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Monday, August 10, 2015

Eating Our Way Through New Jersey


      To hear some of my family's conversations you might think we live to eat.  Of course we eat to live so we might as well enjoy life while we're at it.  Eating is probably one of the main conversations in which a good many of us engage when we're together.  And just think of all the television shows about food.   Meals can be a great time of social activity.

       So most of us talk about what we're going to eat later and about things we've eaten in the past and things we'd like to eat.  We look at Yelp reviews of restaurants, books and articles about different cuisines, and recipes of dishes we are going to be making or might make one day.  Food can be a controversial topic at times, but usually far less heated and uncomfortable than topics such politics or religion.

       My visit to New Jersey has involved a goodly share of eating adventures.  Here are a few of those food outings:

Arlee's Raw Blends

Here I am in my "official" Arlee Bird shirt posing in front of
Arlee's Raw Blends in Princeton, NJ
       When I ran across this establishment on Google I made it a point to make the drive over to Princeton (yes, home of that famous university) to check it out.  Fresh juices are something I need to drink more of so this seemed like an enticing offering to try.  Besides, I needed to check out a place using the same name as I use as my pseudonym.

       Princeton is a lovely town from what I saw.  Arlee's Raw Blends seems like the type of natural food establishment that you'd expect to find in a university town--good healthy stuff.  A friendly young lady on duty at the time of our visit provided us some samples of their products.  We bought a bottle of very veggie tasting juice that my daughter didn't care too much for since it contained cucumber juice, but my son-in-law and especially their kids enjoyed it.  It's a great kid alternative to sugar laden drinks.

       After that initial Arlee's visit we stepped a couple doors down to grab some hoagies to eat on a street bench.  Having eaten we returned to Arlee's for a "dessert" drink.  I was a bit wary of a cleanse drink since I didn't know how that would affect me so I settled for a coffee blend drink as did my daughter.  It was tasty stuff.  The little ones got a fruit drink and were quite happy.

       If you're ever in the Princeton, NJ area check out Arlee's and think about me while you're enjoying a healthy beverage freshly blended on premise.

Fusaro Pizza and Pasta


        My daughter Emilee is a real estate agent in Jersey and knows a ton of people in the area.  Having gotten her real estate license at age 18 right after she graduated from high school, ten years later she is now one of the top agents in the area.  I'm so proud of her!

        One of her friends owns a pizza restaurant in Manahawkin so one day we took a short trip there to have pizza for lunch.  Pizza is one of the New Jersey staples that I always look forward to eating when I go visit my daughters.  Fusaro Pizza was a great stop.  It's also a very kid friendly place.  We decided to dine outside since the day was pleasant.

The family enjoying a pizza lunch outdoors at Fusaro's in
Manahawkin, NJ
       We ordered a nice assortment of pizzas among us.  I decided on a white pizza with spinach which turned out to be a very good choice for me on that day.  Everyone enjoyed their pizzas including the kids.  The owner treated us royally.   Antimo Esposito-Costagliola--or Andy as friends call him--comes from of family of restaurateurs so he knows what he's doing when it comes to pizza.

        Fusaro Pizza is highly recommended if you're anywhere near Manahawkin, New Jersey.  I wish they'd open a branch near me in California.

Arlee Bird (on right) and Andy  Esposito-Costagliola, owner of Fusaro Pizza and Pasta



Harold's Deli

      After my wife arrived at Newark Airport, a bunch of us--two carloads of kids and adults-- headed over to the world famous Harold's New York Deli in Edison, New Jersey.  This place had been receiving a big build up from my son-in-law Tom for a couple of years now and this seemed like the opportune time to try it out.  Harold's did not disappoint.

       I won't go into details, but you can click on the link to visit the website and see their unbelievable menu.  We were famished when we got there and totally forgot to take a picture of our food until it was over half gone.  To give you an idea of things at this restaurant let me tell you about what we ordered for the nine of us.

       We split one pastrami sandwich among the six adults and got the kids an order of chicken fingers and fries to split.  We also got a few sides.  One sandwich you may ask?  I kid you not--this sandwich is huge and at $50 you would expect a big sandwich.  Not only did we all have plenty of corned beef sandwiches to get us through that dinner, there was enough left for sandwiches for the next day's dinner.  "Sandwich" is probably a misnomer since it's really just a massive helping of premium quality pastrami with as much bread as you care to grab off the pickle bar if you run out of the bread they initially bring to your table. Yes, there is a pickle bar that you can read more about at the Harold's website.

       If you're ever in the Edison, NJ area you really should check out Harold's.  But bring several people with you as Harold's works better for group dining.

     
This is the pastrami "sandwich" leftovers that we took home with us.



Road Warrior Days Ahead

        This Tuesday begins our return home with 6 more days on the road that should prove to be fun and exciting.   I've scheduled interesting stops along the way that will include Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, and the bizarre House on the Rock in Wisconsin.  

        Since we have jam-packed days of driving and sightseeing, blogging will probably not be on my agenda until I get home after August 17th.  This means I'll be visiting Battle of the Bands posts a couple days after they've gone up.  I already have my BOTB post scheduled for this coming Saturday August 15th.  It's kind of a weak one, but due to my schedule I intended it to be this way.  The next one will be better I hope.

        Do you talk about food when you're with others?  Have you been to any of the food establishments I've named above?    Do you have any vacation plans scheduled for this summer or going on now?

52 comments:

  1. You were practically in my backyard. We live in Barnegat, next town over, just north of Manahawkin. I am assuming you hit the beaches on LBI?
    As retirees, of course, food, well I guess it's more of a discussion of meal times, is a primary topic. I suppose I'd rather hear that being talked about than the second favorite topic of retirees...hip replacements, who is on what medications, and doctor visits. :)
    Have a good rest of your vaycay!

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    1. I have visited Barnegat Light, Lyndagrace. It's a beautiful spot!

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    2. Lyndagrace, actually I'm not much of a beach person and I guess my daughter's family doesn't go there that much either so we have not yet been to the beach. We'll go to Asbury Park this evening, but I don't know that we'll even go to the board walk.

      I'd much rather talk about food than health issues so I avoid those for the most part.

      Lee

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  2. I haven't spent much time in NJ to have eaten anywhere of note. The couple times I visited my former inlaws in southern NJ, we ate at home except for the one day trip to Ocean City and we had pizza. My husband is a big time foodie. He's always talking about food and our next meal and prowling the fridge for snacks. When we eat out it's almost always at 99 Restaurant b/c their menu is huge and we've never had a bad meal.

    No vacation this summer. Not even any day trips. The weather and life have gotten in the way this year which is very disappointing. I am hoping to make a trip to Newport RI on Wed. if it's not cloudy/foggy. If I'm going to travel that far and spend the gas money, I want sunny skies and low humidity.

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    1. JoJo, a good variety on a menu is nice especially with a group of people who have different tastes. Hope you make it to Newport.

      Lee

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  3. Hi, Lee! You've been on the road quite some time now with many more adventures ahead of you. Surely you will return home with an abundance of happy memories to last a lifetime. After seeing these pictures and reading about your visits to those Jersey eateries, I've a feeling that you will also be returning home with a few extra pounds. :) The place that most interests me is Arlee's Raw Blends because I enjoy health foods and beverages. I had my very first taste of pizza in 1953 on the boardwalk at Wildwood, NJ. When it comes to preparing delicious foods of all types, Jersey does it right.

    Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your travels, good buddy Lee!

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    1. Shady, despite how it may sound, rather than gain weight I have actually lost weight during the vacation. I know it sounds like all we've been doing is eating but in reality most of my meals have been smaller and I've been supplementing Isogenic shakes that my daughter has been making for some meals. I've been feeling great during the trip.

      There is a dearth of good Mexican food in Jersey, but good Italian and deli food more than makes up for that. It's been a great trip but I'm looking forward to getting back home now.

      Lee

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  4. Yes, for fifty bucks, that sandwich should be huge!
    That is really cool you found a shop with your name.
    And that's awesome your daughter is one of the top agents now.

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    1. Alex, I'm very proud of my daughter. My other daughter's husband is not doing too badly himself.

