Friday, October 21, 2011

In Anticipation of Folsom Whole Foods Opening

The east side of Sacramento County must be antsy with anticipation for the new Whole Foods (WF) opening on October 26th. Located on East Bidwell at the new Palladio mall and close to Highway 50, this location is set to be the granddaddy of them all. The largest one in our region, it will boast 45,000 square feet filled with items. But more importantly, over 200 local suppliers from the surrounding Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo, and Amador counties will benefit.

The grand opening is Wednesday, October 26th at 10 a.m. The first 250 customers get reuseable bags filled with products.

But tomorrow, Saturday, October 22nd, there is a special Folsom Street Market pre-opening event. Folsom residents are invited to celebrate the opening. This event will be held in the parking lot and feature over 60 local vendors sampling their yummy products, community partners, live music, sneak peek store tours, beer and cider tasting (which will require a small donation to a charity), hay maze and pumpkin patch for the kids and a variety of DIY food workshops.

Ciara shows us the store
I was invited to attend a special, private event at the new store last night. We were given a tour and here are some of the things that make this store worth visiting.

If you are a home beer brewer, then you will love the new brewing station at the back left corner of the store (or head straight back from the main entrance). It has all the supplies and ingredients you need to brew beer, including hops, yeast, etc.

We turned to the meat and seafood section and even though the rest of the store is void of any perishables, I spot sides of beef sitting in the aging case. Some of the meat is locally sourced from Panorama Meats, which we will eat later for dinner. These are small, family-owned ranches that raise grass-fed, humanely treated animals that are supplied to the nearby Whole Foods. The Colorado ranches supply to the Denver stores, the Washington ones to the Washington stores. Ours is coming from the Dixon area.

Whole Foods has a 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating that includes: No cages/crates/crowding; Enriched environment; Enhanced outdoor access; Pasture centered; Animal Centered: no physical alterations and life spent all on one farm. When you look in the meat case you will be able to see the meat labeled with the rating level and choose according to your comfort level.

In the aisles you may see some colored labels on items. The orange indicates an Everyday Deal (special price). Here in green you see the gluten-free items marked. This store mixes GF items throughout the store instead of having a designated aisle. These days this makes sense since so many products are naturally GF anyway and there are hundreds of new items also entering the marketplace.

Did you know you can go on food tours according to your dietary needs? There are tours tailored to such things as gluten-free or diabetic diets as well as tours geared toward your budget or for parents wanting new ideas on feeding their children.

The largest bulk bin section of any Whole Foods in northern California, this one encourages shoppers to use their own reuseable containers. I've heard of this concept in the national news and am glad to see a place offering it here. You can bring your own containers from home and refill them instead of generating more landfill waste by using plastic bags (although they are still there if you need them). To do so, stop at the Customer Service desk to have your empty container weighed so they can zero it out. Here you see the section and I find chia seeds sold in bulk - hurrah! There is also an aisle designated for single source, local items. For instance, you may find and grind coffee from El Dorado Roasting or get locally grown rice in this aisle.

The cheesemongers cut whole wheels of cheese at the store. You can read about my witnessing the cutting of a parmesan wheel at the Arden store. And as you loop down the right hand side of the store you are in the area with the salad, soup, and hot foods bar, the pizza counter, and the sandwich and burrito counters. This ready-to-eat area is where you find all that stuff that is made-to-order or already set out as grab-n-go.

I was surprised to learn that neither Folsom or Roseville have classrooms, leaving that distinction to the Arden location. Instead, Folsom will have a Cooking at Home Specialist, located in the bulk foods section. She will give classes in that area of the store as well as provide guidance to shoppers who have questions about ingredients or need recipe suggestions.

For those with electric vehicles, there are two charging station parking spots in prime location - a perk for your green choice of transportation.

Finally is the Bier Garden, which will serve eight beers on tap that will rotate weekly and always feature local breweries including: Sudwerks, Knee Deep, Lockdown, Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas. A craft beer selection features Jolly Pumpkin, Dogfish Head, Mikkeller and many other imported specialties brews. The Bier Garden will also feature music and tasting events.

The  Bier Garden serving counter
It's in the Bier Garden where we enjoyed our Farm to Table Dinner. Every course featured locally sourced food.

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, assorted cheeses, Twin Peaks dried fruit, Creminelli Coppa and Mocetta

Field Greens, Salle Orchard Pear Vinaigrette, with goat cheese rolled in Fiddyment farm pistachios, served with crostini

Beef 2 Ways – Pumpkin and apple Beef Braised short ribs and porcini dusted grilled New York steak from Panorama Meats; Twin Peaks glazed Diestel turkey breast with fresh herbs and roasted apples;
Rancho Gordo beans, with winter squash and Swiss Chard

Salle Orchard Apple Tart Tartin with Crème Fresh, Chiffon Cake with a Marshmallow Cream and Chocolate Ganache from Sugar Lillie Bakery

Here is a calendar of events for the next couple of months.

Note: All events are free to the public unless otherwise noted.

Oct. 22-“Folsom Street Market,” Saturday, Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Folsom residents are invited to celebrate the opening at the store’s “Folsom Street Market.” This event will be held in the parking lot and feature over 60 local vendors sampling their yummy products, community partners, live music, sneak peek store tours, beer and cider tasting (which will require a small donation to a charity), hay maze and pumpkin patch for the kids and a variety of DIY food workshops.

Oct. 26th-Grand Opening & Bread Breaking Ceremonies -9:45 a.m. -Join us on October 26th at 9:45 a.m. to celebrate our Grand Opening and Bread Breaking Ceremonies. Be one of the first 250 customers in the store and receive a FREE reusable shopping bag filled with a variety of our 365 items.

Oct 28-30th - Meet the Ranchers BBQ 11a.m. – 3 p.m. Enjoy some delicious BBQ and meet your local ranchers. Featured Ranchers will be Panorama Organic 100% Grass Fed Beef, Field to Family Chicken, Pozzi Lamb and Wellshire Farms.

Nov. 1st - Meet our Cooking Specialist- Cindy Soltesz 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and 4 -5:30 p.m.
Nov. 3rd- Shop on a budget Holiday Tour 11 a.m. - Join Ciara our Marketing Team Leader as she gives a tour of the store while touching on unique ways to save during the holidays

Nov.4th - Head Water Brewery New Beer Release 6-8 p.m. - Meet the Head Brewer and be one of the first to sip on a brand new release! $5 tasting fee.

Nov 5th - Holiday Cheese and Wine Tasting 6-8 p.m. - Join our Specialist and let them assist you in selecting the best cheese and wine parings for your holiday gatherings.

Nov 7th- Tasty and Simple bulk recipes with Cindy 11:30 a.m. - 1:30pm and 4-5:30 p.m. - Join Cindy our Cooking at Home Specialist in the bulk department as she shares helpful tips on how to cook tasty and simple recipes using bulk products.

Nov 10th - Winter Brew Tasting- 6-8 p.m. - Meet John our Beer Specialist, and enjoy sampling a variety of our winter brews. $5 tasting fee.

Nov 11th.- Moylan’s Brewery 6-8 p.m. -Take some time to mingle with the Head Brewer as you sample out some refreshing seasonal brews. $5 tasting fee.

Nov 12-13 - Vita Mix Roadshow 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. - Whole Foods Market Folsom will be offering live demonstrations and delicious free samples while featuring the Vitamix 5200 series.

Nov 15th - Back to Basics Cooking with Cindy 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. - Get back to basics with Cindy our Cooking at Home Specialist and re-discover the basics of everyday cooking.

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