Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Two pastas are better than one, ShopRite's Can Can Sale and more

Egg noodles with pesto, left, and whole-wheat spaghetti in tomato sauce with anchovies.

Editor's note: Today, I report on Costco Wholesale and ShopRite, where the disappointing Can Can Sale will forever be known as the Can't Can't Sale.


The Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto I bought at Costco Wholesale went beautifully with artisan egg noodles that took only 4 minutes to reach a perfectly firm, mouth-filling texture.

I prepared a second pasta for the same dinner -- Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti in Kirkland Signature Marinara with added anchovies.

To cut sodium in the finished dish, I didn't salt the pasta water and I drained the can of anchovies before rinsing the fish under the faucet.

This tagliatelle from Italy is made with cage-free eggs.

The tagliatelle came shrink-wrapped in sturdy boxes, and four portions of pasta totaling 1.1 pound were wrapped separately in paper. 

Half of the cooked noodles filled a large bowl that four of us shared, dressed in several heaping tablespoons of the fragrant pesto.

I also used the pesto over the weekend to make a 10-inch frittata with fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, grated sheep's milk Pecorino Romano cheese and a little low-fat milk.

I used 4 whole organic eggs and several ounces of liquid egg whites, starting the frittata on the stove to set the crust and finishing it under the broiler for 10 minutes.

The frittata puffs up under the broiler, but the "high" setting burnt a sun-dried tomato. Next time, I'll use the "low" broiler setting.

I found another great product from Italy today at my Costco in Hackensack -- a liter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Toscano, made from olives harvested in late 2012 in Tuscany ($11.99).

That's about twice the price of Costco's extra-virgin olive oil from Spain.

I also picked a 12-pound bag of Della Organic Brown Rice ($13.99), 5 pounds of Mexican limes ($4.49), and two 3-pound bags of raw, sodium-free almonds ($12.99 each), which I roast at home for snacks and dust with Costco's cinnamon.

Three pounds of bananas are still $1.39, the lowest price in North Jersey.

A bottle of Extra Virgin Olive from ShopRite, center, is the same 1 liter size as the Toscano extra-virgin olive oil from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

Can't Can't Sale

ShopRite's Can Can Sale lasted barely 2 weeks and many prices have reverted back to pre-sale levels.

At the Paramus store today, I found a liter of ShopRite Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy for $5.99 or $2 off the regular price, and a 12-pack of Adirondack Original Seltzer for $2.50.

But all the other Adirondack flavors are $3.79 for 12 cans.

I also picked up free-range Australian beef -- Nature's Reserve Whole Beef Tenderloin for Filet Mignon -- for $6.99 a pound, a discount of $2 a pound.

The sign said "yams," but the 5-pound box I brought home for $2.99 said "sweet potatoes" and claimed -- in the middle of winter -- to be "Jersey Fresh."  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Indian restaurant charges $10 for bread

A whole fish cooked in a tandori oven ($22), above, and shrimp in a coconut-flavored curry ($16), below, are two of the dishes served at Kinara Cuisine of India in Edgewater.

Even though we ate out at an Asian Indian restaurant a week earlier, I was looking forward on Saturday evening to trying the buffet at Kinara in Edgewater.

But I was misinformed or misunderstood the acquaintance who told me about the $10.95 buffet, which is available only during lunch, not dinner.

We entered the restaurant from the parking lot and walked through one dining room to get to the other, which is off River Road.

The room has a bar, pressed-tin ceiling and stained-glass accents that seem to have been left over from another ethnic restaurant.

The River Road dining room.

One reason I wanted to go to Kinara is the Saturday buffet with goat meat, which other members of my family love.  

We ordered from the a la carte menu:

Three entrees -- fish, shrimp and goat on the bone -- a side dish of spinach and chickpeas, and two mango lassis (yogurt-based drinks).

The owner took our order and asked if we wanted four kinds of Indian bread, but didn't say if the basket was extra. 

