Photo by Yakir Levi

You can send me to Tiffany’s and I’d probably meander around the aisles for a few moments just to show good graces before exiting in haste with sighs of relief. On the other hand, exploring a brand new grocery store filled with the most delectable food stuff is definitely a reason to get excited. Today was my day off and I decided to spend a part of it with a few of my blogger friends at the opening of a newly remodeled Bristol Farms store on Westwood Boulevard in Westwood, as guests of Melissa’s Produce and the store management.

Photo taken by Sara De Leeuw

Right at the entrance to the store I was greeted by a bright display of Melissa’s Hatch chiles – a reminder of Bristol Farms’ efforts to offer the most seasonal, local, natural, organic, and community-driven produce. These New Mexico chiles are in season for only a few weeks in August and September, and now is the time to get a box or two, roast them (either at home or at one of the roasting events scheduled throughout southern California), freeze them, and bask in the happy thought that come January, you can start the pot of Chile Verde, or enjoy Hatch Chile Corn Bread and Hatch Chiles Rellenos at any time.

I spent a few hours weaving around the aisles, impressed by the choices and delighted by the knowledge, passion, and zeal of the employees. Having my friends by my side made this experience even more enjoyable.

We took turns snapping the photos  and admiring the vibrant colors of the fresh and versatile produce section.

Am I the only one who finds beauty in all different shades of pink in this meat counter? The beef is grass fed, the poultry air-dried, and most of the meat in general is natural and organic, void of antibiotics, growth hormones, extra water, preservatives, and chemicals.

Yes, there are a dozen or so different soups offered at the lunch counter along with a sushi station, a deli station with freshly roasted smoked beef brisket, smoked pork, tri-tip and turkey (carved per order) – just to name a few delicacies.

And then there is cheese. I roamed the store, but I returned to this section again and again, drawn by artfully arranged tables offering hundreds of cheese varieties. If anyone asks, I’d like to stake a claim underneath one of those tables and live there forever!

I thought of my girls as I ogled the dessert case, wishing they were here to sample the perfect little bites, but secretly glad they were not, as I know that some of my baking and decorating efforts might lose their high ratings compared to these masterpieces.

It was hard to choose only one lunch item from hundreds of delectable offerings at the deli station, but in the end I picked a Smoked Pork Banh-Mi served on a crusty demi-baguette. After the first bite, I was in epicurean heaven and I knew immediately that I was not leaving the store without some of that aromatic porcine treasure.

I am sure that this beautifully remodeled Bristol Farms store will be wildly successful in this affluent Westwood neighborhood. The management hopes that it will become a regular stop for the locals who demand and expect the best. As for me, I’ll visit occasionally to sightsee, sample, and purchase another pound of their amazing smoked pork.