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Ike

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  1. ARRGH! My coffee-crazed relatives, whenever visiting, always loved going to Caffe Conca D'Oro, an old-school Italian espresso and cappuccino joint here in Newark. Now it is shuttered. NOW where do they go for espresso if they don't want to go all the way into Manhattan? I guess this means the last remnants of the old Italian neighborhood on Bloomfield Ave. in Newark are kaput. They tried Moon Doggie in Maywood and thought it was OK but nothing special. It's better than Starbucks at least, but then radioactive sewer slime is better than Starbucks. (Conca D'Oro's gelato looked great, too. I always wanted to try it and never got around to it -- duh. It was authentic, made without milk. I feel dumb.)
  2. There is also now a Fairway Market in Paramus, in the old Fashion Center, roughly at 17 & Ridgewood Ave. That is quite similar to Wegmans. Unfortunately it's a tiny bit inferior to the NYC Fairways in some respects (no imported French prunes; don't always seem to carry those real imported Cadbury bars, etc.). Athena has the right idea -- the Trader Joe's on 17 in Paramus is much more easily accessible than the one in Wayne. I'm technically closer to the one in Wayne or Florham Park, but there are a gazillion traffic lights in the way. There's one coming to Millburn, also, I think, eventually, so that may be marginally closer to me, but if I go to Paramus then I can hit both TJ's and Fairway (and, as mentioned above, there's a Whole Paycheck there too -- bleh). As for TJ's coming to West Windsor: So, they're finally doing it? They've been talking about opening a store in the greater Princeton area since at least 2002. I guess that's why their prices are so low: They're total cheapskates on real estate, and will wait as long as they have to, if it means they're saving $1/sq. ft. on rent.
  3. Indeed, they carry Reed's, which is very good. But I don't know how it compares to Barritt's. Now that I see everyone talking about it, I want to try Barritt's. I don't think Reed's is quite as good as Maine Root, which like Barritt's, is difficult to find around here. Actually I think I've only seen Maine Root in New England, understandably given the brand name. Someone else mentioned D&G. I see that everywhere, and it's much cheaper than most brands, but it's made with corn syrup and it's a little too sweet, I think. I've actually made ginger beer myself, but it usually doesn't come out too well. I can make it strong, but not smooth.
  4. When done well, Burmese cuisine is a very distinct entity itself, with lots of influences from Thai, Indian and Chinese, but also its own very particular character. Yeah, I agree that the lack of a significant Burmese population is the problem. From what I understand, the great Thai restaurant Sripraphai in Queens almost entirely subsisted off business from the local Thai population of Queens for the first several years of its existence, until the rest of us began to discover how great it was, and how it completely blew all the other Thai restaurants off the map. Clearly there's nothing like this in NYC for Burmese, given how Americanized the food at Village Mingala is. I had lunch from there about a year ago and it tasted like Americanized Chinese food. I don't know; maybe it's better at dinner. There must be a Burmese population in the D.C. area, because there is a mind-blowingly good Burmese place called Myanmar Restaurant in Falls Church VA. It's been there for at least five years. There's also a very good Burmese place that recently moved from College Park to Silver Spring MD. And a place in D.C.'s Chinatown that gets mixed reviews -- haven't been to that one. If only NYC could get Burmese and Ethiopian places matching D.C.'s, then NYC would be a huge step closer to total restaurant perfection IMHO! I've read about a place in Flushing Queens that does a few Burmese dishes, along with lots of Thai and Malaysian stuff, but the reviews indicate that it's nothing spectacular. The name is sometimes (but only sometimes) rejected by pro-democracy people. From Wikipedia:
  5. The North Ward of Newark now has a farmer's market every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through October (or is it November?). It started today (Aug. 19, 2006) in Branch Brook Park just below Bloomfield Ave., just off the road that goes north-south through the park (Branch Brook Drive?). I received a postcard in the mail about it. Unfortunately the postcard is unclear as to the location, and tells people to go to the Branch Brook Park stop on the Newark City Subway, whereas it *should* tell them to go to the Bloomfield Ave. stop. I sent an e-mail to the e-mail address on the postcard correcting them and inquiring about the exact location and they were very nice. There's not a ton of stuff there, but it's nice-looking stuff. Prices are reasonable too. Tomatoes about $1.80/lb, big bicolor or white ears of corn about $0.45 each or 6 for $2.25, eggplant (purple or white) for $1/lb, etc. etc. Didn't see a price on the cantaloupes, but they were really big. Other stuff too. No lettuce though. I asked and they said they might have some next week. The farmer's truck says "Farmer Al's" (or something like that), Jamesburg/Frenchtown/Monroe Twp. There was also a vegetarian and vegan caterer there with a table, trying to promote his business. If you're in the Bloomfield area, and missing the Bloomfield farmer's market this year, this is another option. Decent park of Newark. Just go right down Bloomfield Ave. to the park. (And on your way down, or back, you can hit the Crazy Taco for some good pupusas!)
