Weird/Wild And Wacky - My Ride On The Munchmobile - Swampy's Kitchen Blog at - 309494

Swampy's Kitchen

Weird/Wild and Wacky - My ride on the Munchmobile 
Aug. 26, 2013 12:38 pm 
Updated: Aug. 28, 2013 12:07 pm

As a good number of you may already know from an earlier blog this year, (because everyone reads everything I write – except for my kids but that is another blog for another time) I applied for a ride on the MunchMobile this summer and was accepted.<

Then came the fun part, trying to choose a trip for my ridealong. We had to narrow our choices down to three and mine were in order – 1. Weird/Wild & Wacky 2. Spicy & 3. Bacon. I knew that my 2nd & 3rd choices were nothing more than window dressing since those would be extremely popular and that Weird/Wild & Wacky would not. No doubt visions of Fear Factor flitted through the heads of a good many so I felt good about my choice. As fate would have it, I was right. My Weirld/Wild & Wacky Culinary Tour of NJ was scheduled for August 10 with publication in the paper on August 23.<

Now that link was to the OFFICIAL newspaper report – the following is a combination of the report I turned into the paper with a little extra thrown in on the side.

My day started with my son handing me a rubber chicken as I was heading out the door with the admonishment, “Dad, you can’t go on the Munchmobile without a rubber chicken.” It’s a good thing, I didn’t bring it in to a couple of the places we stopped because I really think that someone along the way would have tried to cook it & eat it.

La Ideal Bakery (Passaic, NJ) - Not an official stop on the tour but a muffin top wrapped in pie crust was as close to perfection as could be. It was like the baking equivalent of a filet mignon wrapped in bacon. I only wish a bakery in my area did the same thing. Actually I wish there were still real bakeries in my area as they have all closed down in the past few years. (Rent prices or in one case, they didn’t have an oven and how can you really trust a bakery without an oven ?)

Brenda Lee #2 Taqueria (Passaic, NJ) - Great first stop that set that helped set the mood for the day. Sparse interior with interesting food. The menu (when translated) reminded me of the children's song "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" though we continued on to much more "interesting" areas of the body when the food hit the table. The Suadero (side tendon) was easily my favorite of the bunch. I would order that anytime especially with either of the two sauces (Red - immediate heat / Green - smoother slower building more flavorful heat) and a side of the surprisingly fruity cactus. The rest in order were - #2 Ears (surprisingly not as slimy as they looked - 2 tone color was interesting) #3 Stomach (almost Suadero like but not quite) #4 Tongue (not a fan and would have ranked lower but there were others that were worse) #5 Head (flavorful but very dry in my opinion - really needed red sauce) #6 Brains (looked like cauliflower - tasted like mush - OLIVER would not have asked for more) and #7 Skin (like a soggy thai noodle and just an unpleasant sliminess in your mouth)


Argyle Restaurant (Kearney, NJ) - Haggis was my biggest fear going into the day and disappointingly so, is still my biggest fear. I expected the Haggis to come out in a steaming stomach like we are used to seeing on TV & movies, not wrapped in dough & fried (Regular serving) or breaded & fried (Highland Oysters). The Highland Oysters not only tasted better (which isn't saying much) but the filling looked entirely different than the regular Haggis. It made me think that neither dish was made on site and were delivered pre-made & frozen. The Scotch Eggs are a wonderful concept but came up seriously short on spice & flavor. The Clootie Pudding to end it all was a final disappointment in that the custard on top was really a flavorless yellow sauce that would have had William Wallace running for the highlands. Easily my least favorite stop of the day.

