Here in the Humptons, as blogger Michael Daly likes to call them, finding reasonably priced sustenance is an ongoing challenge. Yesterday I paid 99 cents for a single banana (not even a big one) at the Springs General Store. There seems to be a “we’re here in a resort community at the ends of the earth, so factor in extra shipping charges and expect to be ripped off” approach to pricing.
So, full-time resident that I now am, and frugal to boot, I embarked on an informal survey of prices at Citarella, the upscale Manhattan chain that now has several stores on the South Fork, one conveniently located on my way home from anywhere; the Amagansett Farmer’s Market, now owned by Eli Zabar (it’s like the Upper West Side around here in a number of ways); and the IGA supermarket on North Main Street in East Hampton, which you would THINK would be more down-to-earth.
It seems that prices on the items in “Cara’s Market Basket” — the groceries I, creature of habit, typically buy — are best at Citarella (though not across the board), and that’s where I gravitate. They have top-quality cheeses, olives, and produce. Their house brand of French Roast coffee is wonderful at $7.49/pound.
The food is generally impeccable but prices are outrageous at the AFM, though I like to go there for the beautiful picnic grounds. Sometimes I fall into a what-the-hell-it’s-a-resort-community mentality myself. But I cringe at paying $7.99 for a can of tuna — a brand called American, ‘pole caught’ and delicious, but still.
The IGA, where the produce is disgusting, has some of the most bizarre grocery prices I ever encountered. Total 0% yogurt – the large size – is $7.49! Still, I go there for basics like spring water, seltzer, milk, and canned beans. For paper goods, it’s CVS all the way.
Just check this little table of mine, below, for price comparisons between Citarella, a relative pleasure palace of quality and service, and the IGA, so depressing you might as well be anywhere but here.
ITEM CITARELLA IGA
Tuscan Milk – quart 1.79 .95
Total Yogurt – large size 6.49 7.49
Carr’s Table Water Biscuits 3.49 4.29
Hero Preserves 3.99 4.79
Genova Tuna 3.99 2.19