Author Archive | Edible Jersey


In preparation for our travel issue, we asked Edible Jersey’s regular contributors to share their most unforgettable bites and sips from their own wanderings, both near and far. Here are the most delicious memories they brought home to savor until a return trip brings them back for another taste. —JM




I was introduced to the fiddlehead fern for the first time last spring by a friend from Maine. She presented me with a bag full of beautiful greens that resembles a scallion or maybe a garlic scape rolled into a tight spiral.

When my friend gave me my bag of fiddleheads, she advised me to cook them right away—they have a notoriously short shelf life—and to cook them well. I stuck with her family’s traditional preparation, blanching the greens before sautéing them lightly in olive oil and finishing with salt and pepper. The result was a slightly bitter dish, similar to our local broccoli rabe but with a fresh, earthy bite.

Fiddleheads are elusive even in New England, appearing for only a very short stretch in the late spring. If you ask this home cook, they are worth searching for. I have yet to find a flavor quite like it, and their beautiful little spirals are certainly a showpiece that will leave guests surprised. —Erica Bauwens-Young




The craving starts as a scream for a mouthful of gooey steak-sauce-soaked hoagie roll. It escalates into a call for the zip of pickled hot peppers, pungent fried onions and fall-apart shredded beef that was cooked on a grill by someone with a Phillipsburg accent and a garnet and gray P’Burg Stateliners hat. I need a hot cheesesteak from Joe’s Steak Shop on South Main Street of my hometown, and I need it now.

P’Burg is known more for its preposterously successful high-school wrestling and football programs than its culinary artisans, yet Joe’s and its signature hot cheesesteak have been part of this town’s soul since the shop opened in 1938. It is inescapably part of mine. It’s a simple sandwich: thinly sliced beef, cooked and chopped on a grill with diced onions. Cheese is melted on top, then the steaming pile of umami is placed cheese-side-down on a long soft roll. It’s topped with Joe’s tomato-based secret sauce and hot peppers (optional, but don’t be weak). I’ve had steaks at all the famous joints in Philadelphia. They’re superb, but to this P’burg boy, they just aren’t Joe’s.

One of the most memorable days of my adolescence was when my eight-grade class ordered in Joe’s right before Christmas. Brensinger School still reeked of fried onions when we returned in January. Eat a Joe’s hot cheesesteak in your car and you will be reminded of that glorious occasion every time you get in for at least a week. And that’s a wonderful thing. —Mike Sillup

274 S. Main St., Phillipsburg, NJ




There’s a public garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania, called Chanticleer. It is magical, the kind of the place that if you dreamt it, words would fail to describe what you saw. The town of Wayne itself is charming. It’s home to Villanova University and, as such, has an assortment of student-friendly places to eat. At Pipeline Taco, you get the obvious (and delicious) menu, but what I long for is another sip from the soda fountain. So strong is the grip of the multinational soda conglomerates on food shops that to come upon a locally made option is truly exceptional and memorable, worthy of a postcard.

The New Hope Premium Fountain machine is unassuming and stationed where you would expect it, among the compostable cutlery and condiment bottles. It is decorated not with red 484 or blue 540, the unmistakable Pantone colors we’ve been programmed to identify as “cola,” but rather with a flurry of whimsical typography and brightly colored photographs of fruit and sugarcane, with flavors to match. I am a passionate lover of fizzy and fruity things , so I tried a sip of each. I loved the zing of ginger, the mellow cool of cucumber melon, and a cherry cola to rival my standard movie-theater choice. Ultimately I settled on Italian Lemon, a sweet-tart refresher to match that hot late-summer day. —Emily Peterson




Villa Margon is a restored 16th-century country house in the foothills of the Italian Alps. I was there as part of Ferrari Wine Camp—a week of comparative tastings, food pairings, and Italian hospitality—also known as the best camp ever.

As we campers oohed and aahed at the stunning views of the mountains from the villa’s courtyard, a beekeeper appeared with honeycombs dripping with nectar. At the same time a large, uncut wheel of perfectly aged Trentino Grana Padano was placed on a sturdy table with a thud. The beekeeper set out to press fresh-from-the-hives raw honey from the combs while others went to work on the wheel of cheese.

A tremendous amount of muscle flexing went into manually splitting the wheel apart. We laughed as both men and women took their turn at the difficult but entertaining work of freeing the treasure inside. A cheer went up as it cracked open and waves of its heady, nutty scent drifted through the crisp fall air, mingling with the sweet smell of honey just inches away.

