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My favorite things from Central Market

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I treasure Austin’s grocery stores. My grocery shopping rotation includes: Central Market, DK Sushi Supermarket, Fiesta Mart, my trusty HEB, MT Supermarket, Randall’s, Sprouts, Wheatsville Co-op (which I only discovered last year!), and last but not least, Whole Foods, which calls Austin “home”. Each of these grocery stores carries products I crave that I can only purchase at that store.

Lately, I have been feeling the most love for HEB’s Central Market. I usually shop at the North Lamar & 35’th St. location, phone 512.206.1000
http://www.centralmarket.com/
http://www.centralmarket.com/Stores/I...

My favorite things from or about Central Market:

1) This store has serious depth of infrastructure. More than any other on the above list, Central Market buyers seem to do the best job at finding the unusual or unique products that make me stop and look and sometimes buy. Ex: Yesterday I went home with 1-meal quantities of 3 sauces from their sauce bar that I’ve never purchased before as well as that strange-looking vacu-packed Spanish omelet in their dairy section, opposite their yogurt wall.

MT Asian Supermarket and Fiesta Mart also carry products outside of my comfort zone. However, unless I have a recipe I’m ready to try, I am probably not going to go home with the fascinating thing swimming in the water cage at MT Supermarket, for example, especially since I’m trying to waste less and only buy what I’m actually going to use or cook.

2) I love the sauce bar across from the deli area. Buying sauces from Central Market makes a meal extra special but still keeps total cook time < 30 min when I'm sear-roasting a salmon fillet and roasting lemon-parm-broccoli. My favorite: Avocado tomatillo sauce, about mid-way down the bar. I can get exactly the quantity I want, and I save the prep time of avocados and tomatillo sauce making. Yesterday I bought small quantities of three different types of Spanish sauces: romesco, spicy sofrito, and a third Spanish sauce that can’t remember the name of but looked intriguing and had ingredients I rarely use. Each sauce came to < $1.xx each after weighing.

3) My third favorite thing is Central Market’s different themed events and celebrations that they seem to put a lot of energy and thought into.

Their “Spain” celebration is happening now. Yesterday afternoon there was a seafood Paella station outside of the café doors with 3 massive paella skillets going at the same time, and different themed items everywhere inside the store with their little Spain graphic near them. I purchased one order seafood paella at $8.95. All in all I liked it. It did have that crusty layer on the bottom, real saffron in it, a big head-on prawn, a scallop, fish, and a clam. I wish it had more protein (one more prawn?), and a bit less salt. The purchase process is a little roundabout – first, get the ticket from the paella chef outside, then take ticket inside and pay, then take receipt back outside.

A celebration-related detail I appreciate - the graphics their artist creates for each celebration are always in beautiful color combinations for the theme. I appropriated one of their fliers last year, went to Sherwin Williams, and based a room’s color scheme off it.

4) Central Market’s Café. I love being able to listen to live music under the shade of Texas trees before evening grocery shopping and enjoy one of their dinner specials. Where else in Austin can you do this then go grocery shopping, all without moving your car. I especially like Central Market’s French fries though I haven't had them in a while. They clearly understand the double-fry technique and their breading is light but tasty.

5) Central Market's brand of Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough, found in their dairy section directly across from the yogurt wall. This is my favorite favorite favorite all time Central Market product.

I keep them in the freezer and bake exactly the number needed for 10 minutes at 350 in toaster oven. The taste is so pure and so delicious - brown sugar, serious chocolate, butter, eggs, vanilla. I eat one, and then writhe on the living room floor. They have 3 different flavors, but I can't bring myself to try any other flavor because I am so in love with their chocolate chunk. I eat exactly one, usually twice a week, at 150 calories of blissful impact on my daily calorie budget.

Last year around the holidays they had a shortage of this product which caused a crisis in my household. I called both Central Market's and 4 HEBs before I could finally locate one at an HEB. (HEB also carries this Central Market-branded product it in their dairy section

)

6) Real pretzel rolls. Occasionally Central Market will have pretzel rolls in their bread area, adjacent to the bagels or the scones. Making pretzels with that authentic pretzel taste involves lye, which I haven't had the courage to try at home yet. Last time they had pretzel rolls was during the fall.

7) Duke’s mayonnaise. Central Market is one of the a few places where you can find Duke’s mayonnaise. It’s hard to spot on that aisle though; look down to the very bottom row. http://www.dukesmayo.com/

Duke’s is the next best thing to homemade. There was a central market employee cooking something for a demo sample across from the bakery area, and one of her ingredients she was using was Duke’s mayonnaise. I didn’t realize Central Market carried Duke’s . We both had a femme squeal-fest over how good it is.

