Liquid Lines

This Season Will Be Bowlin’ in Every Sense

Predicting the Next Phase of the Food ‘Bowl’ Trend
By JON COEN | Apr 25, 2018
Photo by: @jannisbrant/Upsplash The surf has been bowlin’ of late. And that won’t be the only bowls this summer.

Anyone else craving an Açaí bowl? I’m aware that the weather has been more like New England Clam Chowder bowl than sweet frozen fruit bowl of late, but in a few (long) months summer will be here and these bowls of goodness will once again be the subject of thousands of Instagram posts.

Incredibowls in Surf City is already open on weekends and the quickly growing New Jersey franchise Playa Bowls is opening in Beach Haven.

If you recall, Açaí bowls (and yes, you have to have a specific keyboard to spell it) hit the island like a tornado last summer. From one spot on the mainland, suddenly a dozen LBI eateries had the Brazilian berry treat, doused with every kind of berry, topping, seed and nut. In fact, Incredibowls and Unbelievabowls in West Creek both opened in the same week, specifically slinging the new trend.

Açaí bowls were nothing new to those who’ve traveled. Surfers had them in Hawaii and California 10 years prior. And apparently, they’re some super antioxidant.

LBI may be a little late to the game, but when we decide we like something, we go all in. And I’m already thinking about a dragonfruit, aka pitaya (pink Central American alternate to Açaí, also creamed up with banana to make a natural treat) bowl with blueberries, pineapple, granola and Nutella.

Now I know there’s someone who wants to tell me it’s essentially just a big bowl of sugar. Well, you can kiss my sweet butt, ’cause they’re delicious. Call me when you get off your high-horse treadmill.

But while the Açaí bowl blew up last year, not unlike the fish taco did a few summer earlier, I think we started to see the start of the poke bowl phase as well in 2017. Something tells me that everybody’s going to have raw tuna with some variety of seaweed, spicy mayo and sesame oil. If anyone wants to make truly authentic Hawaiian poke bowl, it’s cubed tuna, soy, sesame, scallions and onion, over rice …. just like the Kahuku Superette on the North Shore. (Maybe avocado, but don’t get carried away.) I think they put a bit of brown sugar, too. You have to love anyplace that has a whole deli case devoted to raw tuna. You can grab a pineapple iced tea and a band for your pole spear there as well.

Surf Taco is well established. Playa Bowls is now marketing Poke Bowls. How long until someone opens a Surf Poke?

Oh wait, I’ve just been informed that’s actually happening in Lanoka Harbor this summer.

Açai bowls, smoothie bowls, poke bowls, taco bowls, ramen bowls, grain bowls. Starting to notice a trend? Bowls are hot right now. These traditional street food dishes are filtering from South America, Polynesia, Asia, etc., through metropolitan areas and winding up on LBI.

If our past is any indication, every spot on the Island this summer is going to be cramming whatever they can into a bowl to lure folks in the door.

I can already see it – Chegg Wing bowls, Ship Bottom Shellfish crab cake bowls, Barry’s Cheesesteak bowls, Mud City crabcake bowls, Howard’s French Fried Lobster bowls, Greenhouse Gluten-free bowls, Pietro’s pizza bowls, Sandbox Café pancake bowls … who knows how far it will go.

And there’s something funny about when you put food in a bowl around here. It suddenly seems to cost $4 more. If you can somehow curate a photo of the bowl over a reclaimed wooden background with flora, possibly $10 more.

Anyway, I just want to announce that I will be opening my own food truck this year. I have a revolutionary idea where I am going to have different grains – corn, wheat, bran or oats. Then – get this – you pour milk on it. Could be cow’s milk, almond milk or soy. Whatever you want. I’ll be at all the top surf spots, floating out to Bay Day and open in Beach Haven when the bars close. And, of course, it will be served in a bowl. Really cool bowls, with awesome spoons.

I think it will be fire.

COULD WINTER BE OVER?: I doubt it. I think we’re all grateful for the recent warmth and sunshine. We may be turning the corner, slowly, but a few days last week it was utterly miserable around here. I know some folks think we’re having a crappy spring, but they seem to forget this is completely bone-chilling standard. Nice weather in April is an anomaly. Things got a little better for the weekend, although the Island suffered from ice box syndrome once the wind came onshore.

In all seriousness, if you’re on LBI and are looking for the best time of day for a bike ride, yard work or beach walk, that 9  to 11 a.m. window is usually your best bet. Those windy afternoons will knock the hell out of any Island plans.

I think we’re finally past the worst of it. I, for one, turned on my outside shower. Do I think we will get another slap from Old Man Winter? Absolutely. There will be a morning in May with a wicked wind chill reminiscent of March. And you know what they say about the rain … April showers bring May showers.

The good news is that on Monday, the Atlantic City ocean temp gauge was reading 50 degrees. A good south blow can drop that right back down, but I would say considering we’ve had recent nighttime lows drop down to the 30s, that’s pretty good.

That’s going to mean we can downgrade to 4 mil wetsuits and 3 mil gloves, if not now, then soon. This week will have hard east winds, which warms us up.

If you’re itching to get on a paddleboard, I recommend the bay. Not only is the water warmer than the ocean, but if you’re even somewhat experienced, you’re not going to be falling in, so you can lose the wetsuit. We also have enough light to be outside recreating until 8 p.m. now. We’ve gained almost four hours since the winter solstice!

