Archive for the ‘Food’ category

A Taste of Jersey in a Can

March 9, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I was at New Jersey’s mega farm store Delicious Orchards. And if you’ve never heard of it or been there, you’ll want to read this entry I wrote last year. Anyway, in between crates of vegetables I’ve never heard of, and countless varieties of vegetables I have, there was a table covered in giant cans of tomatoes. But not just regular tomatoes; these were Jersey tomatoes!

Made by Fattoria Fresca, the can has the official Jersey Fresh logo on it. Though, sadly, the term Jersey Fresh has been co-opted by the likes of Pauly D and the Situation to describe their beauty regimens. Although I thought that such a gourmet product would only be available in a gourmet store like Delicious Orchards, I actually saw them at my local Foodtown.

Now it’s well known that New Jersey produces the best tomatoes of any state. It’s not called the Armpit of America Garden State for nothing! Everyone knows that nothing compares to the taste of a fresh Jersey tomato, but we’re still a few months away from the summer bounty.  So, we’ll have to get them in can form for now.  I was a bit skeptical about how they would taste from a can. After all, don’t all canned tomatoes taste the same? Well, I was about to find out. (more…)

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A Little Slice of Texas at the Jersey Shore

February 15, 2011

I give this place my squeal of approval!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of dining at Jersey Shore BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue place right here in Belmar. Now I don’t claim to be an expert in the art of barbecue; my barbecue experience is pretty much limited to backyard burgers and hot dogs and the food at the ubiquitous Famous Daves chain. Still, I know good food when I see it, and I found it here.

Jersey Shore BBQ is located in a typical strip mall behind Main Street. But don’t let that description turn you off – some of the Armpit of America’s national treasures are found in strip malls. Just look for the black sign with a pink pig on it, and you’ll know you’ve found it.

Once inside, you’ll find the dining room to be laid back and unpretentious, qualities that are becoming increasingly harder to find due to the simultaneous gentrification and guidofication of the Jersey Shore. Though nothing fancy, the interior is warm and welcoming. And no need to wait for some hostess to look at a map of tables before telling you where to sit – this place has open seating.

But enough about that boring stuff. The main draw here is the food, advertised as authentic Texas BBQ. As mentioned above, the most authentic barbecue I’ve eaten is that of Famous Daves or Texas Roadhouse – another chain, in which everything is covered in some sweet and tangy sauce. Boy was I in for a surprise.

We started with the special “Ribs Appetizer,” which, appropriately enough, was just a plate of ribs – three baby back, and three St. Louis style. While I expected them to be glazed in that familiar sticky sweet sauce, these ribs were completely different. They were smoky and peppery and just so flavorful. Though it didn’t really need anything else, I poured some of the two different types of vinegar-based barbecue sauces on the table and dipped the meat in. Wow. The vinegar just punctuated the meat, elevating its taste even more. (more…)

Winter in New Jersey Still Sucks!

January 17, 2011

...except during the winter.

About a year ago, I wrote this entry about the rough winter we were having in the Armpit of America. Well, last year’s winter was pretty balmy compared to this year. In that entry, I bitched about us getting two feet of snow last year. That might has well have been two inches compared to the three feet we got a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, three feet of snow. None of which has really melted yet. Almost every single day since that major snowfall on December 26 has been at or below freezing. And the little amount that actually does melt or evaporate just gets replaced by a new snowfall, such as the one going on right now. Luckily for me, I work from home. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the millions of New Jerseyans who have to drive to work on already shitty roads made shittier by this horrible weather.

Despite the weather, I’ve still been having fun here at the Jersey Shore. One of the good things about this winter weather is that it keeps all the guidos from North Jersey and New York up where they belong. For instance, I had quite a pleasant, guido-less night at the Boathouse on Saturday. As nice as it is when it’s less crowded, it was weird seeing the bar as empty as it was. Either way, it was a fun night. The live music was provided by Daddy Pop, one of the regular cover bands that populate the Shore and the band that played at my sister’s wedding. They were pretty good, and I commend them for only playing one of these overplayed cover band songs. It was American Girl for those interested. (more…)

You Know You’re in NJ When…

November 16, 2010

You know you’re in New Jersey when you’re driving around and you see something like this:

That’s right, a pork roll van.  The incident happened a couple days ago.  I was driving on Route 35 and all of the sudden, I realized I was behind a van advertising pork roll.  So I stalked the van until we were stopped at a red light and took the picture.

For those who don’t know, pork roll is the official processed meat of New Jersey and one-third of the famous pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich that this state is famous for.  Despite the advertisement, the website theporkrollstore.com is nonexistent.  But a quick search tells me that the real Pork Roll Store is located in Allentown, NJ.  I’ve always heard about a store in Allentown that has the best pork roll – I guess that must be the place.  Anyway, where else can you be driving down the street and see a van advertising salty processed pig?  Only in the Armpit of America.

