“Go to the grocery store and buy better things. Buy quality, buy organic, buy natural, go to the farmers market. Immediately that’s going to increase the quality of the food you make.”

Michael Symon

I had the opportunity about a week ago to check out the new ShopRite located in the new Vista Technology Campus in Slingerlands before it opened. The Grand Opening was last Sunday so I was interested to see what this new location had to offer. First we stopped by the cheese section where Robert Petrie, the food service manager, and Augie Reyes, the deli merchandise manager, described to us what they’re going to offer. We were there 3 days before the opening and though we were able to try a lot of their products, some things like their wet cheese bar weren’t set up to keep the food fresh. One of my favorites was a 3-year-old cheddar, aged 1200 days as well as an aged gouda. I was impressed to see not only the amount of cheeses but the various ages of cheese they offer. One of my favorite things we were able to try was a brie with Wild Strawberry Harvest Song which I believe was a jam. The sweet and creamy was a great pairing and both are available in the cheese department. Chris the cheese monger told us that not only would he be able to help us with our cheese purchase but he also could help with cheese pairing. I know my first stop when I’m looking for a wine and cheese pairing.

The next section was the meat. Chef Wise explained to us the demonstration space. Chef Wise is a graduate of CIA (Cum Laude) and went to Albany Academy and then Siena College so he is quite familiar with the area and the kinds of foods this area specializes in. He explained that the demonstration area was a way to help the community try to cook some new foods they may not have in the past, to try something new and not be afraid of it. If there are any questions you have about not only what they’re making there that day but in general, there’s a qualified Chef to use at your convenience backed by the in-house dietitian so you know the health benefits of what you’re eating. Chef Wise said that the purpose of the demonstration station is about helping the community, “not just about food, it’s about service.” We were able to try the brisket with gravy, veggies and rice pilaf. Everything was delicious and I can’t wait to see what other demonstrations they’ll have so I can learn about foods that I can find at ShopRite and may not have thought to try before.

My blog is on all things local and sure, I enjoyed the tour of ShopRite and though it’s a local location, most of the food I was tasting was from national brands. I was starting to wonder how I was going to tie this in to my blog logically. Then it was explained to us that one of the main reasons we were there was to see the various local businesses that they were selling in their stores. They offer products from Dominick’s Pizza, Grandpa Pete’s, Minissales, Gatherer’s as well as Our Daily Eats. I’ll be sure to focus in on those products in a blog entry later this week.

Next, we went on to look at the deli. Since, as I mentioned before, more of their fresher items weren’t on display since we were there 2 days before the Grand Opening so I wasn’t able to take a look at any of the salads they make but most of their kosher-style meat offerings are Boar’s Head or Black Bear. I was a little disappointed.  We were able to try a delicious panini but I already know what Boar’s Head tastes like so I was surprised it was going to be tasty. Yes, Boar’s Head is good quality meat and I understand that though they add quality local products they try to keep most of what you find at ShopRite pretty uniform over locations. I can name plenty of markets and delis that offer Boar’s Head, I was hoping for something in the deli department that would bring me especially to ShopRite, maybe meat from a local farm along with the Boar’s Head selection. I’m curious to taste their salads though, a good macaroni salad says a lot about a deli. Though I don’t particularly like coleslaw, I was able to try it and I can’t say that I enjoyed it but as mentioned, I don’t like coleslaw. I can say that everyone else seemed to enjoy it so if that’s your thing, definitely give it a try.

I was impressed with the food from the Carving Station. They always offer Corned Beef and Pastrami as a sandwich options but the other sandwich options vary between lunch and dinner. They range from carved brisket to carved turkey, a london broil or even a garlic sirloin. Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? I was able to taste a bit of pastrami and it honestly just melted in my mouth, if you don’t know what to order I recommend starting with a pastrami sandwich. Lunch is served 12:00PM-2:00PM and dinner is served 4:30PM-6:30PM so you can grab it and either take it back to the office and make everyone jealous or take it home after a long day at work and not have to worry about dinner. No down side there, right? While you’re there  getting dinner, you can pick up some dessert where 95% of the baked goods are made in-house, along with featured products from local locations like Coccadotts, Villa Italia and the Cookie Factory.

We also had a moment to ask questions to the on-site dietitian and pharmacy. They offer all things to help you with your nutrition like toured guides of the supermarket, help with finding food you can eat if you have any particular allergy, scavenger hunts to familiarize you with labels and where to find the food also good for your health and cooking classes so after you learn where to find all the healthy food, you know how to cook it. I learned that the pharmacy offers a lot of generic medication for free including children’s prescription multi-vitamins, prenatal vitamins, diabetes medication and certain antibiotics.

If you have any questions about any medication you may be on and if they’re on the list of free medication available, they have a pamphlet with a list but honestly, the pharmacists are incredibly knowledgeable and it’s important to create a rapport with your local pharmacist. While you’re there, make sure you get the Flu Vaccine or the Shingles Vaccine that they begin offering today. Can’t get to the pharmacy? All ShopRite locations deliver prescriptions for free, 15 miles from any location. If grocery shopping isn’t your favorite thing to do, they have a Shop at Home Program that you can order via the phone or online. You can either order your groceries and pick them up, completely free or pay $6.95 to have them delivered to your house unless the order is over $100 then the delivery is completely free.

Overall, I learned a lot about what ShopRite offers in terms of being connected to the community, from offering local products to delivering groceries to homes. I was also impressed with how willing they were to hear of adding more local products in their stores. If there’s something they don’t sell and you would like them to, they’re very open to adding new products. As they mentioned, “Local is a days trip away, as close as possible.” I’m interested in checking out all of what ShopRite has to offer now that they’re fully open. What I’m really excited about is that they’ve given me the opportunity to give away THREE $25 ShopRite gift cards so you can experience what I have. Though they can be used at any ShopRite location, I recommend checking out the new one in the Slingerlands. It’s very well-organized and the staff is awesome and so passionate about making your shopping experience the best it can be, helping in any way possible.