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Whats are some Favorite/Specialty items you buy at Central Market and Whole Foods?

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Hello, I'm a young college student in the DFW area who has found his love and passion for cooking/food the past year. So its no wonder I have been exploring into different grocery and specialty stores. I've been getting into the more organic/natural cooking from scratch and love it.

Recently I've been going to Central Market and Whole Foods, I love these places! So many good looking products I've never seen before, it gets overwhelming on what to choose. I've only been a handful of times but I find new gems every time I go so I know there is a lot I have yet to see. This is where I need your help! :)

I'm sure each store has their own special items (cheese's, special snacks, crackers, vinegars, breads, pasta's, ect..) that you cant get at one another.

So what are some staples you buy when you go to each store?

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  1. Speaking from experiences at the Southlake location of CM:

    The next time you're there, ask to try their buttermilk Bleu Affinée cheese. It is creamy with a very good blue cheese bite - more potent than Maytag or Stilton, but not as strong as Gorgonzola, certainly not King Roquefort. If you haven't developed a taste for the Blue's, start with Maytag or Stilton - they're both very mild.

    With any of the cheeses, if the pre-cut amounts are more than you want to take home, they'll cut you a smaller portion.

    In the deli department, they roast various meats (turkey, beef, pork), slice and package for sandwich meat or have your amount sliced to order. One you get it home, freeze it, use it or lose it - there's no preservatives in it.

    Check out the bulk buy bins of ground chili spices and dark chocolates in the area near the coffees and teas.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CocoaNut

      Add St. Agur to that list, too.

      Butter Tortillas, blood orange juice from Italy, scones with cloted cream, and the applewood smoked bacon at the butcher counter is the best bacon I've found.

    2. I buy almost all of my spices from the Central Market bulk spices section. Need a small amount of star anise for a recipe? You can get one from the bulk section, put it in a bag, and it will cost about $.16. It really helps me when a need a small amount of an item for a particular recipe I'm making that I don't normally use, carraway seeds, allspice, fennel seeds, juniper berries, etc. Much cheaper than buying a jar at the local mega mart.

      3 Replies
      1. re: planojim

        Yes, how great for students! it's cool to get the signed fleur de sel, but for $1 you can get a nice little quantity.

        Raw milk parmesan is i believe new & quite wonderful. Get the center chunk & don't pay for the rind. Miles of Chocolate is delish, & the French lavender honey excellent.

        @WF, the chicken salad is better than CM's, + higher stds in the meat/seafood dept.

        1. re: foiegras

          edit: wrong thread

        2. re: planojim

          Yes, I love the bulk spices. I'll buy two or three chipotles for aioli and keep them on hand. Usually costs me about $.68.

        3. I love the baked breads at cm- especially the barvarian rye. Whenever I'm threre I try to pick up whatever fresh local produce they have on special- at the moment I highly recommend their Texas red grapefruit. The yogurt selection is great and I always stock up on whole milk liberte and 3 happy cows. Last but not least I like the smoked bacon's at the butcher counter. I never leave the store without all of those items in my cart.

          1. CM: The feta spinach chicken sausage, made fresh at the meat counter, is outstanding. It's much superior to that at Market Street, which ain't bad. You purchase by the link/pound, which I think is 1/4 lb per. Lightly brown on 2 sides over med-low heat, add a bit of water, cover, lower heat, and let steam to cook through - about 10-15 min.

            1. Here are some things I buy at CM just because they are not available elsewhere. I shop almost exclusively at the Plano CM.

              Deli Counter - Milano brand salumi in the deli meat counter.....don't worry with the Molinari brand or even the Cremenelli. The Milano is the way to go. The price is a bit steep but I usually only get 1/4 lb for snacking. You can try some of the other salumi in the case for verification.
              NY Pastrami. The DaBecca brand used to be the best but they changed their formula and now the NY Pastrami they sell is far superior. Get a lb as it is pricey but you will want two homemade rubens
              The store made turkey or roast beef. Both are good and I only buy a small protion as they do not contain perservatives, so it goes bad quickly.

              I buy my apples most of the time from CM. I do not like mealy textured apples and I like to try different varieties. CM is the only store I know of that will let you try and has a vast selection.

              Tilapia - The Tilapia at CM is just about the only one I will eat. It frequently runs out.

              The beer selection is good but I only buy beer at CM when it is on sale. You can also look for the weekly releases that are hard to find to see if they have any stashed away.

              Spices - I only get the smoked/flavored salt

              Tortillas, all of the in house tortillas are awesome, I usually go for the whole wheat or the multigrain. CM is also one fo the few store that carries a mojority of the line from El Milagro brand. Solid corn tortiilas, thick flour tortillas and nice crispy tortilla chips with no salt.

              Breads most of them are great. I usually get the ones with the most whole grains.

              Muffins. Probably the best muffins I have had for breakfast. Buy them by the 4 pack as they are cheaper. The Blueberry-Cranberry are my favorite.

              Olive and sauces bar - Pimento cheese....best I have had, guacamole (good in a pinch but pricey), Pineapple salsa (great for pairing with a grilled meat), Smoked salmon dip (good to get a tiny bit for a bagel and maybe some crackers)

              Prepared foods - Kolache (great if you are wondering around for breakfast at the store), Tamales (all of the varities are good), Salads - Edammame, Farro, etc (find the most interesting and pick out/ask for the ingredients)

              The beer selection is good but I only buy beer at CM when it is on sale. You can also look for the weekly releases that are hard to find to see if they have any stashed away.

