Tag Archives: grocery stores

Cafe Indigo’s treats head south!

Good news for those of you in the South End: a new mini-market and sandwich shop called Maax Market (named for the owners’ dog!) will be opening in the old Lambert’s spot sometime in the next few weeks.  (They picked a difficult time of year for new business, no?  But I wish them the absolute best of luck!!)

According to various reports, the store will stock conventional grocery products as well as natural and organic foods, and the sandwich selections will include vegetarian and vegan choices.  The best part is that the market will be peddling treats from Cafe Indigo, so you can get a cookie bar to go with that cruelty-free sandwich!

Here’s my favorite quote from the South End Patch article I linked above:

“You can come in here and get Pepperidge Farm cookies or you can get a vegan cookie or gluten free,” Gretchen said. “Residents have made it clear they really want vegan, they really want all-natural.”

Yay!  A similar bit from the MySouthEnd article:

“We’re nervous, of course,” Gretchen said, though she added the focus on low-cost, non-organic and organic foods would help in drawing a wider range of people in.

I find this really interesting, since even I am old enough to remember the days when advertising natural, organic, vegan food would certainly NOT help a store draw a wider range of people — and in fact actually might hurt business with its associations of hemp and granola (both of which are things I love, incidentally).  So that’s exciting!  People are starting to care about this stuff.  It’s a good time to be vegan!  And it’s a good time to realize that cheezy poofs aren’t really food.

The Maax deli is open for sandwich business already, though no word yet on when the CI stuff will get there.  If you’re in the area, though, stop in and say hi to the owners, Gretchen and Carl Blomendale.  They’re welcoming menu input, so if you’ve got any killer vegan sandwich ideas, why not put in your two cents?  And while you’re at it, let ’em know they made the right choice in stocking vegan cookies!

Maax Market is located at 682 Tremont Street in Boston.  No Web site yet but of course I’ll keep you posted!

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Co-operating

First, I thought I’d share with you the fact that one of my more popular Google hits is the search term “tasty sandwiches.”  This means I’m doing my job.

OK.  So, much to my annoyance and irritation, and in spite of my repeated requests via the “suggestions” form, Whole Foods has still not yet opened a location in the entire state of New Hampshire.  What’s a Manchesterite to do?

As I’ve mentioned previously, A Market in Manchester is a pretty decent option if you find yourself in desperate need of Daiya, Field Roast, nutritional yeast, seasonal Silk flavors…you know the stuff I’m talking about.  But, recently I’ve found that I prefer the Concord Co-Op even more!

Entrance to the Concord Co-operative Market

I am not a member of the Co-op, but if I weren’t planning on moving to Massachusetts soon I would seriously think about joining.  It’s a wonderful way to support local farmers as well as the local economy.  There is a one-time cost of $100 per household to join (and you get it back if you ever decide not to be a member any more, so there’s really very little to lose and a lot to gain).  Check out the conditions as well as the perks of membership here.

The Co-op offers many of the things I like best about Whole Foods, with the benefits of being closer and more locally supportive.  Some examples: a wide array of natural and organic products as well as locally-grown produce; an impressive bulk foods section; catering services; a calendar of events, classes, and tasting events; and — one of the best things about WF of course — a hot food bar and prepared foods section, rounded out by an area where you can sit and eat your food after checkout!  They also offer a sales/coupon flyer called Co+op Deals, similar to the “Whole Deal” flyer.

The area is open and, with the exception of the natural healing section, never feels anything but spacious (a nice change, since most health food stores in New Hampshire are tiny and make me feel a bit claustrophobic).

SPACE in the aisles!

Lately, the incentive to take the short trip up the highway to the Co-op has been what is probably the best variety of non-dairy dairy options I’ve seen this side of the Mass border:

Just a piece of the Co-op dairy case -- and unfortunately, YES, much of what's pictured is cow dairy, so don't get your hopes too high.

Here you can see the milk and yogurt options, including my favorite yogurt, Wildwood Probiotic Soyogurt, which is nearly impossible to find around here outside of WF.  But check it out — not all the vegan options even fit in the picture!  Outside of the picture’s scope to the left is the non-dairy cheese including both kinds of Daiya, FYH, and all the single-sliced kinds, as well as soy-, almond- and coconut-milk based coffee creamers and Soyatoo whipped cream.  To the right of the picture is all the Tofutti, Vegenaise and EB varieties I could think of, so probably all of them!

Prepared foods case at the Co-op

The prepared foods case at the Co-op can usually put the case at any small WF to shame, though it was a busy Sunday afternoon when I snapped this photo so it looks a little understocked.  There are always plenty of vegan options here, including stellar mini-versions of Cafe Indigo‘s award-winning cakes, ready-to-go combo meals from SamosaMan, and delicious-looking sandwiches (in the mood for a vegan BLT?  egg-less salad sandwich?  how about broccoli-tempeh wraps?) made under the name of their in-house cafe, the Celery Stick.

