You know things have gotten tough when New Jersey becomes a vacation destination.
Stacey was competing on the horses in August, so I booked for a few nights with her in Princeton. It was my first time there. As preparation for my trip to The Garden State I listened to a lot of The Boss and re-binged all six seasons of The Sopranos. I also studied up on some of the vernacular (Hoagie; Shoobie; Mutz; MAC) so I could talk comfortably with the locals. Stacey’s family resided in Teaneck all her life. I’d never ventured much beyond that 20 minute sprint out of Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel, past a scrappy green zone, for holiday events at her old homestead. It looked safe enough and there seemed to be lots of Diners. I love Diners.
Princeton is a picturesque walk-around town with the beautiful Ivy League Campus as a center piece. The University was established in 1746 so you’ve got all that history to enjoy. This is what I was expecting in Michigan – sorry Ann Arbor!
I had gotten some excellent recommendations in advance from some of my Jerseyite friends.
We stayed in The Peacock Inn; an 18TH Century Colonial converted into a boutique hotel off the main drag in Princeton. The service was excellent and the ambience superb; they host daily afternoon tea events. They looked dressy and lovely. I didn’t attend – do I look English to you?
The Peacock is great for a shorter stay – as a converted manor the rooms do run smaller. Great shower though and the heated bathroom floor made Stacey very happy. Whatever it takes.
The garden was closed one evening for a cocktail party/art exhibit. The paintings were goth awful, and the event had the feel of a party that rich daddy had sponsored for his little princess. Princeton feels like that kinda town. I did not buy a piece.
Our best dining experience was at Elements. The five course pre-fixe is pricey but worth every penny – it was our combined birthday/anniversary night out. Primarily fish dishes the accumulated food volume creeps up on you. We did not leave hungry. Elements provided some of the best service we have ever had and we have always been very nice to ourselves.
I put on my shoobie shoes and shorts one evening and took a spin over to Avon by the Sea, to see my good buddy Kerry and husband (as of the Summer) Jake. Congrats again friends! They treated me to dinner at The Columns, a beautifully converted Victorian Mansion with a fun ocean front buzz – hopping with live music on a Thursday evening. It was a real pleasure to meet Jake, Brendan & Caitlyn and I will go back to Avon given the opportunity.
Back in Princeton, I tried to buy a t-shirt in the iconic Princeton Record Exchange. All they had was Kelly Green. I may not look English but I’m not that Irish. I left empty handed. I did overstock at the excellent Labyrinth Books on Nassau Street, however.
No scones, but Small World Coffee had some of the best house coffee I’ve tasted and was a great space for taking a break from all the walking. It became my stop off spot during the few days there.
I did need to pick up a gift while I was in Princeton and scored with a bottle of Game of Thrones Scotch. They had individual distillers represent each of the GOT clans. Of course, I had to add a bottle to my bar – the incestuous Lannister’s were always my favorite. I had picked Cersei for the throne in the GOT Dead or Alive pool I ran, and I’m still devastated by the result.
Things I learned to do during The Plague #3: How to Pickle Stuff. Combine two cups water; two cups white vinegar; 1 spoon of pickling salt; 1 spoon celery salt; boil it all together; chop up the fresh product; throw all the shit together in a jar. BAM!
I have had a very successful two years with Banana Peppers. It’s the closest I come to eating a vegetable.
Of course, I produced way too much so guess what you’re getting for Christmas!