Grocers

434. Tou & Mai – September 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019TouandMai1 (4)Tou & Mai, satisfying my Thai iced tea cravings!

I visited Thailand in January of this year and became enchanted with one of its signature drinks, the Thai iced tea – a yummy concoction of black tea and sweetened condensed milk. I’d not had one of those delectable babies since being back in the states and had vowed all summer that I’d hunt one down here at home.

It took me until a Sunday afternoon in late September (LOL) to finally focus on this objective. At least I achieved it before summer was officially over – and at least the weather was sunny and summer-like, with a high temperature in the upper 80s.

My Thai iced tea break at Tou & Mai occurred after a browsing session of shops – including Hugh, Source Booksellers, and Nora – in the Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit.

While I knew exactly what I wanted, I browsed the tea shop’s menu while waiting in line. Tou & Mai’s signature offering is boba tea (also known as bubble tea), tea drinks with chewy tapioca pearls and/or jellies added to them.

Tou & Mai’s drink menu is separated into categories: Flavoured Fruit Tea (fruity drinks with a green-tea base); Flavoured Milk Tea (dairy-infused black teas); Real Fruit Smoothie (drink blends including varieties such as Red Adzucki Bean and Creamy Avocado); Extra Special Treat (next-level goodies such as the Litchi Mohito mocktail and the Peaches & Cream slushie infused with vanilla ice cream); and Vietnamese Caffé Latté (which, like the Thai iced tea, incorporate condensed milk).

The Toppings section of Tou & Mai’s menu includes such intriguing drink add-ins as Kiwi Popping Boba, Mango Popping Boba, Coffee Jellie, and Flan Custard.

Tou & Mai isn’t simply a boba tea shop; it’s also what it refers to on its website as an “Asian Mini Mart,” offering grocery items from Southeast Asia such as candy, cookies, condiments, and noodles. It’s also a place that celebrates the owners’ Hmong heritage, selling embroidered, hand-crafted goods made by Hmong artisans.

The Hmong people comprise an ethnic group with its origins in Southeast Asia. I’d admittedly been ignorant of the Hmong’s existence until a few months ago, when I watched an episode of CNN’s United Shades of America featuring them and their story.

The Hmong were recruited by the U.S. government to aid America in the fighting of the Vietnam war. Post-war, many of them fled their homes in fear of persecution for being American allies, and some ended up in the U.S., including here in the Metro-D. According to Tou & Mai’s website, a small Hmong community still exists here today.

So Tou & Mai is much more than the place that quite deliciously satisfied my appetite for Thai iced tea on a sunny September Sunday: it’s a boba tea shop/grocer/celebrator of culture. And it’s definitely worth a visit!

4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 102

Detroit, MI 48201

www.touandmai.com

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388. The Farmer’s Hand – February 3, 2019 – Detroit, MI

February2019Farmer'sHand2 (2)February2019Farmer'sHand3 (2)After lunch at Folk and shopping at Mama Coo’s Boutique on a sunny Sunday in early February, I stepped into The Farmer’s Hand, the Corktown grocer adjacent to the restaurant and vintage clothing store.

The tiny shop showcases a thoughtful curation of locally-produced fruits, veggies, cheeses, and other grocery goods, such as Mindo Chocolates (produced in Dexter) and my perennial obsession, Gus and Grey jams (one of Detroit’s finest exports, in my opinion!). Baked goods, salads, sandwiches, and other ready-made items are also available for purchase, as are coffee and tea. A window-facing counter allows patrons to eat, drink, and relax in-shop before heading out to face the rest of their day, foodie fuel in hand.

1701 Trumbull Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.thefarmershand.com

374. Marcus Market – October 27, 2018 – Detroit, MI

October2018Marcus2 (2)October2018Marcus1 (3)After a latte-sipping visit to Urban Bean Co. one rainy Saturday afternoon in late October, I wasn’t ready to go home, so I decided to jaunt over to Marcus Market to check it out.

