Archive for June, 2007

Excitables for the Weekend of June 29-30

June 29, 2007

I’t July 4th Weekend, well, it’s one of two July 4th Weekend’s. Yes, with our nation’s birth sitting astride the week this year some folks will be having picnics this weekend and some will be having it next weekend.

Whatever you do this weekend the weather promises to cooperate as the muggy weather here in the Northeast broke ushering a spat of pleasant coolness for this late in June.

Fireworks: Some are going off this weekend, some on Wednesday and some next weekend. Check your local papers to find out when and get a beach blanket for the occasion.

Flicks: July 4th marks the mid-point of the summer blockbuster season and with Live Free of Die Harder, the latest in Bruce Willis’ Die Hard series, opening this weekend, Transformers opening Wednesday and the latest Harry Potter movie opening next weekend there is plenty to choose from.

It looks like the winner in terms of critical praise this weekend is Ratatouille, the latest from Brad Bird, whose Incredibles had many an adult dragging their kids to the theaters. The story, about a culinary-inclined rodent, appears to be another winner. Hey, at least it isn’t about a penguin.

It’s also a good time to catch up on some of the releases that opened earlier this summer such as Spiderman3, the third Pirates of the Caribbean, Ocean’s 13 or Fantastic 4. Most are still out in the theaters and crowds have thinned.

Food — We saw them last week in the store. New Jersey blueberries are out and we report are in fine flavor. Pick up a box, perhaps some complimentary raspberries,  a couple cups of whipped cream and you have the beginning of a perfect 4th of July dessert. At least good enough until the Jersey peaches arrive in the market.

Have a good weekend everyone,

JC

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Think Traffic Is Bad? You’re Right

June 29, 2007

Jerseyans wondering just how bad you have it in terms of traffic congestion can now rest assured that their perception is indeed reality. It’s pretty bad.

New Jersey interstates ranked third in traffic jams in the nation, bested only by California (1) and Minnesota (2). However, including all roads, New Jersey, for apparently the 8th year in a row, had the worst road congestion.

Looking to escape this, well, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming all had no congestion problems.

JC

The Trouble With Harry’s Ending

June 26, 2007

There was a vicious e-mail circulating last week that J.K. Rowling had ended the 7-book Harry Potter series by fading the last sentence to black. Something along the line of “And then Harry…”

But since David Chase apparently stole that ending, she’s been working round the clock to think of a new one.

We jest of course but if you think you know how the Harry Potter series will end, the New York Times wants to know. The site’s  Reader’s Comments blog is devoted to speculation about the impending Wizard’s  finale. Only24 days away we are told.

JC

Tracking Down Some Summer Reading

June 25, 2007

Reading lists seem to be one of the better ways bloggers can fill all there empty white space during the summer months. Hey, we’re going to have to stop writing about the Sopranos at some point.

Jerseycool dropped it’s summer reading list a few weeks ago and at least one reader (the beloved C) took up one of our recommendations  and is plowing through Stephen King’s The Stand with an avarice bordering on crack addiction.

Anyway, NJ.com’s Transit Blog checks in today with a list for train commuters about train commuters. Anthony Buccino is featuring several titles detailing the various railroads and train systems in the Garden State. Interesting take on a standard column filler, we think.

JC

Excitables for the Weekend of June 23-24

June 23, 2007

We apologize, we’re a little late for this weeknds top picks but with the calendar finally turning to summer,  do you really need Jerseycool to tell you what to do? OK, take your eyes off the monitor and go outside, play, bike ride, hike, go have some fun. If you need ideas, here are a few.

Festivals. Renaissance, balloning, eating contests, take your pick, because festival season is upon us, which means you are never more than 5 miles away from funnel cake at any given moment.

NJ State Fair. While the Giants and Jets spend late June and most of July sunning themselves in the Bahamas, for two weeks the teams’ parking lot is taken over by racing animals, sideshow attractions, carnival rides and a midway of assorted, artery clogging delights. Yes, the State Fair is upon us and for a mere $9, plus the cost of rides, you too can be transported back to the days when carnivals ruled the world.

It’s been awhile since we’ve graced the fair with our presence, but we recall having just a swell time and if you leave before the fair closes you can actually get out of the parking lot in less than 5 minutes. Try doing that at a concert or game. Tickets and more info can be found at www.njfair.com.

NJ Renaissance Festival. OK, now that the pirate craze seems to be fading we can get back to more traditional costume dramas like renaissance festivals. The NJ Renaissance Festival and Kingdom, which opened earlier this month, begins its jousting tournaments this weekend. There’s one-on-one jousting, war jousting and, yes, there’s a pirate cove. The festival will run you between $9-$15 and is at the Tulip section of South Mountain Reservation, South Orange Ave. and Cherry Lane, West Orange. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Visit www.njkingdom.com for more.

Balloons. What’s summer in New Jersey without a few balloons. The 12th annual Summer Solistice begins today at Solberg Airport in Readington. The festival begins at 4 p.m. with ascension scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Best of all the festival is free. Visit www.solbergairport.com for more.

Of course, you don’t have to go to a festival to enjoy the outdoors. Grab a book, a chair and head to your local park or beach for this weekend’s best bets.

Have a good weekend everyone,

JC

Sushi Takes Center Stage on Muchmobile

June 22, 2007

Today’s muchmobile on NJ.com toured the booming New Jersey sushi industry. The fish, rice and seaweed combo is becoming the new pizza with everyone crowing about his and her favorites.

