Local Fare at Vintage Grocers

box of groceries

Vintage Grocers opened last fall in The Promenade at Westlake, offering a huge choice of groceries and fresh food, with an emphasis on locally sourced items. Those are not limited to fresh ingredients for the cheese or poke bar—Vintage Grocers also sources packaged and non-perishable items from nearby farms and artisans. Some of their local growers will be at the Westlake store this Saturday, April 1, from 11AM to 2PM so you can meet them, learn about how they make their food, and sample their products!

Vintage Grocers truly is a market for the community, by the community

I was amazed to see what you can get at Vintage Grocers that is made locally. My family and I enjoyed a sampling of these products recently so we could share them with you, too.

Breakfast

Trail mix with bowl of oatmeal

I’ve been getting up early during the week, and to make breakfast easy and quick I’ve been whipping up large batches of quinoa oatmeal and freezing it ahead of time. I pop some in the microwave to heat while I’m fixing my coffee and feeding the cat, and when it’s hot I toss some Perfect Balance Trail Mix on top.

trail mix closeup

I love the mixture of flavors from the unusual (for trail mix) ingredients: including pistachios, organic goji berries, cashews, Canadian farm fresh cranberries, walnuts, organic mulberries, Hawaiian macadamia nuts, and more. The company is based in Venice and they use mostly organic foods. There are little cubes of raw cacao that melt in the hot oatmeal and I forget that I’m eating a healthy dish.

Snack

granola bites

I’ll admit it: I don’t have a lot of time or patience when I get hungry and I get the munchies in the middle of the day. I will literally reach for the closest food at hand that is ready to eat. That’s why when I found Lark Ellen Granola (from Ojai!) bites in my Vintage Grocer bundle, I was excited and I knew that I would devour these bites. And I wouldn’t get a stomach ache or feel guilty, because they are made of sprouted seeds and nuts and full of taste. I spent the weekend decluttering, and I was annoyed every time I had to stop to eat because I was on a roll. Once I started grabbing a few chunks of granola bites, though, I could continue and snack at the same time. These are perfect for kids’ (or parents’) lunches!

Dinner

eggs tortillas salsa

We got this adorable little package of Kaliko Farms Eggs and we simply couldn’t wait to try them, but it was dinnertime. Easy solution: eggs for dinner! We have breakfast for dinner at least every two weeks, and in general we consume a lot of eggs, so the whole family was eager to see how much better or different these would taste. Kaliko Farms is based in Malibu and their animals are treated humanely, because “happy, healthy birds will produce top-quality eggs.”

boy eating eggs

The verdict: each kid basically inhaled his eggs with no tortilla or salsa needed. My husband and I opted for taco-style eggs, and we loved them. So there is something to the idea that local, organic eggs from happy birds taste great! Kaliko Farms will be at the event on Saturday, so you can meet the people behind the eggs!

Dessert

Beachy Cream Ice Cream

Since summer is coming and we’re already getting nice warm days and evenings, ice cream is on the menu at our house again! This Beachy Cream Ice Cream from Santa Monica is made of organic ingredients using dairy from a creamery in Marin County. Local farmers’ markets supply the ingredients to make flavorings from scratch.

boy smiling at ice cream

boy eating ice cream

happy boy with ice cream

My husband loves bananas and ice cream, so he definitely enjoyed this banana-flavored ice cream, even more because I topped it with Malibu Honey, from bees that gathered nectar from flowers in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains. And if you’ve ever glanced at this website before, you know I am a big fan of the Santa Monica mountains. I asked him how it tasted together and he said “Good!” (He’s not a man of many words, so I can embellish by adding my own opinion: it’s delicious.)

beachy cream ice cream and malibu honey

This is a small sampling of locally-sourced products you can get at Vintage Grocers. I encourage you to visit their new store in Westlake and see what strikes your fancy. The store is huge and roomy, so you won’t even bump into other shoppers while you are perusing their shelves. You might find a new favorite thing for your pantry.

Hey! What About Mom?!

I got to the end of this post and realized there are no pictures of me in it, so here’s a selfie with an Apricot Lane avocado.

woman holding avocado

It looked so good and it was perfectly ripe after sitting in a basket for a few days so I put it on a salad. Bonus! These avocados will be at the store next week!

ripe avocado cut in half
salad topped with avocado
Head on down to Vintage Grocers (and come this weekend to meet with local growers!) to see for yourself!

Vintage Grocers Meet the Growers flyer
Special thanks to Vintage Grocers for sponsoring this post. All opinions are our own.

Mother Nature’s Meat – Hearst Ranch Beef at Local Whole Foods Markets

courtesy of Whole Foods Market

When you bite into a juicy cheeseburger, do you think about the source of the beef?

When the cheese is oozing out of the sandwich and the juice drips down your chin, do you wonder about the health of the cattle that gave you this meat? Or how far the harvested beef had to travel to get to the store where you bought it?

Me neither. I simply enjoy a tasty burger. Or a nice juicy medium-rare steak. I’ve been doing it for years.

And then, like a lot of Americans, I watched Food 101 and I read Fast Food Nation. Blecch, right? Never eating meat again. Until the next time I was on a long road trip and McDonald’s was the only establishment for miles where one could buy a quick bite to eat and keep going. Sigh.

But when I am grocery shopping, I do pay attention to the quality and sources of the foods I buy. I have gone out of my way to visit small markets to buy organic chicken and hormone free beef. I don’t do this all the time (because hello, hate traveling east of Calabasas if it’s not totally necessary) but when I do I always feel better about sinking my teeth into a perfectly grilled steak.

During this season, I can just go to Whole Foods Market in Thousand Oaks, because it is among 18 Southern California locations that will be selling organic antibiotic-free beef from locally raised grass-fed cattle at Hearst Ranch. Yes, the same Hearst as in Hearst Castle. Right up the coast. It’s as fresh, healthful, and eco-friendly as you can get living here in the Conejo Valley.

Photo by Richard Field Levine

Photo by Richard Field Levine (click to visit site)

I sampled ground beef ($9.99/ lb for 7% fat and $7.99/lb for 15% fat) and top sirloin ($13.99/lb). Both were very flavorful, and I discovered that there are a few things to remember when cooking grass-fed beef. From the Hearst Ranch website:

-Grass-fed beef cooks about 30% faster than conventional beef because it is leaner and richer in healthy fats, which melt quicker at a lower temperature than fats in conventional beef.

-Because grass-fed meats cook quickly, marinating them is a good way to add moisture and interesting flavors.

The burgers were juicy and the steak was delicious, but the best part about digging into these meals was that I knew the beef was just better.  And that peace of mind is worth it. Hearst Ranch beef will be sold at 18 SoCal Whole Foods Markets through August 2013.

I received a complimentary sampling of Hearst Ranch beef to facilitate this feature but no further compensation. Yes, as it turns out, I will work for meat.