This week, Jake goes out with actress and comedian Alyssa Limperis. The two discuss top-tier seltzer brands and flavors, “fancy” restaurants in Rhode Island, heartburn-friendly cocktails, and party pizza.
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Jake Cornell: Welcome to another episode of “Going Out with Jake Cornell.” I am Jake Cornell, and with me is my friend and producer and long-distance, audio pen pal for the next month, Katie Brown.
Katie Brown: Hello. How are you?
J: Good. We just had to re-record this beginning because the mics weren’t working, so here we are back in it. I’m doing well, though. I had, as I just told you moments ago, but it wasn’t recording. Two of my closest friends, Holly and Peter, who are a couple, are visiting Edinburgh right now, and so I have been hanging out with them, which has been really nice.
K: He’s been spreading a huge lie and rumor that it’s their honeymoon, and it’s not.
J: I truly was positive. Did 1,000 people just walk by? That was so loud.
K: That was really weird, too, because nothing happened. It’s just them, talking.
J: But I told many people that this was their honeymoon, and then I mentioned that to Holly and she was like, “Fully not our honeymoon. We went to Maine.” I was like, “Right,” and I knew that, and I still told a lot of people that this was their honeymoon. I think it’s just that the first international trip someone goes on after they married, I’m like, “That’s your honeymoon.”
K: After they married.
J: That’s what I thought, but anyway.
K: Yeah. Totally.
J: But so I’ve been hanging out with them, being the third wheel, which is fun.
K: Being the third wheel is, to me, the most calm I ever feel in my life.
J: I know.
K: I feel so good, being the third wheel.
J: It’s so soothing. Well, it’s the closest you ever get to being a child again.
J: And with your parents.
J: Do you know what I mean? That’s what it is.
K: I do think… I was just talking about this yesterday. If I could, I would Benjamin Button and start getting younger and younger, and then at some point just be an infant that my friends have to take care of. That would be the ideal for me.
J: I mean, in some ways they say that’s just getting old. That movie was sort of a metaphor. You know?
K: My god. That’s so true. But I want that to happen. I want to be 24 and just my friends have to take me on vacation because I’m just along for the ride.
J: Yeah. No one expects you to be at the same level of togetherness that they’re at. That would be nice.
K: It would be really nice. Anyway. Yeah. I went to Kindred twice last week.
J: To say goodbye?
K: Yeah. Because I was like-
J: It’s so sad.
K: I went once and then I was like, “Okay. This can’t be my last time so I’m going back.”
K: I went on Tuesday and Thursday and both times I was just like, “Bring me all the wine. I’m going to have all the appetizers.”
J: Yeah. The food there is so good. The fact that it’s happening while I’m gone and I just am not going to get to go was a really huge hit to the heart for me when I was… I understand it has to happen. It’s so sad for everyone in so many different ways, but I just was bummed. But it’s also, this is part of how restaurants work, and some of them go away.
K: I know.
J: You have to be okay with that. It is just like, if you’re listening, go support the restaurants you love, the small restaurants you love, because they need it.
K: Yeah. It was sad, but also bittersweet. It seemed like everyone was also just really happy to be there. It seemed like all the patrons were people that knew the situation and had been there in the past and stuff.
K: So, it was nice.
J: Yeah. I mean, the community, it reminds me of, it’s not quite the scale of it, but when Mimi’s Diner closed.
K: Yeah. Yeah.
J: Everyone loved it. I went and there was a line, and it was like you saw everyone you knew there and it really felt like the community came together to say goodbye to this thing.
J: It’s just so special when that happens.
K: Yeah. Totally. Have you gotten to eat any delightful foods or drink nice things since you’ve been there?
J: Yeah. So, basically, if you’re in the U.K., they do Sunday roast. Do you know about this, Katie? Do you know about this?
K: I don’t know about Sunday roast.
J: So, basically, in the U.K. on a Sunday, it’s tradition to cook a roast, which is some sort of meat, or now they do a lot of vegan and vegetarian ones as well, with a gravy and then roasted vegetables and then Yorkshire puddings, which are almost like… It’s a popover made with pancake batter.
K: In the U.K., literally anything could be pudding. They say everything’s pudding.
J: Pudding is just-
K: They put animal blood and rice and they’re like, “This is pudding.”
J: I had blood pudding today. It was really good.
K: I just don’t get that.
J: Anyway. So, it’s like you get a roast and on Sundays, all the restaurants and the pubs will be doing a roast, and then different ones have different good ones. And so, I posted on TikTok and I was like, “What are the roasts to get in Edinburgh?” I got… A bunch of people voted and commented, and I made a list of the four that seemed the highest recommended, and I went to my first one on Sunday and it was very good. That was a meal I had out. I went to this place called Dishoom, which is really popular in the U.K.
K: I love Dishoom. It’s so good.
J: It’s so good. It’s so good.
K: There’s a ton of them in London, and there was one right near where I lived. The drinks there are so good too. The drinks go so well with the food. I feel like it’s one of the few places that I want a cocktail with my main meal.
J: Totally. I went and I didn’t get alcohol; I got a non-alcoholic cocktail. It was a watermelon refresher cooler moment.
J: It was f*cking good.
K: That sounds really good. Oh, are you doing the thing with Marsha where you’re not really drinking because of all the shows you have?
J: No, no. That’s not happening, for sure. That’s not happening.
K: Is it a big party, actually?
J: I’m not drinking before my shows, and I went to Dishoom for lunch.
K: Okay. Got it. Got it. Got it.
J: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
K: But you are going out.
J: Yeah. Because our show’s at 6:15, so then we’re done by 7-7:30, and then it’s like, we can bob around and see other shows, go meet up with people, so drinks are just happening. It’s not crazy ragers til 5 a.m. every day, but we’re definitely out and about. I will say it’s absolutely f*cking psychotic. I’m not jet-lagged at all. I feel totally fine.
J: But I’m really not used to, because I’ve been here for… I’ve been in the U.K. now for what? 12 days? 11 days?
J: Something like that. But the sun going down at 9:30 f*cks with you, because the sun sets at 9:30, which means the sky is still sunset-y, sort of in these blue, purple, pink hues that are really f*cking gorgeous until 10:15. So then, in my mind, when the sky looks like that, I’m like, “Oh, we’re looking at an 8 situation.”
J: And so, then it’s been dark for 30 minutes and I’m like, “Should we go out to dinner?” And someone’s like, “It’s 11 p.m..” It’s really f*cking with me. So I keep on accidentally being out till 1:30-2. But it feels like-
K: It feels early.
J: 11-12, because I’m not used to the sun going down this late, so it has been pretty crazy.
K: Do you have stuff you have to be up early for? Or can you sleep in?
J: No. I truly don’t have to be up early for anything at all, so that’s really great.
K: Oh. That’s my ideal sleep schedule.
J: Yeah. No, no. I’m sleeping enough. We’re doing it; we’re fine. I don’t feel like I’m burning a candle at both ends by any means, especially because the only thing I really have to… All I do is get up in the morning, go to the gym, and then I can do whatever I want until I start flier-ing and promoting the show at 4, so it’s a pretty easy life.
K: That’s nice, and you get to actually explore the area then.
J: Yeah. I went to Leith today, which is that people have referred to it to me as the Brooklyn of Edinburgh.
K: It’s called Leaf?
J: It’s really pretty. Leith. L-E-I-T-H.
K: Oh, my god. I thought you said Leaf. I was like, “That sounds like a salad place,” like the Sweetgreen of the U.K.
J: No. If there was a Sweetgreen here, I would be there every day. It’s so hard to get fiber in this country, it’s insane. It’s insane.
K: Yeah. That actually is a really good point. It’s a lot of brown food.
J: I got the full Scottish breakfast today. It was more meat than I’ve ever seen on a plate in my life. I was like, “I can’t eat all of this.” I literally couldn’t eat it. I’m not the kind of person who goes to a restaurant and who’s like, “I can’t eat all of this,” but I really couldn’t eat all of it. It was too much.
K: I don’t know why. But it’s like, who goes to a restaurant and says that?
J: I just feel like people are obsessed with going to a restaurant and being like, “Oh, my God. This is so much.”
K: “The portions are so big.”
J: I’m like, “Stop.” Also, this is the thing I’m dealing with a lot in Edinburgh right now. It is actually really f*cking annoying. Everyone’s always obsessed with talking about how stressed they are about the show and how stressed they are about the festival and they’re running around and everyone’s like, “I keep on forgetting to eat.” I’m like, “Never once in my f*cking life.” Everyone is hanging out being like, “Oh, my God. I keep on forgetting to eat,” or, “It’s getting to 8 p.m. and realizing I haven’t eaten anything,” and I’m like, “Wow. I’m really just having five square meals a day.” It’s really not an issue for me.
