Fairway Market has a vast array of cheeses. What I love about Fairway is that they have two areas of cheese, one of which is already packages and just across are loads for you to be able to taste before you buy. If you're not sure of what ilk of cheese you want, the person behind the counter will give you suggestions if you give some palate taste, which animal (cow, sheep, or goat)and perhaps the use. You're looking at hard cheeses for grating, firm for slicing up or melting, and soft cheeses that you may want to spread on a cracker.
I do not know cheese. I grew up on either slices of "American Cheese", which is now considered to be a "cheese food" and the grilled or mac and cheese option of Velveta...another "cheese food". Over the years I have tasted many, going to Cabot Creamery in Vermont for various cheddars, and to an Italian market for mozzarella and the grating kind, since cheese is sprinkled on so many Italian dishes.
Steve Jenkins is the Cheesemonger for all of the Fairway Markets. I have yet to meet and interview him. What I wanted to see is whether the employees who work behind the counter in Douglaston were knowledgeable. Each time I've been to that Fairway I would go to the counter and ask for recommendations and taste.
Gary is the Cheesemonger at the Douglaston store. I asked for a Mac and Cheese suggestion and rather than just one cheese, he pulled these four: Cantal – French Semi-Hard Cow’s Milk;Delice Du Jura – French Soft Cow’s Milk;Swiss Gruyere Switzerland Hard Cow’s Milk; and Australian Cheddar – England Hard Cow’s Milk. I got the mouth sense of how the combination would fall. I made the Mac and Cheese for dinner to find out if Gary was "on the money"...he certainly was! One great thing about this is that I can freeze the leftovers as you basically can't freeze cheese.
There was one day that I requested a cheese tasting of one's made from Sheep's Milk. Jose offered: 16 Month Aged Manchego, from Spain; Moliterno With Truffles, from Italy; Queso Idiazabal, from Spain; and Prince De Claverolle, from France.
I caught Jose another day, saying that I was having a cheese tasting at home. Vento D’Estate, cow's milk from Italy; Rustico With Lemon, sheep's milk from Italy; Pyrenees Bethmale, cow's milk from France; President Wisconsin Brie, cow's milk from the USA; Drunken Goat, from Spain; Moulis Brebis, sheep's milk from France; and Idiazabal, sheep's milk from Spain
Back to shop, Rich was helping me with some dessert cheeses: Ricotta With Lemon (tastes like having a lemon cheesecake without flour), and English Sticky Toffee. I passed on the obvious soft cheeses with fruit.
I called back one day to ask about cheese life, speaking with Lillian. Waxed paper or aluminum foil will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks, which is why they use the paper when you're getting it from the counter. If you obtain cheese that is pre-packaged, unless you intend to eat it soon, remove it from the plastic wrap and re-wrap. Hard cheeses, especially ones that are aged for over more than about 15 months, will last a lot longer in the frig.
I certainly can't leave out Cosmo who makes the mozzarella. Fresh is best. Slice it up with the kumato tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
As for the cheese tasting. I did this with two others each having a different palate. We used sesame crackers and apple wine, first tasting it plain. All were great, some better than others regarding my palate.
I had gone online to see what was on sale, or as they call it, "Price Shockers". Eye round roast, $4.99 lb. I had the butcher pull one and slice up for steak portions to freeze. He even repacked it so that I could just toss the whole thing into the freezer.
Best bargain is when they have the ready cooked chickens for $4.99 and they are certainly not puny ones. Plain, herbed, bbq, etc. This day there was a sign that said that for $5.99 you can bring the chicken to the deli counter and get two sides. Descent variety to choose from. My problem is that garlic is used in so many of their cookings...I'm just not a fan of that spicing.
I can't help but notice the amount of fruit and vegetables in the Fairway Market's produce area in Douglaston. That's probably due to the first thing encountered outside the store is featured produced and the first section when you enter. Rows of produce and and array to choose from. Then there is a full wall of organic produce to boot.
There is much in season, so where is it all coming from? I arranged an interview with Peter Romano, the Produce Manager for all of the Fairway Markets as I first ask about where the produce is coming from, since most of it is out of season. He told me that it's coming from the USA as well as countries such as Costa Rica, Peru, Chile and Argentin, where they engage in great farming practices.
The next subject was organic produce which is his preference as well making up of 14 percent of the sales. Grown on a soil that has been free of spray for at least three years. "I can tell the flavor". It's cleaner and doesn't have all of that residue." We talked about thick skinned fruits and vegetables where it doesn't matter as much, such as avocados and bananas.
