Tag Archives: NJ

What The Farm Cooking School’s Relocation Means for You


Don’t worry. Your drive’s probably even shorter than it was. And with that convenience comes even more incentive to grab your apron and put those new knife skills to the test.

By Kendra Lee Thatcher

Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman, our trusted guides in this bountiful but sometimes-confounding new landscape.

While you were having a good ol’ time last month, what with all the eggnoggin’ and mistletoin’, one of our most creative and entertaining kitchens picked up and moved about 15 minutes downriver. News of The Farm Cooking School’s relocation to Gravity Hill Farm in Titusville, New Jersey, came as a bit of a surprise. Its chef/owners, Ian Knauer and Shelley Wiseman, appeared to be planting roots at Tullamore Farms, with talk of additional Airbnb rentals there and programming that catered to those overnight guests.

Gravity Hill, though, offers what Tullamore could not: a more central location. Lambertville (and New Hope) sits about 10 minutes to the north and I95, about 10 minutes to the south. There’s also a larger movement unfolding there, in which The Farm Cooking School will be playing a prominent role. Whereas, at Tullamore, Knauer and Wiseman were the farm’s one and only draw, for the most part. Coinciding with the move, Roots to River Organic Farm is taking over Gravity Hill’s fields and its onsite weekend market, where Knauer and Wiseman will be selling prepared foods. (Roots to River owner Malaika Spencer is a former Gravity Hill apprentice.) The impetus for all of this? A new facility called The Barn at Gravity Hill, which’ll be used for workshops and retreats with the aim of turning the farm into a sort of locally-grown hub.

Knauer started The Farm Cooking School about four years ago. From its inception, he and Wiseman nurtured a loyal following of aspiring cooks and enthusiastic eaters through a user-friendly—actually, friendly, period—approach to locally sourced cooking that preaches fundamental techniques and constant enjoyment. Their quaint teaching kitchen at Tullamore became known, through both an extensive roster of classes and regular dinners, as the place to savor elevated food of almost every kind in decidedly unpretentious ways.

Most of us have entered this brave new world through a farmers market only to then discover we’re pretty much on our own to piece the rest of it together. Sure, there’s no shortage of blogs, cookbooks and shows, but little of it is personalized to our experience, living here in this moment, and none of it is interactive. Which makes Knauer and Wiseman practically necessary, whether you’re simply curious (craft an authentic French brunch) or all-in (butcher a side of venison and make terrine with it). And now, with some breathing room, you can expect the subjects and dinners to only become more adventurous—Northern Central European cooking, real-time recipe testing. After all, this is unchartered territory.

Photos courtesy The Farm Cooking School / Guy Ambrosino



Drink Like You Know


A rash of craft distillers is now freckling our region, all of them making some truly elevated hooch. Reforms passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 and in Jersey in 2013 ignited a small-batch spirits boom, the likes of which our region hasn’t seen since the halcyon days before Prohibition, or even much further back in some areas.

You’ve likely heard of (and probably tried) the first to bear fruit—Dad’s Hat, in Bristol; HEWN, in Pipersville; Manatawny, in Pottstown—now the established guard of the movement. But the landscape’s filled in around them over the last year or two. Whiskey, vodka, rum, even if you’ve been a lifelong drinker of one or the other, this latest generation of artisans is finding its niche in nuance, crafting variations that are, in equal shares, truer to form and far more exotic than anything you’ve tasted before.

With some long, gray months ahead of us, the time’s come to meet the most appetizing of these new makers. After all, their spirits may become our sole salvation.

By Scott Edwards

Eight Oaks Craft Distillers | New Tripoli

After a 25-year career in the military and far too many nights spent away from his family, Chad Butters’ retirement plan was purely personal in its inception: Run a family business. Nearly a year in, Eight Oaks is, above all else, just that. His daughter oversees the tasting room, where his son tends bar. Her husband is the master distiller. His sister is the distillery’s attorney. And her husband, Jesse Tyahla, is Butters’ partner. (It took me a few passes, too.)

In the waning months of his service, Butters and Tyahla attended distilling workshops at Michigan State and Cornell universities and toured about 25 distilleries. Then, they interned at another in Spokane, Washington. When they returned home, full of confidence, Butters and his wife promptly sold their home and bought a farm, where, in short order, they began growing grain—wheat, rye and barley, along with corn—and constructed the distillery.


WHAT THEY MAKE Vodka, gin, rum and applejack (In the works: rye whiskey, bourbon, aged applejack and spiced and aged rums.)

THE LOWDOWN What you get in Eight Oaks is a self-contained process steeped in tradition. “Really, for us, it’s back to that whole concept of grain to glass,” Butters says. “That sounds simple. And it sounds a little bit like a marketing term. In reality, the application is exceptionally difficult.”

With so many variables at play in the distillation, not to mention the farming, Butters defers to the historical precedent as often as it’s appropriate. And science when it’s not. In fact, the very first spirit that came out of Eight Oaks’ still was a nod to the craft’s history.

As rum grew scarce during the Revolutionary War, farmers stumbled upon applejack, which Butters describes as “the original American spirit.” It’s basically fermented cider—that grew more potent as the winter wore on and the farmers removed the ice. When we talked, Butters was favoring a far more subdued version, an applejack hot toddy, as a cold remedy.


Skunktown Distillery | Flemington, NJ

Like so many other great ideas, Skunktown Distillery was born during a liquor-fueled night around a bonfire. “I said, ‘We’re smart guys. Let’s figure out how to make this.’ We both kind of laughed it off,” Caine Fowler says, referring to himself and longtime friend Paul Hyatt. “The next morning, he called me up and said, ‘You know, you had a really good idea last night.’ I said, ‘No. That was a stupid idea.’ ”

Fowler (pictured, left) is an IT project manager in the pharmaceutical industry. He’s traveled all over the world for his work and drank just about everything there is to drink in the course of it. But Hyatt (pictured, right), a tile-setter, has the far more sophisticated palate between them. He comes from a long line of drinkers. Not happy-hour mainstays. Drinkers.

“He can say, ‘This is what’s good. This what’s pretty good,’ ” Fowler says, “Everything does the right thing to me but tastes kind of harsh.”

Once they began to realize just how well they complement each other, the idea of a distillery started to sound a lot less, well, drunken. They founded Skunktown in September 2015 but only received the last of their licensing this month. When you’re the first distillery to launch in the county in 200 years, the scrutiny’s relentless, apparently.


WHAT THEY MAKE Vodka, whiskey and rum. (They’re expecting the first bottles to be available by Christmas.)

THE LOWDOWN The official line: Fowler and Hyatt are aiming for simple and pure, just as they regard the town in which they both live and after which they named their distillery. That would be Sergeantsville, NJ, formerly known as—I kid you not—Skunktown. No one’s entirely sure why. The obvious answer seems to be the most plausible: Lots of skunks at an unfortunate time, when naming rights were still up for grabs. But I digress. They’re using basic, local ingredients, doing little to them and distilling in a copper still, which is the oldest way, and still the truest.

The unofficial line: These are two old drinking buddies basically egging each other on. (Read: This could get fun fast.) They’re already working through the recipe for a scorching pepper vodka. Fowler, a lover of all things spicy, grows the Carolina Reaper, the hottest variety there is. “But that’s not the recipe that’s going to be bottled,” he says. “Don’t worry.”


