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Jun 5, 2011 11:17 AM

Best and Worst Grocery Store Finds...

I'm not sure if anyone will be itnerested in this thread but I've now had the "omg you should try/definitely NOT try X from X grocery at X location" a few times and thought maybe it would be interesting to hear of the finds (and travesties) of others here. I'll go first.

Best: Aroy-D brand from the Jean Talon Loblaws. I had never heard of this brand before randomly buying a can of green curry one night in desperation - is it well known? Either way, their green curry (ready to eat, not paste) is excellent, genuinely better than some green curry I've had in restaurants. The red stuff is great too, I'm just a green curry fiend.

Worst - coincidentally, also ready-to-eat green curry - President's Choice brand, a brand I usually tend to find at least serviceable and sometimes pretty great. This stuff is one of the nastiest things I've ever tasted - something so bad I have been tempted to buy another jar just to force friends to try it so we can then commiserate on its disgustingness. It tastes/feels like vaguely gelatinous chemical-flavoured cream (not coconut cream, cow cream) with a TON of artificial lime flavouring. That's it. I couldnt taste any other spices or ingredients although they are listed. The faux lime flavouring was overwhelming - if I hadn't read the package I would have had no idea what this product was even meant to be, I probably would have guessed some kind of pretend-Mexican chip dip or something.

And now that I've slammed PC I'll say that their canned crab is very good. :)

Anyone else with picks or pans from local groceries?

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  1. I wouldn't necessarily say "best", but quite tasty and somewhat different, President's Choice BBQ Baby Back Rib Chips (potato chips available at Maxi).

    Worst - Don't remember the brand, perhaps Wong Wing, but pretty much any can of won ton soup - don't be fooled by the enticing picture on the can, its pretty lousy. "It tastes/feels like vaguely ...chemical-flavoured ...with a TON of artificial ... flavouring. That's it. I couldnt taste any ... ingredients although they are listed" would also apply here.

    9 Replies
    1. re: porker

      The most amazing find on a recent grocery trip (I live on the Quebec/ Vermont border) is Cabot Hot Habenero Cheddar Cheese. Cabot can be relied on to provide quality product but the Hot Habenero is truly amazing. The cheese is is amazing the taste is amazing but the heat is many levels above anything I expected in the dairy case of ordinary supermarkets. I normally have at least 10 bottles of hot sauce in the fridge which I use on a daily basis but I was not prepared for the heat but must say the flavour is exquisite. There is nothing on the label that warns of the heat but I suggest caution and a cold glass of milk on standby. If you like quality american cheddar and like a good bit of heat if you have a chance grab a bar.

      1. re: Moedelestrie

        I love the Cabot habanero! For once, a truly fiery (not dumbed down) concoction. I always pick some up when in the states. They have two "types" and I can't find out why: in the more gourmet section where it is sold by weight (and always more expensive), and in the dairy section with all other cheeses - standard size and one price.

        1. re: Moedelestrie

          That sure is hot! Too much for me. Good to taste, but I don't envision myself eating a portion's worth.
          On the other hand I fell in love with the Sage Cheddar. Better than the english stuff I get from Atwater IMO

        2. re: porker

          PC makes some great snack foods! Their chicken wings are awesome, especially the tandoori flavour. I also had their deep-dish Chicago style chicken & mushroom pizza a while ago - man, has grocery store pizza come a long way! It was honestly better than alot of takeout I've had. Lastly, their frozen mixed Indian nibblies (mini-samosas, pakoras, etc) were surprisingly good, too; would buy them again when craving Indian in a pinch (ie. snowstorm).

          Valentina's Mexican hot sauce is a nice recent find, thicker consistency and more complex taste than the usual Frank's/Louisiana style hot sauce.

          Worst: Sleeman Clear beer. So disappointed one of my favourite brands made this undrinkable water. I've made the mistake of eating Wong Wing soup, too.

          1. re: Shattered

            I got some Valentina's on sale this week at the Parc/Jean-Talon Loblaws, for just over $1. Very nice.

          2. re: porker

            I tried the PC Flavours of the world potato chips recently - chips are one junk food I basically only eat if someone else brings it to a party, not cause I don't like 'em but I like 'em too much and have enough Romados and poutine in my diet - and holy mack, they're good! The Stampede ribs was good, a notch above regular bbq, but the best was the Jamaican jerk chicken - easily hottest chips I've eaten. Anyway, I went through 3 large bags in 3 days, so I'm off chips again, haha. (other flavour was Greek, it was like a more garlicky sour cream & onion.)

            1. re: Shattered

              If you're looking for some heat, maybe give Blair's Death Rain Habanero chips a try
              I think they have them at the Atwater Market (the carry-all store with the hot-sauce wall near the fishmonger).
              Kettle cooked (extra crunch), which I'm not a big fan, but they ARE hot!

              1. re: porker

                Not sure if they have them at Les Douceurs du Marché, but they had them the other day at the bulk store next to Premiere Moisson in the market.

                1. re: davekry

                  They definitly have them at the bulk store near Première Moisson, that's where i bought some last time in Montreal.

          3. Never, ever buy meat from Super C. Any meat. Ever.

            16 Replies
            1. re: kimberleyblue

              why? (I dont shop there although my mother always says the meat is an amazing deal)

              1. re: kimberleyblue

                What happened? I've always found the (none frozen) meat at Super C to be good quality. It's essentially the same meat as Metro. I've bought chuck blade roast there to grind up for burgers. amonst other things, and I've always been very pleased with the quality and flavour of the meat.

                1. re: kimberleyblue

                  What's wrong with SuperC? I think there are grocery stores that are well managed, and others that are not, no matter the chain.

