Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day trip to the Jersey shore: Viking Fresh seafood, a stop in Red Bank

This seafood shack is part of Viking Village, the name given to a lobster-fishing co-op Norwegians founded in the 1920s in Barnegat Light, on Long Beach Island. When the lobsters got scarce, the co-op evolved into today's scallop, gill-net and long-line fishing operation.

From the lunch menu at Viking Fresh Off the Hook, I ordered these beautifully fried wild-caught sea scallops with house-made coleslaw and a side salad instead of french fries ($14.95), above, and my wife chose a Fried Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich with a side salad ($12.95), below.


BARNEGAT LIGHT -- I've been in love with the Jersey shore since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn who luckily got to spend every summer in Bradley Beach.

Now, one of my favorite places to visit is this fishing port on the Atlantic Ocean, where you can sample seafood fresh off the boats that dock at historic Viking Village.

We drove down on Friday for lunch under an umbrella at Viking Fresh Off the Hook, which is strictly takeout, but which serves those incredibly delicious sea scallops the fishery is best known for.

The informal setting at Viking Fresh Off the Hook didn't stop three women at another table from washing down their lunch with a bottle of prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy.

Inside Viking Fresh Off the Hook, you can find prepared seafood, including a lobster salad for $36.95 a pound, right rear. The takeout shack is at 1905 Bayview Ave., Barnegat Light; 1-609-361-8900. Open until Labor Day.

Barnegat Light is one of New Jersey's biggest fishing ports, above and below.

Viking Village includes a fresh-fish market.

Jumbo crab cakes -- "made with love" -- were $8.50 each.

The best sea scallops are "dry," such as these in the Viking Village market. If you see scallops in liquid, avoid them and the preservative they are swimming in.

A sign of the times in Viking Village.

Viking Village is at 1801 Bayview Ave., Barnegat Light. Nearby, old fishing shacks have been converted into gift shops.

Even the tolls can't diminish the beauty of the Garden State Parkway.

Fridays during the summer are not the best time to visit the shore, as you can see from traffic on Route 72 heading for the bridge to Long Beach Island. This backup was caused by an accident, but on the way home Friday afternoon, we saw four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the southbound Garden State Parkway.
On the way home, we stopped at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, with vistas of the Navesink River, above and below.

At the hotel, Tesla Motors threw a reception for owners of the all-electric Model S, Model X SUV and Roadster, and their guests, and served Jersey specialties, including sausage-and-pepper hero sandwiches, pizza and salt water taffy.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Paramus Trader Joe's could be better, wine at Wayne Costco and more

A 3-pound bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes at Trader Joe's in Paramus is $4.49 or about $1.50 a pound, less than at ShopRite or other stores.

Editor's note: Back from vacation, I've been visiting Trader Joe's in Paramus, Costco Wholesale in Wayne and Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood -- because no one food store has everything.


If you buy Trader Joe's hot dogs, bacon or cold cuts, make sure you read the labels to find out which package contains antibiotic-free meat.

The specialty grocer has ignored calls to stop selling meat and poultry raised on harmful human antibiotics, so shopping in the Paramus store is a little more difficult than, say, going to Whole Foods Market a few miles away.

For example, both Trader Joe's Beef Hot Dogs and Jumbo Beef Franks are uncured and fully cooked, but the bigger dogs contain antibiotics ($5.99 per package).

Trader Joe's Bacon is both antibiotic and nitrite free ($5.49).

Meanwhile, the selection of Applegate Naturals cold cuts is more limited than before, and I've only been able to find sliced ham and sliced turkey on my last two trips (a 7-ounce package was $4.49).

Applegate Naturals are antibiotic and preservative free, but make sure you read the label if you decide to buy Trader Joe's own line of cold cuts, which are displayed on the same rack. 

In general, prices at Trader Joe's have been creeping up, so some items, including 1-pound packages of organic whole wheat pasta, cost more than at the Paramus ShopRite.

And I ignore all of Trader Joe's prepared food, frozen fish, olive oil, pasta sauces with added sugar and most of the produce, because I can find better quality or better prices elsewhere.

Trader Joe's, 404 Route 17 north in Paramus, is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (201-265-9624).

One of the red wines that caught my eye at Costco Wholesale in Wayne is this Mount Hermon Red from Israel. 

Costco's own wine

The Costco Wholesale in Teterboro has a separate liquor store operated by another company, but the Wayne warehouse is different: 

It has its own liquor license, and sells private label Kirkland Signature wines and spirits, in addition to a large variety of other red, white and sparkling wines.

On Wednesday afternoon, we stopped at Costco on the way to hear jazz singer Karrin Allyson backed by a big band at William Paterson University in Wayne.

You can easily spend more than $100 on a bottle of wine at Costco, but I bought six bottles under $8 each on the theory they are just as healthy as bottles costing two, three or four times as much.

