Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood is known for its generous free samples, including a couple of dozen different cheeses, but on Thursday afternoon, all I could find was what you see in these photos, above and below.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
On Thursday, I stopped at Jerry's in Englewood, one of my favorite food stores, to pick up four restaurant-quality takeout dinners.
I got there around 4:15 in the afternoon, mindful that Jerry's knocks a couple of dollars off of the $7.99 dinners after 4 p.m.
The parking lot was full, and I had to find a space on the street. That was unusual.
Inside the store, I moved in aggressively when I saw a woman looking over the refrigerated case holding Jerry's Meals To Go, and managed to pick up four of the remaining six or seven dinners.
Then, I turned my attention to the free cheese samples I've been enjoying at Jerry's for years -- and basically came up empty.
I usually go to Jerry's on Wednesday afternoons after 4, and have never encountered this problem before.
Why was Thursday afternoon so different?
This sampling station in the store at 410 S. Dean St. had the most to offer. Most looked like the container below with bits of cheese that were difficult, if not impossible, to spear with a toothpick.
Even more disturbing than the lack of free cheese samples was seeing none of the employees making any effort to replenish the containers.
I try not to buy full-fat cheeses
I have enjoyed sampling at Jerry's for years, especially because these are the full-fat cheeses I try to avoid as I watch my weight and cholesterol.
I usually have a fraction of an ounce of several different cheeses, and enjoy their richness, but don't want to bring them home.
Most of the time I buy reduced-fat cheeses at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack -- Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano and Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese.
My Seafood Fra Diavolo dinner from Jerry's was a delicious, beautifully balanced meal with tender squid, octopus and shrimp, and fresh asparagus and fava beans.
|The contents of the four dinners are listed on the labels, above and below.|
|I paid $5.99 for each dinner after 4 p.m., with the reduction taken at the register.|
A 2.2-pound bag of Lavazza Crema e Aroma Coffee Beans from Italy for $19.99.
A 1.54-pound container of mixed Italian olives and garlic cloves for $3.99 a pound.
Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood; 201-871-7108. Open 7 days.
Web Site: Jerry's Homemade