The two together were the holy grail of the salt/sweet combo. I knew, as I walked around that courtyard with a plate of cheese and honey in one hand and a glass of Ferrari sparkling wine in the other, that I had to commit it all to memory. Who gets to have an experience like that more than once? —Robin Shreeves



Last winter, after more than a decade’s experience drinking beer, I really tasted beer for the first time. The beer: Second Fiddle, a double IPA divined at Fiddlehead Brewing Company (owner: Matt Cohen). Second Fiddle packs an 8.2 percent ABV punch that feels like a long kiss. The first thing you notice is the aroma, so herbaceous and citrusy that my mind served up all kinds of summer memories. And it was minus-twenty outside. How could a beer be so ferociously aromatic? At top Vermont breweries, beer is not viewed as a shelf-stable product, like flour or tomato soup. Many Vermonters view beer the way people view a peach in summer. If you eat that peach at the fruit’s peak moment, its flavor will explode.

The ideal moment to drink most beer is right after it’s brewed. That was why my friend’s little bro stopped by Fiddlehead to pick up six-packs the day they were canned, and then drove them to the house where we were staying. My tall can of Second Fiddle was as fragrant as a spice shop in part because it was born less than 24 hours before I took my first sip. What a sip that was. This was beer that fulfilled the fullest potential of what beer could be! —Chris Malloy

6305 Shelburne Rd, Shelburne, … Read More

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At the Table: A World of Local Food

Our instructors, post-cooking class, Le Contesse, Cetona, Italy.

Years ago, during a car ride in the South of France, I discovered something surprising about myself. Although I sometimes can’t remember what I did last week, I seem to have a remarkable recall for meals I have eaten.

Kathy, Marie, Marisa and I had been traveling on the winding road toward Grasse for hours and, conversation momentarily spent, we needed a word game, or maybe 20 Questions, to help pass the time. This was long before my Edible days; I had a job that required extensive travel and a love for vacations that took me even further afield. My friends started to quiz me about some of the meals I had eaten along the way.

I can’t remember the reason for my business trip to southwest Virginia two decades ago, but I can still vividly see, smell and taste the legendary peanut soup at the Hotel Roanoke. I don’t remember who I met with in Milwaukee, but I remember the oversized croutons in the split-pea soup and the impossibly thin lemon slices that topped the schnitzel at a German restaurant there. I can still see the frog legs on my plate in Philly; I can smell the spoonful of shrimp étouffée in New Orleans.

Thinking back to a vacation in Portugal stirs up memories of port and prawns; Malaga, Spain, is where Kathy, Marisa and I discovered white gazpacho—and managed to snag the recipe. There was a perfectly prepared grouper in Blois, France, and I once saw an octogenarian drinking eel’s blood at a food market in Hong Kong.

Food and travel are the perfect pairing. We learn so much about a region’s culture and personality by sharing a taste of what’s on its plate. Food traditions celebrate our differences, our uniqueness; they represent the mosaic promise of our planet. Our world of local flavors needs to be cherished.

Journalist Carlo Petrini says the day he learned a McDonald’s franchise was planning to open near the Spanish Steps in Rome was the day he became an advocate for local foods. Slow Food, the organization he founded in 1989 “to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat,” is now a movement involving millions of people in more than 160 countries.

Which brings me to this, our annual travel issue. In the Cotswolds (page 32), Rome (page 18) and Ethiopia (page 40), we experience culinary traditions. Closer to home, we join a New Jersey hot dog tour (page 22) and our writers share a few food travel memories of their own (page 36).

We hope this issue inspires you to seek the experience of food this year. Whether you’re dining at an Indian restaurant, finding the best local spot for farmstead cheese in Sacramento or taking, as I recently did, a cooking class in Tuscany, take a moment to truly focus on the food and the people who grow, produce, prepare and serve it. You will gain a taste of place, a sense of community and—just possibly—a wonderful lifelong memory.

Best, Nancy Brannigan Painter, Publisher

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Advertiser Directory

Our advertisers make Edible Jersey possible. Be sure to thank them by supporting their businesses. Tell them you saw their ad in Edible Jersey.


WILDFLOUR BAKERY/CAFE | With 100% gluten free kitchens and ingredients, Wildflour bakes fresh breads, pastries & cakes. Their cafe menu is vegetarian with plenty of vegan options. Breakfast, lunch and a catering menu. 2691 Main Street, Lawrenceville, 609.620.1100.


