Diner of the Damned

by Diana Worden Karmin

Imagine you are traveling in a post-apocalyptic world on a nearly deserted Sayreville, New Jersey highway. You drive along, on the brink of exhaustion, desperately searching for even the tiniest morsel of food… good food. Miles pass. You finally happen upon a dreary-looking establishment on the roadside. Your car creaks over the too-high hump that was once the entrance to the parking lot and you try to discern which faded lines were once parking spots. No matter, there are scant few vehicles here anyway. You desperately hope the food is good… apocalypse or not, you still have standards.

You approach the front doors and note that they are lined with curled and faded lottery printouts proclaiming the meager winners of $75 or $100 from the scratch-off tickets sold inside. You enter, questioning whether this is actually an eatery or a convenience store… and then you are nearly overcome by the atmosphere of despair of the lost and hollowed souls inside. You soon realize… you have entered the Diner of the Damned.

Weak and weary, you obediently follow the hostess’ instructions to “walk this way” and submit to your seat assignment, awaiting a menu.

Strange… there are no smells of food. There is no noise, either… save the waitress slowly pushing an electric vacuum over and over the same spot on the worn carpet. She sees you, turns off the vacuum, and slowly delivers menus to your table. She then retreats to a post near the kitchen door, assumes a stance and stares, stone-faced. You leaf through the menu and notice a page is blank. You gather the courage to summon the waitress and question if there are pages that are missing. “Yes” is the reply.

Famished Survivor: “Do you have a breakfast menu?”

Zombie Waitress: “Yes. But we don’t give out that menu at this time of day.”

It was after 5 p.m… you know because the now dual-suns are setting.

Zombie Waitress: “But you can still order from the breakfast menu.”

Famished Survivor: “I would like to do that, but I do not have the nuclear-induced psychic powers of some of the others. Can I look at the breakfast menu instead?”

Zombie Waitress: “I’ll ask.”

In the still silent Peter Pank diner, two breakfast menus are brought to our table. “Thank you,” you manage to whisper.

You place an order for pumpkin pancakes and blueberry/banana pancakes, anticipating the enjoyment of a good meal after enduring hours of hunger. The waitress disappears behind swinging doors into the kitchen, which is also eerily soundless.

The deafening quiet is intermittently interrupted by alliteration, the whir of the electric vacuum, and the distant voices of the few slouched patrons seated on the far side of the diner. After what seems an eternity, the pancakes arrive. Your eagerness is shattered after the first forkful when you become painfully aware that the pumpkin pancakes are as bland and lifeless as the place itself, and the only taste to the blueberry/banana pancakes are the sour blueberries. At least the water is clear and cold. Cruelly, the water is the highlight of the meal.

At one point, Zombie Waitress approaches and sternly inquires: “Are you going to use that syrup?” “No,” you whimper, almost apologetically. Without another word, the syrup is immediately whisked away and spirited behind the swinging kitchen doors. Apparently, New England was wiped out in the cataclysm and maple syrup is being hoarded.

Hungry, tired, and despaired, you trudge past the half-stocked bar that reminds you of a rec-room in a 1960’s basement. You make your way to the cashier, and chillingly, you realize – you are one of the lucky ones…. the haunted looks of some of the patrons and the staff tell you not everyone escapes the Diner of the Damned.

You pay the meager bill… and then buy a lottery ticket with lofty dreams of rebuilding a devastated planet. Or, at the very least, opening your own New World diner.

Peter Pank
http://peterpanknj.com/

#PeterPankDiner #Zombie #KarminKuisineTour #pumpkinpancakes

Feeling at Home in Honesdale

by Diana Worden Karmin 

Honesdale was once home to one of the Karmin Kuisine Tour.

Long before I called Honesdale home, my family vacationed in the Beach Lake/Honesdale PA region for three generations. Something about this area of the world continues to draw me back. Maybe it’s the unspoiled beauty, the rich history, or the pleasant memories of summertime family vacations at Village View Farm in Beach Lake.

Over the years, many of the family resorts have closed their doors, including Village View Farm… however, and a number of Bed and Breakfasts have taken their place for travelers, offering a more intimate setting.

When we visit the area these days, we stay at the James Manning House in Bethany. After two stays, this perfectly appointed bed and breakfast feels as much like home as the cozy apartment I once shared with my mother on Main Street in Honesdale. The owners, Warren and Janet, are outstanding hosts that cook up scrumptious breakfasts and make their home feel like your home.

Please visit the James Manning House website to explore all Warren and Janet have to offer their guests – and then plan a trip to experience the food, the folks, the history, and the beauty of the region – where words fail and pictures show… but you need to be there to tell.

