Three Jars and a Bottle of Jersey
Hard to believe, but it’s been nearly four years since I left my beloved New Jersey. Since then, I’ve collected numerous things to remind me of the Armpit of America and comfort me as I get nostalgic for the state’s litter-strewn highways, chemical vapor-filled skies and golden but dirty shores. So join me as I break into four cherished mementos, in the form of Jersey-flavored tomatoes, alcohol and wax!
Jar #1 – Ethnic Cottage Jersey Tomato Sauce
Purveyors of internationally flavored products like Indian and Thai sauces, Ethnic Cottage decided to cover a new ethnicity, Jersey-Italian, with its line of four Jersey tomato sauces, including the pictured marinara. I was pretty surprised by the ingredient list, comprised of just tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and seasonings, and no sugar, no chemicals and no weird thickeners. The result is a great tasting sauce that tastes like some little Italian grandmother made it herself. Sure, if you like your tomato sauce to be overly sweet and salty, you might not enjoy this. But if you want a tomato sauce without any weird additives and in which you can actually taste every individual ingredient, give Ethnic Cottage a try!
Jar #2 – New Jersey Homesick Candle
Everyone knows nostalgia sells these days, and Homesick Candles provides a textbook example of how to capitalize on that (as seen above, the label consists of the word “homesick” perched atop a silhouette of New Jersey). With candles developed to capture the scents of all 50 states, the company provides domestic ex-patriots with a way to recapture the love and memories of their home states. According to the description on the website, the New Jersey candle “takes you back to The Garden State, with scents reminiscent of the Jersey shore.” Though I was expecting a typical, generic beachy candle scent (overly perfumed with just a hint of “beach”), I was pleasantly surprised – it’s subtly salty and refreshing, without being too in your face – just like the real experience of walking by the beach and feeling the ocean mist. Well done, Homesick Candles.
Jar #3 – Surf’s Up Candle
Sticking to the topic of candles, our next specimen comes from Belmar’s own Surf’s Up Candle. Having spent two incredible years living in this Shore town, I love anything having to do with Belmar – and a soy candle-filled mason jar is no exception. This particular candle is Gardenia scented. Thankfully, it’s meant to smell like the flower gardenia, and not like deceased character actor Vincent Gardenia. Not knowing what a gardenia actually smells like, I can’t attest to the veracity of the scent other than to say its smells really good. And taking a look at their website, you’ll see they have many other interesting scents, like Avocado & Cilantro, Bergamot Tea and Iced Lemon Biscotti…as well as more unusual ones like Surf Wax and Seaweed, which I find repulsive yet at the same time oddly intriguing.
Bottle #1 – Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Exit 5 Pinelands Sour Forage Ale
Flying Fish is New Jersey’s largest craft brewery, and it’s love for the state is highlighted by its Exit series of beers – a different beer representing each exit on the Turnpike. And the one I tried is inspired by the Pine Barrens – home to pineys, the Jersey Devil and the pine trees used to flavor this beer. So how does it taste? Though I was a bit concerned it would taste too piney, that isn’t the case at all. It’s tart and fruity but light and refreshing. The label also says its made with goldenrod and wintergreen – not sure what those things taste like on their own, but all together they make the beer taste like you’re licking the forest floor. And I mean that in a good way! Definitely one of the more unique beers I’ve tasted – and definitely the most Jersey-centric.
So there you have it – three jars and a bottle of Jersey.