Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fresh wild salmon with garden pesto

Dipnet fisherman on Copper River at Chitina.Image via Wikipedia
A dip-net fisherman on the Copper River in Alaska.

I went back to Costco in Hackensack in search of more fresh Copper River salmon earlier in the week, but there was none in the seafood case. However, on Friday, I found nearly a dozen shrink-wrapped fillets to choose from.

This time, I made a blender pesto from mint and cilantro growing in my garden, but didn't add any grated cheese to it (extra-virgin olive oil, two cups of mint and cilantro, handful of pine nuts, a little salt).

I cut the fillet into seven portions, squeezed on fresh lemon juice and sprinkled them with coarse, mildly spicy Aleppo pepper.

I set the oven for 375 degrees, but put the foiled-lined baking pan in before it reached that temperature, and set the timer for 20 minutes, but pulled the fillets out before the time was up and spooned pesto on each piece.

The portions I had for tonight's dinner were rich-tasting and moist.

I sprayed oil on the aluminum foil to keep the skin-on fillets from sticking, but some of the skin stuck. I peeled off two pieces and popped them in my mouth. Just delicious.

The wild Alaskan salmon was $13.99 a pound, but the Earthbound Farm organic spring mix I used to make a salad went up to $4.99 for a 1-pound container, still a dollar or two below what other stores charge.

Other produce prices at Costco have been dropping.
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rotting mango, seedless melon and lobster

Commercial campari tomatoesImage via Wikipedia
Try finding a better-tasting tomato than these hothouse-grown beauties.

Brothers Produce in the Paterson Farmers' Market has some of the lowest prices around, but quality isn't always guaranteed.

I bought four, small champagne mangoes at two for $1 last week, and when my wife peeled them, she found many brown spots. She showed me the plate with what was left, and it looked like I brought home only two.

On Tuesday, I found a box of 16 champagne mangoes at H Mart in Little Ferry for $8.99, or about 56 cents each. The green mangoes are ripening on my kitchen counter.

At Brothers on Tuesday, I bought six ounces of blackberries for $1.99 (though I thought the sign said $1.79), but found 18 ounces of the same Mexican blackberries for $3.99 at Costco Wholesale today, a better buy.

Costco prices fall

Some Costco tomato prices are falling.

The Sunset-brand Campari tomato -- small, round and delicious -- were $4.49 for 2 pounds today, $1 less than before.

The gourmet beefsteaks from Sunset still are $5.99 for 5 pounds, but that works out to $1.20 a pound, compared with $2.25 a pound for the smaller tomato.

I watched a man handling the beefsteak tomatoes, examining a few and switching them from box to box before I told him I didn't want him touching the tomatoes.

He was unmoved, showing me one that was split in a few places. At checkout, the Costco cashier counted my beefsteaks in the open box, explaining that people try to get away with a few extra.

Three large, gourmet cucumbers were $3.29. They reached a peak of $3.79 not long ago.

H Mart prices ease

H Mart prices also are falling. I picked up two heads of red-leaf lettuce for $1, compared to a high of $1.79 for a single head. 

Some beautiful baby bokchoy were $1.49 a pound, and a few bunches made a nice, bright-green addition to homemade cheese-tortellini soup Tuesday night.

Watermelon watch

Seedless watermelon are on sale at ShopRite for $3.99 each through Memorial Day -- a savings of $3 and the lowest price I've seen this season.

Live lobster also is on sale for $5.99 a pound through the holiday.

Wasted trip

Garden State Market in Englewood is described as "gourmet" in another food blog, but when I visited today, I found a small market with large prices, and nothing really remarkable that I wanted to buy.

It shares a building with a dry cleaners on busy South Dean Street, just up the street from Balthazar Bakery's retail shop and a half-mile or so from Jerry's Gourmet & More. 

My advice: Don't brake as you pass Garden State Market on the way to those outstanding places.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paradise for seafood lovers?

LobsterImage via Wikipedia

We had a delayed birthday dinner for our 14-year-old son on Saturday at Sik Gaek, a Korean restaurant in the Flushing section of Queens where you can watch seafood being cooked alive in steaming hotpots on the table.

Many customers choose one of the live-octopus hotpots, but we wanted lobster and asked for the mixed seafood hotpot. Others, our server said, eat octopus raw and wriggling as it goes down their throats.

