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Confessions of a Jersey Shore fan – Outing myself to Jersey Shore locals (and still feeling a little dirty afterwards)

3 Feb

Ok, I have a confession to make.  And it’s been a long time coming, but…

I am a fan of MTV’s Jersey Shore. And I SHOULDN’T be.  But I am.  There, I said it.

Cannot freakin’ wait to see what antics those lovable train-wrecks are going to get into tonight. (I think tonight’s episode focuses on Ron-Ron is getting an anal probe!)

Thanks to the casties of MTV’s Jersey Shore I have learned:

  • New euphemisms for referencing intimate relations and female body parts.
  • How to be a good wingman.  Grenade Whistles for all!
  • That the cast is a walking PSA for safe sex/abstinence.  Seriously, kids…this show should make you want to RUN to your parents and slap on that ol’ purity ring.  Yeah, that’s right Selena Gomez…I’m talking to you…take it easy and slow with the Bieb-ster.
  • That Snooki and Deena’s definition and personification of “being classy” makes the porn star who recently went on an all-night cocaine bender with Charlie Sheen look like Mother Teresa.
  • Kitchen Ditchin’…nuff, said.

I know I am not alone. Eight million viewers tuned in last week, giving MTV’s its highest ratings for a primetime show EVER.  The Snooki-fication of the country has become an interesting “Situation.”   (Did you know that Chuck Schumer saw Snooki at Reagan National, waved, said hello…AND SHE DIDN”T KNOW WHO HE WAS AND IGNORED HIM???)

So as you can imagine… I now have to use discretion when the inevitable subject of where I live is broached. And the enormous pop-culture relevancy that Jersey Shore has become has spawned trickle-down fall-out effects on the locals who actually call the Jersey Shore home.  Here are various scenarios that I have encountered in the last few months since the show’s debut.

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New Music Tuesday – Nicole Atkins, “Vultures”

25 Jan

From the lovely Jersey Shore-native, Nicole Atkins.  Her new album, “Mondo Amore”, drops February 8th.

Enjoy!

Blizzards & Blogging…making the best of a snowy situation and avoiding cabin fever

29 Dec

Wow, has it really been over two weeks since my last post???  Sorry, kids…between finishing up my grad project (got an “A”, thank you), holiday craziness, etc. , the time there seemed like it was slip-sliding away for a bit.

Until now, that is.

Winter Wonderland, my ass.

The Blizzard of 2010 (the post-Christmas Nor’easter which dumped over 30″ of snow on the Jersey Shore) has caused most New Jersey residents to take an extended pause.  Three days after the Boxing Day Blizzard (cute, huh?), it’s still terrible out there.  Major NJ highways are still closed due to abandoned cars that hindered snow plowing efforts.  Many residential streets are also not plowed, and some residents are still affected by power outages.   Grocery stores and gas stations are also affected due to delivery trucks being unable to make the daily rounds.

I am thankful to say that my family and I are not among those poor souls without power or food.  (That would be bad.)  Over the past three days, we have shoveled out half of our long driveway – enough for a one car-width path to back out to the street.  With my OCD personality, I calculated that we moved about a ton of snow…maybe more (think about a 10-lb scoop of snow and multiply that by 200 scoops…trust me, I was keeping track.)  And, I probably burned as many calories as a one-hour spin class!

It hasn’t been that bad, a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.  (Except if I see one more Eyewitness News people-on-the-street interview of oblivious Upper West Siders who think the snow is “marvelous, we took baby Sophie for her first sleigh ride in Central Park..isn’t that a novelty har har”, I may puke.

My Mink Coat and Ski Mask shoveling ensemble. The Michelob hat adds a nice touch. Too much?

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This is how we (maki) roll…AKA “It’s a freakin’ miracle on Highway 35” (a pre-holiday story)

17 Nov

Ichiban Sushi Maki Roll

Sorry, readers,  the Delicious Orchards post is going to have to wait till tomorrow.  Tonight, I witnessed such a touching Pay It Forward human moment that preempts an (anticipated) post about apple cider yeast donuts and the East Coast’s most amazing pumpkin pie.   Clap your hands if you believe in fairies, kids.