FRELINGHUYSEN ARBORETUM | The 7th Annual Community Garden Conference at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum will be held on Saturday, March 4, 2017. 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morristown. For more information, visit

GO ELIZABETH NJ | Want to visit Mexico? Cuba? Portugal? Italy? No passport needed! Experience Elizabeth’s restaurant week, February 6-10, and be immersed in worldy dining without leaving New Jersey. 908.355.9797.

PHILLY FARM AND FOOD FEST | The Philly Farm & Food Fest is one of the country’s biggest and best single-day food festivals and a perfect way to kick off the spring harvest season. Join them on April 8, 2017 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

TROPICANA | Tropicana Atlantic City is a 24-hour gaming destination located on the beach and Boardwalk. Head to their wine festival February 25-26 to experience over 150 of New Jersey’s finest wines. 831 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609.340.4000.


ALSTEDE FARMS | Freshness, quality and integrity—Alstede Farms is dedicated to providing high-quality, home-grown local fruits and vegetables and memorable farm experiences for you and your family. 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, 908.879.7189.

BLUE MOON ACRES | A 63-acre certified organic farm, Blue Moon focuses on sustainability and soil biology. The result is fresh, delicious food. Visit their charming on-farm market for fresh produce and more. 11 Willow Creek Drive, Pennington, 609.737.8333.

BOBOLINK DAIRY & BAKEHOUSE | Renowned for farmstead cheeses crafted from the milk of grass-fed herds, Jonathan and Nina White also produce artisanal breads. Visit to tour and buy, or shop online. 369 Stamets Road, Milford, 908.86.GRASS.

BRICK FARM MARKET | A full-service market offering locally- grown, pastured meats at a custom butcher shop, gourmet cheese, prepared foods, produce, barista coffee & tea, fresh-pressed juices and a bakery on premises. 65 East Broad Street, Hopewell, 609.466.6500.

CHERRY GROVE FARM | Cherry Grove’s mission is to be a sustainable farm. Visit their farm store for farmstead cheeses, grass-fed beef and lamb, heirloom pork, eggs and more. 3200 Lawrenceville Road, (Route 206), Lawrenceville, 609.219.0053.

CROSS COUNTRY NURSERIES | Located in rural Hunterdon County, and growing organic chile plants since 1993, this husband-and-wife team also offers organically raised eggplant, pepper, and tomato plants. 199 Kingwood-Locktown Road, Stockton,

FOSSIL FARMS | Fossil Farms offers the finest ostrich, buffalo and other all-natural, farm-raised game meats. High-quality, organic products, without hormones, antibiotics, medications or preservatives. Buy online or at their store. 81 Fulton Street, Boonton, 973.917.3155.

GRIGGSTOWN FARM | In 1975, George and Joan Rude started Griggstown Farm. Today, the farm raises and processes poultry right on the premises. Visit their farm market for superior quality poultry, pies, and prepared foods. 484 Bunker Hill Road, Princeton, 908.359.5218.

GROWINGDIRT.COM |, a farm at Agrestic Acres, is an all-natural, pasture-based farm offering an everything CSA, eggs, beef, pork, vegetables, chicken, lamb & raw honey. 51 Lenape Lane, Great Meadows, 908.605.0041.

HONEY BROOK ORGANIC FARM | This CSA provides members with produce that’s healthy for your family and the land. Pick up at farm locations in Chesterfield and Pennington—or in your neighborhood. 609.737.8899.

RIDGE AND VALLEY CATTLE FARMS | Beef cattle raised in rural Sussex County. Dry aged and sold to the public, meat markets and quality restaurants. We support local food pantries. Call for prices and brochure. 20 Kent Road, Newton, 973.713.2927.

STONY HILL FARMS | This family farm grows fresh fruits and vegetables, available through farmers markets in northern New Jersey, their CSA program, and at their farm stand. 15 North Road, Chester, 908.879.2696.

ZONE 7 | Named after our growing zone, distributor Zone 7 delivers fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients from local farms to restaurants and grocers. For more information, contact Mikey Azzara at 609.896.0190.


RAMSEY FARMERS MARKET | Open Sundays, Dec-Mar, 10am-2pm. Award-winning RFM offers seasonal, fresh, local produce and products from over 35 outstanding farmers and vendors. Free parking. Eric Smith School, 73 Monroe Street, Ramsey.

