Tag Archives: neighborhood

GREEN THUMBS GATHER AT THE SCOTCH PLAINS FANWOOD COMMMUNITY GARDEN!

As soon as I saw a photo of the lovely Scotch Plains Fanwood Community Garden, I just knew I had to blog about it. When I see people come together to make a difference in their community, it gets me right in the feelies. 

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LynnSusan Wurzburger of Scotch Plains is a retired attorney and avid gardner, as well as the chairperson of the SPF Community Garden Committee. Along with several other invaluable committee members (Billy Malone, Joyce Johnson, Wanderlan Silva, and Patrice Barth), LynnSusan has put her blood, sweat, and tears into this project of launching a community garden. After their original site location fell through, the Community Garden found its current (and perfect!) home on the grounds of the historic Frazee House in Scotch Plains. 

According to LynnSusan: “The Frazees always treated their property as a gathering place, even hosting meetings during the Revolutionary War. We want to salute them and bring people back to the land. With the Community Garden, we’ve returned part of their land to its original purpose, which was a farm.”

The SPF Community Garden occupies an 80′ by 80′ plot that is fenced in, plus another 20 feet beyond the fence line. The organization Groundwork Elizabeth: Come Grow with Us provided materials for the first 14 beds and set up a helpful irrigation system for the Garden. The remaining 14 beds were built by the committee and volunteers using materials that were donated or purchased using rental fees. In addition to the 28 beds, there are six “demonstration gardens.” 

The Garden officially opened in late July 2016, and already the beds are flourishing! Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, pole beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beets, onions, garlic, parsnips, and a variety of flowers (specifically those that attract pollinators) all are growing in abundance. But the Garden is about more than just plants. LynnSusan said, “We’ve built a sense of community here, and it has been so gratifying to see the gardeners who ordinarily would not have met each other in day-to-day life come together and be so welcoming and helpful to one another.”

LynnSusan went on to tell me about some of the goals of the Garden. “We hope to demonstrate how easy it is to grow your own food. We also want to inspire a sense of charity as we try to establish a giving garden to donate to El Centro in Plainfield. We encourage our gardnerers to ‘grow a row,’ meaning grow an extra row of a vegetable or fruit for donation purposes.” 

I loved hearing about how children are welcomed in the Garden. “We have a lot of young families who bring their kids with them. They children learn valuable lessons on how to plant, nurture, and harvest as well as eat what they grow. It’s essential to give kids an appreciation of the earth and teach them how to take care of it.”

Residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood as well as local organizations (one bed is currently being tended by a Girl Scout troop!) can rent a garden bed for $40 for a year. According to LynnSusan: “Next year we’re hoping to add 10-12 additional garden beds. We also plan to incorporate special gardens accessible to the elderly and disabled children.”

In October, the Community Garden will begin accepting applications for spring 2017. Current gardeners have first choice of beds, then it opens up to all the local residents and organizations on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

If you’d like to see the beautiful SPF Community Garden in person, visit the Harvest Homecoming fundraiser on October 1st from 11 am to 3 pm! This fun-filled family event is being cohosted by the Community Garden and the Rotary. There will be live music, food trucks, a petting zoo, face painting, children’s crafts, square dancing, games/prizes, and more! Although admission to the Harvest Homecoming is free, donations are welcomed that will benefit both the Garden and the Frazee House. 

The SPF Community Garden is located at the Frazee House: 1451 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains. If you would like to learn more about the Community Garden, visit their website at http://spfcommunitygarden.wix.com/garden, or donate to this wonderful grassroots organization through their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/spfcommunitygarden

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“The Gardens” is One of Westfield’s Most Picturesque Neighborhoods

Every once in a while I like to highlight one of the charming neighborhoods in our area. This week’s spotlight is on The Gardens section of Westfield, a truly picturesque neighborhood that is one of the most sought after places to live in town.

The Gardens comprise a little less than a quarter mile of the streets on the North side of town between Lawrence Ave. to the West and Mountain Ave. to the East. I love driving through the wide, winding streets of The Gardens, flanked on either side by sidewalks and towering birch trees.

