I have always loved visiting grocery stores and peering at the boxes, bags and cans that represent the sustenance needed for our bodies. When I was in college, I loved getting on the bus and heading downtown to the North Market, into the decrepit Quansit hut that housed it at the time, and buying the fresh produce and wonderful meats and cheeses that I could only find there.
I was a little sad when the hut was torn down and the market moved into a newly renovated warehouse. Sure it was a little seedy, but that was part of the mystique. It seemed more real than the local grocery store. The food tasted better and you felt as though you were part of the chain of farmer to market to consumer. Sure some of the people were a little creepy – but a good loaf of bread will make me forgive a lot of failings in my fellow man.
I have only been down to the market about four times since the transfer. A lot of the old venders couldn’t afford to make the transition. It was like visiting your uncle after he had a sex change. He looked real pretty but he still wasn’t quite right.
So what dragged me down there this time? Well, part of it was to visit Curds and Whey, the best cheese shop in the city. Mike Kast, the owner, knows spoiled milk like no one else in the city, and the orgasmic cheese orgy that follows a trip to his fine establishment is worth any amount of pain and aggravation. This time, I asked Mike to suggest three cheeses that Tony and I could eat with the bread we had just purchased from the Omega Bakery. Living up to his reputation, he hooked us up with a pungent Bleu des Causses, a Taleggio Vero Cademartori and a nutty Gruyere. Hmmmmmm - my mouth started watering thinking about them – hang on, I am having cheese flashback. Cheese, Grommit!
I also had designs on picking up some baked goods while I was there, including the afformentioned Omega bakery and pasteries from Jurgen’s bakery. Jurgen’s is no longer in the market – I have no idea how long its been since they left, but it a loss. Their spot has been claimed by fairly uninteresting purveyors in new age somethings or others. Omega - well, that is a different story. Amy Lozier is the owner and damn girl! That is some fine baking.
As I wandered North along the aisle, I was drawn in by a display case of ravioli. They were striped. Well some of them were - others were pink! Just beautiful. The case belonged to Pastaria, who have been at the market about 18 month (if I recollect correctly). Turns out, Pastaria is the retail outlet for a local pasta maker who usually only sells to the trade. So if you are looking to buy some primo pasta - you now have a destination. I picked up a pound of their garlic green beans with pine nuts. The beans made my taste bud do a dance of joy.
Lastly, I picked up ten pounds of mixed chicken parts for stock at North Market Poultry. I did so well at the beef stock, I decided to put away some chick stock as well. Nothing like tasty backs, necks and wing tips to make a flavorful stock. I have included a picture of some nasty chicken bits for the faint of heart. I think there may be some chopped liver in my future!
Of course, these are the only places I stopped in on this trip. I want to go back soon and pick up some fine pasta and sauces from Pastaria, fish from Bob the Fish Guy and meat from Bluecreek Farms. I most likely will head down in April when their farmers’ market returns. I can’t wait.