Six Years Is Way Too Long — Part 8

So we’ll bring…

We had a choice, but it wasn’t really a choice. We could either head out to Teaneck on Thurs. after dinner, or we could get up early – quite early – Fri. morning and do the same. As I have an allergic reaction to cracks of dawn….. As I said, it really wasn’t much of a choice.

We have a barter system of sorts going on. Whenever we need to spend a Shabbat in New Jersey, we head to Ze’ev and Susie in Teaneck, and whenever their girls and related others need a place to sleep in Ma’ale Adumim, they know whom to call. For a while, Susie’s aged and infirmed father was living with them on Carleton Terrace. In order for the arrangement to work, they built an addition to the first floor of their house, with a bedroom and a bath. Once the elderly gentleman passed, voila! there was now a separate suite for guests, one we are more than willing to occupy. Susie had done most of her Shabbat preparations on Thurs., so she graciously agreed to take us on a whirlwind shopping spree Fri. morning, so we could get a few things we needed.

Was there even a shadow of a doubt that we would make our way to Hot Bagels on Teaneck Road (down the block from where we used to live), where they produce the best bagels in NJ and, possibly, the world? Remember, Frank and Abby are hunkered down in the Berkshires. There’s a lot to like where they are (We’ll get to that in due time), but first-rate bagels they ain’t got. So we’ll bring. More immediately, someone (as in yours truly) needs to buy some wine for Shabbat, as the Atlases, for all their good qualities, are not high on the vine. There’s a small store a mile or so up on Queen Anne Road, but Susie was taking us up to the strip mall on New Bridge Road in Bergenfield, the next town up.

I remembered Wine Country (the name of the store) from six years ago. They had a table with a decent selection of kosher wine right by the front of the store. And I remember the woman who was handling the sales, upon learning that I was not from these parts, insisting on seeing my passport. Susie had mentioned that the store had changed ownership, but we weren’t expecting the answer we were given when Barbara innocently asked where the kosher wine section was. The whole store is kosher. Please understand: we’re not talking about some run-of-the-mill mom and pop liquor store. This place is bigger than Mesameyach, Achim Nechamia, and Terminal 3 – the three stores I frequent in or near the shuk – put together. As you can see in the picture, this place is HUGE, and, just as the salesclerk said, it’s all kosher. The other side of the store has their equally large selection of whiskies. When I die, just bury me somewhere in the back of the store in between the bourbon and the rye.

Since I wasn’t a master of my own time, I didn’t want to linger to do a mental inventory of what was on offer. I grabbed two bottles of non-descript unfamiliar California wines and paid for them – this time without needing to whip out my American passport. Had I, with ruach hakodesh, realized we would wind up here, I wouldn’t have had to shlep three bottles of whiskey from Chicago, but as we would have said back in the Bronx, Who knew?

Next door to the spirits emporium is the Grand and Essex Market. Well, that’s what they call themselves, but I know better. Hadn’t we been at the real deal the day before? If you stand in front of the International Center for Photography on Essex St., waiting for a cab that’s supposed to arrive, and you look up the block, there’s the original Grand St. Market, this enormous array of fruits and vegetables stands that’s been there forever, a shuk by any other name. We had also been to the faux version on New Bridge Road during our previous trip, but now they had become even more hoity-toity than they were before – in keeping with the general trend in these parts. (Remember when kosher shopping meant going to something like Leibel Bistritzky’s cheese store at 39 Essex St., approximately the size of our living room. It just occurred to me as I’m writing this: the I.C.P. is at 79 Essex. How far away is that?)

If we were going to bring Frank and Abby a pound of Kenyan coffee and a half dozen of the world’s finest bagels, let’s also bring them some salads and some cheese and whatever else we can find of interest. (I have to digress for a moment. With all the kosher products now available in The States, why are they still selling skimpy packages of lack-luster pre-sliced cheese for exorbitant prices? If anyone tried to peddle this crapola in Mahane Yehuda, they would be laughed at, ridden out of town on the light rail with a warning never to come back.)

We were again pressed for time, and therefore I didn’t have an opportunity to carefully go through the aisles, making note of what’s been put on the shelves since we’ve been gone. Susie had to get back, and so did we, as we had a brunch date with Leslie, whom we’ve also known for more than a century – although she has not aged a bit in that time. She and Stan are mostly living in Florida, but they do spend some time up north. When Leslie found out that all of us would be, not only on the same continent, but in the same state, at the same time, which is not once-in-a-blue-moon, but perhaps as often as a solar eclipse, she was determined to meet up with us. She picked us up and drove to Patis Bakery, the newest super-chic eatery on Cedar Lane. (This establishment apparently replaced Pizza Crave, of which we had fond memories. When we lived in Teaneck, if we were careful and saved our pennies, we might have been able to afford a slice or two once a month.) Such decadence! Sitting at a sidewalk café mid-day Fri., having a light repast, without a care in the world. I could get used to such luxury. The sad reality, though, is that somebody has to do the cooking. In this case, it wasn’t me. it was Susie. Just relax, said I to myself, it doesn’t happen too often.

We were being truly the social butterflies. Later in the afternoon, we were able to get together with Gil’s parents, who live up the road a spell in Fairlawn. Natania and Gil have been married for two years now, and I had never met his parents. About time, don’t you think?

The sun was not yet setting, but it was going to, and that’s a fact. We needed to get ready for Shabbat, and the holy Sabbath in our old stomping grounds will be the subject of the next post, which will come your way – if you are patient (and I know you are).

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