Friday, April 17, 2009

Food blast from the past

We went to see the glorious cherry blossoms in Newark's Branch Brook Park on Thursday afternoon, strolling down paths lined with trees. If you're like me, you start thinking about where you are going to eat right after you decide to make the trip.

I've enjoyed Newark's Spanish, Portuguese and Italian restaurants since 1974, when I was a reporter and restaurant reviewer at the Daily Journal newspaper in Elizabeth, but since that night was to be leftovers night at home, our meal had to be small. So right after we left the park, we headed for Dickie Dee's, on Bloomfield Avenue and North 6th Street in Newark, for its specialty -- Italian-style fried sausage and potatoes in pizza bread. Three of us shared two singles with everything on them -- sauteed onions and peppers, mustard and ketchup. The two sandwiches and two drinks cost $9.

I haven't had one of these sandwiches for close to 20 years, and it was just OK. I don't eat like this anymore and I recall that Dickie Dee's never made its own sausage, unlike a place in Elizabeth that did. We almost drove to Elizabeth to try that one, but left it for the next time.

From Dickie Dee's, we strolled across the street to Calandra's Italian & French Bakery for pizza bread, a round loaf about an inch-and-a-half thick with a spongy interior, which I later sliced and put in the freezer for when we make hamburgers from the organic ground beef I bought at Costco on Wednesday. We also got two baguettes with sesame seeds. At home, I had some with my leftover angel-hair pasta and drug-free chicken sausage. The crust crackled and had a sheen, as if Calandra's uses an egg wash on it. The interior was doughy enough to soak up the last of the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar at the bottom of my salad bowl. I sliced the rest of the bread for sandwiches and crammed it into the freezer.
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