President’s Day – Year Two!

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In keeping with tradition, we started off our new adventure also on President’s Day. Although wine is not part of 2015 adventure, we couldn’t help but make a stop at Tomasello Winery, which has a tasting room at Abma’s Farm & Market in Wyckoff. When we had vistied Tomasello in July, they had advised us that we could bring back our wine glass to any of their locations and enjoy a complimentary tasting. Win! We’d been meaning to go to the store in Wyckoff for several months, and thought that our day off would be the perfect opportunity. We had previously seen on Groupon that they had a deal for Tomasello but didn’t know whether we could use it at the Wyckoff location, but the staff member said we can, you just have to select the Abma’s location when purchasing.

The Groupon deal was $35 for a tasting of 5 wines for each of us, 1 souvenir glass each, 2 bottles of Tomasello wine up to $25 each, 1 membership to the Tomasello Case Club each, and $5 off a purchase of $20 at Abma’s Farm Market each. So even though we could’ve done the tasting free since we already had souvenir glasses, with all that was included, we couldn’t pass this up. PLUS, next time we go back, we now have two extra glasses so we can bring a couple friends. (Tip: Check Groupon before your trip or when you arrive, as they have deals often for Tomasello.)

Even though we had tried many of their wines in July, it was helpful to re-taste some of the wines we’d forgotten about and to try others that we hadn’t before.

After the wine tasting, we proceeded to our first stop on our 2015 adventure: Kabob on the Cliff, an Iranian and Persian restaurant in Ridgewood, NJ.

Neither of us had been here, but we are both familiar with the area having worked there years ago, and we had discovered it when looking up places to eat near Wyckoff. The Yelp reviews looked good, so we figured it was worth a try. And of course, we called ahead to make sure it was BYO. (Which it was!) We brought one of our bottles from Tomasello.

The restaurant is a small storefront that seats approximately 20-30 people. As the evening progressed they dimmed the lights, signaling a shift from lunchtime to dinnertime. Our waiter was extremely friendly.

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Tahdig with stew

Our first dish was the Tahdig appetizer. Tahdig is a crispy rice dish which can be described as the rice from the bottom of the pan. The tahdig was served with our choice of stew on top. It seems like the stew options change seasonally, as our stew of choice is no longer on the menu on their website. The tahdig was a bit difficult to eat, as it was crispy, but the stew was delicious. (The stew can also be ordered on its own as an entrée.) A table of four could easily share the tahdig as an appetizer.

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Falafel

We also ordered the falafel appetizer, which was perfectly done – not too greasy, and very flavorful. If we weren’t full, we would’ve eaten all of it.

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Kabob combo for one

For our entrée, we shared the Kabob combo for one, which includes half a skewer of chicken, half a skewer of beef or lamb (we chose the beef), and 1 skewer of koobideh, which is a mixture of chopped lamb, beef, and onions. This comes with a side of rice or a salad, or half and half. We ordered the half and half, but we got lucky and they accidentally gave us full portions of each. Even though we’d ordered the combo for one, we had plenty left over.

(Disclaimer: We were so hungry that we forgot to take picture before we ate, so some of our plates are half-eaten in these photos. This probably isn’t the last time this will happen.)

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Julie & the bottle of Doogh

We ordered a bottle of Doogh, a yogurt-based beverage. We had differing opinions on the Doogh. Julie found it a bit too sour, while Gina enjoyed it, and noted that in her culture, they have something similar called Kefir, which she adds sugar to when she drinks it to sweeten it.

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Iranian ice cream

For dessert, we had Iranian ice cream, which is saffron and rosewater flavored, with chopped pistachios on top. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was delicious and we ate all of it, even on a full stomach.

We realize Ridgewood is full of great restaurant options, but we would definitely recommend making a stop here the next time you’re in town!

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President’s Day…. our adventure begins!

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Hopewell Valley Vineyard

Hopewell Valley Vineyard

The day began with plans to drive to Philly on our day off. Being wine enthusiasts and it being a sunny winter day, we decided to stop at ONE vineyard on the way, Hopewell Valley Vineyards in Pennington, NJ.

 

An icy path

An icy path

 

The parking lot was almost empty and the walkway icy (VERY icy) when we stopped in that morning. The main room when we walked in was empty but has a large bar and stage which they utilize on weekend for live music. We walked up the steps to the second bar where we were greeted by a friendly bartender.

 

 

We each chose a variety of wines to taste, and between tastes, we browsed their selection of wine-themed gifts along the walls. It was while doing so that we happened upon one small book that would change the course of our day…. AND OUR YEAR. The book was a passport for all the wineries in New Jersey. The bartender explained that you can take the passport to all of the wineries in New Jersey. At each winery, they stamp the book, and once you’ve visited each of the wineries (however long it takes), you can submit it to be entered to win a wine trip to Europe. Our mission began.

Our mission, you ask?

“Julie you know what would be fun?”

“What?”

“We should go to all of the vineyards… by the end of 2014!”

Needless to say, we never made it to Philly!

After completing our tasting, we purchased a bottle of their Spuma Rossa*, or as the bartender called it, “Party in a Bottle,” and began our search for nearby wineries. Now seeing as it was a Monday, in the winter, and a holiday, not many wineries were open, but we found a few wineries nearby in New Hope, Pennsylvania. We went to Crossings Vineyard and New Hope Vineyard, but since we are the NEW JERSEY Wine & Dine girls, we won’t get into those! (To be fair, though, they are certainly worth stopping at if you’re in the area!)

The barrel room

The barrel room

Let us tell you more about the winery! We didn’t get to explore too much of the outdoors as it was covered in snow and ice, but in the warmer months there is outdoor seating and beautiful views. We did explore the interior of the building and saw where they store all of the barrels, most of which were taller than us! It was nice that it wasn’t busy, but there is ample room for crowds for their music events on the weekends and space to host parties. Brick oven pizza is also available on the weekends. The wine tasting fee is $6 for 6 wines and you get to keep the wine glass as a souvenir.  Between the two of us, we got to sample a majority of the wines.

When we left Hopewell, we didn’t know which wineries we’d visit on our next outing, but we had a date set!

*Spuma Rossa is a light-bodied, sweet red sparking wine. Easy drinking for an afternoon brunch or girls’ night in! We would also recommend the Chardonnay, which is oak-aged and has flavors of pear, apple and vanilla.