Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Central Market, Whole Foods, and the surplus store

Seeing that this is cheese day, I should write about what I did Monday. Monday we went shopping in Fort Worth. We used to live in Fort Worth, and we used to shop at this surplus store a couple of times a week. You just never know what odd thing is going to be there.

One December I went to this store twice a day looking for Jelly Belly brand jelly beans. They usually cost about seven dollars a pound. Once in a while this place would get eight once packages for fifty cents. I'd pick up some on the way to work, and then stop by on the way home and see if they'd opened a box of a different flavor. So part of my husband's Christmas gift was about fifteen pounds of jelly beans, and I made smaller gift baskets for other people. Monday we bought more jelly beans, about two and a half pounds at a dollar a pound. We don't know what kind they are, but they aren't bad, and they're white with red question marks on them.

We bought a bunch of other stuff Monday. The really cool thing is to go to Central Market or Whole Foods first, look at all the cool stuff that you would think about buying if it wasn't so expensive, and then find the exact same thing at the salvage place for less than half price.
So after I took my final on Monday, that is what we did.

Central Market is this really cool grocery store owned by HEB. The produce section is just huge, and I usually go home with something. All kinds of cool stuff there, like blue potatoes, starfruit, more than a dozen kinds of mushrooms, and probably twice that many kinds of apples, but I didn't really need any of it this week. But I always look just in case they have something really exotic like dragon-fruit, and it was still just a bit too early to buy my husband any figs.

Next is meat and seafood. Hardly ever actually buy anything there, but there's always free samples of stuff to try. We always look at something in the seafood department that reminds us of something we had in Maine or New Orleans or maybe just the Texas gulf coast, but we never end up buying any of it. It's expensive, and we'd probably screw it up anyway. Usually for that much money we might as well go to a restaurant and leave the cooking to someone who knows what they're doing.

Next is a whole room of wines, but I don't drink alcohol, so we skip this part except for my husband commenting on which bottles would make nice photographs and this is an interesting name and this is a cool label and so forth.

Lots of soap and Burt's Bees stuff and bath salts. Don't buy much there either, but it's fun to look at anyway.

Next is just regular non-refrigerated stuff, like pasta and cans of soup and jars of honey. Except that they might have some kinds of honey that you've never heard of. Fireweed is very subtle. We bought some at a ren fest once and have been looking for it ever since.

Then there's the stuff in bins. Dozens of different coffee beans. All kinds of candy, grains, cereal, dried fruit. I got a pound of soy-nuts and some granola.

We mostly skip the frozen food section, except when there's free samples of ice cream. And I don't need any free range eggs or anything like that in the dairy section. They have lots of bakery stuff, but I can't remember ever buying anything other than a dozen tortillas and some bagels.

And then there is the cheese. A whole room of cheese. A bunch of cheese that you've never heard of. But if there's a free sample of it, I'll try it. Marinated mozzarella is good, but don't think I've ever bought any. There's a similar room in Whole Foods, and if there's something interesting in the three dollar cart I'll buy it.

Then there's pizza and sandwiches for sale, and a salad bar, and a soup bar. And then they sell tamales and all kinds of other cooked food by the pound. And then there's dips and pesto sauce and olives and all kinds of stuff like that.

At the end we have a bunch of strange sodas and stuff like that. Maybe not so strange as some of the stuff at the Coca-Cola Museum, but some of it is interesting. We had samples of blueberry lemonade. I liked it, but he wasn't fond of it, and we didn't buy any. Just got an energy drink and a regular Coke instead.

So we spent about ten dollars buying four things at Central Market, and then we went to the salvage store, where we spent about three or four times that much money.

My husband bought a lot of noodles and stuff to take on trips with him. Not like the cup-a-noodle thing, but like the Asian stuff that's already cooked and just needs to be microwaved. Not worth the three or four dollars the stuff sells for at other places, but certainly worth a dollar. For fifty cents I bought a large bag of spring greens, and then a small bag of colored cauliflower. A jar of lemon curd was also fifty cents. We bought a pound of smoked cheese for three dollars. Four bags of potato chips were fifty cents each, and sometimes they have Terra products. I bought a pound of sesame tahini for two dollars. For a dollar fifty I bought a jar of blackberry jam, just like grandma used to make. My husband bought a couple of boxes of flavored green tea for a dollar each. A pound of soy flour was fifty cents. We bought two jars of Italian olive salad, a jar of mixed olives, and a jar of regular pepper stuffed spanish olives for a dollar and a half each.

I think I already mentioned the jelly beans. There was three kinds of some fudge sauce called Fudge Is My Life or maybe Chocolate Is My Life for a dollar each, but we passed on it cause we still have left over chocolate from Easter and maybe Halloween.

So now I've got all this stuff. Now I should cook something.


evil-e said...

You mentioned blue potatoes, someone once looked at me crazy because I said I had eaten them. They really are rather good, and really good for you.

This market you mention sounds similar to Cleveland's West Side Market. It is not affiliated with any chain and it is a bunch of small stands with anything you can think of. There is food from just about every ethnic background and the prices are really good.

dmarks said...

Are Jelly Belly jelly beans really that hard to find in large quantities? I've places around selling them bulk without going out of my way to look.

Babybull40 said...

Jelly Bellies are yummy.. I also go to our local Farmer's market here and a couple other places that offer really nice stuff.. Some expensive and some not so much. We also go to Dennigers'they offer a nice variety of foods from all over the world, no veggies or fruit.. but a nice treats for that special occasion.. and the best cakes...

laughingattheslut said...

Jelly Bellies are not hard to find if you don't mind paying seven dollars a pound for them. A dollar a pound is a much better deal. I'm also finding other brands that are similar that cost less. Starburst had all red ones for Easter that were about two dollars a pound. Not sure what all red ones had to do with Easter. I'd have thought those were for Valentine's Day. And Snapple made some that I found at the dollar store. Sometimes I mix a bunch up and put it in pumpkin shaped container and write Harry Potter stuff to give to a fan in the Star Trek club.

I bought a couple kinds of blue potatoes a while back. I meant to plant them but forgot. They must have started to sprout by now, but I don't remember where I left them.

Rachel said...

We don't have anything even close to that here other than a store called Horrock's. It sounds like a much smaller version of your Central Market.

The Diva's Thoughts said...

I ate purple potatoes and bread in Hawaii once. It was soooo good!

laughingattheslut said...

I bet everything in Hawaii is soooo good!

Stepping Over the Junk said...

every day is cheese day for me. Cheese all the time. Jelly Bellies are a staple in my handbag. (but cheese has to stay in the fridge) I love this post, makes me want to make my rounds to favorite stores and stock up on specialty items!

dmarks said...

Yes, food shopping posts like this can be fun (as long as it isn't "got eggs at Krogers" but is interesting food at an interesting place). However, you would lose me after the third line of a shopping-for-shoes-and-handbags post. Unless there was something about and really evil clerk, a meteor hitting the mall, or something like that.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

The Central Market soiunds cool - I would have a feild day! There's a Jelly Belly factory about an hour from where i was raised where they sell a pound of *deformed* JB's for a dollar...can't beat that! I also love Burts Bees products... Sounds like you had fun!