Citrus fruits was the next topic. Cara Cara, resembling an orange, are pinkish in the inside and sweeter than an orange. Meyer lemons are thin skinned and sweeter than regulars lemons. Although there are 3 types of blood oranges, the one featured is called Moro, red in the inside, sweet, but tart. Mandarin oranges are small and "sweet as sugar". Pomelos look like large grapefruits. White in the inside and sweeter than a grapefruit.
On to mushrooms. Baby bella are in the portobella family. White standard mushrooms are cultivated, not wild and most common. Shittake have a great flavor. Portobella can be substituted for a steak. They buy them with no stem so that there is no waste. Great for grilling and put into a roll.
Whereas most people focus on apples, I wanted to focus on pears, all grown in Washington State. Bosc are hard and crunchy. Should be bought brown. They don't spoil easily and has the longest shelf life.
Bartlett should be eaten when ripe and although not the juiciest are sweet with a little tartness. Two varieties an Anjou one red that are sweet and more for eating vs the green used for cooking...mostly pouching.
When it comes to the sweetest and juiciest it's the Comice, called the King of the pears. Soft when ripe (yellowish). Seckel pears are sweet, crunchy and more bite size.
Organic beets and carrots was the next subject. I spotted beets that were orange in color and called golden beets. Peter said that these beets are less sweet than the red but more gentle on the palate. The particular carrots that I was looking at were thin with the leaves coming out as if they were just picked from the garden. They are one step up from baby carrots and sweet.
You say tomato and I say tomato. All of the tomatoes at this time are coming from the greenhouse. Kumato tomatoes are the best! They are more purple in color and small. Sweetest tomatoes and great in a salad. Best time to get heirloom tomatoes are in the summer, which are multi-color.
SPECIAL EVENT & FREE SAMPLES! MEET FAIRWAY’S FOOD ROCK STARS
FAIRWAY MARKET’S SEAFOOD DIRECTOR CAPTAIN TONY MALTESE, CHEESEMONGER STEVE JENKINS, BAKERS SARAH BLACK AND REBECCA MARTIN AND MASTER ROASTER BENNY LANFRANCO TO OFFER THEIR EXPERTISE AND SAMPLES ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18TH 2012 FROM 11 AM TO 3 PM AT THE DOUGLASTON STORE (242-02 61ST AVENUE).
Cheese Demo with Master Cheesemonger Steve Jenkins! Join Fairway’s Cheesemonger Steve Jenkins for a delicious and educational cheese demo! After tasting cheeses for 37 years Steve Jenkins’ will share his favorites, well three of them at least and the best things to serve with different cheeses. Sample and learn about cheeses of the world, as Steve shares his passion with you!
Bakery Demo with Fairway’s Own Baker Sarah Black and Rebecca Martin! Join Sarah Black, Fairway’s Master Baker as she samples Fairway’s New Chocolate Bread. The bread is not too sweet, filled with half melted chocolate pieces with flavor that explodes in your mouth. Try our new Chocolate Bread with Fairway’s Organic Jams.
Rebecca Martin will be sampling Fairway’s new line of gourmet cookies. Stop by to taste the Chocolate Sea Salt, Dulce de Leche and Apricot cookies. The new line of cookies is made from the finest ingredients and is Kosher.
Coffee Demo with Fairway’s Master Roast Benny Lanfranco! Benny Lanfranco is Fairway’s master roaster. He’s been around coffee beans his whole life. It’s safe to say he knows everything about coffee and roasting. Come chat with him about the roasting process and tricks of the trade and taste Fairway’s Supreme Blend and Ethiopia Harrar Coffee.
Seafood Demo with Captain Tony Maltese! Join us to learn about the journeys of Captain Tony Maltese! Captain Tony goes down to the docks at the crack of dawn for the freshest pick of fish and seafood to supply our stores. Fillet it right, and learn from the best! Come sample a Fairway’s Fresh Cooked Shrimp and our own Cocktail Sauce.
Having just heard about the death of singer Whitney Houston, I flashed back to meeting her. I would have said that is was just "a couple of years ago" but as time flies to fast, I got that is was three years back when I was coming back from Santa Barbara, California.
I had taken a Delta airline flight from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles which would connect to New York. There was a few hours time in between and decided to go to the Delta Lounge, which I thought had been arranged. When I got there, the person at the desk could not find the communication. As I was "discussing" this, a group of people walked in with a Delta representative and approached the desk.
I got that there was some sort of arrangement for the group to hang in the VIP Lounge but the woman behind the desk didn't find this on her computer. A woman who appeared to be the "Matriarch" of the group said, "Whitney Houston" 7 people. I didn't want to make it obvious wondering if there was more than one Whitney Houston...I slowly turned my head to view a woman sitting on one of the chairs. She did sort of look like Whitney but I wasn't sure, not being one that searched out her private life. Yes, it was her.
