Friends, I have good news. I have located (and finally visited) the UK’s biggest Whole Foods. It’s even on my Underground line, albeit a bit out of the way.
Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love this store. They also can probably guess how long I could discuss this discovery. I have so many thoughts on the matter, it’s a little extreme. (Literally, I tweeted them when I found out they existed and told all of my new friends when they wrote back. Highlight of my first week here.) Instead of boring you, however, with the mundane details of my trip to Never-Never Land, I’ll try to keep it brief.
- Surprisingly, they do not have that much organic stuff. I’m not sure how, or why, or whether it’s really more a commentary on the extreme state of the Whole Foods say, in Boulder (I could do another whole post about the yogurt/prepared foods section at this store!), but surprisingly, not so much organic. They had little organic produce, although everything bore the proud “Product of Great Britain” sticker that I’ve come to expect even at petrol stations. They didn’t have organic honeys or jams or … the list goes on. They did have organic olive oil, which I obviously bought enthusiastically. …which brings me to my next point:
- They had so many stations we don’t have! You know what I mean. The syrup station, the peanut butter station. These are the little things that make a big trip to the WF so awesome. We get to interact with our food, not just pick it off a shelf. This is a whole new level of ‘playing with your food’ or even ‘choosing your produce.’ No longer do we have to be satisfied with only smelling apples before buying, we now get to choose whether we want roasted, salted peanut butter, roasted peanut butter, raw peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter… you get the point. Anyway – Whole Foods Kensington (it even sounds romantic!) did not have a syrup station, but they did have a) a Muesli station; b) an olive oil station; c) an entire cheese room (yes, ROOM); d) an egg station; e) bulk products I’ve never heard of, and a noticeable lack of any granola. These crazy Brits…
- I casually strolled over to the Butcher section, basically salivating at the thought of good fresh meat for the first time in weeks. Noticing only meat rated 1-3, I asked the Butcher about whether they ever get 4 or 5. He said “not yet.” A strange answer, I thought, so I followed up with, “When did you start rating your meet?” “10 days,” came the most unexpected response I’ve received since stepping off the plane. The strange thing is, everywhere you go, they tell you that all of their meet is from Britain, grown in the proud fields of farmers who love their land and their animals. Literally, it’s like you’ve woken from a bad (American) dream into the land of Happy. And yet, they don’t stock 4 or 5 meat? I’m thinking that either menus/packaging/grocery stores are lying, or Whole Foods Kensington needs to readdress their rating system. (Unfortunately, I think we all know exactly which one of those two options is more likely).
- Did I mention a cheese room? The store was closing, so I didn’t get a chance to go in. But I’m picturing (smelling?!) a paradise full of aged things. Will have to stop in here next time.
- Because it’s always worth mentioning, this store was 5 LEVELS. 5. Bottom: produce, normal grocery stuff. Ground: prepared foods, check out. Floors 1-3: all different restaurants. One, I think was a cafe, the next was a sit down place, but casual, and the final floor was a formal dining establishment. I die. And yes, they had the trolly escalators. Even though I had one at home, I still smile everytime.
Anyway, pictures are below. I came, I saw, I conquored. I texted Kansas from the check-out line (where I obviously became best friends with the cashier who commiserated with me about the expenses of moving in – salt, pepper, etc.) and said: This may be a 100 pounds, both in terms of £ and lbs.
The damage wasn’t quite that bad, but the 30 minute train ride home, during rush hour, with my school bag, my new Whole Foods LONDON bag and my second I-didn’t-plan-far-enough-ahead-and-had-to-use-a-paper-bag bag was rather amusing. I think the lady next to me was not excited about the Dino Kale, draping out of the top of a bag and rather lying on her purse. That forward dino kale, you have to keep your eye on it at all times.