Grocery shopping is often a nuisance, something one must do rather than something one enjoys doing. With a vast selection of fresh, gourmet foods, hard-to-find products (including Bubbie's mochi ice cream-- one of my favorite desserts from Hawai'i) and dining options including BBQ from an in-house smokehouse, the new flagship Whole Foods in Tarzana is 30,000 square feet of food and drink heaven that makes grocery shopping, well, fun.
The store also boasts a wine and tapas bar, which can seat forty people and frequently hosts wine and beer tastings. Intrigued by the idea of imbibing while re-stocking my refrigerator, I recently visited the Whole Foods bar during a Belgian beer tasting event as a guest of the store.
In need of sustenance to mitigate the effects of the beer we were about to feed our empty bellies, J and I began with a charcuterie plate ($6.99), which included soppressata, pate, chorizo and salami as well as cornichons and olives and a bread basket.
The first of the four beers of the tasting was Saison Dupont, brewed by Brasserie Dupont, a farmhouse brewery in western Belgium. This golden Vielle Provision was bright and fresh with a hint of citrus. After sampling this delightful beer, I was more than ready for the rest of the tasting.
Our second beer was Blanche de Bruxelles, an unfiltered, slow-brewed beer with accents of coriander and bitter orange peels. Decidedly heavier than the Saison Dupont but still mellow, the complex beer quickly supplanted the first beer as my favorite of the tasting.
Next came St. Bernardus' Abt 12, a dark beer with a 10.50% alcohol content that is the "showpiece of the brewery." Although the flavor was smooth, the beer was ultimately too heavy for me, and I quickly passed my glass to my tasting partner to finish.
Finally, we sampled a Tripel Karmeliet, a three-grain ale made with wheat, barley and oats from Bosteels Brewery. My first few sips of the beer were very strong with flavorful spices shocking my tastebuds. As I continued to drink, however, the beer mellowed and evolved, and I could soon taste other flavors including fruits.
With the $10.00 pricetag for this tasting and an average drink price of $5.00, Whole Foods may have just supplanted happy hour as my choice for an after-work drink.
Click here for a schedule of events at Whole Foods, Tarzana.