Featured Post

Older Americans have a great deal at stake in the Nov. 6 congressional, local elections

The cover story in the AARP Bulletin this month lists 10 ways the Nov. 6 midterm elections will affect older Americans. By VICTOR E. ...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Seniors get a discount at Russian-themed Gourmanoff, but market isn't for everyone

HEAVY FOOD: Headcheese, above, and Pork Tongue, on a steam table below, are just two of the specialty foods available at Gourmanoff, an ethnic supermarket in Paramus, but there is no indication the meat and poultry dishes sold there are free of harmful antibiotics.
CHOPPED LIVER WITH WHITE WINE: Ingredients for the Chopped Chicken Liver are listed as chicken liver, white wine, pepper and fried onion. Shoppers are left to guess whether the livers are from chickens raised without antibiotics.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After Gourmanoff opened last November, another Korean supermarket from the H Mart chain opened in Paramus, and a Chinese supermarket finally opened in Hackensack. I've included links to those openings in this post. 


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Do you love heavy Eastern European food and small jars of salt-cured Russian caviar selling for $64.99 (that's for only 50 grams or 1.76 ounces)?

Then, Gourmanoff, an upscale ethnic supermarket in Paramus, is perfect for you.

But even if you ignore all of that, the 30,000-square-foot market just off of Route 4 west at Forest Avenue has a large, well-stocked produce section, and a salad, mushroom and carrot bar ($5.99 a pound).

I picked up a 1-pound package of Sunset-brand Kumato Tomatoes for $1.49 and a single Lemonade Apple from New Zealand (99 cents a pound), and used a store card to get a 10% senior discount (Tuesdays and Wednesdays only). 

Fresh seafood on ice

Pescetarians like me will be drawn to the small section of fresh seafood on ice. 

The wild-caught Jumbo Shrimp from Canada selling for only $9.99 a pound were a great deal on Wednesday afternoon, but the man behind the counter said he wouldn't devein them for me, so I passed.

If you're watching your carbs and sugar intake, steer clear of the bakery, pastries and packages of chocolate from Ukraine, Moldova and other former Soviet republics.

Russian Jewish immigrants

"Gourmanoff was created by the company behind another Brooklyn-born chain, NetCost Market," which is described as a "'Costco of European-style foods,'" The Record of Woodland Park reported in 2017.

Russian Jewish immigrant Sam Shnayder and his son opened the first NetCost Market in 2000. 

And in 2014, they opened the first Gourmanoff in the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach, a section of Brooklyn, as an "upscale, luxury purveyor of Eastern European and European specialties."

The New York Times once described that store as "Vegas-meets-Volga."

Ronzoni and Garofalo

But if you shop at the Gourmanoff in Paramus, you'll see familiar brands like Ronzoni on the same shelf as Garofalo, an upscale pasta imported from Italy.

However, only one of the packages of Garofalo whole wheat and conventional pasta I saw was marked "organic."

Gourmanoff is one of three ethnic supermarkets to open in Bergen County in the past year:

LOTS OF PRODUCE: As someone who doesn't eat meat or poultry, I gravitated to the produce section, above and below, and its limited selection of organics.
GOOD BUYS: A 2-pound package of Sunset-brand Campari Tomatoes, above, was selling for $3.99 or a dollar less than at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro. A 2-pound package from another grower of hothouse tomatoes was only $1.49, below.

$11 A POUND FOR ORGANIC SPRING MIX: Three 5-ounce packages of this Farmers' Direct Organic Spring Mix would cost $10.77, but you'd still be 1 ounce shy of the 16 ounces of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix selling for $4.99 at Costco Wholesale.
DO-IT-YOURSELF JUMBO SHRIMP: I've never been turned down at the nearby Whole Foods Market in Paramus when I've asked to have wild shrimp deveined, but the employee at Gourmanoff on Wednesday afternoon shook his head no.
WILD AND FARMED FISH: The fresh seafood display is relatively small, but appeals to pescetarians and other fish lovers.
HIGHS AND LOWS: Gourmanoff sells Basa Fillets, a low-quality farmed catfish from Vietnam, center, next to high-quality Wild Salmon from Alaska, right.
OPEN 7 DAYS: Gourmanoff is at 221 Route 4 west in Paramus; 1-201-308-6888. Open 7 days from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. At the register, you can sign up for a NetCost Market Club card that gives you special discounts on many items in the store. The card also gives senior citizens a 10% discount on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The supermarket is opposite iFly, the indoor skydiving center that replaced the long-shuttered Forum Diner, below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Older Americans have a great deal at stake in the Nov. 6 congressional, local elections

