Friday, April 30, 2010

I am my own terroir

Je sais, je sais! All of my characteristics don't exactly go together like chocolate and peanut butter, so I probably wouldn't make for a good bottle of wine. Luckily, I'm just a person so my characteristics can be all over the map and that just makes me more special.

Here is a portion of my characteristics:

baked - I need to maintain just like everyone else
bright - I gots me a brain
charming - I can be very charming ;)
chocolaty - it runs through my veins
earthy - I don't shave
edgy - I have some nerve and acidity, but I'll give you a piece of bread to ease it
expressive - my face does funny things on its own
feminine - I admit this is questionable, but I can be
firm - cartilage
flabby - I have soft spots
gutsy - I have been known to do a gutsy thing or two
herbaceous - an aggressive extraction now and then is not a bad thing
hot - speaks for itself
inky - I've got tattoos
luscious - you should see me eat whipped cream!
peppery - I've got spice
powerful - yes
prickly - I can be
racy - but well-balanced
robust - I'm getting older (not necessarily maturing though)
sassy - that's me!
sharp - as a lure
smokey - it's my dirty secret
sweet - I can be
tart - chocolate pear
warm - I do make a great cuddle-buddy in the colder months

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No one likes flaccid bacon

Roebling Tea Room
143 Roebling Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211-3365
(718) 963-0760
Lunch - Mon. - Fri. 9:00am - 4:30pm
Brunch - Sat. - Sun. 10:00am - 4:30pm
Dinner - Mon. - Fri. 5:00pm - 12:00am
Dinner - Sat. - Sun. 6:00pm - 12:00am

Brunch-time o’clock on an early-spring morning in hipster Williamsburg, NY will find many folks dining at the Roebling Tea Room. The building is an old industrial brick structure that looks more hunting lodge than tea room inside. The wallpaper has hounds and men on horseback with riding crops and funny outfits (much like the clientele). As beautiful and inviting as the inside may appear, the noise is nigh on raucous and maintaining an audible voice over the din for any extended period of time will require that you drink more tea. It’s a marketing ploy I tell you!

I could tell that the company that the Roebling keeps is hipster to the max. I didn’t see a symmetrical haircut in the place and I could have had a field day counting piercings and tattoos. I felt like I would have fit in better if I had more tattoos or if my hair was pink and crooked-spiky. It wasn’t that crowded for a Saturday brunch, but I’m sure the place is banging at night, especially because they have alcohol.

If only the tea didn’t disappoint as much as my last three boyfriends. When I go to a tea house, I expect a certain level of tea service that the Roebling just does not satisfy. Tea will not stay warm in a pot with no lid. The place is drafty, so the tea needs a scarf and hat. Add to that the fact that the cups/mugs that a pot of tea is served with are tall, thin, white porcelain coffee mugs. Did I just write coffee mugs? Yes, I did. It seems to me to be an affront to tea houses everywhere to serve tea in such a lackadaisical, irresponsible manner. It takes gumption. The tea itself might have been good if I had been able to taste it through my initial haze of unhappiness at its tepid temperature. After that my disappointment was due to my disgust at seeing pieces of porcelain chips in the bottom of the teapot that I just don’t understand were missed by the server.

I have a minor obsession with pork roll egg and cheese (PRE&C) sandwiches. It is one of my many obsessions, but it has deeper roots than even the chocolate obsession. It’s a Joisey sandwich and deep down I’m a Joisey girl. In any event, a PRE&C sandwich should only be served one way and one way only – on a roll. The layers should be particular and why the hell would you put mustard on a PRE&C? Salt, pepper, and ketchup go on a PRE&C and that’s it. I had to order it since it was on the menu though, despite my pessimistic attitude about it not living up to my Jersey standards before I even got it. It came to me on a plate with shoestring fries. The “sandwich”, if that is what you want to call it, was on artisan white bread – with MUSTARD!! The eggs were scramble/fried, not true-fried, and the cheese was hidden in there somewhere. There were only three pieces of pork roll on this joke of a sandwich. Aside from the fact that odd numbers are bad luck, why not throw another slice on there? You’ve already decided to screw with me by putting mustard on the “sandwich”, so go the whole nine yards and put two, or none? Please don’t call that “sandwich” a PRE&C if you care so little about the food to display it and serve it like a scoundrel displays himself from underneath a dirty trench coat.

My friend ordered the drunk beans and they were by no naturally-occurring entity’s definition drunk. They were also questionably beans as there was so much liquid in the bowl that you could barely see them. (The waitress had no answer when asked what made them drunk. Maybe it was meant to be drowning beans?) The temperature of the food was lukewarm, which means that the queso shreds on the beans never had a chance of melting. The bacon my friend got as a side was flaccid and cold (here we go about my exes again). They only gave him 2 slices, which is unforgivable. For a slightly eclectic menu, my suggestion is that they go slightly more eclectic, so the bad food is part of the joke. I mean, part of the menu, of course.

There are, surprisingly, some good things I have to say about Roebling. The service itself was the only reason I didn’t leave in a huff. The waitress and staff were friendly and not pushy. We were also seated when they said we would be, which was after only 15 minutes of waiting. The dining area itself was clean and orderly. The prices were typical NYC brunch prices, so there were no surprises. I would go again if the tea itself was better. I truly believe that a place that calls itself a Tea Room should have higher standards for their tea and teaware.

Nota Bene or whatever: This was just a little ol' review from little ol' me for a course assignment.

