Friday, July 9, 2010

This Grocery Store Is A Big F'ing Deal

I've been living in one of Atrios's dreams of an urban hellhole without a car for several months. My grocery shopping has therefore been limited to what I can reach on foot (or bicycle) and what I can carry. I live right off a big shopping district so it's not like it's a hardship - there are wonderful vegetable stalls, fresh spices, bakeries just steps away. But it's urban rents so while there are 5 different grocery chains nearby, they're all small stores with limited selections.

Today a friend drove me out to the burbs to one of the biggest, fanciest-ass grocery stores in the entire nation, the Tiv-Taam in Rehovoth Rishon LeTzion. The store has a bar in it. Actually it has TWO bars - one's a wine bar with a great pub food menu, and the other is a noodle bar and a sushi bar and a Guinness-on-tap bar. And since Tiv-Taam is the not-kosher shopping chain, the place was hopping late on a Friday afternoon. I'm told it's a major destination for the secular folks on Friday nights and Saturdays.

Yes, this is how strange and sad my life has become. I'm gushing over the experience of going grocery shopping.

I didn't lose my mind completely - the leg of lamb looked gorgeous but I would've needed to buy a freezer to put it in. The gigantic cowboy ribeyes were pretty damn impressive as well but I would've needed a bank loan. So instead I went vegetarian with some items I haven't seen at a reasonable price in the city.

Asparagus salad

5 stalks white asparagus
1/4 avocado
1 slice red onion
1/2 small cucumber
pinch kosher salt
1 T rice vinegar
1/2 t mirin

I will cop right away to this: the asparagus came out of a jar. Fresh asparagus in Israel is, well, see above, bank loan. And of course we're way out of season. But it worked for this application. Nothing fancy; peel the cucumber, chop everything up and toss it with the vinegar and mirin. Let sit while the rest of the meal is prepared.

Sauteed Shemeji Mushrooms

1 package (3-4 oz.) brown shimeji mushrooms
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 t extra virgin olive oil

Trim the base so the mushrooms are all separate stalks. Heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the mushrooms, toss for a minute, and add the garlic. Sautee, stirring, until the mushrooms just start to darken. Remove from heat and plate immediately; residual heat will cook them just a little more. While still warm, top with 1-2 t of Francis Lam's ginger-scallion oil.

Sauteed Enoki Mushrooms

1 package (~2 oz.) enoki mushrooms
1 T butter
lime zest

Trim the base and separate the mushroom stalks. Melt the butter over low heat. Add the mushroom with a small pinch of kosher salt and saute gently for no more than two to three minutes. Garnish with lime zest.

Miso rice

Prepare white rice as normal but add 1 T dark miso per cup of water

Using rice vinegar and the sweet mirin in the salad prevents the mild flavor of the white asparagus from being overwhelmed. The avocado is buttery and rich in flavor and soft in texture; the cucumber, onion, and the acidity of the vinegar make a great counterpoint.

The shimejis are toothsome and garlicky with the savory flavor amped up by the giner oil. The enokis are buttery and rich. And the saltiness of the miso in the rice brings out the different tastes of the fungus.

I enjoyed all of this with some country onion bread from the Tiv-Taam's bakery, and I'm going to finish the evening with my other big find - a bottle of Tullamore Dew, and at darned near duty-free price!

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