Grinders, Doughnuts, Pizza

Two recommendations from my Connecticut trip: Pretty much any grinder from Bennie’s Farm Market in Centerbrook. Keep in mind asking for a grinder will get you a full-length sub, but they also do halves. I had the Italian stuffed pork grinder, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, oil and vinegar. But they also do classic grinders like the salami, and the roast beef, not to mention chicken parm and popular fare such as the ribeye sandwich and sausage and peppers. Why do these Nutmeggers refer to my Jersey sub as a grinder? According to a publication called Eastside Vibe,

Most experts agree it is a take-off from a submarine sandwich. Oddly enough, the sub and the grinder have a somewhat nautical origin. East coast shipyards often employed Italian immigrant workers. These workers usually packed a lunch, commonly the lunch consisted of a large sandwich on a french roll stuffed with meats, cheeses and an olive salad. These workers were building submarines and ships. The workers assigned to grinding down the rivets in the metal plates were often referred to as “grinders.” This Italian sandwich was a common staple and restaurants serving the sandwich used the names submarine and grinder.

Good enough for me.

Heading southwest on Old Boston Post Road, along Main Street in Clinton, with its rather inconspicuous-looking storefront, is the Beach Donut Shop. This new location is bare bones—hardly furnished and with flourescent lighting. It’s clear every resource has been devoted solely to making some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. On an early morning last Wednesday a friendly worker showed off the glazed donuts and chocolate crullers fresh from the oven. But I came for my beloved Boston cream pie donuts, which weren’t ready. Luckily, I was reassured it would only take a few minutes, though I would have waited an hour for these heavenly creations. I briefly thought of asking if it were possible to just buy the cream filling and put it in a large bowl.

But my favorite pizza will forever be from Jersey (or New York City, I’ll concede). Not only is the crust done right (flat and chewy), but the sauce itself is strikingly sweet. A large pizza from Schiano’s in Toms River, whose pies I’ve been eating for at least 30 years, will do the trick. Mine had pepperoni and mushrooms—the kind of mushrooms out of a can, rich with flavor, as opposed to the fresh variety, which become dry. (In fact, Papa John’s previously used canned mushrooms until Pizza Hut accused the company of being dishonest about its claim to “better ingredients.” That’s why, as with many chains, the mushrooms are dried up and not dark yellow.)

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