Swiss Miss

It’s been a month or so since the last blog entry and I haven’t been too motivated but I got a box from another country this month and as you might surmise from the title it was from Switzerland.

The Swiss Box comes in 3 varieties and I opted for the mid range box at $40. The cheaper one is all chocolate and the more expensive one you can pick items you want. Once I ordered the box there was a wait for shipping day and when it shipped I got an email notification but there was no tracking info only a message that it would take 2-4 weeks. It was right at 2 weeks for me. Here’s what I got in my box.

I have to admit I stirred up the packing peanuts looking to see if I was missing something because this didn’t look like much for my forty bucks. Alas, this was it and I started off disappointed from a perceived value standpoint. The only hope was that one or more of these food items would be such a home run (since we’re talking Switzerland I suppose a goal is more appropriate) that it would overcome that perception. First up was one of the raspberry hazelnut tarts.

The snack consisted of three parts; a crispy hazelnut ring, raspberry jam, and a biscuit, I mean cookie (watching too much British TV). I tried just the cookie first since it was the quite prominent base the other two sat on. It was so bland and at the edge of stale I almost didn’t bother with a real bite to get all three components. Fortunately I did. The hazelnut ring had a great taste and excellent crispness that started making up for the sad, sad cookie and then the delightfully sweet and tart raspberry jam joined the party and made this not just tolerable but delicious.

The next two items were also not bad but I wasn’t enthused enough to offer them their own photo opportunities. One was a fairly tasty bite sized chocolate covered malted milk morsel that was pleasant. The chocolate was a darkish and the malted center was crunchy and malty. The other was chocolate covered shortbread balls. They were enjoyable. The milk chocolate was of good quality and the shortbread had a good flavor and crumbly cookie texture. It wasn’t as buttery as an excellent shortbread would be but maybe the chocolate would have masked had it been. Both were well done snacks I’d happily have again.

The item I saved for last, because I hoped it was going to be the one that made me most nostalgic for Swiss snacks, was the chocolate bar.

My hopes were met as the Frigor bar by Cailler turned out to be the star of the box. It was an excellent milk chocolate bar with a hazelnut almond cream filling. The chocolate and the cream filling melded so well together it was hard to call it a filled chocolate. The whole had a silky texture that literally melted in the mouth, as well as hands if you held it longer than a second or two. This conjured memories of Geneva where I used to get a plain milk chocolate bar at a tobacco shop located by the central bus station whenever I took the train and bus home from school. That bar had the same silky consistency and meltiness that this bar had and while I can’t swear to it I believe it was made by Cailler as well.

As much as I loved the Frigor chocolate bar it didn’t totally overcome my issue of perceived value. So while all the elements included in the box were very much quality examples of Swiss snacks I didn’t feel like it was a $40 experience. If I was going to recommend Swiss Box I’d say try the smaller box and enjoy the Swiss chocolate experience at the lower price point.

Brazilian Yums

Universal Yums presented the first repeat country this month with a second box of snacks from Brazil. Fortunately there was only one actual duplicate among the goodies.

It was a good mix of sweet and savory so a little something for every taste. I did get something different this month in the form of cassava chips that wound up filling the “weird” snack spot. My favorite though was a white chocolate strawberry number.

Bib’s Morango Extreme bar was quite the surprise. As soon as the package was opened the strawberry smell leapt out and grabbed me by the nostrils.  The bar itself was decent white chocolate and the strawberry was in the form of crunchy little bits of concentrated flavor that made this a delight to eat. Number 2 for me was the 1891 bar.

Another white chocolate entry. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate so having it be top two is something I’d consider unusual. I’m not even sure how to describe this. I didn’t feel like it was all that tropical but it was delicious. The banana was there but muted for me and the caramel was a nice addition. Somehow it all worked. Now for the weird.

