Monday, August 11, 2014

O.C.’s most tasteful supermarket

(Originally posted at OC Tastemakers on March 31, 2013.)

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

We in Orange County are blessed with a full shelf of choices when it comes to buying food. We have natural food markets (Whole Foods, Sprouts, and our very own Mother’s Market), high-end gourmet emporiums (Gelson’s, Bristol Farms, and the Ranch Markets named Pacific and Irvine), and the playful little brothers of the market world, Trader Joe’s and Fresh & Easy (please don’t go, F&E!). Let’s not forget our farmers’ markets, which provide us with fresh seasonal produce, local seasonings and oils, and community life.

Truth be told, the natural and the gourmet supermarkets are few and far between, and farmers’ markets happen near you just once a week. If you are like me, you find yourself doing a considerable amount of shopping at Southern California’s Big Three – Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons.
It is difficult to stick with one market in any event, because each one sells items unavailable in the rest. Ralphs sells flat iron steaks, Albertsons sells a variety of chicken wings, and Vons has unique bakery items. You can create many tasteful meals shopping exclusively at any one of these three markets.
But, I believe, one of them is just a little more tasteful than the rest.
Can you guess which one?
(Pause to think about it.)
Here’s a hint: Its sister market is Pavilions.
You’ve got it: Vons/Pavilions is the most tasteful market in O.C.
What makes it so?

Let’s start with an outstanding meat/seafood department. When it’s time for filet mignon, my husband insists upon Ranchers Reserve. It is beef most excellent, awakening to the touch of pepper and herbs.

The seafood is superb as well, whether it comes under the Waterfront Bistro label or is on ice under glass. (I like the small packages of shrimp which fall under my gaze whenever I am in a “shrimpy” mood.)
The quality of the items under the Safeway Select banner rivals any “major” name brand.  It is an added bonus that the packaging is elegant as well, gold lettering on a black background. This is store-brand fare you don’t mind letting your neighbors see!
Vons/Pavilions stores give you a uniformly excellent shopping experience. Whether you’re in Anaheim Hills or Laguna Beach, or anywhere in between, you will be in a neat, shiny, navigable shopping environment. This is a store you can actually look forward to going to.
The cherry on top is that Vons/Pavilions has reasonable prices – even more so if you participate in the just for U rewards program. It records your favorites (for me: Fage yogurt, Bigelow tea, and Safeway brand calrose rice, among others) and gives you special discounts on them. Plus, it has the best prices for wine overall of the Big Three.  (I can see some of you perking up at that fact!)
The next time you go grocery shopping, why not go to the Vons/Pavilions nearest you and experience the good taste?

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