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Posts Tagged ‘Lambertville’

Bucks County Taste has moved! See this post on our new server. 

By guest blogger Susan Sprague Yeske

As partners in a business that transforms chefs’ cookbook dreams into reality, it’s good to share a common vision. It’s also good to like the same kinds of food.

Shared tastes and a love of the culinary world prompted local food experts Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer to step beyond their role of crafting other people’s books and create one of their own.

Christopher Hirsheimer, left, and Melissa Hamilton in their Lambertville loft studio

Christopher Hirsheimer, left, and Melissa Hamilton in their Lambertville loft studio

Volume one of Canal House Cooking was published this month, the first in a series of softcover cookbooks that focus on seasonal cooking.  In the book the two moms, who live in Hunterdon and Bucks counties, share the summertime recipes they make at home.

The 80 recipes in the book focus on foods in season and feature summertime fare such as tomatoes, plums and zucchini. Every course is covered, from seasonally appropriate mixed drinks to dessert.

The two authors are former magazine food editors with credentials that include years spent at Saveur and Metropolitan Home. Christopher has collaborated on four other cookbooks, including three for Saveur.

Melissa is well known in local culinary circles for co-founding Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville with her father, Jim Hamilton.

Canal House CookingCanal House Cooking costs $19.95, or $49.95 for an annual subscription of three books and can be ordered through the website thecanalhouse.com.

Next will be a book on fall and holiday cooking, then a winter/spring edition. In addition to the website, books are available at amazon.com, Farley’s Bookstore in New Hope, Pa., and the Hamilton’s Grill Room. The books will also be sold at other private bookstores in the U.S. and through Anthropologie stores.

This recipe from the book is a great way to enjoy the fresh local tomatoes just coming into season:

Roasted Tomatoes Studded with Garlic

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

½ cup diced pancetta
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pasta
2 anchovy fillets
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
4 tomatoes, tops sliced off, seeds scooped out
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
small handful fresh thyme, parsley, or basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
½ pound spaghetti

HOW TO

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fry the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp around the edges. Use a slotted spatula to lift the pancetta out of the skillet to a plate. Leave the rendered fat in the skillet.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the anchovies to the same skillet. Use a wooden spoon to mash the anchovies until they dissolve. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until they are golden.
  4. Put the tomatoes, cut side up, in a baking dish and slip some garlic into each tomato. Mound some bread crumbs into each tomato and scatter pancetta and herbs on top. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil over all.
  5. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they have browned a bit and the interior is supple but the tomatoes haven’t collapsed, 1–1½ hours.
  6. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain.
  7. Return the pasta to the pot and stir in some olive oil and some of the oily tomato juices from the bottom of the tomato roasting dish.
  8. Serve the spaghetti with the roasted tomatoes and their juices spooned on top.

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Cranberry Cocktail on the Rocks with an Orange SliceIt’s hot and humid as I write this. I guess summer is finally here. No more squeaking by with this lovely San Diego-type weather we’ve been enjoying. I’ve been telling everyone that it will continue to be a cooler summer, and we are taking credit for it. Why? Because we recently installed two new air conditioners in our “mid-century modern” home (the original two got fried by a power surge). See? If y’all chip in, we’ll buy a snow blower to guarantee a light winter.

The other way I know summer is really here is that I’ve noticed the number of calendar events has decreased – or maybe I’m not working hard enough to find them. Either way, it’s a sign that things are slowing down.

But there are still some interesting things going on. This week, from Tuesday, July 21st through Sunday, July 26th, SEE, a Lambertville-based community organization, is sponsoring the Local Harvest Restaurant Week in Lambertville and New Hope. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about sustainability – in our society, environment and economy (SEE) – while eating great local food!

Fruits and veggiesWith cooperation from local restaurants, farms, food producers, and Zone 7  (a local foods distribution business), SEE is bringing the best of the region’s local harvest to local restaurant tables. If you eat at one of the participating restaurants, you’ll be able to enjoy dishes specially prepared for the event using the finest local ingredients. Check out SEE’s website for more information about their mission, more details about the restaurant week, and a list of participating restaurants (which includes practically all of the good ones in Lambertville).

And I’ve got a “Save The Date” for your calendars. The Heritage Conservancy is hosting a Farm-to-Table Dinner on Saturday, August 1st. I’ll give you more details as we get closer but the catering will be done by Soup to Nuts Caterers and Earl’s Restaurant in Peddler’s Village, which recently changed its menu and concept to focus on local, farm-fresh ingredients. Price will be $45 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Heritage Conservancy, a land conservation organization here in Bucks County. It will be held at the historic Lindsay Farm in Warminster.

Here’s the run-down for the weekend. Check out our online calendar, Food Events in Bucks County for more details on any of the events below. Have a sweet, cool weekend.

Friday, July 17th:

Saturday, July 18th:

Sunday, July 19th:

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Responding to a tepid economy, Jim Hamilton decided that rather than scale down, or increase prices, he’s offering more value. According to a recent story in the Bucks County Herald, Hamilton’s Grill Room will now be open for lunch on weekends. Read more about the menu at: www.buckscountyherald.com.

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If your sole purpose is to get loose, you can do that cheaper by drinking at home. That’s why I like a good bar more than I like a good drink. Good bars are a mix of good people, good food, reasonable prices, reasonable sound level and a community comfortable enough with itself to invite newcomers in. Only once you’ve found all of these does the variety of bourbon matter, or the brands of beer on tap, or the crispness of the martini. I’ve been to many bars that I wouldn’t call “good” even though they had an impressive collection of bourbon.

Bars-ms

Here’s our checklist:

  • Good people: This includes both staff and customers. We like bartenders who don’t stare at us like we’re crazy when we introduce ourselves, and fellow-customers who’ll chortle at our jokes and don’t mind us adding two cents to any semi-public chat they’re having about, say, Phillies pitching.
  • Good food: We like to eat at the bar. If an establishment doesn’t allow that, it’s off our list. But obviously you want to eat good food. Price doesn’t matter here – a good bar can be a neighborhood burger place as easily as an expensive steakhouse.
  • Reasonable prices: To us, “reasonable” is relative. Bell’s Tavern in Lambertville is reasonably priced, though the cost of dinner there is noticeably less than dinner at Marsha Brown’s in New Hope. Both are great restaurants. They’re just different experiences, and we think the price of each is reasonable.
  • Reasonable sound level: Lynne and I like to talk when we eat. We talk with each other, we talk with the bartender, we talk with other customers. The proprietors of good bars realize their places are about conversation.
  • Easygoing community: We’ve met some really nice people just by sitting at the bar and being drawn into the conversation around us. In some places, you can lean over to ask your neighbor what she’s eating for dinner and she won’t shift her stool a foot away from you. Or, the couple across the way can suggest the night’s special when they see you’re in a decision-making crisis over the menu. The real test comes the second or third time you visit, when you begin to recognize others, and they begin to recognize you. The holy grail, of course, is when the bartender serves your drink without your having to order it. (Really good bartenders can sense when you might be in a different mood, and so will wait for your choice rather than assume this is a night for “the usual.”)

Finally comes the bourbon selection. This is where it gets personal, I know, so substitute your own preferred libation here. For me, I like a bar that appreciates bourbon enough to have Maker’s Mark as its basic brand and then two or three others that rise through the scale: Woodford Reserve, Baker’s, Knob Creek, Booker’s.

With all that said, we begin an occasional series listing (in no particular order) some of our favorite bars in the area. Be sure to send us your own ideas. We need more places to visit.

Pineville Tavern: We’ve written a lot about the Pineville Tavern, which has become our regular hangout because it possesses all of the characteristics of a good bar and has the added advantage of being close to home. It’s warm. Everyone – staff and customers – seem to be in a good mood. There’s a buzz of people enjoying themselves. The food is good, Maker’s Mark is handy.

Bowman’s Tavern, just south of New Hope on River Road, has a friendly, easy-going vibe, good food, and bartenders with a knack for chatting about pretty much anything. We had a wonderful conversation with a couple sitting next to us the last time we were there, comparing notes about restaurants on both sides of the river. The weinerschnitzel, which was recommended to us by the Pineville Tavern’s Drew Abruzzese, was outstanding – tender and lightly fried. The ribeye steak was perfectly cooked, perfect brushed with home-made barbecue sauce.

The bar at Anton’s at the Swan in Lambertville is warm, friendly with a good bar menu that makes eating there a simple decision. Choices include burgers ($10), a sundried tomato pizza ($9), strip steak ($21), and pork chop with garlic mashed potatoes ($16).

Bell’s Tavern, on North Union Street in Lambertville, is tough to beat. Wonderful food, good prices, bartenders who are not above tweaking us about remaining carb-free in the face of their excellent Italian bread. (Okay, so I opened myself up to it when I ordered the bread pudding, which is worth the trip in and of itself.)

More coming soon. In the meantime, if you’ve got a favorite place of your own, tell us about it.

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The Lambertville-New Hope Winter Festival runs January 21 – 25 at venues on both sides of the Delaware, and like any respectable local celebration it features a variety of events intended to show off the skills of local chefs. They include:

  • A Twin Town Tasting on Thursday, Jan. 22, where you can sample food, beer and wine from a variety of area establishments, including Unionville Vineyards, Triumph and Riverhorse breweries, Lambertville Station, Hamilton’s Grill Room, and Marsha Brown. Held at Lambertville Station from 7 – 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $40 ($30 without alcohol) .
  • A “Beef ‘n Brew” on Saturday, Jan. 24, serving hot roast beef sandwiches and Triumph beer, along with music from Class Act. It’s held at Triumph from 2 – 4 p.m., and tickets are $40 ($30 without alcohol).
  • A Chili Cookoff at Occasions in New Hope, Sunday, Jan. 25, from 1 – 4 p.m. Chili, with River Horse beer at the ready in case it gets too hot, made by Jamie Hollander, Havana, Baker’s Treat, the Stockton Inn, to name just some. Tickets are $45, $35 for those under 21 or not drinking beer.

There’s also a pancake breakfast at New Hope-Solebury High School on the 25th, from 8:30 – 11 a.m. All you can eat for $6.50, less for children. (Personally, I think pancake breakfasts are worth braving winter mornings for. And did I say it was all you can eat?)

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