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Went to WIlson Farms for 1st time. It was great! What are some of your favorite things there?

Took a trek down to Wilson Farms to try a Honeybell, on CH rec. and it was a great experience. It's kind of like a food museum. Hubby even commented on how they have art gallery lighting on all the produce to make it look all glowing and tempting. Loved how all the peppers were lined up in rows, stems up, very photogenic...So far the strawberries and cut honeydew were the best I've had in a while. The zucchini bread was mild and tasty although a teeny bit dryish. Havent tried the citrus yet but those Honeybells weighed a ton, so must be juicy! Got 2 dozen gorgeous healthy looking fragrant mixed colors roses for 14.99. Tuna and potato salad for quick lunch was ok but a bit meh.. Looking forward to trying the other stuff we got.. The prepared foods were expensive so i was hesitant to dive into that yet. How are the croissants, donuts whoopie pies etc? any other must get recs? the people that work there were very nice and helpful too..

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  1. Glad you discovered it! In the fall, go for the freshly fried cider donuts!

    1. Their meats are great. They carry Brandt beef. Also they premarinated steak and turkey tips are excellent.

      The produce is really excellent. I like the setup when in season, there are blackboards clearly displaying which items come from the farm that week. The other imported produce is always top quality and reasonably priced.

      The prepared foods are pretty good. They usually have a couscous or quinoa salad which is worth picking up. Their pot pies are great and use biscuits for the crust. We have not liked the soups we have tried though.

      They have two kinds of challah in the bakery. I forget the brand, but the larger one is excellent, not too sweet.

      I find the packaged grocery section to be very over priced and avoid that.

      The garden shop is great and convenient as well.

      It's great if you can get there during the week. The crowds on the weekend are miserable.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        if you liked the challah and are anywhere near peabody, go to Zuckers. They make the challah and you can buy it there fresh out of the oven , too hot to even touch. Bring some butter and its a moment of joy in your car...and its a few dollars cheaper..
        We were at Wilsons on a weekday and it was still crowded so thanks for the warning about weekends!

        1. re: chompie

          Yes, Zuckers is the one we like. I will definitely stop by and get a fresh one when I am in the area!

      2. You mentioned the honeydew - their cut melons (honeydew and cantaloupe) are almost always great regardless of season, and much better than the ones at Whole Foods, Russo's, etc. In general I find that their out-of-season fruits are better than the ones elsewhere. I got some blueberries there recently that were more than passable for something shipped 4000 miles.

        Their fresh-squeezed juices are great as well - actually squeezed on the premises and they taste like it. I like their cider donuts -- I usually get them in the fall when they're frying them fresh outside, but they're not bad even in the packages they sell inside.

        1. Bring a stretcher and smelling salts. When you're produce-deprived, it doesn't take much to push you over the edge.

          1. Glad you liked it. I like their eggs, which are grown locally. I'm not sure I believe the sign on the cooler in the front of the store that says "Laid today", but they are fresh and delicious. Also, their store-roasted peppers are delicious. They are a bit different, covered in oil and with skins on. The skins slip off easily if you don't like them, and the oil adds a nice flavor to pasta dishes. (Don't confuse them with the generic roasted peppers in the cheese section.)

            I agree with Gabatta that the soups aren't great, but they are good for a quick lunch at work and the tomato soup works well with grilled cheese for a quick mid-week dinner. Other than that, I don't usually buy the prepared foods since I've found them hit-or-miss and expensive.

            The cut winter squashes and other prepped produce are usually fresh and convenient.

            I've had good luck with things like peppers, tomatoes and baby Brussels sprouts in the reduced section, so it's good to look through that.

            As already mentioned, the weekends and pre-holidays are pretty crazy. There is another parking lot across the street and it's worth parking there and crossing the street if you're going at peak times.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bear

              Head to the barn beside the garden shop and you'll see where the eggs are laid, gathered and boxed up. The second floor houses hundreds of hens. Can't get much fresher. Watch out for the llama. She spits.

              Baked goods are a mixed bag and I'm usually disappointed by the products baked in house. Lots of stuff is outsourced including the scones. Don't care for the whoopie pie filling, the tooth coating Crisco-ish kind

              Buy the cookbook, a great bargain at $5.

            2. WE like the scones. As to the prepared food, we like their scalloped potatoes- simply made with potatoes, cream and butter. They always seem to have great oranges. We bought a boatload of butternut squash from them in the Fall- I think we have one piece left.Delicious. Love that place- I can always get in and out of there quickly- no matter how many shoppers are there. Very well organized.

              1. They have a nice selection of chicken pot pies- a size to fit everyone! I always get the homemade salad dressing they sell in the section with their bagged lettuce mix. I especially like the caesar dressing. In the refrigerator section of the baked goods look for the double thick english muffins- a carb delight. Agree with other posters about the eggs, meat selection, local produce and those cider donuts hot out of the fryolator!

