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Planning to rent a car at Miami's airport? First, you'll have to walk, walk and walk

WALK, THEY SAID: After my flight from Newark to Miami, I picked up my luggage and set off for the rental-car center, using elevators, ...

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Costco Wholesale sells more organic fruit, including strawberries, but it's hit or miss

ORGANIC FRUIT? Conventional strawberries, above, and conventional blueberries, below, at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro today.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Last week, when my wife mentioned she saw organic strawberries at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, my only question was why she didn't buy any.

Conventional strawberries are grown with a lot of pesticides so I've been trying to buy only organic, usually relying on sales at Whole Foods Market in Paramus or H Mart in Little Ferry, where they were $1.99 a pound one Sunday.

But when we went to the Teterboro Costco this morning, I couldn't find any organic strawberries or any of the organic blueberries she also saw last week.

That reminded me of a Costco truism: 

When you see it, buy it or risk not seeing the item again or at least not for a while.

Still, Costco has greatly widened its selection of organics in the last few years, including bread, pasta sauces, salsa, granola and quinoa.

Where the warehouse club is weakest is in selling vast amounts of beef, pork and chicken raised on harmful antibiotics, including a wildly popular but low-quality rotisserie bird.

ORGANIC COFFEE FROM COLOMBIA: A Rainforest Blend of organic coffee beans from Colombia was less than $5 a pound at the Teterboro Costco. I will grind them at the Costco Business Center near my home in Hackensack, and use them in my drip coffee maker.
WIND ENERGY: Cafe Cubano, another organic coffee bean at Costco, is produced with 100% wind energy. 
LOW-QUALITY POULTRY: The Teterboro Costco offers a barnyard of Kirkland Signature whole chickens and parts, above and below, raised on antibiotics that are harmful to humans, who are becoming resistant to antibiotics prescribed by their doctors. The package doesn't even say whether these birds are vegetarian fed.

ANTIBIOTIC FREE: The Teterboro Costco also sells Empire Kosher Chicken Breasts, above, and Perdue Whole Cornish Hens, below, that are raised without antibiotics
SOCK IT TO ME: A great non-food item I bought today are these Kirkland Signature Men's Cushion Foot Dress Socks, which are over the calf and made from a cotton blend. Five pairs were $9.99 or about $2 each.
FILL UP: Our purchases in the back seat of my wife's 2010 Toyota Prius, a gas-electric hybrid she topped up at the Costco gas station in Teterboro, where a gallon of regular is about 30 cents less than elsewhere after you figure in the 4% rebate from the Costco credit card.
LINE OUT THE DOOR: Costco members waiting impatiently at the Teterboro warehouse, above and below, for the doors to open at 10 this morning.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Now, a dictatorial but senile Trump rules nation by saying, 'We'll see what happens'

Editorial cartoonist Milt Priggee tries to cram in all of problems that beset the nation since the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president in January 2017, including "endless wars," "denouncing free press," "American self-isolation," "climate-change denial" and "Big Pharma's opioid-addiction crisis." 


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Under Donald J. Trump, the worst president in U.S. history, our great nation is being ruled by tweet and happenstance.

After the president (not North Korea, as I wrote earlier) cancelled a scheduled June 12 summit to discuss a nuclear-disarmament treaty, Trump tweeted the meeting might take place after all.

"We'll see what happens," the president said weakly to the cowardly White House press corps, which has yet to confront him and demand, "Please stop lying to the American people."

Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress rammed through the biggest tax cut ever for the wealthy and big corporations, ensuring massive budget deficits in the future.

Yet, the president still refuses to release his tax returns. 

See more editorial cartoons below and on The Cagle Post.

Jimmy Margulies, former editorial cartoonist at The Record of Woodland Park, a once-great local daily newspaper, has owners of National Football League teams climbing into bed with Trump when they held players could no longer kneel during the national anthem without leaving themselves open to punishment and exposing their teams to possible financial penalties.
Cartoonist Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer spelling out the NFL team owners' anthem policy, using the acronym, "RESPECT": "Revenue, Enrichment, Sales, Profit, Earnings, Cash and Trump."
In this cartoon by Stephane Peray, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and President Trump give the finger to a white dove, a symbol of peace.
Cartoonist Dave Granlund has Trump blaming cancellation of the summit meeting on Kim Jung-un's "name calling."
R.J. Matson, the cartoonist at Roll Call, says Trump, under relentless pressure from the Russia investigation, is claiming investigators are the ones who are breaking the law.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Steering around the farmed fish at Costco. Plus, first (maybe last) visit to Wegmans

FROM COSTCO WHOLESALE: Fresh, wild flounder caught in the United States turns snowy white when prepared with pesto, organic spinach, tomatoes and pitted olives, above; or with pesto, tomatoes and pitted olives, below. See Victor's Healthy Kitchen on YouTube for how-to videos.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Let me count the ways I love the wild-caught fish I find at Costco Wholesale.