K: Yeah. Especially, for me, it’s like, if you have time on your hands, what else is there to do but find the next place you’re going to eat or the next thing you’re going to eat?
J: 100 percent.
K: When I have free time on the weekends, I realize I spend the whole time either eating or traveling to the next eating situation.
J: Absolutely. That’s all I’m doing. That’s all I’m doing.
K: There’s nothing else to do in this world. I don’t know.
J: I keep on experiencing when my show’s over this insane blood-sugar crash the second the show’s over. I think it must be something hormonal from the adrenaline.
J: I keep on trying to eat before the show so that it doesn’t happen, but because people come in want to say hi and talk after the shows, and I want to be nice and I also genuinely want to talk to these people who came to see me.
J: But I’m also like, “I’m about to pass out and snap your f*cking neck, because I’m so hungry.” I’m losing my mind, I’m so hungry.
K: Adam wants to say hi.
J: And so, it’s just a mess, but I’m making it through. The problem is that there’s food trucks everywhere. I can’t be eating burgers and fish and chips every day. It’s just…
K: Right. I don’t think of there being a ton of snack food. I feel like when I’m traveling in Europe, you have your meals. It’s not like it’s a big snacking environment where there’s people eating a protein bar.
J: There’s a lot of cookies.
J: I do keep… I’m keeping my Hobnobs and my Jammy Dodgers. Those are happening, but I’m not trying to snack on those all day. Those are more like a little treat.
K: Totally. There’s a huge difference between your snacks and your little treats. One of them serves a different purpose than the other. But I do think that would be the perfect post-show thing, because it would immediately spike your blood.
J: Oh, that’s so smart. I should keep a thing of hobnobs in my dressing room.
K: Hobnobs. I have no idea what that is, but it sounds-
J: I’m going to go get them and show you. These are unreal. Hold on. Pause.
K: Doesn’t Hobnobs just sound like a fake thing British people would say?
J: Okay. Wait.
J: Okay. So these are Hobnobs. They come in this little plastic sleeve and it’s like an… Okay. Hold on.
K: Wait. No offense. But you also look really good right now.
J: Thank you. It’s an oat cookie with a chocolate coating on the other side.
K: Oh, yum.
J: There’s also digestives. These are the tea biscuit cookies.
J: I think the thing that sets the hobnob apart is when you dip this in tea or in milk, it will not break off. It will sog, but it will not break. I don’t want to eat this over my bed because I don’t want to sleep with oat crumbs, but hold on.
K: Mmhmm. Mmhmm.
J: Do you see how clean of a bite that is?
K: That’s really… That’s good.
J: Do you see this full?
J: This looks like a Reese’s cup commercial.
J: That perfect crescent coming out of this cookie.
K: Yeah. It’s not a lot of crumbs. It’s not a lot of crumbs coming down.
J: The perfect level of sweetness. I mean, this cookie is really giving it all.
K: Here’s the thing for me though: when I’m eating a cookie, I need it to be a soft cookie. I like gooey. Gooey on the inside.
J: But you don’t understand. There’s a difference between… This is coming in a plastic sleeve. This isn’t Levain. I’m not like… You know what I mean?
K: Yeah, but-
J: Obviously, if I’m going to a bakery, I want a chewy, ooey-gooey cookie.
K: Yeah. I just don’t think those-
J: You know the Chips Ahoy chewies?
J: Those are disturbing. Why are they… Those should… A packaged cookie shouldn’t be that chewy. What’s in there?
J: It’s like a cow hoof in that; there’s skeleton.
K: Cow hoof.
J: No, but literally.
K: Yeah. For me, though, if I’m going to eat a packaged cookie, it’s going to be an Oreo, and it’s going to be double stuffed. I actually do this psycho thing. My sister showed me how to do this when we were kids. I don’t know if she still does it, but I still do it. I take the Oreos, I soak them in milk, almost like cereal, but a little less milk than you would use in a cereal.
J: Whole? You put a bunch of Oreos in a bowl and pour milk over it?
K: I crush them up a little bit, and then I eat it with a spoon and the soggy Oreo yummies.
J: That is cereal. You’re making cereal.
K: I’m making Oreo cereal. That’s my ideal cookie-eating situation.
J: I’ve never tried that. What I really respect about that approach is that you are sort of giving… Because the thing about eating something like Oreos or these cookies, is the second you engage in the activity there’s this immediate question of how many are you going to eat. Right?
K: Oh, my God. Yeah.
J: If you pull open the top of an Oreo container, it suddenly becomes a challenge to your self-control. When are you going to reseal this and put the f*cking thing away?
K: Well, something that comes in a sleeve, it’s like-
J: This is what’s hell about these Hobnobs. As you see, this is just loose-ass plastic at this point. I’m keeping them in the fridge, but it’s like, “Whatever.” My point is-
K: You keep them in the… Oh.
J: I think there’s something really beautiful about being like, “I’m going to immediately at the top say it’s 10 Oreos today. I’m crushing them up and putting them in a bowl and pouring milk over it.” You’re making a dish. You’re making a commitment. It’s a dish.
K: Yeah. I mean, to me it’s like, if I’m opening up an Oreo sleeve, I’m eating the whole thing in one sitting and that’s just happening.
J: But I’m not buying… Are you buying the sleeves or are you buying the thing with the thing? Buy thing with the thing, I mean the tray with the resealable top. Do you know what I’m talking about?
K: I know what you mean. I know what you mean. Ideally, I would have the whole tray.
J: Yeah. Right?
K: Ideally. Ideally, but sometimes you go and they have… If you go to the bodega, I feel like they have the one sleeve.
J: They have the sleeves. They have the sleeves. Yeah.
K: I’ll do that sometimes because it’s just a nice little treat. It’s less of a commitment to me.
J: Double-stuffed Oreos, to me, is the same concept as… Have I ever gone on my rant about how I think thin condoms are insane? Have I talked about this?
J: It’s just then those are condoms now. Why are we keeping the thicker ones? It’s like, okay. We double-stuffed Oreos. Why are we doing the basic?
K: That’s really true. I really feel that way.
J: To me, a double-stuffed Oreo is an ultra-thin condom. It’s like, “This is stupid. Just make that the baseline.”
K: Make that everything. Yeah. I mean, I completely agree. I feel like some people… I don’t agree with them at all… but they don’t like the double stuffed. They like the ratio of cookie to icing in the normal one.
J: I really hate when people just want to be f*cking different. That sh*t annoys the f*ck out of me.
J: “Actually, I prefer the-”
K: No, you don’t.
J: No, you don’t.
K: No, you don’t. Get a different personality. I don’t know. That’s not a personality.
J: Yeah. It’s not for me.
K: Yeah. I get that.
J: That’s how I feel. Otherwise, the thing I’m really struggling with and then we will intro the guest. This actually ties in nicely to the conversation that’s happening on this episode.
J: I’m like, “Okay.” This nation that I’m sitting in right now has national health care. Literally incredible. However…
K: Could not be me.
J: You can’t walk to a store and be like, “Oh, I would love a seltzer. Let me buy some seltzer.” They’re not selling any seltzer. You can get a sparkling water. Sure. Maybe. But a flavored La Croix, that’s not happening here.
J: I haven’t seen it once in my entire life. I’m like, “Okay.” I’m missing seltzer, a cold seltzer. It’s killing me.
K: Oh, my God. Wait, you can’t find a can of seltzer anywhere?
J: I haven’t seen a single one. When I’m telling you I haven’t seen a single one, I’m telling you I haven’t seen a single one.
K: Oh, my God.
J: Out of the shops I’m going.
K: Is it one of those things where if the only seltzers you’re seeing are the ones in the big bottles at a restaurant and they’ll give it to you?
J: When I’m telling you I’m not seeing seltzer, I’m telling you I’m not seeing seltzer.
K: Oh, my God. They need to step it up over there.
J: I’m not seeing seltzer. It’s really crazy. So, on that, I think as you listen to this episode, you understand that’s actually a huge issue.
K: It’s a huge issue.
J: This week’s episode is one of my favorites we’ve recorded yet.
K: It was so fun.
J: I had so much fun doing this episode. This was such a joy. Honestly, listening back to it to edit it, I was like, “This is heaven.” Our guest is an incredible comedian, an incredible actress. You are hopefully seeing her on this season of, or you should be seeing her on this season of “Flatbush Misdemeanors.” She’s such an incredible actress. She’s such a funny comedian. Her special, “No Bad Days,” when this comes out, will have just come out on Friday the 12th on Peacock, go watch it. You may know her from her incredible characters on the internet, her standup. She is a light and a joy, and this episode is truly one of my favorites we’ve ever recorded, so please enjoy me going out with Alyssa Limperis. First things first, it’s really exciting that you are finally on this podcast, because I feel something we’ve discovered over the past year-
Alyssa Limperis: Yes.
J: We’re incredibly aligned on beverages.
