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DETROIT: Eastern Market Holiday Style

1 Dec

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With Thanksgiving behind us it’s time to start thinking all things Christmas; what better place to begin than the Sunday Holiday Market at Eastern Market. My favorite thing about coming to this type of market is the quality and variety of merchandise, food and drink assembled under one roof; the artistry and talent is amazing. We begin in Shed 3, vendors have set up tables along the perimeter of the room, items are attractively arranged, samples are plentiful. Shoppers seem to be out in clusters; families of multiple-generations, girlfriends out for the day, couples; everyone seems to be in the holiday spirit.

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We traverse wide aisles filled with people looking for the perfect gift, we shift from table to table like some strange choreographed dance, one group leaves another steps up. I have a soft spot for hand-made things, the crocheted baby items are adorable; tiny little hats, blankets and cocoons. Displays are beautiful; gold and silver wrapped packages and tiny white lights are festive, T-shirts featuring Michigan and Detroit themes are extremely popular. Bottles and Beach Glass have been re-purposed into art, The Mc Clary Bros. table has a big selection of drinking vinegars, would you like a taste? One of the vendors is selling cranberries, fresh, sugar dusted, mixed with butter; it all looks appealing. The Eclair Tout De Sweet table stops me cold, these are not your ordinary eclairs, flavors include chocolate peppermint, gingerbread, nutella; buy one and eat it here or order a dozen for your holiday gathering. 

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Moving onward I check out gorgeous handmade jewelry, coasters and drinking glasses featuring the Mitten state or the Old English D. Vintage clothing hangs on portable racks, sweatshirts and hoodies are plentiful. I’m delighted by the Happy Heads Doll Collection from Detroit-born Marvalisa, her work is colorful, whimsical and well, happy… Artwork, earrings, Poinsettia in every color share space with a DJ, a cooking class is taking place in the community kitchen. The cutest little girl is wearing purple eye glasses and holding a sign for hand-made greeting cards. In another area an artist is hard at work painting a canvas, her completed pieces featuring Frida Kahlo are for sale. Bright colors and whimsical flowers decorate glass pieces at the Glass Garden.

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Outside the last shed has been transformed into a Christmas Tree farm. Families wander up and down the long rows of trees looking for the perfect one. It smells wonderful, a mix of fresh-cut wood and pine, it’s divine. Greens have been made into garlands and wreaths, trees stand tall in make-shift stands, the sound of a chainsaw is common. I like to watch as families narrow down their choices, when the final decision is made the tree is placed in a chute that bundles it for the ride home. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

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We cross Russell Street to get lunch at Beyond Juicery + Eatery, recently opened, it’s a great place to grab a fast, healthy lunch. I order at the counter, Kris takes a seat at the front window; good people-watching today. I hear my name and pick up my Total Energy smoothie at the counter. Strawberry, banana, honey and vanilla, it’s sweet and delicious. The food is up next, with a handful of napkins and plastic forks we busy ourselves eating the Cilantro Chicken Wrap: chicken, tomato, romaine, cheddar, avocado and a spicy cilantro sauce wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and grilled to a golden brown—yum! The Jalapeno + Lime bowl is a combination of quinoa, romaine, jalapenos, cheddar, roasted tomatoes, red onion served with lime vinaigrette; tasty. Ingredients are fresh and flavorful, service is friendly and fast.

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Holiday hours at DeVries & Company 1887 include Sunday’s from 10 am-3 pm, we haven’t been here in a while so today’s our chance. This specialty food shop started by Rudolph DeVries over 125 years ago is an Eastern Market staple. What began as specialty shop selling the highest quality butter, eggs and cheese now covers three floors and includes merchandise, locally made products, coffee, tea and chocolate. They are still best known for their extensive cheese selection with over 200 domestic and imported varieties to choose from; did I mention they have samples?

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We climb into the hand-operated elevator and take it to the third floor. To the right hand-painted windows glow in direct sunlight casting colorful shadows on walls and the floor. There’s a huge collection of Michigan and Detroit themed goods; glasses, books, cookie cutters, oven mitts. You can buy a 6-pack of Faygo pop and purchase a Faygo candle to go with it, how do you think Red Pop would smell? Maybe Rock and Rye? Wooden shelves hold glass pieces in a rainbow of colors. The second floor is home to seasonal decorations and hand-made jewelry and accessories. With so many pretty, unique necklaces to choose from, it’s hard for a girl to make up her mind, but I do…

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Back on the first floor I sample cheeses, make mental notes of the tea selection and wish there was a way I could taste everything! One rack holds holiday favorites such as fruit-filled hard candies, peppermint bark and that old-fashioned ribbon candy we all liked as kids. They have oils, vinegars, jams and jellies. I’ve never seen Fentimans soda before, they have been making botanically brewed beverages in Great Britain since 1905, did I mention they sell Vernor’s in glass bottles. Packaged cookies and crackers are stacked high on tables, pasta, rice and grains each have their place; it’s a food wonderland. You still have a few weekends left so c’mon down and check it out.

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Hamtramck: History And Holidays

25 Nov

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Today we’re in Hamtramck for the Polish Art Center open house; the shop is an emporium for all things Polish. The front windows face Joseph Campau, decorated for the holidays they feature beautiful city scenes. On the right are four entries for the Szopki contest, the winner will be announced today. Inside we enter a winter wonderland, small white cones strung together dangle from the decorative tin ceiling creating an indoor snowfall; the mood is festive. Everybody seems to know each other, greetings come in the form of smiles and hugs. A line of customers extends from the register to the back of the store, their arms overflow with merchandise.

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I hear someone playing a harp, we negotiate our way to the other side of the shop, a man sits in the center of the room, the most beautiful music fills the air as his fingers pluck strings effortlessly. We are surrounded by attractive Boleslawiec Polish Stoneware; bowls, cups, tureens, goblets and more all hand-painted in pretty patterns. T-shirts and hats have cute Polish sayings and designs, colorful Polish Folk aprons hang above. The crowd has gathered around the food table, a variety of dishes such as roast pork with winter vegetables, meatballs, bruschetta, smoked salmon with all the toppings, fruit and cheeses are offered to open-house guests; everything is delicious!

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We browse past pretty-painted wooden boxes, serving pieces, figurines, greeting cards, napkins while sipping on champagne and eating homemade truffles. Back in the first room coloring book author Catherine Macaro is busy coloring and signing books. The Christmas ornaments are lovely; snowmen, dolls, snow-covered houses and trees to name a few. Here we have a large selection of Polish cd’s, soup mixes, jams, dried mushrooms, hard candies and my favorite, chocolate. While we wait for the check-out line to die down we check out the Amber jewelry, they have a huge variety from necklaces to rings, the antique wooden display cases are almost as pretty as the jewelry.

