April 25, 2012

To the Editor:

It is with sincere gratitude that I recognize the tireless efforts of Fresh Air Fund volunteers in Central New Jersey as the country celebrates National Volunteer Week. Their commitment to helping New York City children is exemplary for all community members and truly embodies the spirit of the 2012 National Volunteer Week theme, “Celebrating People in Action.”

Fresh Air volunteers work in several capacities throughout the year in 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada to help make The Fresh Air Fund’s programs possible. Dedicated Fresh Air host families open their homes and share the everyday joys of summertime with their Fresh Air guests. Our local volunteer leaders — many of whom are also hosts — serve on our local committees, plan summer activities, publicize the program, and interview prospective host families. Additionally, individuals and businesses give generously of their time and resources to make the Volunteer Host Family Program throughout this area a great success each and every summer.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.7 million New York City children since 1877. For more information on how you can help to continue this wonderful tradition of volunteering, please call The Fresh Air Fund at (800) 367-0003 or visit www.freshair.org.

Jenny Morgenthau

Executive Director

To the Editor:

The Princeton Education Foundation is extremely grateful to Eno Terra and the Terra Momo Restaurant Group for supporting the PowerUp! PRS campaign. Over two weekends in March, Eno Terra donated all lunchtime food proceeds to the school district’s technology campaign, raising over $6,000. We would also like to thank everyone who came and enjoyed a wonderful meal while supporting the Princeton Education Foundation and PowerUp! PRS. The success of this event would not have been possible without you.

The Terra Momo Restaurant Group has supported the Princeton Education Foundation’s efforts on numerous other occasions as well. We could not ask for a better partner in our efforts to spur private philanthropy to benefit the Princeton Public Schools. Thanks to the generosity of such donors, the Princeton Education Foundation has to date raised over $1 million for the Princeton Public Schools for capital improvements, educational programs and teacher support. In this time of stretched budgets and dwindling resources, we especially appreciate the Terra Momo Restaurant Group’s firm commitment to quality education for all Princeton public school students.

Barbara Prince, Adrienne Rubin

Princeton Education Foundation

To the Editor:

The April 18 edition of Town Topics, with its one-sided coverage of the continuing controversy over the University’s plans to truncate the Dinky, exemplifies the tendency of our local newspapers to pander to the powerful.

Your story on the Borough’s effort to preserve the Dinky right-of-way [“Ordinance Introduced by Borough Council to Save Right-of-Way”] consists largely of a restatement of the University’s argument. In a nod to balance, you record that I described as “insolent” and “brazen” Bob Durkee’s April 16 rebuke of Borough Council — but you then amplify his rebuke when you conclude with Barbara Trelstad’s lament that the discussion has “risen to a level that has gone beyond civility.”

Your story omitted any reference to Jenny Crumiller’s quietly delivered observation that good relations are impossible if they require Borough Council meekly to approve each of Nassau Hall’s requests.

Your story also omitted the substance of my own argument, namely that Nassau Hall’s plans to truncate the Dinky have little or nothing to do with the “arts” — and everything to do with eliminating inconvenient public rights of way through the University’s rapidly expanding campus. As I noted, there are presently four primary means of traveling south to Route 1 and points beyond: Harrison Street, Washington Road, the Dinky, and Alexander Road. All four are hugely important to our town. The University plainly has the financial resources to unify its campus without impairing the town’s access to points south. Nassau Hall, however, chooses to deploy its resources despotically, seeking to close or constrict first Washington Road (largely accomplished, in no small part thanks to a doting DOT) and now the Dinky and Alexander Road — with no evident concern for the impact of those impairments upon our town.

Like consolidation and the proposed high-density redevelopment of the hospital block, constricted access is a policy choice with transformative consequences, most of them adverse. Our local papers embarrass themselves when they fail both to vet proponents’ claims and to ignore opponents’ concerns. We are fortunate in the Borough to have at least four elected officials who understand the significance of — and have the courage to oppose tenaciously — proposals that threaten the character of our community.

If Town Topics is really concerned about incivility, it might usefully turn its attention to Nassau Hall’s recent proclivity for treating our town as a land bank.

Peter Marks

Moore Street

Editor’s Note: The story in question was clearly devoted to describing the ordinance the University finds offensive. It featured a quote from Roger Martindell on behalf of the ordinance (and a long letter from him expressing that point of view in the Mailbox) in addition to quoting not only Mr. Marks but, as he neglects to mention, Chip Crider, whose long letter was also published in that issue’s Mailbox. The University’s “side” was represented by the quote in response to the ordinance from vice-president and secretary Robert Durkee. Ms. Trelstad’s comment about civility clearly referred to, among others, both Mr. Durkee and Mr. Marks. Town Topics always attempts to present both sides of any issue, as reflected in the Mailbox, which would have run letters supporting the University’s side if any had been sent ahead of the April 18 issue.

To the Editor:

At last Thursday’s Planning Board meeting reviewing AvalonBay’s request to change zoning, Marvin Reed told fellow members of the Board that two year’s of meetings among the community, neighborhood and hospital had resulted in a maximum number of 280-units for the 5.6 acre hospital building
site. The large number of units was much higher than the neighborhood and other town residents wanted and represents a major compromise. Mr. Reed called the 280-unit maximum “a big stretch.” The number would have been much lower if rezoning had been in keeping with the neighborhood character of single-family and duplex homes. As a compromise, Marvin Reed said that a plaza/park was to be provided for the use of the public on the site of one of the medical buildings which was to be torn down. When zoning was set at “up to 280 units”, this higher number set the price for the hospital building site. Before bidding on large-scale redevelopments, national real estate corporations calculate profitability based on purchase price and zoning requirements. AvalonBay put in a bid for the 280-unit site with 20 percent affordable housing requirement, as did the other bidders.

