It’s funny how as I’ve gotten older, finding cool grocery stores is well… just cool! I remember taking Whole Foods for granted as a kid, chocking it up to another one of my parents weird health store kinda places. This was back in the days when the urban-ites hadn’t heard of it and it was a small little store in Manhasset, NY. It wasn’t until it hit Manhattan and my classmates were all abuzz about it that it suddenly became cool to me. Trying to be a little more gourmet, cooking dinners for my boyfriend at the time with the freshest and best ingredients I could find. Whole Foods became my staple. I adored their Cranberry Orange Scones and their rum-less Tiramisu was a hit at every party I brought it to. The had the cutest pumpernickel cocktail bread perfect for entertaining and for some reason it was the only place I’d get fresh squeezed orange juice that I didn’t see actually squeezed. As if Whole Foods had an ipso factor trust. Then when I was onto the Organic chicken and meats, it was my place to go for the best and juiciest cuts.
One day friend told me about Trader Joe’s. He was boasting about their wine selection and their fresh coffee, fair trade items and cheap prices. When I first visited one, I found it quaint and was instantly drawn to their hidden treasure trove of desserts. Simply packaged but delightfully delicious! I was hooked. I would make special trips across the bridge to Eastchester just to indulge.
Fast forward several years and now we’re parents, this same friend kept bringing me goodies from Stew Leonard’s. I vaguely heard about this place in a marketing class, but I already had my favorites in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. He kept saying how much the kids would love it there. I’m thinking, the kids would love a grocery store?! They liked grocery shopping and all but I’m not sure it constituted another special trip over the bridge. I mean seriously, why was everything he wanted me to check out, OVER THE BRIDGE!
This is why I love the lazy days of summer. They are so few and far between. Ever since Ava was born, it’s almost like summer has become high season. We’re booked full of birthday parties, playdates and BBQ’s, it’s hard to even get a breather in. When I say our summer was booked before it even began, I’m NOT kidding! I’ve sadly had to turn down several playdates just to breath and feeling awful for doing so at the same time. I can give you our calendar straight through September with maybe a 2-hour window here or a 3-hour stretch there, allowing for little or no flexibility. Yesterday was no exception. With a Brunch in the morning and a BBQ in the afternoon, I felt overwhelmed and grateful the playdate in between was moved to a less booked weekend with only 1 event planned for the day. It was in the small 3-hour window that I decided to take the kids to Stew Leonard’s. Sadly I admit to tricking them by telling them we were going to the FARM. Luckily, I wasn’t really lying, sorta.
When we arrived at 1 Stew Leonard Drive, yep, that’s right, they have their OWN block. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous size of the place and yet giddy with excitement. It was funny how I thought it was like an amusement park and started to hunt for a non-existent map. You were simply to follow the well laid out path. First things first was to nourish and entertain the kids with the Stew Leonard’s Chicken Nugget Special and a visit with the chickens, hens, ducks, sheeps and goats. In theory there was a cow, according to my nephew, I was too distracted by the huge Ice Cream Shop and $9.99 Lobster Special, as well as the sweetest roasted corn I’ve ever tasted. Lesson learned, next time save the show stoppers for last because following such an amazing experience all I got was, “are we done yet, can we go home? can I go feed the cow again?” from my 5 year old nephew as we walked through the aisles of Stew Leonard’s. Luckily there was plenty of food sampling and animated displays to distract him – everything from Lobster Raviolis to Fresh Pastrami, Coconut Water and fresh cut pineapples – the kid was not shy. The trip wasn’t a waste as far as grocery shopping went either. We went home with Blueberry Muffin Tops (DH’s favorite part of the muffin), a bag of Freshly made Sweet Potato Kettle Style Chips, a Peach Crumble for the afternoon BBQ, some refreshing Bruschetta and Stew’s Famous Garlic Bread, my new favorite Jolie’s Ravioli’s (for kids, but they are so scrumptious I can’t resist) and so much more… The kids met Wow the Cow, fed the animals (again!) and ended the day with Pink Cotton Candy Ice Cream for Jaylen and Vanilla for Ava. Two trips to the bathroom and a change of clothes sent us on our way to our next adventure. My only regret – I forgot my darn camera again! Would I have stuck out like a sore thumb?!