Sunday, August 7, 2011

about as high as a building oughta grow

Did you know that Harmons is the coolest grocery store? Not being privy to their board meetings I can only assume what decisions were made in the last few years, but it seems to me that they could see that the low-price grocery store arena was going to become much smaller, and rather than try to compete with Walmart, which is a fool's errand in many Utah towns, they created a niche--a grocery store somewhere between Whole Foods and Macey's. Harmons stores--the good ones (NOT the Five Points Harmons)--are long on quality and short on piety, unlike some Whole Foods I could mention; although, I have loved every Whole Foods cheesemonger I've talked to. They are all charming and friendly and generous with knowledge and samples.

You may not know this about me, but I love grocery stores. When I lived alone I used to wander the aisles of the Provo Fred Meyer for hours (it's where I first learned that you could have lunch meat sliced to order), and then when John and I started dating and I found out that he was the same way? Made for each other! We went grocery shopping on our dates all the time, and a zenith in our England trip was visiting the Five Lane Ends Morrisons and Asda (Stonehenge: eh). Even now that we are boring and old with a million kids and too much to do with not enough time or money we accomplish only about half of what we should because we choose to go grocery shopping together, rather than divide and conquer. Maybe that was off-topic, but I wanted you to know that I actually have spent some time thinking about grocery store quality, so when I say that Harmons is cool you will know that I am not screwing around.

But on to our story today, which is that Harmons and UEN partnered and created a Cheese Passport in conjunction with UEN's Cheese Slices program. Each Monday they talked about a different cheese, and you could go in to Harmons and sample that cheese, and have your passport stamped. Once your passport was filled you could redeem it for a twenty-five dollar cheese plate, filled with the cheeses of your choice. I learned about it at the dairy class I went to--remember the one where I wanted that lady's sheep?

They had a big kickoff event where they had a lady come from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Company (their cultured butter alone could put my family in the poorhouse, because my kids ladled it a half inch thick onto both sides of the baguette slices), and I've been back every week since to have my passport stamped, even though the Roy Harmons has been sold out of practically every cheese on the passport. But they were good sports and stamped me anyway.

It took a long time. It's not admirable or anything; it's not like I was digging ditches. I would have been in the neighborhood anyway, because Costco. But still. I did something that took a long time, and I bought a lot of cheese while doing it, because I felt bad being all, "Hey, stamp me. See ya, sucker!" Again, I realize that buying cheese is not a really truly sacrifice.

But I want you to know that I got my passport filled, and on Saturday I went to the beautiful new Harmons in Farmington, which looks like an English grocery store, and bought a CRAPLOAD of cheese. I think I had nine different cheeses. Blues, cheddars, runnies, thicks, all of them superb. I had to pay for about half of it, because twenty-five dollars only goes so far, you know.

I used the cheese to bribe our family to come help John move the chicken run to the other side of the milking parlor. The bribery was absolutely necessary, because the chicken run is a welded metal cage that weighs a frillion pounds. We had my sister's husband and three of John's brothers and a nephew helping with the actual heavy lifting. After the boys got the run moved, almost herniating themselves in the process, we retired to the indoors to stuff our fat faces full of cheese. And I sat there, eating nine different kinds of cheese with some of my most favorite people in all the world, and I thought, I have a blessed life.


Sarah said...

While stuffing my face with the cheeses you shared, and enjoying the fruits of other peoples labor, I was feeling pretty blessed, too.

P.S. I love your grocery store fetish.