The cover story in the AARP Bulletin this month lists 10 ways the Nov. 6 midterm elections will affect older Americans.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- "This year's midterm elections will impact older Americans for decades," AARP Bulletin reports.

AARP, whose stated mission is "empowering people to choose how they live as they age," lists the issues elected officials will be grappling with in the coming term:
Shoring up Social Security, rising drug prices, Medicare funding, growing or slowing Medicaid, the future of health insurance, bolstering retirement savings, lower retirement taxes, fixing pension shortfalls, more help for caregivers, and fraud against and abuse of people who are 65-plus.
100 percent nonpartisan

"This is one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime," political scholar Norman Ornstein recently told AARP editors about the 2018 midterm elections [on Nov. 6], "and we wholeheartedly agree."

"We are at a moment in which important decisions need to be made on many matters key to the lives of older Americans," AARP Bulletin reports.

"Some are obvious, like the future funding and structure of Medicare and our health-care system. 

"At the same time, many states are grappling with issues related to worker discrimination, retirement savings, underfunded pensions [New Jersey], Medicaid, caregiving and more.

"Those we put in office could shape the resolutions of these issues for decades to come," says AARP, adding the group is "100 percent nonpartisan."

"But we do want you to know about the issues facing older Americans, the ways each issue can be addressed, and the policies that our organization believes will best serve all older Americans.

"So vote. For you, your loved ones and America."

Shoring up Social Security

"Social Security's trust fund will fall short by 2034; if that happens, benefits would drop by about 20 percent, a 2018 government report says.

"Some elected officials have proposed cutting Social Security as part of deficit reduction.... And if Republicans still control Congress next year, Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment could face a major change."

Rising drug prices

"Prescription drug costs are increasing at a rate 10 times faster than inflation, and state legislatures, Congress and the federal government are starting to take on pharmaceutical companies.

"AARP supports allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, permitting the importation of safe lower-cost drugs, and speeding generic drugs to market."

Medicare funding

"Medicare's trust fund will fall short by 2026, according to a report by the program's trustees in June.

"House Republicans have proposed a budget that would give seniors a voucher-type option to enroll in private health plans, and have proposed other changes that would squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare.

"Whether that proposal moves ahead could depend on who controls Congress after November."

To read the rest of the AARP report, see:

New Jersey ballot

On Nov. 6, New Jersey residents will be voting for a U.S. senator and a member of the House of Representatives.

In Bergen County, the county executive is seeking another term, as are two members of the Board of Freeholders.

The ballot also includes two public questions seeking funding for programs in New Jersey and Hackensack.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

GOP controls all branches of government, answers to an unhinged President Trump

Jimmy Margulies, former editorial cartoonist at The Record of Woodland Park, suggesting the wild week on Wall Street and Kanye West's visit to the White House weren't unrelated (Margulies calls it "the Trump-Kanye West merger"). You can find more Margulies and other cartoons at The Cagle Post.



HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The only time President Trump seems sane is when he invites a wacko like Kanye West to the Oval Office.

Last week, West's rant silenced Trump in a way we haven't ever seen.

One pop music critic claimed West was "sucking up" to the president. 

And did you see how uncomfortable Trump looked when West, in his red MAGA baseball cap, stood up, walked behind the president's desk and bent down to hug him as he remained seated?

GOP and 1%

Still, the Republican Party continues to allow Trump to destroy our democracy and dismantle the legacy of former President Barack Obama -- while so-called tax reform lines the pockets of the 1%.

The GOP controls all three branches of government.

