Get your game on.This new market is more than a store and is now open after a “much anticipated” unveiling. Wednesday, September 19th hundreds swarmed the store.

The week prior, I had the good fortune to enjoy their launch party for the newest in the Whole Foods family here in Southern California. The night was warm, and befitting this foodie soirée in the courtyard of Fashion Island. Long tables with white tablecloths punctuate the setting, with cascading water as a backdrop. The Management Team welcomed the guests and introduced numerous vendors offering local produce, cheese and meats.

The evening began with Fresh Carlsbad Oysters, Grilled Flatbreads with summer veges and goat cheese, Deviled Eggs with Hatch Chili and Crab Royale and Gorgonzola, honey and bacon. The main course included a wonderful “family style” menu of: Sweet Corn Polenta with Tomato Salsa, Skirt Steak with Padron Pepper Chimichurri, Mussels & Grilled Fresh Bread, and Local Greens and Root Vege Salad with a Walnut Yogurt Dressing. The beets snuck up on me and were delicious. Fresh as fresh can be.

The dessert was a Gelato Bar and what fun that was to select a host of different flavors. Chocolate with caramel drizzling throughout. Coffee bean rich in bravado. A wrong choice cannot be had here. The wines were very nice, including: One Wine (Hearst Ranch Winery and Margerum Wine Company).

The focus is on sourcing local products from the area, and that resonates well with this OC crowd, as corporate plants its fifth flag here in The OC. The wood used on the walls and soffits is reclaimed lumber salvaged from old canneries in Northern California. They are looking for love here in the Fashion Island 32,000 square foot shopping mecca. Here is a sneak peek of the highlights, with more details and photos to soon follow:

– The Tea Hive- A fusion cafe and tea bar serving beverage bar for teas in many forms–from frozen to sparkling, iced or steamed and also bowls, wraps and local organic products.

– Back Bay Tavern- A casual spot that offers indoor and outdoor seating, with a rotating selection of 24 craft beers on tap, wine and spirits, and dining with all that—-beef, seafood, and vegetable dishes. The mahogany bar in the Back Bay Tavern, is from the 1930’s.

-Express Wine and Beer Bar- At the front of the store, there is a smart quickie in-and-out service bar offering cuisine, wine and 12 beers on tap. Made from reclaimed wood from the 19th Century.

-In-Store Kitchen- This oven and stove are hot! The “take away” features: hand-crafted pizza, in-house chip and dips, rolled to order sushi, organic salad bar, hot soups, meals on the go and weekday deals.

– Meat & Seafood Departments- Highest quality meats with the stringent standards, and sustainable based fresh seafood delivered up to 6 days a week. Oven-ready selections will be available for quick take away.

-Bakery- Fresh baked breads, focaccias, baguettes, cakes,muffins, cupcakes, fruit tarts, cookies, and gluten-free treats.

– Juice and Coffee Bar- Fresh squeezed juices and fresh brewed coffee and instant oatmeal “on the go”.

-Bulk and Raw Foods- Heirloom beans, nuts, grains and flours.

– Wi-fi through-out

Parking is “a breeze” they claim, but with the ditch and chaos that abounds, it is just hard to imagine. They are claiming: Free Valet Parking in the Whole Foods Parking Structure, Curb-to-Car Shuttle Service, and Carry-Out Service as well. We shall have to wait and experience this.

Located at Fashion Island, guests can enter on Santa Rosa Street. Whole Foods is near Barnes & Noble, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Canaletto’s Restaurant.

More details, reviews and photos to follow.

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