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We have made our purchase, earlier I noticed the Hamtramck Historical Museum is open today, that’s where we’re going now. The museum is being renovated in stages so each time we come it’s different; it’s gotten much bigger since our last visit. The building was actually the first department store in the city in the 19-teens, many remember the space as the old barber college, its last incarnation before the museum was a dollar store. All aspects of the city’s history are represented, they have thousands of items ranging from documents, photos and memorabilia to films, medical records and household items. Shelves hold vintage packaging from the Holbrook Ice Cream Company, Swan soap, needles and threader, I like the name of the home permanent: Bu-Tee-Wave, kinda catchy don’t you think?

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Kris automatically gravitates to the Dodge Main display. When the Dodge brothers opened their assembly plant in 1910 immigrants from Poland flooded the area. Dodge Main occupied 67 acres, it was made up of 35 separate  buildings, it included a medical facility, test track and fire department.  Some of the cars built here include Charger, Coronet, Polara, Lancer and Monaco. Display cases are filled with photos, emblems, name badges, key chains, articles, patches, mementos and an actual brick from the factory building. By the mid-20’s factory workers made up 85% of the heads of households in Hamtramck—whoa.

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I wander past photos of the old Village Hall, concert posters, record albums, sheet music, wedding and communion photos, commemorative plates. Business advertisements are found on matchbooks, ashtrays and trinkets. I check out the antique stove, next to it a Westinghouse Electric Roaster, this was a staple in every Polish household back in the day! A cheerleader uniform from St Lads (hey, my dad went to school there), bowling pins and Hamtramck Beer are reminders of the good ol’ days.

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After reading letters, placards and newspaper articles I realize Hamtramck has always welcomed immigrants; from the early days when Detroit Stove Works and the Dodge brothers attracted men from Poland, Syria, and Lebanon continuing to this day.This 2-square-mile city is Michigan’s most internationally diverse. Families from Poland, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Ukraine, Albania, live side by side in peace. 27 native languages are spoken by school children. Polish Catholics, Ukranian Orthodox, Iraqi Chaldean Christians, Muslims, practice their religions in the same neighborhood. Hamtramck has hosted Presidents, the Pope, movies, famous people, the Food Network; it’s home to Kowalski, GM, Detroit City FC and, of course, Paczki. 

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Hunger has gotten the best of us, today we’re eating at Polonia Restaurant on Yemans. This charming restaurant has been around for over 40 years. The decor features art by Polish artists, artifacts, hand painted mural, old-fashioned tin ceiling and indirect lighting, giving it a homey feel.The menu is filled with traditional Polish and Eastern European specialties. Our food arrives on large white plates, the Polish plate is a combo of pierogi, golabki, kielbasa, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy; all of it quite tasty. The mushroom nalesniki are outstanding; paper-thin crepes stuffed with flavorful mushrooms smothered in creamy gravy and a drizzle of sour cream–wow! It’s been a wonderful day and a great way to kick off the holiday season. na zdrowie!

Eastern Market: More to Come…

28 Sep

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 It’s 85 degrees on a Thursday evening, artists from Detroit, the nation and around the world hit the streets September 15, armed with brushes, rollers, spray cans and gallons; their visions will transform building walls around the Eastern Market District. Their goal: to expand Detroit’s legacy of public art by adding 35 new murals by 50 artists in 9 days! Events throughout the year in Detroit focus on the city’s art, culture, designers and new business. Murals in the Market and Detroit Design Festival overlap in mid-September, Eastern Market After Dark gives us a chance to see the best of both events and affords us a sneak peek of to come in the Market. We start on Gratiot, New York artist Kevin Lyons is perched high in the bucket of a lift putting the finishing touches on his mural.  Round-eyed, goofy creatures in shades of turquoise and coral smile at us revealing names of Detroit Jazz giants in their teeth, Aretha Franklin, Dilla, T3, and Ron Carter are just a few represented. A block down Dalek has created a study in perspective using shades of red, black and blue; a pair of hands reach out from around the corner of the building.

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Further down Gratiot we park near the Maple Substation, Hueman has finished her piece; a mix of warm colors on the right, cool on the left, joined by a face, a hand seems to be brushing away a tear, images are layered one upon another. Nearby, a character rides his bike carrying water to those in need; it’s a magnificent scene. Around the corner a trio of artists are in the process of completing the word “Detroit” on an old Honey Bee Hardware warehouse. Black and white letters are splashed across the brick wall, pastel colors take over on the roll-up door. A few yards over NNII works his roller into gray paint blocking in large sections of his design. Everywhere I look something is happening, murals seem to be growing among the weeds and vines that have claimed the long-vacated area. Pixel Pancho’s old-fashioned portrait high upon a corner looks like it could have been here a century ago.

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We walk down alleys and streets not wanting to miss a thing. Two women sit on the ground filling in the final section on a wall that puts me in the mind of a kaleidoscope; blue, yellow, green and purple designs cover one area; red, pink, yellow, orange and lilac fill the other. We stop and talk, Kristin Farr is based in CA, her fellow artist formerly from Toronto lives here now. So far we’ve chatted with artists from NY, CA, NC and Canada; everybody is having a good time.

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An attractive group of Art Deco style buildings on the east side of Gratiot are slowly being restored; Inner State Gallery, a sponsor of Murals in the Market, has been one of the anchors as other businesses slowly open. The gallery is buzzing with activity tonight, the current exhibition features the art of the muralists working in the district. Outside, white lights are strung under an awning, Cyberoptix is hosting a soft opening of their retail space set to open in November. Inside, the tie lab displays original designs on neck ties, bow ties and scarves; Well Done Goods is also selling jewelry in the space, their retail space in the same building is currently in the works.

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SMPLFD, a Detroit-themed apparel manufacturer is the most recent shop to open. Selling unique designs focused on Detroit sports teams and cultural icons, items include t-shirts, tank tops and super-soft sweatshirts; everything I looked at was Made In The USA. They also sell headwear, sunglasses and tote bags. The building is beautiful, the space is beautiful, clothing is high quality, attractive and clever; a great addition to the neighborhood.

