Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Non-GMO wild rice, 40-ounce marinara and much more

Ingredients are: Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani Rice and Whole Grain Black Japonica Rice.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss visits to Costco Wholesale, Aroma Espresso Bar and Whole Foods Market.

By Victor E. Sasson

After an absence of more than a week, I noticed a few changes at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, the warehouse store that is only a couple of miles from my home.

For one thing, boxes of apples, peaches and other premium fruit have been consolidated in one area and the aisles through them are shorter and oriented differently.

But it is still no easier to find what you're looking for, and on Monday, I had to ask an employee to point me to the 5-pound bags of limes ($4.99).

I also can't shake the feeling that much of the fruit has been handled and picked through by other customers, who think nothing of opening even clear-plastic packages and testing each piece -- for what, I'm not sure.

I picked up Lundberg Wild Blend Rice -- a mixture of wild and whole-grain brown rice -- and noticed the "NON-GMO Project Verified" stamp on the BPA-free bag (4 pounds for $9.39).

Della Organic Long-Grain Brown Rice, also sold at Costco, is from another grower that pledges the rice hasn't been genetically modified.

Two 40-ounce bottles of Victoria Marinara Sauce were on sale for about $3 each, below.

At Costco, Kirkland Signature Soft & Chewy Granola Bars appear to have replaced Chewy Granola Bars from Kashi, one of my favorite snack bars.

A manufacturer's instant rebate reduced the price of two 40-ounce jars of Victoria Marinara Sauce to $5.99.

Made from Italian tomatoes, Victoria is highly rated by Consumer Reports, and the 40 ounces allows you to cook 1 pound of pasta at a time, with sauce to spare.

On my last few visits to the Hackensack Costco, I haven't been able to find Kashi Chewy Granola Bars Trail Mix, a favorite because of the almonds they contain.

On Monday, I did find an enormous box of 60 Kirkland Signature Soft & Chewy Granola Bars ($8.69), but they don't have any almonds in them and each bar is under an ounce.

The Organic Quinoa Salad at Aroma Espresso Bar in Paramus is misnamed.

The staff at Aroma let me down today.

A large Cafe Au Lait was $2.75 (16 ounces); a small piece of chocolate is complimentary.

Poor service in Paramus

The menu, including 9 healthy salads, impressed me when I discovered Aroma Espresso Bar last December at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, so I returned a couple of times more.

But this afternoon, the staff served me an unseasoned salad and even forgot to give me the lemon-olive oil dressing, which I learned later is supposed to be served on the side.

I ordered the Organic Quinoa Salad ($8.50), only to discover it is mostly chopped vegetables with barely a couple of ounces of quinoa (KEEN-wha) on top.

The salad was unseasoned and undressed, so I added black pepper and a little salt.

As I was leaving, I mentioned to an employee, who appeared to be the manager, that I couldn't taste the dressing, and he said it is always served on the side.

"Sorry about that," he said weakly.

At Garden State Plaza, Nordstrom has a cafe with a small menu.

Pan Seared Atlantic Cod was one of the choices today.

One of three kimchis at Whole Foods Market in Paramus.

Kimchi at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market in Paramus is now selling three kinds of kimchi on its pickles bar for $9.99 a pound.

The kimchi is labeled "premium" and is said to come from "Mama O."

I stopped to chat with one of the employees at the store's wonderful fresh-fish counter, remarking about the stark difference in color between wild-caught king salmon and farmed sockeye salmon.

He said Whole Foods' farmed salmon, which was a pale orange, is colored by a yeast added to the food, not chemicals, as is the practice on many fish farms. 

On the way out, I stopped to buy 5 ears of bicolor corn from Georgia for $2.

My wife just steamed the shucked corn and my ear was pleasantly sweet, needing nothing.


Please try to stay on topic.