Archive | November 2nd, 2012

Holy Cookie Butter! Trader Joe’s Now Open

Holy Cookie Butter! Trader Joe’s Now Open

A cashier hands a customer a free Trader Joe’s shopping bag on opening day in San Antonio.

After years of San Antonio begging on collective bended knee for a Trader Joe’s, that shopping dream came true this morning.

Customers make their way carefully through opening-day crowds at Trader Joe’s.

If you thought there would be mob scene at 8 a.m., you might have done what I did and waited until … noon. Which was, of course, a mob scene. But the officers in the parking lot directing traffic did a fine job of making sure it was not an unhappy experience. And, once inside, it was a happy mob.

“I haven’t had to haul out the pepper spray yet,” joked one employee as she guided shoppers through a particularly knotty intersection near the cheeses.

“I thought it was fine, it’s going very smooth,” said a shopper.

Mary, who moved to San Antonio from the northern Midwest, has yearned all the while for a Trader Joe’s to open. “I’ve waited five years for this,” she said. Her shopping cart was only half full, and I saw her still shopping as I made my exit.

Open at the Quarry Extension, across the street from Quarry Market proper, the store is “about average size for a Trader Joe’s,” one of the busy employees told us. (He didn’t know if Austin’s store is bigger.)

When I finally got in line to pay up, my basket was just under a quarter full. Judging it with an eye well-honed by some of the city’s other stores, I figured I’d purchased close to $100 worth of stuff. I was going to be surprised.

Into the basket (not in this order, necessarily) went wine. No, there was none of Trader Joe’s label of very good reserve pinot noir on the shelves. “Try around February. We don’t get much and it sells out in less than a month,” said the wine clerk. “Oh, and our employees tend to grab up most of it.”

Duly warned, I promised I’d be pestering him again after the first of the year. In the meantime, I picked up another passion, a very dry, pink sparkler from Bourgogne at a little more than $10. A slab of Compte cheese to go with that and a black olive demi-baguette kept this lovely, movie-time snack for two much less than $20.

From shiny eggplants to nicely trimmed leeks, the produce attracts crowds.

The fresh produce aisles also drew the crowds. They were moving through single file, more or less patiently. My eye caught on the $1.19 Hass avocados, the package of two fat, already trimmed leeks, salad mixes, Persian cucumbers and Trader Joe’s own salad dressings. The creamy cilantro went into my basket.

I bought food gifts for buddies not as fortunate as I, who were at work instead of shopping. A bag of Trader Joe’s organic popcorn, some stone-ground, whole-grain crackers and an Italian soda went into the cart for my husband. Another friend will get a hefty bar of Trader Joe’s chocolate with hazelnuts. I even bought some of Trader Joe’s cat food. We’ll see how that goes down with my picky feline tasters.

Fresh flowers at value prices.

Fresh flowers are a luxury that I had to cut back on when the $4 bundles of fresh alstromaria went away at my neighborhood supermarket. Here, though, I picked up a bouquet of alstromeria — plus zinnias and one fragrant lily, for $3.99.  That offer, right there, will bring me back on a weekly basis.

Finally, for dinner, I picked up a full Indian meal for two of Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala with rice, Baingan Bharta (Eggplant Curry) and Channa Masala, a spicy stew of vegetables and garbanzo beans.

I did not buy any Cookie Butter. Despite months of watching every foodie geek on Twitter rave about this product, I managed to pick it up, then put it back down. This, after checking the calorie count. Doing this once, though, doesn’t mean I will resist next time.

My total at the cash register, or the digital equivalent thereof, was a little more than — surprise — $62.

As I made my way out, I heard one customer ask a clerk, “When will it slow down?”

“Oh, try back in January of February,” he responded.

Photographs by Bonnie Walker



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Let the Holidays Begin — at Quarry Farmers Market

Let the Holidays Begin — at Quarry Farmers Market

The Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market will kick off the holiday season with the second annual Holiday Unwrapping on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Goat milk soap, great for yourself and holiday guests, and also for gifts.

The event features both edible and non-edible gift ideas, holiday menu inspirations and traditions. Nearly 30 market members will showcase, sample, sell and accept orders for the holidays.

Among the special seasonal items: All-natural skin care products, cranberry salsa, pâté de Campagne, pumpkin spice French macarons, smoked King salmon, vegan and gluten-free pies, gift boxes of grass-fed beef steaks, local pecans, orchids and specialty plants and a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and sides. See the complete list below.

Authors will be at Quarry Farmers Market this Sunday to sell and sign copies of ‘Food Lovers’ Guide to San Antonio.’