                  I started shopping at the superC next to atwater market 2 weeks ago and I am pleased! The fresh produce is fresh and cheap (cherries, berries are my faves. Also the tomatoes are really good tomatoes...)

                  Before, I shopped at the Metro on notre-dame, which didn't have the freshest produce and is by far the most expensive grocery store I have been to (coupled with the metro in Westmount, althought THAT one has a better selection and food is more fresh). Then, I switched to the Loblaws in NDG. Wow, what an awfully managed store. The food isn't fresh, they don't restock until their items are almost expired (sometimes I go weeks looking for my brand of yogurt, then suddenly they stock a lot of it but its all about to expire). On top, Loblaws didn't even carry Esker water, ugh!

                  I wasn't sure if superC would live up to the standard.. I guess it might have some stigma to it like maxi (lol which I admit I would never want to shop in), but finally, I tried it, and its great!

                  Kimberly at which SuperC did you shop at, and what was wrong with the meat?

                  1. re: socialhvn

                    Well, she might be refering to something i know they did in the past.

                    Wash their meats with vinegar so old meat would not smell. I doubt/hope they don't do this anymore. Anyways, i would have to agree that their meat is not the best quality, and tastes like nothing.

                    1. re: SourberryLily

                      Are you saying this was a chain-wide practice or specific to one or a few locations? Like I said before, I've always found the meat at the Super C's I've frequented to be very good. Maybe it's an issue with turnover. I don't buy meat at my local Maxi because it never looks very good and the selection is limited, but I've been to other Maxis where the meat section was very different in a good way.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        It varies at lot from location to location, when i was living in sherbrooke, the Maxi&Cie was miles ahead of the Super C across the street in terms of freshness and quality.

                        However, now i'm back in Montreal, and I agree with you that the Super C near Atwater market is very good, especially when you compare it to the Maxi in Verdun.

                        1. re: SnackHappy

                          When i was a teenager, 10 years ago, in Laval (im not sure if i should say which one in Laval), they did this.

                          I know this because all the teens on the block worked there or the Jean-Coutu next to it (i was at the pharmacy). There wasn't an IGA across the street back then, so no competition. Later i THINK i heard it in the local news, but my confirmed source are the workers.

                          I do not know about other super C but this was 10 years ago so likely a lot has changed since then (for good or for worse)

                          1. re: SourberryLily

                            @SourberryLily : I live near that Super C and I never go there to buy anything, to me it is just bad so I doubt it has improved over the years. I'll even go to Maxi (god forbid) before going there.

                        2. re: SourberryLily

                          I'm still waiting to hear from kimberlyblue....she gets us all riled up and leaves us hanging...hehe.
                          Anyways I know plenty of people who wash poultry with vinegar in the hopes of killing bacteria. I assume there are people who might wash any kind of meat (beef/goat/pork, etc) for the same reason. I don't know how effective nor how appropriate it is as bacteria will be killed in the cooking process anyway.
                          As for old meat, I can certainly see how a commercial outfit might want to try to salvage what they can from meat which is heading south. But I feel it should ultimately be "buyer beware"...I hope the average meat buyer can tell the difference between wholesome and questionable cuts of meat based on sight alone.
                          I'm not trying to defend Super C, but I find a blanket statement somewhat dubious. I agree that Super C might not always have the best quality, but I feel this can be said of many supermarkets. As for taste, I think its hit or miss at most supermarkets as well. Bottom line tends to be price and whats easiest to sacrifice for price? Quality and aging (taste).
                          Just my 2c...

                          Just remember, never, ever eat Campbells canned soup. Any kind of soup. Ever.

                          1. re: porker

                            It really seems to be a "case by case" as well. Seems some Super C are better than others, same with IGA or Loblaws or any other. If you have a good one near you, be happy and enjoy it !

                            Now if only the Jean-Talon market would be right across the street here in Laval, that'd be awesome !

                            1. re: Werzoth

                              Psst, there is Marche 440 and recently les Marche Gourmand. In the summer, Marche 440 gets quite big and can rival with Marche Jean-Talon on many points!

                              I haven't been tothe marche gourmand in a long time i can't report on how well its doing. It seemed pretty quiet last time i went.

                            2. re: porker

                              um what are you starting now with campbells soup? ?

                              1. re: socialhvn

                                Its kind of tongue in cheek...but relates to a story from my late father-in-law.
                                He was a ship's-gunner in the US navy during WWII. His ship was in port in California and he was broke (onboard gambling), so he got himself what he called a GI job - a day's pay for a day's work - at a Campbells soup factory. His job? Along with about 20 other, severely hung-over servicemen, was to stir big vats of cooking soup. Lets just say more than just veggies ended up in the vegetable soup that day.
                                He didn't eat Campbells soup until the early 70s almost 30 years later.
                                "Now its all different", he'd say "Its all modern..."
                                hehe, kinda like SourberryLily's "....but this was....years ago so likely a lot has changed since then (for good or for worse)..." {;-/)

                                1. re: porker

                                  nowadays with production lines very few humans go anywhere near the product

                                  1. re: celfie

                                    Where there's a will there's a way ;-)

                        3. re: kimberleyblue

                          Yeah, KB, enquiring minds want to know, whats up with the Super C?

                        4. You should try anything and everything from Eden and La Vielle Europe... and perhaps La librarie Espagnole

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kpaxonite

                            Be sure to try the Black Sesame ice cream at Eden. Excellent suggestions.

                          2. La vielle europe has the best old cheddar and at a decent price.

                            1. Loblaws has slider buns, hamburger buns about 2 inches across. They have the matching burger patties, or you can make your own, but they are quite impressive at a BBQ - the wife just did these this weekend. Everyone was asking where to get the buns.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: porker

                                IGA has them also with sesame seeds; the Compliments brand.