Thumbs Up Restaurant (Edison, NJ) - This was where we came close to being on an old episode of FEAR FACTOR before they started looking for really disgusting body parts for the contestants to eat. Of course when the first thing you see on the menu is "Assorted Entrails in chili sauce" you know it's not going to be your average "American" Chinese restaurant. While the entrails were chewy, they did not compare to the sliced pig ears which were like chewing on old rubber bands. The one cold dish I did find surprisingly enjoyable was the Edible Tree Fungus which had a flavor that slowly grew on you with each bite. I really enjoyed the concept of the Hot Pot and thought that both the Red Hot Broth (spicy) & White Broth (bone marrow) had great flavor that helped to make the next offerings a little more edible. While The Brenda Lee #2 Taqueria used most of the pig between the snout & the tail, the Thumbs Up seemed to use the parts that even the Brenda Lee #2 discarded with a few extras thrown in. The two items on the Hot Pot menu that I will remember most in the rest of my lifetime were the Duck Tongue & Boiled Blood Curd. I wasn't surprised when I saw Duck Tongue on the menu having seen it as a mystery basket ingredient on CHOPPED a few nights earlier but I was surprised when I bit into the Duck Tongue and found a bone. The Boiled Blood Curd almost looked like slabs of baking chocolate from across the table but that illusion was shattered when it was passed over to me to drop into the Hot Pot. It had the consistency of a Jell-O Jiggler before it went in the broth and it reminded me of I don't what after it came out of the pot but it certainly was very bland and did not hold the flavoring of the broth. I also thought that the stomach looked a lot like the skin of the rubber chicken my son gave me to bring along on the ride. I don't doubt that the rubber chicken would have tasted about the same. I think that the Hot Pot concept was great and that it would work really well with more American style meats (Beef, Pork, Chicken). While we did have a large amount of ingredients on the table, we did leave almost as hungry as when we walked in and that isn't supposed to happen for at least 30 minutes after you eat Chinese.

Clydz Martini Bar (New Brunswick, NJ) - This was the stop where we finally had some "Wild" game meat instead of intestines & awful offal. The menu read a little bit like a corner of the Philadelphia Zoo and the item that initially caught my eye was the Braised Python Ravioli. I wondered how much python they could squeeze into the ravioli. Unfortunately, it wasn't a lot. The pasta was nice and the mushroom cream sauce was heavy but it really covered up what little python there was in the dish. The same could be said about the cheese & beans in the Elk & Rattlesnake Chili. If I hadn't read the menu first, I would have thought it was maybe a 3 Bean Chili that was missing two beans. The Antelope Carpaccio was slick on your tongue and really could have used a dip in the Hot Pot back at the Thumbs Up. I did enjoy both the Antelope Loin & the Kangaroo Loin. They were medium rare and easily could have been served & enjoyed in any restaurant across the state. They both reminded me of a rare lean steak. The Bison & the Game du Jour Meatballs (wild boar on our night) were the best two items on the menu but both of those meats are appearing more often in the meat section of your local grocery store so I don't think of them as being as exotic as they were just a few short years ago. I refuse to comment on the Venison as deer are nothing but long-legged rats to me and I refuse to eat them.

Destination Dogs (New Brunswick, NJ) - This was the last minute addition that really hit the ball out of the park for me. These guys really embraced their concept and had some absolutely WEIRD, WILD & WACKY flavor combinations on each & every one of the hot dogs on their menu. Trying to narrow down the selections to order was next to impossible. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite out of the seven different dogs we ordered but the ones I remember most a few days down the line are The Bun Mi for it's incredibly "cool" bite and the Gladiator because I can't stand broccoli rabe but I had no problem eating it here. The Howlamo, Conquistadog & Bun on the Bayou were close runner-ups. Out of all of the restaurants we went to, this is the one I place I plan to bring my family back to just for it's creativeness and so I can order their breakfast style dog (which we didn't order), The Paul Bunyan. Shoot, if Amelia Earhart likes it enough to come back from the dead.....

