Ok. “not just nourishment,” might be a lie, because all we really did during the Spring edition of the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival, was eat (take a look at the other feasts and festivals Hoboken offers). We walked down Washington Street, Hoboken’s main drag where the massive annual event is held, and took in the sights and smells; from the smoky air of barbeques, to the sweet scents of fried batter, to the festive sounds of local bands, and wild paint strokes of home grown artists. There was a lot to see, smell, hear and taste. But what we wanted to do was to E.A.T (Eat a ton), and that we did.
First Course: Mozzarepa ($5 each)
These delicious corny and cheesy feast and festival favorites are two rounds of cornbread like cakes, filled till bursting with mozzarella cheese, and then toasted on a griddle until crispy, hot and melty. They are sweet and salty, and perfect for on-the-go. Each year, however, they seem to be less good, but appear at more and more stands. This time around was pretty good or I was super starving.
Second Course: Pulled Pork Sandwich from Texas Smoke BBQ ($7 per sandwich)
At the very end of the festival (close to Observer Highway), we spotted a stand with high pennants and the letters B B Q caught our undivided attention. At first the line looked daunting for our ferociously hungry bellies, but it was a quick trip to the front and a hot pulled pork sandwich was quickly within our grasp. There were three options for sauce: mild, hot and spicy (what, pray tell is the difference between hot and spicy?... but we dared not ask). We took our chances with the mild and the hot, and it turns out the hot was pretty spicy. The meat was delicious, tender, flavorful, with just the right amount of fat. It was not greasy or dripping, but just enough to melt in our mouths and soak up the mix of mild and hot sauces. I could have done without the bread, because it was dry, but it was just a base. I really wanted it to be soft, doughy, yellow potato bread. We almost got in that line again for the brisket sandwich… but more food options awaited us.
Third Course: Soft Pretzel ($3.50 each)
Who can resist a giant, salty soft pretzel? Obviously we can’t. It had been maybe 10 minutes since we devoured the pulled pork sandwich, and maybe 17 since the acquisition of the mozzarepa, but we were tempted, and gave in. This was the best pretzel I have had in… well, ever. It was super soft and airy on the inside, but the outside was sweet in that bread kind of way and littered with salt. The chew was perfect (no water chaser needed) there was nothing dry, stale, old, or used about it. It was fresh, hot, and … gone.
Fourth Course: Chinese BBQ ($3.50 pork/ $4.50 steak)
But this is what I wanted the whole day. Those three other stops were impulse, instant gratification. I peeped this Asian stand on our first pass, and I knew it was what I wanted, but my boyfriend wanted to hold out until we saw everything. So on our return, we stopped and stood in the disorganized line and ordered pork and beef steak skewers. I have never really been one to participate in meat on a stick, but there is a first for everything. The steak was kind of dry and cold, but the pork chunks were hot and succulent and probably one of my favorite things of the day
Fifth Course: Belgian Waffle from Waffle de Lys ($4 base price, $1/topping)
We smelled the sweet, syrupy crater cakes from miles away, saccharine, warm, toasty, sweet and delicious. I knew that we were going to make our way back to get one. The list of toppings ranged from chestnut cream, to bananas and strawberries, to whipped cream and ice cream. We chose the salted caramel topping which in the end was not really sweet or necessary. The waffle was tender on the inside, almost doughy, and the outside was caramelized and crunchy. Each tiny square was filled with the warm, wet salted caramel, which added nothing. I do love Belgian waffles, with their tricky dichotomy of textures, and savory sweetness.
Sixth Course: Fried Fiesta ($13 plate)
Lastly, was a wild plate of fried delicacies that might have been more than superfluous. We were already mostly full and satisfied with the wide array of treats that we had previously eaten, but something about plantains drive us into some kind of feeding frenzy. At first we were going to only indulge in a sweet plantain, slit in half and stuffed with mozzarella cheese, and a huge meat empanada. But then giant, flat, golden tostones were put out. They did not give us one, but four of the large rounds, and piled them on top of the already grease laden plate. Either this was far too late in our day and we had already E.A.T.en too much, but this leg of the food adventure was too much. The empanada meat was tasteless and greasy, and the pastry on the outside was much greasier than its innards. The tostones were also tasteless and less crunchy than anticipated. And finally the sweet plantain was not as sweet as we longed it to be-- the contrast of the sweet plantain and the salty cheese would have been magical together.