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Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

17 Jan

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  Everyone in the food industry knows that from Thanksgiving to the New Year, it’s super busy with company parties, private parties, and non-holiday celebrations.  I’m no exception with being super busy.  From working with Sweet Sisters Cakes, doing social media work for Whole Foods Cooking, I’ve managed to hit a few restaurants, attend holiday parties, bake some cakes and hit the Chocolate Show in NYC. Whew!

Melanie's Holiday Cookies!

I’ve seen more Christmas and Hanukah cookies in 2011 then I care to admit.  Sweet Sisters gets tons of cookie orders so I’ve become quite the master in cutting and decorating these goodies.  There is something about doing the Christmas trees that put me in the holiday spirit. Outside of those, did I mention I made over 1000 (yes, you heard me) on my own for my dogs’ doggie daycare, friends and family this year. They turned out great but clearly I’m not missing doing them. I love my cookies aka “cookie crack” since once you eat one, you’ll keep on going.  What makes them great is that they are dipped and decorated with chocolate. Serve them with tea or coffee is heaven!

You’ve been to one holiday party you’ve been to them all. The one I will highlight is from my former boss, Joe.  He is replacing famed Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini at Jean George.  The food and fellowship was great. And the flow of cucumber martinis…well I’ll plead the 5th!  Maria, my foodie bestie came along for the fun. My goal in 2012 is the hit Jean George and of course eat tons of desserts!

Charlotte Patisserie NYC

Nothing like a potluck brunch with FCI classmates who are also pastry chefs to stay on your game. Our brunch was a farewell to Leah who returned to Israel.  She’ll me missed but at least we have a new vacation spot! Another highlight was going to Charlotte Patisserie in NYC (Greenpoint).  A fellow FCI grad opened his own shop.  The desserts were cute and atmosphere very welcoming. Congrats Mike!

Every year the Chocolate Show hits New York City. This was my first time attending and it was awesome! Maria along with her son Jack met up to go. Highlights of the day were: the chocolate fashions, Jacques Torres’ hot chocolate with a chili kick, and of course sampling chocolates from around the world.  The Show is enough for a separate blog so look for a new one soon!

Jack and Florian

The grand highlight of the day was Jack meeting Chef Florian Bellanger from The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. To top off the day we hit Jim Lahey’s Co. for pizza. Now I know why it is a top rated place for pizza.  Then to stuff ourselves more, we went to Billy’ Bakery for cupcakes.  I ended up trying their new flavor, orange dreamsicle. The cake was moist and dense with dreamy frosting.  A perfect ending to a great day.

Pastry Out!

Best Restaurants in NJ Pilgrimages – Mockingbird Cafe

12 Oct

Mockingbird Cafe Photo Credit - Jen Olsen, Basking Ridge Patch

Every year New Jersey Monthly list the Best Restaurants in NJ.  This year I decided to buy it and take one of my favorite foodies along for the journey of hitting as many as we can until the next one comes out.  If you’re a regular reader, you know we have hit two restaurants on the list and understand why they are there.

Last week, Maria and I hit Mockingbird Cafe in downtown Basking Ridge.  I must admit, this was my second visit (sorry Maria)!  A few neighbors decided to have a girls’ breakfast and of course there was no doubt in my mind were to go.  The place definitely lived up to the Critics’ pick as one of the best places for Brunch.  It was delicious and inexpensive!  We all had different things to eat and everyone loved their meal.  I ordered “Clean Up on Aisle 3″ Rumble which they describe as” A bit like a messy omelette, or eggs scrambled with a lot of goodness”.  It was eggs with everything and the kitchen sink – sausage, ham, bacon, cheddar, swiss,tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers and herbs!   The eggs were perfectly cooked which I can say with 100% confidence is not my specialty.  Hey, we can’t be great at everything!  The Rumble and green tea wasn’t over $12.  Now that’s a bargain.

Now onto lunch at Mockingbird Cafe.  I was very curious if lunch could stand up to the excellence of breakfast.  My vote is in and it’s a resounding yes!  Maria had the Griggstown turkey burger and I had the Bar Harbor which is lobster blt salad with basil mayo on brioche toast.  Both meals came with hand cut fries and a small container of coleslaw.  The lobster was good and not too much mayo and nicely seasoned.  The food was good and a meal wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have dessert.  We shared the brownie al a mode and I must say it was the BEST brownie I’ve ever eaten.  We could not stop talking about this brownie while eating it.  It was so good that a few were taken as take out but we’re pleading the 5th!

Mockingbird Cafe Inside Credit Jen Olsen Basking Ridge Patch

I can’t wait to go back and check out the dinner menu.  The Cafe is small but charming and homey but not pretentious or overly fussy.  Whether you are wearing your Birkinstocks or carrying a Birkin, you will feel at home.  The restaurant seats about 30 people at a time so be prepared to wait if you hit it on the weekend. Oh, and they don’t have a website so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  Urbanspoon does have their menu online so check it out (http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/menu/1540873).  I should have taken pictures of my meal but clearly I was focused on one thing…eating!

Pastry Out!