The houses are something to behold in this neighborhood–classic colonials and elegant tudors all look as if they were plucked from the pages of a picture book. The lots are wider here than in many other areas of Westfield, and homeowners take great care to manicure their landscapes meticulously. The proximity of The Gardens to downtown Westfield, to the shops of Mountainside, and to Route 22 make it a convenient place to live.

Kristen Pfister had been resident of The Gardens for seven years, and she has summed up its appeal so eloquently. She says: “My husband grew up in Westfield, and when we decided to start a family, we wanted to raise our children here. We looked at homes all over town. The first thing that attracted us to The Gardens were the tree-lined streets and beautiful colonial homes–it reminded us of the movie ‘Father of the Bride.'”

She continues: “In the time we have lived here, many young families have chosen to make The Gardens their home. The sound of children’s laughter now greets you when you step out your front door. Families take turns walking the kids to school. There is always a friend at the ready to lend you a cup of sugar or to share a glass of wine. In summer, it is the block party, and on Christmas Eve the luminaries that line the streets. It is all of these things and the feeling of being a part of something that makes The Gardens the perfect place for us to call home.”

Talk about a ringing endorsement for a neighborhood! Take a stroll through The Gardens and you’ll see why residents such as the Pfister family have fallen in love with where they live. And you all know you can call me anytime to view houses for sale on the beautiful streets of The Gardens, and elsewhere in the Cranford/Westfield area: 908-447-3579.

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Herning Ave Halloween… One Resident’s Love For This Cranford NJ Tradition!

Trick-or-treating is a terrific time in most neighborhoods, but there’s a street in Cranford that’s become known as the “Halloween Street.” For the residents of this avenue as well as the kids and parents who will make their way there on October 31st, it has become so much more meaningful than just giving and getting candy. We were so happy that one resident reached out to us and asked us to share her family’s love for this tradition!

Ellen Travers moved to Herning Ave. 21 years ago. Her husband, Pedro Ramirez, grew up in Spain and hadn’t experienced an American Halloween. The first year they gave out candy together on Halloween was a weekend day, and Pedro was so delighted at the eager little faces that appeared at his doorstep, he gave out handfuls of candy and ran out of treats before the sun went down. For the rest of the day he and Ellen took turns racing to the drug store to pick up more candy as a seemingly never-ending flow of kids came a’knockin.’

Ellen and Pedro have three kids (Patrick, now 22; Andrew, now 18; and Grace, now 11), and over time the whole family watched as Halloween evolved into a true tradition on Herning, with the street eventually being barricaded off for several hours every Halloween to allow the crowds to walk the streets safely. Ellen began offering free hot coffee and water to passers-by on Halloween. According to Ellen: “One grandfather whom we’d see every year told me how excited he’d be when he’d get to my corner, knowing that there would be hot coffee waiting to warm him up, and he expressed how happy he was that his grandkids had this safe place to trick-or-treat.”

When I asked Ellen how much candy she anticipated giving out this year, she said anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 pieces!! But she doesn’t buy all that candy herself, since lots of candy is donated to Herning residents as word has spread of the large number of trick-or-treaters there. Officially, you can donate candy to 37 Herning Ave, and the owners there will distribute donations evenly among the residents of the street. But plenty of parents just show up with a bag or two of candy, and while their kids trick-or-treat they ask residents who might need a refill of goodies.

Many of the residents on Herning truly deck out their properties with Halloween decorations–some spooky, some downright adorable. A good number of the homeowners set up “camp” at the end of their driveways so the kids can get the candy faster and easier, and it becomes something of a block party. In fact, in past years a band has even entertained the crowds!

Ellen’s sons–both Eagle Scouts–hardly trick-or-treated themselves growing up because they so looked forward to greeting all the kids at their house on Halloween! They learned that some children came from neighborhoods that weren’t ideal for trick-or-treating, and for those kids, a visit to Herning on Halloween meant so much more than a few handfuls of candy–it meant a safe haven where kids could be kids. Ellen says, “For my kids to see community outreach in their own neighborhood means the world to me.”

When Ellen’s son Andrew was recently going off to college, he asked his older brother, Patrick, what he would miss most while being away from home. Patrick’s reply? “Halloween!” Patrick himself would ask for photos of the festivities over the years when he couldn’t make it back for Halloween, and this Saturday he plans to trek home from New York to experience his favorite holiday all over again.

