Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's a Whole in My Heart That Can Only Be Filled By Foods. Whole Foods...Get It? The Grocery Store?

We all need something to hate on. It's true. You can't wear that big fake smile and love happiness, puppies and sunshine all the time. When you have a bad day, everyone needs to drink some Haterade sometimes and just spew evil at something. Example: Crocs. If I'm in a bad mood, and I see someone wearing those rubber monstrosities on their feet, in my mind, the lion starts roaring, and I start thinking "Stupid Crocs. Crocs are so stupid. Try running away when the zombies invade in a pair of Crocs and see how long you survive. Stupid Crocs. Show your team spirit on a pair of ankle length socks with a bob on the back like a grown up instead of on some rubberized clogs........Crocs are stupid."
Well, today, I had to drop a mark off of my list of "Things to Hate on When I am Illin'"
I couldn't help it. It was one of my go-to targets to vent on, but today, it won me over with a a full-fledged assault on all my defenses.
I thought Whole Foods was just a grocery store that tailored to the Charlottesville granola-eating, organic-everything-including-drinking-water, get-the-news-from-All-Things-Considered, only-eat-meat-from-animals-who-die-from-natural-causes crowd. That is all true. But when Preggy McPreggerpants and I went to check out the brand new location here in town, I found out that it is so much more.

As we walked through the insanely busy parking lot filled with mid-90's Volvos and SMART cars (stupid SMART cars), my first impression was that every ten parking places or so had a spray paint stencil on the ground with some witticism such as "We put the MMMM in community." Strike One.
We elbowed our way through the crowd of extremely rude CVillians queueing up by the front doors who wouldn't make way for a pregnant lady and a baby (Strike Two), and just as I started to hear the Beast Within start to growl, the cool air and the smell of happiness hit me like a freight train. If you've never crossed the threshold of this store, you should muster up a really rotten mood and then do it. See how long it takes  for the sight of a giant wall of neatly and artistically arranged fruits and vegetables, all tastefully lit and glistening with water droplets, each hand placed by a Buddhist monk with a tiny hand-blown glass dropper, to chip away at your inner monster. See if your poison can withstand the aroma of about two thousand containers of exotic spices that you can buy by the scoop, including things you only see on Food Network such as pink peppercorns ($53 per pound!), juniper berries, dried morel mushrooms, and, I'm pretty sure, even though I didn't see them, Pickled Martian Eggs (free range, of course).
The place is amazing. It punches all your senses in the face right when you walk through the door.

We penetrated further, and the only thing keeping me from wearing a big grin on my face was the fact that people kept shoving us out of the way to get to whatever we were marvelling at. But just when my buzz was about to turn into a headache, I saw it: The Meat Counter. It was like a mythical beast. The Loch Ness Meatster. La ChupMeatCabbra. The Meatsquatch? Okay, I'm done.
There was more protein in more variety than can possibly ever be sold before it spoils. (We'll come back to that later), including about 40 different types of artisinal sausages all made in store.

I'm not going to rave about every aisle in the store, but it was just more of the same. There was an absolutely extreme standard of quality, selection and presentation in every department. The place is beautiful. I might cry, if my tear ducts hadn't been turned to stone by exposure to testosterone over the years.

I was curious to see what the service would be like. Many high end retailers only hire people who are highly trained in how to make you feel like you are wasting their time. That was not the case here. Everyone was fantastic. You couldn't turn a corner without someone magically appearing just outside the range of your personal bubble asking you if they could help you. Plus, I had a suspicion that they were all experts in whatever you happened to be looking at. Enter Sean. As I perused a lengthy wall of beer, Sean appeared out of a portal from Beerland and sidled up to me to assist in my selection. He asked what my tastes were, and I desperately tried to sound knowledgable, but even though I'm confident he saw right through it, he still patiently and courteously helped me mix and match a six pack (an AWESOME feature) of things I hadn't tried before. He was great. Though I am worried about his liver, considering he had had everything they sell.

My son was crying, so another lady came running with a tiny cup of strawberries to pacify him. She even tracked us down later and gave him a lollipop (organic). The service was top notch.

The bottom line is this. The place is like a foodie amusement park. It was a truly enjoyable experience, and it is nice to know that I have a source for all the things I have wished I could find in my cooking. Sure, it's expensive. Sure, if you're looking for a Coke, you're out of luck. Sure, you have to shop along side the douchiest crowd the People's Republic of Charlottesville has to offer, but I still officially declare Whole Foods awesome.

So, I'm taking applications for new things to hate, since Whole Foods is off my list. Until I get a new target, I'll just have to stick to my old faithfuls. Like dog shows. Stupid dog shows. People shouldn't carry dog treats in their mouths. Stupid dog shows.....

By the way, for dinner, we had grilled pork chops with rosemary and thyme from the Jacked Up Grill's own herb garden, grilled zucchini and corn from my friend's garden, and Pregatron's famous macaroni and cheese. Until next time!




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