Throwback: Falling in Love With My First Slice at West Islip Pizza

West Islip PizzaIf you didn’t know by my blogs already, one of my favorite foods is pizza. And the first place I remember having pizza was in my hometown of West Islip NY on Long Island.

And naturally, the pizza place closest to my house was called West Islip Pizza when I was a kid. As a local SEO expert, this is the golden goose of business names in an especially competitive market like the pizzeria business.

But alas, it was either sold or renamed to Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta in the mid-90s before the Internet was a thing. But back to West Islip Pizza, I remember the little man on the business card so well. I always asked myself, “why is that chef smelling the pizza?”

That little man always indicated that a good time would be had since I loved (and still love) pizza. Even the 2 most important kids in my life always ask for pizza and get it sometimes. Sometimes we order one and sometimes I make it.

But let’s throw back to the past again. My love for pizza has been around for a lifetime and West Islip Pizza sparked it all. It caused me to try slices in my hometown from the aforementioned Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, Slices n’ Ices, Italiano’s and Cafe Europa in my formative years.

It’s inspired me to maybe, just maybe, go back to West Islip one day and try a slice from each pizzeria that exists there now and rank them from best to worse. Then again, housing a whole lot of pizza at 32 might not be the healthiest strategy… though, I’d work it off at the gym.

I’m curious what pizza everyone likes or liked the best from their time in West Islip…

Business Card Count: 37,002

Finding Dominican Republic Business Cards in the Most Unusual Places

My significant other and I decided to take a trip to the Dominican Republic right before Christmas since we wanted to get away to somewhere warm. After seeing how the hurricanes earlier in 2017 decimated the Caribbean, we decided to go there since they had an all-inclusive resort that was in our price range.

Like my prior all-inclusive resort trip to Antigua, I didn’t expect to get any business cards since we stayed on resort for most of it outside of one excursion. But shockingly, I found 2 cards in the most unusual of places.

Pepe El Lanchero VIP Tours

The first one was for Pepe El Lanchero VIP Tours that apparently do excursions throughout the Dominican Republic, which was somehow in the sand on the beach on my introductory day on the island. Oddly enough, that company was not the one who our excursion was through.

We wound up going ziplining through another company called Blue Travel Partner Services and it was a once-in-a-lifetime fun experience seeing the nature of the Dominican Republic while dashing through the air. It, along with relaxing/reading by the beach & pool, going clubbing, dining at the buffet & gourmet restaurants and enjoying plenty of drinks & our company was a nice combination for a vacation.

We stayed at the Bahia Principe Ambar Blue in Punta Cana and as I said, it was a wonderful experience. There were different sections of Bahia Principe and one had kids nearby, but it wasn’t like they were horribly annoying or anything. The first language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish, so thankfully my significant other is fluent. She joked that was like I was her boy toy because she spoke for me.

The staff there were top notch, as were the accommodations. The room was so nice with a comfortable king bed, though the pillows were too soft as all hotel pillows are, and a beautiful bathroom. The flaw of Bahia Principe Ambar Blue is that our minibar was never restocked once even though they went to the room everyday, sometimes twice, to clean it up.

The weather was in the high 70s-low 80s everyday and the water was somewhat cold as the afternoon got later. The whole area shouldn’t have naturally been this nice in December, but we were told on the excursion that our resort area was actually mountains until they were literally knocked down to make tourist attractions. Who would have thunk it?

Speaking of the excursion, I was also humbled by the lifestyle of the poor citizens of the Dominican Republic. The schools have barbed wire on the walls and one public school even only opened up 7 months ago, which amazes me beyond belief. It makes me glad to stay on the resort most of the time in my bubble.

Barcelo Dominican Republic

We didn’t stay at Barcelo, but I found this business card in the Dominican Republic airport of all places. It was literally on the counter as checked our baggage. Leaving Punta Cana was quite difficult since we were going back to the cold weather and our lives. Good thing Christmas was right around the corner and my work week is only 3 days and then New Year’s Day is off as well.

