Saturday, March 17, 2007

Food Nirvana That Is Dean & Deluca

I don't get a chance to head up to Napa Valley that often since I don't own a car anymore. But whenever I do, I have to make a stop at my church, which is the Dean & Deluca store in St. Helena.

Dean & Deluca is my dream gourmet store. I just love exploring the various food products and fresh foods that they sell. I admit, I probably have a bias for D&D because of my love of New York. When I was living back east, I just loved spending a Sunday afternoon exploring Dean & Deluca's SOHO store.

During my recent visit, it was crowded as usual. I got myself a freshly made sandwich for lunch (it was huge and filling!) and picked myself a cannister of Herbs de Provence (I love their house blend!) and a jar of black currant jam. (It's hard to find black currant because everyone makes generally red currant. But black currant is especially common in Great Britain, so I always look for a British imported jam at gourmet stores.) That was it, not a big bag of supplies since I'm trying to stick to my budget.

I read on a discussion board how one person said stores like Dean & Deluca is just fooling people into buying the Napa country living ideal at a high price. I admit there's much truth to that, but sometimes I feel it's worth the price to get the sense you're enjoying food in a relaxing lifestyle that combines living well with nature. Even if it comes packaged in a black and white D&D bag. :)
The first thing you see when you enter Dean & Deluca is a mini produce area that sells a lot of Napa-grown produce and a few unusual items. Of course, they are generally overpriced but still fun to check out.
I love cheese and you can find a lot of California and imported cheese at the D&D counter. Grab a loaf of bread and a nice smooth cheese and sit out in the vineyards to snack with a glass of wine. Now that's Napa Valley living!
The deli counter has a nice array of special salads and meats. I love anything with beets or artichoke.
They make your sandwiches while you wait now instead of pre-made sandwiches. You can just from a variety of breads. I love the pig display block. :)
I haven't really bought any of the baked goods or sweets at Dean & Deluca, but it's still free to look!
These coconut and lemongrass cupcakes looked especially beautiful.
Many of Dean & Deluca house products are displayed in its signature tin cans. These cans are filled with nuts for snacking.
These days, everything is focused on the charcuterie. This is D&D's charcuterie counter that's expanded over the years with local and imported cured meats.
Of course, you can't have a store in the heart of Napa Valley with a nice wine selection. D&D has a "wine hall" that's almost half the size of the store. Here's their selections for Sauvignon Blanc.
Being in marketing, I respect when a company is successful in branding. The simplicity of Dean & Deluca's design reflects that sophisticated style that has totally hooked people like me into their brand. I'm not going to fight it. :)

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