration! Skip kept it small for her first time hosting this patriotic holiday. My guests were all impressed with my grass fed beef burgers and organic, nitrate free hot dogs from Local Abundance. Visit their Facebook page to learn more about how you can get quality, local and healthy fish, meat and poultry!

So, there it is part one of Skip's 4th of July holiday weekend! Stay tuned to see how Skip's fun continued!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mistral- Princeton

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to make sure that my companion and I made plans with some very dear friends of ours that we had not been out with in AGES! So, on a cold winters night we found ourselves in route to Princeton to check out Mistral, with Ike and Tina.

The restaurant is very narrow and feels a bit crowded, but the modern decor and large glass windows makes it feel a little more spacious.

Mistral is all about small plates, they encourage ordering multiple dishes and sharing. Our waiter was pleasant, a little soft spoken which made him somewhat difficult to understand in the loud setting of this restaurant, he had an accent, but it was more that he spoke softly that made him hard to understand. Mistral is also BYOB, so we came armed with 3 bottles. Two red and 1 white, my companion always likes to bring a variety when he doesn't know what everyone will be eating. And it worked out well since we tired so many small plates.

To start we each ordered an appetizer- Ike and I both had the parsnip soup, it was delish! Great texture, really smooth pureed soup- it had a bit of a smoke on it from the cured pork, really yummy. There was a kale salad on the menu so there is no need for me to tell you what my companion selected... of course he went with the kale!! However, I think there was a bit of false advertising here, because the greens on his plate looked more like mixed greens than kale- I'm guessing Kale was in there but it wasn't  the only green on the plate. My girl Tina ordered the Goat Cheese Cannelloni which was served with mushrooms and leeks. It was a beautiful presentation, it could have passed for a dessert it was so pretty. 

On to the seafood course! I had the smoked cod which was fantastic. It wasn't "lick a fire" smoky, but just the right hint of smoke. The fish was fresh and tasty. My companion and Ike both went with the Korean Octopus, which was spicy and the octopus had that great char on it that makes it crispy and crunchy when you bite it. Yum. Tina ordered the Tuna Tartare and again, it was a beautiful presentation, they really know how to plate stuff here. The tartare was also extremely delicious. 

Oh wait! Before I forget I have to tell you about this amazing thing we all had! DUCK FAT BISCUITS! Oh Lord! If they have them when you go, YOU HAVE TO GET THEM. When I tell you that this was the softest, fluffiest, most delightful biscuit I've ever had. So I can only come to the conclusion that duck fat makes everything better. Sorry duck lovers. All four of us were floored by the amazingness that was the duck fat biscuit. 

Ok, what's next you ask? Our little friends "From the Land", yes folks meat was next. I of course saw the two magical words- pork belly- and even though there were other items that sounded deletable, I could not resist the pork. It did not disappoint, paired of course with it's friend cabbage, this fatty, juicy dish was just what I'd expect of a well executed pork belly dish. However, here is where it gets fun, while Tina is just as much a foodie as me, she's still a little hesitant when it comes to trying different cuts of meat. There was a very intriguing dish on the menu- 36-hour beef cheek (which we all laughed at hysterically and thought of every funny way to use the title). Tina wanted to try it but was concerned she wouldn't like it. We all convinced her to try it, after all it was cooked for 36 hours, it would have to be tender. Being a good husband, Ike ordered the duck, which he knew Tina liked so in case she didn't care for the beef cheek they could switch. And that's just what they did. The texture was still a little off putting to Tina despite the long cooking process. My companion also ordered the beef cheek and just loved it. I tried it and also thought it was yummy, the texture is a little different than pot roast, but the gravy it was in was also marvelous.

Now, on to the final course of the evening. The sweets. When Skip sees chocolate she usually heads straight for it and this night was no exception because we were dealing with a flourless chocolate cake. Oh yes, that rich, decadent beast. This cake was exceptional and was served with fennel ice cream which was so unique and really was quite a refreshing contrast to the chocolate cake. My companion will tell you that I forced him to get the Lime Posset, but I merely suggested he might try it because he likes citrus- well he changed his order from the Brown Butter Cake (which Tina got) to that and really loved it. Apparently it's a British dish similar to custard. Ike got the Stilton Creme Brulee which is very unique, however this creamy, somewhat sour cheese was paired with the sweetness of figs and the crunch of pecans. Our table was silent except for a few moans so I think it is safe to say dessert was a success. 

