By Rick Gion
The temperatures have dropped and so have the leaves in the Upper Midwest. That means it's now the holiday season. Part of the joy of this special season for me is eating.
But first things first. Before the eating begins, it’s necessary to know where to get all those great Holiday goodies. Below is a lengthy list of unique specialty food markets around the area. The highlighted stores are favorites.
The Asian and American Supermarket on Main Avenue in Fargo is an ethnic food fan’s wonderland. The store’s recent expansion makes it a regional destination. There you’ll find plenty of fresh produce, noodles, pastes, sauces, and spices. It’s a great place to shop if you’re cooking for large groups, especially if you’re into ethnic and international cuisines.
Brewhalla is Fargo’s palace of cool, and has all the goods to prove it. Cows & Co Creamery is one of those cool spots in Brewhalla and is a great stop if you’re looking for North Dakota-made cheeses and ice cream. The business produces award-winning artisan goudas near Carrington, N.D. Many of these cheeses are available for purchase at its funky kiosk in Brewhalla. Cows & Co also features some great flavors of gelato. You’ll want to sample a few. It takes strong self-control to not buy a few pints.
Creative Kitchen in West Acres Mall is well known for high-end culinary gear. However, that’s not the only thing the store carries. It's also a good location to pick up artisan cheeses, meats, olive oils, and vinegars. Make sure to check out some items to accompany those charcuterie and cheese boards like jams, olives and pickles.
Fargo Fresh, off of south 45th Street in Fargo, is a great place to check out if you need Indian and Middle Eastern groceries. They carry some great fresh produce as well as lentils, rice and spices. Pro tip: I also like to buy a lot of frozen samosas there.
Luna on South University and Luna Market in Brewhalla are both local destinations for artisan cheeses and charcuterie meats. Luna Market also carries chili crisps, dried noodles, flours, fresh seafood, gourmet tinned fish, and various sauces. The selection of specialty products at Luna Market in Brewhalla is phenomenal and includes trendy and unique items that you see in the national food magazines. Pro tip: For a quick snack, be sure to pick up some pimento cheese in the cold case at Luna Market in Brewhalla.
For larger stores, Natural Grocers off of south 45th Street in Fargo is a popular specialty supermarket. During colder months, the organic produce carried there can’t be beat. Natural Grocers also carries all sorts of bulk items, organic dairy, meats, snacks, and other items that will help you make a special Holiday meal.
Pinch & Pour just off of 32nd Avenue in south Fargo is a fun place to try out different artisan olive oils and vinegars. It’s also the first gourmet market in the area to carry great cheeses. You’ll also find imported dried pastas and tasty jarred sauces there. By the way, the owner is very passionate about the products he carries. He’s also extremely helpful if you have any questions about the goods. The road construction has now ended in the 25th Street and 32nd Avenue south area, so visiting Pinch & Pour is back to being convenient.
Prime Cut Meats on south University in Fargo is the best spot in the area for high-end cuts of carne. The steaks they carry are excellent. I’ve actually had steak for Thanksgiving a couple of times, so I’ve spent some big bucks there. Check out Prime Cut for certain seafood items and sausages, too.
Tochi Products on the western edge of downtown Fargo is legendary. This market has been in business for over 50 years and carries all sorts of bulk spices, dried beans, dried fruit, frozen products, international items, nuts, oils, and high-quality rice. You’ll also find farm-fresh eggs for sale there.
One of the items that gets used a lot in my kitchen during the Holidays is high-quality olive oil. If you don’t know, there’s actually a local guy here that imports olive oil directly from Greece. His name is Peter Schultz, and you can find his olive oil at a few locations around the metro. Specifically, the oil is called Mistra Estates. I usually buy mine at BernBaum’s in downtown Fargo. This stuff is great for sauteing and also for salad dressings. Once you try it, you won’t go back to the usual supermarket brands.
Other area specialty stores that you might want to check out include Butcher Block Meats in Dilworth, First Avenue Market in Downtown Fargo, La Unica in both Fargo and Moorhead, Lotus Blossom on Main Avenue in Fargo, Meats by John and Wayne in south Fargo, Reese & Riley’s in south Moorhead, Milk Made in south Fargo, and Minn-Dak Market in West Acres. For more information, find all these stores on Facebook.
Going online for local products is also an option. If you’re looking for locally harvested produce and farm fresh eggs, be sure to look up Red River Harvest Cooperative.
I’m probably missing a few specialty stores in this column. I apologize for that, but there are a lot of them here these days. The food scene has dramatically improved in the last 10 years. I could also list all the good wine and liquor stores in this column, but I’ll just stick with food.
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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