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TSN: Perfect pairings: Vineyards and notable chefs team up for culinary adventures

Tara Nurin, for the Courier-Post

July 29, 2010

Chef Jim Malaby is not unaware that his some of his
food combinations strike people as puzzling. Yet he
swears that roast beef and sliced-peach sandwiches,
pickled peach salad and chilled ancho-chili peach
soup are scrumptious — and made even more so
when they’re paired with wines that complement the
dishes’ tastes.

Malaby intends to win over some converts to his
creative cooking when he hosts a peach-themed
wine dinner at his Blue Plate restaurant in Mullica
Hill today. In a new partnership with Wagonhouse
Winery in nearby Mickleton, he will cook with and
pair Wagonhouse’s three peach wines with his four
food courses.

“Whether the wine is used for sauce for the entree or
whether I marinate the fruit for dessert in wine, this
ingredient will bring a special flavor to each dish,”
Malaby predicts. “And when we pair the dishes with
the wine, it will bring a whole new level of flavor to
the food.”

This relationship is just one of many beginning to
emerge between chefs and vintners across South
Jersey. While such arrangements have been popular
in established wine regions like California for
decades, some New Jersey winemakers say the fruit
of the Garden State’s vine has only recently proved
itself worthy of the food table.

“When you’re doing food pairings you primarily
need to do dry reds and whites,” opines Rich
Heritage, sales and marketing director for Heritage
Vineyards in Mullica Hill, while noting that
traditionally, most Jersey winemakers chiefly
produced sweet Italian varietals. But in 1999, the
Garden State Wine Growers Association instituted a
quality assurance program, which, combined with
the entry into the market of some highly educated
and experienced vintners, inarguably raised the
level of wines produced in-state.

However, the industry’s reputation, according to
Heritage, has taken longer to catch up.

By TARA NURIN • For the Courier-Post • July 29,

“If I were a chef my gut instinct would be to say New
Jersey and wine just don’t add up,” he says. “But
competition has squeezed us into making better
wine.”

In August, Heritage is hosting the Growers
Association’s Jersey Fresh Wine & Food Festival,
which features more than 200 wines from 25
producers, plus fresh-food vendors from around
the state. Last year, 4,000 people came; this year,
he’s expecting 6,000.

The crowds are sure to swell at Valenzano Winery in
Shamong, as well, after the recent completion of a
32,000-square-foot catering complex designed to
house guest chefs who will host wine dinners and
pairing tutorials, among other activities. A cafe
whose menu will change regularly based on
seasonally available produce and the types of wines
vintners wish to feature with the food will open
during business hours. Co-owner Tony Valenzano
says over the past few years, his customers have
grown vocal in clamoring for him to expand his
food options.

“People seem to be getting more and more interested
in pairing wines with food and in cooking with
wine,” he says. “We’re farmers and we’re winemakers
and now we get to pair with great chefs. You get to
see all of the angles.”

Leading that spirit is a glimmering new restaurant in
Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino & Resort whose

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entire concept is based around showcasing New
Jersey food and wine. When it opened in late June,
Fin’s wine list featured selections from Heritage,
Amalthea Cellars, Sharrott Winery, Tomasello
Winery, Unionville Vineyards and Auburn Road
Vineyards, many of which were chosen for their
ability to augment the restaurant’s seafood-driven
menu.

“Tropicana probably has 20-plus wine lists; they
know wine,” says Lou Caracciolo, founder of
Amalthea, in Atco. “They’re sort of saying New Jersey
has made it and that we’re no longer a joke.”

Bring-your-own-bottle restaurants also can
participate in this trend, thanks to a state law that
allows wineries to sell their products at retail prices
at up to six designated BYOB restaurants or tasting
rooms. Illiano Cucina Mediterranea in Medford is
one of four off-premise retail sites for Sharrott’s
award-winning varietals, and Sharrott’s on-site
sommelier wrote the restaurant’s retail wine list,
which suggests pairings with dishes served by the
kitchen.

The sommelier, Khadija Woods, a graduate of The
Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, also helps
teach the winery’s periodic two-day instructional
wine courses, which include a section on pairing.

“People are interested because they want to have a
better food and wine experience in order to have a
better meal. People are always surprised about what
a difference wine can make in the taste of food,” says
Larry Sharrott, Sr., who owns the winery in Blue
Anchor.

This is precisely the reasoning behind Chef
Malaby’s series of wine dinners, most of which
center around one particular ingredient. By showing
patrons that sips of carefully chosen wine can
enhance the flavors of his food, everyone — from
customer to chef to winemaker — stands to benefit.

And when the food being supplied comes from a
neighboring farmer — as Malaby’s will — the circle
of the feel-good “buy local” movement that begins
when a community’s chefs and wine producers
support each other’s interests is complete.

“When everything’s right there it’s so much easier to
support the locals,” says Stacey Holtzhauser of
Holtzhauser Farms, the farm across the road from

Wagonhouse that’s supplying the peaches for
Malaby’s dinner.

“By everybody working together you get the best of
all worlds.”

