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Paul's dessert at the Peking Pavilion

Paul’s  chocolate lava cake dessert at the Peking Pavilion

 

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger–Blogfinger.net  

 

We like to go to the Peking Pavilion in Manalapan every few months. This is not your mother’s Chinese restaurant.  It is a fine American restaurant owned by the Kuos family, serving spectacular Chinese cuisine. In 2007 it was rebuilt after a fire and is a striking building with a big red front door.  It is spacious and modern–like a Soho restaurant.  There is a lively bar scene where you can eat and watch Chinese sports like American football.   Most of the help are Chinese, and the service is superb.

He greeted us out front, but he didn't speak a word of English, or Chinese, for that matter. PG photo

He greeted us out front, but he didn’t speak a word of English, or Chinese, for that matter. He used to be a terra cotta soldier before going into the restaurant business.   PG photo

We have been going there for years and we  always have the same thing:  peppercorn calamari appetizer  (share) and then Peking Duck (share–allow about 20 minutes to prepare).  This recipe is identical to the kind served in Beijing.  It is now considered the national dish of China  (but not because we eat it all the time.)

They brought over the duck and carved it as we watched.  The dissection was perfect, and the waiter held up the finished product and showed it off while flashing a big smile.  He prepared  the perfectly cooked and moist meat in thin pancakes with bits of crispy duck skin, celery and scallions.  There also were crispy drumsticks and legs on the side.  The hoisin sauce was dark and tasty.

The people next to us were eating giant shrimp with a glaze. We also saw wonderfully prepared steaks and big bowls of wonton soup. Also they have spicy sautéed soft shell crabs, grilled halibut over shiitake mushrooms, moo shu vegetables and many other choices. No one was using chop sticks. That’s good because I would not have been able to eat the rolled up duck with chop sticks.

The wine list was fine, the hot steamy tea arrived in little tea pots, and the white rice was sticky.  We each had a glass of wine. Eileen chose an Italian Pinot Grigio while I got the 5 River Pinot Noir from California.

We usually skip dessert, and Eileen did, but this night, after a bad week, I refused to deny myself.  It was the first dessert we ever ordered there and it was marvelous. The lava cake  interior is warm molten chocolate.  Accompanied by a scoop of high grade vanilla ice cream and a single shot espresso, it was something.

In keeping with the tradition of Chinese take-out, we took home enough left-over food for 1/2 a dinner the next night.  I even, believe it or not, took home half my chocolate lava cake after eating all the ice cream.

Next night, at home,  Eileen made sweet and sour duck/beef meatballs with fresh asparagus  for the other half of the meal—a recipe by a Chinese chef.  We finished it with a half bottle of Louis Jadot Burgundy  (smooth and light–about $12.00)  No need for a salad. No dessert at home. The lava cake is still waiting in the fridge for me to have a weak moment.

We have never had  bad luck or bad duck at the Peking Pavilion, located at 110 Route 33 west.  It is right after business 33 joins highway 33.  The prices are reasonable ($15.00-$25.00 per most entrees—except ours). Our meal was about $80.00, but I don’t have the exact breakdown because I usually toss away the receipt without looking too closely–an old habit that makes  Eileen  mutter.  In fact she’s the mutter and I’m the fatter.  I think the duck was about $42.00, but it was for two and lasted into the next day.   Note that we did get a fortune cookie and my fortune, as usual in a Chinese restaurant, was dopey–something about feeling like a million bucks–all green and wrinkled.

 

 

CINDY SCOTT  with a Jerome Kern song that makes me seasick and romantic at the same time:   (it’s a repeat song, but with a different version)

 

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A massive Christmas blizzard set the stage for the arrival of 2011 in Ocean Grove.  Delaware Avenue.   Paul Goldfinger photo.  Blogfinger.net

 

Modern Ocean Grove history 2022:    Looking back on 2011 Christmas.  History always has its eyes on the present.

By Charles Layton, Blogfinger editor.

 

Goodbye, 2011, one of the most eventful years in a long while.

