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Michigan rocks!

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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.

Detroit:
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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    Vinnie Vidimangi

    In Detroit I have never found a Lebanese restaurant that wasn't good. They make mid eastern establishments in Toronto minor league (in part because in the Toronto the Arab places are usually Palestinian, and they seem to be relatively unsubtle and boring cooks. Best known is the mini chain LaShish. Not all are similar quality; I prefer the Dearborn location to three that I tried.

    You must go to the Eastern market, for the market but especially for A. Hirt. This place is wholesale -retail, has a large catalogue in addition to the reatil store. It's list can best be described as sensible gourmet. It makes fancy food shops in Toronto
    look as if they are for twits, which of course is false. VVM

    1. v
      Vinnie Vidimangi

      In Detroit I have never found a Lebanese restaurant that wasn't good. They make mid eastern establishments in Toronto minor league (in part because in the Toronto the Arab places are usually Palestinian, and they seem to be relatively unsubtle and boring cooks. Best known is the mini chain LaShish. Not all are similar quality; I prefer the Dearborn location to three that I tried.

      You must go to the Eastern market, for the market but especially for A. Hirt. This place is wholesale -retail, has a large catalogue in addition to the retail store. It's list can best be described as sensible gourmet. It makes fancy food shops in Toronto
      look as if they are for twits, which of course is false. VVM

      1. Generally agree with your findings - except for the Normandy butter. It's still not that good (and available in Buffalo). I blind tasted it against the winners in my previous butter 'tasting', and it was easily beaten by both the President's Choice 'Normandy style' and the A&P/Dominion similar product'Our Compliments Cultured Butter' (slightly sweeter than the Loblaw's). But none of these match the top European, of which my favourite is Ocelli from Italy

        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

        1. R Hirt Jr Co is the place in Eastern market, I am going to go check it out this week.

          2468 Market St
          Detroit, MI 48207
          (313) 567-1173