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Dean & Deluca


yvonne johnson
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Yesterday, I shopped and D&D. I'd got most of my shopping in other stores, but thought I'd head down to D&D for cheese and shellfish. I bought around 10 items. Eight of them (including green beans, Caerphilly, an Epoisses-like cheese, biscuits and tea) were excellent, but two were unacceptable, and I didn’t realize how bad they were till I got home.

1. Scallops. I asked to smell them in the store, and they did have a stronger smell than I anticipated. Sometimes they have a mild odor (those who say that shellfish and fish have none are exaggerating I think) but I didn’t trust my judgement in the shop and I bought 16. After rinsing them at home and after g. cooked one I knew they were way past their best, and we chucked them. Off to my trusted Jefferson Market for another 16. Miles better. (Aside: The scallops at JM were half the price.)

2. After getting very good advice from the cheese counter staff I got 3 fine cheeses. I then asked for some cabrales and they said, oh, yes, and without showing me the cheese close up (staff member held it up the air, label side up and used knife to gauge the portion I wanted—I do not mean to imply he was hiding the quality of the cheese, but I now wonder). Once opened at home, I was amazed at the blue mess and later threw that out too. (The cabrales I’ve bought at JM has always been better than that.)

I’m disappointed that a store that has (or at least did have) such a good reputation can charge so much for things I can get elsewhere in much better condition and for less cost. If I’d had more time yesterday, I’d have returned both items. Lesson: trust judegment and see up close, if not taste the thing before buying.

Any other experiences?

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Yvonne, I wonder if you have opened a Pandora's Box. I wish more people would make these kinds of posts wherever they meet inferior anything, be it in Soho, UES, lower 6th Ave, etc. (Praise would be great, too). Perhaps Steve Shaw can alert us to any pitfalls or give us advice about members who wish to make eGullet serve an ombudsman kind of role in terms of food shopping.

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One of the big problems I've had with D&D has been that standard items--packaged goods with long shelf life--are just so much more expensive than they can be had elsewhere. They have a nice selection of breads, but with three bakeries within a few blocks, I can get great bread that's fresher and at a better price. We've tried the meat department several times. It's convenient, but we couldn't justify the price on the quality alone and the skills that might make it a fine butcher shop were just not there. We go to Chinatown for pork at incredible prices ad the Village for beef and lamb at reasonable prices. I haven't compared their cheeses in terms of quality or price to Murray's. We used to buy desserts there, but since Ceci Cela opened, I've ben happier with their small selection of things. Many of my complaints about D&D go back a long time, probably before they became a national corporation. I can't imagine them getting better now.

While I'm at it, I'm not a big fan of Gourmet Garage either, but don't get me started on that again.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I'm absolutely in favor of using eGullet to share opinions and facts regarding retail food purveyors. But Robert Brown is right, we do need to be careful: I almost never get push-back from restaurants when I write negative reviews (I can count the number of instances on the fingers of one hand), but when I write something negative about Dean & DeLuca or another big retailer (and I've done this a few times), I always receive a strongly worded letter. So it's best to know the rules of the game, and to play by them:

Basically, you can never go wrong by reporting a simple, true, provable fact. For example, the price of an item is totally fair game. Likewise, you can never go wrong by stating an opinion and making clear that it is an opinion. For example, "In my opinion the cheese sucked." Where you can have problems is with statements like, "The meat was rotten." Since we don't have the scientific instruments or the expert standing to prove something like that, we'd probably need to retract the statement if challenged. But there's nothing wrong with, "In my opinion the fish tasted lousy." And you don't always need to say, "In my opinion," so long as it's implied. That's the basic set of rules for this sort of thing. Avoid overreaching and generalization, make sure you have your facts right, and state opinions as opinions not as facts. Good guidelines in any context, but especially here. Make sense?

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)

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Steve, thanks so much for laying out the way to go about this. I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I have arrived home to find out the cheese I bought was ammoniated or that some piece of produce was rank or spoiled. Large price differentials between stores for the same packaged product is another manifestation worth paying attention to and perhaps reporting here. For whatever reason--advertising I guess-- the New York Times (speaking of New York, of course) and other publications pretty much keep their hands off retail gastronomic shops unless there is some situation that involves the breaking of a law. I hope members can make eGullet a place that can be consistently useful for food shoppers.

