leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s been almost six years since we pulled up our lifetime Chicago roots and plopped ourselves down in this little island of civilization in the middle of Michigan. We’ve loved almost every minute of it. Then again, it could be that we’re repeating that over and over to ourselves after buying at the very top of the housing market. At our closing, as we forked over a shitload of money we’ll never see again, one of the secretaries at the title company was raving about a place by our house called The Produce Station. I have to admit, that piece of advice was golden. Now if I can get a couple hundred thousand more golden pieces of advice…
It took a couple of months before I made it there and, honestly, I didn’t know what to make of the place. The Pieholes were much smaller then and we did most of our shopping in bulk at Costco and Meijer. So here was this place that was about the size of our mini-van – how useful could it be? Apparently, very much so. As their name indicates, they have all kinds of produce, both standard and hard-to-find. They also carry other stuff you’d need from the supermarket – dairy products, pasta, canned goods, etc. Their salad bar, soups, prepared salads, entrees, and sandwiches are all high-quality, prepared on-premise. In warmer seasons, they have a huge selection of plants and garden equipment.
Basically, this tiny place has everything. I’ve found stuff there after major fails at other places. It’s like a clown car where surprises just kept coming out, non-stop. Or like Michelle Duggar’s vagina.
Then it hit me – it’s like an old-school neighborhood grocer you see in the movies. Having lived in suburban sprawl for several years, I forgot about that type of place. It’s the mom and pop store people used to go to when they did groceries on a daily basis, instead of driving the Tahoe to Sam’s Club and loading up for two weeks. Everything you needed to make a healthy meal with fresh, high-quality ingredients and was right around the corner. It was the kind of place that valued quality over quantity. So not only would they sell the best produce, they also wouldn’t waste your time with 20 brands of peanut butter – just the best one or two. In the movies, they were always operated by an Italian guy named Tony or Luigi.
In the case of Produce Station, it’s Andy. I guess you can’t win ‘em all.
A few years back, they started selling beer and wine there. Although I was working at Bello Vino at the time, I would’ve loved the opportunity to be closer to home. But I couldn’t leave thick-fingered Phil and Botha behind. (Or was it Botha’s behind?) Against all laws of physics, they were able to squeeze in a wide variety of wine and beer. You’re not going to get 20 varieties of Chilean reds, but you’ll get a few. Which is a few more than you’ll get at the shitty Kroger a block away. With the addition of Jorge Lopez-Chavez, the wine selection and service has been top-notch. Check out his wine blog. It’s more informative than mine, but then you wouldn’t get stuff like this.
But what’s the best part of the place? The thing that gets my unwashed, sleepy self there almost every morning? The cherry oatmeal scone and coffee special.
For a coupla bucks, best scone I’ve ever had – generously-sized, buttery, not too dry, filled with dried cherries. Absolutely addicting. For coffee, there’s a few from which to choose, with one usually from local roaster Roos. There’s also decaf, but who the hell wants that…
Here’s a pic of the place in full bloom.