8) The bread bakery’s “Alternative Loaf”. It’s a very soft whole grain bread that doesn’t taste like cardboardy "health food" and makes great sandwiches. The baker told me it’s extra soft because they use whole grain ___ flour which adds more moisture than most other whole grains. I enjoy it because while I am trying to eat more whole grains, I still prefer soft bread for most sandwiches.

9) Duck breasts vacuum packed. Located at the end of the meat aisle right before you get to the prepackaged meat section and then the dairy section. Excellent for grilling. I buy an extra 4-pack and vacu-pack freeze the extras. 2 months later they taste 90% as good as first night.

Next time I’m going to use Marcel’s trick that I saw on his Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen TV show of
1) Using a new dog hair brush spikey thing to put a million holes in the duck fat
2) Before I grill-smoke them on the cast iron skillet fat side down at a lower temp to render the fat, I will pop them in the freezer for a couple hours. Then, I can render the fat for longer since the meat will take longer to get up to temp.

10) Their new fresh-daily muffin selection near the breads at $1.79 per. My 2 favorite so far: strawberry goat cheese and chocolate cherry pistachio.

My least favorite things about Central Market:

1) Central Market’s North’s Café Wi-Fi is perpetually broken. For heaven’s sake, what is so hard about sending a Wi-Fi signal? A million other places have figured it out. Someone from HEB's IT department needs to prioritize fixing whatever problem they perpetually have.

Every so often, I want to have a working lunch with colleagues in Austin and eat upstairs where it's quieter. But no Wi-Fi, no work. Last time I called Central Market to ask if they had it fixed, phone answerer said no, and that I should fill out a complaint card next time I’m in. I asked if she would do that for me, and she said she would ask about it in their next employee meeting.

Yesterday, they still had a sign up that said their Wi-Fi was unavailable.

2) Central Market North needs more bathrooms.

3) I wish the store café manager would have someone tweet or post the lunch and dinner specials of the day. I usually call to ask once a week or so, but it can take the café a while to pick up. Electronic is more efficient for that type of timely info. On the good, I almost always enjoy the café specials, and I do like it that Central Market’s main phone is answered quickly by a very friendly human!

Thank you Central Market!

-----
Central Market
4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

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  1. Central Market has awesome fresh wheat tortillas.

    CM pecan chocolate chip raw cookie dough meant for home baking is diabolically delicious.

    I also love their moist muffins.

    I like looking at all the gourmet products and special produce, like the many varieties of potatoes which are so exotic for me, and so on. A few months ago in winter, I saw they had deep ruby red colored carrots (I think they were labeled black carrots) which reminded me of the carrots in South Asia. Another time, I saw an Iron Chef episode with raddish as the challenge food. There were all of these types of radishes I had never heard of. A few days later, I saw half of these exotic radish varieties all right there are CM. I love just going and perusing the vegetables. So many interesting and unique things to see! (I must say that Fiesta, MT, any Mexican market, and Taj grocer is gonna be a better option price wise for daily cooking with common Asian and Mexican vegetables/ingredients though.)

    I love Central Market, too. Thanks for thinking up this post to celebrate the place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: luckyfatima

      >> Central Market has awesome fresh wheat tortillas.

      Completely agree.

      Yesterday I bought their fresh multigrain tortillas. Had one as a snack with simply whipped butter and a very light sprinkling of sea salt.

      >> like the many varieties of potatoes which are so exotic for me, and so on

      They have a great selection of organic potatoes. I cook potatoes maybe once every couple months. After hearing a potato farmer explain why he won't let his family eat his own potatoes that he sells to the big companies, I only buy organic potatoes, and they do have beautiful colorful varieties.

    2. My goodness, I need to try this cookie dough! I have had the pretzel rolls, they are very good.

      I like the way they stock regional specialties, like Lebanon bologna in the deli and Utz Crab Chips in the snack aisle. I like the Love Dip in the salsa bar (we call it Crack Dip). I like the produce selection and the bulk salad greens.

      FYI, my local HEB now stocks Duke's, and I think most others do, too.

      7 Replies
      1. re: brentwood

        >> FYI, my local HEB now stocks Duke's, and I think most others do, too.

        Thanks for the tip brentwood! My HEB did for a while, then didn't, so maybe they do again!

        1. re: brentwood

          Yes, yes, yes to the Utz Crab Chips. My ManPartner is from MD and he was so excited to see these at CM. I have been converted, these things are amazing.