A: Absolutely true. Yes.
J: In a way that I’ve never encountered with anyone else.
A: Absolutely. And in a way that I’m happy to sit here and thank you for changing some of the… Because I’ve trusted you. Once I developed this trust in beverages, then when you post something, I go, “I got to try it.”
J: You got to try it.
A: And the Lemon-
J: The Lemon Berry-
A: The Lemon Berry Kombucha.
J: GT Kombucha.
A: I don’t even have to say GT, because if you’re listening, and you’re drinking kombucha, and it’s not GT, stop listening, this is not the pod for you.
J: We’re never going to connect.
A: We’re never going to connect. We’re never going to connect, okay? Incredible. Highlight of my day.
J: The discovery of the Lemon Berry GT Kombucha is simultaneously in my life a blessing and a curse, and here’s why.
J: Every time I have it, blessing.
J: She’s hard to find.
A: She’s hard to find. She is hard to find. I’ve called a friend once. I have called a friend and said, “I got them.” So, there’s this place called Vegan Glory in L.A., and I saw they were in the back of a fridge, I called my friend like, “How many do I get?”
J: Get 10. 10. Me getting up on the cross being like, “Fine, I’ll get a Trilogy.” Why is there always Trilogy?
A: There’s always Trilogy.
J: Also, what is Trilogy? I’ve tried to think, I’m like, what are the three? Is it lemon, apple? What are the three things?
A: You’re right, yeah. It’s true, Trilogy used to still be a happy thing, and now anything that’s not Lemon Berry is a loss.
J: I transitioned. When I first started I was doing ginger, back in, I’m talking early 2010s, we’re hitting the ginger. Because I went to UVM, so kombucha was early for me.
A: Okay. Yeah.
J: And then we moved to lemon.
A: Straight up?
J: Straight up. And it was harsh.
A: It is harsh.
J: It’s caustic. You could clean the floor with it. But I liked it, because I think you and I do both like a beverage that bites a little.
A: Absolutely. And clears.
J: And then I went to watermelon.
A: Bites and clears.
J: Bites and clears.
J: And I did the watermelon. And then when I found the Lemon Berry Kombucha, I said, “This is the unity of every… That’s my Trilogy.” That is my union of everything I like.
A: Yes. Because I also felt that the watermelon in theory sounded nice, but it doesn’t taste as good as… You need, there’s something about… Yeah.
J: It doesn’t bite enough.
A: It doesn’t bite enough.
J: Because watermelon’s watery.
J: But it’s good. My top two are Lemon Berry Watermelon, and then I think Tril-
A: Do you know what I dip into sometimes?
J: What do you dip into?
A: When I’m like, “I need this.” Green. The green one.
J: I’ve never been brave enough.
A: I get it. Listen, it’s a different experience than Lemon Berry. It’s not the highlight of your day, but you-
J: This is L.A./New York.
A: Look, Jake, I moved and things changed. Yeah. I liked Lemon Berry too, but in L.A. sometimes you have to choose spirulina.
J: The greens.
A: Yeah. Yeah, it’s not the… You don’t enjoy it as much, but you go, “I did something so good today for my body.”
J: Is it a little punishing?
J: So, we first connected with the Lemon Berry Kombucha, and then we discovered my other holy grail.
A: Now this one is just…
A: And not just any, calamansi.
A: What is it? Who knows.
J: Literally the best thing you can do to improve my quality of life. If you’re out there and you want to make my life better, invent a new citrus I’ve never heard of-
A: And slap some fizzy water behind it. That is how you can make our lives better. Calamansi-
A: And I’ll say this, it’s very hard to stand out at this stage in the seltzer game.
J: You think the podcast market is saturated?
A: Come on.
J: Sparkling non-alcoholic beverages. And this one shot to the top of me, it’s No. 1.
A: Me same. Same. It was a… Yeah.
J: I’m going to tell you this.
J: This is something I went through over the past, I would say this point, 5 years.
J: I have not been touched by Spindrift in the way everyone has else has.
A: You haven’t?
J: I want to. And on the right day I can appreciate it.
J: The second as Sanzo passed my lips, my first thought was, “This is what I’ve been wanting from Spindrift every single time.”
A: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.
J: I don’t understand how they’ve achieved this; to me a Spindrift can sometimes taste like a watered-down juice. And as Sanzo is an enhanced seltzer.
J: Do you understand what I’m saying?
A: And that is a thin line. And yes, a Spindrift, to me, has to be ice cold.
J: Maybe that is literally the issue.
A: It has to be ice, ice cold, and maybe even with ice. It has to be so cold that you’re like, “Oh.” But the minute it’s warm, I agree, you’re going, “What’s happening.”
J: Yeah, “What am I doing?”
A: “What am I doing?” Calamansi.
J: The calamansi-
A: Warm, cold, hot, I don’t care about the temperature, boil it.
J: And then the Yuzu is also fantastic.
A: Yep. I haven’t tried. I got to try it.
J: The Yuzu is really good. And then Mango and Lychee I will happily take.
J: I will happily take. Also, I have to shout out Sanzo. I posted once on Instagram that I liked them and they sent me an ungodly amount of Sanzo, and it was one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.
A: Oh. You love to hear that too.
A: You love to hear that too.
J: They said, “Hey, we saw you posted.” I didn’t even tag them, Alyssa.
A: You didn’t even tag them?
J: I didn’t even tag them. I look in my message requests, I have a message from the CEO of Sanzo saying-
A: Oh my gosh.
J: “Hey, saw you just gave us some love, would love to send you some product.” Guess how many cans he sent me?
J: I want you to guess.
A: Don’t tell me it’s in triple dig.
J: It’s not in triple dig, but it’s-
A: Oh, sorry.
J: Okay, no. It’s not in-
A: That’s why the guessing game is so bad.
J: No, I shouldn’t have done it.
J: But here’s the thing. We’re talking shipping, shipping costs. Think about how heavy cans of seltzer are.
J: 72 cans of seltzer.
A: Okay that’s a lot. And in New York where do you even put 72 cans of seltzer?
J: My closet.
J: I literally was the guy who had it in my closet. This is not a complaint. One of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.
A: Also, how great is it to feel you have an infinite amount of beverages?
J: I mean…
A: I love that feeling of, “I’m not running out. I’m not running out.”
J: Yes. I just realized, the only reason I would really, really want to move to L.A. is to have a car to buy a bunch of seltzer and drive my house. Because I’m always at the grocery store looking at the stack of seltzers being like, I want to take six of these home, but I have to carry it home.
A: Absolutely. Well you saw me come in, I came in like a pack mule.
J: Wait, because here’s a flavor I’m curious about.
A: Talk to me.
J: The Beach Plum La Croix.
A: Okay. Here’s my thing with La Croix. I love it, sure. La Croix to me is just great across the board. I have to say, I don’t flip over any one flavor in the way that Calamansi is like, “Oh, this is so good.”
J: I hear that.
A: For me, seltzer is just great. I love seltzer. Whether it’s Beach Plum or Apricot, I don’t know if I taste that much of a difference.
J: Okay, I respect that. I’m currently going through an issue with their Beach Plum. So, I’m cursed… And this isn’t intentional, this sounds like it’s intentional. All my favorite flavors of seltzer right now are these limited additions.
J: And I’m calling out to La Croix, and I’m really calling out to Hal’s. I need you to unlimit the editions. Specifically of the Hal’s Cola-
A: You love the Cola.
J: Oh my God, I’m actually-
A: You love the Cola, right?
J: I’m obsessed with the Cola. I’m obsessed with the Cola-
A: Love the Hal’s Cola.
J: I’m obsessed with the Cola.
A: Is it caffeine?
J: And I do think they should make an uncaffeinated version.
J: Because I think part of the joy of the Hal’s Cola is that, to me, it tastes almost identical to a Coke.
J: Almost identical to a full fat Coke.
A: Well Hal’s knows how to do it. Hal’s knows how to do it. The bubbles.
J: The thing is, you could close your eyes and… It’s not like you could blind taste test someone and trick them into a Coke, because you can’t mimic the texture of corn syrup in a liquid.
J: It’s viscously different.
J: But the flavor is really there.
J: And so, I think part of the joy of it is that you can just now drink Coke whenever you want.
J: The problem? You caffeinate it, suddenly we have a 5 p.m. cap. But I like the option, because sometimes I do a thing, which is where I like to have beverages at all times.
J: Sometimes I realize I’m drinking cold brew to the point of vomiting.
J: I’m like, “I’m going to barf.”
J: But I do still want caffeine.
J: So a less caffeinated seltzer for a dismount for my morning caffeine run is nice.
A: Is nice.
J: But then I want both options. So I want them to create a new one. Unlimit the Cola edition. Unlimit the Watermelon.
A: Unlimit the Watermelon.