      Lee

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  5. I grew up in New York and had cousins in New Jersey. When I think of food there, I think of diners. I miss East Coast diners. That pastrami sandwich looks awesome.

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    1. Karen, going to a diner was in our plans, but we never quite made it. I also associate New Jersey with diners.

      Lee

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  6. Great post Lee, Also some awesome pictures.
    I went to New York a few years ago whilst on a Daniel tour.
    All that food making feel hungry. Have a nice time.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, you've been to more places in the U.S than most U.S. citizens probably have.

      Lee

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  7. Looks like you had some fun times out with the family. We also enjoy food, so we make trips of visiting new restaurants, often in places that are far away. :-D

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    1. Misha, when traveling my wife and I visit more restaurants that are new to us than we normally do when we're home. Eating out with family is especially fun.

      Lee

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  8. My family too!!! I think we live to eat. We love food. I'm jealous that you ate your way through NJ.

    Great pictures of you.

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    1. Teresa, family and eating just go together. On our way home I doubt that we'll be eating very uniquely, but mostly fast.

      Lee

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  9. Our vacation time is all over for the year. My husband and I seldom think about food or make big plans. My brother-in-law is always trying to get us to try new places. Looks like you're having lots of fun exploring new places.
    Susan Says

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    1. Susan GK, when it's just my wife and I we don't talk too much about food other than if we're thinking about somewhere to go eat. When more people get into the mix then we have to make plans and end up talking about food arrangements.

      Lee

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  10. You were right by Princeton Record Exchange, Lee-you shoulda stopped in!

    Larry

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    1. Larry, actually I did go to a record store around Lakewood, NJ with my youngest daughter. They had a pretty decent inventory and I ended up buying a "Good Rats Live!" double album in near mint condition for $5.99. I'd been looking for a recording of that album since my cassette tape went kaput several years ago.

      Lee

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  11. How great to have a restaurant with your name. We talk a lot about food but not often about restaurants but what we are going to cook. Of course I also hunt for recipes for my blog- always something I have cooked or might cook or might cook in the near future. I would never post something I wouldn't eat myself. Sounds like you guys are having a fun time and so pleased your daughter is doing so well.

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    1. Jo, to me it makes sense to plan for meals otherwise we just scramble around trying to put something together that is often more unsatisfactory than what we might have had if we'd planned better.

      Lee

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  12. What a wonderful time you're having! Great pictures, too :-)
    We don't eat out very often because (he says) I never care for the food. In my defense, it's because he's such a terrific cook, nothing measures up - ha!
    Enjoy the trip back and watch for bears in Yellowstone, I hear they're a bit testy these days...

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    1. Diedre, I cook pretty good but sometimes it's nice to have someone cook for me. I doubt whether we'll have much encounter with the bears as we'll be flying through the park in kind of a hurry and sticking to high traffic areas.

      Lee

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  13. Love the photo's, what fun. We have favorite restaurants in all the haunts we visit regularly. And food is always a discussion, family loves visiting because I cook the entire time. I enjoy it though, always have.

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    1. Yolanda, my family members have been doing some great cooking here. I cook when I'm home.

      Lee

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  14. Make me wish I was able to travel like you- especially the pizza place.

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    1. CW, I wouldn't mind being able to travel more than I do now and not worry about the money part.

      Lee

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  15. The company you keep makes a meal much better. All of it sounds good.

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    1. Ann, I'd much rather eat in good company than eat by myself.

      Lee

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  16. That sandwich looks like half a cow! :) Wowzers that is big. I have not eaten in any of those places. I don't talk much about food even with friends because it's not a huge thing to me. I have been known to forget to eat which is not a good thing. We have eaten at a Japanese place which is excellent and a Thai restaurant which I love.

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    1. Birgit, I know some people who are like you and don't think about food so much. For me I have so many great memories connected with eating out and dining with others. Love Thai food!

      Lee

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  17. Food glorious food! We love trying out restaurants in different places. I saw a mexican restaurant in one of our suburbs the other day which looked buzzy and vibey. Can't wait for my friend to come visiting she loves Mexican food. Enjoyed yr post Arlee thanks.