We can’t exactly say we’ll miss it, given that it brought us a devastating fire on Surf Avenue (which, luckily, didn’t kill anyone) and a serious hurricane (which, also luckily, didn’t do much damage in Ocean Grove).

As the year began, we were digging out of a paralyzing blizzard, while Neptune officials faced a different kind of storm — a storm of criticism for their sluggish response.

Ocean Grove made the national news in the spring when the ACLU objected to the religious content of the high school graduation ceremony in the Great Auditorium. But in the end a deal was struck and the graduation went ahead.

Once the weather warmed up, we had our usual abundance of special events – the flea market, the vintage car show, the 4th of July parade, the choir festival and all those other happenings that make it fun to live here, and parking a hassle.

Ocean Grove even had some modest victories in 2011. We got the burned-out lights fixed on the bridge at Founders Park after some of our citizens raised Cain about it. We also got some huge shrubs cut down on the Asbury side of the New Jersey Avenue bridge after complaining that the shrubs were a convenient shelter for muggers. Wesley Lake finally got dredged, and it also got swan boats. And the Township made a start on fixing our storm drainage problem on Broadway.

We even saw some progress in our inch-by-inch struggle with the owners of derelict buildings. The house at 91 Cookman was sold to a builder, Jack Green, who plans to fix it up good as new. And in the closing days of 2011 the rickety old structure at 35 Embury Avenue was knocked down to make way for a new single-family home. We’re still in a big fight with the Koplitz brothers over the Park View Inn, but even they have agreed, under duress, to rehab the place. (Maybe they’ll even do it. If not, we’ll keep after them.)

We were taken by surprise by a minor earthquake. We watched with satisfaction as the New Jersey Marathon included the Grove – for the first time – on its 26-mile route. We were struck with horror on learning that a man had hanged himself from the fishing pier. And we followed with interest the progress of local merchant Vicki LaBella on her 4,300-mile bicycle trip across North America – an admirable accomplishment.

Speaking of bicycles, we learned, thanks to our weekly Neighborhood Watch reports, just how many bikes are being stolen from us. We also had reason to complain about car break-ins and house burglaries, which we mainly blamed, perhaps unfairly, on interlopers from Asbury Park.

But despite that, we enjoyed strolling Asbury’s boardwalk and eating in its restaurants. As the old song goes, “You may have been a headache but you never were a bore.”

We’ve seen lots of changes this past year. Changes of leadership in the Camp Meeting Association and in Ocean Grove United. And our share of controversies. Proposals for changes in Neptune Township’s Master Plan incited Ocean Grovers to protest to the Planning Board. A controversial Zoning Board decision in favor of an Ocean Pathway developer also drew fire.

But one of the biggest long-standing concerns for many Ocean Grovers hardly made news at all in 2011. That was the North End Redevelopment. Maybe it will spring back to life as an issue in the new year. Stay tuned.

 

ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST OF HAMILTON:   “History Has Its Eyes on You.”

 

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Blue is the new pink. Blogfinger photo. May, 2025.

Blue is the new pink. Blogfinger photo and news report.    May, 2015.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Complainer-in–Chief.  @Blogfinger. This piece is from 2015 with a 2022 update on the bottom.

 

Ocean Grove is a fairly complicated place when it comes to news, so when other media get it wrong, and that often happens, we complain.   In fact Blogfinger.net is the leading media source of Ocean Grove news, so we keep our eyes open.

For example, when the Asbury Park Sun got the facts wrong regarding why FEMA refused to pay for our boardwalk, we made a fuss.

The Asbury Park Press almost never publishes news about Ocean Grove . They used to send a reporter to those interminable Neptune Township  Committee meetings, but they no longer do so, probably because their reporter may have slipped into a coma due to boredom during one such session.  Besides, who wants to go there when the Mayor might yell at you and call a cop.  Ask Jack Bredin about that!

Even the National Geographic, when reporting on our zip code in the 1990’s, made us look like the religious retreat that we were in 1870. I sent them a letter.