          Count me in as a muffin lover. The chocolate chip, toffee, hazelnut one is my favorite. I also love the chocolate chip/toffee cookies and the prosciutto/black pepper ficelle.

          Pesto from the sauce bar thingy is wonderful, and I love all of the smoked salmon varieties as well. The deli is the closest thing I have found to good charcuterie in town (before all of the little specialty guys like Kocurek, Dai Due and Salt and Thyme came along) and I love all of the pates.

          1. re: foodiegal71

            >> Yes, yes, yes to the Utz Crab Chips.

            Now that just sounds downright odd, but you all have convinced me to try it. Grocery IQ app even has a pic for it in the list to add. I thought it would be too obscure.

            >> prosciutto/black pepper ficelle

            Thanks foodiegal71 for my new word of the day:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ficelle

            1. re: sweet100s

              That's my job, to educate. And provide snark.

              Mostly to provide snark.

              1. re: sweet100s

                They don't taste like crab, so don't expect that. They taste like crab boil; more specifically like Old Bay. If you're looking for other mid-Atlantic snack treats on the same aisle, I highly recommend the Unique "Splits" pretzels.

                1. re: brentwood

                  I wish I could find Herr's Old Bay chips around here! They are only sold in the east/northeast and they put the Utz chips to shame because they actually licensed and use real Old Bay seasoning on their chips. The Utz ones are a copy and too salty for me.

                  I order the Herr's chips online from Herr's: http://www.herrs.com/

                  1. re: blueclaw666

                    Well, to each their own - I prefer the Utz. I will say that I've seen select varieties of Herr's (ketchup, Kansas City steak, Texas Pete, but not Old Bay) at WalMart, of all places.

          2. I love this idea! I used to work at the south location (maybe I answered the phone when you called sweet100s - around 2001/2002), and am durn thrilled that I can actually shop there now. I worked there for christmas when I was broker than broke...I gave myself a $20 budget for a meal, and got one single quail, two bay leaves, three oysters, a ciabatta, some arugula, a tiny bag of fancy mushrooms, an 1/8th pound of Molinari hot coppa, a tiny piece of taleggio....I feasted, washing it all down with my Franzia box of cab. Memories....

            I have a similar grocery store rotation, but here's what I like about CM:

            Smoked whitefish salad

            A gazillion olives and people who like to talk about them and let you taste them

            Marinated little fresh mozzerella knobs....don't know whether I like the marinade or the cheese better!

            Steamed dungeness in season

            good salumi - creminelli (thanks, Stephen Dilley!) and my dearly beloved Molinari

            cilantro pecan pesto

            the wonderful meat guys who will cut marrow bones to order and steer me towards a good choice in other things

            bulk spices....I know almost everyone does this now, but CM seems to have a consistently well-stocked, abundant, fresh and diverse selection.

            flowers - the $4 bunches are usually great, and the flower people always make a stunning bouquet - sometimes two - out of three choices.

            Thank you, CM!

            (PS - are we going to do another store next? I hope so!)

            4 Replies
            1. re: reinadetostones

              >> cilantro pecan pesto

              Seconded. Delicious on rigatoni.

              >> good salumi - creminelli (thanks, Stephen Dilley!) and my dearly beloved Molinari

              I'll have to try those... As an alternative to bacon, I occasionally get the proscuitto di parma, saute it till crisp, then stand it up in scrambled eggs before serving.

              >> (PS - are we going to do another store next? I hope so!)

              The next store I was thinking about starting a topic on was DK sushi supermarket, because they are probably the least well-known and the owner (I believe it was the owner) seems like such a nice person. I talked with him for about 30 minutes before checking out. But first I need to call them to make sure they still have the product I love in their freezer that I've seen no where else.

              reinadetostones, or anyone else, please feel free to use the same title with a different store and start the next one. That's what CH is all about! I've been thinking about starting this topic for probably an entire year, so don't wait on me to start one for your faves at another :-).

              1. re: reinadetostones

                how recently and which CM? (you say you worked at the south one, but unsure if you meant the same one when you mention marrow bones)? i went to the Sunset Valley location last week and when i asked the butchers for marrow bones, he seemed.... perplexed, and then said they didn't have any. They had some beef bones in the shrink wrap case, but they were labeled "soup bones" and didn't look ideal for roasting for marrow.
                If i'm just going to the wrong one, i'll happily traipse up to the Lamar one if it'll yield better luck.

