Posted tagged ‘New Brunswick’

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…)

I Ate A Jersey Burger!

March 21, 2010

Mmmm......New Jersey....

This should come as no surprise to any reader of this blog, but I’m a little obsessed with New Jersey. So, when I saw something called a “Jersey Burger” on a menu last night, I had to get it.

The item was on the menu at the legendary Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick. I call it legendary because, aside from being a staple of that city’s nightlife, celebrity chef Mario Batali actually got his start in the restaurant business at this place.

Stuff Yer Face is most famous for its wide selection of “bolis,” their version of the stromboli. They have at least 50 different varieties, all filled with some combination of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. You could also create your own, with over a billion permutations. Although I was originally going to pick a boli to eat, I turned the page to the less frequented sandwich page of the menu. Imagine by surprise when I saw the Jersey Burger there.

I’ve never seen or heard of a Jersey burger before, so I assume it’s a unique creation of Stuff Yer Face. Just as a California burger contains avocado and a Mexican burger has jalapeños, a Jersey burger is topped with used condoms and hairspray. Just kidding.

The Jersey burger includes a couple slices of pork roll and mozzarella. For whatever reason, pork roll (also known as Taylor ham or poor man’s sausage) is perhaps New Jersey’s most famous contribution to the culinary world. Though usually eaten in the Armpit of America as one-third of a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich, it is a welcome addition to a hamburger. As for why mozzarella was put on the Jersey burger, my only guess is that it pays tribute to the too many Italians in the state.

So now that I’ve described what the hell a Jersey burger is, let me tell you what it tastes like. It tasted like a hamburger with pork roll and mozzarella. It wasn’t the best burger I ever had, but it got the job done. The name definitely made it taste better. So, if you ever get the urge to take a bite out of New Jersey, go to Stuff Yer Face and order the Jersey burger. God knows, the state chews all of us up, so why not return the favor?

Top 5 Pretentious Restaurants in New Brunswick

December 22, 2009

Mmmm...pretentious...

Here’s yet another new feature for all of you – my Top 5 lists!

As you can tell, my first subject is pretentious restaurants in New Brunswick (New Brunswick the city in New Jersey, not that Canadian state province).

For those who have never been to New Brunswick, my former and current place of residence, the city has quite an interesting culinary scene. As New Brunswick is home to Rutgers, the State University of the Armpit of America, there is no shortage of cheap, unhealthy food geared towards college students – like the Grease Trucks and a countless number of pizza places.

On the other hand, New Brunswick offers plenty of more exotic options, like a couple Middle Eastern places and no less than two Jamaican restaurants. Oddly enough, there aren’t any of those casual chains, like Chilis, Applebees, and Fridays within the city limits (though there is a Qdobas and a Chipotle right across from each other). But what New Brunswick lacks in name brand restaurants, it more than makes up for with plenty of overpriced, snobby, and pretentious dining options:

5. Old Man Rafferty’s – I’m sure putting this on the list won’t make me any additional friends. Though Old Man Rafferty’s is a staple in New Brunswick, this place is more hype than substance. While I admit the food is good, it’s about the same quality and selection you can find at an Applebees or Houlihans (though a lot more expensive). Whatever your thoughts on it may be, people just love this place. But is the standard 45 minute wait you’ll almost always encounter worth it? I don’t think so. So let those parents visiting their children at college go to Old Man Rafferty’s, and everyone else can and should go somewhere else.

4. Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant – Admittedly, I’ve never been to this place. But it just oozes pretentiousness. First of all, who the hell opens a wine bar in a gritty college town? Secondly, on their logo, the “y” in Daryl is shaped like a wine glass. Uh, sorry to burst your bubble, Daryl, but New Brunswick’s beloved CLYDZ already had that idea and executed it a lot better than you! Anyway, a look at Daryl’s website just confirms its pretentiousness. Rather than showing a room full of people happily drinking and eating away, the main image is of an unwelcoming, stark, and empty dining room full of stiff, high-backed white chairs.

