Baozi Brew: Dim sum with a view in Jersey City

Pairing dim sum and a beer garden, Baozi Brew is located in the heart of Liberty State Park, with an outdoor patio and tons of space.

My boyfriend and I have a thing with dumplings. I’m not sure when it started, exactly, but there’s no doubt about it — we love them! So, when we heard about a new dim sum spot opening in our neighborhood, we had to head over to check it out for ourselves.

Each dim sum course at Baozi Brew was artfully plated and delicious.

Baozi Brew is located right next to the Liberty House Restaurant in the heart of Liberty State Park. With an outdoor patio and tons of space, it’s the perfect place for a group hang. And, if the food wasn’t enough of a draw, the park adds a whole other dimension: Views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty abound.

From the custom-made steam cart with built-in barrels of cocktails to the outdoor screening of kung fu movies, every detail of the restaurant was carefully considered.

When we arrived on Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by Orlando, the general manager, who gave us a tour of the space as well as an in-depth understanding of the concept. From the custom-made steam cart with built-in barrels of cocktails (Negronis and Manhattans) to the outdoor screening of kung fu movies, every single detail of the restaurant was carefully considered.

Views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty abound, perfect for a group get-together.

As we sat around the fire pit, enjoying our cocktails, the dim sum made its way to our table. Each course was artfully plated. The beef tenderloin skewers were served over a sizzling block of Himalayan sea salt, followed by crab and shrimp spring rolls that were light and crispy. For the dumpling portion of the meal, we went with pork buns and shrimp shumai — both were a hit!

The beef tenderloin skewers were served over a sizzling block of Himalayan sea salt.

The sun began to set and a nearby wedding reception was just getting started. We wrapped up dinner and went for a stroll around the park. Even after four years in Jersey City, the views remain stunning. We’ll definitely be back to Baozi Brew!

Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment Is Your New Go-To Party Spot

Teresa Pyskaty

It may just be because of all the fabulous, over-the-top hats but I have always wanted to attend an amazing Kentucky Derby party. In my 33 years of life, I have never had the chance to get all dolled up and don a fancy head piece to attend the races; that is until now. I had the fantastic opportunity to attend Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment’s Derby Day celebrations and I can whole heartedly attest that it was just as marvelous as the big soiree at Churchill Downs, and not to mention only a short car ride away. This was most certainly mainly due in part to the state of the art venue’s talented special events department. While getting the VIP treatment at this special occasion, I learned how their experienced team is capable of exceeding all of your party expectations.

Teresa Pyskaty

I began my big Derby Day by spending my morning dolling up in a gorgeous dress and fastening my adorable head piece. I was so excited to see so many lovely ladies getting festive and dressing the part. You could feel the energy and excitement as soon as you entered the racetrack. Upon arrival I received a tour of the venue’s eight bars, lounges, and restaurants. Each had its own distinct look and vibe, but all gave the most amazing view of the racetrack (you’ll have a good seat no matter where you are). With a variety of options to offer, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment is the perfect venue for any type of experience; big or small, corporate or social. They can do it all, from birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows.

Teresa Pyskaty

My first stop was Victory Terrace. This breezy bar gives you a rooftop front row seat to the NYC skyline with amazing views of the city landscape and racing action. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the dramatic night sky on a Friday or Saturday night during their harness racing events. Victory Terrace can easily accommodate up to 500 guests comfortably for your next special event. I took in the stunning views for a bit while chatting with fellow party goers. I learned that this is also the place to be on Friday race nights with a fun, youthful crowd, a fantastic DJ, and delicious drinks. This would also be a fabulous space to host a fun summer soiree or birthday bash with your nearest and dearest.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Next, before the hat contest started (how could I not enter?), I visited one of my favorite (and the prettiest) spots at Meadowland’s Racing and Entertainment; their fabulous tiered dining area aptly named Pink. With its swanky stained gunmetal floors, white subway tiles, and accented with bright pink wool chairs (hence the restaurant’s name), this eatery combines an upscale buffet with amazing views of the live horse racing action from every seat in the house. Table-side cocktail service complements the delicious buffet fare. This indoor restaurant allows seating for up to 270 guests to eat and drink, with the convenience of individual TV and betting terminals. I enjoyed one of the day’s signature drinks, named The Derby, while taking in some of the pre-race action on my own personal television. How cute would this space be for an adorable Sweet 16 party or a lovely bridal shower brunch?

