My annual pre-summer trip “home” to the East Coast has come and gone, but it’s not likely to be forgotten. Because as ever, I indulged my taste for the foods of my youth, including but not limited to big crisp slices of Philadelphia pizza, foot-long cheesesteaks and soft pretzels slathered with bright yellow mustard. I also had a blast sharing dinner with friends at The Lobster House in Cape May, NJ, where I joyously dispatched a two-and-a-half pounder (thanks, Pat!).
That’s why they call it The Lobster House (left), and thin, crisp-crusted Philadelphia pizza.
While I was “down the shore,” I did not see Snooki. But I did pay a way overdue visit to my old-time favorite Cantonese joint, the Dragon House in Wildwood. I also did something I haven’t done in at least 35 years: I hit the Wildwood boardwalk in search of fresh-churned fudge. Which, as any kid worth her salt water taffy will tell you, always tastes better when eaten within view of the sand, the surf and a seashore amusement park.
One of the things I miss about the East Coast: complimentary “Chinese noodles” with duck sauce and mustard. That, and the view of the Atlantic from the boardwalk.
When I was little, we’d often drive from Philly to Atlantic City where my grandparents had friends who owned a rooming house. Mind you, this was long before the advent of casino culture. For entertainment we’d “walk the boards,” chasing pigeons down the boardwalk, dodging the wicker pedicabs and stopping to watch the fast-talking guys hawking their kitchen gadgets (“Ladies! Come over here! Take a look! It slices, it dices, makes julienned fries!). But what I remember best about those childhood sojourns were the chocolate-dipped molasses taffys and yard-long whips of cherry licorice found at the gigundo boardwalk sweets-shop where “Mr. Peanut” would stand outside with his top hat and cane and try to convince us to come in. Trust me: he didn’t have to ask twice.
So tell me: If you were lucky enough to hit the seaside, lakeside or any other shore spots on your childhood vacations, where did you go, and what did you eat there?