While we waited for the food, we ate complimentary crackers called papadam with chutneys on the table, but the wait was so long -- about 25 to 30 minutes -- we asked for a second basket. 

Another service glitch was not keeping our water glasses filled.

Free papadam.

$10 basket of bread.

We loved the food -- a whole, moist bronzini; shrimp in a spicy, coconut-flavored curry; goat in a multi-spice masala sauce; spinach and chickpeas cooked down into a luscious blend;  and complimentary rice -- and were stuffed. 

But when I got the bill, the bread basket was listed at $10. Our bill for four with tax, but not tip, came to $81.27.

Western restaurants serve free bread, and when I ate bread with meals, I enjoyed some extraordinary, crusty pieces with olives, onion or dried fruit.

Why do Indian restaurants charge for bread? We took home most of the bread from Kinara.

I also noticed that the two Indian restaurants we tried -- Kinara and Dimple's Bombay Talk in Edison -- add melted butter to bread or dosas.

Do Asian Indians add butter when preparing their spice-filled food?  It would be nice to know, so I can request no butter.

Goat Masala ($14.95)

Kinara Cuisine of India, 880 River Road, 
Edgewater; 201-313-0555. BYO, free parking in lot.

Web site: Where bread costs bread

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Foods that help you lose weight

Cabbage and salted cod fish over Korean brown rice with beans.

Organic whole-wheat pasta in a sweet pepper-tomato sauce.

A takeout dinner salad with smoked wild salmon added at home.

Hot cereal with dried fruit and pine nuts. Add low-fat milk, banana or other fruit.

Baked cod fillet with a coating of cornmeal and black pepper.

Ackee and salt fish with boiled green banana -- hold the Middle Eastern pocket bread I'd stuff with this Jamaican national dish, especially popular at breakfast.

Canned fish salad -- tuna, pink salmon, sardines -- with diced celery and apple, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and ground cumin. Best eaten over salad mix, not between bread.

Editor's note: Here is how I've lost more than 40 pounds and kept it off. Today, I also discuss China 46 in Ridgefield and re-heating food in plastic containers.

Fish, fish and more fish -- preferably wild caught -- whether fresh, salted or canned. 

No bread, no pizza. No cake or ice cream -- ever. No butter or heavy cream.

Fruit and cheese for dessert, and unsalted almonds roasted at home for a snack or you could roll up reduced-fat cheese and smoked wild salmon with a bit of mustard.

Lots of organic salad mix, fruits and vegetables -- at every meal, not just lunch or dinner. Kimchi and olives as sides. 

Dinner leftovers for breakfast, especially when you can substitute filling brown rice or sweet potatoes for bread.

Fermented cabbage kimchi from Arirang Kimchi in Englewood.

I had already stopped eating meat and poultry, and lost a few of my 228 pounds, when trainer Nick Manzo at my old gym suggested I could really lose weight by giving up bread and pizza.

About 2 years later, I am happy and contented at under 185 pounds.

I went from conventional pasta and white rice to whole-wheat spaghetti, brown rice and Korean 7 Grains -- a mixture of brown rices and beans.

I stoped eating white potatoes, but continue eating sweet potatoes, which I prefer bolied and mashed with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoning.

I try to go to the gym three days a week, and walk, climb stairs and take public transportation.

China 46

Last Saturday, I drove past the wreckage of the old building that housed China 46, but the sign remained standing.

The restaurant, on Route 46 in Ridgefield, was best known for its delicate soup dumplings and other Shanghai-style dishes.

For many years, the old truck-stop diner was home to Phoenix Garden Too -- a branch of a Chinatown restaurant -- before China 46 opened there.

China 46 closed in 2007, according to Internet chatter.

On the same side of Route 46, but closer to the New Jersey Turnpike, the sign of Gasho of Japan remains standing months after the Ridgefield Park restaurant building was torn down. 

Plastic containers on the shelf of a 99 cents store in Bergenfield.

