Sunday, November 19, 2017

An Abundant Life - A Feast For The Senses

The first time I walked by Tutta Pesca I was on my way somewhere else, but it looked so inviting with the friendly sign on the sidewalk and a door that opened easily onto what I could see was a counter full of fresh fish and ice that I wanted to stop by again soon when I had time to visit and explore. So on another day not long after when I found myself on the same block, I walked through the friendly door and was greeted by a very welcoming and charming young man, Mike Cara, Jr., who asked me if I was there to buy fish. I explained that I was exploring to find out more about what Tutta Pesca was because I wrote a blog, and he offered to take me on a tour of the building and told me a bit about the history of the place and his family. What I saw that day, and what I heard, was such a lovely and welcoming story, that I asked if I could write about it. Because the Cara family has made Tutta Pesca a fish market as well as a restaurant, and because I like to cook and love to eat fish, Mike, Jr. suggested that the place to start was to bring some fish home to try that night, and then return for a dinner at the restaurant the next day.

I'm a snob when it comes to fish. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent summers in Rhode Island, and my family would drive for miles out of their way even in the best of fishing areas to make sure they found the freshest catch and the best markets. I have friends who are fishermen, and when I moved to New York, I started eating less fish because unless I know for sure where the catch is coming from and when it was caught, I really don't like to take a chance that I'll be disappointed. Tasting the Halibut that Mike handed me that afternoon was like going back in time to my fish-loving youth. It was such a clean and fresh piece of fish that it looked beautiful cooking, and it cooked so quickly and easily that all I needed to do was sear it in my cast iron skillet with a little bit of butter and it was deliciously done. The next night when I returned for dinner, Mike's father Mike, Sr. was there to greet me and tell me more about the family business and history, graciously taking time to share about the vision and legacy that had created this beautiful gourmet quality restaurant and fish market. A part of the seafood industry for three generations and over 90 years, the knowledge and expertise for finding, transporting and preparing the finest of fish is something they know well and take well deserved pride in. The family owned seafood trucking company, Cara-Van, provides expert overnight delivery service to some of the finest purveyors and restaurants throughout the Northeast. The delightful and lovely design of the building and the construction of the interior was done by their own family company, and every detail has been done with quality, comfort and beauty in mind. Each family member and every person on staff reflect that same warmth and high level of quality, and they all took so much care and so much time to make sure that I was enjoying myself that I thought for sure they must think I was someone much more important. But then as I looked around, I noticed that everyone who came into the restaurant or stopped by to buy fish was treated with the same warm and welcoming care and courtesy, and I realized by the end of the evening that what the different members of the family had told me was true - they really welcome you in and treat you like one of the family. And to top it all off, because of their commitment to serving and selling only the freshest of fish and their commitment to serving the community, whatever is not used at the end of the day is donated to the Hoboken Shelter across the street.

Warmer and kinder people are rare to meet, and the food is in a word outstanding. Every bite was pure ambrosia, starting from the grilled Octopus that was so tender delicious that it seemed like another fish entirely to the Zuppa Di Pesca that brought so many wonderful flavors together and brought back memories of some of the greatest meals I've had while creating a lasting memory of this one perfect evening. One of the regular treats I used to share with my father years ago was to go out to share a lobster together, and as the friendly waiter put the bib on me to eat the Zuppa Di Pesca, I smiled remembering those long ago dinners. In a way my father was with me at Tutta Pesca, the warmest of old memories combining with the best of the new. As I had the last bite of Aunt Barb's famous Cheesecake drizzled with a fresh berry sauce that was as delicious as it was lovely, I knew I'd found a place that I'd be happy to return to and that would always delight. The Cara's lovely daughter-in-law Bombina who also works in the restaurant and market has family in Italy who press their own exquisite Organic Extra Virgin Olive Olive Oil, and Tutta Pesca sells several different varieties of it under the name of Cara Bella. Her family's former Hoboken restaurant Tutta Pasta and the friendship between the two families gave inspiration to the Cara family for Tutta Pesca along with  their family business experience and personal enjoyment of the design of the highest quality seafood shops and restaurants on Manhattan's lower east side and Boston's North End. Adding personal touches and lovely family history to the decor and menu, they have created an atmosphere of luxurious fine dining that genuinely feels like home. On my way out, Mike, Jr.'s beautiful sister Nicole, who had already shared so much warmth and kindness with me, gave me a bottle of Rosemary Flavored Cara Bella Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Olive Oil to try at home as she gave me a hug saying welcome to our family. It's an honor to have a family with such a great history of great quality be so open and welcoming, and it's a blessing to have the opportunity to break bread with them.

Tutta Pesca
155 3rd Street
Hoboken, New Jersey

Part Of The Seafood Industry For Three Generations

Exquisite Decor And The Freshest Of Ingredients

Succulent Grilled Octopus
Perfectly Served Over Sauteed Spinach And Cannellini Beans

The Outstanding Zuppa Di Pesca
Served Over Homemade Squid Ink Linguini

Aunt Barb's Legendary Cheesecake
With Fresh Berry Sauce

Personal Lovely Touches Throughout
With An Eye For Comfort And Beauty

A Personalized Choking Information Sign
Adding Fun And A Family Touch To A Health Regulation Requirement

The Most Gorgeous Piece Of Halibut I've Seen In Years
Creating A Delicious And Delightful Luxurious Meal At Home

The Finest Of Organic First Cold Pressed Italian Olive Oil
Served At The Restaurant And Available For Purchase
To Bring The Exquisite Flavor Home