                1. re: willtryanythingonce

                  The Westgate CM is where I worked and where I have purchased marrow bones. Yeah, they try to steer you to the prepackaged soup bones, but if you ask, they will cut marrow bones to order. For some reason, I think this needs to be addressed in the morning - haven't gotten any for a year or so, but I remember that mornings were slower and easier to do "special" things.

                  I bet if you call the meat market in the AM, talk to a meat guy about your meat needs, and show up shortly thereafter, that you will have your marrow bones. Post if you get 'em or if you don't!

                  1. re: reinadetostones

                    Great point reinadetostones about calling ahead in general for special requests.

                    I was able to request 3 turkey breasts 6 lbs each for pickup 3 days later, for a grilling session on my Big Green egg. Those made delicious turkey-ranch sandwiches for months...

              2. Long ago, I was a starving student living in the UT dorms and Central Market was the closest big grocery store to campus. At the time, they didn't serve food in the dorms on Saturdays and there was no such thing as dining dollars, so I was left to fend for myself on a limited income. Central Market was this magical land with a million samples. They had a more robust salad bar back then and lots of itty bitty little sample cups. I'd sample my way through lunch and then eat ramen or sandwiches for dinner.

                The bulk section of the store is amazing. Whole Foods couldn't compete with it until they built their flagship. It amazes me that anyone would buy stale McCormick spices for $5 a jar when the same amount could be bought from CM for less than a dollar. Their cajun mix is one of my favorite snacking mixes.

                Some other things I adore:

                1. Big jars of Heinz Genuine Dill pickles.
                2. Several Pennsylvania snack brands, including Utz and Tom Sturgis.
                3. Belletoile Brie at usually 1/2 the price of other stores, including regular HEB.
                4. Deli meat ends for a dollar or two. I like to pick up roast beef for making hash and different types of ham ends for tossing into beans.

                7 Replies
                1. re: verily

                  I don't get it. Am I the only person in Austin who can't stand Central Market? I will take Wheatsville or Whole Foods over it any day. I WANT to like it, but every time I've been in, I get super stressed out and feel like I'm trapped in a labyrinth. I don't think it is a pleasant shopping experience.

                  -----
                  Central Market
                  4001 N Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78756

                  1. re: gillsnthrills

                    You have to follow the "flow" of travel there and not go against the grain. Going in the opposite direction can be stressful.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      this for sure. Anytime I manage to not go in via the produce section (north lamar store) I have to re-route myself pretty quick to get back into the natural flow of traffic.

                      1. re: rudeboy

                        There are also shortcuts between depts. all over the place. If you don't eat meat, you can go straight from produce into the bulk/nutrition section.

                        I personally like the labyrinth style vs the racetrack style of most stores. The corridors are also wide, so I'm not dodging people non-stop like I have to in Whole Foods.

                        1. re: verily

                          I shop almost exclusively at CM but do feel like they cut corners a lot more frequently than they used to. Lots of expired dates on the shelves, etc. I'll probably look at WF more once they open the store on S Mopac.

                      2. re: gillsnthrills

                        I agree - I used to enjoy shopping at CM but then I got used to going to the newly rehabbed and expanded Wheatsville. I find it a much happier and relaxing place to shop. Plus the prices on many items, particularly organic fruit and veggies, are much better. They also carry a lot of locally made products that you won't find at CM.

                        Most people don't seem to realize that non-members can shop at Wheatsville too and the price they pay is the same as it is for members.

                        1. re: ridgeback

                          Oh, I love Wheatsville, too, and I agree that the renovation was a great success.

                    2. The blonde checker from Wisconsin.

                      1. This is one of my favorite posts in a long time. Informative, energetic, fun.

                        CM is mazy, but it deigns to serve us suburbanites -- CM South helps me out two or three times a month. I thought Newflower South would replace the CM purchasing needs, but it hasn't met those expectations.

                        1. From my original post>> Yesterday I bought small quantities of three different types of Spanish sauces: romesco, spicy sofrito, and a third Spanish sauce that can’t remember the name of but looked intriguing and had ingredients I rarely use.

                          The third sauce I couldn't remember name of was "Mojo Canario"

                          Oh my gosh; by far the best.

                          First, the color attracted me. Bright orange. Then, the ingredients confused me. "sour dough starter"? In a sauce?
                          Then, the taste was incredible. Spicy, but not just a jalapeno spicy taste that can be ho-hum for us Texans. It was ... zippy spicy. (Mr. Scrumptious or you Tom could describe it better.) I had it on salmon and flank.

                          pic from googling:
                          http://www.laspain.com/gastronomia-de...

