Just got home from a great few days in New Jersey and New York. As usual, Chris, Jamie, and Dotty were great hosts and, as usual, we ate our fill of the awesome Italian food that is just every day fare in that part of the country. We made it over to the Jersey Shore and spent a day with Fred, Martha, Marie and the kids. To me the surf looked very normal but I suspect that by the end of the week it will be booming. The weather was similar to Florida, maybe a bit hotter but less humid. We used lots of public transportation including a 2 1/2 hour jaunt to the beach. It couldn’t have been smoother. If we lived there, I’d have to nuke the car – the traffic, narrow streets, and parking issues would bring me to my knees. Chris deals with it like a native and amazes me with his ability to parallel park in spots that look to be 6â€ longer than the car. I always thought I was a fairly decent parker but I never, ever could have dealt with spots like he does.
The new things this trip were: An incredible deli in Montclair; we loaded up with sandwiches, pasta, freshly made mozzerella cheese, a loaf of Italian breadand a sausage stuffed with pork chunks, provolone, and broccoli raab. The obligatory trip to Wegman’s for more pasta and assorted produce; A trip to a farmers market in NY City. I expected a lame farmer’s market right in the center of the skyscrapers but we could have spent hours there enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of an incredible variety of foods and produce. And we visited a working farm, Stone Barn Farms, way north of the city. The farm included a demonstration garden where I picked up a load of tips to try in my modest patch. Then to another grocery store. Stew Leonard’s. You’ve never been to a place like Stew Leonard’s. It’s a huge, fresh market arranged in a circular spiral pattern with one way traffic. As you navigate the spiral, the product mix shifts. I don’t really remember any canned goods or soap/paper products, just food. First you’re surrounded by an awesome selection of vegetables which changes to baked goods, which gives way to the butcher shop, the cheeses, the fish market, the hot, freshly prepared foods and on and on. In each of these areas, you are completely surrounded with more than you’ve ever seen in one place. For example, in the butcher shop, there’s a major set up dealing with aged beef where the customer orders whatever cut of meat he wants and they pull out an entire section of beef and carve off the steak or roast exactly to order. If you are a dessert person, you would go crazy walking through the amazing selection of baked goods, each item looking better than the one you just passed. The whole place is something that has to be experienced to appreciate the size and wonder of it all.
Another trip highlight was getting to meet Chris’s boss. We met for dinner at the Hill Country barbecue, an excellent barbecue in the heart of the city. I will have to admit I was a bit skeptical there would be even decent barbecue north of the Carolina’s but this place passed with flying colors. Chris’s boss, Darcy, could pass for his older sister. Same complexion, same coloring – you could pick them out of a crowd as siblings. I think Chris was cringing the whole time as we chatted away answering all Darcy’s questions about Chris’s background and she went on and on about what a great sales manager he is. One thing came across loud and clear was that they each truly enjoyed their relationship and had just the right mix of mutual respect and friendship.
Been hearing on the tube that women now make more money than their male peers. Wonder if there will be all the protests and civil rights issues that we’ve listened to for years? Yeah right.
And a big recommendation for Jet Blue. Unconditionally the most comfortable planes with plenty of leg room and both TV and XM radio at every seat. So I could alternate between Fox News and The Coffee House. The seat spacing is better than I used to get in business class on international flights and comparable to first class seats – not as wide but just as much leg room. Joey met us at the airport on the way out to make sure we understood the check in process. I think we could have gotten through it without him but it was sure easier and more certain with him pushing the buttons. Now we have it down pat.