Last week, I read through a list of brands that were expected to disappear sometime in 2012. This list included things like A&W Restaurants, MySpace, and Kellogg’s Corn Pops. In today’s world these kinds of list are quite common. That is why it is even more amazing to see a brand that is making a comeback. Towne Club is a brand of soda pop that was created in Detroit, Michigan. I am seeing them pop up more and more at my local grocery stores. They have even came out with some brand news flavors that have Michigan ties to them. One of them is their Michigan Cherry. This cherry pop contains a percentage of real Michigan cherry juice. I am glad to see another company turning to natural ingredients when it comes to flavoring their soft drinks. Artificial cherry flavor cannot compare to the real deal.

This is a great cherry pop, good flavor and nicely carbonated. A cherry soda pop tasting like cherries, who would have thought. The best test is if my wife likes it or not. She can’t stand anything with fake cherry flavoring in it. She thought this was a good one. This is probably the best product I have had from Towne Club. Not only is the brand stay alive, it’s getting better!

Where to Buy
I have seen it at several stores in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area including Plum Market, Vince & Joe’s, and Hiller’s. Feel free to leave the name of a place that you have found it in.

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Recently I heard about a brand new grocery store opening up in downtown Ann Arbor. I finally got the chance to check it out today. The store is called babo: a market by sava. The goal of this market is to bring back the neighborhood grocery store. The kind of place you would head into a couple times after work to grab what you needed for that night’s meals, back before the giant supermarkets where the way of life for most people. babo is a unique food emporium. They have a variety of things going on in a small, aesthetic pleasing space. Here are some of the highlights I experienced during my visit:

1. Customer service can really put a store over the top. I encountered two employees during my visit. Both were very friendly and excited to show me some of the things in the store. I was offered a sample of some pork loin lunch meat that was a employee’s favorite. Having a passionate employee who is excited about the food they are selling is what I love to see when I am shopping for food. I want the people selling me the food to be as passionate about the food as I am.

2. They have some really unique set-ups for their products, such as using a library card catalog for their spices.

3. Instead of Coke and Pepsi products that you can find on every corner, they had Dr Brown’s, GUS soda, Fentimans, and one of my favorite, Sprechers, whose cola is 10 times better than anything the big two produce.

4. I am a big fan of varietal honeys and they had a couple that I haven’t had before, including a chestnut honey.

5. They had a deli counter with cheeses and meats, including cheddar from one of the top cheesemakers in the US, Widmer’s and some of the best bacon, Nueske’s.

6. They have a section of prepared hot foods you can purchase and consume at one of the tables right there, along with a coffee area.

7. The biggest drawback I saw from my perspective was the produce section. There was nothing really that interesting in it. Nothing out of the ordinary, just rather basic. I was at first disappointed with the store because I went to the produce first, but the rest of the shop was able to win me over. Being that it’s winter and local produce is not exactly at it’s peak right now, I can cut them some slack. I did like how they had a chalk board where you could write suggestions, showing that they are willing to listen to and respond to feedback.

I am interested to see how this place does in downtown Ann Arbor. I will definitely venture in again (probably with my sight on getting some of those cool varietal honeys!)

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Produce Station will have not have these heirloom apples in 2012 due to the farm’s crop failure because of the April freezes.

One of the greatest thrills I have (I know I am a produce nerd) is when I go to a grocery store and find a new variety of some fruit that I have not tried before. I was really thrilled this past Sunday, when I paid a visit to the Produce Station in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They have sought our antique or heirloom apples to bring them to their customers. These varieties are over 100 years old! The neat thing about these older apples is back then people weren’t as concerned about what looked the best and what would sell in their stores, they carried more about what had the best flavor. And in the pre-fridge era, they also looked for apples that would keep a long time in their cellars, so some of the heirloom apples can last until the spring time.

Produce Station set up a brilliant display with information about each apple. It was a food blogger’s dream! They had 1/2 peck baskets ($9.99) and 1/4 peck baskets ($5.99) you could use to get a bunch to try or you could pay $2.99/lb. Below is a list of the varieties that I bought. I plan to do a review of each variety as I eat them. All the apples were Michigan grown.