Whole Foods (Everywhere but near my town, NJ) - And finally there was ice cream. Ice cream is the perfect dessert in that no matter how full you may think you are, there is always room for ice cream because it melts & fills in the cracks. At the time when we tried the 4 flavors we purchased I was sold on the Mexican Chili Chocolate mainly because I am a chilehead at heart but the more I thought about it over the next few days, the more I found myself thinking about the intense flavor of the Ginger. It really was bright and the pieces of candied ginger were not too sweet or too gingery. The ice cream itself really helped bring out more flavor in both the Mexican Chili Chocolate and the Strawberry Balsamic (that really lacked balsamic to the point of my not even tasting it) when mixed together in our paper coffee cups. The Vietnamese Coffee with Chicory was a little bitter but you have to expect that with a chicory flavored coffee. (I drink it every morning on my way to work) On my next trip to Whole Foods I will definitely pick up a pint of the Sweet Corn & Blackberry that we almost bought and should have bought instead of the Strawberry Balsamic.

In the end, it was wild day with some wacky & weird dishes and a lot of memories to share with a great bunch of people. My rankings would be as follows:

TOP DOG - Destination Dogs

#1A (unofficial) - La Ideal Bakery

#2 - Brenda Lee #2 Taqueria

#3 - Clydz Martini Bar

#4 - Whole Foods

#5 - Thumbs Up

#6 - Argyle Restaurant

and my favorite dish - The Bun Mi Hot Dog from Destination Dogs for that "Cool" bite.

Come back next time, when we talk about my “teeth”, the work that had to be done to them before my trip on the Munchmobile and where we stand with them today. I can almost hear that apple ripening now…

