Monday, December 30, 2013

Super Can-Can Sale, Havana Espresso Bar and more

A 5-pound box of clementines from Spain were on sale for $4.99 at the ShopRite in Paramus on Monday. The fruit and box tipped the scale at more than 6 pounds.

Editor's note: Today, I find slim pickings during the Super Can-Can Sale at two ShopRites, and discuss a comfortable alternative to the Starbucks in Englewood. I also recommend an organic tea you can brew as black as coffee without bitterness.


ShopRite's Can-Can Sale once meant deep discounts on premium canned red salmon, seltzer, imported pasta from Italy and many other items.

But the Super Can-Can Sale that started on Sunday elicits a yawn from many shoppers.

Today, I stopped at the Paramus ShopRite on the way home from the gym, and at the Englewood ShopRite before a doctor's appointment in that city.

I picked up six liter bottles of Adirondack Lemon-Lime Seltzer at 5 for $2 or 40 cents each -- a better buy than the same seltzer in 12-can packs.

ShopRite Sparkling Cider from Spain, made from 100% apple juice with no added sugar, was $1.99 for a 25.4-ounce bottle, and I bought three.

A 5-pound box of Roxy Clementines from Spain was $4.99, but a 5-pound box of sweet potatoes was $3.99, compared to $2.49 before Christmas.

Imported Italian Soda at ShopRite contains only 2% juice (pomegranate) to 12% juice (blood orange and lemon).
A preservative was added to these wild shrimp at the Englewood ShopRite.

These cans of pasta sauce at the Englewood ShopRite seem like a good buy until you look at the ingredients and find high fructose corn syrup or added sugar or both. You have to wonder at the use of the word "premium" on the label.

Out of fizz

At the Englewood ShopRite, the shelf had been swept clean of Adirondack Lemon-Lime Seltzer in bottles.

I stared in disbelief at the price for a large can of red salmon: $8.89.

In the fish department, I noticed that a sign for wild-caught shrimp said sulfites, a preservative, had been added.

The U-15 shrimp also were more expensive -- $1.50 more per pound -- than the bigger, wild-caught, preservative-free shrimp I bought at the H Mart in Englewood.

Three-pound bags of frozen tilapia fillets at the Englewood ShopRite were only $9.99, but when you look at the small print on the back of the bag, you'll see they are from China, which has a poor food-safety record.

Fish in Paramus

Earlier, at the Paramus ShopRite, I asked an employee at the fish counter how often his seafood is delivered and where it comes from.

"Seven days a week," he said, sounding defensive, adding that the seafood is purchased directly by Wakefern Food Corp., which supplies all ShopRite stores.

Nearby, the Whole Foods Market in Paramus gets seafood deliveries six days a week, but along with the high prices comes a guarantee of farmed fish that is free of antibiotics, preservatives and other additives. 

The espresso bar and cafe on North Dean Street in Englewood.

Espresso with a Latin beat

The Starbucks has been drawing crowds for years, offering wonderful coffee and a limited amount of food in a spacious double storefront at Palisade Avenue and North Dean Street in Englewood.

But four months ago, Havana Espresso Bar opened on North Dean within a block of Starbucks.

Havana Espresso, which is smaller and more intimate than Starbucks, offers far more food, as well as table service.

Food from the extensive menu is displayed on the counter.

This week, I met a friend at Havana Espresso, and bought him lunch.

He ordered the Classic Cuban Panini: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and grainy mustard.

The ingredients are authentic, even though Cuban water bread isn't used, and he loved the sandwich, which was served with a small salad for $8.75.

I ordered a 100% Jazzy Mango fruit smoothie, which was so thick I ate it with a spoon ($4.25 for 16 ounces), and Cafe Con Leche ($3.55 for 16 ounces).

The cafe serves breakfast and offers a long list of salads, wraps, sandwiches, soup and pastries.

Havana Espresso Bar, 46 N. Dean St., Englewood; 201-541-0765.

Web site: A Cubano and so much more

You can steep bags of Newman's Own Royal Tea for hours without a trace of bitterness. However, 100-bag boxes of the organic black tea have been difficult to find in stores, and I have been buying it online.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Trying casual Korean food in Palisades Park

Spicy Fried Shrimp at Bunsik Nara, a Korean restaurant in Palisades Park that moved to a larger space on Broad Avenue, below.

Outside, the captions for food photos are in Korean, but inside, you'll find bilingual menus and servers.

