Nestled inside a Victorian home, Blooming Hearts Treasure Shop, a winner of Bergen Health & Life magazine's 2012 Readers' Choice Award for Best Gift Shop, tempts the quaint and the whimsical with shelves and cases full of heart- and flower-themed gifts for women, children, and the home. A kaleidoscope of color and cornucopia of scents, it offers handmade and wearable art and accessories, as well as indulgent bath and body products and garden tools. To put a finishing touch on each gift, the staff offers free giftwrapping, and the shop's tables and vividly colored play space for kids welcome guests to linger, relax, and enjoy the scenery.
A teapot dangles from the ceiling, poised to pour tea into the three cups waiting beneath it. It's not a quirky new way to enjoy tea, but a light fixture in the homey space at Harmony Tea House.
Eccentric, yet charming, with mismatched chairs and tableware, teatime here is reminiscent of an afternoon spent in a cozy home, which is likely why the readers of Bergen Health & Life magazine named it Best Tea House 2013. Fragrant pots of tea in 23 loose-leaf varieties accompany just-baked scones, finger sandwiches, and sweets during tea time, which may also include servings of the two seasonal soups and salads offered every day.
In addition to traditional afternoon tea, Harmony Tea Room hosts events such as Mommy and Me teas and brunch every third Sunday of the month. And of course, it's a relaxing setting for baby showers, book clubs, and birthday parties for stuffed animals dressed in their finest tutus.
Though their careers are rooted in the comfort food of classic diners, according to NorthJersey.com, Main Street Grille and Tavern's owners wanted to recast the dishes they knew so well in friendlier, homier environs. That's why they opened the tavern, where chocolate-colored booths welcome diners to cluster around wood tables and savor grilled steaks and burgers, pasta drizzled with alfredo sauce, and customizable pizzas. Away from the dining room, the bar's flat screens flicker with the current sports game or election arm-wrestling match, and on some evenings, the music from local bands permeates the air.
Cupcakes bring out the child in people, so who better to make those treats than a child? Patrick DeBiase, the owner of Stud Muffins Cupcakes, is just 13 years old. He first started baking at the age of four with the help of his grandmother, who is a classically educated pastry chef. With her help, he creates Stud Muffins’ variety of cookies and cupcakes, which are delivered to doorsteps when customers order them through his online shop or through wishing really hard. In the future, Patrick has big plans to attend culinary school and open a storefront for his business, but for now, he's content serving the community—his business donates 50 cents to the Tourettes Syndrome Association for every dozen cupcakes sold.
Chef Gwynn Galvin combines her culinary craftsmanship with the entrepreneurial guidance of her son Bryan Mueller to churn out more than 30 varieties of homemade, artisan cupcakes. Gwynn shrinks her signature cheesecake into a microcosm of goodness with cheesecake cupcakes (a $29 value/dozen), dishing out decadent meal-sealers in flavors such as cappuccino cheesecake, peanut-butter-cup cheesecake, and classic Italian cheesecake. Regular cupcakes ($23/dozen) include perennial tongue-pleasers such as red velvet, mochachino, and blackout brownie, a palm's worth of brownie cake with milk-chocolate ganache topping and the ability to erase one's memory. Fruity flavors such as lip-smacking lemon, caribbean coconut, and orangesicle make a light, fluffy treat for brunch dessert or a pre-marathon snack.
The pen stroke of a poet. The flourish of a painter's brush. The tangled staff notes of a musician. The baker and owner of Yummy Bakes, Iris Rodriguez, likens the way she narrates celebrations through custom cakes and cupcakes to the works of any other artist. She sculpts 3-D desserts to reflect the focus of festivities, commemorating nuptials with four tiers of a ribbon-adorned cake in Tiffany blue and birthdays with an edible castle of bubblegum-pink turrets inhabited by princesses. Cartoon characters from Angry Birds and Sesame Street emerge in colorful twists of frosting and fondant, delighting birthday celebrants and confusing Martians trying to understand Earth’s food chain. Iris sometimes weaves her stories by embellishing sweets with edible photographs and images.:m]]