  6. Uphill alert! Went here a few weeks ago for lunch on a Saturday and got some lunch specials, and the food was better than ever. Wonder if they got a new cook or something. This was the first time I'd say with confidence that it was 100% as good as it used to be back in Nutley (instead of just 80% or 90%). Or maybe even better. Plus, it was only around $7 for each us.
  7. Thanks for the tip. I didn't know that. Hmmmmmm. That's depressing. I knew that they pick CA/FL/Carolina 'maters when disgustingly, completely unripe and then gas them with ethylene (or something) to make them LOOK ripe, and that's why they taste like cardboard, but I didn't know that they picked LOCAL tomatoes when underripe too. Sheesh.Still, the ones I got at ShopRite last Sunday, on sale for 99 cents a pound through Saturday 8/5/06 at all SRs in NJ north of Trenton, were pretty good. Better than the PathMark ones I mentioned in my previous post. One of those three PM tomatoes was excellent, but the other two were just OK. They're marked #4800 at ShopRite, too. They also have local corn on sale -- eight ears for $1.99. The last local corn I got there was very very good. Stop & Shop has 13 ears for $1.99 this week, though. If you're referring to the blueberries that were on sale, I assumed that the annoying discount card (which was required for the 99-cent blueberry sale at S&S) restricted that. I figured the computer system would remember my card and not allow me more than two discounts that week. Maybe I'm wrong.In any case, most weeks so far this blueberry season, one of the major supermarket chains has had them on sale. Not this week though, it seems.
  8. PathMark has Jersey tomatoes this week for $1.49/lb. Or at least my PathMark in Belleville does. But not many. I think they're labeled "#4800." Easy to get them confused with the other, evil, standard tasteless cardboard California/Florida tomatoes, so look for the label number. I ate one last night and it was OK. Not bad, not great. I got three; I'll eat the other two tonight (assuming the heat doesn't destroy them while I'm here at work... sigh). Maybe they're better. I wonder if it's worth the $2.79/lb to get them from a farmer's market instead. Although the only farmer's market convenient to me is the Union Square one, since I work long hours in NYC, and things are often overpriced there. I also saw some Jersey tomatoes on July 8 at the Ramsey ShopRite, but they didn't look very healthy. The sign said "first Jersey tomatoes of the season" or some such. I'm not sure why they bothered. Haven't seen any Jersey tomatoes at my local Stop & Shop in Bloomfield yet. What the hell's wrong with S&S? They hardly ever have local tomatoes. They need to get their act together. I have to go out of my way and go to the evil PathMark to get them. Grrr. However, S&S *does* have NJ blueberries on sale for 99 cents this week. But limit two. Sigh.
  9. Yes, based on the places I've tried, Brookside is far and away the best Thai in the area. Though I haven't been to Wondee in Hackensack, admittedly. If it's similar to Won Dee Siam on 9th Ave. in NYC then I can imagine it's very good. Of course, all of these places pale in comparison to the supreme emperor of all Thai restaurants in the U.S., Sripraphai in Queens -- but that's a real trek from Jersey, even for such amazing food. And as for the original topic, for whatever it's worth, the NY Times reviewed Sri Thai recently. YMMV.
  10. Back in '02, the inside dirt was that they were saving one of their two NJ liquor licenses for a future store in either the Red Bank area, or the Princeton area. So if they're really going to use it for Paramus, I'm a bit surprised. But they're very very stingy about real estate prices, so maybe they just couldn't find anything cheap enough in the greater Red Bank or Princeton areas. Paramus will also rake in the cash, though. Obviously they'd make a killing if they opened some stores on the shore area and around Princeton/Hamilton. But TJ's never expands with any particular speed. They take their time and wait for cheap real estate. Then they cram as much stuff as possible into as small a space as possible. Thus, the first few times you shop there, you can easily overlook a ton of stuff. The appeal of TJ's is mainly in the prices, I think. If you're not particularly frugal, TJ's probably won't appeal to you significantly. I'm a cheapskate, though, so I love it. And I love nuts, so I go there to stock up on incredibly cheap cashews ($3.99/lb for whole cashews, $3.19 for halves and pieces). And yeah, they have some pretty decent cheeses. I mostly agree about the frozen foods, though. Nothing special. Well, except the cakes. They've got some awesome frozen cakes. I usually stick with the cookies, though. Those are great too (and, uh, no freezing required -- heh). Wonderful oatmeal choc. chip cookies. Pretty good store-brand version of Oreos, too, but without the horribly unhealthy hydrogenation and trans fats. Good cheap granola too. And I like some of the pasta. The token produce items are blah. I'm not really sure why they even bother. And they have a number of other items that I can't see the appeal of, such as a lot of their jarred sauces. And yet, those items stick around, so they must sell really well. Anything that doesn't sell really well gets yanked off the shelves quickly. They're remorseless about that. They introduce new items all the time, which can be fun, but if people don't like 'em, or if they can't continue to get them for cheap, they're gone in a blink. If you like something new a LOT, then think about stocking up, unless an employee can tell you it's a big hit.
