I found this wonderful combination bakery and gourmet shop when walking home from school one afternoon and exploring Greenwich Village. All the delicious pizzas and pastries in the window lured me in.
I had just eaten my lunch, so I was not that hungry and just wanted a snack. I saw the small doughnuts in the windows called Bombolones, which are yeast doughnuts filled with chocolate or vanilla cream fillings and then rolled in granulated sugar. The small one is $2.15 and the large one was $5.00. Don’t let the price deter you as it is a sweet and filling little dessert. The fresh vanilla cream played beautifully off the sweet dough and sugary topping. Each bite was wonderful, and it was…
The colorful and mouthwatering selection of donuts is what lured me into this popular and very special dessert shop in Greenwich Village. Just one look in the window wanted to make me walk inside.
The unique logo
Walking into The Donut Pub is like walking into the donut version of “Willy Wonka’s”. There are just so many choices and all those delicious donuts scream “Buy me”! I have only been in The Donut Pub a few times, but I am hooked already. Just looking in the window makes me hungry.
The first time I passed the shop I was just taking a look at what was on display to see what they carried and this delicious and mouthwatering large…
The weather finally broke, and it has cooled down to a pleasant 87 degrees. Thank God because it was a nice day in the City walk around and visit the Flatiron District without sweating like crazy. The last few walks I have done in the neighborhood have been in the mid 90’s and that got to be too much.
I had spent the morning working in Social Services at the Soup Kitchen, helping people with things like getting clothes, writing out haircut vouchers and getting them toiletries. It is a lot of running around but the best part was that I really felt that I was helping people in need. The weather cooperated, and it was so nice to be outside enjoying the sunshine. It was a productive afternoon.
After I finished lunch, I was off to walk the Avenues of the Flatiron District. I have to admit that this has been one of the harder neighborhoods to research because there are so many amazing buildings to view, and the architecture is so detailed that it takes time to look up at all the ornamentation on the buildings. As I said in my previous blog on the borders of the neighborhood, these companies built these buildings to impress and last forever.
I started the walk at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and West 25th Street at the General Worth Memorial, a distinct triangle park right across the street from Madison Square Park. This is the Memorial to and burial site of General William Jenkins Worth.
William Jenkins Worth was a native New Yorker (Hudson, NY) and decorated Army officer who had served our country in the Battles of 1812, The Second Seminole War and the Mexican American War. His series of campaigns shaped this Country to where it is today. He died working for the Department of Texas in 1849 (Wiki).
Army General William Jenkins Worth
The General’s remains are buried under the monument at Worth Square at the corner of Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 24th and 25th Street. General Worth was interned here in November of 1857 on the anniversary of the British leaving the colonies (NYCParks.org).
The Worth Monument between East 24th and East 25th Street at Broadway and Fifth Avenue
The Worth Monument was designed by artist James Goodwin Batterson, whose main profession was one of the founders of the Travelers Insurance Company in Hartford, CT and helped design the Library of Congress Building in Washington DC. He had immersed himself in his father’s quarrying and stone importing business early in his career and traveled extensively to Europe and Egypt for the job. He designed this monument in 1857 (Wiki).
Turning the corner at East 25th Street and Madison Avenue is Madison Square Park, named after our fourth President of the United States, James Madison. This well landscaped park is the gathering place of the residents of NoMAD and has a wonderful playground that has been busy the whole time I have spent in the neighborhood.
Madison Square Park is an interesting little oasis from all the traffic and office space. It has an interesting history since it was designated a public space in 1686 by British Royal Governor Thomas Dongan. It has served as a potter’s field, an arsenal and a home for delinquents. In 1847, the space was leveled, landscaped and enclosed as a park. It became part of the New York Park system in 1870. There are many historical figures featured in the park (NYCParks.org). The park today is a major meeting spot for residents and tourists alike with a dog track and the original Shake Shack restaurant.
Madison Square Park in the Spring when I was walking the length of Broadway
When I walked into the park to take a break, it must have been the busiest section of the neighborhood between the playground and the original Shake Shack that were serving food to a crowd clung to their cellphones.
Another sculpture that is in Madison Square Park is the statue of William Henry Stewart, the former Governor of New York State, US Senator and Secretary of State during the Civil War. He also negotiated the Alaskan Purchase in 1867.
Governor William Henry Stewart statue in Madison Square Park
Governor William Henry Sewart, who negotiated the Alaskan Purchase “Sewart’s Folly”
As you look down further on the square, you will see the Flatiron Building one of the most famous and most photographed buildings in New York City. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham as a Renaissance Palazzo with Beaux-Arts style. The original name for the building was the “Fuller Building” for the Company. The name “Flatiron” comes from a cast iron clothes iron from the turn of the last century. (Wiki)
The ‘Flatiron’ Building at 175 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street
As you pass the Flatiron Building and continue the walk south between 23rd and 14th Streets, take a look up to admire the buildings that once help make up the “Ladies Shopping Mile”, once the most fashionable neighborhood after the Civil War for shopping, hotels and entertainment (See my blog in MywalkinManhattan.com “Walking the Ladies Shopping Mile”).
My Christmas Blog on “Victorian Christmas in New York City”: Day One Hundred and Twenty-Eight:
The buildings that line Broadway from the Flatiron Building until you get to Bowling Green Park at the tip of Manhattan are some of the most beautiful and detailed examples of Victorian architecture and were built between 1870 to about 1915. You really need to put the cellphone down and look up when walking south on both sides or you might miss the details of these buildings.
The Warren Building is another example of turn on the last century elegance. Designed by Stanford White of McKim, Mead & White in 1896, the building was designed in the Neo-Renaissance style (Daytonian).
One of the most elegant buildings on this part of Broadway is the former “Lord & Taylor” building at 901 Broadway. The building was constructed for the department store in 1870 and was the main store until 1914. Really take time to look at the detail work of the store and step inside. The Mansard Roof is an amazing touch. In 2022, it is now a restaurant on the lower level.
901 Broadway “Lord & Taylor” building from 1870-1914
I walked back through Madison Square Park after my walk down Broadway and there were two small jazz concerts that were going on at opposite side of the park. Two three person combos were entertaining people by the fountain and near Shake Shack and on a sunny after there was a pretty big crowd enjoying the park and listening to the music.
Walking down Fifth Avenue was interesting on both sides as you will notice how ornate the buildings are as you travel from West 25th to West 20th Street leading me to believe how important of a shopping and business district this once must have been. Here and there from the Flatiron Building you can see all the elegant and ornate buildings that line the Avenue.
I started my walk south down Fifth Avenue and here and there you need to look up and admire the details of the buildings. On the corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street is 186 Fifth Avenue, which was built for the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1883.
186 Fifth Avenue-The Western Union Telegraph Company Building
The building was designed by architect Henry J. Hardenberger in the Queen Anne style with its details being in brick and terra cotta (Daytonian in Manhattan). The building just finished a restoration, and you can see the details by the windows and dormers.
At 170 Fifth Avenue and West 22nd Street, you can see the beauty and elegance of the Beaux Art details of the former Sohmer Paino building. The building was built between 1897-88 and designed by architect Robert Maynicke for the owners of the Sohmer Piano Company for their showrooms and offices. The company was known for its introduction of the baby grand piano (Wiki/Daytonian in Manhattan).
At 166 Fifth Avenue, the building has almost a confectionary look of a wedding cake. This commercial building was constructed in 1900 by the architectural firm of the Parfitt Brothers in the Northern Rennaissance Revival style with all sorts of embellishments around the windows and doors with an elaborate roof design. In the beginning it housed art galleries and upscale retailers until the area became manufacturing at the turn of the last century. It has made a full swing again as a luxury retailer building on street level (Daytonian in Manhattan/Streeteasy/LoopNet.com).
On the corner of West 21st Street and Fifth Avenue is 162 Fifth Avenue, another impressive building with interesting details. This office building was built in 1930 and is still used for commercial purposes.
At the edge of the neighborhood standing guard in the Flatiron District is 156 Fifth Avenue, the Presbyterian Building. This building has an interesting past being built for the Presbyterian Church for offices for missionary work when the neighborhood housed many religious institutions (Daytonian in Manhattan/LoopNet.com).
It was designed by architect James B. Baker in the French Gothic style, and you have to admire the roof for its unique details.
As I rounded the corner of the neighborhood at West 20th Street another building caught my eye at 150 Fifth Avenue, the former Methodist Book Concern. The building was built between 1888-90 and designed by architect Edward Hale Kendall in the Romanesque Revival style. It had originally held the offices, printing and a chapel for the church. This was the section of Fifth Avenue that housed many religious offices and headquarters (Wiki).
Walking north back up Fifth Avenue is 141 Fifth Avenue another confection of architecture. This gorgeous building was built in 1897 by architect Robert Maynicke, who had also designed Sohmer Piano Building at 170 Fifth Avenue, in the Beaux Arts style for the Merchant Bank of New York (Flatironnomade.nyc/fsiarchitecture.com).
141 Fifth Avenue-The Merchants Bank of New York Building
This impressive bank has recently been converted to luxury apartments with a current one sold at over three million dollars.
I made my way back up Fifth Avenue and admired all these buildings once again. Each has their own style and design and since the time of their construction continue to live on in different forms for various companies. Since many were built at the turn of the last century it also proved to me how well constructed and designed these buildings are and how desirable they are in the marketplace as you will not see this construction again. These were made to last and give this section of Manhattan its unique appearance and its own sense of character.
I found myself hungry again and took the subway back down to Chinatown to visit many of the takeout places and bakeries that were on my list to visit. I have been building up my blog, DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and wanted to see how many of them had stayed open post pandemic. Many of these little ‘hole in the wall’ restaurants are going strong as Chinatown is continuing to come back to life.
I started my walk in Chinatown at China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street across from Sewart Park for some fried dumplings and spring rolls. For ten large fried dumplings that were really juicy and well cooked, four spring rolls and a Coke it was $7.00. Everything was so well made, and you can watch from the counter the ladies making the fresh dumplings right in front of you. The place is real bare bones, but the food and the service are amazing. Try to eat at the counter and watch everything get prepared.
China North Dumpling at 27A Essex Street located in the Lower East Side
In needed something sweet after all the fried foods so I headed back to Yue Lai Bakery at 137 East Broadway to look for a baked pork bun. They had none left at that time of the day, but they were having a special on their baked goods three for $2.00 and I picked out a Coconut Bun, a Cream filled Bun and a Plain Bun.
They bagged it all up for me and I walked over to Sewart Park across the street and sat on the benches and ate them one by one. The Cream and Plain buns were really good and very sweet, and everything was so soft and well baked. I ended up sharing the Coconut Bun with the little birds in the park who surrounded me looking for a handout.
After a nice rest in the park and enjoying the sunshine and watching families play with their kids, I found myself still hungry. So, I walked down Hester Street from the park and made my way to King Dumpling this time for some steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings. For ten dumplings and a Coke it was only $5.00. The Steamed Pork & Chive Dumplings were excellent and again were freshly made right in front of us. They are large and well-cooked and burst with juiciness when you bite into them.
The place was packed with customers and people getting takeout. It is amazing to me how many people write about both King Dumpling and China North Dumpling and I had never really noticed them before. I saw them on a Fung Brothers “Cheap Chinatown Eats” video and then wanted to try them.
My last stop on the eating tour because even after twenty dumplings, four spring rolls, three pastries and three Cokes, I was still hungry and needed that baked pork bun. I found it at Happy Star Bakery at 160 East Broadway and it was just $1.75. Not the $3.50 in Midtown as I recently found at Dim Sum Sam in the Theater District. It was soft and chewy and filled with the most amazing, chopped pork and baked into a sweet dough. I barely made it out the door and I was finished with it.
After all the munching on snacks throughout the afternoon, I needed a good walk so I double backed and walked around the Twin Bridges section of the neighborhood walking down Henry, Madison, Rutgers and Clinton Streets around the public housing projects looking at all the small businesses that still catered to the people in the projects.
It is really a funny section of the City in that in-between the cut rate stores, and discount pizzerias are tiny gourmet restaurants, coffee bars and art galleries. It is really a case of extremes all over this section of the neighborhood and shows that both Twin Bridges and Chinatown south are going through a change in both residents and the businesses that cater to them.
With Little Italy slowly fading away (down to just four blocks now from forty at the turn of the last century), I can see the same changes happening in Chinatown as well. It is just another sign of Manhattan going through a metamorphosis.
It will be interesting to see what I will find when I reach this section of Manhattan in the near future.
After a two-year hiatus, the Summer Fancy Food Show came back to New York City. It was funny to see it come back the way it did with all the publicly. I even got a special email from one of the women coordinating the event making sure that I am attending the show. They give you such a hassle with the form to sign up for the show. You have to give so much information to get in, but I figure that most people try to get in thinking it is a ‘eat a thon’ event when there is no way of doing that without getting sick.
After coming to this show and many other industry shows like it, you realize that you need to pace yourself when you are sampling items. I learned this since my first show back in 2003 (I can’t believe that I have been coming to this show for almost twenty years) that you need to take your time and come back to the booths for a second time in case you want an extra taste.
If you go down your first aisle and sample everything, you will never make it at this show. You need to look at the booth, see what the vendor is displaying and if it looks interesting and then think about sampling. With the number of cookies, crackers, candy, snack foods, ice cream, pizza and sauces, it can overload your body and you will feel it later in the afternoon. It can be a system overload.
I broke the visit up into the full three days and tried to get to the show all three mornings and afternoons. I found that the show was not as big as the one back in 2019 but things were just getting back up to speed with us trying to put COVID behind us. It was tough because some people still insisted on wearing masks which is tough when you are at a food show. Like everything else, pace yourself.
After three days of sampling and tasting and talking with vendors from all over the world, some looking for distributers and some just looking to get a foothold in the market or just get the word out, there were many food merchants that stood out amongst the others. I wanted to share them with grocery shoppers who will see these products on shelves all over the world.
I was very impressed by the Foreign Pavillon this year. I could not believe that so many people came from abroad for the show because I was not sure what to think after a two-year absence of the show. There was a lot of unique products and some excellent packaging but the one thing that really surprises me is that most of the representatives of these companies are not that social with anyone.