Reheat on glass

Most of the plastic storage containers I saw at a Bergenfield store were marked "Microwavable" or "Microwave safe."

But you're best bet is to plate the food that was stored in the container before reheating it to minimize potential chemical transfer from the plastic.

For the same reason, cover food you are microwaving with a paper towel, not plastic wrap, which contains chemicals to make it flexible.  


Friday, January 25, 2013

The plot thickens at Costco in Hackensack

The food counter at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

The Costco Wholesale in Hackensack may or may not be moving and expanding, depending on whom you ask.

Two employees at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack said today there is no truth to rumors the warehouse store -- which opened in 1994 -- is moving out of the city.

A Teaneck woman who is a dedicated Costco shopper said she heard the store was moving to somewhere near Teterboro Airport.

But there was more: 

The Hackensack Costco would be replaced by a Wal-Mart, the purveyor of low-quality food and cheap merchandise.

Wal-Mart has long been rumored to be interested in opening a store on about 20 acres near Costco that are owned by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record, which left the city in 2009.

The property along River Street has become an eyesore. 

The former headquarters of The Record in Hackensack.

After I spoke to employees at the Hackensack Costco by telephone, my wife went there to pick up fresh fish.

A supervisor told her any move would be a year away, but nothing has been finalized.

Another employee at the Hackensack warehouse store said the employees want the store to move so it can expand and offer more to customers.

I called Costco corporate headquarters in Washington state.

Are there plans to move the store in a year, I asked.

"Not that I'm aware of," the headquarters employee said.

But if the store were to move, Costco would likely add a gasoline station and a wine department, for example, she said.  

I live about 2 miles from the Hackensack store, where we shop at least twice a week for fresh, wild-caught fish, organic salad mix and so much more.

I'd be happy to drive another couple of miles to Teterboro, if the new store offered gasoline, wine and a greater selection of food.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New ways to prepare fish, Part II

Wild-caught cod in a sweet pepper-tomato sauce with mashed yams and squash.

My wife filled the blender with cut-up sweet peppers, whole garlic cloves, onion and a beefsteak tomato, then had to run out to do an errand.

I took over, squeezing juice from one and a half big lemons into the blender, and used the slow "Chop" setting to puree everything.

I poured the sauce into a non-stick pan, added a large can of organic tomato sauce from Costco Wholesale and about a half-cup of extra-virgin olive oil, and turned on the stove.

Meanwhile, I seasoned and cut up fresh wild-caught cod fillets -- $7.99 a pound at Costco -- and when the sauce was bubbling gently, put the pieces in a non-stick pan, covered it and turned up the flame.

I used lemon juice and Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning on the raw fish.

The fish turned white and was cooked through in 10 to 12 minutes.

We ate the cod with mashed Korean sweet yams, Kabocha squash and garlic cloves with butter substitute, olive oil and more no-salt seasoning.

We boil the yams with their skin and the squash with the dark-green exterior.

We didn't add tomato sauce to the lemony sweet-pepper sauce for fish the last time we made it.

But on Tuesday night, I re-heated 4 cups of leftover sweet pepper-tomato sauce, added a drained can of organic diced tomatoes and some red-pepper flakes, and used that to dress a half-pound of Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti.

Whole wheat spaghetti in a lemony sweet pepper-tomato sauce.

The cod and spaghetti dinners ended with bowls of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix dressed simply in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just think: You have to pay to piss

I was in for a surprise when I wanted to use the bathroom at Think Coffee on Eighth Avenue, between West 13th and West 14th streets, in Manhattan.

The front room. The bathroom is in the rear.

After coffee and a filling breakfast at home on Monday morning, I took the bus into the city and stopped at Think Coffee on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.

I walked in and started looking for an outlet to charge my iPhone. 

I found one in the back room, which was full of young men and women riveted to their computers, pads and smart phones.

Were they students or unemployed? 

