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Free Booze Events, How Low Can Your Supermarket Go, and Lusty Molecular Gastronomy

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Price Check! How does your market rate?

Did you realize that grocers were sneaky? Like they lure you into their stores with low milk prices, then raid your wallet with high-profit prepared foods? Or they plop a pallet of slow-moving merch in the aisle, slap it with a couple of “Price Buster” signs, all to give the (probably false) illusion that their gar-bahj is priced to move? Meanwhile, other stores—and you know who I’m talking about—blind you with Disneyfied Animatronics ‘til you’re too distracted to notice the bottom line and too overwhelmed to care.

Yeah, well … we’re not distracted.

On Wednesday, April 20th, we scrambled around the County to compare the lowest prices for five everyday foods. We hit four popular Westchester stores: Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Stew Leonard’s, and Fairway. The results were surprising. Can you guess which had the lowest prices?

We compared the lowest available prices for five items: a gallon of organic milk; pre-washed, bagged, non-organic salad; whole, non-organic chicken; a pound of butter; and imported Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Here’s what we found.

  Whole Food’s Trader Joe’s Stew Leonard’s
Fairway
Organic Milk 365 Organic Store Brand, $6.79/gallon TJ’s Organic $5.99/gallon *NOT AVAILABLE **Fairway Brand Organic, 2 ½- gallon cardboard containers for $5   WINNER!
Salad Ready Pac Arugula and Baby Greens, $2.50/5 oz Les Salades Du Medi, $1.99/5 oz bag WINNER! ++Dole Mediterranean Blend, $2.49/5 oz ($3.99/8 oz) Uncle Vinny’s or Satur Farms, $3.49/5 oz
Chicken Whole Foods brand, $1.99/lb TJ’s brand, $2.69/lb Stew’s brand, $1.69/lb Murray’s, $0.99/lb WINNER!
Butter 365, Whole Foods brand, $2.50/lb WINNER! TJ’sbrand, $2.69/lb Stew’s brand, $3.69/lb (though 2/$6) Hotel Bar block, $2.99/lb
Parmigiano- Reggiano $17.99/lb $11.99/lb $8.99/lb
WINNING TIE!
$8.99/lb WINNING TIE!

Key:
*Stew Leonard’s does not sell organic milk. So they get goose-egg, zilch, skee-watt in this category
++ Stew’s cheapest, pre-washed and bagged salad was sold in 8-ounce bags. We calculated the price for 5 ounces to be $2.49.
**Unlike at the other stores, Fairway’s best-priced organic milk is sold in half-gallon cardboard cartons, which, though cheap, may be more inconvenient than gallon-sized plastic jugs.

Suspicious folks like me might wonder whether three-category winning Fairway’s current, Crazy Eddie “egad” prices are designed for a great first impression. Time will tell whether in six months those Murray’s whole chickens will still be $.99/lb and those Muir Glen organic tomatoes will still be 3 cans/$5.

What about you? Where are you doing your grocery shopping? Tell us where and why.

Open Bar!

This week’s theme is getting your drinks for free. Keep your wallet in your pocket (and a glow in your cheeks) at these great, gratis grog opportunities. 

Weekend Tasting at Westchester Wine Warehouse (Saturday, May 1) 1pm–4pm Puerto Viejo Merlot and Chardonnay; Black Box boxed Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay. 4pm-7pm Dewar’s 12-Year-Old Scotch; Zhumir Aguardiente Piňa Colada. Westchester Wine Warehouse promises all-day free drinking with its regular Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tastings. On each day, a couple of producers pour from 1pm to 4pm, then a different team takes over slinging drinks from 4pm to7pm. Our advice? Bring a lawn chair and drink all day long.

Wines from Puglia and Campania at AOC (April 28th, 7pm-8pm) AOC Fine Wines offer serious classes for a $25 fee– best of all, the class/tasting entrance fee can be used as a voucher toward a bottle. So: free drinks at the store, and a purchased bottle to take home. Apparently, there’s also some valid education in there, too. AOC’s weekly tastings alternate between its New Rochelle and Old Greenwich, Connecticut, stores: first and third Wednesdays in New Rochelle, second and last in Old Greenwich. Look for the next tasting in the Old Greenwich location.

La Cave’s Biodynamic Wines from Australia, France, USA, and New Zealand (Saturday, May 1, 1pm-5pm) Unlike many in-store tastings, which are conducted by product reps from large distributors, La Cave’s owner, Brian Maurice, pours all of La Cave’s samples himself. And beyond his serious oenophilic chops (he’s studied at Le Cordon Bleu and worked at fabled Margaux and St. Estephe Chateux), Brian Maurice is a nice guy.

Molecular Gastronomy Done Right: Jonah Crab with Lemon Gel Ribbon at 42

 

In lesser hands than Chef Goncalves’s, molecular gastronomy can be a soul-less experience—after all, what man on Death Row wants his last meal to be a foam? Unlike others in this game, Goncalves builds his dish on flavors, where sweet and briny Jonah crab knuckles are matched by peach and star-anise-infused honey. Tiny, sauteed red grapes pop with fruity acidity, as does a miraculous shimmering ribbon of lemon gel. Unfiltered Spanish olive oil grounds the dish in earthiness, while Malossol caviar adds the sparkle of salt. Finally, perfect pale orbs—thanks to sodium alginate and a calcium chloride bath—of ginger “caviar” wink with on-message snap and a touch of whimsy.

 

Food Writer Bingo, Unctuous Fun

Ouch—this hurts. It’s just mean-spirited…and ugly. Here’s a few of those interweb smart alecks cracking wise about us food writers. I only wish I were in the room when this hilarity was being written.

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