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Whole Foods shout-outs (2010)

Though Whole Foods is not my regular supermarket, I am drawn to it for certain items I can't buy elsewhere.


- pain au levain - white bread made with a sourdough starter--simply fantastic!
- cranberry ginger bread - not "gingerbread" but beautiful white bread with cranberry and ginger in it, topped with turbinado sugar
- I have yet to meet a bread in the WF bakery I don't love

- crab cakes - grabbed these yesterday on sale. I enthusiastically recommend--pure deliciousness for $2 a pop--how can you lose? They crisped up nicely on the outside and were loaded with tasty crab. I could NOT make crab cakes as inexpensively from scratch. I've tried it before and mine were not nearly as good as these.

What do you love at Whole Foods?

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  1. Yep, have tried those crab cakes ONCE...couldn't believe the damned price but it was a nice treat for my son and me--obviously, I bought them NOT on special...lol! Are you talkin' only about prepared foods? Their Indian paneer hot entree is good when there are no Indian take-outs around this place; bought their pork stew once for my son in a pinch and he inhaled it. Love the 365 frozen wild blueberries and their 365 canned tuna.

    1. The cinnamon swirl bread is something I buy at Whole Foods exclusively-I love the fact that it's just sweet enough and that it doesn't have any raisins or anything obstructing the cinnamon taste.
      The coffee beans appear to be somewhat of a bargain and they're roasted on premises.
      Real fruit popsicles in coconut flavour-these are like the ones that I get in Florida when I visit my mother and father; I haven't seen them anywhere else up here.

      I agree with kattyeyes about the baked on premises bread, and I'm definately going to check out the crabcakes next time I'm there.

      1. Bulk cherry vanilla Granola when it's on sale.
        Bulk Falafel mix.

        Some of the WF in my area have smokers on the premises. They actually know how to make real q!

        1. I love it when I can get baguettes, still warm from the oven, at WF. I buy 2, I eat 1/2 a baguette while I'm waiting on line.

          1. NEWS FLASH! We're not the only ones who love those crab cakes. I called today to see if they were still on sale. They are, but they're all out of 'em in my local store and are passing out rainchecks. So this kat is off to get a big fat raincheck for more, more, more!

            1 Reply
            1. re: kattyeyes

              You evil,evil girl...will stop on my way home but call first! oops...our store does not feature them on sale ... never mind!

            2. Back counter near the meats:

              Turkey, bacon and peas salad, and if you turn around 180, the end cap with the olives...Mixed, with jalapeno my fav

              1. For me it's not any single item or items. It's the fact that usually, no matter how esoteric the ingredient, I can find it at WF. I've gone a lifetime not being able to cook certain things because a key ingredient is unavailable. Not any more. In my next life, I want to live in NYC where everything is available much more easily :)

                1. 365 brand:
                  - Tonic Water with real sugar, not HFCS
                  - decent organic canned beans
                  - organic water crackers, cheaper than Carr's

                  blue corn tortillas
                  the cheese section
                  seasonally cheap bags of organic citrus

                  I don't live there anymore, but Whole Foods in LA tended to have excellent hot food, especially burritos.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: scoob

                    I love the water crackers. I think they are better than Carr’s because they’re not as burnt and while still low salt they’re not cardboard-y like TJ’s seem to be.

                    I like the beans but I can not bring myself to buy them anymore. The price went from $ .99 a can to $1.39. It made me so angry I won’t buy anything bean related from Whole Foods anymore. Irrational on my part, but that forty percent jump, all at once, just galled me. I miss the spicy black beans.

                    The 365 Everyday Value olive oil is my go-to oil for just about everything.

                    Sea Salt Potato Chips. I’ve gone low sodium but those bags sitting on the top shelf sing me their siren song every time I get near them.

                    Minnesota and Wisconsin cheeses. There’s a three year Wisconsin cheddar that’s just outstanding. I’ll have to remember to chat up the cheese folks to find out whose cheese I’ve been eating. Buttery, cheddary cheesy goodness.

                    1. re: scoob

                      Oh, but they used to have these fantastic beans in glass jars--cannelini, kidney, black, and garbanzos. They were so unctuous and had great flavor, all you had to do was heat them up. With some pasta and a little lemon zest or balsamic vinegar and parsley, dinner was a snap. I was so sad to see those beans disappear. I believe they were imported from Spain under their old artisanal private label that Lex Alexander used to source.

                    2. Over the holidays, I bought some prepared food from WF that went over v. well with my guests. We're not talking about anything extraordinary here--already-made green beans and roasted winter vegs as side dishes--but everyone enjoyed them, and my niece wanted the rest of the roasted winter vegs to take home w/her (which she got!).

                      I'm also a fan of the 360 brand. And in spite of the fact that WF is sometimes referred to as "Whole Paycheck," I was surprised to learn recently that the price of their (nonorganic) milk was actually cheaper than my local supermarket's!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gloriousfood

                        Either their prices have improved (since TJ's came to my town) or my local supermarket's have seriously increased (which is highly likely - Harris Teeter) --- but there seems to be a LOT these days that is cheaper at WF than my local shop.