The Mandioca Chips Cebola were thin sliced and fried cassava chips flavored with onion and garlic. I liked the flavor of these but the texture was what got it slotted as weird. It definitely had crunch but I wouldn’t call it crispy, unlike a potato chip. Basically it had more give before the snap of the crunch. Not sure how to describe it other than that. Flavored ok but just an odd crunch. Still head and shoulders over the worst snack.

These were the only ones I actually disliked. They were coconut and cheese flavored cookies. I’ll just wait a second while you process that.

The sleeve of cookies held a boatload of half dollar sized cookies.  The coconut was evident by smell and coconut was the prominent flavor to start.  Then a weird sour flavor surfaced that was apparently supposed to be cheese.  It was cheesy but also kind of stinky feety.  Not a fan.

Brazil 2 definitely suffered the sophomore slump from my perspective but still enjoyable on the whole.

The next box is filled with Scandinavian snacks. Fingers crossed there will be at least one good licorice treat.

Edit: Shortly after wrapping up the post the Scandinavian Yum box was delivered and there is some licorice now I just have to hope it’s good. From my quick perusal I think I’m going to enjoy this box a lot.

French Yums

The February box from Universal Yums was stocked with snacks from France. I was really hoping for the some fancy escargot flavored chips but alas things were not that exotic.

While I didn’t get to try my first snail in this box there were some other quite decent snacks to try. The oddest was also one of my favorites so I’ll save it for the Odd slot and promote another to the Silver Medal spot. In a fortunate situation the Worst one was really just disappointing rather that bad and I’ll start with that one to put it behind us.

The Sibell Tube a Grignater Fromage looked like it should have been great. I mean it’s a cheese snack from France how can it not be good? Well if you don’t really have enough cheese flavor that’ll do it. The tubes were mostly squashed flat rather than being a rounded tube. I guess that made packaging more efficient. The corn snack was crunchy and corny but the cheese element was disappointingly light.

The chocolate elements fared better and all three were very tasty, however the Cemoi Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Crystals was the top of the box for me.

I’d call it darkish rather than straight up dark chocolate that was nevertheless good quality and the salt crystals were a nice add. The whole had a slightly smokey flavor that was just delicious.

These little strawberry chews were a favorite also. They were a bit waxy and tough but I grabbed a handful and ate one at a time. Turned out the heat from my hand softened them a little and made them easier to chew. The flavor was absolutely artificial strawberry with a little sourness but they embraced it and poured it on. I know that doesn’t sound like it should be in the favorites but they were a treat to eat. The chews had that in common with the weirdest of lot.

The brown oblong blob on the left is a tart cola taffy that was probably the snack I enjoyed the most in a box that had good stuff. The chewy texture was like a taffy and the cola flavor was in your face from the start. It also had some added tartness that I could feel in the pucker glands (those exist, don’t doubt me).

I have to give the truffles honorable mention.

The first pic shows a pack that was about the size of standard candy bar and the 4 truffles in this pack, that looks like something you’d buy at the gas station or as you’re at the checkout line, were better quality than the fancy box ones. They were just plain old creamy cocoa dusted truffles but damn fine. The fancy box ones were almond flavored cocoa dusted truffles and were quite good as well. The flavor and texture gave it a marzipan-y taste and mouthfeel if marzipan brought a big chocolate friend. Good stuff.

So even if I didn’t have anything really new from a flavor profile there were some good snacks in the box. The next box is from Brazil so I hoping to get some new flavor from them.

Spaghetti Western

Italy

To be fair I didn’t have spaghetti but the restaurant was such a ghost town tumbleweeds were blowing through.

It occurred to me that I have really given Italian restaurants a short shrift for much the same reason I avoid the standard Chinese & Mexican restaurants in every shopping plaza in America. They tend to be generic and for all practical purposes share the same menus. Acknowledging that prejudice I decided to give a local Italian joint a chance.

Right around the corner from me I have two to chose from, located in adjacent shopping plazas, Mario’s & Luigi’s. It makes me chuckle every time I think about it, all we’re missing is a Princess Peach Ice Cream Parlor. I’ve eaten at both since moving to Rock Hill so I knew Mario’s had very little in the way of atmosphere and the menu was pretty standard. Luigi’s has the Italian restaurant aesthetic with pictures, vines, and wines.

When I got there the staff was already outnumbering the customers and the single table of 3 left shortly after I arrived so I was soon the lone diner. My server was very nice and attentive throughout the meal. The menu did have the staples of various noodles with red sauce or alfredo and various parmigianas plus of course pizzas. I decided on the Chicken ala Luigi as something that was a little different.

The Chicken ala Luigi was a couple of thin chicken breast pieces lightly floured and seasoned along with mushrooms and artichokes in a garlic, white wine sauce over fettuccine. It came with 3 little garlic bread sticks. The first bite was not impressive. The sauce was decent but it felt like it was missing something. I got a bite with some of the chicken and the blank was filled in, salt. The bit of salt from the seasoned chicken made the difference and the same for the bread that had garlic salt on it. It had the effect of making one appreciate the chicken and bread more than usual. Now lest you wonder why I didn’t just add some additional salt, I probably would have as a reflex except there was no salt or pepper on the table. I decided not bother requesting any and just enjoy the extra importance the chicken and bread assumed.

Honestly if I had to pick between this and Olive Garden the only reason I’d pick Luigi & Sons is because they were local and not a chain.

One bit of amusement I probably wouldn’t have gotten at the Olive Garden was my server talking with a co-worker about things going on in their lives and a subject came up that the one said to the other, “That’s probably not something to talk about out here”. They walked into the kitchen and because of the noise raised their voices so I heard the conversation even clearer than when they were standing in the dining area.

It was good enough I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it even if I’m not making it a regular on the “I’m too lazy to cook tonight” tour.

Trail Head

So as I mentioned in the last entry my plan was to start hitting the international flavored restaurants again and while Legal Remedy Brewing doesn’t represent any country specifically there are some tenuous international connections which I’ll point out a bit later.

What kind of derailed my initial plans were the weather and downloading the Visit York County app so I could do the Brew Trail & Taste Trail. One is a list of breweries in the county and if you check in at 6 of 8 you can get a t-shirt and the the taste trail has a list of 15 or so restaurants and if you hit 12 and have their “signature” dish you can also get a t-shirt. I saw these as win, win, win contests and I love winning contests. I decided to start both at the one establishment that gave me a twofer being on both lists. Legal Remedy Brewing is also a place I’m familiar with and like.

Their signature dish for the Taste Trail is an appetizer, Southern Poutine.

Here’s our first international connection, Poutine is a Canadian dish, eh. The LRB Southern version happens to be well fried, semi-crispy French fries topped with smoked jalapeno pimento cheese, bacon, and pepper jelly. Initially I disdained cutlery and proceeded to play a sort of edible jenga game where the goal was to get a hold of the fry with toppings and not get any on me. That led to a leisurely dining experience until people started noticing the intense concentration and deliberation with which I was eating and I think they started worrying about my sanity. When the fork and knife were brought to bear the pace was accelerated and the bacon and pimento cheese disappeared in a frenzy of fries.

The pimento cheese was good but I didn’t notice much smokey or jalapeno-y about it. The pepper jelly was an interesting addition that was more jelly and peppery. The bacon was just right. Overall it was enjoyable the portion generous enough I didn’t even finish it all. The beer might have helped in making me feel full.

As is my want in a place that offers the option, I got a flight of the seasonal offerings. As you can see I got a mix of light and dark. I started with the heaviest and went lighter as the meal progressed. The Barrel Aged: Elements of a Crime was an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and conditioned (I have no idea what that means) on Brazil Monte Verdi coffee from a local roaster. And there’s the other international connection, Brazilian coffee. The stout was just that and had very much embraced the barrel and its bourbonness.

The next dark beer was Exhibit:Gingerbread Porter. A mild porter that had some hints of clove but that was about the only one of the winter spices it was brewed with I could discern. After the two dark ones I had the Probation Pilsner, a German pilsner with a light flavor and hints of evergreen. I saved the Bribery Bittersweet Orange Wheat for dessert. A sip of that provided a nice flash of orange that quickly dissolved into a bitter finish, in a good way.