The menu says the lobster is pan-roasted, but our hotpot came with a live whole lobster and live abalone. My son said he saw the lobster's claw cut a mushroom. I felt a little queasy.

Mussels predominated, but the broad, shallow pan on our table burner included a spicy broth filled with large and small shrimp and clams; squid rings, baby octopus, conch, bean sprouts, cabbage, mushroom, fat noodles and cylindrical rice cakes. 

Some of the seafood was tender, some of it chewy and some of it tough, especially the baby octopus.

At $79.99, the hotpot would feed at least four or five people, but my son insisted on ordering his own dish -- a spicy stir-fry of whole crabs he enjoyed at Sik Gaek's smaller Woodside branch last year ($29.99). He asked for it extra spicy.

The three of us entered to shouted greetings from the staff. The dining room of heavy wood picnic tables and backless plastic stools pulsed with American and Korean rock music.

When we sat down, servers in black T-shirts cooked us an appetizer of three eggs over easy in a frying pan on our table burner, and brought us rice cakes in a spicy sauce and,  later, a steamed egg souffle and kimchi.

We saw a couple order sweetened soju, a Korean spirit made from yams, served in a hollowed-out watermelon half with a little paper umbrella stuck in the rind. 

Midway through my son's meal, he asked for fried rice ($4.99 extra). A waitress mixed hot white rice and fish roe with the spicy sauce in his crab fry. I tried a couple of spoonfuls and it was extraordinary.

We took the hotpot leftovers home in the biggest takeout container I've ever seen.

Sik Gaek B.B.Q & Seafood Grill, 161-29 Crocheron Ave., 
Flushing, N.Y.; 718-321-7770. 
Reservations recommended on weekends.
No American Express cards accepted.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fresh Copper River salmon arrives at Costco

Fresh, wild-caught Copper River Sockeye Salmon from Alaska prepared with toasted garden herbs.

Late May 2013, Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

By Victor E. Sasson
I could see the distinctive, deep red-orange color of the wild salmon even though I still was 10 feet from the seafood case Saturday at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

Employees on Saturday put out the season's first fresh Copper River sockeye salmon from Alaska at $13.99 a pound -- one dollar a pound less than last year. 

When that's gone, fresh wild salmon from other rivers will be priced at $8.99 a pound, if last year is any guide, and be available until September.

At the other end of the refrigerated Costco case, fat fillets of pale Atlantic salmon were selling for $8.49 a pound  -- no bargain for artificially colored, farmed fish.

I saw fresh Copper River salmon fillets at Wegmans in Woodbridge on Friday for $24.99 a pound.

The Web site of PCC Natural Markets has this to say:
"What’s so special about Copper River salmon? It’s the high oil content, stored up from the salmon’s long journey along the nearly 300-mile Copper River. That extra oil makes the fish among the richest, tastiest fish in the world, tender and moist whether roasted or grilled. Add it to your dinnertime rotation as another great spring tradition."
In 2009, the Copper River salmon arrived at my Costco store on June 2 for only $9.99 a pound. Last year, the first Copper River salmon didn't show up until June 12.

The first Copper River salmon of the season arrived in Washington State on May 17 aboard an Alaska Airlines cargo flight -- in "a public-relations ritual" started more than 23 years ago -- the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

At Costco, I bought a skin-on fillet that weighs about 1.8 pounds. I'll cut it into smaller pieces and bake it in the oven on Sunday with little more than lemon juice, ground Aleppo red pepper and chopped herbs from the garden.

I like my wild salmon rare, and it will melt in my mouth. I'll eat leftovers right out of the fridge over salad.

My fresh Copper River fillet joins other wild sockeye -- frozen fillets and sliced, smoked salmon in my refrigerator -- all from Costco. There's good eating ahead.
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Expect a stampede for free food

Picture of Fairway Market - Paramus Location, ...Image via Wikipedia
A mob scene is expected today at Fairway Market in Paramus.

If you're going to the customer-appreciation day at Fairway Market in Paramus today, beware of a stampede by all those snobby shoppers trying to gorge on freebies, including preservative-laden hot dogs and mystery sausage.

The feeding frenzy runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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Friday, May 20, 2011

The biggest supermarket in New Jersey?

Dipnet fisherman on Copper River at Chitina.Image via Wikipedia
Wegmans has fresh wild salmon from the Copper River in Alaska, above.

