Monday, 30 December 2013

Day Trip to Whole Foods Market

Giant meringues - pistachio and (I think) raspberry flavour
My friend Anna (from Pink Pom Poms) and I had been talking for a long time about how much we wanted to visit Whole Foods. Now I don't mean just an ordinary 'stock up on some organic/speciality ingredients' trip, but our first EVER trip to Whole Foods Market! The first (and so far, only) Whole Foods in Scotland opened just outside Glasgow a couple of years ago, and I had been wanting to go ever since. But it was not until this weekend that I finally made the pilgrimage (in my defence, although it is fairly local to me, it still involves getting two buses and a journey time of almost an hour to get there). I went with Anna and her mum, and it was well worth the wait! We had lunch in the cafe - delicious sandwiches (though challenging to eat due to how fully stuffed with filling they were) and wee cakes (I had pumpkin pie, yum!) - and bought lots of great goodies in the store itself for sampling later.
Our lunch - half demolished!
Whole Foods, for those not familiar with it, offers a luxury and organic approach to supermarket shopping, with a great range of more unusual and varied fruit and vegetables, a bulk bin section with lots of nuts and grains, and plenty of speciality and healthy foods (e.g. sushi ingredients and coconut water). There was also an impressive selection of cakes and sweet delights, including the giant meringues that I just HAD to take a photo of to share on here! Not surprisingly, perhaps, there was a lot on offer for vegetarians - both raw ingredients and ready meals, plus kind of 'in-betweeny' stuff like pre-marinaded tofu. So partially prepared raw ingredients, I suppose you could say. 

I came away with the following:

1. Polenta - I was given a lovely new cookery book (Vegetarian by Susan Abbott) for Christmas from my brother, and one of the recipes I want to try calls for polenta. I have tried polenta in restaurants before, but never actually cooked with it. I thought I'd go all out and actually prepare the polenta myself, rather than get the ready to use that's a kitchen experiment I'll be trying soon. It worked out much cheaper to get the polenta from the bulk bins than pre-packaged (£1.19 per kg in the bulk bins, and I can't remember exactly how much it was pre-packaged, but I think it was about £1.99 for 500g - so a lot more expensive!). 

2. Tempeh - this is something that I have been reading about recently and as a result have been curious to try. As far as I can tell it is somewhat similar to tofu, in that it is a soy product and can be used in place of meat in dishes. However, it has higher levels of protein and vitamins than tofu and apparently a different texture, so I am really excited to try this one out! If anyone has any recipes or ideas of what to do with the tempeh, please let me know. Otherwise, I will most likely just be trying out whatever a wee Google search suggests.

3. Brown lentils - normally I get these from a local Asian grocery store, but I had run out on this particular day and needed them for dinner (my yummy lentil 'meatballs'), so thought I would take advantage of my trip to Whole Foods. Again, I got these from the bulk bins, which is nice to be able to do, as you can buy as much or as little as you like. I can't remember how much the lentils normally cost at the Asian store, but they did not seem overly expensive to me at Whole Foods, at £1.62 per kg.

4. A brew-your-own ginger beer kit. I thought this might be fun for David to try out, as he likes ginger beer, and I always think it's interesting to know how your favourite food and drink is actually produced.

I also noticed they sold Tofurkey, which I wouldn't mind trying one day (though it could never beat my amazing nut roast as a Christmas dinner!), but you could only buy the whole thing for £29.99, which was a bit steep for just wanting a quick taste. Speaking of tasting, we were given some smoothie samples in the store. However, it only served to remind me of the fact that I really don't like smoothies that much. The sales girl was very nice when I said I didn't like it and handed the half-finished shot glass back to her! 

Actually, as well as a great range, I would have to compliment Whole Foods on its great customer service. We were served by a very pleasant lady at the check-out, which just added to the feeling of a real luxury shopping experience. 

I would highly recommend a trip to Whole Foods to any foodies, anyone with special dietary requirements who may need more specialist ingredients, or anyone who prefers to eat as healthily/organic as they can. Overall, we all really enjoyed our trip to Whole Foods, and are just hoping that they open a Glasgow west end branch of the store (though it may bankrupt me if they do!).

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