Well, a couple of weeks ago Pirate and I finally made our way over to Rainbow Grocery.
Fantastic selection, easily as good as the Berkeley Bowl. Okay, no curry leaves, but you can't have everything.
Excellent produce section. The bunches of kale were so large and robust I had trouble wrestling one into a plastic bag. Multiple varieties of beets. Tomatoes for days (wish I could eat tomatoes). Multiple varieties of bananas — we got some apple bananas. They had a perfumey quality to them that I'm not quite sure whether I liked or not. Worth trying again, though.
Extensive vitamins and supplements section, with Floradix for about $11 less than our closest health food store. (Love ya, guys, but your prices are wayyyyy out of line.)
Good housewares section. We got a Microplane box grater that's been great so far. Garlic on the ribbon cutter is very nice.
Prices reasonable for this sort of thing.
But the best has to be the bulk section. Granolas, flours, cereals, trail mixes, nuts, grains, rices, beans, honeys, molasses, oils, nut butters, herbs, spices, teas... Heaven!
But the two best (so far) things in the bulk section we only discovered this last visit.
Over by the honey, molasses, and nut butters, they have a huge tub full of Artisana Organic Raw Coconut Butter.
This stuff is soooooo good. The label has the kind of ingredient list I like: "Ingredient: 100% Organic, Raw Coconut". (I love a product with a list of ingredient, rather than ingredients.) I first heard about this stuff when dryadgrl posted about it. The monkey and I are both seriously in love with it. It's satisfying in a way that few other foods are. A little bit of this stuff smeared on a graham cracker or some toasted wolverine bread from Arizmendi (chewy-crusted whole wheat sourdough full of sweet dried apricots and pecans and other good stuff) is unbelievably good.
And then, while I was over in the herb-and-spice section, scooping out some cloves and coriander, I looked to my left to see a huge jar of All-Night Samba Yerba Mate Latte tea from the Republic of Tea.
I love this stuff. Mixed half-and-half with Eco Teas' Organic Unsmoked Yerba Mate, it makes a wonderful dessert tea. (Mixed because it's a bit overwhelming to my tastebuds when brewed straight.) But for the longest time, I've only found it in tea bags, so I've passed it up. I wasted no time in grabbing that jar and scooping out a bagful for us to take home with us.
And one of the nicest things about Rainbow, I have to say, is how much nicer the other customers are than when one shops at the Berkeley Bowl.
We'd have to take public transit to get to the BBowl anyway, so it's not much more convenient or cheaper to shop there. And for a bulk section like Rainbow's I'm happy to ride BART.
*I've still never been to Alcatraz. Born in the Bay Area, lived here (either full-time or alternating school year/vacations due to the joint custody thing) my entire life, and I've never been to Alcatraz. I know, it's terrible.