              The cheese selection is vast but terribly looked after in each store. Do not buy cheese at CM.

              A good majority of the items a way overpriced. Spices are a good example. I get all of my spices (with the expection of very hard to find) at Phoenicia in Houston. The cost per lb is about 1/8 of the price at CM or WF. I don't need organic spices either. When you are baking, grilling or cooking you will not be able to distinguish.

              Cheese your best bet is to save all of your cravings at CM or WF and go to Scardello in Dalllas at Oak Lawn @ Lemmon. Don't let the prices at Scardello scare you it is priced buy the lb. Get only what you will be able to finish in one week is the addage I go by.

              Breads/Pasteries - I like two bakeries around the metroplex. BreadHaus in Grapevine for Eastern European style hearty breads and good everyday breads, Ravelin in Denton for any pasteries (Croissants, Eclairs and Muffins) and good day old sale loaves of bread.

              Any Asian ingredient I would suggest going to 99 Ranch, Asia World or Super H Mart. Rice Wine vinegar, black vinegar, all rices, kimchee, pickles, Fresh seafood (99 Ranch only), all fresh herbs (cilantro, Thai basil, garlic, ginger), beginner sake - not Geikkikan

              Indian/Pakistani - I buy all my ingredients at two stores - India Bazaar and Subzi Mandi both in Irving. The reason I go is because the turnover is very high on the products. So a box of Shan brand Haleem or Butter Chicken spice mix won't be on the shelf for months/years.

              16 Replies
              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                what do you mean by cheese 'terribly looked after'?

                1. re: foiegras

                  I have had many friends who have bought cheese at CM that is past its prime or should have been thrown out. I have had this happen to me also.

                  I am not sure if they buy too much cheese and try to sell it before it expires or if they just have too broad of a selection and lose track of it in all the selection.

                  1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                    Thinking a store-to-store mgmt problem. I've bought a variety of cheeses, fresh and aged, with no problem - they've all had adequate shelf life in the meat compartment of my fridge. But then they've all come from the SL loc.

                    WF used to have the freshest Gulf Red Snapper I've bought/cooked (in DFW). Sadly, it's out priced my budget allotment.

                    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                      have had very few problems with cheese at FW store. but the information desk will refund any problems you have--just bring your receipt to make it easier.

                      1. re: foiegras

                        Personally, I like the comprehensive cheese selections at CM. But, I find better service at Wholefoods, Lakewood.

                        However, if price was not an issue, I'd shop Scardello exclusively for my cheese.

                        1. re: twinwillow

                          yeah - for cheese, you're WAY better off at Scardello.
                          1) more knowledgeable staff

                          2) you can taste anything you want - in fact, you don't even have to ask for a taste most of the time... as soon as you start discussing a cheese, samples appear.

                          3) there is zero barrier to getting a small piece... whereas at CM, you have to hunt someone down to cut it for you.

                          4) as LewisvilleHounder says, the cheese is much better cared for.

                          5) Scardello often gets rare or seasonal cheeses

                          6) and they also have excellent cheese classes.

                          1. re: gavlist

                            WOW! You guys need to come to SL

                            1. re: CocoaNut

                              Totally agree. Have never had that issue at the SL store.

                            2. re: gavlist

                              ... unless you're at the other end of the metroplex. I will drive to Dallas for alot of things, but cheese??

                              Not sure what you mean by small. I am one person, & i never think the pieces are too big.

                          2. re: foiegras

                            Plus, they need to be aware there IS a problem before they can correct the problem......

                          3. re: LewisvilleHounder

                            Are y'all not looking at the expiration date during selection, or are these cheese bad prior to expiration?

                            1. re: Custardly

                              Never had a problem w/the cheese department at the Central Market on Lovers Lane, but many issues w/it at the Preston Royal location. The shredded parm is always out of date w/blue specs.

                        2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                          For bread, I recommend taking a look at the newly opened (for retail, that is) Village Bakery at University and 75. I just went there the other morning for breakfast pastries and they were great. It's a far trek from Lewisville but if you find yourself in the area.... They also have free Cultivar coffee

                          1. re: demigodh

                            That is my favorite bakery. They have amazing croissants.

                            1. re: demigodh

                              Village is at the Coppell Farmers market on Saturday's and that is close to Lewisville. Their bread far out paces several others in the area or the specialty grocery stores.

                            2. re: LewisvilleHounder

                              I agree the pimento cheese is very good, very rich. On it good bread of choice, it makes a wonderful grilled cheese sand with a (pitted) Greek olive assortment on the side.

                            3. Although I'm not a great fan of Central Market, (I have my reasons) I do like their Principe (brand) truffled ham.
                              It's delicious!

                              I also like their skinny, heavily seeded baguettes in the bakery. They remind me of the kind you get from one of the great San Francisco bakeries. Great with a lovely soft Brie spread on a slice.

                              And I will say their meat department is one of the best in town outside of Rudolph's.

                              1. Butter Tortillas
                                Pumpkin Mezzalunas in the frozen dept
                                Leal's Seasoned tortilla chips
                                El Rey chocolate disks in bulk dept
                                Spicy Shrimp in seafood dept with remoulade
                                Askinosie Dark Milk choc in the choc bar section

                                1. Wow Thanks everyone for the wonderful recommendations! I even learned about a few new places to check out. I knew I came to the right place! Defiantly going to check out Scardello's.

