Here is a thought experiment: Perhaps at some point you’ve been asked what you would order for your last meal, if it came down to that. But have you considered what restaurant you would choose to eat in, if you had to eat there every last day for the rest of your life?
I’d like the restaurant I’m shackled to for eternity to have a vegetable garden out back, and the eggs would be collected fresh from an on-site chicken house. The dining room would be relatively casual—shirts and shoes would be required on all days except Friday night—and good friends would wander in from time to time to share a meal. BYOB would be nice. Comfortable chairs are an absolute requirement, and I’d also enjoy outdoor seating when the weather is pleasant. On rare occasions a local musician would come in to play the guitar and sing classic rock-and-roll cover songs.
Most crucially, the menu of this restaurant would change with the seasons, and at times change with the exact moment, reflecting that strawberries are now fresh in the garden or that a mushroom forager just wandered in the back door with an amazing haul.
What’s encouraging is that the restaurant I’d choose to spend several consecutive thousand meals eating in—God willing—doesn’t just exist in the world of the hypothetical. There are an increasing number of restaurants in New Jersey and beyond that have embraced the virtues of featuring food that is local and seasonal. As this revolution continues, I’m optimistic that these ideas will no longer be seen as a fleeting passion or a special selling point—instead, they will become the norm, and also more affordable. The true revolution will be realized when we have found our way back from the industrialization of the food system to a place where quality, flavor and lovingly tended ingredients rule.
Toward this vision, I hope you’ll find some inspiration in the pages ahead.