Revisiting South Jersey’s Jug Handle Inn

While back in my old neighborhood of South Jersey, I had the chance to revisit the institution known as The Jug Handle Inn (rating at bottom).   It’s been around as long as I can remember.  I first went with my dad around ’85 when wings first came on the scene in SoJo, and then again in 2005 after a grueling round of tennis with my friend Tom.  Nothing quenches a thirst like wings and beer.  From what I remember the wings were no great shakes.  Since it was six years ago and considering the legendary status of the Jug, I thought I should check them out again.  Third time is a charm, right?

My friend Matt and I went on a Friday night and it was packed to the gills.  We headed down to the basement bar and found a spot near a tv so we could watch the Sixers .  The basement section bears all the hallmarks of the quintessential jersey dive:  graffiti covered walls, exposed 2 x 4 beams, and they have a classic long shuffleboard table–the kind covered in sawdust.  “The Boss” could have walked in at any moment.  The patrons fit the part, too–’80s to the hilt.

Our comely waitress came out with the menus.  She had a small Tawny Kitain thing going on.   Appropriately, she wore a black t-shirt emblazoned with “Got Wings?” on the front.  As I scrutinized the menu like a dying man going over his will, Skynard’s “Simple Man” played, mocking the absurd dilemma of whether to get hot, extra hot, or garlic hot.

No sooner had we ordered than the wings came out.  They looked and smelled glorious.

Jug Handle’s wings are good size and they don’t skimp on breading.  Breaded versus non-breaded is a touchy subject with Western New Yorkers.  As a Philly guy I can understand and respect why they chafe at the notion of a breaded wing.  I won’t bother getting a cheesesteak outside a 50 mile radius of Philly.  That said, I’ve had breaded wings that were good, however, The Jug Handle’s wings are overbreaded, which in turn makes them too soggy by the end.  The sauce was also lacking.  It’s not horrible, but it’s pretty one dimensional–your average sauce.  One bright spot are the beers.  They have several different local microbrews on tap, such as Sly Fox and Flying Fish.  They even had Southern Tier for you upstaters.  Another bright spot is the clientele and decor combo.

On a Scale of 1 to 5 Wings (1 being the worst and 5 the best)

Jug Handle Inn

Name: Extra Hot (Traditional)

Overall: 3 wings
Sauce: 2 wings
Heat Index: 3 wings
Size: 3 wings
Crispness: 2 wings
Tenderness: 3 wings

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Posted in New Jersey, Philadelphia, South Jersey | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Tandoori Chicken Wings

Wingaddict got a little zany the other night and decided to make some tandoori style chicken wings.  I’m not the greatest cook, but they turned out pretty good.  Recipe below

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

20 Wings
20 oz of plain yogurt
4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of sea salt
2 tbsp of black pepper
1 tbsp of cayenne
1 tsp of paprika
1/2 bag of tandoori spice mix (buy at a indian grocery store/wegmans . . . )
1/2 lemon
3 tbsp of fresh grate ginger
2 tbsp of Laxmi Green Chili Paste

Prep:
throw the chicken in a gallon size freezer bag, then mix all the ingredients in the bag, let it marinate for 6 – 8 hrs.
Take chicken out get most of marinade off and drizzle a little olive oil on chicken.  Bake or grill.  Bake at 425 for 45 minutes.

 

Posted in Philadelphia, Syracuse | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Wing Bowl 19

Today, while most Philadephians sleep, an indecorous horde of lunatics will congregate at the Wells Fargo Center for the annual spectacle known as Wing Bowl, which always occurs on the Friday before the Super Bowl.

To those unfamiliar, Wing Bowl is a competitive eating event similar to the hot dog eating competition held every year at Coney Island. Every year there is a ton of buildup to the event on WIP, the local sports radio station in Philly.  Contestants qualify each year by coming into the studio for a wing off where they have to eat x amount of food under a certain time limit.  This year, a guy named Joel the Cannon ate a 1 1/2 pound pumpkin pie  in 2 minutes to qualify.

To put it succinctly, Wing Bowl is basically Jersey Shore meets Mardi Gras meets pro wrestling.  The actual eating competition is an afterthought.  I had heard about all the sordid happenings at Wing Bowl, so I never felt inclined to go.   Me and my friend, Paco Sampedro, mulled it over one night, and on a lark, decided we should do it.  Sometimes I want to see the worst America has to offer.  It’s the John Waters in me.

Four years ago today, we arrived around 4 a.m. to the parking lot with wings (Dienner’s Bar-B-Q at the Reading Terminal Market) and a case of beer.  The parking lot was already overflowing with riff raff.   It was cold and dark and I think it was snowing.   After rifling back some cold ones, we made our way into Wing Bowl 15.  I was very disoriented and disgusted already.  There’s no reasonable excuse for attending Wing Bowl.