J: Because I’m really anti the idea of seasonal beverages. Sometimes I want to drink a rosé in the dead of winter. Why? Because I want a taste of the summer I’m missing.
A: Of course. Of course.
J: Do you know what I mean?
J: Produce less. I understand that it’s a market, but don’t limit my editions. So this is what I’m saying, so then we move to La Croix. I believe the new Beach Plum flavor is a limited edition. All I’m knowing is it’s not at every single La Croix distributor in my neighborhood, and it’s starting to move to the ones that are really far from my house.
A: That’s tough. So, when I see it in my head, I see the Beach Plum. I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it. It’s been around.
J: And it stands out because it’s a bright blue.
A: It’s blue and it’s got… You know what La Croix does sometimes? The font. You go, “This font’s on vacation.”
A: You go, “Oh my gosh.”
J: Oh my God, the guava one.
A: The guava.
J: I’m like the White Lotus.
A: Right? They’re at a resort.
J: I’m at the Four Seasons.
A: Absolutely. Really, they get the treatment. So, when I see the cursive font… Limoncello, have you had that?
J: The Limoncello.
A: We both, I think, have this thing too. I like a Coconut La Croix. Do you like a Coconut?
J: Yes, but do you know who makes the best coconut?
J: The Polar Coconut is… And then we can’t because we’re New England people.
J: So Polar, if I had my choice, there would be a full fridge of one liter Polars, ice cold, in every store I go out to.
A: You’re right. And Polar’s really for us, they started it with the crazy flavors.
J: Yeah, they do. They have a gorgeous main catalog, and then they do seasonal variants.
A: The Christmas ones?
J: Oh, yeah.
A: When they have gingerbread, you got pumpkin.
J: There’s a cranberry one usually.
J: But the-
A: The Coconut.
J: The Coconut, the Polar Coconut. The La Croix Coconut is good.
J: The Polar Coconut is really outstanding.
A: Yeah. Yeah.
A: I feel like I like cans, and the thing with Polar is sometimes you got to go with the bottle.
A: There’s not as many can options.
A: La Croix, you pop into a bodega, they’re just 99 cents, you see a nice cold can.
J: Yeah. But back in the day, a Polar liter was 99 cents, and to me that was true luxury. I have a liter of this beverage.
A: Yeah. They have a liter.
J: And I’m also, it was like, wow, two Polars, and that’s your hydration for the day.
J: Has it ever been easier? These people with those really cursed jugs that are like, “Keep going. You’re doing it. Don’t cry.” Ranking the water. I look at those and I’m like, “Babe, buy three Polars.”
A: Yes. And enjoy your life.
J: And they’ll be gone.
A: You’ll be wishing there were more. It shouldn’t have to beg you to drink it, that’s not a good beverage.
J: I know. It’s three Polars.
J: Three Polars.
A: Yeah. I used to really get into a Green Apple Polar.
J: I respect that.
A: Yeah. It was like, if you’re really thirsty, a nice ice cold Green Apple.
J: Yeah. I was always Ruby Red Grapefruit was my number one.
J: That’s always been my No. 1.
A: It’s a classic.
J: It always will be.
A: I think across the board you go grapefruit seltzer, no one misses. No one misses.
J: If someone says, “Pick me up a seltzer,” and they don’t specify flavor, and you say, “What flavor?” And they say, “Get whatever.” Grapefruit.
A: Grapefruit. Because lemon-lime, fine.
A: Grapefruit is… Yeah.
J: Top tier to me. Top tier to me.
A: Yep. Where it’s top-tier flavor, but it’s also neutral.
A: Yeah, Yeah.
J: Yeah. I would say the neutral flavors of seltzer, and I’m thinking Polar because that’s my baseline.
J: The neutral flavors that I feel like are totally acceptable to get for someone, grapefruit.
J: The Raspberry Lime.
A: Absolutely. And that’s signature, I would say. Signature polar.
J: I would say that was probably their flagship flavor.
A: I think so. If you go into their office, I bet that’s… Yeah.
J: Probably comes out of the tap.
A: When you wash your hands in the bathroom, “What is that smell? Yeah, that’s the Raspberry Lime.”
J: Yeah. And I would say those are the top two baselines, and then maybe a lemon or a lime.
A: I agree. Now, I’m going to throw something at you. Do you ever go Zevias? Do you go Zevias? Do you know Zevias?
J: I’m picturing the cans where we have that bubble font, and then it’s orange, and it’s sort of diagonal across the can.
A: Yep. Yep.
J: So these are the seltzer versions of your Dr. Peppers, your Cokes, your Sprites? Is that what’s happening?
A: In a way, I would say no. I would say they’re more like stevia sodas.
J: Stevia sodas.
A: Because I feel like seltzer doesn’t really have stevia, it’s just usually all-natural flavor.
J: It’s unsweetened, yes.
A: Which is like, where are you getting those natural flavors? By the way.
J: I don’t understand.
A: I don’t understand. It’s better to not ask.
J: They’re like, “We’re working on the vaccine.” I’m like, “You figured out all these Polar flavors, what the f*cks going on with the vaccine?”
A: That’s the thing. Yeah, how is Covid still around, yet we have mango, guava, Calamansi.
J: Yeah, get the guy who figured out Calamansi on the board.
A: Get the guy who figured out Cala… Because that guy must have seemed like an idiot too, everyone’s going, “It’s too late, man. There’s so much. No. Calamansi, what are you even saying? It’s not a word. There’s too much seltzer, make something else.”
J: Everyone on Rhode Island’s like, “Calamari?” It’s like, “No.”
A: No. It’s going to be too close to calamari buddy. No. And then he just stuck true. It’s a real message to listen to yourself.
J: He is my hero. So Zevias. So they’re a stevia soda?
A: Well, because you said you like the Cola, I think it would be interesting to try. But it’s very soda-y, you don’t want to down these the same way you’re downing seltzer because you’re having stevia so it’s a-
J: It is sweetened?
A: It’s sweetened.
J: Okay. I’m going to try one within the week.
J: I think I have had them in the past, but I don’t think they…
A: Do you like soda?
J: This is the thing, I do love soda, but I don’t drink it that often because you’re not supposed to, or whatever. I love a soda at the movies. If I’m at the movies, I’m getting a big fountain soda.
J: Sucking it down through previews, and then spending the first 20 minutes of the movie needing to pee so bad, I’m going to die. Like that.
A: Yes. Sodas should be meant to be sucked down. Yeah, yeah.
J: Oh, absolutely chugged.
A: Chugged. Yes. Yes. Yes.
J: I love a Sprite. I love a Coke. I actually like literally all sodas, I think.
A: Yeah. I think you should try Zevia because it’s basically the joy of having soda, but you’re like, “Okay.”
J: Yeah. Do you know what I think my resistance is? Because I think for me, I love seltzers because it’s very much its own thing. And then I love soda. And I really hate… I’m normally not partial to something that is trying to be a pseudo-something like those GuS’, the grownup sodas. I’m like “No, a big boy can have a Coke. Sit down.”
A: Well the GuS’ too, I’m… Yeah.
J: They piss me off, I’m going to be honest.
A: Yeah. Don’t tell me… Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: Oh you’re a grownup? All right. That pisses me off.
A: You’re right.
J: You’re condescending to me.
A: You’re so right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like… Yeah. Yeah.
J: Because what is that saying, a Sprite’s for a little kid? Granted, I drank more Sprite than I did water when I was 5, but.
A: Of course. Yeah. At dinner there was just the 2-liter on the table. It’s like… Yeah. Yeah. It’s true. I’m a grownup, which means everything I drink is grown up.
J: It’s grown up. Also, you tell me, grown up soda, in my mind there’s booze in it. That would be what I would assume.
A: True, it’s not… Yeah. Yeah.
J: It’s a little off to me. Sorry GuS, you do frustrate me.
J: I’m going to try a Zevia. Do you drink soda at all?
A: But, I like the Zevia because it’s kind of fun. You’re like, “Oh this is thrilling.” It’s a little thrilling.
A: But I hear you, it is like a fake soda.
A: And so, if you just the real thing it’s somewhere in the middle. I see, you like going for soda, or going for seltzer, and this is a little bit down the line.
J: I’m like, yeah, let me treat a soda like a treat. I don’t drink them often, so if I’m going to do it, I’m going to get a Diet Coke, a Coke, a Sprite.
J: Sometimes a root beer really hits.
J: Or a Dr. Pepper.
A: Okay. You got to try the Zevia Cream Soda or the Zevia Root Beer.
J: Okay. I’m going to hit that up really soon.
J: So when you’re going for a cocktail, where do you tend to lean? Or do you not do cocktails?
A: No, I have recently in my life gotten head over heels into Martinis.
A: In a way, a Dirty Martini, that’s my… I’m also a bit of a woman of routine, so if I find something that works, I usually don’t stray too much.
