The Shopper’s Outreach
Grocery shoppers often have more than one store in which they buy. Most often I go to Straubs, because I can get there in minutes. What’s more, their Clayton store has parking within feet of the door. And, because I’ve been going there regularly for 20 years, they miss me when I don’t show up.
But there are also favorite items that I get elsewhere. Below are a few of my occasional shopping stops, along with some items on my must-try list.
This is Snack City. You could spend hours browsing the rows of quirky snacks and exotic sauces, that range from their loveable Pistachio and Pomegranate Crisps to Roasted Seaweed Snack. Don’t overlook the wine aisle with their good, but moderately priced selections.
The tendy, organic market has a frozen Mandarin Orange Chicken and an unsweetened applesauce, that I like to keep on hand. Trader Joe’s Mango Creamsicle reminds me of those the Good Humor man sold when I was a kid.
This year the customer-choice award winners were Chili & Lime Flavored Rolled Tortilla Chips, followed by TJ’s Hash Browns and Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings. Best entree went to Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice. Their “Hold the Cone: Mini Ice Cream Cones won the dessert trophy.
Yes, I’m a fan of this big box store. But too often I suffer from sensory overload if I walk the sprawling aisles for too long. I remember getting that same glazed over look after a half day at Disneyland.
Unlike Straubs, that caters to the small household, Costco goes for those preparing for the end times. If your storage space is limited, you might want to befriend one of these apocalyptic shoppers.
Still, I’m fond of their blueberries that are enormous, sweet, and come in a perfect size container for my fridge. I can’t get in and out of the store without a 6-pack of their huge stuffed peppers. I just stick one in the oven for an hour, add a salad to my plate, and I’m ready for dinner.
Their partially-shelled pistachios are a great munchy treat, though I often share the super-size package with my kids. A handful of their frozen, pitted cherries eaten straight from the freezer satisfies my urge for ice cream—well, most of the time.
At Whole Foods, it’s easy to find beautiful organic vegetables, exotic fruits, and artisanal cheeses, that tempt your appetite and lighten your wallet. But the free food samples will make you feel better.
Customers give a shout out to WF’s Organic Italian Sodas, 365 Cape Cod Trail Mix with cashews, almonds and cranberries, the Tikka Masala Curry Sauce, and Berry Chantilly Cake. If you want ice cream on that cake, there’s a vast assortment tailored for any diet.
This week I came upon their fresh mangoes, the first of the season. According to store clerks, the fruit was selling like hotcakes. I got one and also their cute Dekopon Citrus Oranges with the knob on the end. They’re seedless and peel easily.
Global Foods Market in Kirkwood
Global is a museum of world edibles. I enter with a large cart and an open mind and come out an hour later with a full cart and a happy heart. I invariably find new items or those I can’t find readily elsewhere.
I go there when I have time to meander, read labels, and talk to my fellow shoppers. As a result, my fridge is overloaded with funky sauces and exotic condiment used only in several recipes that were just so-so, but the bottled ingredients too costly to toss.
On those occasion when I need to buy saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, I get it at Global. I think of it as an investment. The last time I inquired about where to find it in the store, I was told that it’s only sold from behind the front counter like a controlled substance or Beluga caviar.
Even so, when I’m feeling adventuresome, I enjoy perusing the produce, canned goods, sweets, spices, condiments, and breads from all parts of the world. Some of the unusual items would look right at home in the street stalls of Singapore. I never come home empty handed.
Kirkwood Farmers’ Market
Whenever I’m at this quaint, year-round market, I always buy produce. The Kirkwood Farmers’ Market has a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, condiments, and plants, as well as holiday and garden accessories. I look forward to their summer shelves loaded with tomatoes in all sizes and varieties. I’m waiting eagerly for peach season, when they offer peaches from Georgia and Campbell, MO.
Each trip to the market is an excuse for me to buy a few jars of their Million Dollar Pickles. These crispy, sweet cukes live up to their name and are a staple in my kitchen.
Much of the store on South Big Bend is devoted to wine. But there’s a worldwide array of cheeses, condiments, coffee, sauces, fish, meats and sweets as well. Their Stinger’s Honey comes from the bees of Clayton. (Supposedly, honey is more effective for what ails you, if it’s made from your local pollen.) Sign up for Starr’s online newsletter and learn about wine tasting events and weekly specials—especially their fresh fish.
This fun-to-shop spot on Oakland is reminiscent of a European wine store. In addition to local items, there are products from around the world: wine, cheese, tea, coffee, meat, pasta, oil and vinegar, bread, sweets and nuts. The many fine selections encourage the shopper to try a new vino or an unknown cheese. Need some duck fat for those roasted vegetables? No problem. What’s more, you can munch on a gourmet sandwich while making your grocery list.
Robin is especially fond of their French butter. I told her that I like Irish butter.
“Try the French,” she saId, “and you’ll never go back to any other.” She couldn’t remember the name though. “Just tell them you want the butter that Robin buys,” she smiled.
DiGregorio’s Italian Market
The store has evolved from a local neighborhood grocery into an award-winning, international market with products from Italy, France, Greece, Spain and more. But gourmet food is not all you’ll find at DiGregorio’s. Look for kitchenware, aprons, wines, soft drinks, breads, cheeses, frozen pastas, sauces, deli meats, and more. All you’ll ever need for your favorite Italian recipe is here at your fingertips.
When making pizza for a group at the farm I always buy their balls of pizza dough to roll out and top with their sauces and cheese mixtures. I add my own toppings before putting the pizza in our outdoor cob oven that we built years ago.
There are a number of other fine Italian markets in the area, but this one is conveniently near shops and restaurants I visit.
This is such a versatile and simple Italian-made condiment—Arrezzio Balsamic Glaze. I was first introduced to this vinegary flavor bomb by a chef on The Hill. He drizzled it on eggplant parmigiana. I was hooked.
But it can also be used on tomato caprese, vegetables, meat—even ice cream! In my condiment collection, it ranks up there with such essentials as catsup, mustard and mayo.
I’ve recently discovered it’s also available at Walmart.