Now that I have Grocery Outlet so close, I figured I’d start making a list of what I /can/ and /cannot/ find there – for my reference as well as yours. As more items come to sight and mind, I’ll add them to this post.
Meat I’d want to eat
Any soft toilet paper
Name brand cleaners
Natural peanut butter
Off-brand bacon that was actually good
Tyson chicken (which I don’t want to eat)
Stouffer meat lasagna party size for $10
Frozen bagels stuffed with cream cheese (it could be worse)
$3 bottles of wine
Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider
Nescafe/Tasters’ Choice Instant Coffee
Lemons (I think 25c each)
Jiffy peanut butter
Today was the (unofficial) opening of the new Grocery Outlet “supermarket”, located a stone throw away from my house. I was a little dubious at first about what the store would do for the neighborhood (and clearly, this is not a posh neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination), but once I looked at it from the point of view of how this would ease my grocery shopping, I welcomed it with open arms. Indeed, I think I may have been responsible for suggesting this location. I remember distinctively talking to the manager-to-be of Grocery Outlet a couple of years ago, when they wanted to place it in the old-Albertsons building downtown (which we fought), and suggesting that the lot by my house would be a better location.
Of course, being that it opened today, we had to check it out today – and we were pretty impressed. Bear in mind that the store is brand-new (well, the building itself was vacated by the Salvation Army, but it’s been cleaned and painted so that it’s now unrecognizable), so you would expect it to look nice – and it did, the aisles were wide, the light, functional, and the colors, soothing. It wasn’t as faux-quaint as Trader Joe’s, but not as austere as your regular supermarket either. Everything was nice and neat (again, as you would expect), I can only hope it stays like that.
Now, for what matters, what does Grocery Outlet carry? Well, clearly they are attempting to be like a real supermarket and they carry a little bit of everything, specially vis a vis packaged stuff. Most of their products seem to be overstock – things that didn’t sell that well at other markets. I think that will mean that what’s available will change frequently. Today, for example, they had Haagen Daz sticky toffee pudding ice cream – a flavor introduced in 2006, that seems to no longer be on the market (at least it’s not listed in their website). No choice, but it was just $1.50 – about half the supermarket on-sale price. They also had off-brand stuff, but much less than what they use to sell when I frequented the Berkeley location. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, some of that off-brand stuff (I remember the frozen baked Alaskas) was pretty good. As you can expect there are lots of canned stuff.
Prices are generally low, but not everything is a bargain. Haas avocados were $1.50 – three times as much as what Smart & Final and Mi Tierra supermarket has them for this week. Suave shampoo was $1.50, about the same price as the Safeway’s. But Nestcafe coffee was about $3 less than it’s at Safeway.
They had a surprisingly large wine selection – mostly of cheap wines, of course. I’m thrilled, as this will mean that when I need wine for a dish and don’t have any 2-buck-chuck at home, I can just go across the street and get something.
In all, I don’t anticipate doing my shopping per se at Grocery Outlet, but rather use it as a place where to either get specific things that I know they have them for less – or to go and get something I realize at the last minute I’m out of (darn! I didn’t check if they had flour).
I will, however, write from time to time about special bargains that they have, or interesting items. This time I bought a slice of cheese that I plan to serve blind to my guests on Saturday. Let’s see if anyone can identify it 🙂
Next Day. I went to Grocery Outlet to see if I could get something for dinner. The answer is, unfortunately, no. They have Tyson chicken, but I think that was the company investigated for disgusting chicken practices. They had a few different cuts of pork and very little beef. But I feel uneasy about the quality and origin of the meat they sell. I did notice that they do have a small produce section, I didn’t study it, though.
One thing they don’t have are enough carts or any baskets – making buying just a few things a hassle.
As for dinner, I decided to make spaghetti carbonara and thought I had everything I needed at home. Of course, once I got here I realized I didn’t have enough bacon 🙁
Finally, Grocery Outlet is having its Ribbon Cutting on Thursday, May 7th at 5:30 PM. They’ll have sandwiches or something like that. The Grand Opening is on Saturday, May 9th, starting with Coffee and Treats at 8 AM. They’ll have raffles, samples, etc. – kind of like the BBQ they had a couple of years ago, when they wanted to get public support for converting the downtown Albertson’s building into a Grocery Outlet.
How can lemons cost $1-$1.25 at Safeway, and only 30 cents at the Mexican market a couple of blocks away? How can Safeway get away with fleecing people that way? I really wish there were alternatives to Safeway. Well, Grocery Outlet is opening in a couple of days – hopefully they’ll sell lemons at a reasonable price.
As Mike (my husband) reports in San Leandro Bytes, his blog about all the goings on in San Leandro, Grocery Outlet, a discounter of mostly canned/boxed food, is coming to San Leandro. The store, which is almost finished, is located on East 14th, near Estabrook Street – a stone throw away from my house. It occupies the lot previously occupied by the Salvation Army. An affordable housing unit for seniors is being built next door.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to a Grocery Outlet – but I’m hoping this one will be cleaner and neater than others of its kind. I’m also hoping it will not add a lot to the traffic on Estabrook St. – which is already congested at rush time.
That said, I’m happy that we’ll have a grocery store so close to our house. Though we don’t buy much in the way of packaged food, it’ll be useful for emergencies.
In other news, the Starbucks downtown, near Safeway, is going out of business. Starbucks is shutting many of its stores, so it’s not a huge surprise. The Starbucks which is /at/ Safeway seems to be safe for now.
I hate, hate, hate, the Safeway on Bancroft Ave. in San Leandro. Everyday I walk by it when I go pick up my daughter in daycare – so it’s very convenient to stop there and buy the ingredients for dinner. But they NEVER have everything I need – and sometimes *anything* I need.