                          ----

                          And how could I forget this on my favorite things list:

                          11) Central Market's hand cream tester aisle. I beeline for that aisle when I first enter CM. Specifically their Shea Butter cream options in the shiny aluminum-type casings.

                          Yes, I take my moisterizing seriously. If the testers are all empty next time I go there I'm going to be miffed! :-)

                          1. I live dangerously close to the Central Market North Lamar location and pass it on my way home from work, so I am there way too often (for my wallet's comfort...) My favorites at the store include:

                            -Risotto Cakes: I pan fry them until they get a crunchy rice exterior. They can be too salty sometimes, though. (The Hatch Green Chile Risotto Cakes are on another level. So good.)

                            -Turkey Chile Meatloaf: For when I'm feeling too lazy to cook. It's flavorful and a tiny bit spicy.

                            -Rick's Picks Pickles: They are insanely expensive, but great quality and artisanal, so a justified splurge in my book.

                            -Justin Nut Butters: Particularly the chocolate hazelnut and chocolate almond (I also like that they have the single-serve packets because I can't bear to buy a $9 jar of nut butter).

                            -Love Dip: A CM classic. Amazing slathered on Ritz crackers.

                            -Herb selection: It's varied and they always have what I need, unlike at HEB.

                            -Maryland Style Crab Cakes: They are sold raw in the seafood section and go on sale sometimes. Better than the regular pre-cooked CM Crab cakes, in my opinion.

                            -Marinated fajitas: The marinades are always tasty and the fajitas are tender when cooked.

                            -Jalapeno Cornbread Stuffed Pork Loin: Wow. Wowie Wow Wow.

                            -Bubbies Mochi Ice Cream: Expensive, but the flavors are explosive. Best boxed mochi ice cream I've ever had.

                            -Bulk Spices: I absolutely love that I can buy one or two bay leaves for like .30 cents instead of getting a jar of them (that I probably won't use all of before they expire) for $4.

                            -Dunno the name, but the sweet/spicy pickle slices in the olive bar: They serve these when you order a burger. I am not usually a sweet pickle fan, but the spice won me over.

                            -The Deli Section: Specifically the charcuterie. Mortadella! Proscuitto di Parma! Salamis of all kinds!

                            -Yogurt selection: They have a great variety of yogurts and I usually find myself picking up something new in addition to my beloved Brown Cow, Liberte and Fage.

                            I'm picking up some cilantro pecan pesto soon, thanks to this thread. Sounds like a good way to make a quick meal. Thanks, guys!

                            -----
                            Central Market
                            4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TerryMtz

                              I'm pretty sure those pickles are called Sweet Heat pickles. And I love them, too.

                              I haven't had the pecan cilantro pesto from CM, but I have had the one at Whole Foods and enjoyed it a lot. I've found that it's even better, and far cheaper, to make at home. I just throw two bunches of cilantro, a few garlic cloves, one jalapeno (or two if you want it spicier), some olive oil, salt, parmesan, and walnuts (I can't tell the difference/they're cheaper/they have omega 3s) into the food processor and let it rip for a minute or so. For a change, throw in a poblano. It's all delicious.

                              Where Central Market lets me down is the desserts such as sliced cake. Whole Foods has them beat by a mile in that department.

                              -----
                              Central Market
                              4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

                              1. re: angusb

                                TerryMtz's has a nice list, but more on those pickles as they're always in my fridge. They are made by Sechler's - so if you don't see them in the deli case for some odd reason, you can find them in the pickle section. I chop them up as relish for hot dogs - I like it so much better than just plain sweet relish. I've also heard folks using them as a secret ingredient in their deviled eggs.

                                Some of my favorite 'things' at Central are

                                the Foodies. I've been very pleased with their product knowledge and ability to recommend a very good thai curry paste, or ginger ale or other item with unique character.

                                Bulk section/spices - lots of varieties of really really good stuff.

                                The hatch sausages and hatch crab cakes. Treats like these help me look forward to August in Austin.

                                and finally - Fresh mozzarella ovalini, still warm from being made - sliced and served in a caprese salad with good olive oil and basil, salt and pepper. Yep - one of my favorite things.

                            2. Has anyone tried any of the items advertised for their current festival of Spanish foods? Anything worth checking out?

                              1. Miles of Chocolate...mmmmmmm. However, now I can get it at the regular HEB.

                                1. The store-baked ginger cookies sold in the bakery. They are not ginger snaps, they're big, dense, chewy cookies full of rich, zingy ginger flavor and coated on top with chunky, crunchy sugar crystals. They are fabulous.

