Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Old Biggie's

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.


Unknown said...

If you "shock" the broccoli rabe in boiling water for a minute or two and then saute with olive oil & fresh garlic there is no bitter taste.
ONLY extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil!!!

Hoboken Kid said...

Biggie's...remembering a large group of girls hanging out there at night. I used to park in front of your new home 53 years ago, seems like yesterday. The Italian Hotdog was invented in NEWARK. Loaded with everything and French fries on top!

Enjoy your new home every day. It will get better.

Mary Lois said...

I saw the French fries on top and thought they were an accident!

italianconnie said...

I also told you to steam the broccoli rabe first, rinse it and then saute with garlic & olive oil. That takes the bitterness out of it.

Mary Lois said...

Everybody got that recipe? Boiling water for the broccoli rabe first? Then olive oil and garlic. Finish with lemon juice (at least I always finish everything with lemon juice), a dash of salt, and there you are.

Ron said...

B-n-r eh? Born 'n Raised I guess. At least that's what they'd say in Kearny or Harrison (and, I s'pose even Jersey City? ) Last month we made a wrong turn off the Jersey Turnpike and we ended up in the Jersey Meadows - Wow! where did all the pig farms go?"

Hoboken Kid said...

Hey Ron, ML don't know about the Jersey meadows, Secaucus, the pig farms HENRY KRAJEWSKI had, and that big Polish bar he owned. Once he ran for president. He got 8000 votes (on the Poor Man's Party). I worked for a trucking company out in them swamps for 27 years...that smell was heavenly...I'm glad you remember it too...NOW LOOK AT IT. That land once sold for $50 an acre. WE COULD HAVE BEEN RICH TODAY.