Today, for example, I was shopping for a leek tart I’m making tonight – but they had no chives. I was also shopping for a chicken dish I’m making on Wednesday – but they had no cut-up chicken (they had whole chickens, but the cut-up chickens were supposedly on sale). I don’t get it – why do they advertise products at a sale price, if they don’t carry them? And it’s not just that – try getting boneless chicken thighs, or lemongrass or even a cognac at an affordable price (all things I recently needed for cooking).
Part of me wishes the store would go out of business so I’d be forced to go to the other one, rather than be permanently frustrated by their lack of products.
Yesterday I went to Messob for dinner, on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland, and we happened to park just in from of Euromix Deli, a small, tidy store carrying products from all over Europe, but specializing in Eastern Europe. I’ve been here several times before, ever since my friends Victoria and Penelope bought me a huge assortment of food items from there, but I don’t think I’ve blogged about the place yet. I won’t now either, :-), but I promise to go back to the place and tell you more about what they carry.
One thing they do carry, and that Victoria & Penelope had included in their gift, are Russian spice mixes. They come in little green envelopes good for one meal and they have them for rice, kebabs, roasts, fish and other things I couldn’t really tell what they were. I’ve tried the ones for the rice, the kebabs and the roasts and they are excellent.
I made a tri-tip roast in the rotisserie with the roast spice mixture for election night, and the results were great. The meat was super tender and very flavorful. I let it sit at room temperature with the rub for almost an hour before cooking, and I’d recommend you do the same. I’ve made the kebabs before, and they also rock. You marinate the chunks of beef or lamb in some red wine mixed with the spices and then grill. Yumm.
But I think my favorite mix is the one for the rice (pilau). I’ve made it a few times last year and the results are great – very satisfying.
Alas, the packages of these mixtures are in Russian, so I can’t tell you even what they’re call. They are distributed by West Coast Trade in Newark, and, as I said, available for sale at Euromix.
This time they didn’t have the roast spice mixture, so I bought several packages of the ones for kebabs ($1.40) and rice ($1). The former consists of: sweet paprika, salt, coriander seeds, onion, MSG, garlic, red hot pepper, sugar, basil leaves, black pepper, mustard, turmeric, cumin and nutmeg. The latter includes: salt, sweet paprika, turmeric, barberry,curry,coriander seeds, cumin and ground marjoram. Of course, they smell divine.
I was just in the Alameda Safeway doing some shopping, and decided to see if there were any wine bargains to be had. Last year I got a wine for over 50% off which ended up being pretty good – so I thought I’d try my luck again. I found a deal almost as good – the 2005 Hawk Crest Cabernet Sauvignon was on sale for $10, $15 off the regular price of $25. So I bought it.
I come home to find out that all retailers sell this wine for about $10 – so either Safeway sells all its wines at 2 1/2 times regular retail prices, or just ups the prices of those it wants to put in sale, to make them look like a better bargain. Yes, I feel foolish – but I learned my lesson. I will never buy wine from Safeway again. I hope the wine is at least good.
I just came back from a shopping expedition to Santos, a sort of Indian supermarket in San Leandro. Santos is a distributor of Indian spices and other foods, but its store is open to the public. Here you can find (almost) all kinds of spices, in particular those used in Indian cuisine. They have a large variety of lentils, flours and teas – and pretty much anything you’d need to cook Indian food. What they did not have is black cumin – which is strange as that’s a very common spice in Indian cuisine – and one I need for the recipes I plan to make this week. Well, perhaps I can find it at Mangal’s. But in all, I love Santos.
In this shopping expedition I got some Indian yogurt and pistachio ice cream – and bags of almonds, cardamon pods, fenugreek seeds and sumak, as well as a big box of Twinings Tea (50 bags for $4.50!) and a jar of ghee.
Santos Spice Products
1188 Montague St
San Leandro, CA 94577
The Oakville Grocery store seems to have a much larger local reputation than it size would imply. I had heard of it (no idea how), even though I’d never been to Healdsburg before. Still, I decided to go there to get pic-nic supplies for our canoe trip down the Russian River.
The little store sells mostly high-end gourmet products. They have a very nice selection of cheeses and charcouterie, a deli with expensive prepared food, a small bakery, and somewhat random choices of other gourmet delicacies. They didn’t have packaged cookies, however!
We ordered a couple of roast beef sandwiches to take with us. They were very nice and large, well balanced and had a lot of meat. I think they were around $8-9. I’d order one again.
124 Matheson Street
Tel: (707) 433-3200
8:00am – 6:00pm Daily
The International Food Market opened on the little outside mall where Prince Dim Sum House is located, a few months ago. I went to visit it a couple of weeks ago after having lunch at Prince.
The store is not very big but has big intentions. It sells Greek, Asian, Middle Eastern and Mexican products. You can find Indian spices and Mexican spices (not on the same isle), cheap avocados and fresh eggs, lots of boxes of Greek products and so forth. Their inventory is pretty eclectic and you really need to drop by (or, more conveniently, call) to see if they sell something in particular. I think the market will be most useful for Greek and Middle Eastern products, as there are plenty of stores specializing on Asian and Mexican products in town. I don’t know how big the market is for what they do offer, and I’m concerned that the store may not survive. The woman who runs it, Eleni, is very nice and I’d like to see it succeed.
Now a note to my readers: please let me know of specific markets in San Leandro (and vicinities) that deserve to be visited and mentioned in this blog.
International Food Market
14624 East 14th Ave.
San Leandro, CA
M-Sa 8:30 AM – 7:30 PM
Su – 10 AM – 6 PM