A: So if I see a big fancy cocktail list, it’s too much.
J: Do you know what, I think I’m similar to you, but for me, it’s kind of the same psychology of the, if I’m going to do a soda, I’m going to do a soda. It’s like, if I’m going to do a cocktail, I’m going to drink some gin. Do you know what I mean?
A: That’s it. I don’t need egg whites and an umbrella.
J: I love it. I was a bartender for years, I get it. But I’m like, this isn’t what I’m here for.
A: That’s how I feel too.
J: A little bit.
A: That’s how I feel too.
J: Yeah. Also, are you a heartburn queen? Is that something you struggle with?
J: Because that’s my other issue, I can’t do the fresh citrus. I can do one Margarita.
J: Two Margaritas, I’m getting vanquished by the charmed ones. Fire shooting out of my mouth.
A: Yes. I don’t know.
J: I think you’re not, because I think you would know.
A: Okay then. Yeah, then I don’t think so.
J: I was just curious if that’s also what leads you towards a Martini, because to me it’s like, I know what this is going to do to me digestively. No one’s going to put anything surprising in it because that’s not what a Martini is.
A: Yes, exactly. That’s how I feel. I like a Margarita, sure, if I’m going for some chips and guac and a Marg. We went to… Where did we go?
J: One of my favorite restaurants in New York.
A: Great restaurant.
A: There? Sure, I’ll get a Marg.
J: Yeah, absolutely.
A: Great place to get a Marg. But yeah, for me, I just love, like you said, if I’m going to drink I want to taste the drink. I don’t need to be hidden.
A: I like it. It’s kind of like with coffee.
J: Wow. That’s actually, I’ve never made that connection; but I’ll do a black coffee.
A: Yeah. As you’re saying, if it’s iced, I add milk, but otherwise, if it’s hot, it’s just black.
J: Whoa, I’m flipped.
A: Are you the opposite? Interesting.
J: If it’s a cold brew? Black.
J: If it’s hot, I’ll do a hit of half and half.
J: And just an oop.
A: Yeah. I get that. Well, now you’re a heartburn king.
A: So that might do it too, it’s a little acidic. If you-
J: I think it’s the neutralizing of the acid.
A: I think so.
J: I think that’s exactly what it is.
A: Yeah. But I like going, I want it to taste like gasoline. I love the feeling of this thing ripping through me.
J: So you like a legally too hot Dunkin’ Donuts black coffee.
A: Yes. Yes.
J: Yeah it is.
A: Yeah it is. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s quick. Yeah. I like a cold brew, but yeah. Yeah.
J: Okay. You are from Rhode Island, Massachusetts?
A: Yes. So I’m from Seekonk, Massachusetts, but as you know, that’s just right on the lines.
J: Right on the line.
A: I went to school in Rhode Island.
J: Your mother is from Cranston.
A: Mother is from Cranston.
J: Right. I am from Cranston.
A: And then I went to college in Vermont.
J: Yeah. Yeah.
A: So we have a real-
J: Oh, I forgot Middlebury.
J: Yes. We have a lot of similarities.
J: Okay. So what I want to talk about is I’m curious, because we have similar family backgrounds and regions. For me, in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, restaurants were a big part of my upbringing.
J: And a very specific kind of restaurant.
A: Absolutely. Same. Oh, this is exciting. We might have the same exact… Okay. This is exciting.
J: Yeah. I’m going to say… Okay, I’m going to say one restaurant name. I’m really curious if it’s going to hit for you.
A: I hope.
J: Twin Oaks.
A: Okay. Yeah. Yes. Twin Oaks hits for me. Twin Oaks hits for me, but it’s a banquet… I’m trying to picture it.
J: Old-school Italian restaurant.
J: They don’t let women work there. It’s men only, famously there’s only male servers.
A: In a weird way, that’s so progressive. It’s not meant to be, but there’s a way that you can spin that.
J: Yeah. The men serve.
A: The men serve you, the men are in the kitchen, but-
J: And they don’t trust the women. The Twin Oaks, I haven’t been there in years, but my great grandmother loved it. And that was one of my family restaurants that we would always go to. And there was always geese outside.
J: Like a sh*t ton of geese.
J: Spain is a big one.
A: That’s the one! Spain that little butter in the thing. Spain was like, it is an event. Someone got baptized or graduated.
J: My aunt, yeah.
A: We are going to Spain and it was like-
J: When I die, everyone go to Spain. Literally, I’m not joking.
A: Literally. I mean, and yeah.
J: Which location? Beach or city? Because there’s two.
A: I don’t even, I thought there was just one.
J: Then I think you probably do the one that’s in Warwick or Cranston.
A: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s the one. Wow.
J: I’m so glad.
A: I can’t believe it. Because Spain was the spot. I mean, I don’t know how fancy it is, but in my head, that place is the fanciest place in the world.
J: So for the listener, this is going to be the whole episode. Spain is a restaurant called Spain, which serves Spanish food. One time, my sister and I were talking about Spain and a friend thought we had talked about a trip we had gone on to Spain and I was like we do not have come for money that. No. No.
A: It might as well have been. It felt that way. It felt like it.
J: I would describe it… Do you know what it is? It’s the kind of restaurant that would’ve hosted an incredible episode of “My Super Sweet 16.”
J: It is the Spanish equivalent of… Because no, but is nicer than an Olive Garden. It’s much nicer than that.
A: It’s like what Olive Gar-
J: Where it’s like a country theme.
A: Olive Garden’s like the fast food version.
J: It’s the theme. It’s Spanish themed. The back wall has this gorgeous fountain.
J: That goes down the wall. There’s a water feature wall, but it does also have that function room furniture energy. It’s so specific to New England.
A: It’s so specific. Yeah. I’ve never been to a place outside that.
J: It’s simultaneous. No you can’t. Because it’s simultaneously fancy and nice and delicious, but also really f*cking tacky.
A: Absolutely. And yes, yes. Yes. Yes.
J: The sorbets are served in the fruit husks. You remember the coconut sorbet comes in a half coconut and I would always just be living my life in luxury.
A: It was like, this is living. And the bread is warm and there was some butter that was so special, I remember.
J: Yeah. Oh yeah. There’s salted butter on the table.
A: Salted butter.
J: Oh my God.
J: Everything about it.
A: I did not wear pants there.
A: I was wearing a dress to go to Spain.
J: Yeah. You’re wearing a dress.
A: Yeah. We’re getting dressed. We’re going to Spain. Alyssa, we’re going to Spain, brush your hair.
A: Yeah, that was big.
J: Yeah. But it’s like, “How’d the date go?” Well he took me to Spain.
A: He took her to Spain, he’s going to propose.
J: Yeah. That’s what I’m saying though.
J: Spain on the first date, he’s serious.
A: Wow. I just can’t. And it’s taking me back too, because it’s like, yeah. Oh wow. There’s nothing like that.
J: I can’t even articulate some of the things about it.
A: Yeah. It’s so… Yeah. It’s so home and where we’re from.
J: Yes. And it’s like-
A: Could you imagine that place in Vermont, the difference.
J: It would just be the craziest thing in the world. I don’t think people get what Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts is.
J: Because it’s this gradient of Boston, I think people know what Boston is.
J: There’s been a million movies. And then as you move south into Rhode Island, it becomes this other thing.
J: That too, I think maybe with an outside eye, they would probably be like, “Oh this is just Boston.” But it’s like, no.
A: No, honey.
J: It’s something so different.
J: First off I would say it’s more diverse than Boston.
J: Boston is very white in this way.
J: And then you get to Rhode Island and it’s like, there is a little bit more diversity.
J: And there’s also a huge Portuguese population. They’re all these things happening and it’s also very suburban and urban, but the whole state is a small town.
A: Yes It is. It is. Yeah. I mean it’s just… Yeah, it’s really yeah. Okay. Federal Hill, do you?
J: Oh what’s the one, starts with an L that the menu hangs in the middle of the room? Do you know what I’m f*cking talking about?
A: But even that, it’s so crazy. Yes. I love it. There’s a tackiness and a gaudiness that just… That we embrace.
J: I mean, that’s the thing is it’s funny because people, when I walk through a little Italy now I’m like, “This was the theme of my entire f*cking state.”
A: Yeah, exactly.
J: I moved to Vermont when I was 6 and a half.
A: Oh wow.
J: But then we went back to Rhode Island probably five or six times a year.
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: Especially because-
A: You have the accent still. You still feel Rhode Island to me.
J: Well, I’m talking to you so it’s really coming out.
A: And I was just home with my mom.
J: Yeah. I’m really excited.
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
J: But we would go back and this essentially when my parents got divorced, then it was like, we were going to see my grandparents a lot. Because it was like alleviate as much trauma as possible.
A: Yes, yes, yes, yes.
