Friday, March 16, 2012

Cracking Open Happiness at Whole Foods

First of all, let me start off by saying I love Whole Foods! I grew up a Heinen's girl thanks to my Dad working there (and I eventually did too.) And when Whole Foods came to town, I initially was hesitant to check them out because of my lifetime loyalty to Heinen's. Would it be cheating on my favorite store to visit the new kid in town? Eventually, curiosity and my love of food won out and I paid my first visit. Well, I've been hooked ever since! I still love Heinen's and shop there regularly but I love Whole Foods' large assortment of organic products and their delicious (but pricey!) prepared foods. But what I love most of all is all the fun stuff they have going on! Seriously, it's definitely more than your average grocery store.

I live closer to the Woodmere store so that is where I go practically every Friday night for their "Five by Seven" wine tastings. For $5 you get a wine glass to keep and five wine samples paired with small tastes of foods. If you bring back the glass the next time you attend, it'll only set you back $4. Where else can you start your Friday night off on such a happy note for so little cash? It's win-win: great deal for us and they get a lot of buzzed customers shopping with wild abandon. 

The next one is today and its theme is St. Patrick's Day of course! 

5x7 Fridays: St. Patrick's Day
Friday, March 16th
5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Details
Come celebrate St. Patrick's Day with us a day early!  
We'll have Irish-inspired foods paired with a variety of wines--
the perfect way to kick off your weekend festivities! 

You should visit their website because they have A LOT going on besides wine. They also have beer tasting events, cake decorating, etc. We had our Ohio Blogging Association's January meetup there for a Pizza Throwdown and I learned that you can even get growlers of beer at the University Hts. location. When I saw that they had something on the calendar called "The Crack Heard Round the World" that celebrated the King of Cheese Parmigiano Reggiano I knew I had to brave the Saturday crowds to experience it first hand. Parm is one of this Italian girl's favorite cheeses. When I received an invitation from Alicia of Poise in Parma to join in a special foodie blogger pre-event, I was excited! More cheese? Yes, please!
It was a gorgeous day and I was happy to be seeing our wonderful Whole Foods hostess Lisa and some of my favorite bloggers: Kimberly of Cleveland, Kristian of Adventures of a trapped 300 pound man and Ohio Festivals, Brad from Cleveland Food and Brews and of course Alicia from Poise in Parma. Twitter friend Renee also joined us.

This is their special Parmigiano Reggiano menu for the month of March:
As we settled in, Lisa was pouring glasses of this luscious brunello and even let the beer folks pick out beer from the cooler. This wine was a perfect match for the cheese. If you want to splurge on a special bottle, this would be a great choice. (thanks for sharing Lisa!!)
Then we chatted with Tom as he prepared our food about the dishes of the day.

Melon and crispy prosciutto crostini
Isn't it pretty? Tasty too!
Orecchiette with butternut squash, thyme and parmigiano
Both were excellent! I could have eaten a huge bowl of the pasta especially after Kristian asked for some honey to be drizzled on top - wow! I really enjoyed the crostini too but it was really hard to eat nicely. I think I would try to slice the melon so the little chunks wouldn't fall all over. Otherwise, it was fresh and fun. I can't wait for cantaloupe to be in season.

Jim the Cheese Monger was up next with a very informative discussion about the cheese. He said that in Italy, parmigiano is considered an athlete's cheese and in fact they eat it instead of protein bars, etc. because the cheese is such a great source of low fat, easily digestible energy. Also he explained that the crunchies inside that I love so much are NOT salt, they are the pure amino acids that make the cheese the choice of athletes. So not only is it tasty but I can enjoy it virtually guilt free! 

Next we headed over to the main event - the simultaneous cracking of 90 pound wheels of cheese at this store and across the country. Special tools are used to preserve the texture of the cheese.

Joe vs Elvis aka Ron

Elvis takes the win

Elvis was the champ by a few seconds but both guys did a great job. They were so fast with the tools - it was really impressive. Elvis not only got the glory, but also the job of serving up some of the freshly cracked parm.
The King of Rock 'n Roll, The King of Cheese and The Queen of Whole Foods  Fun
They also had some other snacks for everyone to try. This one was really cute delicious... 
panko breaded eggplant
They also had a penne pasta with jarred red sauce and a cold gnocchi salad. The gnocchi salad was an interesting twist on the typical pasta salad that would be perfect for a picnic.

As always, Whole Foods hosted a fun and tasty event. There were a lot of people there and everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I may or may not have eaten enough cheese to train for a marathon...

Thank you Whole Foods and Lisa for reaching out to us local bloggers and including us in this fun event! And thanks to Elvis for the special appearance. 

And be sure to visit Whole Foods for some more upcoming cheesy events:

Ask The Cheesemonger
4 p.m.
A brand new weekly feature, Ask the Cheesemonger will take place at the cheese counter. It can be an intimidating place, but our cheese experts will walk you through a cheese every week. Ask, sample and learn how to select cheese for different dishes and pairings. Just walk up Saturdays between 4 and 5 p.m.
March 17  Irish Cheddars
March 24  Organic Cheeses
March 31  Kosher Cheeses

Cheese 101

Wednesday, March 28th 
7 p.m. Free
Our Cheesemonger Jim Shalala will educate you on a specific variety or type of cheese each month. Next up: American Artisan cheeses. Learn how to select and buy, serve and savor cheese for yourself and your guests. RSVP for this class at Customer Service. You'll be an expert soon!

And if you're in the Woodmere store on a Friday night and you see a girl with a silly grin and an overflowing cart, make sure to say hi. You can't help falling in love with this place!
You can read Alicia's blog here, Kristian's here and Kimberly's here. 


  1. I think we willl soon start fighting over who gets to sit next to Kristian at the dinner table. Love Whole Foods, thanks again, you are so kind!

    1. haha thanks! I tried to be so sly and quiet when I requested the honey and everyone just seemed to stop and turn their heads at once. I often forget that you're all just as passionate about food as I am. :-)

  2. I LOVE that picture of Lisa!! She IS the Queen of Whole Foods Fun!!! Thanks for coming - is it time for us to eat some more cheese yet?!


Love to hear from you!