Posted tagged ‘New Jersey’

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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A South Jersey Vocabulary Lesson

August 2, 2014

South Jersey DictionaryMuch has been written and discussed about the divide between North Jersey and South Jersey – not just the literal border between the two regions, but also the cultural differences. And having spent 29 years in the neutral ground of Central Jersey, I’ve been witness to the best and worst of both sides. And one of the worst things about South Jersey is its vernacular, which is unlike anywhere else in Jersey – or the world.

So if you ever find yourself below the belt of the Armpit of America, as in south of Route 195, you will likely hear the following crazy new words:

Hoagie

While the rest of the world would call a long roll filled with various meats and cheeses, smothered in shredded lettuce and dripping with oil and vinegar a sub (or submarine sandwich if you want to get formal), South Jerseyans refer to this item by the totally unappetizing term of “hoagie.” To me, hoagie sounds like something you would call the vomited up remains of a sub, but in South Jersey, that’s what they call dinner.

In either case, they love their hoagies down there, with South Jersey convenience store chain Wawa even having Hoagiefest each year. (Warning: by clicking on that link, you’ll hear a jingle about hoagies that will immediately get stuck in your head.)

Wooder

If you are dining at a restaurant in New Jersey’s Dixieland and the waiter asks you if you would like a “wooder,” don’t be alarmed; he isn’t offering you his erection. That’s just how the natives say the word “water.”

Wooder Ice

One of the most perplexing terms you’ll hear in South Jersey is “wooder ice,” or water ice. That is the term they call the frozen dessert that everyone else refers to as Italian ice. Even more confusing, there are places in South Jersey that advertise their “Polish Water Ice,” which sounds like the butt of some joke and not something I’d want to put in my mouth.

Jimmies

Staying on the topic of frozen treats, we move on to “jimmies.” Everywhere else in the world, those brightly colored bits of sugar and wax are called “sprinkles” – but not in South Jersey. South of the border, they call these ice cream staples jimmies for reasons not fully understood.

Hoooome

This word simply means “home,” but in the South Jersey accent it is pronounced with a ridiculously long “O” sound. I know it’s hard to explain, but try stretching the “ho” part of the word, with your lips gradually coming closer together until you get to the “m” part. And that’s how they say “home” – and similar sounding words like “phone” or “alone” – in South Jersey.

[Yes, I know these words and pronunciations are more indicative of the greater Philadelphia area, but it’s just fun to pick on South Jersey. Don’t worry, I’ll be making fun of North Jersey soon enough!]

State vs. State: New Jersey and Long Island

April 18, 2014

It has now been a year since I left my home on the little slice of heaven known as the Jersey Shore to move to the gates of hell that is Long Island. So how do the two compare? Let’s see in this sort of revival of my long-forgotten State vs. State feature:

Roads

Perhaps the biggest difference is that Long Island allows you to make left turns instead of the jug handles for which New Jersey is so famous (or infamous). I definitely appreciate the ability to make a simple left instead of going around in circles, with many traffic lights having dedicated left turn signals. However, there is one disadvantage to this system – the red lights are looooong. At most intersections, each of the four roads will have it’s own dedicated green light AND it’s own special left turn arrow light, so the convenience of making a left turn comes at the expense of your time.

Drivers

New Jersey has quite a reputation for having bad drivers, but they are nothing compared to those in Long Island. In the past year, I have seen countless instances of drivers swerving from the left lane to make a right turn, and cutting off other drivers to make a left turn from the right lane. Moreover, no one seems to have mastered the use of the turn signal. While New Jersey drivers aren’t know for their politeness, I’d still prefer them over these crazy Long Island motorists.

People

New Jersey and Long Island alike both deal with negative reputations of their populations. And to stereotype the whole population one way or another is unfair. While I’ve met some really horrible people here, most are pleasant enough. But, I will say that the Lawn Guyland accent is pretty annoying. Then again, New Jersey isn’t immune to bad accents – from the New York-influenced speakers in North Jersey and the Philadelphia-inspired vernacular of South Jersey, to the strangely southern accents of Sussex County. (FYI – hailing from Central Jersey, I speak in a perfect, non-offensive accent – or so I think…)

Stores

New Jersey and Long Island both suffer from way too many highways adorned with way too many strip malls. But what’s in those stores differs greatly. One of the biggest differences is that you can buy beer and wine ANYWHERE. All grocery stores, convenience stores and drug stores have a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. The other major difference is that apparently Long Islanders can’t get enough frozen yogurt. There are at least 10 different chains and no matter where you are, there are at least three frozen yogurt shops somewhere nearby.