Business Card Count: 36,989

Rich Tree Service Gave Our Backyard Some Non-Christmas Tree Removal

Rich Tree ServiceThe symbolism of a Christmas tree is so representative of the holiday season from Rockefeller Center to the one in your own home. Today, I’m talking about a different type of tree: a dead one.

More specifically, a really large dead one, a smaller dead one and 2 fig trees that we’re knocking out to make way for a fruit & vegetable garden next spring. That’s where Rich Tree Service comes in.

Or more specifically, a coupon for them plus seeing how they didn’t get bad reviews online. Anyway, we placed the call and the initial person (I assume Charles) came over and gave his estimate for how much the removal of the 2 trees & grinding the 2 fig trees down to the stump would cost.

Then I was informed by Rich Tree Service that in order to take the trees out that part of our fence would have to be removed. That was definitely acceptable since it was promised that it would be put back together. And it was. However, I was neglected to be told that there would be huge tree parts placed on our front lawn and one of our outdoor Christmas decorations subsequently stopped working for good after the tree service was done.

Tree Removal South Plainfield NJ

The backyard was also torn up some because they had to drive a small vehicle into it to take down the tree and remove the tree parts. The most interesting thing was that the big tree that died took 3 chainsaws to remove because it wasn’t just wood. Parts of rock and metal actually got infused with the roots, causing there to be a difficult time for them.

But, they were quick, efficient and very helpful in removing a metal pole stuck up in our yard as well. The previous owners of the house were garden enthusiasts and had this pole up for the purposes of their plants. I did discover that the pole was not disposed of, but just thrown to the side under some leaves. This was disappointing since I got the impression that Rich Tree Service would be getting rid of it for us, but not too much of a shock since it’s not made of metal.

I didn’t catch a name, but I also found one of the tree service people to be a bit of a jerk/phony even though he was trying to be funny. That’s what happens when you try to be jokey with a customer you don’t really know.

Would I recommend Rich Tree Service if you’re looking for tree removal in Central New Jersey? I would say that they did the job that was asked of them, but I wish I was a bit more informed that there would be huge tree chunks in our front yard since I would have removed any electronics including the one that stopped working after their service.

Business Card Count: 36,777

How My Company’s Office Building is Falling Apart

Vanderberg PaintingSometimes, things go wrong in homes all at once. The same goes for the workplace, specifically the building where you work.

And this is the case with mine. First, one of the toilets flooded water to the point where some of it seeped into our office. Therefore, certain items needed to be rearranged including desks, printers and computers. That was fun, especially since some of it resulted in an impromptu fall cleaning.

Then came the need to refinish the wooden doors, which stunk up the office to the point where the door & windows had to be open to get air.

Next, came Vanderberg Painting. And of course they didn’t paint. They replaced the wallpaper (which I assume got damaged by the flood) with other wallpaper, but somehow the new wallpaper looks EVEN OLDER than its predecessor. My office building feels like it’s from the 1960s.

Note that the man from Vanderberg Painting was quite nice and chummy when I saw him on the way to the bathroom and didn’t get in the way at all.

But I digress. Nothing says “your building is falling apart” like the police showing up. Apparently, the sprinklers went on at 2:30 in the morning on the night while it was snowing outside and caused not only the sidewalk to become slick, but the road as well! Police officers came and asked for the owner of the building, so hopefully that’s resolved.

And when you drag net neutrality into the equation, that’s even stranger. Apparently, the Internet went out right after the net neutrality appeal was announced. Coincidence or consequence? Well, the answer came after checking the fuse box, which needed to be switched in order for the Internet to work. So our office was at a standstill for 20 minutes while this issue got resolved.

I’m glad I’m going on vacation, so I won’t be there when the building burns down, the ceiling caves in or floats away like a hot air balloon.

Business Card Count: 36,756

Duane Park: My First-Ever Burlesque Show Experience in New York City

Duane Park

My significant other wanted to do something special over the weekend and she decided to take me out to Duane Park on Bowery in Manhattan. She told me she went to this burlesque show for her cousin’s bachelorette party and enjoyed it. She also told me that it was the closest thing to her taking me to a strip club.