In summation your honor it was a good lunch and a great start to the trails.

Indonesian Yum

Welcome to the country of islands, 17,508 according to the booklet with the snacks.

If this box is a representation of the Indonesian snacks as a whole they have a bit of a sweet tooth in southeast Asia. Two thirds of the snacks were sweet rather than savory. The ones I’m highlighting betray my own sweet tooth, starting with my favorite of the box.

The Coffee Joy cookies were as named. They were thin crispy cookies with a hint of coffee taste and topped with a sprinkling of sugar crystals. I sat there enjoying them watching TV and was surprised when I realized I reached the last cookie. Nothing complex but a complete treat.

My second favorite came from the Yum bag which has the little bite sized candies. In this case one of the several gummies in the box.

The Cola Burger, on the far left in the photo, did in fact taste like cola. This took me back to youth and the first cola flavored gummy I ever had in Geneva. I’m sure the nostalgia bumped it up in the rankings but it really did have a very nice cola flavor and the burger shape was fun. Since you saw them in the pic I’ll say the tamarind hard candy was interesting and I wouldn’t mind one every now and then. The melon milk chew was a contender for the oddest thing in the box. It wasn’t horrible but not two flavors I love together. Speaking of odd.

The track record for meat flavored snacks has been spotty and best and this one didn’t improve the record. They have a slightly weird smell I’ve started to associate with artificial meat flavor and find off putting. The little balls are made of tapioca and have a slightly sweet flavor and a decent crunch. The size and shape make them a pain in the behind to grab a few and eat though. If the flavor had been different they might not have been my least favorite snack in the box but alas it was fake beef and just kind of nasty.

This little bowl of fun I thought was the most unusual, but in a good way. Both the egg and noodles are like gummies with some slightly sour fruit taste but sweet overall. The noodles had a slight sugar coating that also made them easy to separate. I don’t know what the flavor was but I like it and it was definitely a snack that brought a smile as I ate it.

I just wanted to mention these because of the savories it was my favorite and sort of like corn nuts I can get here. The difference was instead of being the swollen kernels we have these are regular corn size kernels and just as light but with a crunch that makes a sound like an 18 wheeler driving down a gravel lane. Bonus they were garlic flavored.

Overall the Indonesia box was solid with only a couple of duds. Well done Universal Yums.

Surf City 2019

I was running a little early for check in and decided to stop for lunch when I got near Surf City. I was keeping an eye out for something that looked local rather than fast food or a franchise. I saw the Village Cafe in Hampstead, NC and decided to give it a try.

There weren’t many cars in the lot but it was a little after the prime lunch hour so I wasn’t that concerned. When I walked in it took a few moments for anyone to see me waiting and when they did I got a lady who walked over and smiled and asked “Can I help you?” “I thought I might get some lunch,” was my response and that got a surprised “Oh, OK.” I don’t know what she thought I was doing there and I’ll admit I wasn’t sporting my dress shorts and beach polo shirt but I don’t think I was channeling my inner hobo either. She offered a seat at the empty bar first and then reluctantly offered to seat me with the other patrons if I really wanted. I flirted with asking to sit right next to one of the two other occupied tables just to freak her out but I preferred the bar anyway.

After sorting this out and spending a minute with the menu I ordered the chicken Gouda sandwich with house made chips.

The sandwich was not bad. The avocado was an interesting touch but the chicken breast was really small, chips were probably made the day before and the bun was meh. Definitely not a great start to a culinary week.

Sunday morning I decided to venture forth for breakfast and set out walking towards the business area. I passed up a place I visited last year and was lured in by the aroma of the Xanadu Market bakery.

The shop is split into two sections customers can wander around in. As you enter there are a few tables and the bakery case, coffee urns and cashier in the first section. A large opening lets you into another section where you can see the bakers busily going at it and the products on cooling racks plus some being packaged.