Edited by robert brown (log)
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I'm trying to figure out what high prices have to do with food that is past it's prime? Doesn't Jefferson Market ever sell food that is over the hill? I have that problem at almost every food store in the city. And the problem is especially bad with cheese. I also don't understand why anyone thinks that D & D has a good reputation? I don't know them to have a great reputation for anything but their cheese and their spices. I always thought the great thing about that store was how nice it was laid out. Not that they had bad food, but I always thought of their meat and fish dept as inferior to places like Balducci's or Citarella.

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I think way back when Dean and DeLuca was a mighty name and it was virtually certain that anything in the store would be the best of its kind available in America. I doubt many real New Yorkers feel that way today, but the information filtering mechanism probably hasn't transmitted that news to the rest of the world. Dean and DeLuca is full of shoppers all the time and does very good business -- it's a major gastro-tourist destination.

Several years ago I wrote a huge report on all the major gourmet markets, which contained direct price comparisons on several items as well as my overall impressions. Sadly, it's quite out of date and much has changed since I wrote it (not least the decline of Balducci's). Nonetheless, perhaps this price comparision will be of interest to some as a historical matter:

+++

My Somewhat-Scientific Price-Comparison Project

One of my goals in comparing so many stores was to determine, in a somewhat-scientific manner, whether there are any substantial price differences among them. There certainly are.

Some price comparisons are purely objective (e.g., the price of a 13.5 ounce jar of Maille Dijon "Originale" mustard) because you can be pretty much certain that each store is selling the identical item. Other comparisons have a subjective component (e.g., the price of a pound of Calamata olives) because the product can vary from store-to-store, so you have to taste at each place to see whether the $7 olives are better than the $5 olives. Olives are fairly straightforward, though, so it is not particularly hard to make this judgment. Still other items are far too complex to compare in a scientific manner (e.g., smoked salmon) because it is very difficult to judge the quality of unlike items in an authoritative, meaningful, comparative way. Obviously, some judgments are possible--but they can be subject to a lot of debate.

I wanted to make this price comparison as objective as possible so that it would not be subject to claims of, "Sure, we're more expensive--but we're better!" This turned out to be a tall order.

It was not easy to find items stocked by all the major gourmet food markets that could be compared in a purely objective or just-a-little-bit subjective manner. I started at Dean & DeLuca with a list of fifty products and, in the end, there were only about ten things left that were stocked at most of the stores. I had to eliminate several of those items because they were in the far-too-subjective category (I also eliminated on-sale items because I wanted to compare everyday prices) and, ultimately, I was left with a list of three purely objective and two just-a-little-bit-subjective products (of course, my notes on the other 45 products were useful in that they helped me form my general impressions). The objective products consisted of two types of mustard and one type of balsamic vinegar (the balsamic vinegar is available in three levels of quality, designated by the number of years it has been aged). The subjective products were Calamata olives (they were quite consistent from store-to-store) and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (based on the markings and on samples of each, the stores all appeared to be selling a nearly identical product--although the Balducci's sample had a slightly better texture than the others).

For the purposes of assembling the raw data, I have divided the stores into two tiers (which explains the lack of strict alphabetical order here and in this whole essay). The first-tier stores are the major players and tend to have the most extensive inventories (Balducci's, Dean & DeLuca, Fairway Downtown, Fairway Uptown, Vinegar Factory and Zabar's). The second-tier places are not necessarily lower in quality, they just have slightly less to offer (Agata & Valentina, Citarella, Gourmet Garage and Grace's Marketplace). I treat the two Fairways as different stores because there are some price differences and each has a unique personality. I treat the two Citarellas and the three Gourmet Garages as single entities because I think that, surface appearances aside, they are quite similar (and prices are identical).