Meanwhile, with the Nov. 6 mid-term congressional elections fast approaching, "many ... Republicans -- including those on the Supreme Court -- have engaged in a deliberate campaign to make voting harder," says Op-Ed Columnist David Leonhardt at The New York Times.

"They've reduced voting hours and added cumbersome identification requirements, among other things," Leonhardt wrote last week.

Obama weighs in 

Also last week, Leonhardt quoted Barack Obama saying:

"My message in this upcoming election is very simple: It's vote.

"This isn't really a 50-50 country. It's like a 60-40 country," Obama said, adding:

"Democrats could and will do even better, if everyone ... not only votes but makes sure that all your wishy-washy, excuse-making, Internet-surfing, TV watching, grumbling-but-not-doing-nothing friends and family members get to the poles. Vote."

Your vote to shift control of Congress to the Democrats could restore the checks and balances laid out in the U.S. Constitution.

Cartoonist Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin refers to an alarming report on climate change from a United Nations panel of scientists. "Do you smell something burning?"

Sunday, October 7, 2018

If you're feeling angry, apathetic or lazy as Election Day approaches, just vote by mail

Donald J. Trump has claimed to be a self-made billionaire, but that's total fiction, according to a New York Times investigation, and cartoonist Joe Heller of the Green Bay Press Gazette in Wisconsin illustrates the fraud. 



HACKENSACK, N.J. -- If you are one of the Democrats angered by the bitter partisan battle that ended with Brett Kavanaugh getting a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, the solution is as close as your mailbox.

All you have to do to vote on Nov. 6 -- in a bid to move Congress to the left -- is apply for a mail-in ballot, fill it out in the comfort of your home and send it in.

The Bergen County clerk sent out forms to register to vote, as well as applications for a mail-in ballot, so you no longer have an excuse to remain on the sidelines, as millions of apathetic or lazy Democrats did in the 2016 presidential election.

If Democrats take control of Congress, there is a real possibility we could see the impeachments of both President Trump and Associate Justice Kavanaugh in 2019.

With a mail-in ballot, you can really procrastinate: 

"Mail-in ballots that bear a postmark date of November 6, 2018, which are received by the County Board of Elections by 8:00 p.m. on November 8, 2018, shall be considered timely submitted," according to an insert in my mail-in ballot.

By the way, you'll need two stamps to mail back the ballot, but you also can hand carry it to the Bergen County Administration Building in Hackensack. 

$165M referendum

Meanwhile, Hackensack's notoriously apathetic residents also can use a mail-in ballot to reject a Board of Education referendum to spend a total of $165.1 million on a new junior high school and existing schools.

If approved, local property taxes surely will go up; about 45% of your taxes already go to support the schools.

School board President Lara L. Rodriguez has mentioned Jan. 22, 2019, as a possible date for Hackensack residents to vote on the proposal -- clearly a strategy to use winter weather keep the vote down.

Well, don't let the school board get away with it: Vote against the plan by mail-in ballot.

Ballot deadlines

The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot by mail is "not less than 7 days prior to an election."

In person, you can apply "up to 3 p.m. on the day before the election."

The voter-registration deadline is 21 days before the Nov. 6 election; this year that's Oct. 16.

And if you received a mail-in ballot in the 2016 presidential election, county election officials were obligated to send you a mail-in ballot for the 2018 General Election on Nov. 6.

And you'll get a mail-in ballot for all future elections, unless your notify the officials in writing you do not want to receive them.

The mail-in ballot, instructions and inserts for the mid-term elections for Congress -- less than a month away -- are in three languages, English, Spanish and Korean. Plus, the Nov. 6 ballot has statewide and Hackensack public questions.
Democrats must vote a straight party line, if they hope to gain control of Congress.
If approved, the first public question would authorize the state to issue $500 million in bonds to provide grants to schools, school districts and county colleges for technical education, school security and water infrastructure improvements. The second public question would set up a Municipal Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund in Hackensack.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A difficult wild salmon season has ended, but I can still taste that incredible Sockeye

In early July, I bought a beautiful fillet of fresh, wild Sockeye Salmon from Whole Foods Market in Paramus for the Prime Member price of $13.99 a pound, grilled serving portions on the stovetop and made breakfast sandwiches with leftovers straight from the fridge, below.
My wild Sockeye Salmon sandwich used ends from Dave's Killer Bread, an organic loaf from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, usually with Dijon mustard, organic spring mix and tomato, but I also used pesto, reduced-fat Swiss cheese and silken slices of smoked, wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, also from Costco.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- There is nothing in the wide world of fish that looks or tastes as good as fresh, wild-caught Sockeye Salmon.