The event started almost as soon as we arrived.  It was only six a.m., and there were about 10,000 wasted people in the stands–the worst elements of the Flyers and Eagles fan base.   The participants were announced over the PA and, in pro wrestling fashion, would file in slowly with their entourage while the crowd taunted and poured beer on them.   Our favorite character was Obi Wing.  I guess it’s because we couldn’t peg his character.   He was alternately confused, happy, sad, angry at any given moment.  I guess, he had a caveman thing going on.  I kind of want to hang out with that guy.

If I remember correctly he was DQed for vomiting.  He was first to vomit last year, too.  Pro eater, Joey Chestnut, ended up winning the whole event, eating somewhere around 160 wings in a 1/2 hour.

The remainder of the day was a haze.  My friends and I went our separate ways around two, I think.  I somehow managed to go bowling later that afternoon.

This is a cautionary tale for anyone considering on going.  If you’re in a relationship with someone, expect some fallout with him/her and plan on having at least a week of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  That night I did some crying in the shower and then my girlfriend covered me in blankets while I laid on the floor.   I learned the next day that my friend Paco Sampedro had vomited while out at a fancy dinner with his girlfriend.  Our friend Ally who went with us also vomited later that night.  Paco and I vowed never to go back.  Regrettably, I ended up going the next year, but haven’t been back since.

Posted in Philadelphia | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

New Logo by Eric Kennedy


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Change of Pace Award Winning Wings Living On Past Glory

I had a few places on my short list to review, but after doing some online research Change of Pace (see ratings at bottom) seemed to keep popping up on forums.

Festooned with sports nostalgia, Change of Pace had all the trappings of a place that should have award-winning wings.  I hazard to guess that the decor hadn’t been updated since the mid ’80s.  If I had only worn my satin letterman wrestling jacket from high school, I would have been the cock of the walk.   Anyway, behind the bar hung the plaques “Best Wings of Syracuse 1997” and “2002”.   That was encouraging.

Out came the wings.   I liked that they came in one of those rowboat-shaped cardboard things that you got fries in when you were a kid.   Unfortunately, that was the high point.  After all the build up, these were your basic  garden-variety wings (somehow they look really good in this pic though).

They lacked sauce and what little they provided was,  at best, adequate.  I’m guessing some Frank’s and butter.  Very disappointing.   The lone bright spot was that they were crispy, but this came at the cost of being overdone .  I feel a little bad because my waitress was nice and she mentioned after I ordered that their garlic wings were the best offering.

The upshot of my Change of Pace experience was that I met Big Dan from Pulaski (pronounced Pulaaasky–think Fargo, the movie).  Big Dan and his wife were very nice and he recommended several of his favorite spots for wings.

Change of Pace

Name: Hot (Traditional)

Overall: 2
Sauce: 2
Heat Index: 2
Size: 3
Crispness: 4
Tenderness: 2

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10 Ten Wing Eating Songs

02 – Punks, Get Off The Grass

1.  Punks,  Get Off the Grass – Edith Massey
2.   Captain Beefheart – Harry Irene
3.   The Frogs – Banjo Bonnie
4.   Beach Boys – Be True to Your School
5.    Black Sabbath – Changes
6.    Smile No More – Gas Huffer
7.    Party on the Patio – ZZ Top
8.    Where Eagles Dare – The Misfits
9.    Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves – Cher
10. This Kiss – Faith Hill

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Swooning Over My Latest Wing Fling, Cousin Pete’s Saloon #4 – Part 2

Cousin Pete’s Saloon #4 – Part 2

A Brazilian city known for its skimpy bikinis, carnival, and bossa nova music; and,  the Au on the periodic table that the Aztecs referred to as “god excrement”.  Combine these two words and you get Rio Golds (ratings at bottom), the last of the 28 flavors on Cousin Pete’s menu.  I was intrigued.  Who or what would warrant such a glamorous, audacious name for a wing sauce, I thought?  Like clockwork, in walks the new shift on bar, a swarthy Sicilian sporting GOLD chains named MaRIO.  Man, it takes some balls to name a wing sauce after yourself.  Cutting to the chase, I already had 12 “Hot-Atomic” carcasses (see “Swooning Over . . . #4 – Part 1”)  taking refuge in my gut, should I really do this to myself? Of course, I caved to my gluttonous ways and ordered 10 Rio Golds-Garlic-Hot.  What was I thinking.  Luckily, the wings took a little time, so I had some time to digest.

Out they came, WOW!  These naughty bastards were tucked in under a mustard bbq blanket and, again, they don’t skimp on the cayenne.  They were rich, buttery, and sassy.   True to their namesake, these wings had machismo, they were bold and gaudy, but lived up to their name.  Rio Golds are the Deion Sanders of wings.

Cousin Pete’s Saloon #4

Name: Rio Gold Garlic-Hot

Overall: 4 wings

Sauce: 4 wings

Heat Index: 3 wings

Size: 4 wings

Crispness: 4 wings

Tenderness: 4 wings

Posted in Syracuse | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments