|One of my favorite dishes growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., was my Syrian Jewish mother's okra, which she prepared with tomatoes and a tamarind sauce. Okra was the meal of the day on Thursday in the cafe at Fattal's in Paterson.|
|Syrian butcher, baker, grocer, jeweler and falafel maker -- Fattal's in the South Paterson section of Paterson is all of that and more. One big plus is that the store is set back in a spacious parking lot.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The quickest way to get into an argument with the head cook in the Syrian cafe at Fattal's is to ask whether he ever makes his falafel only with fava beans.
"That's how the Egyptians make it," I said on Thursday, referring to the wonderful ta'amia (falafel) I enjoyed many years ago on a trip to Cairo.
"And that's how my mother, who was from Aleppo, used to make it."
"I'm from Aleppo, too," the cook said firmly, adding that using only fava beans produces a falafel that is too dark inside.
So, I ordered nine falafels to go, and looking at the takeout menu later, I saw he grinds both chickpeas and fava beans with parsley, garlic and spices before frying them.
Fattal's falafel are sold in threes for a little over 40 cents each.
They are bigger, lighter and tastier than the falafel from Salah Edin, a Middle Eastern restaurant on the next block, where a bag of five falafel are only $1.
Fattal's falafel also reheats better at home.
The menu in Fatal's cafe resembles that of a full-service restaurant.
Syrian-style pies with za'atar and other toppings, sandwiches, salads, soup, hot appetizers and a meal of the day are available for takeout or to eat there.
In Fattal's grocery section, I picked up 20 cans of Al Shark-brand Moroccan Sardines in Tomato Sauce (99 cents each), and a half-dozen large Spinach and Cheese Pies ($8.99).
From the spice counter, I got a small container of za'atar, a dried thyme mixture ($5.99 a pound), and a larger one of crushed Aleppo red pepper ($6.99 a pound).
Crushed red Aleppo pepper from Fattal's ($6.99 a pound) provides a mildly spicy accent on egg and fish dishes, hummus and so much more.
On Friday, I threw together falafel sandwiches at home with Fatal's pocket bread and hummus from a can, adding garlic, lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil and ground cumin.
Fattal's, 975 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125. Open 7 days, Syrian cafe, parking lot.
Website: Syrian delights since 1968
Corrado's Family Affair is a large, full-service ethnic supermarket near the Clifton-Paterson border once known for low prices.
Red, white and sparkling wines from Italy and France were 2 for $10 in Corrado's liquor store. I bought six bottles of red wine, including a ventoux from France.
Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli and Rigatoni from Italy were $1.69 each at Corrado's (16 ounces) -- 40 cents more than at ShopRite in Paramus.
That's a good price, but Corrado's Tomato Basil and Arrabiata Pasta Sauces both contain added sugar.
A pint of blueberries from Argentina was $3.99. I did find peaches for 99 cents a pound, my only purchase besides wine.
Among the non-food items at Corrado's are these rugs, which were displayed outside.
A medley of fresh wild coho salmon I prepared at home with a fillet from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro ($9.99 a pound) includes chopped kale, cherry tomatoes, pitted black olives and grated cheese.
You can buy a ready-to-cook fish-and-vegetable medley, marinated Icelandic fish and prepared seafood at The Fish Dock, 219A Closter Dock Road in Closter (1-201-564-7939; closed Sundays and Mondays). Here, I had leftovers of my wild salmon medley with organic brown rice and oven-roasted sweet green peppers from our garden.
|A 2-pound bag of pre-washed Chopped Kale was only $3.89 at the Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack.|
|This much kale with Costco's Organic No-Salt Seasoning (21 spices and other ingredients from around the world), sauteed in olive and sesame oils in a 10-inch nonstick pan ...|
|... produces this much kale as a side dish.|
|The ingredients of the Alaskan Pollock Burger includes 2% or less of sugar. I cooked one in the oven and slipped the burger into a warm Fattal's pocket bread with salad greens, tomato and Dijon mustard. Just wonderful.|