                                  Seems people have more to say about Central Market than WholeFoods. Do you guys like CM better? I go to the CM in Fort Worth.

                                  Also a friend told me you could sample anything in a Central Market store before you buy it. You just have to ask. Is this true? I've never heard of such service!

                                  The cheese department is defiantly overwhelming for me as I don't know much about cheese, except on eating it.

                                  @Cocoanut: I'm defiantly going to try that soft buttermilk bleu cheese and house made deli meat. Sounds great. Do they make their own mayo or sandwich spreads? Seems like they make everything else!

                                  @foiegras: I'm excited to try the the raw parmesan mentioned because I just ran out!, is it from Italy? Great tip on getting a center cut piece. Never thought about it like that, thanks.

                                  @LewisvilleHounder: Thank you for the wonderful post. It's going to help me out a lot! Can't wait to try out that pastrami and salami. Also, I did buy a few different kinds of apples I've never had before. All were VERY crisp and delicious. Have you tried the heirloom hidden rose apples before? Very good! I love how they have a sign that describes each apple. Very helpful.

                                  A few people mentioned the smoked bacon at the butcher counter. I can't wait to try this stuff as I'm in love with bacon. I always have to have some on hand vacuum sealed into 3 strips per package. It last a lot longer this way and I always have small portions available.

                                  I've must have overlooked the bulk section of spices. Sounds interesting. Perfect for a student like me like planojim mentioned. Sounds very interesting.Do you have to type in the code for each product like in produce I'm assuming? The first time I went to CM I didn't know you had to make tags for all the produce, oops! But the girl who checked me out said she much prefers when people don't put the tags on the bags.

                                  Has anyone tried the crazy priced $300(or w.e. it was!) balsamic vinegar I saw locked up in a case on the top shelf? That seems crazy expensive, but heard REAL aged balsamic can cost around that or even MORE?!? Kinda like that one episode of Good Eats when Alton Brown has a locked basement and a chained case downstairs for the real expensive balsamic vinegar. He has to get bolt cutters to unlock the case, haha.

                                  I wanted to thank everyone of you guys for the replies, it going to really help me out. This was my first post and you guys showed how great of a community yall are. Let me know if anything else comes to mind please!

                                  Well I got a email that Citrus Fest(?) starts today. I don't know what to expect but I'm about to head up there to grab a few things mentioned in this thread and explore around a little more. Wish me luck!

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                    not sure on the country of origin--wrapper is gone. they will also remove the rind upon request. don't know for sure about samples, but sounds true.

                                    yes, bulk spices & salts work like produce.

                                    btw, on the bacon you can just buy 3 strips if you want.

                                    when they get to the end of a batch of sausage, they put the last as bulk pre-packaged, so check down there if like me you prefer w/o the casing.

                                    1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                      Enjoy! your newly found passion adventure!

                                      They will let you do taste testing, as long as it's NOT on that $300 bottle of balsamic! :) I think it was a demo they were doing at one of the Grapevine festivals, they made that statement.

                                      They have an olive oil that I really like - Badia a Coltibuono. About a month ago, I was describing the properties to their foodie-advisor, looking for one a little less expensive. She had several bottles already open for tasting and opened a couple of more to try that she thought better fit my description.

                                      On another visit, I was looking for a specific type of jam. They didn't have it, but a few minutes later and me several aisles over, there was a tap on my shoulder and the same woman as with the olive oil, handed me a jar of a jammy-like spread - told me to take it home to try, on the house.

                                      1. re: CocoaNut

                                        wow, impressive! i want your foodie in FW :)

                                      2. re: burntcremebrulee

                                        regarding samples, I'd also highly recommend asking at the deli counter for a taste of the jamon iberico de bellota - if they have it. I had such a sample in the Lover's store and it was insanely good. It also costs something like $140/lb, so don't get too attached.

                                        1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                          My parents shop the FW CM and have great luck by finding the cheese guy and asking his favorites. Lots of samples; slow process.

                                        2. I like both stores, but shop more often at Central Market than Whole Foods, so these are Central Market recommendations.

                                          Some of my must-buys:

                                          Local and/or organic and/or seasonal veggies and fruits.

                                          Harder to find veggies and fruits, such as fingerling potatoes, figs, Meyer lemons.

                                          I don't buy this stuff very often anymore, as hubby and I eat pretty low carb, but when my son still lived at home we bought their fresh-baked bread (their olive bread is amazing) and the butter tortillas.

                                          Specialty vinegars. Grocery store stuff is fine for your white vinegar and apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar, but CM has great options for the more exotic varieties: sherry vinegar, port vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc.

                                          Bulk spices and salts. It's nice to be able to buy a dab of a spice for a specific recipe or a wee bit of a finishing salt to try.

                                          Coffee beans. I grind my own and CM has a huge selection. They have grinders you can use too if you don't have one at home.

                                          Bulk beans and grains, such as cannellini beans, one of our favorites which can be hard to find in dry form elsewhere.

                                          Good quality aged parmesan cheese. The per pound price is high, but when you use a good quality parmesan you use so much less than you do with the cheap supermarket stuff that it's pretty cost effective. When you get down to the hard rind you can use it to flavor soups or beans, so no waste.