Unlike most bakeries I’ve visited these had a lot of items already wrapped in plastic wrap and labeled so grab and go was certainly quick. From the case I got a cranberry orange muffin and just because I love them a blueberry scone. The cranberry orange muffin was good, a little moist and enough of both flavors to enjoy but let the batter taste still make it through. The scone was not as pleasant. The flavor was ok but it was too dry and crumbly and the consistency was not quite sconey (I’m sure that’s a word) enough. I also got some croissants to take back for the family and discovered they were the real deal. I got plain, chocolate, spinach, and red pepper & cheese. I had half of a spinach and half a red pepper & cheese and they were both great. They were buttery, sweet and savory with a fantastic texture. Definitely better than the scone.

The next new experience was lunch at Surf Dog with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Another place in walking distance so we got a little exercise strolling down to the shopping plaza where Surf Dog is located. They atmosphere is beachy. They have a decent number of tables and a good size bar / counter to eat at. The menu isn’t complicated but they certainly embrace the dog theme with the names of the hot dogs. I settled on a Boxer & a Mutt with homemade chips.

I liked the presentation of the dogs with the interesting bun that was like a cross between Texas toast and a top sliced bun. It did a good job of holding the grilled all beef dogs and the toppings. The Boxer was topped with pimento cheese, bacon, onion and jalapenos while the Mutt sported their secret sauce and sauerkraut. The pimento cheese was warm but not messy like I’ve had when it’s been a topping on burgers I’ve had in the past. The secret sauce wasn’t special but the kraut was tasty. Both were delicious. In summary the dogs were tasty and toppings were plentiful without being too messy. The chips were thick, fried enough to be crunchy, and based on the nice color in oil changed reasonably often. My sister gave the fried chicken sandwich a thumbs up. Surf Dog definitely worth a do-over unlike the next contestant.

We had just about the whole crew rounded up and carpooling to Coastal Wing & Spirits Co. We had high hopes for this place and they were across the street from a brewery so it felt like it should be a twofer; good food and local craft beer. It was barely a onefer. We were seated relatively quickly by the one person working the floor when we walked in. She pulled some tables together so we could sit in a big group so the initial impression was good, from the service point anyway.. The first bump came when the other server came to get our drink orders. They didn’t have any of the beer from the place, literally across the street, and the one beer I tried to order they were out of. At noon. On a weekday. Spoiler, it wasn’t going to be the last disappointment.

We got our food order in after determining they were out of something else, I can’t recall what. I ordered Uncle Carter’s Chicken Bog.

So the description on the menu was Long Grain Rice, Pulled Chicken, Smoked Sausage, Spices, Roll. That’s lifted right from the menu. The rice was long grain and the sausage might have been smoked at some time, there were some grey bits. The chicken was pulled alright, from a can. It still had the rounded contours from the can on some hunks. The main flavor was salt with stray hints of other spices. I never saw a roll so that might have been a warning to roll on out of there but I wasn’t smart enough to decode it. On the other hand the fries were competently done and the tea didn’t suck. And to be fair the waitstaff was very nice and friendly trying to work with what they did have. In case you haven’t guessed I’d not recommend this spot.

The last place I want to mention is Topsail Steamer and the food we got there. We take turns cooking supper for the whole group and my folks know how to make good grub. Each year I do a low country boil which other folks know by different names but it is essentially shrimp, sausage, corn & potatoes all boiled together with seafood seasoning. In the past I purchased the ingredients and we always had local shrimp. The issue in the past has been big cooking pots at a rental spot. Last year I saw Topsail Steamer (it’s next to the doughnut shop) and had been mulling that option for a year. In addition to the combo I wanted they have several others varying or adding the seafood plus you can add additional amounts of this or that ingredient. The big deal is they put all of this in a light single use (but you can find other uses for them) pot and they use local shrimp and have options for the seafood spice as well. Simple steaming instruction and a few containers of butter and cocktail sauce not to mention the brown paper for the table. It’s not as cheap as buying all the ingredients yourself and putting it together but I loved walking in, paying for it then coming back and picking it all up at the time I wanted. The end result was fantastic. This is the first of 3 piles to hit the table.

