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Month: September 2012

“All Available Boats” 9/11 Exhibit at the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum

The centerpiece of this exhibit reads:  “On the morning of September 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center tragedy unfolded, thousands of men and women who were on or near the waters of New York harbor converged in any way possible.  Answering the Coast Guard’s radio call for all available boats, hundreds of vessels raced across the Hudson and East Rivers.”  Over the course of the day, they helped to evacuate over 300,000 people from Manhattan.

Visitors can view photos and actually listen to first-hand accounts of individuals who participated in the evacuation of Manhattan.  The exhibit, donated to the Aviation Museum by the Cape May Coast Guard Base, tells the story of 9/11 from a unique perspective.  The “All Available Boats” exhibit is part of NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum’s expanded area dedicated to the Coast Guard and nearby Training Center Cape May.

The museum is located at 500 Forrestal Rd. at the Cape May Airport. For more information call  (609) 886-8787  or aviationmuseum@comcast.net


Best of Cape May 2012 Results

We created the Best of Cape May to recognize local businesses who contribute to an unforgettable Cape May vacation experience. Every August, we poll our readers to determine the best Cape May has to offer in accommodations, shopping, dining, and leisure. We are happy to see a few new names on the list this year, and we were excited to have the closest Best B&B vote in the history of the survey! Without further ado, here are those you have deemed the Best of Cape May for 2012:

Thank you for voting and celebrating all that Cape May has to offer!


Martini Beach

Many people return from vacation with souvenirs for their family tucked in their bags. John Siuta, chef at Martini Beach, comes home full of ideas about foods and flavors he’s savored during his travels and how he might work them into his menu.

Chef John Siuta. Photo courtesy Exit Zero

John and his wife, Josephine, travel widely to expand their culinary horizons. In the last five years, they have scouted foods in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, France and England. Their wanderlust has put Martini Beach on the map.

“I always have food on my mind,” John says. “I’ll travel 3,000 miles and check out the local supermarket. I’m not looking for beaches when I travel. I’m looking for what people are eating and what we can bring back to Cape May.”

The Siutas spent a month in India last year, half of which John spent working at a restaurant in a small beach town. John returned to his own beach restaurant passionate about Indian cooking and has since introduced several Indian dishes.

A friend and I visited Martini Beach twice this spring, and were delighted by its variety of ethnic dishes. While India’s influence is evident, John is democratic about representing other regions such as Asia and the Mediterranean.

It is Spanish cuisine, however, that infuses Martini Beach with its personality and friendliness. While the restaurant serves full-course meals, it specializes in tapas, small appetizer-sized portions native to Spanish cuisine, which can be eaten as a snack or combined to make a meal. Tapas are fun because they encourage people to share dishes and allow them time to talk between tastings. The format is so popular that Chef John promises more tapas selections are on the way.

 Photo courtesy Exit Zero

We tried five tapas one night we visited. The Turkey Kofta Masala, essentially spaghetti and meatballs Indian-style, was the best. We also liked the Duck Samosa, a pastry with roasted duck, Indian spices and vegetables, served with onion and mint chutneys. The Roasted Beet Salad with greens, gorgonzola, white balsamic, honey, and olive oil, and the Roasted Onion Hummus with marinated red peppers and grilled pita also were very good. The only dish that was mildly disappointing was the Turkish Pizza, a flatbread topped with spiced lamb, roasted garlic, zahtar, pepper and olive oil. The flavor was a little flat.

For a town completely surrounded by water, Cape May, surprisingly, has only a handful of restaurants with full, elevated, panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Martini Beach’s upstairs porch definitely has one of the best of them. If your sights are set on enjoying it, make sure you book a table on the porch.

Great tapas and vistas aside, a restaurant that calls itself “Martini Beach” had better deliver on its signature drink. Happily, it does so brilliantly. According to longtime bartender Tim Citrino, the bar’s two most popular drinks are the Dark and Stormy, a martini made with ginger liqueur and dark rum, and the Cucumber Basil Gimlet, a martini made with cucumber vodka. Tim jokes that the latter is “like drinking a salad,” but says he sells 50 to 75 of each on busy nights in season. My favorite martini was Tim’s Lemon Drop. It is now my standard for all lemon drinks.

 Photo courtesy Exit Zero

John grew up in a Polish family where his mother made perogi, or dumplings, at home to sell. “She used to steam the wallpaper off the walls,” he remembers.

By the time John was 10, he was making cheese, rolling dough, and growing mushrooms under his family’s front porch. After studying at the French Culinary Institute in New York, John went on to work for noted chef Daniel Boulud as well as The Food Network. In 1997, he moved his family to Cape May, where his parents had had a home. After coordinating the county’s Meals on Wheels program, John was offered a job as daytime chef at Martini Beach. He took over in 2006.

The Siutas are planning their next trip for later this year to Machu Picchu in Peru. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Martini Beach wasn’t serving Ceviche Tapas by this time next year.

– Dina