Detroit; Eastern Market, Traffic Jam, Bureau of Urban Living

30 Jun

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There’s nothing comparable to a Saturday at Eastern Market, it’s like a weekly celebration of Summer, and everyone is invited. This time of year flowers, shrubs and trees are still prevalent, but early crops are starting to show up too. The bundles of lettuce are amazing, different textures and colors just waiting for your favorite dressing. Shed #2 was recently renovated and has the highest concentration of gourmet type foods; Avalon sells bread, Zingermans has a table with cheese, Russell Street Deli sells soups. You can find Perogi, sausage, popcorn, coffee and granola too. If you come hungry, you won’t leave that way!

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Eastern Market has been in this location since 1891, it consists of a six-block open air public market in a 43 acre district of independent vendors, merchants, wholesalers, processors, and retailers of food products. It is the largest Historic Public Market in the US, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Here’s another little tidbit for you: Part of the Underground Railroad went under Eastern Market to the Detroit River so slaves could make it safely to Canada. The privately owned restaurants, wholesale and retail shops are open Monday thru Saturday. Eastern Market only operates on Saturday year-round, but starting July 12 until September 27, they will now offer a Tuesday Market from 11am to 7pm.

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Sheds were crowded with folks taking advantage of bargain prices, vendors were selling whole flats of annuals for $1, yes I did mean one dollar, hanging baskets 2 for $5, my favorite, a giant Yucca in full bloom with variegated leaves, which I have never seen before, was $15…..I think I need a bigger yard…. There’s something in the air here, people are always smiling, the food may have something to do with that.  Three different musicians scattered throughout the sheds entertained shoppers as vendors called out their just reduced prices, individuals arms were filled with flowers as thoughts of one more flat danced in their heads, discussions about how many strawberries it takes to make a pie could be heard in passing. On any given market day you will encounter a diversity of dress, overhear various foreign languages, walk among a multitude of strangers, try something you’ve never had before, and simply have a wonderful day.

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With all the samples we ate at the market it’s hard to believe we could still be  hungry, but lunchtime was calling. Being such a beautiful day, the patio at Traffic Jam and Snug in Midtown was quite inviting. Traffic Jam opened in 1965 in this very space, it has an in-house bakery, microbrewery, and dairy, three of my favorite food groups! The menu is large and offers traditional standards like steak and Mac & Cheese to vegetarian dishes that will knock your socks off. One added bonus of having their own dairy is the award winning cheese they serve. We ordered the special of the day,  a platter with Camembert cheese, crackers, and a salad of spicy arugula and fresh berries tossed in a banana vinaigrette, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. The Camembert was wrapped in puff pastry and baked to perfection, the cheese creamy and mild like a Brie, delicious on it’s own or atop a cracker. The salad was scrumptious, the sweetness of the berries a nice compliment to the peppery arugula, and Oh that dressing, with just a hint of banana it pulled all the flavors together. Along with that we got TJ’s much loved nachos, a good sized serving of corn chips covered in melted white cheese with black beans, served with jalapeno slices, sour cream and salsa, makes you want to drive there right now doesn’t it? I have to say it was such a pleasurable meal, the food of course was delectable, but sitting outside with the sun shining, listening to the water trickle from the fountain just added to the experience. Here in Michigan we know how to appreciate a beautiful day.

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Across Canfield from Traffic Jam is a charming little boutique called Bureau Of Urban Living. It’s one of those stores with attractive merchandise for your home that is laid out in such a way you want to buy every single thing. They have everything from wine glasses, dishes, and candles to note cards and a full line of Mrs Meyers cleaning products. The selection is continuously updated and also includes books and some jewelry. The interior has a modern, slightly industrial feeling, very cool, I enjoy stopping in whenever I am in the area. The owner is a huge supporter of Detroit, and seems to know everyone who has a small business in the city. Midtown is becoming more populated with independent little shops and restaurants and it’s a welcome evolution.

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