By Rick Gion
You can find all sorts of kitchen gadgets, gizmos and goodies at just about every big-box store these days. Heck, with Amazon, a home cook can become a collector in no time at all. However, it’s much more fun to take a local tour of some of the specialty stores around the area, in search of unique gifts.
Right down the road from my apartment building is the Asian & American Market. This place serves up some of the most unique food items available in the region. It’s an international experience.
At this market, you’ll find many trendy items hyped on those foodie TV shows like chili crisp and spicy packaged ramen. As I’ve been writing this column, I’ve been munching on shrimp chips purchased there. Sounds fishy, but they are delicious.
I have a few tips for gift shopping at A & A. First, be sure to take a trip down the dried noodle and sauce aisles. If you’re looking for dinnerware, go to the southeast portion of the store. It’s filled with large soup bowls for pho and ramen. There’s also some neat round cutting boards and Thai-style mortar and pestles in that area. Go to the west side of the store if you like making Indian food. It’s a rice and spice wonderland.
A & A will soon be moving just a few blocks west on Fargo’s Main Avenue. The new supermarket will be an improvement, and I’m hoping the parking lot will be too.
One of the frequent stops for me for kitchen gear is Creative Kitchen in West Acres Mall. It's the region's high-end culinary store and the place to go to try out top-notch chef’s knives. Creative Kitchen is locally owned and has served the area since 1976. The store carries all sorts of gadgets and gizmos, many of which will help improve your cooking game. The items sold there will last for years – trust me on that. I’ve had a German knife set from Creative Kitchen for nearly 25 years.
The recent addition of a cheese case is one more reason to make a trip out to the mall. Creative Kitchen also carries specialty coffee, olive oil and vinegars. All of those things make great gifts for the holidays.
Another great place to check out for kitchen gear is Culinex. They carry items for commercial kitchens, but the home cook can also shop there. Once I realized that, I became a regular customer. The prices are actually pretty decent, too. Kitchen equipment can get expensive so it’s a good option to have.
Culinex carries industrial bowls, containers, cutting boards, knives, mixers, pots and pans, scales, thermometers, and useful utensils.
Most restaurants around town use items from Culinex. There’s a reason why. If you’re cooking for large groups, Culinex should be a frequent stop for you.
Last but not least is Tochi Products, quite unique and has been a Downtown Fargo hidden gem for decades. Every time I go in there it feels like it belongs in some rural California town.
Tochi carries all sorts of fun stuff for that food lover in your family such as coffee, hot sauce, European cookies, ethnic sauces, teas, and the tasty Terroir Chocolate from Fergus Falls. I buy all sorts of organic dried fruit and nuts there, and the secret of my rocking risotto is Tochi’s arborio rice. While there, be sure to look at the spice selection in back of the check-out counter.
For food-related gifts this Holiday Season, be a local tourist and go check out what’s available and offered here. It’s a lot more fun and interesting than being a dull keyboard cruiser.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Asian and American Market, 1015 Main Ave, Fargo
Creative Kitchen, West Acres Mall
Culinex, 1802 1st Ave S, Fargo
Tochi Products, 1111 2nd Ave N, Fargo
Rick Gion administers a Facebook group page called “Fargo-Moorhead Eats” that’s dedicated to the area’s great cooks and cuisine. Check it out, join, and feel free to post items about your local culinary adventures and home cooking.
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