Blowout’s Clubhouse of Cool in Montclair

BY  |  Friday, Apr 06, 2012 12:01pm  |  COMMENTS (4)

If you need some cool martini shakers, a James Bond poster, a military relic or if you simply like high-end mid-to-late 20th century kitsch, you now have a new place to look around. Blowout Gallery, which opened in mid-January at 209 Glenridge Ave. in Montclair celebrated its existence this past Sunday with an April Fool’s party and it was the first time I’d gotten a look-see, even though I’ve known one of the co-owners, Charlie Potters, for years. Continue Reading

My Favorite Place: Montclair’s Glenridge Ave. Post Office

BY  |  Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 2:27pm  |  COMMENTS (8)

April Fool’s!

Van Vleck Goes Through a Phase

BY  |  Friday, Feb 17, 2012 1:39pm  |  COMMENTS (1)

The gardens at the historic Van Vleck House are getting a facelift. The second phase of a $2.2 million improvement project called “Pathways to the Future” began in January, when construction workers removed part of the fence running along North Mountain Ave. and began clearing some of the trees in the southeast part of the property.

Fran Wong, the “Pathways to the Future” Capital Campaign Manager for Van Vleck, tells us that the work is part of a master plan created by Rodney Robinson Associates, a Delaware-based landscape architectural firm that specializes in public gardens and conservatories.

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My Favorite Place: Pals Cabin

BY  |  Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (41)

What was Thomas Edison ‘s favorite dish? Just a mile away, he had an industry producing over 2,900 patents of the world’s first electrical appliances, while his wife received international scientists and other inventors. Did the Edison houseguests, like Madame Currie or Eastman (Kodak) try the famous mushroom soup? Edison’s daughter, who also lived in nearby Llewellyn Park in a fairytale inspired rustic French Style Castle, affrescoed with madrigal scenes, did she take her kids to Pals for hotdogs? Or her brother Governor Edison, who lived next door in his Buckingham Palace inspired stone mansion? Of course!!

Pals Tap Room was a favorite spot for the local industrial age millionaires, who ventured over the Mountain at Eagle Rock to enjoy local grilled fare, while hobnobbing with other celebrities. They came to enjoy the view of the dawning of the new world, the spectacle of the skyscrapers rising in the distance, illuminated by Mr. Edison’s miraculous invention of electric lights. Guests from the nearby five star Hotel Montclair, (now the site of the Rockcliffe) would venture to Pals for the famous grilled meats and mushroom specialties. Montclair and Llewellyn Park, perhaps the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world at that moment, lay just at the foot of the hill. At that time, the roster of names was said to be like opening one’s medicine cabinet….Colgate, Yardley, Wilkenson, Merck and then there were the Sinclairs, the Goodyears, Auchinclosses and Roosevelts, many of whom enjoyed cruises together on luxury liners or trips to nightclubs in Bermuda, some “hot spots” designed by the very same internationally famous nightclub designers of Pals Tap Room. Continue Reading

My Favorite Place: Joe Strupp’s Love Letter to Maplewood

Monday, Jan 23, 2012 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (4)

Investigative reporter, blogger, pot-stirrer and die-hard Maplewoodian, Joe Strupp shared this video billet-doux with Baristanet.   Filled with images of the people and places that make Maplewood great, it is an unabashed early Valentine to the town.


An Even Cozier Trend Starts Open Mic Nights

BY  |  Thursday, Jan 05, 2012 11:06am

The sunny bay windows were what attracted us to Trend Coffee and Tea House last March. Then, last month, as promised, owner Eliott Alex opened up a large back room with sofa groupings that give the space a kind of Cafe Eclectic vibe — a nice addition to the block since Eclectic said its au revoirs. Cozy electric fireplaces add a little warmth. In addition to desserts, there’s a menu of salads, sandwiches, soups and even chocolate fondue. My personal favorite is the skim chai latte, made from coconut chai supplied by our own local Chai Guy.

Starting tonight, Trend will also hold open mic nights on Thursdays from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Singers, poets, comics and instrumentalists — anybody brave enough to hold a mic and bellow forth — is invited. Performers get a free large. coffee. Admission is free.

One More Reason to Visit the Van Vleck House (Hint: Bring Your Cell Phone)

BY  |  Sunday, Oct 23, 2011 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (3)

Living just a block from the Van Vleck House & Gardens, I have long been aware of its charms. Still, my visits there have been mostly guided by the behavior of my children: when things get a little too rambunctious inside, the close proximity of Van Vleck has provided a much needed breath of fresh air.

Recently, however, after hearing about a new self-guided audio tour of the historic property, I went to explore the gardens on my own. The tour is done by cell phone and visitors can phone in to hear a recorded message from one of 10 locations around the property’s 5.8 acres. The tour is self-paced, so it can be as quick or as leisurely as you want.

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Watchung Booksellers Turns 20

BY  |  Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011 11:55am  |  COMMENTS (8)

Readers of Montclair, do you realize how lucky you are to live in a town that has not one, but two independent booksellers? And venerable ones at that? Two years ago, Montclair Book Center on Glenridge Ave. celebrated its 25th birthday, and this Saturday, Watchung Booksellers at 54 Fairfield St. in Montclair, turns 20. There are activities all day, starting with music for the kids at 10 a.m. and winding up with a champagne toast at 5 p.m.

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My Favorite Place: Fabulous Wallcoverings

BY  |  Friday, Jun 24, 2011 1:15pm  |  COMMENTS (3)

Women of a certain age who have lived in Essex County for a certain amount of time are likely to remember Fabulous Wallcoverings — an amazing store that existed in one of the Edison factory buildings in West Orange. Unlike other wallpaper stores, Fabulous had bins and bins of wallpaper rolls in stock — about 14,000 patterns at any time — at major discounts. You could literally walk in, pick out your pattern, go home and put it on the wall. Most rolls cost $9.95.

You had to ascend a very long staircase to get to the second-floor establishment, and it could be tough if you had a toddler in tow — but it was worth it.

That Fabulous has been gone since 2007, victim of a downtown redevelopment project that stalled in 2009. (The project appears to be happening again.) They relocated to an office building next to 4Sixty6 Lounge on Prospect Ave. in West Orange, where they still provide the services they always did — wallcoverings, window treatments and upholstery — but without the ready-to-purchase rolls.

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My Favorite Place: Spice Thai Cuisine

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 3:00pm

I have been going to Spice Thai Cuisine since they opened. We have birthday parties there and have celebrated New Year’s Eve at Spice for the last 3 years.

A year ago, my mom Rose had a stroke and was at Kessler Rehab in West Orange for 2 months. The first thing she did as she recovered was to get someone to call Roj, the owner of Spice, to have some food delivered. At first he didn’t know who it was that was calling, but Roj and I eventually figured out that it was my mother. She never returned home, but went to live in California with my sister. Every time I called, she would ask “Did you go to Spice?”. She truly loves the food there.

It’s now been a year and she was finally able to visit us in New Jersey. Guess where we took her first?

You have it! The best food place around, beautiful flowers and great service — no, great family. You feel like you’re at home.

Roj, thank you for making me and my mom very happy, with great food and company. Please open a restaurant in California.

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Carbs be damned! There's no reason to buy bread anywhere else. It is a heavenly indulgence.

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