Posted tagged ‘Food’

Even Store Brand Cereal Boxes Make Fun of New Jersey

June 11, 2017

Everyone loves to make fun of New Jersey, and it’s no surprise that the Armpit of America has long been the butt of everyone’s jokes. While negative comments about the state are typically relegated to pop culture or conversations with those from out of state, hate for New Jersey can also be found in the unlikeliest of places: a cereal box.

My discovery came from a recently purchased box of store brand cereal (don’t judge me), in particular, Shoprite brand bran flakes (again, don’t judge me). On the back of the box is this whole trivia thing about American cities:

cereal 1

In that left-side panel is a quiz about city nicknames, listing the nickname of a city and offering two possible answers. One city nickname presented is”Hornet’s Nest,” with the two choices being Charlotte, North Carolina and none other than Newark, New Jersey.

cereal 2

Obviously, the answer is Charlotte – and that name isn’t just because of the basketball team. The city first earned the moniker during the Revolutionary War when it was known as a “hornet’s nest of rebellion.”

But whoever designed this box took a swipe at New Jersey by making Newark the other option. Unless you live in Charlotte, a hornet’s next is a terrifying thing to encounter, and something you’d want to stay the hell away from. Sure, Newark might not have the best reputation, between the city itself and its namesake airport, but to call it a hornet’s nest? I’d say it’s more of a beehive – might be a little scary, but there is some good stuff inside.

What’s Overrated in New Jersey?

November 22, 2015

Everyone loves to spit on and shit on New Jersey so much that it can be easy to forget all the good things about the state. But on the other hand, there are certain people, places, and things to emerge from the Armpit of America that are, for reasons beyond comprehension, held in undeservingly high esteem. Which is a long-winded way of saying some shit about this state is overrated.

In a recent article for NJ.com, Peter Genovese, a prolific writer on all things New Jersey, listed what he perceives to be the 10 most overrated things about the state. He certainly hit the proverbial nail on the head with many of his selections. Case in point – pork roll – that hodgepodge of various piggy parts most widely enjoyed nestled between a bun with egg and cheese. As Genovese widely points out, who wouldn’t want bacon instead? He also lists the entire city of Hoboken, which indeed is just one big pile of yuppy/hipster overratedness.

And as with any good, provocative opinion piece, there are certain things I’d have to disagree with. Most notably, the inclusion of full-service gas stations. What’s not to love about sitting in your car and having someone else do the dirty work? [While we’re on the subject, I’m pleased to share that after nearly three years of living on Long Island, I am still on track to fulfill one of my life’s goals of never pumping my own gas. It certainly helps to have a full service gas station around the corner (well worth the extra few cents they charge) and a very understanding wife.]

Anyway, Genovese’s post got me thinking about what I would consider the most overrated things about New Jersey. So, here we go:

  1. Saltwater Taffy: Sure, it’s one of the most iconic treats of the Jersey Shore, but does anyone actually like it? It’s always stale and impossible to chew, and all the muted flavors taste pretty much the same. Want something chewy that will rot your teeth? Stick with Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Now and Laters, etc. and don’t waste your money on this boardwalk staple.
  2. Bon Jovi: From what I can tell, Jon Bon Jovi is a wonderful person, generous philanthropist and proud New Jerseyan. But face it, his namesake band is overrated, and their songs that bring to mind images of big-haired 80s Jersey mall brats do this state no favors.
  3. Grease Trucks: Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of the Grease Trucks of Rutgers University and their legendary “fat sandwiches” stuffed with whatever you can think of. But let’s face it – those things just don’t taste good. Sorry, but fries on a sandwich are not a good idea – especially when they’re cold, unsalted and shoved between various meats.
  4. Asbury Park: Just like Hoboken to the North, Asbury Park is an overpriced, overrated mix of high-end boutiques, unnecessary fusion restaurants and a level of pretentiousness that has no place on the Jersey Shore.
  5. Bar A: Oh Bar A – the place where summer supposedly never ends. While this Belmar landmark was the location of many fun nights in my younger days, it has transformed into a weird hybrid of a swanky New York City Club, with its long line to get in and $500 a bottle table service, and a Miami Beach night club, with its cabanas on the sand – albeit a sand volleyball court.