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

After finishing my delicious drink, I headed down for one of the day’s big events, The Hat Contest. I’ll admit at first I thought I actually stood a chance, that was until I saw how creative many of these fabulous ladies got with their chapeaus. Unfortunately I did not place in the top three, but the winners were very much deserving (how amazing are their hats!?).

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Next before heading to Trotters, their members only club, to enjoy a nice meal, I had the amazing opportunity to ride the track (in a van) to go behind the scenes and visit the horses before they raced later in the day after the Derby. It was such an incredible moment to meet these beautiful creatures and bond a little bit with Spicebomb (he was so sweet and absolutely magnificent).

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

After that amazing experience, I headed over to Trotters to watch the actual Derby and enjoy their scrumptious southern-inspired buffet. Just inside the West Deck, this members only club, which is available as an event space on non-racing nights, includes three distinct seating styles – lounge, dining room and stadium – and a first class buffet. I absolutely loved the classic and elegant décor which featured gold frames and old wood throughout as well as fireplaces for a traditional finish. After placing my bet, I had a blast cheering on my horses (who unfortunately did not win) with the rest of the excited crowd.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Then I was whisked away to the winner’s circle where I had the distinct honor of serving as the trophy girl during the night’s big race after the Derby. Despite a brief thunderstorm (the weather luckily held out most of the day for us!), the race still went on, and I was able to congratulate the winner and present him with his trophy. It was such an incredible privilege to be granted this prestigious responsibility.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Before heading out, I decided to swing by Victory Sports Bar to check out the scene, and let me tell you it was quite the party (this is definitely the spot to get your drink on!). Designed by Jordan Mozer, Victory Sports Bar has a vibrant atmosphere that can host up to 350 guests and features copper paneled walls, eleven massive flat screen HD TVs (perfect for the sports lovers). Party goers can munch on upgraded bar fare as well as enjoy the biggest drink specials around. Victory is the perfect spot for birthday celebrations, fantasy draft parties, bachelor(ette) parties, or even just a group getting together to watch the game.

Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty
Teresa Pyskaty

Their four additional (and equally as fabulous) venues include the bright and airy Lounge, the intimate Gallery, for the VIP experience the Skybox Suites, and The Backyard, a 2.5 acre outdoor dining and entertainment section that can accommodate up to 10,000 people.

After an exciting day at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment celebrating Derby Day, I decided to call it a night. I had such a fantastic time with once in a lifetime opportunities that I will surely never forget. It was their fantastic special events team who made the day so spectacular. They put that amazing energy into each and every event they host, no matter how big or how small. From birthday parties and Sweet 16’s, to Mitzvahs and holiday parties, to corporate events and trade shows, they can do it all. They pride themselves on their professionalism and experience, and it most definitely shows. No matter what type of soiree you are looking to host, they can fashion your party into an extraordinary event that will be one your guests will certainly never forget. For more information visit thebigm.com.

Miles away, but worlds apart: An adventure in Ramsey

Each of the appetizers I enjoyed recently at the Lakeside Grille & Bar was delicious, and served in a beautiful setting amid the Ramsey Golf & Country Club.

Whether near or far, I love exploring new places. As a regular traveler, wanderlust hits me often and hard. And while airline tickets and transcontinental travel can get expensive, sometimes a local adventure is enough to satiate the travel bug.

The drive to the Ramsey Golf & Country Club is beautiful, punctuated by lots of trees and culminating in a winding ride up a steep hill.

A true Jersey girl, I’ve experienced a lot of the state and often take advantage of the easy access to both the beach and the mountains. But, surprisingly, I’d never visited a golf club before and Ramsey felt like a different world. So, when the opportunity to visit the Lakeside Grille & Bar at Ramsey Golf & Country Club came up, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sliders and tuna tartar are perfect warm-weather favorites to share with friends.

Coming from Jersey City, the Ramsey Golf & Country Club is about an hour-and-a-half north — a beautiful drive punctuated by lots of trees and culminating in a winding ride up a steep hill. Upon arriving at the restaurant, I was taken aback by the lovely homes and the nearby Mirror Lake.

The atrium provides a wonderful setting to relax with friends after a round of golf.

