For Ernest Hemingway Paris was a moveable feast. For me this past Tuesday, my moveable feast was right here in Jersey City’s Hamilton Park. All thanks to the new Garden State Food Tours company, with co-founder Alessia Aron a resident of Hamilton Park herself. I actually stumbled upon Alessia through this close-knit foodie scene here in JC, and we quickly discovered our similarities. It was an instant chemistry which can only be explained by our overwhelming obsession for anything food related. Such a bright eyed and warm person, combined with a spark and passion that is undeniable and contagious. It is evident that Alessia’s heart and soul are in this foodie scene, and she has big plans with her partner Kevin Anderson resident of another great foodie city Montclair. Kevin contributes years of knowledge in the food world as well as his expertise in entrepreneurial projects of all kinds. GSFT is going to do great things not only in this community but throughout the state, all while keeping us nicely fed
Our first stop on this fall themed tour was The Hamilton Inn, one of my favorite spots in JC. This place owned by Michael Gondevas, is super cozy, with a great menu, and always delivers a quality dining experience (Wednesdays are half priced cocktails and dollar oysters- just sayin). The owner’s brother and manager John, greeted us with his big smile and always charismatic energy. They seated our group of 15 in the front area of the restaurant, which was very nicely set and ready to accommodate us. Out of all of the food tours I’ve participated in, this one was definitely the most formal. The staff quickly brought our the first course- a root vegetable soup with two pulled pork sliders. Each course had a drink pairing, and this one was Hamilton Inn’s apple cinnamon infused vodka. The soup was delicious and perfect for a cold fall night, I felt like I was eating Mom’s home cooking. A hint of sweetness, creaminess, fall spices and fresh vegetables (Alessia worked with Stony Hill and Poplar Wood Farms who donated produce for the event). The vodka was a nice complement to the course and also served to warm us up on this particularly brisk night. One of my favorite things about this restaurant are the string lights on the tree outside, providing a lovely backdrop during your dinner The Hamilton Inn, 708 Jersey Avenue
Next stop was Madame Claude Wine, brought to us by Alice and Mattias, owners of the downtown staple Madame Claude Cafe. Similar to their french bistro, the shop is really charming with lots of cute gift items, an extensive collection of mostly organic wines, and a yummy assortment of cheese, meat, and pates as well. Lourdes was our very hospitable host and went through a full demonstration and tasting of two different wines. One a white Bordeaux and the other an Argentinian Malbec- both were delicious, but the highlight here was the bountiful cheese and fruit platter. I quickly fell in love with the Morbier cheese and bought some to take home (pictured below on the left, with the vein down the middle). This stop was fun because of the obvious, but also because we were able to browse the shop and make some purchases. After stuffing our faces and Madame Claude wine bags with lots of goodies, we were off to the next stop. Madame Claude Wine, 234 Pavonia Avenue
A quick little stroll and we were on our third stop DOCO Market & Cafe, a spin on a cooperative where they offer members discounts based on community volunteer involvement. I really love the mission of this place, not to mention they specialize in local and organic produce paired with a Latin inspired menu. I also love the vibe and ambiance, bright and inviting, DOCO encourages the community to congregate in their space. Upon entering we feasted our eyes on this magnificent display of goodness. Quinoa stuffed acorn squash and chorizo, beef, and lentil empanadas were featured, but a nice bonus was the kale and fruit salad. The owner Tim gave us a brief background of the place which he owns with his wife Marcella, their mission, and a description of the food. Everything was healthy, hearty, and delicious! Such beautiful colors and quality ingredients really made this enjoyable- and filling! My favorites were the beef empanada and the stuffed acorn squash, which were both so full of flavor. Their Thanksgiving catering menu looks great too, and really affordable for such quality food! DOCO Market & Cafe, 29 McWilliams Place
The final stop on the tour was GP’s, an Italian restaurant owned by George Politis Jr. This family has been feeding the mouths of Hudson County since 1934, with restaurants in Hoboken, Weehawken, and Guttenberg. The feel in this place is very warm and friendly, and George welcomes each guest as if he’s inviting you into his home as family. The course here was a duck ragu with polenta and root vegetables, paired with a Makers Mark and apple cider beverage. This course was perfection! The duck was crispy, polenta creamy, and the drink delicious. It was perfectly portioned and really fit the fall theme. I will definitely be coming back to sample some more of what GP has to offer, which is quality ingredients in a great atmosphere. Can’t go wrong with four generations of goodness! GP’s Restaurant, 236 Pavonia Avenue
The last, and certainly not least, was our All Kinds of Whoopie dessert to-go box provided by the astounding Adriana Machado Jaworski. In our little box of goodies was a salted dulce de leche empanada and an apple whiskey truffle. Now…I’m not much of a sweet tooth, but holy Lord were these good! Adriana’s creativity and attention to detail are phenomenal and each bite just had a little bit of love in it. This young lady is super talented and as sweet as her delectable creations. She currently is a catered only business, but in the works to open a store front in the downtown area soon. Such a beautifully talented person, she is such an asset to this community, keep an eye out for her and her yummy creations!
Visit Garden State Food Tours for more information on their upcoming tours, including another one just like this in early December (possibly guided by yours truly ) and their debut tour in the beautiful city of Monclair.
Please click on each link to learn more about any of the above businesses, like their Facebook pages, go check them out and have wonderful experiences while showing your support. Tell them Janis from Mousie’s Munchies sent you of course! <3