Friday Foodstuffs 12.17.10: All I Want for Christmas Is…A Stock Answer to A Common Question

“What’s your favorite restaurant in South Jersey?”

If I had to think of one question that comes up most often when we mention to people that we’re food bloggers in South Jersey, it’s this one. And you’d think that we’d have a quick and witty response that would show how clever and dining savvy we are.

Yeah, you could think that…but you would be wrong.

The question immediately brings up that deer-in-the-headlights feeling, usually followed by a mild panic. The reality is this: I don’t have one. More specifically, I can’t narrow the choices down to just one place. But how could this be, Mr. Fancy-Pants Food Blogger, you might ask (and I would appreciate if you didn’t sound so sarcastic). If you ever have dinner with me, you will see that I have a tough time making a decision (Lisa could tell you stories about this). But I do think that I need to have a prepared answer for this question, and I have thought of some possibilities…

The Uber-Snooty-Foodie: “Every restaurant here sucks. There’s nothing here like (insert current hot Manhattan location here).”

The Uber-Loving-Foodie: “There’s no need to single out one above the rest. I love them all. God bless them, every one.”

The Uber-Conspiracy-Seeing-Foodie: “Why do you ask? Who wants to know? Is that a hidden mic in your lapel??? Where’s the camera??? WHAT SIDE ARE YOU ON?!?!?!”

The Uber-Avoidant-Foodie: “You have reached the desk of Eating in South Jersey. We’re sorry that we can’t answer your question right now, but your inquiry is important to us…”

The Uber-Flair-For-Creating-A-Diversion-Foodie: “Well, there’s this place in…OH MY GOD, ZOMBIE NINJAS!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!”

No good, eh? OK, I’ll keep working on it.

So…about this weekend…

Well, you could make it a Cape May Wine Weekend: a four-course dinner at The Washington Inn on Friday, a tour and barrel-tasting at Cape May Winery on Saturday, and then a Wine School Class back at The Washington Inn on Sunday. For the whole weekend, the cost is $135 per person. You can also just take the class for $30.

Maybe you just feel the need to feed that inner Cookie Monster inside of you. Now imagine feeding that googly-eyed and furry-blue monster and doing some good in the process. Well, tonight is your night. Ocean City High School is having its annual Cookie Walk for a Cause starting at 5:30PM. The proceeds for the sales of all the cookies goes to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Even though it’s the last weekend before Christmas, the cooking class schedule is still pretty full:

Tonight: Bon Appetit: An Elegant Dinner Party at Sur La Table in Marlton and Holiday Hors d’Oeuvres at Kitchen Kapers in Moorestown.

Tomorrow: A double dose of gingerbread with a Gingerbread Decorating Party at Sur La Table and a Gingerbread House Workshop at Viking Cooking School in Atlantic City. You also have Cape Cuisine: Holiday Entertaining prepared by Mark Kalla at the Cape May Court House Library, Kids in the Kitchen – Let’s Bake Cookies with Santa! at Kitchen Kapers, and a  New! New Year’s Celebration at Viking Cooking School.

Sunday: Do-Ahead Holiday Breakfast at Sur La Table, Kids in the Kitchen – Christmas and Kwanzaa Treats and Kids in the Kitchen – Cookies with Santa! at Kitchen Kapers, and Date Night: Gourmet Delight at Viking Cooking School.

Blogging Out Hunger

No surprise here: local food banks still seeing an increase in demand.

There’s a great program going on that helps feed the homeless in the Atlantic City – a program that involves local high school students as well as culinary students from Atlantic Cape Community College and Richard Stockton College.

The Medford-Vincentown Rotary had their food drive last weekend to help out two local food banks.

Chef Lisa Savage of Sage Restaurant in Ventnor hosted the annual Christmas luncheon for the Atlantic City Rescue Mission’s Women’s Ministry Department. This event had been held for the last 16 years.

Colonial Bank is partnering up with Help & Hope Ministries in Millville and is holding a food drive through the end of the year.

Firemen in Gloucester City are holding a canned goods drive.

A food drive is also being held this week in Burlington City at the Playhouse Lounge. Yes, it is a strip club, and I have mixed feelings mentioning it.

Sports Paradise in Willingboro will be handing out the food collected from their annual food drive on Christmas Eve.

And even though this story is happening in Monmouth County, this is one amazing 10-year-old kid making a difference.

And in the news this week…

An interesting topic was raised in the Courier-Post this week about ‘fake farmers’ using existing tax programs to get relief of 98% of their property taxes.

Exciting stuff down in Vineland: three more vendors have signed up for the Landis MarketPlace, which is scheduled to open in March.

Police in Vineland are investigating a number of incidents where pizza delivery people received fake $100 bills for payment.

One more from Vineland: one Italian restaurant is moving from Vineland to Millville, and another is doing the opposite.

A phony health inspector scam is working its way around Burlington County.

Three decades of blueberry picking in Hammonton: the story of Antonio Sandoval.

My incredible pizza, erm, I mean, John’s Incredible Pizza received clearance and will be headed to the Moorestown Mall.

The strip mall on the corner of Route 9 and Bay Avenue in Manahawkin is evidently done with pizza joints. Now there’s an Asian eatery and a BBQ joint. Chiabatta Cafe was there for about 30 seconds – seriously, you blinked, and it was gone.

Blackbird is moving from its current Collings Avenue location to Haddon Avenue, right next to West Side Gravy.

The Exit Zero Blog posted this week about the closing of Henry’s On the Beach in Cape May. The last time we were in Cape May, the place looked like it was gone for good, and evidently it was.

And congrats to Osage Elementary School in Voorhees for becoming the first school in New Jersey to receive a bronze medal in the First Lady’s Healthier US School Challenge.

Enjoy your weekend!

– John

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