Thursday, October 18, 2012

More wonderful things to eat from stores in northern New Jersey

Manchego 100% sheep's milk cheese at Costco Wholesale is aged twice as long, but costs much less per pound than the version sold at Whole Foods Market.
Colavita Whole Wheat Capellini with langostino in vodka sauce.


Costco Wholesale in Hackensack sells more than 50 cheeses, but the 100% sheep's milk cheese from Spain has a special place in my heart.

I first enjoyed the rich, distinctive taste of manchego as part of a dessert in the 1970s after a meal of rabo de toro -- tail of the bull -- in a Madrid restaurant. 

I had spent the late afternoon watching bullfights in Madrid's famous ring, Las Ventas.

The dessert is Manchego y Membrillo -- sheep's milk cheese and quince paste -- recommended by author James Michener in "Iberia."

In the 1980s, on another trip to Spain, I brought home a 2.2 kilogram wheel of Manchego, hidden in my luggage.

I stopped going to bullfights decades ago, and no longer eat meat.

But I can still enjoy manchego from Costco Wholesale, and now pair it with fig marmalade from Lebanon, just one of the many Middle Eastern products sold at Fattal's Bakery, 975-77 Main St., Paterson.

Salloum Bros. Fig Marmalade is accented with anise.

Slices of manchego and a big spoonful of fig marmalade go wonderfully with the unsalted almonds I buy at Costco and roast at home.

Or you can pair the cheese with crisp apple slices or slice it thinly for use in an open-face omelet or with eggs sunny side up.

Earthbound Farm's Organic Half & Half is a great way to end a meal.

Our dinner one night this week was thawed, fully cooked langostino, Colavita Whole Wheat Capellini and bottled Paesana Vodka Sauce, plus a salad of Earthbound Farm Organic Half & Half (Baby Spinach and Spring Mix).

Langostino tails, from a crustacean that falls somewhere between shrimp and lobster, are sold frozen.

I didn't use a recipe. I just assembled the meal:

First, I heated up the sauce, adding some red-pepper flakes and several ounces of extra-virgin olive oil.

Second, I cooked the capellini until it was al dente in just enough unsalted water to cover the pasta. 

The 3-minute cooking time on the Colavita package is optimistic.

Then, I drained the cooked pasta and transferred it and the thawed langostino tails to the sauce, mixing them well over low heat.

The wild-caught, preservative-free langostino, vodka sauce and salad mix are from Costco. The whole wheat pasta came from Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood.

Baskets full of merchandise left behind by spoiled Costco customers who change their minds, but who are too lazy to return the items to where they found them.

Part of a mural at Trader Joe's Chelsea store in Manhattan.

As much as I like Colavita's imported whole-wheat pasta, the whole-wheat pasta from Trader Joe's has several advantages.

Trader Joe's pasta is made from organic durum whole wheat, it contains no sodium, it has more fiber and it costs 10 cents less for a 16-ounce package.

Today, at the Paramus Trader Joe's, I compared the nutrition labels of whole-wheat pasta and Trader Joe's Italian pasta made from durum semolina.

The major difference is more than twice as much fiber in the whole-wheat product.

Two ounces of whole-wheat spaghetti, bottom label, has 5 grams of dietary fiber.

I also stopped at Fairway Market in Paramus, but didn't buy anything beyond what I went for: 3 pounds of coffee from Colombia and the Dominican Republic for $6.99 or $7.99 a pound.

With small pieces of baguette, I sampled a few of the expensive extra-virgin olive oils the store sells.

I saw fresh wild king salmon for $15.99 a pound, compared to $12.99 a pound at Costco.

A Manchego cheese aged for 15 months was $18 a pound, compared to Costco's 6-month Manchego for $8.29 a pound.

Some of the cheeses are so expensive, signs give the price for one-quarter pound, not a full pound, as in most other stores.  

I saw Sunset-brand Campari Tomatoes in a 1-pound package for a high $3.89. 

The store did have 3 packages of grape tomatoes for $5, but many of them contained crushed tomatoes and I passed. 

Jerry's takeout container is marked "MICROWAVABLE SAFE."

We continue to enjoy restaurant-quality Meals To Go from Jerry's in Englewood, but never heat them up in the plastic Anchor-brand takeout container.

I usually get the multi-course meals on Wednesdays after 4 p.m., when they are marked down to $5.99 from $7.99.

As we've done for many years, we plate the food before heating it up in the microwave to avoid a potential transfer of chemicals from the plastic container.

A red-snapper dinner from Jerry's was heated up on a plate, never in the plastic container.

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