Niedzwetzkyana
Lugar Red
Cinnamon Spice
Opalescent
Adam’s Pearmain
Cox’s Orange Pippin
New York 75414-1
Shenandoah
Holstein
Mother
Paduckah
Jordan Russet
Cherry Cox Orange Pippin
Pewaukee
Thornberry
Lord Hindlip
Russet Beauty

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Produce StationPart of eating like no one else is finding sources for great food. I like to encourage people to check out any local, independent or small chain grocery stores in their area. In these kinds of places you can find products that you would never find at the big chain mega marts. Smaller food stores tend to focus on quality food. One example of a store like this in the Produce Station. They have been in business on State Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan since July 1986. I recently had the opportunity to speak with their General Manager, Andrew Gorsuch. He explained to me what the mission of Produce Station is and how the food they get ends up on store shelves. Here are some of the highlights from that talk.

1. What is your position at Produce Station?
Andrew is the general manager. He oversees a lot of things, including training and instructing of 60-80 employees, researching and buying products for the store, forming relationships with vendors and farmers, and human resources tasks.

2. How long have you worked at Produce Station?
Andrew spent his college years working at the Produce Station. He then went off to teach for 5 years, before realizing he was missing his old college job. So five years ago he came back.

3. What would you say is the mission or goal of Produce Station?
The Produce Stations strives to “turn people onto good food”.

4. What makes this store unique?
Tastes comes before dollar signs. They pick carefully everything they sell. They taste the products themselves before they enter the store. Most big chain grocery stores will pick whatever pockets them more money without taste being in the picture.

5. What is the process for selecting what’s in the store?
Produce Station gets their food through multiple means. One of their main sources is the Eastern Market in Detroit. They have a buyer who goes there early in the morning each day to select items for the store. Sometimes these items come from what is good from vendors across the country and the world. Other times it’s dealing directly with farmers that they have a relationship with. For example, they will contact a farmer before hand saying they are in need of such and such a product in a certain amount. When produce is in season, they try to deal directly with the local farms in Michigan. They will cut deals with them directly. They also will make trips to different parts of the state, looking for the best produce. For example, they may go to the western part of the state, where there are many blueberries farms. They will taste the blueberries and select the best ones for their store. They will also search through catalog and attend trade shows in order to acquire new products.

6. What did you discover on your recent buying trip to Balitmore?
Andrew recently went on a buying trip to Baltimore. This trip was not a fruitful one. He said the show he went to was for a lot of corporate stuff that Produce Station is not interested in carrying.

7. What areas is Produce Station growing in?
They are building up their catering business currently, and looking to add more events, like waste tastings, and other methods to engage the community.

The careful selection of food and a dedication to good service with a knowledgeable staff is what makes Produce Station and stores like it a great place to shop. Try to find one of these gems in your community.

For more information about the Produce Station including current hours and product updates, visit their website.

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Downtown Home Garden For all my readers in the Ann Arbor and surrounding areas, I wanted to share with you a great place to get seed potatoes. I am going to grow potatoes for the first time this year. I purchased three varieties this past week at the Downtown Home and Garden store located at 210 S. Ashley St. in downtown Ann Arbor. I picked out some Adirondack Blue ($2/lb), German Butterball ($2/lb), and Red Pontiac potatoes ($.65/lb). I choose these varieties because they are harder to find and more expensive. They also were selling these varieties for between $.65-$2 per pound: Irish Cobbler, Kennebec, Onaway, Red Norland, Russet Burbank, Superior, and Yukon Gold. They also will have fingerling and organic potatoes coming in soon. These prices beat the what I have seen in catalogs, where most potatoes were going for between $3-5 per pound, and that’s not including the shipping. So if you live near Ann Arbor and want to grow some potatoes, I highly recommend you get your seed potatoes from Downtown Home and Garden. They also have their seed packets for 25% off. They have seeds from companies like Burpee, Johnny’s, Seeds of Change, Renee’s, and the Cook’s Garden.

Check out my earlier post for other sources for buying fingerling potatoes and to learn why you shouldn’t grow potatoes you buy in the store.

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Murcott Mandarins 1 Growing up the only thing I knew about mandarins where that they came in only in a can. On how little did I know the true amount of variety in this form of citrus. In the last month, I discovered a couple new variety I had not tried. One of them is the Murcott Mandarin. I first encountered it at a Whole Foods in Ann Arbor, MI. The next encounter came at a farmer’s market in Irvine, California. Naturally buying closer to the source I ended up with a better product, but also I ended up with a seedless one. The ones I bought in Michigan contains seeds. So what gives? I found out that his variety is not naturally seedless. However in the right conditions it can be seedless. If the Murcott is grown far enough a way from other pollen producing citrus, then it will be seedless or have few seeds.

