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Final Rounds

June 25, 2014

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday, if all goes to schedule, we pull out of Jersey. I’m not ready to go.

Mrs. Fussy is in London, and I’m in charge of packing. The kids want to play with their friends, and I want to get in a few last meals. My hopes of getting back to the Jersey shore are fading quickly, so I may have to make a follow up visit to make it to Maruca’s.

On top of it all, since I abhor waste, I’m valiantly trying to use up every last bit of food in the fridge, freezer and pantry. Part of me wanted to make one last batch of chicken stock and gift it to our Israeli friends across the courtyard, but at this point I don’t see that happening either.

As the move gets closer, I’m more and more motivated to try morsels that I’ve missed over the many months we’ve lived here. In the past two days, I’ve made four stops (and probably put on at least as many pounds). Two of them were worth it, the others I found to be a bit overhyped.

Elizabeth is just outside Newark and it’s home to Tommy’s Italian Sausages and Hot Dogs. Serious Eats loves them. Me? I can recognize the strengths that Tommy’s brings to the table, but while unique, their “Double Italian dog with the works” just doesn’t do it for me.

In case you didn’t click the link, that’s two deep fried hot dogs, shoved into a half loaf of pizza bread, smothered with sauteed onions and peppers, and topped with fried potatoes. A squirt of mustard gets snuck underneath near the dog, and the potatoes are doused with ketchup.

The size of the thing is monstrous. Part of the fun is figuring out the angle of attack on damn thing to get it in your mouth.

I’ve tried a few of these now in the Garden State. Tommy’s does have the best bread, and their thinly sliced potatoes are tender in the middle and crispy on the edges. I just wish the potatoes were given any seasoning at all besides the scaldingly hot oil. Seriously, I couldn’t even touch these potatoes minutes after getting the sandwich. I didn’t even know that was scientifically possible.

If you’ve never had one before, this is as good a place as any, providing the weather is nice. Tommy’s has no seats, no inside, no arm rail. The kids and I had a picnic in the back of the minivan with the seats folded down and the rear door open.

Should you get the cup of potatoes, just make sure to get plenty of salt. You’ll need it.

The big find in Elizabeth, NJ was just around the corner. I wasn’t sure about the neighborhood, so we drove to this little green shack on the corner of a dead end street.

Di Cosmo’s may not look like much, but holy cow this place makes amazing Italian ices. The killer, as I found, is that chocolate is only available on Sundays and lemon sells out early.

It’s the lemon that they’ve been making since 1915, and I’m hoping to make it back there to get a taste. They churn the ices in 100 year old wood barrels using real fruit, juice, sugar and water. And they scoop your ice right out of the churn. Each day they only make four flavors and when they are gone, they’re gone.

Coconut, banana and orange-pineapple would not have been any of my go-to picks, but that’s all they had when we were there. It didn’t matter that none of them sounded all that appealing, each was fantastic. The banana had a true fruit flavor so rare in banana anything, the coconut was rich and creamy, and the orange-pineapple was bright and refreshing with small bits of fresh fruit.

Damn, those were great. Now I’ve just got to figure out how to get there on a summer Sunday.

Not so great was the pizza from DeLorenzo’s Pizza. This is different from DeLorenzo’s Tomato Pies. Well, I understand it’s the same family, just a different interpretation of the form.

While I know it’s dangerous to pick sides in a family divide, I’m firmly in the camp of DeLo’s Tomato Pies after my experience with the pizza. The pizza has a thicker crust and a more traditional build. But even with that thicker crust, there is so much sauce on the pie that there is no structural integrity to the slices at all.

The end crust was delightfully crisp with some burnished spots and a couple of nice bubbles. The sauce and cheese were both of high quality. But the pie as a whole just didn’t come together.

I hate when that happens. But I’m glad that I was able to give it a try before I left.

Even though the kids claimed to be full after this pizza dinner, there is always room for ice cream. It would be hard to count how many trips I’ve made to Halo Pub since I’ve moved here. However many it has been, it’s not enough. I mean, there are still several things they make I haven’t tried.

On the top of that list is their homemade draught ice cream. I’ve been told from the owners of regional soft serve shacks in upstate New York that nobody makes their own soft serve. Unless, of course, they happen to own their own dairy with the proper processing equipment.

Well, Halo has that. And they make an incredibly refreshing lower fat soft serve. Sure, it was a little bit icy, but I’m fairly certain that the producer’s principles don’t allow for any of the junk added to traditional soft serve. I’m going to need to do a bit more investigation.

Their hard ice cream may be better, but given how much weight I’ve been putting on in the past couple of weeks, I’m really glad to have a slightly lower fat and calorie option.

Luckily I hear that moving boxes into a truck burns a lot of calories. Especially if you do it in the heat of a Jersey summer. I’m looking forward to that, but it’s going to be hard to leave.

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