Tag Archive | "San Antonio markets"

Whole Foods’ New Store Opens Tuesday

Workers put finishing touches on the wine and beer department at the new Whole Foods.

A Whole Foods employee unpacks onions in the produce section.

Whole Foods opens its second San Antonio store Tuesday, and it has plenty of features to entice shoppers. The market is in the Vineyard Shopping Center at 18403 Blanco Road, just north of Loop 1604.

Pizza to bake at home.

Fresh and frequently organic produce, just-harvested seafood, hormone-free meats and poultry, an excellent cheese section and a bustling wine department are all part of Whole Foods stores and are to be expected here. But there will be differences. Next to the produce section will be the bulk foods, including plenty of raw and heirloom items as well as machines that grind almonds, peanuts and more into nut butters.

The grocery section features numerous gluten-free, raw and vegan items, while the prepared foods section features rotisserie chickens that are both organic and conventionally raised, charcuterie, freshly made pizzas that you can bake at home, and a salad bar with organic items. There will also be stations featuring smoked meats, breakfast tacos, customized sandwiches, pizzas and calzones, sushi, hot soups, a hot bar, smoothies and manually prepared coffee drinks, and the grocery chain’s first flour tortilla maker.

Find a recipe at the information center.

You won’t find anything like Bar Blanco in other local groceries. It features six Texas beers and six wines on tap, and you can enjoy a glass while you shop or wait for your food order to be ready. You can also get a growler of your favorite to take home. From 1 to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, growlers are half off.

In the center of the store is an information center that will help you if you are just stumped about how to prepare a food you’d like to try or if you need help in making meals suited to specific diets, such as diabetic-friendly or gluten-free dishes. You just print out a recipe and then shop for the all of the ingredients, so you can fix it at home.

The Whole Foods growler.

Plus, the folks in the seafood and meat departments will prepare what you want to go.

Don’t have the time to do your shopping? The store’s concierge department will do your shopping for you. Just call in your list, concierge Katie Coyle says, and your items will be packaged and ready to go when you arrive after work or whenever you need them. You can also develop an on-going relationship with the shoppers, so they know the types of food that you prefer and can even let you know of new items or specials. There is an extra charge involved, but how much is your convenience worth?

Finish off with a treat or two from the artisan cookie bar, which is certain to be popular over the approaching holiday season.

The bulk foods are next to produce.

Can’t find anything or don’t understand how to use something? Just ask, says Glen Ebner, the store’s manager. The staff will be glad to get you answers.

The store’s regular hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with the coffee bar, smoothies and breakfast tacos available after 7 a.m. The opening day ceremony will be at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. For more information, call (210) 408-3110.

Tiffany Cunningham prepares Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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Mustafa Cuisine Offers a Tempting Array of Pakistani and Indian Fare

Chilli Chicken at Mustafa

Mustafa Cuisine is an odd little restaurant. Its address is on Medical Drive, but it’s hidden on the backside of a strip plaza that’s actually the second story above shops that include Jasmin Thai.

It has an extensive menu of Pakistani and Indian dishes, ranging from the familiar (chicken fried rice, tandoori chicken) to the decidedly different.  There are plenty of vegetarian offerings, as well as regional dishes from the north and south of India and Indochina.

Some of the food is heart-warming, as if you’d been invited into somebody’s home kitchen and had been served the family’s favorites. Others are so strange in how they don’t work that it makes you wonder what got lost on its way to the table.

Strips of goat meat sizzle on a platter.

On my first visit, I was struck by the overpowering scent of mothballs in the air, an aroma not conducive to dining. Plus, the space was dark — and not in the way romantic dining rooms are meant to be. (Aged Bollywood music clips or news playing on TV at one end of the room don’t help, either.) Yet I forgot all that while I enjoyed the Chilli Chicken appetizer, which was like a Chinese sweet-hot dish with small bites of lightly breaded meat tossed in a sauce that had plenty of zip. It was followed by strips of tender goat on a sizzling hot platter with plenty of green bell pepper and the tang of lemon juice.

On my second visit, my eye landed on three words that you don’t often see on menus: “Brain Fry [Goat].” It was so outrageous that I had to try it. But in case I didn’t like it, I ordered several other dishes to make sure I would be well fed.

Mustafa Restaurant and Grocery are next to each other.

I was right about the Dal Makhani, which featured plenty of ghee with soft black lentils, resulting in a creamy delight.

I wish I could say the same of the lamb biryani, but the meat was inedible. Seriously. I couldn’t cut it with a knife and I couldn’t bite any off the bone. It didn’t even have all that good a flavor as I tried to tear a bite away with my teeth. The meat was likely butchered at the halal market next door, which is related to the restaurant; but its toughness was clearly not a good advertisement for either half of the business.  The basmati rice that came with the lamb was fluffy and flavorful, which means you should try it with vegetables, shrimp or egg.

The Chicken 65 appetizer, which featured fried bites of chicken in a spicy sauce, was out of balance, too, with the sauce, filled with spices without being hot, swamping the flavor of the meat.

The jasmine rice in the biryani.

As for the goat brain, the meat was quite good, airy and delicate, though, once again, the sauce was a little too heavy-handed. But there was that home-cooking feel about the dish that made me want to try the meat again, albeit with a different sauce.

If you want to sample several of Mustafa’s bounteous array of dishes, you may want to try the lunch buffet.

The Mustafa market next door has plenty of Middle Eastern and Asian foods, which made it well worth exploring, whether you need a mix for chicken shawerma or dried apricots or wild thyme tea.

Mustafa Cuisine
4085 Medical Drive

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