In the spirit of the My favorite things from Central Market and MT Market, here are some items I enjoy from the Whole Foods flagship downtown. Note, I'm not enough of a grocery shopper to claim that these items are exclusive to Whole Foods.
* Texas Daily Harvest milk. This is a new item they just started carrying in dairy from Yantis, TX. It is low temp. pasteurized and NOT homogenized so you best shake well before serving. I can't say I can taste a huge flavor difference, but it definitely is not as sweet as those ultra-pasteurized, over caramelized milks.
* Bulk heirloom beans. They have recently redone their bulk bins and greatly expanded their dried bean selection. If you have not been in 6 months and are into exotic dried beans, this could be heaven. They carry some of the varietes that I see on Rancho Gordo's website: Jacob's Cattle, Christmas Lima, Cranberry. Plus about 10 others I've never seen before. I've done 3 or 4 pots of them and they have generally been excellent.
* Bulk grains. It seems like they have expanded their grains as well. 4 kinds of quinoa, 3 kinds of cous cous, amaranth, two kinds of barley. I like trying new whole grains and since it is bulk, nothing is that expensive. If you haven't cooked amaranth before you are in for a polenta-like sticky treat.
* Ceylon Cinnamon also in bulk. It is frighteningly expensive ($37/pound) but it is also extremely light. I've bought single sticks that don't even show up on the register (and hence are free).
* Random exotic fruits. Never sure what they'll have but there is usually a couple of unusual fruits. I bought a Cherimoya yesterday (never heard of it) and is ripening right now. They also had a dragon fruit and whole tamarind pods. I believe I saw a durian there a few years ago. Yes, you can probably get most of these at MT at better prices, but I thought I'd mention it. Also, not too exotic, but they have baby bananas (and red bananas and plaintains. I don't know if they are a different species than the Cavendish's that we are accustomed, but these baby ones are softer and more flavorful than any adult banana I've ever had.
* Zeke's smoked hummus. An Austin product we've fallen hard for. Garbanzo beans smoked before they are pureed into hummus. They have regular plus flavored varieties--we like the thai curry smoked hummus.
* Uncooked flour tortillas: In the same section as the hummus, I've mentioned these before but can never remember the name. It's an Austin company and these are perfect after a few minutes in a hot heavy skillet.
* The bread department has two major pluses. They'll sell you a half loaf if you ask and some of their whole wheat breads are quite good considering. We like the Hearty Honey Wheat for sandwiches and the Ancient Grain for olive oil dipping.
* The pastry case has expensive pastries, but they have a greatly expanded "minis" case with decent priced miniature desserts that are usually quite good.
* At the antipasto bar, they have a hatch green chile pesto. I'll usually buy anything hatch (CM does a better job with Hatch products come August, but WF is not too far behind).
* Di Stefano burrata: They recently had this on sale for $5. I've read a burrata taste test and this was the top pick. It made an excellent sandwich on the hearty honey wheat with the green chile pesto
* Air chilled chicken. I don't buy much meat, but best I can tell air chilled chicken comes out more flavorful then other chicken. I know Central Market has carried this in the past and maybe still does. Expensive but it tastes like chicken.
* All things vegan. If you are vegan or have a visitor vegan vistor, this is the place for you. The vegan chicken salad is shockingly expensive but also shockingly good. Many other vegan products throughout the store (the local vegan queso they sell is pretty great considering it is dairy free) and they have an entire vegan restaurant.
What did is left out of this list?
4001 N Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78756