As most fine dining establishments are apt to do these days, we were offered one last sweet treat with the check. They were little meringues. Usually, I love a good meringue and even though I was stuffed, I wanted to try it. It wasn't the best meringue I ever had. It has a strange aftertaste too it, like a spice that I could not quite place. And it was almost too crisp, without any softness in the middle. Ike and Tine weren't really digging it either, but of course my companion liked it- I swear he'll eat anything- except mayo. :)

To sum up, Mistral is a fun place, they have some inventive cuisine and if you are into the small plate thing and have some friends or just a companion who is willing to share and be adventurous with you, then try it!


66 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
609.688.8808
www.mistralprinceton.com/ 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Beer Authority NYC

Once upon a time Skip and her companion were in NYC wondering around after an event with nothing to do, when all of the sudden Skip looked up and saw a sign- not a metaphorical sign but an actual sign- that read "Beer Authority"- and then she thought- "It must be a sign (the metaphorical kind)". To her surprise her companion agreed it was worth checking out, but alas to their surprise and disappointment the establishment appeared to be closed, so they left... with the hope of returning one day....

Well, that day arrived my friends. Skip did not forget about this magical place that needed exploring. She even consulted an expert, our friend over at Geeky Beer Gal who assured Skip it was worth a visit.
Punkin Ale

When my companion and I returned to NYC for a leisurely trip, we took at break from shopping and walking to have a few beers and a bite to eat. I will inform you that the reason this place is named, Beer Authority is that it is in very close proximity to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Upon walking in you immediately get that cool bar vibe. The place is huge and we were quickly escorted upstairs to a table for lunch. They have a very large wooden bar which looked cool too and I am told they have a rooftop deck/bar that is awesome, weather permitting.

The beer list is extensive and fairly impressive. I am still a novice when it comes to this stuff, but I have come to recognize some breweries and can navigate a list pretty well. Given the time of year we were there my companion and I both were in the mood for a pumpkin flavored beer, we were then easily convinced by our waitress to try the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale as it came with a cinnamon sugar rim... wow. It was very good and had my favorite thing about pumpkin flavored stuff- the spices. The sugar rim was neat but made my hands sticky- the beer would have been good without it. Given that it was an ale, my companion who is not a huge beer drinker liked it a lot. First up food wise was an appetizer that caught my eye immediately! Pork Belly Skewers!
Pork Belly Skewers
And oh my were they good. And how great is the camera on my Samsung Galaxy? Check out this photo. The pieces of pork belly were crispy yet still melted in your mouth, they were fatty and salty and everything pork should be.They were also covered in this amazing BBQ sauce, the sauce was slightly sweet and slightly smoky and was just great.


After our first beer, my companion and I were both looking for something a little darker and a little heavier. My companion is not as much into stouts and such as I am, but given we weren't going to have another he opted for something heavy (and with a higher alcohol content). So, my companion ordered the Goose Island Night Stalker Imperial Stout, it had a rich cocoa flavor and a beautiful foam resting on top, it was really picture perfect.
Goose Island Imperial Stout
I went for the Left Hand Milk Stout, it was smooth and creamy - it was just perfect. Now, while the lighter beer we started with cut through the richness of the bacon appetizer, I am not sure I would pair these beers with food in the future. They weren't bad with our meal, but they really stand alone, or maybe with dessert. Unless you are like my mom and drink coffee with your entree. :) Any way, we both got sandwiches for lunch. My companion ordered the brisket sandwich. It was awesome.
Brisket sandwich
The thing was pretty big and it had bacon on it and it came with fries, nice big, chunky, potato wedge fries. I ordered the Ham and Brie sandwich, which was equally yummy, it had cranberry mustard and came with the same great fries my companion had.

Our waitress was pretty chatty and even recommended the second beer my companion got. We enjoyed talking with her about a number of things, not just beer. And while this place is called the Beer Authority I am not sure they really focus on hiring staff that could be considered a beer authority, Geeky Beer Gal agreed with me on this. The staff is perfectly friendly and adequately knowledgeable but don't expect to walk in and "talk shop" with anyone if you are a true beer enthusiast. You'll certainly have a good meal and enjoy a few nice brews.

http://www.beerauthoritynyc.com/mysitecaddy/site3/

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Agricola, Princeton

With the holiday season behind us, Skip can now re-focus on the task at hand. I had high hopes of being able to maintain this blog and many other things (like my workout schedule) during the holiday season, but I did not succeed. However, the beauty of a New Year is a fresh start. And I'd like you all to remember that each day is a chance to start over, so don't let a bad day or a off moment put you in a downward slump, look at each morning as a chance to start fresh. Ok, enough of the motivational speech, after all you came here to read about my food adventures, right? Of course you did!