While this is just a basic overview, New Jersey clearly is the winner. Then again, I do have my bias – growing up in New Jersey, Long Island has always been a place of detestation. And, as I’ve learned, Long Islanders look down on the Armpit of America with the same level of abhorrence. Since neither can compete with the excitement of Manhattan or the beauty and open space of upstate New York, New Jersey and Long Island alike continue to bully each other. But there is one thing residents of both places can agree on: New Jersey and Long Island are both better than Staten Island!

 

 

My Hometown(s)

January 20, 2014

The world is full of “twin cities” – two cities side by side that are essentially one. Just consider St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota, Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas, and Buda and Pest in Hungary. But, New Jersey, and more specifically, northern Monmouth County, is home to its own pair of cities forever linked together for better or worse. I’m talking about Matawan and Aberdeen, or if you prefer, Aberdeen and Matawan. Not only is/are it/they the most famous twin cities on this side of the Mississippi, but it/they is/are the town(s) in which I grew up.

Matawan Region HS

Matawan Regional High School…located in Aberdeen

I won’t bore you with the full¬† history of Matawan and Aberdeen, but just know that Matawan is officially known as Matawan Borough, and Aberdeen was originally called Matawan Township, until 1977 when residents voted to change the name to avoid confusion. Interestingly, Wikipedia tells me that the name Aberdeen was chosen so the town could appear first alphabetically of all the municipalities in the Armpit of America. Given the nature of the two towns, that is quite understandable. You see, Matawan is the older of the two and is full of history; it’s been around since the Revolutionary War and has seen a lot of action since then. Most prominent, the town was one site of the infamous shark attacks that plagued the shore in 1916. As for Aberdeen, it is the much more boring of the two, notable for absolutely nothing. (more…)

In Defense of Chris Christie

January 10, 2014
chris-christie-is-on-the-cover-of-time-as-the-master-of-disaster

Don’t mind the creepy mugshot – he has to be innocent!

For the few of you that haven’t heard, Chris Christie is in some deep trouble. Apparently, he’s accused of retaliating against the mayor of Fort Lee who didn’t endorse him in the last election by having caused a traffic jam in his town back in September. But while many respectable news sources have immediately blamed the Governor, asserting that he knew about this scandal all along, I think they are rushing to point the finger. As Chris Christie is a levelheaded man of respect, who would never be so brash or arrogant, I refuse to believe that he had anything to do with this mess!

Let’s look at the facts, which fail to suggest any connection between Christie and the decision to close the ramps to the George Washington Bridge. Sure, the decision was made by his Deputy Chief of Staff, but it’s not like it was his real Chief of Staff who did it! Blaming him for what the Deputy Chief of Staff did, or trying to say that he should have known what she was up to, is ridiculous. Everyone knows the Deputy Chief of Staff is lower on the totem pole than an intern! And, of course, just because she decided to have the bridge closed, doesn’t mean that the Port Authority that manages the bridge had to do it. I mean, it takes two to tango. And sure, just because the guy in charge of the New Jersey side of the Port Authority just happened to be an old high school friend of Mr. Christie doesn’t mean anything either. What reason would he have to protect someone he’s known most of his life and actually appointed him to his job?

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A Jersey Christmas in the Stars

December 24, 2013

My little hiatus from blogging lasted a bit a lot longer than I had intended. So what brought me back from the depths of the internet and inspired me to start writing again? A weird little Christmas song from 1980, of all things.

Apparently that year saw the release of “Christmas in the Stars,” a Star Wars-themed Christmas album. Despite being a big (though not obsessive) Star Wars fan, I never knew such a thing existed. Perhaps if there was a Chanukah song, that would be different story – what I wouldn’t give to hear Chewbacca’s rendition of I Have a Little Dreidel!

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Bar + Arcade = Barcade!

May 4, 2013

Yeah I live in Lawn Guyland now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still write about the place I lived for 29 years, right?

Well I was back in my home state last weekend after making the trip to the Paris of the Armpit of America, AKA, Jersey City.¬† What I didn’t count on was this journey including an extra 45 minutes of driving around looking for parking. Anyway, the trip was well worth the effort, as the plan was to head to a bar I’d never heard of until that night: Barcade.

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