Today's culinary triumphs are the product of thousands of years of experimentation. The staff at Annona Gourmet doesn’t see any reason why that march of innovation should end, so they fill the shop’s shelves with exotic twists on staples such as pasta, sea salt, and vinegar. 20 varieties of olive oil pour from large stainless-steel tanks called fusti, their straw-hued droplets hinting at everything from Sicilian sunshine to Persian limes. After tasting balsamic vinegar infused with cinnamon and pears or figs, patrons peruse the inventory of pastas beneath coastal murals that give one the feeling of being at a beach free of sailors with boring albatross stories. Jars of sauces and dressings hint at a spectrum of flavors with earth-tone hues, and sea salts take on the flavor of black truffles or ghost peppers in an escape from seasoning conventions.
Offering more than 300 varieties of cheese from 15 countries, Surdyk’s provides one-stop shopping for cheese aficionados, party planners, plasticine Englishmen and their put-upon dogs, and nests of mice disguised as parka-wearing human shoppers. Liven up your next book club, Civil War re-creation meeting, or Civil War creation meeting with the Australian Roaring ‘40s blue, English Colston & Basset Farmhouse Stilton, and Stinging Nettle Gouda varietals. Tongues frightened by the thought of pronouncing Ekte Gjetost can cheese it a little closer to home with domestics such as Constant Bliss from Jasper Hill Farm, 10-year-aged cheddar, and Cypress Grove Midnight Moon. If you're not sure which variety is best for party platters or swan-shaped centerpieces, Surdyk's knowledgeable cheese consultants will happily impart their know-how and enthusiasm to anyone who asks. And because man does not live by cheese alone, Surdyk’s 12,000-square-foot store also provides plenty of wine and deli-pairing options to further pique the palate.
C. McGee’s focuses its kitchen skills on building from-scratch sandwiches and soups that are also easy on the arteries. The staff paints a vivid palette with meaty works of art in bread-bookended sandwich form. The deli’s box-lunch combos hark back to the ease of a childhood midday meal, alleviating adult dining anxiety in the form of a half sandwich with either a cup of soup or a half-pint salad ($7.75), or the premium box lunch of a sandwich, chips, soup, and dessert ($11.75).