SUMMIT FARMERS MARKET | Fresh produce, coffee, granola, breads, mushrooms, nuts and berries and so much more. Saturdays, 10am-2pm, Calvary Episcopal Church, Summit, 908.277.6100.


THE ARCTIC MARKET & BUTCHER | The Arctic Market & Butcher brings back that old school butcher experience to provide you and your family with local, organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed products. 816 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach, 732.899.MEAT(6328).

BAY HEAD CHEESE SHOP | This popular shop has served the community for over forty years. Enjoy a variety of domestic and imported cheese, various dips and hors d’oeuvres, and homemade quiche and soups. 91 Bridge Avenue, Bay Head, 732.892.7585.

BLACK RIVER ROASTERS | Artisan coffee roaster and café specializing in organic, fair trade, and ultra-premium coffees sourced from small- yield cooperatives and estates. Wholesale and e-tail receive direct shipping. 424 Route 22 West, Whitehouse Station, 908.823.4715.

BÜRBELMAIERS | Housemade savories created using old-world techniques and modern sentiment, from various sauces, spreads and pickles to their savory pies filled with anything from smoked chicken to bacon-cheddar burgers. 69 Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, 732.774.3674.

JOE LEONE’S | A beloved retail destination, Joe Leone’s Italian Specialty Store & Catering offers an expansive array of imported Italian groceries, homemade breads, fresh mozzarella, gift baskets, and prepared dishes. 510 Route 35 South, Point Pleasant Beach, 732.701.0001. 527 Washington Boulevard, Sea Girt, 732.681.1036.

MUIRHEAD FOODS | Muirhead’s all-natural fine food products, including chutneys, jellies, fruit butters, mincemeats, cooking sauces, vinaigrettes, and mustards enhance baked products and daily meals. Gift packages available. 800.782.7803.

SCIASCIA CONFECTIONS | Owner Tom Sciascia’s passion is visible in each and every handmade confection he makes. From truffles to caramels to cookies, Sciascia Confections is truly a feast for the senses. 19 Bridge Street, Stockton, 215.996.0606.

TASSOT APIARIES | Family-run Tassot Apiaries specializes in raw, local, chemical free, high quality honey, as well as pure beeswax items. Shop at their honey farm (call ahead), farmers markets or online. Buzzing Acres Farm, 54 Rick Road, Milford, 908.264.4504.


BASIL BANDWAGON NATURAL MARKET | Since 1993, Basil Bandwagon has been offering the very best in sustainable and organic food and products. A shopping destination for health-conscious consumers. 276 Route 202, Flemington, 908.788.5737. 38 Old Highway 22, Clinton, 908.735.3822.

SICKLES MARKET | A family tradition of quality since 1908, Sickles Market offers gourmet and specialty foods and fresh produce as well as a garden center and fresh flowers. Gift baskets, too! Harrison Avenue off of Rumson Road, Little Silver, 732.741.9563.

WEGMANS | Devoted to helping their customers eat well and named 4th best of the 100 Best Companies to Work for 2016 by Fortune magazine, Wegmans has seven food market locations throughout New Jersey.

WHOLE EARTH CENTER | A natural foods and organic grocery store, Whole Earth Center offers a … Read More

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Four Ways with Cauliflower




Soup it: Warm a generous glug of olive oil in a soup pot, add a sliced onion, and cook low and slow until the onions are very soft—about 20 minutes. Add a chopped head of cauliflower, 4 cups water, and simmer for about an hour. Purée and season well with salt.


Pulse a chopped head of cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles couscous, stir-fry for a minute in olive oil with garlic, and top with your favorite meat, bean or vegetable stew.


Add several inches of canola oil to a heavy pot and heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add cauliflower florets and fry until crisp and brown. Toss with hot sauce mixed with melted butter and serve with blue cheese dressing— a vegetarian take on hot wings


Steam or boil chopped cauliflower until very tender, and then pulse in the food processor until creamy. Add a dollop of sour cream and chives and serve as an alternative to plain old mashed potatoes.

