Our first holiday fish, and other highlights of summer 2021 | Pamela’s Food Service Diary
STATEN ISLAND, NY – This August has seen some real “firsts” for our family, including two almost uninterrupted weeks away from Staten Island. We spent our time in Ocean Grove, NJ, a healthy town that reminds me of my childhood summer vacations where time passed at a slow, happy pace.
But what a historic moment to be away from the restaurant with news unfolding at home about must-have vaccination cards at catered events and accessing the dining room inside. A period that is supposed to be a ‘recovery’ from the pandemic hardly feels like such this week from what’s going on overseas to what our world looks like right here in a seemingly divided and angry New York City. . It’s been a crazy week getting back to story writing, to say the least.
So I’m going to take us back to our little world in the Garden State where we barely drove the car, bet on backgammon or gin rummy games, and watched the baseball-only boob tube. We played Iron Chef with a few fresh catches and cooked from the inventories of the cheese factory or the only deli within the confines of “God’s Mile,” the venerable Pathway Market.
My husband always takes his fishing rod on vacation. By a small miracle, it is the first time that he catches something in the waves. As a result, we had a few summer fluke meals – thank you, Dave – and even popped some mussels our boys were hunting on the beach. Our young man took an evening boat trip on the Golden Eagle from Belmar with dad on the high seas and they came home with enough bass for a few dinners.
Ocean Grove reminds me a bit of my own neighborhood in West Brighton with that sense of community and all within walking distance. In the mid-1800s, Methodists beautifully landscaped it as a K. Hovnanian housing estate. It’s like a Greenbriar II retirement village where my grandmother lived, with just a city center like the Grand Auditorium, a tabernacle, a youth center and the aptly named “Tent City” interspersed with these various beautiful buildings.
Our children have made friends over the years with other children who spend their summers in the tents. And from them, we were introduced to their parents who also became friends. Going back is like Old Home Week.
Just as the sun sets over the Pilgrim Pathway and it becomes closing time for Jimmy and Dee at the Ocean Grove Resident Convenience Store, the vacation must end. But that doesn’t mean his peace of mind should too.
With that cool feeling of Ocean Grove calm, I’m going to savor the last tomatoes from our garden and embrace a new season ahead as I write about everything pumpkin-spiced. I will not honk anyone in front of me pretending to be a traffic light. I won’t throw a shoe at those squirrels that run along the fence ogling the only sunflower in our garden to survive some sometimes violent hissing ball games.
And I promise I won’t take pleasure in chronicling the downfall of any politician who made restaurant reporting so painful during the pandemic. But come Monday, that will definitely start to occupy me.
Pamela Silvestri is Editor-in-Chief of Advance Food. She can be reached at [email protected].
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