Archive for January, 2007

You Make the Call

January 31, 2007

Update: The good people at Baristanet left us a note last night assuring us they have been polling on Montclair issues and that we should keep an eye on their site for the results (Click on the comments below). We’re still not all warm and fuzzy with our Web sites breaking the Internet barrier to reach out and touch us but, it’s nice to know there’s a reason behing it.

JC

We’ve gotten a message on our answering machines from Baristanet.com the last couple of days telling us about an important phone survey they were conducting. Initially, we found this a bit odd that a Web site would be calling us but we’ve gotten worse pitches on our line so JC wasn’t too perturbed by this.

We weren’t home so we couldn’t take the survey to find out what exactly is so important, but a look at Baristanet’s Web site today points to a survey about a referendum for bonding an artificial turf field in Glen Ridge.

Great.

What I’d like to know is why pollsters were calling JC out yonder in Montclair about this?

I suppose they could have been calling us about something else. Perhaps they were bothering people in Montclair about something local. Taxes too high, yep. Parking still a problem, yep. Need better train service, yep.

Somehow I doubt that. Once upon a time we worked for a company that covered direct marketing and this sounds like a telemarketing mix up to us. Either way while we’re big fans of Baristanet, we really don’t want to them calling us. We’ll log on when we want to give you our opinion.

JC

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St. Pick Pocket Time Is Here

January 30, 2007

Yep, it’s coming. The Artful Diner made his picks for Valentine’s Day diner today. Read the post here.

JerseyCool is coming out of several big spending months. C’s birthday is January faithful readers will recall so we’re arguing for straying in on V-Day or White Castle. Still, for those who must celebrate Hallmark’s favorite holiday, you can do much worse than some of the restaurants on AD’s list.

JC

Something Special About Hudson County

January 29, 2007

It’s Hudson County Resteurant Week from today until  Feb 9. with most participating restaurants offering special menus to lure you and your dollars into their establishments. Most are offering three-course meals ranging anywhere from $13-$30 dollars and some even include weekends.

For Hudson County restaurants this is a great opportunity to save some dough on your favorite places, and for other Jerseycool.com readers this is your chance to take a road trip and explore some of the culinary delights the most urban county in the state has to offer.Check the web site before heading out since there are restrictions including some places not offerint Saturday menus. Booooooo.

Among the participating restaurants are Amanda’s in Hoboken, offering a 3-course meal for $30 (no Sat or Sun); Komegashi in Jersey City, offering a 3-course lunch and dinner menus for $13 and $23 respectively (no Sat or Sun); Frank’s Waterside in North Bergen, 3-course menu for $30, (no Saturday) and Harbor Bar in Weehawken, offering a 3-course dinner for $23.

A complete list of participating resterurants can be found on  Hudsonresteurantweek.com. 

JC

Excitables for Jan. 26-28

January 26, 2007

’twas the weekend beteen Superbowls and all through the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

That”s probably a good thing around JerseyCool’s neighborhood as it’s been pretty darn busy the last couple of weeks and besides it’s cold out there. Anyway, here’s what were looking forward to this weekend:

Catch and Release — well, really we’re looking forward to is Kevin Smith’s performance in Catch and Release. As Stephen Witty point out on Nj.com today, Smith is probably the best thing about this Jennifer Garner flick and that’s quite enough for us.

Katharine Hepburn Double Feature Loews Theater, 54 Journal Square. The old time theater is showing “Woman of the Year” (4 p.m.) and “The African Queen” (8 p.m.) on Saturday. Tickets to each show are $6 for adults and $4 for seniors.

Sean Astin, Friday, 8 p.m., USA — Staying inside hobbit fans, well Sean Astin guest stars on tonight’s episode of Monk.

Screen Actors Guild Awards, Sun., 8 p.m. TNT — Can’t wait for the Oscars? Then check out Sunday nights Sag awards on TNT.

Winter X Games, 9 p.m., Saturday, ESPN — Much better to watch idiots out in the cold than be one of those idiots. I read something about snowmobile racing Saturday night. Yeah, did I mention it’s the weekend before the SuperBowl.

Happy Weekend Everyone,

JC

When the Smithereens Meet the Beatles

January 25, 2007

Great piece on NJ.com and in the Star-Ledger this morning about Jerseys-own Smithereens playing a Beatles Fest in Secaucus this March.

Those not familiar with the band, they had several hits in the mid-1980s but were about 10 years before their time. Headed by Pat DiNizio,who according to the article still makes his home in Scotch Plains, the band made it’s name playing grungy-pop tunes like “Blood and Roses” that were influential on the Seattle grunge scene that would take off a decade later.

The band has a new album “Meet the Smithereens,” a tribute the Beatles early classic. According to the story, the band will play the entire album at the show in Secaucus as well as some of their own hits.

The festival is March 16-18 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Secaucus.

The Smithereens perform March 17 and door tickets are $45 that day only.

Visit www.thefestforbeatlesfans.com or call (866) 843-3378 for ticket info.

