19 February 2007

As Seen On "Survivor"

"So now what do you think I should do with this coconut?"

"I dunno... Shred it or something?"

"No, the shell."

"Oh. Maybe you could make one of those coconut bra things."

"Oooh! A coconut bra! Good idea!"

Pause. "Or you could make the sound of horses' hooves."

06 February 2007

Groceries And The City: Part 2

In the heady days of FreshDirect first delivering to the BK, I was receiving at least one order a week from them. I loved that each fresh-food item had its own label that said, "Packaged for Gillian on ." I loved not lugging around the granny cart, and not carrying bags up the stairs. I also loved the occasional freebie that FD threw in. I had the idea that FD should team up with Epicurious so that when I was browsing recipes I could just add all the ingredients to my cart, and not long ago, FD introduced shopping by recipes! Woot!

On the other hand, while I kind of loved having boxes for recycling newspapers, but I didn't love the excessive packaging stylings of FD (they've since gotten much better about consolidating items).

Last year, a new outpost of Fairway opened in Red Hook, Brooklyn, about 2 1/2 miles south of our apartment in Park Slope. One Sunday morning, on a mission to check out Baked, also in Red Hook, DLang and I walked down to the 'hood. We ate delicious scones with strong coffee chasers, then walked down the street to check out Fairway.

I felt like I was home. Fairway in Red Hook has the little happinesses of a suburban grocery shopping experience, like a parking lot (!) and aisles wide enough to accommodate bona fide shopping carts. They have bins of neatly-stacked, fresh produce. And then there are the things that make shopping at Fairway a special experience, like signs enthusiastically recommending a particular goat cheese or coffee blend, and the half-dozen or so samples of olive oil from around Europe and even California.

Subsequent visits, the second of which was on Saturday, did not disappoint. This weekend, after stopping at the deli and meat counters, I took a coffee break in the café, which is right on the water and has a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty. When I finally arrived at checkout with an overflowing cart, there was no waiting at all, and I breezed right on through. (Did I mention that Fairway delivers for the same price as FD?)

And so, while I'm still quite enamoured with grocery shopping while sitting on the couch in my pajamas, I'm going to take a little break from FreshDirect and start a weekly brick-and-mortar grocery shopping adventure. I think I could get used to a Sunday morning walk down to the water, a stop for breakfast, and an hour (or two) wandering up and down the aisles of this amazing store.

P.S. Brianna posted an excellent NYC grocery store rant yesterday - it's very frustrating living in a NYC neighbourhood in which Key Food, D'Ags, or even Gristedes are your best grocery options. At least when I lived on the Upper West Side, the 24-hour Duane Reade at the end of my block sold Ben & Jerry's.

05 February 2007

Groceries And The City: Part 1

On a recent trip to D.C., one of the highlights was a visit to Trader Joe's. The brief stop made me long for suburban grocery stores with wide aisles and 56 brands of salad dressing and the irony of throwing reusable cloth shopping bags in the back of one's Subaru wagon. This weekend, then, when I found myself with both a rental car and a Super Bowl party shopping list as long my iPod playlist, I did what any displaced small-town girl would do: I went to Fairway.

My first NYC grocery experience was surprisingly good. I'd just moved into my apartment on the Upper West Side, and had nothing except a couple of suitcases. My company put me up in a hotel for two nights during which time I purchased a futon, bedding, and a towel. As my truckload of stuff wasn't due to arrive from California for another week or two, I wandered out to Broadway and found Zabar's. I went upstairs to the housewares section where I purchased a plate and glass (both of which I still have and use). I had a brief affair with Zabar's, going there regularly on my way home from work to buy some exotic cheese or other and delicious loaves of Eli's bread.

At some point I ventured a few blocks south and into Fairway, and I was hooked. The quality of Fairway's produce rivaled that to which I'd become accustomed in California. I found exotic sauces like pomegranate marinade, and I spent way too much money on them. I always bought more than I could carry home, and usually ended up taking the bus. Once, while toting about 6 bags, one of which contained a giant bouquet of fresh basil, I overheard a kid exclaim, "Dad! Something smells like spaghetti!"

When I moved to Brooklyn, I was disappointed in the lack of good grocery stores. I almost immediately started visiting the green market regularly on Saturday mornings, and supplemented our pantry with unexciting (and sometimes downright discouraging) stops at D'Agostino's (overpriced) or Key Food (yuck). Shortly thereafter, FreshDirect started delivering in our 'hood, and I started regularly internetting my way to yummy food (and wine! and beer! and even kitty litter!) delivery, which I didn't even have to carry up five flights of stairs.

To be continued...