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We drop in at People’s Records, this is one of those shops that’s always fun to have a peek; I love the old black and white portraits that fill the wall, boxes and crates are maxed out with old vinyl. The next building is a fabulous example of Art Nouveau, the former TransLove Energies space is now Detroit Life; same owner, same great art, music and design. We traverse the building from top to bottom taking in photos by famed Detroit photographer Leni Sinclair, posters by Gary Grimshaw, both share an interesting history with the space. The second floor has a fantastic view of Gratiot, the city and the market district; darkness has fallen, traffic lights and headlights fill the lanes, buildings are dresses up in special lighting, storefronts are awash in light; I think to myself, this is so cool… The venue is constantly hosting live music and art exhibitions, we’ll be back.

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We cross Gratiot, it’s got to be 80 degrees still, the night is humid. Murals from 2015 cover several walls, tonight a gorgeous piece with 2 Native Americans is being finished, the artist working by spotlight up on a lift. We watch in amazement as he works. Walking on gravel between buildings we think we’ve covered everything new in this area. Now it’s time to head into the belly of the beast, events are going on all over the main market area; I’ll tell you all about it in the next post.

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DETROIT: Wanderin’ Around Midtown…

15 Sep

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Detroit is buzzing with economic activity; every week there’s news of a new boutique, bar or restaurant opening. It’s hard to keep up but we’re happy to do our part! Today we’re on Third Street, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken is open for business in a modest brick building that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Gus’s came from humble beginnings over 60 years ago in Mason TN, today we can enjoy that same family recipe right here in Detroit. The menu is simple and straightforward: fried chicken and side dishes. We order the 3-piece plate and add sides of fried okra and mac and cheese. The fried chicken is mildly spicy, the skin is crispy, it’s the juiciest chicken I’ve ever had–how do they do that? ‘Plates’ come with baked beans and slaw, both are delicious, there’s a slice of white bread too. We enjoyed the mac and cheese, the okra was good though I thought it could use a dipping sauce. Meals are served on paper plates with plastic silverware and cups. Service is fast and friendly.

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Across the street is the fabulous 1949 Art Moderne building that was once home to the Willis Show Bar. The neighborhood fell into decline, drugs and prostitution became prevalent; the building was boarded up in the 1970’s. Today the sleek exterior of burgundy, peach and green enameled-steel panels is visible once again.  The bar and a small retail space are still undergoing renovations, Blossoms (same owners as the Birmingham location) a florist, is open for business, let’s take a look.

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Extra large planters decorate the sidewalk, leafy plants cascade to the ground, tall grasses and ornamental shrubs add eye appeal. Inside it’s like walking into secret space, a garden room where flowers bloom, topiary share space with statues, branches and columns. It’s organic, earthy, charming, beautiful; the space is much deeper that I expected. I take my time looking at everything, items are carefully chosen and artfully displayed. Speaking of art there’s a small gallery of art for sale at the back of the shop. Canvases hang on chain-link fence draped over olive-green walls. Today there are landscapes, cityscapes and portraits, all amazing.

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One of our favorite neighborhood streets in Detroit is West Canfield, it’s just a couple of blocks away, let’s take a stroll. The property that is now the West Canfield Historic District once belonged to Lewis Cass, Governor of Michigan from 1813-1831. His daughters subdivided and sold the land, in the 1870’s it became an upper middle class neighborhood of mostly Queen Anne’s with some Gothic Revival, Italianate and Second Empire added to the mix. The neighborhood suffered during the Great Depression, in the 1960’s concerned residents formed the Canfield-West Wayne Preservation Association. The neighborhood was awarded the first Historic designation in Detroit; it became a Michigan Historic Site in 1970 and was placed on the National Register in 1971. Having said all of that, this is one gorgeous street!

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The road is granite pavers, reproduction street lamps light Canfield at night. Large homes rise 3-stories with ornamental chimneys, pinnacles and turrets. Constructed of high-quality brick they feature ornately carved wood, stone trim, roomy porches and leaded glass windows. Intricate paint jobs in pretty pallets of green, brown, orange and gold  adorn pendant trim, pointed head windows, balusters and balustrade. Slate roofs resemble fish scales, some have simple patterns. Recent rains have returned the lawn to a lush green, hydrangea wear large blooms. Homes are meticulously maintained, a labor of love I’m guessing. The picturesque street (minus the cars) looks much like it did in the 1890’s. Embracing the past for the future. A small group of red-brick buildings are clustered on Third Street, the Calvary Love Mission Station; photos in the windows show Third Street at various points in time.

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Not far away on the corner of W Alexandrine and the Lodge Service Dr is City Sculpture, a sculpture park featuring the large-scale work of Cass Corridor artist Robert Sestok. This is one of those really cool things you drive by and say “what was that?” So you have to park the car and check it out. The sculptures are laid out in a grid pattern, the tallest one comes in at 12 feet and weighs 4,000 lbs. Made up of welded steel, bronze and stainless steel, the recycled materials give each piece its own personality. Each sculpture stands on a concrete base, a small placard gives the name and year it was created. 

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I enjoy walking through the park, Kris and I point out different elements we like in each. Time and the elements have rusted the metal, it makes a nice substitute for paint. The art feels perfectly at home in the fenced off lot, homes on one side a busy freeway on the other. Take your time and really look at the pieces, you may recognize items from their intended use incorporated into the art. There are intricate cut-outs, metal is coiled and twirled, some have pieces that stick out like quills. Sestok is dedicated to exposing the public to his experimental sculpture work in Detroit, we thank him for that. Check out City Sculpture Jamboree September 30, 2016.

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Ethni-cities….

31 Aug

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Today we’re in the mood for something exotic; a trip to China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, or Madison Heights… People from all over the world call Metro Detroit home. Arab Americans are the third largest ethnic population in Michigan, Asian population makes up 13.25% of Troy, 6% of Sterling Heights, 5% of Madison Heights. With such a variety of nationalities businesses such as markets and restaurants offer products that span the globe. We’re close to home, but it feels like we’re somewhere far away…

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H Mart on Big Beaver and Dequindre is an Asian grocery store specializing in Korean food; this is like no other grocery store I’ve ever been to. The market has wide aisles filled with brightly colored packaging, cartoon characters or photos help me identify the contents. Glass jars hold unique Asian specialties like pickled mango, pickled garlic and bamboo shoots with chili. Refrigerated items include rows of prepared kimchi, fresh udon and soba noodles, heat and eat specialties. Beverages come in colorful cans; grape cider, orange cider and cream soda.

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Seafood is available live or frozen in the fish market, live lobsters and dozens of crabs have no idea what’s in store for them… The produce section is really cool, everything is colorful and attractive; dragon fruit are bright pink with green scales, another fruit is yellow with white stripes, Jack fruit come whole or cut into chunks-the inside looks like a pineapple with pumpkin seeds. Items represent Japan, Korea, China and Thailand. Cucumbers are long and ribbed, I’ve never seen so many kinds of peppers. There are greens galore; bok choy, mustard leaf, leaf lettuce. 

