This week’s list is—as always during this time of year—motivated by the blow-through-your-brains cold that has descended upon us this week, and is inspired by comfort. The comfort may be literal, it may be figurative (and require you to actually leave your house), but each offering provides some sort of consolation; a lovely reassurance like your favorite pair of wool socks, that fun and cold are not mutually exclusive in this crazy world.
Mexican Hot Chocolate at Small World: Oh, sweet nectar of the gods! As a non-coffee drinker, I’m constantly faced with trying to find dignified alternatives to a cuppa when out with pals, and especially when lounging in the hip cafes that have proliferated in our collective towns. As I ordered this drink, I hesitated for just a moment, thinking, “Is this going to taste like a chalupa with chocolate?” So I was happily surprised when, after my barista handed me a large pint glass of the stuff, complete with a generous dollop of whipped cream, I discovered it was no such thing. It had me at first sip: The spicey-chocolately liquid deliciousness is heaven in a glass, and I had a hard time controlling my unbridled enthusiasm as I loudly sucked down the last cinnamony bits with a straw. Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, Princeton; 609.924.4377 or smallworldcoffee.com.
Marimekko Umbrellas at Rosana: Let’s face it: Umbrellas aren’t what you’d call “inspiring.” After years of commuting into the city, I had become somewhat of an umbrella aficionado, yet I was never able to find one that met my exacting standards and came in anything aside from black and navy. Until I saw the gorgeous Marimekko umbrellas at Rosana. In addition to the bowls of candy, Valentine heart cookies, and Devil Dogs (yes, those Devil Dogs) strewn throughout the store, a display of the Finnish design house’s mini umbrellas met my wandering gaze the minute I walked in: Bold and beautiful, fun and feisty, the umbrellas feature an auto-open mechanism and a manual close, and fit right into my bag. Fashionable convenience. Love it. Rosana, 39 Palmer Square West, Princeton; 609.252.9600.
The Bagel Barn: Egg, cheese, and bacon on a toasted Everything. Scallion cream cheese on an untoasted Plain. Pads of butter saturating a warm, gooey French Toast. And every other flavor and schmear combination under the sun. As good as, if not better than, the illustrious H&H Bagels in Manhattan, a bag of bagels from The Bagel Barn will make your morning—nay, your entire week. That statement may have just started a full-on food fight, but why don’t you give this piece of dough a chance and go find out for yourself? The Bagel Barn, 1225 State Road (Route 206), Princeton; 609.497.9555.
Second Chance Cinema at the Princeton Adult School: Every year around this time of year, I find myself huddled on my couch in front of one awards show after the other: the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Independent Spirits, and the mother of them all, the Oscars. You name it, I watch it, and so you would think that I would have seen every movie nominated in every category, right? Oh, so wrong. Who the heck has the time? That is why the Second Chance Cinema at the Princeton Adult School is pure, unadulterated brilliance: A selection of all of the critically acclaimed films from all over the world that you missed because you were doing other things, like working and breathing. Now in its fifteenth season, the course begins on Monday, February 8, and continues through May 3, 2010. Seats are still available, so grab your popcorn and Snowcaps and register online now. Screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. Second Chance Film Series, the Princeton Adult School, Kresge Auditorium, Princeton University, Washington Road; 609.683.1101 or princetonadultschool.org.
“Family Time” by Ziggy Marley: Before I became a parent, I swore up and down that I wouldn’t be one of those people who allowed my children to dictate what music we listened to. I certainly would have no problem imposing my penchant for the Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin on my unsuspecting offspring. And while I do believe that my daughter has developed a fondness for The Cure, I am happy to acquiesce to her preference for some lighter musical fare because of Family Time by Ziggy Marley. Family Time has all of the enthusiasm, style, and good feeling of Ziggy’s adult music, and with its catchy lyrics and beats, it’s just plain fun to listen to (kudos to my ever-inspired sister-in-law for giving me the head’s up on this one). Featuring duets with everyone from Willie Nelson and Jack Johnson to Paul Simon and Laurie Berkner (the Dave Matthews of the diaper set), Family Time offers a selection of highly listenable songs. Among my faves: the joyful “Wings of an Eagle” and “Ziggy Says,” a funky rendition on the classic “Simon Says.” —JH