 

My Tribute to New Jersey Corn

August 22, 2015

It’s been way too long since I last posted, so let’s get back into the swing by talking about something of crucial importance: corn.

corn

That most humble of crops, corn is one of the most widely consumed plants there is. But it rarely gets the respect it deserves. It’s processed and transformed beyond recognition into things like corn chips, corn syrup, ethanol, animal feed and who knows what else. Or, it’s kernels are unceremoniously stripped off their cobs and shoved into tin cans or stuffed into plastic bags where they end up in the supermarket’s freezer section for eternity.

But for two months a year, we get to experience how corn should be experienced – slathering it in butter and gnawing it right of the cob. Sure it’s messy and unsightly, but when it’s summer and the corn is ripe, there’s no better way to eat it. And there is no place that does corn better than New Jersey.

For whatever reason, Jersey corn is the best in the country (take that, Iowa!), offering ears full of juicy kernels as sweet as candy, putting that nasty candy corn shit to shame. But why New Jersey of all places? Some say it’s the naturally fertile soil – or maybe there’s just a lot of fertilizer in the soil. Could it be that all the chemical runoff causes some kind of reaction to make it better? Or maybe when God was creating New Jersey, he knew that one day it would be the butt of everyone’s jokes and known more for corrupt politicians and trashy reality TV stars than anything else, so he blessed the land with the best corn on earth. It’s plausible.

But as good as the corn in New Jersey may be, there is one place that offers corn superior to anywhere else in the state, Samaha’s Farm Market of Aberdeen. This staple of my home town simply offers the best corn there is. I can’t tell you how many summer meals from my childhood to my adult life were made all the more better with Samaha’s corn. It’s so good, anytime we’d make the trip to Long Island to visit relatives, said relatives would implore that we stop at Samaha’s on the way and bring this holy Jersey corn (or as native New Yorkers call it, “cawn”) across the border. And now that I’m living on Long Island, I’m the one demanding delivery of Samaha’s corn.

And it’s definitely worth it. From the minute you eagerly rip away the husk and gently brush away the fair silk to reveal those virginal, cream-colored kernels, you know you’re in for something special. And when they’re in their water bath steaming away, it will seem like the longest minutes of your life as the scent of corn gently caresses your nostrils. Once cooked, you might be tempted to dive right it in, but be careful, it will be pretty hot; besides, the corn, being the temptress that she is, wants you to take it slow and savor every minute.

corn porn

Corn porn!

Woah, got a little carried away there. Anyway, you definitely could eat the corn as is and be perfectly content – it certainly doesn’t need any additions. But there are no heroes when it comes to corn. Go ahead and gild the lily by slathering it with butter and salt – it makes the experience all the better and perfectly acceptable to use a phrase like “gild the lily.”

corn butter

So, if you’ve never had Jersey corn before, I strongly recommend that you make the trip to the Armpit of America and try it – you’ll never look at corn the same way again.

Destination Dogs in New Brunswick: You’ve Never Had a Hot Dog Like This

January 3, 2015

The hot dog is one of the most humble foods imaginable – take the animal scraps and organ meat that no one else will touch, throw them in a blender with nitrates and pink food coloring, put the resulting slop in a plastic casing, and serve it on a bland roll that falls apart as soon as you touch it. But at Destination Dogs in New Brunswick, the simple hot dog is elevated to entirely new levels.

Though I heard about this establishment a couple of years ago, I didn’t make it over there until recently – a very poor mistake on my part. Like most people when they think of a “hot dog place,” I had imagined just a dumpy little shack where you go to a counter, they pull a hot dog off one of those rotating warmer things and slop on some sauerkraut as you stand there. Instead, Destination Dogs is a full on, sit-down, fill-up dining experience. Residing at the what used to be Doll’s Place, which despite sounding like a strip club was actually one of the nicer bars in the midst of the numerous hole-in-the-wall drinking spots surrounding Rutgers University, Destination Dogs offers a menu full of gourmet offerings that go far beyond a simple hot dog, including a wide variety of meats and almost unlimited number of toppings.