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Next is 168 Asian Mart on John R in Madison Heights, it claims to be Michigan’s largest Asian market. Floors, ceiling, shelves are painted white, aisles are wide, the store goes on as far as I can see. Stacks of beautifully decorated metal tins hold Moon Cakes, customers compare one to another. We find ourselves in the produce section, I like the chartreuse color of the spiny durian. There’s a line to order in the food court, menu boards include color photos, metal trays hold freshly prepared items including dim sum and noodle dishes; it looks delicious. Roast ducks hang from chains, you can even buy a whole roast pig for $168.88; tables in the cafe area are full.

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Fresh seafood includes fish swimming in aquariums, lobster, squid shrimp and turtles; all are available frozen too. There are aisles of rice and noodles; Geisha grace the packages of Jasmine rice, Kung Fu is a brand of instant noodles….Awesome. Chinese tea comes in ornate tins, Sake is packaged in pretty bottles, animal crackers feature ox and camels and are seaweed flavored. We see Ding Dong’s, La-la’s and green tea mochi, Kit Kat comes in raspberry, green tea and sweet potato varieties. The frozen section is home to popsicles in flavors like durian, black bean, lychee, mung bean, sour sop and guava. Wouldn’t it be great to take a bite of each?

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All of this shopping has made us hungry, we’re off to our favorite Indian restaurant Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen on Dequindre. The eatery has been in business for over 20 years serving up some of the tastiest food we’ve ever eaten. Located in a strip mall the interior walls are bright pink and orange, very cheerful looking, menu boards hang on the wall, so much to choose from. Their Samosa’s are the best, we get the samosa chaat: 2 potato and pea turnovers topped with yogurt, onions, sweet and spicy chutneys. Along with that we order the Thali, a traditional Indian meal consisting of rice, bread, various dishes and dessert. Selections vary from day-to-day, we choose vegetarian options, paneer makhani: homemade Indian cheese in a thick tomato gravy, mah ki dal: very tasty lentils, yogurt and cholay: curried chick peas; rice pudding is for dessert. When served, a steel tray with multiple compartments is filled with little bowls containing the flavorful dishes, the food is outstanding.

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We are now in the Middle East, Dream Market sells groceries, produce and prepared foods representing that part of the world. We walk through an area with bulk bins, tins of candy rest on high shelves. In the produce section  we see the familiar and the not-so-familiar, cucumbers come in a variety of lengths and textures. Throughout the market murals cover the top portion of the walls, most are of smiling women pushing shopping carts, holding up canned goods or packaged items; I wish grocery shopping was as much fun as they make it look! The store sells a huge variety of tea, grains such as barley, harina and bulgur are sold in bulk, lentils come in an array of colors. 

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Sweets include cookies, cakes and candy, dates are popular and can be purchased covered in milk or dark chocolate, coffee is sold in colorful bags. Our nose leads us to the in-store brick oven, flat pieces of dough have just been placed inside, in seconds it begins to rise into individual loaves. When properly browned it’s removed to a basket where anxious customers wait until it is cool enough to handle. If I wasn’t so full I’d eat some right now! The deli counter holds dish after dish of prepared food: grape leaves, chick peas, salads with olives, falafel, everything looks so good. 

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Across the parking lot we see Palm Sweets, let’s check it out. Kris and I love Middle Eastern pastries; this bakery has everything from baklava, birds nest and fingers to burma, moshebek and asabe zainab. The middle display cases hold fancy layer cakes, tarts and bars. The section closest to the door features coffee and ice cream, they offer the usual chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, but we want something different, something like baklava or white pistachio ice cream. The friendly woman behind the counter helps with our decision, white pistachio it is, just one scoop, we’ll share. We take a seat at a high-top table, the interior is lovely; booths, tables, a fireplace surrounded by couches and chairs rest among attractive decor. The ice cream is scrumptious. We have plenty of souvenirs from our adventure: Laksa noodle soup from Singapore, sweet potato Kit Kat from Japan, pistachio baklava; best of all is how much fun we had seeing, tasting and experiencing something totally different.  

 

 

DETROIT: Cass Corridor, New & Improved !

16 Mar

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It’s hard to keep up with all the new businesses opening up in Detroit; it seems each day there’s another announcement about a soon-to-open bar, restaurant or shop. Today we are taking you to the dreaded Cass Corridor (ok, so it’s not so dreaded anymore) for an up-close look at some of latest additions to the vibrant Midtown neighborhood.

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The Jeep is parked on Cass across the street from our destination, I feed the parking meter, cross the street and duck into Thrift On The Avenue, which shares the building with La Feria. The attractive boutique is well-organized and laid out in an easy-to-shop fashion. The clothing is lovely; formal dresses for women, work and casual wear, button-up shirts for men, slacks, jackets and lots of shoes. Everything is in great condition. Accessories include ties, handbags, scarves and a fun selection of new socks.This resale shop is a great addition to the neighborhood. We exit the front door, round the corner and follow the sign pointing to Galerie Camille. Inside, white walls soar upward to the open ceiling, leftover metal work from the former car wash is also painted white, adding a bit of dimension to the space. The current exhibit is TRANSITIONS, it features the work of two Detroit-based artists: Brian Day and William Harris. Wall space alternates black and white photographs and large paintings, benches invite visitors to stay awhile. Two smaller galleries reside off to the side, each is filled with wonderful artwork in a variety of mediums. Exhibits change often, so stop in frequently.

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Up the street a little is Art Loft, a shop that carries home accents, functional gifts, handmade items from local artists, Michigan goods, high-end items from Alessi, Michael Graves, Philippe Starck, pieces from Cape Town South Africa, art work, watches, tiles and the softest sheets you’ve ever touched. White shelving lines teal walls; colorful, shiny pieces grab my attention, there’s lots to see. Candles, jewelry, room spray and K Bell socks; this is the kind of shop you go to when you are looking for something unique.