Raising the maximum number of units after a contract has been signed for no other reason than that the buyer requests it, is bad business. It is unfair to the community and to the numerous other potential buyers who are eager to redevelop the property, as well as to the seller. In December of 2010, a nationally prominent firm located in New York City began to market the property as a 280-unit property with a 20 percent affordable housing requirement. (Bluegate Partner website, news release, Dec 13.) Within less than nine months the VP of Marketing and Public Affairs at the hospital was quoted in the local press as saying “there were 125 companies that expressed an interest in the hospital property” (Packet, Aug. 5, 2011). Many potential buyers were identified quickly after a prominent national firm had been hired to market the hospital complex.

AvalonBay can build at 280-units if they wish. Or they should move aside and let one of the other 125 interested parties redevelop the property. Why didn’t Borough Council say “no” to the increased number of units immediately and move this process along? If AvalonBay does build, they need to follow the design standards in Borough code that call for open space accessible to the public (part of the compromise) and for varied architectural design. Given that AvalonBay is a national builder of standardized housing complexes, one wonders if the corporation can construct the kind of customized design that Princeton is looking for. Customized real estate development is not in AvalonBay’s area of expertise nor is it part of their business model. Other options do exist. An analysis presented to Borough Council shows that dividing the hospital building site into individual lots sized in keeping with the neighborhood would result in inexpensive land costs by Princeton standards and would reap the hospital the same or more profit.

Alexi Assmus

Maple Street

“Riding my bike to the opening of the new Community Park pool. I can’t wait! It brings back great memories.”
—Martha Bolster, Princeton

William: “Looking forward to my lacrosse season and going up to the lake in Vermont this summer to do some sailing.”
Matthew: “Lacrosse and you can play outside any time.”
—William (left) and Matthew Kuenne, Princeton

Stephen:“ I am looking forward to swimming with Charlie and the Blue Curtain concert featuring Céu at Community Park North.”
Charlie: “Swimming in the new Community Park pool.”
—Stephen (left) and Charlie Allen, Princeton

Caroline: “Walking around town and summer vacation and going to camp.”
Sophie: “Being able to go outside more often and playing in the pool.”
Olivia: “Playing softball and eating ice cream.”
—Caroline Foster with cousins Olivia (middle)
and Sophie Corrodi, Princeton

“Walking around town with my wife and gardening.”
—Camille and Aaron Burt, Princeton

Steven: “Frolicking in the sun.”
Claire: “School getting over and camp starting.”
Charlotte: ”Swimming at the new CP pool and riding my bike.”
Darcy: “Looking forward to going outside a lot with my family and going to camp with my friends.”
—Steven Schultz with daughters Claire (left), Charlotte,
and Darcy Chang (right), Princeton

NTU Bai

BAI BELIEVERS: “This truly has the potential to become an iconic product. It embodies all that is healthy — it is packed with antioxidants, has nothing artificial, and people like it because it tastes good, with a bold fresh-fruit flavor.” Danna and Ben Weiss, owners of bai Brands, are enthusiastic about their popular new product, a rising star in the beverage industry.

bai believers — bai guys — bai buyers — bai triers: they are all over town!

In case you haven’t heard, bai is the hot new soft drink that is packed with all the good stuff. 100 percent natural, with no chemicals or preservatives, it is rich in those vital antioxidants (so important to good health) that chase away the bad free radicals.

And, what is more — it tastes great!

Not only that, points out co-owner, Danna Weiss, “bai was born and raised in Princeton — a real hometown product and business.”

The creation of Mrs. Weiss’ husband, founder Ben Weiss, bai was introduced in 2009. It has an intriguing history, he notes, and it all began with a special ingredient, the secret coffee super fruit: the hitherto discarded fruit of the coffee harvest.

Super Fruit

“I had been in the coffee industry for many years. Energy drinks were popular, and I thought we could do better and create a health and wellness beverage that tastes great. Over the past two decades, I have cupped coffee from the hilltops of exotic regions across the globe in search of the best-quality green coffee available. When I learned that local farmers from these regions have always used the whole fruit of the coffee bush to make high energy foods and beverages, I knew that I had stumbled on coffee’s untold secret.

“While the bean has always been harvested, the fruit was left to perish because it was simply too delicate to process. Yet, filled with phenolic components that are found widespread throughout the plant and concentrated in the coffee fruit, it is truly an extraordinary antioxidant-packed super fruit.”

Voila! Mr. Weiss realized that he had the makings of something special, and he embarked on an intense research and development program to harness the coffee fruit into a marketable product. Mixing coffee fruit with exotic fruit juices, he developed a healthy, antioxidant-rich, low calorie beverage that — importantly — tastes good.

The Weisses named the product bai — for botanical antioxidant infusion, and “bi-product” of the coffee fruit. “Also, in Mandarin Chinese, bai means pure,” points out Mr. Weiss. “Pure ingredients, pure taste, and pure goodness. Just one bottle of bai contains the same antioxidant levels as a bowl of blueberries and provides 100 percent of the FDA’s Daily Recommended Intake for antioxidants.”

“Ipanema baitini”

Suitable for children and adults, it does contain a very small amount of caffeine from the white tea extract included in the ingredients, which is also an antioxidant source. For adults, who may wish to add a little octane, the “Ipanema baitini” is easy to create with the addition of a splash of vodka to the Ipanema Pomegranate bai5 or any other of your favorite bai choices.