This past summer, I enjoyed this wonderful, heart-healthy fish -- called Red Salmon in Alaska -- grilled on my stovetop or baked in the oven, and for the first time, sliced raw in a sushi restaurant.

But the 2018 salmon harvest in Alaska fell short of the preseason forecast of 147 million fish by about 31%, state officials said in late August.

I don't know for sure, but is that why I never saw any skin-on sockeye from the famed Copper River, usually the first fillets to go on sale at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro in early June?

All of the wild Sockeye and Coho Salmon I saw at Costco through last week was labeled "Wild Caught Product of USA" and none specified "Alaska."

I did find Sockeye Salmon from Alaska at Whole Foods Market, but the Paramus supermarket sold Copper River fillets for as much as $39.99 a pound.

"The three largest Alaska commercial salmon harvest on record occurred between 2013 and 2017; looking back to the mid-1970s, harvests between 100 [million] and 150 million fish, like 2018, are far more common...," the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said on Aug. 23.

In Western Alaska, state officials said, Bristol Bay "experienced the second-largest Sockeye Salmon harvest on record (nearly 42 million fish), and the fourth consecutive season with a harvest exceeding 35 million Sockeye Salmon."

I've grilled serving portions of fresh, wild Sockeye Salmon on the stovetop, and served them with grilled Romaine lettuce and grilled ripe peaches. I've also spooned on warm red salsa from Costco Wholesale, adding fresh lemon juice and fresh mint leaves from my garden, above and below.

In July, August and September, Costco's Teterboro warehouse was selling fillets of fresh, wild Sockeye Salmon for $9.99 a pound -- only a dollar more per pound than artificially colored but antibiotic-free farmed Atlantic Salmon from Norway.
My stovetop grill straddles two burners, and I grilled Sockeye Salmon on both sides for a total of 7 minutes to 8 minutes.
During our August vacation in Alaska, I ordered fresh Sockeye Salmon served over pesto at Simon & Seafort's, a fine-dining restaurant and my pick for the best seafood in Anchorage.
In Whittier, Alaska, we ordered takeout from the Wild Catch Cafe, and I ate this juicy Wild Salmon Sandwich and a baby spinach salad on the Glacier Discovery Train back to Anchorage. 
The first time I enjoyed melt-in-the mouth raw Sockeye Salmon was on the last day of our vacation in Alaska at Arctic Sushi, a restaurant in downtown Anchorage, above and below.
Wild Sockeye Salmon has it all: Color and flavor.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A sex predator in the White House is OK, but the jury still is out on Brett Kavanaugh

Cartoonist Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer shows Republicans drinking from Donald J. Trump's libation, and saying, "If these women were so worried about being attacked, why did they show up to our party?"
Cartoonist David Fitzsimmons of The Arizona Daily Star didn't take sides after the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fitzsimmons says, "And the victim is ....?"


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Many Americans are having second thoughts about supporting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after the judge showed a total lack of judicial temperament and claimed to  be a victim of a left-wing conspiracy.

Meanwhile, when President Trump told the United Nations General Assembly his administration has accomplished more than any other in history, 100 world leader, their ministers and ambassadors laughed, interrupting his speech.

Another chaotic week exposed an all-out partisan war over allegations Kavanaugh, described as falling down drunk, tried to rape a 15-year-old girl during a gathering in 1982, when he was attending a Catholic high school. 

Still, Republican senators agreed to postpone a vote in the Senate to approve his nomination to the nation's highest court to allow the FBI to question others who were at the gathering.