                                          Olives from the olive bar: sun-dried tomato stuffed olives for snacking, nicoise and picholine olives for making homemade tapenade.

                                          Before we started smoking all of our own bacon, we always bought the applewood smoked CM bacon. It's really, really good.

                                          My favorite beer, Hacker-Pschorr Dunkle Weisse.

                                          Fresh (never frozen) Texas Gulf shrimp when they have them. Pricey, but so worth it.

                                          Assorted seafood for making cioppino. They're perfectly happy to give you 6 mussels, 8 shrimp, 4 scallops, and 1 fish filet. They "get it" that you're preparing a recipe and don't get perturbed when you ask for numerous small portions.

                                          1. re: Central Market... I appreciate their shucked oysters (west coast or gulf), and I just can't walk thru their cheese department without spending money!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Khatru

                                              Do they shuck them in store? I love fried oysters but never made my own. This would be perfect for making oyster po' boys for a small crowd. Lettuce, tomato and mayo on a crusty but soft baguette. My dad always marinates them in a buttermilk/sriracha mixture over night before you bread and fry them.

                                            2. Most things are well covered in these responses.
                                              Here's my favorite thing to do on my way to the checkout at CM in FW. Hit up the salad bar in the prepared food area (where ppl go for lunch) and make up a salad. Then go to that deli case and get some of the seasoned cooked shrimp from there, take it home, dump the shrimp in the salad and have a nice little lunch. Yum!
                                              College is a great time to develop your cooking skills and tastes that are your own, not your folks'. Enjoy, and always feel free to ask away!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                Yum. Sounds like a great easy (and healthy) lunch idea, Thank you!

                                              2. @foiegras: I found out all the raw parmesan is from Italy. I ended up getting the 24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano. I really wanted the 36 month aged (MileStone?) Parmigiano Reggiano, but all they had were BIG wheels of that. The women said she would have to have a guy carry it and cut it for her. That's when I rolled up my sleeves and told her I was a quick learner, hehe. I told her that the 24 month would do just fine since they were closing in 30 minutes.

                                                @LewisvilleHounder: The pastrami is defiantly worth the price. Very tasty. They got organic Cameo apples on sale for 1.99 I think. They are sooo sweet, crisp and delicious with a strong apple taste. Picked up some organic honey crisp also. Expensive but worth it. I also got the blueberry-cranberry muffins. OMG sooo good. I want to try the sour cream peach next! Can I make my own 4 pack and get them at the same price as they sell the 4 pack for? It was hard to just choose one flavor! I also got the pimento cheese. I admit I've never had it before. Wow this stuff is soo good. I kept catching myself dipping my baguette in it on the way home! Couldn't help myself! Is the smoked salmon dip called "love dip"? I couldn't find it at the SL location. Only Love dip. What is that?

                                                @Cocoanut: They let me sample the $300 bottle of balsamic!.....ahh ok they didn't! But I did get some of the blueberry maple sausage. Have you tried it? Sounds very interesting. Going to have to try the feta chicken one you recommended. I forgot to get the buttermilk bleu cheese!!! Ahh! I wanted that for my salads. But a pimento grilled cheese with mixed greek olives(with pits) is whats for lunch. I love chewing around the pits, just like dried dates and cherries! Mmm!

                                                @twinwillow: I did have truffled ham on my grocery list because that sounds very interesting to me, but I ended up getting pastrami because I've been craving reubens lately. For someone who has never tried truffles (but LOVES wild mushrooms), would this be an acquired taste? Maybe I'll just ask for a sample!? You mentioned a seeded baguette with soft brie. I've never had brie so I asked the cheese monger to select a nice soft mild creamy brie. She recommended the Brie Couronne. Very delicious. Is there a kind you like the best? I couldn't find the seeded baguettes you were talking about, maybe they were sold out since I came so late. So I went with a normal baguette. But I think I found my new favorite snack. Thank you!

                                                @CarrolltonFoodie: I do notice they have hard to find veggies and fruits. Which I do notice they are all of high quality also. Every piece of fruit and veggie I've tried from this place has been great. As to a normal grocery store it was always hit or miss with the melons, apples, oranges ect. I guy at the produce was talking to be before and told me they taste majority of the produce before they even buy it. He also stated that the best apples come from New Zealand? Oh man I LOVE olive bread but I couldn't find it there! Maybe they were sold out since I came so late. The coffee selection is wonderful. I bought a few different kinds to bring to my parents house when I see them on Sunday. I was also excited to see all the different kinds of teas. I'm a very big tea drinker and Find the best earl grey tea at Persian stores in Dallas, so it might be hard to beat that but they had a lot of interesting flavors. I also couldn't find the olives with sun dried tomatoes in them. I could only find the ones with the red pepper in them!!! Those sounds so good also. Maybe I overlooked them? I was in the SL location since I was in the area.

                                                I made this really good fresh squeezed citrus juice from white grapefruit, pink grapefruit, tangerines, sweet oranges, and a meyer lemon to round it out. Very delicious.

                                                The small Kishu mandarins and Neapolitan mandarins are fantastic. I bought a few variegated pink lemons too, just because they looked cool haha. Make some pink lemonade probably.

                                                Other than that I just got some other staples. I'm still learning the store as I go, and find something new every time. Oh, have you guys tried the marcona almonds? Delicious!