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Winter 2017 Table of Contents

14 IN SEASON: Cauliflower
16 HEALTH: Gluten
44 STORY OF A DISH: Chicken Pot Pie
46 ROAD TRIP: Sally Bell’s Kitchen
Jersey girl made good, real good
New Jersey is the center of the universe for hot-dog aficionados
Siblings appreciate each other (almost) as much as their subjects
Culinary craftsmanship at England’s Chef ’s Dozen restaurant
Dispatches from Edible Jersey’s contributing writers
In the birthplace of coffee, caffeine requires community


12 Matt’s Moonshine Twist
14 Cauliflower
20 Pollo Alla Romana (Chicken with Tomatoes and Bell Peppers)
45 Chicken Pot Pie


An Ethiopian coffee ritual.
Photograph by Hillary Richard

A boxed lunch from Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond, Virginia.
Photograph by Michael Mergen


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When the Sun Comes Up | For Your Holiday Cheese Board | Lighten Up | Giving Thanks on the Wharf



Laura Brahn and Grace Crossman grew up in Spring Lake and worked together at local restaurants for years. Today they run their own eatery, serving breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch in downtown Asbury Park. That spot, Cardinal, is a homespun place with a seasonal menu that will satisfy gourmands, vegans and the hung-over alike.

Sit at the counter and watch cooks assemble your Pan Bagnat—Italian tuna with piquillo peppers, herbs, olives and capers on a garlic-rubbed baguette. Or snag a table for two in a sunny window and order a Big Sketchy Bagel with cashew cream cheese. You could also slouch into an oversized booth and dig into chicken and waffles topped with a fried egg.

If you just need a pick-me-up, stop in for a cup of coffee and something sweet. We especially like the xuicho (a Spanish fried pastry stuffed with lemon cream that you’ll have trouble finding anywhere else) and the chocolate croissants.

There’s a charming, handmade atmosphere at Cardinal. With the help of a few carpenters in the family, the co-owners renovated the restaurant themselves. They scavenged for mismatched chairs and mugs, salvaged the antique windows and even sanded the paneling. “There’s a lot of heart and soul in this place,” Crossman says. “And elbow grease.”

Once a month, Cardinal stays open late to host a BYO, prix-fixe pop-up dinner. “We give a line cook the opportunity to plan the menu and take the lead for the night,” Crossman says. To stay in the loop about upcoming dinners, email and ask to be put on the mailing list for announcements. Cardinal also provides full staffing and original menus for its catering service, which is perfect for those upcoming holiday parties. —Katherine Rapin

Cardinal Provisions & Catering
513 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park



The cows at Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville graze on pasture and get milked twice a day. The result is a cream-rich milk that cheesemakers prize.

The Hamill family and staff have been making fresh and aged cheeses for more than 10 years. Here are two styles that will bring local flavor to your holiday events.

The Havilah, an alpine-style cheese similar to Comté, is crafted seasonally when the cows are grazing on the greenest, freshest pasture. Made with raw milk and aged for 15 to 18 months, it has a rich stone-fruit sweetness and a caramelized, savory depth. Serve it on rye bread smeared with quince paste and wash it down with honey mead or a strong brown ale. (Or a local pumpkin beer—see page 70.) You can find this cheese at area markets and Whole Foods stores (see website for a complete list), or order from Cherry Grove Farm’s website.

The Trilby is the newest cheese in Cherry Grove’s collection. It’s semi-soft with a funky, whiskey-washed rind. “We taste every batch to decide if it’s ready or if it needs more time,” says cheesemaker Paul Lawler. When it’s just right, it’s nutty with notes of beef, wrapped in blanched and booze-soaked fig, maple and grape leaves. Melt it atop a baked potato or enjoy it straight up alongside your favorite whiskey. (Note: Call the farm directly to order this cheese.)

If you’re looking to step up your hors d’oeuvres game this holiday season, attend Cherry Grove’s “Anatomy of a Cheese Board” class. They’re offering two sessions—November 9 and December 7—to teach you pairing tips and strategies. —Katherine Rapin

Cherry Grove Farm
3200 Lawrenceville Rd., Lawrenceville



Face it: You’ll want a break from gluttony this holiday season. When that time comes, head to Fresh Kitchen in Sea Girt, where founder Mike Nitto and chef Chris Burgess prepare nutritionally dense components for their fast-casual build-your-own menu.

Nitto’s an athlete who spent years traveling for work; he had trouble finding healthy fuel on the road. Burgess left a job as a corporate chef to work at farms, butchers and fish hatcheries across North America. Together, they’re on a mission to make healthy food seriously flavorful, armed with cooking techniques like sous vide and fermentation and a commitment to locally sourced ingredients. “The biggest part of treating your body well is what you put into it,” Nitto says.

