Happy Food Day 2015!
This year, I celebrated accidentally. My boyfriend and I had already planned a fun day in Princeton since the weather is finally cool enough to be outside in sweaters. Now, as you know, I am not a huge fan of New Jersey, but Princeton is a pretty wonderful place- and a perfect place to find the local food produced with care that Food Day celebrates!
We started the day at Terhune Orchards, where they sell beautiful pumpkins, flowers, apples, wine, and locally made goods year round.
Of course, we grabbed apple cider donuts for breakfast, because that is absolutely a necessity for a Fall morning.
We left the farm with arms full of apple cider, mums, pumpkins, donuts, and Stayman Winesap apples (aka the best apples this side of Heaven).
Next, we drove to Princeton proper for a brisk walk an early lunch. We stopped by Triumph Brewing Company, a local brewery which has gotten rave reviews about the food, ironically. Well, the brewery did not disappoint.
First of all, the design of the place is great. Plenty of bar seating on two levels, and three levels of tables of all different shapes, styles, and levels of privacy. Also, at 11 AM on a Saturday, the place is pretty empty except for many tables of young families, which is a very fun environment. The bar is highlighted by the fermentation tanks, which are spotlessly clean (as they should be) and beautifully lit. Also, the only beer that they sell is their own, which is only on tap and labeled with the date it was brewed (aka it’s all incredibly fresh and seasonal). Since most of their beers sounded like something I’d like, we started with the sampler. Turns out you get 5 oz each of 8 samples (all of the beers on tap) for only $13!!
There wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like, but their Oktoberfest was particularly exquisite. We even got a growler to take home with us for dinner tonight! They also had a pumpkin ale that was lovely. Most pumpkin beers, I regret to admit, are cloyingly sweet and don’t taste like pumpkin (much like most pumpkin flavored things), but the vegetal flavor was up front in this one and was nicely accented with spices. We also got a cheese plate, which had three very unique cheeses and came with a full sommalier-type introduction and beer pairing suggestions.
We then spent a few hours wandering around downtown. We went to the Princeton Corkscrew, a very well run wine store that is also climate-controlled, which is very cool (literally). The staff is just incredible- very quick to recommendations while not one bit condescending about the fact that I have less than $20 to spend. In fact, they had a Chateauneuf du Pape substitute recommendation (bottles start at $40) to go with the plates I have. They also had the exact Verdicchio that I had at a fancy dinner at one of Mario Batali’s restaurants, Del Posto (honestly the best meal I’ve ever had, and the best white wine I’ve ever had). Turns out it’s only $17. Yes please!
Then, we went to the Bent Spoon and got some fabulous ice cream (seasonal flavors, of course) and stopped by a few specialty food shops. We also visited the Labyrinth bookstore, where I like to stock up on books about my new favorite Catholic writer, Thomas Merton.
Before heading out, we visited Agricola, a renowned farm-to-table restaurant. While I’m always excited to try one of these places, they have a tendency to be pretentious. This one, however, was not. Besides being beautifully decorated with rustic, food-centered decor, the environment was very comfortable. We sat at the bar, where the bartenders were very friendly and knowledgable. Because I had to drive, I got a homemade ginger beer, which was literally just ginger puree, simple syrup, and soda water. DELICIOUS (also, I won’t have nausea for years after that much ginger). My boyfriend got a Manhattan, which was overall good but as usual, was too sweet (mine are better). I was also really excited about the beer that they had on tap- all regional, and one from Harpoon!!! I’ll have to keep an eye on these just in case they ever get their IPA.
We were just about to leave when my boyfriend noticed that they had Neshaminy Creek “The Shape of Hops to Come,” a rare beer from a local brewery that we visited while in town for a wedding. Of course, he had to try it. So, I got an apple-cinnamon soda (which was great, but the ginger beer was better), and he ordered the beer. To quote the bartender, “That’s my favorite beer, man. It’s freakin’ phenomenal.” Good choice, apparently.
Overall, a great place to grab a drink. The food other people had on their tables looked incredible, too, so we’ll have to go back!
On the way back to the car, we stopped at Terra Momo Bread Company to grab a baguette to eat as an appetizer with dinner. We also had to stop at Wegmans, because what would Food Day be without a trip to the best grocery store ever and a good home-cooked meal?
For dinner, we made America’s Test Kitchen’s chicken and dumplings. It’s not worth sharing the recipe since it’s free online and we didn’t stray at all, but it is worth saying that the smell is HEAVENLY. We finished the margaritas during cooking (since it takes like 3 hours), so we enjoyed the stew on a cold Fall night with a glass of local Oktoberfest…
… can it be Food Day every day??