Saturday, July 10, 2010

Buying in bulk: The Old Dan-D Market (now Kitsilano Natural Foods)

Do you cook? I mean really cook, not just whip up a batch of Annie’s Mac and Cheese (not that there’s anything wrong with that)? If you own a Moosewood Collective cookbook, or my highly recommended local choice “ReBar Modern Food”, or you’re out there slinging things together on the fly a la Jamie Oliver, you need to know about the Dan-D Market at Broadway and Stephens. I can’t whine enough about Safeway’s selection – if it isn’t “white person food”, they don’t have it. I couldn’t find any ketjap manis, lemongrass, nutritional yeast, proper polenta-quality cornmeal, palm sugar, tamarind, saffron or sambal oelek, and that’s only what I can remember off the top of my head. What’s especially irritating is that I’m as Caucasian as you can get, and I can barely find anything appetizing at Safeway. Oh, alright, Tribe Zesty Lemon Hummus and Stacy’s Simply Naked pita chips. I forgot to mention Renee’s Gourmet Pear and Guava Vinaigrette (awesome!). But I digress. The New Apple Farm Market across the street from my nearest Safeway (4th and Vine) has a much better selection of spices, seasonings and nuts, but to get the good stuff in bulk, I have to make the trek to the Dan-D Market.
In the narrow aisles of the market formerly known as Dan-D, are many wonderful treasures. There is every type of starch, flour and ground meal you could possibly require, a vast selection of good-for-you-and-the-planet cereals (Nature’s Path, EnviroKidz, Optimum, Bob’s Red Mill), frozen potstickers, Thai and Indian seasoning mixes, just about every dried fruit under the sun (no pun intended), and best of all, the bulk section! Bernard Callebaut chocolate chunks, 5 different granolas, brown rice pasta, whole wheat pasta, organic pasta in crazy colours, baking powder without the aluminum, nuts and trail mixes, rice crackers in a variety of flavours, wasabi-covered peas, soup mixes and bases, chana (chickpea/gram) flour, and sugars and salts of all kinds. Today I bought self-raising flour (the one ingredient I never have on hand!), popcorn kernels, natural sliced almonds, some crazy twisty organic pasta, dried porcini mushroom-filled tortellini, bird seed, and a sample-sized honey nut granola. I also bought generic corn nuts, but they won’t make the picture ‘cause they didn’t make it home. :)
The only real draw-back to the store is the small produce section (typically outside the store and at the back with the bulk), but I find the quality of the fruits and veggies to be quite high. If you plan a little, you could drop by on a Sunday after getting your locally grown veggies and fruits at the Eat Local Farmer’s market at Kits High (12th and Larch – two blocks away). If you’re really skilled at time-management, you can even hit up Ken Shigematsu’s sermon at 10th Avenue Church, the Kitsilano edition (10:30am - and then pick up lunch at the Farmer’s Market or grab one of the fresh Vietnamese-style shrimp salad wraps at Kitsilano Natural Foods before they’re all gone (hint: they’re by the yogurt)!
Now to buy those Kootsacs lovely nylon or 100% silk sacks (made in BC!) so I don’t have to accumulate and reuse any more of those nasty clear plastic bags. If you liked this article, please say thank you with a Kootsac set:! I’m mostly kidding… mostly. They’d fit great in my stocking this Christmas, too…..! :)

Associated links:

Dan-D-Pak foods: (note that Kitsilano Natural Foods store is not listed on the website, which is kind of weird because it’s chock full of Dan-D Pak brand products!)

Annie’s Homegrown (veggie comfort food – love the white cheddar mac & cheese shells):

The ReBar cookbook & restaurant in Victoria, BC:

The Moosewood Collective (Ithaca, NY, USA) – recommend “New Classics” and “Low Fat”:

Vancouver Farmer’s Markets (there’s one near you!):

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