It’s also going to mean that when the wind comes off the ocean, we may not be able to build igloos. But don’t get too comfortable. Next thing we need is for a little green on the marshes. That’s always good for morale.

SERIOUS SWELL: February and March were a historic period for New Jersey swell, and although the consistency has backed off a bit, we’re still getting plenty of solid surf here in late April.

Last week saw a monster of a swell that came up April 17 and 18. The winds went offshore late, and there were only a handful of takers. The surf was massive and mostly out of control, but that didn’t stop some of LBI’s varsity dudes from scoring a few thick ones.

Normally when the wind goes offshore at that time, it kills the swell by morning. And if there is any size left, the period is too high and the waves are closed out. But by last Tuesday morning, the surf was still a few feet overhead on set and focusing into well-defined peaks. The deep hole on the inside wasn’t ideal for a long ride and it still felt like winter, but it was decent.

The wind went southwest, mucking up the late morning session, but it did straighten out again later. I think spots in northern Ocean County were the call, but the Island had its share that day. We had such a decent swell train because there was just so much east fetch pointed at the Island for so long. And because there were a few different swell directions, it wasn’t walled out. Overall, pretty decent event.

And as this next low starts to punch us mid-week, it will likely set up yet another round of swell. I have a feeling Wednesday will again be a bit much, but Thursday looks to be very good, with a leftover Friday and another shot of swell for the weekend. I have a feeling the folks who avoid cold-water surfing will be coming out of the woodwork this weekend. Hopefully the whole Island breaks and crowds can spread out.

WHAT TO EXPECT WITH ALL THIS NEW SAND: As was reported in a story last week by Juliet Kaszas-Hoch in this paper, the U.S. Army Corps is in the midst of the Brant Beach beachfill project, but things are not moving along as they’d originally predicted.

These things virtually never go as they plan, and that will likely affect summer on LBI. Weeks Marine is still waiting on additional gear to show up, and that will push back the start dates for the Harvey Cedars and Surf City projects Once again, I get it. These projects are needed to keep the Atlantic Ocean from chewing away at our coastal lifestyle. Following last week’s storm, there was no beach in Surf City.

But the later these projects run, the more they make summer difficult for many reasons. Following Cedars, the Surf City project was supposed to be done by the end of May. That’s already been backed up to late June.  I hate to say it, but it seems very likely that there will be beach closures and pumping going on in Surf City on July 4th weekend.

It’s also not ideal for sandbars. If you recall when the northern portion of Surf City was done in 2011, no one surfed, bodysurfed or even waded out because there was no sandbar. We hope we have a quicker rebound this time around, but when the ocean goes flat, as it is known to do in the summer, that sand is much harder to move.

That said, Surf City is definitely still in “winter beach” mode with a sandbar way outside and a deep trough on the inside. Depending on how far the project extends, it could fill the hole and retain decent surfing and swimming conditions. Hopefully Cedars gets done in time and we see some kind of offshore terrace. Ship Bottom will be interesting because it’s not getting pumped, but it will get sand from Surf City and Brant Beach. But the situation right now is not ideal.

INSERT SPRING EVENT HOMOPHONE HERE: As expected, the ever-increasing angle of Earth toward the sun has brought about a return to events. I think it’s called “spring.” Anyway, here’s what’s on the docket.

Last weekend, Alliance for a Living Ocean hosted our local outreach of Clean Ocean Action’s Spring Beach Sweeps. ALO Executive Director Kyle Gronostajski reported a lot of the common debris was collected and catalogued, including the yearly tire and lots of small, plastic debris.

Also last weekend, a cadre of local paddlers traveled down to Wilmington, N.C., for the Carolina Cup, probably the biggest paddle race on the East Coast. It’s a pretty grueling 13-mile ordeal that involves both the open ocean and inland waterways. Congrats to Colleen Panetta, who took third place in the Harbor Island portion for her age group; Johnny Skolnick, who finished an amazing second place in the prone overall; and Ken Gallant of South-End Surf N’ Paddle, who took second in the Harbor Island 14-foot class and in the top 12 of 140 racers overall.

Also completing the brutal challenge was Brian Coen, as well as Sheryl Gallant of South-End Surf N’ Paddle and team paddlers, Margo Pellegrino, and Kevin and Andrea Kahikina. Former LBI native Kevin Lloyd, who now lives in North Carolina, served as a team manager, shuttling around South-End’s whole crew and providing support.

On May 3, Farias will host “Swell: A Sailing Surfer’s Voyage of Awakening” with Patagonia and Liz Clark, who sailed solo around the world, adventuring for the better part of 10 years. The event is named for the book that Patagonia just released. This really looks to be a fantastic evening with Clark, starting at 7:30.

That same night, Jetty will host at a Hop Sauce promo party up in Asbury Park. If craft beer is more your thing and you don’t mind the drive, things get going around 8 with music by Sammy Kay and the Unsatisfied, chips and free hot sauce for sampling.

The actual Hop Sauce Festival will take place on June 2 this year, and once again the day will start with the South End Surf N’ Paddle Hop Sauce Tune Up. This will be the first race of the year. This is not a bad time to start training, and, as mentioned above, you can probably get out in trunks and a sweatshirt on the bay when the wind is light.

I know these are busy weeks on this sandbar in prep for summer. This is when the Home Depot trips become part of our daily routine. Let’s hope Ma Nature at least gives us a few weeks of decent weather as we prep for the June explosion.

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