And she was right in one way and wrong in another. She was right in that there were 6 seductive performers on stage showing everything outside of their nipples and genitals. They each has pasties on and disrobed as they went through their act. Some of them sang, some of them talked comedy and others did a more complex dance routine. All of them were very talented.

She was wrong in that it didn’t feel like a strip club to me, even one that is classier. It was definitely more upscale than that scene and the food & drink selection was dynamite. Here’s a look at what I (I mean we) ate.

Adams Apple Gypsy Rose Lee British Blonde

Duane Park Course 1: Drinks

Once we arrived at Duane Park, we decided to go to the bar while our food was being prepared. We shared 3 different drinks, though we drank more than just 3. The first one was my favorite: the Adam’s Apple, which consists of apple-infused whiskey, apple cider, maple & thyme. There was a really unique flavor to this one and was appropriate for the season.

The second is the Gypsy Rose Lee, which consists of gin, rose syrup, lime, muddled rose & green apple, and was pretty good though I’m not a huge gin person. The last one is British Blonde, a cocktail with vodka, cocchi americano, matilde peche & lemon that doesn’t resemble any of the blondes I met in London. But it was still pretty flavorful, though my least favorite of the 3 ironically since I’m a vodka guy.

Duane Park Tuna Tartare Roasted Shrimp

Duane Park Course 2: Appetizers

I worked up an appetite looking at the menu. While they had octopus and figs with goat cheese & prosciutto as 2 appetizer choices, we would up wanting to share 2 items, the first being tuna tartare with a side of tahini sauce and long sesame tuilles that was very refreshing.

The second item was much more interesting: roasted shrimp. That might sound boring by itself, but the shrimp were cooked well and came with 2 side items: Georgia cheese grits and garlic sauce. Combining cheese and garlic is always a sure-fire way to enhance any food item and it worked here with perfection.

Duane Park Apple Cider Glazed Salmon Pan Roasted Organic Chicken

Duane Park Course 3: Dinner

By this point, I was ready for dinner. I love fish and don’t have it often as I like, but seeing apple-cider salmon on the menu really perked up my taste buds and it did not disappoint. The fish has nuts on it, as did the side salad that came on the plate and that combination was heavy enough to feel like dinner, yet light enough to leave room for dessert.

As was the pan-roasted organic chicken. This moist & delicious piece of meat was served with a starch I didn’t recognize by look or taste and broccoli rabe. The vegetable was the only flaw on the plate in my opinion since I’m not a fan of how bitter broccoli rabe is and would have definitely preferred some sort of heavier sauce to muddle that flavor profile.

Duane Park Banana Upside Down Cake Pumpkin Cheesecake

Duane Park Course 4: Dessert

I’m rarely one to indulge on dessert, but this night was one time I made an exception. Seeing banana upside down cake on the menu was intriguing and the flavor of it made my night. I don’t like very sweet treats and the cake itself was moist (thanks in part to the delicious sauce and hint of pineapple) and not too overly sweet.

I didn’t eat the dessert my significant other got, but if I have devoured this pumpkin cheesecake if I were a fan of cheesecake. Just look at how good it looks between the cinnamon crumbles, nice portion of whipped cream and that sauce that looks like it would wake you up & motivate you to drive home.

My overall experience at Duane Park was such a good time between the food and the burlesque show performance that it was worth the struggle to find parking in New York City, specifically in the Bowery area. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for an excuse to wear a suit.

Business Card Count: 36,733

A Fun and Romantic Sunday Afternoon in Princeton NJ

Verhune Orchards Princeton NJSunday is the Catholic day of rest. However, Sundays for me could be a great time to spend some quality time with the people you love. That was the case for this past Sunday when me and my significant other decided to take a trip to Princeton, New Jersey.

Princeton is known to have a quaint feel with nice shops and restaurants, along with the look of a village in a larger city. I found an event online that offered a wine tasting at Terhune Orchards.

