To Market, To Market

A few items on the list are making me sing this week. One, I am aggressively interviewing. Sound the chorus. Two, I bought the most stunning blue hydrangeas this past Friday. The bunch comprising five stems was full and beautiful. Thanks to the expert guidance learned from the maestro at The Blossom Shop a pair of months ago, flowers require that their water be changed daily. This prevents bacteria from building. Four days in and my blooms are still doing their thing. Fresh flowers in a vase make me beam. The weather is absolutely glorious. And it's raining. I haven't had to water my herb garden twice daily this week. Sometime this week, I sat on our front porch with a cup of tea and enjoyed a reprieve from the inferno. My folks are approximately 2400 miles into their great trek across the United States and they will be seeing my brother in Los Angeles this evening. Yesterday morning after yoga and whilst finishing my morning shop at Publix, I ordered an Americano from their bistro. One dollar and thirty four cents later and it was glorious. With the selection abounding in Charlotte, I am preparing my Auf Wiedersehen speech to Starbucks. I enjoyed my economical cup of Joe while doing my second shop of the day at Whole Foods

I am not a one stop shop person. I have select stores where I buy certain items. In terms of pricing, you will also be surprised to see differing numbers across the board. I am sure many will shout who has time for this. Understood. Even when working, I always carve out some time on a Sunday to cross-shop. I always shop for a hybrid of quality as well as pricing and I tend to steer towards organic (for the dirty dozen at least)The compilation that follows outlines where I venture to buy a variety of items. It should be noted that I have a special fondness for grocery shopping. Therapy at its best. Me, my cart and a massive space begging for exploration. Word to the wise, don't shop on an empty stomach. Publix is my now go-to for every day shopping. A brand new location opened on South Boulevard some time ago. Prices are phenomenal. Their produce department is spellbinding and they offer a broad selection of organic, grass fed meat varieties. I exclusively go to Whole Foods to stock up on the 365 brand label of organic canned beans, coconut oil, low sodium chicken stock, lentils (black, green, red), canned San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, coconut milk yogurt, mung bean pasta, ground bison from the butcher and as crazy as it sounds, they always have impressive sales on cereal and artisanal ice cream. Matthew has cereal with yogurt for his mid-morning snack. The city's cheapest loaf of Ezekiel bread can be found here. Also check out the frozen vegetable aisle and throw in a pair of bags. Frozen vegetables are dynamite to have in your freezer. Add them to soup, curries, stews and the likes. More fiber makes for a happy gut. While these goods are cheaper than at other shops, I buy in bulk. Heavy bags filled with beans and stock is good for one's triceps. Added bonus if you come here around your lunch hour as their salad bar is prima. I challenge he or she who says that Whole Foods targets high end shoppers only. 

Trader Joe's has the city's best selection of the most economically priced cheeses. The same rings true for their outfit in New York City. My folks are fortunate to have a sprawling one at the end of their block in Chelsea. Having a party? Pick up a wedge of creamy Camembert, a piece of Roquefort, a chunk of Parmesan, some Gouda and a block of English cheddar. One aisle offers fig butter, which pairs marvelously with the salty cheeses. Their sliced sausage at 5 dollars always goes fast when our friends come over. Grab a box or two of crackers and you're in business. Their flaxseed chips are kryptonite. I am a big fan of their pesto. I prefer to make my own but it's nice to have a jar or two in the pantry, just in case. Do you have to make a dip that calls for sour cream, shredded cheddar or any other goodies? Buy them here. The cost of nuts and dried fruit cannot be beat. I recommend stocking up on pine nuts, shelled pistachios and dried mango. Do you enjoy morning smoothies? Buy your frozen fruit here. They currently have figs! Ditto almond milk. When checking out, I always pick up a couple of bars of the 70% dark chocolate. The variety with hazelnuts is especially tempting. While beautiful, I have not seen great success keeping their flowers alive. Great wine selection and take your time as there are some real finds. Like the New Zealand Cloudy Bay sold at the Metropolitan location. Note, I do not buy the Two Buck Chuck. I am too old for such foolery. Hangovers near kill me these days.

