Plum Market & Dinner Salad

After the gym today, I headed to the supermarket to stock up on some veggies since my parents’ fridge was a little bare (they did have 6 cans of water chestnuts in the pantry, though – doesn’t everyone?).

First stop was Plum Market.  Plum is a small chain of three grocery stores, all in Michigan, and it’s a beautiful store.  My crappy cell phone photo of their produce department doesn’t do it justice:

I love that they’re locally-owned, with an emphasis on Michigan products and companies.  Produce signs, for example, list which city Michigan produce was grown in, so today, I bought roma tomatoes from Benton Harbor, which is where my mom was born and raised.

Another reason I love Plum and try to swing by whenever I’m in town is because they stock McClure’s Pickles – the best pickles ever!  I may be a little biased, because I’m friends with Bob McClure, one of the founders/owners, but still – they’re great, and The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and Martha Stewart Living (just to name a few) have all raved about them.  And Plum has a nice display (that I took a crappy photo of) right on the deli service counter:

You can learn more about McClure’s Pickles, and order them, here.  They’d make a great (and heavy) stocking stuffer!  Today, I picked up a jar of the garlic & dill pickles:

Mmmm… delicious!

While you can find anything and everything at Plum, including tons of rare, gourmet and specialty products (more on this later), it is pricey, in the Whole Foods/Gelson’s range.  Especially for produce – as you regular blog readers know, I love finding fresh produce at amazing prices (for example, my recent outing where I bought 11 different fruits and veggies for $6.16), and the buck doesn’t stretch very far at Plum.  I know, I know, I’m not in California anymore, where everything is grown within driving distance all year round, but still.  I don’t need to spend $6 a pound on grapes or $3 a pound on carrots.  The aforementioned tomatoes were $1.49 a pound, however (a pretty good price), and I bought a couple other things that were on special this week.

Luckily for me, there’s a Kroger (another grocery store) directly across the street.  I picked up some veggies there at better prices (50 cents for green onions, 83 cents for a pound of carrots, etc.) and headed home.

I made dinner tonight for my parents and me – big ol’ salads!  You salad lovers out there will enjoy this photo:

There’s 14 ingredients in that salad, and they are: green cabbage, spinach, orange bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, pickles (McClure’s Pickles, naturally), water chestnuts, scallion, pimientos (Spanish pickled red pepper), mushrooms, 2-3 teaspoons blue cheese, 10-12 croutons, 2-3 teaspoons garlic vinaigrette, and 3 oz smoked scallops.  The smoked scallops was something I stumbled across at Plum, and they were delicious.  Here’s the lid:

Plum also had a couple produce items that I’ve never bought before, so I thought I’d continue my tradition of trying new things and pick one up for the first time.  The first thing that caught my eye was the Buddha’s Hand.  Check this out!

It has these long tentacle-esque thingies – it’s like the squid of the produce world.  I had no idea what it was, and thought it was some sort of squash.  It was also $6, so I decided I’d go home, research it a little, and go back and buy it another day.   Turns out, it’s a very fragrant citrus fruit (if only I had smelled it, I maybe could have figured that out) that is basically all rind and pith, with very little flesh or seeds.  You can read more about it here – be sure to read the comments for more great ideas on how to use and eat it.

So instead of buying the Buddha’s Hand, I bought, for the very first time ever, Kumquats.  I’ve never had a kumquat before.  They’re little tiny citrus fruits, like mini oranges, but the size of a large olive:

Unlike oranges, you can eat the rind of the kumquat, which is a good thing, because they’d be a pain in the ass to peel, and there wouldn’t be much left.  Here’s what the inside looks like:

My dad and I tried them after dinner, and they were strange, but good.  The rind is sweet, like an orange, but the pulp in the middle is tart, like a grapefruit, but more potent.  My dad’s review is that they “are bursting with flavor.”   And they’re less than 15 calories apiece, if you’re interested in calorie counts, and a good source of vitamins A & C.

In a few days, I’m going back for that Buddha’s Hand!

Keep it up, David!

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