Friday Foodstuffs 9.11.09: A Day of Sadness

Lisa and I were married on September 8th, 2001.

Three days later, 9/11 happened.

As much as our wedding anniversary fills me with happiness and joy, it is tempered by the thoughts and memories of what happened three days later on that beautiful, warm Tuesday in September. We were waking up in the bedroom of a timeshare down in Virginia, just outside Williamsburg – a quiet and relaxing honeymoon had been planned and we were in no rush to go anywhere. Lisa went to the living room to get a weather report. She came back a few minutes later, with an expression on her face that I’ll never be able to erase from my memory banks.

The next two hours were spent in shocked and confused disbelief. And as the reality began to sink in, I began to make phone calls. You see, the corporate headquarters of the company I worked for, Fred Alger Management, was on the 93rd floor of the WTC and I had to know if they had gotten out of the building. I was able to get a hold of my supervisor, who could only say that they didn’t have any news yet.

News of the people at the WTC office would never arrive. 35 people showed up for work that day; no one survived.

Some of the people who worked in our WTC office I only knew through memos and lists on the website. Some I had met via phone conversations or corporate outings. Some had worked at the Jersey City office, where I was based, and I knew them pretty well. And then there was one who had trained with me for six months – young, intelligent, capable of great things.

All gone.

I haven’t been to Ground Zero since that horrible day. I don’t need to – the images have been permanently burned into my head. When I showed up for work the following week, the smoke was still rising from lower Manhattan, clearly visible from Exchange Place in Jersey City. Some may need reminders, but not me. I certainly will never forget.

I know that we try to keep this blog positive and fun; but today is a day for a bit of sadness and reflection.

But life does go on, and those of us who are still here have to remind ourselves of the blessings we have been given and to make every day a great day. And with that, let’s get to our regularly scheduled Friday Foodstuffs…

September is a month in which you really see a pick up in events. This weekend in particular is stuffed with things to do food-wise. Hopefully the weather won’t cause too many problems. Greek Festival 2009 at St. Barbara Church in Toms River started yesterday, and will continue through Sunday. On Saturday, you have a host of options: the Wood Street Fair in Burlington, the Apple Festival at Mood’s Farm Market in Mullica Hill, BBQ & Blues in the Park in Mount Holly, and A Taste of Medford at Freedom Park in, well, Medford. The fun doesn’t stop on Sunday, either; you have the Beach Plum Festival at Island Beach State Park and the Seafood in Seaside Seafood Festival.

In addition to these fine events, you might want to check out the Latin American Festival on Route 49 in Bridgeton, which starts today and ends on Sunday. You also have the Atco Lion’s Harvest Festival at Amalthea Cellars Winery in Atco on Saturday.

If the weather is making you want to eat inside, High Street Grill in Mount Holly has its Corn & Tomato Bliss dinner tonight, Chef Wars will be happening at Swede’s Inn and Cork on Sunday, and the Epicurean Society of Southern New Jersey will have its September dining event on Monday at Fuze in Avalon. If the weather does clear out by Sunday as they say, you have some fun outdoor dining events: the Slow Food Lobster Clambake at the Beach Club of Cape May, Dinner Under The Stars at Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill and a Feast in the Fields at the Burlington County Farmers’ Market in Moorestown.

Kids will be the main focus of this weekend’s cooking classes. Tonight it’s Parents’ Night Off! Movie Munchies at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown.856.778.7705. On Sunday, Kitchen Kapers comes back with Kids in the Kitchen: “Take-Out” Your Lunch Boxes. And then The Pop Shop in Collingswood gets in on the act on Monday with Timid Toddlers: Healthy Snacks. If you’re not a kid, you haven’t been totally left out: Brunch Italian-Style is happening on Saturday at In the Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield.

Blogging Out Hunger

The bill to allow an option to donate state tax refunds to food banks has been signed into law.

And don’t forget that this is Hunger Action Month!

And in the news this week…

Well, the big news (and it must be big if Jen Miller mentioned it), is that noted Philly restaurateur Stephen Starr has pulled out of the two restaurants in The Chelsea in Atlantic City. Between this and his lawsuit to get Buddakan and The Continential at The Pier at Caesars closed, it’s pretty clear that Mr. Starr is ready to take his marbles and go home, so to speak. While it would be easy to say that this is all about the economic downturn, the more I read the more it becomes clear to me that Mr. Starr was never really happy with his Atlantic City ventures and just wants out. While I think The Chelsea can move on, losing two restaurants would be pretty bad for The Pier.

The continuing saga of Dee’z Dogz may include a move out of Barnegat.

Tavern on the Green (yes, the one in New York) has filed for bankruptcy.

Staying in New York, Jason at Off The Broiler posted about the NTDTV 2009 International Chinese Culinary Competition that’s happening on the 20th and 21st at Chelsea Piers. This is no General-Tso-chicken-with-egg-drop-soup kind of event; this will be the real deal. I can’t imagine this not being anything less than wonderful. If we had the time and money, hoo boy would we be there!

After watching Rutgers get taken behind the woodshed by Cincinnati on Monday, it was fun to read and view the Munchmobile piece on the infamous Grease Trucks on College Avenue.

And to end this Friday’s post on a hopeful note, a drug lot in Atlantic City is getting a new life. It has nothing to do with food, but it has everything to do with hope, positive attitude and possibilities.

Enjoy your weekend.

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