  11. I live in Newark and I love the "Mulberry Farmer's Market" on Mulberry St. just west of Market St. It's not really a farmer's market, just a produce/fruit/vegetable store similar to many found in New York City but with very low prices. The quality of the lettuces can vary, but they're often better-tasting and fresher than the ones in Newark's Foodtown or Bloomfield's Stop & Shop, and far cheaper, even though the outer layer of leaves sometimes look very tired. (The inner leaves are usually great.) They often sell two heads of romaine for $1, spinach for $1 a head, and green leaf and red leaf for $0.99 to $1.29 a head. I just wish they carried arugula and/or mesclun (mixed baby greens) etc. (Does anybody know how to say or write arugula and/or mesclun in Chinese? The staff are all Chinese, I think.) They had some great corn-on-the-cob for 3/$1 or 4/$1 recently and the prices get much better as the season progresses. They also have great prices on garlic, ginger, eggs ($0.89 a dozen for extra large), green and red peppers, tangerines, decaf green tea bags ($0.99 for a package of 20), etc. The selection is somewhat limited, though. They're open until 7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., and 8 or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. I wish I'd known about California Farms in Westfield back when I lived in Garwood and Roselle Park. Would've been a nice complement to Trader Joe's. I'll check it out next time I trek out there. I like the Han Ah Rheum (Ridgefield) too, although I'm usually carless so I can't get up there too often. Speaking of the Elizabeth Shoprite, I like it despite its lousy produce. It has the best prices of any supermarket in the area (that I know of). It's so close to the Roselle border that it might as well be in Roselle -- you're not "braving Elizabeth" as it's not a scary area, just semi-industrial, and full of warehouses. I wish THAT ShopRite had existed when I lived in Garwood and Roselle Park. The newer ShopRites, and ones located in non-poor areas, are much brighter and have much nicer produce and better selections than the ones in poorer places like Elizabeth/Roselle! Anyone ever noticed that? (I've heard it's the same for other supermarket chains.)
  12. I've gone past there once or twice. Looking it up on superpages.com, I think the Thai place may be called Quynh Nhu Food Market, at 390 Washington Avenue in Belleville, and just down the street is a decent, cheap Indian grocery, Shree Ganesh Foods at 364 Washington Avenue. They're both small and I'm not sure I've ever been in the Thai place (although I love Thai food... I'm just not sure I'm remotely competent enough as a cook to do it any kind of justice). I wonder if the Thai place has tea dust, for making Thai iced tea. Anyway, Shree Ganesh is a nice little place that has really great prices on nuts, like almonds. I didn't know that the Brookside Thai folks owned that grocery. Cool, I like Brookside, though they're not as good as Sripraphai in Queens--but then, who is? Also, there's an interesting little Filipino market called Masagana Enterprises Inc., at 80 Franklin Street (not to be confused with Franklin Ave.--somebody really need to re-name one of those roads) in the Silver Lake section of Belleville (the southern panhandle of Belleville). They have a steam table and the last time I got dinner there, it was $3 for two or three items over rice. Lots of food. Once it was great, but another time it was pretty fatty and greasy (as Filipino food can often be) and there was a weird vegetable in there that tasted a bit like earwax. Anyway, Masagana's not far from the great Giordano's Bakery (mmmm... bagels) and the Bloomfield Stop & Shop. Recently I noticed that downtown Bloomfield has a nice new little Indian grocer, too, on Glenwood Ave. I think, on the east side of the street, just south of Bloomfield Ave. Got some good $1 snacks and some pappadums there. I guess this is getting pretty far off-topic for sushi-related items, though.
