Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Keeping tabs on: Fairway


Recommended Posts

I've been going to Fairway on Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets pretty much all my life. I used to go there with my mother every week when I was a kid, and in the past few years I've gone there once just about every week to do my primary weekly shop -- also with my mother. We meet there on Sunday mornings, we do our separate shopping, and I help her home with her bags. Even with interruptions for college out of town, the time I spent working 24/7 at a law firm, and various other happenings and phases, my guess is that I've been shopping at Fairway at least 500 times.

So, you know, I have a lot of experience shopping at Fairway. I know the location of most items at Fairway better than I know where stuff is in my own closet. I notice little changes that most people who work at Fairway probably wouldn't notice. I have, as the cliche runs, forgotten more about Fairway than most people will ever know. Unfortunately, what's forgotten is forgotten. Looking back, I wish I'd been more rigorous about documenting the changes at Fairway over the years.

Going forward, however, I'm going to post various notes and observations gleaned from my weekly shopping trips to Fairway. And I hope those of you who also go to Fairway -- either often or just occasionally -- will contribute too. Thus, together, we will be keeping tabs on Fairway.

I was also thinking that we all have favorite places that we frequent, where we know the lay of the land better than the average person ever will. So why not start a "Keeping tabs on:" topic of your own?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

So anyway, I'll start with some thoughts on butter.

One of the curiosities of Fairway (when I say Fairway, unless otherwise specified, I mean Fairway on Broadway between 74th and 75th Streets -- but feel free to use this topic for comments Fairway's other locations) is that, even if you think you know where a particular species of product is located, there may be multiple additional homes for that product. For example, butter. The main butter display is located at the end of a small aisle perpendicular to the main dairy case, near the fruit section of the store. In that location, there are several butter choices, ranging from standard supermarket brands to gourmet brands like Plugra to interesting imports like KerryGold Irish butter.

However, if you pick one of these butters and check out, assuming you've seen the full range of Fairway's butters, you'll be missing another butter display: the one upstairs. Up in the natural foods section, there's a whole 'nother set of butters -- organic ones. Again, there are many options.

But that's not all. While the beginner-level Fairway shopper knows to look for the butter by the dairy case, and the intermediate-level Fairway shopper knows to look upstairs for additional, organic butters, the advanced-level Fairway shopper knows where the real action is: the real butter action is in the cheese department.

In the cheese department, nestled among various actual cheese products, is a selection of unusual butters from the New York region (like Ben's butter), from across the country (such as Sierra Nevada vat-cultured butter from California), and from around the world (such as Parmigiano-Reggiano butter from Italy, and several butters from France).

The availability of so many butters from all over probably indicates that I'm not the only person shopping at Fairway who has a bit of a butter obsession, or perhaps more of an affectation: I like to buy butters from around the world. Fundamentally, this is kind of stupid. I mean, it's 2007, and we all know you're supposed to buy stuff from within 100 miles when you can. It seems especially ridiculous to ship dairy all over the place, especially when the local butter from places like Ben's and Ronnybrook is so good anyway. Nonetheless, for usually around $5, it's a cheap way to indulge my taste for the exotic.

This past Sunday (as in, yesterday morning) I picked up a 250-gram block of Pamplie AOC-designated Charentes-Poitou butter, for $3.99. This seems to be one of the few imported butters that comes unsalted, which is why I decided to try it. I also liked the cool black packaging. Anyway, I'm afraid I've already eaten about 100 grams of it, spread on slices of an olive boule I picked up on the same trip, sprinkled with fleur-de-sel. It's really good.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I shop at this Fairway every once in a while when I am staying in the City in the UWS, though I shop at the 125thSt. one more frequently and tend to load up on things there before I head home when I have my car. I particularly like shopping for olive and other oils there.

