By ROBIN WOODS
For Montclair Local
As much as I want to stay inside and hibernate until the first day of spring, one has to venture out every now and then to explore around town. My first stop was to the Amazing Escape Room, 20 Lackawanna Plaza, 2nd floor.
I entered a whole new world of problem solving and clues.
District Manager Erika Klein and General Manager Michael Murphy took me on a tour. I watched and listened as the Game Masters prepped groups waiting to go into their rooms of choice: Lost Record, Forest Treasure, Crusader’s Alley or Case Closed.
Surprisingly crowded for a Thursday afternoon, it was a nice mix of children and adults. Challenging clues and puzzles are geared for ages 10 years and up. The mission is to follow a storyline and work together as a team to open the lock in a room. It’s not claustrophobic or scary, as the rooms are very large and well decorated.
The Crusader’s Room has shelves full of superhero figures and pictures, with a huge Darth Vader sitting on a built in shelf which moved up each time the team solved a clue. I was observing from the Control Room with the Game Masters as they typed in clues that appear on panels in the rooms for the participants to read. Verbal prompts are also given if necessary.
I loved watching a little one along for the fun, running around in the supplied superhero cape and gear. He had no idea of what his mission was, content to explore with his parent and siblings. After they came out of The Lost Record (music room, complete with instruments) I spoke with 13-year-old Kayla Martino and Juliana DeFino about their experience as they were posing for pictures and holding signs that indicated whether or not they were successful in their mission. Kayla had attended a birthday party there before and was excited to return again. First timer Juliana said that it was indeed an amazing, fun experience. Their slogan is “One room, one mission, one hour.”
How do we keep our homes warm and cozy? We bake! I just discovered Bari & Betty’s Pie Crust Mix. It’s in a bag ready to become two sweet or savory gluten free pie crusts.
Oh, don’t make that face.
Hometown’s own Laura Goffman and her daughters Robin (Betty) and Melanie (Bari) launched their company last November after facing the challenges of gluten free baking, a necessity for Melanie. Their product is also vegan, but you can add eggs or dairy to the mix to make it even more delicious.
The family always bakes together, making donuts, cakes and mandel bread. When someone can’t tolerate gluten, it’s not easy to get a pie crust that holds together, bakes well and tastes good. Their pie crust mix is produced in a dedicated vegan, gluten free “Serve Safe” licensed commercial facility, and can be picked up locally in Montclair or ordered online.
I’m crazy about making crackers from the mix, which came from a happy mistake when customer sample pie crusts broke after baking. Robin suggested that I prepare the mix, roll it out, cut it into squares, adding everything bagel or savory spices before putting it in the oven. Oh, yes and yum!
If we decide to stay in, wearing our pajamas for the duration, we still must accessorize. I found a little hidden gem of a shop at 22 Lackawanna Plaza: Elifish Design.
Turkish born designer and proprietor Elif Horozoglu, new to Montclair. sells handmade jewelry and accessories, some designed by her mother and aunt. Elif comes from a family of fashion and jewelry artists who create organic themed earrings, bracelets, necklaces, tote bags and feather hair adornments.
Enamel pieces are made from glass powder and baked in a kiln. Walk through this charming little shop and see the Earth, Enamel and Natural collections. I fell in love with a glass domed ring done in blue enamel with a symbol which wards off The Evil Eye. Perhaps it works on ice and snow as well?
In this article:
· Amazing Escape Room Montclair
· Bari & Betty’s Gluten Free Baking
· Elifish Design