                        1. re: gloriousfood

                          I agree, it's possible to get some great deals there and their prices often better than other grocery stores. Using their coupons in addition to the sales you can get some good bargains.

                          I am also a fan of their in-house roasted coffee beans, and think their iphone app is excellent!

                        2. I like their olive bar, organic meat ,organic veggies when they are fresh,organic fruits when they are on sale, chocolate selection, pork bbq, Chobani greek yogurt, bulk flours and more.
                          I wish they had more selection of whole grain bread. Their prices on some of their items is cheaper than other places like Ralphs or Sprouts mkt.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mrsjoujou

                            Love the Roman Tuna Salad
                            I used to really like their flour tortillas (365 brand)
                            Olive bar, though it is annoyingly expensive
                            365 degree brand balsamic vinegar

                          2. I love the 365 coconut milk. If you refrigerate it it gets a pudding-like consistency. Throw in a few berries ... mmm. Also my local one sells Marco Polo brand caponata, which is the only brand I come across that doesn't have olives in it (I hate olives). I don't go to WF very often because it's about 22 miles from my house and in an insanely busy yuppie area.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MandalayVA

                              Well, that is good to know about the coconut milk, b/c I buy the 365 brand often but have not refrigerated it!

                            2. I love their chocolate truffles and the 365 Brand grey poupon mustard, perhaps the best I've ever had. I also like their fresh herbs. On the down side, I have not been impressed with their produce, which is expensive and often kind of sad looking.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: gfr1111

                                Seriously? Wow, their produce is gorgeous and artistically displayed in their Glastonbury, CT store. I picked up some magnificent lemons last week--they were HUGE!

                                1. re: gfr1111

                                  In my experience of living in different parts of the US, the produce section at various WF stores varies wildly in quality. The best stuff is usually local and in season, not surprisingly.

                                2. SELF-SERVE BULK SPICES
                                  Didjaknow? I didn't till yesterday. I love the bulk spices counter that allows you to get just a little bit of something you may need for just one recipe.

                                  I wanted some finishing salt for some cookies I plan to bake--and have always wanted to try finishing salts, anyway. I was able to pick up a little baggie of Australian flake salt for something like $1.50 (it was just under $30/#).

                                  Also picked up some ground turmeric as I've been cooking Indian lately and don't have all the spices I need.

                                  You can choose as much or as little as you need--self-serve. This is handy for me as I try some new recipes that are out of my usual spice zone. :)

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    I've been buying "bulk" spices for years. I just won't pay the high prices for something that isn't ever as fresh. I use alot of fennel seed both in cooking and sausage making and I can buy a cup for probably $1 (not sure about that). Just dumped a bunch of old spices jars and am going to relabel them for my bulk things. Glad to know WF has them in case there's something I can't get in my nabe.

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      well shoot. I'm going to have to look at my new WF to see if they have bulk spices!

                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                        They put the bulk spices and teas in the "wellness" section so you'd never know if you weren't looking.

                                        In the Twin Cities we are so very, very lucky that our co-ops have all the bulk herbs, spices and teas we could ever wish for and automated scales that print labels. In a pinch I do use Whole Foods bulk herbs and spices because they're across the street from me and almost as fresh as the co-ops.

                                        1. re: MplsM ary

                                          FYI, believe that varies by store, as I'm not familiar with a "wellness" section (unless you mean the vitamins, supplements, etc.)--in my local WF, that's not where the spices are. In any case, easy enough to find by asking. :)

                                  2. I love their Bell and Evans Chicken tenders (freezer section) because they're real chicken and don't have tons of nubbies in them.

                                    I also love the hot and cold food bars--I can eat a meal there for probably under $5.

                                    Lastly (at least in Connecticut) we have the PIE GUY pies at our Whole Foods. I think I've tried them all over the years and not one of them is a clunker. I love that they come in a variety of sizes too and they range from cream pies to fruit pies...they have them all.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: masha bousha

                                      Yes, their hot & cold foods ARE quite good. I can get my fix of Indian palak paneer there since there are no Indian restos here...well there's one but it's only open for dinner and unbelievably overpriced.

                                    2. Speaking of store-to-store differences, I'm very fond of the sperlonga bread in the Glastonbury, CT bakery. A couple of weeks back, I ran into the West Hartford store to pick something up en route to a friend's place, only to find they don't sell sperlonga there. Not sure why this would differ by location. If you see sperlonga, definitely try it! :)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        I have to agree. I just bought this bread for the first time this week (Glastonbury, CT) and lovin it. Doing a search on it brought me to this sight.

                                      2. I love the bulk spices. Many times I just need a little bit of this or that. Also their 365 brand spices are waaaay cheaper than run of the mill grocery store McCormicks brand. I also love their canned beans and tomatoes (365 brand) with no salt added, allowing me to decide how much salt to add to my finished dish.

                                        I also got a great deal recently on a giant brick of feta in a hard plastic container, submerged in brine. It will stay good for months at a bargain price. Not that cheese lasts that long at my house...

                                        1. Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles - can't find 'em anywhere else in San Diego.