My Experience with this Orange (Rating Scale 1-10)
Seeded or Seedless: Seedless sometimes at least
Sweetness: 7
Acidity : 7
Orange Flavor: 6
Juiciness: 7

Murcott Mandarins 2Overall Feeling: Very comparable to a Clementine in all categories. One of the main draws for farmers to grow the Murcott is that it’s season is right after the Clementine’s. So you can in the marketplace you can easily replace the Clementine with the Murcott. The flavor isn’t anything unique. The membrane that surrounds each segment was a little tougher than most Clementines I have had. That doesn’t stop it from being a good mandarin.

Availability: January to March, with February being their best month.

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One of the things that I don’t like about fast foods restaurants, (which I only frequent when necessary) is that the fountain soft drinks are always the same. Most of the time I end up getting Sprite, which I am so beyond bored with. But today I discovered that Boylan Bottling Company has their own soda fountains. I found one at Zingerman’s Deli Next Door in Ann Arbor, Michigan. What a great concept! Why should Coke and Pepsi have all the soda fountain fun. With free refills available, I look forward to making a trip back just to sample all the different flavors in one sitting. Some of the flavors include orange, root beer, lemon, black cherry, and cane cola.

Here are a list of some places you can find Boylan Soda Fountains:
Zingerman’s Deli (Ann Arbor, MI)
Mendocino Farms (Los Angeles, CA)
Chop’t Creative Salad Company (Manhattan, NY)
Hill Country Chicken (New York, NY)
J Quick Kitchen (Salem, MA)
Terra Burger (Austin, TX)
Irvings Deli (Livingston, NJ)
Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza (Washington, DC)
District Taco (Arlington, VA)
Chop’t (Various locations in Washington, DC)

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turkey

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE 2013 BEST TURKEY DEALS IN MICHIGAN

It’s that time of year again. It’s the time of year in which families across the country prepare to gather together to enjoy a Thanksgiving bird. But before one can do so they must purchase their bird. Now I am may not have the resources to cover the whole country, but I can cover part of it. Below you will find an ever expanding list of special deals on turkeys from grocery stores and farms across the state. If you find a deal and it’s not listed here, leave me a comment and I would love to add it.

Also check out these other Thanksgiving-related topics: What is a Self-Basted Turkey?, Essential Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools, Pop-Up Timers, Pumpkin Recipes.

Meijer
Various locations throughout the state. Prices may be slightly different in each store, check your store to be sure.
For the week of 11/14/10, Get $9 off a Hen turkey (10-15 lb) with an additional $20 purchase.
Get $16 off a Tom turkey (over 16 lbs) with an additional $20 purchase.
The ad gives this example: If you buy a 17 lb turkey along with $20 in additional purchases, it comes out to be $.25/lb for that turkey! Also note they have sweet potatoes for $.25/lb.

Here is the list of brands of turkeys available at Meijer and their price:
Meijer Fresh Turkeys $1.79/lb
Butterball Fresh Turkeys $2.29/lb
Jennie-O Fresh Turkeys $1.79/lb
Meijer Frozen Turkeys $1.19/lb
Jennie-O Frozen Turkeys $1.19/lb
Honeysuckle Frozen Turkeys $1.29/lb
Butterball Frozen Turkeys $1.69/lb

Hiller’s
Stores in Ann Arbor, Berkley, Commerce Township, Northville, Plymouth, Union Lake, and West Bloomfield.
As of 11/15/10, here are the list of turkeys available at Hiller’s stores
Amish Valley or Timber Valley Fresh Amish Turkeys for $1.49/lb (available starting 11/17/10)
All Natural Organic Bells & Evans Fresh Hen Turkeys for $3.99/lb
Bells & Evans Fresh Hen Turkeys (not organic certified) for $2.79/lb
Northern Pride Frozen Turkeys for $.69/lb with additional $20 purchase
Empire Kosher Fresh Turkeys for $2.99/lb
Empire Kosher Frozen Turkeys for $2.89/lb

Country Market
Stores in Jackson, Chelsea, Brooklyn, Saline, Adrian, and Dexter
As of 11/10/10, they have frozen Honeysuckle Turkeys for $.99/lb, frozen Butterball Turkeys for $1.19/lb, and Armour frozen turkeys for $.89/lb.

michiganArbor Farms Market
Ann Arbor
As of 11/6/10, they has Hillcrest Farms fresh Amish Turkeys for $3.49/lb. These turkeys were pasture raised in Homer, Michigan. They also have Peacock fresh Amish Turkeys for $1.99/lb.

