Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Food Memories of the Jersey Shore (and the Giveaway Winner)

Long Weekend at the Jersey Shore - Spring Lake, NJ

Yes, friends, that is a picture of my legs. I took the picture while sitting on a chair on the beach on the Jersey Shore this past Labor Day weekend. Why did I put a picture of my legs on my food blog? Because, on the very first day of December, it's cold and windy and rainy, and I just want to travel back in time so I can relive that mini-vacation at the beach. And because it's time to remember the food my boyfriend and I ate on our trip.




Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

Clinton Station Diner
2 Bank Street
Clinton, NJ 08809
(908) 713-0012 | Map

Rewind. Stephen and I had to get to the shore first. And to do that, we had to fill our bellies with diner food. So our first stop was the Clinton Station Diner for breakfast.

Corned Beef and Eggs at Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

Corned Beef and Eggs at Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

What does any woman do before she's about to spend a couple of days in a two-piece bathing suit while laying out on the sand? She orders a hearty breakfast of Corned Beef and Eggs ($6.95). Naturally. I was a little surprised that the dish came with a generous helping of home fries, but I love potatoes, so I wasn't complaining. The eggs were cooked just the way I like them -- not too greasy with a soft yolk perfect for dipping my slices of rye toast in. I couldn't quite finish all of the food on my plate, but I was pleasantly surprised that I left the diner feeling full without feeling like my stomach was going to explode. (I know you know what I'm talking about... For some reason, diners really bring out the glutton in me a lot of us.)

Clinton Station Diner on Urbanspoon

The Johnson House Inn in Spring Lake, NJ

The Johnson House Inn in Spring Lake, NJ

Stephen and I got back in the car after breakfast and drove to Spring Lake and spent some time settling in at The Johnson House Inn, an absolutely charming B&B only a few blocks from the beach. I mean, look at that porch. I would have been perfectly content to spend the whole holiday weekend sitting in one of those rocking chairs, reading a good book, and sipping on coffee or a glass of wine (depending on the time of day). But the sun and sand were calling out to us, and we changed into bathing suits and spent the afternoon on the beach.

Garlic Knots at Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant in Spring Lake, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant
1110 Third Avenue
Spring Lake, NJ 07762
(732) 449-9595 | Map

When it came time to find some dinner, Stephen and I were surprised that the majority of the places near the B&B were closed. We could either get back in the car and drive to a restaurant or we could join the crowd at the Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant for some Italian food. We're joiners, so we squeezed ourselves in at a table in between a group of folks and a woman dining alone. To hold us over until the main part of our meal arrived, Stephen and I split an order of Garlic Knots ($1.50). We're lovers of garlic and can withstand insane amounts of the stuff. With that said, the knots we received were slightly overcooked and could have used more garlic.

Chicken Francese with Spaghetti at Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant in Spring Lake, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

Chicken Francese at Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria and Restaurant in Spring Lake, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

I was famished and had a hard time choosing what to eat. Stephen wasn't persuasive enough to convince me to order pizza, so I ordered the Chicken Francese ($14.95). Something about a lemon and white wine sauce sounded really appealing, and the entrĂ©e came with pasta (I chose spaghetti) and a side salad. The chicken was tender and the sauce was nice and light (a good thing after the breakfast I had that morning). But the spaghetti was peculiar. Bite after bite, I kept tasting a hint in cinnamon and I couldn't figure out why they'd put cinnamon in tomato sauce. I even made Stephen try some because I was worried about my taste buds. I couldn't confirm whether there really was cinnamon in the sauce, but Stephen tasted it, too. That was evidence enough for me to eat all of the chicken and to leave the pasta in its little bowl.

Pasta

Most of the photos of Stephen's dinner turned out too fuzzy to publish here. The lone surviving photo was the one of the "M" he cut out of one of his pieces of pasta. "M" for Michelle. Who says romance is dead?

Spring Lake Gourmet Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Spring Lake Beach - Spring Lake, NJ

The next day, Stephen and I didn't waste any time getting ourselves back to the beach. And it didn't take much time for the space around us to fill with other beach-goers looking to improve upon their tans. Before we knew it, our stomachs were growling and we had to decide whether to grab food on the boardwalk or to walk back into town.

Cheeseburgers and French Fries on the Boardwalk at Spring Lake Beach in Spring Lake, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

French Fries on the Boardwalk at Spring Lake Beach in Spring Lake, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

We were feeling way too lazy to walk back to the B&B, so we scrounged for some cash and ordered Cheeseburgers and French Fries from the stand on the boardwalk. Don't you just love how the salt in the air at the beach makes burgers and fries taste so much better? Our simple meal brought back so many memories of the trips we took to the shore with our respective families while growing up. I love how food can do that in an instant.

Western Burger at The Porch in Spring Lake Heights, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

The Porch
810 Highway 71
Spring Lake Heights, NJ 07762
(732) 449-5880 | Map

Can you believe Stephen and I went out for burgers that night? We ventured out in the car and found ourselves at The Porch. The restaurant was pretty deserted for a holiday weekend, so we didn't have any trouble getting table, but the service was extremely slow. I had to resort to the hair-flip to get our server's attention and our appetizer -- Mozzarella Sticks with Marinara ($5.99) -- came out of the kitchen when we were halfway through with our burgers.

Western Burger at The Porch in Spring Lake Heights, NJ - Photo by Taste As You Go

I ordered the Western Burger ($8.99) because I couldn't ignore the tempting call of bacon. Despite the wait for our food, my burger was cooked the way I wanted and was juicy on the inside. It was a massive mother of a cheeseburger, though, and I could only manage to get through about three-quarters of it. A good call on my part given what we ate for lunch!

Porch on Urbanspoon

The Johnson House Inn in Spring Lake, NJ

While the food we ate while at the Jersey Shore was, in general, okay, Stephen and I had a fantastic time during our getaway weekend, and we can now say that we love The Johnson House Inn. We'll definitely be back, so... thanks for the memories, Spring Lake!

Crazy About Cookies Cover - Courtesy of Sterling Publishing

And now, it's time to announce the winner of the Crazy About Cookies Giveaway! Thanks to the help of Random.org, the recipient of a copy of Krystina Castella's latest cookbook is #15:

Craftyangie - Ooh, cookies! I've done that in the past... 
but I end up eating lots of the batch myself... 
hopefully, once the twins get older, I can start that tradition too....
for now, it will be me and the batter... 

Congratulations, Angie! I'll be contacting you for your mailing address!