The Big Dog
Photo Detail
Brenda Lee #2
Photo Detail
Haggis ? Really ?
Photo Detail
Duck Tongue
Photo Detail
Drawing the line at Luncheon Meat
Photo Detail
Braised Python Ravioli
Photo Detail
The Howlamo & Conquistadog
Photo Detail
There is always room for ice cream
Photo Detail
Aug. 26, 2013 12:48 pm
Be glad that all of the pictures would not post......
Aug. 26, 2013 1:03 pm
What an interesting adventure you had! I was influenced by you to try alligator when I was in Florida, and I must say I loved it. However, I think I won't be trying any of your new entrees. lol! Thanks for sharing your ride on the Munch Mobile. I enjoyed reading about it!
Aug. 26, 2013 1:33 pm
Hi Doug! You are very brave! A very interesting adventure and your blog lives up to the name- wild and whacky. I would look at the entrees and ask to be excused to the bathroom. Then, the food would be promptly flushed. Oh, I forgot-I am an adult now. I don't have to ask to be excused to the bathroom. Or, I would bolt when the Big Dog bus opened the doors at the next stop and call a cab or someone to come get me.
Aug. 26, 2013 2:14 pm
DM: I've gotta admire your tenacity, Doug. I definitely would have chosen the Bacon trip for myself. I am more than a little surprised that there is a bone in duck tongue. I plan to verify that this winter during duck season.
Aug. 26, 2013 4:46 pm
Good evening SHORECOOK - Glad to hear you liked the gator and I don't blame you for not wanting to try some of my "new" entrees. Have a great night.
Aug. 26, 2013 4:50 pm
Hi Lela - I was trapped in the corner next to the newspaper reporter so I couldn't escape when the blood curd & goose intestines were brought out. Hope you have a great night.
Aug. 26, 2013 4:52 pm
Hi bikerfamily - it does look like I missed a good one with the bacon trip but I wouldn't trade my trip with anyone else's trip all summer. Have a great night.
Aug. 26, 2013 4:59 pm
I guess the bone in the tongue is why Daffy lisps? I can't believe you went to all these places in ONE day??? Or that you said the Edible Tree Fungus "slowly grew on you with each bite" - ROFL with tears! I admire your gameness - uh, for trying everything, I mean. I can't believe some of those places have enough business to survive...
Aug. 26, 2013 5:18 pm
Hi scootersandi - personally I thought the bone in the duck tongue was "despicable" - oh wait, that's Sylvester's line. The Thumb's Up was actually PACKED at 3pm and you could tell that the Brenda Lee #2 did a lot of business. Destination Dogs was moving into a bigger space the very next day but the Argyle was empty. I don't think that even Robert Irvine could save them. Thanks for stopping by.
Aug. 26, 2013 7:00 pm
Well Doug, I admire you for what you did, and very happy for you that you got to do it. Some of those foods, no thanks, quite a experience I would think. As for the apple let me know when and where.:)
Aug. 27, 2013 3:30 am
Good morning manella - it really was a great experience with a game group of people. Open Minds & Open Mouths. Have a great day
Aug. 27, 2013 5:03 am
Hi, Doug....but EWWWWWW! Certainly not an adventurous eater here. I don't even do seafood. So I greatly admire your adventures. Great blog. Now excuse me while I run to the bathroom!!! :-)
Aug. 27, 2013 5:23 am
Good morning Judy - It certainly wasn't typical of my normal eating habits. The hot dogs at Destination Dogs were definitely inventive and probably the most normal thing we ate (outside of ice cream). Hope you feel better B-)
Aug. 27, 2013 5:31 am
Doug!!!! That was awesome! Can you do it again next year or is it a "only can particpate once" type of thing? I know we are on opp sides of jersey BUT have you heard of Tullah's Table in PA? We go next month! Its a year waiting list!!!! Set menu that is sometimes a wee bit scary (tongue and such) Super excited - guess its my Munchmobile! hahaha Bit pricy (been saving all year haha) My husband was like no matter what they serve we must eat! He can have my portion of sweetbreads!
Aug. 27, 2013 5:32 am
Who thinks of these things! LOL! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
Aug. 27, 2013 5:46 am
Good morning Heather - it was a blast. It's really up to the Munch driver as to who gets to go and how often. Out of the 6 of us on the trip, 3 were Munch Veterans. I think what they look for is personality and based on the weekly write-ups, the Big Dog is bursting with personality each week. Never heard of Tullah's Table but now you have piqued my interest. Have a great day.
Aug. 27, 2013 5:47 am
Good morning party chef - most of the stops came from reader suggestions that came in via email, Facebook & Twitter even as we were all driving along. The I think readers were enjoying a little sadistic fun in their suggestions. Thanks for stopping by.
Aug. 27, 2013 5:55 am
I don't know many foodies who can hold a candle to you, Doug! There must be some truth in the old saying, "One man's meat is another man's poison." I hope there were no unpleasant after effect from your culinary visit to the wild side!
Aug. 27, 2013 6:27 am
I will let you know if it was worth the wait!
Aug. 27, 2013 7:46 am
Good morning Bibi - Believe it or not, I felt fine the following morning and was even a little hungry. Of course I will probably only ever return to one of these places and I certainly won't be ordering anymore brain tacos. Have a great day.
Aug. 27, 2013 8:19 am
What a hoot! That's something I would do. I love a good adventure. Especially a food adventure. So glad you got to take this one. BTW Doug, please send me your e-mail address. Coming to DC/NYC this fall. Would love to connect sometime during our stay.
Aug. 27, 2013 8:45 am
Oh my Doug! You should put a warning on this one cuz I haven't had breakfast and I was just leaning that direction until I read this. Sorry.....but BLEH!!!! I would like to go on a culinary adventure with you.....just NOT this one :)
Aug. 27, 2013 9:00 am
Sorry, should probably give you MY e-mail address, right?
Aug. 27, 2013 9:03 am
Hi Candice - it was a lot of fun and not knowing what was coming with each stop made it that much better. The MunchMaster never gave us a clue though some of us were following him on Twitter to get some idea. Just shot you an email. Look forward to your visit.
Aug. 27, 2013 9:05 am
Hi Julie - The only breakfast item was the muffin top wrapped in pie crust and I wish I had a picture of that and nothing I ate was worse than the poi at a cheap hotel luau so you would have survived. No Maui in October but maybe March.
Aug. 27, 2013 9:06 am
Ok, the MunchMobile now makes sense to me at least! :) But the food...well, I think I would have had to stick with the bacon tour. We have a little hole-in-the-wall taqueria here that serves some great tacos, and they have all those unusual-to-the-American-palate things. I've tried the tongue...won't ever try it again. The tripe, head cheese, brains, etc, they can keep! Even if the taste was ok, the texture I just can't do. Haggis doesn't cut it for me, either. I tried that--once--from our Highland Games. No way I'm ever doing that again! I would have left the Chinese place really hungry since almost nothing mentioned would have passed my lips, but the Martini place...that I could have done easily. And some of the dogs sound pretty good, too. Love your take on ice cream, too! I can almost always find room for a spoonful of ice cream, although in the summer, I prefer sorbet usually for a lighter treat. Sounds like you had a great time, and kudos to you for your adventurous nature! I tip my hat, because there's no way I would have eaten some of that! :)
Aug. 27, 2013 9:19 am
Good morning wisweetp and thanks - I knew bacon was going to be popular and I knew that Weird/Wild would be fun. Spicy almost got me but I decided I had to give it a try. As I mentioned earlier, I was trapped at the Chinese place and couldn't have run if I tried so I kept thinking "Open Mouth Open Mind" and somehow got through it.And I have become a big fan of the Edy's/Dreyer's Outshine Frozen Fruit Bars this summer. Great flavor and low sugar. But to be honest, I'll take Key Lime Frozen Yogurt every day of the week over any other ice cream. Have a great day.
Aug. 27, 2013 11:54 am
My husband would have jumped at the spicy tour! But he also probably would have tried the weird/wacky/wild one, too. I would be fine with the bacon until dessert, but I just can't get on board with bacon in my desserts much as I love it. And key lime frozen yogurt? YUM!! That sounds divine. Do you make that or do you buy a specific brand? Glad you enjoyed your tour and thanks for sharing with us!
Aug. 27, 2013 5:15 pm
you said "2. Spicy &" spicy and what? looks like you kind of cut that off.
Aug. 28, 2013 8:04 am
If you make it to Maui in March or?, let me know. Would love to hook up with you and your family.
Aug. 28, 2013 12:06 pm
Hi wisweetp - I buy Edy's Key Lime Pie Frozen Yogurt. The pieces of shortbread coukld also be known as Dreyer's in other parts of the country.
Aug. 28, 2013 12:07 pm
Hi King - just an overzealous ampersand thanks to lousy typing skillz - thanks for pointing it out for me.
Click to Change your Profile Picture
Doug Matthews