The refrigerated cases in Teterboro and Wayne offer skinless-and-boneless fillets of Cod from Iceland, Flounder from the United States or Canada, Haddock, Silver Corvina from Suriname in South America, skin-on Ocean Perch and whole Snappers from Panama.

From time to time, I also see thick, wild-caught ahi-tuna steaks and fat fillets of wild halibut.

They're the best reasons to avoid the farmed fish you'll see nearby, especially the bargain-basement Farmed Tilapia from Colombia or the enormous slabs of artificially colored Farmed Atlantic Salmon raised with antibiotics and who knows what else.

FROM COLOMBIA TO COSTCO IN WAYNE: Fresh Farmed Tilapia ($4.99 a pound), also known as Saint Peter Fish, is called a "good alternative" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch when the fillets come from Colombia, but Tilapia fillets from Peru and Ecuador are rated "best choice."
FROM NORWAY TO WAYNE: Costco Wholesale carries two types of Fresh Farmed Atlantic Salmon, including these artificially colored fillets from Norway, where they are raised without harmful antibiotics ($8.99 a pound). However, the best Farmed Atlantic Salmon comes from Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified salmon farms, and the Costco label doesn't mention the council.
AT COSTCO IN WAYNE: Fresh, wild Flounder Fillets were $7.99 a pound. With no Sunday blue laws to worry about in Passaic County, I also picked up 7 bottles of Kirkland Signature red wine, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Rioja Reserva.
FROM CANADA TO WAYNE: Fresh, wild Ocean Perch Fillets were $5.49 a pound on Sunday at the Costco Wholesale, 149 Route 23 north, in the Wayne Towne Center mall.
FROM SOUTH AMERICA TO WAYNE:  Fresh, wild Silver Corvina is an unusually meaty fish when cooked ($8.99 a pound).
FROM PANAMA TO TETERBORO: My wife bought fresh, whole wild-caught Snappers from Panama at the Costco in the Teterboro Landing Shopping Center, 2 Teterboro Landing Drive; wrapped them in foil with sweet peppers, garlic, onions, tomatoes and seasonings, and baked them for 1 hour. Delicious.

At Wegmans in Montvale

The opening of an enormous Wegmans supermarket in Montvale last September was a non-event to me and other residents of Hackensack nearly 16 miles away.

The company, based in Rochester, N.Y., dragged its feet for years on opening in Bergen County, then picked a town on the far-off New York State border.

Last Thursday, when me and my son were returning home from Bear Mountain State Park in New York State, I stopped in and picked up a few things. 

I didn't see any reason to make a special return trip, though.

TOO BIG FOR MY TASTE: In the produce section, I strained to see the back of the store.
COMPARED TO COSTCO: I could save 22 cents if I bought 3 pounds of organic bananas at Wegmans in Montvale instead of at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, where they are $1.99.
SPARKLING WATER: I found a good deal on a dozen naturally flavored cans of seltzer for $2.50 with a Shoppers Club Card. I bought 4 packs for $10, but avoided Blackberry Tangerine and Coconut Lime.
TOO SWEET: A 6-ounce container of Wegmans Fruit On The Bottom Lowfat Yogurt contains 32 grams or nearly 8 teaspoons of natural and added sugars. I passed.
GOES ON AND ON: This photo shows the center section of Wegmans; there are large wings on each side. We spent about 30 minutes there, but never saw the fresh seafood department. The supermarket is at 100 Farm View, Montvale. Open 7 days from 6 a.m. to midnight. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Choking on internal-combustion engines, but yearning for simplicity, quiet of EVs

A NEW LEAF: Inside the second-generation, all-electric Nissan Leaf. Switching on "e-Pedal" brings the four-door hatchback to a stop at red lights and in traffic when the driver lifts off of the accelerator pedal.
IT'S COMPLICATED: The pricy, all-electric BMW i3s also has a busy interior that emphasizes style over function. Can you find the shift lever?
TESLA MODEL 3: The interior of Tesla's affordable Model 3 is even simpler and less cluttered than the bigger Model S and Model X, with most controls accessible from a 15-inch touch screen.