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    1. Susan Scott, living in Southern California we probably eat in Mexican restaurants more than any other kind. That's fine with me because I enjoy Mexican food.

      Lee

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  18. How cool to find an establishment that uses the same name you do! Bonus that it serves healthy fair. Food is usually a vacation highlight for us, as well. Glad you're enjoying all the epicurean delights in the New Jersey area. Love your family photos! Everybody looks happy. Enjoy the trip home. Some of those places along the way sound intriguing. Hubby and I are currently planning a little 4-day getaway somewhere (possibly Western NY state) for later this month or Sept.

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    1. Debbie D, any getaway is a good thing. Have a good time!

      Lee

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  19. Wow, this post is making me hungry. Now I'm in the mood for a pastrami sandwich, with a little sauerkraut. Mmmmm
    You know I've lived in Wisconsin all my life and I've never been to House on the Rock. Let me know how that goes.
    Thanks for sharing the photos and experience.

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    1. Jeffrey, I've been to House on the Rock twice but the last time was over 25 years ago. I want to take my wife there and also see how much it has changed since I was last there. It made a big impression on me on my previous visits.

      Lee

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  20. I can remember eating pastrami sandwiches as a child when I lived in Montreal in Canada. I've lived in England for more than 25 years now and hadn't really missed pastrami (deli style) sandwiches until I read the bit in your blog post about Harold's Deli. Now that's all I can think about....that and proper dill pickles. Yuuuuuuuuuum.

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    1. DJ, I'll be remembering the pastrami at Harold's for a long time to come. And they had a pickle bar that was amazing. Very proper dills and more.

      Lee

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  21. New Jersey has some amazing eating, I imagine. Some of my best times have been shared with friends out eating or barbecuing. Food really does bring people together. Funny, that. But it makes sense. Glad to hear you had some quality time with your family. That is the best! Enjoy your ride home...
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, dining is best as a social experience. Eating alone is almost as bad as drinking alone.

      Lee

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  22. Haven't visited those. I do like to visit different restaurants when I travel.

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    1. Mike, eating out is a primary option when traveling unless you're doing picnic type meals. Bread and baloney was my father's favorite option when I was growing up and we hated it.

      Lee

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  23. My parents and brother still laugh about the idea I had for a restaurant when I was a preteen, The Question Mark. The premise was that you could order whatever you wanted, for really low prices (like a dollar or two). My family pointed out that's a horrible business model, since you can't have an unlimited supply of thousands of types of foods and then barely charge anything. I actually mention The Question Mark in one of my hiatused soft sci-fi books, as one of the chain restaurants of the future (the year 3001).

    The fairly new kosher restaurant here in Albany (which I haven't been to yet, given the difficulty of finding parking downtown and the bizarre choice of putting a kosher restaurant in that of all areas) has a similar model. They have all these different types of dishes and cuisines, instead of focusing on just one or two. It's good to have variety, but it's like they're trying to do too much at once when they have pizza, Italian, Indian, raw, vegan, fish, Middle Eastern, and a couple of other cuisines.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, I like a wide selection in a restaurant but I think it does require pricing that allows for the variety. Diners usually have a huge selection.

      Lee

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  24. Food is a huge topic of conversation with us. We are always looking for new restaurants to try and I am always on Pinterest trying to find new and different recipes! I love all the places you mention on this list. Jersey is not too far away so you never know I might be pulling this post out for a great place to try!

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    1. Cest, I'm always amused when people take pictures of their food to post on Facebook. I was tempted to do this.

      Lee

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  25. I feel like all my family does is talk about food! (I'm actually thinking about food as I type this.) I haven't visited any of the places you featured. We actually have a ton of cool restaurants where I live that I've been meaning to visit.

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    1. Quanie, hey, we've all got to eat so naturally food is on our minds. I'll never get through all the restaurants in the Los Angeles area. I couldn't afford it even if I did have the time.

      Lee

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  26. If I even think about food these days, I gain a pound. I long for the good old days when I was a teen and had a metabolism that worked. :D

    So did you spend much time in Yellowstone? I think it's the most amazing spot in the country and would love to go there in the wintertime. One of these days....

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Lee