Initially, the company produced three flavors, containing 70 calories: Tanzania Strawberry, Mango Kauai, and Jamaican Blueberry, all lightly sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice.

There are now 11 flavors, including bai5, the new 5-calorie drinks, infused with erithritol a natural sweetener. Red and black bottle caps differentiate the two choices. In addition to the original flavors, new tastes include Kenya Peach, Congo Pear, Ipanema Pomegranate, Sumatra Dragonfruit, and Costa Rica Clementine (and brand new bai’s continue to come along!).

“Every bottle touches the soil of a faraway place, from South America to Asia,” says Mr. Weiss, “and every ingredient is pure.”

The company, now headquartered in Hamilton, has experienced remarkable growth in a very short time. The product is manufactured and bottled in South Brunswick, and distributed along the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Virginia, also in south Florida, and southern California.

New York is an excellent market, and so is Princeton, point out the Weisses. bai is offered in many establishments here, including Olives, D’Angelo’s Market, Nassau Street Seafood & Produce Co., Bon Appetit, Chez Alice, McCaffrey’s, Main Street, Whole Earth, Whole Foods, and Hoagie Haven, among others. It will also soon be available in Wegman’s.

Major Distribution

“From 2010 to 2011, we tripled sales, and from 2011 to 2012, we are increasing 5-fold. We have formed partnerships with major distribution companies, such as Canada Dry and Snapple Dr. Pepper, and we now have 32 employees,” says Mr. Weiss.

“Our customers are incredibly loyal,” adds Mrs. Weiss. “All of the stores that started with us originally are still with us today. We love what we do. The whole family has been involved — our parents, and kids. The kids are so proud of it. They love bai! It’s become a life-style. We also plan to have a stand on Communiversity Day, Saturday, April 28.”

Both the traditional bai and bai5 are flourishing in the market place, and the Weisses are very optimistic about bai’s future. “This is basically an affordable luxury. It’s supernaturally good for you! It’s healthy, it’s relevant, and it’s interesting. For you, it means pure ingredients, pure taste, pure goodness. For us, it means sharing the goodness of coffee’s super fruit with the world. Pure and simple!”

For further information, email: info@drinkbao.com. Website: www.drinkbai.com. Facebook.com/drinkbai.

NTU red barn

MAGICAL MISCELLANY: “People like antiques because they’re getting a little slice of history. They just like older things, and that’s one reason my furniture restoration business here is also important.” John Balestrieri, owner of the Red Barn Antique Shop in Blawenburg is shown by a five-gallon early 1900s stoneware jug and a Tiffany-style lamp, two of the many items available in the shop’s eclectic selection.

A 1903 Underwood typewriter, a 1920 clarinet (with case), an 1890 school house wall clock, vintage fountain pens, late 1800-1900 oil lamps, vintage toys, collectible spoons … the list goes on … and on!

All these — and so much more — are available at the Red Barn Antiques Shop in Blawenburg.

Owner John Balestrieri opened the shop 10 years ago, when he and his wife received an inheritance of furniture.

“We asked the Elks if we could use their barn to sell the furniture” explains Mr. Balestrieri, a Princeton native, who is also a cabinet-maker and former contractor.

That was the beginning of a new venture, which has grown into a full-fledged antiques and collectible business, and is still located in the Princeton Elks barn on Route 518.

Functional, Decorative

Lamps, framed artwork, glassware, china, pottery (including Buffalo blue and white, often used on trains in past times), antique jewelry, vintage toys, clocks, fireplace equipment, Stangl pottery, Hubley dog doorstops, old butter churn, vintage wash basins and pitchers, collectible Life Magazines, Baldwin Brass, old tools, candle sticks, humidors, soup tureens — all these are part of the eclectic selection.

“Our accessories are both functional and decorative,” points out Mr. Balestrieri. “For example, we have a silver plate coffee pot, along with a collectible Horsham doll, duck decoys, an old rotating Shaefer beer sign, hand-blown cobalt blue vase, pitcher, and bowl, milk glass items, and a “House” cannister set.

“A real conversation piece is the ‘Beermatic’, a container that holds six cans of beer or soda. Just press a button and the can is released. It’s a great idea for a party.

“We also have 33 LP record albums as well as old 78 records, and fountain pens are very popular. People also like to collect keys, old coins, spoons, license plates, and post cards — it’s really everything. In addition, we have cabinet photographs from the 1880s and early 1900s and an important 19th century lithograph collection.”

Baseball Legends

Vintage toys, especially little metal cars and trucks, are always in demand, and there is a fun casino game in a large wooden box, featuring “gambling” games, including roulette, black jack, and others. The collectible “Baseball Legends” poster offers a collage of baseball card photos of many of the greatest players through the years.

Furniture remains an important part of the Red Barn inventory, with children’s desks and smaller bookcases currently very popular. Customers will find a complete variety, including chairs, tables of all sizes, dining room sets, and a unique and very useful 1910 oak “hall set” or stand, combining mirror, pegs to hang hats, and “chair” storage area for gloves, etc.

Mr. Balestrieri continues his full-scale furniture restoration business, including caning. His projects range from walking stick restoration to repairing and refinishing chests, chairs, and cabinets. He recently restored a trunk from the 1920s, and relined it with cedar.

“I love to see something old that I can bring back to life,” he says. “This is an important part of my work.”

Quick Turnaround

Customers, including many regulars, are from the area and beyond, he adds. “Because of our website, we are now getting people from all over, including New York City. We also get a lot of word-of-mouth in the Princeton area. Summer is the busiest time, but it’s steady all year, and we have a quick turnaround, with new items all the time.”

