The supermarket strike is killing me. Normally I order the family groceries at the Von's website for delivery directly in to my kitchen. Granted Von's is not Von's Pavillions, Bristol Farms, or Gelsons, and the variety of products they offer their Internet shoppers is not the most comprehensive, but it is so convenient to someone who is mobility challenged. The other really nice thing about ordering via a website is that you can fine tune your grocery list prior to and while shopping and you will always have a very good idea of how much you are spending by the talley in your virtual grocery cart. Since the strike began, Von's has shut down their web ordering and delivery service, and I have been reduced to periodic trips to Ralphs (which entail roping my nephew in to loading up the wheel chair in Herman's trunk and then tailing me with a grocery cart in the store). It has been hit or miss in the Ralphs meat department, most everything else has been available, except for non-scented detergent, and some dairy products, but it was also disturbing when during the first two forays to Ralphs the register tape totalled out to over $500 each time, for two weeks worth of groceries as opposed to a usual tab of $250-$350 when shopping at the Vons website.
So on our way to Ralphs today I decided to check out Henry's Marketplace. But the first order of business was to check out the recently opened Baja Fresh in the same shopping center as Henry's on Grand Avenue in Chino Hills. I am currently transitioning back on to The Liquid Diet and the 300 calorie diet drink I had for breakfast was long forgotten at about 1:45 when I pulled Herman in to a parking space outside of Baja Fresh.
This was my first experience with Baja Fresh, and I gotta say it was favorable. It sure as hell beats Taco Bell or that nasty Rubio's (who sell tasteless, probably previously frozen crawfish as "lobster"). I ordered the three taco special to go and received three fish tacos. The tacos arrived on a black plastic plate (the kind with a clear plastic "dome") and were very appealing in appearance. Each taco consisted of two warmed corn tortillas enveloping a strip of fried fish, shredded cabbage, Pico de Gallo and some kind of house "dressing"; with guacamole on the side. The fish portion was a little skimpy, but I polished off the three tacos forthwith which were very satisfying (to my solid food deprived gullet) and all was well.
The next time I think I am going to try the grilled fish tacos, which are supposedly larger and use Mahi Mahi and also the shrimp tacos. (I think it has been said that this chain is owned by McDonald's, but the food in this place was much more appealing to me than anything you can get at McDonalds, and certainly more appealing than the current rice, bean and cheese burrito that Taco Bell is pushing. The three tacos set me back $5.85 plus tax.
So after putting away the tacos we rolled across the parking lot to Henry's Marketplace. This chain is part of the Wild Oats family and the first things I noticed as we came in the store were a lot of aisles of nuts and grains, and a big vitamin/herbal section in one corner.
We cruised the meat and seafood department. Unlike Von's or Ralphs (where the meat grade is Select) Henry's beef comes from Harris Ranch (which really does not impress me) but it is graded Choice, (and that does count for a lot with me). I saw some very nice thick, well marbled ribeyes in the meat case (the butcher's case, where the meat is "loose", not the self-serve case with the plastic wrapped stuff) and made a mental note to try them some time. They also had a variety of sausages in the butcher's case, a wide variety of prepared (with marinades, or en brochette, etc.), but not cooked beef and prepared chicken breasts. They were also big on raw turkey loaf in the butcher case.
In the fresh fish case I saw a variety of raw shrimp, small (5 ounce) lobster tails, salmon filets, stuffed salmon, snapper and boned trout. I think there were some mollusks also.
I snagged a couple of packages of 15% ground beef and two pieces of brisket from the self-serve case. The ground beef packages were about 3 pounds even, and 3 pounds 5 ounces, and cost respectively $5.51 and $5.98. The briskets set me back $9.53 and $8.81, I don't remember how much they weigh (and they are currently in the freezer and I'm too lazy to go look at them), I think they were about 3 pounds each. I also saw some nice looking filet mignons and some decent looking top sirloin in the sel-serve case. I also grabbed up three packages of skinless chicken breasts. Each package held three large breasts (much larger breasts than what one would find in a Zacky or Foster Farms plastic wrapped package) that set me back $5.94, 6.44 and $6.84.
We rounded out our cartload with a head of iceberg (tight and heavy) for $0.99, three bagged salads at $2.69 each, a package of "baby" peeled carrots at $1.29, a dozen extra large eggs at $2.89, 3 pounds of bananas at 2 pounds for a $1.00, small tomatoes at $0.99 a pound, Bartlet pears at $0.69 a pound, red potatoes at $0.69 a pound, green peppers at 3 for a $1.00 and a handful of brussels sprouts at $1.29 a pound.
The green peppers were much nicer than what I have been getting from Ralphs or Vons, they also had red and yellow peppers. The brussels sprouts were nice and small, which I think are less bitter than the larger ones.
Part of the ground beef and the green peppers went in to a pot of chili tonight that was prepared by my nephew during one of his cooking class sessions with me. (I got him trained on roast turkey, whole baked ham, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked rigatoni, macaroni and cheese, green beans, brisket with potatoes, carrots and brussels sprouts, and apple pie so far. If I play my cards right I won't ever have to cook another family meal.) The chili, with my secret touches, was outstanding.
As reported by Nubi, on our way to Ralphs from Henry's we did cruise by the soon-to-be Chick-Fil-A. When I read Nubi's posting I started to get a little excited, since there would soon be an alternative to KFC around here. Then I checked out the Chick-Fil-A website tonight - I don't think I am going to want to eat there. I have linked to a photo (below) from their web site of a chicken nugget platter they would like us all to buy, I guess the next time we throw a swanky cocktail party. Looks more like pet food to me.
So, at the end of the day we are still a little bit ahead of the game out here in The Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire, with some decent meat available at Henry's Marketplace, and some acceptable fish tacos as an alternative to the crap at Taco Bell.