Friday, February 28, 2014

In Englewood, small tables, high prices and Edith Piaf

The Quinoa Tower is on the lunch menu at Patisserie Florentine in downtown Englewood.


Looking for a high-quality lunch in downtown Englewood?

Just off the main shopping street, Patisserie Florentine appears to be a classic French pastry shop, but the Israeli owners have added Mediterranean touches, including feta cheese, tahini and a nice chopped salad.

There are about 35 seats at small tables pushed close together, and you'll have a hard time knowing where to look without staring at your neighbor.

I ordered the Quinoa Tower ($10.75), a deliciously moist salad made with the South American whole grain, feta cheese, tomato, tahini, red onion and cucumber, served with olives and three small slices of baguette.

But, really, can you legitimately charge nearly $11 for a 2-inch-high cylinder of quinoa salad you call a "tower"? 

My wife enjoyed her Omelette Royale with mozzarella cheese and spinach, served with Florentine potatoes and Israeli salad ($9.95).

But she really loved the homemade garlic butter that came with her brioche, along with marmalade and feta cheese.

The Omelette Royale comes with small dishes of delicious garlic butter, homemade marmalade and feta cheese.
A pot of specialty tea is $2.85, with a free refill of hot water.

With temperatures below freezing today, our table near the door was a poor choice, and there is no place for winter coats, scarves and hats besides the back of your small chair.

The servers wear black and though they are well-meaning, service is confused.

The sound system plays singer Edith Piaf and French accordion music.

Patisserie Florentine is open for lunch, brunch and dinner.

Patisserie Florentine, 10 S. Dean St., Englewood; 201-408-4890. Open 7 days. BYO, metered street or garage parking. American Express Cards not accepted.

Web site: French bakery and petit bistro

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sweet ShopRite deal goes sour once again

The sign on sweet potatoes at the ShopRite in Paramus clearly states you get a 20-cents-per-pound discount, if you buy more than 5 pounds, but the store's computer continues to ignore that at checkout, requiring an "override" from a supervisor, who then goes to the produce section, eyeballs the sign ("Buy Big and Save!) and gets a code to punch into the register.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss how the ShopRite in Paramus requires shoppers to jump through hoops for a discount, compare prices at ShopRite and other stores, offer suggestions for meals made with seafood from Costco Wholesale, and report on good buys at Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood.


How long does it take to fix the computerized checkout gizmo at the ShopRite in Paramus to reflect a volume discount on 5 pounds of sweet potatoes?

In the past few weeks, I've stopped there on the way home from the gym to buy sweet potatoes for baking and mashing, and each time, I saw a sign offering a discount of 20 cents a pound for more than 5 pounds.

The first time, I got the discount automatically at checkout, but the last two times, including on Wednesday, I didn't, and the sweet potatoes rang up at the full price.

That meant a delay of 10 minutes to 15 minutes while the problem was cleared up.

On Wednesday, after all the back and forth, I was charged 69 cents a pound for 4 pounds and given the 5th pound free. The regular price was 89 cents a pound.

The Paramus ShopRrite sells peeled garlic from China for $3.39 a pound, compared to the $2 a pound I pay at Costco Wholesale for peeled heirloom garlic from the Christopher Ranch in California.

Comparing prices

In the produce section of the Paramus ShopRite, I noticed peeled garlic from China for $3.39 a pound, compared to $5.99 for a 3-pound bag of peeled California garlic at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

ShopRite had a bag of celery stalks for $1.49, compared to 99 cents at Hackensack Market, 120 Passaic St. 

Other sale items at Hackensack Market on Tuesday included 12-ounce bottles of Goya Malta at 5 for $3.

A 1-liter bottle of Valentina Salsa Picante (Black Label), a terrific Mexican hot sauce that doesn't obliterate the flavors of the food you're eating, was $1.99. 

At ShopRite, a 1-pound package of Olivia Organic's Spring Mix was $7.99, a dollar more than a 1-pound package of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix or Organic Half & Half (spring mix and baby spinach).

At Costco, Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix is $4.99 or less.  

Salted cod fish fillets from Canada is available at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack in 2-pound bags for $11.99. Here, the wild-caught fish is prepared with okra, sweet peppers, onions and garlic, and served with a leftover fish from a Korean takeout order, rear.