Next up: my amazingly positive review of Barcade! Then, a post regarding the angst I've been experiencing after spending so much time in Williamsburg.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Ramps can blow me. I just don’t understand how this dirty little onion, that doesn’t taste any different from any other dirty little onion, can be so popular. Yes, it is seasonal. Yes, it is green, mostly. Yes, it has a cute name. However, I don’t see why all the fuss. It isn’t as if ramps make men more virile or women more fertile or anyone less like an asshole. They are the cupcakes of green veggies: small and trendy. As it is with cupcakes, however, you have a mob of people following other people’s tastes, instead of following their own. Where is the ramp cupcake? I want to see a carob cupcake with some garlic foam for icing. But wait! There will be a magnificent ramp sticking right out of that earthy mound. What do you think?

If I wanted to eat something that tasted like onion and garlic, and dirt, I’d eat an onion and some garlic, and some dirt. The green part I can do without too. Don’t get me wrong, I love green vegetables. They help things move along and they are chock-full of vitamins. Plus, they taste good – they taste green. They taste like you are eating something healthy and you feel better for it. They taste like Spring and sun and earth.

I love broccoli. Where did all the broccoli love go? Broccoli is dependable, timeless, sturdy, and fractal-y. It is just like Kermit, minus the fractal aspects. (I will admit here and now that I’m an old lady in many ways. I’m 32 going on 85. I eat non-dairy products so the arthritis in my hips won’t flare up. Hence, I like tried-and-true veggies.) Spinach? Who doesn’t love Popeye? He has tattoos and eats healthy and defends his funny-faced lady love. (I may have an interest in this scenario for personal reasons, but that’s another story.) Brussels sprouts are pretty awesome too. They are mini cabbages! They are little, baby, cute, adorable little cabbages. If cooked well, they are sweet and meaty at the same time. Let’s talk about cabbage. Cabbage is good too, minus the stink that some people associate with it. Lettuce? Asparagus? Broccoli Rabe? Kale? Peas? Don’t forget all of these other amazing green vegetables this Spring. Join me in the stand against ramps! They’re a’ight, but ‘a’ight’ shouldn’t qualify them for a Pulitzer!

I’m not hating; just venting. To prove I mean no harm, here is a smiley face: :) Those make up for everything! :)

Plus, being contrary is my shtick.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Travel Writing Assignment

Pork roll will always hold a special place in my heart, so I am forever writing or talking about it. This was an assignment to write a short travel piece. As usual, I chose to write about the town I grew up in.

Pork Roll @ The Parrot

Low tide isn’t a bad smell. If you are walking along Bay Avenue in Highlands, NJ and high tide was 12 hours ago, you are likely to smell the bay floor. The bay floor consists of centuries of pulverized clam shells, (possibly) doubloons from the old Pirate/Rum-Running days, and trash of the white variety. (By the way, it’s the Beach, not the “Jersey Shore”.) The low tide smell in Highlands is different from the low tide in other places in the best of ways.

The appreciation for the smell of low tide comes with living in a clam-digging town. You miss it when you leave and relish it when you come back. Living in the midst of it, though, you sometimes forget. Visitors need a little schooling in order to appreciate the smells of Highlands. Everything you eat will taste like everything you see, hear, and smell. This includes, but is not limited to, low tide, skunk weed, regular weed, fish, barnacles, sand, pork roll, pizza, hot sauce, Jay Muse, cheap beer, and stray cats. Also, cat fights (feline and human), fist fights, bar brawls, old briny seamen musings, the ghost ding-a-ling of the drawbridge that is in the middle of being taken down, seagulls, and barge horns. A pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich doesn’t taste right if there aren’t grains of sand involved, or you aren’t witness to some violence.

You will never eat a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich that tastes as good as the one you get at The Parrot. In a small town such as Highlands, there are few delis, but this place is the go-to place for a good pork roll, egg, and cheese (or a sub). Taste is partly smell and smell is partly taste and they are both connected. The sinuses of the locals can barely smell the nuances that a low tide pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich contains. Pork roll is salty enough without adding salt, but the salt air adds just the right hint of ‘extra’ salt: not overboard, not undertow.

The Parrot is one of those dining establishments that have been owned by the same family for generations. They either know your name already, or will assign you one on your first visit. It is really just a rinky-dink kind of diner with plastic stools along the bar and a few tables inside. There are a few picnic tables outside in the warmer months as well. The Parrot is the place you want to visit to pick up some subs and juice before heading to Sandy Hook on a summer day, or to have your 4am breakfast on your way to work on one of the clam or fishing boats. The ketchup may have been sitting on the Formica tabletops a few days too long, but they are usually wiped clean by the babies and toddlers who suck on them like bottles, whose parents are usually outside having a smoke while they are doing it.

When the time is right and you want to take the next step in the Highlands food experience and order that pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich, I need to warn you about something. For God’s sake, don’t just order a pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich! If you enjoy being either laughed at or sneered at for the remainder of your stay, please order it like I’m about to tell you to. You must say, “Can I get a pork roll, egg, and cheese on a hard roll. Saltpepperketchup!” Trust me on this one.

You may decide to eat your sandwich at Huddy Park, which is across the street from The Parrot. It is nice and all, but you could go down to the beach by the Community Center to have a little beach picnic. The tables outside of The Parrot work just as well too, but the true experience comes when some sand flies into your sandwich as you’re eating it and you end up with sand-sandwich. Heck, you’ll eat it anyway. And, you will love it.

The Parrot:
71 Waterwitch Ave.
Highlands, NJ 07732

See also:
Sandy Hook