The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shop Local

So things are a bit tough, economically. Here are some places to spend what money you have on hand, in the hope that they'll survive. (Apologies for the formatting - this site really doesn't speak HTML -- it just pretends to.)

Wine, Deli, Chocolates
Morgan and York
1928 Packard, Ann Arbor 48104
734 769 9770
As we say in Ann Arbor, "you know, the old Big Ten Party Store." Repeatedly voted Best Wine Shop. Especially in the realm of small French labels and Kermit Lynch - imported values, this is the place.
Everyday Wines
407 N. Fifth Ave - 1st Floor Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Just as the name implies, Mary Campbell's shop is dedicated to affordable wines.
Produce, high-end groceries, wine
Produce Station
1629 S. State St. Ann Arbor MI 48104
With the exception of the Farmer's Market in season, there is no better place for produce in Ann Arbor, period. Small, inconvenient to get to and get around in, it's worth the effort. Unofficial Rules: do not use a full size grocery cart (even though they have them), do not bring children.
Deli, luxury foods, coffee beans, bread
422 Detroit Street, Ann Arbor MI 48104
Although Zingerman's is the Superpower of local vendors, with aspirations to a global reach via their mail order side, they're still local, and they still roast a fine coffee bean.
Produce, meats, plants
Ann Arbor Farmers Market
315 Detroit St, Ann Arbor 48103
734 994-3276
In season, the best produce available. In the winter, a desolate tundra of crafts and wreaths. I mark the return of reasonable weather in the area by the reappearance of edible things at the market. Unofficial rules: no strollers!
Produce, groceries, wine
Fresh Seasons Market
2281 W Liberty St, Ann Arbor MI 48103
(734) 662-6000
(nothing useful yet as a website)
Again, "the old Coleman's Market." Not on my beat, but Northwest Side residents swear by it.
Meats, produce, groceries
Sparrow Market
415 N. Fifth Ave - 1st Floor Ann Arbor MI 48104
There is no better, more consistent source of meat in Ann Arbor, with the possible exception of the actual raisers who come to the Farmer's Market. The rest of Sparrow's empire in Kerrytown is pretty darn good, too.
Hannewald Lamb
Stockbridge MI 49285 (in the Farmer's Market, too)
A local raiser, with a Farmer's Market presence. The absolute best lamb I've ever cooked, and nice dog treats, too.
Smoked fish etc.
Durham's Tracklements
212 East Kingsley Street Ann Arbor MI 48104
Nationally-known source for great smoked fish and other smoked animals. In fact, a tiny hole in the wall on the north side of Kerrytown. Wonderful stuff.
Although Busch's exhibits most of the faults of supermarkets, it is, at least, a local enterprise. If you absolutely, positively have to shop at a supermarket, these are slightly better than the other places. Not recommended for anything that perishes or comes in grades of quality, such as fish, meat, deli, or produce.

And here are some places NOT to spend your money, for a variety of reasons.

Whole Foods: all marketing, all the time, with marginally better quality perishables than low-end supermarkets and a predatory approach to local competition. You spend more for what you buy and get far less value. Not a place to buy wine, either; if you can spell "Bordeaux," let alone pronounce it, you will know more than the wine staff.

Trader Joe's: just say no. There is nothing here that you want, and most of it is of very dubious provenance. Again, the staff know nothing that you don't already know.

Kroger's, Meier's, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Costco, etc. There is absolutely no viable cost/quality equation you can come up with that justifies shopping with these people. None. Don't try.

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