Have you ever heard ONLY GOOD THINGS about a place, and then when you finally go there for yourself, IT SUCKS OUT LOUD? Well, that happened to me. I've been hearing about this place - a grocery chain in the area where I live - from a friend-that-was (she's no longer a "friend," really). She said that she loves this place for produce. Just for produce. She goes to another grocery store for EVERYTHING ELSE, and THIS PLACE just for their produce.
So last night, when we wanted to do a caprese salad for our Thursday night dinner (it's a special night for us), and because this new-to-us, "amazing produce" grocery store is on my way home, I stopped there.
I should have known it would suck, just from the parking lot: it looked like a scene out of CSI. Not that I watch that show. It just looks like the perfect place for a mass killing / murder/suicide / shooting spree. Plus, shopping carts were everywhere (one of my pet peeves). Certain types of "music" blared and bumped from 1970s-era Cadillacs, and 2000s Hondas, many with fuzzy dice hanging from the rear views.
I managed to find a parking spot not occupied by a shopping cart (at least, at that time), park, and walk in. The whole place smelled like my grandparents' house - I'm still trying to figure that part out. I only needed tomatoes (heirloom), basil (fresh, not dried), a hunk of mozzarella (fresh), and a loaf of some kind of yummy bread. Four items. Not too much to ask, right? Tomatoes. Basil. Cheese. Bread. Easy.
First up: heirloom tomatoes and a bunch of basil. But it was difficult enough to find the produce section in this place, and all of a sudden - because of the overall feel of this place - dank, musty, old - I just wanted to run screaming out of there. Tomatoes. Basil. Focus. Don't panic. Eventually, I found the produce section (small, as it was), and the tomatoes. Some in the middle section, some on one end, some on the other (why? why would anyone spread tomatoes here, there, and everywhere? ugh). But no HEIRLOOM tomatoes. None. Okay, backup would be the "plain old regular" tomatoes. None of them looked outstanding. Just normal - the same quality as the grocery store where I normally shop. But there I was, so I got a couple.
Next: basil. Almost every single bundled bunch looked like it had been run over by a tractor. I managed to go through them and find one that only looked like it had had a few worms eat at it. Bagged that sucker, and headed toward the cheese.
Not surprisingly, the FRESH mozzarella I was looking for did. not. exist. There was only the dry, string-cheese-in-a-big-ol'-ball. Hello, disappointment.
One more item: the bread. The LOAF of bread. There were PLENTY of tortillas - packs of 25, 50, or 100. Tortas. Fried tortillas (what are those called? I forget). There were bags and bags of pre-sliced, very-processed loaves. That's definitely NOT what I was looking for. There were a few bags of prepared garlic-butter bread. Nothing like what I was looking for. I would have to go somewhere else. Somewhere like my regular grocery store, that had better tomatoes, basil, and cheese than what I had in my hands.
So, at the end of a very long week, at the end of a long day, I went to two - TWO - grocery stores. When I could've just gone to ONE. Ugh. And THAT is why I tend to stick to the tried-and-true, time-tested, run-of-the-mill, reliable grocery stores.