                1. Can't wait until their own produce is available later in the year, best corn, low acid tomatoes, their cider donuts are killer especially in the fall when they make them fresh right in front of you.

                  1. I can't say enough nice things about Wilson Farms... we've been shopping there for years and love everything there. Because we don't buy prepared foods I can't comment about those, but the meats, seafood, produce and bakery are just wonderful. I especially like that in season they plant different varieties of old favorites of fruit and vegetables, Items one doesn't usually see in the supermarkets.

                    Make sure you seek out a cart with almost gone-by veggies. it's usually right in the middle of an aisle and the things offered are not nearly as bad as one might expect...quite usable and inexpensive. Every now and then there's the most delicious really dark pumpernickel or rye bread in the bakery. The crowds are insane though.

                    We take their CSA small share and absolutely love it. Such thoughtful selections of the freshest produce imaginable. Have fun with your new discovery..

                    1. I always grab a couple of packages of their monster Cheese English Muffins. They make a great base for a meal. I've used them for wonderful quick pizzas. Cut them in three for sandwiches. Made a grilled cheese on cheese. And, toasted them to top onion soup at the last moment.

                      Penny
                      http://www.bostonzest.com/

                      1. After getting it last week, their Mac and Chinese is now my new fav. I also like their quart containers of salad croutons(in the corner of the bakery section).

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: catsmeow

                          Mac and Chinese - is that an autocorrect from "cheese"? If not, I'm intrigued!

                          1. re: Prav

                            LOL. Mac and cheese. Auto correct strikes again! :-)

                        2. Eggs, caramel apples, hot dog buns, Luigi breakfast sausages., ravioli, chicken salad with pecans and cranberries.

                          1. Their marinated feta and olives (in the cheese section at the back) are addictive. Their own tomatoes (out of season now)--I think they're jetstars--are delicious. They also have excellent greens at very fair prices.

                            I don't care much for the cider donuts, but others around here really like them.

                            1. My go to item at Wilson farm is always what ever is inseason or the special of week. They do carry Shaw farm dairy products and have fresh eggs. Yes many of the grocery items and out of season produce is overpriced but everything they sell is great quality.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: collie

                                Has anyone had the scones recently. They used to be quite good, then they stopped using the outsource bakery and made thim in house and they were really awful.

                              2. You will absolutely love it there when their own produce is in season. I shop there weekly during summer and autumn, leaving with bags full of their beautiful produce, for not a lot of $.
                                Just had one of the winter squashes i bought there last fall last night, roasted. Yum!

                                Love that winter squash can last for several months so I always get a variety to use through the winter.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: poptart

                                  Glad I started this post! These are some great suggestions. We look forward to following up on many of them! I still cant believe how much better their off season produce is than most farm stands in season.. Just litttle details like most places have big fat seedy zucchini. Theirs is small, firm , few seeds and strong in flavor. And I dont usually eat citrus but theirs is the best I have had since many years ago when i had the trees in my backyard in FL.. and lowest acid i have found. And the zucchini bread got really good when toasted with butter! We spent the blizzard feeling very summery with our produce!

                                  1. re: poptart

                                    This fall I bought a shopping cart full of funny-looking, edible pumpkins for $25 -- my best foodie purchase ever! We got to try all sorts of new varieties, and just last night I made tomato-pumpkin soup from some roasted pumpkin I froze away in November...mmmm.

                                  2. Always feel very lucky that Wilson and Trader Joe's are our most local food shoppoing - options - we get virtually all produce at Wilson (their citrus is always as good or better than WF and frequently costs less - and their not-Olivia's baby spinach, carrots. and fresh herbs are the best around), as well as eggs, sliced deli cheeses (always fresh).

                                    Soups and other prepared foods are definitely hit or miss and pricey - we do like the kale / white bean soup and the sauteed broccolini.

                                    Their chickens are better than most and reasonably priced. The seafood choices are limited and expensive but shockingly and consistently pristine (scallops and salmon never disappoint - just look for the latest expiry date as they do vary).

                                    The bakery is the most disappointing part of the store - the fresh breads are warm but flavorless in most cases, like the nice-looking pastries in the display. The muffins and cakes are overly sweet and seem made with too many processed, maybe even artificial ingredients and flavors. The scones are huge and tastes too much like flour, not enough like butter, blueberries, etc.

                                    They are so friendly and helpful we don't mind the parking lot chaos during peak times (it just takes patience - there really ARE enough spots for everyone - no need to stalk or hoard - just keep moving slowing and there will be an open space), and that's when there are the most samples out as well. If you go really early or really late in the day there is more room to move.

