I want to try an experiment in which I replace some key cooking ingredients in our house with higher quality stuff. Let's begin with the comfort foods. Some examples: our butter and eggs are Trader Joe's, olive oil is Costco (Kirkland), and heavy cream is from whatever market I happen to be at. The cream issue is particularly noticeable as what goes for "heavy cream" is all over the map, with Safeway's Lucerne brand not surprisingly the worst. Let's start with those four items: butter, eggs, olive oil, cream. What would you recommend for each--with more emphasis on local or minimally processed than strictly organic? (Also, we're willing to pay for quality but not break the bank in a spiraling cost of diminishing returns.)
Other foods come to mind? Balsamic...pasta...flour... I don't want to overdo it here, but I'm curious about what other Hounds use for their own cooking.