If you’re planning to check out Herning Ave. this Halloween, consider bringing a bag of candy to donate if you have the means. The  street will be closed for the festivities from 3pm to 6pm. And follow your nose to the coffee brewing at Ellen’s house at the very start of Herning Ave. Her family’s big hearts and smiles will set the mood for a fantastic Halloween!

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Beautiful Buildings in Cranford, NJ…… Which is YOUR Favorite?

You might have noticed–I’m a wee bit obsessed with the beautiful architecture in our area. Here are some of my very favorite buildings in Cranford that lend so much character and value to this special town. What’s YOUR favorite building in Cranford?

The sage green Crane-Phillips House at 125 North Union Ave looks as if it hasn’t been touched in dozens of years, when actually it has been lovingly restored to its original charm, and the interior has been refurbished as a “living museum.” Daily tours are offered September through June from 2-4 pm

Crane-Phillips House

The building that houses The Artist Framer at the corner of North Ave and Alden Street looks like something straight out of a painting. The windows themselves are like picture frames, trimmed in bright purple and yellow hues, and the Victorian-style trim adds so much dimension.The Artists Framer

Just4Pooches has a new location, and boy is it pretty!! Now located at 208 North Ave W, this stunning teal and brown building is so eye catching! Did you know that there is parking in the rear that you can access via Orchard? So convenient! Bring your pooch in for a visit… Owner Lynne LOVES to visit!

Just4Pooches

Dryer Farms on Springfield Ave completely rebuilt its main building last year, and the results exceeded all expectations. The cheery yellow barn-like exterior and wide-open bays just welcome you right in, and the farm fresh food items and extensive plant options are amazing!

Dreyers FarmFirst Presbyterian Church at the corner of Springfield and North Union Avenues is truly a sight to behold, with its majestic clock tower, multiple spires, and thousands upon thousands of weathered shingles. Simply stunning!

First Presbyterian Church CRanford

A restaurant that is near and dear to me–since my son worked there for two years in high school–is The Cranford Hotel. Its distinctive red awnings have made it one of the most photographed and painted buildings in Cranford.

Cranford Hotel

No discussion of beautiful buildings in Cranford could leave out Droeschers Mill on Lincoln Ave, affectionately known as The Mill. Did you know it’s the oldest continuously operated commercial building in the United States?

Droeschers Mill

So, which is your favorite of our featured buildings?

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Cranford NJ Community Farmer’s Market

What’s better than a lazy summer Sunday morning?  Adding a stroll through the Cranford Community Farmer’s Market!

11330005_870259049719511_4359428748600291009_nEvery Sunday from now through October, locals can take a walk through the parking lot of the train station on the South Avenue side, from 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM.  There is so much to see and enjoy!  The market is sponsored by the Cranford Community Connection organization, which also organized the hugely successful Winter Artisan Market held at the Community Center.

There is a huge variety of items from local farmers and vendors.  Of COURSE there’s farm fresh produce, but it certainly doesn’t end there! You can also find fresh eggs, cheeses, local honey, a wide assortment of nuts and dried fruits, locally made fresh pressed juices and organic specialties, pickles, olives and hummus, breads, fine oils and balsamics, fresh pastas and Italian specialties, Polish delicacies, and fresh baked pies.  Food vendors will also include El Lechon de Negron food truck, specializing in Puerto Rican pig roasts and cuisine,  Mozzerapas, offering their famous and delicious melted mozzarella on corn bread, and Lizzmonade, serving a variety of uniquely flavored soft drinks.

And each week you can find something new!  It’s one of the great joys of summer – fresh food items from the farm to you!  Stop by and stock up while summer is still in full swing!

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2015 Cranford Spring Rahway River Clean Up Sat 4/25/15 9am-1pm

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The weather is turning waaaaay too beautiful to be stuck indoors doing Spring cleaning.  Why not take advantage of the beautiful weather and do some OUTSIDE Spring cleaning?!

This year, the Cranford River Committee will hold its annual Spring Rahway River cleanup on Saturday, April 25th from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM. All Cranford residents are encouraged to lend a hand by helping to clean up this vitally important local resource.

