sheer disappointment

Friday, June 16, 2006


I hate the regular supermarket. To me, regular supermarkets are like gigantic 7-Elevens. Everything is processed, all the labels scream out at you with their big, expensive advertising slogans and overly bright colors, and hardly any of the produce is local. Regular supermarkets do little, if anything, to educate you about where you food comes from and how it was made. And they do very little to encourage you to cook -- all of the products are about "convenience" and how fast you can prepare a meal. I hate going to regular supermarkets, and try to avoid them whenever possible, unless I have to buy something like toilet paper. (We usually shop at Thom's Natural Foods on Geary or at Rainbow, which is like the Mecca of bulk food and organic produce. I love going to Rainbow. It is truly an outing. We actually bring our foodie friends there when they're visiting from out of town. That's how much we love it.)

So imagine my excitement when I heard about Vallergas Markets, which describes itself as "Napa's gourmet grocery store" featuring "natural and organic product lines," "bulk foods: grains, pasta, beans" and "Napa Valley products." Vallergas goes on to boast it's the only truly local Napa store, with just three locations in the valley.

I thought, 'At last! I've found a place where I can shop on my lunch break!'

And off I went to the brand-new store on Solano.

I cannot even begin to describe how disappointed I was. The store may as well be any other grocery store -- aisles and aisles of big-brand processed food -- but with a Boar's Head Deli inside, so I guess that means they can call themselves "gourmet" (lame). And the produce section was extremely disappointing! Their so-called organics took up a teeny-tiny little corner. And I don't remember even seeing a bulk section.

(Side note: Because I was short on time and didn't want to drive to Trader Joe's to buy their produce, which is always wrapped in plastic and comes from Peru, and if you don't eat it in two seconds, it goes bad, I did end up buying some organic zucchini. Later that evening, we did a taste-test with the organic zucchini from Thom's and the organic zucchini from Vallergas, and guess which one was better? Definitely not the one from Vallergas, which likely came from a big industrial organic operation. The Thom's zucchini was flavorful, with a firm texture; the Vallergas zucchini tasted like mush and had the mouthfeel of mush.)

The only saving grace about Vallergas is the olive bar. I'll give them that.

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