The Lake Country crowd can be very eclectic.
A lot of people come to this rural setting from larger metropolitan areas, with a heavy concentration from Fort Wayne and Indianapolis and lesser concentrations from the Chicago area and western Ohio. Most of these folks are accustomed to having access to top-line and unusual food products.
Until recently, lake visitors either brought items of choice from home or ran to Goshen or Warsaw. Even then, choices are limited. Now, they need not look any further.
- RELATED: Kimmell House Inn is a quaint country getaway from the everyday chaos, Aug. 18
On Aug. 8, M The Market opened its doors. Proprietors and siblings Jeff Moerchen and Sara (Moerchen) Kopf, who grew up in North Webster, had been discussing an unusual and different food market and deli since 2004.
They researched many specialty markets to put together a plan that suited both their tastes, as well as the special interests of the Lake Country community. As their plan came together, Jeff moved back from Brooklyn to join Sara in their quest.
When the building at 110 E. Main St., in beautiful downtown Syracuse came available in April 2015, Jeff and Sara, along with her husband Kermit, jumped on it and began renovating as soon as closing was completed. Historically, the building (circa 1900) had been the home of a drug store, an auto parts store and most recently, a pool and spa supply store.
With the renovation, they divided the store into two street-access areas (the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and Syracuse Trails Committee rent the west section of the building), bared the walls, exposed and refinished what appear to be the original wooden floor and metal ceiling, set-up counters and cases, gathered unique cupboards and shelving to display their goods and added a small kitchen.
Apart from their research about speciality markets, Sara and Jeff also researched many unusual, high-quality sources for their market inventory. At opening, they had selected a myriad of specialty suppliers, many from Indiana, including:
- Schnabeltier Wine and Cheese for its house-made specialty cheeses, Rochester, Ind.
- Farming for Life for its fermented products, Rochester, Ind.
- Tulip Tree for cheese, Zionsville, Ind.
- Traders Point for organic milk, Zionsville, Ind.
- Goose the Market for cured meats, Indianapolis
- West Loop Salumi for cured meats, Chicago
- Black Tree Studio for pottery, New Carlisle, Ind.
- Big Brick House Bakery for gourmet pasta, Fort Wayne, Ind.
- Dutch Maid Bakery for pastries, Goshen, Ind.
- Fischer Farms for grass-fed beef, Jasper, Ind.
- Madcap Coffee for coffee beans, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Apart from those, the market also offers prosciutto and salumi (salumi is the Italian adjective for all types of cured meat) from La Quercia in Iowa and five types of teas from Vancouver-based Tea At Sea teas.
The market now sources more than 30 types of cheese, 13 types of smoked meat — including usual items like smoked elk salami, ‘Nduja, and smoked turkey and ham. In addition, there are 10 types of salami and 15 types of cured meat.
Beside highlighting meats and cheeses, the market offers various oil, vinegar, baking chocolates, dried herbs, Sir Kensington’s products, gluten free products, bourbon-smoked spices and marinades from Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville, Ky., chili-infused honey from a source Jeff knows in Brooklyn and The Soapy Gnome soaps from Goshen.
Sara and Jeff also want visitors to have choices in fresh produce. Jeff frequents River Ridge Farm in Roann, Ind., a few times during the week to stock-up on fresh produce, including heirloom and various multi-colored cherry tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and other fresh vegetables based on the growing season. Fresh brown eggs are also available.
The market deli offers breakfast and lunch daily. Breakfast items include quiches, fresh pastries, muffins (including a vegan option) and bagels from Scholar’s Inn in Bloomington, Ind.
For lunch, “We make about forty sandwiches daily and each sandwich utilizes products offered in the market,” Sara said.
They choose the sandwich for the next day each afternoon. On one visit, I enjoyed an unusual tuna salad sandwich. The white meat tuna was combined with American Spoon from Saugatuck, Mich. and caper-dill relish and Sir Kensington’s mayo, then loaded between two freshly baked focaccia slices making an out-of-sight sandwich.
I had that with a large portion of quinoa salad, which is one of the two daily salad choices, and a craft cream soda from the well-stocked drinks cooler.
Other lunch offerings include tomato pie, watermelon salad and other salads from products in the market often emphasizing various grains. Lunch sandwiches include BLTs which sell fast, smoked ham with cheddar cheese and apple-onion relish, smoked turkey with brie and fig jam and a salami combination with giardiniera (various pickled vegetables in an Italian vinaigrette) and roasted red peppers.
Carryout is becoming a large factor as the market expands. Lately, they have provided custom cheese and charcuterie plates for Lake Country customers. Because of this early demand, they plan to expand the carryout business as the rest of the business grow.
M The Market has been nonstop since opening and since hiring Karrah Teruya, who recently moved to the area from California, as their head chef, and current, efficient wait staff, Jeff and Sara are planning future expansion to keep the traffic flowing through the winter months.
It’s just a short drive to Syracuse, so come shop these unusual products, eat some of the delicious sandwiches and salads and watch for big things from this unique market and deli. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
For more dispatches from the dining scene in Kosciusko County from Loren Shaum, subscribe to the Lake Country Escapades email newsletter.