By Catharine L. Kaufman
Long gone are the days of the pedestrian supermarket experience when you’d troll the aisles scouting for lackluster staples and hunting down phantom sale items, shuffling through the store in a bored stupor before pushing your squealing cart to the check out counter, the most challenging query about to be posed to you, “Paper or plastic?” — the whole affair about as titillating as a senior Scrabble tournament.
Today upscale markets practically wine and dine you at every department (who said “there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”) and seduce you with samples of Belgian chocolates, gluten-free cookies, power bars and organic skin care products, while providing health food lectures, book signings and back house tours.
Whole Foods Market, the anchor store in the shops of La Jolla Village, is now offering a string of mouth-watering and inspiring events in-house. Here’s what’s on their shopping list for March.
This week kicks off the first in a series of sit-down dinners taking you on a gastronomic journey around the world, “using products sourced from emerging countries and suppliers,” said Chassie Bell, marketing supervisor. Proceeds from the dinner (6-8 p.m. Thursday, March 10, tickets $25) will benefit the Whole Planet Foundation, whose mission is to empower impoverished women in nations like Peru, Guatemala, Kenya and Haiti by giving them microcredit loans to dial-up their entrepreneurial spirit with regard to locally harvested products. The five-course global dinners will focus on Whole Trade products supplied by these inspired women.
As an added bonus, the exotic dishes will be paired with wine. Cheers!
The Big Cheese
Join Jeff, the big cheese aficionado for a saporous jaunt through cheese land that will teach you the who, what, where, why and how of gourmet cheeses, 2 p.m. Saturday, March 12; tickets $5. Learn the differences between grass-fed cow, raw milk, goat, sheep and lactose-safe cheeses, and how to bring out the distinct flavors of each. A fruit and cheese sampling will follow.
Iron Chef Cook-Off
Eat lunch and be a judge for this Iron Chef-esque competition as team members compete for culinary bragging rights during an in-store cook off from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 19. Tickets, $5, will benefit Whole Planet Foundation. Popular dishes from emerging countries will be prepared with whole trade, sourced products. Stuff your face silly, then cast your vote for your favorite department’s delicacies.
Meet Herbivore Superman
Brendan Brazier, an ironman triathlete, is one of a handful of athletes fueled by a 100-percent plant-based diet. When he’s not riding the bike, swimming strokes and running cross country in training for the next triathlon (or recovering from one), Brazier is writing bestselling books, such as, “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide,” and creating the award-winning line of whole food products called Vega.
The latter includes smoothie blends, protein shakes, vitamins, minerals and maca root chocolate bars to boost energy, relieve stress, enhance libido and balance hormones, among other boons.
Brazier will give an enlightening seminar on reducing nutritional stress with plant-based whole foods, followed by a book signing with goodies to take home, 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 22.
Beer Tasting Extravaganza
Firestone Walker Brewery will pour samples from their limited-release brews, including Double Barrel Ale, Union Jack IPA, Velvet Merlin, Red Nectar and others. Sip, snack and take home a beer stein, on the house. 5-7 p.m. Friday, March 25. Tickets $10.
Program spaces are limited. RSVP at (858) 642-6700 or LaJollaEvents@wholefoods.com
Celery Citrus Salad with Balsamic and Feta
(Compliments of the chefs at Whole Foods)
5 tangerines (Honey, Murcotts or Satsumas)
1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) feta cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
4 cups (about ¼ pound) mixed salad greens
1 cup roughly chopped celery leaves
3 cups sliced celery
Directions: Squeeze juice from one tangerine into a large bowl. Add feta cheese and vinegar, and mix with a fork, mashing the cheese to make a dressing.
Peel remaining tangerines and separate into segments. Transfer to the bowl with the dressing. Add the salad greens, celery leaves and celery, and toss well.
For more light and lively spring recipes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Kitchen Shrink and company’s food blog at