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Happy Birthday Whole Foods!

Posted Sep 19 2010 11:01am
What do you do when the favorite store of health-food junkies everywhere* turns, and you happen to live a few blocks away from the flagship location?

*Not really true, since we all know Trader Joe's is the only market worthy of standing on the bow of a luxury liner and shouting "I'm the king of the world!," but it sounds pretty, so I said it anyway. I'm an English major. It's what we do.
Well, duh, you celebrate.
Yes, my little smarties, this weekend Whole Foods celebrated 30 years of bringing us foods we didn't even know we "needed" until we saw them with a "party in the parking lot" (my terminology, not theirs) featuring over 40 local vendors, a Chef's tent, and musical performances by local bands.
Yeah, the music was nice (and those boys with guitars were quite cute), but let's be real. We were there for the free food. I'm going to go ahead and tell you that were I to pictorially document everything I ate and drank yesterday in this blog post, I would probably overload the capacity of the blog and we would have a RSS meltdown situation and it could potentially lead to a self-destruction of The Smart Kitchen , and then you would all be very, very sad, wouldn't you? Therefore, I will just try to give you some of the highlights of the day.

The following took place between the hours of 11:45 AM and 5:00 PM on Saturday afternoon. Yes, that would be over 5 hours at Whole Foods . Strangely, that did not seem weird.

Clearly, they were gearing up for a big day. There were guys directing traffic all over the parking garage.
Fun activity #1: Say "Hi!" and "Thanks!" to all of the guys directing traffic. They will look at you like you have twelve heads. It's pretty fun. Especially if you get them to smile. :)

I was immediately greeted by a woman proffering wine tastings as I emerged from the escalator into the store.
---"Which one would you like to try?"
--- Ummmm, both?
I also asked if I could have a 30th Anniversary sticker. The mom standing behind me laughed when I did this. I turned around and said, "Hey, I'm an elementary school teacher. I like stickers." For some reason that seemed to make it acceptable (?)

Before hitting the tent outside, it seemed like a smart (kitchen) idea to make sure we checked out all of the free samples INSIDE the store. That led us to Miles.
This is Miles, of Miles of Chocolate . Miles is my hero. Why? Because he makes the best "baked chocolate dessert" I have ever eaten in my life. Seriously. Imagine a flourless chocolate cake getting married to a fudge brownie and having a dark chocolate truffle for offspring...then eating them all at once.
After that wee little bite, we got to talking, and Miles decided he liked Katelyn and I enough to give us really BIG pieces, which we proceeded to eat with gusto, and a kind lady from the bakery department documented for us on my camera.
Please note the eyes closing in the photograph above. It was that good.
Katelyn: "See how it glistens in the light..."
Me: "Miles, I really wish I was getting married in the near future so you could make my wedding cake."
Miles: "Actually, it would make a great groom's cake."
Me & Katelyn (simultaneously): "Oooooooohhhhhh...."

Fun Activity #2: Eat Kung Pao Tofu....
...and then demonstrate how that Kung Pao tofu makes you "want to go POW!" by holding this position for an extensive period of time as onlookers watch you with strange expressions on their faces.

We did finally make it to the tent outside...
...where I immediately found ice cream.
Well, NadaMoo "ice cream." That would be the Java Crunch, which I was able to try because Josh gave me the rest of his after I pouted* about them running out right after serving him, and chocolate, with chocolate chips.

*Glad I did. It was delicious.
Of course, I had to try the vanilla, too.
This looks like a smiling vanilla frozen dairy dessert chip face.

So, after starting the day with the foodgasm that was Miles Of Chocolate's baked chocolatey decadence, I didn't think anything would taste better. But then I met the ladies from Hail Merry .
First they gave me a bag of chocolate macaroons, and they fed me a raw, vegan, gluten-free lemon tart that was perhaps one of the best things I have ever eaten.
I think I went back for thirds and fourths. There is a reason they call it a miracle tart.
And that reason is it is a miracle if you can summon the willpower not to devour the whole darn thing. Who knew raw desserts could taste so good?

A high proportion of the food eaten yesterday involved a tortilla chip and salsa. This is one of the prettiest ones.
But the most creative and intriguingly, must-try-this-at-home, yumtastic? Well, that would belong to the Dread Head Chef .
Chef Michael Weinstein has turned "chips and salsa" into dessert (!) by making sweet tortilla chips (in 'plain' and chocolate) as well as sweet salsa, in Strawberry Mango and Pineapple-Banana-Macadamia Nut. And yes, he has dreads.
Other fun discoveries?
Champagne Caper Vinaigrette Dressing! I already appreciated Brianna's dressings, but then they combine two of my favorite things into a delicious dressing? Sounds like a newly renewed love affair to me.
White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt
...which I had been tempted to buy on more than one occasion, and now I really think I will. It's very tart 'n tangy. :) AND they used it to make an "eggless" salad, which tasted a whole lot like my Soy Salad Sandwiches ....
New Earth Chia Chipotle Crackers
These were delicious, but way to expensive for my budget. Someone figure out how to make them. Thank you.
CheesyGirl "Buff" Goat Cheese
This was an aged goat cheese and I totally dug the enhanced flavor... I also loved her creative naming of the other cheeses she makes
Femme Fatale is a French herbed chevre, Hottie is a spicy jalapeno, Cara Mia is Italian, and Plain Jane is, well, plain. ;) [I have to be honest though and say that although the aged "Buff" was fabulous, the others tasted sort of like I could have made them at home with a French or Italian herb blend. Hey, there's a thought for a rainy day....] She had a sweet hat though. Bonus points to CheesyGirl for that. Aside from all of that eating, there was also a whole lot of drinking. There was coffee, sure...
...but really, it was all about the wine!
The above were my favorite labels of the day, and you can't see it, but the Bordeaux style on the far left was absolutely fascinating. Of course, I never know how to describe wines except in vague food pairing randomness, so my reaction was something like, "Oh, that tastes like it needs a big slab of dark chocolate with it....or spaghetti!"

Right.

Hello there, incredibly large corkscrew.
(I am still trying to determine where they were hiding the incredibly large bottles of wine.)
After taking a number of gratuitous random pictures (please note Inaqui in the above picture trying to escape from my lens), we headed inside to escape the rain.

Never fear, however, because Whole Foods decided that would be a wonderful opportunity to offer an intense wine-and-beer tasting of probably up to 25 different varieties!

Did you know that Rioja is not always red?
Yeah. Me neither. Apparently Rioja is the Spanish region, not the grape. And despite sounding like roja, which you hopefully know means red, white riojas exist!

Fun Activity #3: Upon discovering that the Crispin Cider you had been talking about earlier was not being offered for sample because the demonstrator had run out and was waiting for someone to bring her more....go get it for her!
...and then have some of course!
Fun Activity #4: Randomly color coordinate your outfits and frolic through the wine & beer section at Whole Foods ... ...where you will discover beer that tastes like coffee.... ...and one that tastes like blueberries!
Tasting that Sunset Wheat immediately inspired me to proclaim that we needed to use it to make Blueberry Beer Pancakes. I mean, beer bread is good. Blueberry pancakes are good. Why not blueberry beer pancakes? [Oh my Dad would be so proud.]
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