Mr. Balestrieri obtains items from estate sales and auctions in the area, and individuals also contact him offering pieces to sell. He also receives requests for all kinds of items, from chairs to collectible toys, and he tries to fill them when he can. The shop has an ongoing “Wish List”.

Prices range from $10 up to $1500 for the hall set, and everything in between. There is something for everyone’s pocketbook.

“We try to keep prices reasonable,” he notes. “I really enjoy meeting the people who come in, and I look forward to continuing to do this and offering our products. Sometimes, what we have reminds customers of things their mother or grandmother had. And one time, a man came in, and bought a lot of little metal toy cars, which were replicas of Ford models. He had been employed by Ford, and had actually worked on the real cars. Something like this makes it special.”

The shop is open Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 638-0494. Website: www.RedBarnAntique
Shop.com.


April 11, 2012

FASHION FORMAT: “We want to enhance our customers’ existing wardrobe. We have so many regular customers, even multi-generational now. They are all ages, and we want to help them all look their best.” Barbara Racich (left) and Anne Merrick Mavis, owners of Merrick’s too, are delighted with their location at the Princeton Shopping Center.

It’s spring at Merrick’s too!

“Actually, this is our second spring,” notes Merrick’s Anne Merrick Mavis, co-owner, with her mother Barbara Racich.

After 25 successful years on Moore Street, Merrick’s re-opened as Merrick’s too at the Princeton Shopping Center in September 2010. It arrived with a distinctly new format: open six months of the year, three months in the spring, three months in the fall. Although the shop itself is closed during the remaining summer and winter months, Merrick’s too is always available to help customers, notes Ms. Mavis.

“We’re here even when we’re not here! We have access to clothing all the time, and can get items for customers year-round if they have special requests. It’s really personal shopping in a boutique. The timing of our being open coincides with the patterns of shopping and women’s shopping needs. They tend to shop less in the summer and winter.”

Unique Formula

Merrick’s too’s unique operating formula resulted when they needed to leave their former Moore Street location, explains Ms. Racich. “We thought perhaps the cosmos was trying to tell us something. It was! Reinvent yourself!”

So, they have. During the time the shop is open, they offer a full selection of high quality clothing and accessories from New York, European, and area designers. Because they don’t have a permanent inventory, there is a constant flow of new items available.

“We get all new merchandise from the designers since we hold no inventory,” explains Ms. Mavis.

“And since they are only here six months, I come in all the time to see what’s new,” reports an enthusiastic regular Merrick’s too customer.

What’s new is a striking spring selection that is filled with color! “It’s all about color this spring,” says Ms. Mavis. “Beautiful vivid colors — orange, yellow, hot pink, sky blue, emerald green, magenta. A rainbow of color is with us this spring.”

Offbeat and Unexpected

Colorful dresses and sun dresses, versatile tunic tops, skirts, pants — in every design: floral prints, stripes, geometrics, pleats.

Style is very individual today — the offbeat and unexpected can flatter and forecast at the same time.

“People wear what they want now — pencil-slim to palazzo-wide pants, short skirts, long skirts. It’s everything,” points out Ms. Mavis “Things can be casual or more formal, whatever someone is comfortable wearing. We have beautiful clothing that is informal as well as dressy. Cotton fabric, lightweight linen/cotton, and wearable silk are all favorites, with washable silk extremely popular.”

You will see women in metallics, lamés, organza, and lace this spring. But they may also step out in a feminized version of the bomber jacket, or wasp-waisted, full-skirted dresses and sheaths from the ’60s. It is truly a buyer’s choice, and Merrick’s too has many options. Beautiful handpainted silk dresses from Carter Smith are stand-outs, truly eye-catching designs, and there are long gowns for formal occasions.

Lines include the designs of Shirley Fang, owner/designer of Redwood Court, whose headquarters are in West Windsor. She will have a trunk show at the shop April 19th. Also available is the selection of jewelry from Bea, an area designer, whose red coral necklace is a stunning complement to a summer sun dress.

In addition to the jewelry is a collection of fabulous scarves, any one of which offers a wonderful embellishment for a spring outfit. Crinkled silk in all colors from Redwood Court, and gorgeous two-toned ombré in a multitude of colors from muted yellow and apricot to pink and magenta are just a sample of what is available.

History and Reputation

“The designers know our history and reputation,” reports Ms. Racich. “We also have new designers contacting us, and some are exclusive to us.”

Customers are a wide age range, she adds. There are many of long-standing, and many new ones since the shop moved. “Service has always been a big part of Merrick’s. We have a warm, friendly atmosphere, and we are always truthful with our customers about how they look in an outfit. I know they respect us for that. I enjoy the customers so much. We also have many of the same employees everyone got to know, as well as new ones. And, we have a dressmaker here seven days.”

“We are very encouraged,” adds Ms. Mavis. “Even with the economy, we have a constant flow of customers. It’s exciting. Each season is totally new and different. It’s an all new selection, which customers love, and each season is just like Christmas morning!

“We are also so pleased to be in the shopping center. This is a great space, a perfect spot for us. Parking is easy, and we have two entrances to the shop, from the courtyard and from the parking lot.”

“And while things may be a little different, the fundamentals won’t change,” says Ms. Racich “We will continue to focus on family service, impeccable quality, and clothes that adhere to the qualities of ‘timeless elegance’, ‘real clothes for real women’, and ‘fun’.”

Sizes are zero to 22, with a price range from $24 to $2000, and everything in between.

