Island Hopping – August 9th through 15th!

Cape May County is a treasure trove of thrills, games, specialty seafood, happy hour specials, traditional family-style restaurants, beach gear, breakfast favorites, and relaxing rituals. Yet with its six hundred and twenty square-mile span, this Jersey shore county can be quite daunting. With all this ground to cover, where should you even begin? This week’s hop commences in charming West Cape May at the quaint Bella Vida Garden Café. Healthy food choices have earned Bella Vida on Broadway the welcome accolade “A Local Café with a Wholesome Aroma”. Owners and operators, the local Monge family, draw from their personal travel experiences and impressions when creating Bella Vida’s innovative dishes. Voted Cape May County’s “Best Breakfast”, Bella Vida’s morning specialties are served daily from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., giving early and late risers an equal opportunity to enjoy these unique dishes. Kick off the day with a cool fresh pressed Carrot Juice, Fruit Smoothie, Espresso, Cappuccino or a hot Organic Costa Rican Coffee. Cape May’s “Hottest Hotcakes” include sweet potato and multigrain and are gluten free. Try them fresh fruit-filled or filled with chocolate chips. Sample a tasty Seafood Omelet or experience the Southwestern flavor of the Breakfast Burritos and Quesadillas.

After filling up on Bella Vida’s organic delicacies, stroll from Broadway toward the center of Historic Cape May for a “crabby” afternoon at the Emlen Physick Estate. Located at 1048 Washington Street, this historic Cape May landmark will be home to the Craft Beer & Crab Festival this coming Saturday and Sunday, August 10th and 11th. Named one of the 5 Best NJ Summer Festivals by CBS NY, it will feature the best in steamed crabs, pulled pork and other summertime picnic favorites. The festival promises delicious fun for family members of all ages. Purchase and enjoy a variety of local and regional craft beers from the Harrison Beverage 10-tap beer truck, including Victory Brewing, Goose Island, Tuckahoe Brewing, Starr Hill, Blue Point, Duvel, East Coast, Kona, Ithaca, Prism, Sierra Nevada, Flying Fish, and Belfast Bay Brewing Company, with other selections including non-beer beverages. Enjoy your brew of choice in the festival’s cozy beer garden. The celebration kicks off at 11 am and does not end until 8 pm daily. Just a few blocks west on Mansion Street, Island Grill offers festival goers a change of scenery and cuisine.

For Caribbean-inspired fare, Island Grill is a must-try. They specialize in fresh fish and are renowned for their signature dish, Lobster Mac & Cheese. Executive Chef Josh Day is imaginative and has a true passion for food. His pan roasted grouper is served over a cool Beluga lentil champagne – mango salad & finished with a mango beurre blanc. Sample his innovative, tasteful cuisine in Island Grill’s bright and relaxed atmosphere.

After enjoying the Island Grill’s fresh catch, head to North Cape May’s newest nightlife hub – 5 West Pub. 5 West’s Reverse Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 9-11 PM features awesome late night drink specials. Say hello to bartender Susan and be sure to sample the “5 West” signature drink, crafted with fresh squeezed lemonade and strawberry rum. Beer lovers might prefer to enjoy a few of 5 West’s several seasonal ales on tap including Curious Traveler, Sierra Nevada Summer Ale, Cape May Brewing Company’s Devil’s Reach, Blue Moon, Sam Adams Summer Ale, and Victory’s Summer Love.

If you’d rather spend your evening immersed in Cape May’s theater scene, do so with the East Lynne Theater Company’s latest production “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Showing at 8:30 pm through August 31st, Washington Irving’s supernatural story is adapted by James Rana who so vividly created ELTC’s last season’s “The Poe Mysteries”. The townsfolk of Sleepy Hollow believe that the headless body of a Hessian soldier astride his horse haunts their isolated village. When Ichabod Crane suddenly disappears, is it the fault of the Headless Horseman, or something else? Washington Irving’s supernatural story is adapted by James Rana who so vividly created ELTC’s last season’s “The Poe Mysteries”, with a cast of six playing many roles to bring the tale to life.

After a good night’s sleep, our hop continues on the Wildwoods island with our all-time favorite stack of Pancakes. Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is home to a number of unique hotcake creations, but our all-time favorite is their Cinnamon Raisin Pancakes served with homemade cinnamon butter and topped with warm syrup. From Pacific Avenue, head south to Park Boulevard in the Crest to spend some quality hours of rest and relaxation on Lakeview Docks’ new pier. The waters are calm, the view is great, and the catch is even better. Pack a lunch and hang on the pier all day for only $6 for adults and $4 for children. After their former pier suffered serious damage in Hurricane Sandy, Lakeview Docks is proud to present a new and improved fishing pier. Bring your rod and pick up your own bait, or let Lakeview do all the heavy lifting for you. Rod rentals cost only $10 per rod and Lakeview offers an assortment of bait options. Decide on the catch you’re aiming for and then choose from sperring, squid, or clams as bait. Crabbers can snag a Lakeview rental trap for only $5.

Grab a late afternoon dessert at Hankins’ Fudge & Candies of downtown Wildwood. New this summer season, Hankins’ Fudge & Candies is now offering homemade peanut brittle. The perfect taste for the seashore, this gourmet peanut brittle is sold in eight ounce tubs. Made with the finest quality Spanish peanuts, Hankins’ peanut brittle is guaranteed delicious. Plus, Hankin’s Fudge is offering an unbelievable deal…Look for their extra savings coupon in their ad in this edition of Blast for $5 off your entire purchase!
Spend the evening in with family, friends, and a great bottle of wine. Head offshore to Joe Canal’s of Rio Grande where they do wine and cheese like no other. Upon entering the store, customers are immediately greeted by the expansive wine racks and a refrigerated case of these famous DiBruno Bros. products. Established in 1939 by Italian immigrant brothers Danny and Jo, DiBruno Bros. cheeses are unique treasures of the rich culture of Philadelphia’s 9th Street Italian Market and a true treat for any wine and cheese tasting. The DiBruno spreads, including Abruzze, Port Wine, and Roasted Garlic flavors, are perfect as an appetizer on crispy crackers or flat breads. The selection of artisan cheeses is equally promising. DiBruno’s Imported House Aged Provolone, Aged Cheddar, Aged Asiago, and numerous types of goat cheeses are also highly recommended.

Those over on 7-Mile Island might prefer a night out courtesy of Country Club Tavern. The Country Club Tavern features great-value specialty nights five days a week. Test your trivia skills at Monday’s Italian and Quizzo night. Fiesta Tuesdays at the Tavern features 3 tacos for only $3 plus Corona, Corona Light, and Modello Negra reduced price specials. Live entertainment kicks off at 7:30. On Saturday, saddle up for a great night of tunes, dancing, and brews with CCT’s live entertainment beginning at 7:30 p.m. Take the weekday edge off at CCT’s Happy Hour with $1 Coors Lights and $1 off drinks from 4:30 to 6:30 Monday through Friday or all day Sunday. Speaking of Sundays, make sure you swing by Jack’s Place of Avalon to experience their Sunday Funday celebration. Stop by this Sunday, August 11th, and enjoy $2 Bud Lights, $3 Fireball shots, and Karaoke Night.

By Megan Kummer