Eastern Market: More than Tomatoes

17 Aug

My first order of business as a born-again Detroiter was to go to Eastern Market for the first time on Saturday. As farmers markets become the new grocery stores across the country, Detroit has maintained the largest public market in the country for 119 years. This is no trend. This is a huge, established market with hundreds of vendors that set up shop in the middle of a culturally bustling neighborhood.

Full disclosure, I am no chef. But after years of eating out, my bank account is forcing me into the kitchen. I was planning on going to Eastern Market just for the experience, to see the hustle and bustle, to smell and taste. But I walked out with big plans, my kitchen won’t know what hit it. You can’t help but get caught up in the colors, smells, tastes, and people. You want to be a part of it (even Iowa wants to be a part of it.) I walked out with corn, basil, tomatoes, honey, garlic bread, wild flowers, oatmeal cookies, sweet onions, Parmesan cheese, and some New York strips for a feast of a meal with my family.

For me, the most exciting part of Eastern Market wasn’t actually the market, but the local shops surrounding it. There are antique shops with tables set up on the street, silk-screened Detroit tee shirts under tents, wine cellars, street musicians, restaurants with smoke billowing from BBQs outside on the patio, cheese and jam shops, and meat markets. Cheese paradise can be found inside R. Hirt Jr & Co. A general store set up with a cheese counter holding hundreds of cheese for all over the world and tons of local options as well, they also carry spices, sauces, spreads, salsa, jams, chocolate and all your adorable cooking needs.

If you need a mid-morning pick-me-up, stop into Vivio’s for a bloody mary before braving the Gratiot Central Meat Market across the Fisher fwy. Counter upon counter battle for your red meat soul. Ribs, t-bones, kabobs, sausage links, even wings and seafood. Pick up some Dearborn hot dogs to grill during the Woodward Cruise this weekend and I’ll be over at 5.

Around 11am, as you wind down your morning harvesting (since you naturally got to the market at 7am with the restaurant buyers) Bert’s Market Place Jazz fires up the BBQ and the karaoke out on the patio.  This is no 3am drunken crooning karaoke though. This is karaoke for the soul, karaoke that gives you chills and reminds you that this is Motown.

The morning at Eastern Market was the perfect way for me to kick off my new Detroit adventures. A taste of the history, the culture, and the food that feeds this city.


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