Merrick’s too will be open through May 20, reopening again in September. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 8:30, Sunday noon to 5. (609) 921-0338. Website: www.merricksprinceton.com.


FRESH FLAVOR: “It’s the freshness and flavor. Americans are drawn to Thai food because of the combination of flavors and the fresh ingredients.” Clark Reed (left) and Da DeToro, owners of Da’s Kitchen & Catering, are shown in the restaurant and are delighted by the enthusiastic customer response.

Sweet and salty, mild and spicy, pungent and piquant — the combination of these flavors comes together in a savory-nuanced blend of delicious dishes at Da’s Kitchen & Catering.

“Flavor is very important in Thai cooking, explains Da DeToro, co-owner and chef at the restaurant. “Combining fresh flavors in a unique way is a Thai specialty.”

Located at 21 East Broad Street in Hopewell, the restaurant is co-owned by real estate executive Clark Reed. A native of Hopewell, Mr. Reed has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, and is a fan of the cuisine. He sampled Da’s Thai food in the small restaurant she had at the YWCA in Princeton, and knew he had discovered something special and authentic.

He wanted to establish a restaurant on the 21 East Broad Street site, and asked her what it would take for her to move to Hopewell.

State-of-the-Art

Without hesitation, she replied, “ A state-of-the-art kitchen!”

That was do-able, and Da’s Kitchen, opened in November 2011.

An immediate hit, the restaurant welcomed diners eager to sample the cuisine for lunch, dinner, and take-out. “I thought we’d start a bit slower, but the customers came right away,” says Da. “It has been very busy.”

“Everything is made fresh every day, and every dish is made to order,” explains Mr. Reed. “Da is a Royal Thai Certified Chef, having studied at Le Cordon Bleu and at the Royal Thai Culinary School in Bangkok.”

She learned to cook from her great-grandmother, who taught the traditional Thai cooking techniques to the young girl. Da opened her first restaurant when she was 18, and later studied Italian and French cuisines as well as Thai. She worked in many top-of-the-line restaurants in the area, including Rats.

Now, she is delighted to have her own restaurant and first class kitchen.

“I love creating these special dishes, and I am very sure of our flavors. Our Thai curry powder is different from that used in Indian food, for example. It’s a different flavor. We have many duck dishes, as well as chicken, and seafood, and they are all unique.”

Dietary Needs

“Da has great duck dishes, crispy and delicious,” reports Mr. Reed.

The restaurant is authentic in every way, he points out. “All the staff, the assistant chefs and waiters, are Thai, and Da has very high standards. She trains all the chefs in the proper preparation of the Thai food.”

There are many vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, he adds. “We can accommodate any dietary needs or restrictions.”

Customers, including many regulars who come more than once a week, are very willing to explore new tastes, reports Da. “They really like to try new things, and sometimes, they let me decide for them.”

Those wanting to try something different may opt for Squid Phad Nam Prik Pow, which features fresh squid in Da’s sweet special aromatic sauce.

Popular dishes at the restaurant include Meang Kana, an appetizer with self-rolled Chinese broccoli leaves, filled with fresh ginger, lime, shallots, chilies, peanuts, and Da’s homemade coconut paste. It is especially known for its refreshing combination of flavors.

Som Tom, the green papaya salad, is considered the national dish of Thailand, and is slightly different in every region. With shredded green papaya, chilies, garlic, peanuts, and tomatoes, it can be served sweet, mild, or spicy.

Unique Flavor

Another favorite dish is duck in red curry, Da’s boneless crispy duck, is cooked in red curry sauce with coconut milk, pineapple, and bamboo. Also popular is Kao Soi, a northern Thailand specialty, with medium egg noodles in a light yellow curry coconut milk sauce, very lightly spiced, and topped with lime, shallots, and pickled radish. Chicken, pork, and tofu can be added.

In the near future, sushi choices will also be available at the restaurant.

Popular desserts include sticky rice with mango and fried ice cream, among others. Special Thai iced tea is known for its unique flavor, and both Thai iced tea and coffee are roasted with anise and cinnamon, and served over ice with milk and sugar.

Customers come from all over the area and beyond, including New York City. An international ambiance is often apparent at the restaurant, with people from Thailand, England, and other countries enjoying a leisurely dinner. Da’s is also popular with families, and children love the food, notes Mr. Reed.

Open Kitchen

The restaurant, which can seat 48, has also been host to many private parties. The decor is Thai-oriented, with photos of Thai children decorating the walls, and a series of tapestries with elephant motif (Thailand’s signature animal), and authentic wooden sculptures.

The configuration enables customers to see the open kitchen, which was important to Da. “I wanted people to be able to see the kitchen. I want our chefs to be proud of themselves. Also, I am not only creating the food the way it was when I was growing up, but I am presenting the Thai culture.”

“Da has a real following,” adds Mr. Reed. “People love her personality. She interacts with everyone.”

Customers enjoy bringing wine or beer, and in the spring, outside dining will be added. Catering for all size events has also become a growing part of the business.

Da and Mr. Reed could not be happier with the restaurant’s success. “When customers try my food they really enjoy it,” says Da. “I guarantee that if they come once, they will come back again!”

Da’s Kitchen is open Monday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Tuesday. (609) 466-THAI (8424). Website: daskitchenhopewell.com.

To the Editor:

National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, is about inspiring, recognizing and motivating individuals who have given countless hours to their community.

New Jersey has almost nine million potential volunteers and over 40,000 nonprofits in need of their services. If you are not yet supporting an organization, we encourage you to take a moment during National Volunteer Week to look around and see how you can be a part of changing your community and helping others in need. Does your local senior center need help answering the phone? Does your school need a garden? All non-profits can also benefit from your professional work skills.

Equally as important, we encourage non-profits and community organizations to celebrate your volunteers. Volunteers are the foundation of your group and can have a profound impact on your mission and success. Please take the time to thank these special people. Use this week to recognize the volunteers who dedicate their time to your cause — send a special thank-you note, have a recognition breakfast or give an award.

Together, volunteers and the organizations they support can set an example in the community and show others that by working together social change can happen and needs can be met.

We would like to hear from you. Please share your inspirational volunteer story or the story of how volunteers have made an impact on your organization at www.VolunteerConnectNJ.org. We would be honored to highlight your experiences on our website and celebrate how volunteers have the power to make a difference.

Amy Klein
Director of Community Relations 
Robin Fogel
Board President

To the Editor:

After growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs and working in New York, I moved to the Princeton area to maintain proximity to these parts of my life and in appreciation of the area’s many fine attributes.   But of all the great communities in the area, my family chose Princeton for the outstanding schools.

As a community, like others everywhere else in the country, we face the challenge of how to do more with less.  Resources are constrained and the need to produce excellence is paramount.  This extends to the schools which served as a magnet for our family.

And so I wish to commend and lend my support to the 2012-2013 school budget.  With just a 1 percent increase, it has stayed well within the 2 percent cap.  And it has done so without layoffs or the cutting of programs, thus preserving a key asset of the community that continues to draw new residents.

While visiting family for Spring Break, my high school sophomore daughter asked me about the schools in the town in which we were staying.  I told her they were good but the education she was getting in Princeton was as good as any in the country.  This is why we live here.

John Lopez-Ona
Winfield Road

To the Editor:

I have known David Dudeck ever since he became a member of the Princeton Borough Police Department. I fully support his belief that when Princeton becomes one municipality, there should be at least 57 sworn officers when the two police departments merge. If Chief Dudeck was a proponent of having the merged police department with 60 sworn officers I would be for that idea. In any municipality in American Society public safety is always the most important aspect of local government.

Ethan C. Finley 
Princeton Community Village

To the Editor:

The Tuesday, April 17 annual school board election will be the last time Princeton Borough residents will elect a Borough official. I am seeking your vote to be one of those representatives.

Some thoughts about Princeton public education:

Princeton has a high quality public school system that taxpayers generously support. Per pupil expenditure is substantially above the state average. Half our property taxes go to the public schools and these taxes keep rising. Financial support from the state is falling and will continue to do so as it attempts to meet its own financial challenges. We need to transform traditional budgetary practices regarding how we spend taxpayer dollars and why. Prioritization of educational goals and innovation are required now more than ever.

Why I am a candidate: A strong public school system is the essential core of our democracy and prosperity. Given my background and experience in public education, I can provide a unique perspective and contribution for educational policy-making. I will work hard to maintain excellence and affordability.

What I want to accomplish: The public school system should seek to share services with the new municipality. Combining maintenance services, for example, would result in cost savings. Local institutions of higher learning, private foundations and business must become engaged in enhanced “partnering” to increase financial grant support which is now at minimal level. More emphasis on information technology is necessary to ensure that our students will be able to compete effectively in a technological world.

My background: Prior to a diplomatic career with the U.S. department of state, I was a public high school teacher and athletic coach. I received a fellowship to study economics at Stanford University to upgrade economic literacy in the public schools. I am a public school graduate, my four children attended public schools, I have been a PTO president, a school board member, and a university professor. I have also been the chairman of the Princeton sewer operating committee and enthusiastically participate in numerous civic activities.

Dudley Sipprelle
Nassau Street

To the Editor:

We urge our neighbors to support the budget for the Princeton Schools. As citizens and taxpayers and the parents of four children who have graduated from our schools, we are grateful for the tradition of excellence. The budget proposed for 2012-13 is very conservative, but it maintains this tradition of excellence. In spite of growth in non-discretionary operating costs — energy, charters payments, health benefits, to name a few — and state aid losses of over a million dollars a year for the past three years compared with what was otherwise due under state funding formulas, the School Board has kept the budget within the 2 percent cap and allowed overall budget growth of only 1 percent over the prior year. This means an annual tax increase of under $200 per household on the average assessed home in the Borough and just a bit over $200 per household on the average assessed home in the Township. Yet school programs will remain strong and class sizes stable; overcrowding in some core classes at the high school will continue to be addressed; and the critically important smaller class sizes in the early elementary grades will be maintained. This is a well-crafted and prudent budget, mindful of economic realities while protective of our community’s long-standing investment in our public schools. Please vote “Yes” on Tuesday, April 17.

Walter and Mary Bliss
Moore Street

To the Editor:

We enthusiastically support Rebecca Cox and Martha Land for election to the Princeton Regional Schools (PRS) Board of Education.

Rebecca Cox has served on the school board for six years. As the president during the last two years, Rebecca has steered the board through significant positive changes. She is a creative problem solver with fastidious attention to detail, and the highest standards for improvement and achievement for our staff and students. Her accomplishments and valuable contributions as a board member are truly too numerous to list. As well as a dedicated public servant, Rebecca is a public school parent and graduate of Princeton High. Her deep commitment to our schools and students is unquestionable.

