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

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: 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.

        2. 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.