Fall is a special time of year, it’s like the prelude to hibernation season. It’s cool outside so you don’t quite want to be outside. It’s getting progressively darker earlier, and when you are hungry all you can think of is something reliable, something with substance, something comforting, and more importantly something familiar.
When you are looking for something familiar you start to focus on the desire of your tastebuds, once you locate that yearning, then you go to the next phase of finding where the yearnings of your tastebuds is within a five mile radius of where you are. Then this is where it gets tricky, once you have located your food desire the likelihood of that craving being within a five mile radius is almost nil. So you move on to the next best option, you begin to think on the following: what place kinda resembles what you are coveting, will this new place that is in close proximity have the same menu items, will it placate in you what is required on this cool fall evening?
Now is the time in the blog where I reminiscence just for a moment. There is a take out spot in West Philadelphia called Dwight’s BBQ. Dwight’s is a hole in the wall, the service is bad, the wait is long and horribly unacceptable, they run out of food constantly, but they have the best dang bbq, mac and cheese and collard greens ever. There is never a time that people aren’t waiting outside, complaining about the things they have run out of, but when you take a bite of those ribs, you forgive them each and every time, hence they are still open. So needless to write, when I tried this new place called Zoagies in Bear, DE I used my Dwight’s as my food frame of reference.
Zoagies is a food truck that was recommended to me by a neighbor and is quickly being recognized as an IG sensation. So first up on the dining menu for me is the half of slab rib platter with two sides. Now if you have been following me for a while you know I love a good system and my system for ordering ribs is to order pork, because if you gonna go in, go all the way in. Everyone knows that pork is the super meat, it has all of the feels, all of the flavor, all of the fat and all of the goodness, contingent upon if it’s done right.
The ribs came perfectly slathered with what I assume was homegrown barbeque sauce, because it was completely balanced with flavor, delicately sweet, gracefully tangy, and loose in texture which did not resemble any type of bottled barbeque sauce. Visually the ribs had the proper amount of char on each rib, when I bit into my first rib I thought….not bad, I took another bite and reckoned pretty tender, not falling off the bone, but totally acceptable, on the third bite I asked myself where is the smoke, I was kinda counting on the smokiness to coat the inside of my mouth, but it didn’t. On my next rib, I concluded this is not in the neighborhood of Dwight’s, could Zoagies live on the same block as Dwight’? probably not, but maybe in the vicinity thereof. To write plainly the ribs were fair, they weren’t bad at all, if someone brought me some ribs from Zoagies as a wonderful gesture because they knew I didn’t feel like going out, I wouldn’t be mad, I may not have not been thrilled, but I certainly wouldn’t be sullen either.
Next up was the mac and cheese which is the only fitting accompaniment to a rib platter. The mac and cheese was cheesy, but not moist. It is some type of magic that happens with excellent mac and cheese, the wizardry happens when there is a slew of cheese, yet the mac and cheese is moist, the cheese is not tight, but its not loose either, again its landing in the realm of perfection and only a few have the goods to produce that type of goodness. This mac and cheese was undistinguished, it was on the dry side, not so much on the unflavorful side, but not on the creamy side either. Basically it was living in the land of take or leave it. I will take it if there are no other suitable sides, but I may leave it if something else strikes my fancy.
Last up was the string beans, the best way I can describe these veggies is to write is was the kindest slow burn, let me elaborate. On the first bite, I asked Jesus how could something be so bland. But endeavoring to follow the federal guidelines that states that a healthy adult should have two to three cups of veggies a day and coming to terms that I was extremely deficient in following that guidance, I continued to eat. As I continued to eat it was almost like I was eating time released flavored string beans. With each new bite, I started to get something new, the vinegar was coming through, the sweetness of the white onion slices they added was giving me life, the minced garlic was packing a small punch, and then with each passing chew, I found myself feeling very amiable toward those string beans, they gave my tongue a graze of goodness, that was subtly delightful.
If I had to give Zoagies a report card, I would give them a “C” and to be clear I am giving my menu choice a “C,” you see the ribs are not Zoagie’s signature food, their signature food is the fried hoagie, you read it correctly it’s a hoagie yet somehow the bread is fried. I cannot give details because I have never had it. I also want to write that a “C” is also known as space and room to improve and the potential is definitely there. A small tweak in this or that can make those rib platters a game changer. So keep striving Zoagies I have faith in you🍴