This was well worth the price of free since we tried 5 different wines including the Heritage Chardonnay, Chambourcin & Apple Wine. The ones that I liked the most (and bought a bottle of) were the Cold Soil White, a semi-sweet wine that goes well with spicy foods, and Just Peachy, an apple & peach wine that goes well with desserts and cheeses.

Or they go well by themselves since we drank the entire bottles within 5 days of buying them. But speaking of cheeses…

Olssons Princeton NJOlsson’s Fine Foods

As an avid cheese fan, I saw this cheese shop and wanted to enter. And we were not disappointed by Olsson’s Fine Foods.

We tried a few cheeses in the store including the Piave Vecchio, which is a very flavorful cheese that’s aged almost a year. Ultimately, we decided to pick the Melkbus 149, which is a gouda cheese that contains truffles inside.

Olsson’s Melkbus 149 was so good that some of it got eaten on the street as we walked out of the store and the rest didn’t last through the night.

Carter Cavero Princeton NJCarter & Cavero

Our next stop was Carter & Cavero Old World Olive Oil Company. I couldn’t imagine that there would be a storefront dedicated to just olive oil, but there certainly is. They actually have one called the Rincon de la Subbetica that won gold medal awards and it certainly shows since it was divine.

Other flavored olive oils we tried included bacon, garlic, basil, roasted onion, chipotle and Persian lime. Each of these tasted amazing in their own way, except for the Persian lime which did not work.

I placed these in the order from my favorite to my least favorite based on sampling each on a piece of soft bread.

Kitchen Kapers Princeton NJKitchen Kapers

The next stop we went to was Kitchen Kapers. They sell unique things for the kitchen from appliances and bakeware to accessories and glasses. I’d definitely shop here if I was in the market for something.

This segued us into getting food at Teresa Caffe. We didn’t want to eat too much, so we just shared 2 appetizers. The Polpettini (braised beef meatballs, tomato sauce, parsley & a garlic crostini) were enjoyable, as was the Salumi e Formaggi, which is a sampling board of:

  • 2 good cheeses, a harder cheese and a softer brie-type cheese
  • Soppressata & spicy thin-sliced salami
  • Castelvetrano olives, which I didn’t eat because I’m not an olive person
  • Crostini that was plain to complement the other items
  • Spiced whole almonds
  • Preserves & aged balsamic

Bent Spoon Princeton NJThe Bent Spoon

Our last stop was for some hot cocoa. I went to The Bent Spoon when I last went to Princeton and ate at the Witherspoon Grill. I decided to get another cup of the habanero hot cocoa with whipped cream to wrap up the night.

That and seeing Princeton’s Christmas tree that’s photographed above. Overall, I loved walking Princeton and enjoyed the shops, food, wine and company. I’m definitely heading back to Princeton to explore more.

Business Card Count: 36,609

Realtor Curtis Counts Left a Thanksgiving Apple Pie on Our Doorstep

Curtis Counts RealtorThe holidays are a time for giving. Not just for family, but in general. Everyone seems nicer around the holidays. Unless you’re Black Friday shopping, then watch out.

But getting back onto topic. One recent afternoon, my significant other came home to an apple pie on the stoop. Along with it was the business card of Curtis Counts, a Remax realtor.

I was unaware of the significance of who Curtis Counts was until I was told that he helped my significant other with her home purchase. The first thing that came to my mind was “wow, that’s a nice thing to do.”

Remax Clark NJThe second thing is that all I ever got from my past realtors were cards and headaches. But I digress.

The apple pie was very tasty and would definitely fall into the category of an apple crisp because of its topping. That reminds me of my grandmother who made apple crisp, but I regretfully never had any because I was a picky eater in my youth.

Id like to thank Curtis for the lovely gift that complemented my pistachio Halo Top Creamery pint. It was enjoyed by my significant other and I very much.

Tis Better to Give

I think giving during the holidays is a nice gesture that can be spread all year around. I try to be giving in nature in general, but I know that I can’t always do so monetarily or with my time.

Thisyear, my Christmas season will be different because I had the idea to volunteer for the holidays. I’m still looking for a good place to do so in my area, but I’ve never really volunteered before and want to give back somehow.

My significant other and I will be heading to the Dominican Republic the week before as well since we’ll be seeing my family the week before.

Business Card Count: 36,580

Colonia BBQ: Discovering a New Hotspot in Front of Your Nose

Colonia BBQ Churrasqueira Portuguese CuisineSometimes, it takes an arduous journey to find a good food place. In the case of Colonia BBQ Churrasqueira Portuguese Cuisine, it was right around the corner from my house across from my liquor store and near the dollar store.

I enjoy good some barbecue, but it’s always find to hard a place where to get it made for you. I never noticed when driving by it that Colonia BBQ actually existed. But I decided to give it a try for lunch one day.

I read over the menu and I ironically got something that wasn’t quite BBQ: chicken in garlic sauce. Every item comes with a side of rice and fries, which seem like they contradict each other but this combination works.

That’s because the rice blended perfectly with the garlic sauce the chicken was made in and the fact that the fries came with some barbecue sauce. I’m assuming it was homemade based on the fact that it’s a BBQ joint and the sauce itself was sweet. The garlic sauce even worked with the fries to a lesser extent.

Between that dish and other menu options that include BBQ chicken, ribs and some other appetizers, I’d definitely eat there again especially since they can deliver to my house. That’ll be great for the wintertime or just Chris being lazy time.

Business Card Count: 36,563

Getting a Quarterly Spot Spraying & Checkup From Terminix

Terminix Trenton NJBugs have never really been a huge problem for me, more of a nuisance. A hatred of ankle-biting mosquitoes in the summer time.

Though the house I bought did have a cricket issue of them being in the wall, so that was fun. I believe I got someone to take care of them while patching the hold causing the problems.

But I feel like this is my first experience with regular bug treatments with a company like Terminix. That’s because my significant other has a plan with them that costs a minimal amount per quarter.

And I must say the outer pods are effective since I barely see bugs inside. It was only when I started dwelling in the basement (and we cleaned it) did a few more start coming.

The other day, Ibrahim Temur from Terminix came out to the house to do some spraying inside and out. He said the inside hadn’t been done in a while, so its a good thing it got done.

I was picturing a tent needing to be erected and evacuating to the backyard from the fumes. Turns out, it’s a small canister of spray and the area couldn’t be touched for 15 minutes.

Ibrahim, which must be Abraham in another language, was polite and thorough to ensure everywhere that needed to get hit did. If it keeps critters out for winter, it’s well worth the money.

Business Card Count: 36,518

Throwback: Max Seibert’s Unique Ouija Board Business Card

Max SeibertI recently came across a business card that I enjoy that Max Seibert used to stand out while promoting his brand. It stands out to me because it’s a Ouija board.

I may like board games, but I’ve never used a Ouija board though I do remember having one briefly as a child. I was always skeptical of its capabilities of being a portal into the spirit world.

My cynicism came from my logical thinking that Ouija s a multiple-person board game (or board activity) where everyone has their hands on the planchette (aka the little pointer thing with the opening to indicate which letter is being communicated), so the odds are that someone is pulling on purpose or subconsciously.

But, I’ve watched some paranormal shows with my significant other that have shown some links between the use (or misuse) of Ouija boards and the spirit world. One particular case that stands out is where a girl & her sister mess with a board without properly finishing the ritual and that causes their home to be haunted.

I read some history about these boards and it actually started out as a parlor game and then the inventor had to sue a bunch of people who ripped off his idea. Eventually, Parker Brothers bought the rights from the guy’s estate and then Hasbro took over Parker Brothers.

My belief is that Ouija boards are not actually a portal to the spirit world because I feel as though that type of power would not be man made. I feel it had to have existed from the onset of whoever created the world. I think any “portal” that would open up the spirit world would already be open and the concept of a Ouija board may anger a spirit enough to haunt a location rather than the board itself.

Oh, and I’ve seen online reviews of the Ouija movies and they look awful.

Business Card Count: 36,482