It's official: Eating locally is more popular than ever. Not only is local food fresher and better for the planet, buying local products collectively pumps millions of dollars back into the Michigan economy. And not only does that money stay in the state, it also seems to be feeding an explosion of small-scale food products that are increasingly dotting local shelves. Here's a gander at some of them.
Rock City Pies Nikita Santches, a local chef, has started a pie company called Rock City Pies. "I source my ingredients locally and organically when possible and according to season. I serve very untraditional pies like salted caramel apple pie, apple bacon crumble pie, strawberry rhubarb basil pie with balsamic reduction, chocolate peanut butter pie, and very popular White Trash Pie (a spin on a holiday snack 'white trash')." The pies, from their unusual pairings of ingredients down to their thick cookie crusts, are unconventional in the extreme. The crisp, thick crust is made with oats for texture, with a little sugar for sweetness. Santches avoids using sweetener in toppings, wanting to preserve the pie's various flavors. One of our colleagues thought the best was the blueberry buttermilk pie, which he initially thought was a blueberry-lemon pie. Santches says, "It's a Southern kind of a pie, and they put a little lemon in there to go with the sourness of the buttermilk." The pies are on sale at Ferndale's Rust Belt Market (22801 Woodward Ave.; rustbeltmarket.com), for $2.50 a slice, with custom orders for pies filled within a day at $19 a pie — or a little more than $2 a slice.
Maria's House Made Salsa Al Pronko of Maria's Comida in Hamtramck created the restaurant's special salsa from fresh, high-quality ingredients, and with plenty of input from his kids Fred and Marie. Customers liked it so much that he made three more salsa flavors: Roasted Habanero, Roasted Habanero with Mango, and Black Bean with Roasted Corn. Word is that next in the pipeline are a barbecue sauce and even soups.
Billy Bones B.B.Q. Sauce William Wall, aka Billy Bones, has been making sauce and other spicy condiments for three decades now, and has won hundreds of awards and competitions. A dab of his B.B.Q. sauce on a cracker of pulled pork is a delight we were recently introduced to. His headquarters are just out past Midland in Sanford, and his products encompass much more than barbecue sauce, including dry rubs, steak sauces, chili mixes and more. And he has legions of followers. He even sells his jalapeño hot sauce by the 55-gallon barrel.
McClure's Potato Chips We've long championed the plucky pickle people at McClure's, who've taken a modest pickling enterprise and turned it into an ever-broadening business, producing spicy pickles, garlic dill pickles and relishes, even introducing Bloody Mary mix. Well, imagine our surprise when we saw their new potato chips at our local party store. McClure's takes quality chips, then adds a spice mix that earned them props from none other than the folks at Esquire magazine, who honored the 99-cent baggies as part of their "2011 Eat Like a Man Grilling Awards." They are available in Garlic Dill Pickle and Spicy Pickle at Conant-Caniff Market in Hamtramck, as well as other quality chip retailers.
Charley's Ballpark Mustard
In 1999, Charley Marcuse, the singing hot dog vendor, began selling franks at Detroit Tigers games. Pro-baseball, pro-frankfurter and decidedly anti-ketchup, he created his own mustard especially for hot dogs' fans to buy from him. It's a zippy condiment, and one of our staff called it "fruity." Try it for yourself.
Is there a local product deserving of a bit more exposure? Let us know! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 313-202-8043.