One of the coolest things I used to find and buy shopping at the UWS`Fairway (but not the others) was Oriol Balaguer's line of chocolates including those with pop rocks. Unfortunately, they no longer carry them and haven't for awhile.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, there have been many great products I've loved and lost over the years at Fairway. Shelf space at Fairway is extremely valuable, so unfortunately if a product doesn't move -- and move well -- it gets yanked. It's not like at a normal supermarket where they can say, "Well, we don't sell much of it, but a few people buy it so let's just keep it on some low, out-of-the-way shelf in the back." Even the most obscure condiments on the bottom shelf need to turn over enough to keep their places.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to put in a plug for the Red Hook Fairway. As a long-time West Side Fairway shopper, I was blown away by the store in Brooklyn. Spacious and MUCH more lightly trafficked than the Manhattan stores, it was a great experience. And items that were long gone from my local store were still on the shelves in Red Hook. As they have so much more floor space than the 74th Street store, I'd be curious to know if they carry all the same items or more? Anyway if you have a car, it's worth the schlep and if you go the next few weekends, you can hit the Ball Fields!

-Mike

Link to post
Share on other sites

I get to Fairway about once a month. I have become addicted to their cornichons which are unrivaled anywhere else I have been. The last time I was there I noticed that they had changed the layout of the area where they are kept. It was often difficult to get to them because they were in an inside corner and access was often blocked by indecisive patrons. That is now improved. The area where the olive oils can be sampled has undergone the opposite transformation. That area is particularly important to me when the new oils come out in the fall. I am interested to see how that change works out as that time grows near.

HC

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting this thread, Fat Guy. It's good to know where the butter is, since I'll be moving into the city in a matter of weeks. :wink:

I've only went to the UWS Fairway once, to pick up something from the organic "health-and-beauty" section that was hard to find otherwise. Being familiar with the suburban version of Fairway - I live 5-10 minutes away from the Plainview (Long Island) store - I was absolutely blown away by the sheer quantity of products, and the bustle, and everything else. It was unlike anything I'd seen, and I was in love.

Only thing is, I'll be living in the East Village, so if I were to go to Fairway I'd have to travel. I'd consider doing it, but my boyfriend (from Westchester) doesn't understand my love of Fairway, and I am incapable of explaining it, so I might be on my own with that. But I can always stop and get some of that delicious frozen yogurt from Zabar's if I do. :smile:

Now, my notes on the Plainview store: Unfortunately, it seems to have declined since it first opened, and I think the issue is there just isn't the sheer number of customers necessary to make it worth their while financially. Store hours were shortened (closing at 10pm instead of midnight), and some employees were cut down from things like the bakery. In an area already somewhat saturated by supermarkets, Fairway was a latecomer and seems to be categorized as more of a "specialty store" I think. I could be wrong, but I feel that there just aren't enough people here willing to buy all the kinds of things Fairway has to offer (especially since the things they would buy are carried more and more by other supermarkets), so the Plainview location hasn't grown since it first arrived.

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

Link to post
Share on other sites

As a Morningside Heights college student in the mid '70s, I used to walk down to the Fairway even couple of weeks to pick up some fruit and cheese. I loved the prodcue display and all of the fresh flowers. Zabars was another frequent stop on my walks, and of course, a nice hot bagel from H&H.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fairway on Broadway has been almost totally rearranged since about 1999. For one thing, its quadrupled in size since then----the right side was a D'Ag (they bought the building and canceled their lease) and upstairs did not exist. In the last few months, the olive arrangement changed, they put cut fruit in front and added a bagged salad display case up front. Changes on the right hand side of the store, the meat and fish side, seem less frequent.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This week, for my butter of the week, I went with a butter from the upstairs natural foods section: Kate's Homemade Butter from Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I have a soft spot for OOB, because one of my closest friends in college was from there. We visited a couple of times, had Hot Dog on a Stick and various other local delicacies, and generally enjoyed the kitsch of the place. So I was pretty excited to try Kate's butter. But it was disappointing: no better than the typical commercial American butter, no special character or anything like that. Far inferior to last week's Pamplie, which, in turn, is not the best butter I've had from Fairway.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I also purchased some excellent crostini crackers from Italy, from the Pan Ducale brand. In the past I've purchased similar-in-appearance crostini from the Castellana brand, which seems to be more widely available, and I haven't liked them all that much. But last week, I was at a friend's house and he had picked up some Pan Ducale garlic crostini from, I believe, the Balducci's in Scarsdale. I noticed this morning that Fairway has them too, so I purchased a bag. They're delicious.