Boardroom Spirits | Lansdale

Boardroom launched 10 months ago as an escape plan from corporate life, fueled by a renewed appreciation in heritage. Brothers Marat and Vlad Mamedov are Armenian. Zsuzsa, Marat’s wife, is Hungarian. Both are strong brandy cultures. Trouble is, ours isn’t. Another obstacle: Distilling brandy isn’t as forgiving as distilling the likes of vodka, gin and whiskey.

“If you mess up picking the wrong fruit, if you mess up fermentation, if you mess up distilling, you’re pretty much done,” Marat says.

So they opted to build their brand with the basics and revisit the brandy in the near future, being the experienced strategists that they are. With the help of a distiller in Europe, they spent a year working through recipes—85 in all. Once they settled on a line, they hired a master distiller here. Marat, Vlad and Zsuzsa stick to their strong suit: managing the operation. If a single, prevailing thought came out of the recipe trials, Marat says, it’s this: What I like doesn’t really matter.


WHAT THEY MAKE Vodka (straight and infused), gin, rum and a beet spirit. (In the works: whiskey and brandy.)

THE LOWDOWN Precision-crafted. No eyeballing here. The Lansdale distillery is the North American showroom for Hagyo Distilling, a Hungarian manufacturer with a reputation for state-of-the-art innovation. Where most small-batch makers will build their brand around the handcrafting, not here; everything’s fully automated.

Boardroom’s aim is to cherry-pick spirits from all over the world and turn them into household names here. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re very precise in our distillation process”—it came up more than once—”so that they ring true to the category,” Marat says.

Example A: Their beet spirit, which was introduced this fall. They hauled in 2,000 pounds of beets, ground them down, then fermented and distilled them like a brandy. It’s the first installment in their periodical table-themed series. Thus, the capital B on the label. Next up: apple (A) and carrot (C).

“We want to keep things simple and let pure, natural flavors shine through,” Marat says. “When it comes to crafting our spirits, it’s all about, how do we derive the flavor naturally?”


Thistle Finch Distillery | Lancaster

Curiosity compelled Andrew Martin to follow his friends into home-brewing. Soon after, he happened upon distilling, and he immediately understood why they were all so entranced. He dropped brewing then and there and started reading everything he could find on distilling.

Martin grew up in Lancaster County and moved back to Lancaster proper 16 years ago. Every distiller in this portfolio carries a profound appreciation for the craft’s roots and their regions, but only Martin’s built his own still from scratch. And he named his distillery after a bird that’s become synonymous with Lancaster. Among the countless hex signs that appear in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art, known as fraktur, you’ll often find a bird. That bird is a thistle finch, and it’s meant to represent happiness and good luck.


WHAT THEY MAKE White rye whiskey; black pepper rye whiskey; black coffee rye whiskey; straight, two-year-old rye whiskey; gin and vodka

THE LOWDOWN In case it wasn’t already obvious, Thistle Finch specializes in rye whiskey. The white rye whiskey, an unaged whiskey that Martin describes as “kind of like a high-class moonshine,” was the first spirit he bottled three years ago. Cut to present day, Thistle Finch just bottled a two-year-old, straight rye whiskey, becoming only the third distillery in Pennsylvania to offer it. “That’s definitely the biggest milestone since we opened,” Martin says.

“We’re doing rye whiskey because that would have been the historic spirit made here in eastern Pennsylvania,” he says.

Typically, farmers around here planted rye in the winter to help preserve the soil. As such, back in the day, it was the cheapest grain that distillers could get their hands on and why rye whiskey was so prolific. But those distillers fell off the map with prohibition. This latest boom has brought a new wave of them, but few are like Thistle Finch.

Martin may be a traditionalist at heart, but he’s not making a traditional rye whiskey. The standard recipe calls for 100 percent rye or two-thirds rye mixed with a third of corn. Thistle Finch is making its from 60 percent rye, 30 percent wheat and 10 percent malted barley, which is what’s referred to as a “high-wheat rye” by those in the know. The thinking behind the move is that, where rye possesses a dry, spicy flavor profile and corn is sweet, the wheat will introduce a smoother, more robust taste. Basically, your grandfather’s rye whiskey, this is not.


Photos (from the top): courtesy Eight Oaks Craft Distillers (2); Josh DeHonney; courtesy Boardroom Spirits; courtesy Thistle Finch Distillery


Built to Last


Tracey and Rod Berkowitz specialize in marrying centuries-old features with the vestiges of modern industry, creating a niche of the contemporary-farmhouse aesthetic that’s all their own. In their own home, it carries the added benefit of holding up to their young family.

By Scott Edwards
Photography by Josh DeHonney

Just inside the front door sits a small, square room—10 feet by 10 feet, maybe a bit more. It’s part of the home’s original, 1,200-square foot footprint, which dates back to 1794. To the left, there’s a considerable fireplace. The rear opens to the wide-open addition Tracey and Rod Berkowitz added seven years ago. But the eye settles on the circle of four low-slung lounge chairs in the center of the room. It’s here where Tracey and Rod will settle in at the end of another relentless day, the kids in bed, the only light coming from the crackling fire in front of them. It’s also where their guests, during parties, will play a discreet game of musical chairs.

In a home filled with interesting nooks and features, this little room is Tracey’s favorite place to be, as much for its intimate nature as its unexpected presence. This is what they do. They reimagine the home. They source unusual furniture and accessories from all over the world—crank tables from England, large Moroccan pillows, a quilted-linen wing chair, huge oil paintings on reclaimed metal—that make little sense until they’re seen through the filter of their Lambertville, New Jersey, shop, Zinc Home. There, a raw, urban energy amplifies the familiar modern-farmhouse aesthetic, sharpening splintered, worn-down corners to a precise edge. And they approach their home with the same audacity.

It still needs to be practical

Over the course of a single month late in the summer of 2002, Tracey and Rod moved into their home in Sergeantsville, NJ, a few miles north of Lambertville, got married and opened their store (in New Hope, originally). It was owned by a realtor who, at least, restored the original, wide-plank pine floors that were painted blue by the previous owner.

“We loved the charm of it, but it was a beater,” Tracey says. “The outside needed so much work. It was a hideous mint green. It was peeling. But, I don’t know, as soon as we walked in, we knew this was the house that we had to live in.”

Tracey became pregnant with their first child, Noah, the following summer, and once he grew into a toddler, they finally started to feel the pinch of their precious little house on the prairie. When Tracey became pregnant with their second, Piper, in 2007, it was either move or grow the house. Piper was born in June 2008. They broke ground on an 1,800-square foot addition—about a third larger than the home itself—that November. And it was completed by her first birthday.

The two-story addition extends from the rear of the original home. On the outside, a porch wraps around the front of the home and its south side, erasing any noticeable division between old and new. Inside, two large, open rooms comprise the new space, the living room downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs, which is separated from the en suite bathroom by a partial wall, the only interior wall, really, in the entire addition.

Tracey and Rod knew exactly what they wanted it to look like before a blueprint was even rendered. “And then we worked with our contractor to tweak some things that we thought would be one way and ended up being another,” Tracey says. “But, overall, it’s pretty much like a rectangle.”

