Raritan Avenue

Dinner and Art at Bridge Turkish Kosher

bridge restaurant people sitting at tables
My favorite restaurant is the Bridge Turkish & Mediterranean Grill (kosher) on Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. The staff makes me feel at home. The decor, inside and outside the restaurant, welcomes a painter — there is so much to paint! And I enjoy my food.

I asked a few friends: Have you eaten at the Bridge Restaurant in Highland Park? What is your favorite dish? Can you tell me what you like about the restaurant?

Here are the responses. I interspersed paintings of the restaurant:

“The food is always fresh and flavorful, the staff is very friendly and accommodating. Always a great experience. Favorite food: doner kebab. And the rice on the side is amazing.”

bridge restaurant exterior sidewalk with logo

“Always consistently good! they allow you to enjoy your meal–you never feel pressured to rush. Friendly service and knowledgeable wait staff.”

bridge turkish restaurant kosher watercolor

“The food is always fresh, at the right temperature. The staff does not try to rush you and the decor is absolutely perfect…”

kosher bridge interior details gouache

“I particularly enjoy the lentil soup, Mediterranean salad, tahini and their bread is amazing!”

bridge restaurant interior

“Love the stuffed roasted eggplant! Rice is amazing! Love the decor: all the vases, plates, etc. Love being greeted by Michael Garber!”

I hope you enjoy this series of paintings and sketches that I have done of the restaurant.

hanging flowers outside Bridge Turkish kosher restaurant
Outside the restaurant there is a little booth where one can be served and eat the delicious food. The hanging flowers are attractive and warm my heart.

Melting Candles, Daikons and Raritan Avenue

You plan, you plan and God laughs. I had certain ideas about how to focus this blog once I renamed it Sketching Out, but my mind is not there. So I apologize for the potpourri of this post.

• • •

I have some photos that are supposed to go with a post called Fermenting Daikons. What is a daikon? It is a strong and long white radish. I bought one for a dollar at the organic stand at the Highland Park Farmer’s Market. Here is one photo:
daikon radish

So you will have to come back to learn how to ferment a daikon. Hint: the only ingredients are water, sea salt and a daikon. Update: here is the post on how to ferment a daikon.

• • •

Last night we walked down Raritan Avenue (was it hundreds? or thousands? Probably close to one thousand) in support of Israel. It was a peaceful march. Lots of smiles, some hugging, parents of IDF soldiers (yes, we have quite a few in this community) glad to receive support. In the short rally at the end, one of the topics mentioned was the appreciation that the U.S. Congress has given funding for the Iron Dome, and how local groups such as NORPAC have played an important role in meeting with senators and congressman to get funding for the Iron Dome.
walk for Israel on Raritan Avenue

soldiers we hug you
The sign reads (in Hebrew, loosely translated by me) “Soldiers of the IDF, we hug you from a distance!”

rally for Israel
Thank you to the owners of the old Y property who allowed us to use the space for a few speeches, including a moving one about a soldier (a family member of the speaker) who had just been killed while on duty.

You can watch a video of walkers down Raritan Avenue in support of Israel in this nine minute video by Gary Leslie.

When I posted some photos on Facebook, I had a few people in Israel thank me. But all I did was post a few pictures … I don’t have to go and dodge missiles every time a siren goes off. My friends and family in Beit Shemesh have been going to the shelter perhaps five times a day? But that is nothing compared to those who live in the south of Israel. People who are handicapped just have to stay in the shelter. Or pray the missile won’t hit them.

• • •

“What can I do?” seems to be on the mind of many. Here is a guest post on my friend’s A Mother in Israel blog with 21 Ways to Help Israel. Personally, I decided to give to the Lone Soldier organization because I know too many lone soldiers (a Lone Soldier is someone who serves in the IDF and whose immediate family does not live in Israel). And then because one of my friends in Israel recommended it, I also sent a donation to A Package From Home.

Excerpt from a note by a friend in Beit Shemesh (who grew up in Edison, NJ): “The situation here is very tense. Everyone knows someone who is down in Gaza fighting for us. Everyone has experienced a Tzeva Adom (Red Alert) at least once in the past few weeks. Everyone is on edge about possible kidnaps, airstrikes, and the war. Despite all this, life goes on here. People still go to work and sit in the same boring meetings, kids still go to the parks, people still go shopping, and see movies. Life must continue here or the Terrorists win.”

Umbrellas Watercolor

Umbrellas, watercolor on paper by Leora Wenger, 2013
Umbrellas, watercolor and gouache on paper by Leora Wenger, 2013

In continuation of a series of watercolors related to Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, here is my latest that I am calling: Umbrellas. I took at least ten photos of this watercolor painting in different light until I picked one that was closest to the image. It still had a little too much blue, so in Photoshop I slightly decreased the balance of blue. The idea of the painting was to emphasize the color of the umbrellas and the wetness of the day. The people are just busy.

You can see the original sketch for this painting and a previous watercolor of Raritan Avenue here. I actually rephotographed that painting and posted a new version.

The brighter less opaque colors in the watercolor on this page are done in gouache. I posted a detail of this painting last week on Google+. Go ahead and Plus One my watercolor Google+ posting, if you like.

Umbrellas on Raritan Avenue

Umbrellas of Raritan Avenue, watercolor by Leora Wenger
Umbrellas of Raritan Avenue, watercolor by Leora Wenger, 2013

I have mixed feelings about my art work lately; it takes me a long time to do a painting, then I don’t care for my execution of the painting. But I am attracted to my original idea of Umbrellas on Raritan Avenue. So today in my art group I started a drawing for another painting, this time with a close up detail of the umbrellas:

umbrella drawing Raritan Avenue

My photos come out darker than the original, and despite playing a bit in Photoshop, it’s still too dark. But I like this composition. I won’t give up – maybe at some point I’ll say, yeah, that’s where I was aiming.

Here I am, posting rain imagery on a day that it snowed. Ah, well, snow is another subject to tackle.

Review with Street Fair

Highland Park Street Fair 2013 - umbrellas in the rain
Highland Park Street Fair 2013 – umbrellas in the rain

Despite the rain, people wandered down Raritan Avenue last Sunday exploring the booths, talking to vendors and meeting friends. Maybe I’ll use this as inspiration for a watercolor – I love the colorful umbrellas.

On My Blog

boy with fisherman red azalea in bloom Boy and man fishing by the Raritan River, drawing in colored pencils 2013 by Leora Wenger

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

As an experiment, I wrote this post before I left for Israel, left it as a draft in my WordPress backend, and published it via my iPad mini while visiting Israel. Hope to publish some posts with Israel pics soon.

Mayor of Highland Park is Affirmed

polos, cheryl minkoff, gary minkoff affirmed as mayor
Gary Minkoff is Affirmed as the new Mayor of Highland Park

On Tuesday night Highland Park, New Jersey was sworn in affirmed – Mayor Gary Minkoff. I say affirmed because when past mayor now freeholder James Polos (on the left in the photo) said to Gary, do you solemnly swear, Gary corrected him and said “affirm.” I suspect this is for religious reasons, as Jews have strict rules about when we can “swear.”

Elsie Foster-Dublin and Steve Nolan
Elsie Foster-Dublin, Councilperson and Steve Nolan, former Mayor

When Elsie Foster-Dublin (above left) was sworn in, she clearly said, I “solemnly swear.” Outgoing mayor Steve Nolan is pictured on the right. Twice in the evening he got a standing ovation for his work as mayor.

“I promise I will have everyone out of here by Friday.”

Thus began Gary as he gave an (acceptance?) speech on Tuesday night. And thus I will state that I can’t repeat everything everyone said that night, but I want to summarize a few of the annual reports. Another point about Gary (you can find him selling cheesecake on this post – he is multi-talented; and marching in the Memorial Day Parade here) is he likes to tell jokes, to be personable, to make people feel comfortable. It should be interesting having him as our mayor.

A few highlights of the Annual Reports

Each councilperson talked about their areas, and I will state briefly some highlights.
Padriac Millet: Padriac talked about Raritan Avenue area improvements, such as rain gardens (? not sure what they are but we will find out) and living room areas (glass tiles, benches, lampposts, streetscape) and 75 new trees. There were also new regulations such as curb rules that caused delays in construction.
Elsie Foster-Dublin: After twelve years there is finally a traffic light at the corner of Duclos Lane. The Senior Center has some great programs, including Chinese. Because of budget cuts, Sunday hours have been eliminated at the Senior Center. The library has shown an increase in programs and may be receiving new fiber optic connection (I remember how slow my connection became as I gave my recent talk about Facebook).
Jon Erickson: Jon oversees the Highland Park Environmental Commission, Shade Tree Committee and Public Works. Highland Park now recycles once per week, and from this, the borough earns $35 per week (did I get that right? That doesn’t sound like a lot). One can now recycle pizza boxes and rigid plastics like laundry baskets. He also mentioned some Meadows trails repairs.
Gayle Britt Mittler: Gayle talked about all the wonderful volunteers she has on her committees, like the Health and Welfare and the Board of Health. An anti-fracking resolution was passed by the Board of Health. The Human Relations Commission and the Food Pantry were also active; the Food Pantry may soon be able to stock meat in addition to the current soups and vegetables.

A bit of Gary’s remarks

Gary Minkoff talked about how Highland Park, Michigan had to remove street lights because of budget cuts, but Highland Park, New Jersey has managed financially, with budget cuts, even in these difficult economic times. Gary made it clear that he is a product of the public schools, and he supports the public schools. He also thanked the first responders (police, fire, first aid squad), mentioned a possible business breakfast and teen advisory council, and he said, we need focus. We can’t do anything without focus.

And with that, class is dismissed from reading this long post.

Broken Glass and a Vandal is Arrested

smashed window in Highland Park, New Jersey
Photo by Mason Resnick: Smashed window of Park Place in Highland Park, New Jersey

Yesterday a friend posted online that she had just finished reading The Book Thief and then she discovered five Jewish businesses in Highland Park had their windows smashed overnight. Shortly thereafter Mason Resnick posted these Kristalnacht like photos on Facebook. The end of the story was a disturbed individual was arrested.

I will be visiting the Judaica Gallery today because I need to make a purchase for my daughter – at least those of us that are local can support the businesses that were targeted. Rutgers Hillel and Chabad in New Brunswick also were targeted with smashed glass, as well as the restaurant Maoz. The Highland Park businesses were Jerusalem Pizza, Park Place, Judaica Gallery, Trio Gifts and Jack’s Hardware. Maybe I should go buy some light bulbs at Jack’s.

A big thank you to the Highland Park police for their quick and decisive action regarding this crime.

Update: A Letter from Mayor Steve Nolan (it ends with: “As a community, we are much stronger than a pane of glass could ever be.” – bravo)

Update: An excerpt from a letter from Rutgers Hillel director Andrew Getrauer:

Wednesday morning at 2 AM a Jewish Rutgers student, very
involved in Hillel, was at the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts in Highland Park,
when a man approached him and started a conversation about Jewish
issues. He identified himself as Jewish. This deteriorated into a rant
where the man also declared himself a neo-Nazi and told the student he
should be in a camp and killed like his ancestors, and that he would
start a ‘second Kristalnacht.’ At this point the Dunkin Donuts staff
threw the man out of the store.

Wednesday morning Highland Park woke up to find 5 Jewish-owned
stores with windows broken; 2 Judaica stores, 2 kosher restaurants, and
a hardware store owned by an Orthodox man. A Jewish-owned falafel
restaurant in New Brunswick was also targeted. Hillel staff contacted
the student who had encountered the man at Dunkin Donuts and made sure
he was in touch with police. Hillel staff contacted the ADL and New
Brunswick police to help connect the dots between the various incidents.
There was wide spread anxiety throughout the local community, expressed
thru constant phone calls, emails, Facebook and twitter messages. To
give you a sense of the feeling at the time, people were calling it
“Kristalnacht in New Jersey.”

More details were reported in the Star Ledger, New Jersey Jewish News and other press.

Review with Raritan Ave Detail

detail from Raritan Avenue watercolor
Detail from watercolor of Raritan Avenue

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere

  • Margo Young has a blog about her book, A Voyage Through Time. She left Germany in 1938.
  • In memory of Hannah Katsman’s father, here is a post she wrote in 2008 about her father: Holocaust Remembrance Day: One Family’s Story.
  • Rayna Eliana is often reviewing books that I would like to read, and here is one: Review – The Island Within (three generations of a Jewish family as their lives lead them from Vilna, Lithuania to America).
  • Ilana-Davita reviews The Pity of It All (informative account of German Jewish history from the arrival of Moses Mendelssohn in Berlin to Hitler’s being appointed chancellor).
  • I bet my husband would love this Lemon Pie. Oh, my daughter might enjoy it, too. By the way, I’m hosting the next Kosher Cooking Carnival (submit your posts here).

Raritan Avenue Watercolor

Raritan Avenue watercolor
My watercolor is of Raritan Avenue, between North Third and North Second Avenues. One of the stores is Jerusalem Pizza. The one on the end, by the big tree, used to be Charlie Brown’s, which went out of business. A new restaurant appears to be opening in its place. Here is a sketch I did prior to this watercolor.

Raritan Avenue Photo + Drawing

Raritan Avenue, Highland Park - photo on top of drawing
A continuation of my Raritan Avenue studies – here is a photo on top of a drawing. I worked on adding watercolor to the drawing today. I plan to post the watercolor in the middle of this week.

raritan avenue in black and white
This is same as above, converted to black and white. One can see the lamppost in the drawing doesn’t match with the photo – no matter, it matches in the “finished” watercolor.