I’ve been hearing rumors about Fairway Market opening up a New Jersey location for years. I lived around the corner from Fairway in New York City and its accessibility was one of the aspects of city life that I was the most torn about leaving behind. My one bedroom apartment may have been overflowing with baby equipment, but I could run out and grab Moroccan olives, extra virgin olive oil, or triple cream Brie whenever I had an inkling of a craving, even if it was at midnight. Needless to say, I’ve been scouring the Internet for gossip about the Fairway move to NJ avidly.
Just when I was getting ready to attribute the rumors to an urban myth, construction began in the Fashion Center Mall in Paramus. Signs pointing to “Fairway, Like No Other Market” appeared long before the store was much more than a gutted shell. I prowled the parking lot every week or so, surveying the construction progress like an anxious parent-to-be.
Two weeks ago, I was gearing up for another drive by reconnaissance mission when I received an email from a PR firm representing Fairway. They were wondering if I wanted to come to the opening ceremony of the new Fairway Market in Paramus. I immediately penned the invitation details on all my calendars, electronic and paper, and counted the days until the event.
The big opening took place on Wednesday, March 25, complete with ribbon cutting and speeches by many politicians including Governor Corzine eager to celebrate the creation of 350 new jobs. The actual market was even better than I had imagined. It is over 50,000 square feet (more than twice the size of the Upper West Side one), and feels gigantic, humongous, and heavenly.
I walked in to the glorious maze of gleaming towers of produce, apples in every hue stacked well above my head. When I rounded the corner, I beheld the rest of the Fairway magic. The store feels like a Costco from a size standpoint, but the merchandise is like a fine specialty store in terms of quality and selection. An army of butchers stood ready to prepare any cut not available on the endless pre-packaged wall. The Kosher meat section was generating a great deal of excitement from local residents carting away armfuls of brisket.
The pastries in the bakery could rival any I’d seen at fancy French patisseries on the Madison avenue. The selection of fish was dazzling, from Australian cockles to whole red snapper, and a special case at the end displayed over a dozen different kinds of smoked salmon. I spent some time at the cheese counter and learned that Fairway carries the largest selection of artisan cheeses in any retailer: over 600 cheeses from all over the world, including gloriously stinky French raw milk cheeses.
While the Upper West Side Fairway was sometimes lacking in grocery items (like only carrying Coke and no Pepsi), this Paramus location has aisles and aisles of every grocery item you could imagine. And their organic section will easily rival Whole Foods. Fairway has always had a great reputation for low prices, but the deals they were offering for the opening were unbelievable. Fillet Mignon roast were at $4.99 a pound, 3 dozen little neck clams for $10, and USA caught jumbo shrimp was $5.99 a pound.
I ran all the way to my car, carting a huge fillet mignon roast I felt like I’d stolen by paying only $20 for it. I can’t wait to go back to the store once the madness of the opening has calmed down to really take the time to squeeze their melons.
Fashion Center Mall
Rt 17 North, Paramus
Vanessa Druckman aka Chefdruck, is our North Jersey contributor. Chefdruck is not a chef, as her online name suggests, just a huge food aficionado. She loves to cook and to eat out, and then to write about her experiences. Vanessa is a transplant from the big city. She is half-French and spent a big part of her childhood in France, so as a result, there’s no fear of cream and butter for Chefdruck. Read more from Vanessa at: http://www.chefdruck.blogspot.com/http://www.chefdruckwrites.blogspot.com