Delightful as dumplings…

Because I’d heard only parts of the radio station’s ad for the Mount Hermon Fresh Meat Market, I wasn’t sure how to find it. What appealed to me was the ad’s simplicity, its promise of good quality at fair prices. In many ways, that ad reminded me of the ‘down home’ quality of ones my Dad had made many years ago.

Its old-fashioned promise of home-grown goodness was irresistible. Two days ago, after half-dozen searches, I found it just off the Franklin Turnpike on a nondescript driveway just past a shopping center I’d never visited.

Once inside, I found the market to be tiny compared to Food Lion; there were no lengthy aisles with dozens of products I never used. Instead, there were four or five people inside; all seemed happy to see me. From their friendly appearances and welcoming chatter, I sensed I was in a family-owned place run by people who lived in the neighborhood.

Immediately, I felt at home there. The staff seemed to appreciate my questions about the sources of their meats and vegetables; their answers were informative and most honest. Many items interested me, especially a stack of small gold boxes labelled Southern Supreme. Immediately, I thought of them as perfect holiday gifts.

But, until I asked, I wasn’t sure what they were since I was too far away to read the fine print that clearly stated, on much closer inspection, that each box contained “Old Fashioned Nutty Fruitcake”. Fascinated by their appearance, I watched as one of the employees took ten of the boxes to fill a special order while another stacked the remainder.

Although they had just arrived, the young man who had driven five hours just to get them wasn’t surprised. They’d ordered twice as many from the year before. When I read (on the back of the gold box) that each of its two servings contained 530 calories, I knew I’d found a holiday treat that would delight anyone who would receive it.

As a reminder for future purchases, I bought a box. Then, like a man on a mission, I looked for another place that an old friend had mentioned, a Japanese restaurant that was also on the turnpike.

Seconds later, as I turned left toward home out of the Meat Market driveway, I spotted the listing for the Masaki Hibachi and Sushi Bar on the marque of the adjacent shopping center. Although I’d passed that sign many times, I’d never paid attention to the various businesses it advertised.

Since it was lunchtime, I visited the Masaki. Rather than order an entire meal, I asked for two appetizers, fried spring rolls and gyoza, to go. It pleased me to know that I had to wait “about ten minutes” for my order because I knew it would be freshly cooked.

It was definitely worth the wait. Both items, despite being appetizers, proved to be filling, more than enough for lunch. When the server handed me a take-out menu, I thanked her.

After I tasted what I had ordered, I knew I would use that menu many times. And I’ll probably make copies for a few of my friends…