BEST GOURMET GROCERY Minneapolis 2005 - Kowalski's
To the uninitiated, Kowalski's might look like a mere grocery giant, but if you're a Twin Cities cook you'll quickly see that Kowalski's is much more than that, it's a delight to both palate and soul. Why? Because Kowalski's has both a great, great number of great ingredients, and a great commitment to Minnesotan food-life. As far as the ingredients, many locations offer more than a hundred cheeses from both around the world and close to home, some of the best charcuterie selections in Minnesota for salamis, hams, and even lunch boxes (love that Boar's Head case!), a bounteous olive bar that makes preparing avant-garde sauces and relishes for a small family both affordable and fun (you don't have to buy a whole jar of caperberries when you only need two tablespoons), and a big and colorful produce section that always offers something to delight and surprise, like little pristine heads of lettuce, root ball intact, isolated in a plastic pod like a shiny new Walkman, each leaf as tender as plant-made silk. While it's Kowalski's great ingredients that make our palates sing, it's Kowalski's commitment to our little, budding gourmet community that makes us sing their praises: Talk to anyone at local food producers like Golden Fig, Bramblewood Cottage, Ames Honey, B.T. McElrath, Sausage Sisters, Pastureland Butter, or a dozen others and they'll often tell you in great detail how the Kowalski's crew has bent over backward to help their fledgling companies get on solid ground. Is it good business for a company to support local producers when food giants are offering such attractive shelf-space payola? It's good for us.