Thursday, January 20, 2011

One street's rich ethnic stew

Bergenline Avenue, West New York (2008)Image by via Flickr
Bergenline Avenue is lined with a rich variety of ethnic restaurants and markets.

I drove to West New York today to drop off photos I took of Belarmino Rico and his sons at La Pola, where I picked up a traditional Cuban Christmas dinner the day before the holiday.

Rico, a native of Spain who describes himself as "King of the Cuban Sandwich," served soup to me and my wife to ward off the day's chill. My wife had chicken soup and I enjoyed caldo Gallego, the Galician white-bean soup made with potato, collard green, chorizo and ham (I ate around the meat).

First, we visited the West New York Post Office on Bergenline Avenue to see a circa 1930s mural showing eight or nine people enjoying a beautiful day from atop the Palisades, with the Empire State Building and the rest of the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Then, we walked and drove along Bergenline, which has an incredible variety of ethnic restaurants and markets. At a Latino supermarket, we picked up the root vegetable called yuca, which we'll boil and eat with La Pola's garlic sauce, the one that moistens every Cuban sandwich sold there.

In the space of about 15 blocks in West New York and Guttenberg, we saw Peruvian restaurants and a Cuban seafood place, an Italian trattoria, a Japanese restaurant; Las Palmas, another Cuban restaurant with addictive chicharrones or pork rinds; Pollo Campero, a popular fast-food, fried-chicken restaurant that originated in Guatemala; and Jerusalem Bakery.

We're planning a return visit soon to sample the restaurants we haven't tried yet.  

La Pola, 5400 Palisade Ave., West New York; 201-867-6028.
Las Palmas, 6153 Bergenline Ave., West New York; 201-861-1400.
Pollo Campero, 6425 Bergenline Ave., West New York, 201-662-6190.
Jerusalem Bakery, 6901 Bergenline Ave., Guttenberg; 201-868-2253.

Costco v. ShopRite

My wife picked up four 2-pound packages of salted pollack, the fish we have been using instead of pricier cod for her Jamaican breakfast of ackee and salt fish, in which the bland fruit serves as the  perfect foil for a strong, flaky fish and hot peppers.

Costo's price is $6.39 a package, or about $3.20 a pound, compared to $4.99 a pound for salted pollack at ShopRite. Salted cod at ShopRite is $9.99 a pound. 

More Can Can Sale

I continue to shop the 40th anniversary Can Can Sale at ShopRite, but it is losing its allure now that I've stocked up on Adirondack seltzer, Progresso soup, Air Wick air freshener and White Rain shampoo.

Many things I usually buy are not on sale, including canned Alaskan red salmon and imported olive oil, sparking 100% juice and other items from Italy and Spain sold under the ShopRite name.

At the Palisades Park ShopRite on Wednesday, I bought a package of ShopRite lemon-flavored lady fingers from Italy that go great with espresso for $2.99 (six dozen).

Loose garlic was $3.99 a pound and a net bag of garlic from China was $2.99, but weighed only about 6 ounces. I bought elephant garlic for $3.49. Marked 3 ounces, it weighed twice that.

The best buy I found on extra-virgin olive oil was a three-liter tin from Greece for $15.99 (Kalamata brand). 

Three-culture breakfast

I've been trying to eat filling breakfasts since I cut down drastically on bread, which I once enjoyed three or four times a day.

On Tuesday, I plated leftover ackee and salt fish, stewed tofu in red pepper sauce from H Mart, and homemade fava-bean salad and warmed them in the microwave. Then, I fried an organic brown egg in extra-virgin olive oil, sunny side up, and slid it on top of that trio. It was  just wonderful -- even without bread.


  1. I saw salted cod at the Fairway in Stamford this morning for $10.99 a pound. That's a bit higher than at ShopRite and Costco but I'm guessing they use sea salt, none of that iodized umbrella "when it rains it pours" Morton's stuff. BTW, the Fairway in Stamford has a big sign in the butcher section noting that Fairway is a pioneer in organic beef. So thinking of your blog I asked one of the meat counter guys what was organic about organic beef, and he said "No antibiotics, no hormones," and at least some of it is from Australia. It ain't cheap, mind you, one cut of the organic stuff, I forget which one, was like $19.95 a pound, whooee, I asked him what they fed those cows, white truffles and cud au vin? That's a bit high for my wallet, but it is in Stamford after all.

  2. ShopRite often sells free-range, grass-fed Australian beef for under $5 a pound with the store card, but you have to buy a whole tenderloin weighing several pounds, trim it and put portions in the freezer or throw a party. Steaks also are available. They don't have antibiotics or growth hormones, either, and are sold under the Nature's Reserve label.

    Costco carries organic ground beef for about $5 a pound.

    Fairway prices are through the roof. I saw the $19.95 a pound grass-fed beef there, too, and bought a cut that cost a lot less. It was really tough, though. The ShopRite beef is filet mignon.

  3. I love to window shop at Fairway but their beef and seafood prices are a little rich for my wallet. Give me a McDouble any day of the week ... oh, I forgot, I'm working again ... make that an Angus third pounder, thanks.

  4. If you cook whole fish, whiting is usually under $5 a pound -- even at Fairway -- and you'd get two fish for that price. They are flaky and sweet.

    I was buying salted cod at the Paramus Fairway for $8.99 a pound, then started to buy salted pollack there for about $4.99 or $5.99 a pound.


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