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                  Thanks for such a nice, comprehensive report. We love hearing from 'Hounders reporting on the places they've asked about and we've responded to.

                                                  Regarding the truffled ham, you'll have to try it sometime. It's not a ham that's "studded" with truffles. Sliced thin, (not shaved) it's got a soft "melt in your mouth" texture with a light, but noticeable truffle flavor. They'll be happy to give you a sample to try.

                                                  Regarding the thin heavily seeded baguettes, They don't do a lot of them so get there earlier next time. They're in a basket on the corner at the middle of the bakery facing the dairy.

                                                  1. re: twinwillow

                                                    My pleasure! Just returning the feedback from the great recommendations I received.

                                                    That ham sounds wonderful on a fresh baked baguette with homemade chive butter, sea salt, and a nice cheese of choice. A french bistro/bakery in fort worth sells sandwiches like that and they are wonderful.

                                                    Ah, I guess the early bird get the worm right?

                                                    I also edited my post asking if you had a favorite type of brie? I thought there was only one kind! Lol.

                                                    1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                      Don't overdo the truffled ham sandwich. I'm afraid you'll overwhelm the delicate simplicity of the truffled ham.

                                                      Personally, I'd go with a just little chive butter.

                                                      Regarding Brie, one of my favorites is
                                                      Fromager d'Affinois. Available at CM & WF.
                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fromager...

                                                      But lately, I have been enjoying La Tur which is not really a brie but more like a Robiola but it's a softer and creamier style goat/sheep cheese imported from the Piedmont. It's available at CM and, Wholefoods.
                                                      You must try it!

                                                      http://www.sfgate.com/food/cheesecour...

                                                      1. re: twinwillow

                                                        Your right, I didn't even think about that. I'll have to try it with just some torn baguette pieces then. I love good meat with a great baguette.

                                                        I'm going to try that Brie once I'm done with the one I got (which probably wont be long lol).That La Tur looks like a must also. "The dairy makes La Tur from a blend of pasteurized sheep's, cow's and goat's milk, a formula that lets no component dominate. The flavor suggested creme fraiche, with hints of mushroom and a sour-cream tang. Young cheeses rarely have this much personality." Man this stuff sounds so tasty. I might have to go get some NOW! Thanks again.

                                                        @Cocoanut: I should've known talking to the foodies of Dfw they would know what place I was talking about. Those look so good, I can taste her baguette now. I love her french turnovers also. With some fresh whipped cream its to die for.

                                                        1. re: twinwillow

                                                          I second the recommendation for Fromage d'Affinois!!

                                                          There is also a truffled brie I sampled at CM a while ago that was scrumptious!

                                                        2. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                          The Black Rooster Sandwich Basket you speak of...... wish I had one right now!

                                                           
                                                          1. re: CocoaNut

                                                            yes, love that ham/butter/salt/baguette sandwich ... it should be called 4 deadly sins! you're reminding me i haven't been there in awhile ...

                                                            1. re: foiegras

                                                              Wow....is this Whole Foods or Central Market?

                                                              1. re: Poochinator

                                                                neither ... black rooster is a bakery on forest park. limited hours, close to cm.

                                                      2. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                        Black Rooster???!!

                                                        Thanks for the report! Let us know when you crack into that $300 bottle of balsamic! :)

                                                        1. re: CocoaNut

                                                          Yes!!! they do them with out the chives in the butter though. Just thought that would be a good addition.

                                                        2. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                          sadly you cannot make your own muffin 4-pack ... those are considered individuals. well you can, but not at the good price. i still think it's a good idea, to find out which of the little calorie bombs you like ...

                                                        3. I have a question.

                                                          I think I just found my new love for olives. I never knew they tasted so good. Maybe I just never had any good ones? I picked up some of the mixed Greek olives and haven't stopped eating them since.

                                                          My question is.... When you buy them at the olive bar do you put any brine in with the olives? I filled mine up with the olives then then just put a little brine at the bottom. I don't want to pay money for too much brine but didn't know if the olives would benefit from putting more brine in.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                            If I'm going to use them up right away I don't bother, but if I want them to keep a little while I'll put some brine liquid in.

                                                            1. re: alkonost

                                                              Thanks for the replies alkonost and cocoanut. I like the flipping over trick you mentioned cocoanut.

                                                            2. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                              I added brine up about 1/3 the way. Those lids fit pretty tightly, so I keep the container at the front of the fridge and give them a flip-over every few days. I usually eat them within 2 weeks and they're fine. I don't like paying for brine either!

                                                            3. I think I just found my favorite sandwich at CM. Pastrami on ciabatta/panini bread - one side slathered with mustard, the other with pesto - mozzarella, roasted red pepper, avocado, tomato - and grilled. I think the pastrami made it taste good, though.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: houndess

                                                                That does sound really good. Defiantly going to have to try that combo out. I hope they have whole grain mustard?

                                                              2. Does central market or whole foods have any good smoked salmon? Has anyone tried any from there?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                  Yes, they carry quite a few brands of whole sides of smoked salmon at the side of the meat deli. Including, Acme and Romanoff.

                                                                  But my personal favorite is the "mild" Scottish smoked salmon.

                                                                  They also stock whole smoked Whitefish and chubs from NYC.

                                                                  1. re: twinwillow

                                                                    Great, thanks for the quick reply. I'll probably try the one you mentioned. I've had great results listening to everyone here. Whats your favorite way(s) to eat it?