                                  1. Things I love at CM (I haven't been to the North one in about 7 years, but I use the Westgate one):
                                    -Cheese section, all of them.
                                    -Decent wine/ beer selection: That way I don't have to stop at Spec's with frozen stuff in the car.
                                    -Seafood is pretty fresh and comparably priced. The people at the counter are really nice and helpful.
                                    -Fresh sausage - It is very hard to find at HEB. The people at that counter are really nice and helpfull too.
                                    -Duck fat
                                    -Great pepper selection, although, sometimes, they are mis-labeled.
                                    -Amazing radish selection. Good produce overall.
                                    -Habanero-stuffed olives, garlic-stuffed olives at the olive bar
                                    -Fresh Habanero guacamole
                                    -Exotic fruit for exotic cocktails
                                    -Bulk spices rule. Bulk candy.
                                    -Dried mushroom selection is great.
                                    -Fresh flowers, especially if you get there first thing in the morning!! They are hard to resist taking home.
                                    -Steen's cane syrup. (Although, it'd be NICE to have it in the glass, screw-top bottle, I'll take what I can find here).
                                    - I love the utensils section... they have some great gadgets and basic white serveware. It's great to pick up right before a party, so you don't have to go to the dreaded mall.
                                    -Tortillas, been discussed in length on this board.
                                    -I love that they put little recipe cards with the produce. Some of them are really simple and taste good.

                                    Things that make me crazy every time:
                                    - No Zatarain's rice or Creole Mustard in the squeeze bottle (Regular HEB carries, CM USED to carry)
                                    -Their lack of HEB brand products... come on guys, I don't want to go two places. Some of the HEB stuff is good, basic pantry items. I don't need whole-wheat, gluten-free, organic, vegan for EVERY item in my pantry!!
                                    -It seems like they favor 'Northern' brands over 'Southern' brands...

                                    In that I mean, Hellman's mayo and no Blue Plate, no Konriko rice, no Camelia beans... I'm probably the only one that notices this. No cane vinegar (in fact they don't even know what this is, but they stock 5 types of 'champagne vinegar'!?!). No French Roast Cafe Du Monde coffee. No Community Iced Tea bags... I'm from the South, and I'd like to support more small, hometown businesses if possible. Austin's a melting pot of Americans from all over, it'd be awesome to not have to order this stuff online.
                                    -Only dry crab boil, not liquid (apparently it's more expensive to ship/stock)
                                    -Should get rid of 'Cajun Hollar' brand andouille and tasso and just carry the real stuff in the meat dept.... I mean, come on, it's a specialty place, right.
                                    -The attitude of people in the parking lot and in the store. The words 'excuse me' go a long way.
                                    -The French bread in the bakery is God-awful... surely, someone there knows. It's like a baseball bat, even when it's still warm.
                                    -No frozen biscuits. They have one brand that is some weird, gluten-free or wheat or something, but no just plain frozen buscuits. People, sometimes, I don't have time to make them... it would be great to have some in the freezer.
                                    -No Borden milk. Now, this is new, and really ridiculous. HEB carries it, CM used to carry up until a few months ago when they did a renovation. They have a facility here in Austin. Why not carry it at CM? They try to steer you to the Oak Farms brand, and it is not as good.

                                    So I typically go to CM weekly, WF monthly, and Randalls/Regular HEB monthly. This is an interesting topic to read, and I cannot wait to find and try some of y'all's suggestions!

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: drdelicious

                                      Not to derail, but is there somewhere that you CAN get Community iced tea bags around here? I've been looking.

                                      1. re: hlk

                                        Fiesta might have them. That's where I get my More Spice Tony Chachere's Seasoning.

                                        1. re: Helind

                                          I'll have to look there -- thanks!

                                        2. re: hlk

                                          I have looked for 4 years to no avail. I even asked one of my patients that works for them, and he had no idea. I have a wonderful mother-in-law that ships them to me... Family size, 24 packs. I have to say, I've never tried Fiesta. I can find the coffee all day, but never the tea.

                                          I know it's crazy, but I found a great selection of Tony's at Academy Sports, in the crawfish boil section... I just buy the liquid gallon concentrated crawfish boil at this WinnDixie on the way back from LA.... I've seen it at Quality Seafood once. I keep 3 gallons/ year for boils.

                                          1. re: hlk

                                            You might check with Stuffed Cajun Market. I seem to recall seeing some Community stuff there but I'm not sure about the tea bags. It's way northwest on 620 so i'd call before I drove up there.

                                            1. re: ssouth

                                              Yeah, they're great!!! I asked them about Blue Runner beans & they brought them back to sell the next time they went to LA. Wonderful service, just waaaaay up North. I always take a cooler when I go there.

