Swooning at the Revamped Central Market
Walking through the newly renovated and greatly expanded offerings at Central Market is honestly an emotional experience for anyone who loves to cook (or loves to eat). With an additional 10,000 square feet, it certainly feels significantly bigger. In fact, the produce section is now the largest of any H-E-B, anywhere. Cramped aisles have been replaced by a roomy configuration that allows for greatly-enhanced product availability as well, with features like a huge 32-foot wall of some 30 different varieties of mushrooms, along with an incredible array of specialized tomato, pepper and potato offerings, and more.
The expansion makes larger selections possible, like a larger variety of tropical fruits, or 35 apple varieties once the season hits its peak. The olive oil department includes a tasting bar and the largest selection of olive oil in the country with 350 different options -- many unavailable anywhere else. There is even an opportunity to taste a “flight” of different olive oils, without any of the oils having exposure to light or oxygen. This allows for subtleties to come through, like whether the oil has a “buttery” or “grassy” taste along with various other elements like mouth-feel, so that you’re able to make a clear decision in the midst of so many options. With this approach, Central Market has essentially translated a high-level wine-tasting experience into the olive oil realm.
Chocolate connoisseurs will delight in the new 860 square-foot “bean to bar” chocolate counter, where single-origin beans from selected farms around the world are ground and made into amazing bars of dark chocolate and labeled based on the origin of the beans. Alongside the bars are bins of high-end chocolate in various cacao percentages for everything from baking to munching with brands like Vahlrona, Callebaut, El Rey and the like. The aroma in this area is intoxicating.
Other features of the new layout include a dry-aged U.S.D.A. prime beef facility (21 days minimum), featuring source-verified Black Angus cattle from sixth generation Texas ranchers who ensure the beef is humanely raised naturally without added growth hormones and antibiotics. A stunning “wine wall” featuring 185 curated bottles of categorized wine chosen specifically for collectors and special occasions is added next to the existing wine department with more than 2,000 overall wine selections (including plenty of value-driven wines) available. There is also a huge assortment of international foods in the center of the store, including products from the British Isles, Asia, India and Mediterranean regions.
The coffee, tea and smoothie bar are improved and now include a “Poursteady” coffee machine which uses robotics and digital programming for its ‘pour-over’ method of brewing along with a Lavazzo Espresso machine, nitro cold brew and single-origin “micro-lot” coffees sources from around the globe and roasted in-house. This all makes for a pretty special cup of joe.
It would all be overwhelming, except that it isn’t, thanks to the strategic and thoughtful “full-view/European-style” layout for ease of flow within the store, including a much larger check-out area. If you liked shopping at Central Market before, you should really try it now! Through May 30th, check out their “Taste of South” foodie festival, showcasing the diverse, home-grown cuisines from Virginia, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama with a slew of special food offerings and in-store tastings. It’s truly fabulous to have a bigger and better version of Central Market, in ways that certainly capitalize on trends but also create new trends in the process.