                                    1. When the main lot is crazy, just park up the hill across the street and walk over... if you're not buying heavy stuff it's good exercise and far, far saner.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: LauraBear

                                        Glad I am an early bird. We go about every other Saturday. Leave my house in Melrose around 8:30, and am home around 9:30. no crowds Saturday morning- not even too bad the Saturday befor Thanksgiving at this hour ( though I think they open at 8 on that day)

                                      2. My measure of how good Wilson Farms is: every time we go, my wife and I start talking about moving from Newton to Lexington. Star Market always feels like a cruel hoax the next time we need to buy lettuce etc., and Russo's just isn't the same.

                                        Must-get: the chicken pot pies, white meat without vegetables to be precise (make your own veggies on the side and throw them in - we typically add peas, at least). When we lived in Brooklyn, I used to do the math about whether we could get the pot pies to New York in a cooler without them thawing. As others have noted, the apple cider donuts are as good as you'll find without driving to Essex. Homemade pastas are delicious (though I find their pasta sauces a bit meh and typically make my own).

                                        Sigh. Now it needs to be produce season.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: cjd260

                                          When you say "meh" do you mean bland, or not that good? Cuz if meh means mild and low acid and not very herb-y or peppery than i would like it, but if meh means tastes crappy and like typical bottled with lots of oregano, i wouldnt. Have you had the lasagana? we were thinking of getting it next time. I see a lot of raves for the chicken pot pie.. has anyone tried the veggie pot pie? I still cant believe our cut up honeydew was still good after almost a week! I never have produce, never mind pre-cut. stay good close to that. We had honeydew parfaits with whipped cream and Brighams vanilla.. and the last of the honeydew with a little sugar added to make it a bit syrupy and it was great.

                                          1. re: chompie

                                            "Meh" means fine, but not as stellar as the pasta itself, and I can very easily make it just as well at home, so I do. Doesn't taste bottled by any means, but fresh pasta sauce is an easy thing to make, so my standards are probably higher for sauce than for the pasta.

                                            Never tried the lasagna or the veggie pot pies. I favor the no-veggie chicken pot pies because, for no apparent reason, I think the chicken in them is better (it's a mystery), not out of any great deficiency as to the veggies themselves, so it's possible the veggie pot pies are good in their own right.

                                        2. Lots of great suggestions here but I think that no one has mentioned flowers, which are of outstanding quality and relatively well-priced. Trader Joe's are cheaper but not nearly the quality. I tend to pick up flowers every Saturday and they usually make it till the following Saturday. If you are buying flowers as a gift, you can pick out 2 or 3 bunches and they will combine them into a gorgeous bouquet for you, free of additional charge.

                                          Two other things: the Shaw Farm cream (when they have it) is remarkable stuff. The hummus from Ani's of Belmont (to the left of the other hummus) is my go-to storebought (not as good as homemade but awfully good).

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: GretchenS

                                            The Swanks are big fans of the soups at Wilson's. I had a very good broccoli cheddar soup there around Christmas.

                                            1. re: GretchenS

                                              i mentioned the gorgeous roses i bought when i started this post. They were 2 dozen mixed "rainbow bouquet" and the girl there agreed with me that she didnt like red in a pastel bunch and she offered to swap them out and cut some beautifuly lavendar, peachy orange and yellow ones to add into the bunch. They looked much healthier than most roses elsewhere, however i do have to say that only a couple opened fully and many hung down after a few days. Its been a week and i was just going to cut and hang them to dry. She said their flowers usually do really well so i was kinda surprised but i loved them even not fully opened, Is Anis hummus mild or strongly lemoned or tart?

                                              1. re: chompie

                                                I would say fairly mild but it does use lemon instead of citric acid, which is huge. Interesting about the roses, I rarely buy them so have no point of comparison. They are very nice about customizing bouquets though.

                                            2. Sorry, chompie, this post won't pertain to your veggie ways.

                                              Wilson has Prime steak tips on sale for $9.99/lb. as part of their Weekly Winter Winners until this coming Wed., 2/27. They were beautifully marbled.

                                              Clearly labelled Prime.

                                              1. I've been shopping at Wilson Farms for years and get everything I can there, including my Christmas Tree. Their produce is off the charts, especially the stuff they grow, but I really like their desserts. I second the apple cider donuts, and have also enjoyed pies and muffins. The bakery rolls are quite good, but they don't seem to have preservatives because in the summer they go bad quickly, so eat fast. I like to browse their wall of recipes just behind the registers and I don't know if they still sell their cookbook, but it has some good vegetable recipes in it. It gets crazy on the weekends and people don't seem to know how to drive in the parking lot, but that's the only downside I can see.

                                                www.hungrytommy.com

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hungrytommy

                                                  Yes! Christmas trees at WF are the absolute best. Plus, the entire store is the greatest winter wonderland grocery experience I know of.