                                                                    1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                      On a bagel with cream cheese and a bit of onion, of course.

                                                                      Chopped and mixed with softly scrambled eggs and onions, NY style.

                                                                      A few slices on thin buttered wheat bread. English style.

                                                                      Slices on their own with some chopped scallions, cracked black pepper and drizzled with just a bit of white truffle oil.

                                                                2. I was at CM the other day looking for good all natural bread & butter/sweet pickle without any corn syrup. I bought three different brands to try.

                                                                  One was Rick's Picks sweet pickles, all natural low sodium. They are very good but you can defiantly tell the lack of salt you expect in a good pickle. Great healthier option.

                                                                  The other kind was Bubbies Bread & butter pickles. These are flat out delicious and I will buy these again. It's also only 30mg more sodium than than Rick's Picks mentioned above. These are refrigerated.

                                                                  My last but favorite were a brand called Root Cellar Preserves, all natural sweet & spicy. The foodie said they are pretty new and she hasn't even tried them yet. I grabbed a jar not expecting much but man I was wrong. The best pickles I've ever had. It has big thick slices, perfect balance of sweet and spicy(and they are spicy), and slices of banana peppers that are also very good. I ate the whole jar in 2 days and can't wait to get more.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                    the sweet pickles i like are sechler's candied sweet dill chunk pickles. no corn syrup, just checked ...

                                                                  2. Things I cant leave Central Market without.

                                                                    1. Roast Beef for sandwiches. (They cook it themselves, super rare and awesome)
                                                                    2, Original/Plain chicken salad.
                                                                    3. A couple half gallons of fresh juice (I dont see the Granny Smith apple any more, that was my favorite)
                                                                    4. Love Dip

                                                                    1. Ditto to much thats already been said...

                                                                      I wanted to add:

                                                                      I love the remoulade sauce from CM. Its amazing with shrimp or crabcakes...or spread it on a piece of fish and bake it.

                                                                      To me, the fresh orange juice at CM is the best!

                                                                      I love the soups at both places... easy to sample those and find what you like.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Mellicita

                                                                        How do you sample the soups?

                                                                        I also love the orange juice. Try the carrot & orange juice mix, it's very good. Then again I haven't found A juice I haven't liked yet.

                                                                      2. I love the natural and air chilled chicken at CM. Nothing better than the air chilled chicken for beer can chicken. Ditto on the comments on the applewood smoked bacon.

                                                                        We make our own granola and the prices and selection on rolled oats and the nuts and dried fruits is fantastic. So is the selection for bulk spices, which ensures you can always have fresh spices on hand since you don't need to buy much more than you need.

                                                                        The chocolate cherry bread is awesome and it seems to be more readily available in FW than other stores.

                                                                        Try the CM mozzerella. I think it's better than the others. And, if they have Neal's Yard Montgomery Cheddar, it's worth spending a little extra for it as it is wonderful English cheddar.

                                                                        One thing I haven't seen outside the Pennsylvania area is Lebanon Sweet Baloney. It's an acquired taste as it is a little sweet. But, they'll let you try a slice to see if you like it.

                                                                        The spinach bacon dip (when they have it) and chipotle pimento cheese are also good for snacks.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: kirakat

                                                                          Thanks for the reply.

                                                                          I'll definitely have to try the chocolate cherry bread and a couple other things mentioned. Everything I've tried that you guys have recommended have been great.

                                                                          1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                            Any of the Neal's Yard Dairy cheeses will be stellar if taken care of. Blue - Stichelton, Shropshire Blue, hard - Isle of Mull Cheddar, Keens Cheddar or Red Leicester that is just on the cows milk side. The Berkswell or Spenwood are awesome hard sheeps milk. I know they are available locally because I have seen them at Scardello and at CM in Plano.

                                                                        2. I picked up some "heirloom navel oranges" at Southlake CM- they're incredible (and cheap since they're in season). I guess I needed a change from the Texas red grapefruits I've been gorging on.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: alkonost

                                                                            Yeah, those wonderful Texas "Ruby Red" grapefruits are usually "out of season" by the time Spring approaches.

                                                                            1. re: twinwillow

                                                                              By the time I get sick of them the seasons change and there's something new coming in. It's a win/win situation :D

                                                                            2. re: alkonost

                                                                              They also have those heirloom navels and Cara Cara oranges at Trader Joes for far cheaper. Citrus is always a winter fruit anything else is coming from S. America or along the equator.

                                                                            3. Are the sandwiches/food at the cafe any good there?

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                                Yes, but for the Southlake location I noticed the quality sometimes declines if they're insanely busy. I love their salmon salad, the fish was perfectly cooked, to be honest they could charge $25 for that meal in NYC and it would be a bargain. But on a Saturday when it was packed the cook screwed up and overcooked the fish. It happens, when the kitchen is swamped someone is bound to make a mistake. So when it's crowded I go for a sandwich, soup or burger and I save the fish dishes during less busy cafe times.

                                                                                Their taco soup is great, and if they offer the green havarti burger on special I'd recommend that too. I also like the breakfast tacos with fresh salsa.

                                                                                1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                                  the pasta i had in fw was barely memorable/meh ... what i do remember was the plague of flies that had me vowing never to eat there again. the house smoked meats are pretty good.

