Archive for the ‘Ann Arbor Food Events’ Category

Although there are some bright spots, Ann Arbor’s never been one of my favorite restaurant towns. But the three of us over here at the Gastronomical 3 have long agreed and argued that it’s a great town for food. You just won’t necessarily find that food in the local eateries.

A lot of other people are starting to notice that Ann Arbor is a great food town too. There’s been a little flurry of attention for Michigan and Ann Arbor of late. For example . . .

  • Ann Arbor was first runner-up for Bon Appetit’s “Foodiest Small Town” award. The magazine describes AA as “full of forward-thinking, smart people who love good food.” We knew that!
  • Mailates Alfajores were named “the treat of the week” over at the Epi-log (the Epicurious blog). The reviewer agreed with my family “”I like it. I could eat 10 million more right now.”
  • Gourmet magazine features an article by Laura Shapiro on Michigan’s Unlikely Food Revolution

A little closer to home, we’re gearing up for the Homegrown Festival on Saturday from 5-10 at the Farmer’s Market on Detroit St. Food, music and fun, all in celebration of local food and community.

And on Sunday, this year’s Kerrytown Bookfest is all about books and food and includes talks from 1-5 in the Main Tent by the likes of local star culinary historian Jan Longone, Ari Weinzweig, co-owner of Zingerman’s, and Jane and Michael Stern, authors of the “Roadfood” books (and frequent contributors to Gourmet and The Splendid Table). Oh, and a 3 p.m. panel featuring, um, me, and some other food bloggers you probably know.

Oh and did I mention the produce is faint-worthy right now?

Sure, some days I pine for the big city or the temperate growing zones of California. But right now, Ann Arbor seems like a pretty good place to eat. And to talk about it. With smart, forward-thinking people.

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Those of you who live around Ann Arbor may have noticed something surprising the past week or so. Finally, in its last official month, summer seems to have arrived. Summer of porch-sitting without sweaters, of kids in sprinklers, of downtown strolls for ice cream, of tossing back the covers at night, of sometimes even seeking out shade, that kind of summer.  It’s not dog days yet, not air-conditioning or swimming after work summer, but still . . . it’s a lot more summer than we’ve had this year. And I’ve been so ready for it.

Among the pleasures of summer, have been winetasting on the “patio” (um, sidewalk) at Vinology . . .

Accompanied by lovely little tastes, like handmade pasta with clams and breadcrumbs and just a touch of anchovy . . .

And making mint ice cream with the out of control chocolate peppermint from the front garden and lots of lemonade from scratch (a favorite occupation and beverage for the almost four year old boy) and never, ever being without peaches in the house.

But  mostly, of course, more and more time consumed by consuming the contents of the CSA box, working our way with patience and fortitude through all that Tantre Farm throws at us (duck! more beets! incoming!). With gratitude too, of course. A lot of gratitude.

When the crisper drawer becomes difficult to shut, the Big Salad often comes to the rescue. This one was particularly pleasing to both the eye and our collective palates, first because it was broken down into its constituent parts and not mixed (allowing picking and choosing of ingredients by those who must pick and choose ) and because of this zippy vinaigrette from Bobby Flay’s Grilling for Life.  We made it first to serve on grilled lamb chops, but the drizzle required by that dish left plenty for salad a couple of days later. The oregano gives it a nice punch that paired well with the strong summer flavors in the salad.

We made up this salad, sat on the back deck in our t-shirts and shorts, all four of us shoeless and slightly sunburned and slowly picked the platters clean and watched the fireflies come out.  Summer indeed.

Oregano Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Combine vinegar, oregano, garlic, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil and blend until emulsified.

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I’ve long wanted to write a post about how to shop at Zingerman’s on a shoestring budget. At times, this felt like trying to write about how to fill your closet with Manolo Blahniks while working at Target.