We love Fresh Market. I am excited for the arrival of the location near to us on East Boulevard. This grocer encourages an absolutely delightful shopping experience. Grab a shot of coffee, take a deep breath and meander the store. When cooking fish for dinner, I always come here. Often times they have a sale on the wild Alaskan sockeye salmon. This is the variety with the intense ruby color. Always buy wild fish. Never farmed. Here is a lovely recipe for said. The meat counter is also gorgeous and their butchers are very happy to manipulate meat any way your recipe calls it. When I make wings, I buy them here. The crab cakes are also boss. Their flower selection is glorious. I have had success with them! If you aren't in the neighborhood of Campbell's, I recommend buying your orchids here. A dear friend takes me there every year around my birthday to pick one out. Their private label Thai chicken curry soup is delicious. Buy a couple for the freezer to have on hand when friends come round for lunch. I recently found a brand of beer there that Matthew had when we were in the Dominican Republic. Thirsty Thursday every day. I have little success finding watercress and they sell it here. When at the beach in Pawleys Island, we always venture to Fresh Market to help shape our low country boils. Shrimp sourced locally, chorizo from the butcher and you know the rest. More often than not they have artichokes on sale. They are a breeze to prepare, click hereLastly, you need to come here for Cento tuna. This leads me to my beloved Earth Fare, my second very favorite place to shop in Charlotte. 

Earth Fare is also Matthew's favorite grocer. The people running the store simply get it. I come here when I need odd bits like Ponga Sauvignon Blanc (it is the only place I can find this vintner), medjool dates and dried figs. I almost always buy my oil and vinegar varieties here (Earth Fare private label) because prices are competitive. They sell a kale chip variety flavored with cashew faux cheese that I cannot get anywhere else. I also check out their bins when I need smaller amounts of nuts. Case in point the 1/4 cup of raw cashews called for in the recipe below. Lastly, if you like incense sticks, this is your place. I have already spoken to my grocer on South Boulevard for limes, avocados, tomatillos, pickled jalapeƱos and tortillas. Provisions Local Market in Waxhaw is a must for farm eggs followed by lunch (please order the hot dog slathered in guacamole and topped with pork rinds). For my random buys like sesame seeds, black vinegar, tamarind paste, coconut flour (for pancakes), spelt flour (for hot cross buns), oat bran, flaxseed oil, cacao powder, cacao nibs, green tea with jasmine, apple cider vinegar, Justin's almond butter, tahini and other such oddities, I exercise my Amazon Prime. Best however-much-I-spend-a-year on membership investment. The prices simply cannot be beat. For peculiar spices like garam masala, cloves and long cinnamon sticks, I delight in The Spice House. Your goods come beautifully wrapped in individual bags, which you can later recycle.

I also revere the Kings Drive Farmers Market for beautiful producelocal raised beef and fresh caught shrimp. During the Halloween Season, this is your place for pumpkins! On Saturdays, we join the crowds to shop the one out near the airport. Best priced beets absolutely anywhere. Gorgeous floral arrangements and if something is in season, they have it. Please go soon for peaches and figs. It should be noted that I try to buy all my vegetables and fruit at the market. I am a big fan of sourcing and buying local. Support your neighborhood farms. We either go on a Saturday or I stock up on a Tuesday. For Asian staples, I head to Anh Dao Sakura Oriental Market. Grab a French pastry at Rennaisance Patisserie and come here to peruse the aisles. Lots of fun stuff you cannot live with out. Lest I not forget my beloved neighborhood bodega. Oh let me count the ways I love Reid's. Best baguettes in the city and we adore their prosciutto. One of the friendly folks behind the counter will hand slice it for you. They sell Tate's chocolate chip cookies (the very ones I used to eat late night back in NYC), King of Pops and Blue Bell Ice Cream, which I grew up eating in my native Texas. They also have a killer multilayer cake. Just buy a slice and call me later. I like to shop, pick up a salad or cup of soup to enjoy at home and flash a peace sign on my way out. Be sure to chat with the gentleman helping steer parking. He must have the patience of a saint! Also, their ice machine is in a league of its own.

