Compelling cheeses and Christmas cheer: that’s what The Cheese Lady was doling up this December!
The downtown Rochester location is one of seven in this female-run business. It’s the sole shop in the Metro-Detroit area, operating out of a grand Victorian house with sky-blue siding and gingerbread trim. The other six stores are further afield, in Michigan cities including Grand Rapids, Traverse City, and Muskegon.
Given The Cheese Lady’s name, it’s no surprise that the dairy-based good is its focus. But The Cheese Lady is no run-of-the-mill cheesemonger. According to its website, it has curated “an impressive selection of 150 artisan cheeses from all over the world.”
That’s a LOT of cheese! And I can attest to the impressiveness of The Cheese Lady’s selection. I went there to pick up a cheese that my friend loves, a mango-ginger Stilton. The white Stilton was studded with chunks of ginger and fruit. For myself, I got the delightfully aged Deer Creek 7 Year Cheddar. It was the perfect touch in a homemade mac ‘n’ cheese.
I went to The Cheese Lady for those tasty cheeses, but I was tempted to buy more. Neat displays of fruits, nuts, crackers, and jams festooned with holly garlands enticed me. The staff was brimming with holiday cheer, too. Everyone I encountered was lovely. Their helpful and kind customer service no doubt extends beyond the holiday season. That and the gorgeous selection of cheeses will bring me back to The Cheese Lady!
Hashems is a delight for the senses! Neatly-ordered rows of fragrant coffee and spices and candy in every color of the rainbow greet guests entering this Dearborn-based shop.
I visited Hashems as part of a walking food tour offered by the Arab American National Museum. Hashems was the second of the tour’s three stops (to read about our first stop, click here!).
I debated including Hashems on the blog because it technically doesn’t fit 100 Places in the D criteria. It dictates that I highlight locally-owned businesses in the Metro-Detroit area (Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties) that don’t have locations outside of the state. I made this rule to keep myself from highlighting nationally-sprawling chains. Well, Hashems has three locations in Michigan (two in Dearborn and one in Dearborn Heights) – and another in Bint Jbeil, Lebanon! But it is a family-owned establishment, and it’s not a corporate chain. According to Hashems’ website, Bint Jbeil is where Hashems originated, when Abu Ali Sheik Theeb opened the first store there in 1959. It’s the source of the goodness! And having a store outside of the state certainly doesn’t make Hashems some cookie-cutter conglomerate. So I’m allowing myself to bend the rules here, because Hashems is worth some rule-bending.
The Warren Avenue shop is an emporium of deliciousness, indeed! With its wide selection of fresh-roasted coffee and nuts, dried fruit, tea, hand-prepared spice blends, and candy (SO much candy!), shopping at Hashems is a special experience. During my visit with the Yalla Eat! food tour, I tried its tasty coffee, chocolate-covered fruits and nuts, and Turkish delight. I’d never before had the jelly-like confection, of which Hashems sells numerous varieties. I liked it so much that I bought a Nutella-filled raspberry variety: slices of delight for the road!
13041 W. Warren Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126
(With additional locations in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights)
Grocery shopping is one of my favorite pastimes – especially when it culminates in a feast, as it did when I visited Super Greenland Market!
The Dearborn-based business is more than an Arabic grocery store with a halal meat counter, bakery, and array of fresh produce. It’s also a vendor of cell phones, hookah, and tea pots; a café that sells fresh-prepared foods; and more.
I was brought to Super Greenland Market via the Yalla Eat! walking tour offered by the Arab American National Museum of Dearborn. The guided tour had us sampling foods at three locally-owned Arabic businesses on Warren Avenue. Super Greenland was our first stop.
Our Yalla Eat! tour guide, Rafat, gave us a comprehensive tour of the market that highlighted staples of Arabic diets, including mloukhieh (a green commonly included in soups and stews), yogurt, tea, and lentils. We got to sample fresh dates, which surprised me with their tartness and how little they tasted like dried dates! But the real sampling came at the end of our visit, when we sat in Super Greenland’s café.
“Sampling” is an inaccurate word to describe the spread that awaited us. It was a veritable feast! We got to try eight of Super Greenland’s prepared foods, including its spinach pies, grape leaves, and falafel. All of them were excellent! My absolute favorite was a couscous dish richly flavored with cumin, bell pepper, and parsley. In contrast, the rice pudding infused with rose water and pistachio was subtle in flavor but just as delicious. Everything we tried at Super Greenland (and on the Yalla Eat! tour as a whole) was vegetarian.