After days of cold weather, it was finally beginning to feel like spring and I couldn’t wait to share a meal with a friend. On Tuesdays, the theme at the Lakeside Grille is “BYOB.” We opted for a couple of glasses of rosé and began our dinner with a few warm-weather favorites — sliders and tuna tartar to start! When they came out, each of the appetizers was delicious. The sliders were perfectly seasoned and served on warm, fresh buns. The tuna tartar was super light with sundried tomatoes mixed throughout, adding a great citrus flavor.

Just a few miles away from home, I suddenly felt transported to a whole new world.

To round out the meal, we shared the lobster club. Served cold on brioche with bacon and avocado, it was the perfect main course to end a light dinner on a warm evening. And what’s dinner without dessert? At our friendly waitress’ insistence, we indulged our sweet tooth with a creamy flan.

As dinner came to an end, we watched the sun set over the sprawling golf course just outside the window. Families slowly started to fill the atrium, hungry after a few rounds of golf. Just a few miles away from home, I suddenly felt transported to a whole new world.

Hit a culinary hole in one with a visit to Lakeside Grille & Bar at Ramsey Golf & Country Club

A picturesque golf course always gets me. I love the rolling hills and the perfectly landscaped grass. To be able to dine on the green is lovely and an opportunity I would not pass up.

A stunning structure offering a spectacular view, Lakeside Grille & Bar at Ramsey Golf & Country Club allows guests to enjoy the sunset with a view of the course while dining.

Lakeside Grille & Bar at Ramsey Golf & Country Club allows guests to enjoy the sunset with a view of the course while dining. I had the lovely opportunity to indulge in dinner there on Friday evening. As I arrived down a winding road lined with nice homes, I spotted what looked like a fairytale-style building … the type a princess might call home.

I parked and had to take an outfit-of-the-day photo at the bottom of the cascading steps. My attire was simple: white denim jeans, a gorgeous striped trapeze top and my favorite pair of heels.

 

The menu was extensive, with some classic fare, such as shrimp scampi as well as burrata, one of my favorite mozzarella type cheeses to indulge in.

I walked up the canopy staircase and into the dining room, quickly noticing the stunning view. We had a candlelit table by a window to enjoy the scene during dinner. Many guests seem to have just come off the golf course and were ready for a big meal. The restaurant, under the direction of Executive Chef James Burnett, is family friendly, which presents a pleasant option to parents. Diners mingled with each other, chatted about their game and what was on the menu that night.

Each night of the week at Lakeside Grille & Bar is a different cultural food theme, making it fun for guests to be able to try different types of dishes.

The menu was extensive, with some classic fare, such as shrimp scampi as well as burrata, one of my favorite mozzarella type cheeses to indulge in. Our enthusiastic waitress took our order and filled us in on the theme night. Each night of the week at Lakeside Grille & Bar at Ramsey Golf & Country Club is a different cultural food theme. It makes it fun for guests to be able to try different types of dishes each time they visit. It is certainly a creative way to enjoy dinner.

Popular with families as well as golfers, the restaurant is under the direction of Executive Chef James Burnett.

After we ate, we decided to look around and noticed there was a special room downstairs with an outside patio perfect for a party. The esthetic of a place always is important, especially if you are planning an event or just looking for somewhere different to eat. I know I am always on the search for new places in New Jersey. As we made our way back to the car, I thought of how I have my golf clubs just sitting around. It made me realize it might be time to play a round at such a dreamy golf club.

Red Bank perfectly pairs Two River Theater’s inspired ‘Women of Padilla,’ sophisticated arts scene

Red Bank offers a range of cultural attractions, including the nationally recognized Two River Theater.

New Jersey has dozens of fabulous destinations that offer fun, exciting and entertaining attractions for all members of the family. As a native New Jerseyan, one of my favorite destinations has always been The Shore. Although, the Shore area (to me, anywhere southeast of Exit 109 on Parkway South) is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, you may be surprised to learn it has quite the cultural attractions as well, particularly, in Red Bank, (exit 109 Parkway South). The town has a bit of everything to please all of your senses, from delicious restaurants, to nightlife and shopping, (ahhhem Coco Pari?!). Last weekend, I had the opportunity to enjoy the community a little more when I was invited to attend the opening of a play at the nationally recognized Two River Theater.