Canned wild-caught pink salmon in water and smoked wild sockeye salmon also are sold at Costco. A no-mayo pink salmon salad, left, includes chopped celery, sweet pepper and red onion; and Dijon mustard, fresh lime juice, ground cumin and avocado oil for moisture. The smoked salmon is sliced and ready to add to salads, right.

Salted cod fish with cabbage and sweet peppers served with baby spinach sauteed in avocado oil and chopped California garlic.

Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon goes into an egg-white omelet served with leftover shrimp, organic brown rice and organic quinoa. The price of a 1-pound package of smoked wild salmon jumped more than $3 recently, to $18.89, but you'll pay about $30 a pound at other stores. 

Deals at Jerry's

I ran out of Ponti Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, but found half-liter bottles for $1.99 each on Wednesday at Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood.

I was served this balsamic vinegar at restaurants in and near Milan during a trip to Italy in 2010, and have been buying it ever since. 

It contains no added color, unlike so many other brands I see.

I also found two Jerry's Meals To Go, complete restaurant-quality dinners reduced to $5.99 from $7.99 after 4 p.m.

The dinners contained Chicken Siciliano, toasted orzo salad, string beans and artichoke salad -- ready to be plated and reheated in the microwave.

After I grabbed the last two Meals To Go in a refrigerated case, I walked around sampling Jerry's cheeses, and came across an antipasto platter with two cheeses, two styles of salami, sweet peppers and mixed olives with sun-dried tomatoes.

The 2.1-pound Messana-brand Party Platter was $6.99 or less than half price.

The Asiago and Fontina cheeses are made with part skimmed milk, meaning they are reduced fat.

Part of the antipasto platter I picked up at Jerry's for $6.99.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Costco's cabernet, Olivia's Organics and a quinoa search

The label of Olivia's Organics Baby Romaine boasts, "Proudly grown by American farmers," which seems to be a pointed reference to competitor Earthbound Farm, which uses organic greens grown in Mexico and the United States.


I finally uncorked a bottle of Kirkland Signature 2012 California Cabernet Sauvignon that I bought three months ago, and was bowled over by this deliciously complex red wine.

At $7.99, a 1.5 liter bottle -- the equivalent of two normal bottles -- was a bargain when I bought it around Thanksgiving at the Costco Wholesale in Wayne.

Check out the description of the wine on the back label:

"A classic Cabernet Sauvignon with vibrant, juicy flavors of black currant with broad, red fruit notes that linger on the palate and are surrounded by hints of spice and sweet smoke with a graceful finish of cherry and mocha."

Yes. The wine tastes that good.

Both the Kirkland Signature Champagne from France, left, and the California Cabernet Sauvignon, right, are wonderful.

Organic salad greens

Sometimes, you can find bargains in organic produce at the International Food Warehouse, 370 Essex St., Lodi.

Last week, I bought three 5-ounce packages of Olivia's Organics Baby Romaine for $1.50 each with a "best by" date that gave me four days to finish them.

One salad I made included baby romaine, blueberries, cinnamon-dusted almonds and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The fruit, nuts, cinnamon and cheese all came from Costco.

The Olivia's Organics plastic tub has a hinged cover with a simple tear-away sealing strip, compared to competitor Earthbound Farm's more complex, two-piece plastic tub.

Both are triple washed, meaning they can go straight from the package to the salad bowl. 

Costco Wholesale carries only Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, but I've seen both Earthbound Farm and Olivia's Organics at ShopRite at higher prices. 

A salad made with Olivia's Organics Baby Romaine.

Quinoa search

I bought 4-pound bags of Tru Roots Organic Quinoa from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack at least three times last year, but I have struck out finding it in 2014.

I prepared my last cup of Tru Roots quinoa on Monday night, serving it with jumbo shrimp.

I found it at online retailers for about $7 to $8 a pound, but I am not willing to pay that much.

Today, I stopped at Hackensack Market on Passaic Street, and found a 12-ounce bag of Incagen-brand 100% Organica Quinua from Peru for $3.99.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a nutty tasting whole grain with fewer carbs than rice or pasta.

Jumbo shrimp with fresh garlic, ginger and thyme served over organic quinoa.

On Monday, I saw boxes of Italian organic penne and fusilli pasta at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack for $8.99 or about $1.12 a pound, a bargain compared to supermarkets. But I'm waiting for Costco to start selling organic whole wheat pasta, which I now buy at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market for $1.39 a pound.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Survive winter by taking comfort in hearty meals

On a chilly, rainy Friday, large bowls of takeout pork tofu soup warmed up the meat eaters in my family, but I was perfectly happy with the seafood version ($12.99 each with five side dishes).
Our takeout order from BCD Tofu House in Fort Lee included grilled galbi ($19.99), above, and five small, beautifully fried fish that were among the free side dishes, below.


