Whole Foods just opened here, what are your favorites?
- Lynne Hodgman
We went to the pre-opening of Whole Foods here in Kansas City and I was so excited to see many of the items mentioned on the boards here. Like the Muir Glen (or is it Glen Muir) tomato products, the Mexican chocolate for hot chocolate, etc.
The store had a major tasting party with a $10 donation (the so very reasonable Midwest!) to a food bank. We feasted on marinated asparagus, spring greens, smoked salmon, shrimp, several varieties of chicken sausage, some outstanding gouda/blue cheese, pate, a lovely brie with fig jam, some mediocre lemon bars, excellent olives, dolmades, roasted onion stuff...well, you get the idea. Sure didn't need to go out to dinner afterwards!
But I wondered what are the favorites of Chowhounds? For instance, is their 365 brand consistently good? I did like the lemon Italian soda, but not the orange. Wasn't impressed with the maple almonds (not crunchy enough) and thought the vegetable-product veal was really terrible. Wonder about the yoghurt. Wonder about the grains.
It seems a lot larger, cleaner, and more varied than Wild Oats (which wasn't convenient for me anyway). Any wild raves you have would be appreciated. And I was so dumb, I forgot to wear my chowhound T-shirt. Will do so next time!
Thanks in advance!
What I have always found so excellent at Whole Foods, having frequented a variety of locations, is 1) their meat counter and 2) their cheese, and 3) their produce. Never have had too much interest in their canned or packaged products.
Definitely the cheese. Also, all of the bulk food is a good thing b/c it's uncommon here in Atlanta. And my parents and I have a long-standing love for their peanut butter- I think it's genetic. Then there's the random-sized blocks of high end chocolate for cooking, the green olives with lemon that my wife and I put into gemelli w/ cauliflower. I've visited their salad bar a few times for lunch also. And, when they have it, the unbleached parchment paper is a good price, too.
I like the house brand frozen edamame (soy beans in the pod). Practically the only source for them here in New Orleans, and reasonably priced. Everyone is right about the cheeses, and in our local store they have an olive bar with several varieties you can sample before you buy. Also a good source of basic King Arthur flours.
In addition to Muir Glen, the Whole Foods in CT also carries an excellent line of imported organic Italian tomatoes called Bioitalia, which I think is better than Muir Glen. In general, Whole Foods products are very good, the only question is whether they are worth the very high prices and whether you can get it elsewhere at better prices, ie, Trader Joe's. My one really negative comment is that the store I go to has an awful fish department-selling old smelly fish-but I would suspect that this is a specific store issue.
Rjka--Are you referring to the WF in Greenwich? Funny, I always thought there was something fishy about that fish counter... (please pardon the pun). My husband thinks I'm crazy.
I'm kinda mixed on the Whole Foods phenomenon. I've been to the Chelsea outpost, and was really impressed. They have an amazing selection of sauces, marinades, etc that I haven't seen the likes of anywhere else. They also have a fantastic salad bar, with tons of hot and cold selections, and great soups to go. The beer selection is great, too!
Then there's the Greenwich WF: kind of a suburban sellout. The place is so packed they need a guy directing traffic sometimes! As someone else pointed out, they've raised the bar for the Food Emporium and the Stop & Shop, which is good. They have great mushrooms, and most of the produce is impressive--but I have never purchased garlic from them that didn't have those green shoots, which annoys me to no end. The bakery is dreadful. The cheese counter, on the other hand, is super. I like the butcher, though many cuts are way overpriced. They have some nice pre-marinated stuff for when you're in a hurry to eat. They're far from skilled, though--we asked one of the butchers to pound a chicken breast for paillard and when we got home discovered it was mutilated.
Yes, it is the Greenwich one. I pretty much agree with you on all the points. On the bakery, I've found the breads OK but never tried the pastries/cakes. Meat is very good but expensive and agree on the cheeses. They've done a good job recently expanding their selection of chile peppers and mushrooms, but I only buy produce there that I can't get elsewhere cheaper. I had two bad experiences with the fish. First I bought some shrimp that after shelling was so limp that it was clear it had been sitting out a long time, then a few weeks later I bought some cod that when I got home had an overwhelming stench that I threw it out immediately (I should have returned it). I just think their fish does not look fresh- it looks dull and often the flakes are beginning to separate- and is out of character with the rest of the store.
Our Whole Foods in Charlottesville, VA has a gorgeous fish counter, very pricey but so far infallible. Bionaturae brand organic pasta is great, and sometimes on sale. Haven't tried it myself, but 365 brand olive oil got a good rating in Cook's Illustrated. I find that Whole Foods, while expensive, is not so bad if you stick to bulk (ours carries semolina and chickpea flour!) and organic produce. Regular produce is way overpriced.