Most sit there and look at their cellphones. In the past if there was a major soccer game going on between two countries represented at the show, you would see a lot of commotion. Since the show was pretty quiet on Sunday and then on Monday morning, the booths were quiet as well. There were still a lot of standouts at the Foreign Pavilions.
In the French Pavillion, some of the best products came from Maison Francis Miot, champion Jam, Candy and Confectionary maker. The products were bar none the best ones I tasted at the show.
Maison Francis Miot products were “Best in Show” to me
I tried their artisan fruit spreads, strawberry and blueberry jams and the Mystere du Chef, a mixture of different fruits. These jams were just spectacular and what intense flavors. They use only the freshest fruits and mixed with cane sugar and then they are cooked in small batches. Trust me, you can taste the complex flavor of the jams when spread on an English muffin.
Their Strawberry jelly is one of the best I have ever tasted
If you thought the jams were amazing, their candies were just as spectacular. They gave me a small goody bag of mini jars of jam, Coucougnettes, a grilled almond that is made by hand and rolled in an almond paste flavored with raspberry and ginger and Fruit Paste tubes, which are fruits cooked in copper bowls, dried and cut up into cubes and candied with cane sugar. Talk about heavenly candies!
The Raspberry Coucougnettes is to the left and the Fruit Cubes to the right have the most intense fruity flavors
When you bite into the Raspberry Coucougnettes, it is like biting into a piece of heaven. You can taste the fresh raspberry in each bite and the cane sugar really brings out the flavor of the candy. The Fruit Cubes were the perfect bite of sweetness where you really could taste the fruit flavors of each one again accented by high quality sugar. There was a lot of care put into these candies. These were some of the best items that I enjoyed at the show.
Another vendor who products I enjoyed was in the Vietnamese Pavillon. The beverage maker, Vinut, has a delicious line of fruit juice beverages. When chilled, these drinks have an amazing flavor.
I tried both the Passion Fruit and the Mango flavors and was most impressed by the Passion Fruit which was sweet and tart at the same time. I also liked the colorfulness of the packaging. The flavors were very bold and when well chilled, the flavors really come out with each sip.
The Passion Fruit Drink by Vinut is wonderful
Another wonderful beverage came from the Korean Pavillon by GEO Enterprise, a distributer of Korean food products. One of the brands that they distribute to the United States is a line of beverages by Smart Framing Creator (SFCBio). This line of Sparkling Fruit Waters has such a refreshing flavor to them. They taste like a fizzy fruit water that bursts in your mouth when you sip them.
I tried both the Sparkling Melon and Sparkling Plum flavors, and both had very interesting tastes. They were refreshing and light, but you could still taste the fruit flavors with each sip. The plum had a nice sweet and tart taste to the flavor. These would be perfect with any Chinese or Asian food meal to accent the rich flavored sauces.
Smart Farmer Creator beverages by SFCBio
There were many American Beverage companies at the show as well sampling their drinks. Several of them stood out amongst the rest for their unique packaging and interesting flavors. I really enjoyed the Mango and the Green Tea that I tried at the show. It was rather unusual that the pearls stayed in form at the bottom of the drink. I loved the exotic flavors that they offered in their selection.
The Lorina Artisanal Lemonade Crafters I have had before but some of the flavors I had not sampled. I have bought the Lemonade many times, but Pink Lemonade had a sweeter and tarter flavor to it. I also like the packaging for these drinks.
The Chi Forest beverages also have many exotic flavors not known to the American palate, but their flavors cater to the growing population wanting to try something new. The Iced Teas are light and really refreshing and the sparkling drinks have a nice bite to them. The White Peach flavor is just wonderful. It is light, sweet and very zesty. I am surprised that these drinks are not more popular with their interesting combination of flavors.
Of the American beverages, one of the standouts is the Hawaiian Iced Tea by NOH Foods. This delicious and refreshing iced tea is flavored with cane sugar, which is the only way sodas should be flavored. There is a big difference between them, and products flavored with high fructose corn syrup. There is a certain sweetness that cane sugar gives to drinks that make them standout and the Hawaiian Iced Teas just have a better-rounded flavor. That and the founder and his son are both really nice and I can tell take a lot of pride in their product.
Hawaiian Iced Tea
One beverage that stood out for both its taste and its packaging was Inner Love’s Foods Lemonblueade.
The small bottle of refreshing juice I realized was also a cleansing drink and a real pick me up. An all-natural version of a power beverage, this sweet drink is full of vitamins and nutrients and whose sweet flavor gives you a burst of energy. I was surprised how this one tiny bottle gave me so much energy for the rest of the visit of the food show.
This refreshing drink is a real pick me up in one gulp
I LOVE the logo for Inner Love Foods products. I think this would make a great tee-shirt
In the Ice Cream Category, the one standout and a place that I love to visit when I am in Rhinebeck, NY is Del’s Dairy Barn, who sell Del’s Ice which is made from milk from the cows on the owner’s farm.
This dense and creamy ice cream is now available in pint commercially and should not be missed. The Lemon Curd and Lavendar Blueberry ice creams are the standouts from Del’s. Any flavor from Del’s is a real treat. If you have time, take a trip up Route 9 in the Hudson River Valley and stop and get a couple of scoops if it is not available in your local grocery (See DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com):
Del’s Packaged Hard Ice Creams are now available in the grocery stores. Still take time out to visit Rhinebeck, NY to their restaurant on Route 9 in the Hudson River Valley.
I thought the Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches were also very good and had delicious flavors. The only problem that I had with these wonderful little treats was the sheer cost that they must sell at retail in stores. You are going to have to go to a very high end store to find these. This is the problem I have with gourmet ice cream sandwiches. They taste amazing but with the perceived value and cost, even these unique treats are going to need to find a very well heeled customer.
There were many standouts in the Candy Category some with packaging and some with taste and some with both. It depended on who the product was trying to cater to and the way it was presented.
Toybox Candies I did not get to try as they were not handing out samples and I could not taste them, but the packaging was really colorful, and I could see this product catering to an eager child or the child within us. The products jumped out at you with bright colors and flashy cartoons, and they were the type of candies that young children could buy for themselves with their allowances or give each other as gifts.
Other items for kids that were not in the Candy Category but had creative packaging to make children say “Buy me” was Food Paint. These whimsical packaged toppings are all natural and made with organic fruits and no artificial colors or flavors. Noshi’s Kids Food Paint was one of those items.
These small tubes fit into a child’s hands and come in Sketchup (Ketchup for hamburgers and fries), Raspberry, Grape and Mango fruit purees perfect for pancakes, waffles and for toast and fruit flavors strawberry, peach and blueberry toppings for ice cream.
The Fruit Pures at Noshi Food Paint
When I talked with the owner of the company, he said that he created this when his kids did not like the flavors, colors and tastes of the commercial brands plus they did not want to fuss with the adult brands. I found the packaging fun and playful.
In the Baked Cookie Category, there was many different flavors and textures that stood out amongst the rest. There were soft cookies, hard cookies, vegan cookies and gourmet cookies. I ate my way through dozens of vendors trying all sorts of baked treat loaded with butter and sugar and then others that fit the roll with no eggs and flour.
From the Spanish Pavillon on my last day, I was able to take a sleeve of cookies from Gullon, a Spanish baking company and sample them at home.
I munched through a package of the ‘Dueto’, sandwich cookies with chocolate flavored filling which were delightful. More of a tea cookie then soft cookie you would find in the States, these sugary light cookies are filled with a creamy milk chocolate spread. They are simple and sweet and make a perfect accompaniment with coffee and tea or for a great snack.
The ‘Dueto’ cookies with a chocolaty center are a delightful tea biscuit type cookie
One of the standouts of the show in the Cookie Category was Rule Breaker, a vegan cookie brand that used chickpeas as its main ingredient and there was a lot of all natural ingredients as their flavorings. You could tell though that these were not made out of flour and eggs, but the consistency was they were chewy and sweet and their rather unusual flavors.
I got to see them a third time my last day of the show and they gave me all sorts of samples that I was able to try at home. My standouts are the birthday cake with the sweetness of those sprinkles inside and the Chocolate Chunk Blondies with their chocolaty sweetness with pieces of chocolate inside.
I recommend Rule Breaker for those of you who are gluten intolerant and want a guilty pleasure. These are sweetened with natural ingredients and making treats that don’t leave anyone out. These soft cookies and bites make the perfect treat.
Another product from Hawaii was very impressive as well. The Honolulu Cookie Company. These delicious mini cookie shortbreads are sweet, rich and buttery and have the most amazing snap when you bite into them.
There were two I tried when they were offering me samples, the Pineapple Macadamia made with fresh pineapple juice and the Chocolate Chip Macadamia. Both had the richest flavors and after one or two of them was more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. You could really taste the pineapple flavor in the cookies. The packaging is a gift it itself and would make the nicest host present.
Another delicious baker was Bisousweet Confections who make the most delicious Doughnut Muffins. These wonderful, sweet treats are a hybrid between a muffin and a doughnut and have the most amazing consistency.
Bisousweet Confections-Doughnut Muffins
I sampled both their Maple Apple flavor and their seasonal flavor or Pumpkin both which were soft and chewy and had a nice sugary consistency. The flavors were wonderful. I can see that the pumpkin ones will be very popular going into the fall.
One cheerful standout in the cookie category was Smiley Cookie.com, which were freshly baked, hand-iced sugar cookies. The cookies were made fresh daily in their factory and could be adapted at the holidays.
These sweet and crunchy cookies can brighten up anyone’s day. If this treat was given up with a restaurant bill or to a guest leaving a restaurant, it would cheer them up immediately. Not only do they look good it is the most optimistic dessert I saw at the show.
There were plenty of entrée, appetizer, pizza and ethnic items to choose from at the show, but you have to face reality that most of the sauces began to blend into one another and there are only so many dumplings you can eat before they all taste alike.
Still there were many that were a step above the others in quality, flavor and how nicely they cooked up at the show. I had several favorites that I went back to their booths more than once or had to try all the other items in their selection.
Wei-Chuan U.S.A. Inc. out of California had some of the best Chinese appetizers at the show. This is one of the booths that I visited three times to try their products. Their Vegetable & Pork Potstickers cooked up nicely and the filling had so much flavor accented by the soy dipping sauce they had on the side.
The Chicken Egg Rolls were loaded with fresh vegetables and ground chicken that were nicely spiced and fried to perfection. Their Hong Kong Style Cha Shu Buns were my hands down favorite with the sweet pork filling and the soft outside rice bun. They pulled apart so nicely.
An American twist to a French appetizer came from a newer vendor at the show Gougeres Artisanal Cheese Puffs. These soft, pillowy puffy little bites light and chewy when you bit into them, and I liked the Classic Gruyere that I sampled.
I had sampled more than a few when visited the booth with enjoying their sharp cheesy flavor. The owner told me that he made these all the time and that they had been popular at parties, and he decided to open it as a business. He made a good choice.
Holy Perogy offered delicious and perfectly cooked potato dumplings that had been lightly fried out.
They were the perfect size to be eaten as an appetizer or as a side dish. I had sampled the Fried Onion and they had such a nice flavor of the well-spiced potato mix accented by the onions. Needless to say, their booth was very busy and did not get to try the others.
Geefree offered a selection gluten free appetizer that were really wonderful. The mini quiches I sampled were well cooked and had a nice buttery taste to them. The Rice Balls were wonderful and were crisp on the outside and moist and tasty inside.
These delightful little fried circles of Ham & Swiss Cheese deserved a second sampling. They were crispy on the outside and soft and stringy on the inside with the nicest combination of cheese and spices. They tasted like a combination of potato coquette and a stuffed potato patty. It was another very popular booth.
The old packaging for the product that stood out so much at the show
One of the standouts in the Pizza Category was Milton’s Craft Bakers Cauliflower Crust Pizza. There is no other word to describe their pizzas but delicious. I never thought that I would like a crust made out of cauliflower, but it is light and crisp, and the sauce has so much flavor to it. It has the most amazing consistency when baked and has a nice selection of toppings. It was a pizza product that stood out at the show.
This Los Angelos based American company has a complete line of Greek savories and sweets with Baklavas, Rolls and Turkish Bagels. The one product that I sampled and enjoyed was their Pastry with Cheese Filling (The Su Borek). This entree was filled with a tasty cheese filling between the layers of buttery pastry. Each bite has a nice crispiness from the layers of crisp pastry and the light flavor of the cheese filling that bakes up golden brown.
‘Su Borek’, Pastry with Cheese filling
One American favorite, the Hot Dog, was showcased perfectly by the Tandem Foods.
Their hot dogs have a combination of pork, beef, lard and spices where the quality is so different from the average hot dog in size and flavor. I sampled both the plain frankfurters and the Pork and Cheese, and quality of the meat mixture and spiciness showed in the flavor of each bite.
My standout show favorite was the lobster products from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company, an American company based in Maine. The company uses a combination of fresh sweet lobster and traditional family recipes to create their appetizers, soups, Lobster Sandwiches and pasta entrees.
The vendors were really nice and let me sample their Lobster Grilled Cheese, small bite sized sandwiches filled with chopped lobster and mixed with Cream, Parmesan, Swiss and Romano cheeses tucked into slices of sourdough bread. They were cooked in butter producing a mouthwatering crisp appetizer where you could taste the sweetness of the lobster, the crunchiness of the buttery bread and the combination of cheeses accenting the lobster meat. it was the best appetizer at the show.
The Mini Lobster Grilled Cheese is the perfect treat for a holiday party
They also have an impressive line of products that include Lobster Sandwiches, Lobster Bisque, Lobster Mac & Cheese and Lobster Ravioli each dish filled with locally caught lobster meat.
The standouts in the Candy Division of the show were many. There were so many wonderful candy makers and chocolatiers that were featured at the show. They came from all over the country and the world.
One vendor stood out for both taste, design and packaging were from American made from New Jersey was Biens Chocolate Centerpieces. These are more than just a gift of candy but a work of art and a very special gift to someone.
The centerpiece designs on display were elegant and richly decorated. The chocolate was nicely decorated, and each bite was like heaven. The truffle chocolates had a soft filling and topped with stripes of chocolate.
