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Bourdain on New Jersey: Its Just Like The Sopranos


jim07044
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I. Did you know that Newark has the largest population of Portuguese outside of Portugal? Jose wants to have a vacation pied a tere in Newark! :laugh:

And I believe Jersey City has more Cubans then Havana.

I think you're thinking of Union City.

Aside from this debate, are there any Cuban restaurants in the Jersey City/Union City area that someone could recommend?

Blessed are those who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute, for they shall be called, "Dentists." (anonymous)

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Did you know that Newark has the largest population of Portuguese outside of Portugal?

Well, it's a good size, but not the largest; that distinction belongs to New Bedford, Massachusetts; The streets here actually resemble a section of Lisbon. Food is great, too, and very authentic-- no giant lobster houses, like Newark, which one would never see in Portugal! A bit more attractive than the Ironbound as well. 3 hours from Northern Jersey, Newark is definitely closer though. http://www.moaa.org/magazine/June2003/f_world.asp

However if you include ALL Portuguese speakers in Newark to include the Brazilian population, I think you'll find a lot more here than there. That combined with the Spanish (from Spain) population in Newark amounts to a considerable number of people of Iberian heritage or transplants in our state.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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However if you include ALL Portuguese speakers in Newark to include the Brazilian population, I think you'll find a lot more here than there. That combined with the Spanish (from Spain) population in Newark amounts to a considerable number of people of Iberian heritage or transplants in our state.

OK, but that wasn't the criteria described in the original post about the largest, it was specifically referring to Portuguese from Portugal.

Besides, New Bedford is so so much more authentic than Newark. Those Ironbound 5-pound lobsters and 3-pound steaks are strictly a New Jersey phenomenon!!

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You have a problem with five pound lobsters and three pound steaks?

I submit that New England lobsters aren't even worth eating until they hit around five pounds. There's not enough claw meat to go around in any less than that.

The Portuguese and Spanish in New Jersey are doing the very best they can with ingredients that they have access to -- they don't have access to the same specie of crustaceans and fish that exist on the Iberian peninsula, so absolute "authenticity" is always going to be a tough nut to crack, even in New England. And I'll also submit that the Iberian-style charcuterie coming out of Newark is probably among the best in the entire nation.

I'll also submit that if the only Iberian restaurants you can find are tourist-style places serving huge portions of steamed lobster and steak, then you aren't looking in the right places or being particularly adventurous. Seabra's Marisquieria for example is hardly a touristy place, its a locals joint.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Look, this is no attack on the Ironbound, it certainly has its fans--

However, this whole conversation came up because of the Portuguese, and Newark does NOT have any resemblance to anything you see in Lisbon. New Bedford actually feels like Lisbon, it has an air of the old city that if you close your eyes, you can actually think you are in Portugal instead of Massachusetts.Lots of Fado music playing in the streets. The restaurants are very like the ones in Lisbon as well. The Ironbound has the atmosphere of...well, Newark!

As far as giant lobsters, that is another issue-- I dislike large portions of poor food, and giant lobsters are for the most part tasteless. I personally prefer small portions of beautiful, complex-tasting food. When I do eat lobster, the best and the sweetest are usually in the three-quarter pound size.

P.S. In Portugal, lobster is a rarityon a menu, because it is prohibitively expensive...

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Aside from this debate, are there any Cuban restaurants in the Jersey City/Union City area that someone could recommend?

Bergenline has an amazing strip of Cuban places. My favorite is Las Palmas. The grilled steaks are phenomenal. It's been a year or two, but during the time I was going there, the wait staff spoke no english. I just pointed at the menu to order.

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Wow--you beat me to it, Scott! It's probably been 5 years since my last visit, but I agree about Las Palmas!! The bisteca was hanging off the plate...

Gotta get over there now that you've put it back in my brain! :smile:

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Yes, I'm due for a trip back as well - long overdue. I hope they haven't a developed a case of old restaurant complacency syndrome. I'm optomistic. They seemed pretty ancient when I was eating there and they were anything but complacent back then. It's the kind of place that gives you the feeling that it will always be great.

That reminds me... although I went with a group a few times, on occasion I would go on my own and sit at the counter. That place has some VERY colorful characters.

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Ah.  See that's why we slipped that "London vs. Newark" question into Rachel's interview.  Alas, he chose London.  We should have made it Reykjavik vs. Newark, or maybe Bora Bora vs. Trenton.

Thats a dumb analogy (forgive my bluntness). Might as well be "London vs. Hartford, CT" or "London vs. Albany, NY." New Jersey is not about globally-recognized urban culture centers (we have NYC and Philly for that).

Thanks at least for the acknowledgement of the large metropolis opposite the state's southern end.

As for Bourdain himself, he shows his North Jersey/Metro New York bias in this one sentence in his testament to New Jersey Italian subs:

Somewhere — I forget where — somebody calls it a hoagie.

No wonder the local pols fought so hard to have the USS New Jersey permanently berthed in Camden, near where it was built.

Edited to add: For that dis, Bourdain should be driven blindfolded to the Cherry Hill Mall and required to spend a week eating nowhere else but its food court.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

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I caught the show last night and would definitely eat at Soft Tofu anytime. That food looked so good. The only thing that was disappointing was that he didn't take anyone with him to that huge Vietnamese grocery market. It was disappointing when he looked at something interesting and say that he didn't have a clue what that was. It would have been nice for a guide from the store to take him on a guided tour and explain what the things that interested him were.

Rhonda

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That was a Japanese supermarket, not Vietnamese. The only Vietnamese store I know if is in Maywood and it is tiny. Or maybe it's Thai. But Mitsuwa is definitely Japanese.