Don’t expect a WF-sized salad bar at the Celery Stick — it’s a small operation.  Still, they manage to fit in a hot bar, a salad bar, 2-3 soups and a decent-sized bakery case!

Offerings at The Celery Stick Cafe

Celery Stick bakery case -- typically contains 2-3 vegan options

The one complaint I have about the Celery Stick is that generally only one option in the hot bar (and sometimes no option!) is vegan.  There’s usually plenty of tasty stuff in the prepared section to take care of me.  But, if you’re planning to have lunch here, I’d still recommend you check their Twitter feed first (@celerystickcafe) to find out what’s on the hot bar menu.  The bakery case always has something vegan, though — the last time I went, there was a vegan blueberry muffin as well as cookie bars from Cafe Indigo.  At least they’ve got those of us with a sweet tooth covered.

Though A Market is closer to my house, I think the slightly longer drive up here is worth it.  I’ve never compared prices, but I do know the selection is better, the prepared foods are better, the overall experience is just…better, and knowing I’m directly supporting the local community seals the deal.  In the wintertime especially, when all but a few farmer’s markets go into hibernation, this is a great way to show our New England vendors some love!

The Concord Co-Operative Market and the Celery Stick Cafe are located at 24 South Main Street in Concord, NH.  Check Web site for hours and menu.  http://www.concordfoodcoop.coop/

A Market: Kind of Like Whole Foods, But More Expensive

Those of us unfortunate enough to live in the awkward, politically-undefined space between liberal, neo-hippie Concord and liberal, college-town-heavy Massachussetts have precious few choices when it comes to natural-type shopping.  (Hyphens!)  Even the non-healthy vegans are frustrated by this, as it means a crippling dearth of Daiya cheese, Gardein patties and Follow Your Heart sour cream.  This was never a problem for me when I lived in Chicago, or even Houston for that matter, because I could always depend on Whole Foods — pricey as it is — to fill the gap in my diet that no Kroger, Jewel, or Shaw’s could touch.

Now, I for one would love to have an explanation as to why there are 10 Whole Foods Markets in the greater Boston area yet none in the entire state of New Hampshire (there’s even one in Maine, for goodness’ sake).  But until WFM cleans up its act, or at least brings it filthily to Manchester, we NHers will have to rely on my dear old standby, A Market.

A Market Natural Foods in Manchester

A Market Natural Foods in Manchester

A Market Natural Foods is a solid alternative to Whole Foods in that it fills just that gap I was talking about earlier.  Various fake meats like Tofurky, Field Roast, and Gardein abound, and there’s enough non-dairy dairy to stock any vegan’s fridge with a wide selection of cheeses and milks.  A small coffee bar and modest selection of prepared foods offers a quick choice if you’re in a rush.  They’re also the only store I know of that sells certified fair-trade bananas.  And yes, they do carry both kinds of Daiya.

They’ve really stepped up their game lately, too, as evidenced by the surge in new products carried (e.g.: Daiya, Tofurky’s new line of pre-seasoned tempeh strips, So Delicious coconut milk kefir) and the food sample displays at the end of nearly every aisle.  It’s nice to see that they’ve retained their country store charm while operating, business-wise, more on par with a larger chain.  Granted, you can’t do all your shopping here, unless you’re the sort of person who can afford to live in The Flume, but bounce back and forth between here and Hannaford and I think you’ll be all set.

My personal favorite recent discovery at A Market is We Can’t Say It’s Cheese by Wayfare Foods.  It’s a soy-free cheese alternative that comes in four flavors — 2 dips and 2 spreads — and it tastes like cheese!  It’s made from pureed oatmeal (weird, right?) but they’ve really got that nacho-esque, drippy, goopy orange cheese flavor right on.  And a hell of a lot healthier to boot.

 

We Can't Say It's Cheese by Wayfare Foods

We Can't Say It's Cheese varieties -- image from Wayfare's website. Would have taken a picture of mine but it is all gone! :)

All that said, I will probably continue to make monthly pilgrimages to Whole Foods Andover (the closest one to me, at 37 minutes away) to pick up some essentials that A Market has decided to price laughably high (nutritional yeast at nearly $10 per pound comes to mind).  And, of course, for that unbeatable salad bar.  For most specialty items, though, save the gas and just bike to South Willow instead.

A Market Natural Foods is located at 125 Loring Street, Manchester off of South Willow Street.  http://www.amarketnaturalfoods.com/