                                          Fresh, organic extra-lean ground beef - excellent quality, and it's a serious bargain when on sale - i stocked up a couple of weeks ago when they had it for $6.99/lb.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Ok, ghg, what does one DO with Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles. Sounds fascinating.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Wow, I saved that. Those sound good. Thanks.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Am also interested...are these found in the refrigerated section of WF? I saw the package at the website but can't figure out the package too well. Thanks.

                                                  1. re: Val

                                                    yep, refrigerated case near the tofu/meat substitutes and shirataki noodles. but check the store list on the company's website before you go searching the store for them - they're not as readily available outside of California - i couldn't even get the store in Jersey to order them when i was living there.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      thanks, will check next time I'm there...am trying to eat more nori & other seaweed foods lately.

                                                  2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Have you tried their mixed sea vegetables?

                                                    1. re: HillJ


                                                      unless you have a burning desire to snack on a salt lick, use that stuff spaaaaaringly. it's harvested and packed with the naturally-occurring sea salt crystals still in there, so even after rinsing it's unbelievably salty. i wasn't prepared for it, and it made me so nauseous i couldn't bring myself to use up the package so i tossed it. but i'd suggest maybe mincing it and tossing with greens and some sort of sesame-ginger dressing. just be sure to account for the saltiness of the sea veggies if/when adding soy sauce!

                                              2. Love the various seasoned panko bread crumbs in the deli and there are more varieties now than before. In addition to the mustard flavored (great in meatloaf) and the sundried tomato (meatballs) and the lemon herb (oven fried chicken), there is a coconut and another new blend with pecans.

                                                1. This just in...Whole Foods UH-OH!!! Do with it as you please...I've been buying my organic produce at Farmer's Markets and only buying organic apples at Whole foods...


                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Val

                                                    why are they resurrecting this story? it's from two years ago.

                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      A friend just sent it to me the other night; it might be an old story but it's somewhat true: my bag of 365 organic frozen spinach says "PRODUCT OF CHINA" on it now that I've checked...well I need to read my labels better...just bought that this past Saturday too. But, I guess if it SAYS organic ...?

                                                      1. re: Val

                                                        i just wanted to make sure you knew it wasn't really "news." but yes, they're still using the same suppliers - i guess they haven't found new ones. i rarely bought frozen produce from them anyway because TJ's has good organic stuff, but once that story broke, i started double-checking the origins on everything before buying. fortunately TJ's no longer sources products from China, but you do still have to keep an eye out at Whole Foods. be particularly careful with their house brand of organic spices - the ginger tested sky-high for pesticides and contaminants after that story came out. i'm pretty sure they at least found another source for that, but check the labels.

                                                        the problem is that you can't assume that just because it *says* "organic" it's safe. China doesn't have the same standards/regulations for organic farming as we do here, and there's no way for the US to vet their process before importing the items. when it's labeled as "organic" and comes from the US i feel better about it. i'm still a bit wary of all the stuff we get here in So Cal from our neighbors just south of the border in Mexico, but i'd take it over China any day. besides, for environmental reasons i don't like to buy anything that had to be shipped halfway across the world unless it's the *only* source. you know, the whole organic vs. local vs. sustainable vs. PC-catch-word-of-the-day conundrum ;)

                                                  2. I absolutely love the Portuguese rolls in the bakery. Trouble is, lots of other people do too. They are sold out of them almost every time I'm in there, which is pretty frequently. Why oh why can't they just bake more??

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                                                      when you know you're going to be there, call first thing in the morning and ask if they'd be willing to set some aside for you.

                                                    2. Raw milk Parmesan is the item that consistently puts WF on my shopping agenda. I like the fact that you can buy it in very small quantities so it's a little splurge.

                                                      WF here generally carries some Zingerman breads which are darn good.

                                                      Also like the Italian lemon soda and large selection of Muir Glen tomatoes.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                                        agreed on the cheese. being able to buy that (and good chocolate) in small quantities by weight is a big bonus. love their containers of Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds too!

                                                      2. The seafood section and the cheese section. Oh and the bulk grains, like couscous and rice

                                                        1. Sperlonga bread in the bakery. For $1.99 you can't beat it. Don't care for 3 wishes merlot though

                                                          1. They've got the best price in my area for Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. The stuff is addictive and much lower in sugar than Nutella and similar spreads. Justin's other nut butters are awesome too -- love the almond maple.

                                                            1. I just got some gorgeous pineapple mango salsa as an accompanyment to a fish dish I was cooking. wonderful!

                                                              1. The love continues:
                                                                - Cheribundi tart cherry juice in the wellness/vitamins section, mmmmm--excellent on its own or with adult additions!
                                                                - Valrhona Fèves (dark and white ovals--milk, too)--perfect for snacking AND baking. In our store, they're usually near the cheese counter and they'll package them up for you by request if the counter is empty
                                                                - Lesley Stowe raincoast crisps - cranberry and hazelnut crackers. These are such a treat--crispy and ever-so-slightly chewy! They were sampling them with Fromager d'Affinois a few weeks back; I'm now hooked on both, MOO

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                  We've been eating the "original" crisps for a while now. And d'Affinois has been on my top 10 (or 100 anyway) list for a few years now.