My conclusions, which are supported by the detailed information below and confirmed by my more extensive (but less precise) notes (as well as my general impressions), are as follows:

  • - Dean & DeLuca is almost always the most expensive place to buy anything, followed closely by the Vinegar Factory.
    - Fairway is almost always the least expensive, with the Uptown branch charging a few cents less for some items but the same for most.
    - The price difference between Dean & DeLuca and Fairway can be as much as 250% on a given product.
    - Zabar's prices are very competitive, but, overall, they tend to be a little higher than those at Fairway.
    - Balducci's prices tend to be a bit higher than those at Fairway or Zabar's, but they are not at all outrageous given that Balducci's is by far the nicest store of all.
    - As for the second-tier markets, there are insufficient data to draw firm conclusions about Agata & Valentina, Citarella, Gourmet Garage and Grace's Marketplace, but they all seem to charge reasonable prices for most items. Although these places occasionally offer great bargains, most prices are fairly standard.

The Raw Data

I personally collected all this data on Sunday, July 19, 1998. I got the information right off the actual price tags and signs at the actual stores. I did not rely on any catalogs or telephone representations.

Maille Dijon "Originale" Mustard (13.5 ounce jar)

Balducci's: $2.50

Dean & DeLuca: $4.25

Fairway Downtown: $1.99

Fairway Uptown: $1.99

Vinegar Factory: $3.29

Zabar's: $2.29

Agata & Valentina: N/A

Citarella: $2.29

Gourmet Garage: N/A

Grace's Marketplace: $2.49

Bornier Genuine Dijon Mustard (15.5 ounce jar)

Balducci's: N/A

Dean & DeLuca: $4.50

Fairway Downtown: $1.89

Fairway Uptown: $1.79

Vinegar Factory: $2.99

Zabar's: $1.89

Agata & Valentina: N/A

Citarella: N/A

Gourmet Garage: $2.50

Grace's Marketplace: N/A

Manicardi Aceto Balsamico di Modena (6, 12 and 21 year)

Balducci's: N/A

Dean & DeLuca: $8.95 (6 year); $19.95 (12 year); $36 (21 year)

Fairway Downtown: $25.99 (21 year)

Fairway Uptown: $6.99 (6 year); $12.79 (12 year); $24.69 (21 year)

Vinegar Factory: $18.99 (12 year); $34.99 (21 year)

Zabar's: N/A

Agata & Valentina: N/A

Citarella: N/A

Gourmet Garage: $6.95 (6 year)

Grace's Marketplace: N/A

Kalamata Olives (price per pound)

Balducci's: $5

Dean & DeLuca: $7

Fairway Downtown: $4.99

Fairway Uptown: $4.99

Vinegar Factory: $6.99

Zabar's: $4.98

Agata & Valentina: $5

Citarella: $3.99

Gourmet Garage: $5

Grace's Marketplace: $5.99

Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (price per pound)

Balducci's: $12.99

Dean & DeLuca: $15

Fairway Downtown: $9.99

Fairway Uptown: $9.99

Vinegar Factory: $11.99

Zabar's: $11.98

Agata & Valentina: $9.95

Citarella: $9.99

Gourmet Garage: $10.95

Grace's Marketplace: $10.99

+++

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)

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Fat Guy - Well let me ask you this, do you think that most people who shop in those stores really shop price? The only two stores I ever hear mentioned when price is discussed are Fairway and Jefferson Market, and Zabars for their cookware. On the snooty upper east side, most people I know shop for quality and convenience and I think the same is true with Dean & Deluca's core customer base. But I can't think of anyone ever saying they choose Grace's as opposed to Citarella as opposed to Eli's Market based on price.

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I certainly don't think most customers shop those places on price, though even people who don't care much about price might balk after confrontation with 250% price differentials on many items. Upper East Siders are somehow more tolerant of disproportionate pricing than Upper West Siders, even though these days there's quite a lot of wealth on the Upper West Side. Convenience is hard to argue with, of course, and there is no Fairway or Zabar's on the Upper East Side -- a situation that might change if people on the Upper East Side were more price-driven. I have a lot less of a clear understanding of why people downtown would shop at Dean and DeLuca -- I'm assuming there are a lot of tourists in there. But I think a lot of people are in the most expensive places because they believe that without thinking much about it they'll automatically get the best of whatever they buy. The thing is, they're wrong. There may have been a time when that assumption was correct, but that time is long past.

