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24 Hours in Jersey

November 25, 2013

With almost three months under my belt, I feel like I’m capable of playing Princeton tour guide to some of my food-loving friends from around the country. This last weekend I got a chance to practice as Albany Jane saw fit to make the drive down from upstate NY.

I think she is what we sometimes like to call an enabler. So much so, that even after she left, I found it hard to put on the brakes.

Today the madcap eating escapade stops and I climb back up on the horse of aerobic exercise and clean living. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t live vicariously through the tale of excess that was my weekend. Just promise not to read any further if you have a weak heart or a fair constitution (or if you happen to be my mother).

There were healthier options for Saturday lunch. The Institute has a locally famous cafeteria that failed to interest AJ. She also was not interested in trying our local soup dumplings or the good Szechuan joint nearby. No, she wanted a taste of the Princeton institution that is Hoagie Haven.

This is the place that makes all kinds of disgusting sandwiches with disgusting names. How a father can buy his kid a sandwich named the Bodybag is beyond me. Oddly though, I have no problem getting my kids a Sanchez.

After a few visits to this den of unholy fried foods shoved into long crusty loaves, I’ve figured out a few things. One, avoid anything that comes with “cheesesteak” because it’s just a piss-poor excuse for a cheesesteak. Two, they are totally willing to work with you and customize any sandwich to your twisted desires.

The Sanchez is pretty good. It’s chicken cutlets, mozzarella sticks, french fries and cheese, all doused in a spicy cream sauce. Oh, who am I kidding, it’s hot sauce mixed with mayo. I finally got to try a variation on that for the kids that replaces the Sanchez sauce with marinara and thus makes the thing into an extra fried chicken parm grinder of sorts.

Also I was compelled to try the Wake Up Call. Technically, it’s eggs, bacon, cheese, pork roll, hash browns and a cheesesteak. But I swapped out the cheesesteak for mozzarella sticks. Naturally, a few squirts of hot sauce are required to perk it up a bit. That was pretty good.

And on the side we split an order of deep fried mac and cheese bites. These were officially way better than the mozzarella sticks and may need to be substituted for the substitution on future orders of the Wake Up Call. Also it should be noted that Hoagie Haven’s hash browns are far superior to their French fries. That means my next Sanchez will likely swap out the mozz sticks for mac and cheese bites and the fries for the hash browns. God help me.

But Albany Jane got her some pork roll, so this stop was a big win. And it was washed down at home with a local River Horse Hop Hazard.

Really though, I was most excited about having my former pizza judging colleague down to visit so we could have a mini tour of Trenton Tomato Pie Parlors. The kids tagged along for what will be known as “The Night of Two Dinners.” We started early and went to Papa’s Tomato Pies first and followed it up with another pie from DeLorenzo’s.

The kids were unanimous in their love for Papa’s. The adults preferred the thinner, crisper, and more flavorful pie at DeLorenzo’s. However, Papa’s also has the Trenton Mustard Pie, for which AJ has agreed to return.

Pizza dinner just wouldn’t be complete without ice cream. So we followed up the mini tour of Trenton Tomato Pie with another mini tour of Princeton Ice Cream Parlors. Halo Pub went head-to-head with The Bent Spoon. While The Bent Spoon really does a great job with inventive flavors like chocolate perfumed with Earl Gray, Halo Pub still won my heart. Both with their richer rounder coffee and their mint cookie that used something other than Newman’s Own sandwich cookies. Those cookies may have better ingredients, but they don’t stand up nearly as well as an ice cream inclusion.

Sunday morning was reserved for donuts. Naturally we had to make two stops and pit the icing filled donuts from Nino’s against the icing filled sticks at Eet Gud. I totally don’t understand the appeal of these cloyingly sweet “buttercream” fillings for donuts. But Albany Jane was into them, as was Little Miss Fussy.

In the end there were fifteen donuts, two cookies and two cream puffs for two adults and two children. We did a heroic job on them, and then handed off what we couldn’t dream of finishing to our neighbors. Officially, they were thrilled to sample such delicious donuts in advance of Chanukah. I have a funny feeling there will be a few runs made down to Trenton from the Institute that may clean out the supply of jelly donuts from Eet Gud’s shelves during the holiday.

We made sure to give Albany Jane plenty of coffee before she hit the road.

Mrs. Fussy was flying in to Newark later the same night, so I decided to pack up the kids and finally try one of the famous Italian Style deep fried hot dogs with onions, peppers, fried potatoes and mustard in a “pizza bread” pocket. People say to order the double that comes on a half loaf of bread with two dogs. Those people have to be nuts. One was plenty.

I’m intrigued enough by this regional hot dog variation that I want to sample a few more by other purveyors. But I’m not entirely sure why this combination of flavors continues to survive.

And thanks to a flight delay, after the hot dogs I was able to take the kids to a twenty-four hour diner for milkshakes before picking up the wife. She arrived hungry, so I asked the grill man for an egg and cheese on a hard roll to go.

“Just salt and pepper.”

Maybe we’re never going to be fully Jersey. But if that means eating eggs without ketchup, I think I can live with that.

Now it’s time to sweat.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2013 10:33 am

    There is a sausage w/potato that is a specialty in Grosetto (Tuscany) that I have been looking to make. Len Poli has a recipe on his site. There are also several Scandinavian meat/potato sausage recipes. Perhaps this is where the idea got its inspiration.

    Alternately, sausage/ potatoes/ onions/ bread is a classic American breakfast combo, so why not throw it all on a roll? It seems to make sense to me and I will put mustard on anything so that is not a problem.

  2. November 25, 2013 11:02 am

    You said we can get anchovies on the mustard pie. At least half anchovies. :D

    Thanks for a great whirlwind day of eating. Oof, I’m still full.


  1. Princeton, NJ | Albany Eats!

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