It shouldn’t surprise anyone at this point that some of my greatest childhood memories were born along the dwindling beaches of the famed
I was fortunate enough to have spent 9 summers as a kid on beautiful Long Beach Island where sweltering hot days on the beach, cannonball contests at the pool, and high-stakes miniature golf tournaments, made the two and half-month recess between school years fly by faster than we ever liked or wanted to believe.
Aside from my appreciation for the innocence of building sandcastles and boogie boarding into the early evening, I will always regard my part-time upbringing by the sea as one of the most vital aspects to my development as an eater, and ultimately an Ubereater.
Like so many adolescent boys entangled in the reckless abandon of the summer months, I spent my shore days wrought with the eagerness to come of age; not by hopelessly harboring unrequited love or childishly challenging authority, but through reveling in the surrounding wealth of great foods - and what they’ve come to symbolize.
These are the tales that immortalize this food. These are the
Summertime was always about food. Countless family day trips saw us eat our way up and down the Shore, from its Victorian getaway in southernmost Cape May, to the weathered
These days, as the gripping reality of young adulthood makes summers down the shore a pipe-dream, I have no choice but to nurture my close relationship with these foods through annually observed day trips and 4-day weekends where I can more or less eat all the way down memory lane (and back).
This brings me to my recent trip to the gritty, debaucherous shore town of
So why do I come to
Surely it isn’t the shirtless, fist-pumping, misogynistic kiddie-pool of meatheads that rule the nightlife (though I did go through a phase). Instead, it is a small, long-standing eatery on the aging boardwalk known as Midway Steak House that makes this annual trip down the parkway to exit 82 well-worth it.
Like a lighthouse beacon guiding troubled ships ashore, a perpetually rotating yellow-trimmed sign chaperones the splintered seaside boards, acting as a billboard for absolute salty deliciousness. Ironically, and not unlike its hometown, Midway is known for its meat. No - not the kind that comes over-tanned, clad in gold chains, sporting a wife-beater and a nasty “blow-out” - I’m talking about the criminally sumptuous sausage sandwiches and cheesesteaks that make this boardwalk bodega a
Sausage sandwiches are one of my favorite foods of all time, and I’ve been eating Midway’s honest version ever since I was a kid, when I’d compete with my father for who could smother his sandwich with more cherry peppers, hot sauce, and vinegar (I like a lot of vinegar). These sausage sandwiches weren’t just food, they were a rite of passage; a family tradition, that to this day, still carries as much personal meaning and familial value as it does culinary credibility.Notwithstanding the abovementioned history, I’ve gathered throughout the years that most people fail to appreciate the culinary integrity of a simple sausage sandwich. At Midway, what’s not to like about their gluttonous combination of loosely-packed pork sausage (butter-flied long ways), smothered in sweet melange of griddle-kissed peppers and onions, and cradled comfortably by a soft, airy, yet still al dente Italian roll. (Below)
This year’s incarnation may very well be their best yet, using a new type of roll that is slightly more supple and airy, though a bit less sturdy than those of summer’s past. Despite being butter-flied and flash-griddled face down, the sausage is never over-cooked and remains surprisingly juicy, packing a robust charred flavor that goes perfectly with the tenderly sweet concoction of peppers of onions that is difficult to duplicate.
In addition to my two sausage sandwiches, I opted for a cheesesteak, a fairly new amendment to this annual trip that I’ve come to believe is well worth it. Though my love for Midway has always been via the sausage sandwiches, a good friend of mine by the name of Sturch once urged me to try the cheesesteak, which he seemed to order whenever we made the trip to
I’ve since altered my tradition to include at least one Midway Cheesesteak, offered in that same supple roll, boasting thinly-sliced “sheets” of ribeye, slopped with warm cheese wiz and a healthy dose of those famous peppers and onions (some of which were half-cooked at my request). (below).
Needless to say, this year’s trip to Midway was as satisfying and memorable as any. After 15 years of going down to
Still, given I have to wait another 11 months to re-experience this 11-minute binge, a little onions on my face doesn’t seem so bad.