This year’s Holiday Unwrapping includes a book signing with local food writers Bonnie Walker and John Griffin of Their engaging new book, Food Lovers’ Guide to San Antonio, highlights the best of the Alamo City’s restaurants, markets, bakeries, cooking schools, festivals, food trucks and more, making it an outstanding holiday gift for any foodie.

The Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market requires its vendors grow, raise or make their products within 200 miles; they must not be “mass” producers.

Like old-fashioned market days, this gathering of like-minded people includes more than produce vendors and ranchers. Look for ready-to-eat products including fresh-squeezed orange juice, granola, savory Chinese treats, crepes, hummus, salsas, heat-and-eat meals, gourmet and everyday bakery treats, gluten-free baked goods and organic tamales.

Every Sunday a growing number of hungry customers flock to the market to gather their weekly supplies and meet up with friends to enjoy breakfast, brunch and lunch.

Ranchers provide grass-fed beef, wild boar, pastured chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, lamb, venison and pork. Charcuterie fans take home an array of pâtés, rillettes, foie gras, smoked bacon, Italian sausage, chorizo and more. Farm-fresh chicken and duck eggs leave by the dozens. And everything is made with natural ingredients and plenty of love.

Even the music is homegrown, as local musicians share their unique sound with the lively crowds each week. The music serves as a backdrop for the strolling shoppers as they discuss cooking tips with the farmers, ranchers, chefs and friends. It’s a vibrant, yet mellow, Sunday morning ritual for many – set in a growing era of food awareness.

The Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market is held every Sunday, year-round and rain or shine, in the parking lot near Whole Foods Market in the Quarry Market off 281 N. and Jones Maltsberger Road.

Hours are from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. For additional information, visit or call (210) 722-5077.

Specialty Items Available Through the Holidays

3-G Farm Romaine lettuce, Turnips, Turnip greens, Mustard greens, Kale, Radishes, Spinach, Beets, Swiss chard, Red Russian kale, Broccoli, Cauliflower

9-1 Farm Beets—Early Globe, Marla, Detroit Gold, Touchstone Gold Broccoli—Pacman and Imperial Kohlrabi—white, purple and a hybrid Radish—Early Scarlet and Watermelon Spinach—Hybrid Hunter Baby and Long-Standing Collards Swiss chard—red, yellow and white

Bakery Lorraine 9-inch pies—pecan (with Jack Daniels No. 7 whiskey and a touch of molasses), Dutch apple (4 varieties of apples) and oven-roasted pumpkin French macarons—flavors include pumpkin spice, cranberry and pecan pie 12 Macarons of Christmas

Bea’s Handmade Pasta A gift bag filled with your choice of two large bags and one small bag of pasta for $20

Bikkurim Organic Farms Broccoli, Cauliflower, Spinach, Lettuces, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Radishes, Potatoes, Kale, Collards, Snow peas, Bok choy, Swiss chard, Gift basket filled with assorted canned goods using farm ingredients

Bistro Bakery Roasted and stuffed turkey with all the trimmings (gravy, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce) for parties of 10, 20 or 30 Assorted pastries Pecan, pumpkin and apple pie Grapefruit-pistachio tart Chocolate meringue pie

Countryside Farm Whole goose (limited supply), whole duck, whole guinea fowl and chicken and whole rabbit Lamb and wild hog Sausage including Italian; breakfast link; chorizo; porcini; and black truffle Charcuterie including pâtés, rillettes (duck, pork, chicken, guinea), smoked duck breast, smoked bacon, duck leg confit and foie gras Holiday gift box filled with assorted charcuterie

Cowgirl Granola Thanksgiving and Holiday granola blends, Jars of merlot-marjoram mustard, Organic Blue Cornmeal Pancake and Waffle Mix (gluten-free)

Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese, Two pieces of half moon cheese in a wooden birch gift box

Dos Rios Gourmet Salsa Cranberry salsa

Engel Farms Strawberries, Squash and butternut squash, Red tomatoes, Multi-colored tomatoes, Spinach Swiss chard Kale Asian greens—Napa cabbage, mizuna, mustard greens and pac choi, Broccoli, Red and green cabbage, Cucumbers Brussels sprouts

Frank’s Pecans Fresh local pecans (available beginning November 11)

Good Gluten-Free Foods—all gluten-free holiday offerings, Mini pumpkin pies, Mini maple pecan pies (no corn syrup), Mini vegan apple pies, Pumpkin bread with cream cheese swirl (by the piece), Cranberry walnut coffee cake (by the piece) Decorated sugar cookies (3-pack)

