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Shop Till You Drop …

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This time of year, certain foods become all the more precious as the days shorten and “back to school” sales start popping up everywhere—an inescapable reminder that the tastiest season is winding down.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already mourning the loss of seasonal fare like soft-shell crabs, black sea bass and Cape May salts; cool cucumber, asparagus or gazpacho soup; peach salsa; and creamy guacamole.

Seafood offerings at Philadelphia Lobster & Fish in WynnewoodThat’s the glass-half-empty approach, though, so I’m trying to change my dismal outlook by stocking up on whatever I can get my hands on. And, of course, that means I’ll be eating twice my weight in preparation of the long, dark, unappetizing winter. (Unlike everybody else, I gain weight in the summer and get back into fighting shape by November.) 

One of my favorite places to go on a foodie shopping spree is Philadelphia Lobster & Fish (333 E. Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood; philadelphialobsterandfish.com, 610-642-1082), tucked into the corner of the Wynnewood Shopping Center where Whole Foods Market is. Not only can you find a great selection of local, farm-raised, diver-caught and other sustainably procured seafood, there’s a tantalizing array of sushi, salsas, soups and prepared entrées, plus an entire farmstand’s worth of impeccable and unbelievably fresh produce, most of which comes from New Jersey.

The cases are consistently packed with pristine catches, including thick-cut skate, begging-for-stuffing whole calamari, local swordfish and bluefish, wild King Salmon, sushi-grade fluke, cooked lobster meat, and beautiful hunks of deep-pink, seared tuna filet.

Each day, there are a number of prepared items to choose from, such as flounder Franchaise, grilled teriyaki salmon, crab cakes, salmon burgers, and veggie dishes like steamed asparagus and steamed green beans topped with oyster sauce and almonds. The daily menu tends to be determined on the kitchen’s whim, but, for special orders, the sky’s the limit.
 
The salsa and soup deals are great, too; they’re usually buy one, get the second half-off. Last weekend, I bought the equivalent of a quart’s worth of crab gazpacho for about $8, which wasn’t bad considering my other favorite soup-maker, Food Source, sells the same amount of their garden-variety version for nearly $10.

Another big score is peeled garlic cloves, available in the quarter-pound-size containers for $1.99. And when I went to buy some the other day, one of the owners actually didn’t let me make the purchase because she said she wasn’t happy with the quality. There are also several different kinds of marinades—teriyaki, wasabi-ginger, basil-balsamic and mustard—to take one step out of your cooking chores.

I haven’t tried the sushi, but, from talking to other customers, it seems to be a popular alternative to Genuardi’s or the Ardmore Farmers’ Market at lunchtime.

Ultimately, you have to go see for yourself, as there is such a vast selection of ingredients to spur your culinary creativity (and to spend your money on). In fact, the only thing missing is fresh-baked bread and artisan cheeses. Who knows, maybe when all that beautiful summer fruit disappears, that’s exactly what will be waiting for us.
 

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