Wonderful food industry people who create extremely tasty products:
Wonderful food industry people who create extremely tasty products:
…this seems excessive, no? This is from the Shop Rite in Silver Spring, Maryland.
We all know that expiration dates on many items are little more than educated guesses. I grew up in my family’s small grocery store near Annapolis, and we often would eat the foods that were either nearing or were at their expiration date, generally with no ill effects. Sure, the dates on milk cartons are pretty accurate, and it’s wise to avoid eating deli meats, breads, or prepared foods much past their sell-by date. But most frozen foods can last well past the date stamped on their packages, as long as they’re stored correctly. Even now, seeing food a week or so past the sell-by date just doesn’t bother me.
Which makes this dented and worn box of Steak-Umm’s chicken steaks I found at the Shop Rite so ridiculous. Super market freezer doors open and close all the time, and that simple action changes the storage temperature. People often will put a refrigerated item in their cart and carry it around the store for an hour and then randomly plop it in between the Oreos and the Chips Ahoy. How many times have you seen a shopper put back ice cream in something that wasn’t a freezer? Seven additional months of who-knows how many random grabs and placed into how many carts, going through how many freeze/thaw cycles, not including how long it sat on the shelf before April 2014?
That leads me to the sale price – the store had two boxes left, they had different items behind the chicken Steak-umms ready for purchase, AND they just happen to have a two for $7 sale?? Coincidence? Interesting… . I’d guess somebody in the store knew this box of Steak-umms was well-past the expiration date and either didn’t care, or were told to ignore it and sell it anyway, clearing the shelf space at any cost rather than lose a couple of bucks. Given that this location is near a large senior citizen community, perhaps the buyer wouldn’t be able to see the small print, or wouldn’t have the taste buds to tell the difference.
Seeing this mangled box in the freezer reminds me to start paying attention to the sell-by dates again. Back when I was a kid, that meant counting the chocolate milk boxes that would expire in the next 24 hours, and figure out how many would be left over for me to drink. Now, it means to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous food.
No matter the reason or the excuse, this is bad grocery store managing. I wasn’t giving the store the Anthony Melchiorri white-glove dust test from “Hotel Impossible;” I was looking for frozen vegetables I could keep at work.
Although…now I’m totally ready to pitch “Grocery Impossible” where I fix horribly-run grocery stores. Food Lion can be my pilot episode. Maybe the whole first season.
Note : I moved the other box of chicken Steak-umms out of the way for the photos, and it had a “best if used by” date labeled comfortably in 2015. Having tried the Steak-umm chicken flavor, my personal recommendation for a “best if used by” date is “never.”
Groupon has a certificate (which they are almost out of so move quickly) that lets you get a produce box from Nall’s (Friday or Saturday) for $12 ($22 value). I just picked up this week’s box, which includes peaches, nectarines, 2 bunches of kale, mushrooms, 4 large green bell peppers, 3 huge peaches, 3 small nectarines, 2 ears of corn and a canary melon. They handled my mushroom allergy by making a box up for my separately and substituting a teeny loaf of bread.
I will say that 4 big green bell peppers is a lot of green peppers for me–a variety of pepper colors would have been nicer. I have no intention of making stuffed peppers, so some of them may go bad before I can eat them in salads or put some in this or that dish.
I also bought strawberries, yellow summer squash, a large yellow tomato, and a bottle of Runningbyrd Summer Rain local artisinal sweet tea. I buy a watermelon there weekly, and they have a good variety of them.
Nall’s has 2 weeks left of the weekly summer CSA program before the fall program begins.
Yesterday, I paid my first visit to Springfield Butcher (in the strip mall with Trader Joe’s). I heard that this business (which has been in Springfield over 30 years) receives fresh seafood deliveries every day except Sunday, so purchased a $26 Groupon for $13, and headed to the shop. The certificate expires March 22, so you will have to use it relatively quickly. I purchased two crab cakes and some salmon, and both were very fresh and tasty. The crab cakes are of the type that contains filler (scallions, red bell peppers, and I’m assuming bread). It is nice to have good source of fresh seafood closer to me than the Springfield Wholefoods.
By the way, Groupon has a President’s Day deal that gives you $10 off of a $40 LOCAL certificate through tomorrow (2/17/14) with the code “10OFF40LOCAL” so I did a quick search to see if there are any good deals above $40. It turns out that they have a Cherry Blossom Dinner with Drinks or All-You-Can-Eat-and-Drink Brunch for Two or Four at Mezè in Adams Morgan for $49.
