Category Archives: grocery store picks

L’autre Choix Mini Marché

lautrechoixRecently a friend of mine opened a cool new grocery store in Westmount. It’s called L’autre Choix Mini Marché, and it’s got lots of great items to draw in business. You should check it out!

Located in Westmount at 330A Victoria Avenue, proprietor Clara Kwan’s mini-market is on a hip, happening street packed with plenty of specialty stores, including an awesome cookbook shop called Appetite for Books just up the street, where you can find a repository of books that will help you whip up your gourmet goods into tasty meals!

If you’re looking for organic, locally-grown vegetables, L’autre Choix is the place to be. Clara is selling a wide variety of farm-fresh veggies that vary seasonally, including staples like organic shallots, garlic, herbs like coriander, sweet potatoes, mini pumpkins (great for pies!), avocados, apples, baby eggplants, red and yellow peppers, Romaine lettuce, and lots more. In addition to these vegetables, she also offers some unusual items like salicorne sea beans and pied blue mushrooms from France, which will catch the eyes of foodies.

Along with her unbelievably fresh produce, Clara also offers an assortment of bulk nuts and dried fruits, plus organic pastas, dried mushrooms (shiitake, pèpes and porcini among others), organic spices, loose teas, espresso, various ramen and Korean-style packaged noodles, and various gourmet balsamic vinegars (including Rossini, Carandini and Pelloni Dispensa) and extra virgin olive oils (Toscano and Redoro Veneto Napoli Cella).

A photo from the grand opening (photo by Flickr user Cedric Sam)

A photo from the grand opening (photo by Flickr user Cedric Sam)

Vegetarians are sure to love the Worthington faux meat products, ranging from veggie burgers to Swiss “stake” with gravy to multigrain “chicken” cutlets and even “little links.”

For the meat eaters, Clara can order organic turkeys for your holiday meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) at a great price. Who needs frozen Butterballs when you can get a locally raised bird that’s easier on your stomach and the environment?

Oh, and did I mention that the prices here are AMAZING?! Organic avocados for $1.80 a piece, $1.99/lb for organic garlic, $1.99 for a bunch of organic coriander… the list of bargains goes on and on.

If you’re looking for fresh produce, great gourmet items, meat alternatives or even organic versions of the staples you use to stock your cupboards, be sure to check out L’autre Choix Mini Marché!

ADDRESS: 330A Victoria Avenue (Westmount)
METRO: Vendôme
PHONE: 514-369-1888

Flagrants Desirs chocolate

chocolateProving that while all of my desires are, in fact, flagrant, but not all of them are 72% cocoa, I must admit a weakness for the Flagrants Desirs brand of chocolate my local IGA grocery store sells. Available in a variety of flavours, the dark 72% cocoa is my favourite, as I like my chocolate dark, but not too dark. The 72% cocoa is just milky enough to be sweet and creamy, but dark enough to satisfy my craving for that more bitter, earthy taste. There’s an extra-dark 85% cocoa, but I’ve found that anything above 80% is too dark for my tastes. I may be noir at heart, but not that noir.

Also available from this line are chocolates with dark cocoa nibs, as well as the dark orange, dark pear, and dark mint flavours.

Cocoa nibs (image via Gourmet Sleuth)

Cocoa nibs (image via Gourmet Sleuth)

So far I have also enjoyed the dark cocoa nibs variety, which I find tasty but sort of troubling, since the cocoa nibs are pretty small and tend to come off as random grit in the chocolate. I didn’t really expect them to be hard, since I always visualize cocoa as a powder, but the nibs are actually hard specks of cocoa beans (as per the photo at left). The chocolate itself has more of an earthy dirt-like flavour, thanks to the nibs and the cocoa levels, which is interesting, though not quite the flavour profile I prefer.

As a fan of the original Terry’s Chocolate Orange (the one you have to whack on the table to split into individual orange “wedges”), I am very intrigued by the Dark Orange, but have not yet sampled its wares. I think this may be a winning combination, though the lack of whack may prove to be a liability.

The Dark Pear confuses me, since I’m not a big chocolate-with-fruit combo type of gal (and, in fact, tend to find this type of pairing quite abhorrent, barring the inherent deliciousness of the chocolate covered cherry and aforementioned chocolate orange), but in the interests of science, I may have to investigate this option. I just fear that it will go uneaten, as my husband hates the thought of sweet & savoury together, as well as chocolate plus fruit, so anything I don’t like in this department is definitely going to end up in the trash.

After Eight bar (image via Nestlé)

After Eight bar (image via Nestlé)

Dark mint? Obviously delicious. I mean, the York Peppermint Pattie and After Eight mints are proof that chocolate plus mint equals success, and anything darkly chocolatey is clearly a winner in my book.

Overall, I really like this line of chocolates, both for its dark chocolate and willingness to break out of the typically “acceptable” chocolate flavours, and also because it’s hella cheap. The grocery store near me sells these 100 gram bars for only $2.59. Comparably gourmet types of chocolates in this size range often retail for three to five dollars, so this is a rather nice bargain for those with a sweet tooth. I’m also addicted, so I tend to pick one of these suckers up once a week. As far as bad habits go, this one’s pretty cheap, so I’d encourage you to check out the Flagrants Desirs line if you see them at a grocery store near you.

In case you’re having trouble finding the Flagrants Desirs line of chocolates (I’ve noticed they’re not necessarily available at all IGAs), you can currently find them at the IGA at 5144 Bannantyne in Verdun, and you can also order them online for home delivery at the IGA online grocery website.