DETROIT: A Feast For The Eyes And The Appetite

18 Mar

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In the past we’ve taken you into some of Detroit’s great places to shop for antiques, today we’ll take you to the finest; Du Mouchelles auction house on Jefferson. Here  you’ll find a selection of top quality antiques, more like a museum than a store. The Du Mouchelle family has been in business since 1927, they are experts in estate appraisals, they buy and sell fine diamonds, gems, jewelry, artwork and objets d’ art; they are probably best known as auction house.  Pausing at the front windows, I took a look inside while Kris snapped a few photos of the building. The first thing that caught me eye were beautiful pieces from an antique carousel, a couple of horses and a lion that at one time thrilled children as they rose and fell to the rhythm of loudly playing music. Once inside I was dazzled by the light reflecting off the multiple crystal chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. Kris pointed out a stairway to the second floor, so up we went.

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The second floor is an immense space filled with gorgeous things; tall glass cases line the walls and make up rows on the floor, antique paintings, movie posters and cartoons are framed and hang on walls and dividers. As we roam the space I linger at displays of fine china decorated in frilly patterns, crystal pieces and highly detailed figurines. I love antique furniture; there was an amazing dining room table and chairs that I had to get a closer look at. The table was dark wood, thick legs are lavishly carved, two candelabra’s rest on top. Glass counters are filled with a bevy of vintage jewelry. Each item bears a tag with a description, when the item goes up for auction and how much it is expected to sell for; many of the estimated prices surprised me, some higher, some lower than I would have thought. We descended the stairs back to ground level; a pair of lights look as if they once called a theater home, many large pieces are displayed here. All items that will be sold at the next auction are on display for potential bidders to see and touch before the bidding begins. Next time we come it will be to watch a live auction; I can’t wait.

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It is such a beautiful day and Detroit has a spectacular riverfront, the thought of outdoor dining comes to mind; a gust of wind blows, reminding us that is still a couple of months away, we have the perfect compromise: lunch at Volt. The Renaissance Center is often described as a “city within a city”, I’d have to say that’s an accurate description; its seven towers and 5 million square feet can be a bit overwhelming. Today we are just concentrating on the central tower; home to the Detroit Marriott, this is the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the western hemisphere, not to mention the tallest building in Michigan. Volt is the Marriot’s  lobby bar and restaurant, with floor to ceiling windows it offers a wonderful view along with contemporary dining. We placed our order and took in the bright and airy room while we waited for our food; translucent amber-colored glass bubbles dangle above the semi-circular bar, the carpet pattern is  done in rich shades of red, purple, sapphire and gold, as are the accent colors of the room. Our lunch arrives; a Roast Turkey BLT served with a mini Caesar salad and Artichoke Dip with house made tortilla chips, everything was tasty! In the summer you can dine on the patio with an unobstructed view, now that’s something to keep in mind when the warm weather finally arrives. Before we left we took a walk around the tower, enjoying more water views and thinking there’s still more to explore… time.

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It seems as though Detroit is always in the news for one awful thing after another; newspapers and newsrooms seem to take pleasure in the decline and despair of a city with a lion’s share of problems. Allow us to tell you about the good. Avalon International Breads has been providing Detroit with wonderful products and positive stories for years, and they’re doing it again! Due to the bakery’s growing presence in restaurants, cafes, grocery stores and retail outlets they recently purchased a 50,000 sq ft building on Bellevue in Detroit that will serve as the center for production. This new branch of the business, City Ovens, recently held an open house to show off their new space and is it ever impressive! A former manufacturing facility, it has been turned into a pristine work space that is expected to double its current workforce.

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We enter the building in the area that will eventually be a small retail outlet for baked goods, we are welcomed by employees and volunteers, they point the way to food, drinks, and tours. Each area is white from top to bottom, equipment shines in stainless steel, we pause at a table with an amazing spread of fresh-baked bread, fruit, veggies and dips. Visitors are huddled in small groups eating from paper plates, I see chocolate cake in the distance and waste no time snatching up a piece for us. We pass into the next room where the Marion Hayden Trio plays on a small platform stage, a huge oven is front and center in the room, it is so large I could stand up inside of it. Several feet away a cooler waits to be filled with all the tasty items that will go into Avalon’s goodies. In another space enormous stand mixers rest on the floor; whisks and dough hooks are as big as my head, I have to wonder how many people it takes to lift the bowl.There is such a positive vibe going on, good bread, cookies and chocolate cake seem to have that effect on people….But it’s more than that, Avalon was the dream of two women who wanted to feed Detroiters’ good quality products that are incredibly delicious. The bakery has become a neighborhood staple, a place where people stop in for a loaf of Scallion Dill, a Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie and a good cup of coffee; they provide sustenance for the body and the soul, and employment to boot; now that’s a success story! Bad news is easy to find, you may have to dig a little deeper for the positive; but believe me, it’s out there!



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