March 28, 2011

A visit to the Italian Centre

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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.

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I like to walk to the store if I have time. It takes about twenty minutes from our apartment.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cheap B.C. apples and a great assortment of hot peppers.

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At the deli: a huge selection of meats (many gluten-free) and cheeses. This place is packed on a Saturday afternoon.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It wouldn’t be an Italian store without a wonderful selection of olive oil. I like looking at the pretty labels too.

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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!

8 comments:

The Celiac Husband said...

Leave it to the Italians to make people happy!

I am stunned by the Prosciutto not being GF. Where does the gluten come in?

Marianne and Charles said...

The fun of shopping at the Italian Centre always amazes me... even with the huge weekend deli lineups :)

Happy spring!

Marfa said...

Oooh, thanks for sharing...I love prosciutto, too...what do you mean it's not gluten-free? Does the pig have to have a gluten-free diet? Or it is cured in something other than salt?

Chef Laurel said...

Yikes - I was under the impression prosciutto was gluten free. I had some from the Italian Market just the other day and had no symptoms! I'll have to look further into that.

They probably didn't have any of those crackers because I bought them all! Did you notice the gluten-free pancake mix in with all the baking supplies? They also have udi's muffins and bagels in the freezer!

Kevin Kossowan said...

We do as much of our shopping there as we can. I actually find big box grocers energy sappers and anxiety-ridden, so I love shopping at the Italian Centre instead.

And yes. Red peppers at Save-On, $4/lb+ or so, Italian Centre is always under $2/lb. Because they're not perfect. Those that want perfect shape can pay, I'll take the cheap funny looking ones thanks.

Anne said...

I love this place too... wish I lived in Edmonton so I could shop there. We have Pete's Frootique but it tends to be expensive.
I'm also wondering where the gluten in prosciuttp comes from!
xo

Cheryl Arkison said...

I took my sister there for the first time just a few weeks ago. She was blown away by the prices and selection compared to Superstore. Said she'll make the trek from St. Albert to enjoy it.

Danny Riddell said...

Wow! That seems kinda fun. Not to mention the fact that I like Italian cuisines. But I don't know how to make at least one Italian dish, and it's always been my dream to learn how to serve them to my family.