Classic Cars & Costa Rican Cuisine


Somerville Cruise Nights
At Division Café and Somerville Cruise Nights

If you had the choice between having a personal chef, housekeeper, butler or driver, which would you pick?

I’d have to go with the driver. I love riding in cars— especially with the windows down. (One thing I have in common with dogs is we both enjoy sticking our faces out car windows )

I also love looking at classic cars but I don’t know what I’d do if I actually owned one.  Unless there is no one else on the road, I’m not usually comfortable driving and that’s with an automatic transmission. Forget about stick.

Speaking of cars, I finally made it out to Somerville Cruise Nights last week.  Every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day for the past 27 years, Somerville NJ has run a classic car show.  Now 100+ classic cars regularly line Main Street on Friday evenings turning the event series into a nationally acclaimed classic car show.

Somerville Cruise NIghts Division Street
If you’re not in the mood for Costa Rican food, check out Origins, a French-Thai restaurant also on Division Street.

To celebrate my father’s birthday, my family ate in Downtown Somerville and then leisurely walked along Main Street enjoying all the cars.  There are a couple restaurants in Somerville that we enjoy but we decided to try Division Café, a small Costa Rican joint on a pedestrian-only side street.

Sliders from Division Cafe in Somerville

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A Summer of Strawberry Cake (May)


Maple Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Cake

I’ve always associated strawberry cake with summer. I guess it makes sense because strawberries grow in the summer but it goes beyond that. Maybe it’s because my mom only baked strawberry shortcake every few years— usually reserved for my dad’s birthday in May or Father’s Day in June.

It is a bit more labor intensive than many other cakes but I’d happily core strawberries and make fresh whipped cream throughout the summer for shortcake.

Although I imagine eating strawberry shortcake weekly isn’t too healthy. How about monthly? That sounds reasonable, no?

Speaking of monthly cake, this post kicks off my Summer of Strawberry Cake series where I’ll post a new strawberry cake recipe every month from now until August.

Maple Balsamic Roasted Strawberry Cake

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Stepping Up to Plate Tonight is… Chive Gougères & Chums


Chive Gougeres, Balsamic Flank Steak and Roasted Strawberry Cake

Tonight’s plate appearance was made by Chive & Goat Cheese Gougères of the pâte á choux clan. Some may call her an airhead but you’ll never forget her delicate touch and light chive blossom fragrance.  Somewhat of a rebel, she has forgone her family’s traditional Gruyère and and styled herself in a creamy goat cheese. You’ll rarely find her without her mate Onion Jam, who’s secretly sweet on her— but because he’s a caramelized fellow, it’s a very poorly kept secret.

Following these two are longtime friends Flank Steak and Mushrooms who have just returned from a trip to the Balsamic Bath House. Giving them a welcome reprieve from their long soak is Snow Pea Pods, with his crisp exterior and fresh attitude. Some people believe he’s immature but most appreciate his slightly raw sense of humor.

Bringing up the rear is Strawberry Cake, whose personality traits reflect elements from all her friends.  Her own lightly crisped exterior is softened by a smattering of melted goat’s milk brie and fresh strawberries roasted in a maple balsamic bath. Topped with a kiss of powdered sugar, she might just be your new summer lover.

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Ice Cream So Good It’s Illegal?


Maryland Dairy at University of Maryland

Earlier this week, my dad and I drove down to the University of Maryland in College Park to pick up my brother for the summer. It probably took a half hour to checkout from his dorm and pack his things in the car— much shorter than any time I moved out for summer break.

Since we had time to spare, we walked around campus a little.

Did we walk around sightseeing for the health benefits?  Not so much.

Our real destination was Maryland Dairy, an ice cream parlor in the UMD student union. Although the shop has only been located in the student union since 2014, it got its start back in 1924 when it was called the Dairy Salesroom.

Any place making ice cream for over 90 years, I’ve got to try!

Besides its long history, what makes Maryland Dairy special are its creative handcrafted flavors. While folks with vanilla personalities can stick to their titular flavor, the more adventurous patrons can grab a scoop of Cafe Norita (coffee ice cream with Kahula, salted pecans and caramel) or Fear the Turtle (vanilla ice cream with triple sec salted, pecans, caramel swirl and a white chocolate truffle ribbon.)