Busch’s
Stores in Ann Arbor, Saline, Clinton, Tecumseh, Dexter, Pinckney, South Lyon, Plymouth/Northville, Carleton, Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, and Rochester Hills.
As of 11/8/10, they have Jennie-O frozen turkeys for $.89/lb.
Starting 11/15,10 Jennie-O turkey will be $.39/lb with $20 additional purchase. They will also have Peacock’s Farms Amish Fresh Turkeys for $1.69/lb.

Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Market
Stores in Shelby Township and Clinton Township
As of 11/8/10, they were taking orders for Peacock All Natural Fresh Amish Young Turkeys. They have an organic option available as well. I am contacting them to find the price.

Sam’s Club
Various locations throughout the state
As of 11/12/10, they had frozen turkey selling for $.89/lb

Whole Foods Market
Two locations in Ann Arbor, as well as stores in Troy, Rochester Hills, and West Bloomfield.
As of 11/13/10, they have Nature’s Rancher Frozen Young Turkeys for $1.49/lb. These turkeys have been given no antibiotics and are vegetarian fed.

Kroger
Various locations throughout the state. Prices may be slightly different in each store, check your store to be sure.
For the week of 11/15/10, Riverside Frozen Turkeys are $.49/lb with an additional $20 purchase. Limit 1 per purchase.

SuperOne Foods
Locations in the Upper Peninsula cities of Escanaba, Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Marquette, and Negaunee.
Starting 11/15/10, they will have Jennie-O frozen turkeys for $.66/lb.

Neiman’s Family Market
Locations in Alpena, Tawas, and St. Clair.
Starting 11/15/10, they will have Spartan brand frozen turkeys for $.59/lb with an additional $25 purchase.

Ric’s Food Center
Locations in Mt. Pleasant, Ithaca, Hemlock, Interlochen, Rockford, and Cannon Township.
Starting 11/15/10, they have Jennie-O fresh turkeys for $1.49/lb and Shurfresh frozen turkeys for $.49/lb with additional $25 purchase.

D&W Fresh Market
Locations in Caledonia, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland, Kalamazoo, Portage, Rockford, and Williamston.
From 11/14/10 to 11/20/10, they will have Spartan brand frozen turkeys for $.49/lb with an additional $25 purchase.

Plumb’s
Locations in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Norton Shores, Muskegon Heights, Newaygo, N. Muskegon, and Whitehall.
From 11/14/10 to 11/20/10, they have Spartan brand frozen turkeys for $.74/lb with an additional $25 purchase.

Tom’s Food Market
Locations in Traverse City, Williamsburg, Northport, and Interlochen.
From 11/14/10 to 11/20/10, they have coupons in their ad for $8 off any 12-17lb Spartan or Butterball frozen turkeys or Spartan fresh turkeys. Or you can get $14 off any 17 lb or larger Spartan or Butterball frozen turkeys or Spartan fresh turkeys.

Glen’s Market
Locations in Alma, Bellaire, Boyne City, Cadillac, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Clare, East Jordan, Frankfort, Gaylord, Grayling, Harrison, Houghton Lake, Kalkaska, Lewiston, Mancelona, Manistee, Marion, Mio, Munising, Oscoda, Petoskey, Rogers City, Roscommon, Rose City, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Ignace, Standish, Traverse City, and West Branch.
From 11/14/10 to 11/20/10, they will have Spartan brand frozen turkeys for $.59/lb with an additional $20 purchase.

Nino Salvaggio
Locations in St. Clair Shores, Troy, and Clinton Township.
They have fresh Amish turkeys available to order at the meat counter in each store.

Plum Market
Locations in Ann Arbor, Bloomfield, and West Bloomfield.
These turkeys you can pre-order at the meat counter in the store.
1) All Natural Golden Legacy Turkey $1.99/lb. (Golden Legacy turkeys are vegetarian fed and raised free of artificial ingredients and preservatives for a higher quality bird. Taste for yourself the Michigan Turkey difference.)
2) All Natural Bell & Evans® Turkey $2.99/lb. (Bell & Evans® All Natural Turkeys are vegetarian fed and raised free or hormones and antibiotics. They produce up to 20% more breast meat than other turkeys, with a moist, tender, and flavorful taste.)
3) All Natural Empire Kosher Turkey $2.99/lb. (Empire Kosher Poultry are all natural with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Empire’s uncompromising standards assure best tasting turkey possible.)
4) Organic Bell & Evans® Turkey $3.99/lb. (All Bell & Evans® Turkeys are bred, raised and processed on the same farm in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. They are air- chilled for optimum flavor and USDA Certified to have 55% less fat and 25% fewer calories than other fresh turkeys.)