Cleanups are traditionally conducted at the following stations: Kenilworth Blvd. . . . 620 Riverside Drive . . . The Mill . . . .  and  Mohawk Drive.    Gloves and bags and other equipment necessary for clean-up will be provided. It is requested that children under 12 be accompanied by an adult.

Every year dedicated citizens gather along the river and work together to remove litter.  Volunteers, on foot along the river, and even in boats IN the river, collect a wide variety of trash and debris that has found its way into the water over the long winter months.

This yearly cleanup is a great way for all of us to truly make a difference in the quality of the river that borders our home. Working alongside  the “all-volunteer” River Committee, volunteer efforts make a truly positive impact.  It’s also a great way for families to spend genuinely quality time together, while teaching valuable ecology and citizenship lessons to the kids.  Helping our environment, and helping our kids grow to be good citizens.  What could be better?

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Back to Nature offers Health Foods and Natural Products in Cranford NJ

Back To Nature

Back to NatureWe are a few weeks into the New Year….Ready to tackle that new year’s resolution about healthier living?  Then you’d better stock up on some necessary items!  And there’s no better place to do so than right here in town, at the long-standing business of Back To Nature, located at 13 Walnut Avenue.

In business since 1979, Back to Nature has been providing customers with a complete range of Health Foods and Natural Products. They carry a full line of natural vitamins, herbs, spices, nuts, dried fruits, organic products, gluten free products, soy milks, teas, pasta and sauces, homeopathic remedies, body building supplements, and protein bars, among other things.  It’s a full grocery store of health items!

And since it does little good to shelf health items without any knowledge to go with them, feel free to ask questions to the helpful staff.  They will be happy to address any questions or concerns you might have, and are incredibly knowledgable about the products they sell.  And if you don’t see what you are looking for, they will be more than happy to order it for you.

Kind of takes away any excuses, doesn’t it?  Good luck with that resolution!

13 Walnut Ave
Cranford, New Jersey
(908) 276-4270
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Parks and Playgrounds in Westfield, NJ

One of the things many people love about Westfield New Jersey is the number of great parks packed into 6.7 square miles of town. Here we list the many public playgrounds of Westfield, where your kiddos can burn off some of their seemingly never-ending energy!

photo 1Mindowaskin Park

North Euclid Ave

This is one of those parks where you could spend all day, between the gorgeous pond (always chock full o’ ducks), walking paths, bandstand, and of course the huge playground that’s great for all ages. There are ample swings, two large climbing structures, toddler bouncers, a beloved tire swing, and many benches, plus a long stretch of flat grass that’s good for picnics. The ice-cream truck likes to visit the playground here regularly, so you might want to keep a couple of bucks handy. Note: there is a stream behind the playground, and the playground is not fenced in, so keep a close eye on your kiddos.

Gumbert Park

Gumbert Park

South Chestnut Street near North Ave

Tucked behind the Garwood shopping district, this little playground is actually Westfield property. There’s one climbing structure and plenty of swings, plus an adjacent basketball court and ball field. Grab a latte from & Grain on the corner and park your buns on a bench here–it’s always shady.

 

 

Westfield Memorial ParkMemorial Park

713 Cumberland Street

You don’t need to be a pool member to enjoy the great playground adjacent to the pool parking lot. It’s a sprawling low structure, great for young kids, with one set of swings, plus tennis courts and a large ball field in the same area.

Lincoln School

728 Westfield Ave

The smaller playground at Lincoln School is gated and open to non-school members only when the kindergarten and camp are not in session, but there is a large playground right next to it that is open to the public (and also mostly fenced in!), with two climbing structures, swings, and lots of shade. You can catch a high school football game or track meet at the adjacent field.

Tamaques Park

1101 Lamberts Mill Road

Another great park where you can while away many hours, Tamaques has two playground areas–a smaller one for young children next to the pond, and a larger structure next to the main fields. Be careful driving through the park, as pedestrians and cyclists travel the same path as the cars.

Sycamore Park

1029 Central Ave

Somewhat hidden behind the firehouse on Central Ave is this playground that’s great for smaller children. The structures are a little worn, but that never seemed to bother any kid I’ve met. There’s also a huge field with soccer goals for games and practice.