Editor's note: Today, I report on a meal at Bunsik Nara in Palisades Park, the closing of one of my favorite Korean restaurants and a visit to the Super H Mart in Ridgefield.


I am still trying to figure out how I can accommodate my long love affair with Korean food -- which is based largely on rice -- while keeping faithful to a diet that limits my intake of carbohydrates.

On Saturday, I visited Bunsik Nara, a restaurant in Palisades Park whose name translates loosely as "land of casual food."

At the next table, a man in his 20s said Bunsik Nara is known for serving "street food." 

The extensive menu includes sections for Italian and Chinese food; dishes made with cheese, and lots of traditional Korean items, including seaweed-and-rice rolls, soups, stews and barbecue.

One dish pictured on the menu is a mound of fried rice covered in cooked egg and decorated with a latticework of ketchup or gochujang, a spicy red-pepper paste Koreans use like ketchup.

A deconstructed seaweed-and-rice roll with spicy squid and radish kimchi, and three free side dishes at Bunsik Nara.

I ordered a seaweed-and-rice roll called Choong Moo that came with spicy squid and radish kimchi on the side, and it was one of the few without ham ($8.99).

I also ordered Spicy Fried Squid, a dozen crustaceans that had been dipped in tempura batter and bathed in a sweet-and-spicy sauce ($19.99).

On my receipt, they are called Kkanpoong Shrimp.

Free side dishes were cabbage kimchi, yellow Korean pickles and a crunchy iceberg lettuce salad with mayonnaise.

I liked the roll and the shrimp, but they could serve two or three, and I took home plenty of leftovers.

The restaurant's interior is brightly lit. Most of the customers are young, in their 20s and 30s, as are the servers. The soundtrack is Korean rock. 

Bunsik Nara, 254 Broad Ave., Palisades Park; 201-944-2544. Open 7 days. Meters must be fed until 9 p.m. Free parking on side streets.

The sign on the door of Woochon, one of my favorite Korean restaurants. The restaurant, in a former bank building, had a sushi bar and a tank of live fish. I especially liked the grilled mackerel, and the array of colorful side dishes.
Around the corner in a Korean bar, a separate business that was accessible from the restaurant, the Guatemalan cook said Woochon has been closed for about two months, but he didn't know why.

Woochon closes

Before I stopped at Bunsik Nara, I took a photograph of a sign telling customers that Woochon at 280 Broad Ave., one of my favorites in Palisades Park, is closed "until further notice."

Here is an account of a wonderful lunch there in June 2012:

This lunch made us forget about dinner

Behind the displays of colorful, tasty prepared food at the Super H Mart in Ridgefield, employees fill big plastic bags with spicy cabbage kimchi that is made in the store.

Super H Mart

The Super H Mart is the Korean chain's biggest supermarket in Bergen County, and you'll find more of everything there -- from free Korean food samples to bigger crowds to fewer empty parking spaces -- even on a day like today, when it is pouring.

I drove over after a brief visit to H&Y Marketplace in Ridgefield, a smaller Korean supermarket that was relatively empty.

A large tray of stewed tofu from Pinocchio Catering in Flushing, Queens, was $5.49 at H Mart.

At H Mart, I picked up a 5-pound box of Bagu Clementines from Spain for $6.99, a tray of 12 fuyu from Sharon in Israel for $8.99 and stewed tofu for $5.49. A head of red-leaf lettuce was 99 cents.

At the free fruit station, the woman said a fuyu should be eaten when it turns orange, and she peeled the fruit before cutting it up for sampling.

On the bottom of the box, the instructions say fuyu should be "eaten like an apple," which sounds like the skin is edible.

Super H Mart, 321 Broad Ave., Ridgefield; 201-943-9600.

Sharon calls the fuyu "nature's candy."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New items at Costco and a surprising $3 price hike

The parking lot at my Costco Wholesale in Hackensack was a zoo this afternoon, but checkout was no problem. I saw several new items, including 2-pound bags of salted cod fillets from Canada for only $11.99, below.
The salted pollock from Atlantic Pearl is cheaper than salted cod, but many cooks won't settle for it.


Today, I left the watch I want to return home and did some food shopping at Costco Wholesale to replace staples, including organic salad, reduced-fat sliced cheese and wild-caught fish fillets.

I saw several new items, and was surprised by a $3-plus price hike for Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon.

The sliced, preservative-free salmon is ideal for sandwiches, salads, omelets and frittatas.