Two Guys From Italy Land in Honesdale

by Diana Worden Karmin

We are extremely particular about our tomato sauce – our palates are quite difficult to please in that arena. It doesn’t matter how good the food or the pizza dough is underneath, if the sauce (or gravy for the purists) isn’t on point, then the meal or the pie becomes inedible.

Two Guys from Italy, on Route 6 in Honesdale, slam-dunked it. We were treated to a fantastic eggplant and red pepper hero that was smothered in some of the best tomato sauce we’ve encountered outside of Little Italy itself.

Since this was our first visit to Two Guys, we were a little shy about asking for a bowl of sauce on the side as we customarily do at Vincent’s in Little Italy. At Vincent’s, they’re used to watching us eat the sauce with spoons like it was soup… because it’s that damn good. Next time, we won’t be so reticent at Two Guys…because it’s that damn good there, too. You’ll know the Karmin Kuisine Tour is back for more when your server hears, “Two eggplant and red pepper heros with a side of sauce and two spoons, please.” 

Two Guys sandwich
As with every establishment we visited in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, the waitstaff was outgoing, friendly, and attentive. In fact, most everyone we met up with during our stay was warm and chatty… happy to talk about their town… what it once was and what they are collectively working towards… to make Honesdale a welcoming stop for tourists and a thriving hometown for their residents. We’re sold and are looking forward to going back.

http://twoguyshonesdale.com/

#TwoGuysFromItaly #Honesdale #Pizza #Italian #KarminKuisineTour

The Sweetest Part of Honesdale

by Diana Worden Karmin

Day’s Bakery is a Honesdale, PA institution. Maurice and Doris Day opened Day’s Bakery on North Main Street in 1952, and this unassuming little shop has delighted generations of area families along with countless numbers of tourists and campers. Nothing fancy. Nothing upscale. This isn’t Cake Boss. This is THE boss.

One member of the Karmin Kuisine Tour remembers walking several blocks in bare feet from her home during the 1960′s to get one of their sweet, flaky, and somewhat sticky, coconut log pastries. Nothing ever tasted better than that coconut log, and nothing ever felt better than the warm slate tiles under her bare feet. At that time, Honesdale was akin to Mayberry, RFD. For those of you too young to know what that means, Google it. However, what one cannot Google is the feeling of freedom and the simplicity of a small rural town of days gone by. For those of us fortunate enough to remember a child’s life led before cell phones, GPS’s, and constant contact… we can still pay a visit to Honesdale… and at least share with our family and friends a stroll up Main Street to a vintage bakery that still tastes like what life was like so many years ago. Footwear optional.

Day's Bakery
Kudos to Mrs. Day – who can still be found working in the bakery from time to time – and the Day Family for producing an enduringly stellar product without sacrificing quality or succumbing to glitz or trendiness. Except for the chocolate sprinkle cronuts… WOW… indescribably delicious! One wonders how they would taste while walking down the street barefoot on a warm summer afternoon.

http://www.daysbakery.com/index.html

#DaysBakery #Honesdale #KarminKuisineTour #cronuts

¿Que Pasa Honesdale?

by Alan Karmin

A recent reviewer on Yelp, who hails from Maryland, said that if they had lived a little closer, Fiesta on Main, a Mexican restaurant located on Main Street in the small town of Honesdale, PA, would be a favorite of theirs. Well, we live a pretty good distance away ourselves, and, as the Karmin Kuisine Tour will often do, we will drive great distances for what has become one of our personal favorites.

It is always nice to find a hidden gem, and who would have thought that, of all things, an outstanding Mexican restaurant could be found in a remote area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. As its name implies, Fiesta on Main is just that, as one member of the Karmin Kuisine Tour got to celebrate their birthday, Mexican style.

Fiesta on Main bday
The interior is very welcoming, with bright colors lending itself to a truly festive atmosphere. They also have seating – during the nicer weather – outside in an inviting courtyard at the rear of the building.
The food is fresh and the salsa is fabulous…although the chips are a bit bland and greasy, so you might prefer a cuchara to savor the salsa.

We started the evening off with the jalapeño poppers for an appetizer – fresh jalapeño peppers covered lightly with cheese and then covered with a fried breading.

For the entrée, we shared two dishes: the fish tacos (soft corn tortilla tacos filled with fried tilapia, served with rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and a jalapeño cream sauce) and the seafood enchiladas (flour tortillas filled with shrimp, tilapia, crab meat and onions covered with a creamy jalapeño sauce and cheese served with rice and black beans) . We were a bit decepcionado about the fish being fried in the fish tacos, but we thoroughly enjoyed the seafood enchiladas. Unfortunately, the rice is cooked in a chicken broth, so vegetarians are presented with a warning to stay away from the rice.