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On the other side of Cass, the old Curl Up And Dye salon is now JoyRide Detroit, a group of rotating pop-up shops. Organized by Jennifer Willemsen, she works with start-ups while selling her own Cass Brand Organics. Just inside the door Artsy Fart fills their space with brightly colored animation, apparel art and toys. Next to that, The Sisters Triforia offer curated pieces of jewelry, clothing, both handmade and curated. I like the hand-burned wood earrings. Check out the mixed tapes by local bands. TJ’s Sweet Repeats sells vintage clothing, hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, I’ve always been a fan of old hat boxes, they have them too. Around the corner Purple Love has decked out their space in, well, purple. A slender vanity displays beautiful necklaces and earrings, an open drawer reveals bold statement necklaces, black velvet ‘necks’ wear necklaces of stone, rhinestone and pearls, items are handmade and handpicked.

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We make a quick stop at Shinola’s Midtown dog park on Cass and Canfield, it’s in the 60’s today, perfect for dogs to run around with their playmates. Little dogs congregate in the small yard while Huskies, Retrievers and Shepard’s chase each other in the big yard. Owners are clustered in groups catching up on the latest goings-ons, kids play fetch with their furry friends. Time to eat, we are having lunch at the new Sweet Lorraine’s Fabulous Mac n’ Brewz.

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The 88 seat diner is fabulously kitschy, from the button and tuck booths, to the metallic gold, red and blue vinyl bar stools to the cool vintage black and white Detroit photo plastered to the back wall; you wouldn’t know this was the old Marwill Bookstore. A walk-up counter lines the left side of the space, menus hang across the kitchen wall, now all you have to do is make a decision…. Sweet Lorraine’s is known for her Mac n’ Cheez, in addition to the classic you can choose from more than a dozen combinations. Don’t overlook the Healthy Wraps and Salad Bowls. Did I mention they serve beer and spirits too? So, what’s not to like? We are dining on Pepperoni Pizza Mac: classic Mac with pepperoni, pizza sauce and pepper jack cheese–Delicious! The Malibu Chicken & Bacon Wrap is roasted chicken, bacon, spinach, dried cranberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and ranch dressing all rolled up tight, really good. With so many more combinations to try, we’ll be back.

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We travel up Cass to the Detroit Carhartt Company store just south of 94. Guess what? We’re still in the same parking zone, with time left on the meter, we can park right in front of the store. Carhartt was founded in Detroit in 1889 by Hamilton Carhartt. Hamilton discovered there was a strong need in the market for high quality workwear, specifically for railroad workers; remember at that time our nation was experiencing an industrial boom. His first product was a heavy-duty overall garment, he traveled from town to town visiting railroad yards, introducing them to his garments; he acquired a loyal following and a reputation for durable, rugged apparel. The iconic Carhartt Chore Coat was introduced in 1923 and is largely unchanged to this day.

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The company store is housed in a gorgeous 1928 Art Deco building, local Detroit artists, the Golden Sign Company, painted the mural on the wall facing I-94. Inside, the store is a blend of old and new; reclaimed wood came from houses in Detroit, sepia colored photos are intermixed with current ones. Here traditional items such as the chore coat, overalls, coveralls and work boots share space with casual clothing for men and women, t-shirts and outdoor gear. Carhartt still maintains a Made In The USA line, items are made in Kentucky and Tennessee and can be purchased here or at The Detroit Mercantile Co. The business continues to be run by the 5th generation of the Carhartt family. With all of these new places, you have even more reasons to spend time in Detroit. 

 

 

 

 

 

DETROIT: Upscale Retail

9 Dec

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If you haven’t been to Midtown recently, you need to check it out. The ever-expanding list of places to eat and shop is mind-blowing. With the holidays just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present! Be forewarned, the good ol’ days of free parking are gone–you’ll need a bag of quarters or credit card and your license plate number to feed the pay station, ok, now we’re ready…..

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The newest and probably most anticipated shop to open is Jack White’s Third Man Records on W. Canfield. You may remember Jack and Meg White from their White Stripes days, they played the Detroit bar scene before making it Grammy-award-winning-big. For music lovers, this place is heaven on Earth,  there’s enough kitschy-cool novelties, records, t-shirts and videos to keep everyone entertained. Yellow and black are the label’s signature colors–it’s everywhere–walls, floors, clothing, even the Christmas tree. The front of the shop is filled with merchandise from skateboards and scarves to Hawaiian shirts and Stormy Kromer hats. Vinyl records in 45’s and lp’s fill racks lining the walls; in addition to Third Man there are selections from the Sun and Tamla labels. Photos of Jack, Meg and other band mates reach from floor to ceiling, a video is being projected onto the back wall of the stage area; guitars, amps and monitors are quiet at the moment.

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Headphone stations throughout the space allow you to listen to old favorites or the latest release; you can listen to the entire Third Man catalog in the Listening Booth. Have a seat in the lounge area while paging through one of Third Man’s books, take a ride on a motorized elephant scooter, pose with friends in the photo booth, watch the Mold-A-Rama machine create a miniature version of the rolling record store, pick up a CD by the White Stripes or The Dead Weather.  At the back of the showroom a long hall with a fabulously shiny pressed ceiling leads us to the future vinyl record pressing plant opening soon. Jack doesn’t live in Detroit anymore, but his presence is felt all over the city. In addition to donating a small fortune to the city and saving the Masonic Temple from the auction block, he’s now providing jobs and a cool place to hang out. 

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Next door is a high-end men’s and women’s store selling clothing, accessories and housewares called Willys Detroit. This entire complex of shops is housed in the old Willy’s Overland Motor Company building–hence the name. The compact space is bright inside as natural light floods the room; items are displayed on rolling racks, tables and cubbies. Only a limited number of each item is stocked, so the selection changes often. Seasonal items such as Levi’s jeans, flannel shirts, sweaters and warm jackets, all brand names, attract shoppers. Handbags, backpacks, hats and shoes complete any outfit. Upstairs mannequins pose in large front windows; thick winter hats, gloves and jeans are being prepared to sell. 

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We stop in at the much larger, remodeled Shinola; there’s a tiny  cafe offering Commonwealth Coffee and pastries by Sister Pie, visitors sip on espresso while paging through coffee table books. Up front you’ll find watches, watches and more watches; big ones, small ones, bands in leather, rubber or stainless steel,  mens and womens, in a multitude of colors and designs. New is the Muhammad Ali collection of limited edition products, Shinola has partnered with the Muhammad Ali Center for their Great Americans Series, I’m especially intrigued by the vintage black and white photographs. Reaching from the center of the store all the way to the back you can watch bicycles being hand-built. Pick your frame, your color and jazz it up with leather accessories and an old-fashioned bell– a truly unique way to by your next bike. Across the room you can watch technicians in lab coats and funny hats assemble watches with great precision. The Shinola tag line is : Where American is Made. One thing they continue to make is American jobs.