                                        3. I just tried their poblano pesto tonight on top of their portabello & fontina ravioli from the refrigerated case...OH MY GOD it was so good! I'm hooked! A quick & simple meal in 5 minutes. I added some fresh basil and chives from our garden on top, and a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano. Happiness!

                                          1. In Central Market Austin's online flier,
                                            http://www.centralmarket.com/Assets/P...
                                            in the "Get Ready to Crumble!" cute section, they describe some new cookies from their bakery.

                                            The one that caught my eye was the "Kitchen Sink cookie" with chocolate chips, caramel, pretzel sticks, etc... Normally I am a cookie purist - there is one cookie, the pure chocolate chip cookie w/ no nuts, the best I've ever had being from the Central Market chocolate chunk cookie dough that I keep in the freezer.. However, after reading the description I just had to try it.

                                            So I called to see if they still had any left. The bakery person put aside a bag of 6 for me. I'm glad I called - on table they had every other one of their new cookie types *but* the kitchen sink cookie.

                                            Needless to say it was delicious. The pretzel stick pieces definitely add a salty unexpected twist to them. Half of a cookie, 10 seconds in the microwave + a glass of iced coffee-milk = bliss.

                                            Edit: I don't see a "Get Ready to Crumble!" section in the flier for this week. But I bet they still probably have cookies!

                                            -----
                                            Central Market
                                            4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: sweet100s

                                              Sounds like they are taking some inspiration from Momofuku's Milk Bar! I can't wait to try their blueberry & cream cookie and see how it stacks up.

                                              1. re: hlk

                                                Yesterday, Central Market had all the varieties of their new extra-delicious cookie types out, including "blueberries & cream" . I wanted to try their double-chocolate ones, but I couldn't resist the Kitchen Sink cookie. Something about the butterscotch chips + chocolate chips + pretzel stick saltiness + brown sugar cookie goodness who knows what else. WOW.

                                                Another new product: these adorable mini-loaves of scratch-made bread for $1.50. The whole wheat was tasty and was excellent toasted for mini-chicken salad sandwich. Actually, that bread would be perfect with egg salad now that I think about it...

                                                My favorite new thing so far this month:
                                                from the end cap of the chip aisle on the way towards the critical lotion and cream aisle:
                                                a new-to-me brand of popped popcorn, butter flavor and one other. I don't remember the brand name. However, the popcorn was very fluffy, perfectly salted, and tasted of real butter. I believe cost was 2 bags / $3.

                                                I've abandoned the microwave type of popcorn after hearing about all the chemicals they contained. I am using the stove-type maker at home. Sometimes it turns out good, sometimes it tastes just a little ... smushy. I'm going to try to dump the popcorn next time onto a cookie sheet instead of a bowl so that it doesn't steam itself and see if that makes a difference.

                                                But my point is, with that bag of popcorn from Central Market, every kernal was sooo fluffy and had just the right amount of butter flavor. I wanna see their popcorn making machine & staff !

                                                That is definitely the bag to grab and smuggle into the movies. The bag itself might make too much noise though...

                                                1. re: hlk

                                                  You arent kidding about taking a page from Milk Bar. In addition to the blueberry and cream cookie, the kitchen sink cookie is exactly like the compost cookie from milk bar.

                                                  1. re: twyst

                                                    I tried a few of them and didn't think they were nearly as good as the Milk Bar versions, but probably just fine for anyone not making the comparison.

                                                    1. re: hlk

                                                      I hadnt tried any of them. but my interest was piqued by this thread so when I went to CM this morning I picked up a few different cookies. They didnt have the compost/kitchen sink cookies, and the blueberry cookies are pretty good but nowhere near as good as the milk bar cookies. What IS delicious though is the caramel apple praline cookies. These could make me very very fat ><

                                              2. It was a beautiful Saturday to go to Central Market.

                                                From the deli area, the meatballs described below from their chef-inspired meatball selection won raves during playoffs last night.

                                                http://www.centralmarket.com/Assets/P...

                                                Specifically, the Lamb meatball Chille Relleno, and Steak & Bacon were delicious all delicious. Didn't try the Thai shrimp & pork.

                                                I forgot to get some sauces from the sauce bar right across from the deli.

                                                Enjoyed the meatballs with the mushroom pasta that was also delicious...

                                                LOVED the citrus kale salad with dried cranberries and almonds. From their Citrus Fest selections, purchased a blood orange, tangelo, and tangerine to toss with salads. The tangelo was sweet and refreshing.

