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14/ The Caledonian / Entertainment/ Sept. 21, 2012

Organic oasis kathryn andrews staff writer

Epicureans and foodies of The Woodlands, you are in for a sweet treat. Trader Joe’s held its grand opening June 15 of this summer. The 13,500 sq. foot grocery store may not be as grandiose as neighb o r i n g competitors, HEB and Kroger, but do not let the size fool you. The privately o w n e d business originated in the fifties in Pasadena, California. Trader Joe’s prides itself on unique, fresh, and a l w a y s affordable items. They do not offer sales or membership discounts because they claim to always supply their customers with the lowest price available for the best ingredients. Entering Trader Joe’s, I was unsure. Greeted by happy workers decked out in Hawaiian shirts and tropical decorations

everywhere, the atmosphere was cheesy, but nonetheless fun. Fun is not typically associated with grocery shopping, therefore, brownie point number one is awarded. The produce section is immaculate. The fruit is fresh and affordable, along with all

Joe’s Cookie Butter. If you have not tried this snicker doodle flavored, peanut butter like spread, you must. It has a quaint dairy section that offers the basics. The store also refuses to have an annoying PA system so; they turn to simple chiming bells at the registers. The Trader Joe’s shopping experience is not a typical one. The customers you will find here are always seeking to try something new and adventurous. To make grocery shopping a pleasurable task is not an easy feat, but Trader Joe’s succeeds.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLIOT GREINER

the vegetables every health nut could ever desire. Trader Joe’s has an extensive frozen food section that offers many unique options ranging from samosas to mochi ball ice-cream to turkey burgers. The store carries quirky snack foods like seaweed chips, cat cookies (for humans), and the infamous Trader

However, I must warn picky eaters that this may not be the place for you. For those culinary adventurists, I urge you to pay a visit to the eccentric experience that is Trader Joe’s.

Rating:

Via Emilia is delizioso

Ryan Dumas

staff writer

As soon as you enter Via Emilia Italian restaurant, you are hit with the realization that it is not what you expected. Sharing a shopping center with Trader Joe’s on Kuykendahl, you can’t expect much. But as soon as you enter, Via Emilia’s understated elegance hits you right in the face, and makes you smile. The décor is upscale, but familial- it feels like you are sitting in a family’s formal dining room. A full bar and wine rack adds to the ambience. You will be greeted by a well-dressed, knowledgeable waiter/waitress; the service is always impeccable, but can be a little slow. The wait, however, is worth it. When seated, you receive free French bread soaked in butter, olive oil, and spices that make your taste buds squeal in ecstasy. Appetizers provide delectable takes on old classics. My party ordered a crisp and fresh Caesar salad, the original and flavorful insalata di avocado, and the crispy and tender fried calamari.

As for the entrees, they did not disappoint. The chicken parmesan was delicious, but elevated with the addition of ham topping the dish. The meal was served with pasta mixed with olive oil, spinach and garlic. It is an

sampled were pork medallions in a mushroom sauce that were moist, tender, and delicious. All entrees were large portions with enough to take home for leftovers. Dessert is an affair all to itself at Via Emilia with a wide variety of divine dishes available to devour. Tasted at our dinner were the canoli, crème brulee, Italian crème cake, and white chocolate raspberry bread pudding. All had very distinct flavors and were eaten gleefully. With its high-class menu and décor, Via Emilia is an ideal homecoming destination. Be forewarned,

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLIOT GREINER

interesting combination to be sure, but is paired well. The other chicken dish was the chicken piccatta, a creamy, buttery, and lemony dish that was also paired excellently with the aforementioned pasta. Seafood and beef are offered as well. The saute di gamberoni, a shrimp pasta, sounded great on the menu, but came out bland and uninspired. Also

though, that space is limited and fills up quickly, so make reservations far in advance. You won’t regret your decision to dine at Via Emilia’s. The restaurant is elegant and cozy, perfect for a night out on the town.

Rating:

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