They needed the space. But they also seized the opportunity to mold the home into their own shape. The reclaimed wood beams and exposed, raw-side pine that form the ceiling grid (and tie the old in with the new) juxtapose the concrete floor in the living room. The rear walls of the entry and dining rooms in the original home were removed, turning those spaces into extensions of the addition and, in turn, creating the illusion that they’re a bit larger than they actually are. Basically, all of the old was preserved and made practical again, while the addition afforded them new leeway, physically and aesthetically.

“We love industrial,” Tracey says. “But, we wanted to make sure that we could keep that [farmhouse] vibe and not have it look too country—even though we do live in that kind of house.”

With the store as a fallback and a couple whose tastes are constantly evolving, it’s easy to envision a high turnover rate for the furnishings, but the opposite is closer to the truth. Relatively little has changed from the initial installation.

“We spent more money and more time to find just the right pieces, instead of just trying to decorate because we had the space to decorate,” Tracey says. “I get bored with how things are merchandized,” so the accessories are shuffled often. But the furniture—“actually, we’ve had three couches so far,” she says and then laughs at the realization.

The newest couch was found at the Brimfield Antique Flea Market. It’s a French frame upholstered in Japanese denim.

“I just love it. But the cushions are all down and it’s super-uncomfortable,” Tracey says. “But I love the couch so much that I’m willing to suffer.”

She is not willing to suffer for it, or any other piece of furniture, for that matter.

“It’s on my to-do list, to make sure I get those stuffed, because then it’ll be super-comfortable and we can go back to where I sit here and Rod sits over there,” on the other sofa, which faces the French one from the other side of the coffee table. “I’m infringing on Rod’s sofa. He’s like, ‘This is my space. But because you had to have this uncomfortable sofa, you have to watch TV with me over here.’ And the kids don’t care. They love it over here,” on the French sofa.

How much, I ask, do two young kids, now 12 and 8, influence what you bring into the house?

“They don’t influence it at all. Like, I don’t care what they think,” Tracey says, laughing with me at her bluntness. Sarcasm tends to not be read as well as it’s heard, so I feel obligated to note that she’s kidding. “Our house is not a museum. The kids are allowed to lay all over everything. The dogs”—there are two of them, both around 85 pounds each—“lay all over the sofas. It’s a totally livable space, which is why I think the kids like it. We don’t put restrictions on them at all.

“However,” she adds, “they do know that, I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the business, they do know that they have to be respectful of the stuff that we have, that stuff costs money, that we look for stuff that’s really special that we may never be able to replace if it was ruined. As with anything, I don’t let them sit on the back of the sofa because they shouldn’t be doing that with anybody’s sofa.”

Later, Noah comes downstairs to alert Tracey that he’s due at soccer practice soon. He’s polite and personable. He stays with us for the next half-hour or so, while we finish talking and Tracey shows me around upstairs. Throughout, he’s wearing his neon-green Nike soccer spikes. Tracey never flinches.

The thrill of the hunt

When you work long hours, six days a week, in an industry as finicky and aloof as theirs, inspiration dries up fast. So it’s not unremarkable that Tracey and Rod’s home remains a wellspring of it for them. There are two reasons for that, Tracey says. One, it took them a long time to arrive here. And two, the home, in her eyes, is still very much a work in progress. The kitchen, an addition somewhere around the middle of the last century, appears next in line. They recently covered the north wall, floor to ceiling, in white subway tile with dark gray grout. Changed the complexion of the room entirely, Tracey says. She fantasizes openly now about replacing the cabinets with a sleek, modern kind.

This is not a couple, though, that loses itself every weekend in renovation projects. The home, after all, isn’t going anywhere. And Tracey feels that in order for them to remain relevant (and feed their insatiable addiction to design), they need to be closer to the action. So, they make regular trips to New York for two, three days at a time—kids in tow.

“I just want them to appreciate what we do,” she says. “A lot of people, their parents leave for work, they don’t know what they do. But my kids have to live with what we do. At times, it stinks for them. I want them to understand that it’s hard. Like, the things that we bring into the store and the things that we bring into the house, we don’t just go to a store, normally, and buy them. We found it somewhere. It has a story.”

Sitting in one of those low-slung lounge chairs in the entry room, Tracey smiles at the memory of the late-night bidding war on eBay that played out before they finally secured them.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” she says. “Then we were like, ‘Oh, shit. I hope they’re nice.’ ”

Tracey insists that of their two kids, their daughter, Piper, is the clear favorite to follow in their footsteps, or at least, walk nearby. She’s creative and she’s already helping with the merchandizing in the store. But, “Noah won’t, for sure,” she says. “He wants nothing to do with it. He wants a nice house. He wants us to do it.”

My tour of the upstairs finishes in his bedroom. It’s the largest upstairs room in the original part of the house, but it’s modest by modern expectations. Still there’s room for a queen-size bed and a leather loveseat and a small table. The walls, up to about waist-high, are covered in square metal diamond plates, the kind you’d find on the floor of an exotic mechanic’s garage. But Noah’s grown out of them, and much of the rest of the motif—he’s 12, remember—so they’ll be coming down soon, likely with a lot of aggravation and cursing from Rod, who’ll be doing the prying. The bed was the first part of the makeover. Noah is filled with ideas for the rest of it.

“We’re gonna do a butcher-block desk. And we’re gonna mount my TV to the wall,” he says. “And we’re thinking of getting a—what’s that called?”

“An end table?” Tracey answers. “We’ll talk about that.”

“I could definitely design, like, boys’ rooms my age,” he says.

“Oh, really?” Tracey says with mock surprise. This is hardly the first time she’s heard this.

“Yeah. I’ll pay people. I’ll have people pay me. And I’ll design their rooms.”

Some of it appears to be sinking in, at least.




How to Not F*** Up Your Turkey

With the counsel of a few seasoned pros, we amp up the flavor (and the moistness) while also simplifying a notoriously overwrought recipe.

By Kendra Lee Thatcher

Thanksgiving 2002. My best friend, Lisa, introduces me to what will become my new holiday obsession. The evening is a perfectly orchestrated scene from Martha Stewart’s playbook. Summoned to the dinner table, we gather around the glistening turkey, a fire roaring behind us, Bruce Springsteen roaring over the fire.

Until tonight, I’d only known flavorless, white breast meat drowned in gluey gravy. With ninja-like swiftness and precision, Lisa grips a leg, rips it from the carcass, places it on my plate, then repeats the process and places the other on hers. Sisters in legs. Not really. I stare at mine for a good while, trying to figure out the best way (read: the least embarrassing way) to go about this. Finally, I look over at Lisa, who’s already polished off hers. No help there. Screw it. I pick it up and start gnawing away like I’m at Medieval Times. The skin, caramelized and crisp, seduces me at first bite. The dark meat’s so, so moist and laced with herbs, nutmeg and orange. This is what turkey’s supposed to taste like?! How did I make it into adulthood without realizing this?

Every year since, I’ve had dibs on the leg. It won’t be so clear-cut this year, though, because I’ll be playing the role of Lisa for the first time. Those legs aren’t naturally that moist, and nutmeg-y and citrus-y. Which means I’m in trouble. So I called around and asked a few friends who should know, flat-out, “How do I not f— up my turkey?” The following is the step-by-step plan I assembled from their advice and tested during a recent trial run.

Step 1: Buying
Convenient as those massive grocery store-birds are, shell out for a fresh, local, heritage turkey. They tend to be smaller and more manageable.

