Salt & Fog

The Art of Veronica Casson

New Jersey

Jersey Food Tour Sketchbook

Adventures & Parenting, Pen & PaperVeronica Casson1 Comment

One of my favorite things Julie does on any trip is to sample as much of the regional food as you can. Yes, New Jersey is part of the USA as much as California but culturally I think they share only a common political body. Lifestyle and foods are so different between the two.

Jersey may have it’s share of issues, but it undoubtedly has great food and an absurd amount of diners. Having grown up there, I miss its unique culinary choices and be sure to revisit whenever I visit. Here’s the top shelf choices that make the list. 


Taylor Ham

Synonymous with New Jersey food stuff, and usually the first thing mentioned, is Taylor Ham. Created by John Taylor in 1856, Taylor Ham is a cylinder-shaped salted pork roll, which tastes similar but not the same as U.S. Canadian Bacon. It can be found in almost every restaurant in New Jersey (and almost nowhere else).

It is usually fried up, and served on a breakfast plate or in a sandwich. You can buy Taylor Ham online here


Hard Roll

Crips and shiny on the outside with a soft pillow texture on the in. New Jersey Hard Rolls are a local staple. Often eaten with only butter they resemble puffier kaiser rolls . I always liked mine best with poppy seeds.

Taylor Ham, Egg and Cheese with S.P.K

If you want a fast breakfast in New Jersey is what you do. I think it is the most common morning meal in the state. S.P.K stands for Salt, Pepper & Ketchup. It’s how they do. 


Hot Dogs All-The-Way

You would think this would mean a hot dog with everything on it but it is not. In fact All-the_way sauce is a particular kind of topping that is similar to a ground beef chili. Many hot dog shops in North Jersey exist entirely on the strength of their All-The-Way sauce. The very from place to place but the best have a smoky cajun flavor.

I found this recipe online if you would like to give it a go:


  • 2 lbs ground beef 
  • 2 8oz cans tomato paste 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 tsp ginger 
  • 1 tbsp cumin 
  • 1 ½ tbsp chili powder 
  • ¾ tbsp paprika 
  • ¾ tsp onion powder 
  • ½ tsp garlic salt 
  • ½ tsp celery seed 
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon 
  • ½ tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1 tsp ground pepper 
  • 6 oz Heinz ketchup 
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard 
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion and another 2 cups that do not go into the recipe. 


The process is just as important as the ingredients, so please do not try to rush this. 

1) Put all measured dry ingredients above into a small bowl and mix well, set aside. 

2) Brown the ground beef while breaking it into the smallest pieces possible, drain most of the grease, leave a little. 

3) Add tomato paste and water directly to the pan with the beef, medium heat, combine well. 

4) Sprinkle all dry ingredients evenly into beef/tomato paste mixture while keeping a medium to low heat. 

5) Add all other remaining ingredients to pan and stir/mix well. Remember, only 1 cup onion goes in. 

6) Slow simmer for at least 1 hour, adding water as necessary so as not to dry out or burn. 


Your final sauce should have enough consistency so it does not drip or get too runny, yet thin enough not to clump into a ball. 


The Happy Waitress

There are an awful lot of diners, and while the temperament of the actual servers can vary from pleasant to hostile, they almost all serve  the happy waitress. It is an open-face grilled cheese  sandwich with bacon and tomato. Get it with a side of fries or it doesn’t count.


Italian Ice

New Jersey Italian Ice is different then the crunchy chunks of flavored Sno Cone found  elsewhere. Somehow the ice always seems smoother and the flavor is more robust. The chain Rita’s is now the gold standard, though I still have fond memories of the small paper cups of the frozen treat that I would get from carts while spending the day on the beach.


Jersey Pizza

So thin-crusted and dripping with butter and olive oil that it needs to be folded in half to be eaten. Jersey and New York both have the best pizza. Hands down. Be sure to get some the next time you are in trip-state area get a "pie." Also it is wierdly cheaper than the places that sell inferior slices.

Luke and I outside a NJ diner for a late night Happy Waitress.

Luke and I outside a NJ diner for a late night Happy Waitress.

The bagels are also spectacular as well but NY may just peak ahead of NJ so I did not add them on the list. I also love the way they serve Antipasti (pronounced Anti-past in Jersey). I did not get a sketch of that one but it was too pretty to not grab a photo of.

Buon appetito!