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This article was prepared for the May 7, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Hunger in the midst of plenty is an odd concept to get

one’s mind around. But it is a concept that area relief organizations

— as well as area restaurateurs — know only too well. Restaurants

are the focus of this, our annual spring dining guide. And for diners

in central New Jersey, plenty is the operative term. Copious choices

of diverse cuisines beckon us daily — as do some of those super-sized

New Jersey servings.

But even more fortunate for us is the fact that these same restaurateurs

are aware of hunger and working to help alleviate it. Some 24 restaurants

and their chefs and owners teamed up with hunger relief organizations

for Taste of the Nation, the annual gourmet food and wine tasting

event, showcasing our area’s culinary wizardry at the same time that

it raised around $60,000 in a single evening for HomeFront, Isles,

Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative, and the Trenton Area Soup

Kitchen.

We were among 650 lucky tasters who enjoyed the hospitality of the

Doral Forrestal and its Gratella Restaurant last Monday night where

copious dining choices were fully in evidence. Our restaurants pulled

out all the stops serving their top-of-the-line items that included

oysters on the half shell, jumbo shrimp, crawfish, crab cakes, and

frog legs.

Chef Jim Weaver of Tre Piani Ristorante in Forrestal Village

served up tender slices of Pepper-Seared Tuna with Scallop Ceviche

in what seemed to be infinite supply. Familiar faces such as the Alchemist

and Barrister were joined by the new Amarone’s Windsor Inn of Windsor

making its debut appearance.

Diamond’s Riverside in West Trenton a visual feast — a table that

seemed to groan under the weight of its cornucopia of antipasto offerings

and freshly shucked oysters. Les Copains in Princeton offered its

hors d’oeuvres specialty, Cuisses de Grenouille, Frog’s Legs with

Chrysanthemum Puree. On the dessert side, guests were treated to miniature

cheesecakes from Nassau Inn, Chocolate Pots de Creme from the Brothers

Moon of Hopewell, and Creme Brulee from Princeton’s Ferry House.

Sponsored by Share Our Strength, Taste of the Nation is part of the

largest nationwide benefit to fight hunger. Major corporate sponsorship

is by American Express and Jenn-Air. Over 15 years, Share Our Strength

has raised $50 million to date. Adding to this year’s proceeds were

auction items that included a Jenn-Air dishwasher from Mrs. G’s, a

wine dinner for eight at Tre Piani, and a trip to Hawaii.

Taste of the Nation reports that 33 million Americans are threatened

by hunger today. In Mercer County, the Mercer Street Friends regional

food bank, has seen a 58 percent increase in requests for emergency

food at member agencies since 2000. And while almost half of these

hungry Americans are employed, and equal proportion of those at risk

— more than 15 million — are children.

In another important anti-hunger volunteer effort this week, on Saturday,

May 10, the National Association of Letter Carriers will collect and

deliver food to Mercer Street Friends Food Cooperative. Leave donations

of nutritious, non-perishable foods in a bag near your mailbox and

it will be picked up by your letter carrier and delivered by NALC

volunteers to the community food bank. Bon appetit!

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