I think the last time we were at the Jersey Shore was a couple of years before Hurricane Sandy. Our vacations have either been Europe or West Coast – either of which is generally less expensive than renting a house at the shore for a week. I like going down to the ocean, but my Irish complexion is just not conducive to sitting on the beach hours at a time. I’ve had some pretty horrendous sunburns in my 63 years – I don’t plan on ever having another.
So… when Victor asked if I wanted to head to Atlantic City for a few days for my birthday, I jumped at it! Walking the boards, eating salt water taffy, and pulling a few slots sounded like a lot of fun – and there’s plenty to do besides sitting in the sand. The second thing I said after saying a resounding YES was we needed to drive home on the Black Horse Pike and hit some Farm Stands.
New Jersey is called The Garden State for a reason. The produce coming out of South Jersey is pretty spectacular and the Black Horse Pike runs through what was once some pretty intensive farming. Much of it has been sold off for shopping malls and sub-divisions, but there’s still farmers out there growing some awesome stuff.
The farm stands – numerous even in the ’90s when we would come back to visit family – have dwindled to a small handful. But what they lack in number they more than make up for in price and quality. We stopped at one quiet roadside stand and spent 30 minutes talking with the woman who ran the place. She was apologizing for not having things but giving a rundown of when different things would be coming in and lamenting the finicky customers who want perfect-looking produce over stuff that actually tastes good. We had a great time sharing stories and cooking ideas and tips.
We bought raw, unheated, unfiltered local honey.
And tomatoes, corn, blueberries, blackberries, potatoes, lots of hot peppers, plums, blackberry jelly, fig preserves, melons… And spent less than $30 for everything.
We could have easily brought home more, but reality struck. We need to be able to eat this stuff up in just a couple of days. It’s fresh!
Hammonton – where Victor’s cousin lives and his mom used to live – is the Blueberry Capital of the east and the blueberries are outstanding.
We bought a couple of pints and the minute we got home Victor made a huge fruit salad and a tomato salad. I fried peppers and we had them on top of pork chops for dinner – along with tomato salad. Nonna absolutely loves tomato salad and Jersey tomatoes are her favorite – after the ones we get out of the yard.
Speaking of yard… they’re not producing as we had hoped so we may be heading back down towards the end of the tomato season and pick up a bushel of tomatoes and make sauce for canning. It would be fun.
In the meantime… we’re enjoying the few things we did get and contemplating another trek down September 26th for the Miss’d America Pageant. We saw the reigning Miss’d America – Honey Davenport and her first two runners-up, Holly Dae and Fifi DuBois on the boardwalk for a fun show and I’d love to see the whole pageant.
It was a great birthday, indeed…