Martha Land is also a public school parent, with two children at Princeton High and one at Community Park. Since moving to Princeton almost a decade ago, Martha has dedicated much of her life to improving access to educational opportunities for all our children. She has been an energetic fundraiser for PTOs and athletic boosters, and for five years has served on the board of Fund 101, which annually raises scholarship funds for Princeton High School graduates. Her command of governance and financial stewardship and her experience working for our students in our schools will allow Martha a smooth transition to school board duties. As a veteran fundraiser, nonprofit board member, and advocate for all our kids, Martha approaches her work with thoughtful pragmatism, great personal warmth and humor.

Molly Chrein, Tim Quinn, Andrea Spalla

To the Editor:

We are writing to urge Princeton voters to go to the polls on Tuesday, April 17 and vote YES for the proposed Princeton Regional Schools budget for 2012-2013.

As parent volunteers for our local public schools, we work to raise funds to supplement and enrich our school communities, provide opportunities for all of our children, and ensure that all children can participate fully and equally in our schools regardless of family income. We see first-hand how each dollar is stretched in our schools and how real the needs are. We’d like to remind you that your support for the school budget this year is critical.

Why should you vote “Yes”on the proposed budget?

First, the proposed budget is conservative. It allows for a mere 1 percent growth over last year’s budget. This is commendable in light of the many non-discretionary operating cost increases that are well above 2 percent (such as energy costs, charter school payments, and health benefits). The small increase is also extraordinary in light of the district’s effective loss of over a million dollars of state aid over the past three years.

Second, the proposed budget preserves educational excellence. It allows the district to maintain the depth and breadth of programs and staffing while continuing to innovate and improve. In this way the proposed budget delivers excellent value. By approving it, all taxpayers and parents in the community can be assured that the high quality of our public schools — one of the main components of our steady property values and our community’s attractiveness — will not be diminished. Maintaining strong public schools benefits all of us.

In addition, unlike many other school boards around the state, our school board recently made the difficult but principled decision to allow Princeton voters to retain direct democratic control over their school budget. Board members realize that local control and community involvement are key to our public schools’ great success. We thank the school board for keeping this control in our hands.

We hope you will join us in exercising your right to vote on Tuesday, April 17, and supporting our high-quality public schools by voting YES for the proposed budget.

Jean Yelovich Durbin
Mt. Lucas Road
Cathy Rizzi, Stephanie Chorney, Beth Behrend, Bonnie Itkoff, Sue Bowen, Nila Eisenach, Stacy Pibl, Ronica Sethi, Cindi Venizelos, MaryBeth Parker

To the Editor:

Recognizing the era that began in 2007, the school board, administration, faculty, and staff have worked together over the last few years to reexamine our operations and programs with an eye toward running them as efficiently as possible with your tax dollars, while continuing to prepare our students well for life in the 21st century. As reported at every monthly meeting, the Board has focused on savings, efficiencies, conservation, and cost containment in areas such as energy, insurances, health benefits, and work schedules in order to deliver declining tax increases to our residents even as we strive to maintain the Princeton Schools’ standards of excellence. Like every homeowner, the Board of Education copes with trends in energy and health costs, so we kindly ask your support for the Budget on Tuesday, April 17, with the smallest tax increase in many years (2 percent).

We are living in an era of great debate over the efficacy of public education, as well as uncertainty over public funding of education. Nevertheless, the Board and its employees are rising to the challenges imposed by the New Jersey department of education to align curriculum with “core content standards,” updating teacher evaluation protocols, as well as supporting valued local initiatives such as funding full-day pre-K and kindergarten classrooms; maintaining arts education; and addressing the needs of each child who learns differently for any reason, or has limited English proficiency. At the same time, we can all be very proud of the accomplishments of our PHS seniors who have enjoyed so much community support and so much national recognition for their achievements. Please vote on the April 17 to continue this record of success

Dorothy Bedford
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

On April 17, the Princeton Regional School (PRS) operating budget for 2012-13 will be voted on. Some may be inclined to refuse the one-percent increase — everyone is making due with less, right? Well, PRS is dealing with a lot less. In 2010, in addition to drastically reducing state aid to PRS, the state took from the district 1.7 million dollars — savings for capital expenditures. Governor Christie has ignored the mandates of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, leaving the district with losses in the millions, even given the increase in state aid (still not at the mandated level) proposed for next year.

Superintendent Wilson and the school board have juggled and cut over the last few years while still protecting core academics. If the school budget is not approved on April 17, what will get cut? The obvious “extras,” arts and sports. School is an environment where students learn about who they are and how to navigate life. As parents we try to provide a diverse range of opportunities for our children to explore the world and flourish. Schools do the same through the extra-curricular activities they offer. My three children are involved in the exceptional music program our district offers. My two oldest children play in our phenomenal and acclaimed Princeton High School Studio Band, where they have had the opportunity to travel and represent their school with pride. The experience has instilled in them a sense of discipline and confidence. The band room is their home away from home. For other students, home may be the stage, the art room, the newsroom or the gym.

Teens in Princeton are faced with so many negative temptations, from drugs and alcohol to computer and TV screens. Please vote to approve the school budget so PRS can continue to provide so many extremely positive options for our students.

