Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Whole Foods Huntington Beach - Local Flavor and Entertaining Options for all

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I got a really cool opportunity on Monday to tour the brand new Whole Foods store opening in Huntington Beach, CA before it opens to the public on October 13. The store is located at 7881 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647 (Bella Terra Shopping Center). The store is gorgeous with lots of effort to capture the spirit of the area (note the Vans and skateboard on the huge wall sign above!) I toured with Krisitn, Megan and Jill and we got to meet with local vendors and ask all kinds of questions about anything and everything. It was amazing to get to hear about all the steps Whole Food and their vendors are taking to ensure that the food we eat is the best quality and that the animals are treated as humanely as possible. (Um, one fun fact that I learned was that they are trying to enhance the lives of the animals by giving them activities to do, for instance, they give hay bales to chickens to peck at and bowling balls to pigs because they like to nudge with their noses!!!!!!!). Find out more about their new meat Animal Welfare Rating system here. Similar programs are already in place for their seafood.
We met Mary of Mary's Turkeys (and chicken) and learned about what sets her products apart from rest which is why she is a preferred vendor for Whole Foods. What really stuck out to me is how much effort Whole Foods puts in to keeping the food local to the stores. From the fruits and veggies (Stehly Organic Farms), to the shellfish (Carlsbad Aquafarms), to some of the honey (Honey Pacifica) and hot sauces (Gringo Bandito) we can all feel really comfortable about the options Whole Foods offers. Now let's discuss the stuff that you, my loyal readers, really enjoy. The party stuff!
Each Whole Foods offers tons of products to help create memorable occasions for your guests. While some of these items are only available in the Southern California, others can be found throughout the entire chain.
These lovelies above are from The Jewel collection by Xan Confections. They are based in Irvine (holla!) and although I have heard a lot about them, I hadn't had the opportunity to try them until this tour. DELISH! I love me some spicy chocolate so I tried her Ancho Chile Chocolate. YUM! All the other flavors were amazing as well and they offer several different collections, including some holiday themed. Check them out!

There were a ton (I mean, I didn't actually count but I estimate a ton) of wrapped chocolates to choose from and also quite a few bulk candy items that would be great for a sweets table. Whole Foods offers several eco-friendly disposable tableware options. Allergy friendly baking mixes are easy to find right in the baking aisle. A great floral department should be able to take care of all of your fresh flower needs. A fresh sushi bar can provide appetizers for your next get together and there is a fresh gelato counter with the most delicious Dulce de Leche flavor and the creamiest tasting sorbet you will find! Need a specific kind of chocolate for baking or candy making? They've got it. Being that this is the "surf city" store, there are tons of local products with surf themed packaging. I know I am coming here to plan my next luau.

And the beer and wine selection! They will carry about 800 different wines (approx. 100 of which are organic) from all over the world. Again, they will emphasis the "local" of course looking to Napa, etc. but focusing even more closely on wines from in and around Santa Barbara County. They will carry about 600 different types of beers from Pabst Blue Ribbon to local artisan brews. There will be signage available to help with food pairings but don't ever hesitate to ask the department team members. They know their stuff.
Cheese. Yeah. There are about 500 kinds available in the store. There is something for everyone. Don't be intimidated. The staff is there to help.
This particular Whole Foods will have a Pizza and Beer bar. In an effort to make the store more of a community hang out they have various areas available for sitting. The bar area will also feature a live surf report. Due to the large local Vietnamese population there are a lot of ethnic items in the store from produce and sauces to prepared Phos and other dishes. There is a coffee, tea and juice bar at the front of the store with all kinds of healthy and delicious options. And gosh, how did I not even talk about the bakery yet?! Their bakery will have a fresh dessert display case of whole cakes as well as individual desserts including vegan and gluten free options. They employ 13 cake decorators for custom needs and also have prepackaged items ready to go.

You can see a photo of me in the top right corner with Pat Cox, Store Team Leader. And bottom left corner is Kristin demonstrating their amazing refrigerated cases. I liked Whole Foods before this but after the tour I really believe they are the real deal. They seem to truly be a business dedicated to bringing the best options to the consumer, encouraging vendors and producers to change their practices for the better and making sure we treat our planet as well as possible.

The Huntington Beach store opens at 9:00 am on October 13 with lots of activities and giveaways. Check it out!

A huge thank you to Whole Foods for having us!
*I did receive a goodie bag with a few samples for taking this tour.

All photos are mine.


Kristin said...

Great wrap up post! It was really fun. Now off to work on my post although it's going to be tough to live up to this one! :D

Mama Bub said...

Great post! I need to get mine written, but I should just link directly to yours - you covered everything!


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