(LONG POST, BTW)

Every year, my best friend, Heather, celebrates her birthday with her mom, a couple close friends and me.  It’s a tradition that’s over 20 years strong.  The cast of characters changes each year…a crazy grandmother, crazy grandmother’s drunk boyfriend , crazy aunt…you get the idea.   But one thing has always remained constant.  We celebrate at a hibachi restaurant.

Tonight, we celebrated at Ichiban, a sushi/hibachi restaurant that now occupies a former McDonald’s restaurant on Highway 35 South in Oakhurst, NJ.  They kept the Mickey D’s sloped roof, and you can tell that the parking lot was designed for drive-thru runs.   But I have to say, the owners have done a very impressive transformation.  Very chic interior, sexy lighting, great bar…Ichiban strives to serve its patrons a different kind of Happy Meal.  And their Happy Ending usually involves a tempura ice cream sundae.

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Stuck in the 90’s with you…the Inkwell Coffee House

12 Nov

Inkwell

As a teenager back in the mid-1990’s (remember those days?), my friends and I always went to the Inkwell Coffee House in Long Branch, NJ. 

It was pretty gross…sticky floors, dirty tables, heavy cigarette smoke, and goth-wannabe servers with the appropriate touch of ennui and disdain.  However, the Inkwell was open till 4:00am, made an amazing drink called “Dutch Coffee” (coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and butter…it’s good, you just have to be there), and offered “freshly cut apple slices” as a menu item. 

I can still hear the strains of Nirvana Unplugged, Patty Smyth and the Cure piped in on the jukebox, while my friends and I (attired in berets and decked out in black nail polish) cadged cigarettes from the older patrons (the 18 year olds) and complained about how our parents were soooo out of touch.   It was the official meeting place for white, suburban teens and suburban teen angst.  God, I miss those days.

Driving past the Inkwell last week, I noticed a sign that advertised free Wi-Fi.  I’ve been working on a grad project for the past few weeks, and have been looking for a study place that was not in my house, where I am easily distracted by people, house projects and my Yorkie.  I decided to give the Inkwell another try.

The place has since gotten a new owner, and has had a minor re-do.  Going up the rickety stairs into the “foyer” I was greeted with a large poster of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters from 1990’s classic Pulp Fiction.  “This is promising”, I thought. 

The clientele still has that touch of dirty I remember…mostly kids from nearby Monmouth University these days.  The music is piped in from an alternative XM channel.  Non-smoking restaurant laws have since gone into effect.  The coffee house now serves chai.  I think the board of health actually gives the Inkwell as passing grade now. And the Inkwell now accept credit cards. 

I sort of felt like a fossil…a relic from a storied chapter in the coffee house’s history.  The college kids bitched about class, bitched about their lovers and roommates.  I zoned out and typed until midnight. 

But they still serve Dutch coffee and sliced apples.   And the service still sucks.  And for me, those are reasons that still make me want to go to the Inkwell.

The Inkwell Coffee House is located at 665 Second Ave., Long Branch, NJ 07740. 732-483-0444 http://inkwellcoffee.com/

Nicole Atkins – some of the best music you’ve never heard returns to NJ

11 Nov

Nicole Atkins

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is born and bred here on the Jersey Shore, and will be performing at the South Orange Performing Arts Center this Saturday, November 13.  And, no I’m not talking about Bruce (although I realize he would probably be the first one to come to mind).

I’m referencing Nicole Atkins, born in Neptune City, NJ and currently residing in Asbury Park.    She has a fantastic voice…deep, soulful and a little 1960’s retro.  Critics have dubbed her a singing style a cross between Roy Orbison and Jenny Lewis.

Atkins career gained momentum after Columbia Records scouted one of her many her open mic performances in NYC’s Lower East Side.  In 2006, she assembled a band, Nicole Atkins & The Sea, and released an EP, Bleeding Diamonds.  The following year, an LP, Neptune City was released, as well as a cover LP, “Nicole Atkins Digs Other People’s Songs”.  A new LP, “Mondo Amore” will be released in January 2011.

I’ve seen her twice; once in 2008 at the Algonquin Theater in Manasquan, NJ, and once in 2009 at Asbury Park’s legendary Stone Pony.  Both times, Nicole gave performances that were simultaneously electric, lively and grounded.

This weekend, she’ll be supporting Aimee Mann (another songwriter who I love) at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, NJ.    I won’t be able to attend this time, but if you’re looking to hear some new talent, be sure to check it out!


 

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Kick-off – Asbury Park Trolley Tour

3 Nov

Greetings From Asbury Park postcard

One of the Jersey Shore’s most famous towns gets to kick-off this year’s Jersey Shore Restaurant Week roster of events with a culinary trolley tour.

Sponsored by Don Q Rum, 901 Tequila and Tito’s Handmade Vodka

When: Thursday, November 4th.

Location: Starts at Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park Time: 6pm Cost: $75 drinks, dinner and trolley (tax and gratuity extra on dinner).

Details: Hop a trolley at The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park and enjoy cocktails, hors d’ouevres and live music at Langosta Lounge and Trinity and The Pope before returning to the Dauphin Grill @ The Berkeley for a delicious 3 course dinner and more cocktails.

Music Lineup :

Langosta Lounge– Sonni Shine and the Underwater Sounds

Trinity & Pope– The Wandering Bards,

Dauphin at the Berkeley – Nuvo Jazz Quartet.

P.S. There is still time to purchase tickets!

awwww yeah…it’s Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Nov. 4-14!

2 Nov

Jersey Shore Restaurant Logo

One of my favorite events on the Jersey Shore is Jersey Shore Restaurant Week (*), which is taking place this year from November 4-14.

As a Jersey Shore “Local” (year-round resident), I love the quiet months of October thru May, when summer tourists, summer residents and the “Bennies” pack up and leave.  Not that I don’t appreciate how they stimulate a mostly tourist-based economy, but I appreciate the silence, the shorter lines and the lack of New York license plates.

Jersey Shore Restaurant Week is like a “thank you” to the Locals and me.  In exchange for putting up with all the summer craziness, I get one week of access to over 65 amazing restaurants (that actually serve great food) at cheap prix-fixe pricing.

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A Healthy Debate on a not so healthy food…Hot Dogs

21 Oct

Sometimes it seems like NJ residents can be more divided than a blue or red state!

-The Boss or Bon Jovi?  (No crossing party lines.)

-When you’re going to The City, do you mean Philadelphia or New York? (That designates if you are from South Jersey or North Jersey.)

-The Windmill or Max’s?

For long term Jersey Shore residents and tourists alike, the mere mention of Windmill Hot Dogs or Max’s Famous Hot Dogs elicits fierce, passionate arguments about which establishments serve the finest hot dogs.

Forget Coney Island’s Nathan’s franks…forget the New York City “dirty water dogs”…forget the Italian-style hot dogs popularized by North Jersey restaurants (Yes, there is a North Jersey, dear Virginia, but that’s a story for another time).    Entirely different entity.

Windmill and Max’s hot dogs are classic, open face grilled, charred and split open to perfection.   They are considered the classic “boardwalk” food staple.  Even this Jersey Girl who swears off most processed food, soda, dairy and red meat will succumb to this salty, mega-calorie, belly buster once every few months.

So let’s weigh the options:

A Max’s Fan Testimonial:

Best Dog around!
Max’s is near the beach in Long Branch. It is a big quarter lb Schickhaus beef/pork dog slow cooked on a griddle. Delicious and one of the best beef and pork dogs in the state. In fact, I would put Max’s right up there with the Galloping Hill Inn in Union as the best of this type. About a block away in Long Branch is the Windmill. They also have about a dozen other locations spread out across the state. I know they have one in Hazlet. A good dog with a very tough casing. I prefer Max’s. A little more flavor than the Windmill.
By John Fox: avid hot dog eater for 40 years.  Brings wife & children.  Lives in California

For Team Windmill

Zagat Readers 2008 and 2009 declare “There’s nothing better than a crackling hot frank off the grill at this NJ hotdog haven”

Playing both sides – Bruce Springsteen’s Rock & Roll Manifesto

“Our love of all things American…cheeseburgers, baseball and hot dogs at Max’s and the Windmill.”

If you ever find yourself on the Shore, be sure to taste test them yourself and decide for yourself!

Can’t get to Jersey?  Windmill will ship their hot dogs to anywhere in the country.

p.s. (I’m a Windmill girl, myself!)

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