I haven’t been eating very healthy lately. I rarely get enough roughage, eat broccoli no more than once a month (at Mama’s Food Shop), have yet to discover a good salad spot near my new Wall St. office, and when I forage in my cupboards I only find baked corn chips and tomatillo salsa. Who’s to blame for my lack of nutrition? I point my finger eastward, at Whole Foods’ unopened Lower East Side location.
When I moved to the East Village from an apartment that was around the corner from the Chelsea store last summer, I was an innocent who truly believed Whole Foods would soon follow. I blogged about how my new apartment would be .03 miles closer to the new store. I wondered what new salad and dessert bars it would feature and crossed my fingers that this one would be eat-in. I walked by its block-wide Bowery and Houston location and took to heart the sign that said “Coming This Fall.” Fall passed. I asked clerks at other stores for status updates, schlepped home heavy bags from the Union Square location, and even tried shopping elsewhere. Unfortunately the upscale, locally-owned markets nearby are just as, if not more expensive, and their produce doesn’t compare.
The chill of winter set in, and on many a freezing night I wondered if the lease had fallen through or if the location was overrun with vermin. And then, on a spring-like day this week, I received the good news. According to a Whole Foods press release, my store will open on March 29th with the company’s first-ever fromagerie, multiple eat-in areas, and a culinary center for cooking lessons. In celebration, I reorganized the kitchen and gave the fridge a good scrub today. Root vegetables, fresh spinach and Pink Lady apples, your refrigerator awaits.
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Last weekend I flew to L.A. for my annual Alesa visit. I really do love it there. I like the more relaxed (yet more plastic) vibe; the disparity between the tackiness of Venice Beach and the Chateau Marmont's swank; and how you can see the mountains, the water, and the sunset all at once as you drive home from a perfect day. I still missed NYC's grit though.
Two meals in particular stood out: thin, crepe-like buckwheat pancakes wrapped around peppered bacon and covered in syrup at Kate Mantilini, and a thick, perfectly executed, 9 oz. ground sirloin burger topped with Carr Valley Benedictine cheese at the Roosevelt Hotel's 25 Degrees. The restaurant is a classy, sultry burger and fry joint that gets its name from the temperature difference between a medium burger (no thanks) and a medium-rare burger (bingo!). 25 Degrees offers 12 different artisanal cheese selections and sauces for the pommes frites (the Ranch was out of this world with flavor); perfectly fried and sweet onion rings; and a full bar.
Of course, L.A. is nothing without its stars, and Alesa and I had a fun run-in with Jeff Goldblum on what seemed to be his virgin Pinkberry experience. He walked in eager and interested, and eyed my small plain with blueberries and mochi (Japanese rice cakes). I recently discovered that I could order mochi as a topping (instead of just in the shaved ice), thanks to a New York Times article on frozen yogurt. The article quotes one of Pinkberry's founders: "We don't put that out...It is kind of like going to In-N-Out Burger and ordering 'animal style.'"
Jeff Goldblum, whose soft hazel eyes and easy smile were very attractive in person, was so interested in my mochi that I offered him a taste. He accepted and daintily reached into my cup. After he sat down with his order of green tea with blueberries and raspberries, he reciprocated my offer. I declined -- though the green tea's tinniness is more reminiscent of New York's grime, and the clean freshness of the plain flavor is more similar to L.A.'s glitter, the green tea is too tinny for me. Maybe one day I'll be bicoastal.