For a snack, you can eat it rolled up with a slice of cheese, stuffed with spring mix and dipped in Dijon mustard.

On Dec. 3, a 1-pound package was $15.59. But today, I blinked twice at the price on the sign: $18.89.

Even at the higher price, this likely is the cheapest smoked wild salmon available at any store in North Jersey. 

Three new fishes

Two new fish items at the Hackesnack Costco are 2-pound bags of salted codfish from Canada for $11.99, beating the price of $6.99 a pound at the Englewood ShopRite; and fresh, skinless fillets of mahi mahi for only $7.99 a pound.

The mahi mahi, also called dolphin fish, is from Costa Rica. In the past, the Hackensack Costco sold cod, haddock and flounder fillets, as well as fresh wild salmon from May to October. 

The price for the Canadian salted cod also beats salted cod fillets for $8.99 a pound that Costco displayed in shrink-wrapped trays in the refrigerated case among wild and farmed fish.

The salted cod and mahi mahi join fresh Atlantic cod fillets from Iceland as new items.

The Atlantic cod showed up at Costco in the past week, replacing Pacific True Cod, which I hadn't seen for a few months.

Twelve-pound bags of Della Organic Long Grain Brown Rice are $13.99, but there is no indication where the rice is grown. The package says the rice is distributed by a company in Arkansas.

I saw a display of 12-pound bags of Della-brand Organic Long Grain Brown Rice for only $13.99.

We stopped buying the Della brown rice after we found boll weevils in it, and switched to California-grown Lundberg Organic Long Grain Brown Rice, which I buy on at a higher price.

At least a half-dozen shoppers, including me, asked Costco employees for organic milk, but were told the warehouse store had run out of that item.

A Costco frittata made at home with Kirkland Signature Egg Whites, whole Organic Eggs, Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon; shredded and sliced Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Jarlsberg Lite Reduced-Fat Sliced Swiss Cheese, and La Costena-brand Green Mexican Salsa.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thank you, ShopRite, for closing the express lane

The Express Checkout at the Hackensack ShopRite looked inviting this afternoon, but it was closed.


At the ShopRite in Hackensack on Monday, I picked up a few bottles of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider and Adirondack Seltzer that were on sale.

Today, I decided to go back for more, but couldn't find any Martinelli's and bought 10 bottles of ShopRite Seltzer instead at 5 for $2.

I stopped in the produce department, but couldn't find the 5-pound box of sweet potatoes that were on sale before Christmas for $2.49.

No clementines in sight, either.

Farmed shrimp only

And in the seafood department, I saw only farmed shrimp, and a sign advising customers about a "worldwide shortage of shrimp."

One of the farmed shrimp was labeled "jumbo," but the crustaceans didn't look that big to me and the price, about $14.50 a pound, was what I had paid for jumbo wild-caught shrimp at H Mart in Englewood last Sunday.

By the way, I could smell the seafood from ShopRite's produce department, and that seemed unusual.

When it was time to pay for the seltzer, I found the express lane for "about 20 items or less" was closed, this at 1:45 in the afternoon.

Long line at Costco

On the way home, I stopped at Costco Wholesale to pick up organic salad, tomatoes and a few other items we are out of and to return a watch I bought online, because the wristband is much too large for my son.

I parked at the back of the lot, but when I got inside, an employee directed me to the return line, which had about 20 other customers on it.

I left my cart there, turned around and went home.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Another day, another Feast of the Seven Fishes

I had my first two fishes at breakfast on Christmas Day with a steaming portion of Jamaican ackee and salted codfish, accented with Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce and served with Korean seaweed-and-fish-cake roll, above.

I'm never without Valentina Salsa Picante (Black Label).


The traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes is usually served on Christmas Eve, but why should I limit myself?

On Christmas Day, when the meat eaters in the family prepared a big meal of goat, oxtail and rice and peas with coconut milk, I improvised a Feast of the Seven Fishes from leftovers and what I had on hand.

I ate dishes with salted codfish, fresh Atlantic cod, yellowfin tuna, pink salmon, smoked wild salmon, wild jumbo shrimp, sardines and anchovies.

My first dish was at breakfast and my last was at dinner, and for a snack I had a forkful of canned fish salad with crunchy celery (yellowfin tuna, pink salmon and sardines dressed with Dijon mustard, lime juice and ground cumin).