I said to the "Matriarch"...I don't think she'll always love Delta and she smiled. They were sent off to the lounge and after convincing the woman behind the desk that I should be there, I was off too. I took a seat sort of directly in front of Whitney and looked at the rest of the group. Thinking that there would be some snacks I was a bit disappointed. I had several bags of California grown pistachios and offered a bag as well as having a tin of cookies that I offered as well.
I didn't want to acknowledge that I knew who she was, but I'm certainly she knew that I knew. There were two young girls. I got that one was her daughter Bobbi and the other was Bobbi's cousin. I got that they just came back from a vacation to somewhere like New Zealand.
Whitney seemed tired but nothing more. She then said to her entourage, "I lost my cellphone" and after some back and forth got that she must have left it on the last flight. I told her that she could use my cellphone to call and maybe someone would hear it's location. Bobbi had a cellphone. The two had also commented about paparazzi so I was not going to take out my camera.
There was a Giants game on an Whitney seemed to be rooting for the team. I said, "Oh, you're a Giants fan?" She said that she came from New Jersey. I offered information about the New York Sharks and invited her to a game. She said that she lives in Atlanta. Oh well.
They did locate the phone, although Whitney said, "Don't worry, I'll get a new phone". It was time for my flight and I bid a "goodbye" to all. I had run out of cards. I would have wanted to know when she'd be on tour and coming to New York.
As for the "Matriarch"...it was Patricia Houston, her manager and sister-in-law. It was her brother Gary that I gave an extra bag of pistachios to. I'm guessing that Bobbi's cousin was Gary and Pat's daughter.
At Fairway Market in Douglaston again. Decided to check out their cafe. People who are just shopping at the Douglaston Plaza or taken in a movie there, can just pop in to the market for a meal. If you are shopping you can place your shopping cart just outside of it where it will be watched. Not that I expect someone will walk by, look in someone's cart and think, "Hey, I want one of those. I'll just take it, put it my cart and let them hunt down another one."
There are two lines of food. One is basically set up where you buy by the pound...salad bar with hot food, cold food...
The other starts with a Smoothy set up. Choose fruits and either milk or yogurt. I had one with raspberries, kiwis, and blueberries. Tasted great but got brain freeze.
This is follow by a Chopped Salad set up. Choose your greens...mesclun, spinach, or lettuce. Add 7 items. Lots to choose from including an array of cheeses (even goat cheeses), protein such as shrimp and chicken, and, of course vegetables. It all goes into a bowl and then they chop it up. The advantage of having a chopped salad is that you can get morsels off most in one bite.
Next area is the hot foods which includes some vegetables dishes and starch. You can opt for a sandwich...paninis...wraps...of which the bread is made by Fairway.
Lobster roll is available as well as having a bagel and lox sandwich. The lox is Fairway's own and made on the premises...come to think of it, the bagels are made there, too. Tomatoes and onions from their produce. No, they don't make there own cream cheese.
I met Justin Jacobson, who runs the cafe. Got some interviews.
With more Broadway and Off-Broadway shows opening, I recently received an email about one coming up in April. I called the office of the public relations group handling it and asked to speak with the person that is publicizes this one.
"I couldn't resist", I said. "Do you remember years ago when guys were running across the college campuses naked? There was this one guy who had the word, 'DESIRE' written across his chest. He was a Streaker Named Desire.
I attended the opening night of Newsical The Musical: End of the World Edition. It was all about the attendees. Broadway stars and some from the cast of One Life To Live as the show is being spoofed about it's leaving the airwaves. They do mention All My Children, but nobody from that cast. Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) was there. Afterwards, a party was held across the street with drinks and finger food.
I'm not going to review as yet but tell you that it's a revue and three of the four cast members are from Forbidden Broadway. Off-Broadway. Character changes. Topical, with song and hilarious!!
I went to Queens Theatre (formerly Queens Theatre in the Park) last night to see Cocktails With Larry Miller. The show was quite funny and Larry is quite talented.
Afterwards my friends and I went to Applebees. It wasn't that we necessarily wanted to eat there, but one of a few restaurants located in a new shopping mall in downtown Flushing that is celebrating the Lunar New Year...year of the dragon.
I will begin with the specially priced meals of either "2 for $20" or "2 for $26". You get an appetizer to share and two entrees. Sounds like a bargain? The difference on the price has to do with the entrees, which are NOT the same portion as if you ordered the same entree separately. I ordered a regular entree of rib ends that came with a baked potato and cole slaw. My friend, who went in with the other person, got a smaller portion of ribs and no cole slaw. Mine was a bit more than $10 but the portion size was enough for me to bring home leftovers for another meal as I only ate half.
