Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fresh & Easy: My New BFF

A few weeks ago I was invited to an event sponsored by Fresh & Easy market. At the time I hadn't yet visited one of their stores, and to be perfectly honest I had no intention of two-timing my trusty market, Trader Joes. So what if I risked my life every time I drove into the TJ's parking lot, or was subjected to douchebaggery in the checkout line? Ours was a love built on great, fresh, healthy items at a cheap price. And on their 69¢ bags of pasta.

fresh-and-easy-neighborhood-market-reviewBut I was willing to give the new supermarket and their wares a once over (Besides, the event was taking place in the kitchen of one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table.) Under the tutelage of Fresh & Easy's own Chef Mike, we were taught how to make a few simple dishes using items produced under the Fresh & Easy brand. First up were pizzas we made using their pre-made dough and pizza sauce (serves four for under $8), then salmon simply drizzled with their peanut sauce and baked - everything was delicious, and I'm not just saying that because I didn't have to clean up afterwards (although can I just say Oh what a feeling.) Chef Mike cooked up some other dishes for us, including fajitas that he made from their fajitas kit which included fresh strips of beef and vegetables. Everything was served with a seemingly never-ending supply of different wines and served by a cheerful and helpful staff. As you can imagine, I never wanted to go home.

But you can only attempt to hide under the table for so long so we were finally sent on our way. But first they gifted us with a bag full of Fresh & Easy items; A delicious bruschetta and a sourdough baguette to go with it, individually wrapped packets of trail mix perfect for tucking into lunches (and into my purse) their own version of Pirate's Booty, a nice bottle of red wine among many other tasty things. It was sort of like that scene in Mary Poppins, where she keeps pulling things out of her magic bag. Only this stuff was better because you could eat it.

Last week I, along with my two daughters, set out for our first Fresh & Easy market experience, and I have to say Trader Joes might not be seeing quite so much of me anymore. Fresh & Easy has an amazing selection of their own products, but they also have a good sampling of major brands, which means no more having to go to two stores to get my fresh mozzarella and then my bottle of Tide (not that I serve the two together. I usually serve the Tide with a nicely aged cheddar.) Not to mention their great prices! A bag of lemons for 99¢! A big tub of their fresh salsa for $1.99! Also, an impressive selection of gourmet items, like Illy espresso and several varieties of fresh hummus! You know I'm excited, because I rarely use exclamation points in reviews!

One of the minuses, which my 11-year-old daughter thought was a MAJOR MAJOR PLUS, was the fact that you have to scan and bag your own groceries. For my daughter, this is a dream com true - for reasons unknown to me she absolutely loves using the supermarket scanner, but I would rather hand that job to the pros. Plus, waiting for my groceries to be checked out is my prime tabloid-reading time. When else am I going to be able to see Kate Gosselin's tummy-tuck up close?

But overall I'd say the market is a great addition to our neighborhood, and while I won't be sending a Dear John letter to TJ's anytime soon, let's just say I'll be spending lots of time with my new BFF, Fresh & Easy. Oh, and forgot to mention the best part - no putting my life on the line when I'm trying to park my car.

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