For lunch, I had an appetizer portion of leftover wild shrimp cooked in spicy green salsa, both from Mexico.

A second lunch appetizer was leftover fresh Atlantic cod that I prepared Tuesday night with basil-and-tomato pasta sauce and added extra-virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, capers and olives. I used a recipe for a monkfish dish I helped prepared on Dec. 16 at a Chef Central workshop in Paramus, where I was among a dozen customers preparing a Feast of the Seven Fishes under the guidance of three chefs.

After lunch, I had roasted salt-free almonds dusted with cinnamon and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, and drank a glass of Nebbiola D'Alba, a red wine from Italy.

Eventually, I got to the salad course, adding more Parmigiano Reggiano and smoked wild salmon from Costco Wholesale to organic spring mix, and dressing them simply in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A few hours later, I used leftover sauce with a couple of small pieces of Atlantic cod to prepare organic whole-wheat pasta shells from Whole Foods Market with a can of drained and rinsed anchovies, another of Moroccan sardines and a half-bottle of leftover Dress Italian tomato-and-basil pasta sauce in the refrigerator.

On Tuesday, the snowy fresh cod fillets from Iceland needed nothing more than fresh lime juice before I put them in the bubbling sauce, covered the pan, turned up the heat and cooked them for about 10 minutes. The fish was firm and flaky.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wild shrimp in green salsa, lunch at Maggiano's

Wild-caught jumbo shrimp from Mexico splashing in green salsa over a bed of organic brown rice cooked with organic diced tomatoes.


Once you've tasted wild-caught shrimp, you'll never go back to farmed crustaceans from the other side of the world.

We've been buying frozen Black Tiger shrimp raised in Vietnam at Costco Wholesale for many years for around $10 a pound.

They come with the shell on, but deveined, so they are a snap to prepare, and cook in around 5 minutes.

But on Monday, I prepared a pound of wild jumbo shrimp from Mexico that I bought at H Mart in Englewood for $14.49 a pound.

I had to devein them myself, but I have a special knife and once I crossed that hurdle, I marinated them in fresh lime juice, black pepper, powdered garlic and red-pepper flakes.

For the Mexican shrimp, I opened a 16.7-ounce bottle of La Costena Green Salsa or Salsa Verde from Mexico, poured it into a pan and added fresh juice from one small lime.

The medium-spicy, preservative-free salsa serves as both a cooking medium and sauce for your side dish of rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

When the salsa started to bubble, I add the dozen shrimp, turned up the heat and cooked them for about 5 minutes in a covered pan, flipping them once.

They came out plump, tender and crunchy -- everything a shrimp should be. 

They were more tender than any farmed shrimp I've had, and I don't have to worry about preservatives, antibiotics or other additives.

I have to wonder why Costco, with its worldwide reach and resources, doesn't offer wild-caught shrimp and even live lobsters to its customers.

Vintage photos, red checked tablecloths and other traditional decor at Maggiano's Little Italy in Hackensack.

Now that's Italian

It's true that New Jersey probably has more Italian-American restaurants than any other kind, especially if you include pizzerias.

It's also true that Maggiano's Little Italy is one of those chain restaurants you find in malls all over the country.

You wouldn't think the food at Maggiano's could compete with a family run Italian-American restaurant, but the chain restaurant bends over backwards to please and its special deals represent excellent value.

And you have the option of ordering from a family style menu of large portions meant for sharing.

No problem, the waitress said, Maggiano's wonderful Spinach Salad can be made without bacon.

No problem, the waitress said, when my friend asked for more sweet peppers for his Sausage and Peppers, returning with a small bowl filled with them.

Another friend ordered one of the Classic Pastas, Fettuccine Alfredo, and that entitled him to take home another pasta, Spaghetti & Meatball, at no extra charge.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup includes fresh basil.

Lots of food

I invited two friends to join me for lunch on Monday at Maggiano's Little Italy, the chain restaurant in Hackensack's upscale mall, The Shops at Riverside.

I wanted to take advantage of an American Express promotion that offered a $15 statement credit, if I spent $50 at Maggiano's and charged it on my card.

I ordered a wonderful Spinach Salad with luscious Gorgonzola cheese, pine nuts and fruit ($12.95), but didn't care for the sweet apple-cider vinaigrette dressing.

I started with a bowl of Creamy Tomato Basil Soup for $5.50, and qualified for a soup-salad combo special (I paid a total of $12.95).

