48° Mostly Cloudy

BIG NEA AWARDS TO TWO RED BANK VENUES

Louis Prima JrNext-generation swing-music wildman Louis Prima Jr. and his Witnesses will perform at the Count Basie Theatre in spring 2016, as part of an enhanced Jazz at the Basie slate funded by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Two River Theater also received an NEA grant, toward the development of a new musical. (Photo by Mitchell Glotzer)

From press materials issued by The Count Basie Theatre and Sen. Bob Menendez

Two major nonprofit arts entities in Red Bank have been named as recipients of a National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Art Works award for 2015. The Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater were among 15 New Jersey-based organizations awarded a total of $290,000 toward the development of original arts programming; part of a 51st annual slate of NEA grants totaling $27.7 million and supporting more than 1,100 projects in 49 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The NEA’s Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields. Two River Theater Company was recipient of $20,000 to support the development and funding of The Ballad of Little Jo, an original musical featuring lyrics by Sarah Schlesinger and music by Mike Reid (A Wind in the Willows Christmas), as well as supplementary education programming (discussions, student matinees, classroom teachers’ guides) that focuses on the women of Frontier America.

In celebrating its namesake, the Basie will use its $15,000 NEA grant to help produce a series of programs and activities celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month, with jazz-related lectures, films and biopics scheduled to take place throughout April 2016. On May 19 the celebration will continue with a jazz-centric edition of the Count Basie Theatre’s “No Shush!” kid’s concert series, starring Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses, as well as the Red Bank Jazz Orchestra under the direction of conductor Joe “Mooche” Muccioli, artistic director of the Jazz Arts Project at the Basie’s Performing Arts Academy. Proceeds from that performance — and a donation from the Gia Maione Prima Foundation, named for Prima’s late mother — will match the NEA gift.

Read More »

RED BANK: FARMERS AND CHEFS ON PUMPKINS

092015farmersmktrb2Michelle O’Connor at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market with pumpkins grown at Brookville Farms.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumAutumn has arrived on the Greater Red Bank Green, and that means we’re in for a plethora of pumpkin-flavored options in coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants.

But home cooks use them too, of course. And with that in mind, PieHole popped in at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market and a couple of local eateries to get some insights on choosing and using pumpkins.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: NEW OWNER TRANSFORMS ZOE

081315zoe2Laercio Chamon at the chef’s table at Zoe, where a large window offers a view of the kitchen. Below, an octopus and a watermelon salad.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

081315zoe4With new owner Laercio Chamon at the helm, the once Greek-centric menu Zoe Bistro in Little Silver has a jazzy bossa nova rhythm now.

At 33 years old, Chamon says he’s been working in kitchens for more than half his life, starting as a dishwasher at Doris and Ed’s in Highlands when he was 14.

“I always wanted to be a part of the line,” he tells PieHole. It’s like being behind the scenes of something you see in a movie. There’s something about the adrenaline, the rush.”

Read More »

FARMERS MARKETS: WHERE TO GET FRESH

061815sbmkt1At the Sea Bright farmers market, Meg Paska sells locally grown produce and flowers from Seven Arrows Farm, while the Holly Hill Farm table, below, offers Rumson-grown seedlings and produce.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061815sbmkt2Options for finding locally grown produce on the Greater Red Bank Green doubled with the addition last year of a farmers’ market in the Sea Bright municipal parking lot on Thursdays.

For local shoppers, that means more variety. While both Sea Bright and the Red Bank Farmers’ Market at the Galleria on summer and autumn Sundays are dependable for farm-grown veggies, there are some characteristics that differentiate the two.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: INSPIRATION AMONG THE WEEDS

holly hindin 051715Holly Hindin, owner of Holly Jolly Jams. Below, her dandelion jelly being readied for sale. (Photo above by John T. Ward; others by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

dandelion jelly-001Next time you find yourself lamenting a dandelion-dotted lawn, consider the culinary inspiration a jelly chef found in those annoying perennials.

Kyle Goedde sells seasonal vegetables grown at Harvest Moon Farm in Hillsborough at the Sea Bright Farmers Market every Thursday in summer. Next to his booth, Fair Havenite Holly Hindin, of Holly Jolly Jams, sells jams and jellies. Getting off to a chilly and slow start, they had plenty of down time to chat.

