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Restaurants & Bars 4

Michigan rocks!

ianS | Aug 5, 200302:04 AM

My buddies and I, Toronto Chowhounds all, hopped into a mauve hatchback, cranked up the death-metal, and went on a 24-hour whirlwind tour of southeastern Michigan.

Ann Arbor:
Had a fun dinner at Sabor Latino. This place has been discussed in previous threads, and as recommended, we tried the marinated pork, which was superb. The cheese-smothered chorizo was good, too.

By this time it was getting late. Nothing much was open. Hey, why not drive over to Ypsilanti and visit Meijer? Wow, this place was surreal: a supermarket and Wal-Mart rolled into one, and open 24 hours (in case you really need to buy a vacuum cleaner or houseplant at 3 in the morning...). However, I was delighted to find flour. King Arthur and White Lily, to be exact. Canadian flour has a different gluten content than American flour, hence American baking recipes (especially breads) don't always turn out right for us. I'll be able to make some kick-ass biscuits with White Lily, woo-hoo!

Next morning, had "brunch" at the Fleetwood Diner. Um, very interesting joint. Of course we didn't go there for the food (I had the Hippie Breakfast, which was eminently edible but hardly memorable), but for the local colour. Struck up a conversation with an eccentric man who'd been eating there for 40 years.

Visited the Farmer's Market in Kerrytown. Yes! They had the famous cherries from northern Michigan! Lovely, ripe and tart, they were. Oh, it broke my heart to see so many glorious bunches of flowers being sold for a mere $3; I really wished I could carry a truckload home. Also spotted zucchini blossoms.

Zingerman's? Duh, of course! Bought the fennel pollen, the marash red pepper flakes, the urfa pepper flakes, the Portuguese sea salt. People were lined up outside for the big, expensive, hyped-to-death sandwiches - not my scene.

Made a brief stop at American Spoon Foods. The black raspberry preserves and the orange grapefruit marmalade looked awfully tempting, but alas, it was time to leave Ann Arbor before I could make a decision about anything. Next time...

Farmington Hills:
Why bother driving to some generic suburb? Trader Joe's. Had heard the breathless testimonials about gourmet bargains and such. We were frankly not impressed.....until we ran into the Présidente butter from Normandy. How does one transport blocks of butter for six hours in a car with no air conditioning? One buys an insulated food bag, then crams many, many blocks of butter into it.

The inner-city drive to Steve's Soul Food was a rather jarring contrast from Farmington Hills. Our dinner at Steve's turned out to be the highlight of our trip. You grab your tray, you grab your plate (or take-out container), you get in line, and you start piling food on your plate cafeteria-style. The selection before us was dizzying: smothered pork chops, beef ribs, fried chicken, meatloaf, pork hocks, catfish, smelt, dirty rice, candied yams, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, collard greens, potato salad.... You pay by weight. I piled my plate pretty good, and I paid $7.48. What tasty food! Some of the food could've been fresher, yes, but we were there towards the end of the day (hours are 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.). Many people were doing take-out, but we ate in the dining room, which had a hotel-like waterfall thing happening.

We crossed our fingers as we crossed the border back into Canada (we had sooo overspent our limit), cranked up the death-metal, and talked about how cool Michigan is.

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