None of Montclair’s sushi dens were visited so nothing in JerseyCool’s home base was reviewed but top honors went to Ocha in Caldwell just up the road.

We’ll put Ocha on out places to visit list just as soon as the hubbub  dies down.

JC

Business is Bada-Booming at Soprano Haunts

June 21, 2007

We wereHolstens Brookdale Confectionary pondering ice cream last weekend and thought about heading over to Holsteins in Bloomfield since we had never been. Lucky we decided to watch our waistlines since Holsteins is apparently a tough place to get into and there is now a certain booth that the ice cream parlor is taking reservations for, according to the NY Times.

I think we might wait a couple months before heading over there.

JC

Springfield, NJ: Homer of the Simpsons?

June 20, 2007

Yes, friends Union County’s Springfield, NJ, has entered into a competition to become the premier city for the Simpson’s movie, which opens July 26.

Community members completed a video for the competition yesterday, according to a piece on NJ.com. More than 70 other Springfields across the country have entered.

It’s always been a bit of a mystery as to what state the Simpsons is set in. For some reason, Springfield, KY, sticks in our head but trying to sort through the 2 billion some Simpson episodes is a bit hard.

If they win, how cool would it be for the town of Springfield, of course, working against the town might be the fact it doesn’t have a movie theater. Doh!

JC

Can AFI Save the Summer TV Doldrums?

June 20, 2007

It’s been a pretty brutal summer season for television fans. Yeah, it’s supposed to be the time for vacations and summer reading but HBO’s John from Cincinnati put an exclamation point on how good the Sopranos was and how much we’re going to miss the family. Flight of the Concords gave us a few chuckles but didn’t inspire us either.

Over on network television, America’s Got Talent and Pirate Master are making us long for the days when networks filled the summer with repeats instead of just shows that suck.

The bright side to all of this is that there are more evening hours for reading and watching baseball. Everything the summer should be.

Anyway, we’d like to alert our faithful readers to something worth viewing tonight. The American Film Institute has gotten around to re-ranking the top 100 films of all time (CBS, 8 p.m., tonight). It’s been 10 years since the last list so it will be interesting to see how things have changed. Bonus is that the special is narrated by Morgan Freeman, king of all narrators.

On the original list, Citizen Kane, Casablanca and the Godfather were the top three movies. We’re thinking that there hasn’t been a movie released over the past 10 years that will knock any of those out. But we certainly could see a reshuffling of order with the Godfather, Casablanca or even the Wizard of Oz (4) moving up as some of AFI’s older voters may have shuffled off of the planet.

We could also see films like Pulp Fiction or The Shawshank Redemption making a move into the top 10 well at least the top 25.

Other movies over the past few years that may make it onto the list in some form include:

  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Lord of the Rings (all films are nominated)
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Gladiator
  • Erin Brokovich
  • Chicago
  • The Pianist
  • Lost in Translation
  • Ray
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • The Departed

Obviously, all lists are subjective and none more so than a list of best films, but for movie fans this a little bit of candy to break up a long summer of crap. Feel free to drop us a comment about what film you think should make the top 10.

Time for Dinner at Joe Bartonis

June 18, 2007

Joe Bartonis
151 Valley Road
Montclair, NJ, 07042
973-746-6700

Joe Bartonis deli has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood near Valley and Walnut Streets. In its short time there it has become a go to shop for not only sandwiches and pizza but homemade Italian pastas like gnocchi and linguine.

We were headed for the “other” Italian place across Valley but over the last couple of months there’s been a “Now Open for Dinner” sign out front so we decided to see what exactly dinner constituted at a deli this past Saturday.

Initially, we thought we’d be eating deli style, either out on Bartoni’s terrace or in the sparse dining area in the back but Bartoni’s does a nice job of turning the deli area into a dining room. The front of the place is still very utilitarian but chair coverings and table cloths do the trick out back.

Joe Bartonis is all about hospitality and before we had a chance to look at the menu a basket of bread and plate of olives and tapanade were promptly delivered. The free apps are what we’ve come to expect from Joe’s. The bread was spot on and the eggplant tapenade stood out. We’ll be looking for a jar of at our next gathering at home.

For starters, we had a warm mozzarella antipasto, which was fresh and melted in the mouth.

There were several dishes on the main menu that looked extraordinary and most were reasonably priced between $10 and $20. However, we decided to go with two specials. A gnocchi in olive oil and butter and a pan roasted salmon.

If you’ve bought the gnocchi that Bartoni’s sells in bags at the store than you know this is a house specialty and C, who is a fan of gnocchi in general, was impressed. The dish is on the lighter side of some of the gnocchi dishes found in town, which is good for those with smaller appetites.

I was a little hesitant about the salmon. It’s the only fish on the menu, which usually means frozen, but if it was, Bartonis did a good job of dressing it up. The pan friend fillet came with greens, potatoes and fried and crusted onions.

For dessert, we went with coffee and tea, which is notable only that the $2 cup of coffee comes in a cup that’s worthy of the price.

The only flaw in Joe Bartoni’s dinner game is that they are still a deli that serves dinner and not the other way around. We weren’t offered a seat out on the terrace when we walked in, which would be forgivable except that Bartoni’s terrace is off to the side and out of view.

Most likely this was a flaw of omission. The staff is friendly and chatty though some of that had to do with the fact we were the only diners inside. Not a good sign for the dinner experiment but the outside area was full.

We don’t know if this will work for the eatery. They have long-established and tough competition across the street. But we’ll be rooting for them since the quality and variety of food is some of the best we’ve had in awhile.

JC