Quality Grocery Stores / Markets in Delaware
My wife and I are newlyweds living in Northern Wilmington. I've taken on the job of making dinner and I'm learning to cook by trial and error. I know good food from (too) frequently dining out in Philly or Wilmington and also watching/reading a lot about food. Now that I'm trying to execute some of my ideas I have and recipes I've found, I am running into trouble finding fresh, quality ingredients at any of the grocery store we frequent.
For instance, are they any places where I can find decent fresh herbs? I want to make pesto but all the grocery stores just have those awful, tiny plastic containers of basil. I also want to cook some dishes with fresh rosemary and find the quality really questionable everywhere I look.
Also, chefs/hosts on the Food Network or PBS are always reference telling "your butcher" to do this or that with a cut of meat. I don't know about any of you, but I haven't seen Sam the butcher behind the counter the last time I went to Super G or Acme. Can you really ask those guys to filet a fish a certain way or cube bacon extra thick? Is there somewhere not ridiculously expensive where you buy your meat and fish?
Thanks for any help!
Congrats on taking on a new pastime! I would suggest that you start out by checking out the local farmers markets. There are ones in Newark and New Castle, but the Booth Corners Market at Foulk Rd & Naaman's Creek roads would be your best bet. Open on Friday & Sunday, they have butchers, produce, local food stands. You can find a lot of what you are looking for there.
Also, it doesn't hurt to chat up the people at your Acme or Super G. They may not be a professional butcher, but sometimes you can find people with some knowledge. I'd start with a simple question and if the answer seems confident you can try delving a little deeper.
I also love Trader Joes for specialty ingredients. they also have a fantastic cheese selection.
And this is a topic for another board, perhaps, but "The Basics of Cooking" by Mark Bitman is a fantastic cook book that I think you'd really enjoy as you start trying out new types of meats, sauces, and ideas.
My butcher, with whom I do actually have a "Sam the butcher" kind of relationship, is the neighborhood grocery store Pappa's on 6th St. in Wilmington (between Union and Lincoln). They will cut anything for me and order anything I want if they don't have it in stock. I have been experimenting with things like breast of veal etc., and that's the only place I have found to get consistently good and interesting cuts of meat. In any store, though, don't be afraid to ask the meat department for what you want if you don't see it out on the shelf. Usually, they've got a lot of meat in the back that they're not displaying, and if you ask for it, they'll cut it for you. You can also place special orders to pick up later.
If you have a yard or even a good sunny windowsill, grow your own herbs. It is very easy, and a lot cheaper than buying them at the market. You can pay $1.99 for a little basil plant at Home Depot and it will give you a season's worth of flavor, vs. paying the same or more for a single package of herbs from the supermarket.
Highland Orchards (Foulk Rd.) is my go-to place for vegetables, herbs, fruit, eggs, etc. Highly recommended.
I happen to work for Super G, in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Yes, you can certainly ask our butchers to cut the meat to order. The same is true of the Millsborough and Long Neck stores. They are limited by what is available in the store, of course, but by all means ask for assistance. This should be true at all Super G/Giant stores. And they are also glad to help with special orders. Same is true of our seafood department.
As for pesto, I suggest the live plants on sale in the produce department. Although, quite frankly, you may have missed a better opportunity earlier this year - I bought a couple of the basil plants, added them to my garden, and had fresh basil all summer. It's a little late to get this summer crop in the garden now that it's almost November. Sorry. (Aim for some fresh plants next year for making pesto - and it freezes well!) For rosemary, on the other hand, I've had some luck with the plants available closer to the Holidays, on sale at the garden departments of some of the hardware chains.
You might want to check out Janssen's Market on Rt. 52 (Pennsylvania Ave.) in Greenville. Also, although I haven't been there in several years, I used to shop for meat quite frequently at Haldas Meat Market on Silverside & Marsh Rd. They had prime beef and there are butchers there who will cut steaks and roasts to your liking. Of course, you can always trek across the PA state line and head for Wegman's in Downingtown. They usually have a wonderful selection of fresh herbs.