The Biens Chocolate Centerpieces are just as wonderful to look as to taste.
Another decorative Chocolatier is Mae Fine Foods whose chocolate truffles look almost like jewels in a presentation box. These flavored truffles are a sweet delight inside and out.
I had sampled the Passion Fruit Mango and the White Chocolate Lemon and offered contrasting flavors of both white and milk chocolate. The Passion Fruit and Mango offer a sweet fruity flavor inside each bite of the chocolate. You can taste the tartness of the lemon in the white chocolate.
The chocolate bon bons look as good as they taste
The beauty of the chocolates is in their appearance and packaging. Each of the candies are handmade and individually decorated. The outside looks like a surrealist painting that has been air brushed on. They glow beautifully in the packaging.
Scamps Toffee is a small batch company of delicious toffee products, toppings, chocolate barks and a toffee popcorn that is out of this world. The ladies that run the company gave me all sorts of samples to take home including the Milk Chocolate Toffee, the Dark Chocolate Toffee, the Milk Chocolate Bark and the Toffee Popcorn.
The wonderful candies and toppings from Scamps Toffee
The toffees have such a rich and crunchy texture with the tastes of coffee and caramel with a delicious chocolate topping. I sampled the toppings, and they had such a nice flavor that accented the pretzels that they were sampled with at the booth. The popcorn is topped with a combination of chocolates and caramel that gives it a sweet and crunchy feel and a very nice complexity with each bite. It puts a new spin on traditional caramel corn.
Miss Maude’s Theater Bar was chocolate bar with unique flavors such as Butter Popcorn, Raisins and Chewy Caramel. I was able to sample a few of the flavors and thought it was such a nice concept.
The Miss Maude’s Theater Bars are a real treat for any movie
Another fun treat with the guilty pleasure of fresh fruit and chocolate was Karinat Frozen Fruits from Argentina distributed by Heinlein Foods. These fresh frozen strawberries and raspberries have a wonderful crunch to them and burst with the fruit flavors and semi-sweet chocolate.
Karinat Frozen Fruits
Food stuffs with peanut butter seemed to be very popular at the show this year and I sampled some unique and tasty candy from Parfait Fine Delicacies.
Their peanut butter cups rivaled anything from Reese’s and put a new spin on them but their Riddle Bars with wafers layered with peanut butter and then enrobed in milk chocolate had a nice snap to them when you bit into them.
The Riddle Bars are amazing
Sanders Candy is a very old-line American firm from Michigan whose chocolate, hot fudge and caramel toppings I have tried many times at the food show or have been given as gifts. When I was at the show this year, I was able to sample some of their chocolates.
My fan favorite was the Small Batch Sea Salt Caramels with their rich taste from the dark chocolate and the complex mix of the salt and caramel giving a sweet and savory flavor. Each bite has a nice snap of the chocolate and gooiness of the filling.
The Dark Chocolate Sea Salt caramels are amazing
Kravy Foods “The Good Stuff” was an impressive vendor with lines of candies and snack foods that not only tasted good but had eye-packaging. I was really impressed with this New York City based company with their extensive line of sweets and snacks. Before I left the show on Tuesday, they loaded me down with samples that I could try on my own and I will tell you I impressed by both the quality and taste.
I was munching on the vanilla Choc-Mallows while I was walking around Manhattan and talk about an energy boost. These sweet little marshmallows are dipped in white chocolate and then dipped in colorful sprinkles with a crunchy outside and soft chewy inside. They hold up well in the hot weather and make the perfect pick me up snack.
Kravy’s Hazelnut Popperz
The Hazelnut Popperz are these puffy and crunchy snacks have the taste of milk chocolate enrobed in the savory hazelnuts that tasted like they had been roasted to a crunchy consistency. They are quite addictive.
Kravy’s Falafel Bites
I saved the best for last as these Falafel Bites are salty and garlicy and have such a wonderful crunch that these chips become addictive. I was not able to try all the flavors, but they make a wonderful dipping snack or just enjoy a bag on the go. One thing I can say about Kravy’s products is that they are not boring. Rich flavors and nice packaging are the perfect snack every day.
I never miss a chance to visit the Italian Pavillon to see what was being imported from my ‘Mother Country’ and see the innovations have been created in Europe.
The Granarolo Company has the sharpest line of Cheese Crisps that I tasted at the show.
These circular snacks were extremely pronounced in flavor (they were too sharp to be eaten alone) and would a great snack with wine or a cocktail. I tried both the Classic Cheese and the Pizza flavored, and both could be paired with a red or white wine.
These delightful sharp flavors are the perfect cocktail snack
Another snack with intense flavors was the lines of puffs and crisps were Vegan Rob’s.
The assortment of snacks and the quality are fantastic. Their spicy products the Dragon Puffs and the Dragon Chips had a nice kick to them with a combination of garlic and onion power with sea salt accented them. With each bite, you could experience the spicy flavor and feel the burning sensation in your mouth.
Dragon Crisps that give a spicy sensation to your mouth
The Cheddar Puffs had a nice bite to them and a crisp crackle. The sharpness of the Cheddar Cheese could be tasted as I ate the whole bag at one sitting (small bag). These addictive little puffs are made with Sorghum Grain Meat and Sunflower oil giving them a slightly different consistency than a traditional doodle.
Vegan Rob’s Assorted Puffs delicious flavors
The great flavoring will have you eating the whole bag at one sitting too.
One of my favorite gourmet vendors of the Fancy Food Show is Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn.
I have watched this company grow over the last fifteen years and have been sampling Jody and her husband’s popcorn for years. Their caramel corn, double Cheddar and the Funetti with the festive colors are some of the most delicious popcorns at the show every year.
The secret of Jody’s Gourmet Popcorn is the kernels they use. Each of the pieces have the same appearance to them and the same size. It is the variety of popcorn kernels they use keep it looking consistent with the packaging and the eating. You won’t see small, popped kernels in the bags. Don’t miss their holiday flavor like the Halloween Funetti and the Christmas Candy Corn.
A local popcorn vendor from New Jersey that I enjoyed was Pop Time Popcorn whose flavors are interesting as well.
I really enjoyed the Spicy Dill Pickle with the flavors of dill, vinegar and onion powder to accent the fresh popcorn. Another standout was their White Cheddar with the sharp taste from the cheese. I also like their cheery packaging.
Don’t miss Pop Times wonderful, flavored popcorns especially the Spicy Dill Pickle
One popcorn vendor took flavoring to a new level with the Cookie Pop and Candy Pop Popcorn from Snax-Sational Brands, who use name brand treats to flavor their popcorn.
When the vendor closed on Tuesday for the show, they let us take all the samples we wanted to try at home, and this gave me a chance to really taste their products. Talk about interesting mixes! I sampled the Sour Patch Kids with its super sweet taste with the chewiness of the popcorn, the M & M Minis with the colorful chocolaty M & M flavors, the Twix Bar with the light peanut butter and chocolaty flavor and the Orea Cookie where you could taste the creamy filling.
Don’t miss these interesting flavors at Cookie & Candy Pop
Talk about innovative flavors, engaging packaging and an overall sweet tasting popcorn that is truly melt in your mouth good!
I love Cheese Popcorn and it is always my hands down favorite to order when out and sample when at the shows. It takes a real art to get that sharp cheese flavor right.
Belle’s Gourmet Popcorn did an excellent job with their Extra Cheddar popcorn.
The Belle’s Extra Cheddar was one of the best in the show
Talk about a nice cheesy flavor in each bite and heavy enough coating to lick off your fingers. That is the sign of a good cheese popcorn. Their Extra Buttery and White Cheddar are just as good as well.
One of the closest to homemade popcorns that I tasted at the show was from Pop Zup, who packaged their popcorn like you were going to the movies.
This New Jersey based company has a selection of crisp crackers, bites and breadsticks have an amazing crunch to them and come in various cheese flavors and sweet flavors accented with cinnamon. These crackers and twists are perfect as a snack or with cocktails. My favorites have always been the Sharp Cheddar twists and the Asiago & Cheddar Crisps.
The Asiago & Cheddar Crisps are delicious and have a nice bite to them
When the show was over, I stopped by the booth and Mr. Macy was cleaning up and left a lot of bags of his products out for people to take which they were by the handful. Having met him at the shows since the early 2000’s, I asked if I could take one of the big bags left which he was happy to do. That is a good businessman, and I enjoyed the whole bag on my own. I loved munching through the bag while working at the computer. I love to hear the loud sounds of the crunching.
Koeze Brands has a wonderful product called “Zestos” which are a seasoned tortilla chip with a sweet, salty and spicy taste.
This selection of various flavored snack foods is a wonderful and diverse selection of tastes and shapes. The two that stood out for me at the show were the ‘Vegables’, which are small crispy triangles with the flavor of spinach, carrots and tomatoes with a slight saltiness and a fantastic crunch.
Good Natured Vegables
The other is their ‘White Cheddar Puffs’ that have a sharp cheesy flavor and a nice bite to them. I was able to bring samples home so that I could taste them a second time and the product is delicious.
These sweet and salty chips tasted like they were fresh out of the fryer and then doused with the spices and a bit of honey. They had the most amazing crunch to them that make you want to finish the bag.
The Carolina Ketter Bee Sting Honey Sriracha chips are sweet and savory in flavor
In the Jellies, Jams and Sauces Category, there were many to choose from when I walked the aisles of the show with many standouts both in the sweet and savory areas.
Blueberry Patch out of Georgia sampled their delicious small batch jelly, Blueberry Lemon & Thyme, which the jar said to serve with cheese, but I put it on an English Muffin when I got home and sampled it on toast. The flavor blended together so nicely, and the combination of the blueberries and lemon brought out the sweet tartness of the fruit. I enjoyed the small jar that they gave me every morning. I also recommend it for waffles.
When I tasted this tomato sauce with some ziti, it tasted like a cross between a Vodka Sauce and a Pink Sauce with a combination of organic ingredients. This light tomato sauce has mixture of freshly chopped tomatoes, heavy cream and parmesan cheese with fresh basil and garlic. These small batch sauces taste homemade and not from a jar.
Of all their sauces the Pink Crema Sauce really stood out
Cakes and Cake Mixes were a big part of the show and of the many that I sampled a few stood out. It was not just on taste but on appearance and packaging as well. Just like the cookie and candy category, there are a lot of wonderful products that taste wonderful but to separate yourself out from the rest of the vendors you need to grab the customers attention to get them to buy it.
The German Crumb Cake from Hahn’s Bakery was out of this world.
This buttery soft cake loaded with large crumbs on the top is perfect for breakfast or dessert. It tasted like it had been just made for the show and had cooled from coming out of the oven. I had to try to piece, and they were more than generous with the samples.
The German Crumb Cake at Hahn’s Old-Fashioned Cake Company is delicious
Little Big Farm Foods had several cakes mixes that I tried at the show and there was no one standout in that I enjoyed them all. The consistency and taste of their products was fantastic, and they bake up nicely.
The four that I was most impressed with was the White Chocolate Coconut Brownie Mix, the Lemon Square Mix, the Organic Selections Lemon Square Mix and the one I sampled most was the Apple Cider Doughnut Mix. They had a delicious sweet and sugary flavor to them.
The Apple Cider Doughnut Mix was the best of the four I tried
The last booth on the last day of the show I visited was the Cornell AgriTech booth, which was a display of all the products that came out of the Cornell University Incubator, part of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.
They were helping small businesses get their ideas into fruition and then getting them to market so I got to see new products and the people who created them. The one stand out here was a whipped cream with a colored syrup already in the can giving a Sunday a colorful look every time it was squirted out of the can.
It also gave me a chance to talk to other Cornell University Alumni about the show and reminisce about our time on campus. It is funny how when Alumni get together how they talked about freezing their asses off at college. Cornell University is on the snow belt in New York State in a major way.
It was an eye-opening show this year with lots of new products to sample and many old vendors it was nice to see again. The show may not have been as big as the show in 2019 when it seemed endless. After two years of not having a show, it was nice to see what is happening in the industry and the world of Gourmet Foods. It is interesting to see many new products have come out with their creative packaging, wonderful flavors and putting a spin on classics. wonderful foods. It was a pleasure to taste high quality foods made with pride.
Good luck to all the vendors mentioned in this blog and to the hundreds of others I visited in those three days.
Please check out my other blogs on the Intenational Fancy Food Show in New York City:
Day One Hundred and Forty-One: Walking the Fancy Food Show 2019:
The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
I had gotten a pamphlet on the historical sites of Salem, Cumberland and Cape May Counties last summer when I was visiting Cape May County and the Jersey Shore for the NJ Firemen’s Convention that is every September (See blogs on Trips to Cape May for the NJ Firemen’s Convention and for the Christmas Holidays-the other historical sites are noted there):
The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May, NJ
I thought what might be a nice trip is to explore the southern part of New Jersey and spend some time learning about the history of this part of the state. There were so many sites to visit and they spread from Pennsville, NJ in Salem County to Cape May in Cape May County. There would be too much to try to see in two days plus I wanted to take a trip to see Woodstown, NJ, a small town that had an interesting looking historical downtown when I visited it two or three years ago.
I had seen almost all the sites in Cape May County (The Cape May Firemen’s Museum, the Cape May Historical Society/Colonial House, the Cape May Lighthouse, the Cape May Zoo, Cold Spring Village, WWII Tower, Sunset Beach, The Emil Physick Estate and the Wildwood Aviation Museum) with the exception of a few smaller places and figured that I could see them during my time at this year’s NJ Firemen’s Convention after the meetings were over at 1:00pm.
So I planned the remainder of those for September. There were a few small historical societies with very limited hours that I just could not drive to with enough time. This covers a lot of area and the roads are mostly one or two lane highways in this part of the state.
Trying to find a hotel room for one night during the college graduation season was trying at best. Most of the chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn by the Turnpike which I expected to choose from had gotten horrible reviews online as dated and dirty so those were out. There were no Airbnb rooms anywhere in south Jersey and the only two B & B’s in the immediate area were both booked for the weekend.