Windsor Park

238 Windsor Avenue

I never even knew this tiny park existed! It’s nestled in a residential neighborhood on the south side of town and features one climbing structure, swings, and a basketball court, plus benches for picnics.

In addition to the public playgrounds, kids can enjoy the many school playgrounds throughout town whenever school is out. Like, right now!

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Easter Events in the Cranford Westfield Area of NJ

When You SHOULD Put All Your Eggs in One Basket!

Easter Eggs

 

Easter is right around the corner, and after the brutal winter we’ve endured, we’re due for a warm one! That means the kiddies can hunt for Easter eggs outside without freezing their bushy tails off. Dig out your baskets from the basement and check out this list of some eggs-cellent local hunts that are sure to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. I strongly suggest you arrive early since parking can be tricky at popular hunts, and most of them separate age groups so you have to find your child’s appropriate section upon arrival.

When: April 5th

Where: Cranford Community Center

Featuring: Breakfast with the Bunny

What’s more exciting than lunch with a leopard, or dinner with a dingo?  Why, breakfast with a bunny, of course!

The Cranford Junior Woman’s Club is once again hosting the annual “ Breakfast with the Bunny,” on Saturday, April 5th,  at the Cranford Community Center at 220 Walnut Avenue.  Families can enjoy some breakfast with local neighbors and family, as well as some photo time with the Easter Bunny.  There will be two seatings to choose from, the first at 9:30 AM, and the second at 11:00AM. Tickets are $6.00 (plus a $1.00 convenience fee) online at the CJWC website , or can be purchased at the Cranford Public Library (224 Walnut Avenue) or at Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts (17 North Union Avenue), through March 31st. Advance tickets ARE required for both parents and children.

The Cranford Junior Woman’s Club is a service organization of Cranford area women dedicated to the enhancement of the community and its residents. Since its installment in 1949, they have used multiple mean to support, aid, and promote public improvement for the benefit of the township and state.  And they are great friends with the Easter bunny.  Mention them, and he may give you some extra jelly beans.

 

When: Saturday, April 12th, 10:00 am SHARP

Where: Orange Ave. School Fields, Cranford

Cost: Free

Hosted by: Cranford Jaycees

Featuring: More than 3,000 filled eggs, contests, giveaways, and a visit from the Easter Bunny, all for ages 9 and under. Bring a canned or boxed food to be donated to Cranford Family Care.

More info: http://www.cranfordjaycees.com

 

photo 2When: Saturday, April 12th, 10:30 am sign-in; hunt begins at 11:00

Where: Cranford Historical Society, Cranford

Cost: $8 pre-registration, $10 at event (all proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research!) For advance tickets e-mail: [email protected]

Hosted by: Friends of Colin

Featuring: More than 1,000 filled eggs, games and raffles, face painting, tattoos, balloon animals, bake sale, and of course a visit from the Easter Bunny, for ages 10 and under.

More info: www.friendsofcolin.org

 

When: Sunday, April 13th 7:30 am -12pm

Where: The Cranford VFW Hall

Featuring: A benefit breakfast to support the Cranford First Aid Squad

The Cranford VFW, at 479 South Avenue in Cranford, from 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM on Sunday, April 13th, will be offering a complete breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, and beverages, with the Easter bunny, once again, on hand.  (Man, that rodent really gets around!)  Cost is $7.00 for adults, and $5.00 for children, and all proceeds will benefit the Cranford First Aid Squad.

 

When: April 13

Where: The Office Bar & Grill in Cranford

Featuring : Easter Egg Decorationg for kids

Like Easter eggs, but hunting for them not your thing?  Well, how about decorating  them, instead, with the Easter bunny.  On Sunday, April 13th, families are invited to The Office Beer Bar & Grill (1 South Avenue East, Cranford) to enjoy some Easter activities.  Kids can decorate eggs with the bunny, and enjoy lunch, face painting, games, prizes, and even a balloon animal, for only $5.00 per child.

 

When: Saturday, April 12th,10:00 am SHARP

Where: Forest Road Park, Fanwood

Hosted by: Fanwood Recreation Department

Featuring: More than 1,000 eggs filled with goodies and hundreds of prize tickets, contests, and giveaways, for ages 10 and under. Kids: bring your own drawing of a bunny and your own decorated egg for more chances to win prizes!

