Red Bank perfectly pairs Two River Theater’s inspired ‘Women of Padilla,’ sophisticated arts scene

Red Bank offers a range of cultural attractions, including the nationally recognized Two River Theater.

New Jersey has dozens of fabulous destinations that offer fun, exciting and entertaining attractions for all members of the family. As a native New Jerseyan, one of my favorite destinations has always been The Shore. Although, the Shore area (to me, anywhere southeast of Exit 109 on Parkway South) is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, you may be surprised to learn it has quite the cultural attractions as well, particularly, in Red Bank, (exit 109 Parkway South). The town has a bit of everything to please all of your senses, from delicious restaurants, to nightlife and shopping, (ahhhem Coco Pari?!). Last weekend, I had the opportunity to enjoy the community a little more when I was invited to attend the opening of a play at the nationally recognized Two River Theater.

The beautiful play ‘Women of Padilla’ takes theatergoers into the homes of eight women, connected through marriage, and delivers a heartfelt, positive message.

The theater is an architectural stunner from the outside to the inside. The theater itself felt quaint and intimate. Any seat in the house is a great seat!

My sister and I got to see the beautiful play Women of Padilla. The Women of Padilla, written by the playwright of Two River’s famed show, Guadalupe in the Guest Room, takes you into the homes of eight women (sister-in-laws) connected through marriage; each share the last name “Padilla.” They become more connected through the power of food, faith, laughter and each other while their husbands are away at war. Some of the women we met were Mari, the one who quietly leads; Carmen, the one who drinks; Marta, the one with faith; Alejandra, the one who’s expecting; along with the rest of The Women of Padilla.

Red Bank has a bit of everything to please all of your senses from delicious restaurants, to nightlife and shopping.

The heartfelt play left us feeling inspired to look at life’s trials and tribulations in a more positive way and to remember that no matter what the circumstances are, there are always family, food and laughter to be embraced.

As ‘Women of Padilla’ at Two River Theater highlights, no matter what the circumstances are, there are always family, food and laughter to be embraced.

After the show concluded, the production crew had a lovely meet-and-greet to mingle with the characters and fellow theatergoers. The option to attend a play comparable to Broadway is a delightful way to spend a night out in Jersey!

Cocktail class at Logan Inn in New Hope, Pa. is spirited occasion

New Hope, Pa., population about 2,500, runs along the Delaware River and Aquetong Creek, primary industry: tourism. And now I can see why! Although the small borough may seem quiet and quaint, it is filled with whimsical shops, art galleries and restaurants. Perfect for an outing with friends or a simple stroll on a Sunday afternoon.

The Logan Inn, founded in 1727, one of the most haunted and oldest hotels in New Hope (and our nation) was having a fun cocktail event that I thought would be a great opportunity to experience this offbeat town. So, I asked my sister to tag along and we hopped in the car and made our way out there. It was the most lovely day to take the scenic roads through the Garden State and make our way through the farmlands, over bridges, and finally past the eclectic homes in New Hope. When we pulled up at the Logan Inn, we saw people enjoying food and drinks on the patio and taking in the charming surroundings.

Once inside the old-time hotel, we were immediately greeted by the endearing ladies at the front desk. One of the managers filled us in on the spooky stories of the hotel and told us a bit about its history. For instance, the Logan Inn is one of the longest, continually run, inns in the United States. The hotel is filled with artistic craftsmanship and artistry reminiscent of a bygone era. We could actually feel what it would’ve been like to have been alive during that era.

The fact that the Logan Inn is one of the top five most haunted places in the country intrigued us. So, we decided to take a look around, since we had a few minutes before the start of the class. We looked through old photo albums, listened to stories of hotel ghosts and Revolutionary War tales. We were intrigued for sure. Even though we didn’t spot any spirits ourselves, one thing was true, we could feel the energy of the past in the air. And although the hotel lobby itself may have seemed mysterious, the guest rooms were quite inviting and cozy. After taking the short tour, we made our way back downstairs to the bar, keeping every detail and story in mind.

The event was a cocktail class. We got to learn about a few new favorite cocktails the Logan Inn is adding to its summer drink menu, and how to mix the perfect drink like your favorite bartender does. The candlelit bar area was the setting for our class. At our table was a delightful group of people from nearby towns, as well as visitors from farther away. The class began with a cocktail of muddled cucumbers and blueberries, a little simple syrup mixed with blueberry vodka, ice, a splash of ginger beer and shaken. It was an invigorating one. The type of drink you crave in the summer with its seasonal fruit and icy mix.