I was ready to give up until I Googled small hotels in South New Jersey and I found The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road, a small inn that was just south of Downtown Salem, which was my starting point for the tour that weekend. I called the innkeeper, Yvonne that afternoon and was surprised that the room that I wanted, The Meadow Room, was open for Saturday night and was listed as $125.00 a night. I immediately booked the room and planned the trip.
The one catch was they were hosting a graduation party at the inn and could I check in on Friday morning. That was perfect for me as I wanted to start my trip visiting Woodstown, NJ and walk around the downtown. So, finishing all my projects at home, off I went at 7:00am in the morning for my trip to South Jersey.
I had decided to get off the New Jersey Turnpike earlier and head down the local Route 45 and take it down to Woodstown and drive through farm country. It was such a spectacular sunny and clear morning that I decided to make a few stops along the way with enough time to check in.
My first stop was at Rosie’s Farm Market Stand at 317 Swedesboro Road in Mullica Hill, NJ. This small farm stand has everything you need for the perfect picnic or to bring to someone’s home for a party. There are all sorts of fruits, vegetables and snacks and beverages to choose from. It has that classic “Jersey Market” look even though it is now surrounded by development.
After I walked around Rosie’s looking for something I could not find in our own farmstands in Bergen County (same items), I headed down the road, turned the corner and headed south down Route 45. I drove through the cute little town of Mullica Hill. I did not have time to stop and explore the town but noted to come back this way so that I could walk around the downtown.
Then I continued the drive down Route 45 on my way to Woodstown and then onto Salem. Route 45 is one of the most picturesque roads that I had been on with its rolling farms and lush landscapes. Things were just beginning to grow, and you could see the fields of corn and plants with an occasional winery popping up here and there. It shows that crops are changing in New Jersey farmland. With all the TV and movies, you see about New Jersey, this is the part of the state that they never show. You can forget sometimes how rural the state really an hour from my house.
I reached Downtown Woodstown, NJ by 9:00am and stopped to look around. I had driven through Woodstown when I went to visit mom after the Firemen’s Convention and thought it a unique and interesting little town with all the Victorian architecture. I walked around the downtown businesses and walked around the neighborhood admiring the care families have renovated these old homes.
I walked through some of the businesses that opened early like the flower shop and independent bookstore. The owners were super friendly, and they were explaining their businesses to me. I thought that was very nice of them. Most of the restaurants with the exception of the diner were closed. It was nice to see all the beautiful homes and cultural sites so close to the downtown.
I planned on coming back later that weekend, so my next stop was downtown Salem. Again you go from a downtown area to farmland again and it is so scenic along the highway with the large fields and watching cows’ feed. Here and there you see new construction but for the most part the area has not changed much since my initial visit six years ago.
The funny part of Downtown Salem is that it just jumps out at you when you cross the bridge. It goes from farmland to the small city of Salem. When you drive it, you start to see all the beautiful historical homes and architecture that reflex the city’s past. Most of the homes are either Victorian or Federalist in design but as you drive past City Hall and the government buildings, you see how run down the city really is now.
The last time I had been here was about four years ago on my way to see my mother and it is still rundown. If Salem was located in Bergen County, you could not touch these homes or any of these buildings for under a million dollars. People all over town assured me that this was not true here.
Downtown Salem, NJ by the Salem County Historical Society is the nicest section of the Downtown
I could not believe that the town still looked this bad when I drove through it to get to the inn which was located by the Delaware Bay. When you drove through the south side of the downtown, the further you got away from the downtown core, the better the neighborhoods got until you hit farmland and marshes closer to the bay. Off a very obscure road I found the Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road.
The Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road
I have to say that I was impressed by the entire stay at the Inn from the check in to the check out. My host, Yvonne, could not have been more welcoming and friendly and made the early morning check in easy. I got the key, got my luggage into the room, let her know that I would return after the party planned that evening was over and went on my way for the afternoon. It would an afternoon of a lot of running around. The one piece of advice she gave me was NOT to eat in Downtown Salem. She recommended either Pennsville or Woodstown for dinner that evening. I would discover later that evening what she was talking about.
After settling everything in at the Inn, I headed back up to Downtown Salem to my first three sites that I wanted to visit on the historical listing, The Friends Burial Ground and the Oak Trees, The Salem County Historical Society and the Salem Fire Museum plus I wanted to walk around the downtown area to see any progress in gentrification (there was none).
What surprised me was the Internet was wrong about all the hours and days. All the sites were supposed to be open by 9:00am and they were all open that day. The Salem Fire Museum which I had looked forward to seeing was not open that day, the Burial Ground’s gate was locked but I was able to walk in on the side of the cemetery and the Salem Historical Society did not open until noon. At this point it was 10:30am.
Since the cemetery I could access by the side of an old house, I was able to spend the first part of the morning walking amongst the historic tombstone and graves of the ‘first families” of Salem, NJ. As I walked amongst the headstones of each row, I began to recognize the names of the families with the names of homes in the area and streets I had just traveled down in Salem.
Friends Burial Ground at West Broadway in Downtown Salem
The family names of Reeves, Thompson, Abbotts, Wister, Bacon, Griscom, Waddington, Sickler, Lippencott, Goodwin, Bullock, Woodnutt and Bassett were arranged by family plots and neatly buried in rows. Many families were buried by generation so that you could the transition from father to son and mother to daughter. It was sad to see so many children who passed before their parents.
The old Oak Tree that once dominated this cemetery fell in 2019 and all that was left of it was a stump where it once stood. Smaller offshoots of the tree that are now about 200 years old still line parts of the cemetery and hold their own natural elegance in its place.
The Salem Oak before it fell
I finished walking through the cemetery and walking through this part of the downtown (Downtown Salem is so impressive but totally falling apart), I still had an hour before the other museums opened. Having not eaten since 6:00am that morning, I needed another breakfast.
I stopped in the Salem Oak Diner at 113 West Broadway is a small diner across the street from the cemetery. I thought it looked a little dumpy from the outside, but it is the traditional diner experience when you go inside with the loud waitresses and the big menu.
The menu was reasonable, and the waitress was really nice. I ordered the French Toast and Scrambled eggs which was delicious. The eggs were scrambled in clarified butter and had that rich flavor to them. They gave me three big slices of French Toast which was loaded with Cinnamon and caramelized perfectly and served with plenty of butter and syrup. God, it hit the spot and I devoured the whole thing. I think the waitress was impressed on how fast I ate it.
After breakfast was over, I worked off the second breakfast walking this part of downtown. It was really quiet in the downtown area, and I could see why. There were no stores or other restaurants either open or there. So many store fronts in this downtown are empty which is so sad because not only is it a county seat but such a beautiful downtown.
My next stop was the Salem Fire Museum at 166 East Broadway, but it was still closed. I found out later that the museum was only open once a month on the first Saturday of the month. I confirmed this when I went to the Salem County Historical Society down the road, and they called for me. I guess for the next time.
My next stop when it opened at noon was the Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street which I had visited a few years before. This is such a wonderful historical society and one of the best I have ever seen. Their displays are so well put together and such interesting exhibitions. When I had visited it the first time, I have about a half hour to run around. I had plenty of time to visit on this trip.
The Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street
The Society is housed in two connecting homes with an interesting core of the house that was originally built in the early 1700’s. The Society has two floors of displays and an extensive library that people use in search of town and family history (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
The dress Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball
What I found impressive about the Society is the extensive number of important artifacts that the museum houses. I took a highlights tour with one of the members and he really pointed out some interesting items to look at in the collection that was on display.
They have an impressive collection of Revolutionary War items including belt and shoe buckles and a ring with a lock of George Washington’s hair. They were several artifacts from the locally prominent Hancock family including the dress that Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to the ball of George Washington’s inauguration.
There was an exhibition of local ice cream companies including an early Bassett family display of the family that still runs their ice cream company out of Philadelphia. There was an early cylinder phonograph of Edison’s that still had all the cylinders. Upstairs there was an interesting clock display where I learned the meaning of why the Roman numerals were created for the clocks the way they were (they wanted the four to be IIII instead of IV because it looked symmetrical).
“The Keeping Room” at the Salem County Historical Society
Downstairs I toured “The Keeping Room” which was the original section of the house from the early 1700’s. This is where all the cooking and work was done for the house as it was not just the heat source for the home but the light as well during the darkest months of winter. When I had been there at Christmas a few years earlier, this was decorated for the holidays with a tree and garland.
I am just impressed with the work that the Society did during the lockdown to make this such an interesting museum. They really put a lot of effort into the displays and explanations of the artifacts.
After I visited the three sites in town, I went down Route 49 to my next stop driving through the outskirts of Salem, the city. I could not believe how run down the homes were in the neighborhoods. Such beautiful Victorian and Federalist homes just rotting away. The whole city looks so sad.
Just when you think you have seen everything, you cross this one road, and you are out in the farming community again. Then its rows and rows of fields and farmhouses. Talk about extremes.
Just after the turnoff to the Hancock House Museum that I was going to visit next, I stopped at the historical site of the old Quinton’s Bridge. The bridge had held an important place in transportation of goods for the area and into Philadelphia. The patriots had to hold this bridge to cut off supplies to the British. As small as the creek is today, you did not have the modern transportation of today back in the late 1700’s so controlling this bridge was important. We lost many people, but we held the bridge (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Today it is just a modern bridge in an isolated place in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town just south of the bridge, but you have to use your imagination back to a time when this was the only road in the area and the major hub of transportation in a vibrant farming community.
Video on the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
I doubled back down a few country roads and visited the Hancock House at 3 Front Street in the small community of Hancocks Bridge. The town consists of a few roads of small turn of the century homes and surprisingly no businesses in what was once downtown.
The Hancock House used to sit on the busiest road in the area as it made its way through towns like Greenwich and Bridgeton. I assume before Route 49 was built; this was the only way to travel through this area as part of the home was a tavern for travelers.
The tavern part of the house faces the road and the home itself is across the street from the old Hancock Bridge. This once vibrant home and farm was an important part of the Revolutionary War history as the family played a big role in business and politics in the area.
The house itself needs a lot of work. The State of New Jersey runs the park and it needs a good painting and plastering. It also needs someone to come in and work with the decor and displays. There are some rooms that have period pieces and the furniture matches what would have been in the house but some of the rooms are barely furnished.
There are no family heirlooms in the house and the tour could have been a little more interesting as the state tour guide could not answer my questions. When another couple came in to take the tour, I took a guidebook and walked the grounds myself. I learned more about the family this way.
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancocks Bridge, NJ
I walked the grounds of the house and could see why this road was so important. Like any other area of the state, when a new highway is built, the old one and what was located on it become part of the past. Outside the tourists and the people that live in the town, I am sure that no one ventures here. There was not even a restaurant in the area to eat at in town.
After visiting the Hancock House, I took the small country backroads that were once a major part of transportation in the area down to Greenwich, NJ, a small town south to visit their treasure trove of historical sites and homes. There were a lot of twists and turns down these quiet roads before you get to Greenwich, a town of an interesting mix of historical homes.
I took my chances to see if the Nicholas Gibbon House would be open and I lucked out in that it had just reopened for tours that month (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). There was just myself and the tour guide, so I got a personalized tour of this statuesque home. Not only did Nicolas Gibbon and his wife live here but after them members of the Wood family moved in and were the family that founded the WaWa chain of stores.
Nicholas Gibbon moved to the area in 1730 when he inherited some 300 acres of land in the area and built his house here. According to the tour guide, he stayed until 1760 when he was trying to get a church built here and the local Quakers discouraged it. He and his wife moved from the area and the Wood family moved in and stayed in the house until the 1920’s.
Each room in the home is beautifully decorated with period pieces including portraits of Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife and silver from the Hershey family. The downstairs kitchen with the hearth and cooking materials was very interesting. Upstairs there is a “Everything Room” with clothing, hats, shoes, Civil War weapons and quilts. I took my time to tour the house and then the grounds before the home closed for the day. I was next off to the Greenwich Tea Burning Monument down the road.
Greenwich Tea Burning Monument at Ye Greate Street and Market Lane
The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument was fascinating in that I never knew this existed or even happened. About a year after the Boston Tea Party, a small handful of citizens, including a future Governor of New Jersey from Greenwich burned a shipment of tea that was being stored in the town. I had come to find out that there were five instances of this radicalism on the East Coast.
The dignified sculpture was dedicated in 1908 in honor of this heroic act before the start of the Revolutionary War. I took my time to study what happened and never realized what New Jersey’s role was in trade before the war. I opened the small gate and paid my respects to these brave men who risked a lot to protest the “Tea Tax”.
Just down the road from the monument is the Museum of Prehistory at 1461 Bridgeton Road, which I had a small amount of time to visit before it closed for the evening. This little museum was a real surprise because it was not even on my list of places to visit.
I just made it to the Museum of Prehistorical History after visiting the Nicolas Gibbon House. This small but unique museum is housed in one big room of the building and each section has a different artifact featured.
The was an extensive display of Lenape and Native American artifacts in one case line showing off the collection of arrowheads, spear tips and fishing and stone cooking equipment. There was a collection of fossils of fish, bone and plants and a selection of pottery. There were even fossils of dinosaur eggs.
The gentleman working there that day let me stay extra before closing and was a student studying paleontology, so he was able to give me an explanation on the specimens. From what he was telling me that the museum was looking for more space and may be moving in the future.
The Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery at 54 West Avenue South in Bridgeton, NJ
Visiting the Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery was an interesting experience. Trying to get from Greenwich to Bridgeton should have been a straight run but there were no names on the signs, and you just had to figure it out. I found the right road and it led me right to the cemetery.
The Presbyterian Church is only used now for special occasions and events but is an elegant building that sits on top of a bluff overlooking the downtown area. During the daylight hours you are allowed to roam around the cemetery looking at the gravesites (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So many famous politicians, war heroes, founding fathers of the City of Bridgeton and entrepreneurs at the turn of the last century are buried here.
What I found interesting about the cemetery was the family plots with the generations of people buried next to one another and their stories. It was sad when the parents buried their children and then died a few years later. Trying to figure the narrative of these families can be heartbreaking.
The really sad part of such a historic cemetery is that it is so overgrown. I was walking through in some parts a foot of weeds. I know that taking care of a cemetery this size must be hard, but I would think there would be more care of the dead considering this is a destination for historians.
