Monday, June 9, 2008


Originally published in D-Tales here.

I was just at Zaccaro's Market again for the first time since the last time...which was back when they opened...whenever that was...the months blur.


Anyway, I decided to swing by to see what's new, what's changed, what's good, what's better. And what did I find?

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick!

Yep, Kwame also decided to swing by the Market to check it out. He's been there several times before, though, as I gathered through casually chatting with him. Charming guy; very personable. Good sense of humor, too:

Mayor Kilpatrick: "How are you today?"
D-Tales: "Good; how about you?"
MK: "Oh...well, you know, as good as can be!" (Laughs)
D-Tales: "Like with the heat outside?" (Also laughing)
MK: "Well, I don't so much mind the heat outside!"
A shared knowing laugh ensued.

You gotta give it to him...he, too, has moxy. And it was pretty funny...

As for Zaccaro's, I found that the place has indeed changed since the first time I was in there.

The cheese counter is finally up to snuff--there are brief lists taped to the outer glass which list the cheeses by type (washed rind, French cream, blue-veined, etc.) as well as the price per pound. I walked out with some Tallegio and Borgonzola (yes, with a "B"--it's, not that that explains it or anything), which made me very happy. Not a HUGE huge selection, but just funky enough to be noteworthy.

They also finally sell wine, which I knew about but still hadn't made the trek ALL THE WAY to Midtown to investigate.

They've got an adorable little wine cellar in the back with a small but varied selection of wines. They do stock of fair share of Michigan-made wines, in keeping with their promise of local-centric items (they also sell Vivio's famous Bloody Mary mix, as well as Snug Harbor's, a restaurant I've been to out in Grand Haven and was super-geeked to see represented there). I didn't take as much time to peruse the wines as I would have liked since I didn't want my cheeses to get too warm, but a brief scan showed that most wines are priced under $20.00 (hell, most are under $15.00), the selection is very boutique with a wide assortment of producers and varietals, and they do have the occasional stand-out big name such as an Amarone della Valpolicella priced at $69.00 (which is in the median range for this style).

The resident sommelier is very friendly and eager to assist you with your wine purchase and just simply speak about the wines and show you other wines you might be interested in based on your selections. Zaccaro's also offers 15% off wine purchases of 6 bottles or more--perfect for stocking the cellar, building a collection, throwing a party, or just keeping your personal stash stocked for the next month (I mean, hey, if you're going to drink it anyway...).

There is also an olive bar by the wine cellar, which I don't know if I just didn't notice it before but hey--kinda cool. Made me want a martini. And Meditteranean food.

The staff at Zaccaro's was very friendly, too--even moreso than I remember from last time (they were friendly then but also seemed a bit jittery). The guys at the deli counter were especially helpful and willing to chat, as were the people working the cash registers. They all made me feel right at home. I left there feeling less like I just went shopping at a high-end market and more like I had just made my weekly visit to my local mom-and-pop grocer where everyone knows my name and asks about my job and family.

So, on a second go-round, I'm much more impressed than I was previously and look forward to going back. AND they're open later than R. Hirt (which is actually why I went there in the first place). AND the mayor shops there...which some of you may or may not care about, even violently so, but I was still like "OMFG it's the mayor!"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Friday Night Wine Tastings at Cuisine

Originally published in D-Tales here.

Beginning tomorrow evening, Cuisine is bringing back their summer patio wine tastings (this is one of those June events I overlooked initially)! Join them every Friday 5:00-7:00PM on their outdoor patio (or indoors, dependent on weather) as they sample a selection of wines paired with their own hors d'oeuvres.

Tomorrow will be California wines. The cost is $15.00 per person, all-inclusive.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beethoven's 9th and Opus One

Originally published in D-Tales here; edited for content.

And speaking of celebrate afterwards, my friend and I headed to Opus One for dinner, a Detroit dining staple for many many years (though I must say I am shocked it is still open; when the son took over a few years back he remortgaged everything that his parents had--including their mansion and the restaurant--and it was thought the business would be run into the ground within 6 months...well, 5 years later, it's still running, and still with a great deal of community involvement).

The menu is very classic French with a sprinkling of inspirations from other culinary traditions, though the heavy French influence would be considered all classic. Lots of Béarnaise, Beurre Blanc, Roquefort, Remoulade, Meuniére, and Dijon, with the occasional wasabi, Tabbouleh, and risotto to mix it up. And much like the French, the chef does not fear butter.

I went with one of their "Jazz Improvisations," selecting my entree with preferred cooking method and sauce. I opted for sautéed jumbo sea scallops in a butter-rich champagne sauce with a side of Parmesan risotto. The champagne sauce was beyond rich--like liquid-champagne-cream-butter-rich goodness. The scallops were perfection...I don't know why, but something as simple as a sautéed scallop is like a little morsel of heaven when paired with the proper sauce. The risotto was...full of onions, that were just large enough and still crunchy enough to bother me. And not particularly Parmesan-y, either. Perhaps the asparagus risotto next time...

Since it was late we went for a light meal, not indulging in the full four courses. However, eyeballing the menu for future trips, the standouts for me are the Roasted Roquefort Stuffed Pear (roquefort mousse, candied walnuts, and a port wine reduction) and the Opus One Seafood Trio (a broiled Maine lobster tail served with lobster Champagne sauce, a jumbo sea scallop with mango salsa and two Shrimp Helene with sauce Béarnaise, all accompanied by spinach and Parmesan risotto and baby carrots). The dessert cart also looked positively sinful.

As for wine, naturally they carry an impressive selection of Napa Valley's famed Opus One meritage--and it's all priced $200-$500, depending on the vintage. While this might sound outrageous, that's Opus One (um, the wine, not the restaurant). Other wines on the list were actually quite reasonably priced; some even remarkably so. If you are looking for a nice evening of wining and dining but don't have $500 to spend on grapes alone, opt for one of the many new-world French, South American, Australian, or German wines they have priced $45.00 and under. Oh, and they of course have Italian high-ticket favorites like Amarone Della Valpolicella, Brunello di Montalcino, and Ornellaia (all $100-$250) and the French frou-frou quintet of Lafite, Latour, Margaux, Mouton, and Petrus (you don't even want to know), can certainly enjoy fine wine on a budget here as much as you can blow a few mortgage payments (in fact, they are likely able to stock other wines at reasonables price because they make up the difference with rich men in business suits ordering the high-end wines). And this is the only restaurant that I know of in Detroit that stocks ALL of these big-name, high-ticket producers, so...points for that.

My Opus One experience was slightly limited due to the late hour and a full belly, but I do look forward to going there again...even if the decor hasn't been updated since the mid-'80s.