Hot dog, or work of art?

Hot dog, or work of art?

Putting the “destination” in destination dogs, each item is inspired by a different part of the world. For instance, you’ve got the “Howlamo” from Texas, consisting of a wild boar sausage topped with pork belly, chicharonnes, and baconaisse; the “Swede-Dreams” from Sweden – a Swedish meatball sausage covered with mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry jam; and the “Slumdog Meal-ionaire” from India, a vegetarian hot dog with samosa filling and curry sauce. (more…)

You Know You’ve Been Blogging about New Jersey Too Much When…

July 2, 2012

…a piece of meat starts looking like this stupid state:

Yes, this is a completely un-doctored photograph of a London broil almost somewhat resembling the shape of the Armpit of America.  And no, I didn’t cut it too look like that – apparently it came that way right out of the package, according to my brother.  My guess is that either someone at the meat department at Shop-Rite was having a little fun with his knife, or this piece of steak came from a Jersey cow.  Get it?  If not, read this.

Anyway, just like the real state, this New Jersey-shaped piece of meat looks like total crap swimming in more crap.  However, once I pushed aside the sludge and got past the tough edges, the meat was delicious.  And I’m sure you can all see where I’m going with this allegory…

Eating Pizza ‘n Stuff

December 10, 2011

Pete & Elda’s in Neptune is a landmark bar and pizza joint at the Jersey Shore.  The place is most famous for its pizza challenge, where if you eat a whole extra large pizza, you win a t-shirt.  You can’t go anywhere along the shore in the summer without seeing at least a handful of people proudly wearing their Pete & Elda’s shirts.

Last week, the day finally came for me to earn my own Pete & Elda’s shirt.  Though my friends who have completed the challenge told me it really isn’t that hard, I still expected it to be difficult.  Eating a whole pizza definitely isn’t something I do every day.  When the pizza came, I realized I had nothing to be worried about.  The crust was paper thin, crispy, and slightly charred.  Just like matzo!  I knew I had this in the bag.  Check out the video below to see how I fared.

The challenge was a lot easier than I ever expected.  Despite the name “Double Extra Large” the pizza wasn’t big at all.  Now for a real pizza eating challenge at the Jersey Shore, I suggest eating a whole large pie at Three Brothers in Belmar.

Like the slideshow above?  I have more!

Celebrate an either late or really early Halloween by watching as I create a scale replica of Snooki out of pumpkins.

The New Jersey Turnpike isn’t a total waste – it has an IKEA!

Top 5 Things I’m Looking Forward to This Summer

April 24, 2011

No shore traffic for me this summer - definitely looking forward to that!

Flowers are in bloom, the weather’s getting warmer, and girls all over New Jersey are visiting tanning booths and throwing up their meals in order to look good in a bikini.  These are all signs that summer is coming to the Jersey Shore.  And I couldn’t be happier, especially after the winter we had this year.  So what am I looking forward to most about this summer in the Armpit of America?  Keep reading to find out.

1. Finally being popular – As this will be my first summer living at the beach, I may finally know what it’s like to be popular!  From what I’ve heard, when you have a beach house, people come out of the woodwork to come over.  So even though I’ll probably be taken advantage of by some of my random acquaintances who want a place to chill before going to the beach or crash after going to the bars, it will feel like I have so many more friends!

2. Corn – Throughout the fall, winter, and spring, we’re stuck eating corn out of a can or from the freezer.  Not in summer though.  Come July, New Jersey provides its residents with the best, sweetest corn imaginable. It’s so unbelievably good, you don’t even have to cook it. Hell, you don’t heve have to husk it! Take that, Nebraska!

3. Outdoor Bars – The bars at the Jersey Shore are fun all year round.  But they can get a little cramped and stuffy during the off-season.  Once summer comes, they open up their outdoor sections, allowing guests the option to escape the guidos and crappy coverbands inside, and hang around outside. That being said, here’s a quick list of my favorite outdoor bars: (more…)