                                                Did NOT like the fennel citrus salad. Wow, something in their was face-scrunching strong.

                                                There were tons of samples available; the orzo salad tasted delicious, and the breakfast rice pudding with pistachio and honey was interesting.

                                                And I replenished my supply of Rocky Mountain popped popcorn, butter flavor. It's now located in the gluten-free aisle, about mid-point, just below knee height. It's better than I can make stovetop, perfect for smuggling into movies, almost every kernal is soft, and it's buttery but not too buttery. Wonder why they remove the proteins from the butter? (as they say below
                                                )http://www.rockymountainpopcorn.com/f...

                                                Maybe that contributes to the powdery-soft texture.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: sweet100s

                                                  "Wonder why they remove the proteins from the butter?"
                                                  _________________________________________________

                                                  My guess is so people with casein sensitivities can eat it since the proteins in butter's milk solids contain casein.

                                                  I wasn't aware there was such a product available. I'm glad to know about it since I have a sister with casein/dairy sensitivity.

                                                2. They've been mentioned before but the blueberry and cream cheese cookies @ Central Market are out of this world when they are fresh and soft. Same for triple chocolate.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: Rptrane

                                                    The "Kitchen Sink" cookies are to die for too. They have chocolate, oatmeal, pretzels, potato chips, butterscotch (or maybe peanut butter?) chips, and all kinds of other goodies, hence the name. They're one of the only store-bought baked goods my husband will touch, and we struggle to not finish the whole bag in one sitting.

                                                    1. re: Royale

                                                      I hate crispy cookies. The blueberry are great when fresh not so great when old.

                                                      1. re: Rptrane

                                                        Yeah I had the same issue with overbaked kitchen sink cookies at 11am one day. Those didn't impress at all.

                                                  2. "Central Market Introduces Scratch-Made Hand Pies"

                                                    http://moreplease.centralmarket.com/c...

                                                    How fun! Pocket pies from Central Market!

                                                    >> Our bakers use a blend of cream cheese and butter to make a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth crust, which we

                                                    Cream cheese in a pie crust? I don't believe I've ever tasted that.

                                                    1. Let me preface this by saying, I am a chocolate fiend! I used to buy a bar of Chocolove every other day (mm toffee & almonds in milk!), thinking that the $2.35 price at my nearby Natural Grocers was a steal. The bar is 3.5 oz and when I finally did the math, it calculates out to $11.75/lb. This is more than I'll pay for grassfed beef! So imagine my delight when I found bulk chocolate "buttons" sold at Central Market for a mere $8.99/ lb. It's not super cheap, but it is really high quality chocolate generally only sold to distributors and not direct to consumers. Alas the manufacturer's name eludes me now, but it is on par with Valrhona - I'll follow up on this post when I find out!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tshirtweather

                                                        In my email inbox from Central Market:

                                                        "We hope that you love seeing our delicious newsletter in your inbox each week.

                                                        We noticed that you did not have a home store selected and we want to fix that. In order to get weekly specials and invites to events specific to your home store, please update your profile
                                                        with your current information.

                                                        To thank you, we’ll email you a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $25 or more, to use at any of our stores."

                                                        Maybe if you sign up for a newletter but not a "home store" you can replicate this kind offer?

                                                      2. Guinness stout gingerbread is back! SO GOOD.

                                                        1. Cheese, cheese, cheese!!!! The cheese section here is my absolute favorite. I'm not a huge cheese guy, but I do love the selection!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: MmmThatsGood

                                                            Except they don't carry any Arruchio provolone. Which is now made domestically and is excellent stuff. They didn't have any aged provolone there except one brand that was of the dry style. Had to go to HEB afterwards for their "Stagnatio"(sp?) from the deli counter.

                                                            -sw

                                                          2. New favorite thing: Central Market brand Kettle Cooked Waffle-Cut Potato Chips. Big crunch and loads of yummy salty, potato-y flavor.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: verily

                                                              I am grumpy that I am out of my favorite Central Market popcorn, the Rocky Mountain popped popcorn, butter flavor.

                                                              Plan B product is un-satisfying.
                                                              Popping it myself is not as good either.

                                                              1. re: sweet100s

                                                                I like the bulk organic yellow popcorn kernels you can get from CM and HEB Plus. Seems to pop up just right on the stovetop whereas the multicolored version from Whole Foods is always small and weirdly chewy.

                                                            2. They have the exact same maple creme sandwich cookies that Trader Joe's carries now, packaged as Central Market brand. Delicious, and deadly (to those dieting).