Friday Foodstuffs 4.17.09: Restaurant Week Goes Statewide

So the Governor, in conjunction with the New Jersey Restaurant Association, has declared the 20th to the 27th as Restaurant Week, and many restaurants around the state will be participating with special menus and reduced prices. It’s a statewide effort to get folks to support local businesses and to sample the wealth of great restaurants New Jersey has to offer. All sounds good, right?

So why am I a bit bothered?

Well, in reading about this event I also found out about the NJRA’s recent promotional slogan: Dine Out Often. In a time of financial crisis, where people are losing their homes and jobs at a much higher rate than normal, that kind of message makes me uncomfortable. Sure, we’d all like to dine out often, but is that realistic at this moment? Dining out is one of the most enjoyable forms of entertainment for Lisa and myself, and even we’re pulling back to be more fiscally responsible. The financial crisis has also moved more people to taking cooking classes so they can prepare more meals at home, and I don’t see this as a bad thing. Cooking at home, especially if you have kids, can be a great family bonding experience.

I know this isn’t as catchy, but I would prefer the slogan to be Dine Out Wisely. And when I say wisely, I’m taking about restaurants that not only provide a great meal and good service, but are focused on the community in which they operate and try to use ingredients from local farms. That’s why I always like to mention places like Tortilla Press in Collingswood or The Sweet Life Bakery in Vineland – they understand the importance of being active in their communities and supporting local farmers. And these places will do well, in good times and bad, because people not only enjoy their food but feel good about giving them their business.

Just had to get that off my chest. If you can enjoy going out during NJ Restaurant Week, by all means do so. If you cannot, then by all means enjoy cooking at home with your family.

How about dining tonight? Well Catelli Ristorante in Voohees is having A Tour of Italy Wine Dinner. And tonight starts another Cape May Wine Weekend, with the theme being wines of Northern Italy. Staying on the wine theme, Rob Seitzinger on his blog mentions a wine tasting and cheese sampling taking place on the 19th to benefit the Wildwoods Baby Parade (which turns 100 this year!).

Here’s your cooking class schedule for the next few days:

April 17 – Cooking with Wine at Kitchen Kapers
April 18 – Hearthside Meals in the Gibbon House Kitchen in Greenwich on Ye Greate Street (love that name!)
April 20 – Mommy & Me, Fairytales & Mother Goose and Delicious Dinners & Desserts at Little Chefs in Cherry Hill and Cooking with Tequilla: Ceviches & Shrimp Appetizers at Kitchen Kapers

Recipe Rewind

I seem to be stuck on three recipes a week. But a tasty three they are:

Stacy Snacks has a Rustic French Meatloaf Terrine

Chef E at Behind The Wheel gives an interesting spin on mac & cheese with a Butter Poached Lobster

Doug at Hugging The Coast gives us Hominy Grill Shrimp Burgers

Meatloaf, mac & cheese and burgers…it must be 2009 and The Year of the Comfort Food!

Blogging Out Hunger

Deb over at JerseyBites has posted about some upcoming events involving Share Our Strength in April and May.

And in the news…

Haars Health Food Center in Vineland carries one unusual product for a health food store: smokes.

This is interesting: two of the top places to open a restaurant? Atlantic City and Ocean City.

The farmers’ market in Margate looks to extend its season into October.

A restaurant on Landis Ave in Vineland gets a $500,000 loan from the city as part of their Restaurant Row initiative (and if you read the comments, not everyone is on board on this one).

And PETA wants Newark to ban any new fast food restaurants from being built in the city.

Enjoy your weekend!

– John


3 thoughts on “Friday Foodstuffs 4.17.09: Restaurant Week Goes Statewide

  1. All I can say is that lobster mac and cheese was gone in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 bites! Now I am working on some mashed potatoes that I have had a craving for!

  2. Hey guys.I didn't love the meatloaf recipe as much as my own bacon wrapped meatloaf. I thought something was lacking in Gourmet's recipe. However, the prunes & pistachios were a great addition. Have a great weekend!

  3. Oh, man. I’m totally with you on the responsible dining thing. It’s such a fine line between helping support local businesses and not breaking the bank. That slogan seems just a wee bit pushy to me given the economy. (But maybe that’s the copywriter in me…)Cheers!+Jessie

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