The sun is shining on northern New Jersey today, but Friday was a complete washout and the forecast is for more snow next week.

We are winter weary here on the East Coast, having weathered six or seven storms with significant snowfall so far.

In between all the shoveling I've been doing, comfort food has been my port in the storm. 

The Haemul Pajun from BCD Tofu House was filled with seafood and scallions ($9.99 for small), but it was greasier and not as fluffy as other Korean pancakes I've tried, notably at Gammeeok in Fort Lee. Better were BCD's steamed pork dumplings ($6.99 for small).

When in Fort Lee

On Friday, I spent six hours at a surgery center in Fort Lee, where a family member was being treated for a broken leg, and on the way home in the car, we stopped at BCD Tofu House, 1640 Schlosser St., to pick up a warming dinner. 

I had called ahead, ran in and paid, then back out into the wind-whipped rain with nearly 20 containers in three large paper-in-plastic bags.

BCD Tofu House is one of the best Korean restaurants in North Jersey, but it is more expensive than Palisade Park's So Gong Dong, which my teenage son calls the "World's Best Tofu Restaurant."

Still, when he tasted the BCD pork tofu soup I emptied into a large bowl at home, he loved it, along with the barbecued galbi and steamed pork dumplings.

I ordered seafood tofu soup "very spicy" and found that all that red pepper burned my tongue, making it uncomfortable to eat. My son finished it later.

But I was very happy with the small fried fish, wonderful kimchi and other side dishes, and brown rice, which So Gong Dong doesn't serve.

When we go to a Korean restaurant for tofu soup, we are served a fresh egg to cook in the bubbling broth, but we didn't find any eggs in our soup from BCD Tofu House.

Crunchy broccoli is one of the free side dishes.
Sweet-and-spicy radish is a delightful side.
The cabbage kimchi from BCD Tofu House is among the best I've had.
A Jewish deli would be proud to serve these pickles.

Hearty home cooking

On Thursday night, I quickly whipped up 1 pound of organic whole-wheat pasta shells with bottled sauce, fresh garlic, and canned anchovies and sardines.

The shells are like catcher's mitts, holding the sauce and other ingredients.

The meal was complete with a glass of wine and a salad of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, adding in diced apple, blueberries, cinnamon-dusted almonds and Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, all dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

The made-in-Italy pasta came from Whole Foods Market in Paramus, and the rest of the ingredients were from Costco Wholesale in Hackensack and Fattal's in Paterson. 

I have been boiling and mashing sweet potatoes with Kabocha Squash, whole peeled cloves of garlic and extra-virgin olive oil as a bread substitute. Here, I served leftovers with an egg-white, sun-dried tomato and cheese omelet.
Two organic brown eggs sprinkled with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (both from Costco Wholesale) make a great topping for bibimbap, a Korean dish I made at home with organic brown rice and seasoned vegetables from H Mart in Little Ferry.
Imported organic organic whole wheat shells from Whole Foods Market in Paramus are a bargain at $1.39 a pound. They are wonderful in bottled pasta sauce with added anchovies, sardines and chopped fresh garlic.
For a hearty breakfast, top the shells with a fried organic brown egg.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Don't invite American Cellars Wine Club to the party

A luscious Dublin Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from American Wine Cellars Club, but this is one club I won't be joining.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss a bad experience with one of those online wine clubs, and the newfound pleasure of shopping at Costco Wholesale after 5 p.m.


Some of the best values in wine are found by accepting the introductory discount offers of clubs that send bottles right to your door.

For as little as about $5 a bottle, I have enjoyed delicious, drinkable wines from around the world, with no obligation to buy more at regular prices.

So, I gladly accepted an offer from United Airlines -- six bottles of California wine from the American Cellars Wine Club for $41.95, including shipping ($6.99 a bottle).

And my first two shipments also would earn frequent-flier miles.

But American Cellars Wine Club sent out my first shipment of six bottles and then, without notice, another six that cost me $127.26, according to my credit card statement ($21.21 a bottle).

Unlike other wine clubs, including those sponsored by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Zagat, I wasn't given the opportunity to turn down the wine or cancel my American Cellars membership. 