Correction (May 16, 2012): After reading news reports about the size of Wegmans Food Markets, I called company headquarters and was told the Woodbridge store is nearly 140,000 square feet. A year ago, an employee told me the store is 45,000 square feet.


As big as it is, I completely missed the Wegmans Food Market in Woodbridge and drove a mile or so out of my way on Friday before asking for directions.

At nearly 140,000 square feet, this is the largest Wegmans in the state and likely one of the largest supermarkets in the Garden State -- if not the largest.

We entered the long, two-story brick building at the end with a cafe and market, and decided to have lunch before doing any food shopping.

We saw a sub shop, a pizzeria, a kosher deli, a bakery, a large cheese counter, an olive bar and a sushi section, in addition to hot and cold buffets. You can eat your food in a spacious second-floor dining room.

My wife and I chose food from the Asian Wokery, including white or brown rice, all at $7.99 a pound, resulting in a pricey lunch that wasn't worth the detour.

For $6.95, I got vegetarian meatballs, which I liked, though the Panang curry sauce was bland;  plus cauliflower and stir-fried tofu. But the small container of brown rice rang up at an additional $2.96. 

My wife chose what looked like three meaty ribs and broccoli for $8.39, but asked for and got a refund. She said the ribs tasted as if they weren't cooked thoroughly.

Wegmans Food MarketsImage via Wikipedia

We found a small shopping cart and started exploring the grocery aisles under a two-story, warehouse-like ceiling, discovering a garden shop, kitchenware section and pharmacy.

The prices at the seafood counter were through the roof, but Wegmans is the first store I've seen this season with fresh wild salmon from the storied Copper River in Alaska. 

The fillets were $24.99 a pound -- about $10 more a pound than Costco Wholesale charged last June.

Unlike Whole Foods Market, Wegmans carries live lobsters for $9.99 or $10.99 a pound, depending on size.

We saw lots of groceries at low prices with a store card, including a 64-ounce bottle of organic lemonade for $1.99; a 6-ounce cup of low-fat yogurt with fruit for 40 cents; and VO5 shampoo for 77 cents.

I also bought a 10-ounce container of panko breadcrumbs for $1.99 that is sold under the Wegmans label, as are eggs, milk, cola, pasta sauce and many other items.

A half-gallon of Smart Balance fat-free and lactose-free milk was on sale for $2.79, an unusually low price for milk without lactose.

I asked an employee at the courtesy counter whether Wegmans is planning a Bergen County store. He said a few years ago, the company looked and couldn't find a property that was big enough in the "Hackensack area."

Now, he said, the company is pursuing expansion in other states.

Wegmans Food Market, 15 Woodbridge Center Drive, Woodbridge; 732-596-3200.
Web site: Wegmans

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tropicana OJ from concentrate is no bargain

Orange juice.Image via Wikipedia
Can you taste the difference between fresh and concentrate?

My 14-year-old son drinks Tropicana "pure premium" orange juice like it's water, choosing it for breakfast and dinner over all the other juices we have around.

He won't listen to me when I tell him to have a few ounces to start the day as I do -- and drink something else with food -- so I thought I'd slip him a glass of Tropicana from concentrate at breakfast.

Costco Wholesale carries both types of Tropicana. Two 96-ounce bottles of the 100% orange juice made from concentrate, with "other natural flavors," are $7.99.

On Tuesday, he looked up from his breakfast and said the orange juice tasted "funny."

I didn't try to keep up the charade, and told him it was concentrate. He refused to drink the rest of the cup.

After he left for school, I took out the calculator. It turns out Tropicana from concentrate doesn't really save you a lot of money, when compared to pure Tropicana from Costco.

The price for four, 64-ounce cartons of Tropicana was $10.99 for a long time, but the quartet I bought today at Costco in Hackensack showed a price increase, to $11.39. (Supermarkets sell Tropicana in 59-ounce cartons.)

That works out to 0.44 cents an ounce.

The Tropicana from concentrate works out to 0.41 cents per ounce.

Now, the big question is whether I'm going to drink all that concentrate or take it back for a refund.

I tried the concentrate. It does taste different than fresh. But not in an unpleasant way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

You're retired, so why don't you do it?

Jamaican Ackee and Salt Fish uses dried pollock or cod.

When you're retired, everyone expects you to do the food shopping, the cooking and who knows what else.

Nobody says any of this, but it's something you come to understand from all the excuses thrown your way. 

That's how I found myself back at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack today, a day after going there for the prawns and clams we had for dinner on Sunday.

We were out of salted Alaska pollock, the wild fish we've been using in place of the more expensive salted cod. And the doctor had prescribed mega-doses of Vitamin D for my 14-year-old son, so I wanted to register at the pharmacy.

Hands off the dates

Costco customers can return any item for a full refund, yet some of them insist on handling, smelling, even tasting the fruit -- grapes, strawberries and so forth.

I saw a man open a container of Mejdool dates and squeeze one.

"Don't do that," I said. He mumbled something about the soft ones not being any good. But they're dried dates; of course they're soft.

I continued, "Do you want other people to touch the food you buy?" He didn't answer. I moved on.

Dried fish from China

When Costco first started carrying salted pollock late last year, it came from China. 

But the 2-pound packages I picked up on Monday said they were produced in Canada ($6.39 each). With China's spotty food-safety record, that's an improvement.

Seedless watermelon has dropped another dollar, to $5.99. Granulated California garlic was $4.49 for 18 ounces. Three pounds of pistachio nuts in the shell were $14.99.

Coleman spinach-and-feta-cheese sausage are fully cooked and the only ones I saw made with antibiotic-free chicken ($13.79 for 3 pounds).

I've been buying Sunset-brand, hothouse-grown Campari tomatoes at $5.49 for 2 pounds, but today I picked up Sunset's beefsteak tomatoes at $5.99 for 5 pounds.

Two 96-ounce bottles of Tropicana 100% orange juice from concentrate were $7.99.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Looking for something good to eat

Littleneck Clams Await Their FateImage by Smitten with Kittens via Flickr
Don't add salt when cooking clams. They'll give up lots of salty water.

It's raining -- first a pounding on the roof that awoke me around 6:30 this morning and now a drizzle. The forecast is for more of the same through Thursday.

That means I won't be seeing much sun, so I need something good to eat for dinner.

I headed for Whole Foods Market in Paramus, where I saw some beautiful, whole red snapper on ice, and they were on sale.

The fish looked great, but I had wild salmon, flounder, fried whiting, fish sticks (pollock) and shrimp last week, so I was looking for something else.

I picked up my 14-year-old son at Bergen Community College in Paramus, where his arthritis fund-raising walk ended, and drove to Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

From the way some people were dressed, I figured they were coming directly from church. 

I was in luck. The seafood case held frozen Black Tiger prawns from Vietnam -- about 15 to the pound -- and wild Littleneck clams.

The farmed prawns were $9.50 a pound for four pounds, or $9.99 a pound, if you bought less. The clams were $3.49 pound.

The prawns are cleaned and ready to shell, season and marinate before I cook them quickly in hot extra-virgin olive oil. I'll steam open the clams with a little sake and lemon juice, and make yellow rice and salads.

That will make me feel better. Let it rain.
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

This Chinese takeout finishes on top

IMG_2504.JPGImage by neilfein via Flickr
The best Chinese takeout in Teaneck isn't on Cedar Lane, above.

Every North Jersey town, big and small, seems to have a storefront that churns out Chinese takeout food from one of those huge menus, the ones that are bigger than place mats.

But only Teaneck's West Englewood section has Zen Kitchen, where the quality of ingredients and the preparation clearly are a cut above the rest. It delivers to Teaneck and 11 other towns.

Besides Chinese food, Zen offers Japanese and Thai items; sushi, and seafood and vegetable rolls, but I've been disappointed occasionally when I've strayed from the Chinese items.

On Friday night, I ordered a small, barbecued spare ribs for my wife and son ($7.75), Jumbo Shrimp in Black Bean Sauce ($11.95), House Special Fried Rice ($8.50), Dry Sauteed String Beans ($7.95) and Bean Curd with Vegetables, Country Style ($7.95).

All the vegetables retained their crunch. Triangles of tofu were fried, and the ubiquitous brown sauce was kept to a minimum. The shrimp were plump and delicious, and, again, there was just enough black bean sauce.

In the more than five years we've been ordering from Zen Kitchen, I've tried whole fish, steamed or fried; and I've enjoyed its soy chicken and beef dishes, which are especially tasty to a non-meat eater.

For breakfast this morning, I heated leftover vegetables in the microwave, topped them with an egg-white omelet and went to town.

Zen Kitchen charges $1.50 for delivery to Teaneck, Bergenfield, New Milford, Englewood, Tenafly, Loenia, Hackensack, Paramus, Bogota, Ridgefield Park, Maywood and Cresskill.

The front of the current menu carries coupons, including 15% off orders over $30. 

Zen Kitchen, 1443 Queen Anne Road, Teaneck; 201-837-7322. 
Open seven days to 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. 
Credit card minimum is $8.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Relaxed shopping at Costco -- for a change

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13:  People shop inside of...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

They come rushing out of the double glass doors with their eyes on the horizon -- or at least the row where they parked their cars -- pushing baskets groaning under their purchases.

As they leave Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, every shopper, especially those who drop $200 or $300 at a time, seems to be saying, Look how much money I saved.

But on Wednesday at 3 p.m., there were plenty of empty parking spots, short lines at the checkout counters and few shoppers in the store.

Looking for frozen fish, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was putting a bag of breaded tilapia in her cart. 

I suggested if the package didn't list the origin of the fish -- tilapia farmed-raised outside the U.S. is suspect -- she might want to take the frozen, breaded Alaska cod fillets instead.

I bought a package of the breaded cod and another of frozen cod fillets ($9.99 and $15.49, respectively); Kirkland Signature smoked and sliced wild sockeye salmon ($15.39 a pound); Dr. Prager's veggie burgers ($9.99); 2 pounds of sweet red peppers ($6.99); large hothouse cucumbers ($3.29 for three); sliced, reduced-fat Swiss cheese ($8.99 for 2 pounds); a large, seedless watermelon ($6.99), and Earthbound Farm organic spring mix ($4.79 for 1 pound).

On the way to the checkout counter, I stopped to sample brown rice, and mentioned to a woman I soak mine in chicken broth for two to three hours before turning on my rice cooker, and that speeds up the preparation.

There was only one other shopper in front of me at checkout. What a great day.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Charities stand vigil at checkout counter

Haim (Jumes) and Nili Oron plant a tree. Haim ...Image via Wikipedia
Planting a tree.

At Costco in Hackensack, you're asked if you want to contribute to a children's hospital. At IKEA in Paramus, you can ring up your own purchases and, for $1, plant a tree.

At these and other stores, charities have their hands out -- and customers who might be spending liberally on food or throw pillows, don't want to seem cheap.

I haven't been asked to contribute to a charity at ShopRite recently, and I've never been asked at Trader Joe's or Fairway Market in Paramus. (The latter two also don't give you anything for a reusable bag.)

Last Friday, I shopped for food at Costco and was asked to contribute to a children's hospital whose name I can't recall. I gave $5.

The next day, I returned with my wife to make sure I bought the right silver ring she wanted for Mother's Day.

When I found myself behind shoppers with overstuffed baskets, I asked an employee who had a closed sign on her checkout counter if she would handle my single item -- the voucher for the ring.

Sure, she said, if I contributed $1 to the same hospital I gave to on Friday. Of course, I agreed, and upped that to $3.

I drove to IKEA today to get a $3.98 refund on two, unopened jars of herring that had loads of sodium in them, and picked up two throw pillows, snack crackers my wife asked for and imported tubes of crab pate and smoked cod-egg spread.

At the self-checkout, I was asked for my zip code and if I wanted to plant a tree for $1. How could a tree-hugger like me refuse?

I don't even know if that's in the United States or Sweden.

About that imported herring with loads of sodium. I e-mailed the company last week, expressing my concern, and have heard nothing.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

One man, one vote, one fish and a great day at the New Jersey Shore

Photographs of Asbury Park, NJImage via Wikipedia
Images of Asbury Park, where the revival is far from complete.


Good weather turns my thoughts to the New Jersey Shore, where I spent many summers at a family home in Bradley Beach. 

And when I go to the shore now, I always eat seafood.

My wife and I drove down to Asbury Park on Saturday to look around and have coffee in the still-faded resort's lively downtown.

We had planned to have a late lunch or early dinner at Stella Marina, a bar and restaurant rated top overall in the state at the end of 2009 by The New York Times (with Nisi Estiatorio in Englewood).

After paying $2 at a muni meter, we walked into Stella Marina a little before 3 in the afternoon. The hostess had her head down, then led us to a bare table for two in the first-floor bar and dark-wood dining room, with a good view of the ocean. 

But the place was nearly full of talkative, well-fed customers, and the noise was ear-splitting. I asked if she could seat us upstairs, but she said it was closed. We started looking at menus, but the loud jabbering was unbearable.

We left, and as we passed the hostess, her head was down again, so I'm not sure she heard me saying the room was just too noisy.

The Fishery

We got back in the car and drove toward home -- to The Fishery, a small place with a few tables in South Amboy, where we eat several times a year and have never had a bad meal.

The BYO road house is Greek-owned now, and just inside the door is a small case with fresh fillets, whole fish and live lobsters squirming on ice.

The walls are covered with white-and-black tiles and there are some framed shells and other nautical touches, including a tropical fish tank. 

Your waitress is the young woman who comes out from behind the counter, and the owner-chef picks out the seafood you order and prepares it in an open kitchen.

(In 2016, five years after I wrote this, The Fishery was out of business.)

Fresh seafood

My wife had pan-seared Canadian lobster in the shell over rice in tomato sauce ($18.95 a pound), and I chose a whole Mediterranean sea bass with sauteed fresh spinach and a naked baked potato ($15.75). Soup or salad is included.

We were the only sit-down customers, but for some reason, our meals took about 30 minutes to arrive. We did get bowls of lobster bisque, and water and lemonade right away.

My wife took home lobster and rice, but I demolished my sleek, well-grilled fish and side dishes. Both lobster and fish were delicious.

Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant, 800 Ocean Ave., 
Asbury Park; 732-775-7776.

The Fishery, 1812 Route 35 north, South Amboy; 732-721-9100.

Takeout discount

Sanducci's Trattoria in River Edge is sending out e-mail discount coupons for dining in and takeout.

We used a 15%-off coupon for takeout Friday night and enjoyed three entrees: black linguine with lobster ($18.95), chicken francese with steamed vegetables ($14.50) and capellini with broccoli and shrimp ($16.50).

I asked for the black linguine in tomato sauce, instead of the rich, pink sauce listed on the menu. The restaurant is within 3 miles of my home, and you save even more from not having to tip.

You can sign up for the e-mails at its Web site: Promotions

Watermelon watch

We bought our first seedless watermelon of the season at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack for $7.99, and finished it in a few days. By this past Friday, the price had dropped a dollar. I bought another one.

H Mart in Little Ferry is selling them for less, but they aren't as large as the ones at Costco.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Supermarket sale fliers abound

Supermarket "sale" sign: "BUY 1...Image by Chris Devers via Flickr
You need a calculator when you go food shopping, even at a sale.

The 78th anniversary sale at Fairway Market in Paramus runs from May 6-12, 2011. 

I guess it was the original store on the West Side of Manhattan that opened 78 years ago. On my first visit, maybe 15 years ago, I found the aisles so narrow, impatient shoppers constantly rear-ended me with their carts.

During the Paramus sale, two containers of strawberries will be $4, though the size and brand are not given in the flier; a 64-ounce carton of organic, grass-fed milk will be $2.99; and Murray's antibiotic-free chicken drumsticks, legs and thighs will be 99 cents a pound, but only for the larger family packs.

Fresh, whole porgy and whiting will be $2.99 a pound, but that's nothing special. Mercury-filled Bumble Bee solid-white tuna will be 99 cents a can.

The flier carries a long, loving description of smoked king salmon from New Zealand that seems designed to hide its origin in a fish farm and its artificial color ($7.99 for 4 ounces or almost $32 a pound). This would be no bargain, even if it was wild-caught.

Pathmark is offering shoppers 55 years old and up 5% off on Mondays, if they spend $30 or more. 

The supermarket chain also is having a one-day sale on Saturday, May 7, with a 48-ounce container of Turkey Hill Ice Cream selling for $1.79 with a store card (limit one), and a $5 off coupon on a purchase of $50 or more or $16 off a purchase of $160.

On May 6,7 and 8, Pathmark also will double all manufacturers coupons up to $2, with a limit of 20, even those that say "do not double."

A&P's 5% off coupon for shoppers 55 years old and up is good on Tuesdays, if they spend $30 or more. Driscoll's strawberries are $1.99 for a 1-pound container May 6-12 with a store card.

After I wrote this, I bought the same strawberries at H Mart in Little Ferry for $1.49.

On Essex Street In Lodi, the International Food Wine & Liquor Warehouse has three packages of Earthbound Farm organic salads for $10 through May 17, but the flier doesn't specify the size.

If a 1-pound container of Earthbound Farms Organic Spring Mix is $4.79 at Costco, would three 12-ounce containers of other organic salads for $10 be a better buy?

A 3-liter tin of extra-virgin olive oil -- origin unknown -- is $12.99. Collard greens from Florida are 69 cents a pound. All loose olives are $4.99 a pound.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Filling up on spicy soup while saving gas

Shin Ramyun (pack)Image by shindoverse via Flickr
Shin Ramyun noodle soup from Korea is labeled "Gourmet Spicy."

I made a second visit to the newly renovated H Mart in Englewood over the weekend, and picked up a few sale items. 

I like to combine trips, so when my 13-year-old son asked me to drive him to a friend's house in Englewood, I could have stopped on the way home at the Arirang kimchi factory, Best [Korean] Dumplings, Jerry's Gourmet & More, Balthazar Bakery or Ashanti International for Jamaican food.

But I returned to the Korean supermarket, because we had run out of Shim Ramyun, a spicy instant noodle soup my son loves. A box of 20 packages was on sale for $11.99, a discount of $4.

Although the sodium content is 44% of the daily recommended intake, that's one of the lowest for an instant Korean soup. You can dilute it by adding more water than the directions call for.

I also picked up two 1-pound packages of Driscoll's strawberries for $2.99,  jumbo brown organic eggs for $2.79, a nice bunch of fresh, big-leaf spinach for 99 cents; and two prepared items, stir-fried anchovies for $2.25 and stir-fried noodles for $2.99.

H Mart, 25 Lafayette Ave., Englewood; 201-871-8822.
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken livers, whole fish and all that jazz

Time Warner Center and Columbus Circle, Manhat...Image via Wikipedia
They didn't think of everything. After dinner and jazz at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, you have to cross the street to reach the subway.


Crowds. Noise. Great food and service.

That sums up our experience on Saturday night at Landmarc, a restaurant in Manhattan's Time Warner Center, where our last course was a rousing jazz concert.

The dining room overlooking Columbus Circle was packed with chatty couples and families when we arrived around 6:30 p.m., but we were seated immediately at one of those small, New York tables for two, lined up six in a row.

My wife and I shared a salad, a pasta dish and an entree, and were pleasantly stuffed. We could have skipped the pasta; there was plenty of food.

We started with warm, grilled shrimp and artichokes over a mound of bitter frisee, sprinkled with toasted capers ($17, also available as an entree).

My wife said the frisee tasted like "medicine," but added it was the best salad she had ever had. I thought it was great, too, despite the salty capers.  

Our pasta dish was one of the Landmarc specials: 

Cavetelli with chicken livers, bacon and caramelized onions ($18 for small). I picked out some of the pasta and onions, leaving the rest for my wife, who loved it.

We also shared a whole roasted branzino covered by long, thin carrot and zucchini sections and radicchio ($30). Just wonderful.

Under the crisp skin, the fish was hot, moist and delicious. Landmarc serves this European sea bass for less than many Greek restaurants in North Jersey.

The tables on each side were close enough for us to overhear conversations.

On one side, an overweight couple had ordered hamburgers with french fries and field greens ($16). The woman sent back the burger for more time on the fire, and gave the waiter the bun to discard.

On the other side, two friends -- a young Asian woman with an annoyingly high voice and an Asian man -- discussed the expensive restaurants they had visited.

The man said he and another female friend ate at Marea on Central Park South and drank two bottles of wine. The bill: $260.

We asked for each course separately, so our meal took almost 90 minutes. But our 8 p.m. concert in the Rose Theater was only two floors above the restaurant.

We were wowed by blind pianist Marcus Roberts leading a nonet in the music of pioneering piano masters Earl Hines and Bud Powell. Best of all, I had won the orchestra tickets from WBGO-FM, the jazz station in Newark.

Landmarc, 10 Columbus Circle, in the Time Warner Center; 212-823-6123. Reservations only for six or more.

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