Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Really? Giant Eagle?

Normally, I like to post about places that I have eaten and fill you in on my own personal opinion – not necessarily shared by everyone. However, today I have opted to instead talk about grocery shopping.

I am not a terribly efficient grocery shopper. I don’t clip coupons, wait for sales, or scour the paper for deals. I don’t plan the family meals a week in advance and then collect all the necessary ingredients so that I don’t have to keep running back and forth to the store.

Rather, I’m the one who ,mid-afternoon, is hit by the realization that two hungry teenagers will actually be expecting dinner at some point. So, I open the fridge and take a gander. 12 types of mustard, 8 jars of miscellaneous Indian concoctions, Thai chili sauce, hoi sin, sesame oil, nuoc nam, sambal oelek, sweet pickles, sour pickles, gherkins…oh you get the gist. There’s no food in there – only condiments.

Anyway…..the kids are expecting some kind of chewable food-type item for dinner – not just a selection of condiments. So, I ponder the options. More often than I care to admit, this particular need is satisfied by the culinary delights offered at Costco. Not terribly healthful, but so completely convenient.

Sadly, we cannot live on fat and sodium forever – so I gird up my loins and head to the grocery store. I have a fairly large Weis right in my neighborhood. And I do shop there on occasion. Although it has improved over the years by adding new items and brightening up the place - shopping there is less than thrilling.

And then there’s my sweet little find. It looks like a complete dump from the outside. Plopped on the Olden Mile, outwardly it is as inviting as Fredericktowne Mall. It’s in that kind of rundown looking strip center that has a pet store, a dollar store, a diner and some other non-descript storefronts.

I’m not sure why I ever stopped there in the first place. I think that maybe I was in desperate need of dog food and so just kind of ran in on my way home from visiting the shoe repair guy in the mall.

Anyway, in I went. What???? Are you kidding me??? Where the heck am I? 10 different types of lettuce, 6 types of greens, 8 types of peppers – and they are all beautiful! Not the wrinkly skinned soft types I often find in my store – but beautiful, enticing oblongs of poblanos and jalapenos. Every single vegetable or fruit I wanted was not only available, but was presented in a clean, accessible and enticing manner.

So, I loaded up the cart. As I left the citrus behind, I lifted my head. There before me was the cheese department. Not just an unattended oblong display case with the same cheeses I can normally find at Costco (only more expensive) Oh no – this was a REAL cheese department. 400 types of cheese, fig jams, company- ready spreads . And….a real person working behind the counter! You want to try the smoked eggplant dip? No problem…here ya go. You want to taste how the fig jam works with the manchego….here, take a taste. I was completely impressed.

And could the cheese girl been any nicer? No she could not not. So I bought a bunch of cheese to go with all the peppers and arugula in the cart.

Next up: the “ethnic” aisle. Unlike other grocers I visit – the ethnic aisle in this Giant Eagle is an entire aisle. Not just a few feet tucked away at the end of canned beans. But the whole darned aisle (even though they do take some liberties with some of the so-called “ethnic” Italian items) . You want Mexican? No problem, there are a multitude of different salsas to peruse – and not just Pace and Old El Paso either. Plenty of flavors and options I’d never heard of. (Note to self: sometime this summer, I HAVE to do a jarred salsa tasting. I don’t have high hopes that I will like ANY of them – but I can dream). They’ve got Indian and Hispanic and Italian and British and Kosher. British is ethnic?

After adding 80 pounds of condiments to the cart, I was about done shopping. My three major food group needs were fulfilled: produce, cheese , condiments. Before I left though, I did take a gander at the meat and seafood departments as well. Nice. Not Trouts …. But nice…

Oh, and by the way....for all of you busy guardians of children - they have an on-site child care area where your kids can frolic while you shop. And... you can earn "Fuel Perks" that are good for a discount on your gas purchases at the Get 'N Go on Rt 40.

At the end of my excursion, I was just delighted with my “find” of a grocery store in Frederick. And I hope you find it a “find” as well. Now, if I could only find room amidst the condiments to put all the groceries away…..

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've been shopping @ Giant Eagle for the past 4 years and just LOVE it! True, they've updated a lot. I think the potenial competition from the ever-promised Wegman's have GE on their 'A' game. Inevitably, I've found that the prices are better at GE for most everything I buy, AND I can't beat the gas rebate! It's saved me $400 in a year. Now if only Trader Joe's would more up here. ;-)

Dining Diva said...

I hope more and more people discover the GE. They deserve to reap some rewards!

Sheri said...