“The smaller the bird, the less time in the oven. The less time in the oven, the juicier the meat,” says Ian Knauer, who established The Farm Cooking School in Stockton, New Jersey.

I bought an 11-pound, Lancaster-raised turkey at None Such Farm Market in Buckingham. I had it quartered, based on the recommendations of Emily Peterson, the host of “Sharp + Hot” on Heritage Radio, and Matthew Martin, the owner/chef of More Than Q BBQ Company. The butcher broke down my bird into two breast-wing and leg-thigh segments, bones-in, skin-on and odds and ends packaged to make stock with.

Step 2: Prepping
Pour yourself a glass of wine. Proceed.

I’m a fan of adding fat under the skin. So when Ian reiterated this, I felt completely validated. I mashed up zesty-herb butter and massaged it into the meat. But I didn’t stop there. I then slathered the reserve fat from smoked bacon all over the skin and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Also: “Lightly trussing the quarters will ensure the skin stays on and the juices stay in,” Matthew says.

I mixed brandy, fresh orange juice and star anise to roast and baste the turkey in. I picked that little cocktail up from Diana Paterra, the owner/chef of DeAnna’s Restaurant and Bar in Lambertville, NJ, and now I’ll never use another.

Step 3: Roasting
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In two large roasting pans, place a “veggie rack” comprised of carrots, parsnips, onions and citrus and cover it with a bed of herbs. Add your breasts to one pan and the legs to the other. Pour the brandy-OJ-star anise mixture evenly over both pans and then stick them, uncovered, in the oven.

Step 4: Timing
Never—seriously, nev-er—lose track of your bird. Roasting it hot and fast is the way to go, but it requires constant attention. It’ll take about 30 to 40 minutes for the turkey to turn golden brown, which seals in those juices that make so much of the difference between a remarkable turkey and a blah bird. (Note: The breasts will cook about 10 minutes faster than the legs.) At that point, pull the pans from the oven and brush the turkey with the drippings. I then reduced the heat to 375—my oven runs a little hot—and basted every 20 to 30 minutes for the next hour or so.

In an hour and 45 minutes, my turkey had hit the sweet spot—crispy on the outside, tender on the inside—so I slid it out and let it sit for another 45 minutes, as per Diana’s counsel. From there, I sliced it up with an extremely sharp knife, as per Emily’s counsel, arranged the pieces on a platter and drizzled them with the remnants of drippings.

I still reached for the leg out of instinct, but, really, there was no boring bite with this turkey. And that’s not to say that I’ve mastered Thanksgiving. The turkey, it turns out, is actually a very small piece of that headache. But, dismantling the intimidation was as critical as any step in this, ultimately, fairly simple recipe.

Function Follows Form


Bethlehem-based fashion designer Lauren Midlam is nurturing a devout following through her subtle-but-empowering collections.

By Sean Downey


Butter Knit Ruched Dress in sapphire, $218, and Butter Knit Wrap in blue topaz, $198

Caught between Philadelphia and New York, as we are, it’s easy to fall into the trap that stipulates that all forms of modern culture—music, cooking, fashion, for starters—worth serious consideration must be tethered to one or the other. Sure, that once held. But this is a different day. And Lauren Midlam is walking proof.

After more than a decade spent working with fashion industry giants American Apparel, St. John Knits and Urban Outfitters, she founded her own women’s clothing label, LM StyleBar. In Bethlehem.

Classic Window Pane Dress in navy and carbon, $328

Her focus, when she launched in 2012, was online sales, namely because it didn’t require much infrastructure. But the Internet has never served subtlety particularly well. “I found out it was hard to gain traction that way because consumers couldn’t touch and feel the fabric and fit, which are two of the biggest differentiating factors in my clothes,” Midlam says.

LM StyleBar’s collections are built around tailored, minimalist, foundational pieces—dresses, pencil skirts, jackets—that can be seamlessly incorporated into a wardrobe and just as easily become its staples. “I use a lot of standard colors and clean lines that stand the test of time,” Midlam says, “so when you buy something in one season, you can match it with something from the next.”

Like life in general, the fashion houses with the brashest patterns and most aggressive silhouettes tend to receive most of our attention. But to truly appreciate Midlam’s designs, we need to run our fingers down a blazer’s silk charmeuse lining and eye up the princess seams, or notice the total lack of a side seam in a pencil skirt. All of it is a study in subtly. The results, though, are anything but: fabric that caresses you skin and forms that look downright bespoke.

Ponte Knit Classic Dress with three-quarter sleeves in carbon, $325.

Which is to say Midlam’s fortunes changed dramatically once her label started getting picked up by local boutiques.

“Fabric plays a huge role in an item’s look and a wearer’s attitude,” says Midlam, who likes to mix silk with synthetic fibers, like viscose and spandex. Together, they mold to a figure and then move, fluidly, with it. Which seems to be emboldening said figures in ways once reserved for those sporting oversized, gold Gucci clasps and screaming Dolce & Gabbana prints. “My customers,” she says, “have been requesting larger and larger sizes, which tells me that they appreciate clothes that show off their curves.”

Imagine that: Fashion that enhances self-image, instead of masking it.

You can find LM StyleBar at BOUTIQUETOGO in Allentown, AMLuxe in Bethlehem, Intrigue Fine Apparel in Buckingham, Apropos in Norristown and Hedy Shepard in Princeton, New Jersey, as well as online at lmstylebar.com.

Portrait by Jennie Finken; Fashion details courtesy LM StyleBar



Weeds of Change


At the forefront of the wild food movement, lawyer turned forager Tama Matsuoka Wong is turning weeds into a thriving business and a way of life.

By Jessica Downey • Photography by Josh DeHonney


Tama Matsuoka Wong was an international financial services lawyer for decades, working in major urban centers like New York City and Hong Kong for 25 years, but when she and her husband Wil decided to move to New Jersey in 2002, near where she grew up in Princeton, Wong was prepared for her life to change course. She wanted lots of land and big sky, so they bought a house on 28 acres in Flemington.


With all that open space, for first time in her adult life, Wong tried to grow a vegetable garden. What she got instead was a tangle of uninvited weeds and roots, which ended up being her ultimate good fortune. “Friends tried to show us how to grow tomatoes and vegetables, and everything died. I had a black thumb. We eventually found out we lived on a clay flood plain and all we could grow was weeds,” Wong says. “I tried to get rid of them, but I found that it was a losing battle.”


When she enlisted her Japanese father for help removing the weeds, she was surprised at his reaction—he couldn’t believe her luck. One of the weeds she wanted removed was chickweed, one of Japan’s “seven treasures,” known as hakobera, which can be delicious when prepared properly. Wong started scouring the Web and bookstores for recipes, but most books and blogs she found suggested boiling them three times to get out the bitterness, so she went in search of a more refined understanding.


One night, in 2009, she brought some of her chickweed and other “twigs” with her to Daniel, the four-star Michelin-rated restaurant in New York City known for its inventive vegetarian cuisine. The head chef, Eddy Leroux, was delighted by her offerings and asked her to return with more, as well as roots and any other wild plants she found on her land.


These weeds were valuable, she soon learned, a discovery that coincided with the early days of the foraging movement, which was quickly gaining speed and momentum. These kinds of ingredients were gaining prominence on the menus of fine dining restaurants from New York to Copenhagen, and her 28 acres of twigs, roots and leaves provided her with an opportunity to be on the forefront. Later in 2009, Wong started her own company, Meadows and More, with the primary goal of helping people turn their yards into more natural landscapes.