I recently added an ad/coupon for Relay Foods (a grocery pickup/delivery service) to the right side of DCFüd so that our readers can save $30 off of $50 on their first order. Relay Foods has many good quality products including those from local businesses and farms. I decided to try the grocery delivery service, and write this review about my experience with Relay Foods. I ordered $50 in groceries (total before adding the discount code).
Other good products Relay Foods Carries:
Virginia Vinegar Works. I’ve only tried the Heritage Blend Red (which is a good local product) but I noticed that they have the 500 ml White Heritage Blend and Chardonnay varieties on sale for $7.20 (instead of $12) right now.
Holy Grael Sorbet. My favorite of Holy Grael sorbet is the Blackberry Lime.
Cavanna Pasta. I am a fan of their Artichoke-Pesto Cannelloni and Spinach-Egg Taglierni.
Pickup and Delivery:
Relay Foods has a map of their pickup spots. You can also get your order delivered (for a fee) or signup for monthly delivery service (for a larger fee).
Relay Foods’ customer service by email and phone is excellent. When I noticed that the ground turkey I ordered was listed in my confirmation message as frozen instead of fresh, I called Relay Foods to change the item. The representative said they were out of fresh ground turkey, told me how to edit my cart, and told me to check the site in the next few days to see if it was back in stock. I let her know that I’d remove the frozen item and that they could email me if they have the fresh version in the next few days. The representative agreed and stated that she would call their butcher. I got an email the next day saying the item is back in stock, and added it back to my order. Customer Service (as mentioned earlier) also handled the issue with the spinach pasta in a positive way.
The delivery person was running a half hour late (there was a 2 hour range), a customer service person called me at the end of my time range to let me know. When the delivery person (who was very nice) gave me the box (and I checked it out), there was a whole chicken I didn’t order. She told me I could keep it for free.
So, yes, there were a few glitches here and there, but it is a new business. I will definitely order from Relay Foods again.
Some of the best Ice Cream I have ever had is available at farmer’s markets. Moo Thru is an example of this; their ice cream truck can be found at the Reston Farmer’s market on Saturday mornings (or their store in Remington, VA). They even sell pints. Who wouldn’t want to buy dairy products – in this case, ice cream – directly from dairy farmers? Their chocolate ice cream was rich, chocolatey, creamy, and delicious, and the vanilla is excellent as well. They told me that if they find anyone making better ice cream, they figure out how, so that they can improve theirs. (I hope that information wasn’t off the record.)
Nicecream Factory (no, spell check, it isn’t a typo) is an ice cream company that uses (mostly) DC’s locally sourced ingredients and unique freezing agent liquid nitrogen, to create the premium ice cream right before your eyes. I say “mostly” local ingredients because the same week they told me they would no longer have strawberry ice cream because it is out of season, mango was one of their flavors. And, chocolate, coffee, and pistachios aren’t grown locally either.
The picture in this article shows their menu (for that particular day earlier in the season) but they do seem to have a good variety of flavors available for pint delivery or pickup, although I can get their ice cream at their Kingstowne farmer’s market stand for the next couple of weeks (until the market closes on 10/25).
Nicecream’s products are very flavorful and delicious, with my favorite flavors of theirs being the pistachio (this is my favorite rendition of pistachio ice cream anywhere) , strawberry basil, and chocolate sea salt.
DCFüd readers can now get $30 off of a $50 or more purchase from Relay Foods! Just click on the image below (or on the right side of the website) or use this link: https://www.relayfoods.com/friend/JXDVAG. They have convenient pickup spots and also deliver.
When one usually thinks of Irish food, we tend to focus on the stereotypical corn beef and cabbage and shepherd’s pie fare. However, after being here for the past two weeks I can happily report that the Irish are definitely not getting enough credit.
Although my home base has been in Cork city, I have also traveled to Dublin and some of the surrounding Cork county area thus far. Cork city is apparently known to be Ireland’s Restaurant Capital. I can definitely see why. Since they’re a waterfront area, their seafood market is as fresh as can be. My first night here we ate at a restaurant where we literally saw the boats coming in and unloading the night’s menu items. So far I’ve found that seafood chowder is a staple item here, which surprised me. There is also the ubiquitous fish and chips on almost every menu. And there are also a variety of other more unusual takes in seafood preparation including my favorite, the scallop, prawn and salmon burger I had at Electric Fish Bar my first night.
