Image by Tony the Misfit via Flickr
When you live in Hackensack, as I do, it doesn't make sense to do takeout from Aleppo, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Paterson. But on the way home from Morristown yesterday on Route 80, it was an easy detour to buy our dinner and stock up on Syrian bread, sardines, canned hummus and other items. (Photo: Great Falls in Paterson.)
My first stop was the parking lot in front of Fattal's Bakery on Main Street. I bought 10 cans of sardines (99 cents to $1.09 each); three dozen fresh pocket breads ($1.50 a dozen), canned hummus ($1.09), hot peppers ($2.99 a pound) and homemade spinach-and-cheese pies ($8.99 for six).
At Aleppo, less than two blocks away at Main and Thomas streets, I asked Halla the waitress for a bowl of lentil soup -- a delicious puree scented with cumin and served with small pieces of fried bread and lemon. I also ordered takeout -- fried whiting with rice, the hot pepper dip called muhammara, hummus and fried cheese turnovers.
The fish, oily rice, dips and turnovers made another satisfying, meatless dinner. Tomorrow will mark our third week without chicken, beef, pork or lamb, and I still haven't run out of menu ideas. I've actually dropped a few pounds and can fit into my old jeans again.
Thursday night, we enjoyed Boca-brand soy burgers with cheese on yeasty Balthazar Bakery potato-onion rolls. I made a Syrian-style fingerling potato salad: extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, allspice, coarse Aleppo red pepper and salt to taste, and also served an organic green salad.
I'm not sure where we'll be eating tonight -- our weekly dinner out -- but I have lobster ravioli and corn-and-crab chowder in the freezer for Sunday dinner.
Although we haven't been buying meat, I've noticed ShopRite hasn't put free-range, grass-fed Australian beef on sale for weeks, but continues to discount conventionally raised U.S. beef and chicken.