Tuesday, July 17, 2012

St. Louis Love: Grocery Stores

Goodness Gracious Me...

Am I that boring that I'm going to tell you all about Grocery stores? Yes. Yes I am. I love grocery stores. I buy ingredients at grocery stores to bake and cook amazing things. I'm very darn good at cooking and have honed my craft immensely over the past couple of years. 

One thing (of many) I hate about Podunktown, North Cackalackee where I'm currently stuck- is grocery stores or lack thereof. My options are Food Lion, Walmart and Piggly Wiggly. I have never shopped at Piggly Wiggly. I refuse to shop anywhere that gives me horrible visions of an unhappy Wilbur in Charlotte's Web. Piggly Wiggly may have brought us the "modern" grocery store concept that we all know and love... but come on, change the name! 

Food Lion recently got ranked as one of the Top 10 worst Grocery Store chains in the United States. If you've never been to one- they're pitifully small. About half the size of a 'regular' grocery store. On the plus side- I prefer them to Walmart because you get less crazy riff raff, and my shopping trip is usually quicker due to the smaller size. I avoid Walmart unless I really have to go there for something. I have a choice of 2 Walmarts here in Podunktown- one of which is the busiest East of the Mississippi. Seriously. 

For a decent grocery store experience, I currently need to go to Lowes Food in Cape Carteret, or even better, Harris Teeter in Wilmington (Harris Teeter on the flip side is ranked in the Top 10 Best Grocery Stores in the nation). 

All my problems and frustrations with my grocery store experience however will vanish when I return to the Lou! Now let's see... Grocery Stores in my beloved St. Louis include:

Schnucks: Oh Schnucks I love you. You have a stupid name, but you are oh so wonderful! Everything about Schnucks makes me happy. They usually have great produce at affordable prices, a well stocked beauty / drug store section, and even fresh little refrigerated meals and sides (The Green Beans Almondine is fabulous if you don't feel like cooking a side!). 

Dierbergs: A fancier, step up from Schnucks but oftentimes worth the trip. The St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake in their Bakery section is amazing. (Better than Schnucks, sorry Schnucks!). Of course, I bake an awesome Gooey Butter Cake too! Dierbergs is usually a bit more expensive than Schnucks but often has products not at Schnucks (I think Dierbergs currently carries Gardein Vegetarian products... yummy!)

Straubs: If I was made of money, I'd probably still shop at Schnucks & Dierbergs, but Straubs is an absolute treat. It's the optimum in quality and carries all of those elite hard to find ingredients you saw last season on Top Chef. One of my managers when I used to live in St. Louis used to go to Straubs daily. I don't think he could cook. I think he focused primarily on their fresh 'ready made' meals. Seriously though- you have to be earning some $$$ to be able to afford Straubs on a daily basis.

Trader Joes: Can you believe I never went to Trader Joes when I lived in The Lou? Actually- I've never been to a Trader Joes, period. I'll be sure to check it out though upon my return.

Whole Foods: I love Whole Foods. I crave certain things from Whole Foods. Unfortunately, they're also super expensive - I can usually get the same Organic produce I would get at Whole Foods at Schnucks or Dierbergs for about half the price. My Whole Foods trips will then be solely for items I can't get at any of the more affordable stores. 

World Market: Not strictly a Grocery Store- but it does have a grocery section. I have to currently travel an hour to my local World Market for my Australian/ British pantry supplements like Golden Syrup, Vegemite, Marmite, and Bundaberg Ginger Beer. Yummy.I'm just beyond annoyed that they no longer carry Cadburies. What's with that? Nestle isn't nearly as good! 

Stelmacki: I really, really want to check out Stelmacki when I'm next in the Lou. Chances are, I'll be living near-ish to Stelmacki due to our budget constraints (in NoCo by any means... don't knock it... NoCo is retro cool). Stelmacki came into being in the 1960s at the base of the Lewis & Clark Tower (there were meant to be two of them but the second tower never came into fruition). The 'Top of the Tower' restaurant is long gone, but Stelmacki still remains, complete with it's awesome Mid Century Modern signage. It's still owned by the same family and apparently not much has changed. I can't wait to live the 1960s grocery store experience! I'll let you know how it is when I move :)

Bill's Riverview Market: Another NoCo gem, yet another I haven't visited. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch this is another family run, retro cool grocery store with old fashioned counters and old fashioned service. Another I'm looking forward to checking out!

Thies Farm: Strictly a Farmers Market type deal with loads of yummy, fresh, locally grown produce and preserves! 

Soulard Market: The oldest surviving Farmer's Market west of the Mississippi! It dates back to the 1700s and is still entirely wonderful. It's going to be receiving an overhaul in the near future to accommodate more modern standards and tastes however.

Aldi: We had Aldi in Australia as well. It's nothing I get excited about. It's just kind of... there. 

Anyway, I think that's about it! The ones I'm most looking forward to are Stelmacki & Bill's Riverview, mainly because I've been almost everywhere else and they are still largely into the realms of the unknown to me. If they're as amazing as I think they'll be, I'll be sure to let you know. 

In the meantime, Stay Glamorous!

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