As if that wasn’t good enough, Maryland Dairy introduces a new flavor every so often named after a member of the University’s faculty or staff.

Recent releases include Terpin Durkin Crunch (Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream with shaved bittersweet chocolate, dark chocolate covered pretzels and a caramel swirl) named for football coach D.J. Durkin and IT Delicious (orange ice cream with triple sec, orange zest, chocolate chips and a raspberry Melba swirl) in honor of Dr. Catherine Carr.

(In case you were wondering, Dr. Carr is a biology professor who studies interaural time difference. I originally guessed the flavor’s name was a play on the information technology field, which would have been cute too.)

The flavor I ordered was mislabeled but I think it was Brenda’s Peanut Butter Frese (brownie batter ice cream, crushed peanut butter cups, brownie dough, chocolate liquor and peanut butter fluff swirl) named after UMD’s women’s basketball coach. Mine had crushed Reece’s Pieces and was light on the fluff swirl but whatever flavor it was, it was pretty good.

What does swirl around this ice cream though are rumors that the fat content is too high for the FDA to approve for sale outside the campus. Read more

A Passion for Truth and Cinnamon


Pysch Inspired Cinnamon Pie

If you’re craving some cinnamon pie but don’t want to hang out with the unusual patrons of the Sawmill Diner, you’ve come to the right place. While I have zero desire to visit the fictional town of Dual Spires, the cinnamon pie in this episode of Psych— c’mon son.

What kind of cinnamon enthusiast could say no to a slice of that?

Pysch Dual Spires Cinnamon Pie

This episode of Psych paid homage to another television series, Twin Peaks. I’ve never watched Twin Peaks, so most of the references went over my head. When I read more about this episode online, I was blown away by the sheer number of allusions the writers made.

It probably would have been more fun if I was familiar with Twin Peaks, but I enjoyed the humor in Dual Spires at face value. And the ever-present cinnamon pie definitely didn’t hurt.

From the moment Robert “Bob” Barker suggests “a cup of the best piping hot apple cider this side of the Mississippi and a slice of cinnamon pie so good it may just bring tears”, I was hooked. I had never heard of cinnamon pie but from the way Shawn and Gus devoured slice after slice, I’m sure it was delicious.
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The Mother’s Day Mission


Cornelius Low House and Esquina Latina Outing
At the Cornelius Low House and Esquina Latina

It’s been almost a year since my mom first mentioned the “History of New Jersey Diners” exhibit at the Cornelius Low House.  Even though the museum is right around the corner from us, we only just took her there last Sunday for Mother’s Day.  Better late than never!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Cornelius Low House, it is the Middlesex County Museum, which holds rotating exhibits free of charge.  It’s actually down the street from the Metlar-Bodine House Museum where I interned back in 2014.

(Fun Fact: The Metlar family actually bought the Low home in 1870 and it became known as “Ivy Manor” after George and Catherine Metlar planted ivy around it.)

This two-story Gregorian-style stone house was built back in 1741 for wealthy Dutch merchant Cornelius Low.  As one of only two surviving 18th century structures from the Colonial port community of Raritan Landing, it has been cited in the Historic American Building Survey of the Library of Congress.


History of NJ Diners Museum Exhibit Read more

Star Wars Day “Chewy”bacca Bars

Star Wars Day Cookie Bars


Happy Star Wars Day everyone! Have you seen the new Star Wars movie yet? Okay, technically it was released back in December but it’s comparatively new.

I liked Episode VII— it was a fun movie albeit somewhat safe.  With a predictable storyline and a fair number of plot holes, it wasn’t anything revolutionary.  However it stayed true to the original series so it still gets a thumbs up from me.

Border Dessert 3

In honor of Star Wars Day, I made these “Chewy”bacca Bars. Get it? Chewie and chewy.

Does laughing at my own jokes make me a dork?

Oh well. If you can’t entertain yourself, who else will? Read more