The Frugal Gourmet
With prices on the rise (gasoline, rice, airfare, gold, you name it), I've seen articles on how to eat gourmet for less, how to be a recessionista and how to dump the car for public transit. I'm lucky when it comes to wheels because I had the foresight to buy a used Toyota Prius four years ago. If my car were to ever run out of gas, I can walk four blocks from my house to the nearest Metro station and hop on a train. When it comes to food, however, I'm an unabashed snob. Fortunately, I don't live too far from Fresh & Easy. That's the supermarket chain that Tesco, the U.K.'s largest and the world's third largest retailer, opened in Southern California last year. The location in Eagle Rock usurped the building left vacant by a failing Albertson's. By comparison, Fresh & Easy is a huge improvement. Not only do drivers of hybrid cars like me receive preferential parking in front of the store, but I also took advantage of coupons that cut $5 off purchases valued over $20. Miguelito and I went hog wild there on Saturday.
For instance, Atlantic salmon caught in Canada cost $6.49 per pound. A bottle of Spanish rose wine put us back $4.99. A small pack of sweet blackberries cost less than $3. Fresh & Easy even makes a point of listing the food's provenance on the packaging. Like Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy pre-wraps all its fruits and vegetables. I am not a fan of this method because it prevents me from touching, smelling, inspecting and selecting the food I want. Also, what if I want only two tomatoes instead of a quartet? Plus, Fresh & Easy doesn't have the sweetest deals in town. The Hollywood Farmers Market is the mother lode for in-season produce on the Eastside, and the Vietnamese grocery store in Echo Park offers amazing deals on fish sauce (nearly two cups worth of fish sauce from Vietnam's famed Phu Quoc Island for 99 cents; limes for 59 cents per pound).
The weekend's splurge was actually made at Mitsuwa, where I finally redeemed the $20 gift certificate that Miguelito gave me for Christmas. At the Japanese grocery store in Little Tokyo, I snapped up a small bottle of yuzu juice for $7.99 and a tin of wasabi powder for $2.39. This is what I did with my finds.
I mixed the yuzu with some olive oil for a vinaigrette to douse rice noodles and radish sprouts.
I used the wasabi powder to freshen up some furikake, or a seaweed and toasted sesame seed seasoning that is eaten with cooked rice, for a crust on the salmon.
Because the furikake was sufficiently salted, I didn't need to add any additional seasoning to the fish. Miguelito also grilled some sweet peppers and white mushrooms.
This was a happy ending for the weekend.