Guerre de Groceries, Part Deux

It's hard to imagine that many regular customers at the old Broadway Avenue QFC on Capitol Hill shopped there by choice. The lighting was dim and depressing, the place had occasional rodent problems, and the produce was crammed in the back, an unappetizing afterthought. What a wonder, then, to behold the shiny new tri-level Broadway Market QFC! According to advertising director Dean Olson, QFC's move-and-a-makeover equals full-time cheese and wine stewards patrolling their sections during standard hours (QFC is open 24 hours a day), much more variety in specialized areas like organic produce and kosher frozen foods, and estimable wineries (e.g., Napa Valley's Cakebread Cellars) duly represented in the expanded wine shop. For carless denizens of Broadway, grocery shopping has long felt like choosing the lesser of two evil giants: QFC (owned by Kroger, Inc., which had sales of nearly $54 billion last year) or rival grocery titan Safeway (which operates more than 1,800 stores). Now that Safeway has moved to 23rd Street and Madison Avenue, the part of Capitol Hill where Madison Market and Trader Joe's are currently duking it out, the dazzling new QFC officially rules the Broadway roost. Custom cow Custom calf, actually; Some leading Northwest restaurateurs have pounced on an opportunity to purchase free-range milk-fed calves (mother's milk supplemented by some mother goat's) for their lucky customers. Since calves weigh in at upward of 150 pounds of useable meat and bone when they're ready to make the big transition into veal, it's quite an obligation for a single restaurant to buy a whole one. Fortunately, there's a knowledgable meat cutter in Snohomish County where Linda Neunzig raises her Ninety Farms calves, so a purchaser like Bruce Naftali of le Gourmand can specify exactly how he needs the meat parceled into roasts, chops, and stew meat. (As for the bones, they're worth their weight in making the most precious sauce base of all, veal demi-glace.) Thanks to the purchase, current visitors to Naftali's bistro annex to le Gourmand Sambar are sampling veal riblets, a culinary rarity these days. Soon Kaspar Donier of Kaspar's on lower Queen Anne will be accepting delivery of his own small cow: Check out the restaurant Web site (www.kaspars.com) to learn what he intends to do with it. Custom clusters How many people have dreamed about seeing their own name (or face) on a bottle of wine? Robert Delf and Gregory McDonald are hoping that a great many people have. That's why they founded Northwest Cellars; to let wine fans who want to commemorate a wedding, anniversary, or the birth of a grandchild do it by slapping a custom label on as few as 12 bottles for a modest fee of $215: $180 for the wine, $35 for the label. You get to choose red (a mainly merlot Bordeaux-style blend) or white (chardonnay-viognier ditto), both custom created under the owners' supervision. The label? Within reason, the sky's the limit: Check out the samples on www.northwestcellars.com if you need inspiration. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

 
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