J: I was like, I just spent so much time in Rhode Island growing up and it feels so… It’s like, you just can’t explain it to anyone else.
A: And food is a really big part of the culture.
J: Food is a really big part.
A: Restaurants, going out. Yeah.
J: My Rhode Island background is mostly Jewish and Irish.
J: And historically Jewish, but not currently Jewish because my grandfather had converted. So weren’t a family… I think unlike a lot of Rhode Islanders cooking at home was not a huge part of my family’s experience.
J: But food was still central, which meant restaurants.
J: Even just this f*cking deli on whatever avenue that is, that was called the Food Chalet. They serve Boar’s Head. But in my mind I was like, this is luxury.
A: The Chalet, yes.
J: The Food Chalet, they serve Boar’s Head. It was just everything about Rhode Island that was the places we went to get the things. My family has our restaurants. The nicest event is going to be at Spain.
J: We’re just going out, that’s Dave’s by the airport. Dave’s Bar and Grill. Did you go there?
J: Dave’s Bar and Grill. I mean it’s your classic bar food place that has the air hockey at the back and the toy crane.
J: And the tech in. And so it was like, you’d sit down. My sister would be white knuckling it until the waitress came to take our food order and then it was games and then we would just run to the back and play games.
J: And then I was pissed when the food came because it meant I had to stop playing games.
J: That was very much one of our spots. Federal Hill was, me and my grandfather would go.
A: Venda Ravioli, you remember just walking around?
A: Did you ever-
J: Yeah. We would go there and then my grandfather and I’s thing was we would go there and then we would go watch a Providence Bruins games.
A: Oh nice.
J: And it was really cute. And then there was this restaurant for a while that I think was on the hill. That was for a while, became our new… We almost replaced Spain with it, where it was our nice dinners out. It was called Turtle Soup. Do you ever encounter this?
J: And we would go there and it was like, where is Spain is the high ceilings… And oh, also the thing about Spain is that the second floor is a balcony.
J: Over the first floor dining room.
A: We didn’t have to tell you that, you knew. You were like this place has a balcony. This has a Terrace. Yeah.
J: But whereas Spain had these high ceilings and was bright and felt like you were in this palace, Turtle Soup was this sexy bistro-y, small place. I’m also, I’m sure we were ruining everyone’s night because I was 7 years old. We were up f*cking some dates by bringing me there in retrospect. But that was a big place for us too.
A: Yeah. And when you’re a kid, you only get the food you get at home, so when you go out, it’s just so thrilling.
A: You’re like, I can get whatever I want. And this, yeah.
J: Doing the big cooking at home, that was more for you, right?
A: Yeah. That was. My mom cooked a ton.
A: And I ran track and my mom was big on having pasta dinners. So would have a lot of people over for pasta dinners and yeah.
J: Totally. My aunt on my dad’s side is a huge home cook. And so her food at the holidays would be a thing. We would go to Aunt Debbie’s house.
J: And there would be food. I mean the amount of food this woman cooks for the holiday, it’s like… But it’s also because for her entire neighborhood, it’s an open-door policy.
A: Oh I love that.
J: Show up and you’d be like, “Who’s these people coming inside?’ And it’s just people to get… She’s like, “Oh good, yeah I made 12 pies.”
A: Yes. Yes. Yes.
J: And she made 12 pies.
A: Yeah. Yeah. The 12 pie thing is not an exaggeration.
J: No. Wait, what was your family’s bakery? We were Calvito’s.
A: Well, okay. We loved LaSalle Bakery, which was near LaSalle. They had a no nut brownie, which now the name is crazy. But a no brownie after a long day of work.
J: Wait, did you guys f*ck with party pizza? The strips?
A: Did I f*ck with party pizza?
J: Okay. I’m just asking.
A: Absolutely. And Eataly, I think has a really good, if you ever crave it, they have a no cheese, just red sauce pizza.
A: Which I think is a good equivalent. But yeah, Crugnale’s Bakery, which I just was home and it’s closed. But I used to go there and get those strips on Fridays. I would get those in my lunchbox.
A: Oh, heaven.
A: Yeah. And still I love… Oh, there’s another place in… Where? I’m living in Williamsburg right now and it’s right near… Anyway, whenever I find a red sauce pizza I like I’m like this is bringing me home.
A: Yeah. Isn’t it funny? The older I get, you get so nostalgic for it. Oh.
J: I know. It’s funny, because I think Rhode Island, I never soured on because I moved.
J: So then it got to live in nostalgia forever.
J: Because also I really resented Vermont because I was like-
A: It took me away.
J: I talk about this and this person. I’m gay and live in New York now. When I got to Vermont, I was like, we’re doing this?
J: Are you joking?
J: So I always kind of resented it and was not a fan. And now I go back and I’m like, were these mountains always here?
A: I know.
J: This is gorgeous. It’s crazy. I was just back in Burlington for a wedding. And I was like, are you f*cking kidding? Did you see the sunset? Did not give a f*ck when I was there?
A: No, there’s no painted sun on the wall of a restaurant, so that’s what I want. I want a landscape mural inside the restaurant. I don’t want the actual mountain. I don’t wanna climb it. I want to look at it. Yeah. No Vermont is so stunning, but I do feel because I went to college there, too, and it’s so gorgeous and so beautiful. But if you’re not happy there, that can almost be-
J: It’s the same as people who get depressed in L.A.
A: It’s almost worse because you’re like, “I should be happy. This place is stunning.”
J: You are looking at this gorgeous vista and sunset. And you’re like, “I’m the problem.” Objectively.
A: It has never been more clear than living in Vermont, that it is in fact me the common denominator of unhappiness. Yeah, that’s it. But no, also when you’re young, you want to be around people. Now I bet, yeah if I moved to Vermont, and was just with a few close friends and could hike all the time. I’m great.
J: Great. Yeah.
J: The Rhode Island food and wine, not even the wine because I wasn’t really drinking that. But the Rhode Island food and restaurant world was so special to me.
A: And catering, I just remember if there was a thing happening, we would get catered chicken marsala. Have you had pounded chicken with just artichokes.
J: Oh absolutely. Two pounds of capers. A one to one ratio of pound to pound for capers and chicken.
A: Yes. The caper. Yeah. Yeah. But no, I mean, yeah it was a yeah. And now I’m vegan and I don’t really eat a lot of stuff. But I’m like, man, probably because of just all the dairy that, yeah.
J: How was coming out to your Rhode Island family? Or your New England, Massachusetts family as vegan?
A: And Greek, it’s Rhode Island plus Greek. And it was just, yeah. But now every time I go home, my mom has found ways to make all the same foods.
J: That’s so sweet.
A: So I just got home. She was like, “I made a vegan spanakopita.”
J: How was it?
A: Excellent. Excellent.
J: I love spanakopita.
A: And now she’s always like, “You know what? I like this better than the real thing.” She’s always like, “I don’t think I’m going to…”
J: Tastes just as good. And I don’t get the gas.
A: Yeah. “You know what? I think I’m going to keep doing this. I don’t eat meat a lot.” And then the next day she’s like, “All right, I’ll have a burger.” Yeah. But no. Yeah. She’s like, “I really don’t miss it.” Yeah.
J: Now that you’re in L.A., are you doing restaurants out there? Are you doing bars out there? Are you into going out now?
J: What’s going out for you now?
A: Yes I am. And L.A’s great because I am vegan. It is kind of, I take it for granted, because I was on the road this past year.
A: I take for granted pretty much in L.A. I can go to any restaurant and get a great dish.
A: That is haha, where you walk in it’s like, “Oh I can eat everything on this menu.” So I do go out. But yeah, mostly I feel like going out for drinks. There’s this place called Black Cat.
A: Great Martinis, great fries.
J: I was staying right near there last time when I was in L.A.
A: Great place to live.
J: It’s on Sunset.
J: Yeah. Yeah.
A: Right in Silver Lake.
J: Yeah. Yeah. I was right around the corner from there when I stayed last time.
A: And not to do the other hand dip, but I think the outdoor seating situation.
A: That has changed the game. I love it. I love going outside, meeting my friends.
J: I know.
A: Sitting out. Yeah. Because the bar, I was never really a huge fan of being inside a loud bar.
J: The noise thing is specifically one of the best.
J: I do like being inside. If it’s right at that sweet spot where it feels you’re in among the people.
J: I love it.
A: There’s a time and place for it. It’s like, yes, there’s a time place. I want to get drunk and I want to go dancing. But then if it’s like, I haven’t seen my friends in a while, I just want to go hang and laugh with my friends.
J: Wait, to revert back to us having some upbringings here.
J: I’m curious if this is a phenomenon true of you, because this is very true of me, because of restaurants and bars when we were younger. I secretly always loved the smoking section. I loved the smell of cigarettes while we were in the restaurant.
A: I love it. I love it. I love it. I still love it. I love it. I love it. I love cigars. I love the smell of cigarettes. I love it.