For those who liked the look of Bobolink Dairy in the winter, you should check it out in the late summer/early fall... by coming to the NJ Potluck!

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Rachel:

There's still a nice Vietnamese grocery on Route 27 here in Edison. (there used to be a big community here and in Plainfield, but not much is left of it) It's right across the street from the Asian Food Center and National Wholesale Liquidators, just south of the corner of Plainfield Avenue and in the same strip mall as the wonderful Igloo Tea House.

Didn't there used to be a Thai grocery in Kearny?

Brian Yarvin

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My criticism is he spent too much time in the north part of the state. Asbury Park is not the shore Seaside is the Shore and still vibrant. I know it is hard to put it all in an hour show but it would be like doing a show on Chicago and never leaving the Loop.

The HoJo on 35 and 66 would have been a better place for him to stop. There is another world south of Perth Amboy that begs to be explored.

And it looks like you've not been south of the Ocean-Burlington county line on the Garden State Parkway, either. (I will humbly apologize if I am mistaken, and yes, just visiting Atlantic City counts, though there are bonus points for venturing into the other communities on Absecon Island.)

Judging from the comments I've seen here--including Rachel Perlow's downtopic from this one--anything south of Interstate 195 must be Delaware to Bourdain.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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it seems to me that he, for the most part, focused on places that he knew growing up

You mean like Bobolink? :blink: Oh, that's right, that was an advertisement in-between the real segments! :wink:

As I indicated last week, my biggest issue with this show is the scripting, which makes Bourdain an actor instead of doing his impromptu thing, which is his strong suit. If they let Bourdain just be Bourdain, without a script and maybe just a rough direction, the show could shine.

Edited by menton1 (log)
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And it looks like you've not been south of the Ocean-Burlington county line on the Garden State Parkway, either.  (I will humbly apologize if I am mistaken, and yes, just visiting Atlantic City counts, though there are bonus points for venturing into the other communities on Absecon Island.)

Judging from the comments I've seen here--including Rachel Perlow's downtopic from this one--anything south of Interstate 195 must be Delaware to Bourdain.

I have lived in Montclair and Toms River for most of my life before comming to Chicago. I have picked up “diamonds” in Cape May and cruised South St. in a little town you hail from in the next state over. To do the state any justice would take several shows, four in my estimation. Lots of ground to physically cover and a lot of good and not so good places to see as well as eat not to mention all the fun things there are to do. Like a little known sub shop out Rout 528 in Jackson, they make some of the best subs in the area and it is in a deli located at the back of a general store.

If we look at the show from the perspective of his stomping grounds as a teen, it comes off better than trying to represent the stat in total.

Living hard will take its toll...
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it seems to me that he, for the most part, focused on places that he knew growing up

You mean like Bobolink? :blink: Oh, that's right, that was an advertisement in-between the real segments! :wink:

For what it's worth, Menton, Tony visited Bobolink because his production staff asked me for my reccomendations on a farm-type sustainable agribusiness in New Jersey, and I told them to contact Jonathan and Nina. There is really nothing more to it than that.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I have lived in Montclair and Toms River for most of my life before comming to Chicago. I have picked up “diamonds” in Cape May and cruised South St. in a little town you hail from in the next state over. To do the state any justice would take several shows, four in my estimation. Lots of ground to physically cover and a lot of good and not so good places to see as well as eat not to mention all the fun things there are to do. Like a little known sub shop out Rout 528 in Jackson, they make some of the best subs in the area and it is in a deli located at the back of a general store.

If we look at the show from the perspective of his stomping grounds as a teen, it comes off better than trying to represent the stat in total.

I'll buy that and let him off the hook, then.

Has anyone else on this forum been through that little hamlet in (I believe) Cumberland County where US 40 makes a sharp right turn on its way from Atlantic City to the Delaware Memorial Bridge? (I wouldn't have, either, had my partner not decided that he wanted to go to Rehoboth Beach after all once we were much of the way back to Philly after getting fed up waiting for the next Cape May-Lewes Ferry.)

It looks like a little bit of the Deep South that blew across the Mason-Dixon Line. I couldn't tell for sure, but there must be a place there that offers decent home cookin'.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Has anyone else on this forum been through that little hamlet in (I believe) Cumberland County where US 40 makes a sharp right turn on its way from Atlantic City to the Delaware Memorial Bridge?  (I wouldn't have, either, had my partner not decided that he wanted to go to Rehoboth Beach after all once we were much of the way back to Philly after getting fed up waiting for the next Cape May-Lewes Ferry.)

It looks like a little bit of the Deep South that blew across the Mason-Dixon Line.  I couldn't tell for sure, but there must be a place there that offers decent home cookin'.

Lots of places around Kings Highway that might due. Or are you talking about the area just past the GSP? As I remember there is not a lot on RT. 40 for the greater part of the trip. Afew tavern type places with good burgers but I would be hard pressed to remeber the names. Some of that area can be strange at night.

Living hard will take its toll...
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Has anyone else on this forum been through that little hamlet in (I believe) Cumberland County where US 40 makes a sharp right turn on its way from Atlantic City to the Delaware Memorial Bridge?  (I wouldn't have, either, had my partner not decided that he wanted to go to Rehoboth Beach after all once we were much of the way back to Philly after getting fed up waiting for the next Cape May-Lewes Ferry.)

It looks like a little bit of the Deep South that blew across the Mason-Dixon Line.  I couldn't tell for sure, but there must be a place there that offers decent home cookin'.

Well, sir, most of Cumberland county IS south of the Mason Dixon line.

Take a look at a map.

Dum vivimus, vivamus!

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