Sunday, August 23, 2009

A good time at the grocery store.

In need of distressing some people find solace at the gym, some go to the spa. While I fully agree with these methods of relaxation I also fully adopt the practice of going to the grocery store. No these are not the trips to grab the two missing ingredients for tonight's dinner at 5:30pm on a weekday. My mini vacations to the grocery store are well planned out and are merely for browsing, unless I come up with something irresistible which to be honesty happens more often than not.

I do not usually go to the Joe Schmoe grocery store either, local family owned markets and Whole Foods are a favorite. I truly believe the artistically laid out produce is a release for my endorphins like running is for some. Thus this weekend in the midst of many rain down pours I took a tour around rather unique grocery store experience. Stew Leonard's all sorts of fun entertainment as you meander down the maize like path to the check out lines. It has, I believe, about 4 stores scattered between New York and Connecticut. Its mostly known for its own dairy products: yogurt, milk, cheese, and ice cream.

As you can see from the pictures there is a wide variety of animated figures throughout the store that sing and dance advertising the different Stew Leonard brand products. For a 25 year old, I thought they were a hoot. For those of you actually trying to shop they carry a full store of traditional brands and products. I will warn you that on this particular Saturday there were plenty of people doing their weekly grocery shopping and the place was quite crowded. I know I know you are saying that this cannot possibly be relaxing but if you take a deep breath and take one step at a time this really is a great place.

As you walk in you are met to the right with a dairy stand complete with ice cream, sundaes and gelato to munch on as you walk through the store. On your left is the coffee roasting section. The smell of roasting beans is to die for and again you have option of grabbing a coffee to soothe your caffeine fix. Immediately following the coffee is the bakery, one of my favorite sections. There are tons and tons of different cookies, cakes, cupcakes, breads, muffins, and bagels. Basically anything you can think of, plus and this is the best part, lots of samples. Samples of all sorts of tasting are spread around Stew's but the bakery tends to be a big stopping point. So if you didn't already grab an ice cream, be ready for a treat. Lucky for me, Jordan and I grabbed a coffee and then took off for a sampling feast. This particular day led to apple cider donuts, bread with rosemary dipping oil, and cinnamon bun pieces, all warms and freshly made.

Next came the deli and cheese departments where Parmesan cheese was sampled. At certain times you can watch mozzarella being pulled as it cools. And so goes the rest of the store set-up a new department with new samples. As you can see in the picture to the right Stew Leonard really knows how to treat customers. The last portion of the store is ready-made meals and dishes ranging from BBQ to Chinese cuisine to homemade soups. If you are not full from all of the samples I would highly recommend grabbing some quick bite to eat here. I had a great time on a rainy day for about an hour. If I had children I would probably routinely bring them as an entertainment trip. The food is good and there is just an overall nice feeling about these stores.
Its not the spa and it certainly has a different impact than a gym but its effect is the same for me.
Go to the website for more information, sales, and locations. Stew Leonard's

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