I also ordered Grilled Salmon Lemon & Herb to go ($16.95 with orzo and spinach).

One of my friends had Sausage and Peppers ($7.95) and the other had Fettucine Alfredo ($12.95), with a free order of Spaghetti & Meatball to go (also $12.95).

Both friends took home leftovers.

Our waitress went above and beyond, bringing one friend a small bowl of extra sweet peppers for his sausage platter, as well as a separate paper bag for a basket full of rolls we didn't touch. 

I wanted to have a glass of wine, but refused to pay $9.50 for 6 ounces, when I could buy a terrific bottle for less at a retailer.

Maggiano's offer whole-wheat penne as a substitute in its pasta dishes, but why stop there when several other shapes -- linguine, spaghetti, shells, bowties and so forth -- are available? 

Fighting flash mobs at Whole Foods and Costco

This morning, I saw a rare sight at Whole Foods Market in Paramus: an empty lot that invited me to park just about anywhere. On Monday afternoon, the lot and the store were overrun by a mob of holiday food shoppers.


This morning, my food-shopping list was short, and I imitated the early bird by getting to Whole Foods Market in Paramus before 8.

Of course, I wasn't looking for worms, just a parking spot within sight of the entrance and uncrowded aisles where I wouldn't have to bang carts with other shoppers.

I had had enough of that on Monday, when the lot at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack was nearly full just after 10 in the morning, thanks to an unannounced 9 a.m. store opening.

I had slipped into the lot through a mid-block exit by making an illegal U-turn over double-yellow lines -- just to avoid the backup of vehicles at the main entrance as lazy shoppers were trying to find parking spaces closest to the door. 

Poor lot design

The Costco lot in Hackensack is poorly designed, with the main entrance closest to the doors, in contrast to the Wayne Costco, where the parking-lot entrance is furthest from the doors.

Inside the wholesale store, many aisles were gridlocked with carts or had shoppers banging carts into each other, but checking out didn't take long at all.

Later Monday, I drove a couple of miles to Whole Foods, only to find a lot so packed and so many other shoppers searching for spaces, I turned around and went home.

The Web site at Whole Foods, which calls itself America's healthiest grocery store, announced the Paramus store would open at 7 this morning, an hour earlier than usual.

You'll find plenty of corn in slogans at Whole Foods Market.

My shopping list

This morning at Whole Foods, I was looking for naturally raised goat meat on the bone and pork chops for the meat eaters in my family.

Thick, center-cut pork chops with the bone were $6.99 a pound, but I have seen them on sale for $4.99.

I also picked up frozen turkey necks and backs for soup for only 49 cents a pound and frozen oxtail for $7.99 a pound.

The butcher said he didn't have goat meat, but that I could find it at the Giant Farmers Market in Hackensack, where I never shop, preferring the produce and fish at H Mart and other big Korean supermarkets.

The produce section at Whole Foods Market in Paramus just before 8 this morning.

Fish fillets from Peru at the Whole Foods fish counter, which gets seafood deliveries six days a week.

Organic herbs.

It's cheap, but ...

At the Giant Farmers Market on Main Street in Hackensack, I bought 3.30 pounds of previously frozen goat meat on the bone for $2.79 a pound at what appeared to be a butcher concession inside the store.

I paid at a special register for the butcher counter, where there was an $8 credit-card minimum, and the cashier sniffled and picked his nose. 

My mother-in-law is planning to prepare curry goat, jerk pork, ox tail and other dishes for Christmas.

She also asked me to pick up a head of iceberg lettuce, which was 99 cents at Giant Farmers Market.

Monday, December 23, 2013

At H Mart, the sea bass doesn't pass the smell test

H Mart, the Korean supermarket on Lafayette Avenue in Englewood, boasts that it gets fresh seafood from the Fulton Fish Market, but doesn't say how often that is. Whole Foods Market in Paramus says it gets seafood deliveries six days a week.

Editor's note: Holiday food shopping is hit or miss, and you have to fight all that traffic and other shoppers who seem to be gathering ingredients for their last meal. Today, I discuss shopping at H Mart, ShopRite, Costco Wholesale and other stores.


I've purchased and enjoyed literally hundreds of whole fresh fish from H Marts in Bergen County in the past dozen years -- whiting, mackerel, sea bass and more.

But three plump sea bass I bought at the Englewood H Mart on Sunday for $4.99 a pound didn't pass the smell test.

