Selected Articles

 

Tucked into the cream-colored molding of a hallway at the Grand Cascades Lodge is Hamburg’s most famous hidden door. Behind it the air is damp, and it gets colder as it follows the spiraling iron staircase downward. At the bottom is a locked door, and behind it a pitch-black labyrinth valued at $20 million. Its contents: 100,000 bottles of the finest wines in the world.

To imagine a neighborhood farm is to conjure up a countryside with hayfields and long dirt driveways and a little white house where the farmer lives. But in the town of Cranford, as any student of Union County College or jogger in Nomahegan Park will tell you, it is to reimagine a farm in a literal neighborhood.

It wasn’t until I was already in the elevator that I stumbled across the phrase “tapping into the subconscious” on their website, and immediately started to wonder whether they’d be reading my mind as well as my emotional response to some TV commercials.

Downtown Hackettstown has the same vintage feel as the vinyl section of a record store. Shop windows display antiques, used books, bicycles and period furniture. And yet, there is a prevailing sense that a new trend is on the rise. Within a span of five months three breweries opened, and Hackettstown quite suddenly became a New Jersey craft beer destination.

What’s the difference between “climate change” and “climate crisis?” About a 60% greater rise out of your audience…that is, if they’re Democrats. If they’re Republicans, you can expect their emotional response to triple. (Third-party press coverage below)

  • Food Truckers:  A visit to the state’s largest food truck festival

The throngs waiting to get in had traveled from the far reaches of Monmouth County and beyond to get a taste of fusion barbecue, artisanal grilled cheese, Korean tacos, lobster BLTs, crab cake sliders, Wisconsin cheese curds, gourmet Belgian waffles, and bananas-only soft serve, to name just a few items painted on the sides of retrofitted delivery trucks and custom-built trailers.

In the wooded hills of Hardwick, just south of the Appalachian Trail, 20 white chickens with scarlet combs and dark-blue feet peck at the grass sprouting up through the leaves. They’re known as American Bresse, and much like California champagne, they trace their origin to a particular region of France, where they were known as the “queen of chickens, and the chicken of kings.”

We live in an age when a young brewery needs a brand before it perfects its first round of recipes, in which Instagram can make or break a can release before the line even forms outside. But tucked away on Watchung Avenue in Chatham is a small warehouse where one Saturday afternoon, a different kind of follower has gathered.

When I first met the guys behind Magnify Brewing Company last November, it was five months after they’d kegged their first batch, and 20 minutes before they took the Best Beer award at the Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown at Waterloo Village in Stanhope.

Last summer, the brewers at Flying Fish Brewery in Somerdale went for a hike in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in search of special flavors for their latest creation—a brew dedicated to the forest.

  • Moral Fiber:  The sordid history of the graham cracker

The invisible first ingredient in every batch of modern graham crackers is the same: sacrilege. The authentic graham cracker—devised in 1830 in Bound Brook by the Reverend Sylvester Graham—was a cracker of pious austerity, created by a man on a cleansing mission. Cinnamon, sugar and honey were out of the question.

Fifty-one years before Prohibition took effect, in the small town of Vineland, New Jersey, Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch was cooking Concord grapes from his neighbors’ vines and reading up on Louis Pasteur’s latest experiments. As the new Communion steward at the First United Methodist Church, he had a dilemma: alcohol was sinful, yet wine was a part of the Eucharist.

On 72nd Street in Manhattan, not far from Acker Merrall & Condit, an establishment that lays claim to being the oldest wine shop in the country, there is a fruit stand. Some 187 years after Acker Merrall & Condit opened its doors, employee Jason Albaum, a spirits buyer, was leaving work one summer evening when he saw it: a mountain of fresh cherries he just couldn’t resist.