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Click here for the latest update.
One of the most wonderful times of year in Michigan is apple season. It’s a tradition (or should be) for every Michigan resident to visit an apple orchard to pick their own apples right off the tree, buy some freshly made donuts, that you can wash down with delicious apple cider. Since it’s been a warm summer, the apple u-pick season is beginning early this year. Some farms already have apples for you to pick. A lot of places will be opening up within the next 2 weeks.

Here is a list of what is going on at u-pick apple orchards across the metro Detroit/Ann Arbor area. Counties include Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne.

Macomb County
1. Blake Farms in Armada, MI are currently offering these apples for u-pick: Early MacIntosh, Paula Reds, Ginger Golds, and Early Jonathon. For more information visit their website or call them at 586-784-5343

2. Hys Cider Mill in Romeo, MI will have u-pick apples available starting in September. They are open weekends 11am-6pm until November. For more information call (810) 798-3611

3. Miller’s Big Red Apple Orchard in Romeo, MI (Washington Township) will have u-pick this year. For more information visit their website or call (586)752-7888

4. Stony Creek Orchard in Romeo, MI (Bruce Township) will have u-pick this year. For more information visit their website or call 586-752-2453

5. Westview Orchards in Washington Township, MI currently has Ginger Gold apples available for u-pick. For more information visit their website or call 866-WVO-4-FUN

Monroe County
1. Bennett’s Orchard in Ottawa Lake, MI will have u-pick apples available this season. They have different varieties ripening each week. For more information visit their website or call 734-854-2523

2. Erie Orchards in Erie, MI will have these varieties available this season: Paulareds, McIntosh, olden and Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Granny Smith, Ida Reds, Winesap and Jonathans.) For more information http://www.erieorchards.com or call 734-848-4518

Oakland County
Long Family Orchard & Cider Mill in Commerce Township, MI will have u-pick apples around the middle of September. For more information visit their website or call 248-360-3774

Washtenaw County
1. Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan, MI will have the following apples for u-pick this season:
Sept 9th: Gala, McIntosh, Prime Gold
Sept 17th : Cortland, Empire, Jonathan
Sept 24th: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious
Oct 1st: Rome Beauty, Ida Red
Oct 15th: Granny Smith
They have a ½ bushel minimum. For more information visit their website or call 734-482-2342

2. Lutz Orchard in Saline, MI (Directions: 4 miles SW of Saline. Take Monroe St. S from US-12 in Saline. Monroe becomes Macon Road at city limits, 11030 Macon Road, corner of Braun Rd) will have u-pick apples in October. For more information, including their hours call them at 734-429-5145

3. Wiard’s Orchards in Ypsilanti, MI will have these apples available for u-pick this year: McIntosh, Jonathan, Empire, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Ida-Reds, Fuji, Honey Crisp, Cameo and Ruby Jon. For more information visit their website or call them at 734-390-9211

Wayne County
Apple Charlie’s in New Boston, MI will have these apples available for u-pick this year (dates are approximate start dates)
August 28th-29th: Galas, McIntosh, Joanthan
Sept 11th: Empire, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious
Oct 1st: Winesap, Monroe, Jonagold, Fuji
For more information visit their website or call (734)753-9380

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Kerrygold Kilaree Cheddar Question: Where can you buy Kerrygold products in Michigan?

Answer: Kerrygold makes some of the finest quality cheese and butter on the market. They are an Irish company and their dairy products are made from grass fed cow’s milk. Below are some stores in Michigan that carry Kerrygold products (actual product may differ in each store).

Busch’s stores
Hiller’s stores
Whole Foods Market
The Produce Station (Ann Arbor, MI)
…more to be added

Kerrygold Butter I have reviewed several Kerrygold products on my site, click on the product to read my review.
1. Pure Irish Butter
2. Blarney Castle Cheese
3. Kilaree Cheddar Cheese
4. Dubliner Cheese

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