Westridge Market, Ojai
Posted on 06 / 25 / 2009
Westridge is definitely vegetarian friendly under local resident David West's ownership and David Austin's capable management. The guys you want to know, however, are Josh, Ricardo and Dave. They are the team that keeps the produce section fresh and affordable. I was specifically impressed with Josh's knowledge of fruits and vegetables. He can literally name and describe every item they put on the shelf. For us vegetarians, that's important!
When asked what Josh likes best about his job, Josh replied: "I like that I'm allowed to try new products for our customers". When asked to elaborate, he asked a question of me: "Have you ever eaten an Ice Cream Bean?" I replied, "Huh?" An Ice Cream Bean, Josh explained, is a fruit in the shape of a long pod, sometimes a foot in length, containing a bright white pulp surrounding several large seeds and is indigenous to Central and South America. "You eat the pulp", he says. "It tastes like vanilla ice cream, especially if you freeze it first".
Josh, Ricardo and Dave put a lot of effort into the day-to-day restocking and manicuring of the produce section. As Josh says "it is important to keep it fresh". About one-third of his produce is organic although this team strives to increase that percentage at every opportunity. Organic produce includes but is not limited to apples, baby carrots and berries. Westridge supports local farmers as a priority when prices are competitive.
They stock a variety of fresh mushrooms including portobello, shiitake, crimini and white mushrooms. One of the most unique parts of the produce section is the variety of fresh herbs including lavender, chocolate mint, rosemary, oregano and thyme.
My recommendation is to visit the deli area and take out picnic items to enjoy on a lazy-hazy-crazy-day this summer. All items are reasonably priced for what you get. I like the vegetarian quiche and fresh fruit salad. The deli section also has deviled eggs and fresh Pico de Gallo. It offers a variety of salads including garden, yellow beet, mozzarella balls with basil pesto, bow-tie pasta and the obligatory macaroni and potato salads. Purchase a drink, a baguette, a slice of cake or another fresh dessert and you're ready to picnic.
For us vegetarians Westridge Market and Fine Foods is a veritable picnic waiting to happen. If you haven't already visited them, do so. You won't be disappointed.
Fresh, Good Variety, Friendly