I am about to enthuse and effuse, a tendency I have when I absolutely adore someone or something. But I assure you that I am not exaggerating.
And what am I going to rave about, you ask? My favorite shop in Chicago: Fox & Obel, an amazing gourmet food store!
There is such abundance of variety here that it's difficult to believe how many items they can cram into the available space: fresh fruits and vegetables ... pastries ... breads ... prepared foods ... coffees and teas ... jams and jellies ... cheeses ... wines ... candies ... baking ingredients ... freezer items ... spices. Oh, it's astounding! I just walk into the store and I want to cook and bake and create and eat and share with all my loved ones ... :)
The space is bright and open, rather than claustrophobic. The staff is attentive and friendly. There simply are no detriments here, other than not being able to buy the entire contents of the store or move to Chicago and get a job there, in order to take advantage of the presumed employee discount. Fox & Obel is absolutely my favorite food store, which is saying something considering how many gourmet stores and ethnic markets Ann Arbor has!
For example, this is the honey display -- I'm serious! Not the honeys and the syrups and the sweeteners combined, oh no! This is just the honeys, from simple jars to exotic varieties, and even some in elegant bottles that look as though they are a rare vintage. Would any one of these make a fabulous hostess or holiday gift, or what???
This is the pasta display, featuring not just boring ol' spaghetti, macaroni, and rotini, with only regular and whole wheat varieties to choose from. These are handmade, hand-cut, Italian specialty items which would make a most extraordinary meal! Intriguing varieties designed for specific sauces (i.e.: thin strands for light sauces or thicker shapes for heartier sauces), spelt and semolina and tricolore and all sorts of other lovely options ... sigh ....
And then there are the oils and the vinegars, with several bottles of balsamic vinegar being kept under lock and key because they are so valuable. The possibilities for marinades and dressings, just to name two easy options, are virtually limitless with an array such as this! It is truly an entire wall of bottles, with thousands of variations as one might mix and match ....
It took virtually every ounce of restraint for me to remember that I had to carry my items home on the train, that I needed to be careful of perishable items spoiling, and that I actually have bills to pay so I couldn't just indulge my whims and buy one of everything. But boy, it sure would be fabulous to do so, wouldn't it??? The place is absolutely extraordinary ... a dream come true for someone who loves to both cook and eat!
NOTE: Don't forget to check out the "thank you" post for my followers, and leave a comment at the end of it if you're interested in the gift drawing: "L'Chaim -- To Life!" I'll be picking the winner tonight ... :)
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