Photo courtesy of Keith Beasley

The quality of all the ingredients was good. The shrimp were a nice size, we had two kinds of sausage and they both had good flavors and the corn was sweet and the potatoes did their potato job and filled you up. They will be my go to next year on my night to cook.

This year I didn’t try as many new spots and my luck wasn’t as good as last year but as the saying goes, “just wait ’til next year.”

Beach Beer

I decided to add a new activity to our family beach vacation this year. On the way to get some cider for the trip I thought it might be fun to have a beer tasting and introduce people to beer they might not otherwise try and have some fun with their reactions. My thought was to keep it local by only including NC & SC beers and have 4 pretty different styles.

We used small cups as our tasters so it only took two bottles / cans for everyone to have a decent taste with little waste in case someone didn’t care for one of the selections.

The first one we tried was RJ Rockers Peachy King. Let me say now I’m using internet images because some brain surgeon forgot to take snaps of the containers.

RJ Rockers is out of Spartanburg, SC and the Peachy King is a wheat ale brewed with, you guessed it, peaches. It’s also 9% alcohol which got peoples attention even with the little shot cups. I didn’t do a word cloud but some comments were; creamy, bitter, peachy, pecan?, yuck and a straight up shiver of dislike. We had one person enthusiastic about it and several others like it while a third did not and a couple were in the OK camp. Personally I liked it.

Our next contestant was the Lenny Boy Ground Up Coffee Stout.

Lenny Boy is a Charlotte brewer and the name of the beer pretty well lays out what it’s all about. It is a 5.3% beer. The consensus was the coffee taste was there but it was mild. It was not as bitter as the Peachy King but we had several people who weren’t coffee fans so that didn’t help them much. No one was enthusiastic about this one, although a third liked it. It did get a nod for best aftertaste from one of the panel. As much as I like stouts I have to say I didn’t love this one.

Our third beer was from Sycamore Brewing, their Strawberry Lemonade Gose.

Sycamore is from Charlotte and I’ve been there a couple of time on a Friday when they had food trucks so I was already feeling positive towards the beer. If you aren’t familiar a gose is a sour beer that usually has a salty taste as well. This one is tarted up even more by being brewed with lemons and they say there are strawberries involved as well but it was a real struggle to find any. Initial impressions were; sour, lemon, lemonade flavor, acidic, and no. It is a summer beer that should be ice cold when you’re drinking it. About a third liked it, most were jumped on the OK bandwagon and one just didn’t like it at all.

Our final entry was the White Zombie white ale from Catawba Brewing.

Catawba is headquartered in Morganton, NC and I’ve visited the Charlotte location which has a very nice taproom. The White Zombie is a Belgian style wheat beer of 5.1% alcohol and a hint of citrus courtesy of the orange peel added to the brew. Interestingly this had the most initial likes but didn’t finish as the top beer in our final review. Early comments included; pissy (yes that’s what I typed), light, least bitter, watered down, a hint of orange. My feelings were it was meh.

When all was said and done Peachy King was the overall number 1, White Zombie took second, Strawberry Lemonade avoided last place by being third and the poor old Ground Up Coffee Stout was easily in 4th place.

Thanks to all the guinea pigs, I mean tasters; Lynn, Mr B, Dee, Alex, Haley, Chris, Paige, Garrett, and Lauren who joined us in spirit and can for real next year.

We all enjoyed the activity and plan to do it again on next years trip with the twist that everyone who wants to participate will bring a beer to ante up. Very much looking forward to it. Only 51 weeks to go.

Opening Day

Food Truck Friday

I am a couple of weeks behind posting and this was actually a couple of Friday’s ago. I’ve got stuff in the hopper now for the next few weeks but I wanted to start the catch-up with this one.

