Winter Blast

24 Feb

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In 2005 the NFL and Superbowl committee created an event to kickoff the countdown to Superbowl XL being held in Detroit; thus Motown Winter Blast was born. The Blast has undergone many changes through the years, but is still something I look forward to every February. For a simple donation of a dollar or a can of food you can spend an afternoon enjoying the best parts of winter. We haven’t had much winter to speak of this year, but it showed up just in time to give festival-goers bright red noses and frozen toes. The area surrounding Campus Martius was bustling with activity, children’s laughter filled the air as they took a spin on rides at the Winter Carnival. Firewood burned in large barrels as visitors roasted marshmallows over an open flame, the combined scent of wood and burnt sugar filling the air. Folks in every shape and size donned their ice skates and gave it a whirl on the ice rink. Food trailers offered corn dogs, elephant ears and french fries while other vendors provided hot chocolate with a “shot” of something extra to keep you warm.  I always like to look at the pieces in the Ice Garden, talented artists carve out beautiful sculptures representing the D in amazing detail. It was fun to watch individuals climb up into the ice chairs to have their picture taken, finding it near impossible to stay still long enough to get the shot; not only is it cold, but it’s slippery too! There are heated tents everywhere, you can pop in and out enjoying a Taste Of Detroit, merchant tables, or a performance by a local band. Detroit has an abundance of musical talent, much of it showcased into the night throughout the weekend. As we walked through the various tents I made notes of restaurants and items I’d like to try in the future…..

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Back outdoors it was time for an ice skating exhibition at The Rink. Once cleared, the Zamboni gave the ice a fresh, smooth, glistening surface. Amateur skaters donned colorful, sparkly costumes and lined up to perform. I love this! I get the  chance to stand along the rink wall and watch elegant skaters glide across the ice spinning and jumping to their favorite song. The audience is always appreciative and rewards their skill with whistles and applause. I was getting cold again so we ducked into the Compuware Building, if you’ve never been, stop in and take a peek sometime. The lobby is host to an amazing water feature, a shower of water drops down from way up high, landing into a shallow pool. As your eye travels upward you will discover a small group of colored glass pieces that always remind me of kites. What is usually a peaceful space has been transformed into the Kids Zone for the Blast. Shows, magicians, jugglers and puppeteer entertain children and adults alike. Oh yeah, it’s warm in there too! Back outside, we walked past the area looking for the dog sled demonstration, but it was time for snowshoeing instead. Standing on Woodward our stomachs reminded us it was time for lunch, the Hudson Cafe was just a short walk away. I am sorry to say that I never had the pleasure to experience Hudson’s Department Store in its heyday. By the time I was grown up the glory days were gone, I had never eaten a meal in the storied cafe. Kris on the other hand spent a great deal of time in the store and the cafe when he was a young boy; one of his fondest memories was eating a Hudson’s Special.

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Newly opened, the Hudson Cafe takes it name from its location; it is directly across the street from where the legendary Hudson’s flagship store once stood. We stepped inside the modern open space and were greeted immediately. The current patrons were well dressed, us, not so much; on top of that we smelled like we had just come from an open fire….which we had. The cheerful hostess assured us we were just fine to dine there and asked us if we’d like to see a menu. Kris scanned it quickly, looking for any sign of  Hudson’s signature dishes, there was one: the Maurice Salad.  We decided to stay and were seated at a nice spot along the wall. Kris had told the hostess about the Hudson’s Special; which is actually a large portion of the Maurice Salad placed between 2 slices of white toast and cut into quarters; club sandwich style. Before we knew it one of the owners was at our table asking Kris for the details on the sandwich, he then offered to have the chef prepare one especially for him, how cool is that?? You can’t turn down an offer like that! Now we were left with more item to choose; the menu focuses on breakfast and lunch items, the red velvet pancakes were hard to pass up, but something about the graham cracker crumb french toast won us over. To Kris’s delight his Hudson’s Special arrived looking much the way he remembered, and even better, it tasted just as he remembered. As for the french toast, it was delicious; thick slices of custard soaked bread fried in butter with a crunchy coating of graham cracker crumbs. Topped off with a ribbon of sweetened cream cheese, we didn’t even use syrup. Our meal was truly enjoyable and the service was great. Next time you are looking for a new place for breakfast or lunch give the Hudson Cafe a try!

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