Two of the 750-milliliter bottles were Kirkland Signature Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy with a cork that pops like champagne, for only $6.99 each.

A Kirkland Signature Malbec was also $6.99, and a Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages was $6.89.

A Merlot from the Bogle Vineyards in California also was $6.99; and a Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Chile was $7.69. 

I bought six bottles of wine, all under $8 each.

Kirkland Signature red wines include a Malbec from Argentina and a Cotes du Rhone Villages from France, above, and 1.5-liter bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from California.

Costco Wholesale is at 149 Route 23 south, in the Wayne Towne Center Mall. Call 1-973-339-4006 for hours.

Jerry's Gourmet & More disappointed customers who love the store's restaurant-quality dinners to go, but don't eat meat, by wrapping three pieces of monkfish in bacon, above and below.

The takeout dinners are reduced to $5.99 after 4 p.m., if there are any left.

Jerry, there's meat in my fish

I got to Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood early on Wednesday afternoon, and found several restaurant-quality takeout dinners in the usual refrigerated case.

I don't eat meat or poultry, but do eat seafood, so I picked up the one with monkfish, only to see the pieces were wrapped in bacon.

My consolation was a large House Salad with mushrooms, arugula, roasted peppers, artichokes and Parmesan cheese with a house vinaigrette dressing ($5.99).

I bought the monkfish dinner and two others with chicken for other members of the family ($7.99 each).

For breakfast today, my stuffed egg-white omelet was accompanied by Eggplant Rollatini, Baby Bok Choy with Garlic and Sweet Baby Peppers left over from the monkfish dinner.

Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., in Englewood (1-201-871-7108), offers free samples of cheese, bread, olive oil and other items.

The large House Salad from Jerry's Gourmet & More.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

3-course lunches during NYC Restaurant Weeks will cost a little more

During the Restaurant Week promotion in January, I really enjoyed an entree of Cape Cod Sea Scallops, Venetian Red Rice and Caramelized Endive as part of a fixed-price lunch at Esca, a high-end Italian seafood restaurant in Manhattan.


New York City Restaurant Weeks are returning soon, but the bargain, three-course lunches will be slightly more expensive.

Lunches at some of the best restaurants in Manhattan will cost $29, plus tax and tip, compared to $25 in January.

Three-course dinners also are up $4 to $42, but they are not as good a value as lunch, because the limited menus often are similar.

American Express will give you a $5 statement credit, if you enroll an eligible credit card and spend $35 in a single transaction during the semi-annual Restaurant Week promotion, which runs from July 25 to Aug. 19.

You can get $5 back up to four times.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cucumber kimchi, wild red shrimp, pasta and eggs, organic brown rice

KIMCHI WITH CRUNCH: Cucumber Kimchi is a seasonal item at Arirang, 1 Remsen Place in Ridgefield. A 2-pound package made with cucumbers from Korea was $12 at the source in the H&Y Marketplace shopping center.

NO MSG: Arirang kimchis are made by hand with no MSG and no artificial ingredients.
WILD AND RED: Jumbo Red Shrimp from Argentina are packed in 4.4-pound boxes and frozen. They were on sale last Sunday at H&Y, a Korean supermarket at 1 Remsen Place in Ridgefield, below. 
ON SALE: These shrimp are a good deal at the regular price of $28.99 and a great deal at $24.99.

IN THE SHELL: I prepared them in a wok with olive and sesame oils, sake and seasonings, including Chinese Five Spice Powder and ground Star Anise. They are ready to eat when they curl up, but next time we'll peel and devein them first.

COMING TO A HEAD: I boiled the heads for 20 minutes, producing a broth with a strong shrimp flavor that could be used in a noodle soup or to cook rice with seafood.
ORGANIC EGGS WITH ORGANIC PASTA: Two organic brown eggs from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro served over organic whole wheat spaghetti from Whole Foods Market prepared in marinara sauce with sardines, anchovies and pitted black olives, below.

DINNER AND LEFTOVERS: I used 1 pound of pasta, a 40-ounce jar of marinara, one can of anchovies, four cans of Moroccan sardines and a can of pitted olives, ensuring plenty of leftovers for other meals. You can add red wine and extra-virgin olive oil, plus seasonings, to the sauce.
ORGANIC BROWN RICE: Lundberg Organic Brown Long Grain Rice from California can be found on, and prepared in a rice cooker with organic diced tomatoes from Costco and organic black beans from ShopRite in Paramus, where a 15.5-ounce can was only 76 cents during the Summer Can-Can Sale. Here, I served an omelet stuffed with fresh herbs, salsa and reduced-fat cheese over brown rice for breakfast.

