Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 12
 
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
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GLOBAL DINING: “When someone says, ‘This was the best dinner or the best burger,’ it makes us very happy.” Marc Fournier, general manager of The Westin Hotel in Princeton Forrestal Village, is shown in the hotel’s new Parallel 40 restaurant.

Parallel 40 in Forrestal Village’s Westin Hotel Focuses on Global Flavors and Quality Ingredients

What? Parallel 40 Restaurant at The Westin Hotel.

Where? 201 Village Boulevard, Princeton Forrestal Village, along the 40th parallel.

When? Seven days, Sunday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, Saturday 6:30 to 10.

Who? You.

Why? Fine dining, featuring 40th parallel cuisine and Superfoods.

You may or may not know that Princeton is located along the 40th parallel: 40.3 to be exact, points out Marc Fournier, general manager of The Westin Hotel. “If you were to follow the 40th parallel around the globe, you would pass through many countries — most notably Portugal, Spain, Italy, China, and Japan, back through California and across the U.S.”

It was this setting that became key to the new Parallel 40 restaurant in the hotel, and even provided its name. “Parallel 40 combines the flavors of the most notable cuisines along the 40th parallel,” explains Mr. Fournier. “These cuisines are fused together and enhanced with Superfoods — those especially heart-healthy foods with anti-oxidants, such as blueberries, broccoli, avocados, strawberries, tomatoes, nuts, oats, salmon, soy, and yogurt.”

Global Fusion

With a background in hotel management and a degree from Johnson and Wales University, College of Culinary Arts, Mr. Fournier has been able to continue his strong focus on food and cooking. “I was always interested in cooking from the time I was a boy. I took a full-scale culinary arts curriculum at Johnson and Wales, but then, I realized I really liked to be with people, so I switched to hotel management.”

Because of his experience, he is very involved in Parallel 40’s menu. “The chef and I developed all the recipes. We have created our own seasoning and homemade butter, and we also have a special flaxseed flatbread. We focus on Superfoods, and we try to do something that is unique, but not so unique that people don’t want to eat it! We think of the cuisine as global fusion in a simple way. Our food both looks good and tastes good.”

With special recipes, flavors, and ingredients infused from cuisines across the 40th parallel, the results are intriguing — and delicious.

“They specialize in Superfoods,” says a happy diner, “and everything here is super!”

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered, and at each meal, the Parallel trademark is to “feed the body, nourish the soul.”

Begin with breakfast, which offers many choices: an immune-boosting blueberry banana smoothie; steel-cut oatmeal and banana brulee; organic farm fresh eggs a la carte; soft rolled omelet (with choice of ingredients) or whipped egg white omelet with broccoli and cheddar; golden buttermilk pancakes; bowl of field-grown berries; fresh baked pastry basket; juice, freshly brewed Starbucks coffee, or Tazo tea.

Lunch is filled with flavors: Parallel 40 steak salad, featuring grass-fed beef steak, organic baby spinach, onions, blue cheese, roasted tomatoes, beets, candied walnuts, and red wine vinaigrette; smoked turkey panini with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and basil pesto.

“Best Burger”

“The Best Burger,” says Mr. Fournier, with a smile. “We decided if we’re going to have a burger on the menu, we want the best burger there is. “This is ? pound hand-formed Nebraska Angus grass-fed beef, with heirloom tomato, caramelized onions, on a Spanish olive oil bun. Try it — I think you’ll see what we mean!”

Pan-seared Miso salmon (splashed with sake, mirin, soy, and ginger); insalata Misto, with sweetened walnuts, dried cranberry, gorgonzola, and orange vinaigrette, which can be enhanced with free-range chicken breast, mushroom medley, and herb-grilled shrimp, are other lunch favorites.

Appetizers include butternut squash soup, Parallel 40 house salad (baby greens, seasoned tomatoes, pea shoots, beet linguini, and house dressing). Also, tuna and California avocado tartars — sashimi-grade Ahi with Ponzu, and seasoned avocado; crisp fennel-dusted calamari filets with spiced saffron tomato sauce; and Korean chicken saté with ginger, soy, and spicy pomegranate molasses.

Dinner entrees include everything from the “Best Burger” and smoked turkey panini to line-caught fish (halibut will soon be on the menu), citrus chicken with tangerine honey; grass-fed Angus beef tenderloin, and Parallel 40 rack of lamb loin.

Wines and spirits are available, and again, featured wines are often from 40th parallel countries, both north and south. “We have pino grigio from Italy, and special wines from Spain and Argentina, such as the wonderful full-bodied red, Gascon Malbec from Argentina, and the crisp, elegant white, Martin Codax Albari~no from Spain.”

A variety of “Elixirs” (aka cocktails) is also offered, many with a special Parallel 40 flavorings.

Sweet Tooth

Desserts are not neglected at the restaurant, and there is something for everyone’s sweet tooth. Ice cream lovers will be delighted to find Thomas Sweet favorites, with a special flavor of the month. The always popular crème brûlée is also offered in a dark chocolate version, and there are tangerine-scented seasonal berries, as well as cobblers.

Green tea lattes are offered along with the traditional Starbucks coffees.

Lunch entrees start at $10, and dinners from $10 to $32, with a wide price range in between.

“Unwind”, Parallel 40’s Happy Hour offers reduced-price drinks Monday through Friday from 6 to 8, with special themes each evening. The popular “Latitude Lounge” features drinks and light fare.

The restaurant can accommodate 88 people, and private parties are also welcome.

In addition to the quality cuisine, Mr. Fournier is proud of the restaurant’s attractive decor, and the experienced and friendly staff. “We have been very fortunate with our staff. They all have 40 hours of cultural training, and many people have made careers here. Some have been with us for 20 years or more.

“We look forward to welcoming more people to try our special cuisine. We have a lot of guests who are staying at the hotel, and many Princeton residents are coming in, too. It is also important for us to do things in the community, and we are involved with Habitat For Humanity, the Eden Institute, and the Princeton Childcare Development Institute.”

Parallel 40 is open seven days, with breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch 11 to 2 p.m., and dinner 5 to 9 or 10 p.m. Dining is available throughout the day. (609) 452-7900.

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