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Chef Jim Malaby (left) and vintner Dan Brown of Wagonhouse Winery in Mickleton stroll through the vineyard. The Mullica Hill chef and local winemaker are teaming up for a culinary event this evening at the vineyard.
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Chef Jim Malaby (left) and vintner Dan Brown of Wagonhouse Winery in Mickleton stroll through the vineyard. The Mullica Hill chef and local winemaker are teaming up for a culinary event this evening at the vineyard. (JOHN ZIOMEK/Courier-Post)

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Valenzano Winery in Shamong has opened its 32,000-square-foot  catering complex designed to house guest chefs who will host wine  dinners and pairing tutorials, among other activities. Also on  the menu: a cafe whose offerings will change regularly based on  seasonally available produce and the types of wines vintners wish  to feature with the food.

Valenzano Winery in Shamong has opened its 32,000-square-foot catering complex designed to house guest chefs who will host wine dinners and pairing tutorials, among other activities. Also on the menu: a cafe whose offerings will change regularly based on seasonally available produce and the types of wines vintners wish to feature with the food. (Photo provided)

Jim and Nancy Quarella, owners of the Bellview Winery in Landisville,  will host a seafood festival at their vineyard on Aug. 21.
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Jim and Nancy Quarella, owners of the Bellview Winery in Landisville, will host a seafood festival at their vineyard on Aug. 21. (Courier-Post file)

Grapes hang off vines at Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. The vineyard  recently hosted a five-course Italian dinner accompanied by a
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Grapes hang off vines at Renault Winery in Egg Harbor City. The vineyard recently hosted a five-course Italian dinner accompanied by a “Tuscan Serenade’ and more food events are in the offing. (Courier-Post file)

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TSN: Scene at Night — Iron Hill is brewing up a first-anniversary party

http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20107230311

By TARA NURIN • For the Courier-Post • July 23, 2010

The Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant in Maple Shade is throwing a one-year anniversary party Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at 124 E. Kings Highway.

Visitors can renew their Mug Club memberships and grab a bite to eat. Call (856) 273-0300 or visit ironhillbrewery.com

Good news! The Old City Social, a party among restaurants and bars in Old City Philadelphia, has been extended to Sept. 9.

From 9 to 11 p.m., select establishments will offer $3 cocktails, wines and beers and half-price appetizers.

Visit //www.oldcitysocial.com/ to locate the more than 20 establishments participating.

Hot days (and nights) and NoChe are made for each other. The convenient wide-open second-floor Center City location at 1901 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, offers a distinctive menu, including specialties, and is well known for its gourmet half-price pizzas and $4 nachos. From the bar, there’s a craft beer happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with $3.50 drafts and $7.50 pitchers and $3 Stoli drinks.

There’s a killer gathering every Wednesday, where you can party from 10 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Visit www.Noche215.com

Put on your skinny jeans and come listen to the best of funk and old-school hip-hop at Recess Lounge, 125 S. Second St., Philadelphia. Track down more information at info@recess lounge.com or call (215) 351-9026.

Relax and beat the heat at the Tropicana’s Blue Parrot Pool Bar. Now open daily in Atlantic City, the Blue Parrot features DJs Super Dave, Jason C and Sean Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. The bar sports beverages and light fare available on the deck and cabanas that can be rented for the day.

Fridays and Saturdays at the Rumba Lounge at the Trop features a live DJ and dancers from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. DJ Cameron Alexander brings his magic to the popular nightspot by mixing the retro sounds of the 1970s, “80s, “90s and new-school beats.

Saturday nights feature DJ George Sokorai, whose style and mixes are an attraction, as are bar-top video poker and viewing sporting events on 12 TVs.

At Dusk within Caesars Atlantic City tonight, West Coast house legend DJ Dan will be in the booth with an opening set by DJ Stryfe for a special Global Friday performance. Saturday, the gathering will be hosted by Audrina Patridge, star of “The Hill.”

Get set for fun with the sixth-year Anniversary Caricature Contest tonight at the High Street Grill in Mount Holly.

In addition to having your caricature drawn by a professional, there’s also a chance to taste some impressive brews. Handles of several IPAs will be covered and you get to figure out what brand they are.

All caricatures drawn tonight from 8 to 10 will be hung in the bar for a monthlong “review” and voting by guests and a staff panel of judges. Three will be immortalized on the walls of the tavern.

Music will be provided tonight from 8 to 10 by The Kennedys.

Take in the Photon Band Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s at 1201 N. Frankford Ave., Philadelphia. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call (215) 739-9684.

The Philadelphia Zoo’s second Summer Ale Festival will be held Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. at the zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave., Philadelphia. It offers seasonal ales and local cuisine in a relaxing wildlife oasis.

Visitors will be able to sample more than 30 different craft brews and help crown “Philly’s Favorite Summer Beer,” savor foods from various local restaurants and enjoy live music.

Tickets at $55 are limited and include admission to the zoo, beer and food sampling, a souvenir beer-tasting mug, shuttle service to and from 30th Street Station or on-site parking.