Live from New York, it's Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown
Wednesday, December 2, 1992; 11:54 AM
You won't find any Red Delicious apples, iceberg lettuce, hazelnut coffee -- or any other sort of flavored coffee for that matter.
But you'll come across several varieties of mushrooms that you've probably never heard of -- hedgehog, fried chicken, cauliflower, hen of the woods, black trumpet and more, depending on what's in season.
You'll also have a choice of more than 100 different pastas (half dried, half fresh), 200 styles of cheeses (11 blues, 22 soft cow milk cheeses and 29 che'vres, to name a few), 106 types of unflavored coffee, and 40 kinds of beans and legumes. And don't overlook the Italian truffles that sell for about $ 80 an ounce.
Puzzled about how to cook all that you see? There's help in the cookbook section, with more than 2,000 titles, from such mainstream favorites as the "Better Homes and Garden's Complete Guide to Cooking" to the more esoteric "What to Do Without Your Butler." As for utensils, there are shelves and shelves of equipment, from simple Pyrex measuring cups to Limoges pie plates and antique chocolate molds.
This broad assortment of gourmet foods and wares is the special appeal of Dean & DeLuca, the renown Manhattan food emporium that takes credit for introducing balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, mascarpone and quinoa to America.
Next week, Dean & DeLuca will introduce its own special concept of food retailing to Washington when it opens at the Market House at 33rd and M streets NW in Georgetown.
Along with an espresso bar that will seat 75, the Washington store will be the 15-year-old company's first foray outside New York.
Although the venue will be different and the employees new (virtually all will come from Washington), the store is expected to be almost identical to the Soho market where food is so meticulously and grandly displayed that one food writer labeled the store "the new museum of contemporary food." Miniature zucchini are lined up in perfect rows in a wicker tray; bright edible flowers rest peacefully atop a basket of extra fancy organic mesclun ($ 19 a pound); large rounds of cheese are stacked six or seven high.
Dean & DeLuca's arrival here is expected to add more sizzle to the city's existing gourmet food business that, until recently, has been dominated by Sutton Place Gourmet and Giant's Someplace Special. In the past two years, however, they have been joined by Fresh Fields and several smaller stores such as Marvelous Market and Lawson's.
Publicly, executives at the existing specialty food stores welcome Dean & DeLuca, saying the increased competition will benefit them as well as Washington residents. As Lawrence Abrams, president of Lawson's notes, "it's good to have other quality stores in the area; it will help increase interest in gourmet foods, making more people go out and shop around."
Still, many of the existing stores are not taking lightly the arrival of such a food powerhouse -- especially in a recession that has taken its toll on other local specialty food retailers. Kitchen Bazaar recently filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors and Larimer's, a 97-year-old institution near DuPont Circle, closed its doors two weeks ago.
Sutton Place Gourmet last summer started to spruce up its Bethesda store and now is in the process of redoing the chain's original store at New Mexico Avenue NW. "I wouldn't say that we are doing it because of Dean & DeLuca -- the store was 12 years old and needed refurbishing. But the competition coming in acted as a catalyst for refurbishing," says Sutton's president Mark Bery.