Home Town
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Living In
Mendham, New Jersey, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2000

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Healthy, Kids, Quick & Easy

Gardening, Reading Books, Music, Charity Work

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Spring Asparagus
Spring Asparagus

The new crop of asparagus is finally here. Enjoy it in hundreds of different ways.

Homemade Waffles
Homemade Waffles

Waffles make Sunday mornings special, but they're great for lunch and dinner, too.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
My mother decided early on that her sons would never have to rely on someone to feed them so we all learned to cook at an early age. I really started to branch out when I moved out west to Denver, SF & Dallas. Combine that with extended business travel to Louisiana & my growing love of spices and you get a real mix of flavors.
My favorite things to cook
Love to make cajun food with my favorites being crawfish pie, alligator stew & alligator chili - I go nuts on Super Bowl Sunday
My favorite family cooking traditions
We didn't have a lot of traditions per se but you could count on pancakes or waffles on sundays - dad making scrambled eggs twice a year on christmas morning & mother's day - veal parmagiana on christmas eve, Thanksgiving with Grandma Matthews and any menu of your choice on your birthday. We weren't a spicy family so I learned a lot of good strong basics in the kitchen from Mom that I have carried over into my cooking today.
My cooking triumphs
I love to experiment with variations of dishes I try around the country. My biggest success is here on allrecipes where I had 2 recipes published in the same cookbook - Southwestern Turkey Soup & Curried Carrot Soup. I think my corn muffins are a great starting point and my alligator chili has become a much requested Super Bowl favorite.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few times in the past where I tossed everything and took everyone to a restaurant instead. I'm not too proud to say my cooking is awful when it really is.
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States