Glad to see these guys are still kicking around.

JC

What Kind of Empire Is This?

January 24, 2007

EmpireEmpire
Orson Scott Card
TOR Books

About halfway through Orson Scott Card’s Empire I had that sinking feeling. You know the kind where you’re plowing through a book that’s just a great concept but you know it’s juuuuuusst not gonna make it there. It wasn’t the slight heaved at the great state of New Jersey (more on that in a moment) that turned me off the sci-fi thriller, no, it was reading an author trying to walk too much of a tightrope and not trying to offend anyone in out there in the audience.

Let’s geta few things straight. Empire is a great concept. It’s a great what if book. What if there was a second civil war? What if tension between red and blue states finally came to blows? Not really a far-fetched concepts. In fact if you’re fond of the Sunday talk shows and Fox News there’s been a war of words going on for several years now.

The plot is intriguing. The president is assassinated in a brazen attack on the White House. It’s the exact same attack predicted in a research paper by the novel’s hero, Captain Malich , a special forces ace whose politics lean conservative. He then has to go on the run with his wife, whose politics lean liberal (eh, see where this is going?), along with his aide to West Windsor, NJ, — where everyone goes to hideout.

The story really kicks up a notch when giant mechanized robots take over the streets of New York as liberals, fearing a conservative takeover of the government, strike. It all sounds a little silly but Card makes it work, despite the fact that as you read along you get the feeling that the robots are there for the tie-in video game and movie, which are apparently already in production.

Honestly, the robots aren’t needed and the book would probably be more powerful without them. However, the worst part about Empire is it’s unwillingness to take sides. Neither the right or left are wrong in this conflict. It’s kind of hooey and walks too-fine a line to ever be a great tale about our current political situation. It’s a bit like saying, “You know the south did have a point about that slavery thing.”

Anyway, the book does have its moments and, as a diversion, it’s fun . Still I couldn’t help but think while reading it could have been much more and when finished it felt a lot like a missed opportunity.

We’d be remiss for not taking Card behind the woodshed for his slight to our fair state on pg. 135. As one of the characters drives from Washington to New York for an appearance on the Bill O’Reilly show we are treated to this piece of descriptive candy from Mr. Card:

Yet he kept driving north, up I-95 to Delaware and then across the river into New Jersey and its ugly toll road that funneled you to New York City as if you were being flushed down a toilet.

Ahhhh, what creativity there. Never heard the Jersey-toilet connection before. I don’t want to get off on a tangent here but you know in the Garden State we understand the NJ Turnpike isn’t the most attractive of roads. Certainly not as attractive as all those other interstates running through places like, say, Cleveland or Detroit or North Carolina, where Card hails from, but perhaps just a bit more work on this description could have been done. I mean equating the NJ turnpike with a toilet is done almost nightly on TV talk shows. Hmmmm, who might we quote for a little creativity. Ah, I know something from master Springsteen perhaps.

Early north Jersey industrial skyline I’m a all-set cobra jet creepin’ through the nighttime
Gotta find a gas station, gotta find a payphone this turnpike sure is spooky at night when you’re all alone
Gotta hit the gas, baby. I’m running late, this New Jersey in the mornin’ like a lunar landscape

Bruce Springsteen, Open All Night

Let’s see toilet, lunar landscape. Jerseyans what paints the picture here?

JC

Oscar Calls and the One We Got Right

January 23, 2007

The grand daddy of award nominees came out this morning with the musical Dreamgirls and indie film Babel leading the Oscars in nominations, though Dreamgirls did not get a nod in the best picture category. It looks to be a pretty wide open field though with The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine and the Queen all getting nods for best picture.

As for the one we got right. Mark Wahlberg was nominated for best supporting actor for his scene chewing role in The Departed. A prediction we made back in November. Bully for us.

JC

Idol Votes

January 22, 2007

Can’t wait to start calling in and/or texting your American Idol votes? Well Entertainment Weekly’s site is ranking the contestants who made it through to Hollywood, well, at least the ones who got airtime, and you can vote for them now. If this takes off will American Idol finally let fans start voting via the Internet. Me thinks the marketing deal with Cingular will get in the way of that.

Oh, and it’s official. The American Idol ‘the judges are too cruel this season’ backlash has started. If you missed this morning’s Today show, Meredith Vieira had a heart to heart chat with two Seattle contestants who suffered the scorn of Simon Cowell. You can catch the clip here.

JC

Silence is Golden at Montclair’s Fascino

January 22, 2007

Fascino
331 Bloomfield Ave.
Montclair, NJ, 07042
973-233-0350
www.fascinoresteaurant.com

We always seem to end up at Fascino in Montclair for special occasions and I got to wondering about why that is. The food is great, but there are a lot of great places in the area, as evidenced by this blog. What I think sets Fascino apart is the atmosphere. It’s not just the food, it’s the atmosphere stupid.