Fiesta on Main bday cake
The staff is attentive and pleasant, and provided a nice backdrop for yet another birthday celebration on the Karmin Kuisine Tour. Ole!

https://www.facebook.com/FiestaOnMainMexicanRestaurant

#FiestaonMain#Mexican#Honesdale#KarminKuisineTour

How Gravity Affects Honesdale

by Diana Worden Karmin

An ice cream cone for a dollar? We’re not talking a mere bite here… we’re talking a real-sized cone with a generous portion of ice cream. Sprinkles are an extra two bits. Go ahead, splurge on those sprinkles – because where else can you get dessert for two bucks? You were going to leave the change for a tip, weren’t you? 

Gravity Ice Cream Cone

Gravity Ice Cream is not only the best bargain in the small town of Honesdale – tucked away in the north eastern corner of PA – their ice cream is truly outta this world. Not too heavy or fat-laden, simply creamy and delicious. A perfect stop after a game or two of bowling at Gravity Lanes, right next door.

Gravity Ice Cream front
Why do many of the businesses in the area incorporate the word gravity into their names? As we’ve noted in prior reviews, Honesdale is home to the beginnings of the American railroad. A gravity railway carries the railcars down a slope or hill by sheer force of gravity as the name suggests, much like many modern roller-coasters. The cars were returned to the beginning of the slope by horse (wow… must have been a huge horse) to the foot of a plane and were then pulled back to the origination point by a system of cables. This method was first utilized by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company in 1828 in a line that ran from the coal mines in Carbondale, PA to Honesdale. By 1885, the use of gravity was abandoned in favor of the locomotive engine.There will be a quiz after you finish your cone.

Gravity Ice Cream staffYou gotta love Honesdale. Dollar ice cream cones, a rich history, and former home to one half of the Karmin Kuisine Tour. Make plans to visit soon and tell them that the Karmin Kuisine Tour sent you.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gravity-Ice-Cream/111359765587639?fref=ts

#GravityIceCream #IceCream #Honesdale #KarminKuisineTour

Haunted Honesdale Hotel

by Diana Worden Karmin

Go for the ghosts. Go for the hospitality. Even go to meet our friends who live in Honesdale because they are fantastic company! But, for heaven’s sake, don’t go for the food. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of pretension. Then by all means, let’s.

The Hotel Wayne in Honesdale, PA has a long and storied past. Originally constructed in 1827, the hotel has undergone multiple renovations over the decades, but retains most of its historic charm and architecture. Rumor has it that the rooms are haunted. At least that’s what the paranormal hunters of the reality show, Ghost Finders tell us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HCSP-4FTO0

The town of Honesdale was named after Philip Hone, who was the mayor of New York City from 1825 to 1826 and was the President of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company that owned the Stourbridge Lion, the first commercial steam locomotive. Today, Honesdale is a quaint, unspoiled small town… almost a throwback to days gone by. However, the once thriving downtown is struggling to re-establish its identity as the strolling street shoppers have largely abandoned the Mom-and-Pop stores in favor of a sprawling Walmart and a handful of chain stores on the outskirts of town.

The Hotel Wayne is among the establishments that are working to entice not only the vacationers, but also the locals, to make Main Street, USA, what it once was and certainly can be again.

Wayne Hotel
At their Bistro 1202, the service is prompt and attentive. Unfortunately, this is where the charm ends. They claim an enthusiastic, “Classical American and French cuisine along with creative fusion fare incorporating Asian, Mexican, and Southwestern influences.” Maybe the key would be to stop trying so hard to impress and concentrate on making one type of cuisine as spectacular as we know it can be. The potential is certainly there. However, the execution fails.

We were off to a rocky start at the delivery of the salads. Pleased to find chicory nestled within the typical and expected spring mix, we questioned why only the gentlemen at the table were served carrot slices on top of their salads and the ladies were not. Was there some sort of tradition that dictated withholding carrots when serving women? Or, for a true instance of food and fun, maybe the ghosts ate them before they made it to the table.

Our entrée was the Horseradish Encrusted Salmon special – served on a bed of spinach, accompanied by roasted potatoes. And, unfortunately, drowning in some type of heavy, salty, cream sauce. The salmon was excellent and cooked to perfection although it was a chore scraping off and separating it from the overwhelming sauce. Ditto for the spinach… perfectly prepared and thankfully shielded from the sauce by being plated under the fish. As for the potatoes, whatever wasn’t saturated was bland and uninteresting. Except for the fact that one of us at the Karmin Kuisine Tour was served at least twice the amount of the potatoes than the other. Perhaps another case of a hungry poltergeist?

