Looking south from my new condo on Madison Street you can see the local landmark. Whenever I mention my new address to a Hoboken b-n-r, he/she lights up and says, "Biggie's!"
Biggies grew from a pushcart in the mid-1940's to a full-fledged diner today, featuring great, sloppy sandwiches, raw and fried clams, hamburgers, and for a few diehards, real Italian comfort food.I had lunch at Biggie's Tuesday with a couple of Hoboken b-n-r's, (that means, "born and raised in Hoboken" to you who are not in the know). We saw a nice older man--meaning older than us, which is indeed pretty old--eating something like greens out of a bowl. Carolyn's husband Rich said, "That man over there is eating something you'd love," to his wife. When Brother, the son of Biggie, and now the heir apparent to the title of "Biggie," came by our table, we asked what the man was eating. "Brocolli rabe," he said. "We make it with sausage."
I sighed that I had done the predictable by ordering fried clams. The others at the table had done the more Hoboken thing and ordered "Italian hot dogs," which are sausage sandwiches with onions and peppers--and a sausage-and-pepper sandwich, which is just a little different.
Today I had a phone call from Connie, who was one who had ordered a hot dog yesterday. I told her I was going to try the brocolli rabe the next time. I have never been a fan of brocolli rabe--I find it bitter--and Connie said, "I always add fresh lemon juice. If you don't do that it will be bitter."
This triggered a long conversation about how Italians cook vegetables, the dependency on fresh lemon juice for vegetables (I have to have lemon juice on my spinach), and other food notes. She said she adds olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice to everything from cauliflower to escarole. I realized I had been missing this offhand swapping of recipes and kitchen ideas.
I'm looking to meet others who love to talk about food and cooking. If you live in Hoboken and have ideas on the subject, get in touch with me. I'll cook up a little something for us someday soon.
I posted an original version of the above on my food blog yesterday, and got some interesting cooking tips in a comment from Dennis Maloney. Check it out, and let me know if you know of a cooking class or club in Hoboken, or if you just like to talk food and cooking.