Your Guide to Sarasota Specialty Grocery Stores

Staffers at Sarasota specialty grocers pick the items they love most.

By Cooper Levey-Baker January 28, 2015

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8201 S. Tamiami Trail, #501, Sarasota

(941) 554-2800,

Our guide: Marketing manager Dawn Donoghue

Carrington Farms Coconut Oil ($17)

“This is a big seller, because it’s a beauty product [as well as edible]. You can put it in your hair and it’s good for your skin.”

Village Harvest Black Rice ($7.39)

“It’s just very different, heirloom black rice. I’ve never seen that anywhere else.”

Empire Rock Cornish Boiler Chicken ($2.09 per pound)

“These are kosher. We didn’t think we’d have a big kosher market when we opened, but it turns out that a lot of kosher eaters were driving to Tampa and Miami for meat.”

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay ($6.99)

“Kirkland is Costco’s private label and it’s held to the highest standards.”

Kirkland Signature Imported French Brie ($11.99)

“$12 for two pounds of Brie? Kirkland gets this from Normandy.”

All-American Chocolate Cake ($16.99)

“It doesn’t taste any better than this. We have restaurants come in and buy it, then sell it.”

Kind Healthy Snacks ($17.99)

“Athletes buy these in bulk. You get 18 bars [wth ingredients like oats, nuts, chocolate] for $17.99. The price is right.”


Morton’s Gourmet Market

1924 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota

(941) 955-9856,

Our guide: General manager Todd Morton

Hummingbird Fine Foods Champagne Vinaigrette ($9.99)

“A local brand that sells in only four places, and the other three are in New York. We can’t keep it on our shelf.”

Amarena Toschi Sour Black Cherries in Syrup ($16.49)

“The best cherries in syrup you can get. They use them at Libby’s.”

Sirard’s Chocolate Sarasota Seafoam ($11.99)

“Another local product. Imagine a crunchy, caramelized marshmallow in chocolate. It’s like nothing you’ve ever had.”

Stonewall Kitchen Sloppy Joe Sauce ($8.29)

“Just the best sloppy joe sauce. This is not Manwich.”

Sierra Nevada Cheese Company Baby Bella Mushroom Creamy Jack Cheese ($5.79)

“One of my favorite semi-soft cheeses, infused with mushrooms. You can just munch on it or melt it on a burger.”


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Whole Foods Market

1451 First St., Sarasota

(941) 316-4700,

Our guide: Healthy eating specialist Kathryn McCue

Dang Caramel Sea Salt Toasted Coconut Chips ($4.49)

“These are addictive little dried coconut snacks. Sweet and crunchy with a hint of salt. I like to add them to my homemade chocolate chip cookies.”

Shawnee’s Greenthumb Popcorn ($3.99)

“Made in Florida, this cheesy green popcorn is seasoned with spices, spirulina, and nutritional yeast for a cheesy, spicy flavor as well as B vitamins, protein and fiber.”

Amona Mojo Picón ($8.99)

“A creamy, spicy spread made from Marcona almonds, harissa, olive oil and spices. Pair with goat cheese and crackers for a quick and unique appetizer or on put it potatoes like they do in the Canary Islands.”

Forbidden Rice Ramen ($5.99)

“Traditional Japanese-style noodles made from heirloom black rice instead of wheat. Toss with edamame, red pepper, carrots and a squeeze of sriracha.”

Pepperonata Fresh Pasta ($5.99)

“There’s no substitute for fresh pasta made with love. These are made by a Sarasota family and come in a wide variety of flavors and shapes.”

Brooklynn BrewShop Beer Making Kit ($34.99)

“Brew your own grapefruit honey ale, oatmeal stout or chocolate maple porter. Or better yet, give it as a gift and then enjoy the fruits of your friend’s labor.”

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Casa Italia

2080 Constitution Blvd., Sarasota

(941) 924-1179 or

Our guide: co-owner Raj Mathur

Sottocenere ($24 per pound)

“The name literally means ‘under ash,’ and the cheese comes packed underneath ash and spices. And it’s infused with truffles.”

274th Il Novello Olive Oil ($29.99)

“They start picking the olives for this Sicilian oil on Oct. 1, the 274th day of the year, and then bottle it on Oct. 9 and we get it 10 days before Thanksgiving. Use this on salads or make a ‘Z’ with it over grilled fish. Don’t waste it by cooking with it.”

Speck Alto Adige ($24 per pound)

“Speck is smoked prosciutto, from the northeastern part of Italy. One side is a little dry and then the other side has some nice fat. You have to have that fat, because without that, it’s like champagne without bubbles.”

Bresaola ($24 per pound)

“The only beef product we have, it comes from the area near Switzerland and Austria. Slice it, then put it on arugula or radicchio and drizzle it with olive oil and cracked pepper and good Parmigiano-Reggiano.”

Ricotta Impastata ($5 per pound)

“Not like regular ricotta. This is very firm. It’s great for cannoli filling—very smooth.”

Laxmi Brand Black Cardamom ($8.99)

“In Indian cuisine, we use green cardamom in desserts and tea. The black cardamom is more robust—we’d use it in a lamb curry.”


Oriental Food & Gifts

2234 Gulf Gate Drive, Sarasota

(941) 924-8066,

Our guide: Owner Sue Kim

Kamayan Salted Shrimp Fry ($2.99)

“A salty shrimp paste that is a basic ingredient in the Philippines and Thailand, where they eat a lot of fish because they have so many rivers.”

XO Sauce ($9.99)

“Made with abalone, this Hong Kong [spicy sauce] is very expensive, but unique. Just use a tablespoon [as a condiment or flavor enhancer in everything from seafood to tofu and noodle dishes].

Cortas Rose Water ($4.99)

“This is a Turkish product, but a lot of British people use it in drinks. Just mix it with water and ice.”

Khamphouk Preserved Duck Egg ($3.49)

“It’s fermented and black. Open the skin and slice it and mix it in a salad or eat it like a boiled egg.”

Shirakiku Yam Noodle ($1.99)

“Noodles with zero calories. The texture is like slimy Jell-O, but it’s good for losing weight.”

Compounded Asofoetada Powder ($3.99)

“Called hing [and a standard ingredient of many dishes] in India. Not many people in India get cancer because they use so many spices. This is strong, so just use a little.”

Mae Ploy Pad Thai Sauce ($2.99)

“A lot of people think Asian food is full of MSG and bad stuff, but I trust this company. I [generally] trust Thai products [more than] U.S. ones.”


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Trader Joe’s

4101 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

(941) 922-5727,

Our guides: Foodies on Facebook (Trader Joe’s declined to participate, so we asked friends to share their picks.)

Gingerbread House Kit ($7.99)

“Cannot be beat! Under $10 and perfect for some old-fashioned family fun with no high-fructose corn syrup or red dye.”

Steamed Lentils ($2.99)

“Pretty much the only reason that I go to Trader Joe’s. Then I get sucked into buying a ton of other things I ‘need.’”

Milk ($3.69)

“Cheaper than Publix, Walgreens, Walmart, everybody!”

Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee ($3.99)

“This stuff is crack. A friend turned me on to this insanity.”

Milk Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels ($3.29)

“These are the shiz-nit.”

Grifone Sangiovese ($3.99)

“In my honest opinion, the best wine value on Planet Earth. Three Buck Chuck doesn’t even come close.”

Coconut Oil Spray ($2.99)

“One of my favorites. It is also my daily deodorant.”

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