A Beachy Grocery Store Tour
By Elizabeth Louise Hatt
One of my favorite things to do when I visit a new city is to check out the local grocery stores. So this weekend when I visited a college friend in Virginia Beach, Va. I insisted on two things – going to the beach and grocery shopping. So after two days of fun in the sun we took off Monday morning for a "grocery-store tour" of the area. We popped into her local Whole Foods and Trader Joe's – two stores I frequent in New York – as well The Fresh Market, a Farm Fresh Foods and two stores that I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have never had the opportunity to step into before – Kroger and Harris Teeter. The highlight of the tour was definitely Kroger's cheese case – the store partners with Murray's to offer a variety of interesting and unique cheeses, including my favorite – Sartori Espresso BellaVitano (which I am eating right now). My favorite store, however, was Harris Teeter – excluding Trader Joe's, of course. Although missing the artisan mix that Murray's offers, the cheese case had a good variety of big brands, and best of all, LOTS of samples. We tasted five different hard and spreadable cheeses, as well as lemon poppyseed muffins and a couple breads in the nearby bakery. The other thing that stood out to me was a section of local and artisan brand sauces, salsas and dressings. There were many Virginia brands, some named after local restaurants, and there was even BBQ sauce from Hill Country, a NYC and Washington D.C. establishment. It was also exciting to see the store's local farmer program in action. We often write about stores partnering with local produce growers, but this was the first time I was able to peruse the information about the farmers for myself. It may not be everyone's idea of an vacation adventure. But the grocery store tour was up there with paddle boarding and beach concerts – especially since you can buy wine right there next to the cheese and crackers... something New York state really has to reconsider.