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)

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When Dean & DeLuca opemed a generation ago in the space that later became its cafe, now closed, its inventory was unique in New York. D & D pre-dated Fairway. (Steve Jenkins started out in the cheese department of D & D). Over the years, other stores caught up, For example, Maille mustard is now available in every supermarket. This was not always the case. A few years ago, the original owners, who gave the store its style and personality, sold it to a large corporation, and the homogenization that began then, IMO, is now accelerating. There seem to be more and packaged goods with the store label -- who knows what they really are -- as well as more items that you can get elsewhere for less money. D & D opened when SoHo was filled with art galleries; I used to say that it was my favorite gallery. I loved it and regret the decline.

Edited by Sandra Levine (log)
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Over the years, I have found myself making continuous adjustments to my food shopping. Living on the UES at 86 & Lex., I have fairly easy acces to Citarella, Eli's, Agata & Valentino, Grace's, and the three small stores run by Likitsakos. If need be I can go to Paradise Market and, for meat, to Schaller & Weber. Also Butterfield's or

Gentile's (both expensive, though), not to mention Rosedale, where I suspect I will always buy my fish unless I need something on a Sunday and have to go to Citarella. For a while I had a "thing" for Balducci's and I would actually go from home all the way to the diagonally opposite part of the city, sometimes stopping at Jefferson Market and, later, Whole Food at 27th and 7th. As a fan of diPalo's, I try to go twice month for the red cow Parmesan, roasted red peppers, mozarella, ricotta, and prosciutto di Parma for sure. Their prices are extremely fair, especially for olive oil. They have by a good margin the lowest price for Badia, for example, and good, inexpensive oil from Puglia, Sicily, etc.

Just to show you my current state and how opinions can change, I am off Citarella because I think they have the worst attitude in the city and, like a lot of these places, have underpaid, ignorant help that can make mistakes. I don't like chicanery with the produce such as putting it under Halogen lights, continually spraying it, and removing the withered or deteriorating parts. For a long time I was avoiding A&V. Now I have rekindled my patronage as it seems better supplied than before. The native-born Italian who owns the salon where I get my hair and nails done is very saavy about food. (He and his son also own Bacchus, a wine shop on 1st and 74th and his cousin owns Sistina). He likes A&V a lot, although he says I should go to Arthur Ave. and not always diPalo's as it takes the same amount of time to go to either (Does anyone have a comparative notion about these two locales?) I must say, however, that all the olive oil at A&V is house label, which is a glaring shortcoming. Sometimes I will get annoyed at Eli's and not go for a while. However, I noticed yesterday and recently that the produce is better. While his prices are high, I like going there because you can (but are not always supposed to) snack on nuts, munchies, and olives. If you hit it right, you can score free samples of sushi as well.

In a way, I do let overall price determine where I might do the bulk of my shopping on a given day. If I need a certain amount of staples, I will go to Citarella and, maybe now, A&V, as opposed to Grace's or Eli's. A&V has a terrific loaf of Pugliese bread; but for baguettes it is still Le Pain Quotidien. What are the mental and other dynamics of your food shopping?

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I live in a terrible neighborhood for food shopping -- 23rd and 1st. Todaro's is about the closest Italian ingredient store, and they are pretty terrible. The Garden of Eden on 23rd and 3rd is disgusting; although they do have ok ricotta cheese. The French Butcher on 2nd Avenue between 23rd and 22nd is not very good. For produce, I go to the Union Square Greenmarket in the spring, summer and fall; also can get chicken, some fish and some meat there. Otherwise, I have to get over to Chelsea for produce at Whole Foods in the winter and Chelsea Market for fish and some Italian foods (they have good-tasting pancetta if it's freshly cut); the produce store there seemed to have gone downhill the last time I was there. I won't even go near Balducci's anymore; shop at Faicco's on Bleecker Street for Di Nola pasta, cotecchino, sausages. Otherwise, Chinatown for pork, DiPalo's for cheese. Sullilvan Street Bakery, Pino's when I'm in the village. Shopping for food in New York is extremely time consuming.