Now, however, they’re making this task very easy for me: for the next 20 or so weeks on Fridays from 11am – 7pm, Zingerman’s is holding a Warehouse sale at 610 Phoenix Drive [Google Map] in order to move some inventory at generous discounts, which you may have already heard about it in The Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Tomorrow — Friday, March 20–everyone who stops in will receive a free gingerbread coffeecake. And best of all: there will also be a free gift–with a purchase–for readers of this blog. Just mention that you heard about it on Gastronomical Three.*

Ann Arbor, our affordable gourmet-grocery-dreams are coming true.

The stock will be different each week, but to keep up with what’s on offer, you can send an e-mail to warehousesale@zingermans.com.Here’s what will be available tomorrow for purchase:

  • English Farmhouse Cheddar – C-EFC – reg. $38/lb, sale price $20/lb.
  • St. Marcellin – C-STM – sale price $5 each
  • Jowl Bacon – M-JWL – reg. $10, sale price $5
  • Marina Colonna Orange oil – O-COL-ARA – reg. $25, sale price $12
  • Moutere Grove olive oil – O-GRO – reg. $35, sale price $15
  • Vosges Mini Book of Bars – P-9VS – reg. $35, sale price $15
  • Anchovy Paste – P-ANP – reg. $7, sale price $5
  • Mathei Biscotti – P-BIS – reg. $14, sale price $5
  • Michel Cluizel 85% bar – P-CLU-85 – reg. $9, sale price $5
  • D. Barbero Torrone – P-DBT – reg. $60, sale price $21
  • Al Dente Land & Sea pasta – P-LSP – reg. $9, sale price $5
  • Tutto Calabria Miscela Esplosiva – P-MIS – reg. $15, sale price $8
  • Bagna Cauda Warmer – P-MKR – reg. $15, sale price $10
  • Il Mongetto Spicy Marmalade – P-MSM – reg. $15, sale price $8
  • Pomodoro Chivaso Jam – P-OMO – reg. $11, sale price $5
  • John Macy’s Cheese Sticks – P-PUF – reg. $6, sale price $3
  • Keemun Tea – T-KEE – reg. $24, sale price $12
  • Zing label Horseradish Mustard – sale price $3 each
  • Rustico Red Pepper Cheese – $7/lb

*G3 is not benefiting from this promotion in any way; we’re just spreading the foodie love. We will always be transparent about relationships between local businesses whose food and services we’re promoting.

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Photo by <a href="http://relish.myraklarman.com/selma-cafe-march-6-2009">Myra Klarman</a>

Photo by Myra Klarman

Well that was fun.

As I mentioned last week, we put on another Selma Cafe, a Friday morning volunteer-run local foods breakfast salon. You can read all about it over at the Repasts blog, but let me just say that Scott cooked up a hell of a breakfast and Garin was my partner in serving crime. Lisa made waffle and granola magic. Matt is all over Selma Cafe 2.0. Aubrey wins the the miracle kitchen worker award. And Jeff hosted and podcasted like no one’s business.

Myra Klarman documented it all exquisitely. I mean — wow.

If you didn’t have a chance to make it last week–or, if you did–I hope you can make it to the next installment of the Selma Cafe on March 13, when Jeremy Lopatin of Arbor Teas will cook omelets to go with our regular waffle and granola breakfasts. I understand that Michigan Mushrooms and hoop-house baby spinach will be among the fillings.

Selma Cafe continues every Friday morning 6:30 to 10:00 am; full details are on the Selma Cafe site. And we’re looking for local-food-loving folks like your-good-selves to keep it going. Interested in helping out? Drop me a line or leave a comment. Or, if you or someone you know needs to be relieved of a 110v commercial pass through toaster, let us know. Thanks!

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A few posts ago, Maria wrote a glowing review of Diner for a Day, a breakfast/fundraiser hosted by Lisa Gottleib and Jeff McCabe, featuring local foods and supporting local farmers and purveyors. As I’m sure you gleaned from Maria’s post, it was a successful and delicious event, one that is inspiring some repeat performances–and, we hope, will become a regular occurrence.