Read More »

RED BANK: CINNAMON SNAIL, IN GLOSSY COLOR

062214 cinnamonsnaildonuts A sample of pastries from Adam Sobel’s Cinnamon Snail food truck and copies of his new cookbook, ‘Street Vegan,’ below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

051215 sobelstreetveganGet out your aprons, Cinnamon Snail fans: Adam Sobel, four-time winner of the Vendy award for food trucks has penned a collection of recipes and stories that will keep you chained to your stoves.

While awaiting the truck’s expected return to the Red Bank Farmers Market, Snail-starved disciples wondering what just goes into the making of “Mexican Hot Chocolate Glazed Twists” can now take a shot at it themselves.

Sobel shares his secrets in an often-funny, non-preachy way, with chapter after delectable chapter of addictive recipes in “Street Vegan,” all while eschewing animal products.

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: FOR GARDENERS, 2014 IS A WRAP

101714 raevisThe  front walkway at the Raevis house in Fair Haven is decorated with pumpkins grown in the community garden. Below, a bountiful harvest of pumpkins grown on a double plot in the garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091314 fhgardenEven with this second coming of lettuce and spinach, rules must be obeyed, and all forms of inner fencing, weed-control sheeting, rakes, spades, hoses and whirligigs are to be removed from the Fair Haven Community Garden by this weekend, closing out another season.

Opinions on how the season went had a lot to do with what was planted and where. The sunnier plots nearest Ridge Road seemed to have a better tomato crop, while the cruciferous vegetables did better in the shadier back areas.
Read More »

RED BANK: PUMPKIN PANDEMONIUM

100514 rbfarmmktAngus McDougald with his daughter, Jade, at Red Bank Farmers’ Market. Below, Lisa Bagwell among the edible pumpkins from Organic Produce. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

100514 rbfarmmkt3 For those who think the season for fresh produce is over, there are still many vendors showing up at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market to prove them wrong.  It is the perfect time of year to buy fresh apple cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

But squash pumpkins and other  cruciferous vegetables take center stage this time of year.

“I like to simply roast them and eat them,” Lisa Bagwell, of the Certified Organic stand, said of the different varieties pumpkins and squash. Noting the smaller blue hubbard squash, she added: “These are delicious. The gourds, on the other hand, are not delicious.”

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: PUTTING OUR PIEHOLE TO USE

sb pie 100214 8The three judges at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market’s first apple pie bake-off: Eric from Estonia, Susan Ericson and Susie Markson. Below, the winning apple caramel tart. (Photos by John T. Ward and Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

100214 SB farm market pieAn invitation to judge the first annual apple pie bake-off at the Sea Bright Farmers’ market Thursday afternoon was too tasty an opportunity for this PieHole writer to turn down.

With a bakery background – I grew up in a Queens bakery – my opinions on apple pie are pretty specific. A good one needs a flaky crust, a non-mushy apple filling, and most important, fresh apple flavor.

Fall is apple season, of course, and you can find many varieties of apples at farm markets and pick-your-own orchards right now. The best for pie baking are the Granny Smiths and Honey Crisps. They hold up better through the baking process, with a tart and tangy flavor that plays well with the added sugar and spices.

Read More »

RED BANK WINS ‘GREAT’ DOWNTOWN VOTE

broad st rb 061512A view along Broad Street from 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03The votes are in, and Red Bank is the most popular downtown in central New Jersey, according to the state chapter of the American Planning Association.

In online voting, the borough outpolled Asbury Park by just 35 votes, out of nearly 6,900 cast, with Somerville close behind in the three-way contest.

The designation is another feather in the cap for the borough, which was named the third-best small town in America by Smithsonian Magazine in 2012. It’s also something Red Bank RiverCenter can leverage in its efforts to fill store vacancies and bring in shoppers, said executive director Jim Scavone.

Read More »

RED BANK: ECOTOUR FEATURES GREEN IDEAS

092714 ecowalk5Michael Paul Raspanti in his garden. Below, Judy Marlow’s clothes dryer was good for laughs. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

092714 ecowalk7Energy efficiency, organic gardening and rain barrels were the talk of the town on Red Bank’s Green Home Tour Saturday, but composting was the star.