What followed were a series of calls to customer service at American Cellars -- just one of the clubs operating under the banner of -- and exchanges of e-mails.

I didn't want to return the second six bottles at my expense, so I offered $41.95, what I paid for the first six, and my offer was accepted.

On Feb. 7, a credit of $85.31 showed up in my card account.

Shopping at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack is a pleasure after 5 p.m., as it was on Friday, when only one other shopper was ahead of me in the checkout line, above. I bought salt-free raw almonds, organic baby spinach, fresh blueberries and more.

I use another Costco item, whole peeled garlic cloves from the Christopher Ranch in California, when boiling skin-on sweet potatoes and Kabucha Squash to mash with extra-virgin olive oil, a little salt and Kirkland Signature Organic No-Seasoning.

Liquid egg whites

On Friday, I bought a six-pack of Kirkland Signature Egg Whites for $8.79 or about $1.47 for each 16-ounce carton.

That's about half of what you'd pay for liquid egg whites with coloring or with such additions as diced sweet peppers.

An 18-ounce package of fresh blueberries from Chile were $6.99 and pleasantly sweet. A 1-pound package of organic baby spinach was $4.29, up from $3.99.

A package of Rabbits -- hard, chewy organic granola bars with oats, seeds, nuts and dried fruit -- were $12.74 or about 85 cents each after an instant $4.25 discount.

The product is called 18 Rabbits, but contains only 15 bars.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Problem checkout at ShopRite isn't my fault

On Wednesday morning, shoppers packed the ShopRite in Paramus in anticipation of today's snowstorm, but when the store computer didn't give me the sale price on 5.27 pounds of sweet potatoes, my checkout line came to a standstill.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss a slow checkout at the ShopRite in Paramus that was the store's fault, homemade dishes using ingredients from H Mart and Costco Wholesale, and a tasty version of tabbouleh from Costco.


Don't look at me, I told shoppers in my checkout line on Wednesday morning at the ShopRite in Paramus, where the clerk flipped on a flashing light to summon a supervisor.

In the produce department, I saw that the sweet potatoes I bought last week for 99 cents a pound were now 89 cents a pound, with an additional 20 cents off per pound, if I bought more than 5 pounds and used the store's Price Plus Club Card.

Last week, the checkout computer deducted the 20 cents per pound automatically, but on Wednesday morning, it didn't and I mentioned it to the clerk.

She flipped on the flashing light of her lane number to summon a supervisor, and I could see shoppers in line behind me react with rolling eyes.

On weekday mornings around 9 a.m., the Paramus ShopRite is fairly quiet, but on Wednesday, dire forecasts of another big snowstorm touched off panic food shopping.

Not much help

The supervisor came over, spoke with clerk, left and then returned, saying the promotional discount of 20 cents is only good, if I had purchased 5 pounds or more.

But I had.

To resolve the logjam, I suggested the clerk deduct $1 dollar from my order (5 pounds times 20 cents), and get the line moving.

First, she added $1, but I caught the error and the supervisor approved the deduction.

Finally, I was out of there with my sweet potatoes, lactose-free milk, apples, strawberries and Smart Balance spread.

Bibimbap is a rice-based Korean comfort dish that is known for being labor intensive. I made a meatless version with organic brown rice and an organic brown egg, above, with a lot of help from Jinga's Seasoned Vegetables, which I picked up at the H Mart in Little Ferry. The package includes a small cup of mildly spicy gochujang, a red pepper paste, but I added more from a container I had in the refrigerator.

I made four cups of organic brown rice in an electric cooker, but you can reduce the amount of rice, if your prefer a higher concentration of vegetables.

Korean bargains

At H Mart in Little Ferry on Monday, I picked up fresh, wild-caught whole whiting for $3.49 a pound, Kabocha Squash for 59 cents a pound and a 15-pound bag of California-grown Kokuho Yellow Label Rice for $8.99, a discount of $6.

We pan-fried the whiting, and served them with mashed Kabocha squash and sweet potatoes moistened with a few ounces of extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with a little salt and Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning.

Everything but the za'atar thyme mixture and Aleppo pepper I used to season this frittata came from Costco Wholesale: Smoked wild salmon, shredded Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, Jarlsberg Reduced Fat Swiss Cheese, organic brown eggs and egg whites.

Another labor-intensive dish is tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad of cracked wheat mixed with finely chopped tomato, fresh parsley, onions and other ingredients. A version sold at Costco Wholesale is pleasantly tart.