J: Heaven on earth.
A: I love it. I love it. Absolutely.
J: Heaven on earth.
A: Same. Same.
J: We went to Vegas and my friend was like, “It’s disgusting.” I was like, “This is the happiest I’ve been in 20 years.”
A: This is home. Totally. I’m like, oh my God, totally. It’s so true. I remember even my friend’s parents’ cars smelling of cigarettes and it is a very homey feeling.
J: Eating buttered noodles in a cloud of Marlboro Light smoke is truly heaven to me.
A: Yes. Home. Totally.
J: Parm shaking on it.
A: Yes. Yes. No it’s true. Yeah, totally.
J: So I think I loved being out with my parents, with my family in these fun environments and sometimes the inside of a crowded bar can feel that.
A: Yes. That’s so true.
J: You’re out. You’re with people, sh*t’s happening.
A: Yes. That’s so true. That is, yeah.
J: I get the value also of being, I just want to talk to my friends and be in our own little thing and have a quiet thing, but be outside and not in someone’s apartment.
A: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
J: And I do. It’s nice that both options are more available now.
A: Agreed. Agreed.
A: Because yeah, it used to be like, Well, if we’re going to all meet inside and we haven’t seen each other in a while, whoa, this is, yeah. We’re just going to be screaming.
J: And then you have to pair off. You’re not actually having group conversations.
J: And it’s like, yeah. The noise volume. I think restaurants are also getting better. I know that you can hire people to almost sound engineer restaurants.
J: Which I think is actually really valuable.
J: Because the conversation has to be able to be flowing.
A: Yes, exactly.
A: Yeah. Wow. Sound engineering a restaurant. Yeah.
J: I mean it’s real though.
J: It’s kind of mind blowing. So you would prefer to do dinner at home and then go out and meet for drinks?
A: A hundred percent.
J: I get that.
A: Yeah. I would say yeah, but then sometimes I’m like, oh. Again, I think I’m splitting them up almost. Maybe I want to go to a restaurant or drink. I don’t love restaurants and then going into a night of, those are two separate things for me.
J: Because you don’t want to go out on a full stomach. Is that the thought?
A: I wonder if it is.
J: I’m just curious.
A: I don’t know. Yeah. Maybe the enjoyment of a meal is so good that I’m like, this is enough.
J: I’m sated.
A: I’m sated. If I can just enjoy this long meal sitting here together, eating, and sharing food. That’s an experience that doesn’t need to be the start of something. If it’s just to get fed before going out, I’ll just efficiently do that at home and then come out with you and go out.
J: Okay. So I hear that. And I think my version of that is that I don’t like to do a nice big dinner before a huge night out.
J: I don’t. But I do love it to be the main event of a night out. But still maybe we go to the bar next door to wrap up after.
J: For one after-dinner drink, I’m open to that. But yeah, if it’s like that, let’s go to this event at 11 p.m. that’s a dance party and meet at this steakhouse at eight for dinner. I’m like, that’s going to be tough.
A: When you’re saying this, you know what I’m thinking in my head, it’s preparing. I need to know what the night is going to be. So I can prepare for one of those things. I need to know what the night is going to be so I can prepare for one of those things. But then when it’s the two, I’m like, those are two different energies. So how do I prepare? For going out to eat with close friends, they’re different things.
J: They’re very different things.
A: So I need to know like, oh, this is the thing I’m doing tonight, or this is the thing. And I can do either. I can prepare for either, but when they’re mixed, I’m like, I don’t know.
J: I hear that. Yeah. I totally hear that.
A: How much fun am I?
J: No, you’re fun.
A: I’m like, I have to organize my fun. I have to prepare for how to have fun. Yeah.
J: Your friend texts you the plans and you go and you’re like, look, you got to pick one.
J: I’m not doing both of you.
A: Happy birthday, but … Congrats on the engagement. But yeah, we’re going to have to pick one or the other. I’m not in for both.
J: Look, do you want me at the reception or the dinner of your wedding? I’m not doing both.
A: But it’s your wedding. Yeah, I know. I know. I know babe, but we’re going to have to… Yeah.
J: On nights when you have shows, if you have a set or you have a full show, are you strictly working and going home or do you like to go out after? You have a screwed look on your face like you don’t want to answer.
A: Well, because no, it’s a food thing, but when I’m on the road, I don’t like to get a drink or have anything much beforehand. And then afterwards I love having a whiskey and a veggie burger. That’s pretty much what I have.
J: A whiskey and a veggie burger.
A: Because maybe that’s the one thing I could find on the road that would always be that. So then that became a thing of after shows I have, yeah a veggie burger and whiskey.
J: It’s funny. Okay. I feel like comics are pretty split on whether or not they like to do a show with like one drink in them, two drinks in them or totally sober. I feel like I hear a lot of different versions of that. I feel like everybody except me wants to be completely empty stomach, low blood sugar when they go on stage. I feel like everyone’s like, I absolutely can’t eat before a show. Can’t eat before a show. I’m like, no, I’m eating and then going on stage. I feel like I’m the only person who feels that way, but I’m like, I will get mad.
A: You know what it’s going to take? You are going to have, I think you’re going to have one bad experience.
J: I’m going to sh*t my pants on stage.
A: Listen, just wait. Oh, just wait, Jake. Yeah. But yeah, no, I feel like one time I just got way too full and then the whole time I was just burping. It was all I could think then I was like, oh, never again. Yeah.
J: That makes sense.
A: But having too little is scary too. There is adrenaline. So if you’re like, oh, I feel bleh. So it’s a real sweet spot.
J: I was going to say the most annoying thing, but it’s like, I just have a lot of muscle in my body so I will experience a blood sugar drop that is so sudden.
A: Yes, no, no.
J: That I’ll be like, if I don’t eat in the next 10 minutes I’ll have to die or someone else will and it’s really bad. And then I get, this thing happens to me in New York, I wonder if this has ever happened to you. I’ll get to this place where this thing will happen to me, if my blood sugar drops too quickly, I’ll be like, I medically need to eat something so bad. And I’m standing in New York city, which means I can eat literally anything on God’s green earth. I will walk around for two hours not being able to figure out what’s correct. Because now I’m like, I’m so hungry. It needs to be right.
A: Oh that’s it. That’s it.
J: And guess what’s never happened, that I’ve picked the right thing. I’m like, why did I design a salad at Chipotle with M&M’s. It’s so wrong. And then I eat it. I’m like, this was disgusting.
A: I used to have to go to different bodegas because I’d be like, they’ve seen me pace this. They must be scared because I’m pacing this place.
J: I’m looking at their chicken in the I thing, I’m like not here.
A: Coming back. Well maybe I’m missing something. Oh, that’s so real. That’s a real New York thing too. I think you walk so much here, you forget you’re hungry. It’s not like I’m building hunger, it’s an emergency. It’s like, I’m not hungry. And then it’s like, I have to eat right now.
J: Yeah. I biked here. I had recorded another episode yesterday and I biked here and then realized I forgot to eat breakfast before I biked here. Did the episode and then said bye to the guests, got in the elevator and I got off the elevator and I unlocked my bike and went to get on it and was like, oh, actually I’m about to pass out. I’ve biked six miles today and haven’t eaten any food. And it’s 4 p.m. And then I went to Chipotle, made the most psychotic bowl in the world that made no sense and then ate it and was like, this is food.
A: Yeah. Yeah. That is really relatable. And I think L.A. has helped me a bit because I always have groceries. I never had groceries in New York. I always have groceries here. So then it’s a little bit less like every time I’m hungry, I have to go buy something. And then there’s a big decision on that. It’s like, oh, if I’m really hungry, I just have something in my fridge.
J: Which is nice.
A: Which is nice.
J: Which part of L.A. do you live in?
A: I live in Beverly Hills.
J: Okay. Nice.
A: Yes. So it’s like, I live right near a Bristol Farms that I can walk to. So that’s my grocery store of choice. Great grocery store. Nice pre-prepared stuff. Yeah.
J: What was your Rhode Island? Grocery store?
A: I think it was Stop and Shop.
J: Okay. Because we were a Shaw’s family.
A: Well I think it might have been Shaw’s but Shaw’s is no longer, right?
J: No. Don’t say that. Shaw’s is there.
A: It is?
J: Yeah. Shaw’s is there?
J: Because we had the one on, was that Reservoir Ave? The Hollywood Video’s gone. But it was a Shaw’s and then across the parking lot was a giant Hollywood Video that had connected to it a Taco Bell, Pizza Hut combo.
A: Yes. And Ocean State travel, that’s got to be close.
J: Oh yeah. Yeah. And Ocean State, Discount Liquors right behind it too.
A: Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Wow. And then I remember when we started going to Whole Foods. That was like, oh my God.
J: The game’s been changed.
