Monday, March 8, 2010

Good People Doing Good Things: The Little Grocer

There are plenty of people who love and respect food, and plenty of people who start their own food businesses. Sadly, the intersection of these two groups is so small it creates a Venn Diagram that looks like Cheeky Hobson's cleavage.

That's why I'm always delighted to come across business owners who make and sell food because they enjoy it, not because they've run out of people in the city who will employ them and have decided to start their own cafe on the basis that selling biscotti will be slightly more glamorous than selling inkjet cartridges.

One excellent example of a good person selling good food is The Little Grocer on Richmond Road. As you drive from Ponsonby Road she's just past the Woolworths, if it's still called that, on the bend before you go hard left and into the West Lynn shops.

There are lots of whole food salads, some vegan/vegetarian but some with meat too. She says she's not free range yet, but I'll take her word that it's coming because she has a fridge full of ethically sound meat on sale in the corner of the shop. Today for $9 I had a filling takeaway sesame and tofu brown ricey thing, in which the tofu tasted flavourful and delicious (a rare thing even in Asian restaurants, I've found).

So a bit of this, a bit of that – spices, vegetables, relishes, cakes and good coffee. It's one of those good-feeling corner stores that every suburb in Auckland should have, and I have such lovely associations with it that I can only ever picture it on a fine day, with a cloudless blue sky in the background and wealthy baby-carrying liberals of all ethnic backgrounds – English, Scottish, Irish – wandering blissfully past and enjoying the last days of summer.

As I write, it looks like a similar business called The Good Shop is opening up near me in Herne Bay. It seems to have been decked out for some weeks now, and I hope it opens soon or all those heavy baskets of produce will get cobwebby. A blackboard near the door lists all the amazing things that will be on sale there, and I hope it works for them: “fresh sushi, delivered every day” sounds particularly ambitious, and I wonder if they might want to start a little smaller. But I hope I'm proved wrong. Herne Bay is a culinary wasteland if you're spending less than $40 on dinner; I could well do with somewhere to walk up and catch a feed on the five nights out of seven when I'm too lazy to cook.