At Eton, for instance, food fans are flocking to Trader Joe's, a California-based grocery store cleverly conceived to appeal equally to gourmets, health-foods fans, and bargain hunters. The Woodmere store, which opened on Oct. 10, is the first of its kind in northeast Ohio and only the third in the state. At a mere 9,400 square feet, the store hardly compares in size to Mustard Seed Market in Solon; and with no in-house bakery or deli, and only a modest selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, it's not stocked like Solon's Miles Farmers Market. But when it comes to bargains, Trader Joe's is tops: With more than 1,000 products (or around 85 percent of its stock) bearing the company's private, discount-priced label -- including coffee, breakfast cereal, facial tissue, frozen pizza, organic salsa, beer, and wine -- the prices rock.
Beyond the private-label items, we also spotted such name-brand gourmet goodies as Niman Ranch pork and Presidents Butter, and out-of-the-ordinary items such as whole-wheat hot-dog buns and frozen green-tea mochi. And in the small wine department, shelves bowed beneath the weight of Charles Shaw's infamous "Two-Buck Chuck" -- now selling for $3.39 a bottle. Trader Joe's operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Just next door, you'll find Sur la Table, an upscale kitchen-and-housewares store featuring a handsome demonstration kitchen. If cannoli-makers, copperware, and Cuisinarts get your motor running, considering signing up for one of the store's frequent cooking classes, many of which will be led by top local chefs. Upcoming classes, for instance, include low-carb cooking with Marlin Kaplan (One Walnut); seafood preps with Sergio Abramof (Sergio's); and holiday hors d'oeuvres with Steve Parris (Marigold Catering). For details call 216-378-1800 or visit www.surlatable.com.
Finally, we're drooling over the prospect of the Viking Culinary Arts Center opening on Nov. 22 in Legacy Village. The center is a combination state-of-the-art cooking school and retail store, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on opening day, visitors can meet North Carolina celeb chef Sarah Foster, take a sneak peek at the teaching and classroom kitchens, review the cooking school curriculum, attend a Sterling Vineyards wine seminar, and sample food products. For more info, visit www.vikingrange.com, or call the store at 216-381-2100.