Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Make the holidays Fresh & Easy

Saturday brought the first snowfall of the season, and while the kids played outside, I decided to tuck into a nice bottle of red wine (Note: Hubby was dutifully tending to the kids!) and some gourmet food items from Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market.

Fresh & Easy grocery stores currently are providing reasonably-priced, wholesome foods to customers in Arizona, California and Nevada. They offer a wide range of their own brand products and prepared meals that contain no artificial colors, flavors or trans fat, without the hefty price tag commonly associated with healthy foods. Additionally, they carry many top name brand products to meet families' needs.

In addition to high-quality foods, Fresh & Easy also offers around 170 different wines from around the globe, ranging in price from $1.99 to $40 per bottle, with the majority retailing for under $10.

The wine I sampled was The Vine Yard 2007 Cabernet Franc. From Washington's Columbia Valley, this delightful cab franc was redolent of raspberry jam, black cherry and spice. It was not as dry as you would expect from a blending grape and would pair nicely with beef, pork, poultry or even pizza (I enjoyed it with some white chili). At $7.99 a bottle, it's a great little wine to have on hand for holiday get-togethers.

Another great wine for this time of year is the Ogio Prosecco Spumante. I'm not usually a fan of sparkling wines, but I do indulge on New Year's, and this peppy little number definitely fits the bill! At $8.99 a bottle, it easily rivals more expensive spumantes or champagnes and makes the perfect hostess gift!

Speaking of gifts, Fresh & Easy also offers a number of gourmet food items that are attractively-packaged and ready to present to teachers, mail carriers or anyone else on your list. The Sweet Boutique Gourmet Swiss Chocolate Assortment would satisfy the most discerning sweet tooth with 11 different varieties of filled milk, dark and white chocolates. The Sweet Boutique Assortment currently is featured at Fresh & Easy's Kitchen Table, where each week customers can sample and review delicious signature dishes and treats. At $6.99 a box, buy several to have in case your husband forgets to pick up a Secret Santa gift for the office holiday party.

Another item from the Sweet Boutique is the Gourmet Biscuit Collection--a decadent assortment of cookies adorned with rich, Belgian chocolate. My oldest, Sophie, found the miniature, chocolate-covered Tsar cookies especially palatable and has been requesting a few for dessert the past few nights, whereas I prefer the lighter Cristal wafers. This is another inexpensive yet elegantly-packaged gift item priced at $7.99 per tin.

Perhaps the biggest hit of the day was the container of Fresh & Easy Cranberry & Nut Popcorn Clusters. Everyone in the house, from ages three to 46 enjoyed this delightful blend of popcorn, three different nuts and dried cranberries, all perfectly-sweetened with brown sugar and natural maple flavors. Any time I can get my kids to eat a fruit that's not on their "safe" list I consider it a triumph, especially one as humble as the cranberry which is rich in vitamin C and believed to contain excellent infection fighting properties.

For all of my friends out west, I encourage you to make your holidays fresh and easy by scooting over to Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market. I, in the meantime, am savoring the last remnants of my Fresh & Easy goodie basket and have filled out the online form suggesting that the company open a store in Charles Town, WV, where it's nearly impossible to find wholesome, reasonably-priced foods.