Over the Top
Chonut 2.1 at Kimchi Smoke
“People look at pictures of it and say it can’t work,” says Robert Austin Cho of the signature sandwich at his Westwood and Montclair barbecue joints. It piles peppery smoked brisket, bourbon-chipotle sauce, crisp bacon, cheddar, smoked kimchi and scallions between halves of a glazed doughnut ($15, sold only Fridays and Saturdays). “But when they taste it, they’re amazed at how well it blends and balances. We do call it life-changing.”—EL
301 Center Avenue, Westwood, 201-497-6333; 345 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, 973-744-3900.
Blueberry Picking in the Pine Barrens
Ringed by pine forest, the blueberry farms in and around Hammonton envelop you in chapel-like calm as the sandy soil cushions your feet and soaks up sound. In July, the peak of pick-your-own, the quiet amplifies the plink of berries hitting the bottom of your bucket as you begin working the rows of shoulder-high bushes (no reaching, no stooping). The farmer knows you pop a big, sun-warmed beauty into your mouth for every few you plop in the pail; he also knows that makes you pick more.–EL
Glorious Plums and Beefsteaks
The Annual Tomato Dinner at Serenade in Chatham
Come August, chef James Laird will host his 16th annual Tomato Extravaganza, a five-course dinner ($125, wine pairings included, tax and tip extra), in which tomatoes, grown mostly in his garden, factor in every course. Tomatoes, which come in so many forms and colors, lend themselves to Laird’s fertile imagination and exquisite technique. He doesn’t simply adorn his soups, salads, meat and fish courses with the multifarious fruit, but incorporates them raw, cooked, juiced, fried or dried. The theme carries through to dessert: last year, a yellow-tomato cheesecake with husk-tomato caramel; in 2014, plum-tomato panna cotta with (logically) basil ice cream. Way to finish with a flourish.—EL
6 Roosevelt Avenue, 973-701-0303.
Windows on a World
Tour the Astonishing Latour Wine Cellar
Every day at 3 pm, Restaurant Latour sommelier Susanne Lerescu leads visitors along a kind of yellow brick road designed by the late Gene Mulvihill, builder of the Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, to show off his 100,000-plus bottle collection, rich in his favorite grand cru, Chateau Latour. Each windowed room is devoted to a different region or country. Each tour ends with a pour and the story of the wine being tasted.—EL
1 Wild Turkey Way, 973-827-5996.
People Pay For This? Yup!
Bread and Butter at Razza in Jersey City
We’re all accustomed to getting bread and butter for free at restaurants. All too often, it isn’t worth eating, let alone paying for. But at Razza Pizza Artignale, chef/owner Dan Richer’s ongoing exploration of Italian artisanship, house-made bread and butter is a $5 item that often sells out. One taste tells you why. Baked in the wood-burning pizza oven, the bread is lusty and crusty. The cultured butter is soft and tangy, its flavor varying with the grasses, plants (or silage) the pastured Pennsylvania cows are eating in any given season. This is gastronomic pleasure at its most elemental.—EL
275 Grove Street, 201-356-9348