I’d expected the Midtown/Cass Corridor-based business to be an indie grocery shop à la the now-defunct (R.I.P!) Parker Street Market. It is that, but it’s also a liquor store – and a purveyor of smoothies – and tacos!

As witnessed during my late-afternoon visit, the liquor-store aspect appears to be the most popular – at least among the college-student demographic. There were loads of young adults making alcoholic beverage purchases, presumably in preparation for Saturday night (ah, I remember those days!). Marcus Market has a wide selection of liquor, craft beer, and wine.

It also offers a variety of grocery items (bagged coffees, juices, snacks, soups and other canned goods, etc.) and goods you’d find in a drugstore (such as school supplies).

And then there are the two counters toward the back of the store, where the smoothies and tacos, respectively, are offered!

Who doesn’t love a fresh smoothie? I will say, however, that the food counter I’m most excited by in Marcus Market is the one that offers tacos, because that is helmed by El Taco Veloz, a Mexican restaurant based in Southwest Detroit that I’ve yet to visit but learned about this year and SO want to check out. Their tacos are supposed to be BOMB – and you can see from online reviews of Marcus Market that people are digging the ones they’ve ordered from the satellite location of El Taco Veloz located there.

I want to have the full El Taco Veloz experience at its original location in Southwest Detroit (where you order from a food truck and then eat in the dining area in the building behind it), so I did not partake of it within Marcus Market. But isn’t it awesome that Marcus Market helps peddle these purportedly glorious tacos – and so much other stuff?

4614 Second Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

292. Honey Bee Market La Colmena – November 11, 2017 – Detroit, MI

November2017LaColema1November2017LaColema3November2017LaColema4TGIF, guys! I’m THRILLED for it to be Friday because that means it’s finally the day when I’ll be heading down to the D for some happy-hour shenanigans at a new-for-me place or two (look out for post(s) on that next week).

I hope you’re also able to get some exploring in this weekend – unless hunkering down at home in your sweatpants is the much-needed alternative after a hectic week. If that’s the case, I totally get it – that’s my preference sometimes, too! Sweatpants are on the shortlist for Greatest Gifts EVER from the Universe for me – especially during what for us in Metro-Detroit is a chilly, oft-rainy time of year. But if you do get out this weekend and visit any new places in the Detroit area or elsewhere, please feel free to post about it in the comments field below; I’d love to hear about it!

Speaking of sweet, sweet weekends: last Saturday,  I was fortunate enough to be able to pop down to what is fast becoming one of my fave neighborhoods in Detroit, Mexicantown. After my visit to top-notch tamale joint Tamaleria Nuevo Leon, I decided to check out another nearby establishment, Honey Bee Market La Colmena.

The grocery store located near the Canadian border in Detroit is a gorgeous facility displaying ample amounts of produce, dry goods, meat, and baked goods, with a focus on Mexican and other Central American products. I’d heard rave reviews about the quality of its grocery selection and prepared foods, so I was excited to check it out.

I geek out over quality markets, no joke! A market with superior produce and specialty goods is one of my favorite places to be in the whole wide world, right up there with libraries (bookworm 4Life!), new-to-me countries, and Comerica Park. And Honey Bee Market La Colmena did not disappoint.

Despite being in existence since 1956, the shop is a new-looking, modern facility – the result of a recent renovation, according to its website, which nearly quadrupled the store in size from 4,000 to 15,000 square feet.

The front section of Honey Bee Market La Colmena displays ample amounts of fresh produce, followed by rows and rows of packaged goods ranging from canned beans and tomatoes to McClure’s pickles. Toward the back of the store are the cooler area and the meat counter, from which I purchased a couple of pounds of fajita skirt steak, which was excellent marinated, pan-seared, and put into tacos.

There’s a long table near the butcher counter displaying a myriad of tortilla options, from which I selected a pack of 30 corn tortillas (soooo many tacos in my future – and I’m NOT complaining about that!). I also bought a selection of produce, including some perfectly ripe avocadoes and five petite limes for only $1, plus some jalapeño pesto called Jala Pesto.

I would be remiss in writing this post about Honey Bee Market La Colmena if I didn’t mention its fresh-made salsa and guacamole! There are samples of it in the produce area when you first walk in; I tried both and especially loved the guacamole. I was this-close to purchasing some, but my splurges on the Jala Pesto (which was like $6) and the steak stopped me. However, know that it IS delicious and is definitely worth taking home.

As someone who loves to cook (check out my other blog, A Cookable Feast, for more on that topic), it is so nice to know that this clean, quality, well-stocked, reasonably-priced grocery store exists and that I can come here when I’m looking for ingredients for Mexican/Central American recipes that I can’t find at Meijer or another local produce market. Thank you, Honey Bee Market La Colmena, for giving me another first-rate market to geek out over!

2443 Bagley Ave.

Detroit, MI 48216

www.honeybeemkt.com

277. Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe – September 17, 2017 – Highland, MI

Colasanti's1 (2)Colasanti's2Highland is represented on 100 Places in the D!

I feel particularly joyous about Highland being a new-to-the-blog city because of its distance from where I live in Macomb County (it’s an hour due west of me). I was slated to trek out there for a friend’s baby shower, and I thought, “hmm, could I kill two birds with one stone and get a 100 Places visit in, too?”

Happily, the shower venue was about a mile from Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, a produce market-slash-butcher shop that piqued my interest.

I was curious about the two names attached to this establishment and discovered the backstory on its website. Snook’s Butcher Shoppe opened on its own in 1979; it moved inside Colasanti’s Market in 1989 at the prompting of the grocery store. Then in 2007, the owner of Snook’s purchased Colasanti’s, and the two entities officially merged. So that’s why the long name!

I am somewhat obsessed with gourmet markets (selecting high-quality produce is a joy to me – nerdy I know, but it’s an art form!), so it’s no surprise that I loved this joint. The large, well-stocked facility is a home-chef’s haven; it offers everything from rows and rows of gorgeous fresh produce; the butcher counter; a plethora of grocery items; baked goods; prepared meals; an ample wine and craft-beer area; bulk foods – AND it has an affiliation with English Gardens where it lets them sell in its parking lot.

If you are in the market for some fresh produce, some fancy hummus, some singular salsa, some fall-focused flowers, or if you are like me and simply like to visit these kinds of places to decompress and get inspiration, then you’ve got to check out this grocery store with the mouthful of a name! Colasanti’s Market & Snook’s Butcher Shoppe, you are AWESOME.

468 S Milford Rd.

Highland, MI 48357

www.colasantis.com

166. Parker Street Market – February 27, 2016 – Detroit, MI

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My purchase from Parker Street Market.

I’d been craving a visit to Detroit all week, which is how I ended up at the corner of Parker and Kercheval earlier this afternoon. A jaunt into our lovely city is the perfect antidote to the residual effects of a week of soul-sucking corporate office drudgery (someday I will get out!). And Parker Street Market is the antidote to soul-sucking, disconnected corporate grocers and convenience stores. There it rests, at the helm of a quiet residential area, a beacon of organic and artisan goods. Doing the good work! That’s the phase that ran through my head after my visit.

I’d read about Parker Street Market in Hour Detroit and added it to my long and ever-expanding list of places I want to visit in the city. I liked the sound of it, how the owner (who I believe was the friendly guy helming the front counter when I was there) curated the items of this tiny store with care, how he featured locally-made items such as the lovely-looking Gus and Grey handcrafted Blackberry Bourban Vanilla Jam I purchased. (I’d read about Gus and Grey’s exquisite-sounding jams when the founder was featured in an issue of Hour, as well. So excited to try this stuff!)

Besides locally-made food items, Parker Street Market sells a range of other items, such as healthy packaged snacks, environmentally-friendly cleaning products, craft beer, and wine. And according to its website, it will deliver your grocery order to anywhere within the city of Detroit for only $5 – a pretty sweet deal!

1814 Parker St.

Detroit, MI 48214

www.parkerstreetmarket.com