BEAR MOUNTAIN, N.Y. -- The annual spring driving event staged by the country's oldest organization of auto writers and publicists still is dominated by noisy, polluting internal-combustion engines.

As the owner of an all-electric Tesla Model S, I'm struck by the contradiction of inviting lead-footed members of the International Motor Press Association to foul the air of the beautiful, 5,025-acre Bear Mountain State Park.

The event is dubbed "Spring Brake" -- despite all the high-speed driving on public roads, and a cat-and-mouse game with park police.

Among dozens of luxury and performance vehicles available last Thursday, I found three zero-emission EVs -- a second-generation Nissan Leaf SL, Chevrolet Bolt and BMW i3s -- and a handful of plug-in and other gas-electric hybrids.

I got a chance to drive the Leaf and i3s over winding park roads overlooking the Hudson River, and on the highway, and both delivered strong acceleration and the quiet, calming experience battery electric cars are known for.

I also drove luxury performance cars from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, but no boring Volvos, and came away still believing they are an incredible waste of money.

With every purchase, owners are buying into further destruction of the environment, premature deaths from tailpipe emissions, and noise pollution in our already noisy world.

Click on the following link: 

FOUR-DOOR HATCHBACK: The redesigned Nissan Leaf is a vast improvement over the original, but this all-electric vehicle could be mistaken for any manufacturers' four-door hatchback with a gasoline engine.
ZERO EMISSION OR EMISSIONS? Should this badge say "Zero Emissions"? TV ads for the new Leaf don't even mention the all-electric powertrain.

QUIRKY: The interior and exterior design of the BMW i3s, a sportier version of the all-electric i3 with a range of 114 miles on a full charge, certainly stands out, but with models starting at $44,450, sales of the i3 have lagged.
DASHBOARD FOR TREE HUGGERS: A wood dashboard is one of the interior options on the i3.
HYUNDAI THREE WAYS: The Hyundai Ioniq is available as a gas-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, below; and with an all-electric powertrain and a range of 124 miles (sold only in California).

PLUG IN, FILL UP: On the way home to northern New Jersey, me and my son stopped at Cosimo's Ristorante & Bar on Route 300 in Newburgh, N.Y.; plugged in my Model S at a free Tesla Supercharger; and stuffed ourselves with a couple of oversized slices of wood-fired pizza and a salad, both made with plenty of great cheese.
SHRIMP SCAMPI: A slice of the Shrimp Scampi Pizza with large shrimp, baby arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and three cheeses -- provolone, mozzarella and shaved parmigiano ($15 for the pie).
HAIL CAESAR: We also split a large Caesar Salad covered with shaved Parmesan ($10).

Sunday, May 20, 2018

As high schoolers, teachers are cut down, NRA has Trump and Congress by the balls

Madison Cantrell, a junior, hugging a fellow student at a prayer vigil held on Friday afternoon for 8 students and 2 teachers killed during a gun attack at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas (Photo credit: David J. Phillip/AP).


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- "School shootings are now as American as apple lie," is how John Cassidy of The New Yorker started his column on the slaughter at a Texas high school last week.

"And Friday's tragedy at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, followed the usual recipe."

Cassidy said the only "atypical" aspect of the shooting is that the 17-year-old gunman reportedly used a shotgun and a revolver his father owned legally to kill his 10 victims and wound 13 others.

Will the father be charged with being criminally responsible in the murders?

Trump sits on hands

Of course, we can predict inaction from President Trump and the GOP-dominated Congress, who are bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association.

NRA campaign contributions to both Republicans and Democrats are the blood money they use to get re-elected.

The NRA has them by the balls in the same way Trump boasted on the "Access Hollywood" tapes about how easy it was to grab women by the pussy.

From Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer in North Carolina, Congress claims, "See I am doing something!"

Rental cars, guns

You have to be 25 years old to rent a car, but many gun shops will sell you a deadly weapon at a much younger age.

More high school students have been killed since Trump took office than U.S. soldiers have died in the two wars in which we're still involved (Afghanistan and Iraq).

Those were the among the observations Friday night by guests on "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO.

Right to bear arms

We're living in a sick country when the nation's high court can rewrite the Second Amendment to extend the right to bear arms to individuals from a "well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state."

