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Keeping Up With Maury
Tricks from the Restaurant Trade
by Maury Feren

Oh, those un-tender carrots. Why do I call them un-tender? Because they are too tough to eat! I go into top-notch restaurants and they are serving un-tender carrots. Why is that?

Let me explain the carrot problem. Recently, I dined in a Mediterranean restaurant and they decorated the appetizer plate with tough carrots. The next night I ate in a specialty fish market restaurant. They served elongated strips of carrots along with tender green beans. These carrots were also not edible.

I once mentioned this to a Japanese restaurant owner. He changed his pattern for a while but I just visited again and he is back to his old practice of serving un-tender carrots.

It's a matter of price. The only tender carrots are those that are sold in a bunch. However, you only get 10 carrots for $2.50 in a bunch. They will be sweet and tender and fit for any recipe.

The packaged baby carrots are punched out from large carrots. They get mushy in soup. If you see them in a cocktail tray, they will be tough as well. Cost will drive the chefs away. Perhaps, there are a few chefs out there who purchase local bunched baby carrots. I must tell you that is a treat.

Here's another thing to keep in mind. Fresh fish is in high demand. The market drives the prices. Some of the major markets don't identify fish that was previously frozen. There is a difference.

Once fresh fish is frozen and thawed out, it cannot be re-frozen without losing its juices. This is most important during this season when there is a shortage of many kinds of fish for example Chilean Sea Bass and Halibut. I could never understand why Chilean Sea Bass are on the endangered species list because I never fail to see it offered from day one. It is and was always available. For example, if you ask most fish vendors they will tell you if the fish has been thawed out.

Also, why is it that few restaurants offer wild fish? First of all, most of our salmon comes from Aqua Farms. Wild fish has less pollution. Only on occasion will you see it. If you do, grab it. Farm raised fish has a great deal of pollution. The cost difference keeps the wild fish from being offered on a regular basis. I can't understand why a 4 star restaurant would chose Atlantic farm raised fish if they pride themselves on their quality choices.

You should know that there are all kinds of tricks in the trade. One of the restaurants I attended recently served only of a trout fish. That was their whole serving. When I wrote the restaurant about it, they never answered my letter. Yesterday my friend ordered trout. He received a bottom piece of fish for the serving. I have never seen trout served that way.

I have to mention a couple of things. Local corn has arrived. It looks great and is featured in a couple of my favorite stores at 50 cents an ear. Don't miss it.

I told you the other day you would have to look far and wide for the old fashioned elongated striped melon. They are available. Note, they have seeds and you will find them sweeter than the seedless melons. Since they run 30lbs. plus, they will sell for $8-9. But you won't be sorry if you chose one. They do well for a watermelon basket or for slicing. It's still peak season for watermelons.

I saw some interesting things on my shopping tour today. A gigantic home grown red onion, flat yellow squash, all kinds of zucchini, green beans that were truly tender, fresh figs, fresh okra, and organically grown lettuce in a plastic cover. These are just a few of the delicacies that await you at your favorite market.

I can't think of a better way to spend a pleasant morning.

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