Our spring show season is over and summer fun is straight ahead. I last left you with the garden and flower beds just peeking out of the soil & temperature in the mid 60’s but things sure have progressed…figs popping, bunches of Papples (½ pear ½ apple) pressing through the leaves and summer flowers in full bloom but with Spring show season over, my mind wonders to the beach and my taste memories are pulling me back to the food & ocean.
It’s off to our favorite beach town of Ocean City, NJ. a dry town loaded with family values & family-owned eateries that have lasted the sands of time…
We first hit the boardwalk to what we like to call “breaking the ice” by getting a swirled soft serve cone at the famous Kohr Bros since 1919. Ahhhhh ! Then just down the boards on the corner sits Shriver’s Salt Water freshly pulled Taffy. They have a glass back wall that shows the entire process of mixing, pulling and wrapping the luscious little packets. Yes, that’s one big piece of blueberry taffy (the stripe signifies the flavor type, not the flavor). After we watched, they actually handed some warm pieces to my wife and her mom so they could taste. WHAT A TREAT! While speaking to the Production Manager Igor Dukov, he spoke of the family’s commitment to the cast iron 1940’s machines, built in England, and that if they break down (only 1 store) they would have to have the parts manufactured from scratch because no parts exist. Can you imagine? Here’s a shot of the original family (center) and building back in the late 1800’s and here’s the latest selection today. WOW!
After a quick surrey ride (4 wheeled peddle cart- I had my wife do most of the peddling, Ha!) it was off to the beach were the Life guards gave me tips on surf under toe & rescue along with telling me their moms were avid Taste of Home followers, what a perfect fit of caring & sharing at the shore! I soon was brought right back to my childhood with the familiar DING-A-LING-A-LING of the ice cream peddle guy and his bell. Running over the hot sand to stand in line and wait for the subzero Good Humor treats (Mine’s- Strawberry Shortcake bar) in front of the many children trying to make up their minds bought me back. Once consumed I have to get my all-time favorite, after ice cream quencher, the tall iced decaf coffee, MMMMMMM
I now needed a snack, that’s right, it never ends. I found a great little family owned shop (Jody & Ger Bourgeois) specializing in donuts, crumb cake, sticky buns & coffee but the story here is not as much the baked goods (INCREDIBLEY FRESH) but the wonderful manager-Kathy and her sweet summer time employees (left to right- Tricia, Kathy, Carli & Laura) that I spoke with while at the store. What a sweet team that just made me want to come back again and again and tell others to go to 55th St. in Ocean City. It truly reminded me of our loyal Taste of Home fans that return show after show with their own hometown warmth. Oh yea, the apricot sticky buns are not to be missed, THESE ARE THE BEST!
Back to the beach & boardwalk were we had to hit our favorite pizza place Manco and Manco’s were I was told their blend of cheese has Asiago to give it their own signature taste. A true can’t miss stop on our vacay!
We found a few “must go to places” just off island, the first being Smitty’s Clam Bar in Somers Point where their New England clam chowder is by far the best I’ve had on the Northeast coast. This day they added something special, a Clam Chili, WOW! I’d never seen or tasted anything like it- great white northern beans, clam broth, a good touch of spice & tons of fresh, perfectly cooked clams. OMG- Incredible! 16
We then took a drive ½ hour south along the coast to a taco shop/restaurant called “Quahogs” pronounced KOHOGS IN Stone Harbor, NJ. This is a place that you’d typically walk by if not for the friendly locals that told us it’s a MUST GO. We first ordered their famous BBQ Fish Ribs, a special cut the Chef does from a fish flown in from the Amazon, Paco Paco, the presentation looks just like a plate of pork ribs! Unfortunately, I was unable to take a photo because the sparks were flying from us wolfing them down. We also got an order of Langosta Taco, a freshly made petite crispy taco shell with grilled lobster & pineapple with avocado spicy Mexican mayo. Truly incredible, I could go on but as they say at the lunch line, NEXT!
Well, trip’s almost over but my wife reminded me of one last thing to do in placing our order at one of the best family owned bakery/pastry shops in Ocean City called DOT’S since 1947. What a place, if you don’t place your order days ahead of Saturday-10AM check out time you could be in big trouble. Tough parking, lines of people holding numbered tickets with most hoping their favorite items haven’t already sold out and me holding the receipt for a previously placed order of Cherry Cheese filled Strudel, ½ dozen Croissant Sticky Buns( yes, the owner told me years ago they asked their young son to smear the pans for the sticky buns which he did but when he should of placed the sticky bun dough in he mistakenly put in the croissant dough) the rest is history, spectacular. Also, ordered their pepperoni cheese bread and a few apple cinnamon fritters and plenty of jealous stares followed me as I quickly shot out the door with my overflowing bags.
Of course our kids were just a couple of angels and had a great time except for all that sand in their paws & down their bathing suits. There are so many recipes and wonderful people out there yet to be discovered so the search goes on. Make things easy, go to tasteofhome.com and create your own big flavors at home making new friends for your summer fun.