Friday (into Saturday) Foodstuffs 4.9.10: Restaurant Week Fever – Eat It!

The calendar now says April, and with that comes the sounds of ball hitting bats, crowds cheering, and the New York Mets nosediving (heh heh). Yes, it’s baseball season again, and from now until November, those of us who still love the game will follow our heroes through the daily trials and tribulations, rain delays and walk-off home runs, and endless calls to the bullpen. And it only took four days into the season for my fantasy team, the Johnny Rottens, to reach last place.

April also signals the start of a host of Restaurant Weeks that will be happening all around the South Jersey region. The fun starts this Sunday with the beginning of South Jersey Restaurant Week, brought to you by the members of SJ Hot Chefs. Over 40 restaurants in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties will be participating. For $35 (and for some places $25), you will get yourself a four-course meal that could have anything from Blackbird’s housemade potato gnocchi with mozzarella and parmesan in a tomato-basil sauce (the Best Pasta Dish in 2009 according to Best of Philly), to Bacio’s roast pork cassoulet, to Coriander’s shrimp lababdar. SJ Restaurant Week is scheduled to run from Sunday through the 16th – although a number of locations will be extending that to have their special menus available for a longer time.

Some other restaurants are also having Restaurant Week next week – but they’re not part of SJ Restaurant Week. Tortilla Press and Tortilla Press Cantina will be having their own Restaurant Week from the 11th to the 16th, with a four-course meal costing $28 (Sunday through Wednesday) or $30 (Friday and Saturday). High Street Grill will also be having its Restaurant Week, and they will be offering four courses for $35.

And then on Friday, we start another big restaurant week event: Jersey Shore Restaurant Week. Only in its second year, and it has quickly become a really big to-do. The list of restaurants runs from Toms River all the way up to Long Branch and Asbury Park. Three courses will run you either $20.10 or $30.10, depending on the restaurant. In addition, there will be special dining events that will be sprinkled throughout the week. Actually, it’s more than a week, since it goes from the 16th to the 25th.

What else is going on? Ready to celebrate the dandelion? Of course you are! I see a bunch of them right now in the front yard, actually. Well, even if you’re not a fan of this plant, you might enjoy chowing down on some tonight at the Dandelion and Beer Festival at Merighi’s Savoy Inn in Vineland. You might just want to call to see if you can still get tickets for the event. You also have the next installment of Beer Wars – Stone vs Yards happening today at High Street Grill.

Also going on this weekend: Bellview Winery in Landisville is celebrating its Spring Wine Release Weekend from 12PM to 5PM today and tomorrow, and on Sunday enjoy a cup of Mrs. Harker’s Tea at Peachfield in Westampton from 2PM to 4PM.

Looking ahead to Monday, you have the Boss of the Sauce! competition going on at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach from 5PM to 11PM. Or, if you want to be a little bit more schwanky, the

Epicurean Society of Southern New Jersey’s April Event is happening down at Morton’s at Caesars in Atlantic City.

Wanna go old school with an old school fish? Then check out the Hearthside Cooking Class at Gibbon House on Ye Greate Street in Greenwich tonight at 6PM. On the menu tonight: shad. Also tonight in the cooking classes is Cooking for Couples – Spring Time Soiree: Seasonal Cooking for Two at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown. On Sunday, the little ones have the run of the classroom at Kitchen Kapers with Kids in the Kitchen – Magical Mexico Mystery Tour from 1:30PM to 3PM.

And in the news this week…

“Made With Jersey Fresh” bill seems to be moving along in the state government.

Meanwhile, another potential victim of funding cuts is the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

The National Restaurant Association is launching a new green program.

Vineland’s ‘Restaurant Row’ on Landis Avenue is starting to take shape.

Easter weekend saw the restaurants on LBI opening up for a new season.

One little lamb in East Vineland decided that it was NOT going to be on the dinner table for Easter.

If it wasn’t bad enough that a Sonic was opened five minutes from my house in Waretown. Now, there’s evidently plans to build a White Castle about five minutes in the other direction. Somebody’s trying to kill me!

And finally, good luck to Mud City Crab House in Manahawkin as they prepare to show those New Englanders how it’s done at the Great Chowder Cook-Off up in Newport, RI in June.

Enjoy your weekend!

– John

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