The version sold at Costco is from Hannah International Foods in New Hampshire. The company drops a "b" and the "h," calling its product Taboule.

Vine Valley

Vine Valley was a Lebanese restaurant in Paterson that closed several years ago, but I'll never forget its tabbouleh, a tall, fluffy mound of finely chopped fresh parsley, tomato, onion and cracked wheat.

Hannah Taboule, sold at Costco Wholesale, is a tasty version.

A 21-ounce container of refrigerated tabbouleh was $5.49 at my Hackensack Costco.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

More problems at P.F. Chang's China Bistro

Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic at P.F. Chang's China Bistro in Hackensack.

I also asked for green beans stir-fried with garlic, but the server delivered the vegetables made with spicy chili sauce and Sichuan preserves.


Here is how to survive the sloppy lunch service and food preparation at P.F. Chang's China Bistro in Hackensack:

Order in a clear, loud voice, and make sure the waiter understands you want the small size, not the large.

If the kitchen screws up the order or the food is cold, send it back -- and keep on sending it back until the cooks get it right.

Look over your itemized receipt, and if you are charged for the large size, when you wanted the small, ask for an adjustment.

Last resort: Don't go there again; go to Lotus Cafe just down the street, at 450 Hackensack Ave., in the Home Depot Shopping Center.

I asked for asparagus stir-fried with garlic, but got Sichuan-style Asparagus instead.

"Sichuan preserves" taste like pickles.

Why go back?

I learned my lesson on Jan. 20, the first time I met friends at P.F. Chang's in The Shops at Riverside, an upscale mall in Hackensack, where the silverware was spotted with water, the soy sauce container was filthy and the server screwed up my order of three vegetables stir-fried with garlic.


P.F. Chang's: Greasy fingerprints, water spots and more

But Zinburger in Paramus, where we planned to eat today, was closed due to a water-main break, and my friend Gene loved the P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef he had last time and insisted on going back.

The lunch menu lists sides, including Spinach Stir-Fried with Garlic (small, $2.95; large, $4.95).

I ordered that and asked for small sizes of Sichuan-style Asparagus and Spicy Green Beans to be made the same way -- with just oil and garlic.

Serg, the server, said he understood, but brought me large servings of the asparagus and green beans made with spicy chili paste or sauce and Sichuan preserves, which taste like pickles.

I didn't look over my itemized receipt until I got home, where I discovered I had been charged $4.95 each.

But there were other problems:

Serg brought the vegetables, but forgot my bowl of brown rice and had to go back to get it.

My friend Stanley said his order of Mongolian Beef wasn't even warm, but he didn't want to send it back and wait for a replacement -- he was too hungry.

Gene found the lunch portion of Mongolian Beef ($10.95) suggested by the server too small and ordered a second.

When we were leaving, an employee handed us cards for $10 off a $40 purchase from Feb. 17 to March 31.

A pot of full-leaf green tea was $3.50.

This beautiful example of cloisonne is in a wall niche.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wendy's breaks fast-food architectural mold

The Wendy's in Bergenfield is open 7 days from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. 


I'm no fan of fast food and don't eat meat, but I was startled and pleased from a design point of view when I saw the new Wendy's in Bergenfield.

What Wendy's calls a "bold restaurant design" is being rolled out at locations across the country, sporting an impressive amount of glass facing the street.

Some of the new buildings carry the company's motto, "Quality is Our Recipe," but that hasn't been added to the store at 150 N. Washington Ave.

Coffee and salad

Still, sleek design won't persuade me to go into Wendy's for anything more than to find out whether seniors get a break on coffee, as they do at McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

I might also check out the salads, which were rated highly by Zagat, according to the Wendy's Web site.

I certainly have no interest in the company's "Mediterranean-inspired Premium Cheeseburger" or its "Bacon Portabella Melt." 

No spaces in lot

On Sunday afternoon, I couldn't find a parking space in the lot and had to take photos of the Bergenfield Wendy's from across the street. 

And driving into the lot legally is possible from only one direction.

I still remember my first -- and last -- fast-food hamburger or should I say what happened the next day.

A new Wendy's opened in Paterson in the 1980s, when I was a newspaper reporter assigned to cover state Superior Court in the Silk City.