Here's the Pan Ducale website:

http://www.panducale.it/

Here are the websites for Pamplie and Kate's, by the way:

http://www.kateshomemadebutter.com/

http://www.beurre-de-pamplie.com/ENG/presentation.html

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

When I drive in from NJ to shop there, I always stock up on the various Lunor products, especially the various beans and the lentils, all of which I think are exceptionally good.

I've never seen these anywhere else.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Link to post
Share on other sites

Fairway is one of my regular stops along culinary heaven on B'way on my visits back to my home town from out here in the culinary shopping wastelands of SoCal. But one thing that is a bit annoying about Fairway is that they won't ship. I used to regularly bring back their exceptional house brand Barbera Sicilian olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, but now with the restrictions on hand luggage this has become all but impossible and unfortunately my stocks on both these items is running perilously low. So, if they only shipped . . .

Link to post
Share on other sites
Fairway is one of my regular stops along culinary heaven on B'way on my visits back to my home town from out here in the culinary shopping wastelands of SoCal.  But one thing that is a bit annoying about Fairway is that they won't ship.  I used to regularly bring back their exceptional house brand Barbera Sicilian olive oil and Balsamic vinegar, but now with the restrictions on hand luggage this has become all but impossible and unfortunately my stocks on both these items is running perilously low.  So, if they only shipped . . .

I don't know the size cases they come in, but if you can buy them by the case when you're here, you can check them as luggage. I've checked cases of wine for years and years with no problem - the trick told to me a long time ago was to tie them up well and provide a handle, so that luggage handlers can lift them, and of course write "Fragile" on them; the fellow who told me that was a wine importer, and said that as long as he had a good rope handle that people could lift the cases with, he never had one that was thrown and broken. It should work for the oil as well - surely they're in cases sturdy enough for shipping. Just a thought.

:blink:

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Link to post
Share on other sites

Steven et al, on my last two trips to the UWS Fairway, I was delighted to find and then sadden not to find Saudi Arabian dates. There was even a Steve Jenkins blurb about them on a poster when first I saw them. They've been popping up now and then at my halal butcher and at our local middle eastern store, but their availability is shaky. Any sense of whether they're there these days?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a frequent consumer of dates so it's not an area of the store that I keep tabs on week-to-week, however I'll try to remember to look next Sunday morning. I did buy some of the Safawy dates from Saudi Arabia around last Passover, and I thought they were amazing. The little sign, as I recall, said they tasted like chocolate, and they did. And they were cheap. Less than the ones from California.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know the size cases they come in, but if you can buy them by the case when you're here, you can check them as luggage. I've checked cases of wine for years and years with no problem - the trick told to me a long time ago was to tie them up well and provide a handle, so that luggage handlers can lift them, and of course write "Fragile" on them; the fellow who told me that was a wine importer, and said that as long as he had a good rope handle that people could lift the cases with, he never had one that was thrown and broken. It should work for the oil as well - surely they're in cases sturdy enough for shipping. Just a thought.

:blink:

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder what kind of a markup or handling charge Fairway would need to implement in order to support a mail-order business. I bet it would be enough to defeat the price advantage that is one of Fairway's two main selling propositions. The other proposition -- the selection of products -- would still be intact, though.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe eGulleters need to start doing food trades, like the beer trades my boyfriend participates in on Ratebeer.com. :biggrin:

Is it too expensive (ie. more expensive than it would to have things shipped by an online merchant) to just stop by a post office and ship some bottles to yourself before you leave NY?