One young man was kind enough to pull out the charger for his computer and allow me to plug in my iPhone charger.

After about 20 minutes, I went to the restroom, and found the door locked. The sign on the door is shown in the photo:

The pay bathroom at Think Coffee.

I know I didn't want to have more coffee or tea. So, I decided I could wait to go to the bathroom somewhere else.

The night before, I walked into a restaurant on Ninth Avenue, in the 50s, and was told using the bathroom was no problem. It was small, but one of the cleanest I've seen.

West 51st Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, in a photo taken from in front of a French bistro, Tout Va Bien, which means "everything is going well." That may be the case for the restaurant, but certainly not for the street itself, a one-lane track in what could pass for a Manhattan war zone.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Two new ways to prepare fish

Roasted whole sea bass stuffed with lemon and garlic.

We use the roast/convection oven setting.

My wife dazzled me last week with a sweet-pepper, onion and garlic sauce for flounder fillets, and roasted whole sea bass stuffed with lemon and garlic.

The fillets were $7.99 a pound at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, and the sea bass were $5.99 a pound at H Mart, the Korean supermarket in Englewood.

Sea bass seem to have fewer bones and more flesh than some other whole fish, including red snapper and striped bass.

For the sauce, my wife cut up 2 sweet peppers and an onion, and put them in a blender with bottled lemon juice.

Tastes better than it looks. Flounder with sweet-pepper sauce, right.

The purée went into a non-stick pan with a couple of ounces of olive oil, and they were heated to a gentle boil.

I seasoned the flounder with the juice from a Meyer Lemon and Organic No-Salt Seasoning from Costco, and placed the fillets in the sauce in two layers before covering the pan and turning up the heat to medium.

The fillets were ready in 20 minutes. The same sauce can be used with pasta, especially If you add a drained can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce.

For the sea bass, my wife trimmed lemon slices and peeled garlic, stuffed them in the cavity, and seasoned the fish inside and out. She also scored the flesh in three places on each side.

She roasted the small fish in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Don't miss the exit for South India

The Masala Dosa at Dimple's Bombay Talk in the Iselin section of Edison.

The no-frills dining room and open kitchen.

For an instant immersion in Asian Indian food, culture and commerce, take Exit 131 on the Garden State Parkway and head for Oak Tree Road in the Iselin section of Edison.

Restaurants, jewelry and clothing stores, and grocers line the streets of the multi-block business district, with Indian music soundtracks playing in nearly all of them.

We stopped at Dimple's Bombay Talk at 1358 Oak Tree Road, a vegetarian, fast-food restaurant, for a filling, inexpensive meal.

The Samosa Chat.

Vegetarian Cutlets are bigger than falafel.

This is a no-frills experience -- bare tables, plastic foam plates and bowls, and plastic utensils. A large, plastic pitcher of water and plastic cups are on each table.

On Saturday, the place was packed, and we waited about 15 minutes for a table.

Bombay Talk specializes in South Indian, Indo Thai and Indo Chinese specialties. The most expensive item on the menu is $9.95.

Three of us had small soups ($3.75 to $3.95 each) -- Manchow, sweet corn and vegetable, and hot and sour -- then shared a Masala Dosa ($7.25), Samosa Chat ($6.25) and Cutlets ($6.25).

Everything is prepared with all those wonderful Indian spices.

The cook sprinkles butter on the grilled dosa, center.

The dosa is a savory pancake made from lentils and chickpeas that is about 15 inches across, and stuffed with mashed potatoes.

The dosa comes with spicy lentil soup and a coconut dipping sauce.

The Cutlets taste like Indian falafel, but they were served with a sauce of puréed parsley and hot pepper.

After we ate, we shopped for Indian spices at Patel Brothers, 1357 Oak Tree Road.

The interior of Patel Brothers on Oak Tree Road.

The one non-Indian restaurant I saw.

 Bombay Talk II.

The original Bombay Talk.

A glittering jewelry store.