Distinctively delicious inspiration for your next culinary masterpiece

If you love to cook and experiment with new flavors and ingredients, the South Shore has a wide variety of specialty shops for you to peruse. Whether your passion is grilling the perfect piece of meat, creating layers of flavor in your dishes, concocting a new recipe using unique ingredients or getting your hands on the newest, greatest kitchen gadget, you're sure to find what you're looking for at one of these intriguing regional shops:

Good to Go by Lucrezia – With locations in Valparaiso and Chesterton, this shop carries a huge selection of ultra-premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars, as well as wines, spices, cheeses, meats and specialty ingredients. And if you don't feel like cooking, they have delicious gourmet heat-and-eat meals from their sister company, Lucrezia. Check out more about Good to Go by Lucrezia here.

Yesteryear's Meats & Specialty Shoppe – The thick steaks and chops in Yesteryear's meat cases will make your mouth water. So will the wide variety of homemade sausages, marinated chicken breasts, lunch meats, salads and the multitude of other items that are offered. The large variety of sauces, seasonings and condiments will pique the curiosity of your inner chef. Pre-made take-home items and custom catering are also available. Learn more about Yesteryear's in this video and on this blog.

Barbara Jean's Gifts and Gourmet – Located on the square in historic Crown Point, Barbara Jean's offers customers a wonderful selection of gourmet products, many of which are locally made. Barbara Jean's also carries a great variety of unique and interesting gifts. For the foodie in your life, you can have a gift basket custom made to suit their taste perfectly. See what this past Christmas looked like at Barbara Jean's.

Mescolare – Not only does Mescolare carry a great variety of specialty spices, oils, sauces, drink mixes, pickled items and more, they also have lots of fantastic kitchen gadgets, linens and serve ware. This gem of a shop located inside the historic Crown Point courthouse is a must-see for all experienced and aspiring chefs alike.

The Homestead Buttery and Bakery – From the moment you walk into this Remington treasure, you will be inspired to create healthy, tasty and unique dishes. Featuring a huge selection of baking items, spices, mixes and flavorings, which are generally sold in bulk, this quaint store also offers a mouth-watering array of sandwiches and entrees for dine in or take out.

Long's Gifts – Tucked in this Rensselaer gift shop is a room dedicated to all things kitchen. Find that perfect gadget to make cooking easier, a fun addition to your baking collection or that perfect grilling accessory. Long's Gifts also carries a nice selection of tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Old World Market – Located on Courthouse Square in downtown Valparaiso, this market carries a selection of cheeses, cured meats, wines, craft beers and specialty foods, such as pastas, vinegars, fine oils and cocoa powders. Free wine tastings and classes are held throughout the year.

Whether you're looking for something for your own kitchen or need that perfect gift for the foodie in your life, these terrific specialty shops will have just what you need. Make sure you check them out next time you're along the South Shore!

Contributing Editor: Amy Van Soest
Former communications coordinator with the South Shore CVA.