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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Eating Out + Eating In: Twin lobster deal, Chinese delivery, a fish medley and more

CLAWS: The Twin Lobster Special, served on Mondays and Tuesdays at Meson Madrid in Palisades Park, includes soup or salad, yellow rice and addictive house-made potato chips.
CORAL: The split tails of both of my lobsters contained the roe or eggs, also called "coral," which some consider a gourmet treat.



Yes. The price has gone up about 20% for one of the great lobster deals.

But the crustaceans three of us got last Tuesday night at Meson Madrid seemed bigger, and our meal included house-made potato chips loved even by people like me who never eat the over-salted ones from bags.

You also get a romaine lettuce salad or soup (Caldo gallego, made with pork), and as much yellow rice and chips as you can eat, all for $23.95, up from $19.95.

Other specials on Mondays and Tuesdays are Double Lobster Tails or Sirloin Steak with a Lobster Tail, both with all the trimmings for $21.95 each (we ordered the steak-lobster tail to go for a family member who stayed home).

A minor complaint: Lobsters are easiest to eat when the shells are hard and crack open immediately, but the kitchen at Meson Madrid pre-cooks them to handle an anticipated rush in orders for the $23.95 special, resulting in softer claw and knuckle shells that are difficult to open. 

The traditional Spanish restaurant also serves tapas, a 3-pound Certified Black Angus Steak, Filet of Sole stuffed with jumbo shrimp and many other dishes.

VIVA! A glass of delicious red wine from Bodegas Sonsierra in the Rioja region of Spain was $9.
SIDES: We asked for and received a second plate of the house-made chips.
SALAD: The salad comes with French dressing in a boat, but I could have done without the hard, bland tomato wedges.
BREAD: Meson Madrid serves bread better suited for making Cuban sandwiches, but the doughy loaf was hot and the crust crispy. You can ask for olive oil for dipping.
DETAILS: Meson Madrid Restaurant is at 343 Bergen Boulevard, Palisades Park; 201-947-1038. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner, free parking in lot. All the Monday and Tuesday specials are available at lunch or dinner.
DELIVERY FROM LOTUS CAFE: Luckily, we live within the 3-mile free delivery area of Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., in the Home Depot Shopping Center, Hackensack; 201-488-7070. Our order included Filet of Sole with Scallion and Ginger ($17.95), above; Chinese Broccoli sauteed with fresh garlic ($10.95), below; and Zar Jiang Mein, a dish of fat noodles in what the menu says is a "Xanadu meat sauce, Marco Polo's favorite" ($8.45).

BAKED COD MEDLEY: Fresh wild Atlantic cod from Iceland ($7.99 a pound at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro) peeking out from a coating of Asian Indian spices. I served it over a homemade tzatziki, a non-fat Greek yogurt sauce with shredded cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and dill.
HOW TO PREPARE: Fresh spinach goes into the pan first, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil; then serving pieces of cod, organic diced tomatoes, black olives, capers, fresh lemon juice and grated cheese. The fish is ready after 15 minutes in a pre-heated 400-degree oven, which toasted the chopped fresh mint I added to the pan last.
LEFTOVERS: I used leftover organic diced tomatoes from the cod dish in an egg-white omelet with smoked wild salmon and reduced-fat Swiss cheese, all from Costco Wholesale. I served part of the omelet with garlic smashed yams. I boiled whole peeled garlic cloves and skin-on yam sections until soft, then drained and mashed them with extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings, including cinnamon and curry powder.
TRADER JOE'S: On Thursday, I found some of my favorite items missing during a late-afternoon visit to the Paramus Trader Joe's, 404 Route 17 north, including Trader Giotto's Puttanesca Sauce. So I settled for Tomato Basil Marinara, which contains no added sugar ($1.79 for a 26-ounce jar).
NOT READY: Despite what the box says ("Ready to Eat"), my 4 pounds of Nectarines from Trader Joe's ($5.99) are still ripening on my kitchen counter two days after I brought them home. I also bought uncured hot dogs, antibiotic- and nitrate-free bacon, and sliced Black Forest Ham for sandwiches.
NATURAL SUGAR: Today, I baked 3 pounds of organic sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's ($4.49) until they were soft and the natural sugar oozed out of them on the parchment paper I place over the oven rack (I pierce them with a fork halfway through cooking). At 350 degrees, they take from 40 minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the sweet potato.