Ivy's Simply Homemade boasts wonderful take-home food options
The sainted Mom-Unit doesn't get out much anymore, God bless her. She's pretty much homebound. I think one of the things she misses most — believe it or not — is going to the grocery store. I'm not going to lie to you: the woman could study vegetables and, the older she got, the more she enjoyed doing so. Why, one time, standing off to the side, I read the bulk of Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" while Mom marveled like Indiana Jones over an artfully crafted pyramid of Golden Delicious apples.
In that context, the fear of encroaching elderly-ness increasingly means I don't like to go to the grocery store any more. I fear some Younger Person will brush by me, and I'll realize I've been price-comparing denture cream for 20 minutes. Sigh.
The point? In a bold and impromptu decision to avoid a grocery shopping last week, my wife Eileen and I visited Ivy's Simply Homemade, the gourmet-to-go food market in Waterford (hard to the CPAP shop where, yes, Old Man Rick gets his "sleep gently, codger!" gear). The idea? To get enough prepared food to put off a trip to the grocery.
I think we're onto something.
Ivy's is a tiny spot that resembles a boutique gift shop as much as a market. There are wooden display tables piled with local wares like Tate's cookies, wine from Jonathan Edwards and Bureau Sugarhouse's syrups, kettle corn and sauces — as well as Ivy's own giant cookies and brownies.
There are chilled display cases on opposite sides, and dead-ahead from the door is a checkout counter where you can also order from 16 superb custom-made wraps and sandwiches ($7, $8 gluten-free). Wraps include creative recipes like cranberry apple chicken salad; balsamic roasted vegetables with spinach and goat cheese; and Cali chicken with guacamole, slaw, tomato and honey mustard. Representative sandwiches hit the high points of turkey, ham, tuna, pulled pork and roast beef.
Eileen and I assaulted the refrigerator cases that are stocked with soups, salads, appetizers, sides and pastas — treasures like egg salad, ratatouille, white bean hummus and a baby greens salad with candied pecams, apples, cranberries and goat cheese (all $7).
Full meal options ($8.99-$14.99, most enough for two or even three meals) are plentiful and wide-ranging in appeal: turkey dinners, chicken parmesan with penne, lemon caper chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, honey and soy-glazed pork chops, scallop and shrimp-stuffed soul with lobster cream sauce, and balsamic flank steak with smashed garlic potatoes.
As a vegetarian, E quickly piled up foil tins of mac 'n' cheese and four cheese-stuffed pasta shells ($11.95). To augment the former, she added a small container of roasted broccoli ($2). The flavor of the dish was subtle, with a real cream base as opposed to over-goo-ing the cheese. The broccoli was crisp and green, with a nice touch of char and sweetness, and the overall combo was delightful and rich.
As for the pasta shells, she got six enormous constructs with a fabulously chewy blend of ricotta, Romano, parmesan and Asiago components. The presentation was completed by a smoky, delicate layer of homemade marinara.
For my own evening meals, I went with honey mustard salmon over rice pilaf with fresh vegetables ($14.95) and Thai peanut chicken over coconut rice ($11.95). The chicken dish was sensational — chunks of boneless breast meat in a light peanutty marinade over toothsome rice with sliced red pepper. In addition to the titular peanut and coconut flavors, a discernible and perfect fusion of ginger, lime, brown sugar and garlic were in each bite. I loved this.
The salmon was also good but presented a problem with our less-than-finely-calibrated oven. It's important to note that most of the dishes from Ivy's are all reheated at 350 degrees — and most for a half-hour. This makes it easier, obviously, if preparing more than one at the same time. A nice portion of salmon came out flaky and moist, but the honey mustard sauce — perhaps not enough — dried out and provided a minimal kick. No big deal — I doctored it up a bit on my own, and it was fine. The broccoli and carrots were crisp and added a nice contrast.
Other things we bought included an earthy, deeply flavored green goddess orzo salad ($9/pound) and a delicate, summery roasted corn and chickpea salad ($9/pound and boasting cob-roasted kernels). Recurring goodness!
For snack purposes, we bought a jar of salsa ($6.95) that indicates it was made FOR Ivy's rather than BY Ivy's, and it doesn't say who made it. But it was perfectly fresh, tart and sweet and better than any salsa we've had that doesn't say "product of Texas" on it.
Finally: desserts. Eileen loved the flourless chocolate tart ($5), with its silky and luxuriant essence, and my apple crisp ($5), which I'd planned on eating over three different seatings, seduced me with the tangy fruit, cinammon overtones and perfect crust — and I ate it all in one demonic feasting.
I assume we'll return to the grocery store at some point. It's what people do. But it's damned good to know Ivy is close by.
If you go
Ivy's Simply Homemade
316 Boston Post Road, Waterford
(86) 442-8646, ivyssimplyhomemade.com
Cuisine: Basically anything you'd want to take home and not cook, including entrees, sides, soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps, and desserts.
Atmosphere and service: Welcoming and comfortable
Prices: Sandwiches and wraps $7 to $8, desserts, soups and salads $2 to $9, entrees $9.95 to $14.95
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday
Handicap access: Small with a display table in the center, but negotiable
Credit cards: All majors
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