When I finished touring the church grounds, I took a tour of the Bridgeton Historical Downtown. It was such a waste to see a bunch of old buildings falling apart and most of the businesses closed or small run-down businesses located in them. A block away was a more modern downtown with newer buildings. The shopping district caters to the very large Hispanic population that lives here and is great if you are looking for provisions for a picnic.
After I left Bridgeton, it was almost 6:00pm and I headed back up Route 49 to head back to Salem. I was trying to figure out where to go for dinner and taking the advice of the Inn, I planned on heading back up Route 45 to Woodstown to find a place.
On the ride back up the highway, I passed Hudock’s Frozen Custard stand and saw all the people outside enjoying hot dogs and ice cream and I had to stop. It was so classic Jersey that I had to see what it was all about and trust me, it is worth the stop. Their food is delicious and extremely reasonable.
I just wanted a snack to tide me over as I was traveling around and had no lunch. So, I ordered a foot long hot dog and a Coke. Trust me, when they said foot long, they meant it. The hot dog was really big, split down the middle and grilled and they topped it with mustard and relish. It was out of this world and just what I needed after a long day.
At Hudock’s Custard Stand, a foot long hot dog is A FOOT LONG!
I took my hot dog and Coke and sat outside with all the families enjoying their meals and just sat and watched the field sway by and enjoyed the sunshine. Talk about a perfect early evening treat. The hot dog was perfectly grilled and crisp when I bit into it.
When I went back again in September, the weather was just as nice, and I stopped again for lunch on my way to Pennsville to visit Church Landing Farm. This time I had a hamburger and French Fries with a Coke ($8.55). That hit the spot after a long day of driving. The burger was cooked fresh for me, and the fries just came out of the fryer and still sizzled. I just sat at one of the picnic benches and relaxed under the shade of a tree. It was nice watching the few cars drive by and admiring the farm that surrounded the hot dog stand.
A trip to Hudock’s is a trip back in time to a less rushed time
Later that afternoon, I stopped back at the Custard stand they have and had two scoops of their homemade Peach Ice Cream. For $3.85, I thought that was very fair. You got two very large scoops of ice cream in a paper cup made with homemade peaches that were still in season. Yum! Hurry quick because Hudock’s closes the first week of October for the season.
It was nice to just relax and watch the other people having such a nice time talking and eating. For a moment I felt like it was 1975 again and I was a teenager. This is how nostalgic the place makes you feel. When you see a free showing of “Jaws” coming soon I felt like I was stepping back in time. It was nice to just sit for an hour and just relax.
I agreed with the Innkeeper when I got back into Salem a little after 7:00pm. It was still sunny and bright but the crowds outside both the only Chinese take-out place and pizzeria in downtown Salem looked pretty shady so off I went back up Route 45 to Woodstown and decided on Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street for dinner.
I was surprised on how both the restaurant and the downtown were so quiet that night. I know it was Father’s Day weekend, but it was not like a major holiday, and I would have thought people would have been out and about.
Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street in Woodstown, NJ
I was the only one eating at the restaurant that evening and the waitress could not have been nicer. It was the two of us and the delivery person and one other person outside the two cooks that evening. I ordered a Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz and one of the best I have had outside of Philly. They really loaded in the meat for me, and the Wiz is the best way of topping it. I just sat there reviewing my notes of the day and planning the next morning starting with my first lighthouse visit.
Papa Luigi’s makes an excellent cheesesteak with Wiz
As I was driving back from Woodstown to Salem at 8:30pm, the sun started to go down and I wanted to see it before it totally set on the Delaware Bay. What was breathtaking was as I drove down Route 45, I could see the sun starting its descent over the fields of corn and wheat and the sunshine against the farmhouses. I made it back into Salem and then driving south to the bay area, I got the last glimpses of the sun as the party was cleaning up.
I stood on the lawn of the Inn watching the last of the sun peek under the horizon of the Delaware and the dazzling colors that it made. The sun fully set around 9:00pm (God, I love the Summer Solstice time) and watched as the stars started to come out. What a view! With all the craziness in the world and all the radical strife, this is what should get people to think about how Mother Nature can still surprise us with her magic.
The dazzling Delaware Bay view from the Inn’s lawn
I did not stay up too long after that driving so much during the day and slept soundly all night. I could not believe it the next morning when I had slept over eight hours which I never do. I was showered, shaved and up and adman by 9:00am and got packed and ready for breakfast. That was another wonderful part of the stay.
After I was packed up, I stopped downstairs for breakfast. Since there are no cooking facilities on the property and events are catered, they ordered in breakfast for me from the Diamond Grill at 534 Salem Quinton Road, a diner located down the highway from Salem. The order came in pretty quickly and I ate on the patio of the Inn overlooking the bay. Since there were only three rooms at the Inn and everyone else was gone, I had the patio to myself that morning.
I just had a simple breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit with some orange juice (Yvonne lets you order what you wish off the menu provided in your room the night before) and had the table set up for me on the corner of the patio. The food was delicious, and the pancakes were large and had that nice, malted flavor.
While I ate, I got to watch the boats pass by and birds sway over the bay. I did not leave until the check-out time of 11:00am because it was so relaxing to enjoy breakfast and not have to rush anywhere.
My first stop the second morning was a trip down both Route 49 to Route 41 for my first stop, The East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, NJ at the edge of Cumberland County. The lighthouse was located on the westernmost part of the natural preserve on the shoreline. Getting to it took a lot of twists and turns down the road but at the end of the road it offered the most amazing views of the ocean.
This little lighthouse is one of the best I have seen in a long time. There is so much care put into this historical site. When I parked at the end of the street, I noticed on all sides of the lighthouse were barriers protecting it on all sides from the advancing bay.
After you buy your tickets at the Gift Shop, you walk along the dunes that protect the lighthouse that are nicely landscaped with sea grass, tiger lily’s and black-eyed Susan’s. The gardens are really beautiful at the beginning of the summer. It is a short walk to the lighthouse from here.
The lighthouse itself is nicely furnished with period furniture and antiques and each room reflects what the family’s role was in the lighthouse function. There was a lighthouse keepers office, a complete kitchen with pot belly stove and a living room on the first floor
The second floor is the bedrooms where you can see where the family slept, and the children conducted themselves with their own social life. The rooms contained a lot of period furniture and clothing, and the children’s bedroom was loaded with all sorts of toys from different eras. There was even a handmade dollhouse with homemade furniture that decorated it and a picture of the man who made it.
In real life, no child would have this many toys in this era, but the tour guide explained to me that after they finished renovating the lighthouse, they put out the word for donations for furnishings for the lighthouse. They were over-whelmed with donations. People must have been downsizing their family heirlooms.
Each room in the lighthouse was nicely decorated and reflected the times. On the top floors were the functions of the lighthouse and an explanation of how the lighting worked. This is still a functioning lighthouse so educational to see how it worked and how it functioned today. The tour guides are really good at explaining how everything worked.
After the tour of the lighthouse and walking the grounds (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), I left as the site was getting busier and headed up the highway to Mauricetown (pronounced “Morristown” like its northern counterpart) and headed up to visit the Mauricetown Historical Society.
The Mauricetown Historical Society like many of the spots on the historical listing is only open for a few hours twice a month so you have to plan your trip here accordingly. Make sure to take the hour-long tour as they cover not just the history of the house but how it was furnished, decorated and the story of the people who lived here. It really makes the house come to life.
What is interesting about the town and the neighborhood is that it was an old fishing, shipping and trade village and all the homes on this side of town that faced the Maurice River were the Ship Captain’s so the homes are bigger and more elaborate than the ones further in town. Still after driving through the town, it is a picturesque and quaint looking town with rows of historical homes and colorful landscaping.
The Mauricetown Historical Society at 1229 Front Street
The tour of the Mauricetown Historical Society was very informative on the life of a sea captain and his family and the history of Mauricetown and its business functions for the area. This town was a big shipping area during and after the Revolutionary War and its location made it perfect for restocking and ship building. Sea Captains made their fortunes here and their homes reflected that affluence. This was the home of Captain Edward Compton.
When you enter the Mauricetown Historical Society, you are greeted into the parlor area of the home and a display of military items including uniforms, weapons, and equipment used for battle. They even had one of the earliest artifacts with a pair of sharpshooter glasses that had just been developed.
The Military display at the Mauricetown Historical Society
The living room had been redecorated to reflex the time after the Revolutionary War and its changes at the start of the Victorian era. Early wallpaper had been found underneath the paneling that had been placed on top and new one had been recreated to match the original. Period furnishings and instruments decorated the room.
The upstairs had bedrooms that were decorated to reflex the Victorian era with heavy furniture and a collection of quilts. Their collection of quilts was really interesting in that they had one they displayed with the names of the sea captains and their family members. Genealogists used the quilt so that families could trace their ancestors back to that time. They also had another quilt of all things found in nature.
There was a display to Captain Bacon, a local resident and his wife, Carolyn and their life together in town. There was another display of pictures of the town through the years and how it developed. There was a display of period clothing from the Victorian era to the 1920’s. I could see that even though it was a bit more formal, times have not changed that much.
They displayed the Oyster and Fishing Industry, and they had all sorts of equipment on display including the rakes and even had the bridge key for the old Maurice River Bridge to show how they turned the bridge to let the boats through. The last display was a wonderful collection of children’s toys and dolls (all of these homes have big displays of toys) and you could tell by the quality how lucky some of these children were because these playthings were not cheap even then.
In the backyard was a cookhouse that was kept separate from the house that was built in the 1880’s. A modern kitchen was not added until the 1940’s. Also in the backyard is the Abraham and Anna Hoy House, a small house that was considered an example of the average person’s home in the early 1800’s. Over the years it has been added to but the Society brought it back to its original early 1800’s design. You can see where the cooking facility was located and the loft sleeping space above it for the children of the house who used it in the cold months of the year.
The tour gave a very detailed explanation of life at that period and the tour guide gave a wonderful description of the time and life in the house. After the tour, I took time to explore the grounds around the house and of the surrounding neighborhood to admire the other old homes. It is an interesting town to explore.
On the first day of my trip in September, I stopped at the Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road in the town of Woodbine, NJ. This small one room schoolhouse is packed with all sorts of artifacts.
The Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road
There are displays on businesses that used to be in the area such as the Mason Basket Company, who used to make all the baskets for apples and peaches for the local farms, the local shingle factory that prided itself on making the shingles for Congress Hall in Philadelphia and the local cranberry blogs.
There are pictures of the historic Methodist Camp that was located here, a display on local Veterans and their artifacts, pictures of home management on the farm and in rural New Jersey, an antique pipe organ and pictures of the local renovation of the Ludlam family cemetery. There is a little bit of this and a little bit of that displayed at the museum and well organized in this former one room schoolhouse. The docents were also really nice.
The Museum of Cape May County at 504 North Route 9
The Museum of Cape May County changed their hours the week before and now it is only open on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, so I had to plan to visit it another time when I was in the area. I was a little bummed because it had nice grounds that I took a moment to walk. That is when I went back to the Cape May Zoo (see above) which was a madhouse that afternoon on a beautiful sunny day.
On my way back up Route 41, I debated stopping in Millville but there was no time if I wanted to get back to Pennsville to see the Church Landing Farm. I had tried twice to stop in to see the Potters Taven in Bridgeton but then double checked the guide and found out that it is only open on Sundays in July from 1:00pm-4:00pm so I will not be visiting it this summer, so I continued from Downtown Bridgeton to Pennsville.
Potters Taven at 49-51 West Broad Street in Bridgeton, NJ
Between the traffic and the distance and not being able to find the cross street, I did not get to the Pennsville Township Historical Society until ten minutes to 4:00pm and no one would answer the door. I knocked on both with four cars outside hoping that I would catch someone to give me a tour of the home but to no avail. I was able to see inside at some of the antique furnishings but that was it.
I was able to walk the grounds of the farm and it was spectacular. You really have to see the views of Delaware Bay and the fantastic views. The grounds have all the separate buildings on it that were closed as well but at least I got to view everything. For the next trip.
The Pennsville Township Historical Society-Church Landing Farm at 86 Church Landing Road
When I visited in September, I made it a priority to visit the museum and arranged my Sunday schedule so that the Church Landing Farm was my last stop on the way home. After lunch at Hudock’s, I made my way up Route 49 to the museum. What was nice was I was the only visitor at the time, so it was just me and the two docents touring the house and grounds.
What an interesting tour of the house and of the displays in the sheds that are on the property. The farmhouse was built by the Garrison family between 1840-1845 and was the home of lawyer and gentleman farmer, Donald Garrison. The house was lived in by generations of Garrisons until 1973 when the last living member of the family, Anna Locuson died. At this point, the house was in disarray.
In 1991, with the help of Atlantic City Electric, the Pennsville Township Historical Society was formed and has maintained the house since. The artifacts in the house are all donations and are of the period that the family lived in the house over the years with the exception of family portraits on the first floor. The upper floors are displays of a children’s room and the room of an adult. They also have a nice research library on town and family history.
On the grounds there is a series of sheds with different themes and displays to see. As they unlock each shed, they show you the magic of their artifacts. There is one shed with a Floating Fishing Cabin, one with artifacts from the fire and police departments and the military, another of high school memorabilia, another is a wash house and my favorite, one of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. It has all sorts of signs, rides and former parts of rides and attractions. These sheds were the highlight of the trip. Everything is so well maintained and displayed on the property.
I also walked the grounds again and admired the view of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It must have been something before all these things were built and it just had a view of the bay.
I needed to stop for a quick snack, and I noticed that on this Father’s Day Sunday not much was opened around the area. I came across Four Seasons Doughnuts, an old-fashioned doughnut shop on Route 49 and stopped in. I got the most delicious sugar topped jelly doughnut ($1.50) and devoured it quickly. The doughnut selection that time of the day was not as big, but it was enough to tide me over until dinner. I was ready to see my last site of the day.
Four Seasons Doughnuts at 275 North Broadway in Pennsville, NJ
In September, I doubled back to Hudock’s to the custard stand for ice cream. It was only fifteen minutes away from the site. I ordered some homemade peach ice cream and just relaxed on the picnic tables again. It was such a beautiful day, and I did not want to leave that spot. Looking at the farms was just so nice (see prices and pictures above).