It turns out that one breakfast/fundraising event featuring locally-grown food was such a hit that they held another breakfast last Friday, dubbing it “Selma Café”–a local foods breakfast salon with the goal of helping to “co-create the next wave of our local food community. “

As you might imagine, I’m pretty excited about this, and I’m one of several volunteers who are working to make this a regular event. I’d like to invite you to our March 6 Selma Café, which will take place from 6:30-10:00am at 722 Soule Blvd. Local chef Scott MacInnis will be manning the stove, and Rob Harper of Edible WOW and I will be the kitchen/service crew, on toast, coffee, clean-up and whatever-else-we-need-to-do-duty.

I really hope you can make it! Feel free to leave comments or e-mail me with questions. We’re also actively seeking volunteers to sign up to help keep this informal local food salon running, so please let us know how you can help.

Updates about Selma Cafe and other related events will be posted here.

More about Selma Cafe, in Jeff’s words:

Please join us every Friday morning from 6:30 to 10:00 at our casual breakfast gathering spot on the west side of Ann Arbor. Hosts Lisa Gottlieb and Jeff McCabe welcome you to pull up a chair and enjoy a meal from our guest chef. Come share, with your neighbors and friends, a little bit about what you feel is worth building in our community.

Selma Cafe is:

  • a hub, a center, a heart of the many ongoing efforts to improve our lives through community building and free access to affordable, healthy foods and efforts to foster right-livelihood in vocations with meaning and purpose
  • open 6:30 – 10:00 am every Friday as long as is viable
  • located at 722 Soule Blvd. Ann Arbor, MI The home of Lisa Gottlieb and Jeff McCabe
  • hosted each week by a chef who works with seasonal, local ingredients
  • a weekly podcast, with on-site host Jeff McCabe and guests, discussing subjects related to the re-localization of food economies.
  • for you!! Please come see us, pull up a chair, tell us what you would like to drink, to eat, what is on your mind. Pass through when you are able, or stick around and make it happen.
  • all-volunteer. Suggested donation is $10-$15 for breakfast. $3 for a cup of coffee or tea with biscotti. All proceeds go directly to the local farmers and producers that supply the ingredients and to non-profit groups working to expand access to healthy, sustainable food resources.
  • founded on the principals of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. We seek your help in building the tools and organizational structure to maintain these organizing principles.

Why do I care so much about Selma Cafe? Why am I considering waking up super early to help serve breakfast to strangers? I’ve been thinking for some time (and posted a comment to this effect on Jeff’s blog) that, while there are many efforts afoot in A2 that support local food, something has been missing — a center, a hub. There are the local producers and consumers of local foods who might meet up at the Farmer’s Market or at the farm for their CSA distribution. There was a local food summit meeting recently that generated good discussion about some future directions for local food community, policy, and projects. There is chatter on various blogs and e-mail listservs about eating and cooking in more sustainable and locally-supported ways, and a number of restaurants in the area are sourcing local ingredients. (Not to mention the many other efforts under way that I’m unaware of!)

All of these are right and good, and I’m glad we have this energy and vision and activity around local food here in Ann Arbor. But I’ve been longing for the social element—the real, in-person, hand-shaking, bread-breaking (and waffle-eating!), hanging-out time that a community needs to grow, to cohere, to be nourished, to sustain itself. I want to cook with Scott and make toast with Rob and drink coffee roasted by John Roos, with John Roos. I want to talk to Jeff McCabe about how he bakes bread and how to garden. I want to meet readers of this blog; please join us!

In short, whatever I’ve felt was missing from a sense of local food community was abundantly supplied at Diner for Day, and I’m hopeful that Selma Cafe might be able to feed this hunger.