Costco has it's own unique attraction. Go big or go home. I find this store incredibly tempting but with the parking situation, showing your card, waiting in long lines and having to pull your the receipt upon leaving, a trip requires a good dose of patience. This is why I usually venture here alone. I like to take my time cruising down every aisle. I stop to look at the watches, diamond earrings, televisions and cameras. I look more than buy. When Matthew and I venture here together, we leave with the cup runnething over. I am sure when we have a family, we will shop here more. Where do I start? Ibuprofen in bulk. Razor blades abounding. Toilet paper and bounty paper towels to service an army. Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc sold at the best price in the city. In fact, their entire wine selection is outstanding and if you need help, a specialist is on hand to guide you. Visit the butcher for a gorgeous selection of six pound beef tenderloins and already butchered pork shoulder for carnitas. Walk into the chilly tundra for beautiful bags of brussel sprouts. My mother swears that Costco has the most beautiful sprouts in southern Florida. 

This store offers the best priced manchego cheese in the city and ditto Pecorino. You can buy a block to last a year for around seven dollars. Did you know that cheese can go in the freezer? Fact. A few months ago, we replaced our Sonicaire toothbrushes here. You will never revert back to an old toothbrush again. They have folks executing demonstrations with the Rolls Royce of blenders, Vitamix and they hand out samples galore. Their Kirkland brand bacon is the best of the best. Ask the New York Times. I always buy a huge bag of walnuts. They will last you forever and these gorgeous nuts liven up any dish. Toast them to sprinkle on top of roasted vegetables with a splash of vinegar, drizzle of oil and a shave of cheese. How very epicurean. Now they sell Marcona almonds. Wonderfully elegant for putting out in little bowls during cocktail parties. When I make potato salad, I come here. I can buy a huge bag in a variety of colors. Purples and such are so very inviting when mixed with apples, chopped flat leaf parsley and celery and slathered in mayonnaise as well as whole grain mustard. Before our big cruise last summer, we bought a 30 count box of Larabars. They saw all of us through while touring the Baltic states. 

Food Lion. Check them out. Their low prices on every day items are outstanding. I bought my favorite coffee for our Keurig here yesterday. It was four dollars cheaper than what I usually pay. I shall return. When I am close to home or in a pinch, I go to Teeter. I like the Dilworth location. Pound bags of lemons for .99 cents, cheap bags of radishes, a prolific international section, organic produce, great prices on steaks. Buy one get one free and Vic specials. Their flowers are also perfect. The list ensues. I am a Charlottean and by default, a loyal Teeter shopper after all. What more can I say? As for shopping. I think I have covered the gauntlet. Bless Matthew and his patience for my grocery procurement madness. Am I missing anything? I prepared the below a few weeks ago and a number of you asked for the recipe. Thank you for your enthusiasm and my apologies for the delay. Without further ado…

Vegan Green Thai Curry Sauce
Adapted from Inspiralized


2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves - chopped
3 inch knob of ginger - peeled and chopped
15 oz can of lite coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp white pepper
4 cups of kale - chopped
Handful of fresh basil 
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup of green garden peas
3 zucchini - spiralized - rice or bean noodles will work just fine too
*Optional - throw some shredded chicken or grilled shrimp on top.


1. Over medium heat, add 1 TBS olive oil. Once glistening, add the garlic and ginger. Stir around for approximately two minutes until aromatic. Now add your coconut milk, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and white pepper. Give a stir and add the kale. Cook until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer this mixture to your blender. Add the basil and cashews and blitz until creamy. Pour into a vessel, like a mason jar.

2. Heat your zucchini noodles in 1 TBS oil (olive, grapeseed, sesame or coconut). Add the peas. Stir everything for three minutes. Remove from heat and pour sauce over the top. Enjoy!

The sauce yielded A LOT. In fact, we filled an entire mason jar. We enjoyed incorporating it throughout the week accordingly.

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