As for the food, it seems just as unappealing. The menu appears to be typical of many expensive, fancy restaurants – small selection, even smaller servings, and exuberant prices. The menu tries to go out of the way to talk up the food, with offerings like Bershire Pork Loin (the fuck does that mean?), Wild Caught Cod (putting “wild caught” in front of “cod” doesn’t make it any more appetizing), and Australian Sea Bass (I guess Daryl is too good for the more standard Chilean variety). (more…)

The Grease Trucks

October 11, 2009

We all do stupid things in college. Whether drinking yourself to oblivion, experimenting with new drugs, getting pregnant, or getting someone else pregnant, college is a time to expand your horizons and endanger your health. Rutgers University, my alma mater, provides its students with a unique impetus for self destruction – the Grease Trucks.

The menu of a Grease Truck.  Note the absense of little red hearts indicating the health-friendly items.

The menu of a Grease Truck. Note the absense of little red hearts indicating the health-friendly items.

While they may not be as dangerous or life altering as some of the other things you can do in college, buying low-quality fried foods made in the back of a truck by creepy Middle-Eastern men isn’t the most sensible option either. Still, this hasn’t stopped the infinite number of Rutgers students, alumni, and New Brunswick locals who can’t quit the habit.

The Grease Trucks serve a wide selection of foods, including such Middle Eastern standards as falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and spinach pie. However, these healthier options take a back seat to the trucks’ main draw – the “fat sandwiches.” The trucks have a variety of fat sandwiches, consisting of some type of meat, cheese, sauce, and fries, all served on a giant roll.

The five trucks, though each owned and operated independently, have pretty much the same sandwiches on each of their menus. Some of the standards include:

  • Fat Cat – The first fat sandwich invented, and the first one I ever ate, consists of two hamburger patties, cheese, fries, ketchup, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
  • Fat Bitch – No, this one doesn’t include Rosie O’Donnell meat. Instead, it is made of cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, and fries. This is one of the most popular sandwiches, if for no other reason than the name.
  • Fat Moon – The Fat Moon contains eggs, bacon, cheese, and fries. Though this one was my favorite for a while, I ditched it once I realized that the “chefs” leave their eggs sitting out all day.
  • Fat Darrel – This sandwich is made up of chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries, and marinara sauce. Though I don’t see what the big deal about this one is, it was declared the best sandwich in America by Maxim Magazine for reasons still unclear.
  • Fat Filipino – The Fat Filipino, along with the Fat Bitch, was at the center of an ethical dispute several years ago. I’m not even sure if they still make it these days. However, it is worth including on this list for being the fattest of the fat sandwiches. It was made of cheesesteak AND gyro meat, accompanied by fries and covered in yogurt sauce.

The inside of a Fat Bitch.  Incidentally, fries, mozzarella sticks, and cheesesteaks can be found inside of most fat bitches.

The inside of a Fat Bitch. Of course, fries, mozzarella sticks, and cheesesteaks can be found inside many fat bitches.

To be honest, the fat sandwiches aren’t even that good. While they are certainly delicious at 2:00 am after a night of drinking, any other time of day they are just alright. When you take a bunch of greasy foods and shove them into a giant roll, each item tends to take on the flavors of everything surrounding it.

Fries, which are usually the best part of any meal, just make things worse. The fries at the Grease Trucks are, appropriately enough, really greasy, and they don’t have any salt. If they were crispy, they would at least give the sandwiches some much needed texture. Instead, they just blend in with everything else.

Despite my culinary critiques, the Grease Trucks provide for a fun, filling, and cheap meal. They are also a cornerstone of Rutgers and New Brunswick culture. Four years after graduating, my friends and I still frequent the Grease Trucks after a night of New Brunswick barhopping. The Grease Trucks are definitely an interesting place. I guarantee there isn’t any other location on Earth where you could clog your arteries, pick up drunk college chicks, and see scenes like this:

My fellow Jews dancing around with a Torah at the Grease Trucks.  Something isn't quote kosher about this.

My fellow Jews dancing around with a Torah at the Grease Trucks. Something isn't quote kosher about this scene.