Sunday, October 30, 2011

Whole Foods Market, Folsom - Grand Opening

Shopping at Whole Foods for a foodie is rather like a kid going to Toys 'R Us - so much fun but a little overwhelming.  Stepping inside the Folsom Whole Foods however, was like going to Disneyland!  So much to see, I didn't know where to start. 

Now of course the only problem with Whole Foods is that sometimes the prices can seem like you're at Disneyland also, but I did splurge on a couple of things, and as I was browsing I took pictures of the beautiful displays and some of the new products they feature.  I have to say that everything looked amazing, and I was impressed with how much work must have gone into preparing the store for the opening.

First I stumbled upon what I thought was the bulk grain department.  But looking closer I discovered that these were in fact grains for beer making. 

Along with the grains, you can purchase all your other beer making supplies here - yeasts, thermometers, books, etc.  What a great Christmas idea for the beer drinker in your life - a big basket containing everything needed to make that first brew.

Moving to the other side of the store, I came across this fancy storage area housing the organic bulk grains.

There are bulk olive oils and balsamic vinegars,

bulk honeys and agave syrup,

and bulk legumes. 

Make your own nut butters,

Even chocolate peanut butter!

Then I moved on down to the deli and prepared foods area.  First I came to an antipasto bar, marinated peppers, artichokes, pickles, etc.

More antipasto and fabulous olives

Amazing salad bar - look at the incredible rainbow of colors

Pot pie bar, yum!  Chicken pot pie, mushroom and vegetable pot pie, and clam chowder pot pie.

Now here's a fun idea - a 'make-your-own-trail-mix' bar.

Sushi made fresh every day,

and cheeses from all over the world.

Look at this beautiful Parmesan Reggiano display.

Prepared meals, ready for you to take home for dinner.

Back over by the wine I found these bulk nuts.

And at last... dessert! 

These Coco Pops were interesting.  They are a little like a rice cake, but larger and flatter - about the size of a corn tortilla, and are made with whole grains.  Very low calorie and low fat.  A friend of mine was asking if they were gluten free, but I didn't look at the ingredients and nutrition labels.  So if anyone knows the answer to this, or can give more detailed information on the nutritional value, please comment.  Thanks.

I did try a sample, and although I'm not a big rice cake fan, the Nutella that they spread on my piece certainly made it quite tasty ;)

They are made fresh in the store every day, in a machine that resembles a popcorn maker.  Here is a quick video showing the Coco Pop machine in action - fun to watch!

Beautiful produce,

and pumpkin trees - who knew? 

Many other pretty flowers,

and of course a fall pumpkin display outside the store.

So have I whet your appetite?  If you live in the Folsom area, be sure to stop by for a visit.  You don't have to buy your week's groceries here, but be adventurous and pick up a few items that you wouldn't normally purchase - just to try.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tools, Tips, and Techniques: Poachpods®

There is nothing more delicious and comforting (in my humble opinion!), than warm, rich, runny egg yolk soaking into a crisp, fresh-out-of-the-toaster, buttered English muffin.  Or on top of a plate of grilled asparagus.  In fact, a poached or fried egg on the top of just about anything is pretty yummy. 

Now of course the correct way to poach an egg is to drop one into a pan of simmering water and let it cook free form.  But most people find it easier to use some kind of poaching pan.  Now I love my egg poaching pan, because it can cook up to six poached eggs at a time, but it always seems to be an awful lot of work for just one egg.  So when I found these little poachpods® in a kitchen store in Truckee a couple of months ago, they seemed to be the perfect solution.

They are made of silicone, so can be used on the stove top, or in the microwave or oven.  In fact they are heat resistant to 675 deg F.  They come as a set of two, and each 'pod' is designed to hold one egg. 

To poach an egg; spray the poachpod® with cooking spray and bring about an inch and a half of water to boil in a deep fry pan or small saucepan.  Reduce the water to a simmer, crack an egg into the poachpod® and float it gently in the water.  Sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper on the egg if you like.  Cover the pan with a lid and cook in simmering water for 6-7 minutes or to the desired firmness.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the poachpod® from the water.

To remove the egg from the poachpod®, the instructions say to run a spoon around the egg edge, then flip the pod inside out and gently push the egg out.  I was scared to do this!  I was sure I would end up breaking the egg.  Instead, I used a small metal spatula, or what we call a palette knife in England.  It's very thin and flexible so it is perfect for running round the edge of the egg and easing it out gently.

I haven't used my poachpods® for anything other than eggs yet, but they can also be used to bake flan, frittatas, cakes, or other baked goods.  Or what about using them for molded chocolate or chilled desserts.  They will sit on a cookie sheet, or you could put them in a water bath if you are making custards.  If you have other ideas, please share them.

My favorite part about these little guys is the easy clean up.  Look how clean they are after they have been used.  They are top-rack dishwasher safe.  Just place a dishwasher rack prong through one of the holes in the poachpod®.  Or hand wash them in hot soapy water.

Poachpods® cost $10 for a set of two, and can be purchased online from Fusion Brands or Amazon (where actually they are currently only $7).  Retail stores such as Le Gourmet Chef, Whole Foods, and Bed, Bath and Beyond also carry them.