Over the years, I’ve made ten separate trips to New York but I’m embarrassed to say that until this most recent stay, I had never set foot inside of a Dean & DeLuca store. I’d heard people constantly praising the New York locations as if they were a sacred place where one would make a religious pilgrimage in search of treats. Truth be told, I’m not a foodie so I kept on wondering what the big deal was. Why were these stores so different from typical supermarkets?
Two weeks ago, I was walking through Soho with Gala and we decided to stop into the flagship location that started it all back in 1977. Once we entered, I immediately understood what the hype was all about.
Upon entering, the first thing I noticed about Dean and DeLuca was the overwhelming variety and impeccable service. The employees all wore perfectly pressed white uniforms with little name tags. This couldn’t be America!
Dean and DeLuca reminded me of a quaint neighborhood shop but slightly bigger and much, much better. Just the bakery alone could give you heart palpitations. Cookies, cakes, tarts, and confections beyond description lined the perfect little glass cases. My senses were overloaded so I settled on some small heart-shaped cookies.
Even though the store is quite compact compared to the typical American supermarket, they somehow showcase more items than one could ever hope to encounter in one place, perfectly arranged like a museum for food.
The produce section was also a sight to behold. Perfectly stacked rows of fruits and vegetables glistened under the lights.
And, as if the arrangements of fruits and vegetables weren’t enough, a small selection of flowers were also available.
If I were a rich and famous chef, I’m pretty certain that I would do all of my shopping here.
Meats, cheeses and jugs of old fashioned milk also made an appearance. The mass chain grocery stores dotting the U.S. need to take note of the atmosphere, ambience and old school charm that this place evokes.
Exotic varieties of fresh baked bread were proudly showcased.
Gourmet chocolates including gold-flecked edible buddhas, colorful animals and small squares infused with otherworldly flavors all competed for attention. How could you choose just one?
Silver canisters of spices with minimal packaging were perfectly aligned on trays. Magical potions? Perhaps.
It should be noted that Dean & DeLuca is pricey. This isn’t a place that you frequent if you’re purchasing a month’s worth or groceries (Trader Joe’s is much more appropriate).
Instead, Dean & DeLuca is about the visual experience. It is a place that is ripe with new discoveries and culinary delights that cannot be found anywhere else. Dean & DeLuca will make your tastebuds sing and your wallet hurt. But isn’t that how the best things in life usually are?