Wegmans, the greatest grocery store in the world, is coming to New York. This is excellent news, and though naysayers may consider this as just one more suburban transplant to our city, they are wrong. Again, Wegmans is the best grocery store in the world, and I will accept no criticism of it.
I am a native New Yorker. My earliest memories are of pitching a screaming fit on the sidewalk because my parents made me and my two-year-old leg stumps toddle alllll the way to our local D'agostino (it was about a block away from our apartment). I was raised on a steady diet of iffy produce, H&H bagels and Flinstones vitamins. Things improved when we moved uptown and had access to Fairway, and they improved even more when Whole Foods arrived in our midst. But still. Something was missing.
It wasn't until I attended college in Baltimore that I understood how to love. My best friend's grandmother lived in town, and one day she took us food shopping off-campus so we didn't have to deal with the overpriced on-campus grocery. She took us....to Wegmans.
Wegmans stores, for the uninitiated, are palaces full of food. They literally look like palaces, since stores are intentionally modeled after European open-air markets. Shoppers are blessed with wide aisles, colorful fruit stands, elegant faux-building facades and piquant meat stands, much like the more-crowded Barcelona Boqueria, or an Epcot international pavilion hawking produce instead of $15 ballpoint pens in the shape of Tinkerbell.
So that's what Wegmans looks like. Now let's talk about what Wegmans tastes like.
Earlier this week, Gothamist food editor Nell Casey mentioned that I am a fan of the marinated chicken, which is an understatement. I do not know how to cook now, and I certainly did not know how to cook when I was in college. But I DID have a George Foreman grill, and therefore ate a lot chicken breast marinated in whatever rancid film was left over from the Foreman-grilled meals made previously. But Wegmans' chicken cutlets come doused in delicious rosemary balsamic vinaigrette, brown sugar, and lemon & garlic sauce, which are all things that taste much better than two-month old burnt chicken crust lodged in George Forman's ridges. I dream about this marinated chicken, though perhaps my dreams are sort of sad.
There's more: Wegmans cereal, though high in disgusting fiber, is actually quite delicious. You can buy normal things at Wegmans, like Cool Whip. AND MY GOD, THERE IS A BULK CANDY SECTION. Anyone who has ever met me or looked at my Twitter knows that candy is my second favorite food (next to bread), and Wegmans' candy selection takes up like two damn aisles. As for my favorite food, well, Wegmans' baked goods are nothing to sneer at. And people fawn over the prepared foods, though the Brooklyn Wegmans will likely be devoid of the crabcakes I learned to lust after down in Charm City.
I should probably point out that I've only been to Wegmans a handful of times and didn't even realize it was spelled without an apostrophe between the n and the s until I started writing this blog post. But there's nothing wrong with heralding the arrival of a family-run institution (and a New York-based one, at that), that offers the combined produce/prepared goods of Whole Foods and the self-brand low-priced stuff of Trader Joe's, and is famous for treating its employees like people instead of worker bees. This company is bringing jobs, a scholarship program, and marinated chicken to the Navy Yard, and this born-and-bred Manhattanite palate is pretty stoked.
Plus, all the apples at my local Associated are bruised.