Lisa Marcus Levine
Linden Lane

“It’s great for the kids; they love to feed the animals. And the food here is really good.”
—Dan Cordle with daughter Ivy, Princeton

“Apple cider and the people here. Our daughter loves to feed the farm animals.”
—Julia and Charlie Yu with daughter Abriella, Freehold

Spencer: “The fresh air, sunshine and a little bit of country.”
Sydney: “It brings back memories, I have been coming here for so long.”
Peyton: “Feeding the animals corn.”
—Spencer Reynolds with daughters Sydney and Peyton, Princeton

“The atmosphere is very family oriented with fun activities for the kids. We all like it very much.”
—Kenya and Andre Parson with son Christian, Ewing

Debbie: “It’s lots of fun for the whole family. We had an awesome birthday party here for our daughter in the fall.”
Rory: “I like the pets.” —Andrew and Debbie Kraft
with Rory and Alexander, Monroe

“Our daughter’s favorite thing to do is feed the animals corn.”
—Ryan Moslin with daughter, Alexis, Montgomery

“It’s a beautiful farm where we like to come apple picking and a great place for our extended family to meet this holiday weekend.”
—Ed Volkwein, Maine, who used to live in Princeton
and daughter Katherine Singer, with son Jackson, visiting from New York City

April 4, 2012

To the Editor:

On April 17 the residents of Princeton will have the opportunity to vote in the annual Board of Education election. This opportunity to approve the annual budget of the Princeton Public Schools, as well as to elect members of the Board of Education, is a privilege that relatively few citizens in the State of New Jersey will have this year. At its February meeting, the Board resisted the transfer of the annual elections to the Fall in large part to preserve the ability of the citizens to continue to vote on the annual budget. A move to the Fall would have eliminated this crucial component of local supervision of public education.

The budget being presented is, once again, a remarkable achievement. It reflects an increase of approximately 1 percent at a time when we face some of the most severe conditions any organization could encounter: our ability to raise income is limited by the state cap on tax increases; on the other hand, many of our largest expenses are out of our control (for example, double digit increases in health care costs and a $4.7 million payment to the Princeton Charter School which we are obliged under state law to raise from taxpayers); and, meanwhile, state aid has been dramatically decreased.

It is a tribute to the hard work of the Administration and the intense oversight by the Finance Committee of the Board for once again presenting a balanced budget that preserves the core educational needs of our outstanding school system. I urge my fellow citizens to come to the polls on April 17 (noon to 9 p.m.).

Charles F. Kalmbach
Chair Finance Committee, 
Princeton Board of Education
Orchard Circle, Princeton

To the Editor:

The Princeton Service Unit of the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey wishes to thank our wonderful community for its support of our nearly 300 girls who live and go to school in Princeton.

During January and February, the community supported our work through the annual Girl Scout cookie sale. Palmer Square Management and WaWa provided outdoor space where the girls braved snow, cold, and wind, as well as sunny and warm conditions, to sell their cookies to the community.

Also during March, the girls enjoyed earning badges through the generous contributions of the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, and the local chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Princeton University. At communiversity last year, we gathered signatures of an extraordinary number of area women who are, or were, girl scouts. Our banner will be proudly carried in the Memorial Day parade. Look for us!

As the current girls grow and continue to serve and lead, we, the over 150 volunteer leaders and coordinators, experience first hand the joy of watching this process occur.

Karen Freundlich
Volunteer Manager, Princeton Girl Scouts, 
Stanford Place

To the Editor:

I want to thank the hundreds of members of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization who attended the PCDO endorsement meeting on Sunday, March 25. The record-breaking crowd and the large field of thoughtful candidates made me proud to be a Princetonian. I am grateful for your endorsement, and the endorsement of the Municipal Committees, and look forward to running in the Democratic primary for mayor this June.

I’m committed to making consolidation a success on every level — from financial savings, to enhanced services, to more responsive government. I hope you will join with me in creating a sustainable Princeton where neighborhoods retain their character and have a voice in decision making and where it is easy for residents to contribute their talents. If you believe, as I do, that consolidation brings with it a chance for a fresh start and that we need a mayor who can bring people together, then I hope you will support me.

Liz Lempert
Meadowbrook Drive

To The Editor:

One wonders how they get away with it. Even after all these years of legislation in favor of the elderly and the handicapped, the Westminster Choir College (WCC) still keeps its box office on the third floor of Williamson Hall, sans elevator.

A woman who works in this area told me that she has been trying for over 10 years to persuade the WCC to locate its box office at a more hospitable altitude, so far without any result.

How does the WCC get around the accessibility laws that seem to apply to most public access buildings in New Jersey?

Mrs. Lucille Gaignault
Bank Street

To the Editor: 

The YWCA Princeton launched Women’s History Month on March 1 with the celebration of the 29th Annual Tribute to Women Awards Dinner. This evening highlighted the personal and professional achievements of 12 area women and their commitment to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. With the help of this community, the event was an incredible success, raising nearly $80,000 to support the YWCA Princeton’s programming and services.

Countless community partners were involved in making this event a success, and the YWCA Princeton appreciates their support and generosity. We would like to thank nearly 400 community residents in attendance at the event; our event sponsors Bill and Judy Scheide, NRG Energy, WithumSmith+Brown, and the Times of Trenton; as well as event in-kind donors Jill Jachera and Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Company.

Jane Kelly and Linda Richter 
YWCA Tribute to Women 2012 Co-Chairs

To the Editor:

This was a most memorable sale in many ways. Thanks to the wonderful response of the community to our needs after  hurricane Irene, we had more books than we’ve had in years. We are grateful to everyone who so generously came to our rescue. More than 115 volunteers from the alumnae of both colleges as well as community friends turned out to unpack, price, and sort the books and then to help the thousands who came to buy them. But for all this, the sale would not have been ready in time without the help of the high school volunteers from Stuart Country Day School and from the Lawrenceville School who worked day by day beside us for the two weeks of preparation and during the sale. They were remarkable in their dedication and commitment. As always, the staff of our host, Princeton Day School, smoothed the way for us and were there to provide for every emergency. Thank you everyone, and remember — keep on donating.

Fran Reichl
Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale