Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hummus with an organic difference

Passion Fruit IMG_4784
Image by tk_yeoh via Flickr
Passion fruit.

Editor's note: We tried "an organic take on classic Mediterranean," found slim pickings in the Costco Wholesale fresh-fish case, witnessed a food-shopping frenzy at Whole Foods Market, and just got a flier heralding low "shock" prices at Fairway Market.

A mid-week break with dinner and a movie on Wednesday night confirmed once again that organic food tastes better and is worth the extra cost.

Our dinner at Nanoosh -- which calls itself an "organic take on classic Mediterranean" and a "Mediterranean hummus bar " -- tasted good, but failed to deliver the full flavor of authentic Middle Eastern food. 

My wife and son both chose the Hummus Chicken Wrap ($11.75), which came with a diced Mediterranean Salad of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion.

The wrap was whole wheat, and my son praised the tender, naturally raised chicken, but my wife complained there wasn't enough hummus in the dish. They both drank Organic Lemonade with fresh mint leaves ($2.75), which they loved.

I ordered three sides: Hummus Tahini ($4.75), made with organic chickpeas; Lebane ($4.75), and Tabouleh Salad ($4.95), and discovered they weren't as flavorful as the same dishes I have sampled over the years in Syrian and Lebanese restaurants in Paterson's wonderful Mideast bazaar.

I drank an unsweetened Pomegranate Raspberry Ice Tea ($2.75), though a "lightly sweetened" Organic Iced Mint Tea is available at the same price. 

The Hummus Tahini was bland, because it is made without an essential ingredient, garlic. The Lebane or spreadable yogurt cheese was garnished with extra-virgin olive and za'atar thyme mixture, but there was so little of the latter, I couldn't taste it.

I enjoyed the Tabouleh Salad, even though it wasn't the mound of chopped parsley with a little bulgur wheat you'd find in a good Lebanese place. Nanoosh's salad is mostly bulgur.

Nanoosh also serves whole wheat pocket bread, but the two that came with the Hummus Tahini were unpleasantly thick and doughy, unlike anything you'd find in Paterson's Syrian bakeries.

The no-frills setting at Garden State Plaza seats just under 50 people, and the soundtrack is some sort of Euro or Mideast pop. I was able to make out the words to only one song, "Brasil."

But the small dining room is open to a busy mall corridor, so it's drafty. There's a hostess at the entrance and table service. 

Almost everything served is organic and ground beef and poultry are raised naturally. Dinner for three reflected that quality. We paid $56.44, including a $7 tip.

Sadly, this is one of the few restaurants in Bergen County that serves almost an entire menu of organic and naturally raised food, despite the astronomical prices you see in some places.

From the Nanoosh Web site:

"We have an abiding belief in the power of food to help us live a healthier and more fulfilling life."

Nanoosh, 1 Garden State Plaza, Paramus; 201-556-1300.
Other locations in Manhattan.
Web site:  The Power of Healthy Food

Fresh fish failure

On Tuesday, I went looking for fresh, wild-caught fish fillets at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, but found only cod and haddock, and both packages weighed 2 pounds or so -- more than I wanted.

So, I had to settle for a 4-pound freezer package of The Ultimate Fish Stick from Trident Seafood, made from wild-caught Alaska pollock fillets ($11.99).

When I got home, I felt like wild salmon for dinner, so I defrosted a sockeye salmon fillet from a Costco Kirkland Signature bag in the freezer.

I squeezed on fresh lemon juice and seasoned it with a little Aleppo red pepper before broiling it for about 15 minutes. I fried a single egg, sunny side up, and slid it on top of the fillet, which I had plated with a small Korean yam baked on a "Speed Cook" setting in the microwave. 

A small salad made for a wonderful dinner.

I also bought two 26-ounce jars of "sugar-free" fruit spread from E.D. Smith in Canada for $7.39. But "sucralose" (an artificial sweetener made from sugar) and artificial colors are listed on the ingredients labels of both the Wildberry and Apricot, Peach, Passion Fruit.

I went looking for Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix in the usual place. Instead, I found Earthbound Farm Organic Half & Half, a tasty combination of Spring Mix and Baby Spinach ($4.79 for 1 pound).

Although I didn't find fresh, wild-caught fish, the atmosphere in Costco was relaxed -- in contrast to frenetic holiday food shopping.

Whole Foods

On Monday, we stopped at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, and the store was overrun by rushing food shoppers who apparently had rested up the day before, New Year's Day, but now had to restock their refrigerators and cupboards. The parking lot was packed.

At the fish counter, previously frozen, wild sockeye salmon fillets from Canada were on sale for $9.99 a pound, and Maine lobster tails were $5.99 each or $4 off. 

But my wife decided to make soup after we found two packages of frozen organic chicken feet in the store freezer ($3.49 a pound). I ate leftover whole-grain pasta in garlic and oil, from my own recipe, which I'm still perfecting.

Today, I dropped my wife off at Costco, and drove to the H Mart in Little Ferry for fresh, whole croaker ($2.99 a pound), Chinese broccoli (88 cents a pound), and Kokohu Yellow Label white rice grown in California, on sale for $13.99 for 20 pounds.

The parking lot of the Hackensack warehouse store was packed, recalling the holidays, because it was the first day customers could use Costco discount coupons that arrive in the mail. 

'Shock price'

A new Fairway Market sales flier is advertising what the Paramus store calls a "shock price" for rotisserie chicken, USDA Prime boneless top round London broil or roast, clementines and other items.

The prices are in effect Friday through Jan. 12, 2012.

No organic or naturally raised products are included in the "shock price" sale, nor is whole-bean coffee. 

"Shock" sale prices include a conventional Fairway rotisserie chicken for $4.99; boneless top round, $4.99 a pound; 2 pounds of Fuji apples, $1.50; Eggland's Best Eggs, $5 for two 18 packs; clementines, three 3-pound bags for $10; and pork tenderloin for $3.99, presumably raised on antibiotics and growth hormones.


  1. When Fairway first opened I had a hunch that they weren't going to be able to compete with Shoprite as they hoped they would. A couple years later and my prediction has come true.

  2. True. ShopRite's low prices actually delayed the opening of the Fairway in Paramus -- it had been talked about for years, then was dropped, then it was on again.

    But I think Fairway's true competitors are Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, given the quality of most of the food.

    And no one has the variety of whole-bean coffees Fairway does.


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