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it’s all about the quality

February 22nd, 2011 | Comments Off on it’s all about the quality

Can you believe it’s almost March? For me, that’s always a fun change because the very first day of March is my birthday, but almost better yet, March around these parts means Spring begins, even if it’s only the official beginning of the season. While April is the month to usher in the soft scent of Springtime, March, in one 30 day span will bid goodbye to winter and hello to the sweetness that is Spring in Minnesota. No other month holds as much promise for us, the winter and snow weary, as the coming of March.

The best part of Spring, besides the ending of cold temps and the continual snowfall is that fresh foods start the slow trickle back into our menus. The Farmers Markets open up one by one, showcasing the best of Spring fare. Although I do love the root vegetables, the slow aromatic braises of wintertime, filling the kitchen with a warmth that shutters out that wind and chill, the lighter fare of Spring, and then of course, Summer have such an appeal. Mostly though, I think it’s just because after this endless winter of snowstorm after snowstorm, I’m probably craving green in any form I can find.

If you’ve been around here, even for a brief time, you know that I’m all about the quality of my food. I like it fresh, I like it from scratch and I like it to be well made, even minimally prepared. The fancy food has it’s place, and once in a while it’s a nice treat, but honestly, I can swoon over a superbly fresh salad, lush with dark leafy greens and a palette of colorful vegetables with a simple vinaigrette sprinkled over the top.

Last month I talked about the predictable ease of enjoying the food at Panera. If I’m craving a bowl of soup, with a chunk of fresh bread to dredge through my bowl, I don’t really need to think too hard about where I can get that, outside my own kitchen.

But what I like even more about Panera is the freshness of ingredients in their salads and sandwiches. The salads snap with the crisp crunch of the lettuce, spinach, spring mix and other greens in them. The sandwiches are topped with an array of dark leafy greens instead of a boring bland iceberg or a limp green leaf lettuce. The aroma rising from the chunk of bread you twist apart to dip in your soup is lush with yeast and you can taste the flavor of the carrots in their delicious and all natural Chicken Noodle soup. The apples snap with an exacting crunch. And people love the bread at Panera so much that they’ve given all their impassioned fans a place on their Facebook page to write their very own Ode to Bread. You can see a short video on the company’s website about their passion for baking those popular loaves. I know a lot of people really appreciate the availability of the calorie content of all their menu items right there in the store, so you can make the best choices for your dietary needs. The staff is also very helpful in assisting customers with food-allergy related questions about the menu, especially helping them to determine the soup and salad items that are gluten free. And I love that they use Stonyfield Farms organic yogurt in their smoothies. That’s one of the best yogurts available.

Have you set up your MyPanera rewards card yet? They like loading a nice surprise on there when you do. I got a gooey cinnamon roll, all for free, added to mine just for beginning to use it. The more you use it, the more rewards you will receive. Who doesn’t like free? Especially if it includes their decadent baked goods.

Fresh, easily accessible and warmly predictable, a quick lunch or dinner at Panera is a good thing, all over the board.

If you’re interested in more information on how Panera finds inspiration for sourcing their ingredients, please visit this link on their Facebook page.

Do you Twitter? Follow Amy, the official @panerabread tweeter for up to date information.

I was compensated financially for writing this post. All content is my own viewpoint and opinion.

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