SAUTEED SPINACH: Sauteed baby spinach is a great side dish at breakfast with organic eggs sunny side up, grated cheese, 
chopped fresh herbs and ground Aleppo pepper.
GOING WILD FOR FRESH SALMON: This week and last, Fresh Wild Sockeye Salmon was $9.99 a pound at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro. Above, I baked a tray of  raw salmon, organic spinach, fresh tomatoes, string beans, pitted black olives and fresh herbs in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. If you like your salmon medium to medium rare, reduce the cooking time to about 12 minutes.
PESTO AND HERBS: Tonight, I added Costco's Himalayan Pink Salt and fresh lime juice to six portions of wild sockeye salmon, then grilled them on the stove top for 7 minutes (4 minutes with the skin side down and flipping them for 3 minutes). I took the grill off the medium-high flame and added Costco's refrigerated Basil Pesto, Aleppo pepper, and fresh basil and mint from my garden.
FOREIGN GARLIC: On my wife's last two visits to Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, she couldn't find the 3-pound bag of Christopher Ranch peeled California Garlic we have been buying for more than a year. Instead, the warehouse had a 3-pound bag of peeled garlic from Garland Food in Miami, but she passed because many of the cloves appeared to be soft. Garland said the garlic sold at Costco comes from Mexico, Argentina and Spain. Bad move, Costco.

100% LACTOSE FREE: A half-gallon of ShopRite 100% Lactose Free Milk was on sale for $2.89 during the Summer Can-Can Sale in Paramus. That's a discount of 10 cents. Cans of ShopRite pitted black olives were 99 cents each.
GREEN IS GOOD: An Asian green called Yuchoy was on sale at H Mart, 25 Lafayette Place in Englewood, for 98 cents a pound ($1.49 a pound regularly). I cut the tough stems off and sauteed the leaves in olive oil and sake, seasoning them with red-pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and ground garlic as a side dish for breakfast this morning.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

North of the border, Costco Wholesale members say vive la difference

Two 3-liter bottles of extra-virgin olive oil from Greece are part of an extensive selection at the Costco Wholesale on Bridge Street in Montreal, above and below. I bought the Elara brand from the island of Crete, right, which is a great deal at $18.99 Canadian or $13.30 in U.S. dollars -- less than $4.50 a liter. I can't find an unblended EVOO for that price in New Jersey.

Avocado Oil and olive oils from Greece, Italy and other countries stretch all the way to the end of the aisle. Although they aren't marked, olive oils for cooking and salads don't contain genetically modified ingredients.


MONTREAL -- Costco Wholesale warehouses in Canada look exactly like the ones in New Jersey, but sell a few items I can't find close to home.

And with a strong U.S. dollar, there are some great deals to be had. 

I have a minor complaint: 

Costco warehouses in Montreal, where we were vacationing, take only MasterCard, and won't accept the new Costco Visa I use in New Jersey or even a Visa-branded debit card.

The MasterCard credit card I used to make purchases totaling $133 Canadian dollars charges a small foreign-currency transaction fee, but that was offset by the card's 2% cash rebate.

And my actual cost for the items was about $93 in U.S. dollars.

Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto is one of my favorite items from Costco. In Montreal, the price is $10.99 Canadian or about $7.70 U.S., compared to $7.99 in New Jersey.

Three large Canada-grown cucumbers are only $2.99 Canadian or about $2.09 U.S., compared to $3.49 to $3.99 in New Jersey.

I haven't seen shallots like these in the Costco Wholesale warehouse in Teterboro, N.J., or the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack, N.J.

Three pounds of shallots -- a type of onion with a hint of garlic -- were $4.99 Canadian or $2.80 in U.S. dollars.

When you figure in the strong U.S. dollar, fillets of fresh wild salmon, haddock and cod, above and photos below, cost about the same in Montreal and Teterboro, N.J. In Canada, fish is priced by the kilo (2.2 pounds).

If I ran out of Stanfield's Men's Briefs, which are made in Canada, I would drive the 350 miles to Montreal just to get more. They are the most comfortable I've found because they are cut generously, and come in black, gray or white. I bought two packages of five briefs for $21.99 Canadian each or about $15.40 U.S. I have a 38-inch waist, and buy Extra Large to allow for some shrinkage in the wash.
Two things to avoid buying at the Montreal Costco are gasoline and wine. The warehouse doesn't sell the inexpensive Kirkland Signature house brand wines and sparkling prosecco from Italy you can find at the Costco warehouse in Wayne, N.J. On July 4, Costco members paid $3.94.8 Canadian for a gallon of regular gas or about $2.77 U.S. The sign shows the price per liter.

Costco Wholesale, 300 Rue Bridge, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; 1-514-938-5170. No pharmacy.

A second, larger Costco warehouse at 105 Marche Central, Montreal, has a pharmacy; 1-514-381-1251.