Skylark on the Hudson Turns a Negative into a Positive

Those of us in the tri-state area are familiar with many local businesses that were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. High-end waterfront diner Skylark on the Hudson in the Newport neighborhood of Jersey City, NJ, is no stranger to the adversity caused by Sandy. The restaurant had to temporarily close to undergo a number of renovations to repair the water damage it received from the storm.

Inside Skylark on the Hudson

However, it’s not about how many times you fall but rather how you get back up again. And that’s just what Skylark has done! As retail and restaurant life has been slowly reviving along the Hudson River, owner and restaurateur Constantine Katsifis took this temporary closing as an opportunity to revamp the restaurant with not only a refreshed menu but also a new chef, Darryl Harmon. Hailing from South Jersey, Chef Harmon will be taking his local Jersey roots and culinary skills to another level by enhancing Skylark’s farm-to-table menu, which supports area farms by using their in-season fruits and vegetables. Already known for its use of fresh ingredients, Skylark is paying a larger homage to its home state by becoming even more adamant about using products from local farms to support the NJ community, especially along the coast of the Jersey Shore.

Skylark on the Hudson kitchen

“We have updated our cuisine with uniquely styled dishes, accentuating flavor-forward food created by our Executive Chef Darryl Harmon. With a nod to the Jersey shore, Chef Harmon has managed to use his skills and taken a well thought out approach and twist to traditional American cuisine,” said a representative from Skylark.

Skylark on the Hudson's bar

Skylark on the Hudson reopened its doors on January 15th and is celebrating its grand re-opening through the end of February. If you need more of a reason to visit than fresh “fine diner” food in a relaxed, inviting waterfront space, then stop by to check out its Happy Hour special every weekday from 4 to 7pm, featuring $4, $5, and $6 beer, wine, and specialty cocktails and half price on all of the “share plates” from the menu. Plus, I hear that Skylark has quite the extensive drink list!

And if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be happy to know that Skylark’s new menu offers an entire section of Vegetarian Share dishes.

Skylark on the Hudson food

Skylark on the Hudson is located at 25 River Drive South in Jersey City, NJ, 07310. For restaurant hours as well as delivery and online ordering options, visit their website:


Disclosure: Skylark has offered me the opportunity to try out their new menu but any opinions here are my own.

Movies that Travel

Wanderlust is something that ails me daily. The truth is, I just want to travel. I’ve always been this way and will be for life. This much I know! But just because I have the travel bug 24/7 doesn’t mean I get to do so nearly as much as I wish I could. On those days when I really need to escape to some place new but can’t quite afford it or find the time, I like to indulge in movies that literally move me.

Great Escape

That’s the awesome thing about movies. They provide us with a momentary departure into a world that is not our own. And aside from jumping into someone else’s storyline, what better way to truly feel like you’ve entered another world than for it to be set in a location that is foreign to you? Being the travel junkie that I am, it’s no surprise that I gravitate toward movies that take place in far off lands. And when a city becomes a character in a movie, much like they do in most recent Woody Allen films, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

Image via Sun Sentinel

Eat Pray Love – Image via Sun Sentinel

The List

Here are my top 15 picks for movies that will have you traveling without ever moving. And if you do happen to add them to your Netflix queue, let’s hope they do inspire you to get moving…at least to your computer so you can research (and possibly plan) your next trip!

Disclaimer: These aren’t in any particular order. Also, I’m not saying that these are necessarily great movies, though I do happen to have enjoyed all of them; the point is that they’ll have you immersed in another city or culture for about two hours of (free!) travel bliss.

There are so many more I wanted to include but I had to narrow it down for you guys! What other travel-inspiring movies would you add to the list?

Cooking up a Career Dreams are Made of

Master Chef Brendan Cronin’s career in the hospitality industry has taken him all over globe—from his hometown in the west of Ireland to hotels in Limerick, Dublin, the Swiss Alps, Africa, and Asia. To this day, he remains the only Irish chef to have been given the prestigious international culinary title of ‘Chef de Cuisine Diplomé,’ or Swiss Master Chef; quite a feat for someone who’s had to struggle with overcoming the general misconception that the Irish can’t cook.

In his book, Cheffin’ from Potatoes to Caviar, Brendan takes us on a journey of cooking and travel. With humor and Irish wit, he tells the story of how he followed his dreams to become a skilled chef as he worked in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Filled with funny anecdotes from the kitchen, he ends each chapter with a mouth-watering recipe. Whether you’re a foodie, or just simply love to eat, you’ll enjoy this behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to become a professional chef in the fiercely competitive international hospitality industry.

An adventure of food and travel? I’m already hooked! I had the chance to speak with Brendan about his journey and book. Be sure to check out the delicious lobster salad with mango recipe he’s sharing with us after the Q & A!


MissAnaMon: What made you want to become a chef?

Brendan Cornin: I was encouraged by mother when I was about 12 years old, as she saw my interest in food when I helped her in the kitchen of our bed and breakfast on our small dairy farm in the west of Ireland. She set up an interview for me with a local hotel training college. I got accepted with a scholarship for my associate’s degree in Hotel Management and Culinary Arts, and left home to study and work there at the age of 14. My career developed from there, which is the story the book is based on.

MissAnaMon: Why did you write Cheffin’ from Potatoes to Caviar?

Brendan Cronin: My mother suggested it! After reading a few short stories on travel and cooking that I had written for a school project, she said, “Brendan, you should write a book about this.” I dismissed her comment at the time and the stories sat on the living room bookshelf for 12 years before I wrote Cheffin’ from Potatoes to Caviar. By the way, the title “Cheffin'” is what locals in my village assumed is what I would be doing professionally, as at the time in the farming community, it was unusual for men to cook. Women cooked and apparently chefs cheffed—hence the title. The tagline “from Potatoes to Caviar” is intended to reflect my professional transition from my childhood of picking potatoes on our farm to later on serving caviar in the five-star hotels of the world; the two extremes of culinary ingredients—the lowly starch and the revered delicacy, which actually go quite well together… with the addition of a little sour cream.

MissAnaMon: How did you overcome the “Irish can’t cook” misconception?

Brendan Cronin: It was difficult in the beginning in Switzerland, and later in Southeast Asia, because Ireland was not renowned for its cooking—actually, the opposite was true—and fellow chefs would look at me as if to say: “Who let this Irish guy in to cook in a five-star hotel kitchen?” But as time went by—and thanks to my many years working in Swiss hotel kitchens—it got much better. Obtaining my Certified Swiss Master Chef’s qualification put that misconception to bed. In the meantime, Irish cuisine has evolved in leaps and bounds!

MissAnaMon: How have your travels influenced your cooking?

Brendan Cronin: Tremendously! I acquired taste memories, which I describe in the book, that will stay with me forever. Through traveling I have developed a tremendous admiration for any chef/cook who prepares good and nutritious food, either professionally or in the home, regardless of their qualifications. My palate has broadened and I eat almost any food. I developed a respect for cultures and beliefs, and appreciate and respect the differences between people. This mindset has helped me get along with everyone I meet along the way in kitchens and restaurants around the world. As a result, I only applied for one position in my professional career—all the other positions were referrals or chefs contacting me directly. In essence, travel created a network for me.


Lobster Salad with Mango Recipe Cheffin Food-0018

Ingredients for 6 people:

6 cooked, shelled lobster tails

12 cooked, shelled lobster claws

6 cherry tomatoes

6 finely shredded romaine lettuce leaves (mesclun greens are a good substitute)

2 ripe mangos

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and black pepper mill to taste

Optional: chopped black truffles




Place the shredded romaine in the center of a large plate.

Slice the lobster tails and arrange attractively on the romaine.

Decorate the lobster tails with the mango sauce.

Finally, add the lobster claws with the point facing upward and add the cherry tomatoes and a sprig of chives.

To make the sauce:

Remove the stone and skin from the mango and cut the flesh into pieces.

Puree in a blender and drizzle in the oil with the motor running.

Add sherry vinegar to taste.

Season with salt and pepper mill.


Stir in a little sour cream or plain yogurt to the sauce for added creaminess and an extra sharp flavor.


A little extra on the side… I asked Brendan what his cooking tips are for those who are still learning their way around the kitchen. “Do not be intimidated by what is on TV reality shows. It’s television and supposed to be sensational. Use these shows as an inspiration but not as self-judgment (e.g. “I could never do that!”). Begin cooking simple dishes using fresh, local ingredients for friends and family. Experiment with flavors, presentation styles, and plate designs/colors. Ask for feedback and take it graciously; then incorporate it and taste again. Learn the basic culinary techniques as they’re the pathway to understanding how food reacts during the cooking process. There is something to be learned from everyone. Be respectful of the entire kitchen team, including the dishwasher!”

To purchase Cheffin’ from Potatoes to Caviar, visit createspace for the paperback version, Amazon for the Kindle edition, or Lulu for a hardcover copy.