While the concept of foraging brings to mind images of scavengers or anthropological ancestors scouring the earth for food, a more culinary interpretation has led to a movement described by the iconic chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud as “harvesting the wild, ephemeral and rare flavors found in nature.” The movement has blossomed around the idea that we’ve been selecting plants for many generations that are increasingly high in sugar and starch and consistently lower in vitamins, fiber and minerals. Wild foods, foragers contend, are more nutritious and easy enough to find when you know what to look for.


A quick Google search will turn up plenty of resources and food blogs with ideas on cooking with foraged and wild foods, but when Wong made her discovery in 2009, books and sites to turn to for inspiration and advice were sparse.


“Publishers were looking for an American book,” Wong says. She obliged by writing a field guide/cookbook with Daniel’s Leroux called Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in Your Backyard or Farmer’s Market, which was published in 2012.


The book garnered plenty of attention and was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2013, which, of course, was a boost for her budding business. Today, she grows and cultivates weeds and wild plants on her land and land she leases from local farmers. Then she partners with restaurateurs and chefs, including Brick Farm Tavern partner/executive chef Greg Vassos, supplying them with the likes of garlic mustard and nettles and helping them develop flavor profiles for each plant.


It takes consistent trial and error to figure out what will grow, sell and taste good, but Wong says the experimental nature of her work is a thrill. “For every failure there’s this new and good thing happening,” Wong says. “I have relationships with conservation groups where I take things they don’t want, and I work with organic farmers. And it’s completely invigorating.”


[divider]Walk on the Wild Side— But Watch Where You Step[/divider]

If eating your weeds is more tempting than constantly battling them in your garden,  Wong offers some advice on how to start foraging. —JD


Look down. If you have a backyard or a vegetable garden, instead of throwing out something you don’t recognize or didn’t plant, take a closer look and try to appreciate it. I have a forum on my Web site (meadowsandmore.com) that lets you upload a picture, and we’ll identify it for you.


Start small. Try something you’re already familiar with, like a dandelion, and be patient.  Find out when its tenderness and sweetness peak. (Those initial leaves can be bitter and harsh.)


Get to know it. Engage with the plant and get to know it—it’s behavior and what you can do with it.


Don’t rule anything out. I came across some hickory bark. It looked like a house shingle, and I was like, Oh, great, bark. But to my surprise, my client came back and said it was amazing. He used it in shag bark/hickory bark ice cream, which tasted like smoky caramel.

This is Repurposing


Bret Cavanaugh’s scavenging verges on hoarding. But the things he’s crafting from that junk are remarkably original. And now, with the debut of his first furniture collection, he’s poised to redefine modern design, too.
By Scott Edwards


The furniture featured here, with the exception of the platter at the bottom, is part of Cavanaugh’s Trophy Series. Top: Cavanugh may not be the tallest guy around, but he carries a big chainsaw.

I’m not clear. Where is your workshop again?

“Do you know the Wine Hut?”

Got it now. Thanks.

There are still some addresses where GPS will betray you. Bret Cavanaugh’s workshop is one of them. Then again, mine could have led me right to his front door, and I’m still not sure I would have realized I’d arrived in the right place. It resides among a ramshackle storage facility just north of Frenchtown, New Jersey, where the storage units are old shipping containers. But even that conveys a degree of orderliness, which would be misleading.

I pull in, then back out, prepared to go where, I’m not sure, when Cavanaugh waves me down from behind an old, mostly-dismantled Toyota pickup that sits in front of his workshop.
Cavanaugh is wearing a T-shirt, shorts that extend below his knees and construction boots that are laced up well above his ankles. All of it is covered with blotches of stain and/or paint. As are his stubbled face, his arms and his hands.

He’s been here, in this space, for the last three years, but he’s been working on the property, on and off, since he started getting serious about making furniture, about 10 years ago. The front room is a large, wide-open setup that still manages to feel crammed with loose-end materials. It’s also where his tools and machines are, most of it relatively organized by contrast.
Cavanaugh leads me to the back, through a salvaged-wood door of his own creation, to a much smaller room that he’s using as a showroom for the time being. It’s furnished, mostly, with a few large pieces from his Trophy Series, which he crafted specifically for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center in May. He devoted himself to the collection for the better part of the last two years, and he’s just now, in late June, beginning to reclaim his life.

I’m having trouble digesting what I’m seeing, and it’s not just the suffocating heat. Everything I was exposed to up until this point indicated this was some sort of salvage yard. But the furniture in this room is right on the leading edge of modern—polished metal, sharp angles, abstract forms.

Cavanaugh is a compulsive scavenger. (And a bit of a hoarder.) Thus, the seven 40-foot shipping containers of his own, all filled to their capacity, clustered around the outside of the building. When he was starting out, it was the cheapest means by which he could source his materials. Along the way, it somehow became his signature.

“A lot of the stuff that I have comes with a story,” he says. “That’s kind of my thing.”

There’s an ingenious coat rack made from a bucket of crank arms he found on the side of the road and lithograph frames embellished with driftwood in an Etsy-ish riff. His is not a modern-farmhouse aesthetic. He’s not sanding, painting and reissuing. To call that repurposing against what Cavanaugh’s crafting is gross negligence.

That stuff, though, stands among but separate from the Trophy Series, his first collection crafted entirely from scratch. Still, the dining table, armoire, dresser and chandelier are clearly the next phase in the evolution of the same resourceful craftsman. The intricacy of the designs and the unorthodox juxtaposition of materials attest to a thoughtful, intensive process.
“What I try to do is make diamonds, make these pieces that are memorable but that capture something in somebody. Make them feel something,” Cavanaugh says. He talks quickly, his eyes widening and narrowing with his cadence. “I think 99 percent of people, even if they know furniture, they don’t know the depth of it.”
Not his, at least.


The Swiss-Army furniture maker

Cavanaugh doesn’t obsess over wood. (He’s got about a dozen logs behind his shop, and he plans to install a sawmill soon, but that has more to do with control and cost-efficiency than any kind of reverence.) Nor is wood his only medium. Or even his primary medium.

He grew up in Lambertville, NJ, around an antique car garage, built motorcycles for fun in high school, studied machinery, leatherwork, metal fabrication and welding. He also worked as a chef. (He built his own food truck.) And all of that experience and knowledge is applied regularly, often within a single piece of furniture. In fact, that’s what holds his attention, which is no easy task.

But what drives his designs is an ability he’s devoted no time to cultivating.

“I have a photographic memory, and I can mimic things really well,” Cavanaugh says. “That’s basically a huge portion of my skillset.”

He watches someone do something once, twice maybe, and he can put it into practice. That’s not to say that he’s an immediate expert; just a faster learner than most.
The bio on Cavanaugh’s Web site describes him as a “Hunterdon County native,” which struck me for some reason, probably because I’d never seen it phrased as such before.
“I think it was an important thing to say, as far as the tradition of the furniture,” he says.

Do you connect with that?

“Yeah. I connect with it a lot,” he says. “I have Phil Powell’s table saw in there. I have his lifetime collection of sea glass. I’m going to cast it into a table soon. And I have a couple of his tools.
“I get a lot of inspiration from Paul Evans and Phil Powell. They didn’t have any questions about what they were doing. They just did it. They didn’t look for any outside opinions.”


