Whole Foods Market Newport Beach: A Shopping Wonderland

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Jen and I just spent an entire morning perusing the new Whole Foods Market Newport Beach wonderland (the word market just doesn’t seem to do it justice) and WHOLEY MOLY, if it weren’t for a looming preschool pick-up, both of us could have spent the whole day there!

Upon entering the store we were greeted by an inviting rainbow of colorful, perfectly ripened produce, stands and stands of it.  This might sound silly but it felt like happy food: Heirloom tomatoes, Bartlett pears, Honeycrisp apples, golden beets, turnips, endive, swiss chard, cabbage.

The care they put into their produce was subliminally saying: Eat these beautiful whole foods and you will feel happy.

It was a little bit of sensory overload because we wanted to take it all in and enjoy but we weren’t sure where to begin (in a good way).

We worked our way through the produce and noticed some bins of sprouted grain trail mixes and porridges (ooooooohhh) next we found ourselves in front with large vats of different types of olive oils to taste and bottles you can fill yourself  to take home (aaaaaahhh), and behind that were a bunch of empty little honey bear bottles begging you to choose your flavor and fill (I chose a sage flavored selection).

Then the seafood department!  Beautiful selection, amazing whole fish in front packed on ice, the prepped and ready to grill lobster tails and the oysters! Only 99 cents each- what a fun family night, to shuck and eat oysters at home!

As we strolled a little further we encountered the friendliest of helpers in the meat department.  Everyone wanted to be sure we were helped and the employees in every department asked if they could answer any questions. Here’s our new BFF Ryan the butcher…

We were quite enamored by a find in the center cooler for a quick grab: a few different types of pre-packaged dinner kits.  Each prepped complete with the meat and vegetables in an oven proof container. All you have to do is unwrap, season and throw it in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours for a delicious dinner! And a great deal- priced about $15.99 for about 5 lbs of food (before cooking).

Ryan shared that their meat department also boasts an in-store smoker and they will smoke smaller cuts as you shop or with 24 hours notice they will smoke a larger cut to order. We tasted one of their smoked Texas burgers- loads of flavor!

Our next stop was the cheese department. We were given a sample of this goat cheese called Mitica Capricho De Cabra (he simply called it Mitica) which put the other pre-crumbled stuff to shame.  It had the distinct goat cheese flavor, but was smoother and creamier, Jen and I were dying over it! We couldn’t leave the store without a round of this- and this high quality goat cheese was just $4.65 for about 5 ounces, about the same price you pay for the mediocre stuff.

Here’s another new BFF, George from the cheese section. The employees all made us feel like celebrities! Everyone had such a passion for the products. Their enthusiam was contagious.

Just behind the cheese is the Back Bay Tavern a gastro pub featuring a cozy atmosphere, 24 beers on tap, cocktails and a nice wine selection plus a playful menu of exciting comfort foods.  This could make for a fun “Oh Babe, I didn’t have time to run to the store so I’m just going to run to the market really quick…” and meet up with a girl friend for a bite, a glass of wine and some groceries!

We were rounding out our visit and headed back to the front of the store to The Tea Hive featuring frozen tea drinks, a mixologist’s version of an iced tea and a selection of hot teas.  They even have two kinds of iced tea on tap so you can grab one while you shop and swing back around for a free refill on your way out!

As we were shopping and chatting we made plans for Jen and her family to come over for dinner.  I’ll be preparing a classic slow cooked Beef Short Ribs paired with a Celery Root Puree.  Stay tuned for a post with the photos and recipes for this delicious and easy Fall-feeling feast!  I was inspired when I spotted this gorgeous celery root…

I think the next time my girls and I have an open afternoon I’d like to just take them over to Whole Foods Newport Beach to introduce them to new food items in a fun show & tell sort of way.  Such a great opportunity to talk to them about eating a rainbow of colors and tasting exciting new healthy whole foods.

As we headed out the doors with our shopping bags, we were greeted by a shuttle attendant that offered us a free ride to our car. She helped us with our bags and we rode off into the sunset…

Incidentally, they also offer free valet if you prefer. There is nothing they haven’t thought of! PLEASE do yourself a favor and make a visit to this stellar location. It is an experience you will never forget. But trust us and block out a nice amount of time to take it all in. Once you step foot into the doors, you too, will be taken away into the Whole Foods Wonderland!

www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/newport

Follow Whole Foods Market Newport Beach on Facebook ~ And @WholeFoodsNB on Twitter
Click here for the weekly sales flyer

[Disclosure: We participated in a sponsored campaign by Whole Foods Market to help spread the word about this new location and were provided with a gift card to shop and share. Opinions are 100% our own!]

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Family Fun Fruit Flag

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In honor of the 4th tomorrow, I found this darling recipe for a patriotic fruit flag on Disney’s Family Fun website and had to share!

I am a big fan of healthy food options for group gatherings so that you can balance out the other goodies and junk!  That’s why I thought this was such a great idea.

Especially with the frilly toothpicks for easy serving for the kids.

If you haven’t already checked out the Family Fun site – you just HAVE to! Sooooo many cute ideas, recipes, crafts and more for the kiddos.

Have a wonderful SAFE 4th of July everyone!  Taking the 4th and 5th off of posting, be back on Friday!

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Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Sweet Balsamic Drizzle

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This Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Sweet Balsamic Drizzle will be a hit at your next dinner party or will make for a *hot* backyard date night with the hubs after your kiddos go to bed.

Serve with your favorite side salad with your homemade vinaigrette and dinner is done!

Serves 2 (or easy to make for a larger group, just buy a side of salmon & a larger cedar plank to fit)

Plan ahead:  the cedar plank needs to soak in water for at least a couple of hours. 

What you need:

2 pieces of fresh salmon, 4-6 oz each

cedar plank (available at most grocery stores, for sure at your nearest fish market, look for a size to comfortably hold your fish, you don’t want to crowd.)

extra virgin olive oil

For Chili Brown Sugar Rub:

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp dried oregano

dash of cayenne

1-2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

For Balsamic Drizzle:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Ready, Set, Cook!

Soak cedar plank in water for at least  2 hours.

Chili Brown Sugar Rub

Stir together and store in an airtight container at room temp, you will only use a little bit for this recipe.

Sweet Balsamic Drizzle:

Reduce balsamic, brown sugar and soy sauce in a small sauce pan until thick enough to drizzle, watch carefully not to burn.  Place in a serving dish to place on the table room temperature when you serve the fish.

Prepare grill to medium heat.   Remove cedar plank from the water and rub a little bit of olive oil on the wood.  Place the fish on the wood, skin side down and  rub each piece of fish with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle lightly with the rub (you don’t want to overpower the fish).   Then place the cedar plank directly on the grill and for 10-15 minutes or until fish is just cooked through (will flake).

Use a large spatula and remove the fish from the cedar plank & leave the plank on the grill to cool before handling.

Serve the salmon with the sweet balsamic drizzle on the side.

If you’d like to do a larger piece of fish it will take a little extra time just watch carefully so as not to overcook (timing all really depends on the heat of your grill, and thickness of your salmon).

(It’s normal for it to get a little smokey & actually adds some great flavor to the fish).

(PS- this rub & sauce also pairs deliciously with a pork chop or tenderloin!)

 

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