Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tell us more -- much more

Picture of Fairway Market - Paramus Location, ...Image via Wikipedia
Fairway Market says the cattle may have been sick but the beef tastes great.

The latest Fairway Market flier offers wild Alaska salmon fillet for $9.99 a pound, but doesn't tell you whether it is coho, sockeye or another type.

The Paramus store devotes a full page to its butcher shop and its USDA Prime 21-Day Dry-Aged Beef, but you won't find any discussion of how the cattle were raised.

You can imagine Master Butcher Ray Venezia talking to the people who write the flier:

"OK. This stuff tastes great, because it has more fat than other grades, but it's a living hell for the animals. Hey. That's between you and me, right?

"We don't want any mention of how they are crowded into feed lots in Chicago and other places, and how they're stuffed full of grain, antibiotics, growth hormones and bits of dead animals to get them to grow fast and to turn them into cash.

"Their stomachs are designed to convert grass into protein, so the steady diet of grain can make them sick, and sometimes they collapse and have to be dragged into the slaughterhouse. But again, that's between you and me, right?

"Just call it, 'The tenderest, best-tasting beef on the planet,' and leave the rest to me."

Mama mia

Mama Mexico in Englewood Cliffs was the first fine-dining Mexican restaurant in North Jersey, and it has prices to match.

Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack was the second. If you attended one of its cooking demonstrations, you saw everything was made from scratch using good ingredients.

Now, Mama Mexico is offering 40% off "the entire menu," as well as lunch specials starting at $7.95, through Sept. 5. The coupon was stuck to the Better Living section of The Record today.

Mama Mexico, 464 Sylvan Ave., 
Englewood Cliffs; 201-871-0555.
Web site: High-end Mexican

Bibi'z in Westwood

On June 9, Bibi'z was reviewed in The Record, rating only a half-star away from "Outstanding." Elisa Ung, the reviewer, said all of the food she tried "was fantastic."

Today, a friend whose judgment I trust said, "Don't waste your time."

She said she ordered one of the expensive restaurant's "small plates," and the portion was thimble-sized. 

And she was disappointed in the dish, which was made with chickpeas, even though the Lebanese owner should know a thing or two about them.


  1. Why you be always hatin' on Fairway? Soon'z that storefront pitcher goes up on ya blog, I sez to myself, ol' Victor's gonna take another whack at the greatest store on earth. Jeez, the way you carp on Fairway you'd think it was managed by the Woodland Manor assignment desk.

  2. I hate hype when it comes to food.

    Usually, all those superlatives hide an ugly truth, as in dry-aged prime beef raised on grain and growth hormones.

    Fairway needs to tone down its flier. It has high quality food for decent prices, and great variety. That should be enough.

  3. There's some top-shelf food writing. An anonymous source for a restaurant review. And a single plate.

  4. At least my friend paid for the meal -- more than you can say for Elisa Ung, who seems enthralled with restaurant owners and chefs, so much so she often forgets she represents the customer.

  5. And, of course, your pot shot is anonymous, too.

  6. When the newspaper pays the tab, the reviewer doesn't have much invested in the legitimacy of the review. It's not her money, after all.

  7. I should have added that a good restaurant reviewer has integrity, and doesn't see her role as glorifying restaurant owners, chefs and food producers.

    The reviewer's focus should be the customer's, questioning the balance of food quality, price and so forth.


Please try to stay on topic.