                                                                                  1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                                    My favorite is the pastrami. They used to have it at the Lovers Lane store, but don't any longer. But, I can get it at the Preston/Royal store. I love pastrami, grilled onions and swiss on rye with brown mustard, pressed. Delicious!

                                                                                    The other sandwiches are okay, but I haven't had any others that I actually crave.

                                                                                    1. re: kirakat

                                                                                      Central Market for some reason does not do well with pushing the truly great deli sandwiches at their counters. I too loved the Pastrami, kirakat. I was saddened when they pulled the Pastrami sandwich at the Lovers location back when I worked in Preston Center. CM was the closest place to get a Pastrami sandwich and a praking space at the time. Kuby's was close just hard to find parking.

                                                                                      CM really needs to start promoting some of the quality products they do have in their deli cases besides their own or it will turn into another Boars (Bores) Head deli case.

                                                                                      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                                                                                        IMHO, I just can't see any reason for eating a pastrami sandwich from anywhere else but Deli-News.

                                                                                        LH, try the Principe (brand) truffled ham at CM. Buttery delicious!

                                                                                  2. Well, their fish is very fresh, but very expensive. I like the red snapper sometimes.

                                                                                    The CM organic chocolate truffles are quite good.

                                                                                    I'm not really big on their prepared deli foods, but do like their spiced turkey meatloaf.

                                                                                    If I still ate bread, I'd eat their fresh hot tortillas -- either wheat or spelt. I remember them fondly.

                                                                                    If you eat canned tuna, you should know that Central Market, being owned by HEB, also carries the HEB tuna in the vacuum packets -- best tuna I can find, anywhere! Very serious about that.

                                                                                    Central Market, frankly, has some very good prices on a lot of things, especially if they are canned or boxed items. Many times, their prices are better than at my grocery store, but not always. Comparison shop, especially when the comparison is done with Whole Foods, where I also shop. I really like the atmosphere at Central Market better, and they outshine Whole Foods in the produce department by several orders of magnitude.

                                                                                    1. Hope you guys can help me out with a brand recommendation ... typically I buy CM brand olive oil, strictly for cooking (for people & dogs), and it's fine. Now I want something to drizzle, so I need something much much better, nice and fruity and green. Suggestions??

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                                        I like Frantoia EVOO from Sicily. It's what Mario Batali uses.
                                                                                        Buy it at Jimmy's where a liter bottle is a few dollars less than CM.

                                                                                         
                                                                                        1. re: twinwillow

                                                                                          Thanks for the recs, both of you. CM has both ... I was thinking local would be good, and then I was absolutely seduced by the gorgeous Frantoia bottle with all its totally official Italian seals. If it is not the OO of my dreams, I will try Texas Hill Country next time ...

                                                                                          1. re: foiegras

                                                                                            I look forward to your opinion of Frantoia after you've had an opportunity to use it.

                                                                                            Don't forget to keep it in a cabinet as the bottle's glass is clear rather than dark.

                                                                                            1. re: twinwillow

                                                                                              I quite like it! The other flavors in the dish were fairly assertive, so I couldn't get a really clear handle on the flavor like I could if I were just having it with fresh hot bread (alas, I am not a bread baker), but it definitely held its own. I had a really fabulous one at a restaurant with bread--that is my remembered gold standard.

                                                                                        2. re: foiegras

                                                                                          I recommend the olive oils from Texas Hill Country Olive Company. Very nice peppery bite in the throat. They even beat Spain, Italy, and California in the Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition in 2011 and 2010. They have different kinds with different characteristics. They also make really good balsamic vinegars.

                                                                                          I know Local Yocal sells their olive oils. But you could contact THCOC and ask who else sells their oils.

                                                                                          http://store.texashillcountryoliveco....

                                                                                          EDIT: Also 70% of "extra virgin" olive oils in the USA are "cut" with cheaper oils if you guys didn't know. How to test if you got the real deal, do this: Pour a sample of the oil in a small dish and if the oil seizes and hardens up like cold butter in the fridge over night, then its "cut". If not, you got the real deal.

                                                                                          1. re: burntcremebrulee

                                                                                            I agree.....I love those Texas Hill Country Oils and vinegars....orange/pomegranate

                                                                                        3. At WF, Sonoma Brinery Manhattan Style Whole Kosher pickles.

                                                                                          The best jarred pickles you will find.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                                            I'll pick some up later this week. I love a good pickle, thanks.

                                                                                          2. I'm quite a big fan of their blueberry muffins. Get within two feet of one and you can smell the blueberries. Darn good in my book.

                                                                                            Also love the Blood Orange Italian Soda.

                                                                                            1. Their meat department has amazing uncooked meatballs. I like them better than my homemade. I also get my Duke's mayo there. I get my Kalona sour cream there. It is so much better than regular brands.Their half sliced sour dough loaf is the best for grilled cheese.They have a cheese there in the brie section called St. Angel. It is a triple cream and is amazing. It's so fluffy. They also have Old Forest Salami by Black Kassel. It's divine. Their bulk spices are an incredible deal. They also have these chocolate covered caramels that they package in a clear container. Sometimes they have chocolate covered mini-Oreos that are so good. They have a terrific sticky toffee pudding. They also have the best precooked rotisserie chicken in town. Their food bar has fantastic French onion dip and Gouda pecan cracker spread that is unbeatable. Their Dolmas on the bar are good too. I also like their store made sushi rolls. They can be pretty inventive with their rolls.

