Restaurant dining experiences have become more and more interesting…..Chefs and restaurant owners everywhere are trying to differentiate themselves from the competition by enhancing the experience for their customer with farm to table dinners, exotic dishes made from interesting ingredients, wine and cocktails paired to each course and more.

But how about when you are dining at home? What can you do to bring some of that same excitement into your kitchen?

For good reason, most of us are a bit intimidated when it comes creating anything that is too far outside our comfort zone. Even for those adventurous enough to try, all the YouTube videos and Food Channel instruction in the world can’t help our true lack of culinary skills. And forget about pairing wine or picking specialty cheeses that go with our meals. Luckily for us, Central Massachusetts has plenty of fine specialty markets, butcher’s and other ethnic markets that we can rely to help guide us in our quest to create new and exciting dishes to enjoy at home.

Lowe’s has been serving the Northborough area with great butchered meats and specialty foods since 1952. S&S Farms in West Boylston brings together a farm stand, butcher shop and deli to offer up hard to find meats and other homemade prepared meats to enjoy. In Worcester, Golemo’s has incredible traditional Polish offerings, Tom’s International Deli for gourmet European meats, cheeses, smoked fish and other specialty foods and the shop and bakery at Bay State Shawarma for Mediterranean groceries, pies, baked goods and more.

There are dozens of specialty markets with helpful staffs willing to help educate us if we are willing to push the limits…here are a few of our favorites. But don’t take our word for it, go out and explore these great markets and push yourself to create meals at home that rival even the best restaurant meals you have had.


Ed Hyder’s Mediterranean Marketplace

For more than 30 years, the Ed Hyder family has provided a great variety of premier quality international imported foods, spices, specialty foods, marinated meats, cheese, olives, oils, fine wines and more! Sure you can run into Ed Hyder’s to “pick up a few things”, but why would you? Stay and explore everything this shop has. Enjoy a wine tasting, sample some olives, ask questions and find out how to create some new favorite dishes at home. Someone from the Hyder family is sure to be in the store ready to help with suggestions or recipes!…. And don’t forget to take home some of Ed Hyder’s Famous Hoomus to be enjoyed with your favorite glass of wine.


A self described “country cheese and wine shop” Pecorino’s in Grafton is truly a destination shopping experience. They offer a wide selection of gourmet cheeses and cured meats, some local and some imported. Every piece is cut to order and you can sample before you buy! They also have a nice selection of artisanal honey, bread, olive oil, jam, pasta, charcuterie, cured olives, paté and more. Their wine selection features smaller, family owned wineries from all over the world, some unusual and always adventurous. Pecorino’s is the perfect place to learn about cheese and wine, pairing it with other foods and enjoying meals at home that rival fine dining experiences.


Family owned and operated, Bahnan’s imports specialty foods from all over the Middle East. Explore aisle after aisle from Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Bulgaria, Iran, Macedonia, Albania, Armenia, Turkey and more! Step out of your comfort zone, pick up some ingredients you’ve never cooked with before and try something new!

Living Earth

Best known as a market that provides healthy shopping options for its patrons, The Living Earth Natural and Organic Food Market is a family owned business that also has a huge variety of hard to find and unusual products all ready to go for your next exploration into food preparation. Consider their fresh, organic produce that is available year round, locally sourced during the growing season from area farms, as well as gluten-free choices, vegan and vegetarian products and GMO-free products everywhere!