For Sale By Owner

No, not this harissa-smothered chicken that I roasted and ate for dinner with caramelized parships and carrots that cooked in the roasting pan, sucking up all the chickeny harissa juices.

Although I’d totally understand if you did want to buy my chicken, because it was delicious. However, I am, in fact, talking about Chateau TNS. We’re blowing this popsicle stand.

And no, this is not an April Fool’s joke. If I were going to prank you, it would be more like, “Oh my god, Food and Wine contacted me about doing a column reviewing cookbooks!” or “Holy shit, I have Gonnorhea!”

rub down

I know you’ve always had dreams of moving to the big city, finding out how sick the rents are and settling in New Jersey; it’s what’s made us the most densely populated state in the union. Perhaps you want to be a hoofer on the Great White Way, but would settle for a daily ferry commute to your job as an administrative assistant to the 17th Associate Vice President of Global Financial Strategy and Run-On Sentences at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Or you’re tired of working at the family business tending the tri-county tire fire and would prefer to be an out-of-work actor manning the tortilla warmer at a Chipotle.

Either way, you can’t afford to live in Manhattan. So why not buy a charming pied-a-terre in Jersey City, also called “The Sixth Borough,” “The Future Fifth Borough After Staten Island Sinks Into the Harbor Under the Weight of Ten Thousand Virgin Mary Lawn Statues,” or “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Brooklyn”™?


Here are some of the many features of this spacious two bedroom, one-and-a-half bath duplex apartment and its environs:

  • You can walk to the subway for 24-hour New York City access.
  • There is a big back patio and garden, where you can grow tomatoes, potter around in the flower bed and relax on the hammock under towering ginkgo trees with a cocktail.
  • The neighborhood is home to a pimp with an astonishing array of matchy-matchy head-to-toe ensembles. We’re talking three piece suit, matching hat, matching shoes, the whole nine yards. My favorite is the pink fur, while others are partial to the leopard print (too cliche, says I).
  • If you make friends with the neighbors, they’ll probably invite you over for dinner a lot. They’re good that way. They’re still going to like us best though, so no funny business.
  • Huge windows let in a ton of light that’s great for food photography, so it’s too bad that you’ll miss it all when you’re at work.

(In all honesty, it is a super-duper apartment and is pretty close to our dream space. Unfortunately, the mortgage that goes with it does not jive with our dream life, so we’re going to become lowly renters again.)


This week, we’ve been trying to clean the place up and fix all the random little things we’ve ignored over the past six years so we can get it on the market. By mid-afternoon, we were starving and it was all we could do to throw a chicken in the general direction of the oven. I managed to smear some homemade harissa on it and throw a bunch of root veg into the pan before the oven slammed shut.

Brian is normally the house Roast Chicken Master, so I followed his instructions (which are really Cook’s Illustrated’s instructions, but damned if they don’t work every time: Oven at 375. Chicken on its side in a roasting rack for 20 minutes, then its other side for another 20. Crank the heat to 450, flip the bird breast side up and cook for 30 more minutes, or until done.


Look at that skin, y’all, it is burnished. BURNISHED, I tell you.

While the cooked chicken was resting, Brian made a quick pan gravy with the drippings. I tossed together a quick salad and tried not to filch all the roasted carrots before Brian could get a crack at ’em.

So, it’s no surprise that a well-roasted chicken is a thing of beauty and joy forever, and that adding the harissa factor just raises the ante. What we were not prepared for: the carrots. The god damn carrots. So sweet, so chewy, nicely browned, a little fatty, a little spicy. We scraped the pan clean, and I lamented that the “extra” carrots I thought I’d made were still insufficient. We both agreed that while we loved the original dish for which the harissa was prepared, these fricking carrots blew it out of the water.

I may have to put this chicken in the oven while we show the house, because surely, no one will be able to resist a house that smells like harissa roasted chicken and carrots. Bidding war, here we come!



9 thoughts on “For Sale By Owner

  1. Good luck with selling your apartment! Alas, I have no desire to move back to Jersey, but if I were, Jersey City would definitely get top consideration. Question: is it really less expensive to rent there? I don’t know what your exact circumstances are, but with interest rates being so low, maybe refinancing would be a better option. Just a thought…since your place sounds so nice…

  2. I have read that houses that smell of cooking apple pie and cinnamon sell faster.
    It makes the potential buyers think “homey” and of course, it is a lovely smell. They should be able to smell the pie pretty much as soon as they walk in the door.

    Only problem with using harissa chicken is that it won’t tap into most peoples childhood memories.

  3. @tina, our place IS so nice. but it’s DEFINITELY cheaper to rent, even though our interest rate is already pretty low. plus, it turns out that neither one of us really likes being tied down to a piece of property.

    @bev, yeah, i was thinking about the cinnamon roll trick. and since my cooking and baking smells permeate thehallway outside the apartment, people would pretty much be able to smell it from the stoop.

  4. It’s a nice thought (I’m certainly not in love with my current living situation), but from what I understand, as a Californian, East Coasters will happily tear me to shreds the moment I get out of the car. Best to stay over here, where I can travel down to Santa Cruz for a day trip and smile nostalgically at the unselfconscious, unironically crunchy hippies. I will, however, have some of that harissa.

  5. I happen to have 2 jars of harissa pickled carrots in my pantry right now, courtesy of the Choosy Beggars recipe.

  6. Good luck with the move & selling the place. I still find it weird that people “own” an apartment, must be a western US thing, you own a condo/townhome, rent an apartment. We are totally in the same bought near the top of the market boat, but with a family and all the accouterments, we are sticking with it.

  7. As a PA transplant from North NJ (Elizabeth/Newark, holla!) I remember it being a not so bad place to be.

    We’re still renting after 20 years and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it. Our apartment is amazing, and we love it, been here three years, but we get our snow shoveled for us, our lawn cut, and someone shows up here almost immediately when something leaks or breaks. Can’t beat it.

    Oh, and the chicken? carrots? I’ll come look at your apartment if I can have some of that :)

  8. @kate, how did i miss that post? must rectify!

    @erika, it actually is a condo. i just play fast and loose with my language.

    @miserichik, would that we get landlords as great as yours sound!

  9. My mother made a pizza with harissa while she was visiting. It was smegging hot. I still haven’t quite recovered from that, yet, but the sound of those carrots is intriguing. I might have to just get over it and make this soon.

    I have a condo. Never again.

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