  13. Speaking of great ethnic restaurants that have burned down, here's a recent one: Little Saigon in Nutley. I really miss this place. Are they still planning to re-build and re-open? I haven't heard anything about it lately and I haven't had a chance to pass through Nutley lately either. I don't like the new Vietnamese place Binh Duong on Belleville Ave. as much, although they've got great pho. Hey Emmaline, a place with that name still exists, at 540 Mill St & Franklin Ave in Belleville near the Newark border. I've only been living around here for about four years though, so I have no idea if it's the same place you're talking about, but it's the same name. I've walked past this strangely-colored restaurant (it's painted salmon pink or some such color!) many times, but I've never eaten there. Further up-thread, I'm sad to read about all these great-sounding places that used to exist in Newark and presumably vanished long before I ever got here. Sigh.
  14. Ooops, I posted my message not realizing you had just posted, moments ago. As you have probably realized by now, no NJ Transit trains operate on the Montclair-Boonton line on Saturdays or Sundays. Thus no weekend service to Bloomfield. (I have heard that this is because the evil government of Montclair refuses to let NJ Transit run trains through that precious precious town on the weekends, for reasons that are incomprehensible to anyone who is sane.) However, for travel between Bloomfield and the Newark Broad Street train station, use the #11 or #28 bus. These buses run up and down Bloomfield Ave. They also can get you to the Bloomfield Avenue Newark City Subway station in Newark, and you can take the Newark City Subway to Newark Penn Station, if you need to go there. The #29 bus may also be useful. Bus schedules here: http://www.njtransit.com/sf_bus_schedules_all.shtm Unfortunately you need Adobe Acrobat to see the bus schedules. I hate Adobe Acrobat and can never get it to work on my 'puter, though most folks don't seem to have any trouble with it. By the way, anybody eaten at the new Costa Rican place in Bloomfield near the train station? I wonder how it is. It's on Glenwood Ave., just north of the train station and just south of Bloomfield Ave., if I'm not mistaken.
  15. A few months ago, my folks and I were hiking in western Maryland and looking for a place to eat in Cumberland. We like foreign food so we didn't see much that was promising. Fortunately we took a look in the local phone book and realized that all of the interesting dining options were in nearby Frostburg, not Cumberland. We ate at a place called Gandalf's Restaurant and Pub, at 20 E. Main St., which had outstanding international cuisine. Normally we don't trust places that take an all-inclusive international fusion approach, but this place was great. The things we ordered had a lot of different influences and could have turned into a confused mish-mash in the hands of lesser cooks, but they were really good and well-thought-out. One was the Kitfo Pita (kitfo is a meat substitute sort of like falafel) and another was "KHORESHE GORMEH SABZI" which was excellent (I don't remember its details very well but according to the menu on their web site(!!) it is "Kitfo or porterhouse strips, kale, parsley, dill, and garlic in a lemon juice sauce on basmati brown rice & topped with feta cheese. Served with seasoned potatoes, baba ganoush & pita chips"). I forget what else we got (should've written it down) but there was a salad with a lot of unusual greens and good tomatoes and vegetables--the only disappointing item in the salad was the run-of-the-mill ordinary canned black olives (which seemed really out-of-place in a dish where you'd expect to see kalamata olives or something like that). A lot of the dishes were also vegetarian and organic. Gandalf's is in a nice new space--apparently they moved from a much smaller, more hole-in-the-wall type of location several months ago. There's a Gandalf's Pub adjoining the restaurant, which has a very different kind of vibe. It was inexpensive, too. I wouldn't make a special trip from D.C. or anything like that, but if you're in the area, I strongly recommend it. I imagine it's a favorite for students during the fall and spring semesters. (301) 689-2010. http://www.gandalfs.org Also, there was a promising Greek place called Acropolis in Frostburg, but it was closed that night (we were there on a Monday or Tuesday during the summer, when most of the students aren't around). Our server at Gandalf's recommended Acropolis, but we had to leave town the next day and didn't get a chance to try it. There are also some nice-looking French places in town, and another restaurant that the server seemed very enthusiastic about, called the Tombstone if I'm not mistaken. Overall, we were very impressed that there was such a great restaurant, and other such promising international options, in such a rural area. My folks are from the Eastern Shore, but the choices of international/foreign food in Salisbury just can't compare to the impressive options in Frostburg, if Gandalf's is anything to judge by. What makes the students of Frostburg State apparently more receptive to off-beat cuisine than the students of Salisbury University? Maybe the Frostburg area has just been more lucky with adventurous chefs? Not many people are supporting a great Pakistani/Indian restaurant that opened in Salisbury a few years ago, which is sad.
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