When you make tracks to Honesdale, make sure you visit the historic Wayne Hotel, but be wary of dining until they work out the kinks… or at least tame the ghosts.

http://www.hotelwayne.com/

#HotelWayne #Honesdale #ghosts #hauntings #KarminKuisineTour

Make Tracks to Honesdale, PA

by Alan Karmin

Take a walk down Main Street in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and you will soon come upon crosswalks painted to look like, well, to look like railroad tracks. A nice little touch in this quaint little town since Honesdale just happens to be where it all started… “the first commercial locomotive on rails in the Western Hemisphere,” the old steam engine Stourbridge Lion, of which a replica remains on the site today.

Trackside Grill front

And just steps from that site, you can get a feel for that history at the Trackside Grill, a throwback to the days of the old-fashioned eateries with the staff decked out in train engineer hats. The owner, Jeffrey Hiller, plays the role perfectly, engineering his establishment to be a great ambassador for the history of Honesdale and with a strong effort for a return to the glory days of this small home town.

The offerings are much like you would find at a small town diner, only the portions are more substantial and the prices more reasonable.

Trackside Grill staff

The staff is very warm and welcoming… with a great sense of humor. In fact during one visit, when trying to pay with a credit card, the person at the register, without missing a beat, very calmly said, “Cash, check or dishes…” Huh? They didn’t take credit cards. Guess we’re doing dishes.

The good news is that during our most recent visit, we were pleased to discover that they are now taking credit cards.

Trackside Grill inside
So if you happen to be in the area, take a bite of a little piece of railroad history in Honesdale and grab a bite at the Trackside Grill.

http://www.tracksidegrill.net/

#TracksideGrill #Honesdale #SmallTown #Diners #KarminKuisineTour

Food, Fun, and Tex-Mex in the Wildwoods

by Diana Worden Karmin

B.Y.O.T.

What’s that mean? If you can’t figure it out, then you need to head to the Wild Burrito on New Jersey Avenue in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey to find out. 

Wild Burrito Front

Even if you did get it, stop on by anyway for the freshest and most delish Tex-Mex in the area – featuring Avocado Fries, served with a creamy/spicy sauce, and homemade chips, accompanied by freshly made salsa that was chock full of cilantro. Trust us, the chips alone are divine and worth the visit… we unabashedly polished off the whole basket.

Wild Burrito Apps

The Wild Pledge promises that all foods are fresh-made and cooked to order. “Vegetarian and vegan selections are prepared with utensils and pans that are not used to cook or handle meat products.” Salsas and guacamole are also made freshly throughout the day. And did we mention those chips??? They’re made fresh throughout the day, too.

The Wild Burrito will also deliver to the beach. For those of you that have been to the beach in Wildwood, you know that’s not an easy undertaking. Although Wildwood Crest has the softest sand at the Jersey Shore, the trek from the street to the oceanfront is about a half a mile or slightly more in some spots. Taxis are available for beachgoers, but we recommend a relaxing walk through that soft, almost therapeutic sand.

Oh… back to lunch… the Vegetarian Burrito, big enough for two people who just devoured an entire basket of divine chips and yummy avocado fries, was stuffed full of our choices of fresh veggies, black or pinto beans, cilantro/lime or mexican rice, guacamole, salsas, and crema (the Mexican version of French crème fraîche.. both are slightly soured and thickened cream, milder and less thick than American sour cream, with crema being the thinnest). It was filling and tasty, but with such a strong start to the meal, we wished the cilantro/lime rice had a tad more kick in flavor and spiciness. Otherwise, a great meal. 

Wild Burrito Joe
If you go to the Wild Burrito in the off season, be sure to call ahead for their fall/winter hours. And PLEASE bring us home a bag of those chips!

https://www.facebook.com/thewildburrito

#TheWildBurrito #Wildwood #WildwoodCrest #AvocadoFries#KarminKuisineTour

Food, Fun, and Pizza in the Wildwoods

by Diana Worden Karmin

If you’re familiar with the seaside boardwalks along the Jersey Shore, then you know that the competition for pizza patrons is fierce. The Wildwood boardwalk is no different. The 1.8 mile stretch is home to over a dozen oceanfront pizzerias

Franconis Pizza

We have a couple of favorites and Franconi’s is one of them. We like to start our boardwalk excursions at the Crest (the south end of the boardwalk) and take the Tramcar to the end and then stroll back to the beginning while enjoying the sights, sounds, and good eats. One of our first stops is usually Franconi’s Pizza at 3318 Boardwalk. (Honestly… who actually knows the addresses of their favorite boardwalk stands???) Their pizza is always fresh, with a perfectly soft crust, and topped with an outstanding sauce and not too much cheese so the flavor of the sauce really comes through. We like to sit on the beachfront stools and watch the endless parade of boardwalk strollers and the tramcars passing by… “Watch the tramcar, please!”

#Wildwood #pizza #FranconisPizza #KarminKuisineTour