To learn more about the Yalla Eat! walking tours, click here. And to learn more about Super Greenland Market, click the link to its Facebook page shown below. Or, better yet, plan an in-person visit!
12715 W. Warren Ave.
Dearborn, MI 48126
(With additional locations in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights)
Ernie’s Market! What a delight it was to finally experience this iconic Oak Park-based shop and its beloved sandwich.
The red-bricked convenience store/deli holds court on a corner in a residential neighborhood, looking like it’s straight out of the 1950s – because it is. Ernie’s Market opened in 1955 and is run today by the son of the original owners. He’s also named Ernie.
Maybe you’ve heard of Ernie and his big personality and big sandwiches. I was fortunate to encounter both during my visit.
The shop itself is tiny in stature, with a couple of rows of drinks, snacks, and other convenience items. At the back is the deli counter. Everywhere else is crowded with memorabilia: framed articles; Ernie’s-centric artwork; and accolades the market has won over the years (and it’s won MANY – including best-of nods from Hour Detroit and numerous WDIV Detroit Vote 4 the Best awards).
Ernie’s Market offers what it calls “Build It Your Way” sandwiches. There’s the Ernie’s Special, which includes one meat and your choice of toppings; the Ernie’s Double (which has two meats); and the Ernie’s Club with – you guessed it – three meats. And then there’s the Monster.
I think the main draw to Ernie’s Market is that Monster, which has received lots of press – and for good reason. It’s the seven-meat version of the Ernie’s Special, a compilation of turkey, ham, pastrami, pepperoni, salami, chicken, and corned beef. All that meat on a kaiser bun with cheese PLUS your choice of veggies and sauces. And that’s not all! The pièce de résistance of the sandwich is Ernie’s Love Spice, the shop’s proprietary blend of spices.
You know I had to try that Monster sandwich! The only modification I made was to nix the salami (since I don’t like it) and to add extra ham in its place. For veggies, I went with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, banana peppers, and jalapeños. I said yes to cheese, yes to mustard (but not mayo), and yes to the Love Spice (obvi!). All those ingredients were nestled in hefty layers between two halves of an uncut, onion-flecked kaiser bun.
When you’re a first-timer at Ernie’s and order the Monster, it’s requisite for them not to cut the sandwich in half for you. Initiation into the Ernie’s Market legion means taking that Monster head on!
It was such fun to be in the shop and orchestrate the build of that Monster sandwich. The staff members I interacted with were friendly and welcoming. I even got to interact with Ernie himself!
He said hi to me warmly – so warmly, I admit, that I felt sure he was confusing me with someone else he knew. Because of this, I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t say hi back at first. Then I realized it was him – Ernie himself!
I didn’t know that Ernie greets all of his customers so enthusiastically. According to the shop’s website, Ernie’s customary greeting to patrons is “Hey Baby!” because he wants people to know he cares about them – even if he doesn’t know their names.
That explains the “Hey Baby!” greeting Ernie gave a father and his young daughter while I was there. I’d assumed he knew them well. Maybe he did – or maybe he was displaying his customary warmth. Regardless, once I got past my initial confusion around his reception of me, it felt wonderful to be welcomed so congenially by Ernie – who, once he heard it was my first time trying his sandwich, said he hoped I liked it.
I hoped I liked the Monster, too!
My hopes were not to be dashed. The epic sandwich was epically delicious! What a kaleidoscope of flavors that Monster sandwich was.
The sheer number of ingredients and jaw-defying height of the sandwich meant that each bite was different. My favorite bites included the hearty meat with that soft kaiser bun, those spicy jalapeños and bananas peppers, and an ample smattering of Love Spice. That’s no surprise, given that I’m a lover of all things spicy. In fact, I bought a bag of Better Made’s Hot ‘n Spicy Corn Chips from Ernie’s to accompany that Monster sandwich.
You may be wondering: did I finish that Monster in one sitting? [Drum Roll] I did not. I ate over half of it for lunch that day. That meant I got to enjoy the leftovers for dinner! They were delicious toasted in the oven.
I wonder if Ernie would find toasting his sandwich sacrilegious. I have to think he’d be all for it. “Whatever makes you happy, Baby!” I can imagine him saying.
Worth noting: Ernie’s is a cash-only establishment – but totally worth the trip to the ATM!
Saigon Market introduced me to the delights of rice vermicelli noodles and pickled ginger!