Humble House Foods Gift set of four gourmet spreads (basil pesto, cilantro pesto, tapenade and roasted tomato)

Katie’s Jar Beastly Feasts for Thanksgiving—empanada, sweet potatoes and a pup over (Thanksgiving in a bag), Christmas—Holiday box o’ bones, Christmas fruitcake and gingerbone tree, Hanukkah—Eight mini-treat bags stuffed with a variety of treats

Miller’s Tropicals Tillandsia (airplants typically bloom pink with blue flowers) Cattleya orchid (corsage orchid)

Ming’s Things Gift pack of three Asian sauces (Sichuan, Cilantro-Thai Chile and Sweet, Sour Spicy Ginger)

My Father’s Farm Salad mix in a clamshell container, along with assorted lettuces and Asian greens, Lettuces in a potted plant Beet greens, Microgreens, Multi-colored radishes, Spring onions, Turnips, rutabaga, kohlrabi and daikon Broccoli, broccoli raab and broccoli greens, Bok choi, Fresh cut basil, and potted herb plants, Greenhouse tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers

Parker Creek Ranch Full selection of Freedom Ranger chickens, cut-up chickens as well as pieces and parts Farm fresh eggs, Limited number of turkeys, Firewood

Patty’s Petals Assorted colorful orchids

Rancho Ojo de Agua Gift box sets of assorted grass-fed steaks (bacon-wrapped filet, ribeye, New York Strip, T-Bone, Club steak and sirloin); Recycled feed bags

Revolucion Coffee + Juice Hot chocolate, hot chai and hot green matcha Holiday coffees Green bloody Mary mix and other specialty cold-pressed juices including The Cure (pear, carrot, beet, lemon and ginger)

Sam’s Salmon Fresh-frozen Sockeye and Coho salmon, Smoked king salmon

Springfield Farm Assorted gift baskets of all-natural skin care products including soaps, salves, lip care and lotions; Spinach Kale, Arugula, Beet greens, Shallots, French breakfast radishes and amethyst radishes

The Gardener’s Feast Vacuum-sealed six-packs of assorted organic tamales

The Lemonade Co. Cranberry-pineapple-lemonade (sold by the gallon for parties), The Oxygenator—fresh pressed apple, beet, carrot, ginger, lemon, with a hint of jalapeño

Well Seasoned Cuisine Classic holiday soups from around the world, Condiments and compound butters, Savory and sweet spreads and sauces, Shrubs (Colonial fruit syrups)

Zamudio Farm Spinach, Carrots, Beets, Kale, Broccoli. Cauliflower. Lettuce, Kohlrabi, Radishes,Sugar snap peas, Cabbage Collards


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Haul Out the Sausage. Wurstfest Begins.

Haul Out the Sausage. Wurstfest Begins.

If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then everyone must be German during Wurstfest.

So, get out your lederhosen and your Tyrolean mountain climber’s hat, because the fun begins this evening. For 10 days, the party goes on with sausage and other snacks as well as polka bands and fun for the whole family. Oh, yeah, and a beer or two will be poured. You can count on that.

This is the 51st year of the festival, which has drawn hundreds of thousands to New Braunfels’ Landa Park through the years.

The kickoff is at 5 p.m. this evening with a brief ceremony that includes the biting of the first sausage and the tapping of the keg. Wunderbar.

On the menu will be Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), potato soup, bratwurst, wurst tacos, chicken-on-a-stick and sausage sampler plates. Desserts include strudel, of course, as well as funnel cakes and fried Oreos.

According to a history of the event from the planners’ website, it began as a one-day affair called Sausage Festival and was designed to showcase the work of the local sausage makers. It was such a hit that it quickly evolved into Wurst Week before being christened Wurstfest.

Soon, tens of thousands of pounds of sausage were being consumed, while the bands played on. The year 1968 brought the first celebrity musician:  Myron Floren of the Lawrence Welk show put in appearance. Floren put in another appearance during the 25th anniversary celebration.

This year’s music lineup includes the famous Jimmy Sturr Orchestra as well as Alex Meixner, die Schlauberger, Master Yodeler Kerry Christensen and The Squeezebox. Die Bayrische 7 (The Bavarian 7), an all-girl group, will be traveling from Munich to perform.

Other events in town during Wurstfest include the Wurst Tour de Gruene, Wurstfest Regatta at Canyon Lake, the Wurstfest 10K Walk and the Wurstfest Skat Tournament at Landa Haus. A Veterans Day ceremony is also planned for Nov. 11, the closing day.

Admission at the gate is $8 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. Call (800) 221-4369 for information or click here.


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