The Lime Index
The lime situation is off to a terrible start in 2011, with Bethesda Giant offering four limes for $3. Ripoff! Especially at mediocre quality. Wheaton H Mart has been stuck at 3 for $1 for months now, not a terrible price but again quality has suffered lately. Wheaton Giant and Kensington Safeway were both 3 for $2 last I checked.
We felt a bit better this past week when we found St. Petersburg (Florida) Publix limes were also 3 for $2, and the quality was no better down there.
What’s the problem? Partly it’s just that prime Persian lime season is late spring through fall, so trying to get great limes in winter is like trying to downhill ski in Virginia in August, or to get great Tex-Mex in DC anytime. This Fresh Plaza article suggests Mexican production has been cut due to falling wholesale prices (about half of all limes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico). But perhaps more significant, heavy rainfall in Mexico, especially Veracruz (aka Persian Lime Central), ruined much of the Q4 2010 crop, or at least caused it to fail to meet export-quality standards. Plus, according to this USDA report:
in December 2010, new U.S. import requirements put in place to prevent the entry of Sweet Orange Scab (i.e., Elsinoë australis) are stopping Mexican limes from reaching the U.S. market.
Not helping! Apparently those requirements were modified later that same month, just in time for Santa to put wizened, substandard, chemically-treated Mexican limes in our stockings. Disaster averted. Sweet orange scab. Sweet fancy Moses! All I want are high quality, affordable limes — is that so wrong?! Maybe by April-May things will improve, just in time for margarita season.
On the bright side, we have a fab new lime index logo — thanks P!!
Wheaton’s Safeway closed its doors on December 19, 2009, never to open again. If all goes according to plan, it will finally be vaporized in a few months with mixed-use development (including a new Safeway) to arise Phoenix-like from the rubble.
Darkness Falls on Zombie Safeway
Paper or plastic BRAAAAAIIIIIINNSSSSSS…
I guess a Zombie Safeway beats a contaminated-product Safeway. An alert this morning from the Town of Kensington says the Connecticut Avenue Kensington Safeway is recalling 220 pounds of ground beef sold on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010. These products may contain pieces of plastic and/ or ink from a pen.
• 93% Lean Ground Beef 7% Fat Extreme Value Pack – UPC Code 201672004352
• 93% Lean Ground Beef 7% Fat – UPC Code 201700304546
• 90% Lean Ground Beef Not More Than 10% Fat Extreme Value Pack – UPC Code 201730203606
• 90% Lean Ground Beef 10% Fat – UPC Code 201698103701
• 80% Lean Ground Beef 20% Fat Extreme Value Pack – UPC Code 201693002870
• 80% Lean Ground Beef 20% Fat – UPC Code 201692803003
• 80% Lean Ground Beef Market 20% Fat Extreme Value Pack – UPC Code 201703002920
• 80% Lean Ground Beef Market 20% Fat – UPC Code 201702703057
All of the recalled ground beef has a “Sell By” date of November 30, 2010. The Sell By date can be found on the white scale label affixed to the package. The ground beef is packaged in black Styrofoam trays and sold from the self-service meat cooler. Anyone who purchased the above-listed ground beef product should discard or return them to the store for a full refund.
Wheaton Patch reports on this morning’s Amherst Avenue 7-Eleven robbery and subsequent capture of the suspect. Sounds like nice quick work by the local police, whose presence in Wheaton is noticeable and very much appreciated, and not just because they protect our access to
Squishies Slushies Slurpees.
Today’s Gazette has the update on the 17-story Safeway-and-apartment complex coming
soon eventually to the Zombie Safeway site across from Wheaton Metro. The story does not say when demolition of the Zombie Safeway will begin (too bad they missed Halloween weekend — maybe they were afraid the ZS would fight back?). I look forward to the day when I once again can make a quick stop on my way home from the Metro for a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.
No zombie limes lately, quality has been pretty good across the board. We visited a couple of new-to-us sources this weekend: the Target in the Wheaton mall, which now offers a full grocery (decent dry and frozen goods but limited meats/fruits/veggies and no fish), and the Bloom up in Rockville, which is overall maybe a little better than Giant-Safeway in quality (but maybe not), but less selection, and certainly no Wegman’s/Whole Foods, and not really worth the drive. On to the limes:
Target: 3/$1, good quality
Bloom: 4/$1, very good quality
Hung Phat: 3/$1, good mixed with meh, you really have to sift through the bin
Kensington Safeway: 3/$1, very good quality (I was pleasantly surprised)
H Mart: 10/$1, very good quality and huge volume. Winner!
The Tar-zhay in the Wheaton mall now includes a full-service grocery, including fresh fruits, vegetables, etc., according to a flier we got in the mail yesterday. Will have to get over there for a quality assessment. With Giant and now Target and soon Costco, the mall may collapse under the weight of all that food. I’m still more likely to go to H-Mart, or even the Kensington Safeway, where the produce was unusually good last weekend (updated lime index coming soon).
And I may have to add Prince George’s County to my fresh food itinerary, since they are really the big winner of the past week: Wegmans!
Almost forgot: today’s Gazette has a brief but nice writeup of the aforementioned Dames d’Escoffier tour of Wheaton’s ethnic groceries (plus a few restaurants) last Saturday. Sounds like fun had by all: now go forth and spread the word about good Wheaton eatin’! Or food shoppin’ at least. Interesting that Hollywood East owner Janet Yu instigated the tour. I like it!
If I had known (that’ll teach me to read Patch more often) about this morning’s culinary tour of Wheaton organized by Les Dames d’Escoffier, I still would not have joined the tour because I’ve already done the self-tour — if you also missed it you can do it virtually here and here. I think those two posts discuss every stop on the tour other than Marchone’s (which I mention pretty much constantly) and Sergio’s (reviewed here). Kudos to Les Dames for organizing the tour; I think many people still have visions of Wheaton circa the 1970s or 1980s and don’t know how good the food scene is here now. I hope lots of non-locals show up, enjoy themselves, and learn a thing or two!
The tour includes a pupusa-making demonstration at Sergio’s. Makes me want to hold a pupusa-eating demonstration soon.
But instead, we are off soon with friends to the Germantown Oktoberfest, which should be a blast. Gotta go iron my lederhosen.
This week’s NYT article on sense of place and food — the idea that it is more meaningful to eat, or at least purchase, food at its point of origin rather than by mailorder even though most things are available via FedEx these days — made sense to me. Many local favorites lose a bit of value now that you can get most any product anywhere in the country. Like many people, I still crave certain foods from my younger years; there’s no place like home. Our recent visit to Seattle was, among other things, an opportunity to visit a couple of old favorite restaurants and discover new ones.
I’m not sure a Dick’s Deluxe would taste as good if I didn’t first drive up to the delightfully retro-garish orange-and-white-and-glass box, place my order at the walkup window, wait and watch the perpetually in-the-background burger assembly and potato slicing, and finally walk back to my car with my paper sack full of fabulosity. Visiting Dick’s Drive-In in person and soaking up the atmosphere along with the grease is kind of the main point, beyond burgers. Some people diss Dick’s because you can’t have it your way (no picking and choosing condiments or toppings; they offer four burger options with no micromanaging allowed), but if you’re willing to relax and eat it they way they make it, that’s some mighty fine fast food burger-and-fryage, just as good as it has been for decades and still an excellent value. I had a Deluxe and a cheeseburger, and fries, and a couple of tartar sauces, and yes yes yes. That should keep me going for a couple more years.
Other Seattle culinary adventures after the jump (sans photos as lamely usual): Continue reading