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Wintertime Eastern Market [DTW]

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Hello all,

I ended up at Eastern Market last Saturday (January) and had such a good time I went back today (February). Supinos' slices are still divine, especially since I can eat them outside of the crush inside the shop in our current sunny, 30s-40s weather, and I'm buying Avalon breads, local potatoes, local pork (grilling some Berkshire chops tonight), taking Rocky peanuts in the shell and pistachios home for cocktail hour etc.

Gratiot Central Market is in full swing - got a fine Delmonico to share with the husband last week (at a price around $7 for the steak instead of over $10 on the Woodward Corridor in Oakland County) and a stewing hen for stock. I think the hen had been Koshered, as the stock was both intense and a bit salty, but it was delicious and needed no additional seasoning. I'll be back.

Today I also bought The Brinery sauerkraut to go with the pork. I tasted it - it was fresh and tangy - and I'll see how we like it baked in Julia Child's "choucroute garni" with an onion, apple, chicken broth from the stewing hen etc. Next time I'm going to one of the halal butchers for lamb (a coworker swears by their "pick what you want and they cut it as you like" lamb).

Anyone else have wintertime favorites or suggestions? The market is a lot smaller right now in two indoor sheds, but you can totally find bargains on commercial produce or local stuff for some good eating. Anyone have a favorite local pork or other meat producer? Any halal butcher recommendations?

Thanks!

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  1. Thanks for posting this...it's very motivational! I keep intending to get down there and now I'm even more determined to go next Saturday.

    Did you buy your porkchops at Eastern Market or at one of the stores in the area?

    7 Replies
    1. re: coney with everything

      I got chops in Shed 3 - the building (Shed 2 right now is a warm, enclosed plastic tent) - from Melo Farms in Yale, MI. They are toward one of the ends/exits. Very tasty pork - it actually tasted like something and was moist!

      The Brinery's sauerkraut was fantastic. I usually buy Boars Head in the bag (the 2-3 times I buy kraut per year) and that is good, but this stuff was really good. Fresher, crunchier, I've eaten it right out of the jar on a fork already. I forgot to buy their kim chee - also very fresh and good. I'll have to go back, or get to Ann Arbor, for that.

      1. re: HillsofBeverly

        Have you tried making your own kraut? It's super easy and will cost you WAAY LESS than the $8/jar the Brinery charges.

        1. re: momskitchen

          You know, as a huge kimchi fan, and now a fresh kraut fan, I'm starting to consider it - though wondering if the $75 "fermenting crock" I saw on Amazon/ACO websites is worth it (will I use this more than 7-8 times?). We did homebrewed beer for years and didn't poison anyone, so we could probably tackle this too.

          1. re: HillsofBeverly

            You don't need a special "fermenting crock". You'll be okay with any non-reactive container. Large glass jars work perfectly. If you have some large enameled jars/pots, those should work too.

            There's a lot of info online about DIY pickling, fermenting, canning. It's something I've very recently gotten into, and find it to be very rewarding and fun. Once you make your own, it really gives you a different perspective on the folks who make and sell at farmers/food markets (like The Brinery) -- makes you see how simple the craft really is, and that these people don't seem like the kraut magicians you once thought they were.

            1. re: jjspw

              OK, I'm doing it. This weekend I'll do either a mini batch of kraut or kimchi as a first test run.

              I am thankful that I tried The Brinery's excellent product - I had no idea that fresh stuff could be that fresh and crunchy and appealing. I'm not even washing and soaking theirs as I do with Boar's Head.

              1. re: HillsofBeverly

                I have blogged about pickling very often - chowhound rules prohibit me from linking directly to the post, but if you vist my blog motherskitchen.blogspot.com and search on canning you will find out how to make your own kraut. It is the easiest pickle in the world to make. You can make it in any food grade container - in Ann Arbor, you can get a plastic ice cream bucket at Kilwins for less than a buck and that makes a great pickling crock. Also, a gallon size Ball jar works well, or a ceramic insert from a crock pot. You can expect to take at least a month to get some completed kraut. After you are done, you can put it in the fridge or freezer or can it. I keep my pickles out in the garage once they are done - it's cold enough out there to slow down fermentation. It's my suburban root cellar! Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to email me at momskitchen at comcast dot net.

