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Posts Tagged ‘Langosta Lounge’

it’s memorial day weekend, not the time to discuss lofty topics. let’s talk pork roll instead.

pork what? what’s that—pork on a roll? well, yeah, but it’s so much more. here at the jersey shore, it’s kind of like our state meat, the way scrapple could be pennsylvania’s. salty like ham, tender like canadian bacon, pork roll comes in a fat log, like its third cousin, salami. it was a favorite of my family’s on sunday mornings when I was growing up. we used to cut it into thick slices, notched in three places around the circumference of each slice. then we cooked the slices under the broiler until they curled upward, their centers a deep pink and their edges browned and chewy. wandering maple syrup from your waffles? bring it on. sweet intense maple + salty fattiness is one of the loveliest combinations on the planet. you adorable heathens who drag your bacon slices through your syrup know what I mean.

local shore types usually enjoy pork roll topped with egg and cheese on a bun for breakfast, affectionately dubbed ‘a heart attack’, as in, ‘go downtown and bring me one of those heart attacks.’ many diners and breakfast joints offer it, but today I tried the one at langosta lounge, one of the favorite spots on the asbury park boardwalk.

it’s a pretty presentation, langosta’s sandwich. served with little round tater tots plus chipotle mayo and ketchup for dipping, it’s both nostalgic and fresh.

before I say another word, please do note the butter-soaked, toasted bun.  it crackles when you bite through it, and after the luxurious smoothness and richness of the egg and partially-melted provolone and the hit of salt from the well-done pork roll, you taste that butter again.

this post is getting entirely too lofty for memorial day weekend. I’d better stop.

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today I reviewed two hot sauces for a magazine. they’re incredible, and I think I sold them well; but with a strict 300-350 word limit, I didn’t get a chance to tell the whole backstory about these sauces, and especially the guy behind them. let’s hear it for blogs.

peter mantas is a fascinating story. a chef, restauranteur, and innovator, he owned and operated mazi (‘mah-ZEE’, meaning ‘together’ in greek), a cozy mediterranean restaurant in bradley beach, nj with his longtime partner and pastry chef leslie feingold. and he makes and sells his own hot sauces in a blissfully low-tech way here at the jersey shore. I covered that much in the article.

here’s what I didn’t have room for: the whys and wherefores behind this career decision. ready for this?

mantas grew up in sayreville, nj, best friends with jon bon jovi since the two were grade-schoolers. he was bon jovi’s stage manager when ‘runaway’ became a runaway hit and put the band on the map. for a while, as you might imagine, it was all high flying, living the MTV pipe dream of rock, money, women, partying. but flip that shiny coin over and you see the tarnished side—of endless hotel rooms, red-eye plane flights and bus treks, fair-weather friends, exhaustion. and when the calendar days blur as you’re scattered to the four winds, there are no real ties, the good kind that keep you grounded and content. you’re constantly moving, constantly going, living by a schedule, feeling the physical and mental strain. how long until that living that life gets to be too much?

he decided he wanted a do-over. ditched the rock scene and spent a couple of summers in portugal, where he became enamored with that country’s famous sauce made with piri piri peppers (scoville rating 50,000-175,000, as in ker-POW, as in you’ll be crying for all the right reasons). the chiles are grown locally, every crop is the result of that year’s sun and rain and heat and soil, and no one in a starched white lab coat and an ID tag inspects the sauces for uniformity. meaning each batch and each year has its own character, like wine. some call this a bonus. I sure do.

when he and leslie decided to close mazi’s doors, another was opened at langosta lounge in asbury park, nj, run by his friend and shore-restaurant force marilyn schlossbach. there he books bands and makes piri piri sauces. all of the packaging is recycled. repurposed portuguese water bottles are hand filled with the steamy stuff. leslie came up with the idea for using jute to control leaking and sealing the bottles with wax. she also hand lettered the labels, which are run off old-school style by a friend. daughter davina does marketing.

mantas sells his sauces direct from langosta and carousel farmers market, both on the asbury park boardwalk, as well as at sickles market in little silver, nj. he’s been approached by the big boys who want a piece of the action, but the extra steps they require to do it don’t interest him. low-tech, thank you very much. low-key. he’d be fine with bringing on a few more hands, but emphasizes that he wants production to stay small and sane, versus life in the proverbial fast lane, which he’s already lived, and which, let’s face it, gets old pretty quickly.

when I asked him what I should be absolutely sure to include in the magazine article, he once again brought up the names of his partner and their daughter. which leaves no question as to what’s in those bottles besides chiles, tomatoes and vinegar. it’s mazi, made by a man who had a picture in mind of the life he wanted to live, and actually created it.

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