August 6, 2007

Zupan's (7221 SW Macadam)

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For a little over three years now, the nearest grocery store to my house has been Zupan's Market. I love Zupan's. Why? Let me tell you:

When I walk into a Zupan's - particularly the one on Macadam - I feel like I am Ina Garten, with all the money in the world, picking out the perfect food for my cooking show where I will make a lovely lunch for my husband Jeffrey who is coming home tonight.

Everything is new and shiny - even the grocery carts and the employees! Every person that works there is a foodie - they know their stuff. And they always look freshly showered, sometimes with their hair still damp and smelling of shampoo.

The butcher will offer his opinion when asked about the gloriously marbled red meat in his case. And just last week he ground up turkey for me - right in front of me. I know I can trust them to have the best - of everything.

I walk along the aisles, picking out olives and boccocini from the antipasto bar, lusting after the peppadew peppers and the marinated mushrooms. I pick up two or three kinds of bread from Grand Central or The Portland French Bakery because I simply can't decide which one I want more.

They have heavy cream in glass bottles that looks SO good. So much more attractive than those purple cartons. And the produce. The produce looks like a photo spread in a magazine at all times. The roma tomatoes are shiny and begging me to take them into my hands for salsa. The samples of tangy pineapple and juicy oranges are too much to resist.

Then there's the cheese. Any kind of cheese you can imagine. Millions. Brie. Asiago. Parmesan. Halloumi. Feta. Gorgonzola. And at least 5 or six variations on each. I simply have to try a new one. The crackers - not Ritz or Wheat Thins, though they have those, too - I can't remember the brand - are Parmesan, Black Pepper, tasty fragile bits of wheat flavored with herbs and cheese. Once you taste these, ordinary crackers will taste like cardboard forever.

Oh and I haven't even started talking about the desserts yet. Joseph's Bakery makes a really good white chocolate carrot cake that I can't talk about because I haven't had one in so long that I might start crying if I try to remember what it tastes like. They also have Papa Haydn's and Le Provence desserts in their stunning dessert case.

Here's the problem with pretending I am Ina Garten, even for a few minutes: I am not Ina Garten. I do not have my own cooking show. I do not have a husband to cook for. I do not have oodles of money that I have made from a catering company and I do not live in the Hamptons. I do not cook for a living. So when I walk out of Zupan's after only a couple of minutes of pretending, with two grocery bags costing over $100, I really can't justify it. Especially since I will most likely be the only one eating the food. Which will probably not last me more than two or three meals.

Shopping at Zupan's is a euphoric experience, even if it is expensive. I shudder at the thought of Fred Meyer or Safeway (where I once bought moldy olives from the olive bar!), though I buck up and save money when I need to. But if I can splurge, I go to Zupan's. The beauty of food really shines there and somehow that always makes me smile, rub my hands together and propel my imagination forward to fabulous dinner parties, cooking shows, restaurants and cooking for my own family. Sometimes that few minutes of imagination - of doing what I really love - is worth it.
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L. said...

LOVE this post. Just love it, love it -- I feel the exact same way about Zupans, and New Seasons.

Especially the dairy products in glass bottles. TEN DIFFERENT KINDS OF BUTTER, cultured, salted, unsalted, european. Can't beat it.

Chelsea said...

Me too. My goal in life used to be to be able to afford to buy my milk in glass bottles like that every week.

People are always telling me how "overpriced" Zupan's is. While they may be expensive, they are not overpriced. They do not mark up their prices up just for fun. They are a much smaller company. They cannot buy the same quantities those horrible places like Winco can buy, therefore they are simply marking up normally like any retailer would to turn a profit.

I am sort of defensive about this:)