Knowing I had a couple of other stops to make on the way home, I asked the man at the fish counter to give me a bag of ice to keep the wild-caught fish cool after he cleaned them.

I picked up two crispy baguettes at Balthazar Bakery on South Dean Street in Englewood that were still warm from the oven ($2 each).

Then, I continued down South Dean, stopping at Jerry's Gourmet & More for a 2.2-pound bag of coffee beans from Torrisi in Italy ($18.99).

The Italian specialty store hasn't had any Lavazza coffee beans for many weeks.

When I got home, I could smell the fish through the closed plastic bag -- not a good sign.

Wild-caught shrimp from Mexico at H Mart in Englewood.

I asked my mother-in-law to look at the fish, and she indicated they seemed to be OK. But when she started to cook them, she didn't like how they fell apart, so she asked me to return them.

The man at the H Mart fish counter apologized, and I got a full refund.

I didn't ask the H Mart employee when the sea bass had come in, but selected that fish because it is one of our favorites.

At home, as my mother-in-law was washing and cleaning parts of the fish the fishmonger had missed, I noticed the eyes weren't as clear as they should be.

After I got my refund of $22.85, I bought wild-caught shrimp from Mexico for $14.49 a pound (under 12 per pound).

Jinga-brand Fish Cake Roll (a seaweed-and-rice roll known as kimbap) was $2.49 or half price after 4 p.m.

I slice Balthazar baguettes and store them in the freezer, toasting them when I want to use them for sandwiches -- from canned fish salad with Dijon mustard, lime juice and cumin to peanut butter and jelly.

At the Rochelle Park ShopRite, a 40-ounce bottle of Victoria Marinara Sauce was $7.99, compared to $8.49 for two 40-ounce bottles of the same pasta sauce at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack. Last month, an instant Costco coupon brought that down to $6.14 for two bottles, and I bought four.

ShopRite v. Costco

At the Hackensack ShopRite on Sunday, I picked up three 25.4-ounce bottles of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider on sale for $1.99 each, a savings of $1.50 a bottle, less than the same apple cider at the nearby Costco Wholesale.

Liter bottles of Adirondack Original Seltzer were two for $1.

Trimmed French green beans from Costco Wholesale can be prepared quickly by blanching in boiling water for about 5 minutes, draining the pan and adding extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt and other seasoning.

Costco's Atlantic cod

Fresh cod fillets showed up at my Costco Wholesale today after an absence of many months.

But this fish is from the Atlantic Ocean, not the Pacific, and comes all the way from Iceland, where it is long-line caught by a fishery certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

The wild-caught fish is from a company called North Coast Seafoods, and the price is an easy to swallow $7.99 a pound.

Atlantic cod is the fish that literally fed the world for hundreds of years before over-fishing prompted regulators to declare a moratorium on large commercial catches.

Other Costco purchases included three 32-ounce bottles of Kirkland Signature Marinara Sauce, made with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh garlic and basil, for $7.99 or about $2.66 a bottle.

A wedge of aged Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy was $10. 69 a pound, the lowest price in North Jersey.

Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano with Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, both from Costco. The delicious, triple-washed salad is $4.99 for a 1-pound package.

At the Seafood Road Show, I saw frozen wild-caught octopus from the Philippines for $3.49 a pound, and enormous frozen Black Tiger shrimp, which are farm raised in Vietnam, for $19.99 a pound. 

I also got a $5.49 refund for a large bag of hard pears that never ripened, even though we ate all but two of them.

Fairway goat meat

Before Fairway Market opened a Paramus store, we would stop at the Harlem outpost on the way back from dining out or seeing a show in Manhattan.

We liked the goat meat on the bone, and purchased it regularly.

But when it opened, the Paramus store never carried goat meat, even though North Jersey is as diverse as Manhattan. 

I was told several years ago I could call the Paramus store and ask the butcher to get the goat meat from Manhattan, but twice today, the phone rang and rang, and no one in that department ever picked up.

Whole Foods Market in Paramus occasionally has frozen organic goat meat, but this afternoon, I could not find a space in the lot, turned around and went home.

COMFORTING BREAKFAST: Eating the broken yolks of organic eggs prepared sunny side up with mashed sweet potatoes, which were plated and reheated in the microwave.

Canned fish salad -- yellowfin tuna, pink salmon and sardines -- dressed with Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice and ground cumin, and served with stewed tofu, tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkled with za'atar thyme mixture.