Monday, April 11, 2011

Whole Foods Rockville Blogger Tour

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Whole Foods Rockville Blogger Tour Pre-Opening tonight and wow, this store is incredible! Unfortunately my camera ran out of battery halfway through the tour, but you will get the idea from the pictures I do have.

If you live anywhere near Rockville you MUST visit this store soon. I promise you will not be dissappointed.
When we came up to the front door we saw a sign that welcomed all the bloggers. We started our tour right away. The coffee expert told us about a $70 a pound coffee from Panama that they are featuring.  There are also 3 new brewing systems that they are using but since I don't drink coffee I wandered off to take pictures of the fruit.

Before I left the coffee bar area I saw the gelati popsicles. These look wonderful, so fresh and delicious on a hot summer day.

This Whole Foods has a beautiful cultivate garden center right when you walk in.  They are selling as many local flowers as possible.  The flowers are so colorful and reasonably priced too.

They were still busy stocking shelves, setting things up, and getting the store ready for tomorrow's 10 AM Grand Opening, but to me it looked perfect tonight. The fruit section was so beautiful. You just wanted to pick out a fruit and eat it.
Whole Foods is trying to sell as many whole trade fair trade items as possible. You can identify these products with the orange circle sticker on them.  Whole trade brings fair trade to a higher level. It is socially responsible, and they make sure the employees who work so hard picking the fruits are paid well and treated well.  In this new store there are many cut fruits that are organic!

Next we went to the fish area. The fish cases are much smaller and shorter, which encourages the fish guys to come out and talk with the customers.  The fish area will be much more interactive!  There is also a new fish freezer area with many gluten free options that were never offered at Whole Foods before.  A smoked salmon all the way from Norway is another new highlight.  The fish is rated on a 5 point scale and is rated by the BOI (Blue Ocean Institute).  By Earth Day next year all unrated fish will no longer be sold at Whole Foods.

The next area was the cooking coach. This is something I have never seen before. A big table will feature one food or recipe and Michael Kiss, a cooking coach, is available 5 days a week to answer your cooking questions. If he is not there, there are 2 iPads to help answer your cooking questions.  In this area there is a dry mushroom bar, and a huge amount of seeds, grains, flours and more with grinding areas as well. I wish I had some pictures, it was a huge incredible space that truly is one of a kind.

The grocery area is focused on VALUE. They do not want you to think of them as the most expensive store on the block.
Blue tags show items with everyday low prices all year long
Orange tags show sale items that last two weeks long
Whole foods checks the prices at other stores to match or be lower than other stores on many core items.
Gluten free items all are certified and checked and are shown with light green tags.

The dairy department has really cool new doors on all the milks, eggs, etc... These doors are more energy efficient and keep the cool air inside better.
There is also a cool granola bar, literally a bar with different types of granolas, that is conveniently located right next to the milks.

The meat department is huge! The meat is butchered in house. There is also a smoker so they can smoke meats with hickory or cherry wood. Briskets are smoked for over 13 hours alone!  They have many dry aged meats which are aged for 2-3 weeks. The possibilities are endless in the meat department. The homemade sausages look incredible.  If you are looking for something in the meat department just ask, they probably have it!

The cheese area is also enormous.  Two of the cheese team members have worked in all 3 of the Rockville locations for the past 20 years. Their pictures are up on the wall behind the cheese area. This cheese area is three times as big as the old one.  They will be cracking open a large parmigiana wheel this Saturday at 3pm with the Mayor of Rockville. You will be able to taste the heart of the Parm on Saturday.
A fresh pasta bar with homemade pastas and sauces is attached to the cheeses. It smelled and looked so good. I had to keep my son from diving in and tasting the marinara.

Next on the tour was the Restaurant Row. All food is made to order. There are fresh sandwiches made with the variety of meats and cheeses, Burgers, Sushi, Pizzas, and Arepas.  The possibilities for dinner are endless.

The cake department went from 4 feet at the old store to 16 feet! Some of the highlights are
mini tarts at $1.99
cupcakes $1.99
vegan desserts from Sticky Fingers Bakery (only one of the best places in the world)
gluten free desserts
dairy free desserts
tea cakes
16 types of sliced breads
mini pies $2.49

Instead of saying Health Starts Here the baker told us that Happiness Starts Here. Here is the head baker showing us one of his mini apple pies
 Here is an apple pie and a strawberry rhubarb pie just out of the oven.

The whole body area has two new items I had never seen before
a bath salt bar from local vendors and a facial imaging machine which analyzes your face, recommends products to help specific problems, saves your data, then analyzes you again to see if the products help!

May 3rd from 6-8 PM they will be having a spa night with free massages and 25% off many body care, facial products and makeup.

