Meet Justin. Yes, he is another one who I have met through the world of bottarga..that is one of the many reasons its other name is “#amazesaltyballs,” because I meet so many fantastical characters through a roe sack-go figure. Justin wrote the article that was in the March issue of Saveur magazine. It is my favorite piece that has been done on us thus far, as it was written by Justin. If you go to his site and browse through some of his writings, or check out today’s Tasting Table article on sour beers that he penned or typed…well you know, you will immediately get that his style is very informative and succinct with a hefty dose of wit, playfulness and sarcasm mixed in. Justin writes about beer A LOT, so I got quite lucky that he had an interest in bottarga and reached out to learn more. It turned out that he lived a few minutes away from me so I dropped the piece off and I’m pretty sure I proceeded to borderline harass him with emails asking for updates or if he needed anything else. Then what seemed like a while after, poof! fact checking and the article was out. I think we became instagram & twitter friends, he saw I really liked beer, I told him about Bitter Old Fecker and it took us a while but we did eventually get to share some beers (with his lovely wife Laura as well) on that night that Justin refers to in the last question below. Since then Justin and Laura have been so very gracious in inviting me to events and gatherings. They are two of the most wonderful, warm, unpretentious, laid-back but engaging people I know. Izzy seems totally cool too. He is just an all around great guy. Just read below and you will know what I mean.
How do you want to be described in introduction? I will be writing a little tidbit about you, but if have preferable title, etc. please let me know. Also please send along a preferred picture to be used if you would like one.
I’m a food and beer writer in NYC. And I produce Beer Sessions Radio on the Heritage Radio Network.
How do you know BigBellyBloch?
Jaclyn hand-delivered bottarga to my apartment about a year ago. It was a delightful surprise.
Do you have a nickname and if you are willing to, can you share its origin, please.
About half a dozen of my close friends from high school, now spread out across the country, call me “Cougar.” I don’t think they even remember what my real name is any more. It originated with some punk rock music that I was playing in my parents’ basement one night. Someone mistook it for John Cougar Mellencamp and the name stuck.
What do you do in life?
I eat, drink, ride my bike, and travel as much as possible. I also hang out with my wife and my cat at our apartment in Brooklyn and cook dinner there almost every night of the week.
What is your theme song?
“Twisterella” by Ride b/c it’s beyond catchy but utterly nonsensical
What food or drink most closely represents you and why?
A mid-priced bottle of young French table wine–one that’s a little coarse and unrefined, yet pleasant and for the most part agreeable.
Favorite herb or spice:
I adore tarragon.
Build a sandwich that represents ultimate deliciousness and describe it here:
Thin bread, like pizza bianca or ciabatta, with cold rare steak, Don Bocarte anchovies, Rogue River blue cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, red onion, and slices of tomato from my parents’ garden.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
Deciding where to eat lunch. And what beer to drink next.
How do you overcome it?
I pick a spot for lunch and I have another beer.
3PM snack, go:
Instant ramen (Shin Bowl Gourmet Spicy flavor) or raw broccoli.
What are four things you are grateful for?
Laura, my wife.
My cat, Izzy.
Summertime rooftop movie parties.
Bike rides to Red Hook.
What are you doing for dinner?
We’re driving to Pennsylvania tonight for a wedding so I’m going to look at RoadFood.com and see if there are any spots on the way over to Pittsburgh. Hopefully we’ll eat at some shitty little diner that’s awesome and right off the Interstate.
Thoughts on leftovers?
Cold leftover spaghetti with meat sauce and cheap parmesan cheese (from the green canister) is my hung over, early morning jam. Also, cold roasted vegetables eaten with my fingers straight from the Tupperware.
Please feel free to share a favorite BigBellyBloch moment if you have one.
One night Laura and I sat for a couple hours with Jaclyn at some crappy little BBQ joint on Myrtle Ave that was completely empty and desolate. It was a BYOB place and we drank our way through a couple of growlers of Hill Farmstead beer that I had just brought back from Vermont and a few bottles of Bitter Old Fecker that Jaclyn got from Michigan. The restaurant was kind of sad and dreary, and the food wasn’t very good at all, but the conversation was, and we just kept going and going until they kicked us out. It was probably only the second time that I’d met Jaclyn but I knew then that we would become friends.