Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review of Newton, NJ lunchtime destinations, Part I

This week, my days have been mostly eat, sleep, and stuff I'm not allowed to talk about (aka the trial.) So, may as well write about the eating.
We can bring our lunches to jury duty, but I have not yet found a microwave we could use. Mistakenly believing we would have access to such a machine, I pre-made a bunch of delicious, filling, unfortunately microwaveable lunches. Nothing that would be so good cold. Plus, it's been so cold outside, once 12:30 rolls around, the temptation for hot food is too great. Hot food and a nice, welcoming environment in which to eat it. A place that is neither my car nor the courthouse. Serving a six-week trial, we jurors will all, I presume, become connoisseurs of the Spring Street area restaurants which serve lunch.
So far, I have eaten lunch at The Blue Iris Cafe three (or was it four?) times. I have eaten at JC's (formerly the Spring House) once, and today, I ate alone at Cheddar Alley. I have yet to try Hayek's (which is like a fixture--it has been in Newton for as long as I can remember and somehow, after being a Sussex County resident for 24 years, I have failed to go there once), Croutons Cafe, Narin Thai, a Chinese place whose name I forgot, and a Mexican place further down the street. I'd have to drive, but there's also a kebab place on Route 206.
These lunches out are not helping with my 2009 goal of cutting out most non-essential, non-sustainable meat. Sigh. I find it difficult to get vegetarian meals that are also filling, unless I make them myself. What I mean is, I don't feel that most vegetarian food that I get when I'm out has the right (if any) protein! I also think that being back in Sussex County, for some reason, is making me want all-American food like hamburgers. I wonder what that's about.

Also, there is great shopping on Spring Street. Newton just has such charm. It always had good qualities, but right now (despite the many empty storefronts and For Rent signs) seems to be a high point. It has a lot to offer tourists without selling out. It's gotten more diverse without losing its culture. When I am looking out one of the large courthouse windows from an upper floor, I see a variety of shapes and sizes and colors in the roofs--it seems like most of Newton is historic buildings. If the buildings are new, they were built in the style of the rest of the town, which is how historic towns should be, I think. (Unlike my hometown of Sparta, for example.)

So far, my impression of the area is that it's growing with the times, but not losing its history. I am thrilled. I am pleasantly surprised to find that the narrow-minded and, to be frank, racist, sexist, homophobic, and just about any other kind of prejudiced you can think of, attitudes that, in my sixteen-year-old eyes, overwhelmed the place back in the early 2000's, all seem to be gone. Was it always this way and I just didn't see it?

Anyway, going "home" has reminded me of things I've missed and things I want in my life. The first day I arrived at the Newton courthouse and spent a two-hour lunch break wandering about the town, all of its rural, small-town qualities brought to my mind overwhelming nostalgia not just for the area in which I grew up, but for places I had seen this summer on my road trip. I thought of rural, relaxed, wonderful places I had seen down South and out West. I missed them terribly.

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