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I only stop in at Dean & Deluca if I happen to be in the neighborhood. As others have said, the cheeses can be hit or miss, depending on what is ripe and how knowledgeable and good natured the person who helps you is. Just recently, I picked up some beautiful Brie de Meaux there that tasted remarkably fresh and hay-like. I could have sworn it wasn't aged 60 days.

The other thing I always pick up at D&D is my favorite Tuscan Olive Oil: Castello di Volpaia. I haven't seen it anywhere else in the city. If anyone knows a more economical source, please let me know.

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Marty,

D&D must have a line on a great maker of Brie de Meaux, that is the one cheese I will go there to get specially. In fact, even the Washington DC D&D has that same fantastic product. As for your olive oil, there is a shop on Columbus and 70 something that is dedicated to nothing but olive oil, and olive oil products. Not sure of the name or whether they have yours there, but might be worth a look if you happen to be in the nieghborhood.

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Good food shopping in NYC is part trek part detective work and part exercise.

Like Toby and others, I try to buy as much as possible directly from local farmers and producers. Most fish, all chicken, lamb and pork are from greenmarket suppliers.

D&D cheese can be hit or miss, yes. However, I do find the people at the cheese counter to be well informed, which helps.

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I rmember D&D when it was just D. :biggrin:

On the South side of Prince Giorgio DeLuca opened a cheese store which eventually grew into the empire he sold. It was a store where you dealt directly with the man responsible for both buying and selling the product. He knew his goods and he not only had to look you in the eye when he sold them, but when you returned the next time. Now it's a corporate affair where the sales clerk has no connection with the product and more often than not, no knowledge. One of the few places in Manhattan where that's not the case is Di Palo's. Louis is in contact with the producers of his parmesan and his olive oils. Of the latter, he carries a good number of artisanal olive oils from a number of Italian producers. One particular farm from Sicily provides him with three distinctive novello oils each year--two are single olive varietals and the other a blend. Louis spends time in Italy getting to know his producers. Most other stores have buyers who spend time getting to know the wholeslaers and importers here.

Robert, I think it's interesting that shops find a place in your shopping pattersn and then lose it and find it again. The same happens to us, with the exception of a few stores. It's those stores that offer something the other shops don't have that draw us in, but lose us because after the initial joys, we discover the gaps in their stock and service.

I shop price. (I feel like I'm at an AA meeting.) It's hard to shop price on meat, fish and produce, but I won't pay six bucks for canned and bottled goods that available for five a few blocks away, except in a pinch. Moreover, when the twelve dollar oil is going for sixteen dollars, the meat and produce starts to look suspicious as well. The draw of a place like D&D is that people can get all sorts of things under one roof for a special dinner and they can buy presents with a fancy label. The thing about presents is that we (in the editorial sense) like to give presents that have an aura of luxury and nothing says luxury more than a gift from an overpriced shop.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Toby: You're not terribly far from 1) The Grand Central Marketplace and 2) Amish Market's Midtown East location. These would surely be worth investigating as additions to your shopping itinerary.

Damian: It's on Columbus between 68th and 69th and it's called Oliviers & Co.

Robert B.: You'll go to Arthur Avenue and hate it on your first visit, because you need to sift through a lot of dreck to get to the gold. Di Palo has already made the first cut for you and is therefore much more user-friendly. But in the end Arthur Avenue has the better selection and prices overall. I bet 95% of the items at Teitel Bros. are priced at the lowest price of any retailer in America, the salume at several shops on the Avenue are among the best available on these shores, and Mount Carmel Wine has the best selection of Italian wines I've seen anywhere (outside Italy, I suppose). We've had some Arthur Avenue threads that would be worth looking at if you're planning a trip.

