Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Market On Phillips

After a bit of a hiatus, our old friends from Food & Fermentation, Doug and Laurel Lather, are back and managing the newest venue on the local food and wine scene, The Market On Phillips. TMOP for short. You might have seen some stories in the local daily newspaper about it- in the last of which Doug was identified as "Dan." More great work from the folks at the AL.

TMOP is strictly retail, unlike Food & Fermentation which also offered Laurel's culinary creations. I am sure Laurel is enjoying the hiatus from the kitchen. Although Food & Fermentation may not have proved an economic success (at least post-move) there should be no doubt that from a purely epicurean standpoint, the place was an enormous success. Laurel's knack for pairing fresh, interesting foods, with great wines truly pushed local dining in a direction it desperately needed (and still needs) to go. Running a commercial kitchen, however, takes its toll, both physically and mentally. The good news is, Laurel is still around and will be more than happy to use her talent and experience to guide TMOP customers through the great wines and food products available at TMOP.

The wine selection at TMOP is about as good as you will find in Sioux Falls. These folks have some serious wine inventory featuring many varietals, producers, and price points. As an aside, I have heard on several occasions a criticism that the wine selection at Food & Fermentation trended to price points somewhat north of what the average wine buyer around here likes or wants to spend. Personally, I think that observation may be a bit misguided.

Quick aside on wine prices. Wine is a funny thing in that the price on the bottle sometimes has absolutely no relationship with how much the consumer may enjoy its contents. Great wines can be had at bargain prices, but this is usually the product of a great deal of knowledge and research or is the result of a lucky buy. Also, I find that the enjoyment of wine is also dependent on the circumstances of its consumption, i.e. paired with a great meal, drank in celebration of a special event, or spontaneously shared with great friends. Too often, I think people especially enjoy wine under certain circumstances, declare it to be their new favorite and make a point to buy more, only to find it is not as good the second or third time around. That being said, interesting wines, from smaller producers, from interesting areas, or that are generally critically acclaimed, tend to cost a little more than a bottle of Covey Run Riesling or a Bota box. If cheap wine is what you want, there are plenty of places to buy it. Just don't bitch because every wine retailer in town cannot meet your expectation of "value." End of aside.

When it comes to cheap bottles of wine, if that is what you want, my advice is to head to your favorite cheap wine purveyor. If you are looking for something different or more interesting, however, my advice is to stop down at TMOP and talk to Laurel about what you are looking for. She can help you pinpoint a wine to pair with a special meal or to drink at a special occasion. You might also want to have Doug pour you a glass at the tasting bar- you might discover something new to try that way.

In addition to the wine selection, TMOP has a great variety of highly specialized food items. Think escargots and varieties of sea salts specialized. Granted there are other "high end grocers" here, such as Look's and Cleaver's and even Hy Vee is carrying things you would find here years ago, but I think TMOP may have managed to top them all with a few of their items. For instance, Laurel, has located an artisan pasta maker that offers nearly a dozen specialized dried pastas featuring flavors such as chocolate, roasted garlic, and others. In the freezer cases, one can locate fois gras and Maple Leaf Farms duck breasts. Another great feature is fresh produce from the folks at Seedtime, so if you just can't make it to the Saturday farmers market, you can swing in TMOP. I'd even bet Laurel and Doug would be able to help with a special mid-week request.

Next time you are downtown, stop in at TMOP and check it out. Say hello to Doug and Laurel and make sure you sign up for email updates so you can receive notices of sales or other special offers. Or, better yet, find TMOP on Facebook and make yourself a friend.

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