“The best of the best” were the words Heinen’s Seafood Manager, Marty Gaul chose when we asked her to define the store’s seafood. And we can’t find one reason to disagree. Certainly not the visual display case, the variety, quality, assurance, taste and the time invested in finding the right source for their fresh – next day – selection of fish here in the suburban Midwest.
Marty Gaul has worked with seafood for nearly thirty years, with about a third of those years at Heinen’s. As Seafood Manager, it’s Marty’s job to find the freshest seafood products for all of Heinen’s stores.
Marty’s the one who the fishermen call dockside, fresh off their boats in Alaska, Hawaii, Ireland and the North Atlantic with their catch-of-the-day report.
Marty orders the catch-of-the-day shipment, which is overnighted to Heinen’s stores. The seafood is so fresh, it’s literally in the counters for us to buy the day after it comes from the water.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. Heinen’s co-owner, Tom Heinen puts it this way. “I always thought our seafood was good, but when I started to eat this seafood that was flown in overnight, I was like, wow. This stuff is wicked good.”
With so much seafood to choose from, we decided to ask Marty Gaul about some of her favorite options for the holidays. The first thing she pointed out is how easy it is to serve seafood. “It requires very little preparation. Almost any type can be baked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, but it’s also great when grilled (for 10 minutes) so you can move the cooking outside.” Marty says all you need is a little olive oil, some Two Brothers Seasoning and Heinen’s Lemon Dill Sauce to top it off for a little added elegance. “You don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients to make a great dinner!”
For everyday seafood, if you aren’t’ sure where to start, Marty recommends something mild like tilapia, orange roughy or fresh Alaskan cod. She also says the halibut and fresh salmon are fantastic. The seafood teams in the stores can help you make your selections. And be sure to keep your eye on the schedule of events for seafood cooking demonstrations in the stores.
When it comes to the holidays, there’s an everyday item that Marty says should be on everyone’s holiday menu. It’s Heinen’s Own Cooked Shrimp. She says when you stop by the Seafood counter, ask for a sample. “We steam it in the store several times a day. Once you try it, you’ll be “hooked”… pun intended!”
This shrimp is Heinen’s number one selling item during the holiday season, and they are pricing it to accommodate. Heinen’s shrimp is all natural from Ecuador and therefore has no antibiotics, and no hormones. It is large and truly exceptional in quality. And their other shellfish is top-notch too. They only offer red crab legs which have a greater meat-to-shell ratio and a sweet-tasting meat. Their lobster tails are premium sized cold water tails and also have a sweet, high quality meat.
And their Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops are outstanding. Heinen’s Foodservice Merchandiser, Jim Larkin, says they’re one of his weaknesses. “Our scallops are like eating candy, they’re so good. They really are.”
You can also grab packaged heat-and-eat seafood appetizers for your holiday party too, like boxes of Crispy-Wrapped Shrimp or crab cakes, Heinen’s family recipe smoked salmon and numerous party trays with shrimp and crab dips.
When it comes to cooking meat and seafood, the better the quality the more foolproof and tasty the results. And with the efforts put in by Heinen’s to find the best sources for seafood and the guarantees in freshness and quality, the chances are slim you will have anything but a fabulous start to your meal with any of the options offered for sale.
Take it from Tom Heinen. “Our overall seafood story to me is that the fish were swimming yesterday. It’s in our store today.” Take it from Marty Gaul, “It is the best of the best. That’s all we source. We take no shortcuts at the holidays or any day.” And take some of Heinen’s seafood home to taste for yourself. You’ll be hooked. Pun intended.
The new Heinen’s Fine Foods store is located at the Shops at Flint Creek, 500 N. Hough Street, in Barrington, Illinois. They’re now open from 8:00 a.m. To 8:30 p.m., 7 days a week. Click HERE to follow them on Facebook or find them online at HeinensBarrington.com.
Kelly Donlea is a Barrington mom, chef, cookbook author the owner of Organizing Dinner, a company that brings sensible cooking solutions to busy people. She has published several cookbooks and one of her specialties is helping parents plan family meals with fewer trips to the grocery store. Kelly also offers cooking classes and demonstrations in your home or public facility. To learn more about Kelly, her recipes and her services, you’ll find her Facebook page by clicking HERE and her website at OrganizingDinner.com. Kelly is going to be sharing recipes, cooking tips and special features about chefs and popular menu items at area restaurants right here at 365Barrington.com.
Please join us as we discover local culinary treasures and new kitchen classics in our regular Friday food feature here at 365Barrington.com called “Barrington Eats” with Kelly Donlea!
If you’d like to us to feature you favorite chef, restaurant or food store or if you have a food related question that you’d like Kelly to answer, make a quick stop at the 365 Barrington Suggestion Box and leave us a note in the form which you’ll find by clicking HERE or simply leave your comment in the box below.