Every home on the four-mile, walkable tour practiced some form of composting, though each with a different method.  Michael Paul Raspanti has a unique underground compost area in his yard on Brown Place, for example, while Lou Di Mento of Alston Court uses an Earth Machine system for his.

Read More »

GETTING FRIED ON THE GREEN

062714 zucchini barnacle billsBarnacle Bill’s fried zucchini with tangy dipping sauce is a perennial favorite, while deep fried pickle spears (below) from the Globe are a newer menu addition. (Photos By Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

DSCN2037

Eat your vegetables, you were told as a child. They’re good for you. But your mama probably didn’t mean the deep-fried veggies that have been popping up on tavern menus all around the Green.

Belly up to the bar, boys and girls, to try a less healthy but way more fun way to fill your pie hole with roughage. PieHole leads the tour…

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: FRUITY JAMS WITH ZING

082814 jollyjam2Holly Hindin at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market last Thursday. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumWhat’s the difference between jelly and jam?

“Jelly is clear, while jam contains pieces of the fruit it’s made from,” Holly Hindin explains from across her table at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market, one of three local markets where she sells her Holly Jolly Jams.

And while the 40-year-old Fair Havenite has an array of fruity jams to entice shoppers and samplers, she also makes some with real zing.

“The Apple Pie jam, Balsamic Fig jam, and the Jalapeno Jelly are probably my best sellers,” she said, “but the Cowboy Candy is maybe the most unusual.”

Read More »

WHATS FOR LUNCH: SOUP’S ON

090114 cjmcloones1The oversized Reuben lunch platter with  fries, above, and French onion soup, below, from CJ McLoone’s.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

090114 cjmcloones2The calendar flips to September, and just like that, thoughts of bathing suits and salads are gone, replaced by hankerings for sweaters, coats and heartier lunches.

A soup-and-sandwich pairing is a favorite for many who want a little more than just a quick bite, and to this soup lover, it doesn’t matter that it’s still hot outside: September is the start of soup season.

CJ McLoone’s on Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls offers a soup of the day, oversized burgers, and many typical sandwich options.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT FARMERS MARKET: DIVE DEMO

082814 sbfarmrs mkt1Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni at the Sea Bright Farmers’ Market. Their salsa, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

082814 sbfarmers mkt2Last week, the still-new Sea Bright Farmers’ Market added a weekly feature: local restaurant chefs’ demonstrations and tastings.

First up were Dive chef Kyle Hopfensperger and sous chef Daniel Ciameroni, both 29 years old, who brought youthful exuberance and a vat of salsa for shoppers to try.

Not so much a demonstration as a tasting, the event gave the pair a chance to offer suggestions on what to buy at the market and how to use it.

“The fresh white peaches and watermelon in the salsa came from two local farms,” Hopfensperger said. Jalapeno peppers – pickled in-house at Dive, across the street on Ocean Avenue – gave the salsa a spicy kick. Finely chopped white onion added additional bite, making the salsa less sweet than you’d think.

“We’re bringing  bar food to a new level,” Ciameroni said.

Read More »

RED BANK: SMUT AND WEED AT THE MARKET

082414 rbfarmers mktCorn smut, or huitlacoche,  for sale at the Twin Pond Farm table.   (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumThe Red Bank Farmers’ Market can be counted on as a great source of fresh-picked tomatoes, corn on the cob and sunflowers, all of which and more PieHole found in abundance last Sunday.

And then there were the oddball items, one of which came with an eyebrow-raising name.

“Corn smut is what it’s called,” said Jen from Twin Pond Farm in Howell,  referring to the strange amalgam on the table between us. We looked from her to the container and back, thinking maybe we didn’t hear her correctly. “Corn smut is a fungus and a delicacy that came from some blue Peruvian corn we are growing,” she added.

Returning home, we found recipes for corn smut in a Mexican cookbook, and it is, indeed, considered a delicacy. Used in a quesadilla with cheese, it isn’t that different from a mushroom.

Read More »

RED BANK: IS THIS A ‘GREAT’ DOWNTOWN?

broad st rb 2 061512A view along Broad Street from 2012. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

HOT-TOPIC_03What’s your favorite New Jersey downtown?

