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July 20, 2010

Top Ten fun food stores

Mill Valley General StoreWhile in Mount Vernon yesterday, I happened to come across an empty storefront at Cathedral and Read streets with a "coming soon" sign out front.

What's coming is Milk & Honey Market, which will sell fresh local produce, meats and dairy, gourmet groceries, artisanal cheese and charcuterie, fresh baked breads and fresh pastas. It will also have a cafe area with coffee drinks, fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and panini.

The future store --  I'll have more details on that in another blog post later this morning -- got me thinking about all those little out-of-the-way food stores that can be so fun to shop in.

Which brings me to this week's list:

Top Ten fun food stores

1. Mill Valley General Store

I love this no-frills outpost at 2800 Sisson Street, which has local meats, dairy and produce. Prices are cheaper than at lots of places for things like Gunpowder bison ($6 a pound) and Hen's Nest eggs ($3 for a dozen extra-large). The produce selection is quite limited, so I often find myself looking longingly at the fruits and veggies available only to the One Straw Farm CSA customers who pick up their weekly allotments there. But I've picked up juicy peaches in summer and interesting apples in the fall.

2. J. W. Treuth & Son's

Does meat get any fresher than at a combination slaughterhouse/butcher shop? Located in Oella, between Catonsville and Ellicott City, Treuth has local meat without an ounce of farm-to-table pretension. 

3. Trinacria

This Paca Street Italian deli is always crowded. We go for the olives and olive oil, prosciutto bread, fresh mozzarella, mascarpone and goat cheese. You can get a big log of the goat for about what you'd pay for that teeny supermarket pyramid.

4. Di Pasquale's

Bigger than Trinacria, but farther from my home so I don't get there as often as I'd like.

5. Salumeria Italiana

This one is even farther from home -- waaay farther, in the North End of Boston, the Italian neighborhood where my great-grandparents settled as immigrants and my grandparents grew up. It is worth a trip to Bean Town. (Salumeria's website is down as I write, but you can read testimonials to the olive oils, balsamic vinegars, Parmesans, and prosciuttos.)  

6. Atwater's

Maybe this is cheating because Atwater's is really a bakery, but they stock local milk, cheeses and eggs. Throw in a loaf of their wonderful bread, and what more could you want?

7.  Yours Convenience Store

The quirky name -- it really is "Yours" -- and selection of Indian spices aren't the only reasons to shop at this Catonsville store, at 730 Frederick Road. Owner Sudhir Shah is trying to make a comeback after a robber shot him in the head in November. He can use the business.

8. Halal Meats

Another Indian grocery out my way, at 5224 Baltimore National Pike. This one has an even larger selection of spices, as well as freshly made samosas. 

9. David's Natural Market

A Columbia institution in the Wild Lake Village Center, David's caters to the town's original hippie "pioneers" as well as newcomer foodies.

10. Roots Market

It's been a while since I've made it out to this market, with locations in Clarksville and Olney. Now that I see online that they have Newman's O's for $3.99 -- compared to $4.29 at Giant, $4.39 at Whole Foods, and $4.79 at Safeway -- I think a trip is in order.

Produce at Mill Valley General Store. Sun photo by Amy Davis

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 5:34 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Excellent top ten, LV.

Don't forget the wonderful soup at Atwater's, to go along with the bread and cheese.

We had company last week, and one of our guests had THREE bowls of Atwater's gazpacho. Guess he liked it!

Guess he has bottomless pockets!

One of the establishments I miss most eight years after leaving Catonsville for the Green Mountains is JW Trueth's -- thanks for the smile, LV.

Bottomless pockets? Their sandwiches might be a little pricy but their soup prices are VERY reasonable, especially considering the quality of the ingredients.

I'd add Han Ah Rheum in Catonsville, and Pavan Foods on Harford in Parkville as fun places to shop as well.

the David's up in Bel Air is pretty decent.

An appeal to readers: please do make an effort to get to Yours in Catonsville. I've been going sporadically for several years, and am just now learning about the shooting. Absolutely breaks my heart. Mr. Shah is a warm, friendly man and deserves a steady stream of business. The store has a nice selection of Indian spices, prepared meals (think chana masala in a box), and frozen meals/breads/desserts. Not sure if they still do, but on weekends, they used to have homemade samosas too.

All apart, i really am in love with this Indian Store.

Lovely range of all Indian products. Prices are no doubt best.

All the ready to eat soups, Indian curries are always available. Highly recommended.

You should definitely try Lily's Mexican Market in Columbia and one of the Middle Eastern markets like Caezar's in Elkridge or Nazar in Columbia.

And, as bonnie notes, the H Mart in Catonsville should be on any list of fun places to shop.

When I was in Mill Valley a couple weeks ago, much of the space was closed off. The food was all formerly in the rear passed the gardening supplies, but now everything is in the front room. It gave me a nervous feeling about the viability of Mill Valley.

Glad Laura mentioned David's in Columbia. I used to go there whenever I visited the late, lamented Produce Galore, which had great prepared foods in addition to breads, fruits and vegetables.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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