The beautiful play ‘Women of Padilla’ takes theatergoers into the homes of eight women, connected through marriage, and delivers a heartfelt, positive message.

The theater is an architectural stunner from the outside to the inside. The theater itself felt quaint and intimate. Any seat in the house is a great seat!

My sister and I got to see the beautiful play Women of Padilla. The Women of Padilla, written by the playwright of Two River’s famed show, Guadalupe in the Guest Room, takes you into the homes of eight women (sister-in-laws) connected through marriage; each share the last name “Padilla.” They become more connected through the power of food, faith, laughter and each other while their husbands are away at war. Some of the women we met were Mari, the one who quietly leads; Carmen, the one who drinks; Marta, the one with faith; Alejandra, the one who’s expecting; along with the rest of The Women of Padilla.

Red Bank has a bit of everything to please all of your senses from delicious restaurants, to nightlife and shopping.

The heartfelt play left us feeling inspired to look at life’s trials and tribulations in a more positive way and to remember that no matter what the circumstances are, there are always family, food and laughter to be embraced.

As ‘Women of Padilla’ at Two River Theater highlights, no matter what the circumstances are, there are always family, food and laughter to be embraced.

After the show concluded, the production crew had a lovely meet-and-greet to mingle with the characters and fellow theatergoers. The option to attend a play comparable to Broadway is a delightful way to spend a night out in Jersey!

Cocktail class at Logan Inn in New Hope, Pa. is spirited occasion

New Hope, Pa., population about 2,500, runs along the Delaware River and Aquetong Creek, primary industry: tourism. And now I can see why! Although the small borough may seem quiet and quaint, it is filled with whimsical shops, art galleries and restaurants. Perfect for an outing with friends or a simple stroll on a Sunday afternoon.

The Logan Inn, founded in 1727, one of the most haunted and oldest hotels in New Hope (and our nation) was having a fun cocktail event that I thought would be a great opportunity to experience this offbeat town. So, I asked my sister to tag along and we hopped in the car and made our way out there. It was the most lovely day to take the scenic roads through the Garden State and make our way through the farmlands, over bridges, and finally past the eclectic homes in New Hope. When we pulled up at the Logan Inn, we saw people enjoying food and drinks on the patio and taking in the charming surroundings.

Once inside the old-time hotel, we were immediately greeted by the endearing ladies at the front desk. One of the managers filled us in on the spooky stories of the hotel and told us a bit about its history. For instance, the Logan Inn is one of the longest, continually run, inns in the United States. The hotel is filled with artistic craftsmanship and artistry reminiscent of a bygone era. We could actually feel what it would’ve been like to have been alive during that era.

The fact that the Logan Inn is one of the top five most haunted places in the country intrigued us. So, we decided to take a look around, since we had a few minutes before the start of the class. We looked through old photo albums, listened to stories of hotel ghosts and Revolutionary War tales. We were intrigued for sure. Even though we didn’t spot any spirits ourselves, one thing was true, we could feel the energy of the past in the air. And although the hotel lobby itself may have seemed mysterious, the guest rooms were quite inviting and cozy. After taking the short tour, we made our way back downstairs to the bar, keeping every detail and story in mind.

The event was a cocktail class. We got to learn about a few new favorite cocktails the Logan Inn is adding to its summer drink menu, and how to mix the perfect drink like your favorite bartender does. The candlelit bar area was the setting for our class. At our table was a delightful group of people from nearby towns, as well as visitors from farther away. The class began with a cocktail of muddled cucumbers and blueberries, a little simple syrup mixed with blueberry vodka, ice, a splash of ginger beer and shaken. It was an invigorating one. The type of drink you crave in the summer with its seasonal fruit and icy mix.

Next up, was a summer twist on the traditional Margarita. It included muddled basil and strawberries, simple syrup, tequila and vodka (perhaps I was a little heavy handed with the double pouring technique for that last part). Finally, I added a squeeze of lime juice, ice and gave it a good shake. It was the perfect amount of sweetness and deliciousness. At this point, I had two drinks in front of me that were so good, it was hard to decide which one to sip.

The last cocktail we made was a classic gimlet with a twist. The twist was muddling cucumber and basil together with simple syrup. We learned that using the simple syrup to muddle helps get the fruit and herb juices flowing. Next, we added equal parts lime juice and vodka with ice and completed it with another good shake. This was my favorite drink of the night. The hints of basil and cucumber, so refreshing.