                1. re: momskitchen

                  AWESOME. Thank you. I'm off to look...

    2. One more review follow up - made a version of Julia Child's creamy chicken rice soup with stock made from Gratiot Central stewing hen (one big hen - 6 lbs-ish), brown rice and a half pound of the sliced mushroom mix sold in Shed 3 by the guy with mushrooms. Very, very good - that stewing hen made amazingly chicken-y, rich stock (and the chicken guy hacked it into pieces for me so I didn't have to at home - thank you!) and the 'shroom mix was nice and fresh. All that and mad people watching too!

      5 Replies
      1. re: HillsofBeverly

        HoB, Sorry I can't bring additional answers to your original question. But, I can at least thank you, like some of the others for the inspiration to hit the winter EM. I didn't know the Brinery was now selling from there. Yum.

        Assuming I don't end up hating myself for leading a fiasco on CH Thai food night Feb 18, I just might get motivated to host a spring cabbage Kraut Making Party in May/June. I like momskitchen's/jjspw's can-do attitudes, but they obviously haven't experienced my fermented kohlrabi tragedies.

        1. re: VTB

          What went wrong with your kohlrabi, VTB?

          1. re: VTB

            HoB, Thanks again for motivating me to get over to Eastern Market in the winter. Despite 75 being messed up, the drive was worth it. I was shocked at how many new meat stalls are in the sheds. There were at least two doing a brisk business in pig heads. Not sure what that’s all about.

            I got me some Corridor Sausage, of course. It seems these guys are poised to “take things to the next level.” I’ll be there, where/whatever “there” is.

            Then, I hit The Brinery. Yes, it takes a load off the pocketbook. But, I’m usually too lazy to ferment, and I swear by natural products’ probiotics. I bought a jar of traditional kraut, and one with beets, and a kimchi and some pickled kohlrabi. I opened all four as soon as I got home (credit me for waiting that long), and each was pleasing. @momskitchen: my home-brined kohlrabi twice-in-a-row came out tasting like bad limburger cheese. After further reflection, I think my primary problem was that I let it ferment for too long.

            Hey, while I was at The Brinery stall I picked up a flier for their upcoming fermentation class on Sunday 26-Feb in Ann Arbor. “10 AM to 12 PM Fermentation Basics and Making Sauerkraut; 12 PM to 1 PM Lunch of a plowman’s platter featuring many Brinery products with other seasonal local foods; 1 PM to 3 PM Advanced Fermentation and Making Kimchi and Pickles.” Sounds pretty interesting. And, yes, it is expensive… I’m not saying they make anything more than a fair profit. I love their mission. I’m also a little bit cheap.

            Here’s a tip for my thrifty brethren: There is a maple syrup stall (“Carncross Sugar Bush” ?) which also sells popcorn kernels and whatever else comes from their property in Clare, MI. There’s a little bit of Grizzly Adams stuff goin’ on there, but apparently the lead guy is a MSU Ag grad and has a pretty significant business set up. Well, they also make a couple big barrels of kraut from time to time, and sell it in 30oz Mason jars for $5 (!!). It may not be made from “artisan” cabbage, and it doesn’t contain exotic adjunct roots or seeds, and the proceeds don’t help support a cultural movement, but the flavor was perhaps the most complex and wonderful I’ve ever had. The texture wasn’t quite as nice as the products from the Brinery, but I now officially have a new go-to kraut. Sorry Bubbies.

            A good day at Eastern Market.

            1. re: VTB

              Hmmmm. I bought maple sugar candies at Eastern Market last week for my Canadian maple candy addict spouse (and dang are they good - fresh, not all dried out). I only recall one maple purveyor, so I got them from Carncross - didn't see their kraut. Next time I will look - today was booked for me as is next Saturday until noon - hoping to get back for more good pork. I don't know what's up with the heads either.

              1. re: VTB

                @VTB, I have never tried to pickle kohlrabi, but it sounds like a good idea. Maybe this season, I will. I'm officially ready for summer...too bad winter just decided to show up on the scene!

          2. I am in love with slow jams tomato curry jam. Also, if you like jerky Captain John's is pretty good.