Next up, was a summer twist on the traditional Margarita. It included muddled basil and strawberries, simple syrup, tequila and vodka (perhaps I was a little heavy handed with the double pouring technique for that last part). Finally, I added a squeeze of lime juice, ice and gave it a good shake. It was the perfect amount of sweetness and deliciousness. At this point, I had two drinks in front of me that were so good, it was hard to decide which one to sip.

The last cocktail we made was a classic gimlet with a twist. The twist was muddling cucumber and basil together with simple syrup. We learned that using the simple syrup to muddle helps get the fruit and herb juices flowing. Next, we added equal parts lime juice and vodka with ice and completed it with another good shake. This was my favorite drink of the night. The hints of basil and cucumber, so refreshing.

We spent the remainder of the evening getting to know the other guests in the class, laughing, and, of course, indulging in our handmade cocktails. By the time the night was coming to a close, the group was anticipating when the next cocktail class would take place.

I guess you can say, our first time in New Hope was a success. We will be back for more summer indulgences.

Delicious cuisine and delightful company: The Ryland Inn’s Farmers and Family Sunday Dinner


Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The Ryland Inn, a beautiful Landmark Hospitality restaurant and event facility, hosted two delightful Farmers and Family Dinners during the month of March. These three-course farm to table dinners are served family-style and hosted by Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht. I had the pleasure of attending their March 26th dinner which showcased Shibumi Farm Mushrooms that were picked just hours before our meals were served. All three delicious dishes, which were made from fresh, local ingredients and paired with wines from Alba Vineyard, incorporated mushrooms (yes, even dessert!). It was the perfect excuse to get out of the house on a Sunday night to make new friends and enjoy a wonderful meal.


Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com


   Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The evening began with cocktails and hor d’oeuvres at the Duck Bar while we were serenaded by a wonderful bluegrass trio to set the mood. After a little mingling it was time to take our seats at the beautifully decorated communal style tables, which gave everyone a marvelous opportunity to meet and chat with new faces and even make some friends. We were quickly treated to our first course, Pea Tendril and Baby Arugula Salad, which featured a Mushroom-Sherry Vinaigrette, Mushroom, Ramp and Goat Cheese Tart, Candied rhubarb, Easter egg radishes, and Hemp seed. It was absolutely delectable.


Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Pea Tendril and Baby Arugula Salad

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

The main course, in keeping with the theme of the night, was a wonderful Mushroom Surf & Turf. We feasted on Smoked Sterling Silver Ranch Beef Sirloin with Grilled Spring Onions, Crab and Hedgehog Mushroom Fondu, Black Trumpet & truffle bordelaise, Whole Roasted Mushrooms, Grilled Asparagus, and Spring Garlic. Each and every plate was left empty after this fantastic course. We couldn’t get it into our mouths fast enough


Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

In between each course Chef Albrecht came out from the kitchen to discuss each dish in great detail, and he went out of his way to say hello to each and every guest and make sure we were all enjoying ourselves. He told us that the evening was “not just a time to eat dinner and chat, but it’s really a time to have a conversation about food.” And converse about food we sure did. We learned all about mushrooms, from growing and cultivating to preparing and cooking them, from Chef Albrecht as well as the evening’s featured guest speakers, Alan Kaufman and Crawford Koeniger from Shibumi Farm.


Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

For dessert we were treated to a Warm Chocolate-Piopino Cake which flawlessly incorporated mushrooms with Coconut-pink peppercorn sorbet with a Fig and Banyuls reduction. This mouthwatering treat was utter perfection.

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

Warm Chocolate-Piopino Cake

Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com
Kelly Dillon OMJ.Com

I know I am not alone in saying that I had the most fabulous time at The Ryland Inn’s Farmers and Family Dinners. Not only was I able to enjoy a delicious three-course farm to table meal with some amazing company and great conversation, but it was also an educational experience with some of the Garden State’s finest food and horticultural experts. If only all Sunday night dinners could be as fantastic as this. For more information and to see when the next dinner is, visit

Who was your ’80s movie boyfriend?