Trump, the sex predator in the White House, gave the FBI a week to interview those named by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged Kavanaugh tried to rape her.

Her powerful testimony at a Senate hearing -- and Kavanaugh's tearful, angry rebuttal and claim "the Clintons" were taking revenge on him -- kept millions riveted to their TVs on Thursday. 

Cartoonist Bruce Plante of the Tulsa World called Christine Blasey Ford "courageous."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Clueless, error-filled column on all-electric Tesla Model 3 is better than negative news

"Electric FUN," a front-page column about all-electric cars or EVs in The Record of Woodland Park on Monday, was illustrated with the Mitsubishi i-MIEV, an EV that was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2017. Sales of the small Japanese car, which had a range of only 62 miles, totaled 2,108 over 7 years, according to GreenCarReports.com.



HACKENSACK, N.J. -- John Cichowski, a columnist at The Record of Woodland Park, wants you to meet his wife's cousin, Bob.

Bob Silverberg, who owned a 20-year-old Honda, now drives a  new Tesla Model 3, the all-electric car that's been buried in negative news since deliveries to customers began last year.

But the Page 1 column on Monday in the once-great local daily newspaper was upbeat and positive, with no mention of past production problems, delayed deliveries or the eccentricities of Elon Musk, CEO of upstart Tesla.

Still, typical of Cichowski's work in the past 15 years, the column is filled with errors, and nowhere does the clueless reporter mention that Model 3, like all Teslas, is a zero-emissions vehicle that does no harm to the environment or to humans.

When he unveiled the midsize Model 3 in 2016, Musk noted more than 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from auto emissions. 

Self-driving features

Chichowski, who calls himself The Road Warrior, begins the column with Tesla's "Summon" feature, which allows the owner using a smartphone app to stand outside the Model 3, start it and have it back out of the garage or, as Cousin Bob did, a carport.

But the reporter doesn't mention the owner of a  Model 3 can also have the car parallel park, drive and steer on the highway, and change lanes automatically.

'No gas tank'

Although he never tells readers the Model 3 is a zero-emissions car without an exhaust pipe, Cichowski does say the EV has "no gas tank."

All you have to do is plug it into "a wall socket," he says, but Cichowski doesn't mention Tesla's network of dedicated Superchargers (fast electric-charging stations) in New Jersey and across the nation, a key to the company's success.

He also exaggerates how much time a Tesla owner spends charging the car, and omits mention of a 240-volt wall socket any electrician can install that allows an owner to charge his EV in a few hours overnight just like he or she charges a cell phone. 

No transmission?

"Electric vehicles don't need transmissions. EVs run on torque," Chichowski claims, providing the two biggest laugh lines in the column.

"Torque" is the twisting motion produced by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor, but the car won't go anywhere unless you connect that torque to the driving wheels via a transmission.

Cousin Bob's Model 3 does have a transmission, but it has only 1 speed, so driving the EV is smooth, silent and -- with all of the torque available immediately -- effortless.

"I'm not polluting the air as much as I did with my Honda, and [my Model 3 is] a lot of fun to drive," Cousin Bob says.

Someone should tell Bob he isn't "polluting the air" at all.

For some strange reason, no photo of Cousin Bob's Model 3 appears with the column, but a photo of an "electric car" used in the Glen Rock July Fourth parade in 2017 appears on the continuation page, 6A.

More laugh lines

"The Model 3 doesn't even need a dashboard," The Road Warrior columnist reports. 

"Instead, it's got something we're already used to on our smartphones: a touchscreen -- except this one is almost as big as a chauffeur," he says, referring to the 15-inch touch screen on the Model 3.

"Like a phone, just touch it the right way and it'll do everything your dash did and more -- phone, radio, heat, air conditioning, etc., etc."

Gee-whiz. Will Tesla's wonders ever cease?

Using a free Tesla Supercharger in the Colonie Center Mall outside of Albany, N.Y., in 2017, I was able to add 100 miles of range to my Tesla Model S in about 40 minutes while my wife and I grabbed a bite to eat and used the restroom at the Whole Foods Market.