I could probably write 10 more pages but I need to get the kids to bed.
Tomorrow morning at 10 AM is the grand opening. I hope to see you there!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review of George & Martha at Imagination Stage

We were lucky enough to win from Washington Parent Magazine a group of 4 tickets to the opening night of George and Martha playing in Bethesda, MD at Imagination Stage.
Our tickets were waiting for us at the will call window and excitement was in the air. This was the opening night of the new children's production of George and Martha, based on the popular book series by James Marshall.  (James Marshall also worked on the Miss Nelson series of books which our family loves.)

This play is listed for ages 3 and up. I think that any kids from age 2.5 to 14 would enjoy this play. Adults will laugh along too. It is really a play that would appeal to all ages.  George and Martha is playing from now until May 29th, so get your tickets early!
When we entered the theater we immediately noticed how colorful and bright the stage was. Tons of color everywhere.  The kids could not wait for the show to start.  Boy was this blogger surprised when I saw we had front row seats! The kids were literally bouncing up and down, so excited to be able to see it all, almost being able to touch the stage, ready for the show to begin.

I had with me a 7 year old and two 10 year olds. All three of them laughed throughout the show. The ten year olds were not expecting to enjoy it very much, but they were cracking up for the whole hour.  The show follows the books pretty closely and if your children are familiar with the stories, they will recognize many of the various scenes.  The overall theme of the show is friendship.  There are two best friends who start to get on each others nerves over some very silly things.  But, in the end, they realize they miss each other and should stay best friends even though they cannot agree on everything.  One more thing you should know, there are tons of songs in this show! My ten year old asked me at the end if this was a musical. The songs were great, and really made the show even more fun for all of us!
We had taken a few of the George & Martha books out of the library so the kids were familiar with the characters and the type of story it would be.  The show lasted about 55 minutes, with no intermission. If you have a little one along with you, make sure you hit the bathroom before the show begins.  I will not ruin the show for you, but I will tell you that there were no scary parts or scary costumes. I think most kids would really love it. 

Since we won our tickets to the opening night performance, we were lucky enough to hear an introduction from the Playwright, Joan Cushing, and also to be included on a backstage tour and reception when the show ended.  Joan gave us great insight into her ideas of how she wrote the play, songs and music as well as how she felt about the main theme of friendship and the characters.  She told us that she loved the drawings in the original books and would laugh at the books from just looking at the pictures.  There are pictures all over the stage that are inspired by the illustrations in the books.

The backstage tour was truly amazing. My kids love theater and getting a glimpse behind the scenes was really a dream come true.  First, we were taken to the sound control room. We saw many wires, computers and the wireless mikes they used in the show. My 7 year old who is reviewing this on his own blog ( was ready to get in a chair and run the computers for the next show.  We saw how the computers actually controlled all the sound effects including the big doorbell that rang whenever someone pushed it.  They also told us how they were forgetting to use one of the sound effects and just realized it and added it to the computer list of sounds.  This was a sound that they used at least 15-20 times in the play last night and I think it would be very funny if there was no sound for this effect.

Next, we saw the costume warehouse. This room was stocked full of costumes from all different times and places. They were grouped by date, so the clothing from the same eras were kept together.  After peeking our heads in the costume room, we saw the shoe area.  Hundreds of shoes everywhere you looked.  You cannot imagine how many pairs of shoes they had. Every color, style, size of shoes you can think of!  When we got to the room where they actually made the costumes for the shows, we saw four sewing machines, some mannequins, a steam iron, and some of the renderings (drawings they make before creating the actual costume).

We next went downstairs to see where the sets were built.  We also saw where they kept the props in the wings near the edge of the stage.  We were allowed to take pictures on the stage which was really cool.  The stage was so cool to stand on. It was a little slick especially where 3 huge glass tiles covered an area that looked like it went 2 stories down to the ground.  The kids slid around, took a few more pictures and then we called it a night.

There was a lovely reception in the lobby for the opening night sponsored by Whole Foods. All of the actors were hanging around talking to anyone who wanted to ask questions.  My kids said to me, "Do you see where the PIG is, she was my favorite". I would love to take a picture with her!  Little did they know, but the Pig (Kate Guesman), was out of costume and makeup and was standing right next to them listening and talking to other people. She was so sweet and talked with the kids and posed for pictures. The kids were starstruck!

I guess my kids were tired because they turned down sandwiches, muffins and cookies and said they were ready to go home. As we drove home my 7 year old techie said, "Now I want to go see the show again so I can look around and understand more how the show works behind the scenes."  

I just want to thank Washington Parent Magazine, the Imagination Stage, and Whole Foods for an amazing night that we truly enjoyed every minute of!