I definitely feel different now that the weather has shifted in Edmonton. Spring is not quite here in full force, but the months-long funk of minus twenty temperatures has lifted. The feeling I had of being chilled even while inside is gone. Birds are singing. The sun feels warm on my back, and the streets have turned slushy. I'm still wearing my winter coat, but I know that things are changing.
Our habits are changing too. In the past month or so, we've started doing the majority of our grocery shopping at the north side Italian Centre. I had been there many times before, but it was actually a comment on this blog that got me inspired to start shopping there regularly.
When I did, I realized how nice it is to shop there compared to the large Save On Foods I used to go to. It's a smaller store and feels centred in the community. I love hearing people speak Italian as I walk through the aisles. It's a lot easier to find staff to help you if you need something. And though it's small, it carries much of what we eat on a weekly basis. The produce is fresh and varied, lacking only in a few areas like greens (which surprises me, since when we were in Italy greens were everywhere), and much of it is cheaper than at Save-On. And the deli is fantastic, carrying many gluten-free meats and sheep's and goat's cheese.
Most of all, I really like the feeling of supporting a local business. I know the vegetables and fruits come from far away, but more of my money is staying here in Edmonton.
So I thought I'd take you with me on my shopping trip this week.
I like to walk to the store if I have time. It takes about twenty minutes from our apartment.
There is a beautiful cafe, Spinelli’s Bar Italia, attached to the store. If you feel like sipping a cappucino while you shop, that is definitely an option.
It's going to be a busy week for both J and I, so I planned simple meals, including turnip and potato patties, parsnip soup (with parsnips I picked up at the city market last weekend), and rainbow peanut noodles.
I really like their selection of bulk mushrooms, including oysters and shiitakes. When I started eating these I realized how much delicious flavour they have compared to the average button.
Cheap B.C. apples and a great assortment of hot peppers.
At the deli: a huge selection of meats (many gluten-free) and cheeses. This place is packed on a Saturday afternoon.
Prosciutto is one of our favourites. Just look at that beautiful vein of white fat … Although on a sad note, I found out that it is NOT gluten-free!
They carry a great variety of pasta, including many gluten-free kinds which are not astronomically expensive, and delicious canned tomatoes.
There is also this Italian brand of crackers and cookies, with varieties that are gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free. They didn’t have any gluten-free ones this time, so they’re not in this picture, but the crackers remind of of Stoned Wheat Thins with a hint of rosemary. There are also gluten-free tortillas, seen at bottom left.
Doesn’t this toffee chocolate crunch look amazing? I just noticed it for the fist time, and it’s gluten-free! It comes in four or five flavours, but I’ve been craving pistachios lately so I zeroed in on these. I decided not to splurge this time (they’re 9 dollars), but I definitely will in the future. I noticed since this trip they also sell these at Planet Organic.
It wouldn’t be an Italian store without a wonderful selection of olive oil. I like looking at the pretty labels too.
Laden with my shopping bags, I wait outside for the bus home (it conveniently leaves from right in front of the store and drops me right in front of my building). I look over at the statue of Frank Spinelli, the founder of the Italian Centre, in Giovanni Caboto Park. Frank looks pretty lonely, sitting at his table surrounded by snow, but I hope the park will soon be filled with green and buds and running children.
Here’s to Spring!