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi , I used to live uptown and always did my shopping at 74th Fairway. I'm amazed how they have specific things you'd rarely find in a lot of places. I used to be a cook at per se and I always found familiar items at Fairway that reminds me of my old work.

notable Items I found there: (not consistently avail)

specialty items rack : in the front of olives section

Sicilian Pistachio

Pruneaux d'Agen

Piment d'espellette

Iranian Saffron

canned goods and grain:

Mustard: Purple Mustard > grape must, very sweet, good for rillettes etc.

Israeli Couscous

Chocolate Section:

Oriol Balaguer > one of the best chocolatier in Spain

Oils and Vinegar:

Armando Manni "per me" olive oil > very rare to find in a store, I saw 2 so I bought 1, its worth the $76...

Aceto Manadori Balsamico

i'll add more to this if I could remember the other items..

thanks

Less life possesions means more life options.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe eGulleters need to start doing food trades, like the beer trades my boyfriend participates in on Ratebeer.com.  :biggrin:

Is it too expensive (ie. more expensive than it would to have things shipped by an online merchant) to just stop by a post office and ship some bottles to yourself before you leave NY?

Hard to say whether the shipping on DIY would be cheaper or more. But there is the hassle of buying it, finding a shipping container, going to the P.O., waiting on line, dealing with the surely clerk, etc, etc. And, I don't have the convenience of sitting at my computer at home and ordering what I need when I need it.

But, as per your first suggestion, if any kindly eGulleter out there would be kind enough to pick up some things and post them to me, I would be most grateful . . .

Link to post
Share on other sites

I went today, having not been in about 6 weeks, reinvigorated by this thread to poke around and explore. But my day ran late, and instead of going at 1 pm, I wound up there at 5 pm.

Those who know the store will know that at peak hours, it's so crowded, that you can't pass through the aisles, for how the people are packed in like sardines in a can, worse than any subway you could possibly imagine, and you can't even reach to a shelf for something, because you can't move your arms, let alone navigate through an aisle. (And nobody loves this store more than I do!)

I got a few things I needed, gave up on many others, and got on line at the registers to find tempers more heated than I've ever seen. Flare-ups left and right with people accusing other people of cutting in the line.

Of course for those people reading this thread who've never been, you cannot imagine the cramped conditions, or picture that the register lines form in another part of the store, and wait to proceed towards the cash registers, hidden from view at that point, the people are; newbies don't realize this, and just saunter up to what they think is the end of the line - - but few of them live to tell about it.

Today there was practically a bloodbath on 2 different lines.

Ah, Fairway. I love it. The selection, that is.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Link to post
Share on other sites
But, as per your first suggestion, if any kindly eGulleter out there would be kind enough to pick up some things and post them to me, I would be most grateful . . .

I might be able to help you out. I'm presumably moving in to the city by the end of the week, and I can probably steal a box and some things to wrap the bottles from the aforementioned boyfriend. Plus he already has an account through FedEx or some other shipping carrier, so it'll be easier to get it labeled and shipped. I won't make any promises ATM, but PM me with what you need and I'll see what I can do. :smile:

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

eG Ethics Signatory

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yes, you definitely don't want to go to the Upper West Side Fairway at any time other than very early morning. Over the years, we've settled on Sunday morning before 9am as the best time to be in the store. It's almost civilized. Why, just last week, I rang for the elevator to the upstairs natural foods section and when the door opened there was nobody in it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

For reasons of schedule, I often have to shop at the 74th Street Fairway during peak after-work hours. Knowing what you want and where those things are located, and having a good game plan as to a single path that takes you everywhere you need to go is crucial. Usually for me: hard left into the vegetable aisle, then up to dairy for milk, butter and eggs, then bread, take a ticket for the appetizing line and buy coffee and cheese while waiting for my number to come up, then straight across to the North side, stopping for olive oil and/or vinegar on the way, then it's meat and/or fish, then into one of the Northernmost two aisles to get on line for a register. If I'm going upstairs to the organic section, I just walk down the express line chute to the front of the store and take the stairs. I never use a cart.

--

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...