When I moved to NY in June 1993, my husband agreed that I would never need to enter a Brooklyn supermarket. To me, the stores were dirty, unfriendly, unkind and the clientele and staff rude. At least that was my impression. One year, I went into the supermarket and slipped on a strawberry carelessly on the floor. I hurt my back landing on my butt – OUCH! - and it took two years to heal. So my impression didn’t change much during the past 20 years.
The supermarkets, in Maryland, specifically Giant Food, were of a class a head and shoulders above any store in Brooklyn. In 1975, Giant had the first computerized receipts that listed what you bought. People who visited us from NY had to go to Giant just to see the receipts. That’s right, the receipts. They took them home to show their friends as if the receipt was a lottery winner. Aisles were neat and clean and there was always someone outside to load the groceries into your car. So the deal was, if I was moving to NY, away from my beloved Maryland, someone else would have to do the supermarket shopping.
And so it went until I began shopping at Costco, where the majority of my shopping is done monthly, supplemented by trips to the butcher, fruit and vegetable stand and the bakery with only an occasional foray into a supermarket. As the years past, my impression of Brooklyn supermarkets did not change.
Until now. Lately supermarkets in NY have gentrified and upon the recommendations of several friends, my husband and I went to Fairway, just to see what all the fuss was about. I fell in love!
While warehouse shopping serves my practical and economic needs Fairway aroused my senses. The aisles were clean and filled with such delights I didn’t want to leave the store. Gone were the straight rows of the typical supermarket and instead I found delightful sections, attractively built, each specializing in something else. Cheeses, olives, smoked fishes and gourmet items. Aromas filled the air and I followed my nose.
More than 25 kinds of coffee beans filled lovely barrels and a store associate magically ground the coffee in a lovely machine reminiscent of the old A & P. There were all kinds of wonderful crackers, one of which I sought because I had eaten them at my friend’s house and couldn’t find them anywhere else. I bought 20 packages. The store clearly catered to the Jewish cook with a kosher meat, poultry and fish section, along with a multitude of canned items. The fruits and vegetables were of high quality.
Fairway stocked many prepared food items that one could eat for lunch or dinner and had a lovely salad bar. In Brooklyn’s Red Hook, the store sits on the water, near the IKEA, and has outdoor areas where you can sit with a cup of coffee or your lunch. Every time I thought I was ready to check out, I found another cool spot, nook or cranny of the store to investigate.
Overall I found Fairway store associates to be friendly and helpful. The customers were more upscale, gentrified folks. Everyone was polite and well mannered. There was plenty of parking and I didn’t have to stand in any lines.
I don’t usually have the time for lots of food shopping. I know, I am a cook and I don’t shop? Welllll. I am good at making lists and delegating, but every so often I will make the occasional Foray for new items, new experiences. I will go back to Fairway. And next time, I will have lunch there and enjoy a coffee overlooking the water!