And then lazy journalists began referring to the "Second Amendment right to bear arms" when hysterical gun owners claim proponents of tighter background checks and other reforms want to "take our guns away."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Eating Out: Asian Fusion or Confusion? Plus, Ramen Noodle Azuma in Englewood

Flat Rice Noodles in Thai Basil Sauce, above, and Pad Thai with Shrimp, below, are two of the entrees available as part of a $7.50 lunch special at IFish in Tenafly, a Chinese and Thai restaurant.


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- I have a good hunch why only one other customer was being served when I met a friend for the $7.50 lunch special at IFish in Tenafly on Tuesday.

The drab exterior of the former Friendly's restaurant likely serves as a big turnoff to hungry people driving by on County Road or they may be confused by the restaurant's self-descriptions:

The takeout menu calls IFish a Chinese and Thai restaurant, the website address says "ifishchinesefood.com" and a sign on the front of the building reads, "Thai and Asian Fusion."

The menu lives up to the name IFish with whole fish, fillets, calamari and lots of other seafood listed.

But if I want Chinese food, I go to Lotus Cafe, and when I'm hungry for Thai food, I head for Bangkok Garden, both in Hackensack.

Asian Fusion just doesn't appeal to me.

$7.50 lunch

We ordered the lunch special, which includes a small bowl of soup, appetizer and rice for $7.50, with a $1 supplement for shrimp and other items.

Under "Cantonese Style" on the lunch special menu, I saw "Tofu w. Fish Fillet," but when I asked the waiter what kind of fish, he answered, "White fish."

"Tilapia, cod ....?" I said.

He said he didn't know, and didn't offer to ask the cook.

So, I ordered Flat Rice Noodles in Thai Basil Sauce and my friend got the Pad Thai with Shrimp. Both of us also got a small bowl of soup and an eggroll.

With the exception of the awful eggroll, the food was tasty, but not worth the detour.

To mark the restaurant's 1-year anniversary, the owner is offering two specials at dinner only: 

All-you-can order from the menu and eat for $16.95, but you must finish all the food to avoid an extra charge; and $24.95 for a 1.5-pound lobster.

A small bowl of Hot & Sour Soup came with my lunch special.
Each of us got a crispy egg roll, but I didn't recognize or taste anything in the bland, glutinous filling.
The beautifully renovated interior of the former Friendly's is quite a contrast after you see the...
... drab exterior of the original restaurant. The exterior appears to have been untouched.
IFish is at 114 County Road in Tenafly; 201-569-1111. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. BYO. Website: IFish Chinese & Thai Restaurant.
A corner of the dining room at IFish.

At Ramen Azuma

We know a couple of places in Fort Lee that specialize in steaming bowls of broth filled with Japanese ramen noodles, but we didn't want to fight the crowds late Monday afternoon.

So, we headed for Ramen Noodle Azuma, a 22-seat spot in Englewood with appealing food and moderate prices.

Bowls of spicy or mild ramen aren't the only draw here. 

I loved the three appetizers I ordered, and was tempted by a fourth, a Pori Pori Salad of mixed greens topped with avocado, seaweed and gyoza skin ($7.50).

The restaurant also serves Gyoza, described as homemade pork and shrimp dumplings; boneless fried chicken, and french fries with 3 kinds of sauce ($4.50 each).

Other ramens on the menu include a Vegan Tonkotsu ($12) and Kimchee Miso Flavored ($14.50).

To celebrate the first few months of operation, the restaurant is offering 50% off all menu items from June 18 through June 22, but takeout is not included.

My college-age son ordered a bowl of ramen described on the menu as Spicy Flavored Tonkotsu ($12.50). He rated the pork broth a 6 out of 10, but was impressed by the level of heat and thick, fatty slices of pork. My wife's Ajitama Ramen came with pork slices and extra soft-boiled egg (also $12.50).
One of three appetizers I ordered was Kyuuri, sliced cucumber with red-pepper powder served over seaweed ($4).
Ebi Katsu Buns ($5) contain fresh shrimp coated with crispy  panko bread crumbs and topped with cabbage and spicy mayo. Nice.
I also tried Takoyaki ($5), crispy octopus balls with hot, creamy interiors and a garnish of thin bonito flakes that move from the heat of the appetizer, animating this tasty dish.
Ramen Noodle Azuma is at 39 S. Van Brunt St. in Englewood; 1-201-567-1283. Seating at counter and tables. Open 7 days from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. BYO. Website: Japanese Ramen Noodles
Water is served in small mason jars.