That Giant Eagle on 40 is pretty remarkable. Ever since they started offering the scan-and-bag-as-you-go option, I haven't gone anywhere else to do my "big" shopping. Now, I am a coupon queen, and am obsessive about my meal lists and grocery lists, so I save quite a bit of money (anywhere from $60 to $80 per trip), and have gotten about three or four free tanks of gas over the past year (I drive a minivan). I noticed that the Giant Eagle on 7th Street is renovating, so I'm wondering if they're also going to start offering the hand-held scanner. I plan to check it out.

Oh, and Giant Eagle's rotisserie chickens are so much yummier than Costco's! Lots of meat on the bone, and the flavor is delicious. Costco's were bland and stingy with the meat. I use those chickens to shred meat for recipes.

Dining Diva said...

Glad to hear about how you love it there, too. Today, for the first time, I used my Giant Eagle card a the Get/Go near Ft. Detrick. I saved 80 cents a gallon!!! I'm so glad that I"m the type of person that lets my car get just about empty before filling....Cuz I put almost 20 gallons of gas in for a savings of $16 on the tank.

Thanks again Fuel Perks!!

Anonymous said...

You must have only POSTED that article then...you couldn't have been shopping then, UNLESS you have a twin....BECAUSE didn't you ZUMBA with me last TUESDAY at 11:15 at the Y? The FNPost pic lead me here & you LOOK quite similar to the FUN, new gal I had in class LAST week but unfortunately NOT THIS WEEK??!!!! SOOOOO anyway...more later...if in fact I "cracked on of my missing persons cases"
love...zumbaing krazy kelli

Dining Diva said...

What a super sleuth you are!!! Yep - I was in your Zumba class - which as you know.. I LOVED!! Sorry that I missed yesterday - my car was having a temper tantrum and had to be dealt with. But... I plan on being there next week!! cHA CHA CHA

Fred Foodie said...

Neat review. I'd never have guessed it driving by. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it looks like the place where everything is canned. Also- thanks for your comments. I really enjoy your blog by the way and I've added you to my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...as a Frederick resident always looking for new place to take a dinner date, I enjoy reading your food blog comments. You are the best Dining Diva and I also secretely know you to be a delicious Dancing Diva ...

see you in class and bring your friend(s)

;)

Walkersville WildMan

Josh said...

So GE, pretty much the best place in Fred. The one on 7th isn't so bad either, sounds like they pretty much copied the store model between the two.

Chef Christine said...

Woo hoo Janis!! I am HUGE GE fan and am thrilled you happened upon it. I've been guiding my students there for years, and it's even better now with the cheeses, veggies, and yes, great fish too. Believe it or not, I like the 7th St. Store even better. Plus, I have saved over $1,200 in gas alone over the past year. How crazy is that??

Dining Diva said...

Christine - of course I remember how you love the 7th street GE!! How could I forget?

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Giant Eagle. I shop at the one on 7th street. Each week, I get a few gift cards as well to local dining establishments. Since we eat out once or twice on the weekend anyway. This ups my fuel perks. I usually save approx 60 cents per gallon each week. I have compared prices and find Giant Eagle more reasonable than Giant, Weis or Safeway and very comparible to Bloom.

Dining Diva said...

I didn't think about using the gift cards to boost my fuel perks. Good idea!

Anonymous said...

Giant Eagle is a grocery chain out of the Pittsburgh, PA area...my family's been shopping there all my near 30 years of life. I had never seen one outside of Western PA before I moved to Frederick two years ago and, let me tell you, I was happy to see it. They sell Isaly's chipped chopped ham, a regional, very unhealthy, favorite of mine.

Dining Diva said...

My family is also from Pittsburgh - so I have been a Giant Eagle (iggle) shopper for decades!

Of course I know all about the chipped ham... many a summer was spent eating sandwiches made with this mixed meat concoction.

It always tasted great - until that one fateful day when my mom packed it in my lunch on the way to summer camp...at the HEbrew Institute! Oops. They were not happy.

Peter Vache' said...

Giant-Eagle has redone itself very well, but it is the one of the most expensive grocery stores in Frederick. While I was researching starting a grocery delivery business I did a price survey of 6 area stores and Peapod. Giant-Eagle and Safeway are the most expensive stores (Safeway being no#1).

Twigg said...

Haha! I love your blog. I guess I'm a little late to the table (figuratively), but your insights are valuable to the average person looking for a decent place to eat and you are funny. Keep up the good work.

Dining Diva said...

Thanks Twigg!!! Glad to hear that someone is getting some use out of the blog...