Hudock’s for ice cream is so nostalgic
I got to Fort Mott State Park by 5:00pm and it was still bright and sunny outside. I love these long summer days when it is light out until 9:00pm. By the time I got to the Finn’s Point Lighthouse, the Visitors Center was closed but it looked like it had not been open. The stairs were overgrown, the sign on the door was dated 2019 and the fence around the lighthouse had a lock that looked rusty. So, I only got to admire it from a distance. It really is an interesting lighthouse as it slender and further away from the water than the other lighthouses that I had seen before. I read that you cannot walk in if it is too cold outside or too hot. I traveled further into the park.
Finn’s Point Lighthouse at Fort Mott and Lighthouse Road
Fort Mott State Park was a real treat. I never knew this place even existed. I had never heard of the fort before today. Fort Mott State Park is interesting in that it was designed after the Civil War facing the State of Delaware across the bay and was designed to protect Delaware Bay. Most of the construction happened after 1897 and gun emplacements were located the below concrete and earthen embankment.
There is also a fire tower, guard house, former warehouses and battery’s protecting the fort. By the end of WWI, the fort was considered obsolete and by 1943 was decommissioned. The State of New Jersey bought the land in 1947 and by 1951 it was opened as a park.
I was able to tour through the gun embankments and climb the stairs to see where the guns were once based on. The views were amazing of the bay, and it was a clear shot if boats tried to come into the bay. I passed the fire tower that was closed for tours that day and I visited what was the Ordnance Warehouse which is now the gift shop and a small museum of artifacts from the old fort. This includes equipment, pictures and photos of when the fort was in service. This part of the park should not be missed as it is fascinating to see how the fort was run and its role during the war.
The best part of the park is to just stroll along the long grass lawn that leads to the views of the Delaware Bay. The views are spectacular and on a sunny day, it is just a please to look out at the bay and enjoy the views. There are also nice picnic grounds that were full of families enjoying the early evening of Father’s Day. I spent time here relaxing before my long trip home soaking up the sunshine.
After my trip to Fort Mott State Park, since the sun was still high in the sky and it would not get dark until almost 9:00pm, I decided to double back through Salem, go back up to Woodstown to have dinner and see the farmland one last time before leaving the area. It is such a scenic trip home and I wanted to see all of it one more time before leaving the area.
I stopped in Woodstown and walked around the downtown one last time. A lot was closed on Sunday, and I was surprised that more restaurants were not open. I decided on a quick slice of pizza at Gus’s Pizzeria at 14 Main Street. It was okay but I would not make a special trip to go there. There are other places to eat.
My last stop of the trip back up was stopping in Millica Hill, the quaint little town I first encountered when I got off Swedesboro Road to go down Route 45. I stopped and looked at all the old buildings and restaurants that they had. Most everything was closed for the day and only one restaurant was open and there was only one couple there. They also had a Historical Society in the downtown area that I noted for my next trip to the area.
As I finally got to the New Jersey Turnpike, the sun was setting in the distance. As I said before, it is so nice to have these long days to drive and explore. It was an eye-opening trip and I saw so many interesting places and got a better grasp of our state’s history and its place in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
I was an interesting and relaxing weekend and the best way to spend Father’s Day. It was a trip that my dad would have enjoyed.
I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Rutherford because it was the next town over from the Lyndhurst campus where I was teaching and the fact that Lyndhurst did not have a cohesive downtown area to promote. When I walked it, their downtown was in sections instead of one long stretch. Also, Downtown Rutherford had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of an old church dominating the downtown and a park with a band shell at the top of the shopping district. There was more you could do with it.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City and one into Newark as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Rutherford has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The second week back from the Spring Break I presented the project and handed out the positions of the company and then explained the project. I go the usual ‘Yeahs’ and ‘groans’ from the students. I also got those panicked looks from the students who looked at me like they could never handle their position in the company. I would like to think as a CEO, I know them better than they know myself. After that, I had the Teams break up into their groups, met with my Executive Team and then met with the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations before they left for the night. It is always an interesting experience when meeting your Executive Team for the first time. They look nervous about being in charge.
The Project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
This all changes over the next few weeks as the students start up group chats and meet with one another after class. Then it was time to take the students out “into the field”. Right before COVID hit, I was going to take my class who were creating the project “From Revolution to Revelation-Visiting Historic Bergen County, NJ” out to visit historical sites, museums and farms all over the county. Then the virus hit, and we could not do any of that. I had seen how successful these field trips had been just by visiting our own campus or our trip to Downtown Paterson, NJ. I had to help the students overcome their fear of that city and see it gems and benefits.
I arranged for the students to take a field trip to Downtown Rutherford, NJ one night of class three weeks after the Spring Break. Of course, it has been raining the whole week and I asked the students in advance if they wanted to take the field trip even if there was a chance of rain. My Senior VP of Operations emailed me and said that people did not have a problem with it. It was the most rainy, miserable night to walk around a town!
We all met in class where I gave my speech about behaving themselves on a field trip and how they are representing Bergen Community College. That always helps. Then the heavens opened up on our way to the first stop, the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford, an elegant church at the top of the downtown that was going to serve as the location for the “Snowflake Festival”.
The First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford at 1 East Passaic Avenue
The church was an example of Victorian architecture not seen today
I could not believe how beautiful this church was with it wooden carved benches, Tiffany windows and elegant pews. The whole church was done in carved wood and since it had an endowment to keep it up, the church was immaculate. It was one of those churches that you want to attend during the holidays to enjoy the pipe music and flowers. It also had lots of meeting spaces that were perfect for the project. I could tell that the students were impressed.
The inside the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford is so elegant
After we left the tour of the church, we had to endure the elements and walk to Lincoln Park across the street to view the band shell for the “Big Band” concerts that we would be holding there in the month of August. I could not believe that most of the students were not carrying umbrellas (this is after I told them all to bring an umbrella with them twice). The rain was really coming down at that point.
We walked the park and I showed them how we could set the whole thing up and how operations could work. We could even use the meeting rooms at the church and their kitchen to cook the refreshments for the concerts. While we were finishing, one of the students snapped a group shot of us at the band shell.
My class at the Band Shell in Lincoln Park in Rutherford, NJ on that rainy night
After the tour of the band shell, we walked the entire side of the downtown going south with me pointing out historical points like the WWII Memorial at the circle and historic businesses like Varrelman’s Bake Shop at 60 Park Avenue (it was closed at this point of the evening). We then stopped at the railroad station and talked for a bit where there was a covering from the rain.
I explained how people could come into town by both rail and by bus where they did not need a car. This way people from other parts of New Jersey could join in the fun without having to look for parking.
Then we walked north up the other side of Park Avenue to our final destination, dinner at Da Mario Pizza at 25 Park Avenue for dinner. I had planned a pizza dinner for my class (which I pay for) which is a Team building event and also gives the students a chance to bond as a group. Plus, I feed them and on this gloomy night, they deserved it.
I ordered five large cheese pizzas and then let the students pick their beverages. I gave a little speech about the town and then about the project. We would be having another series of field trips to other places in town over the next few weeks while they worked on their project. They would also have to take trips to the town on their own. After that, I let the groups get together and work on their game plans for the project.
It was nice to just get out of the rain. I was hoping by the time we got out of the restaurant that the rain would stop. It poured more! After dinner, the Teams walked to the Williams Center to see the complex and I explained what would be happening in the future to the site with a new condo building and parking garage. It would bring more people to the downtown creating a new base of customers to the businesses downtown. Then I let them go home. It was a wet evening.
“Welcome to Rutherford” video promoting the attributes of the town
Over the next two weeks, there were two extra credit trips, one to the Meadowlands Museum on a Saturday so that the students could see the museum with time to visit all the exhibitions. The other trip was to City Hall for a Council Meeting to meet the Mayor and the Borough Council. Those were eye openers for not just the students but myself as well. These were the trips that I was to take with my students two years earlier to promote their projects before COVID shut us down. I could imagine the extra work that could have been done on those projects if the virus had not come.
I was able to arrange with the Meadowlands Museum, a small historical museum in Rutherford that concentrates on both the town and the County’s history from the Native Americans to the rise of the agriculture industry in Bergen County. I lead my class on a tour before class one Thursday evening and it was an eye-opener to students who lived nearby and never knew the museum existed.
We toured the first floor with its local art exhibition, communications display and section dedicated to a local doctor. Then to the second floor where children’s toys were located, the mining exhibition and a display of glowing minerals to show off New Jersey’s Mining past. Then it was to the basement level where spinning wheels, farm equipment and a turn of the last century kitchen was displayed. Some of the students had never seen displays like this before. After the tour, it was back to class for their quiz and lecture.
My class touring the Meadowlands Museum during class time
For the next three weeks, I gave the students class time to work with their Teams on the project and then on their own they revisited the town, created their commercials and put together their presentations.
The Historical tour of Rutherford, NJ brought to YouTube
On the night of April 28th, 2022, the students dressed in professional dress and presented their project to the Honorable Mayor Frank Nunziato and the Rutherford Borough Council. This is when I present a group of Generation Z students as Generation X consultants, and they are the executives of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
Each group presented their part of the presentation to our invited guests and creatively introduced their section of the project. I could not have been prouder.
The PowerPoint Presentation of “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
These videos of the presentation are available on YouTube:
The Introduction and the Talent Team:
My Introduction of the Project and the Talent Team Presentation
The Historical Team Presentation:
The Historical Team describes their ideas for the Historical Tour and updates at the Meadowland Museum
The Marketing Team Presentation:
The Marketing Team presented their ideas for Special Events and Advertising plus the new town song “Rutherford 07070”.
When the presentation was over, I could see that the Mayor and the Council as well as the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce were blown away by the whole presentation. They were so impressed by the work that the student consultants did on the project. I had not seen the full presentation at that point and have to say that I was blown away as well.
Everyone had such great questions for the student consultants, and they were up for the challenge. I even had our Team Leader sing “Rutherford 07070” live to the Mayor and his Team and everyone enjoyed that.
The song “Rutherford 07070”
Each of the Council men and women got up and talked with each Team on their ideas and were very impressed by the thoroughness of the budgets and the realistic numbers that they presented. They even noted the student’s followed things like budgeting for the police and DPW for the Special Events. They also liked that everyone from locating our offices in the Rutherford area to using downtown restaurants for catering and for our company “Wrap Up” party. Everyone got a chance to give the student consultants their input on the project.
After the presentation, the Mayor and the Council along with the Vice-President of the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce took a group shot with my class and that meant a lot to me. It showed both myself and the students that they took the presentation seriously.
My Business 101 student consultants with the Mayor and Council and Chamber of Commerce of Rutherford, NJ
After we finished, I had a light reception for the students, their families and our invited guests. It was a nice evening, and I was so proud of my students. It was another group that has now entered to the Alumni of “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.” (Acronym for Bergen Community College-Paramus Campus).
I went to Heights Bar & Grill that evening to celebrate their success. It had been a long semester in the post-COVID era. We overcame the difficulties with masks and stress and achieved the goal! This is when a thin-crusted pizza and a drink taste even better.
I love Toast’em’s. I had never been a big fan of toaster pastries, thinking that items like Pop-Tarts by Kellogg’s were for little kids. Over the last few years, I discovered Toast’ems when I was shopping at the Dollar Tree and needed to bring a snack with me on my walks in Manhattan in the afternoons. These delightful treats carry so well and there is such a variety of flavors to choose from.
The Frosted Strawberry Toast’em’s
You do not even have to heat these pastries as they are good just out of the bag. They have the same consistency as a Pop Tart at half the price and sometimes they have a bonus pack where you get an extra package of pastries for the same price.
The taste is delicious with fillings that include…
*This blog is dedicated to Lucy, whose input and cheerleading for this blog has been much appreciated and to another memorable lunch!
I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for almost nineteen years and over the years you become friends with the other volunteers. Lucy and I have gotten to know one another over the years. Last Spring, we had gotten together for an amazing lunch over pizza from Lions & Tigers & Squares on West 23rd Street.
Maybe it was the pizza, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was just the view of the Flatiron Building in the background as we were eating lunch by the plaza next to Madison Square Park or maybe all of the above. It was just an amazing lunch.
Over the Fall and Winter months we had kept in touch and the conversation always went back to that amazing lunch and just the beautiful view of the Flatiron Building in the background while we ate. I had commented to her that all over the world people wished they could be in the very spot that we were in eating lunch and here we were eating there. There is sometimes a moment in time that are just perfect.
When Lucy came in again, I had been through a lot lately losing my friend, Barbara and some family issues. So, it was nice to have someone nonpartial to listen. I was going through a lot at one time.
Having had pizza the night before and for lunch the day before that, I really did not want to go back to Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) so we on a whim tried S & A Gourmet Deli at 240 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a sandwich.
Talk about another excellent lunch. The sandwiches there are excellent. S & A Gourmet Deli does a great job with their food. I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich ($8.99), which was two freshly fried chicken cutlets topped with Swiss Cheese and Ham topped with spicy mustard on a fresh hoagie roll. Each bit was amazing.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich at S & A Gourmet Deli
The two of us had a nice afternoon talking about what was going on in our lives and just enjoying the warm weather. What was strange was only about an hour before it was pouring down rain and then as we met it cleared up. By the time we finished lunch, it was almost the same weather as the time we had lunch last year, sunny and warm and in the 70’s. I guess God was listening.
Having lunch outside with the Flatiron Building in the background is amazing!
After lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and I was off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the Magnolia trees blooming and the breathtaking Daffodil Hill, where thousands of daffodils would be blooming at one time around a 100-year-old Oak Tree.
With everything going on, I am getting a little leery about traveling by subway but off I went. The ironic part is that the trip was smooth and quiet and non-eventful. I found out later on that evening that the N Line earlier the morning had been hit with a smoke bomb and a shooting. Talking about shattering an imagine. Thank God I did not know all this on the trip down to Brooklyn.
The Entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 990 Washington Avenue
The weather was even better when I got up the stairs on the Number 2 line outside the Brooklyn Museum. It had gotten even warmer. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the busiest it had been all season with people taking pictures of the now blooming Cherry trees and Japanese Garden coming to life in the early Spring months.
Daffodil Hill was just as spectacular as the many years before. The daffodils were in full bloom and the hill on the other side of the Japanese Garden next to the flowering Magnolia trees which were also in full bloom. The scents were wonderful with scents of sweet jasmine and candy.
There are very few places in the world that are perfect but the bench by Daffodil Hill is one of those spots. To sit there and just admire Mother Nature at work at her best is just something. I look forward to this every year and is one of the main reasons why I keep renewing every year. For one afternoon, I just want to sit at that exact bench and admire Mother Nature’s handywork.
The Japanese Gardens are starting to bloom
The Cherry Trees in the Japanese Gardens on the other side of the hill were just coming into bloom as well and the whole effect showed that Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Everyone needed the warm weather to come and relax us. It has been a long Winter.
I ended spending over two hours just walking around the gardens and relaxing under a tree like everyone under the Cherry Tree Esplanade that has not bloomed yet. The soft grass and the relaxing sounds of contemporary music on every half hour was a nice way to spend the late afternoon.
Once left the gardens, I was going to go to the Brooklyn Museum, but it was closed and the weather being so beautiful I decided to walk to Downtown Brooklyn and see how the reconstruction of the Fulton Mall was going. So I took the long walk around the circle and walk down Flatbush Avenue towards Downtown Brooklyn. I made a few detours along the way and explore Brooklyn.
As I got to the turn off to Atlantic Avenue just off Flatbush Avenue near the Barclay’s Center, I decided to make the turn and explore a neighborhood I knew well. This part of Brooklyn I had used for my novel, “Firehouse 101” and I spent many a day exploring the streets of Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill for my book, noting the streets, parks and businesses. There are lot of memories of me walking this neighborhood almost twenty years ago.
My novel “Firehouse 101” set in Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill Brooklyn
I can’t tell you how many times I walked Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Smith Street and Court Street for inspiration. Many of the observations of those afternoons were written into the book as I tried to make it as real as possible.
When I got to the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street, I made the right turn and walked the length of Smith Street in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. It also amazes me how a neighborhood keeps changing as new businesses keep opening and closing changing the complexity of a neighborhood and how the long-time businesses still chug along and watch it all happen. There are those family-owned enterprises that make the City unique.
As I rounded Smith Street, admiring all the new gift boutiques, gourmet shops and small restaurants, I crossed over Degraw Street to walk the ‘border’ of the neighborhood in my novel and walked to Court Street and walked up the street. I needed to stop a few times at some bakeries that I had been to many times on my walks here.
As I walked all over Atlantic Avenue, I saw all the new little boutique bakeries with their $5.00 cookies and $7.00-$9.00 pies that looked delicious but were not worth the money. No pie that is about three bites is worth $7.00. When I visited the longtime neighborhood favorite, Monteleone’s Bakery at 355 Court Street the woman at the counter reminded me why this bakery has been around for 100 years. Quality and service.
The pastries at Monteleone’s Bakery are delicious
The prices and selection are also a nice part of the bakery. Their miniature pastries which are nice sized sell for $2.00 a piece and the selection of them is extensive. I bought a pastry stuffed with cannoli cream and a mini cream puff with vanilla cream. I had the woman put them in a bag so that I could eat them along the way. They both lasted barely a block.
When I mentioned to the woman about the $7.00 pies and $5.00 cookies at the bakeries on Atlantic Avenue, she just laughed and said this is the reason why Monteleone’s is so popular and has been around so long. They know their customers. I know that I will be back when I visit the neighborhood again.
I was still hungry as I walked down Court Street to the Fulton Mall and downtown, so I stopped at the Court Pastry Shop at 298 Court Street for another pastry. I love my sweets and had not been there in a few years. It is funny that the Court Pastry Shop was used in a very funny scene in my book “Firehouse 101” so I always remember my trips there in the past when I was doing location spots for my book. Their cream puffs and eclairs are delicious.
I eyed my favorite eclair in the case and bought one immediately ($3.50). I swear it had been at least three or four years since I had had one and they are still the best. They had such a thick layer of chocolate icing on them and filled with the most delicious vanilla cream.
Now being full of sweet snacks, I continued up Court Street to the Brooklyn Court House and then walked back down Fulton Street to the Fulton Street Mall. At this point most of the Fulton Street Mall has been demolished and replaced with new apartment and office buildings. This was part of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to revitalize downtown Brooklyn with a broader retail selection and replace many of the older buildings.
It is not quite done yet but within five years most of Downtown Brooklyn should be redeveloped. It looks so much different from even two years ago. This was documented in film “My Brooklyn”.
The film on Downtown Brooklyn “My Brooklyn”
It was such a nice afternoon, and I was enjoying the sunshine so much and I had a lot of energy with all the desserts in me, I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I have done many times and never tire of looking at the view.
Talk about the perfect afternoon to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was clear, sunny and about 70 degrees. It really looked like the tourists were back because people were taking pictures all over the bridge from every angle including ready to fall off the bridge because they were leaning so much over the rails. The view of Lower Manhattan was just spectacular.
By the time I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge, I was starved. I decided that I had the energy to walk to Chinatown which is only a few blocks away from the bridge entrance. By the time I got to Chinatown, it was almost seven in the evening and found that most of the smaller places were closed (it was a weekday). So, I walked all over Mott Street, East Broadway, Catherine Street, Henry Street and the Bowery and decided on an old standby which I love Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway.
I was hungrier than I thought. I started with Shrimp and Mango Rolls ($5.95), Duck Spring Rolls ($5.95), Pork Soup Dumplings ($6.95) and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($5.95). After devouring all of that, I ordered the Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.95) and the Steamed Roast Pork Buns ($6.95). Everything was so delicious and fresh and came out steaming hot. Even on a weeknight I was surprised by how full the place was and it seemed that people were ordering more than me.
I especially loved the Shrimp and Mango rolls with the breaded and fried ground shrimp mixture with a piece of fresh mango in the center. It had a nice sweet/savory flavor to it and was fried perfectly golden brown. All of the dumplings were cooked to perfection and the pork and chive dumplings had a nice flavor to them (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Soup Dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go are excellent
By this point it was twilight and just getting dark, but it was still so nice out that I decided I wanted to walk through the East Village to see how busy it was that night and to see how many NYC students were out and about. Plus, I wanted to see if the Anthology Film Center was still open on Second Avenue (it was closed that night). I walked up Second Avenue past all the trendy little restaurants and closed shops which were packed with students. I could not believe how busy the area was this time of night, but it was still in the 60’s and just a nice night to mill around.
By the time I reached 14th Street, I figured I might as well walk back to Port Authority and walked up a combination of Second, Third and then by East 23rd Street, up Lexington Avenue through Kips Bay and ‘Curry Hill’ which I had visited a year ago. All of the Indian restaurants were busy as well and the smells of cumin and curry wafted through the air. I always love walking through this neighborhood.
I walked across East 34th Street and arrived at the doors of Macy’s and Herald Square was just as busy as the rest of Manhattan with people walking around the plazas of Herald and Greeley Squares. Koreatown on West 32nd Street off Broadway was also packed with students and tourists going out to dinner and enjoying the dessert restaurants. The restaurants serving Bubble Teas and Korean Cheesecakes has long lines to them.
I finally arrived at the Port Authority at almost 10:00pm and could not believe how far my journey took me. From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to the Port Authority. This is the power of wonderful warm weather, a nice evening breeze and good food. It gives you the energy to keep going.
I had to pick one of the coldest days of the year to come into New York City. Since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to finally visit the Museum of Mathematics on East 26th Street. The museum has been closed for most of the pandemic and finally reopened for people to visit. I decided to endure the cold weather and visit the museum I had passed so many times on my walks in the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods.
Since the museum and NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) are the next neighborhood over from the Lower Garment District, I decided to walk the avenues as well to see what changes have taken place in the last twenty years as well.
With the renovations of the post office to the new train station and the development of the Hudson Yards, this neighborhood is quickly being changed from small office buildings to an extension of Midtown with shiny new office buildings and apartment buildings. New parks and malls are being developed for the residents moving in and in the over seventeen years that I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on West 28th Street, I have watched the entire neighborhood gentrify. I have never seen a neighborhood be knocked down or sandblasted since my walks in Harlem.
I started my morning walking down to Madison Square Park, which has been my headquarters since visiting these neighborhoods. The dog walkers were in full swing as well as parents strolling around with their children both in carriages and the playgrounds. Even though it was about 30 degrees at the time, it looked like people just wanted to get out of the house.
The first Shake Shack is located in the southern part of the park, and I could not believe the lines and the people dining outside. I guess people really did have cabin fever. Wanting a snack before I visited the museum, I bypassed the restaurants that I had seen earlier in the year and headed to a new takeout restaurant whose flags indicated that it had just opened. I went to Dim Sum Sam at 28 East 23rd Street.
The restaurant looked like it had just opened that day (I read that it had opened the week before) and the case lines when you walk in are filled with all sorts of buns and egg custards. The prices were a bit higher than Chinatown, but the food was a welcome on a cold day. I just had a quick Roast Pork Bun and an Egg Custard which were both delicious. I ate them as a crossed the park and finished before I got to the front door of the museum (see my review on TripAdvisor).
The Roast Pork Buns are amazing
The National Museum of Mathematics is a great little museum for families with small children. The museum has two full floors of exhibitions with a spiral staircase separating the floors and a gift shop at the entrance. On the main floor there are interesting interactive exhibitions such as the Shapes of Space that show how different shapes fit together on a curved surface. I was not too sure what the point of it was, but the kids seemed to enjoy it and it was interesting to see how they connected. The Square wheeled Trike was interesting as you rode a square wheeled type of bike on a bumpy surface to check velocity. The kids and young parents really liked this.
The “Shapes of Space” exhibition
The displays I enjoyed on the main floor were Motionscape, where you had to walk as fast as you could on the track to check the relationship between velocity, your position and acceleration. It was interesting to see how your body movements when walking affects the way you react. The other display that was really popular was Hoop Curves which was always busy. The exhibit used statistics and a robot arm to shoot the basketball. The kids got a real kick out of this when trying to make a basket.
On the lower level, there were more interactive displays along with an explanation of the math along with the creators of the theory. I found that interesting because you could see who all the mathematicians were who the projects were based on or who had contributed to them.
One of the interactive displays that I enjoyed was the Tessellation Station, where you could create displays with magnetic tiles on a large board. Later I learned about Tessellation as a form of making shapes fit together in a pattern and then the theory behind that. It was a fun way to use your creativity.
The “Tessellation Station” exhibition is a lot of fun
Another was the Tree of Life, where the computer copied the movements of myself and then used them to show the how I moved my arms and legs in a pattern. It was funny to see myself repeated over and over again like a tree with branches. It really did measure the movement of my body.
The Twist and Roll display showed how to put different shapes and sizes together and show their movement on the board. The one display that all the kids got a kick out of was the Math Board, where the colors and shapes of the section of the floor lit up when you walked on them and was controlled by the way you walked on them.
The “Math Board”
The Museum of Mathematics is a great museum for younger children who want to get physical and have a good time and like the interaction. I learned a few things too about the fundamentals of math and some of its background theories.
Still, it is a great museum for kids under the age of twelve and their younger parents. I think anything over that age would warrant a trip to the American Museum of Natural History or the Liberty Science Center with more exhibits that are age appropriate. It is a museum you should visit once or twice with small children who are at the learning stage and just want to have fun.
After I left the museum, I decided to walk the two avenues in the neighborhood of the Lower Garment District and see how things have changed over the years. There has been tremendous growth and building in the twenty-five years since I worked here and for the better. Most of the older buildings and cut-rate businesses are gone being replaced by a vibrant commercial district that was desperately needed in this part of the City.
Ever since the City reopened last June and even before, this area of Midtown has been changing at breakneck speed. The blocks around Eight Avenue has been under construction for about three years with one small building blocking a bigger one from being built on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street. Madison Square Garden on the corner of Eighth Avenue between West 33rd and 32nd Streets is under construction for renovations and additions and much of lower Eighth Avenue the smaller businesses have emptied out due to lack of business with the pandemic.
Madison Square Garden is one of the most controversial buildings in the City when it replaced the old Penn Station. The majestic building that was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1910 was closed in 1963 and knocked down for the current building.
The outcry from this started the Historic Preservation Movement in the City and prevented future buildings from demolition. These types of buildings are now protected under New York City’s Landmark Preservation Act. The biggest problem cited at the time was that the rail service was declining, and the building was getting too expensive to maintain (Wiki).
The old Penn Station that was knocked down in the 1960’s
With the reconfiguration of these grand train depots today not just at Grand Central Station (see my blogs on Midtown East and Murray Hill) as well as Penn Stations in Philadelphia and Washington DC, I could only imagine what it would be like today. We are now seeing it in the new Moynihan Train Hall in the former James A. Farley Post Office building.
The James A. Farley Building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White and was designed in the Beaux Arts style, the sister building to the former Penn Station (where the current Madison Sqaure Garden now sits). The current renovation of the building to turn the dream into a reality is by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Wiki).
I was able to walk the halls and staircases of the complex that afternoon and the interiors are still not finished with a few of the restaurants now opened but the polished floors and new artwork is in full view. The public bathrooms are a nice change from the ones in Penn Station. The rest of the complex will be open by the spring.
The new rendering of the James A. Farley Building to the Patrick Moynihan Train Hall (Vno.com)
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a former politician and diplomat.
The train station is now open but not yet finished but the first restaurants have opened and there is good traffic flow through the former post office. I could not believe what a five-year renovation and millions of dollars can produce. When the new train station opens fully with shops and restaurants, it will rival anything all the other stations.
Down the block from the station, there are two restaurants that do stand out amongst the closed establishments and the fast-food restaurants. One is New York Pizza Suprema at 413 Eighth Avenue. The pizza here is amazing but a bit pricer than most of the pizza places in the Garment District but the quality more than makes up for it. Every time I have eaten here the food has been terrific.