                                                                                              There are so many terrific things there. I am sure there are a zillion other things I can add.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                Do you mean CM or WF?

                                                                                              2. WF has an incredible smoked mozzarella pasta salad in the deli. Their fresh pesto & goat cheese pizza is awesome too.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: kadams84

                                                                                                  Used to shop st CM. for the last few years switched to WF. Things I love at WF:
                                                                                                  Grandma's Hummus
                                                                                                  WF peanut butter
                                                                                                  Seaside Cheddar/ amazing!
                                                                                                  Broccoli Salad
                                                                                                  Organic cashews/ dried fruit
                                                                                                  Organic veggies/chicken breast
                                                                                                  Their BBQ
                                                                                                  Their Pecan Pie (the best!)
                                                                                                  Their Jalapeño Cheese bread(very spicy)
                                                                                                  Salmon salad
                                                                                                  Organic apples
                                                                                                  Their Guacamole
                                                                                                  I could go on and on...(and I have..)
                                                                                                  Both stores have their strong points but WF is my fave

                                                                                                  1. re: jinet12

                                                                                                    WF is my favorite as well. Not that I don't also shop at CM. I especially prefer CM's guacamole to WF's.

                                                                                                    But, the very best "house made" guacamole in my opinion is made at Fiesta Market.

                                                                                                2. I love their pomegranate italian soda....buy it in the 6-pack section. Also, their power punch antioxidant muffins are the BEST!

                                                                                                  Oops....talking about CM

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Dcn4Jesus

                                                                                                    I'd also recommend the blood orange italian soda, on the sweet side, but a really nice orange flavor with a teeny touch of bitterness (the good bitter not the bad, think Campari).

                                                                                                    1. re: alkonost

                                                                                                      This is a great thread and it has been a while since I have posted on Chowhound I wanted to throw in my two cents. I came to DFW from the Northeast and had no experience with HEB. I had been to WF before and it is a wonderful market but it can be extremely pricey. In my opinion, WF tends to go a little more towards organic or healthy while CM just gravitates towards higher quality. CM reminds me of a specialty market we used to go to in New Jersey called Zagarra’s which I have heard is unfortunately gone.
                                                                                                      I started going to CM about six or seven years ago (Southlake store) when they were running a weekly special on Wednesdays selling their ground beef at $1.00 a pound. This was some great special which got me in the store just about every week and I always ended up buying something else. Alas, I have not seen that special for some years now but I have found that CM runs enough fruit and vegetable specials to keep me coming in on a weekly basis. I think that WF produce is the best I have found, lasts the longest but is by far the priciest. CM is a little behind (I get most of my produce at Sprouts on Wednesdays when they allow you to use the old week coupons and the new weeks) but they run specials every week which also allows me to try a few new types of apple or similar that is not on my normal shopping list. I like the seafood better at CM than WF, I think you will find some threads about this on CHOW. One thing we recently started buying at CM is the sushi grade fish which they keep in a self-standing freezer close to the seafood. The kids and I wanted to try making out own basic sushi for my wife’s last birthday and we really had fun and enjoyed it. They have an 8 ounce tuna and an 8 ounce salmon package which was very reasonable (about $1 per ounce) which now allows us to expand our basic sushi intake at a reasonable price and have fun with making our own rolls and sashimi at home. CM also was where I was getting my New York like eggrolls at the deli counter. The Southlake store however has stopped selling these and I am horribly disappointed as they were as close to Long Island Eggrolls as I had found in the area. We also buy their pizza dough and make our own pizza’s at home. They put it through the machine to flatten for us and at $2 a pop, I can have my fresh mozzarella with San Marzano tomato pizza whenever I like. I actually buy the pickles from CM, the Ba-Tampte brand is for me, the most like New York deli I have tried (I have not tried all of the other specialty brands but some are just absurdly priced at like 10 a bottle. Too much for me to pay for pickles.) On the note that some items are weirdly cheaper at CM, we usually get our Simply Orange juice there which has gone up in price recently but it still competitively priced. You can find some interesting frozen items like knishes and blintzes not available in most markets. And if you get a chance try the Speck from the deli counter.

                                                                                                      1. re: ronaldpedwards

                                                                                                        At CM, the Ba-Tampta brand mustard is the best NY deli style mustard you'll find anywhere in DFW.

                                                                                                        1. re: twinwillow

                                                                                                          Funny you mention that. My dad is coming to visit for Christmas on Sunday and I have on my list to go to CM Saturday and get the Ba-Tampte mustard and pickles. The jar usually lasts me most of the year as my wife and kids only like yellow mustard.

                                                                                                          1. re: ronaldpedwards

                                                                                                            My favorite Ba-Tempte pickles are the Garlic Dill pickles. I also buy the Pickled Tomatoes occasionally.
                                                                                                            http://batamptepickle.com/products.php

                                                                                                        2. re: ronaldpedwards

                                                                                                          Thanks for the awesome reply! :)

                                                                                                          Have you guys tried the french onion dip that whole foods makes??

                                                                                                          My mom had some at her house on Christmas eve with Cape Cod Waffle Cut Sea Salt chips and they were amazing together! I love the texture of the waffle chips, and the dip was very tasty.

                                                                                                          I think you can buy those chips anywhere, but not that delicious french dip at wholefoods!