Friday, July 3, 2009

A Pleasant Surprise — New Jersey!

New_Jersey-Welcome_SignLast week I embarked on a short vacation and was introduced, for the first time, to one of the hidden treasures of our country, New Jersey! My girlfriend Laurie, who is a lifelong resident of the Garden State, was my tour guide for this visit.

In my 52 years I have been to New Jersey primarily only in “passing through”  mode, with the exception of a few events I’ve worked in Atlantic City over the years.  (Oh yea, and sometimes connections through Newark Airport)

New Jersey residents are proud of their state, and rightly so.  There are many wonderful attributes to this part of the Atlantic Coast.  Here are the highlights of my visit:

  • Amazing Food — One thing I learned quickly in NJ is people here like to eat…. My kind of people.  I am always intrigued, when traveling, at the distinctions with food, from place to place.    Since Laurie is pure italian, I gained the added benefit of some great home cooked Italian cuisine.
    • Manicotti (pronounced “Man ih got“) made with crepes instead of pasta, and filled with luscious Ricotta cheese, topped with Italian gravy (Us Irish guys call this “sauce”) and sausage/meatballs.
    • Taylor Ham Breakfast sandwiches — this ham is out of this world, particularly when grilled.  Add Eggs cooked over easy and melted cheese on a fresh bun and you have a winning combination.
  • PNC Bank Arts Center — On Thursday afternoon we headed to the PNC Bank Arts Center for a tailgate party and then the Rascal Flats concert.  What a terrific complex this is.  The parking area is flanked by shady parkways of trees with areas for concertgoers to enjoy food and drink before the event.  Laurie broght these “to die for” sandwiches made with fresh french bread and a variety of cold cuts including Prosciutto ham, fresh mozzarella, Roast Beef, Swiss cheese and Turkey breast.

    PNC Bank Arts Center

    PNC Bank Arts Center

  • The Jersey Shore — No trip to New Jersey is complete without a visit to the Jersey Shore.  On Friday we headed there to meet a mutual friend of ours in Point Pleasant Beach.  Not only are there stunning homes in this area along the beautiful beaches, but some other fun things as well.
Jenkinson's Boardwalk, Castaway Cove Mini Golf

Castaway Cove Golf



  • New Jersey Diners — New Jersey is famous for its diners… there are a zillion of them.  They all look similar in appearance, have essentially the same menu and are mostly operated by Greek families with amazing culinary talent.  On Saturday morning we treated ourselves to a late Breakfast at the Tic Tock Diner.  This really is comfort food at its best!
  • Full Service Gas Stations — Amazingly there still is a place in this world where you can have your gasoline pumped for you … it is New Jersey!  In fact, there are no “self service” gas stations in the Garden State.  On top of that, gasoline is about $0.50 per gallon cheaper than Chicago… whats up with that?
  • Third Annual Sausage Festival, Arlington, NJ — Hosted by Twitter/Facebook friends Jessica Levin and Vicki Lindgren Rimasse we went to a “sausage festival” on Saturday.  There was quite the food spread featuring yes, Sausage and a variety of other culinary treats.  Prior to departing for the next event, had some of the best key lime pie ever… made by Jessica!!!!!!

    Jessic and Vickie

    Jessica and Vicki

  • Stockholm — From the Sausage Festival we headed up into the local mountains to an area called Stockholm.  It was really a beautiful drive and lots of trees, hills and rocks.  There we joined a “Bear Watch BBQ” in full swing featuring many of Laurie’s high school buddies.  Once again endless choices of food including some very yummy bbq’ed skirt steak.  A good time was had by all and we spent a good portion of the evening sitting around a campfire sipping cocktails, listening to classic rock,  and trading stories.

    Stockholm, NJ Sunset

    Stockholm, NJ Sunset

  • Tony Soprano’s House — OK, I admit it, I am a huge fan of this TV show which of course was based upon a setting in New Jersey.  On Sunday afternoon we drove to the infamous neighborhood where his TV show Mansion is located.  I was awestruck by the homes located in this area…absolutely beautiful!!  And… like the true tourist geek I am, have pictures to prove it.
Soprano's Mansion Overview

Soprano's Mansion Overview

Absolutely this was an inspiring trip full of pleasant surprises.  Next time you are on the East Coast, check out the Garden State, you won’t be disappointed!

Do you know of a special place that is relatively unknown to most people.  Let us know what that place is and I will feature it on this blog.

Happy Fourth of July Everyone!

Follow Michael McCurry on Twitter

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Leora July 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

So glad you enjoyed your trip to our state! My favorite parts of New Jersey are the many environmental centers, the Jersey Shore, and the newly re-opened Forum Theatre in Metuchen.

Oh, yeah, and that not having to pump gas thing is great!

I love, love the picture of Jessica.


Michael M McCurry CMP July 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Hi Leora, thanks so much for your comments. Do you know Jessica?

Your state is terrific! I had a really good time and loved everything.

Thanks again for posting your comments!



Joel July 7, 2009 at 11:05 am


The sauce/gravy debate is long standing here in New Jersey, it’s regional, where you grew up pretty much determines which you use. Around my part of New Jersey gravy is brown and goes on turkey, sauce is what goes on your pasta. Glad you enjoyed Jenkinson’s that place is a staple here and I have spent way to much time there over the course of my life!


Michael M McCurry CMP July 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm



Thanks much for your comments and its good to know I am not completely crazy as far as the term “sauce”….. What part of New Jersey do you live in and yea I really enjoyed Jenkinson’s that was really cool!

All the best,



Joel July 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I am actually in Belmar, only about 15 – 20 minutes north of Point Pleasant. Central New Jersey right at the beach.


Michael M McCurry CMP July 13, 2009 at 10:18 pm


Hey Joel, well you are a lucky guy… the beaches in that area are wonderful.. I was very impressed during my visit. What a very pleasant surprise.

Thanks for commenting.



Del Medlin February 9, 2010 at 6:38 am

Awesome Blog, Dude! I am always on the lookout for new and interesting sports sites and posts… which is what led me here. I certainly plan on visiting again! Adios


Michael M McCurry CMP February 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

@Del Medlin,

Thanks for the comment Del.

I am glad you found this information helpful!

All the best,



Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: