This from Our August 31 Birthday Boy, David D. Wronski ...

Here I am today on my birthday ... in the heart of New Jersey. 

You know, I used to live in Arizona. There, there's a Taco stand on just about every corner. Here, in "Joyzee" that would be ... a Pizza Parlor on every corner.

On my birthday I chose to treat myself to Pizza. Make that a righteous, oily cheesy New Jersey style Pepperoni Pizza. 

At one of our go-to's Ritacco's in Nutley, New Jersey.

I don't think it gets any more Italian in New Jersey than that great Pizzeria.

But, this is not a restaurant review. The food's great. Alright? Check out the "Monster" 20" pie. 

So, here it is:

Seems a friend of mine has recently come out. 
[Got you! Not what you thought I was talking about, was it?] Come out ... on the question of how to eat a slice of Pizza. 

Seems the gentleman insists that any proper human being eats one's slice with the kind of respect and dignity only two hands can confer. 

His wife, I believe, is of the fold-your-slice persuasion. I do hope they can work their differences out. Time is the great healer. And, as I myself have learned, one learns to adjust to the lady's way of thinking.

Me? I have to say, even with the prospect of my friend's disapproval lurking in the forefront of my consciousness, I am of the fold-it type. Hey, it's a Pizza! I can get it about two hands if it's a Blini Beluga Canapé. But, to me, as wonderful as it is, Pizza is a casual eating experience. My friend will argue that it being casual is no excuse for lowering your standards.

De Gustibus non est disputandem. That should settle it. That phrase is, after all, from the Italians. Classical as it may be. Here in New Jersey the Italians have the Pizza eating rules down.

Witness the bro's reactions to my eating with two hands. Lucky to have gotten out of there in one piece. And, I don't mean piece of Pizza. Which, by the way, we took three pieces home for later.

(That is NOT my tongue! So ... no comments!)


Kitchen Secrets

We just hate it when the cook arrives at table with the meal and then proceeds to spark everyone's appetite chatting on about how difficult it was to prepare, and what crucial ingredient was left out. Or, what crucial ingredient was accidentally put in.

[Word to the wise on that latter point. DO NOT substitute — EVER! — anise oil for vanilla. Even if you confessed, it would be noted. Just don't.]

Things go on in the kitchen. Or, in the example we're sharing, near the kitchen.Things that should not be discussed with the guests. Even the family. Things, even, that should be put out of mind forever. Just what is in the "secret sauce" the cook keeps bragging about?

A story to elucidate the point: 

A Grand Lady and proud Daughter of the American Revolution, whom I once had the honor to call my mother in law, told this story. All guest were seated for the Thanksgiving feast in the dining room awaiting the what promised to be a splendid roasted Turkey to arrive from the kitchen. On cue the cook appeared from the kitchen through the swinging door, and forthwith dropped the masterpiece right onto the floor. Without a pause the hostess simply instructed to, "Take that one back to the kitchen and, [wait for it] ... bring out the other one".

That is how it's done. 

As my sainted mother herself would so often say, "No one's the wiser."

This is not to encourage mistakes or, heaven forbid!, sloppiness in the kitchen. Like I said ... things will happen. 


The Birds and the Bees
... and a Bakery

David D. Wronski, our old friend and long time collaborator, sent us this review. When in Montclair ... (DDW is reputed to be THE Doughnut Editor At-Large for the WSJ. We don't vouch for that, but we hear it gets him entrée from time to time.)

David Wronski shares:

You know how you can live next to something great for a long time and discover it only when you do? Here in historic (and colorful ... CLICK to view my "Colorful Montclair") Montclair, New Jersey there are some pretty nice bakeries. 

One that made up a special order for us a few years back for a conference we hosted specialized on the healthy side of the street. That would be Walnut Street, in case you wondered. Almost directly across on that street there's another bakery, Gina's; which isn't unhealthy, but they don't specialize in the whole this, or the organic that. Great for our favorite Apple Turnover and Baguettes and Pain de Epis. That last one. So adult. You have to watch out not to get impaled when you eat one of those things.

Which brings me to the Montclair Bread Company, circa now. New owners since the time we did business with that shop. Now it's a community owned and operated bakery. Per them, "We strive to make the highest quality baked goods for everyone to enjoy." 

And ... Doughnuts!

You had me at "Doughnuts".

So we tooddled on over this morning. Early bird catches the worm. In this case for the elusive Jelly Doughnut. Maybe an Almond Croissant. Danish? And, how about a regular Cake Donut? And a cup of the local brew.

So here's the deal.

Scored all in all four categories. Jelly (Raspberry) Donut, Cake Donut (Blueberry ), Pain aux Raisins, Almond Croissant.

Top grades all around. Rich, delicious, moist. Goldilocks would approve. (BTW ... We prefer a little more Marzipan in the croissant than in our sample, and the more creamy moist type. Just a quibble though.)

But, hey! We came for the Jelly Doughnut.

Hand to heart. Going in my position was, they better be good at $3.00 a pop! And, they were. I asked the server if the Doughnuts were "heavy". She got my meaning straight away. Yes, there was a lot of jelly inside. Hurdle #1 cleared. High quality, tasty Rasberry jelly. The the Doughnut crust and crumb? Crust nicely fried brown; a little edge, but not crisp. #2 ... passed. The crumb moist and fresh. Lots of sabor. #3 ... Bingo! Verdict: One great Jelly Doughnut. Yet, at $3.00 ... you know you're in Montclair. That $36.00 dollars a dozen to put things into perspective. Hey, they're great. But, how great can a doughnut be? Alright. So buy a few. It won't kill you.

[Remembering: My Uncle Phil was a Baker. He made the jelly donuts we Poles called Pączki — say "Poonchkey". His were great when first made, going south to staletown really fast. I worked for him part time while in high school, you might like to know. And, I made sure the Pączki were, as I said, heavy. Read the rest of this review, then CLICK to read about my own days as a baker.]

And, oh yes, the Coffee at Montclair Bread Company. Grrrreat! Not your sock you in the mouth with a jolt of FLAVOR Starbucks experience. Just deep, smooth, well roasted flavor. Excuuuse me, but my verbal palette concerning my palate has its limits. It was a good cup of coffee. As for notes and overtones, give me a break. My partner Michele poured a self-serve large with Guatemalan and a dose of something called "Hair Raiser". Not so much to raise my hair. But, my eyebrows lifted, for sure. Great cup of Joe. And, the sides of my mouth curled upward too.

By now — did you get this far? — you may be asking what about that "Birds and Bees" reference at the beginning?

Seems the neighborhood birds are totally clued in to the outdoor scene at Montclair Bread Company. Bold enough to circle under foot. Not so brave (yet!) to light on the table. Sorry, birdies. No crumbs.

But, the bees. Here's the story. Enough said.

We had several buzzing around us. Shown above is me sharing with one of those critters. We're friendly to bees. No problemos.

Montclair Bread Company. Great place.