Winning ways to spice the year’s end

by Marisa Procopio

NORTHERN BITE
The New York City skyline is always holiday-ready, and nearby Halifax, inside the W Hotel on the sweeping Hoboken waterfront, is accepting corporate and private holiday reservations now through the new year. For regular diners, the restaurant offers holiday seatings, with a prix fixe menu for up to 30 people per seating; New Year’s Eve’s festivities happen over two seatings, each about 100 people. Chef Seadon Shouse’s fare embraces Northeastern farm and coastal ingredients, the vast majority “from farmers, fisherman, and artisans from Delaware north to our namesake capital of Nova Scotia.”

225 River Street, Hoboken, halifaxhoboken.com

SPICE HACK
Gingerbread (or any cake full of lovely holiday spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger) tastes even better in the days after it’s baked; a little time helps the flavors to develop and deepen. So, bake or buy a few extras for breakfast, house gifts, or as stocking stuffers. These treats have great staying power… provided you’re able to keep them around for more than a day!

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new digs
Riding on the success of his eatery, d’jeet?, in The Grove in Shrewsbury, Chef Casey Pesce purchased a second restaurant in Tinton Falls this summer. Here, at the former Mumford’s property—and newly christened Apple Street Kitchen—Pesce puts his practiced hand toward the local and seasonal dishes he’s famed for, but with a fresh twist. An in-house bakery and an expansive, organic working garden just outside the prep areas speak to his dedication to the wholesome and the homemade…and with room to grow. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday; catering is available as well

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What’s your favorite menu dish?
Garden fig toast—homegrown figs with sourdough toast, housemade fresh ricotta, sunflower clusters, and Oak Hill Farms (Middletown) honey. Tastes like an incredible indulgence, but it’s healthy.

And favorite menu dish to cook?
Duck confit. Nothing like slow cooking!

What are the best and toughest parts of what you do?
Giving people pleasure through food, but it’s very difficult sacrificing time with family.

Indispensable kitchen tools?
My wooden spoon and rubber spatula.

What’s your cooking philosophy in three words:
Simple, seasonal, spontaneous.
33 Apple Street, Tinton Falls, applestreetkitchen.com

night light
Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights (December 2 through 10), brightens up this darkest time of the year—not only with a powerful story of resilience, but with a tradition truly worth celebrating. Chabad and Chanukah Light Up New Jersey, sponsored by Chabad of Central New Jersey, offers several events in late December. One, on the 27th at 6:30 P.M. at Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, features klezmer music and latkes (lightly-fried potato pancakes). The next day, the group takes over Long Branch’s Pier Village at 4:30 P.M. Enjoy latkes, hot chocolate, live music, a special children’s entertainer, and more fun. So, put down the dreidel (just for a little while), bundle up the family, and visit the boardwalk! For more information and reservations for these or other holiday activities, please call
Chabad House at 732.296.1800 or visit chabadnj.org.

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