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Thursday, September 11, 2008
Cookbooks Calling: A Visit To "Aunt Lil"
Blogging does have some perks. For that is how I met L., a woman who lives right here in Jersey City. We had been corresponding via email for a few months and I finally had the chance to meet her.
She offered me an opportunity I just couldn't pass up; a visit to see her 86 year old Aunt Lil, who has a cookbook collection that she would like to discard. So I tagged along with L. and her friend J. to meet Aunt Lil and peruse the collection.
Aunt Lil is a real treasure, a feisty Sicilian-American who has more energy than most young people I know. Although she is still quite active, she seemed delighted to be divesting of this vast collection, recognizing that she probably wouldn't be using most of them. In fact she said that ten cookbooks would have been enough for her but collecting just got out of hand.
Her cookbook collection, several shelves and bins worth, spanned decades from the 1950's until recently today. The highlights were a bread section and Italian baking and cooking. She made it clear that the Italian books were off limits for the moment, which was too bad since some of the titles were intriguing. But I couldn't be too disappointed since there were countless other types of cookbooks mixed in, from Amish to Irish, with church in between.
I came away with 25 books (don't tell my husband who thinks I should be tossing the ones I already own), including some classics like The Moosewood Cookbook and a 1953 copy of Better Homes and Gardens.
This won't be the last you hear of those books as I take a closer look at them and try a recipe or too. But our day wasn't only about books.
I also had the pleasure of lunching with Aunt Lil at a brand-new restaurant in Nutley, which L. had spied during her travels. Farm 2 Bistro is an adorable place to stop for lunch or dinner. The limited menu features ingredients from local farmers' markets, along with Palazzolo's gelato.
Aunt Lil had quite an appetite and managed to finish 3/4 of her Monte Cristo sandwich. My pulled pork tacos were filling and tasty too. We were all content with our meals but so full that we had no room to try the gelato. That will have to be for another time.
Overall, this small, rustically decorated restaurant is worth a short detour. If you live in Jersey City, this is but a 20 minute drive and definitely worth the trip.