This article was originally published in the April 2017 Princeton Echo.


Cookbook award for Parla

Katie Parla’s widely acclaimed “Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City,” a lively guide to the vibrant Rome dining scene (with recipes), took home top honors in the travel category at the 2017 conference of the prestigious International Association of Cooking Professionals (IACP) in March. The award went to Parla and the book’s photographer, Kristina Gill.

Parla’s mother is Jo Ann Cipollina, a real estate agent and board member and force behind the West Windsor Community Farmer’s Market. Her father is Mike Parla, longtime owner of Clydz restaurant in New Brunswick. In his foreword to the book, no one less than Mario Batali — himself a Jersey boy whose career started at Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick while he was a student at Rutgers — calls Katie Parla “an expert on all things Rome — particularly food, wine, and beer.”

Chennai Chimney offers lunch challenge

A few months back I wrote in this space about My Tiffin Express, the Plainsboro-based service that delivers hot, fresh, Indian dinners six nights a week to seven area Indian groceries, where customers pick up orders they placed earlier in the day. Now there’s another option, this one in Princeton, that also aims to emulate India’s beloved tiffin lunch experience.

Chennai Chimney, the restaurant that recently opened in the space on Chambers Street that for many years was Masala Grill, offers a take-out only “Grab & Go” lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The restaurant has received a warm reception — currently a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars by Yelp contributors.

For $6.95, Chennai Chimney’s Grab & Go customers create their own lunch box from a take-out-only buffet consisting of that day’s chef’s-choice vegetarian (sometimes vegan) and non-vegetarian curries, plus white basmati rice, naan, and yellow dal. As with My Tiffin Express, the carry-out vehicle is not a charming tin, but a practical, utilitarian microwavable container.

Fran McManus profiled Mikel Cirkus of West Windsor for Edible Jersey.

Edible Jersey features Princeton-area pros

Both as feature story subjects and the writers who contributed them (myself included in the latter category), our immediate area constitutes a good portion of the new issue of Edible Jersey magazine.

Princeton’s Fran McManus (Whole Earth Center communications manager, writer, and workshop educator focused on exploring flavor) turns the spotlight on the unique work of Mikel Cirkus of West Windsor. Throughout his career as global director of conceptual design in the flavors division of Firmenich, the international flavor and fragrance powerhouse headquartered in Plainsboro, Cirkus has become an infallible tastemaker with a keen eye and artistic outlook who roams the world’s edgy neighborhoods to predict and influence the next big thing in everything from, as the magazine’s editor writes, “the color of our walls to the flavors on our plates.”

If the name “Cirkus” sounds familiar, it might be because Mikel is married to Chris Cirkus, manager of the West Windsor farmers market. The mural that he painted for the market’s shed is featured along with him on the issue’s cover.

My own contribution is about the personal and professional path of Pam Flory, the innovative and award-winning garden manager and gardening instructor at Princeton Day School. Included is a sidebar with this Hopewell resident’s top tips for establishing and maintaining the ideal home garden.

If you’re not familiar with the groundbreaking role that chef/restaurateur Dennis Foy — now of d’floret in Lambertville — played decades ago in transforming New Jersey from a fine-dining backwater to a pioneer in what is now termed the farm-to-table movement, the story by Philadelphia-area writer Jenn Hall will enlighten you.

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