Outdoor Seating For Special Occasions

Nicole And Mike, Jr.
Carrying On The Cara Family Tradition
Of Excellence And Hospitality


Jannie Susan

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Abundant Life - A Visionary Light

I would say that I met the beautiful artist Dorothy A. Culpepper by accident, but I've come to know that there are no accidental meetings or coincidences. A friend calls them Godincidences and other friends says they are Divine Appointments. I go by either name because by whatever name you call them they are just as sweet. The first time I walked into Montserrat Contemporary Art it was because I had attended an opening in the same building, and before I headed home again I decided to wander a bit to see what other openings there were. "Second Direction" New Works By Dorothy A. Culpepper at Montserrat Contemporary Art was the next exhibit I walked into, and it was so refreshing and inspiring that I knew that was where I was meant to be all along. After talking to several lovely people, I was introduced to the Curator, Irma Herbozo, and she introduced me to the artist who offered to sit and talk with me because she would soon be on her way back to her home in New Mexico. She shared a bit of her history, and the inspirations she has had along the way, but it was apparent from her words and her work that her inspiration is a light that shines above and beyond and brings light and life to others who come into contact with it. Spattering and pouring, working with colors and textures, this new direction of work reflects her love of the landscape in her New Mexico home and her appreciation of the world around her. She and her work were so delightful and so lovely that I asked if I could come back at another time to photograph the work and talk to the Curator for a blog post, and so a few weeks later I did. The Curator Irma Herbozo is also so lovely and delightful and the gallery so charming in every way that I was glad for the opportunity to visit again at a time when it was quieter so that I could get to know it better. Montserrat Contemporary Art has a group of artists who are members who show throughout the year, and I'm looking forward to more wonderful openings and shows in the future. It is a place with beautiful art, and wonderful people, and a beautiful space to let them shine in.

"Second Direction" New Works By Dorothy A. Culpepper
Montserrat Contemporary Art
547 West 27th Street
New York City

Dorothy A. Culpepper In Conversation
Photograph Courtesy of Irma Herbozo


Jannie Susan

Sunday, November 5, 2017

An Abundant Life - A History Of Perfection

The Hoboken Turtle Club was always a place that caught my eye. I love history, and there are a few  places still left that honor that history while bringing it into the new day. Originally founded in 1796, it has the great honor of being the nation's first social club, and boasts an early membership that included Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, John Jay, and Founder Col. John Stevens. All throughout the lovely restaurant and bar areas, you see whimsical messages and original signs and memorabilia from the days gone by, and the dark wood paneling and comfortable seating gives a feeling that you are in your own private club. The original details and echoes of earlier times bring a sense of history, while the menu and cocktails are rooted solidly in the present, giving hints of a future that is even more perfect than the past. The first time I walked in the doors, I was following up on a specialty cocktail they were making with Misunderstood Whiskey, and I met the friendliest staff imaginable. Each time I have returned I have been delighted, and I have also been astonished by the wonderful creations emerging from the kitchen and the delicious cocktails the amazing Mixologist Christopher Newcomb dreams up. Manager Julio Carrasco is always the perfect host, and the wait staff make sure you're taken care of. The brilliance of combining the solidity of the past with an eye to the present brings the best of all eras together into a charming and fun-loving whole. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity and the honor to sit down with the Executive Chef Ryan DePersio - as charming and friendly as he is talented, a rare combination to find. His pedigree includes being the Chef/Owner of the renowned Fascino in Montclaire and Jersey City's marvelous restaurants Battello and Kitchen Step, and a history that goes back to working with David Bouley at the wonderful Bouley Bakery in Manhattan. He shared some of his newest brunch creations with me while telling his story, and I would have been happy to sit and listen for hours while I enjoyed the beautiful afternoon sunlight and the even more lovely and delectable creations that were set before me. There is a sign that is posted as you walk in the door, a memory from the original days of the Turtle Club's founding, "As we journey through life, let us live by the way," a fitting message for a space and place that helps us remember to make time to enjoy the good things in life. With DJ Ralph Monte in residence on Friday and live DJ's on Saturday nights, live music on Thursdays with the additional fun of 25% off all bottles of wine, Wednesday night All Night Happy Hour, Tuesday night One Buck Shuck oysters and clams with beer specials, Monday night 1/2 off the entire delicious food menu, Sunday cocktail and bar specials to enjoy with friends and family, and special events to celebrate and support community life, The Hoboken Turtle Club is an extra special destination for any and all days.

The Hoboken Turtle Club
936 Park Avenue
Hoboken, New Jersey

Marvelous Chef Ryan DePersio's Exquisite Crab And Watermelon Salad
Served With A Perfect Elder Statesman Specialty Cocktail
Made With Misunderstood Whiskey
And Handcrafted By Expert Mixologist Christopher Newcomb

Ribs With Pineapple Glaze That Will Be Sure To Delight

Perfect Gelatos and Sorbets From Gelarto-Torino, Italy

Lovely Outdoor Seating In Fine Weather

The Phenomenal Chef Ryan DePersio
Sharing His Passion For Fine Food And Community Life

Ambrosial And Beautiful Brunch Selections

Perfection In Cocktails
From The Amazing Mixologist Christopher Newcomb

The Gorgeous And Heavenly Fall From Grace
A New Fall Cocktail Made With Misunderstood Whiskey

Completely Delightful Every Time


Jannie Susan