I’m not a hunter however I look forward to the opening of another season, my local Food Truck Friday season. I guess I do hunt for new food trucks and dishes to try during this season but my taxidermy bill is nil.

My day hadn’t been stellar up to the point I departed for the event. I’d flown earlier in the day and there was an almost hour delay getting bags from the plane to the carousel which peeved me a tad. I was counting on this first FTF to counteract that and it did. I rode in listening to 80’s music on the radio and got out to the strains of Journey’s Any Way You Want It from the evenings band, Kids In America an 80’s tribute band. They did a great job and as you can see from the photo committed to it with the hair and wardrobe.

With that promising start I was off to the beverage tent where the rotating tap selections included, Funky Buddha Black Currant beer.

It had a purple hue and tartness from the black currants that made this Belgian ale enjoyable from sip one. They call it a Tripel Lindy which seems like a Back To School reference to me and just added another point in its favor. It also had a 9 point something alcohol percentage which I noticed by the time I hit the bottom of the cup.

From that point I was in hunter mode searching for signs of something different and tasty. After reconning the array trucks available I backtracked to Momo Food Truck.

They had several options I was interested in but the special of dumplings over a rice bowl looked like a winner to me and spoiler, it was a winner.

Talk about fusion, there was a lot going on in this dish. The chicken was served with a gravy that had a definite Indian influence kind of like tandoori flavor with light tomato gravy. Accompanying that was plain basmati rice, steamed vegetables and oddly pico de gallo. The steamed dumplings were filled with minced chicken that was lightly spiced and had what tasted like a hint of coconut and the whole drizzled with a mustardy sweet sauce. Like I said a lot going on. I have to say this was absolutely worth having again.

I almost forgot, check out this utensil they were supplying with the food. I’d not seen this before and thought it was worth a pic. I didn’t need to cut anything so I didn’t test how sturdy it would have been with the knife snapped out.

The evening was a perfect temperature and as I shared a bench with a family, who’s kid knew every one of the 80’s tunes (good parenting), enjoying the breeze and my Sugar Creek Blood Orange IPA I felt the satisfaction of a successful opening day.

New Jersey Nosh

US – Northeast

As on most Saturday mornings I was preparing to go grab breakfast at one of my usual haunts when I remembered a new spot I’d seen on my way to the Doctor earlier in the week. It was in a spot that has been at least two other restaurants that I’d visited so I thought let’s see what #3 might have going for it.

I checked them out online and when I saw this on the menu I knew I had to check them out.

I figured if they had crayons on the salad I needed to see if they were cooking with E-Z Bake ovens and using a Lite Brite for the menu board. (Spoiler Alert – they didn’t and aren’t).

When I got to Momma’s Place I was the only patron in the restaurant. I was greeted and seated quickly and set up with coffee and a menu. When I got the menu the guy waiting on me let me know the whole menu was open so order anything I wanted. As tempting as a crayone salad might have been or more seriously an empanada for breakfast I decided to stick with “regular” breakfast fare.

In this case a bagel with eggs, pork roll & provolone cheese.

Now getting to that required navigating a lot of options. The stock breakfast sandwich is two eggs (fried, scrambled or omelet style) on a roll or bagel (plain, everything or cinnamon raisin). You can add meat (bacon, Italian sausage, pork roll or ham) or cheese (American, Swiss, provolone, cheddar, pepper jack, muenster, or Monterrey jack) for little extra.

Never having had pork roll and after some discussion about how pork roll was like the unofficial official breakfast meat of New Jersey & New York I had to try it out. It’s also called Taylor ham in some quarters for reasons you can find out on Wikipedia after Googling it.

Looking at the photo you may have had the same reaction I did, “that’s just fried bologna man.” It was in fact fried but it was definitely more hammy tasting that bologna. It was fried to the point where it was a little bit crispy and paired well with the rest of the sandwich.

The staff of this place was really great, friendly and more than willing to converse with the customers and answer any questions. I’ll definitely go back and try some of their other offerings, although I’m still not that keen to try the crayons.