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Feb 27, 2007 06:24 AM

Whole Foods Virgin

Okay fellow foodies. The new Whole Foods in Birmngham opens in less than 24 hours. What "must have" items do I need to stock up on? You guys gave me some great advice on the Penzey spices/herbs, now I need guidance on WF.

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  1. Congratulations. If it's like the Greenville , SC WF which opened in April '06, it will be a madhouse. I was stunned. Greenville is a horrible food town, I expected crickets and a rapid closing. It seems to be holding it's own, although some things have slipped and some things have been dumbed down.

    Anyhow...what's great

    The $8 orange juice. Shoot me, but it's SOOO good.
    The WF pico and quac salsas.
    Giant Texas grapefruit
    The BBQ station
    The cheese selection (Fluer Vert, Manchego, Quince paste)
    The "in-house" roast beef (deli section)
    Our WF has a brick oven pizza. It's the best in town.
    The wine is cheaper than the local wine store, and if you buy 6 you get 10% off
    The gelato is good

    The bakery is just adequate. That was a disappointment. I have been to the WF in Madison Wi several times and their bakery is very, very good. Not sure why there is such a difference.

    Power Bars are the same price as Walmart
    The 365 (store brand) Olive Oil is good, as are the Blueberry breakfast bars

    Warning: I thought I was sufficiently comfortable financially that shopping at Whole Foods wouldn't make much difference. I was wrong. I'm going broke there! I signed up for one of those credit cards that pays 5% back on makes me feel a little better about the huge increase in my weekly grocery bill.

    3 Replies
    1. re: danna

      So it's really that much more expensive? I figured it would be, but 8$ for oj??!!!!! We have several local/nonfranchized gourmet markets around town, but none the size of WF. I'm hoping that WF will be cheaper than those just because of it's buying power. What is the BBQ station? Is that a product I buy or part of it's eat-in section? Is the pizza frozen to heat at home or eat-in? I'm a huge salsa/hot sauce nut, so I'll definintely pick up the pico and guac.

      1. re: sheilal

        You know, it's not so much that one product compared to another product is more expensive. On the contrary, many items that were carried by Fresh Market, a local "gourmet" chain, are more expensive than at WF, cheese comes to mind. Also, the 365 brand give you milk at good prices, etc.

        It's mainly the extra things that were not available to me in the past that are killing me. I did not buy fresh-squeezed o.j. by the half gallon previous to this. I did not have access to $24/lb Fluer Vert except on trips to Dean and DeLuca in NY or Charlotte. There were no $29/lb Chanterelles at Bi-Lo.

        The only items that are subtantially more than "normal" grocery store counterparts are the produce. $4 celery? I actually refused to buy it the other day, although I did hack up $4 for a cauliflower. $3/lb apples, $6/lb. tomatoes...those are the killers.

        1. re: sheilal

          Oh, and the BBQ is a little take out buffet-island. When I saw it the first day, I was skeptical, thinking "yeah, they thought they had to throw in some BBQ for us rubes", but DAMN, it's good BBQ. It has gone downhill some since the opening, but the smell still gets me ...I try not to walk to close to it, or I'll buy some.

          They have a little "cafe" that's a 10-12 seat bar where you can eat your pizza and have a glass of wine.

      2. vegetables, breads (if you lack a good baker), cheese, dried goods (red/black lentils, nuts, fruits, assorted pastas in _small_ quantities, grains).

        In addition I buy my deodorant and lotion there (extreme allergies - organic w/ no perfumes or medicated ... ) And I pick up the Amy's canned soups there - $1.50 cheaper than Safeway/Giant. The Moosewood/Indian/Linda McCartney frozen meals are significantly cheaper too. I've occasionally picked up humus, salad @ the salad bar, or sushi (we're in Annapolis, MD) but those are occasional purchases, the regular trips are for the big 4 listed in the beginning.

        My grocery bill isn't outrageous because I only pick up the things I can't get elsewhere in either equal quality or at a lower price. And I don't go to Whole Foods in the summer but once or twice - that's Farmer's Market season!

        1. I like their yogurt made from buffalo's milk. The guacamole is yummy. Love the olive bar.

          There is a WF directly across from my work so I eat from one of their food bars once a week. I happen to like their chocolate bread pudding from the hot desert section of the hot bar, and "Tantalizing Tofu" from the cold food bar. The BBQ station is an area, at least in the WF near me, that has ribs, mashed potatoes, BBQ sandwiches, mac and cheese, casseroles, fried chicken, chicken fingers, etc. The mac and cheese is OK-greasy. Their 365 brand soda is very good and only $0.50. It is a popular lunch spot in town (West Hartford, CT) -there must be fifty seats in the eating area. The pizza is heated up by the pizza staff.

          1. At mine they make their own sausages in house. I love the turkey andouille and chorizo. The German salami in the deli is also yummy. All the frozen vegan food like Amy's, spelt flour pizza dough, goat milk ice cream. Produce. Grind your own peanut butter or almond butter. Bulk granola, grains.