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Posts from April 2008

Chengdu 23: Wayne, NJ

So I drive past a strip mall which is as utterly bland as its name (West Belt Plaza), next to the Willowbrook mall in Wayne, and I see a sign that says "Chengdu 23".  Having a good feeling that it's not related to the awesome Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove, and hoping it has nothing to do with the way-too-80's Chengdu 46, I pulled into the lot to have a quick drive-by look-see.  It didn't look promising at all.   "Asian cuisine", the sign proclaims.  Yuck.  Bye-bye.  I put the place out of my mind.  I mean, what are the odds of a random Chinese restaurant opening and serving authentic food of any kind, if the sign says "Asian cuisine".

Until the other day, when I read a bit about the place on northjersey.com.  "We make home-style Sichuan ... the type of food you'd get in central China, where they like things spicier," the owner says in the article.  "Well fuck me," I thought.  So, you know, off I went.

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Food Basics: good stuff, good deals, Manager's Specials

I'm finding myself shopping at Food Basics more and more.  Food Basics is sort of a budget store, owned by the nice folks at the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (who own A&P, and others) that seems to cater to a lower-income audience than does say a Whole Foods or Stop & Shop.  You'll also often find Food Basics in ethnically diverse neighbors.  When a store caters to an ethinically diverse community, you're not only going to find great values, but you're going to find great products that you won't normally find:

Pigs feet?  Check.  Ox tail?  Check.  Pork shoulder?  Not a problem. Tripe.  Got it.  Offal of all sorts?  Yippers.

Gone are the days of calling Stop & Shop the day before a BBQ and pleading them to save a pork butt before turning them all into sausage.  Food Basics always has a bunch of butts right there in the case.  Carnitas is only some onions, OJ, and fennel seed away.

Carnitas1

Carnitas, Jim

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