Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pilgrimage To Zingerman's

 Just a short drive from Detroit is the university town of Ann Arbor, home U of M and Zingerman's culinary empire. I've been getting Zingerman's quirky hand drawn catalogue of high-end gourmet items  like sardines from Spain, cheeses from Zingerman's creamery and around the world and crusty breads chewy and delicious enough to mail order.
Behind every corner is an employee so proud of the richly sourced products they cannot wait to offer you a taste. I was already buying a beautiful bottle of 16 year old balsamic but was offered a taste just the same. I asked about a couple local Michigan cheeses and my very attentive Zingerman's counter clerk whisked away to bring me tastes -- happily pointing out which she liked best and condiments and sundries from around the store that would make a winning combination. That's how I ended up with a rich creamy cheese coated in liquor soaked raisins (not local but superb) and Zingerman's house baked graham crackers.
 My first thought is how can a place so small hold in so much deliciousness. Zingerman's is jammed packed with products, a cheese and charcuterie case, breads, and hungry patrons waiting in line for the famous sandwiches. A friendly face wearing an apron waits in front of the deli case to take your order, hand you a ticket, and show you to the cashier/ sit down area in an adjacent building. "The red building and to the left." No one seems to worry that I am walking outside with an basket of products into a completely open area.
Not quite so small, it turns out that Zingerman's deli is a compound of four buildings (the creamery and bakehouse -- "the artisan facilities" are in another part of town) and a patio that must be packed with hungry co-eds in spring weather.
I settle down with #18, a turkey and swiss Reuben with Zingerman's homemade coleslaw and Russian dressing, all wrapped up in grilled, crusty Jewish rye. Zingerman's sandwiches come in two sizes -- this one, BTW was the small or "nosher" size with a super sour garlic pickle and a side of beet feta salad.
If all this weren't enough just across the patio is a cheery yellow building. Desserts, coffees, gelato, candies and more than one employee who visible swooned over slices of hummingbird cake. At $6.99 a slice a swoon is required.
Prices aside (actually the sandwiches were pretty much NY deli prices and just about big enough to make them a value) if I were in the area again I'd stop in and try another of the 80 some offered sandwiches -- and to bring home a couple tasty presents.
Coming home soon Honey!
 A Zingerman's picnic.

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