A: And East Side Market, is that something? There was another place too.
J: There’s now, my family has taken on this place that’s called Dave’s Market.
A: Dave’s is great. Dave’s pizza. They have great pizza at that market. There was one in Cumberland.
J: Dave’s has also become my family’s go-to catering.
A: Yes, exactly. Yes. That makes sense.
J: It’s just so crazy. Because I’m like, I love my family. They’re probably listening to this. I love you all so much. But sometimes I’m like, Christmas this year I look and I’m like, okay, we got mac and cheese. We got teriyaki steak tips. We got chicken tenders and we got lo mein.
A: What is this? Fiber goes away. There is no fiber. There are no vegetables.
J: This is what I don’t understand is I don’t understand how my family is alive because here’s the thing thing, I’m not 30 years old yet. I’m 29 on the cusp of 30. I have, my entire life has become dependent on my fiber intake. I have fiber pills. And this is not just because I’m gay and it involves how gay men have sex.
A: No this is just, yes.
J: For me to get out of bed in the morning, I need to have had enough fiber the day before.
J: And if I don’t- I went to England for a week and forgot my fiber pills. I almost went to the hospital. My whole body stops working. I’ve never heard anyone in my family talk about fiber. If they’re talking about fiber, they’re talking about the fiber count on their sheets that they bought on QVC. That’s when we’re talking about fiber in my family.
A: Absolutely. It was not a priority. It was not how… Yeah.
J: I’m constantly figuring out how much fiber I had and how much water do I need to make the fiber work?
A: There are no food groups at home. There’s just one. It’s “Tastes Good.”
J: I remember you wrote a piece. I think it was for The Times once about the holidays. And I just remember you being like, and at 3 p.m. we sit down to eat ham. Something about ham and it was just, the way you worded it, it was so viscerally real to me.
A: Totally. Because you’re just like none of these foods appear in my life outside of home. Oh gosh. And I’m just coming home from being there for four days and I’m like, I need a salad. I need to leave here and have a salad. Yeah.
J: It’s so viscerally real.
A: Yeah. It’s that one, that cream color.
J: Do you know what’s also funny? I haven’t really thought about this before, but another thing about my experience of where we’re from, I would say 85 percent of the restaurants, identical menus. You were going for the room and the vibe. But the calamari.
A: And the owner.
J: And the owner. The owner. And maybe Bev, the waitress. Getting the same waitress.
A: She’s been through a tough time. She’s so great. She’s so great. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
J: I have a story to give you off mic.
A: She’s wearing a tie. I can’t wait.
J: About a waitress.
A: But yeah. Yeah. I can’t wait. But it’s just all just decked out.
J: But I just think that’s so interesting that I’m like, oh yeah, I got the same thing at every restaurant. And it was the same thing. Vegetarian option, mushroom risotto. Do you know what I mean?
A: Totally. Yeah.
J: Appetizers. We’re getting calamari and it’s got the banana peppers and it’s got the lemon and it’s got the marinara.
A: So true. Spaghetti. Yeah. Ziti bake.
J: Yeah. Chicken tenders for the kids.
J: The marsala.
A: Chicken marsala, chicken marbella, chicken piccata. Yeah.
J: I’ll never remember, I’m always like what the f*ck is the marbella? I can never remember what marbella is.
A: The marbella tossed the prunes in. Talk about fiber. It’s like the same thing just with prunes. It’s like, what are we doing?
J: They named that after an old woman named Marbella, who was like, I can’t sh*t after I eat here and they’re like, Marbella, we put prunes in the marsala it’s fine. And she’s like, oh God bless.
A: Yeah. That’s exactly it. I can’t sh*t. Instead of having a salad, it’s like, we’ll do the same exact dish, we’ll throw a prune or two in.
J: We’ve been going to visit my grandmother, one of my grandmothers, her nursing home is on Atwood Ave. and we always go to Atwood Grill.
J: And I just would die laughing because every time we go, I’ll get a burger and I’ll be like, can I get the cheeseburger? And she’s like American, Swiss, blue, or cheddar? And I’m like cheddar and she’s like fries, ziti, calamari? And then I’m like, I’ve answered, then she’ll go, ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue, ranch? I’m like, just the questions keep coming. And then I’m like ranch. And then she’s like diet Coke, Coke, Sprite, Coke Zero, root beer. I’m like Coke Zero. Ranch. Then she’s like, cool, cool. You look like my nephew. And then walks away.
A: Yes. Totally. Totally. Totally. Oh gosh. Yeah. Oh gosh. Spumoni’s we used to go to and it was that same thing where it’s like, yeah, we would get… Yeah. Do you want salad or soup? What kind of soup? Yeah. Minestrone and then like, okay then you also get a side of pasta.
J: The sides of pasta.
A: Three-course meals. It’s so intense. Yeah.
J: It’s so intense. Like the fact I’m like, oh, we’re doing like a cup of clam chowder as my appetizer. Hot seafood cream.
A: Cream and seafood as the appetizer as the opening up. Yeah.
J: But I love it.
A: Same, same.
J: Were you beach people?
A: Kind of, but my grandparents had a place in Lake Winnipesaukee so we were more lake people than beach people. But we would go to Gansett for sure.
A: Yeah. What about you guys?
J: Well, it’s funny because we were beach people for sure. My grandparents, my grandfather, was a lifeguard growing up.
J: Every person I’m genetically related to has had skin cancer. They just went to the beach. Didn’t put on sunscreen and laid there. My mother has more freckles than there are stars in the sky. The sun damage in my family is unbelievable.
J: So they’re beach people down, but then you move to Vermont, you’re lake people.
A: You’re lake people.
J: So, well we didn’t leave because I’m from the Rutland area. So Bomoseen was the big lake.
A: Oh, okay.
J: Bomoseen was the big lake. There was Bomoseen and then there was Echo and Emerald. There were different lakes, but the thing about lakes is like, it’s not the ocean. So it’s like, there are certain lakes that it’s like, you can’t swim in that lake.
A: Right, right, right, right.
J: But people still go. And so then you’d be like, mom, Billy’s family wants to take me to the lake and they’d be like, what lake? And they’d be Elfin you’re not going.
J: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s like, we were lake people, but also not. I think my mom initially was like, I don’t f*ck with these. We do ocean.
A: There were risks of both. The ocean, I’m like, oh you get salty. You get seaweedy and you have to worry about a shark.
J: Yeah, you also can be pulled away.
A: Lakes, you have to worry about giardia.
J: Well Lake Champlain, it’s sad, Lake Champlain is disgusting. Every six months, they’re like, “Hey guys, sorry. We dumped a bunch of human sh*t in it.” And you’re like, “Wait, what?” The last time I swam in Lake Champlain was my senior year of college. I jumped off the dock. I’m not joking. Within six hours, double ear infection. I was like, I can’t hear, my head hurt so f*cking bad. And I went to the place and she was like, “Both of your ears are so infected. What’d you do?” And I was like, “I went in the lake. She was, that’ll do it. That’ll do it.”
A: Wow. That’s on you.
J: I was like, f*ck.
A: Yeah. That’s on you.
J: Okay. This has been so fun.
A: What a time.
J: What a time.
A: What a time. Both of us are lodged deeply in accents now that we’re going to have all day.
J: All day.
J: I like to end my episodes-
J: -With planning our next night out together.
A: Oh, I mean, come on. We know where we’re going?
J: We’re going over Rhode Island. Right?
A: We’re going to Rhode Island. We’re both getting … First I’m going to David’s Bridal and getting myself a gown.
J: I’m going to Joseph A. Bank.
A: You’re going to Joseph A. Bank, getting yourself a nice suit.
J: And we’re going to Spain.
A: And we’re going to Spain.
A: I would die. I would die.
J: We tell them we got engaged.
A: We tell them we got engaged. I get those, you know those curls that are not loose. They’re like…
J: Oh the un-brushed barrel curls.
A: Yes. I get un-brushed-
J: Yes. I get un-brushed-
A: You’re getting… Yeah.
J: We’re smoking six cigarettes before we go inside.
A: Six cigarettes before we go inside. Yes.
J: We’re getting a J. Lohr Cabernet. And then we’re ordering everything on the menu and I’ll just have to eat it all because none of it’s vegan.
A: None of it’s vegan and I’ll have… Yeah.
J: The coconut sorbet is so good though and that’s vegan.
A: And that’s vegan. And then you will just have to down fiber pills afterwards.
J: We’ll go to a CVS.
A: We’ll go to CVS. We’ll chase it with a Martini and fiber pills. Yeah.
J: Okay. This is, I’ve never been more excited for a night that we planned on this show.
A: Yeah. Wow. Thank you for having me.
J: This went by in two minutes.
A: I know, I know.
J: Okay. This is, I’ve never been more excited for a night that we planned on this show.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited and condensed for clarity.