Bacon Unwrapped

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tocino at Phoenix Ranch Market

The goal of Pro's Ranch Market in Phoenix, Arizona is "to give the Hispanic customer the variety, brands, and fresh authentic foods they know and love in a warm, upscale environment." But Hispanic or not, you are missing out big time if you've never been to PRM, because this is quite possibly the best supermarket (and for much of non-Hispanic Phoenix, the best kept secret) in the Valley of the Sun.

When you walk through the main entrance of the 16th Street store, you are greeted with the aroma of freshly baked breads and pastries from the panaderia. Literally - you have to walk through a row of pastries in order to get into the store. It is truly evil (and brilliant) product placement.

Once inside PRM, the experience can be quite overwhelming for the first-time visitor. The store is enormous, and there is a tremendous selection of produce, baked goods, hot foods, meats, and other grocery items to choose from. The aisles are buzzing with Hispanic families pushing their way through the crowds to grab fruits and vegetables such as tomatillos and papayas from the produce bins, reaching for the shelves full of Mexican canned goods and beverages, and picking up bags of hot, fresh tortillas made on site in full view of shoppers. The experience of making your way through PRM can be quite intense, and your only choice is to hop right in and enjoy the ride.

I could go on and on about all of the fabulous things you will encounter at PRM. Mexican sauces and spices. A large selection of seafood. Prickly pear fruit that makes an incredible margarita. Handmade chorizos. Some of the freshest cheese you'll ever encounter in a supermarket environment. Every part of a cow, pig or chicken. And even fresh lard.

But the number of times you encounter bacon products in various locations around the store is particularly notable. We saw bacon in no less than 5 different spots on a recent visit. So there is no way to forget to 'bring home the bacon' on a trip to PRM.

One specific bacon product we encountered were pre-packaged bacon wrapped hot dogs - or "salchichas con tocino" (tocino is spanish for bacon). Bacon wrapped hot dogs are a common Mexican delicacy. You can find bacon hot dog stands in many Mexican towns, but until recently I had never encountered the pre-packaged version. Bacon wrapped hot dogs are delicious and I applaud this Mexican company for coming up with the brilliant idea to sell a pre-packaged version. It doesn't get any easier or faster to enjoy a home-cooked bacon wrapped hot dog than Supremas Salchichas con Tocino from PRM.

But whether or not you are into bacon wrapped hot dogs, Pro's Ranch Market has something for everyone, particularly if you love fresh, authentic Mexican food as much as I do. I can guarantee that after one trip to PRM, you'll never look at Safeway the same way again.

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