Why, oh why has no one told me about this place!?!? Seriously...I want answers ;)
Nick and I just got back from a week in Europe(blog about that coming VERY soon!!!!) and our cupboard was bare enough to be in a nursery rhyme. Instead of hitting up my usual grocery spots I decided to check out a place Nick and I stumbled across after dinner one evening...it's called Creation Gardens.
Their website is www.whatchefswant.com and I'm sure that's an understatement.
This is a food warehouse...literally. The vast majority of their customers are restaurants so it's not going to look like your typical grocery store. Instead it's filled with cases and cases of produce, dry goods, dairy, oils, sauces, etc. It's amazing.
The minute I walked in and asked if it was, in fact, open to the public it became clear that I was new and I was kindly offered a tour. I was led through the warehouse and told that although it looks like most things need to be bought in bulk that wasn't the case at all. She told me that I was welcome to take small amounts of things like herbs and such, which was a relief to me as I can't remember the last time I needed a pound of sage.
Once I began to explore on my own I became lost in a sea of amazing quality food. The produce was impeccable and so, SO diverse. Cases of beautiful squash lined the aisle. A rainbow of beets cascaded down the display case. Fresh mushrooms peeked their heads out of their boxes and packages of mixed micro-greens begged me to take them home.
I had to pass by A LOT of food as I couldn't possibly eat all of it in a week, and instead decided to stick with some cured meats, grains and produce classics so I could do a bit of a price comparison.
You see, because this place caters to restaurants not many people come in and buy 3 bags with 6 mushrooms in each. That means that prices aren't marked on many of the items. I was told to simply ask someone and they'd be more then happy to fill me in (and judging from the pleasant people I met there I have no doubt that's the case) however I feared I would end up walking a poor employee around like my own personal shopper, and decided to go at it alone and see what the damage was once I got to the register.
I'm happy to report that the prices were great. I purposely bought some staples...potatoes(purple, red AND gold!)...onions...cabbage...mushrooms...herbs...leafy greens...etc. so I could accurately compare the price with that of my usual store and it came out about the same...but with one major difference...the quality. I have to admit...the quality of the produce at Creation Gardens was top notch...second to none I've seen in Louisville to date. And don't even get me started on the variety. Looking for something and can't find it in any grocery store? Chances are they have it here
After I filled my basket with produce I moseyed on over to the dairy section (bypassing the mixed micro-greens however badly I wanted them...next time my pretties). In the dairy section I perused some lovely quail eggs(I'm getting them next time too!), farm fresh brown eggs, enough beautiful, beautiful cheese to stop someone's digestive track up for life(and I'm pleased to announce that the cheese WAS price marked and it was very reasonable), and a some cured meats(bacon, Tasso ham, chorizo, etc.). As hard as it was to pull myself away from the cheese section(p.s. the cheese was packaged in small-ish blocks so you don't have to buy a wheel of it) I still had the dry goods locker to explore.
It's worth a trip to Creation Gardens for the dry goods section alone. I'm rather versed on exotic grains as my parents were granola munching hippies when I was younger so I grew up on the stuff, but if you aren't, this is the place to start.
Just about every grain, bean, rice, lentil, legume, etc. was represented here. I quickly grabbed a $0.67 container of Bulghur because I haven't had it since I was a kid and was so happy to see it there. Looking for a rainbow of lentils or rice? They have your color, shape, variety there...I promise. Want to try a new type of mushroom but they don't carry it fresh? Grab a bag of it dried! Need a good olive oil that won't break the bank? I was told that I simply MUST come back for the $25 gallon of really good quality olive oil. I WILL be back for it. Stock bases of every variety. Baking supplies that could get you well on your way to becoming a professional baker. I'm leaving so much out! Looks like you'll need to go there and experience it for yourself!
Long story short...non-restaurant owning Louisville residents are so very lucky to have access to this place. I've always dreamed of shopping like a chef and Creation Gardens makes it possible.
Want to shop like a chef too!?!? They're nice enough to open their store to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10-4...and I thank them for it.
Finding this place is no small feat...but it's worth driving past the turn for the street 2 or 3 times (I can tell you from experience). Turn right at the Kentucky Bison Company at 603 East Main and Creation Gardens will be the next building on your right...609 East Main.
If you decide to try this place out for yourself I'd love to hear what you thought of it or what amazing gems you found there(I'm sure I missed A LOT) so please feel free to drop me a line!