And the Tri-City News could care less even though OG might be considered one of the “Tri-” in the hood.   But it’s just as well that they do ignore us.  A few years ago I complained to their editor Steven Froias, a Grover, about their lack of OG coverage , and he said that it wasn’t true.   Really?    Well, that’s no loss.

Just last week, we had to critique the Coaster when it made a bunch of errors in their front page story about the new Ocean Grove NERP. (North End Redevelopment Plan.)  They found that story when the Township handed them some talking points, but even then, there were mistakes.    

In today’s issue of the Coaster they seem desperate to write something about Ocean Grove, so they  have two photo stories about pink ribbons in the Grove, including one on the front page.

But guess what—they even got those stories wrong.  In both photo captions they tell us that “May is Breast Cancer Awareness Month”—– but  actually, October is;  May is brain cancer awareness month, and that color is gray.

Did the Coaster or Meridian get their diseases or their colors mixed up?  It’s a good thing that  Blogfinger is around to keep the facts straight  and the road paint white in OG.

 

2022 update:    Perhaps you have noticed recently that  the Coaster is beginning to pass us by.  Maybe we are too boring even for them.

We do get lengthy reports every meeting of the Home Groaners Ass. written by the Coaster stenographer.  We heard that the HGA will be having a “forum” in January 2023  identifying a new group in town called  “the non-religious.”   I can’t wait to hear what that’s all about and why such a meeting could be helpful in town.

It seems that the “forum” will be  a set-up designed to embarrass the Camp Meeting Association.  It will bring two groups together for what?  And who will represent the “non-religious,”  and who says that the CMA will show up?

What will it be?   A debate? An argument? a consultation?  A new direction in town?—fuhgetabout it.

Yes, the CMA deserves perusal and, when appropriate, public criticism if their public policies might be bad for the future of the Grove, but to frame it as some sort of religious or “non-religious” confrontation is without merit.

The Coaster never reports on culture issues in the  Grove. They never report on anything  without a press release from somebody with an ax to grind;   eg Michael Badger of the CMA or one of the five gay caballeros at the Neptune Mother Ship.

And now the Coaster is avoiding  Grove news  unless they must pay attention to something like an invasion of Martians on Ocean Pathway.  Or, if we ever get our first Bartender of the Week, they will be on the scene.

And they are even avoiding us for the “question of the week”  department.   We are not even allowed to tell them what we are doing New Years Eve.

Now their fine journalist  Don Stine is gone, so there is a replacement who so far is doing pretty well, if only they would let her do some real reporting in the Grove.   And maybe  she would ask some probing questions in town.  Blogfinger would welcome that and maybe we will avoid calling them “Coastericans.”

 

TAYLOR SWIFT.   “Today was a Fairy Tale.”

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What say we fly over to Clancy’s for a brewski.

By Charles Layton.  2012.

Ocean Grove has a time-honored town slogan: God’s Square Mile. It is memorable and succinct. However, as we know, OG is really only about half a square mile – less when it’s flooded — and surrounding its Methodist core there has arisen a large and vital secular community. We think that community needs a slogan of its own. Therefore, here are our “top ten suggestions for a new town slogan.”

 10. Ocean Grove: Not responsible for lost or stolen items.

 9. Ocean Grove: A National Historic Site – but you can get a variance.

 8. Ocean Grove: Gayer than thou.

 7. Ocean Grove: Absolutely no mosquitos. Honest.

 6. Ocean Grove: No parking at any time.

 5. Ocean Grove: Property of Jack Green.

 4. Ocean Grove: Where’s my bike?

 3. Ocean Grove: Home of Blogfinger. (Well, why not?)

 2. Ocean Grove: It only floods when it rains.

          And the Number One suggestion for a new town slogan:

 1. Ocean Grove: What do you have to do to get a drink around here?

 

Here’s a 2022  musical suggestion with  Peter Allen:  “Everything Old is New Again.”

 

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Embury Avenue block party. Blogfinger photo

Embury Avenue block party. Paul Goldfinger. photo. 2013. Ocean Grove, NJ

Saturday, September 15, 2013.

This year, the Embury Avenue block party once again featured a series of big bands and ensembles performing in driveways and porches while the neighbors chowed down in the street.