The other restaurant that I enjoy when I am in the area is New Dynasty Inc. Chinese Food at 393 Eighth Avenue in a store whose sign still advertises videos and games. Don’t miss this excellent and very underrated Chinese takeout establishment. I love their Orange Chicken and Roast Pork Lo Mien when I eat there. They also have excellent eggrolls.
When I walked back around Eighth Avenue and down West 34th Street to Seventh Avenue, there is construction all along West 34th Street so don’t be surprised if this is all new businesses and shops and dining in the next year. Madison Square Garden is going through a major renovation and rebuilt on this side of the property.
Like the Grande Dame of the neighborhood, the Seventh Avenue entrance of Macy’s greets you on the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street. This entrance leads to the Men’s Store where you have really nice public bathrooms in the basement level if you need them.
Walking down Seventh Avenue from West 34th Street brought back a flood of memories for me of lunch breaks from work and a lot of late night walks from the Fashion Institute of Technology when I was attending graduate school there. There still is a lot of silence as Madison Square Garden is active but not as much as it was before COVID. Even Penn Station is not as busy even though Manhattan is opened up. Many people are not back to work yet in the office buildings.
The creepy part is passing the Hotel Pennsylvania, one of the most famous hotels in New York City (Pennsylvania 6-5000 as the song goes) at 401 Seventh Avenue right across from Madison Square Garden. The hotel had been closed since the pandemic started but even when I worked at Macy’s the hotel always seemed run down. It was not a place many Macy’s executives wanted to stay at when they were doing business at the store.
The Hotel Pennsylvania was built in 1919 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and was designed by architect William Symmes Richardson from McKim, Mead & White. It was designed by the firm who designed Penn Station across the street and the limestone facade mirrored that of the station. The hotel has gone through many ownerships over the last one hundred years and returned to the name Hotel Pennsylvania in 1991. The hotel closed for business in April 2020 and is in the process of being demolished. There will be a new series of office buildings built in the area (Wiki).
The Hotel Pennsylvania at 401 Seventh Avenue (Wiki)
We will always have Glenn Miller though. Pennsylvania 6-5000.
At the edge of the neighborhood lies the back of the campus of The Fashion Institute of Technology which just reopened to students earlier this year. It is nice to see the campus finally back in session again.
There are a few interesting restaurants that I have eaten at over the years along the way. Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue I had just eaten at earlier in the year for the Michigan State University versus University of Kansas Champions Tournament basketball game. The food is good, but it is very expensive for what you get (see the review on TripAdvisor).
Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue is a good place to watch the games
As I made my way back up Seventh Avenue, I stopped at Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue for a quick slice for a snack. This little hole in the wall pizzeria near FIT was really good. For a dollar, the pizza had amazing flavor and the sauce was delicious. Sometimes these places surprise you.
Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue is terrific
After I finished my walk of the Avenues, I took a detour up Sixth Avenue back to Bryant Park and stopped at Krispie Kreme at 994 Sixth Avenue for a doughnut. All this walking put me in the mood for something sweet and I had not been there in a while.
I had a Lemon Filled Glaze doughnut ($2.00) and I swear, it was the best two dollars I ever spent. I had not had one of these doughnuts in over a year and it always tastes so good. The best part it was still warm, and you could taste the glaze over the sweet filling (see my review on TripAdvisor).
I walked all over Bryant Park just admiring the crowds in the park on such a cold day and decided to take a walk-up Times Square and watch the crowds. I could not believe on such a cold day lots of people were milling around.
I ended the evening back in Hell’s Kitchen at Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue. I had not been there in almost three years since before the pandemic. It had not been open for the longest time and before the pandemic, it was always packed during Christmas of 2019. I swear I have been coming to this restaurant since its opening.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue
The food here is excellent and what a meal on a cool night. I started with an order of Fried Bread, which tastes like a churro without the sweet filling. That really warmed me up with the crisp soft bread at every bite. I had an order of their Soup Dumplings and I love to slurp these things with every mouthful bursting with every bite in your mouth.
The order of Wonton Soup was perfect on a cold night with the rich broth and soft meaty wontons and Bok choy is almost a meal onto itself. I really missed the food here.
Walking around the neighborhood brought back so many memories of my years of working at Macy’s and for that has changed in the neighborhood it feels like little has as things still do look the same. They just look better and more vibrant.
That’s what can happen in twenty-five years in a City that just keeps morphing.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: Walking the Borders of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
It is amazing what three years can bring. Chinatown was all but dead over the last two years for the Chinese New Year celebrations and it was nice to see them come back in a vengeance.
It has been a rough time in Chinatown in Manhattan over the last three years. I wrote about going to the Chinese New Year parade in 2020 and it had been nothing like the parade in 2019. It had been freezing in New York City in 2019 but that had not kept the crowds away on a busy parade afternoon. In 2020, the looming crisis with COVID was spreading through China and people were very wary about coming to Chinatown for the parade. In fact, I did not see too many people of Chinese decadency at the parade two years ago. It looked more like tourists lining the streets.
New Year in 2022 was a different story as the streets were lined with people ready and happy to celebrate the New Year. That bottled up enthusiasm was shown on the streets in the core of Chinatown by hundreds of people having a good time. The morning had started out with a nice crowd that grew as the afternoon wore on. It helped that it was 60 degrees and sunny outside. It was the last day of the ‘Spring Thaw’ and the weather really helped (Sunday would bring snowy weather and 38 degrees).
It also gave me a chance to not just tour the neighborhood to see of any changes in stores and restaurants but sample foods at many of them. I came in with an appetite! There were places that I wanted to revisit but find new ones to try along the way. I arrived at noon time and needed a snack before I started my day.
The Lion Dances outside businesses all over the core of Chinatown were in full swing when I got there with groups of people following the troupes around Mott, Bayard, Canal, Pell, Elizabeth and Mulberry Streets south of Canal Street. Some of the troupes did go north of Canal Street but most businesses are in the core of the neighborhood.
The Lion Dance helps bring good luck in the coming year
Things were just really getting started on Mott Street, the main corridor of Chinatown so I walked down the street to the Bowery to see what was going on. When I arrived at the Bowery, I headed north on the Bowery on the edge of the original Chinatown. This is where I found Bowery Inn Bakery at Bowery. This must be a new bakery because I could not find it on any map.
The Bowery Inn Bakery has a wonderful selection of hot and cold baked goods, and the best part was that they did not take the pastries from the case. They were hot from the warmers behind the case lines. I ordered a Roast Pork Bun ($1.75) and an Almond Bun ($1.50) to get me through the walking around the neighborhood. The staff is really nice there and seemed happy when I wished them a Happy New Year.
I walked all the streets in the neighborhood watching the various clubs wishing all the businesses a Happy New Year. Colorful lions bowed and shook and raised up and down wishing stores and restaurants as prosperous New Year in a city environment that desperately needed it. I have been to Chinatown many times since the holidays, and it has been very quiet down here since the beginning of 2020. All the festivities had been cancelled last year and it had been tough on these businesses. Now it looks like better times will be ahead of us.
Here is a little history of the Lion Dance from when I ran the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Asian Grille back in 2011:
The Lion Dance
The Lion Dance has a very interesting history in Chinese culture. The story is that a monk had a dream which there were many sorrows and evils plaguing the land. The monk prayed and asked the gods how he could prevent these evils from occurring. The gods told him that a lion would protect them and fight back the evils. The Chinese people having never seen a lion, but had heard stories that the lion was the king of all beasts. So the monk combined all the lucky or magical animals he could think of and so made the lion.
The Southern Lion dance is very symbolic. It is usually performed as a ceremony to scare away evil spirits and to summon luck and fortune. The Chinese southern lion exhibits as wide variety of color and has a distinctive head with large eyes (of an eagle), a mirror on the forehead (demons are supposedly scared of their own reflection) and a single horn at the center of the head (the horn of a unicorn mentioned earlier). Lion dance costumes are considered to be spiritually protective when used as they are traditionally blessed before usage.
The Southern Lion Dance was originated from Guangdong, the homeland of the Chinese southern style lion. The Chinese southern horned lions are believed to be Nians (which are a mythical beast). There are many different styles of dance as well as different styles of lion’s heads depending on the region that the group comes from (Wiki).
It was fun following these colorful beasts all along the streets and listen to the drumming of the groups who I am sure had been practicing. While all that was going on, people were letting off New Year’s poppers and the whole street was filled with streamers and confetti and glittering paper. It was so nice to see people having such a good time.
This video from YouTube really captures the festivities in 2022
I started to explore the back streets to see if there were any changes to the fringes of the neighborhood. I have to say that more galleries and stores are starting to open where old warehouses and restaurants used to be as you can see the hipsters moving over here from the East Village, Alphabet City and the Lower East Side. Little by little I am seeing the changes in the neighborhood.
When I walked over to Chrystie Street, and I stopped at Chi Dumpling House for some lunch and then to Tao Hong Bakery for dessert. This little stretch of Chrystie Street by Sara Delano Roosevelt Park has three of the best and most reasonable take-out restaurants in the neighborhood, the other being Wah Fung #1 Fast Food.
Wah Fung #1 Fast Food at 79 Chrystie Street has long lines
The lines for Wah Fung #1 Fast Food at 79 Chrystie Street was about thirty deep when I arrived and is always busy. People are always lined up for their containers of roast pork and duck with white rice and cabbage. You can get a delicious lunch here for around $5.00. It has been on more food blogs than I can name, and I have been here several times for their excellent roast pork and rice (see my reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
The roast pork and roast duck at Wah Fung #1 Fast Food has them lining up everyday
I bypassed the lines at Wah Fung and went to Chi Dumpling House (sometimes called ‘C & L Dumpling House) at 77 Chrystie Street. I was in the mood for steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes.
Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street still has the old sign
Even though I was not that hungry I always have room for more dumplings. Both the fried dumplings and steamed pork and chive dumplings ($4.00 now) are worth the wait. These large doughy delights are served with soy and hot oil sauces that bring out their flavor. The Scallion Pancakes are pan-fried to a crisp and are fun to dip into the sauces as well.
The steamed pork and chive dumplings here are excellent!
I took these little delights into the park and enjoyed them along with my scallion pancake while I was watching all these little kids climb over the jungle gym while yelling at one another. It was so nice to see all these families out and about on such a warm afternoon. By the time I finished my lunch, it must have hit 60 degrees and it was a perfectly blue sky.
For dessert, I went to Tao Hong Bakery at 79 Chrystie Street. They have the most reasonable baked goods and drinks and the best place to go when you have eaten at the other two restaurants.
Tao Hong Bakery at 79 Chrystie Street
I love coming here for their egg custards, raisin twists and their cream buns. When they have their lemon pastries, I try to get those too. This time I settled for a raisin twist ($1.25) because there was not much left. People really bought them out. These twists are loaded with butter and juicy raisins and are fun to pull apart.
The Raisin Buns here are the best
After I devoured my lunch, I needed a long walk to digest, and I walked down Chrystie Street and strolled through the park. The one bad thing about Sara Delano Park is that the bathrooms are really disgusting. They really need to clean them better.
I made my way back down Grand Street and walked to the Museum of Chinese in America at 215 Centre Street. The museum had finally reopened after almost two years and a very devastating fire in their storehouse in 2020. They almost lost their collection.
The Museum of Chinese in America at 215 Centre Street
What I enjoy about this museum is the sheer history of the Chinese immigration to the United States and overt racism that has been felt by the culture since the beginning. I walked through the current exhibition “Responses: Asian American voices in the Tides of Racism” and it is heartbreaking to see what an entire society of Americans are enduring. This pandemic as one scholar noted has brought out the worst in people that has been bubbling up for a long time.
The permanent collection showed the strides though as a culture and the contributions of prominent Americans of Chinese decadency have made to the country. It was interesting to look at pictures over the years of the development of Chinatowns in cities all over the country and the progress in business and the arts that have been made.
The “Responses” exhibition
I took my time and read through the exhibitions, and it was an interesting timeline of history. It showed how generations of hard work and assimilation into the larger culture still holds dialogue. Nothing is clear cut in society. I ended up being there more almost two hours.
After I left the museum, I followed the music back to Mott Street and saw some of the more elaborate dances and saw several clubs competing with one another. There were large crowds all over Mott and Bayard Streets and since the heart of Chinatown was closed to traffic (finally people can walk around the restaurant district), there was plenty of room for people to enjoy the festivities and let off poppers in celebration of the performances.
By 6:00pm though most of the performances were slowing down and all the restaurants on Mott Street and the surrounding side streets were full of people sitting down to dinner. That was so nice to see at a time when so many of these restaurants were struggling over the last two years. It is good that they were packed the way they were pre-pandemic.
For dinner that evening I was not too hungry but when I was walking around following the lion dancers, I looked at the menu and the pictures of the dishes at Shanghai Heping Restaurant at 104 Mott Street on the other side of Canal Street from Chinatown in what had once been Little Italy. There was a picture by the front door of a Fried Duck dish and I had to go to try it.
The food lived up to the picture. The Fried Duck ($23.00) was excellent. The duck was boneless and marinated in soy and what tasted like Peking sauce and then the duck was breaded and pan-fried so that it was crisp on the outside and moist and succulent on the inside. The duck had such a rich taste to it from the flavor of the meat and so moist that it pulled apart.
Don’t miss the Fried Duck at Shanghai Heping Restaurant
Their Shanghai Fried Rice (Sum Gum Fried Rice) was excellent as well
The one thing I liked about Shanghai Heping Restaurant (see my review on TripAdvisor) was that they do not rush you. The restaurant started to fill up again after I got there and since the duck dish took some time to cook, I started to watch other patrons’ food come out and all the dishes looked so interesting and well-prepared, and people took their time to enjoy them. Since the restaurant was not on the other side of Mott Street, there were no hordes of crowds running around the street.
After dinner was over, I walked back into the heart of Chinatown to see the Sanitation Department cleaning the streets of all the confetti and streamers and popper packages. There must have been hundreds of them let off that afternoon to welcome in the New Year. It is so nice to see people back in Chinatown again. Maybe better days are ahead of us.
Gong Hay Fay Choy!
The colorful lanterns add a festive look to the neighborhood