For more information about this true mystery meat, go here.

An Evening with Michael Pollan

October 9, 2010

Hahahah never heard that one before....

Back in September of 2001, I was a nerdy, overweight freshman at Rutgers.  During that first semester, I took Expository Writing 101 (AKA Ex-Pos), the dreaded freshman writing course.  The first assignment for that class was to read an essay about genetically engineered potatoes and write a paper about it.  The author of that essay was a certain Michael Pollan, a fact I only remember because I thought how funny it was that a guy named Pollan wrote about plants.

Before the teacher handed back those first assignments, she said most of the class did pretty poorly.  She explained how that can be expected on our first papers and that we shouldn’t get too discouraged; we can only get better.  When she handed my paper back, I was shocked by my grade.  It was a B+.  That’s when it happened.  It was at this point, dear reader, that your humble narrator realized he could write.  Since then, I’ve pursued writing educationally, personally, professionally, and blogally.

So where am I going with all this?

Nine years (holy shit) after that fateful day, I heard that Michael Pollan was giving a talk at Rutgers.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to hear the guy who indirectly launched my writing career at the place where it started.  So, this past Wednesday, I headed up to the College Ave gym, where the talk was being held.  On the way, I passed the Rutgers Student Center.  There was a big sign in front of the building saying there was going to be a memorial for Tyler Clementi that night.  The sign also said that both New Jersey senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, were going to be there.  I thought about ditching Pollan and going to this event for no other reason than the remote chance that I could convince one of the senators to sit down for an in-depth interview for this little old blog.  But they clearly had something more important to do that night. (more…)

Belmar: The First 48 Hours

September 6, 2010

Two days ago, I moved out of New Brunswick and into a beautiful oceanfront apartment in Belmar. Though New Brunswick will always have a special place in my heart, having lived there for five years, I’m happy to leave that city behind. One can only take so much dirt and crime and shady people. While the Armpit of America has more than its fair share of these things (hence the nickname), Belmar is a safe haven from such deviance. Or at least it’s relatively safe compared to elsewhere in the state.

Saturday afternoon, I rented a U-Haul and the woman and I brought all my stuff to the new place. After spending a couple hours unloading (somehow the two of us were able to carry two couches up a flight of stairs), we drove back to return the truck. We didn’t get back to Belmar until 10:30, at which point my roommate, his girlfriend, and three of our friends showed up. We ordered a giant pizza from 3 Brothers Pizza and spent the next couple hours setting up. Since we didn’t have cable, and still don’t as of right now, we tapped into my DVD collection. The Robot Chicken Star Wars episode and Yellow Submarine were the DVDS of choice. Though we talked about hitting up the bars, everyone was too tired and sweaty from moving to go out, so we just hung around until 2:00 before going to bed.

Sunday was spent shopping around at the saddest little Shop Rite (hard to explain but it’s just depressing) and K-Mart and finishing unpacking and everything else. When it was dinner time, we decided to try something different and went to Kaya’s Kitchen, a completely vegetarian restaurant run by hippies. (more…)

Welcome to Summer in New Jersey

June 30, 2010

I think it is safe to say that New Jersey does summer better than any other state.  Go anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, and you’ll sweat your ass off.  Go to any other state in the Northeast, and you’ll be bored out of your mind.  Go to one of those bland Great Lakes states, and you’ll be covered in mosquitoes.  Go out west, and you’ll find states even more boring than you thought possible.

Sure, we get an influx of trashy New Yorkers here each summer, but I like to think of them and their antics as free entertainment.  Seriously, who didn’t love watching “Jersey Shore”?  And with the new season of that train wreck of a show fast approaching, people all over the world will once again see what makes summer in New Jersey so special.

One of the highlights of summer in New Jersey is the plethora of festivals at the shore and throughout the rest of the state.  Having recently gone to two of these festivals, both of which were packed full of rowdy, obnoxious people, I’m happy to say that summer in New Jersey is in full swing.

The first festival I went to was the Belmar Seafood festival, which serves all types of marine animals.  While it didn’t serve any whales, there were plenty to be found on the premises.  Anyway, as I’m not much of a seafood fan, and I was saving my appetite for another festival that night, we just got that carnival favorite known as butterfly fries.

I see Idaho hasn't taken my advice to get some new material...

So what kind of festival could be so important that I would cast aside coconut shrimp and crab cakes?  A Greek festival of course.  Who needs deep-fried bottom-dwelling shellfish, when you can have moussaka and pastitsio lovingly handmade by sweet, old Greek ladies? (more…)