BEST GOURMET GROCERY Minneapolis 2008 - Kowalski's
Gourmet grocery shopping is a bit of a challenge in this tanking economy, but even if our haul is smaller these days, we're still sure to sample the good life while shopping at Kowalski's. Looking for cheese? Many of the stores have an inventory to rival some of the best purveyors in town. Although it's pre-wrapped, the cheese is fresh, and often an expert is stationed nearby, ready to offer a suggestion or provide a sample. There's an olive bar that will transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean, and the deli is stocked with freshly made salads and hearty stuffed sandwiches. The store carries a host of specialty items, including Barefoot Contessa baking mixes, crab-and-lobster ravioli from Nuovo Food, European-style butter from Plugra, and hand-crafted ice creams from Sonny's, Izzy's, and others. The splendid baked-goods section includes savory blue-cheese-and-chive scones, cheery cupcakes decorated with spring flowers, and the decadent, insanely moist and chewy (though sadly not hallucinogenic) hemp brownies. Every aisle offers a surprise, be it Door County strawberry rhubarb kringle, Spanish Marcona almonds, or Madagascan chocolate. These may be tough times, but Kowalski's offers a welcome culinary refuge.