Monday, December 12, 2011

Call Me Surprised

I don't get out away from the restaurant much at all, so I mostly miss comings and goings here in lovely Winchester, VA. I do stay pretty much on top of restaurant openings and closings because, well, I am wired into that loop pretty tightly. But as for other businesses, I'm pretty much the last to know. Still, somehow I managed to hear recently that a new international grocery had opened. I don't remember how I heard—probably from my buddy Shiv who owns Sona Restaurant saying that he had bought karela at a store here in town—but somehow it got on my mental list of things to check out when I had a free moment.

That free moment came yesterday and the store was conveniently located between the grocery store and the restaurant, both stops that we had to make as well. I was prepared to find a small storefront tienda/bodega in the little strip mall where I was told to find the store. I was wholly unprepared to see a medium-sized grocery store emblazoned with a Food Maxx/International Foods/Supermercado sign with a lot of cars parked out front.

Inside, it looked like a traditional grocery store, but all the customers seemed to be Latino and there was no shortage of banda blaring on the speakers. But all the signage was in English. How bizarre! How bizarre!

Not only do they stock karela, they have both kinds, Chinese and Indian. Three kinds of loroco. Two kinds of whole mackerel. Gorgeous yellow-tail snappers. Live crabs. Frozen octopus. 7 or 8 kinds of fresh chorizos. All the frozen pig parts a chef could want. Trays of chicken hearts. Call me surprised!

The prices are better than anywhere else in town on meats, vegetables, and canned goods of the varieties that I might buy. They might be higher on national brand stuff; I don't know, I never buy it. And for things like the fish sauce that I buy from my wholesaler, the prices are lower than my wholesale cost. Bonus: they have my favorite Three Crabs brand of fish sauce. Yay! No more Squid brand for me or for the restaurant!

Above is my haul from yesterday, just a few things for the restaurant: Shanghai bok choy, smoked pork neck bones, salted mustard stems, and Chinese chives.

As I said, I'm a little slow on the uptake. The store has been open for three months so I'm a little behind the times. Details:

Food Maxx, 1107 Berryville Ave, Winchester, VA 22601, (540) 722-4604

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