March 25, 2015 The Re-birth of Los Altos Ranch Market, New Recipe: Avocado stuffed with Curried Chicken Salad
Yesterday I filed a Motion to extend the deadline for filing my brief, so this morning when I received an order from the 10th Circuit extending the filing date, I felt like I could get out of the house. This was good news because the flyer in the mail from Los Altos Ranch Market looked promising. I arrived around 10:30 and the produce department was humming with activity. Guys were dumping large produce boxes of vegetables onto the display areas and there were lots of folks there roaming from fresh pile to fresh pile to pick up the specials. Here are a couple of pictures of the specials. As you can see there are five Day Specials, Wednesday and Thursday specials and there are also 2 day specials on weekends. Wednesday and Thursday are the best days for produce. I immediately noticed that the variety, quality and number of produce attendants had increased dramatically. It was like the produce department had been resurrected.
I started filling my cart: first 14 avocados for me and 14 for Suzette’s restaurant (7 for $.99), then about 6 or 7 red Roma tomatoes (2 lb. for $.99), then a large bag of small ripe navel oranges for juicing (3 lb. for $.99), a large bag of yellow onions (7 lb. for $.99), three Manila mangos (Altaufo) for $.50 each, a pineapple (2 lb. for $.99), an eggplant for $1.29, a fresh celery root for $3.00/lb., bananas (2 lb. for $.99), an acorn squash for $.69/lb. and 5 pasilla chiles for Chile Relleno (2 lb. for $.99). I was in a food frenzy, so I pushed my, by now rather full, cart over to the fish department and found an even better value, Large head on shrimp for $5.99/lb. I bought 3 lbs. and as an afterthought bought three sierra filets for $1.29/lb. just because the price was so good. As I was looking for the 14 oz. bag of chips for $1.39, which I now realize is a Friday Special, I saw and bought a 2 liter bottle of Senorial Sangria for $.99 to be mixed with fruits, such as orange and pineapple and red wine for sangria.
I was in heaven as I pushed my cart toward the checkout counter. There were some issues at the checkout counter: the computer price on the acorn squash was wrong (the supervisor sent the checkout attendant to check the price and I went with her to direct her attention to the item and code number). When we returned to the checkout counter and she entered the Code No. 4750, which appeared on the label for the acorn squashes, the item name and price came up different from the label in the produce area. As a growing line of people were waiting, I engaged in a philosophical discussion with the cashier. I asked her if she believed her eyes or the computer. She could not answer that question, but the supervisor returned and gave me the acorn squash for $.69/lb. and said, “I will report that to the proper person.”
We went through a similar experience with the celery root which was lovely and beginning to sprout a green shoot, so I might try to plant it. I must have been the only person in the store who knew what a celery root was. The cashier was completely flummoxed by now, because after she and I and the supervisor each examined at all the items in the 30 to 35 page code book with pictures, we all agreed; there was no listing for celery root (Sort of an Alice's Restaurant moment, when you realize that all of the systems created to deal with the problem, only expose some greater problem). Rather than again ordering the cashier to go check the price, the supervisor finally asked, “How much was it?” I answered, “I think $3.29/lb.” She rang the price up as $3.00/lb. and I was thrilled.
Finally, around noon I paid and headed for the parking lot in a glorious mood, leaving a long line of angry customers glaring at me. I hate to seem callous but this was one of my greatest food shopping adventures ever; right up there with my ultimate food shopping experience. We were staying at the condo at Conchas Chinas Beach in Puerto Vallarta about twenty years ago. Scott and I went to buy some groceries at a small neighborhood super mini up the hill near the river. When I checked out, bells rang and lights flashed and I thought I was being detained or deported for some reason, Scott, whose Spanish was better than mine, told me that the cashier had told him that I was the 1,000,000th customer and I had won a 50 lb. bag of avocados. I remember saying "muchas gracias" to everyone and Scott helping me drag my 50 lb. bag of avocados out of the store because I was still in a total daze from that surreal shopping experience. That is how I felt today as I left the Ranch Market today; exhilarated by a surreal food shopping experience.
When Suzette got home around 6:15 she was tired and I had to go to meditation until 8:15, so we agreed to not cook a big meal, but instead she would make a chicken and egg salad with the PPI chicken breast while I meditated, stuffing one of the medium avocados I had bought at Sprouts on Saturday and chopping Romaine lettuce to make a salad. As I left I asked, “Can you add some curry to make a curried chicken and egg salad and got her the bottle of curry powder Luke had given us for Christmas.
When I arrived home the salad was ready and Suzette had diced one of the fresh mangoes into chunks to sprinkle over the salad. The only thing Suzette thought were missing were razor thin slices of Roma tomato like those surrounding the Chopped kale salad we had had Friday a week ago at dinner before the Sofia Rei concert at the NHCC. I took a Roma tomato and tried to cut thin slices, but the tomato was more ripe and softer than those served at the dinner at the NHCC, but with a sharp knife I did pretty well and the visual effect was the same,
We enjoyed our curried chicken and egg salad stuffed avocado with sips of a wine spritzer we made with a sweet wine we bought in Pennsylvania last spring named Spring Fling with a splash of Framboise Raspberry liquor over ice in the garden.
During dinner, Suzette made two related announcements. Since this was the beginning of Spring, she did not want to cook many more hot meals and since she will shortly be fully engaged in the re-modeling of the kitchen at the Center for Ageless Living, she would not be able to cook and I would need to shoulder the primary responsibility. Both suggestions suit me fine; if I can get my brief done soon.
Sometimes responsibility gets in the way of the pleasures of food, but hopefully there will still be those little experiences like shopping for food that can turn into a memorable adventure.
Can BBQ'd shrimp be far away.