IF you thought roast turkey and whole hams are the only kinds of roasts you can buy from a supermarket, the newly refurbished Paragon Marketplace will change your mind.
Just say the words 'whole roast lamb on a spit' and the supermarket will not reply with 'what are you, nuts?' but rather 'when, and how many people?' before it makes sure that someone comes to your house complete with said lamb and spit, and roasts it right in your own back yard. Of course, they don't dispatch someone from the grocery delivery department to do it; they work with upmarket Les Amis Catering to do what they are best at.
It's one of the new services the Marketplace is offering as part of a $3 million makeover to move it up the ladder of gourmet food stores in Singapore. The old layout has since been replaced with more focused sections - for example, large chiller sections filled with cheese, a streamlined Japanese section that now offers Japanese meat cuts, and an all-new specialty produce section featuring organic and other specialty gourmet items the supermarket says are exclusive to it.
'The criteria when procuring for this section was to source lines that embody uniqueness, exclusivity and premium quality,' says Choo Peng Chee, CEO of Cold Storage. 'We work with well-known international suppliers and are also on the lookout for boutique vendors who can provide products that will evoke emotions in our customers.'
This includes a wider range of Waitrose products than the supermarket chain already brings in, and some exotic names like Goan Cuisine, Charmaine Solomon, Doodle Creek and Malouf, all originating in Australia.
Charmaine Solomon, for example, offers a wide range of curry sauces and marinades like korma and Thai jungle curry that you just heat up and add the meat of your choice. Of course, they will never taste as good as fresh made, but this range of sauces is all natural without any preservatives, which is a plus. Malouf specialises in exotic Moroccan condiments like a smoky jackfruit and lime sambal - a chutney-like sweet-sour jackfruit and lime mixture. Along the same exotic lines is Goan Cuisine, which focuses on Portuguese-influenced recipes like a blood orange marmalade and a fierce-looking carrot 'achar' pickled in oil, lemon and spices.
All in, there are some 500 products to choose from. So if you're an avid gourmet shopper, you can add this new playground to your list.
This story was first published in The Business Times on Mar 1, 2008.