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)

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As for your olive oil, there is a shop on Columbus and 70 something that is dedicated to nothing but olive oil, and olive oil products. Not sure of the name or whether they have yours there, but might be worth a look if you happen to be in the nieghborhood.

I haven't been there, but would the name of the shop be Oliviers and Company? [i see Fat Guy has confrimed that as I type.] They have shops all over NYC, including Grand Central Station. They have shops all over France, and I'm willing to bet all over the world. I haven't tried their products so I don't know how good they are. My fear is that with so many stores and the volume business they must do, it's got to be hard for them to have truly artisanal products. For me, the advantage of NY is the variety and choice it offers and I tend to eschew shops that are chains, even when of a ery high quality. Marty mentions his favorite olive oil. I don't find it interesting to have a favorite oil. I much prefer to vary my oils. It makes salads much more interesting. I'll generally taste a variety of the novellos when they come in and make a mental note of the ones that interest me and go through them over the year.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Toby's post made me blink. I lived in that neighborhood for a couple of years, and found the food shopping very good. What's wrong with the French butcher apart from his prices? Gramercy Fish a couple of doors away may not be the best in the city, but is pretty good by most standards. Lamazou for cheese; First Avenue Wines for wine; a pretty good Garden of Eden at 23rd and 3rd; the French deli attached to Pitchoune a few blocks down for baguettes and pates.

As for Dean & Deluca, I use it because it's open all day Sunday. Whgat are the downtown alternatives? Murray's for cheese, but I don't know any good butchers open Sunday. Even on Saturday, should I go to Murray's and Ottomanelli's instead of D&D? I mean, what are my alternatives? I just don't have time to make a special trip to the Upper West Side.

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Toby, you're right about how time-consuming food shopping is, not to mention how tiring. At my house, I count a 90-minute shopping expedition equal to preparing dinner and doing the cleaning up, which is why I let my wife do it all!!!!

Bux, you're right about the discovery aspect of supply, quality and price as a precrusor to sticking with a shop or taking a hiatus or permanent leave.

Steve, thanks for the primer on Arthur Ave. I will make my first trip very soon and report back with my initial impressions.

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Bux - Thanks for telling us that you don't find it interesting to have a favorite oil and that you prefer to vary oils. Except Marty didn't say he didn't vary oils, only that he has a favorite one :wink:. He might use his favorite oil only once a year and then use 364 different oils on the other days. But it's okay for him to have a favorite right?

Shopping in this city is time consuming because the stores are large and difficult to get into and out of. When you go to Paris, not only does a place like Barthelemy have a great selection of perfectly aged cheese, but it isn't a hassle to shop there. If one wanted to go to Balducci's, Amish Market and Chelsea Market to buy all of the ingredients they are looking for, it isn't thw walk between the places that makes it difficult, it's the time you have to spedn shopping and waiting to pay in each place that makes food shopping in Manhattan infuriating.

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As for Dean & Deluca, I use it because it's open all day Sunday. . . . I mean, what are my alternatives?

Shop on Saturday?

(Sorry, sorry.)

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)

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Hey Steve, thanks for reading carefully. Note also that I also only said it was my favorite "Tuscan" olive oil.

I probably buy a bottle of the Volpaia twice a year. It is a very robustly flavored and aromatic olive oil that I would not want to use every day, but it is what I reach for when I want to really show off the flavor of the olive oil.

It has a sentimental value for me and my wife because we stayed at a beautuful B&B near there (see link) and visited the estate.

Other times I experiment. In fact, my most recent olive oil purchase (unopened still) was a bottle of Castello di Ama. I like their Chianti an awful lot so I figured their oil would be interesting . Found it at D&D, by the way, as I was looking for my Volpaia. It was pricey, but thankfully not approaching Casuccia territory.

I live a few blocks away from that Oliviers & Co. store. I went in once or twice and sampled a few things. My sense is Bux's chain-related fears about them are spot on, although they do get a lot of good press from Patricia Wells (not that that means anything).

I found it somewhat aggravating to find their outlets (and L'Occitaine too) on every other corner in Provence.

La Locanda (B&B in Chianti)

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