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At Costco Wholesale, you can find the same Parmigiano Reggiano displayed at this festival in Modena, Italy. The cheese has been made since before the Renaissance.
Editor's note: Today, I discuss last-minute food shopping at Costco Wholesale, fresh fish at Whole Foods Market and Australian beef at ShopRite.
I was in and out of Costco Wholesale in about 20 minutes this morning, buying ingredients for a big salad we plan to serve to guests on Saturday.
I picked up a naturally raised, fully cooked Niman Ranch ham and large Tiger shrimp on previous visits to the Hackensack warehouse store, so I only had to nibble around the edges of our holiday menu.
I bought a second package of Andy Boy jumbo romaine hearts (six for $3.99), because that wonderful Earthbound Farms Organic Spring Mix sold at Costco doesn't always stand up well until its expiration date.
I also found pesticide-free Euro Farm Fresh seedless cucumbers (three for $3.99), and in view of tomato prices going through the roof, I picked up another 5 pounds of Sunset beefsteak tomatoes for $6.99 or about $1.20 a pound.
The romaine, tomatoes and cucumbers are going into the salad, along with fresh spinach, organic carrot, sweet peppers and other ingredients I have on hand.
We're having a Jamaican-American meal on Christmas Eve this year, in contrast to last year's Cuban-style dinner of roast pork, rice cooked with black beans, and yuca with garlic sauce we picked up at La Pola in West New York.
On Friday, we're planning to visit La Pola, at Palisade Avenue and 54th Street, to bring holiday greetings to owner Belarmino Rico, who named his Cuban sandwich shop after the small Spanish town where he was born.
On Saturday, our guests will be bringing curry goat, rice and peas, roast chicken and Jamaican potato salad to supplement the ham, shrimp, fish stuffed with okra and salad we plan to serve.
We've prepared a Jamaican drink from a herb called sorrel, with ginger and rum; and there are four bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling apple cider in the wine cooler.
For dessert, we'll serve fruit and cheese, including Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy I picked up at Costco ($12.69 a pound). The part-skimmed cow's milk cheese, aged for 24 months, has been made in Italy since before the Renaissance, according to the package.
When I got home, I cut off the thick rind, then cut the wedge into three portions, wrapping them tightly.
I also bought organic carrot juice, organic 1% milk, Tropicana orange juice in 64-ounce cartons, crab and corn chowder, 3 pounds of raw almonds, reduced-fat sliced Swiss cheese and fresh Pacific cod fillet.
Go fish in Paramus
You'll find some of the freshest fish around displayed on ice at Whole Food Market in Paramus, and when the store puts seafood on sale, prices are competitive.
On Tuesday, I saw fillets of wild-caught sockeye salmon from Canada on sale for $9.99 a pound -- not much higher than Costco's frozen sockeye salmon fillets from Alaska. The Canadian fillets had been previously frozen.
I also saw whole sea bass landed at Barnegat Light (on the Jersey Shore), which is 63 miles from the store, according to a sign. The price was $9.99 a pound.
Grass-fed beef price cut
Through Saturday, ShopRite supermarkets have dropped the price of free-range, grass-fed Nature's Reserve Boneless Rib Eye Roast from Australia by $2, to $4.99 a pound with a store card. There is a limit of one.