This is an impressive event, with high quality jazz, dixieland and big band music.  It’s a shame that this could not have been shared with the whole town somehow.  Anyhow, it was a wonderful happening in the Grove: unique and marvelous.  Congratulations  to the organizers.  —-Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net

 

BELOW IS WALT TORIE’S DIXIELAND BAND playing on Gail Shaffer’s porch.  Video by Eileen Goldfinger

 

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Live nativity procession. Ocean Grove, New Jersey. c. 2000. By Paul Goldfinger. ©.  This event used to be held outdoors with a finish in the Auditorium Pavilion. Now it is held in the Great Auditorium.  The music is too happy to remain only in December., so Christmas in July is held in Tent Village each summer.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD, Editor @Blogfinger.net

 

When we first moved here part-time in 1998, we became acquainted with the Live Nativity event.  I never saw anything like it before.

I recall standing out in the cold waiting for the children and animals to appear.  There was a procession, and  this star bearer came by. She seemed as  if  she had appeared out of the mists of time  as in Brigadoon.   For a moment I felt I had experienced time travel.

Preserving the past is usually expressed in this town by the architecture. But other things occur which add life to the history, as you see in the photograph.

It’s important to continue those traditions whenever possible.   The live nativity is now indoors, but it seemed more authentic when we were breathing vapor out our nostrils while waiting in the cold for the two-humped camel, the wise men, the sheep and some shepherds to arrive.

 

SOUNDTRACK:  As a teenage musician I often took part in Christmas celebrations and concerts. We went caroling in the snow , and people tossed dollar bills out the windows of the garden apartments where we lived.

In school, Christmas music was a big deal, and I always have associated this holiday with beautiful music,  both classical and popular.

But this photograph seems to require something especially heart-felt and different from the usual carols, so here, although it is not actually a Christmas selection, it does seem to go with the photo.  It’s Puccini.—Paul Goldfinger

 

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By Charles Layton. Editor at Blogfinger.net

Before all this chilly weather, and before the hurricane and its aftermath, there was a magical time in Ocean Grove. Days were sunny, skies were blue, hearts were light. Surely if we wait a while that time will come again.

Here is a video.

Fine job Charles.–Paul

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Gertrude Lawrence

Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952) was a musical stage star–singer and actress. She was born in London. In 1923, she was introduced to American audiences when she became the first British female performer to star in a Broadway show. It was a musical review by Noel Coward called “London Calling.”   Subsequently she was featured in two Gershwin shows including “Lady in the Dark.”  The NY Times review called her “a goddess.” In 1951 she won the lead in the original cast of the” King and I” for which she won a Tony for “best actress.”

In 1933, she starred in a Cole Porter show called “Nymph Errant.” Wickipedia says, “The somewhat controversial story concerned a young English lady intent upon losing her virginity. Porter considered the score his best because of its worldliness and sexual sophistication. The musical was produced in London in 1933 and received its US premiere in 1982.”

Today, I heard this Cole Porter song, “How Could We be Wrong?”  by Gertrude Lawrence from “Nymph Errant” on the radio.  I thought it was beautiful, and the host agreed, although he commented  that the song sort of vanished over the years.

This is Gertrude Lawrence, but Maude Maggart has a current recording.   —Paul Goldfinger

 

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Mulberry Street, near Chinatown. By Paul Goldfinger © Sept 2013.

Mulberry Street, near Chinatown. By Paul Goldfinger © Sept 2013.  Click to enlarge.

 

Little Italy has been fading away for years. Yet you can still take a food tour there and visit family businesses that exist after more than one hundred years.

On Columbus Day,  the Italian-American community is celebrated —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

 

SALISBURY CATHEDRAL BOYS AND GIRLS CHOIR   “The Lord is my Shepherd”

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Tuscan Shadows

Pistoia, Italy. 1996. © By Paul Goldfinger

Pistoia, Italy. 1996. © By Paul Goldfinger

 

MARIA CHIARA.  From the opera La Wally by Alfredo Catalina

 

 

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