The state chapter of the American Planning Association is asking the public for its input on the question, and Red Bank is among the candidates.

Read More »

SEA BRIGHT: FRESH-PLATED BY YOUNG CHEF

080714 Chuck lesbirelChef Chuck Lesbirel in the dining room of Ama. Below: a seasonal salad of Jersey peaches, Jersey tomatoes and lobster.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

080714 ama lobster2How does a 26-year-old become an executive chef?

For Chuck Lesbirel, now presiding over the kitchen of Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright, it starts with an impressive résumé that goes back to a 14-year-old kid washing dishes at Palate Pleasers in Keyport.

Working in restaurant kitchens, Lesbirel watched and learned the chef business with stints at a kosher restaurant, a few small places, an educational rounding-out at the Culinary Education Center at Brookdale, and then a big jump to sous chef at David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson.

Read More »

RED BANK: KICKING-OFF A WEEK OF COCKTAILS

081014 kickoff cocktail 1 Jamie Gray prepares a cocktail at red‘s upstairs lounge bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumThere’s a party going on in Red Bank over the course of the next week, and it’s going to be a bit of a booze-filled frenzy.

At the kickoff of Cocktail Week Sunday night, bartenders prepared specialty drinks made with Leaf vodka, just one of several sponsors for the event organized by Red Bank Flavour.

Bartender Jamie Gray of red restaurant on Broad Street squeezed fresh limes for the Thai basil martinis while Matt Monaco was busy muddling mint for the Hendrick’s Gin mojitos served with cucumbers.

Read More »

SHREWSBURY: GROWING COMMUNITY ROOTS

073114 Shrewsbury garden cukesEileen Olson and Carla Fiscella discuss the day’s bounty in the Shrewsbury Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

073114 Shrewsbury garden adaIn its third year, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is a thriving example of team spirit. Inclusive to the point of having two raised beds that are ADA approved with ample room for a wheelchair, this garden is a modern model of neighborly spirit.

In addition to the 83 gardeners who presently share this Eden, there is a PAR – or plant-a-row – garden where extra plants are tended, with the produce donated to Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“It’s fun, because everyone does different things,” said Eileen Olson.

“I go to the pool and give away my produce to my neighbors,” Carla Fiscella added.

They were deep in discussion about the enormous size and bounty of Fiscella’s cucumbers this season.

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: MOM’S RECIPE LAUNCHES BIZ

072214 4thcreek2Fourth Creek’s red pepper relish, made by Fair Haven resident Andrew Shiavetti. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumWith deep roots in Fair Haven, Andrew Schiavetti started a food company with a recipe his mother, Barbara, made for barbecues, and named it after a stream that cuts through town.

The sweet red pepper relish was so popular that family members were expected to bring it with them every time they received an invitation to a Fourth of July party or BBQ.

“This is my tether back to when I was a kid,” says Schiavetti, a Rumson Country Day and RFH alum. Fourth Creek Food Company‘s products provide him “a connection to not just the good times, but remembering family and friends.”

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: GARDENERS SHARE HARVEST

071214 FH garden SkoeMaster gardener Cindy Skoe in the Fair Haven Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

070614 FH garden signAmong the plots in Fair Haven’s community garden is an area with two small signs. One reads “UMW,” and  the other declares that Master Gardeners worked here.

The UMW stands for United Methodist Women, from United Methodist Church on Broad Street in Red Bank. The master gardener is UMW member Cindy Skoe, who along with five other gardeners from the group, is growing vegetables with the intent of sharing half the bounty with Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“They have a program on Tuesdays to drop off produce.” Skoe said, adding, “They are very excited to get whatever one can bring.”

Read More »

FAIR HAVEN: A GIANT SPIDER AND SOME RICE

062214 fh garden RaevisFair Haven resident Jim Raevis demonstrates his spider-like irrigation system in the community garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

062214 FH garden Raevis By far the strangest thing to sprout at the Fair Haven Community Garden this season is a plot-spanning, Rube Goldbergesque contraption that resembles a spider.

It’s an irrigation system built by Jim and Chris Raevis, a father-and-son team. Why?

“It is an effective way to conserve water” as they grow loofa gourds and white pumpkins, said the elder. “Oh – and a rice paddy.”

Read More »