Anna Blume Posted April 10, 2006 Share Posted April 10, 2006 Every now and then I have been frustrated in attempts to purchase food items locally that cannot be found at major supermarkets or specialty stores. For example, I was on a quest for cardoons during the height of their growing season in California. I don't recall their presence at the farmer's market, though I frequented only FARMFRESH markets until early December. I tried all Whole Food stores, Dean & DeLuca's and Balducci's. Since the vegetable is exotic for many who work in produce sections, conversations have been either amusing or frustrating. One of the cooks from Galileo swore they were sold at WF in Alexandria or Arlington; no one at those stores recalls selling them. I had a similar experience looking for guanciale, though I was told Frank Ruta produces his own. Mario Batali offers instructions in Molto Italiano, though I would need to find some hog's jowls (Asian grocers in Rockville, perhaps) and be willing to tolerate the odor of hanging meat for several weeks in my refrigerator...and willing to suffer the consequences of trying this myself. I had better luck with Montasio, though I heard interesting explanations for the reasons WF decides to discontinue items and how decisions to order new cheeses are made. Ordering food by mail is often possible. However, we live in a city that is gaining a reputation for its restaurants. We have a cosmopolitan population. (I hear Italian while riding the Metro several times a week.) We're told by chefs and food writers to ask for things you would like, otherwise we'd all be mincing curly parsley still. How? What are the most effective ways to convince stores to stock items they don't? Do you have any success stories to report? Advice from food professionals who field such questions or make decisions are welcome. Finally, is there any way to approach a chef or kitchen staff under such circumstances if you are not a recognized, regular patron of the establishment? Or is that simply really bad manners? Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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