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Whole Foods Steers Me Wrong on Valentine’s Day Meal

Last night, I had a Valentine’s Day dish in mind that I’ve prepared with some success in the past. I don’t have a name for it. Let’s call it Tim’s VD Special. Here’s the recipe for Tim’s VD Special: get one (1) large shelled prawn; wrap it with one (1) orange roughy fillet; top with tomato slice; skewer the whole shebang with toothpick; bake at 350 until done. A dash of lemon juice, crack some pepper on that dude. Bingo. Your lady (or man) is guaranteed to love Tim’s VD Special or your money back.

So to Whole Foods in Lakewood I go to acquire my ingredients. Know what the woman in charge of the seafood counter told me? They don’t sell orange roughy because it’s not sustainable. I’m okay with this policy. First, because you know before you walk into the store that that’s what you’re going to get at Whole Foods: hippy-dippy, love-the-planet, drive-Glenn-Hunter-nuts environmentalism. You can’t complain about seeing boobs if you walk into a topless joint. Right? Same thing with Whole Foods. And, listen. I parked my Prius in one of those spots that Whole Foods reserves for hybrid cars. You think you hate me? I hate myself. I’m fine with that. And, second, I’m okay with Whole Foods’ fish policy because I’m well aware that fish stocks across the globe are collapsing. We ought to do what we can (even though I doubt it’ll be enough).

Moving on. What I do have a problem with (and what Nancy and I have been discussing for the past 10 minutes) is what the seafood counter woman suggested as a substitute after I informed her of my intentions for the roughy. She said I should go with Dover sole. She said it would perform like orange roughy. It would wrap well around the prawn, and so on and so forth. First off, it was about $9 per pound, so it wasn’t real Dover sole. Sole? Yes. Dover sole? No. Which means it was farmed someplace, and let’s just hope it wasn’t down in Chile because then I’ll get the fantods thinking about all that jet fuel burned to get those fishies up to Texas. Plus, you know, FISH FARMS ARE EVIL, as we all know.

I didn’t get into all this with the seafood counter woman because I didn’t want to feel like I was in an episode of Portlandia. I just bought the sole and went on my merry way (to the beer aisle for some Stone IPA and Modus Hoperandi, if you must know).

You know what I learned in the kitchen? Fake Dover sole definitely does not perform like orange roughy. Sole fillets are way too thin. I felt like I was making spring rolls. The result was just shy of miserable. Where Tim’s VD Special is a big, juicy, white, meaty presentation with that shock of red on top, what I made last night was puny, yellow, nearly dry.

My inamorata was kind with her review. She said the dish was fine. We both knew better.

To make matters worse, I was so distracted by my failing fish that when I went to steam the broccolini, I forgot to put water in the pan and instead filled the kitchen with the stench of burning enamel from the Chantal pot.

Oh, well. At least I had the beer.

18 comments on “Whole Foods Steers Me Wrong on Valentine’s Day Meal

  1. Tim, It’s polite to leave some room for comedy follow-ups whenever writing about your “VD Special.” But then you go and hog the whole spotlight with: “Where Tim’s VD Special is a big, juicy, white, meaty presentation with that shock of red on top, what I made last night was puny, yellow, nearly dry.”

    Not cool, man, not cool.

  2. @ninophile: And I just realized that I missed a wonderful opportunity to make a “flounder” pun. My apologies all around.

  3. As featured in D Magazine last summer, Dallas has wonderful seafood markets. Dallas eaters: BUY YOUR FISH FROM A FISH MARKET.

    (yes, the readers and editors picked TJ’s as 2010′s Best Fish Market…but even if you have a different favorite, buy your fish from a monger.)

    Grocery stores by fish 1000 lbs at a time hoping not to run out, then its a race to sell it before it goes bad.

    A good fish market buys small quantities of fresh fish with the INTENT of running out. Totally different model.

    the gourmet grocery stores may put bakeries and butchers out of business, but seafood is just different.

    To clear up the Dover Sole thing, real Dover Sole comes from the North Sea. Steve Connolly Seafood in Boston (also featured in D Mag) imports it fresh and air ships to Dallas. its 25.99 / lb whole. If you are paying anything less, you are getting a Pacific sole that has been named “Pacific Dover Sole” that bears no resemblance in taste, texture or quality to real Dover Sole.

  4. Whole Foods has lost it’s “sole”. How can they talk about sustainability and build a multi million dollar store that sucks up energy like 100 square blocks of HP? I’ve stopped shopping there because they are nothing more than the worlds most expensive grocery store and besides, a lot of their prepared food is just bad. I guess salt isn’t sustainable either.

  5. “I guess salt isn’t sustainable either.”

    ok, that was funny.

    FYI they are correct on Orange Roughy (another fake fish name, the species is called “Slimehead”)…TJ’s stopped selling it nearly two years ago.

  6. “Tim’s VD Special is a big, juicy, white, meaty presentation with that shock of red on top…”

    Mark! I’m going to figure out how to do drops in the comments one of these days.

  7. You probably just missed me. I was over at the meat counter about to purchase Jalapeno Stuffing-Stuffed Game Hen, when I remembered they sold that over at Central Market. So, my WH’s employee recommended the Lime Cilantro Chicken Skewers and it was a hit at the house last night. I know this because I got lucky later that evening. Dover Sole That!

  8. Some like it roughy on Valentine’s Day; other’s like it with sole.

    Just don’t be a prawn in someone’s tortured mind games on the fourteen or otherwise. You made the effort, collected some data and burned up the broccoli pan. Sure Ms. Rogers appreciated the effort.

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  10. Yet another post from Tim blaming someone else for something. You could have gotten “Roughy” from the frozen section at Walmart. The again, you could have gone to a decent seafood purveyor, thus rendering this post unnecessary. Also, one prawn? Nice. Don’t break the bank, big spender.

    BTW, people. Don’t hate you because you own a Prius. They hate you because you are Tim Rogers.

  11. Scott has some good points. And Tim I like it when you write about food. You are funny and down to earth. I never would have imagined you cooking and marketing. Nicely done

  12. Eeeeewwww, you told your “inamorata” that you were going to give her VD for supper? And she ate it?

  13. @RidemCowgirl …Scott’s only valid point is that he personally doesn’t like the much of the prepared foods at WF.

    He’s wrong about their sustainability. While it’s a relatively undefined and vague term, sustainability is all about off-sets and righting your wrongs.

    So sure, they use a lot of electricity to power the store, but how much closer to net-zero energy use are they than any other retailer of their size? The answer is: much.

    Here’s some light reading: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroom/blog/2010/04/20/whole-foods-market®-commits-to-reduce-energy-consumption-by-25-percent-per-square-foot-by-2015/

    I don’t work for WF but I occasionally shop there. Certainly not exclusively. They have lots of pros and cons.

    @Scott – I could care less if you shop there, but get your facts straight. Oh…and the salt comment was funny.

  14. whatever…. whole foods is mostly a gimmick, IMHO. I mean, I shop there, bc it’s better than most stores but only on some things. i wish i could walk thru the store with a manager and point out all of the stuff wrong with it and I wouldn’t even be scratching the surface. been frustrated with it for a while. and I’m a p1. ; )

  15. WH in the entire Dallas Ft Worth area is almost a joke compared with their over the top stores in Manhattan and Denver area….it’s like NO ONE is paying much attention here in this area….sad because why would anyone pay like $5.00 a lb. for say a red pepper when you can go to the farmers market and get one for .50c?