Monday, May 12, 2008

What's Local -- Fresh Farms, Wheeling

Which Supermarket Would You Save

My wife agreed to drive home yesterday from our activities so I could make a few notes in my new beloved toy, the Blackberry. A few notes turned into some fixation, and between me and that, one daughter reading and the other daughter napping, the driver got a bit perturbed. To make up, to make needed conversation, I asked, "what's your favorite grocery store?" It did not work. She stayed mostly perturbed for the rest of the ride home. It was not until this morning that I remembered the right way to phrase the question. "Which, if you had one grocery (or supermarket) in Chicago (area) would you save?"

We love the which can you save game. If you only could eat one sandwich; if you only could eat from one type (e.g., Italian, Jewish) of food; if you could only go to one other state...invariably our, if only one questions lead to which five (at least), but this one was pretty straight forward. See, I was in the thrall of Fresh Farms of Wheeling. I could see some advantages to Fox & Obel as "the one", but because I was, yesterday at Fresh Farms ( especially) it was the one. My wife answered back, "Whole Foods."

I pishawed her. "Whole Foods." Clearly, for all our bitchin', we shop there a fair amount; surely for milk and soy milk and yogurt. Yet, there was nothing that I can think of that is at Whole Foods that is not at other places that we also frequent, at least nothing really necessary so to speak. Moreover, is there anything Whole Foods really does better beyond being convenient to the Bungalow.

"How could you pick Whole Foods over Fresh Farms" I asked incredulously. "Seasonal produce," she justified. "Ah" I snorted. I think she'd even concede she was hasty today. I mean can you walk into Whole Foods this week and get Michigan apples, Wisconsin potatoes?

Fresh Farms, to backtrack, is a Russian geared store, or I should say better, it is a food store geared toward Russian food habits. These habits include a need for zaruska (plural zaruski) appetizers/food to be eaten with vodka or tea/food for light meals. This habit is fulfilled in stores like Fresh Farms with ample stocks of smoked, salted, dried and cured fishes. Fresh Farms has a large selection, although not quite as good as the infrequently opened Renee Gourmet with its slabs of salmon, captain, etc. The habit also means an array of sausages I could never get around to trying en total unless this really was the one grocery store. I tend to get the beef sausage called, with no irony, Jewish Dry Salami on most visits. The habit includes plenty of pickles and yesterday there were two types of cucumber pickles, marinated apples and pickled green tomatoes. Finally, and most important to this post, there is the habit for outstanding dairy. The Russians, like other Eastern Europeans, like their milk. In fact the one thing we had to stop for on the way home yesterday, was milk. I was reasonably confident Fresh Farms would have our kinda milk.

They did. Beyond Farmer's All Natural Creamery milk and buttermilk, they had Farmers All Natural Creamery cheese (first I've seen of that); sour cream (no ingredients!), and cottage cheese (likewise without extra ingredients). They had the Cultural Revolution yogurts from another dairy in Kaldona, Iowa, and the yogurt my wife likes best, Trader's Point Creamery. She really appreciated that they had low-fat vanilla. Butters included W├╝thrich European Style made by Grassland Dairy and the best, Clarendon Hills. Those Russians know what I know, to get the best in dairy, get local.

Until I hit some other favorite food market, the one to keep is Fresh Farms, 291 E. Dundee, Wheeling, IL (intersection of Milwaukee and Dundee).

1 comment:

wesuilmo said...

So does anyone know what happened to the Fresh Farms being built on Milwaukee in Libertyville? They got the frame up last fall and then no work since. The sign still says Fresh Farms coming soon.