Living with his furniture
“This,” I say, “is the longest you seem to have stuck with anything. Does that mean you’re a furniture maker?”

“That’s a good question. That’s a really good question,” Cavanaugh says, slowly with the first sentence and slower with the second in that manner that it’s evident the observation is just occurring to him. Which surprises me, in turn, because we spent the previous 20 minutes talking through his plans for tomorrow, for the next few months and, potentially, the next few years. Don’t let the half-dozen shipping containers loaded with other people’s junk fool you. Cavanaugh knows what he wants and how to go about it.
“I’d like to do a food thing again,” he says. “And I’d like to design and build houses, modern spec houses, the same way I build furniture, with a hundred different materials and a hundred different finishes.”

You should probably build one for yourself first.

Turns out, he recently came across a home in nearby Milford that he could see making his own, retrofitting being a shorter path than building from a blueprint.
“It’s an industrial building. It looks like a house on the outside, but inside it has these 18-foot ceilings,” he says.

If he moves forward with it, the home would double as a showroom. He’s already plotting his first piece of furniture. Cavanaugh walks over to a corner of the front room where he’s amassed quite a collection of the rectangular shells for those old freestanding phone booths. “Where else do you see bent metal like this?” he says. There’s even more on the other side of the room. In all, there are probably 20 of them. His plan is to make a Herman Miller-style, wall-mounted shelving system with them. He’s going to weld them together, line them with mahogany shelves and affix doors to some. He wants the backlit strips across the top that say “phone” to light up again, too.

An homage, but very much a Bret Cavanaugh original.

All photos courtesy Bret Cavanaugh / Andrew Wilkinson

A Curated Life


Respected as they are for their style and their resourcefulness, Ginger Hall and David Teague are even more particular about what they bring into their Solebury home. The result is a pure extension of them.
By Scott Edwards  ·  Photography by Josh DeHonney

For the better part of an hour, the conversation comes easily as we move from room to room. Then we head outside to take advantage of the fading, unseasonable warmth, pull up chairs on the flagstone patio and start to play a game. The house is burning down. What are you saving? Silence. Punctuated by concerned looks.
In a town loaded with vintage, David Teague and his wife, Ginger Hall, are maybe its most widely revered collectors. Their scavenging’s taken them beyond the flea markets and estate sales across the Mid-Atlantic to some off-the-grid corners of Japan and Europe. His Lambertville, New Jersey, store, America Antiques & Design, has been a valuable resource for Ralph Lauren and his ilk for years. Ginger’s eye is just as keen. For a while, she stocked a corner of the store with dresses that were frequently cherry-picked by the bohemian label, Free People. Early last year, she took over the second floor and opened her own women’s boutique called Compromise Lodge.


They live across the river, along a pitched stretch of picturesque road in Solebury Township. “It’s a real farmhouse,” David says. Then he immediately clarifies himself. “It’s a farm worker’s house, as opposed to a plantation.” Relative to their neighbors’, it’s a small home. Relative to any home, it’s small. Two bedrooms, one bathroom. And, really, it’s one bedroom because Ginger’s claimed the other as her boudoir. But the physical limitations have only honed their resourcefulness. Nothing is an afterthought.
“I think because the house is so small, we both have a sensibility in editing,” Ginger says. “We buy things as we find them, not as we need them. We just learned that otherwise, you don’t get the right thing or you pay too much if you’re too eager to find it.”
“We’re afforded the luxury that we can always use the gallery as a way to feed this,” David says. Or purge it. “Someday next month, we may find a really cool pair of lamps and say, ‘Oh, my god. That would be even better in the kitchen. Let’s swap them out.’ We’ll take these lamps out, put them in the shop and make a profit on them.”
“It’s a small footprint-thing,” Ginger says. “I hate all those terms—I’m sorry to interrupt—but it is. When you really make a commitment to live small and kind of stick to it, that dictates everything you bring in and don’t bring in. Like, I sell clothes, but I can’t keep as many as I want. I don’t have the space. It’s a very thoughtful process. It’s nice if it’s made by someone you know or just handmade in general.”
They have a longtime writer friend who, on his last visit, said something that resonated with them: “I love your place. It’s so truthful.”

Quantifying the unquantifiable
Back to the fire’s-ravaging-the-home challenge. The trouble, it’s become apparent, is that they play this game all the time.
“It’s kind of our litmus test to bring something into the house,” David says. “It has to be that kind of thing that you would grab on your way, jumping out the window, if there was a fire. We have hundreds and hundreds of things in the store that obviously we’re drawn to, otherwise we wouldn’t have purchased them. Some of them, when you sell them, it’s hard to say goodbye. But the things that are here are the things that we couldn’t say goodbye to. So, that’s a tough question for us.”
“I’m really sentimental about stuff,” Ginger says. “There are so many things that, for different reasons, I feel very attached to.”
To define their criteria, once and for all, David says: “It doesn’t come home with us unless it’s really kind of special, and has a great story and it’s rare.”
Nonetheless, eventually, they come up with answers. Ginger names the steel lamps that David made that sit on their nightstands. He forged four altogether shortly after they bought the house about 15 years ago, reluctantly sold two of them for a huge price and promptly realized he’d never part with the other two, an instinct that’s only solidified since the death of the friend he made them with.
David leaves us and returns a moment later with the smallest shoe I’ve ever seen. “You love that shoe,” Ginger says to him. It’s a girl’s or a very petite woman’s brown leather shoe with a black, stacked-leather heel. David figures it’s about 125-years-old. Again, he reluctantly gave up its mate to a close friend who hounded him for it—and then turned around and sent it to John Galliano to get him to come to his show at New York Fashion Week. (It worked.)
Needless to say, Ginger and David don’t stop—can’t stop—there.

Fashion follows function
The boudoir may sound like an indulgence—and Ginger admits that she feels like it is—but the lone closet in the master bedroom is about a foot deep and a couple feet wide. David lined it with shelving and uses it to store his shoes and accessories. A narrow stairwell arrives at a two-foot by two-foot landing on the second floor. To the left, the bedroom. Straight ahead, the only bathroom. And to the right, the boudoir. Clearly, this is the only functional arrangement.
In lieu of closet space, there’s a massive “breakdown armoire” from Germany (named as such because it breaks down into several pieces) and a curvaceous Brazilian dresser in the bedroom that came in through a window with most of the rest of the furniture up here. In the boudoir, a stack of embossed leather suitcases from the thirties sits against the far wall. “My clothes are in there, yeah,” Ginger says. “It’s a commitment. But it feels normal, I don’t know.”
The mirror hanging over the vanity next to them is 18th-century Italian. The rest of the room is arranged just like a boutique, right down to the tall display case that houses her jewelry and the freestanding clothes rack. An S-shaped loveseat sits in the middle of the room. And a miniature, 19th-century Swedish chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Its partner hangs directly across the landing, over the bed from Buenos Aires.
Most of the dining room—for all intents, the home’s central throughway—is occupied by a dining table that David made from a 200-year-old board that once comprised half of a family bed in Burma. It’s bracketed on its two long sides by industrial-looking steel braces. On top sits a giant clam shell, which happens to store wine bottles nicely within the grooves of its opening. They can seat eight in here, David says, but it’s tight. They do most of their entertaining in the warm weather, when the patio and the studio are at their disposal.

Home away from home
Fond as they are of their home and its contents, Ginger and David are most comfortable in the former sculptor’s studio behind the home and, maybe even more so, in the intimate cove wedged between the two.
They planted pine trees on the one side when they first moved in that now stand 20 feet tall, easily. The ones on the opposite side grew on their own accord. They create the effect, along with the house and the studio on the other sides, of sealing the patio off from the outside world.
The fire pit at the center is a 19th-century Victorian flower urn that David found in Massachusetts. Scattered around it sit several white metal lounge chairs of various sizes and shapes. On top of a few of them are pillows made from stuffed old Japanese mailbags and German hops sacks. There’s a framed five-foot by five-foot white board attached to the backside of the house. Directly across the patio, a projector’s fixed in a studio window. It’s an easy scene to envision: balmy summer night, sparks floating up through the air, quiet conversation, the occasional burst of laughter, David’s arty movies playing in the background.
With its bank of salvaged windows spanning the entire far wall, the studio has the feel of a pavilion. It’s a long, wide-open space. To the right, a large projection screen, in front of which sits a midcentury modern-looking couch. Behind that is a comfy queen-size bed with a pillow-y, white down comforter. And behind that, now all the way on the far left of the room, is a big cast-iron, wood-burning stove. They just installed a heating and air conditioning system, but the lack of it was never much of a deterrent. “I’ll walk through the snow to come out here,” David says. “We don’t have a fireplace in the house, so I love having a fire.”
In the fall, when the apple tree just beyond the bank of windows is dropping apples faster than they can collect them, they’ll lie in that bed at night, the stove radiating a few feet away, and listen to the deer devour the apples littering the ground.
The building, David believes, was erected sometime in the thirties or forties and converted into a sculptor’s studio about 20 years later.
“I loved what this was,” David says, motioning over his right shoulder, to the house. “But this building,” nodding toward the studio, “is what really, really spoke to me. When I came out to Bucks County originally from Philly, I was drawn toward the architecture, toward the barns. I rented probably four or five different barns.”
Just as valuable as the aesthetic appeal was the space to set up a workshop to build his furniture and restore their home.
“This is like a 15-year project for us,” David says. “It’s a pleasure. It’s not a job … trying to improve upon it and respect the life that it had.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever be done, done, done. But I think we’re getting close,” he says. “I want to do a little bathroom [in the studio]. Eventually, in our retirement, [the studio] will be a complete home. And maybe we’ll rent one or the other. And then do some traveling and get away from some of these winters up here.”
“You don’t want any strangers [renting],” Ginger says to him.
“I don’t want any strangers,” David concedes. “It looks good on paper.”

The Curious Case of Benjamin Albucker


He can be hard to warm up to. And his Lambertville, NJ, shop isn’t that fashionable. But you don’t have to be a furniture geek to appreciate his genius.
By Scott Edwards  ·  Photography by Josh DeHonney

The morning after Benjamin Albucker showed me around his Lambertville, New Jersey, shop, he sends me the following text:


scott during my rant I should have been clearer on my taste/merchandise.
I primarily sell this:
Organic Design
EARLY Modern American Design, i.e. Early Herman Miller and Knoll
California Modern
Some radical Italian design
20th Century French Design
Hardly seen industrial: much of which comes from a close friend Leanne Lipston (INDDESIGN)


Albucker, obviously, is as particular about his perception as he is with his tastes. After eight months, he still hasn’t named his shop. And without a name, there can be no Web site, of course. “Well, that’s just because I’m nuts,” he says. “I can’t come up with a name. I want a name. I want a Web site. But I need a name before I can do a Web site. I’m not doing that to be hip. It’s screwing me a little bit. Not being on the Internet, I’m doing a lot less business.”
What to make of a shop that’s such a pure reflection of its owner, and that guy, he readily admits, can be difficult to embrace.
“I don’t think it’s something you want to write about,” Albucker says, “but I think I alienate people because, not just the prices being expensive, but it’s so specific, from my point of view, that certain people, not so many of them around here, understand it.”
His demeanor, during the afternoon I spent with him at his North Union Street shop, is straightforward, unsentimental, almost challenging at times. I felt like he was observing and gauging me as much as I was him. It can come across as youthful arrogance—Albucker’s not yet 30—but I think it’s more the default stance of someone who’s accustomed to proving himself in a world where knowledge and savvy are all you have. Even stripped of that context, this is a space filled with Albucker’s most prized possessions. Reject them and you reject him.
Albucker claims to me that the only reading he does is in relation to furniture and designers. He’s being self-deprecating. He may present a little rough around the edges—on this day, he’s wearing a thick beard, a charcoal Baja pullover and a baseball hat that’s been on his head every day for the last couple of years—but an email exchange over the weeks leading up to the interview impressed me with his intelligence, maturity and articulation.
“I’ve amassed a good amount of knowledge over the last eight or nine years, since I started buying stuff for my father’s store,” Albucker says. His father is Stewart Ross, who owns Bucks County Dry Goods. His shop is a couple blocks across town, and there are others in Princeton, NJ, and Old City. It’s through his father that Albucker learned how to forage flea markets and developed his taste in art. And it was while working for him that he honed the concept for his own shop. “I might do two or three sales in a week. I might do no sales,” Albucker says. “Like, if I sold this desk, it would pay my rent. I want to see if I can do this and make a living and build a brand with only what I like. I guess I’m stubborn that way.”
We’re standing over Milo Baughman’s iconic scoop chair, crafted in salmon-colored naugahyde. There were several iterations made across a few decades in the middle part of the 20th century, but Albucker will only buy and sell the original design, with an iron leg, in this one color.
“People bring me stuff all the time, and nine out of 10 times, I don’t like it,” he says. “It’s not like I like midcentury modern. I just like certain pieces. It gets a little too fancy after a certain point. Like the Eames Fiberglass shells. I really only like them in gray and two or three other colors. I don’t like bright colors, usually. I like interesting objects. And I like humor.”
You wrote me, I say, “A little humor is important to me when done in a beautiful way.” The comment was made in reference to an antique porcelain bedpan and urinal that he had on display in the shop. In the bedpan, he arranged some fake apples. And he stuck some flowers in the urinal.
“I sold them to some architect for a lot of money. I guess he agreed with the humor in it,” he says. “And it looked good. I don’t just like funny, gross shit. I’m not sure whether I’ll buy any more of those, but I did it once and proved that I could sell it as something pretty.”
Albucker restores most of the things he sells himself. But only to an extent. Again straying from the majority rule, he prefers his midcentury modern with some patina. He devoted two years to restoring a dilapidated barn on his family’s property, across the river in Solebury, and converting it into his home. He has yet to move in. The project was put on hold when he moved into a co-op next to the Golden Nugget Antique & Flea Market, just south of town. Four months later, this store became available. For about a month, he was there renovating it until four in the morning, even installing the reclaimed, wide-plank floors himself.
We’re finishing up. A couple’s walked in and they need his attention. But first he turns and says, “This, I wanted to show you so you know.” It’s an Eames shell chair, which will always remind me of elementary school. Albucker flips it over and draws my attention to the rope that’s embedded in the Fiberglass along the edge. “They only did that for the first year.” Which means that the shells without the rope sells for a couple hundred bucks while the ones with it can fetch up to $1,500. Treasure hunting’s not my thing. I have a hard enough time picking up on the obvious, so I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this knowledge. Nor does it really matter. More importantly, I feel like I’ve passed some kind of test.

[divider]The Sum of His Parts[/divider]

A portrait of Albucker, as depicted by a few of his most coveted things.

Bottle opener by the Werkstätte Carl Auböck
(circa 1960s) | $325
Run by four generations of Carl Aubocks, the Vienna-based Aubock Workshop turns out some of the world’s most beautiful, handcrafted, small objects, mainly in horn, brass, leather, cane and wood. And they usually serve the most esoteric of uses.

Collection of 11 German monkey hand puppets | $2,200 Each is made from mohair and erected on a purpose-built stand. It’s the world’s only “chorus” of German monkey puppets.

Klockner roll-front, fire-safe cabinet (circa 1940s-1950s) | $3,500
Built in Buenos Aires, features 39 drawers, many tilting, and it’s crazy-heavy.

Wastepaper basket by Grethe Bang & Finn Juhl | $700
Simply a great design by the Danish master.




Sonambient tonal sculpture by Val Bertoia $5,000
A kinetic, musical and elegant sculpture by the son of the late sculptor and chair designer,
Harry Bertoia.

Zenith Rope-edge Shell Chair by Charles and Ray Eames for Herman Miller (circa 1950 to 1953) | $3,200
An obscenely low shell chair in my favorite shade of Fiberglass. This is one of the rarest and earliest Eames shell chair configurations in existence. It could easily be argued that it belongs in a permanent collection somewhere.

Belt-driven aluminum bicycle (manufacturer unknown) | $2,200
I bought this from Leanne Lipston of INDDESIGN, the best picker/dealer of industrial artifacts and exquisite metal in the world. The form and material of this small bicycle make me smile. If I don’t sell it by July, it’ll be hanging above my bed.

Aluminum Coat Tree by Warren McArthur | $900
Collectors of McArthur’s furniture are few and far between. You have to be a bit of a metal-head to collect his stuff in great quantities. But I think it contrasts beautifully with almost any piece of good furniture. His use of aluminum tubing and ingenious hardware resulted in some of the most elegant, modern designs.

Bouloum Chaise by Olivier Mourgue for Airborne | $1,800
Everyone needs a little radical-1970s-French design in his or her home. As wild as the Bouloum Chaise looks, the ergonomics are inherent. It’s the most comfortable lounge chair you’ll ever sit in. This thing is wrong in all the right ways.

Modernist log holder by Smith/Temper/Sunberg of San Francisco (circa 1950s) $750
This useful thing does a lot for me. It’s early California modern design, which is hard to come by in the east. It’s constructed of perforated metal, a material I’m addicted to. And it retains
a warm patina that only enhances its great looks.

My hat | Not for sale
A fixture on my head for two years running.

Your CSA Field Guide


The time to register is now, before the growing gets good. But every share’s a little different, so allow us to play matchmaker.

By Bill Gelman

We’re in the throes of CSA registration season. A few years ago, that news would have elicited a faint “Yay!” from the back of the room. Today, a mad scramble just broke out, because there are precious few shares still up for grabs. Community Supported Agriculture is a booming industry. There are now more than 12,500 of them nationwide, but the interest has grown just as fast, if not faster. Even with work requirements and more cucumbers than you’d ever want to eat in five lifetimes. What follows is a field guide to some of our favorite to CSAs to help you find the share that’ll best fit your family. Or, considering the urgency, just help you find a share.

Anchor Run Farm | Wrightstown

A pioneer of the movement around here—this is Anchor Run’s 13th CSA season—it’s also one of the earlier adopters of sustainable farming. All of its crops are chemical- and GMO-free. Those looking for an easy haul, however, may want to continue their search. Every share comes with a work (harvesting, planting, weeding and thinning) requirement—eight hours, at least, over the course of the season for full shares and four for half-shares. Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall Cost $410-$800

Myerov Family Farm | Perkasie

Half- and full-shares are available with and without work requirements (12 hours for full-shares, six for half). You’ll end up saving a little under 20 percent by pitching in. Sweetening the enticement even more, Myerov gets creative with how, exactly, you can knock off those hours. They don’t necessarily need to be spent out in a field under a soul-scorching sun. Host a pick-up location instead or a potluck dinner, or write the CSA’s blog. Wait. Never mind that last one. Seasons SSF Cost $360-$720


Blooming Glen Farm | Perkasie

If you’re an adventurous eater, welcome to your new CSA. Blooming Glen will set you up with all the staples over the next several months—arugula, heirloom tomatoes, sweet potatoes—and they’ll also throw you the occasional curveball, like Hakurei turnips and kohlrabi. Come those weeks, refer to their blog, where they’ll post recipes so that you can act like you know what you’re cooking. Seasons SSF Cost $420-$795


Honey Brook Organic Farm | Hopewell, NJ

Honey Brook’s actually comprised of four separate farms, two in Hopewell Township and another two in Chesterfield Township, in Burlington County, New Jersey. Pick-ups are available in both locations, and crops are shared among them (different conditions mean certain crops grow better and longer at one than at the other). An innovative box share program is also available. There, shares of various sizes are delivered weekly to several central locations around Pennsylvania and Jersey. If you’ve been overwhelmed by the size or your share in summers past, the box share is the way to go. Seasons SSF Cost $369-$769


Sandbrook Meadow FarmStockton, NJ

It’s the end of July, and if you so much as lay eyes on another cucumber, you’re liable to fly into a Walter White rage. Brilliant as farm-fresh produce is, it can get a little monotonous, even at the height of season. Especially at the height of the season. Sandbrook’s come up with a savvy way around that. Membership fees are converted into credits, which you can then use as liberally or as frugally as you like throughout the season. Snatch up all the strawberries that you can fit in your car and then skip the next couple weeks entirely as you slowly realize your eyes were bigger than your stomach. Seasons SSF Cost $425-$925


J & J Farm of Glen Mills | Glen Mills

Farms, of course, are good for more than fruits and veggies, but that can get lost in a CSA’s onslaught. Not with J & J’s, though. Every other week—it’s a biweekly schedule—they also toss in free-range eggs from their own chickens, along with something out of the ordinary, like pickles in the summer and apple cider in the fall. Basically, the kind of small-batch stuff that lured you to a farmers market in the first place. Seasons Summer, Fall, Winter Cost $195-$360


Jack’s Farm | Pottstown

We realize that the costs we’re throwing around here are not insignificant amounts. And a lot of these farms require that the whole thing be paid up front since the brunt of their expenses comes over the winter. So, if you’re wading into the CSA waters for the first time, Jack’s is the safe play. The extent of your commitment here is one week. Seriously. Every week, the farm emails its subscribers a list of the available produce and what the share will cost. You decide then and there whether you want in—usually. Some weeks, there won’t be enough to go around, and because you’re a newbie, you’ll get last dibs. Seasons SSF Cost T.B.D.


Kimberton | Kimberton

You’re looking at the OG of the CSA movement around these parts. Barbara and Kerry Sullivan, with a little help from some neighbors, doled out their first harvest almost three decades ago, making Kimberton the first known CSA in Pennsy. Even now, Kimberton remains on the forefront. They’ll see your organic certification and raise you a biodynamic farm. It’s a deeply intensive practice. But all you really need to know is that it yields the purest fruits and veggies. Seasons SSF Cost $500-$910