Monday, March 17, 2014

Costco tomato squeezer, Han Dynasty and ShopRite

Soup with Pickled Vegetable and Flounder at Han Dynasty in Manhattan, a branch of a Philadelphia restaurant known for its spicy, Sichuan-style Chinese food. The soup is rated 4 on a spice-level scale of 1 to 10. Servers wear black T-shirts with "(10)" printed on the back.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss an exchange with a Costco Wholesale shopper who was opening packages of Campari Tomatoes and squeezing them; a Sunday lunch at Han Dynasty, a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan popular with Asians; and a few sale items at the ShopRite in Paramus.


Before I spoke, I watched a man opening two or three plastic clam-shell packages of Campari Tomatoes at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, squeezing the fruit and closing them.

"Do you mind my asking why you are touching all of those tomatoes," I said.

"I want to make sure they aren't soft," he replied.

Thinking the only "soft" thing was his head, I asked him if he would want other people touching the food he buys.

"Don't you think people touch the tomatoes when they put them into the packages?"

I said it is probably done by machine, but as he left, I noticed the big letters "EMT" on his jacket and hoped he shows better judgment in a medical emergency.

You don't have to touch Campari Tomatoes to see if they are soft. The redder they are, the riper and softer they are.

If you want a harder tomato, choose those that are a paler red. And they ripen when left out on your kitchen counter; refrigerating them destroys the rich, tomatoey flavor.

Then, because the beefsteak tomatoes didn't look that good, I took his place in front of the Campari Tomatoes and tried to find a 2-pound package with fruit he hadn't touched.

Organic chicken

My Hackensack warehouse store has added antibiotic-free Coleman Organic chicken drumsticks ($1.99 a pound) and thighs to the whole Coleman Organic chickens ($2.49 a pound) it has sold for the last few years.

They are in free-standing refrigerated cases near the produce section. As with all organic products, they contain no genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Costco Wholesale usually carries sweet potatoes only around the holidays, but I found these in a 6.5 pound bag at my Hackensack warehouse store on Friday for $5.99. A 10-pound bag of Earthbound Farm Organic Carrots was $7.99.

At Costco in Hackensack on Friday afternoon, my haul included 3 pounds of bananas ($1.39), 2 pounds of salted cod-fish fillets from Canada ($11.99),  and two loaves of Kirkland Signature All Natural Multigrain 100% Whole Grain Bread ($4.49). Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix was $4.79 (1 pound).
On Sunday afternoon, we had lunch at Han Dynasty, 90 3rd Ave. in Manhattan's East Village (212-390-8685), and many of the other customers were young Asian couples with big bowls of noodles in front of them.

Han Dynasty

Our lunch at Han Dynasty in Manhattan on Sunday started with the tasty fish soup that was part of my takeout order from the original in Philadelphia last year.

The mildly spicy Soup with Pickled Vegetable and Flounder (4) includes lots of fresh garlic and ginger ($9.95).

Our entree was a non-spicy Scallion Style Shrimp ($19.95), and we also ordered Peas Leaves with Garlic ($12.95).

Brown rice was $1 extra. The serving is generous, much larger than in other Chinese restaurants.

The food was terrific, but the restaurant was full and service was a bit slow. 

We were brought a pot of tea and glasses of ice water when we sat down. I had to ask twice for extra napkins and we never got the fork my wife wanted.

Luckily, the utensil with one end buried under the pea leaves turned out to be a fork.

Scallion Style Shrimp at Han Dynasty.

Pea Leaves with Garlic: A simple, delicious and healthy dish.

Paramus ShopRite

On Monday, I ran out of 1% lactose-free milk and stopped at the Shop Rite in Paramus, where half-gallons of the store brand were $3.29 each, a discount of 20 cents.

Two Golden Pineapples were on sale for $5, and a 5-pound bag of Golden Delicious Apples was $3.99.

The biggest surprise was a 15-ounce container of Smart Balance Original for $1.75 or about half-price.
The sale price was $3.20 with $1.45 off.

At the Englewood ShopRite on Sunday, my wife bought 15 ounces of Smart Balance Original with Flaxseed Oil "on sale" for $3.59.


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