Posted tagged ‘New Brunswick’

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…)

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5 More Songs about New Jersey

February 2, 2014

As everyone knows, the Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey tonight. For some reason, though, New York is getting all the credit as the host city, and New Jersey gets the shaft once again. Although I wish I could provide a more in-depth analysis of the big game and its repercussions on the Armpit of America, my knowledge of football and interstate economics are pretty limited. So, I’ve decided to write about something I’m only slightly less ignorant about: music.

One of the most viewed posts on this blog was this one: Top 5 Songs About New Jersey, where I shared my thoughts on some songs about the Armpit of America. (In a total coincidence, that post appeared exactly four years ago today!). I figured it was time to highlight some more songs about New Jersey. Just as in the first list, this one will not contain any Bruce Springsteen songs – those were included in a separate post, which I may revisit as well.

Enough with the introductory banter; here are five more songs about New Jersey. If you don’t like them or think there’s something I missed, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

1. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” by Bon Jovi.

Wow – despite my total indifference to this guy, he sure shows up a lot on this blog. Anyway, say what you want about the guy, I do respect his loyalty to New Jersey, emphasized by this bittersweet anthem to the state. Sure, he lacks the more finessed and less obvious songwriting approach that his compatriot Bruce has mastered; just consider the first verse of the song:

“I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place
I was looking for something I couldn’t replace
I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known
Like a blind dog without a bone
I was a gypsy lost in the twilight zone
I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold
I been there, done thatand I ain’t lookin’ back on the seeds I’ve sown,
Saving dimes, spending too much time on the telephone”

What takes Bon Jovi a whole flowery, metaphor-strewn paragraph to convey, Bruce can sum up in a simple, three-word phrase: born to run.

Despite my grievances, the song does fully capture the experience of longing to get out of New Jersey – and then the longing to return once you finally leave. As a recent dropout of New Jersey who still comes back home like every other weekend, I fully understand both sides of the coin.

2. “Never Going Back to Jersey” by Less Than Jake

Speaking of songs that hit me personally, this one again sums up my own (and many other New Jersey residents’) love-hate relationship with the state. Up until recently, I would have been happy to spend the rest of my days in Monmouth County. But when the opportunity to relocate out of the state arose nearly a year ago, I wasn’t too unhappy to leave – maybe even excited to finally get out. And though I can’t say I never go back to Jersey, there are times – like when the traffic on the Long Island Expressway is particularly bad – when I wish I never had to go back! (more…)

Top 5: Reasons Belmar is Better Than New Brunswick

November 26, 2010

I suggest you turn around. Photo by city-data.com.

About three months ago, I moved out of my apartment in New Brunswick and into a new apartment in Belmar. And it was quite a drastic change. I essentially moved out of the armpit of the Armpit of America and into a more pleasant body part (I’ll let you pick which one). I’ve spent five years of my life living in New Brunswick, and, although I have fond memories of the city, there is plenty to hate about it.

With that, here are theTop 5 reasons why Belmar is better than New Brunswick:

1) Hippies – Both New Brunswick and Belmar are home to quite a few hippies. Still, they couldn’t be more different. The hippies in New Brunswick are mainly students of Rutgers University. Though they typically come from upper-middle class families, they like to pretend they’re poor and just getting by on their own. But don’t let those tattered tie-dye shirts, unkempt facial hair (on guys), and unshaven legs (on girls) fool you. They’re just miserable spoiled brats with Grateful Dead posters in their dorms who wake up every morning wishing they went to college 40 years ago.

Belmar’s hippies, on the other hand, are more grown up. Rather than playing their guitars and singing about imagined social injustices, these hippies have embraced capitalism. Instead of going out of their way to be part of some nonexistent, idyllic counter culture, these hippies actually contribute something to the real culture. They’ve opened establishments all over the town, like vegan restaurants, vintage clothing stores, and yoga studios. Still embracing their hippie roots, but earning a dollar at the same time. Who wouldn’t respect that? (more…)

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…)

New Jersey’s Ghetto Barber Shops

August 23, 2010

And now for a post that isn’t about “Jersey Shore”!

Let’s rewind back to Fourth of July weekend.  My hair (total Jew-fro) was getting a little too curly and unmanageable to be seen in public.  I had a friend who had been cutting my hair for free for the last couple of years, but she wasn’t available.  And, since I had plans to go out for the night, I needed a haircut that day.

Little known fact: Dustin Diamond and I are first cousins.

I googled around for barber shops in New Brunswick.  All the results I found fell into two categories: unisex hair salons or places bragging about their “street” and “Brooklyn” cuts.  I have too much pride to go someplace with the words unisex and salon in its title, but I’m not man enough to go to one of the ghetto places.  All I wanted was a barber shop catering to nerdy white guys.  Since there weren’t any such places in New Brunswick, I decided to look around in the nerdiest town in New Jersey:  Princeton. (more…)

A Beautiful Day in My Neighborhood

July 21, 2010

Yesterday I was driving around New Brunswick (AKA “The Brunz” to some, “No Funswick” to others) and took the following picture:

Notice anything funny about it? No, it’s not the drug deal going on in the alleyway or the prostitute on the corner. Those are daily fixtures of life in this fine city. It’s not the asshole taking pictures from his phone while driving through a busy intersection either.

Still don’t see it? Let’s zoom in:

It’s hard to make out, so you’ll have to take my word on this. It is a Budget moving truck full of watermelons. These people were actually selling fruit out of a rental truck!

Seeing shady people sell stuff out of a truck is not an uncommon thing in New Brunswick. There are countless ice cream trucks that annoyingly drive around playing their stupid songs all night. Then there are the ice cream trucks, offering more than just frozen desserts. There are even guys trying to sell stereo systems out of unmarked vans. But selling watermelon out of a rental truck? That’s a new one for me.  Then again, it’s just another day in the Armpit of America.

Rutgers Day / Ag Field Day

April 29, 2010

This past Saturday was a very special day for Rutgers University students and alumni alike. To those who weren’t privileged enough to attend the State University of New Jersey (although about half of the state did go there), I’m talking about Ag Field Day…or is it Rutgers Day? Whatever you wanna call it, it’s a day full of food, fun, and farmy stuff.

Rutgers: the official university of the Armpit of America

The reason for the confusion in the name? Well, it’s probably even more confusing to explain. Ag Field Day (the Ag part standing for Agricultural) had been held each year since 1906. For much of that time, it took place on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University. Starting last year, the powers that be decided to make the event a university-wide festival called Rutgers Day. But over 100 years of history doesn’t just get absorbed, so the day is still referred to by its original name. (more…)