Shopping for food and gourmet products in Sarasota is an epicurean odyssey, from big name stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market to local favorite Morton’s Gourmet Market. Foodies’ haunts are scattered from St. Armands Circle (Spice & Tea Exchange) to Main Street in Lakewood Ranch (Katie Rose Oilery). Taste-testing the culinary treasures of Gulf Gate could take the better part of a day: Start with delectable breakfast muffins at Small Batch Bakery, sample authentic Polish pierogi at Pierogi Inn, savor Nordic delicacies at Scandinavian Gifts, and don’t miss the matzo ball soup and hummus at Veg. Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table offer top-chef-style cookware. But wait, there’s more: Our town is brimming with cooking schools, and culinary tours led by local restaurateurs and chefs promise new adventures and friends.
Comfort Zone is a kitchen with stoneware dishes for cooking up family favorites. Rekindle childhood memories with oven-to-table bakers ($8 to $39) stamped with the words “Comfort Food.” Pottery Barn, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 366-5351.
Cheese Bored? Serve totally new Premoo, a complex Gouda-style cheese exclusively at Fresh Market. With a texture that is perfect for slicing, grating, snacking or melting, it’s already a best-seller. Fresh Market, 5251 University Parkway, Sarasota, (941) 355-0417.
Future Foodies get a great start when moms use the new “it” gadget, the Baby Gourmet by Kalorik ($99). A food processor and steamer in one unit, it makes baby food in five minutes and gives tots a taste for healthy, preservative-free foods. Sur La Table, 22 N. Lemon Ave., Sarasota, (941) 365-0380.
Winning Scores go to collard greens and kale in the new Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI), which is now the measure of the healthiest foods in every department at Whole Foods. The store’s Health Starts Here program features these top scorers (and more) in private label and prepared foods. Whole Foods Market, 1451 First St., Sarasota, (941) 955-8500.
Just Hatched Egg waffles with crispy-golden outsides and tender-creamy centers have been a favorite street food in Hong Kong for generations, but Nordic Ware’s new Egg Waffle pan ($49.95) brings the treat to American homes. Williams-Sonoma, 94 Southgate Plaza, Sarasota, (941) 361-2400.
Traffic Jam? Follow the crowd at Morton’s to an irresistible new gourmet treat: fruit jams made with healthful olive oil by Live-O in Israel in flavors like fig and balsamic vinegar ($8.99). Morton’s Gourmet Market, 1924 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 955-9856.
Best Bets Investing in Bordeaux wine futures is a hedge against inflation, whether you’re in the market for 2009 vintages of Chateau Feret Lambert Bordeaux Superieur ($13.95) or Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan ($799.95). Michael Klauber has tasted each of the 2009 wines now on reserve, and will soon be offering 2010 vintages to be bottled in a year or two. Michael’s Wine Cellar and Tasting Room, 1283 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 955-2675.
Sarasota is the cultural capital of the Gulf Coast, and that extends to our appetite for food-fueled touring. Local chefs and restaurateurs oblige with spectacular trips like the Sarasota-Manatee Originals’ inaugural cruise to Spain and Portugal, led by chef Ray Arpke of Euphemia Haye in September 2011 (Silversea, $3,935 pp) through Admiral Travel International, (941) 951-1801. Discover the Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont regions of Italy with wine tours, truffle hunts and classes at acclaimed cooking schools ($3,950 EU pp), also in September, with chef Paul Mattison of Mattison’s Restaurants, (941) 921-3400. Join culinary adventurer Michael Klauber (Michael’s On East) this June on the Connoisseur Club’s 10-day South Africa big game photo safari ($8,145) with four-day Cape Town and South African wine tour extension through admiraltravel.com.