Thursday, December 8, 2016

Two lunches: Trip to the Middle East and exotic seafood close to home

Trip to the Middle East, a hot appetizer served in the cafe at Fattal's in Paterson, could feed two or three people for lunch.


After picking up a menu at Fattal's in September, a hot appetizer called Trip to the Middle East stuck in my mind.

Dips, stuffed grape leaves, kibbeh, falafel, pies, pickles and more -- this one dish has many of the great Syrian comfort foods I enjoyed growing up in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, I finally ordered one to eat in the specialty food store's small cafe, but took home plenty of leftovers, because there was enough to feed two or three people ($14.99).

As I ate, I realized my hunger was driven in part by the anniversary the next day, Dec. 7, of the death of my mother, Grace Ashkenazi Sasson, who was born in Aleppo, Syria.  


I don't eat meat or poultry, and had to work out substitutions for the deep-fried kibbeh stuffed with ground beef, lamb, onions and walnuts; the grape leaves with meat and the meat pies.

Fattal's makes wonderful grape leaves stuffed with vegetables, and terrific pies with vegetables, including sweet pepper, and olives. 

I also got two more falafels (made with chick peas, fava beans and spices) in place of the two kibbeh.

I loved everything, but thought the tabbouleh could have used more bulgur, and at least one more Syrian pocket bread should be included.

Then, I went into Fattal's grocery aisles for a dozen cans of Al-Shark brand Sardines in Tomato Sauce to take home (99 cents each).  

My next stop was Costco Wholesale in Wayne, where I picked up eight bottles of red wine, including Kirkland Signature Malbec from Argentina ($7.99), and a boxed set of four Bordeauxs from France ($29.99 or about $7.50 per bottle).

Kirkland Signature Prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy, is an easy to swallow $6.99; and at only $19.99, the house label Champagne (Brut) from France is less than half the price of some other brands.

You'll find the cafe at Fattal's in the back of the store, past the pastries, spices, gold jewelry and bread racks.

I ate sandwiches of grape leaves and falafel stuffed with tomato, pickles, hummus and baba ghanoush.

Three-liter bottles of California red wine at Costco Wholesale in Wayne.


Fattal's, 975-77 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125. Open 7 days. Large parking lot. Syrian bread, groceries, meat and poultry, gold jewelry, cafe.

Costco Wholesale, 149 Route 23, Wayne. Open 7 days. Members-only warehouse also sells wine, champagne and prosecco, including Costco's Kirkland Signature label.

A Seafood Trio --Char-Grilled Swordfish, Halibut and Octopus -- served over Stewed Lentils was one of the lunch specials on Monday at Seafood Gourmet, the fish market-restaurant in Maywood, below.

Exotic seafood

If you love seafood, don't miss the imaginative specials from Chef Dave Fuentes at Seafood Gourmet, the fish market-restaurant on Maywood's main street.

On Monday, I met a friend there for lunch and enjoyed two of the specials, a cup of Bahamian Conch Chowder ($3), and a Char-Grilled Seafood Trio swimming in a soupy stew of lentils and other vegetables ($16). 

The conch in the soup and the octopus in the Seafood Trio were unusually tender, and the latter was served with a spoon so I could enjoy all of the lentil-and-vegetable stew. 

After lunch, I stopped at Maywood's Marketplace for a large head of Romaine lettuce ($1.29) my wife wanted, and looked over the impressive selection of takeout food and wine.

Nearly all of the fresh fish in the market at Seafood Gourmet can be enjoyed in the small dining room or is prepared and available for takeout, below.

The produce section at Maywood's Marketplace, above, and takeout food, below.

Above the creamed spinach are mashed sweet potatoes.


Seafood Gourmet, 103 W. Pleasant Ave., Maywood; 201-843-8558. BYO, free street parking, closed Sundays.

Maywood's Marketplace, 78 W. Pleasant Ave., Maywood; 201-843-8361. Open 7 days.


Please try to stay on topic.