Here’s how the menu works: Choose a grain bowl, salad, wrap or stock pot. Then choose your base, vegetables, grains, protein and sauce. How does sweet potato mash with ginger-cumin carrots, farro and chicken, topped with a shot of housemade Sriracha, sound? Or a spring-greens salad topped with pickled cauliflower, sun-dried tomato quinoa and grilled tofu, drizzled with shallot vinaigrette? There are 39,000 possible meal combinations. (If that number makes you panic with indecision, you can pick from a short list of suggested meals.)

Fresh Kitchen will have you in and out quick, but don’t miss the bone broth. Burgess uses whole chickens from Senat Farms in Lancaster, which he simmers for 16 hours. “You’re left with this really beautiful, translucent, fat-free bone broth,” Burgess says. It’s used as the base in the soup option, but you can also pick up a growler to go. —Katherine Rapin

Fresh Kitchen
2204 Route 35 North, Sea Girt



On the Maurice River near the Delaware Bay, the fishing village of Bivalve evokes a bygone era. Pines give way to marshland; the air is brackish yet sweet. The landscape reveals a history tied to the water. At the new Bivalve Fishermen and Farmers’ Market along the Bayshore Center’s restored wharves, that maritime legacy is being rekindled—and Thanksgiving is the perfect time to visit.

Historians say turkey played second fiddle at the original Thanksgiving table, where seafood and venison took pride of place. At a special market on November 22, shoppers can bring that tradition to their 2016 holiday tables in the form of Jersey oysters, clams, crabs and plenty of fall produce.

“Since Sandy, I’ve had my eyes opened about the importance of the economy to the region’s resilience,” says the Center’s founder and director, Meghan Wren, who launched the market with support from a USDA Rural Development Grant. “Our goal is to build pride in the amazing resources we have.”

Meandering the waterfront, you can’t help but ponder tradition. A century ago, this was one of the world’s largest oyster operations, with 60 million shipped annually by the 1920s. Chatting with vendors who sell sea salt, lima beans and the day’s catch, that generational connection is clear.

“It’s like a festival, isn’t it?” says Jenny King of Jack King’s Seafood, music from a folk trio filling the air. Perhaps that’s why people linger, savoring East Point oysters and Fortescue Fisherman’s Ale in the shadow of the restored A.J. Meerwald oyster schooner. With the year’s biggest meal fast approaching, it’s a lovely place to feel gratitude for the Garden State’s bounty. —Jenn Hall

Bivalve Fishermen and Farmers’ Market
Bayshore Center at Bivalve, Port Norris
Tuesday, November 22, 3pm to 7pm

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The tables are nearly set in the dining room (and beyond!)
for Thanksgiving dinner at Phil and Diane’s.

For nearly 20 years, my brother Philip and his wife Diane have hosted Thanksgiving dinner at their house. It’s the one time all year where “my side” of the family gets together. My siblings, our spouses and all of our children (and, increasingly, a few grandchildren as well) gather around the tables crowded into Phil and Diane’s dining room. We’ve watched our children grow up in those chairs, and we appreciate the fact that when they arrive, now from near and far, the cousins still prefer to sit at the “kids table”.

The Brannigans’ hospitality is a blessing on many levels. Although I write about food on nearly a daily basis, I am not a very adept cook. Diane, on the other hand, is one of those amazing people who can plan and prep a delicious multi-course dinner for 28 people to be presented at 6pm with such ease that she never misses the town’s annual 5K Turkey Trot run on Thanksgiving morning.

More importantly, what started as a slightly spontaneous get-together has welded into a rock-solid tradition, especially for our children. It is a gift, this touchstone moment to reconnect and re-energize family ties. Part of the dinner’s tradition has come to include a toast whereby each person is required to stand and share one thing they are thankful for. As you can imagine, with toastmasters ranging in age from 2 to 88, the points of gratitude vary widely, and tears, laughter and revelation are a part of the bounty.

I once heard someone say that gratitude is the true secret to happiness. I’ve come to believe it is true. Through the highs and lows of each day, if one can take a moment to be grateful, to find the blessings that surround us in our world and in our relationships, life is brighter. Edible Jersey celebrates the food of the Garden State. We hope that as you read this issue, especially during this holiday season, that you will sense the gratitude we feel toward the farmers, chefs, home cooks, vintners, artisans and others who help create the food that nourishes and sustains us. As I prepare to stand at Phil and Diane’s this year to present my toast, I’ll be thinking of them—and of you. Thanks for reading and best wishes for a wonderful holiday.

Nancy Brannigan Painter

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