I went in one afternoon, ordered and ate a hamburger, and threw up the next morning.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Australian beef isn't as 'natural' as it once was

At ShopRite supermarkets, the whole beef tenderloin for filet mignon from Australia is free range and grass fed, and it's cheaper than the same cut raised in the United States, where most cattle are grain fed and kept confined in feedlots before slaughter.

"All natural" is the most overused and meaningless phrase, as shown by these boxes from Perdue, which sells chicken raised in crowded conditions and given harmful animal antibiotics. Perdue has the nerve to call its poultry "premium."

Editor's note: Today, I discuss free-range, grass-fed Australian beef, and a more relaxed shopping experience at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack. 


I still buy Nature's Reserve free-range, grass-fed beef from Australia for the meat eaters in my family, even though farmers down under give growth hormones to their herds.

At the ShopRite in Paramus, the whole beef tenderloin for filet mignon from Australia is on sale through today for $6.99 a pound with a store card, cheaper than the same cut raised in the United States.

But farmers who raise beef for Nature's Reserve are now using growth-promoting hormones administered by implanting a pellet in the cattle's ear.

The Web site of Meat and Livestock Australia says consumers face "no appreciable risk" from eating beef raised with growth hormones.

Here is the phone number for "squawks" about Perdue's low-quality chicken.

Limited sale

On Friday, I went to the Paramus ShopRite to buy Nature's Reserve Whole Beef Tenderloin for Filet Mignon (from Australia), which usually is sold in pieces of 5 or more pounds.

But the store didn't have any of those, only smaller pieces of around 2 pounds each, and the sale limits shoppers to one.

So, when I was leaving the store and looking over my receipt, I saw that I paid $8.99 a pound for two of the three pieces and $6.99 a pound, the sale price, for the third.

I went to customer service and argued that since the store didn't have pieces of 5 or more pounds, it should give me the sale price on all three of the smaller pieces.

It did, issuing me a credit of $8.32.

The whole tenderloin can be trimmed and cut thickly into filet mignons or thinly for marinating and grilling on the stove top for Korean-style barbecue.

The Australian beef sold by ShopRite is of far better quality than you'd encounter in Korean barbecue restaurants, which tend to use cheaper cuts.

The ShopRite also had sweet potatoes for 99 cents a pound or 79 cents a pound for 5 pounds or more. 


Perdue's latest marketing ploy is, "We believe in better chicken," but the company doesn't actually promise to raise and sell "better"  or naturally raised poultry.

After 5 p.m. on weekdays, the main aisle at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack usually is wide open.
Organic whole wheat spaghetti in Classico Tomato & Basil pasta sauce and Season-brand anchovies from Costco Wholesale. Two optional ingredients are fresh chopped garlic and diced rind of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, also from Costco.

A liter of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil from Mexico was $9.89 at Costco in Hackensack. Besides being made from Haas avocados that are non-GMO verified, the oil is said to have a higher burning point than canola or extra-virgin olive oil.

Afternoon delight

I've tired of fighting the morning crowds at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, and the panic buying before storms.

My last three trips to the warehouse store have been in the late afternoon, around 5, and they've been a pleasure.

On Thursday, I went through checkout at 5:15 p.m. with, among other items:

Pure avocado oil for salads and cooking, a new item; 2 pounds of sliced, reduced-fat Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese ($8.59); a 3-pound bag of raw U.S. No. 1 almonds ($14.99); three LED 40-watt bulbs, $14.99 after an instant $5 coupon; and six 2-ounce cans of Season-brand Anchovies in pure olive oil ($6.99).

I also picked up a pair of Levi 569 jeans for $24.99 and a pair of dressy Kirkland Signature Men's Pants for $19.99. 

Snack, dinner

I roasted the salt-free almonds in the oven for 1 hour and 2o minutes at 275 degrees, and dusted them with Ground Saigon Cinnamon from Costco for snacking on their own or with cheese and fruit.

The anchovies, from Morocco, went into a large, covered pan with a 32-ounce bottle of Classico Tomato & Basil pasta sauce, a small can of tomato sauce, two cans of Moroccan sardines in tomato sauce (chopped), a few ounces of extra-virgin olive oil and red-pepper flakes.

I brought the sauce to a boil, lowered the flame and added a pound of organic whole wheat spaghetti from Whole Foods Market that had been boiled for about 10 minutes or until the pasta was al dente, cooked them together for another minute or two, mixing them well, and turned off the fire.

I ate the seafood spaghetti with grated Pecorino Romano Cheese.