Another pleasant surprise I discovered is that Ireland has got to be one of the most Celiac friendly countries. They literally have gluten-free menus almost anywhere I go. And the gluten-free items I’ve had are mouth-wateringly delicious! I seriously have never had more gluten-free bread in my life. I’ve been able to have gluten-free paninis, pizza, cupcakes you name it. It’s right at my finger tips. You even go into local grocery stores such as Tesco, and they have entire aisles devoted to gluten-free items.
The Irish are also light-years ahead of us in the farm to table mentality. Instead of it being the novelty it is in the states to have all organic menus, it is the norm at almost any restaurant you walk into. It has been rather refreshing to have such fresh ingredients on my plate for almost every meal. Even eating at what I would consider to be a pub type locale, I was able to have a farm fresh steak with green beans and mashed potatoes at Oliver Plunkett. Even my green beans were nicely crisp and definitely straight from the farmer’s market.
Overall, I strongly recommend putting Ireland on your list of locations to visit. Not only will you be entranced with its rolling green pastoral settings and quaint fisherman villages, but you will also get to enjoy some really great food. Oh and I think there might some good drinks to be had as well…
-JPM (Joyana, AKA Joy)
Some Of The Best Baked Goods We’ve Eaten Recently:
Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIssac shared their GBD doughnuts at Graffiato’s May Industry Takeover Night. Some of my favorites were the Key Lime Curd Filled Brioche, Grapefruit Campari, Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Chocolate Creme Filled Brioche.
My friend Patricia King owns a gluten free bakery in Easton, MD called Patisserie Patrice. She sent me two kinds of bread, a Strawberry Granola Bar, and a Snickerdoodle, all of which were gluten free and delicious. She did a great job with the textures on everything, especially the granola bar (which is addictive).
A Bit More sells a wide variety of regular and gluten free baked goods at the Kingstowne Farmer’s Market (Fridays 4-7pm). Our favorite items (that contain gluten) are the Triple Chocolate Rocky and blueberry lemon scones, while our favorite gluten free items are the Glazed Pecans, Granola Bites, Pumpkin Spice Bread, and Brownies.
Bonjour La Parisienne (which needs to update their website) also sells at the Kingstowne Farmer’s Market. Everything is “a unique recipe,” which means that he threw something random in it and that it somehow works. I did not try the Challah bread (which contains pumpkin puree), but the blueberry muffins (which I think either contain yogurt or sour cream) and the chocolate chip cookies are decadent and amazing. Seriously! I did not ask what the secret ingredient in the cookies are. Next time I’ll try the Cinnamon Buns.
Edit: (5/26/13) Apparently, pumpkin IS the secret ingredient in the challah but only one of the 2 Greek-accented guys who run the stand knew (and pumpkin is NOT mentioned in the ingredient list). They need to update the ingredient list before the one person in VA who is allergic to pumpkin buys a loaf.
Cy has been talking about all these stories he has been running across where the consumer is buying food items that are misrepresented. A few examples are fake honey, calamari (we hope this one is not true because it is nasty), and lemon juice. The big story that we keep hearing again and again is how often you are told you are buying one kind of fish (at a fish store or sushi bars) when you are actually purchasing another. A fish (escolar) that is often substituted for white tuna in sushi bars, can even cause “serious digestive issues.”
From Dr. Oz:
“As part of our campaign, Oceana conducted DNA testing of seafood meals in multiple cities across the country to get to the bottom of how much bait and switch was occurring. What did we find? Everywhere we tested, we found seafood fraud: 39% of seafood tested in New York, 55% in Los Angeles, 31% in Miami, and 48% in Boston (including testing by The Boston Globe) were mislabeled as entirely different types of fish than listed on the label. ”
Oceana sent me their DC-specific story.
“Oceana Study Uncovers Widespread Seafood Fraud in Washington, Nationwide
26% of Seafood Mislabeled in D.C. Grocery Stores, Restaurants & Sushi Venues
WASHINGTON—Oceana, the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans, uncovered widespread seafood fraud across the United States, including in the nation’s capital, according to a new report released today. As part of one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, DNA testing confirmed that 26 percent of the 105 seafood samples collected by Oceana in Washington, D.C., and one-third, or 33 percent, of the 1,215 fish samples collected nationwide were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.