So, just because Skip hasn't had time to write doesn't mean she hasn't been filling her days with lots of food adventures, so let me try to catch you up.

First on the list, Skip finally made it to Agricola in Princeton. I had been salivating over the idea of eating there since I read the first article announcing they would open in the space that was once Lahiere.

A new eatery in our area that focuses on fresh, local ingredients? Oh yes, I wanted in on that. A little insight on Skip's companion, he has to be in the right "mood" to try out new places like this. He doesn't necessarily like all the hubbub around a new place. So, we waited awhile, and then still didn't go a few times because we thought we'd want to make a reservation and not just "wing it". But one night, that's just what we did. It happened to be the evening of the day Skip ran the Trenton Half Marathon (what a reward!). We just decided we'd go and see what the wait was and take our chances. It turned out there were two seats at the bar and we opted to just eat our meal there- one of Skip and her companions favorite things to do.

We cozied up to the bar and ordered a couple of drinks while we took in the surroundings. The place is very hipster, but in a good way- not a douchey way. The bartenders are like farmer mixologists (apparently the uniform for the waitstaff is flannel shirts!- Love it!). I had an awesome maple bourbon Manhattan. If you aren't new to HOS than you know Skip loves a Manhattan, but what's better than a Manhattan? One with maple syrup in it. My companion ordered the oh-so-classic Sazerac. Needless to say we were having a very good time and our excitement was growing as we reviewed the menu.

I happily started off with the pickled and fermented vegetable plate, while my companion had to try and contain his child-like enthusiasm for the kale salad. The vegetable plate was both adorable and delicious- great presentation, lovely little pickled veggies all stacked in their own little space on the plate. If you love sour things, this is for you. This is also a good time to tell you that while they do serve meat, Agricola is a great place for vegetarians as they have lots of yummy veggie options. Which was not only the case with my veggie plate but also with my companions amazing kale salad that was super good. I did manage to get my fork in there without any bodily harm :). At this point we had finished up our cocktails and had moved on to wine. Since I am playing "catch-up" here on reviews, I don't remember what exactly we both had but I am pretty sure they were reds since I think we both had meat... but again, I'm behind so that is kind of fuzzy too.

What is not fuzzy is dessert, so let's fast forward to that part. Sweet Potato Beignets, have more delicious words ever been spoken? I am not sure they have. These puffy, soft, doughy, sugary treats ended what was a wonderful night out after one of my biggest accomplishments.
The beignets were awesome, truly awesome. They were sweet and just the perfect ending, they came with "frizzled" sweet potato strings on top and a drizzle of maple syrup for a touch more sweetness. We also ended the meal with a dessert wine to round out our beverage experience. I had a moscato while my companion went with a port. 

All in all, a wonderful evening was had. I am sorry there are some "holes" in my review however, so much time has passed since that evening and so many "adult beverages" were consumed that my memory is not functioning well. One of these days I will recognize that my goal of doing a review immediately following an experience does not usually happen and realize that I need to take notes! But please trust me when I tell you the meal and service at Agricola were both outstanding and I highly recommend you visit them.


Eleven Witherspoon Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08542
telephone +1 (609) 921 2798 info@agricolaeatery.com greatroadfarm.com - See more at: http://www.agricolaeatery.com/#sthash.Z34q6Oc5.dpuf

Community Eatery

Eleven Witherspoon Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08542
telephone +1 (609) 921 2798 info@agricolaeatery.com greatroadfarm.com
- See more at: http://www.agricolaeatery.com/#sthash.Z34q6Oc5.dpuf
Agricola Community Eatery
11 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542


http://www.agricolaeatery.com/

Community Eatery

Eleven Witherspoon Street
Princeton, New Jersey 08542
telephone +1 (609) 921 2798 info@agricolaeatery.com greatroadfarm.com
- See more at: http://www.agricolaeatery.com/#sthash.Z34q6Oc5.dpuf