We spent the remainder of the evening getting to know the other guests in the class, laughing, and, of course, indulging in our handmade cocktails. By the time the night was coming to a close, the group was anticipating when the next cocktail class would take place.

I guess you can say, our first time in New Hope was a success. We will be back for more summer indulgences.

Delicious cuisine and delightful company: The Ryland Inn’s Farmers and Family Sunday Dinner

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The Ryland Inn, a beautiful Landmark Hospitality restaurant and event facility, hosted two delightful Farmers and Family Dinners during the month of March. These three-course farm to table dinners are served family-style and hosted by Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht. I had the pleasure of attending their March 26th dinner which showcased Shibumi Farm Mushrooms that were picked just hours before our meals were served. All three delicious dishes, which were made from fresh, local ingredients and paired with wines from Alba Vineyard, incorporated mushrooms (yes, even dessert!). It was the perfect excuse to get out of the house on a Sunday night to make new friends and enjoy a wonderful meal.

 

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

 

   Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The evening began with cocktails and hor d’oeuvres at the Duck Bar while we were serenaded by a wonderful bluegrass trio to set the mood. After a little mingling it was time to take our seats at the beautifully decorated communal style tables, which gave everyone a marvelous opportunity to meet and chat with new faces and even make some friends. We were quickly treated to our first course, Pea Tendril and Baby Arugula Salad, which featured a Mushroom-Sherry Vinaigrette, Mushroom, Ramp and Goat Cheese Tart, Candied rhubarb, Easter egg radishes, and Hemp seed. It was absolutely delectable.

 

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Pea Tendril and Baby Arugula Salad

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The main course, in keeping with the theme of the night, was a wonderful Mushroom Surf & Turf. We feasted on Smoked Sterling Silver Ranch Beef Sirloin with Grilled Spring Onions, Crab and Hedgehog Mushroom Fondu, Black Trumpet & truffle bordelaise, Whole Roasted Mushrooms, Grilled Asparagus, and Spring Garlic. Each and every plate was left empty after this fantastic course. We couldn’t get it into our mouths fast enough

 

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

In between each course Chef Albrecht came out from the kitchen to discuss each dish in great detail, and he went out of his way to say hello to each and every guest and make sure we were all enjoying ourselves. He told us that the evening was “not just a time to eat dinner and chat, but it’s really a time to have a conversation about food.” And converse about food we sure did. We learned all about mushrooms, from growing and cultivating to preparing and cooking them, from Chef Albrecht as well as the evening’s featured guest speakers, Alan Kaufman and Crawford Koeniger from Shibumi Farm.

 

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

For dessert we were treated to a Warm Chocolate-Piopino Cake which flawlessly incorporated mushrooms with Coconut-pink peppercorn sorbet with a Fig and Banyuls reduction. This mouthwatering treat was utter perfection.

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Warm Chocolate-Piopino Cake

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

I know I am not alone in saying that I had the most fabulous time at The Ryland Inn’s Farmers and Family Dinners. Not only was I able to enjoy a delicious three-course farm to table meal with some amazing company and great conversation, but it was also an educational experience with some of the Garden State’s finest food and horticultural experts. If only all Sunday night dinners could be as fantastic as this. For more information and to see when the next dinner is, visit RylandInnNJ.com.

Who was your ’80s movie boyfriend?

New jersey native, Andrew McCarthy was in every hot movie in the early 80’s and is now a celebrated author. I had the chance to meet Andrew, yes I called him Andrew when we hugged. Yes, a HUG!!  He is humble and has a self-awareness that we don’t usually see in Hollywood. A real dad, with a 15, 10  and a 3-year-old in the house. How does this man get anything done? He works right in the middle of the chaos and wouldn’t want it any other way. Unknown to me, Andrew has been a writer for years, he is an editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler, and also writes for major newspapers and journals. He has received six Lowell Thomas awards, plus has been named Travel Journalist of the Year by The Society of American Travel Writers. Truly a man of many talents. He has also directed some of my favorite shows; Orange is the New Black, Blacklist, The Family and Grace & Frankie on Netflix. For more click link: http://bit.ly/2nOX9e9