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A couple of weeks back, there was an email in my inbox from my friend Scott inviting the G3 and any and all friends to Diner for A Day, a fundraiser breakfast to support local farmers and producers and the completion of Chris Bedford’s latest film “Coming Home”, as well as providing seed money for a future edible schoolyard program (to be announced). Now, I’m always happy to attend an event where Scott cooks, so I rallied the troops and signed up the lot of us  (three bloggers, three partners, one three year old). Only later, when I began to see posters for the event around town and realized that it was to be held in a not-overly-large house not too far from my west side neighborhood did I begin to think “how will they pull this off?” And though I would not want Scott and his good compatriots such as Eve Arnoff and John Roos, and, most notably, the intrepid hosts, Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb, to think that I doubted them . . . well, I sort of expected to arrive and find a sign on the door that said “never mind, go home, get yourself some Lucky Charms.”

How did they pull it off? With both efficiency and style. The house was packed with people, many eating, many cooking, many serving, and all were in a great mood. We lingered long and could have lingered longer except for some sense of guilt at holding on to our seats when there were hungry masses to be fed. Scott told me they served 160 meals out of Jeff and Lisa’s kitchen that day.  All-American breakfasts, big waffles and fruit, elegant smoked salmon strata (Scott had smoked the salmon, Eve had assembled the strata) and wholesome AND delicious granola. And lots of John Roos coffee (and apple cider and tea for those of us who wimped on the prospect of more than one cup of that particular joe).

The food was great — well prepared, hot, efficiently served. And there was granola, milk, bacon and eggs to take home if you wished, as well as some very stylish t-shirts and dish towels to commemorate the event. But even greater was the good fellowship and the sense of being connected to my community and the way in which the room buzzed around the shared love of food and place (at least, I think that was it, not the coffee. Ok, the coffee probably helped).

Jeff and Lisa and friends are doing great work (and seem to be having great fun) with the SELMA co-op, reaching out to neighbors and organizing around sharing resources and skills, from lawn mowers to loaves of bread. I’m delighted to hear they’ll be  continuing the good work and fellowship (and food!) in a regularly offered Selma Cafe, a place for friends, neighbors and those of us interested in our connections to the land and to each other to gather to trade talk and toast.

And their biggest fan? Young Nick, who after 5, count ’em 5, pieces of bacon, two whole waffles and a heap of raspberries said “Mama, I don’t want to stop eating!” Later that day when I asked him what was his favorite part, he declared “all of it!” And for me too.

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In the nearly thirteen years I’ve lived in Big 10 university towns, I believe I have attended three, count ’em three, college football games. One of my father’s favorite jokes is to call me up on days that Penn State and Michigan play each other and chide me about how difficult it must be for me — who will I root for?

It’s true: I don’t give give a hoot about college ball. But I can get into the rivalry when good wine is at stake. This Sunday night, our friend Julie invited the G3 to a Michigan vs. Ohio wine-judging event at Vinology. She lined up some expert judges to do the real evaluations and we amateurs followed along with our own score sheets. Had I known what was ahead of me, I would have trained–or at least eaten more than eggs and toast that day.


From the press release:

Ahead of the legendary gridiron clash, wine lovers in Michigan and Ohio assembled to determine whose wines would triumph in a head-to-head clash. The Slow Food chapters of Columbus and Huron Valley are pleased to congratulate the winners:

Sparkling Wine: Shady Lane Cellars Blanc de Blancs 2000 (MI)

Aromatic White: Ferrante “Golden Bunches”Riesling 2007 (OH)

White Wine: Black Star Farms “Arcturos” Chardonnay sur lie 2006 (MI)

Pinot Noir: Black Star Farms “Arcturos” Pinot Noir 2006 (MI)

Red Wine: Kinkead Ridge Revelation 2006 (OH)

Michigan took 3 of 5 categories–go blue!

I tasted so many wines that night–more than 25–that I couldn’t quite keep them all straight. (Because there were so many, you see.) But I do remember digging the “Arcuturos” Pinot Noir, which one of the judges, Joel Goldberg of MichWine and of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Arbor Vinous column, pronounced a “hellaciousy good wine for 11 bucks.” I don’t know enough about wine to comment with authority about its body, texture, bouquet, and all that, but I did find the combination of thrift and local spirit quite appealing.

11/21/2008 update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle has written up a much more informative and thorough report than my little squib here. Check it out for all the juicy details.

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