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We’re having lunch just up the street at Hopcat on the corner of Woodward and Canfield. The original Hopcat opened in Grand Rapids MI in 2008, there are now 8 locations in the Midwest, 4 of them right here in the mitten. Years ago Agave was serving up top-notch Mexican dishes in this space, today people enjoy craft beer and tasty food in the newly re-done building. A large bar runs the length of one wall and wraps around the corner, the line of tap handles across the bar are too numerous to count, liquor bottles have been re-purposed into hanging light fixtures, wide, comfy-looking bar stools are filled with patrons this afternoon. We are seated at a high-top table in one of the front windows, Kris looks at the food menu while I study the beer selections. In addition to the Local 30, they serve a dizzying array of Ambers, Browns, Lagers, Light Ales, Wheats, Belgians, Barleywine, Scotch Ales……well, you get the picture.

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Kris orders lunch and I choose the Thirsty Trout Porter from Dark Horse in Marshall MI. The Cowboy Burger arrives, an 8 oz. patty topped with fried jalapeno peppers, pepper jack cheese, apple cider bbq sauce, cherry-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion, delicious. The burger itself is juicy, love the tang of the bbq sauce and the heat of the jalapenos. Of course you must have the Crack Fries when you come here, Food Network Magazine put them in the Top 10 French Fries in America; crispy, crunchy, peppery, yum! Outside we pause to check out a lovely Detroit-themed mural by Fel3000ft, I’m awed by his work.

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Over on Second we park the Jeep in the Will Leather Goods parking lot. This is truly one of the most aesthetically pleasing, harmonious, welcoming stores we’ve been to in a very long time. A red arrow painted on the side of the building directs us through the giant door to the Coffee Station; a cozy little area offers visitors a place to relax with coffee, pastries and toast–in case you’re wondering, the carrot cake is outstanding! Behind that is a gallery space, currently a photography show entitled American Heroes and Dreamers is on exhibit. 

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The retail space is one large area (this is the former Tomboy Supermarket), the fragrance of leather is intoxicating, a full-size teepee sits in the middle of the floor. Merchandise is thoughtfully arranged on tables and shelves, you’ll find everything you’d expect to see in a leather goods store: wallets, belts, gloves, purses, briefcases, key chains, duffles, and so much more. For Will Adler the garment industry is in his blood; his grandfather, father and brother all worked in the industry in Detroit. Will, a local who moved away at age 20 to pursue an acting career, has turned his leather goods business into a lifestyle brand. In this, his Legacy store, he combines the industrial, mechanical Detroit, with the colors and outdoor feel of his current home in Eugene, Oregon. Read his fascinating life story and career path on the Discover Your Will page. Another Detroiter coming back to support the city. So, there you have it, a whole list of places to shop, snack, eat and drink in your pursuit of the perfect gift.

 

 

 

 

 

DETROIT: Woodward…Under Construction

5 Sep

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Detroit’s Main Street, The All American Road, a Pure Michigan Byway, the first mile of concrete roadway in the country, M-1, all of these descriptions refer to our very own Woodward Ave. If you’ve been downtown the last several months you’ve experienced first hand the major changes taking place along the thoroughfare. First we have track construction for the M-1 Rail Streetcar line; the 3.3 mile circulating streetcar route will travel along Woodward Ave from the Central Business District (Congress), through Midtown, New Center and up to the North End neighborhoods (W Grand Blvd). There will be 20 serving stations serving 12 locations when completed. I can hardly wait. The second thing you’ll notice on Woodward is the ongoing rehab/restoration/reconstruction of historic buildings lining the avenue. 

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Today we’re taking a walk to see what’s new, what’s happening, in the rapidly changing-for-the-better district. We park the Jeep using one of those new fancy parking meters (ugh!), here’s a tip: memorize your license plate number….We start our walk just north of The Spirit of Detroit Statue, looks like the Vinton building is in line for renovation, the number of structures under construction on this block alone is mind-blowing. Scaffolding, paving equipment and orange traffic cones dictate where we can go. Office workers on break watch the progress as they relax in funky seating areas surrounding the Chase Tower–(now known as the Qube); there are so many people milling about.

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Several buildings on the west side of the street near Gratiot are in the process of being renovated; a peek through the telephoto lens of our camera reveals existing staircases with decorative wrought iron. Orange-striped barrels, chain link fence and men in hard hats make up the streetscape. We stand on the sidewalk trying to take in all the changes, luckily many buildings retain their original architectural splendor. On the next block we are amazed at the progress that has been made; just a few short weeks ago the corner building was faceless and minus windows, today it is nearly finished, stainless steel trim frames the windows and facade. A map of the new M-1 Rail line is displayed in an empty storefront.

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The Wright-Kay Building has always been one of our favorites; designed in the Queen Anne style by Gordon W Lloyd, it was completed in 1891 as the Schwankovsky Temple of Music. When the music store closed the Wright-Kay jewelry firm took over the building from 1920-1978. Six stories tall, constructed of brick and brownstone, I have always been fascinated by the corner turret reaching from the second to the fifth floor; at one time there was a ballroom on the second floor.Today the street level is home to John Varvatos, a high-end men’s clothing store–everybody should check this place out!

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The first thing you’ll notice is the huge chandelier, well, it’s actually many chandeliers wired together, creating a very dramatic effect. Everything revolves around the color black, it works fabulously; the space has a masculine, industrial, elegance, there’s so much eye candy we don’t even know where to look. Vintage accents are everywhere; display cases, tables, frames and light fixtures. Photographs of Rock-n-Roll stars hang on dark walls, they are available for purchase. Of course there’s the clothing, I don’t want to undersell that; t-shirts, jeans (made in USA), jackets, scarves and shoes are all attractively displayed, I could pick out at least a dozen items for Kris. Music is a big part of the store; a drum set, guitars and amps stacked two-high rest on a riser. We take the fancy stairway to the second floor, immediately we are greeted by guitars waiting to be played by customers. Further back a seating area surrounded by new and vintage guitars, amps, receivers, turntables, speakers and headphones welcomes us, Kris is mesmerized; I page through coffee table books about music and fashion. 

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 We pop into the David Whitney building, now the 126 room Aloft Hotel and 105 premium residences. Built in 1915 this 19-story building epitomizes America’s Golden Age. A 2-year, $92 million historical renovation has brought the original grandeur back to the building. The main attraction is the 4-story, gold-leafed atrium; lit by skylight, adorned with a fanciful clock, marble and terracotta, it truly is stunning. We exit the building and cross over to Grand Circus Park, the Russell Alger Memorial Fountain is lovely, umbrella’d tables with chairs are available on surrounding concrete. Across Woodward the Thomas Edison Memorial Fountain looks inviting; water spills over into a large basin, the sound is relaxing. Crossing back to the Whitney building our attention is diverted by a giant pink layer cake blocking Washington Ave; a crew is in the process of filming a commercial for Ford Motor Co celebrating the 10th birthday of the Fusion. We watch and we watch some more waiting for the big moment when the Fusion blasts through the cake, alas our hunger gets the best of us–guess we’ll have to wait to see it on TV.

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Central Kitchen + Bar located in the Michigan National Building has only been open a few weeks, we’re giving it a try. The lobby of the building is done in that mix of modern decor and original architectural elements that Dan Gilbert’s buildings have become known for, the lighting is super-cool, we’re fond of the whole effect. The restaurant continues with the same theme of new and old, concrete columns are left as-is, the unrepaired embossed ceiling is painted white, there’s a great black and white photo of old Detroit on one wall. We sit at a table just inside the roll-up door panels, casual seating areas reach out onto the sidewalk along with additional dining space. The lunch crowd is gone, the vibe is chill.

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Lunch arrives without delay, both of us grab a slice of the flatbread; thin crust smothered in fig jam, covered with crispy-roasted brussel sprouts, sprinkled with goat cheese crumbles and drizzled with a balsamic reduction, it’s delicious! The Chickpea burger is a thick vegetarian patty topped with tomato, feta, arugula, capped with Greek yogurt and served on a grain bun, tasty. While eating we look out over Cadillac Square, individuals peer inside the restaurant as they pass, there’s more foot traffic than vehicle traffic; something that hasn’t occurred in a very long time. Before exiting the building we drop into Roasting Plant for a post-lunch coffee. Smack dab in the center of the narrow space is the Javabot, this is where the beans are roasted, stored and blown through a series of custom-designed pneumatic tubes to be sold by the pound or the cup; you can help but be fascinated watching the process.

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Going back toward the car we dodge more barricades, stop for an up-close look at rail construction and admire the new mural on the former Compuware building before heading into Detroit Water Ice Factory .The brainchild of Free Press columnist Mitch Albom, the icy dessert shop recently opened to great fanfare, get this: every penny of profit goes back to fellow Detroiter’s through Goodwill and S.A.Y. Detroit. The menu board hangs behind the counter, eager young servers offer us samples, we comply. Flavors have catchy Detroit-ish names like Woodward Watermelon, (not Chet) Lemon, Honolulu Blue raspberry, you get the idea. I decide on the orange with a swirl of soft-serve vanilla ice cream through the middle; a delicious, refreshing treat! 

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Folks soak in the late afternoon sun on the patio of Townhouse; built out from One Detroit Center the glass enclosed space is pretty spectacular–it even has a retractable roof, you can literally dine under the stars! The decor is very modern, urban, chic. We sit at the bar, Kris has a cocktail while we people watch. We’ve seen a lot today and it all looks great, in two weeks Woodward will look different and again two weeks after that. It’s been a blast catching up on the progress, c’mon down and see it for yourself.

DETROIT: Corktown Vintage

3 Mar

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With temperatures firmly in the double digits we leave the confines of the indoors to see what’s happening in Corktown. New businesses are opening at a rapid rate in Detroit, many of them in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. Located west of downtown, Corktown was best known as the home of old Tiger Stadium, many predicted the neighborhood wouldn’t survive the loss of the ball park; the results are quite the opposite. Slow’s Bar B Q was the catalyst followed by Astro, Sugar House, Mudgies, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Motor City Wine, Two James, well, you get the idea….. Historic streets are lined with Victorian era buildings and homes; it’s the hot spot to grab a meal, craft cocktail, beer or a cup of coffee and do a little shopping.  

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Eldorado General Store is tucked into an attractive red brick building on Michigan Ave. A sandwich board out front alerts potential customers of the shops location. Inside a virtual smorgasbord of vintage goods awaits. A fantastic crystal chandelier clings to the tin ceiling; sunlight sparkles off the facets, a large American flag is draped behind the counter, a deer head mount guards the front door.  Beautiful clothing, jewelry and accessories are artfully arranged in the space, today there’s a lovely display of fur hats and muffs straight out of an Audrey Hepburn movie. Mod-patterned coffee cups and glass pieces from the 70’s are among the many home goods, trinkets and handcrafted items fill tabletops. Each time we come the shop is filled with different merchandise—one of the things I love about vintage stores. Owner, Erin is a pleasure to talk with, be sure and say hello when you stop in.

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Xavier’s 20th Century Furniture is a bit further down Michigan Ave, we’ve been coming to the shop for many years now and always look forward to seeing his latest finds. As soon as we step in Kris points out a gorgeous wood room divider along the left wall, a variety of tables, chairs and a desk bear the name of famous designers such as McCobb, Knoll, Eames, Herman Miller and George Nelson. Mid-Century design is as fresh and appealing today as it was then. Throughout the shop we see an assortment of pieces from machine-age Art Deco  to vintage lunchboxes, American pottery and glassware from Italy and Scandinavia. Coffee servers, tureens, waffle irons and toasters are crowded into the kitchen area, the old glass Pyrex percolator reminds me of my childhood.  Nothing we have to bring home today, but there’s always next time!

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Hello Records occupies a tiny space in a building on the corner of Bagley and Trumbull, it you’re into vinyl, check it out. It’s Saturday and it seems record collectors are out in full force, well-organized bins, boxes, crates and drawers are stuffed with vintage recordings. Records spin on the house turntable, tunes from the 60’s and 70’s fill the air as we browse through albums. We are not collectors but really enjoy the cover art, album names, and groups we’ve never heard of, Bagpipe Blues anyone? Cool old record cases are available for purchase, great photos cover the walls, the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Genres include soul, funk, jazz and rock, new arrivals have a section to themselves. Over in Jazz the cover of Bob James “H” features a hot dog topped with mustard, reminding us it’s time for lunch.

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St CeCe’s is right across Bagley, we cross the street and duck inside. The former home of Baile Coraigh, all of the beautiful wood paneling, stained glass, lamps and huge stone fireplace remain. The from-scratch kitchen has developed a loyal following as is evident today by the crowd that fills booths and tables. The restaurant features rotating artwork, the pieces currently on display are great. On Tuesday’s guest chefs come in and take over the kitchen, it’s always something new and different. Today we order off the house menu, we get our order in before another big group arrives, there’s something for everyone, meat eaters and vegetarians alike. We start with a house salad, a nice variety of greens and a tasty dressing, the Glazed Tempeh Wrap is stuffed with cucumber, carrot, sunflower sprouts, kim chi and cilantro, really tasty. The Shitake Sliders are yummy; shitake mushrooms topped with gooey melted Gruyere and a nice sauce. Since we ate so healthy we decide to treat ourselves to a beer, and we know just the place!

