New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.
February is Black History Month and as such we’re reminded of so many people who have made a difference in how we live all year through. As we celebrate the hefty list of accomplishments of those who came before us, we think of those who are making history in the now; some in politics, some in industry and some who make significant differences in how we eat.
Celebrating Black History Month by enjoying food and drink from a Black-owned and operated establishment makes for a fantastic date night choice. Not only does it make for a tasty date but it gives you a front row seat to watch history in the making … and in the baking!
Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night where making history has never tasted so good!
Most Important Meal of the Day, All Day
It’s never too late to enjoy breakfast at Vonda’s Kitchen, where breakfast is available until 7 p.m. At her establishment in Newark, Chef/Owner Vonda McPherson’s mission is to prepare comfort food favorites in the most healthy manner using fresh New Jersey products.
You and your date will be tempted by the savory spinach and ricotta pancakes made with organic spinach, lemon zest and fresh cream, and the kitchen omelet with your choice of cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, caramelized onions, bacon, turkey and sausage.
If you want brunch with a Southern flair, you can’t go wrong with the shrimp and grits or chicken and waffles. Dinner options include meatloaf, baked catfish and smothered turkey wings, with side options including macaroni and cheese, roasted string beans and black eyed peas.
For more information about Vonda’s Kitchen, visit www.vondaskitchennj.com.
Saveur Creole in Montclair serves up classic Haitian Creole. Proprietor Ron Mompoint is originally from Haiti and brings a homegrown passion to every dish served.
Starting with the mambo gumbo (with okra, collards and bell peppers) or the Haitian caviar (smoked fish spread over crispy tostones with creamy goat cheese) is a must. Main dishes include Haitian legume, a traditional Haitian vegetable stew with eggplant and spinach, served with choice of goat, beef, chicken or shrimp and crab. Or try etoufée — chicken or shrimp and crab sautéed in a tomato roux.
You might be tempted by tassot de cherve, a dish of shredded and fried goat with pikliz, a Haitian condiment of pickled cabbage, carrots, bell peppers and scotch bonnet peppers seasoned with garlic and onion. Save room for dessert because you don’t want to miss treats like the bread pudding with grated sweet potato, milk, cane sugar and vanilla.
For more information about Saveur Creole, visit www.saveurcreolerestaurant.com.
Little Bit of Soul
Food that’s good for the soul and even better for the palate is what’s served at Delta’s in New Brunswick. Known for their classic soul food and live entertainment, your date night here will be like no other.
Starting the evening with a specialty cocktail like Bubblin’ Brown Shuga (Hennessy Black topped with champagne and a brown sugar cube) or Delta’s Punch (muddled oranges and cherries with Bacardi coconut rum and banana rum with orange and pineapple juice) is in order.
Soul food favorites like smothered chicken, fried or smothered pork chops and fried chicken and ribs rule supreme, but the real choice comes to the side dishes. From collard greens to black eyed peas and rice to macaroni and cheese, you’ll want to choose more than two. Same goes for dessert: How can you choose between banana pudding and red velvet cake?
For more information about Delta’s, visit www.deltasrestaurant.com.
North of West Indies
If the chef/owner of Freetown Road Project looks familiar to you and your date, it might be because you watched “Chopped.” Claude Lewis is a champion of this popular TV show and his Jersey City restaurant is where he plates the best flavors of Antigua and the West Indies.
You’re going to love his main course offerings, including oxtails with rice, steamed carrots and cabbage, and curry chicken Roti. It’s easy and flavorful to go vegan with the vegetable curry with chickpeas, potatoes, okra, spinach, butternut squash and eggplant.
The dessert sampler gives you the best of all worlds including black cake with English Harbor rum, papaya, pineapple and mango, and banana fritter pancake with cinnamon and nutmeg.
For more information about Freetown Road Project, visit www.freetownroadprojectnj.com.
History in the Making
To some, taking the shortest month of the year to honor the vast achievements of Black Americans might raise an eyebrow. One way to look at it is that we’re quick studies; it doesn’t take long to spot a hero and be inspired by their story. Perhaps Black History Month is the shortest month because the instructions and influences from February leave us with 11 months to live our lives a little wiser, smarter and with deeper understanding.
As couples, we also have the next months to make our own history. One year is a big, open slate and thanks to Black History Month we can find motivation to create a most memorable 2021 for our partners and ourselves. Ruby Dee, who celebrated over 58 years of marriage to Ozzie Davis, once said the following:
“A trustworthy marriage has weathered temptation and anger and jealousy, resentment, self-righteousness and a little bit of selfishness. When you get over and get through that, then maybe you can see the light to love.”
Here’s to seeing the light.
Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of The 49th Challenge, Craig has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about Craig, visit www.CraigRogers.nyc.
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