A January visit to the family-owned, Madison Heights-based grocery store brought both of these delicious (and now staple) items into my life. What a treat it was to stroll Saigon Market’s aisles and browse for such goodies! The shop’s interior is relatively small, but it’s mightily packed with Vietnamese grocery goods, meat, seafood, and produce. There’s even a carryout counter from which you can order freshly prepared báhn mì and other savory and sweet Vietnamese treats.
I was supposed to visit Vietnam last year; COVID squashed that plan, as it squashed so many others. But the beauty of living here in Metro-Detroit is the plethora of establishments that bring Vietnam to us. Thank you, Saigon Market, for being one of those wonderful establishments!
168 Asian Mart’s website bills it as the “largest Asian market in the Midwest.” That’s a weighty claim – but totally believable given the dearth of goods available at this Madison Heights-based grocery store!
What a treat to explore such an expansive store during intense pandemic times that weren’t exactly brimming with novel experiences for me (at least not with ones I preferred to encounter). I picked up fresh produce; admired 168 Asian Mart’s extensive meat, seafood, bakery, and frozen food sections; and navigated shelf upon shelf of soups, spices, condiments, candies, noodles, and other dry grocery goods. My purchases included a container of red curry paste, a delightfully spicy chili oil, and a five-pound bag of (still unopened) glutinous rice. Here’s to cracking that bag open and making the mango sticky rice recipe that was the inspiration for buying it!
In addition to being a purveyor of grocery goods from across Asia, 168 Asian Mart has a food court. You can choose from a variety of fresh-prepared dishes and even have the kitchen cook up items purchased from the meat and seafood counter. I love that level of service!
During these pandemic times, I’m finding joy in simple pleasures – such as a juicy T-bone steak from Weiss’ Meats & Deli!
The Chesterfield-based market offers exceptional service alongside its meat, seafood, and deli counters and grocery area proffering dry goods, wine and beer, produce, and other foodstuffs. The polite, friendly staff will bring your parcels of meat and seafood to the cashier counter for you – an impressive touch, in my book!
Weiss’ offers online ordering and curbside pick-up, plus party-sized subs and trays of fruits and veggies, cold cuts and cheeses, and other festive finger foods. For all of you hunters, Weiss’ offers deer processing, as well!
I am not a hunter – unless you count stalking butchers’ counters as hunting. In that case, I achieved three kills at Weiss’: the aforementioned T-bone steak, plus country ribs and two pounds of ground round. The T-bone steak was cooked the night after I visited Weiss’ and was a tender, delicious dinner. The ribs and ground round are nestled in my freezer, ready to be unearthed when simple pleasures of a carnivorous kind are called for!
Grocery stores are, blessedly, one of the places we can visit during the COVID-19 pandemic. And that means I got to visit Carnival Market in Pontiac recently!
As with many of the places I highlight on 100 Places in the D, I’d known about and been wanting to visit Carnival Market for years. The grocery store features all manner of Latin American foodstuffs, including house-made tortilla chips, salsas, and desserts. It even operates an in-store Mexican restaurant with a full menu.
I was fortunate enough to try Carnival Market’s restaurant fare last year when it was brought in for lunch at my then place of work. WOW, was it delicious! The tacos, chips, and salsas were AMAZING, and my desire to visit the store amped up. Somehow, another half a year passed before I did that . . ..
Not having visited Carnival Market became a blessing in the time of COVID, when it became one of the few public places I was able to explore. Entering the store was an absolute thrill for me – both as someone who loves to grocery shop and as one who has been starved for adventure.
Carnival Market’s interior was clean and stocked with neatly-stacked produce and other well-curated wares. One row was nothing but bagged and bulk spices; another section contained refrigerated cases showcasing multiple varieties of house-made salsas and pretty desserts. There were shelves of flour and corn tortillas, some of which were locally made; a meat counter; a bakery section; ample aisles of dry goods, dairy, frozen foods, beverages (including beer), and household cleaning supplies. It was a cornucopia of grocery goodness!
I picked up a variety of produce; a package of tostadas; bags of corn and flour tortillas; two kinds of house-made salsa (the Red Hot Salsa and the Super Hot Green Salsa); a bottle of hot sauce; and an individually-sized portion of tres leches cake.
It’s been so fun to enjoy these purchases! I’ve found Carnival Market’s salsas to be phenomenal, bursting with flavor. The chips are awesome, too: thick, well-fried and addictively crunchy. And the tres leches cake, wonderfully soaked as it was in sweetened condensed milk, captured my heart with its decadence.
