Love him or hate him, the late Anthony Bourdain knew a thing or two about food. I'm reading Kitchen Confidential now (finally) and his self-loathing descriptions mold an irresistible personality, but his insights into food and culture have left me missing a guy I never met. However, through his TV documentaries, we can all feel as though we've traveled with him around the globe listening to his witty, but deeply pensive commentaries as he indulged in each new region's nuances and cuisine. While he considered food's preparation and sociological implications and I teach its nutritional impact, I think Anthony Bourdain would have agreed with me that food, in all its forms and symbolic significance, is the zest of life.
"The hero sandwich of my youth. Steamer clams. Jersey Italian. Birch beer. The smell of dune grass. Vanilla salt water taffy. Fried clam strips. These things should be eternal. They are eternal."
Needless to say, I'm proud he hailed from the same tiny state as me. A New Jersey native like myself, he grew up in the heart of ethnic diversity, where the best foods from every corner of the earth flourish with an American East Coast spin. As an homage to the famous Bergen County-born chef, New Jersey has approved the "Anthony Bourdain Food Trail."
New Jersey is known for a handful of foods that you can't get anywhere else- from the pizza, to Taylor ham, to bagels, to kielbasa, to Italian subs- the state pulls you home, if for nothing else, the food. The Garden State also lives up to its name with its famous fresh blueberries, cranberries, sweet corn, and Jersey tomatoes. Then there are the famous NJ diners, drive-in burger joints, Jewish delis, Polish butchers, and seafood shacks down the shore. Not surprisingly, Mr. Bourdain, in all his travels, came back to New Jersey in 2015 to film an episode of "Parts Unknown" that focused on the gastronomics of his home state.
The Anthony Bourdain Food Trail will be completely based on the 10 restaurants that the foodie visited in the "Parts Unknown" NJ episode. There is no official opening date for the Trail yet, but rumors suspect it will be soon. If you can't wait for the official opening, you can check out the restaurants on your own. Ironically, he only chose one restaurant from his old neighborhood- Hiram's Roadstand in Fort Lee. The other 9 are down the shore or in South Jersey.
"It is my contention that New Jersey is so magnificent, so unique, its spirit and sense of humor so unsinkable that even there, seeing those places—as I do—with affection and respect and no small measure of hope, that those who watch this episode will find my beloved home state awesome and beautiful too."
Here's the list:
Atlantic City Restaurants
Dock’s Oyster House
James’ Salt Water Taffy
Knife & Fork
Tony’s Baltimore Grill
Tony and Ruth Steaks
Down the Shore Joints
Frank’s Deli in Asbury Park
Kubel’s in Barnegat Light
Lucille’s Country Cooking in Barnegat
Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee
What restaurants do you wish would have made his list? I would have added Drewby's Grill Pub in Manville. Leave a comment with your favorite NJ restaurants.