More info: http://www.fanwoodrecreation.org/easter-egg-hunt.htm

 

photo 1 photo 3

 

When: Saturday, April 19th, 2:00 pm SHARP

Where: Williams Nursery, Westfield

Cost: Free

Featuring: A whopping 5,000 filled eggs and a visit from the Easter Bunny, for ages 10 and under.

More info: http://www.williamsnursery.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When: Sunday, April 20th, noon

Where: Bowcraft Amusement Park, Scotch Plains

Cost: Free (but amusement rides/games vary in prices)

Featuring: Thousands of filled eggs, many containing free ride tickets, and one golden egg that will be redeemed for the grand prize of a Nintendo Wii.

More info: http://www.bowcraft.com/special-events.php

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Seven Best Desserts in Westfield NJ

“To-Die-For Desserts”: Westfield NJ Edition

Got a sweet tooth? Then get a napkin handy, because you’re about to drool. Big time. So ditch your diet, break out your stretchy pants, and schedule your next dessert outing immediately after reading this list of Westfield’s best-loved, most drool-worthy desserts. Don’t see your fave on the list? Tell us about your favorite dessert in Westfield! And stay tuned for To-Die-For Desserts: Cranford Edition. . . .

1) Chocolate Tart, Amuse

Amuse Chocolate Tart

This creation by pastry chef Julianne Hodges is as elegant as it is delicious. An extra-thick dark chocolate crust is filled with dense chocolate ganache and punctuated by salted caramel, making for a heavenly salty-sweet combination (I’ve read that this combo actually produces euphoria in humans!). This tart is served with homemade brown butter ice cream–more of that salty-sweet goodness. http://www.amusenj.com/

 

 

2) Brownie a la mode, Xocolatz

Xocholatz

An old-school favorite, this dessert is the perfect combination of velvety chocolate and smooth ice cream. The rich brownies are fresh-baked at Xocolatz and served warm out of the oven with generous scoops of classic vanilla ice cream slow-melting over the top, lovingly drizzled with sinful chocolate sauce. Ask for two spoons (or don’t, if you’re like me and just can’t share!). http://xocolatznj.com/

3) Apple Puff Pastry, 16 Prospect

16 Prospect

If chocolate isn’t your thing, then this dessert is right up your alley: a flaky pastry, whose sugary crust gets caramelized in the oven, filled with warm sweet apples, topped with cinnamon ice cream and the prettiest little strawberry rose. Even the bartender at Prospect swears this dessert is a home run! http://16prospect.com/

 

4) Chocolate Lava Cake, Cosimo’s

Cosimo's

 

Chocolate lovers, look no further than this bestselling dessert at Cosimo’s. Tuck your spoon into the warm chocolate cake and watch as a river of chocolate sauce flows out just like, well, lava! Served with hazelnut gelato, raspberry puree, and chocolate shavings . . . good golly, need I say more? http://www.cosimosrestaurant.com/

5) Port Marinated Pear Cake, Chez Catherine

Chez Catherine

Continually rated one of the best restaurants in New Jersey, Chez Catherine does not disappoint with this unique creation: a delicate cake topped with pears that have been sauteed in spiced wine, homemade Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream (the very best), and a sea salt caramel drizzle. http://www.chezcatherine.com/

6) Peanut Butter Silk Pie, Sweet Waters Steak House

Sweet Waters

If you’re still craving last Halloween’s peanut butter cups, try this dessert from Sweet Waters, where the lightest, fluffiest peanut butter mousse meets two layers of silky chocolate that melt in your mouth. http://www.sweetwaterssteakhouse.com/

 

 

 

 

7) Cannoli, Bovella’s

Sometimes it’s the simplest desserts we crave, and the top-selling item at Bovella’s is none other than the humble cannoli. But Bovella’s cannoli is truly a standout–the pastry shells are much lighter and flakier than most, and the cannoli are filled fresh when you order.  Enjoy it with a cup of their joe, and good luck not ordering a second cannoli for the road.

https://www.bovellas.com/  Bovella's Cannoli

 

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