What I appreciate about the upscale Italian eatery is the fact I can have a conversation with someone without losing my voice the next day. As much as we like food we probably like talking about the food we ordered just as much.

We had just that experience the other night as I took C out for her birthday during the week. There are few places in Montclair even New Jersey that could boast of a nearly full dining room at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday. But there we were sitting down to a meal of homemade pasta at probably our favorite place in town. We heard several other happy birthday’s in the dining room so I don’t think we are off base in recommending Fascino for special occasions. As such, reservations are highly recommended and we suggest leaving enough time to find a parking spot on the street as the restaurant is a bit of a walk from the Fullerton and Church St. parking decks.

Now, let’s to the food.

Fascino has a diverse menu featuring several a regular and vegetarian tasting menu, however we opted to for ala carte the other night. I’m always a little hesitant to order ravioli at an Italian place. Sometimes you get 10 and sometimes you get two but I went for the ravioli stuffed with foie gras as an appetizer and was treated with four fairly large, expertly cooked pieces. The pasta was al dente on the outside and then melted with the soft meat stuffed on the inside. For a main course, I pulled an audible and switched from the scallops that I was eyeing to a pompano over risotto. I did this mainly to tell people I’ve eaten Pompano but I was rewarded with a tasty white fish that, combined with the expertly made risotto, turned out to be a pretty, darn good meal.

C went with the yellowfin tuna tartar, which was good but the ravioli was a better choice. However, her main dish of ricotto gnocci with a sausage bolognese sauce was really the treat of the night. You’ll be hard pressed to find better gnocci. If M&Ms were pasta, they would be Fascino’s gnocci.

We splurged for dessert and were not disappointed. I tried to the molten center chocolate cake with hazelnut gelato while C ordered off the menu for a sampling of gelato. Dessert was good and worth splurging on but our opinion is that Fascino’s homemade pasta is really where the restaurant shines.

As far as service goes, we’ve never had a problem, and did not have one the other night. We’ve found Fascino’s staff to be attentive, friendly and well informed.

One more word about Fascino. If you are a fan, get on the resteaurant’s mailing/e-mail list. Just two days after signing up we were rewarded with an e-mail telling us about Fascinos upcoming Valentine’s Day menu. It’s definitely nice when a restaurant understands and uses the Internet in a good way for its customers.

JC

Want a different opinion, check out Baristanet reviews here.

If you know a restaurant or other local attraction we should check out please e-mail us at jerseycoolemail@aol.com

Excitables For the Week of Jan. 20-21

January 19, 2007

What are we gonna do when football goes away in a few weeks, sigh. What the heck are we gonna write about? I know, spring training is not that far off. Anyway, here are the things we’re looking forward to this weekend.

NFL playoffs (New Orleans at Chicago, Sunday, 3:30 on Fox; New England at Indianapolis, Sunday, 8 pm., CBS) — Only two more games before the Superbowl and while the New Orleans Saints have become everyone’s favorite home team, I’m actually looking forward to the late game on Sunday where Peyton Manning will try to exercise the ghosts of Tom Brady and the Patriots. For those of you not familiar with the history, it’s a lot like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football Lucy’s holding. Yeah, it’s been that kind of frustrating for Peyton.

Our Superbowl pick for what it’s worth is New Orleans vs. Indianapolis. Not so much for the Saints but because we’re looking forward to all the interviews with Archie Manning (Peyton’s father and New Orleans former quarterback) asking him who he’s rooting for. Should be interesting. See NFL.com for coverage.

NY Giants SuperBowl XXI (Friday, 8 p.m., NFL Network)— While we’re on the subject of football. It’s been a rough few weeks for Giants fans but the NFL Network is airing a documentary on the NY Giants Superbowl XXI team tonight at 8 p.m. The special is part of the America’s Game series, which is a countdown of the best SuperBowl teams of all time.

Rome, (Sunday night, 9 p.m., HBO ) — The bloom is a bit off the rose for this series as HBO has already announced that it’s the second and last go-around for Rome. The show with its large cast and expensive sets is simply too expensive to produce. Still, history buffs will marvel at the detail and atmosphere of the show. This is not a marble-white, Hollywood version of Rome but rather a dirty, violent and crime infested city. Most likely the bloodiest series on television.

The Plot Against America, Philip Roth — We’re behind on book reviews and we promise to catch up next week but we just started reading this book by Newark’s Roth and we’re hooked. Don’t be put off by the literary pedigree here. This is a fascinating, easy read and for New Jerseyans it’s probably just as entertaining to read about 1940s Newark as it is the book’s main hook: What would the country be like if Charles Lindbergh won the 1940 presidential election and the country never entered WWII.

The Hitcher— The only new movie opening this weekend (when was the last time that happened) is a remake of The Hitcherthe Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell 80s flick. There’s nary a review available on the Web, which is usally not a good sign, but perhaps the best thing this film has done is remind us of how good the original really was. If you’ve never seen it and have the time it’s worth checking out on DVD.

Happy weekend everyone.

JC