Drinks. Now here is where they get you. Both the alcoholic and soft drinks have a full page listing on the first page of the menu. You'll get the description and caloric content, but NOT the price. What's with this? It's not as if the waiter will let you know beforehand unless you ask. I requested to have the manager come over and explain. She told me that due to the cost of alcohol fluctuating they can't keep changing the menus. What a hunk of bull!! Wait, it gets better. I asked if the soft drinks with no price fluctuate. She told me that they are all $2.99. So why can't they list that? Soda, iced tea, etc. A flavored iced tea is ordered. There is an extra 80 cent charge on the check for the flavor. Did the waiter reveal this information when the drink was ordered?
A separate menu is given that contains drinks and desserts. Same as listed on the first page and still no price. Desserts do have a price. So, is there some ruling that says that restaurants must list the price for food but not for beverages?
We're not looking at fine dining here and I would describe the food as being no more than "okay". Think of a family coming in and the first thing that the waiter asks is "what would you like to drink?" You go around the table for requests without thinking about or even knowing the price and have already spent $3 per kid without even realizing. Oh yeah, ask for a soft drink with no ice and then ask for a glass of ice. I'll bet that soft drink will be enough for two kids.
UPDATE: The District Manager, Sharon V. called. She was apologetic. She defended all. Even said that the waitstaff is instructed to tell you the there is an additional charge for a flavor. I told her that the waiter didn't even know the one price of $2.99 for all soft drinks and insisted that this was a ploy to raise the bill amount and get a higher tip. She defended her length of time working for Applebees and getting the position she has as well as the integrity of the company.
The first thing she said was that the waiter can't be expected to know the price of the all of the drinks, since there are so many. I had to stop her to talk about the soft drinks. She went back to the alcohol saying that the prices were different depending upon for instance the brand of vodka used.
Hey, I just wanted the server to do his job and be open about the lousy soft drinks!!! I told her that based upon my experience this server represented all servers. She didn't think it was fair. I asked, "So why is it that when I talked the manager at this location, she didn't say that the servers are instructed on the price of soft drinks and the added 80 cents for a flavor." Another apology.
They all want to get back to the company "and make suggestions". I suggest you don't eat at Applebees.
Products. I'll begin with some products. The thing about getting new products is that I don't have to feel guilty about throwing out the old stuff...except perhaps cleaning products. Mr. Clean rubber gloves and wipes. There are actually a couple of pairs that you would find on the hands of Desperate Housewives with pretty cuffs. I suppose that if you happen to be dressed up and having a sort of formal dinner party, you don't want to clash with your outfit by wearing a pair of generic rubbers.
I liked the wipes. Much better than a paper tower for cleaning and absorbent enough for spills. You can put them in the washing machine and reuse. Haven't done that as yet. I did dust with one. Great for that!
Just when I thought that Hearthware, the makers of the NuWave Oven, did their line to now include the Pro and the Mini (It has been easily 4 years and I still haven't used the oven of my range) another product has emerged. It's called the Precision Induction Cooktop. The unit, which can be placed on your counter top, contains hidden coils that heat the pot or pan that you are cooking in, but the unit itself is cool to the touch no matter how high you program the heat.
It can replace the stove top of your range. When I'm cooking on my stove top, things seem to take a longer time than I expect. I found out that the reason is that the flames never seem to center on the bottom of the pan or pot on a higher temperature as the flames go outward. I don't know about you but I don't want to have to spend any time deciding which of the four to use. Forget about my wok. Couldn't get the correct heat, etc. I'm told that it will work on the PIC.
Not all cookware will work on the PIC. The bottom, at least, has to contain metal that a magnet can stick to. I have pots (cheap) made of stainless steel but a magnet won't stick. I have a few "green" pans, two that are magnetic and one that isn't. Hearthware sells cookware if you want to add to your order. So, at this point I don't have a pot to cook with but do have a pot to piss in. Incidentally, I've already tossed out cookware with Teflon.
The PIC is light weight and you can cook on your dinner table. Great for a dinner party making fondue or a family dinner having your offspring do some of the cooking while you watch. You, of course, have to keep in mind that the cookware itself will get hot.
Ceramic knives are the thing these days. You never have to sharpen them. zx Kitchen produces them in black, each of which comes with a rubber "cover" to store. I received the starter set with a paring knife and 6 inch chef knife. Cuts wonderfully. So out went the old knives (I have others that are not ceramic, some serrated). I realized that I don't need a set of steak knives for company. Not that they were great, either. A set of the, what I call serrate butter knives, works well and if I serve up food that requires more than that, I'll simply cut it up before serving. Check it out on www.zxkitchen.com