A Few Stops Along a Westchester Culinary Road Trip

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The Greek pecan baklava at Yaranush in White Plains.

By Morris Gut

We were out for a drive and decided to make a quick stop at Yaranush Mediterranean Foods in White Plains. We have been cooking up a storm at home during the COVID-19 crisis with no particular cuisine in mind.

So, why not catch up on some wonderful flavors of the Mediterranean?

It’s been a while since our last visit to Yaranush, which has been operating since 1987, so we were pleasantly surprised by the overall updated clean appearance of the store’s interior. All the larder was neatly displayed along the aisles and refrigerated cases. The fresh prepared goods beckoned from behind their displays. We were greeted with a warm hello upon entering.

We filled our basket with assorted goods with future recipes in mind: tahini, yogurt, French lentils, fresh baklava and halvah, along with a few Israeli and Greek products. Can’t wait to prepare our homemade hummus! We hurried back to our home kitchen.

Yaranush sells a variety of imported products and homemade goods from Armenia and Greece, Eastern Europe, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey. Shelves and display cases are stocked with dried fruits and nuts, spices, organic grains, beans, Greek cheeses, olives and olive oil, specialty breads, pita and more. Homemade Mediterranean appetizers and desserts are also on hand.

Yaranush is located at 322 Central Ave. in White Plains. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday. Info: 914-682-8449 or visit www.yaranush.com.

Lobster Rolls?

When I first spotted a bright red lobster roll sign while driving down Halstead Avenue in Harrison, it felt like I was traveling through a quaint town in Maine. It read LOBSTER ROLLS! Hot Soups, Chili, Chowders, Hot Dogs. Below that it said: Wellington’s Soup Shack. There were people waiting outside for their order, with proper social distancing, of course.

Bill and Ally Powell operate Wellington’s Grill on Halstead Avenue, a bustling restaurant/tavern known for its music nights and burger Mondays, lobster Tuesdays and prime rib Wednesdays. They added a New England touch to the property, an actual open-air shack which sits on the side of the eatery’s parking lot. There are rustic signs galore touting the day’s specialties: lobster roll and chips; double cheeseburger and eight-ounce soup; chicken wings, (Buffalo or barbecue style); soup of the day; and more.

Wellington’s Soup Shack is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wellington’s Grill is open for take-out next door.

Wellington’s Grill is located at 110 Halstead Ave. in Harrison. Info: 914-315-1532 or visit www.wellingtonsgrill.com.

Stew Leonard’s Birthday Pick-up

We received a lovely call recently from a Manhattan family offering to buy a birthday dinner for my companion at Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers via curbside pick-up. They linked us with the online menu, which included a list of 10 complete dinners for four. We chose a brisket dinner with a choice of two sides – asparagus and au gratin potatoes – and apple pie for dessert. That was on a Friday for a Monday pick-up at 6 p.m. Such a nice gesture.

We got there early for our pick-up, so we did a little shopping. The market was as subdued as I have ever seen it. Our bottle of wine was waiting for us at the wine shop next door. Once we arrived at the customer service desk in the main store, the order taker was on top of it. It took a few minutes, and our boxed dinner came out of the back. It felt warm. It had been neatly packaged and sealed for temperature retention.

When we got home there was hardly any extra work to do. We did heat up a few of the snowball rolls that were included. We feasted, and everything was pretty darn good. Wish we could have shared it with family. There were plenty of leftovers. We never even sliced into the apple pie. It lasted for a good part of the week. We would try a Stew Leonard’s take-out dinner again.

Stew Leonard’s is located at 1 Stew Leonard Drive in Yonkers. Info: 914-375-4700 or visit www.stewleonards.com.

A Cookbook for Charity

A group of concerned Westchester residents affiliated with the culinary world have partnered in creating “Westchester Cooks,” an online cookbook. It raises funds for Lifting Up Westchester, an organization that provides food, shelter and support to those in need in Westchester.

Susanna Sussman of Meals on Wheels in White Plains, Johnny Livanos of Moderne Barn in Armonk and City Limits in White Plains and Jessica Klein, a local publicist, have gathered simple recipes from area chefs, restaurateurs, writers and cookbook authors, illustrated with appetizing colorful photos, of their eclectic dishes for prep in your home kitchen.

Contributors include a culinary potpourri of Westchester: Peter Kelly of X20, Yonkers; chef Constantine Kalandranis, 273 Kitchen, Harrison; John Sasso, Sam’s of Gedney Way, White Plains; Elmer Oliveros, Brothers Fish & Chips, Ossining; chef Raphael Palomino, Sonora, Port Chester; David DiBari, The Cookery, Dobbs Ferry; John Livanos, Livanos Restaurant Group; Lulu’s Bakery, Scarsdale; chef Giovanni Cucullo, Maria’s, New Rochelle; David Starkey, ERL Restaurant Group, Tarrytown; Antonio Abbate, Le Fontane, Katonah; and many others. A $10 donation is suggested to access the cookbook at https://liftingupwestchester.salsalabs.org/westchester-cooks/index.html.

Lifting Up Westchester is located at 35 Orchard St. in White Plains. Info: 914-949-3098 or visit www.liftingupwestchester.org.

Wegman’s Opening Delayed

The much-anticipated grand opening of Wegman’s Food Market off Westchester Avenue in Harrison has been postponed. It is now scheduled to open sometime this fall. Took a sneak peek at the construction site last week as they were putting up the new signage.

Morris Gut is a restaurant marketing consultant and former restaurant trade magazine editor. He has been tracking the food and dining scene in greater Westchester for 30 years. He may be reached at 914-235-6591 or at gutreactions@optonline.net.

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