I’m all about looking for the bright spots in this pandemic, and my visit to Carnival Market was definitely a bright spot. I’m excited to be in proximity of this well-curated grocery store and the joyful prospect of visiting it again.
As of the writing of this post, I haven’t been to a grocery store in almost two weeks – or anywhere, really. But it cheers me to know that wonderful grocery stores such as E&L Supermercado are still in operation during this challenging time, doing the noble work of feeding the masses.
I visited the Southwest Detroit-based grocery store in early March, marveling over its well-stocked meat counter, mounds of fresh produce, array of fresh-baked breads and sweets, and ample selections of locally-made corn and flour tortillas, house-made salsas, and Mexican dry grocery goods.
I enjoyed shopping in the store bustling with families and friends running into each other. After perusing all of the goodies, I came out with a variety of fruits and vegetables, a sack of house-made tortilla chips, bags of fresh flour tortillas, canned salsa, a package of El Milagro non-GMO tostadas (LOVE those – they’re so deliciously crunchy!), and what turned out to be my favorite purchase, a container of E&L Supermercado’s house-made Salsa a la Diabla.
I ADORE spicy food. But I’ll admit: buying a salsa labeled “Salsa of the Devil” gave me pause; I wondered if it would be more heat than I could handle. Happily, it was not; that Salsa a la Diabla was nowhere near as spicy as I’d expected it to be – but it was wonderful.
It brought the heat, but in a pleasant way – at least, in a pleasant way for someone who has a high heat tolerance (I acknowledge that those who prefer mild heat might indeed find it as hot as a work of Satan’s); it had such beautifully nuanced flavor. It struck me as more of an oily, spice-infused paste than a traditional salsa; it didn’t have chunks of tomatoes or veggies in it but appeared to contain an ample amount of ground red chiles. I became OBSESSED with it, consuming it daily mixed into meals or slathered on E&L Supermercado’s perfectly crispy, salty tortilla chips – until it ran out and I found myself scrambling for an excuse to drive down to buy more.
Even if E&L Supermercado wasn’t doing the work of heroes at this intense time in history, feeding people fresh and nutritious and tasty food when they need it most, I’d still view the store as a superpower for manufacturing that Salsa a la Diabla and for offering such stellar produce and groceries. E&L Supermercado has definitely been added to my rotation of top-notch locally-owned markets!
My mouth still waters when I think about the meatball sub I ordered at Rocco’s Italian Deli over a month ago. That Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? sub was exquisite with its tender beef meatballs nestled in an irresistibly chewy bun and slathered in flavorful marinara sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan!
Rocco’s is more than a sandwich shop. The establishment based in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit is also a grocer offering shelves of Italian dry-goods staples such as pasta, canned tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, and wine, plus a full deli counter proffering olives and slice-to-order cheeses and cured meats. It’s also a bar, serving beer, wine, and cocktails – AND a coffee house, serving coffee and espresso drinks. All that wrapped into one – with killer sandwiches, to boot!
I’m apparently not the only one who finds Rocco’s so appealing: it was bustling with clientele when I entered it on the afternoon of my visit. The lunch crowd was in full swing! I’d hoped to stay and enjoy my sandwich at one of its tables or counter seats, but based off of the scarcity in seating at that time, I opted for carryout instead.
Scanning Rocco’s prepared-foods menu of entrée salads and sandwiches, I encountered numerous delectable-sounding options before making Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? my choice. Take, for instance, the Mozz and Mozz of Fun sandwich boasting fresh mozzarella, roasted tomato, basil pesto, and balsamic drizzle and the Little Puzzo Loves His Pork with its roasted pork, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone. Yum and YUM!
I ordered at the counter, and despite the busyness, waited no more than 10 minutes for my order; Rocco’s staff was operating as a well-oiled, sandwich-building, salad-slinging machine!
Once home, I dug into my Want Nonna to Make You a Meatball? sub and found that my choice was justified. It was DELICIOUS! I ate it with such relish that I didn’t pause to take a photo of it. Bonus points go to Rocco’s for putting the marinara sauce on the side to ensure the optimal sponginess of the sandwich bread once I bit into it (hooray for not-soggy sandwiches!).
My consensus around Rocco’s Italian Deli is obvious to me: it’s DEFINITELY revisit-worthy. My intention for Visit Number Two: to enjoy one of its tasty sandwiches in-house, accompanied by a glass of red wine or a cappuccino (or both!).