New jersey native, Andrew McCarthy was in every hot movie in the early 80’s and is now a celebrated author. I had the chance to meet Andrew, yes I called him Andrew when we hugged. Yes, a HUG!!  He is humble and has a self-awareness that we don’t usually see in Hollywood. A real dad, with a 15, 10  and a 3-year-old in the house. How does this man get anything done? He works right in the middle of the chaos and wouldn’t want it any other way. Unknown to me, Andrew has been a writer for years, he is an editor-at-large at National Geographic Traveler, and also writes for major newspapers and journals. He has received six Lowell Thomas awards, plus has been named Travel Journalist of the Year by The Society of American Travel Writers. Truly a man of many talents. He has also directed some of my favorite shows; Orange is the New Black, Blacklist, The Family and Grace & Frankie on Netflix. For more click link:

Red Bank: Perfect weekend fun for everyone in the family

If you are from New Jersey, you may have heard about Red Bank. It is nestled in Monmouth County, along the Navesink River. But if I am being truly honest, I have to admit (with embarrassment) that up until two weeks ago, I had never been to the super quaint town. I am so happy that I was able to visit not once, but twice, this month, and now I get to share it with you all.

Erika Batista

A Time to Kiln is a super cute pottery and crafts spot in the middle of downtown Red Bank.

The kids had so much fun at A Time to Kiln painting pottery pieces and learning all about the process.

Being a mom is not easy and if you are from the East Coast you know all about cabin fever during our long winters. Having a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old can get pretty tricky when it comes to entertainment around here. If you’re stumped on what to do with the kids here in New Jersey, I want to help you find things to do in our area. Let me share my experience in Red Bank.

At A Time to Kiln, not only are you making some fun memories, but you also get to keep these little treasures for years to come.

First things first, there are so many things to do and downtown Red Bank is really eye-pleasing. From dining to entertainment and simply walking around Broad Street, I guarantee you can spend an entire day there having fun with kids or adults. There are some amazing shops and restaurants. On our first visit to Red Bank, we had the pleasure of going to A Time to Kiln; a super cute pottery and crafts spot in the middle of downtown Red Bank. We got to choose a couple of adorable pieces and the kids had so much fun painting them and learning all about the pottery process. Wendy was amazing and so sweet to the kids. They even painted a beautiful vase for me and that is what I loved most about A Time to Kiln, that not only are you making some fun memories but you get to keep these little treasures for years to come. If you are looking for something to do with the kids (or planning a party!) in New Jersey, I totally recommend A Time to Kiln for some fun all year-round.

Whether planning a party or a children’s activity in New Jersey, I totally recommend A Time to Kiln for some fun all year-round.

After painting, we walked around browsing through the cute boutiques and just taking in the adorable downtown views. There were so many great stores, galleries, hair salons and restaurants and the fact that it was about 68 degrees in February was pure perfection for a Saturday afternoon in New Jersey. Next time you plan a day trip or outing, head over to Red Bank for some fun for the entire family.

Yestercades offers a full video game experience that will take you back to your childhood!

After our experience in A Time to Kiln, I was eager to head back to pick up our pottery pieces (it takes one week after the oven process and related details are complete), so we made the best of the day and also enjoyed some throwback fun by stopping by Yestercades. So OK: Imagine a full video game experience that will take you back to your childhood! I am talking Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Atari!! And a full lineup of arcade games; including of course, the legend himself: Pacman!

My 5-year-old son and his friends had a blast at Yestercades playing arcade games, foosball and air hockey.

My 5-year-old son got to bring a couple of his friends and the kids had a blast. I loved watching them play arcade games. They also enjoyed air hockey and foosball. If you are looking for a cool gaming spot, check out Yestercades. You can also host your kids’ parties and I would say maybe even an adult party, why not? I know my husband and his best friend truly enjoyed themselves and the games took them back to their earlier years. It’s such a cool and different spot. And I think it’s a great way to bond with the kids while sharing your memories about the games.

Yestercades serves throwback fun featuring Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Atari and a full lineup of arcade games including the legend himself: Pacman!

Next time you are wondering what to do in New Jersey, I would recommend visiting Red Bank. You have a variety of things to do with the kids, for adults and for the entire family. I researched the restaurants a little and the reviews are great. I can’t wait to visit again soon. I’ve already told my husband we have to come back and enjoy a date night at one of the outdoor restaurant as soon as the temps get warmer.

Yestercades is such a cool and different spot. I know my husband and his best friend truly enjoyed themselves and the games took them back to their earlier years.