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Batch Brewing Company, winner of the 2013 Hatch Detroit contest, opened to rave reviews in February. It’s just before 4 pm, we are one of three or four other cars in the parking lot, we reach the door as it is unlocked, communal tables are empty at this early hour, we head straight to the bar. Taking the end two stools we are greeted immediately by one of the owners, we chat a little bit, he asks us what we like, then hands us a couple of samples. Each is unique, flavorful, refreshing, after little debate we make our selections: Way 2 Biggie (a Barleywine IPA) and the Obscure Reference Imperial Stout. Goblets are filled and slid across to us, though completely different, both are excellent. The building has a modern industrial feel to it, it’s a wide open space, strings of clear, round lights follow metal ceiling beams, with picnic table-like seating it almost feels like a patio. Behind the counter, large stainless steel vats contain the small batch brews, chalk boards announce the days selections.

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Orders are placed up at the bar, we have the best seat in the house, goblets and mason jars are filled with beer, colors range from gold to red to nearly black. Food orders are placed, numbers are handed out and food is brought directly to the customer, everything looks delicious. We spy Bread Pudding with Rum sauce on the menu and can’t resist. It arrives steaming hot, moist and smothered in sauce, it’s fantastic! By now the place is near capacity, with no available seating we relinquish ours to a couple standing nearby. Great service, exceptional beer and wonderful food, I can see what all the fuss is about!

DETROIT: It’s always something…..

2 Dec

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It’s that time of year again; maker’s fairs, artists markets, arts and crafts shows fill the weekend calendars. Talented folks present ideas, products and services to the public, gathered in unique venues across the urban landscape. Today we are attending the 2nd Annual HLDYMRKT, a DIY Holiday Craft Market held in an old industrial building on Christopher, off Conant just south of Jos Campau; it’s certainly off the beaten path! For us, seeing the building itself is as much of a treat as what’s going on inside. The building is owned by Andy Didorosi of the Detroit Bus Company; when we saw the buses parked in the lot, we knew we were in the right place. Signs on hot pink poster board lead us to the entrance; let’s check it out.

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Inside we are greeted by the scent of  gua bao, Asian buns stuffed with tasty fillings from the San Street food cart, shoppers carry steaming cups of coffee from Red Hook and nibble on treats from Pinwheel Bakery. The space is long and narrow, daylight fills the room, rows of vendors await us. The group gathered today are independent small businesses; some have a brick and mortar location, others do not. As we stroll the aisles we are excited to see a lot of things we’ve never seen before; Pot & Box offers a DIY terrarium bar, they are also selling crocheted cacti in tiny pots that look exactly like the real thing. I still send hand written notes and cards, I love checking out paper goods, Snow & Ivy has some great designs, I’m stocking up. SWEET has a variety of, well, sweets, artisan marshmallows being the main draw; vanilla bean, double chocolate, banana bourbon caramel and mango picante are just a few of the flavors; the snowflake s’mores look delicious. Vintage clothes from Jenstyle Vintage hang on racks, fabric items such as stuffed animals, hot and cold packs, hand-dyed pillows and tea towels make nice gifts. Beards are in, so are men’s grooming products such as beard oil, pomade, mustache wax, combs and brushes. Detroit is represented in a number of t-shirt designs and posters. The terrariums from Leadhead Glass are stunning, each is made from reclaimed raw materials from abandoned and deconstructed homes in Detroit, pretty cool! 

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Some friends tell us we need to go next door and check out the Fowling Alley……Wait, what??  We’re curious what the buzz is all about so we head over. First, let me say, the space is huge; 34,000 sq ft huge! At first it’s hard to comprehend; to our left is a series of “alley’s”, wooden platforms sit on the floor, bowling pins are set up on one end and a football rests near by, the area is sort of enclosed by nets and fencing. To the right is a mile-long bar, ok, it’s not really a mile long, but you get the picture; tall stools are pulled up to the bar awaiting their first customers, the top is constructed from old bowling lanes, clever. Far in the back a gigantic American flag acts as a backdrop for a stage platform, the rest of the square footage is filled in with industrial-size spools acting as tables in the soon-to-be biergarten……it’s a lot to take in! The building itself is nearly 100 years old, the ceiling a combination of metal beams with a saw-tooth skylight roof; light filters through green panels. After doing some reading I discovered this was home to the Gear Grinding Machine Co. in 1925, Dana Corp purchased the building after the war, it was then known as the Con-Vel Division Plant where the Rzeppa constant velocity u-joint was manufactured; gotta love that Detroit history.

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People are busy with tasks as they get ready to open for business, the owner, Chris Hutt is nice enough to explain what’s going on and most importantly, what FOWLING is. Chris actually invented the sport himself along with a few friends; a combination of horseshoes, bowling and football, he guarantees it’s a good time. Two arrangements of 10 bowling pins are set up on flat boards 48 ft apart from each other, fowlers take turns throwing a football from their board to the opposition’s board, each trying to knock down their opponents pins first…. sounds fun to me!  From fowling to live music, cocktails and mystery beer, The Fowling Warehouse promises to be a good time. Keep checking their Facebook page for the opening.

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There is no shortage of delicious food in Hamtramck, but today we had our mind set on a particular place, Rubbed, a sandwich and charcuterie shop on Michigan Ave. The small but quaint dining spot offers a tasty variety of cured and preserved meats, cheeses and accouterments available on a sandwich or charcuterie board; it smells amazing when you walk in the door. The interior has a retro feel; wood floor, vintage globe lights, an assortment of table and chairs, make the completely open space feel homey. Shelves by the counter are stacked with preserved vegetables, Rubbed t-shirts and old license plates. A chalkboard menu is placed near the register, we walk over and begin the decision-making process. Soup and sandwich sound good, we place our order and have a seat by the front windows overlooking all of the activities on Michigan Avenue.

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We help ourselves to cucumber water and look around, charcuterie board menus are written on plain brown paper near the counter, they all sound delicious; meats, cheeses, breads, pickles, olives, nuts…..Our food arrives, it looks and smells wonderful. I dip into the steaming hot bowl of mushroom soup, well seasoned, packed with mushrooms and a fair amount of bacon, it’s delectable. Kris stabs a potato from the dill and red skin salad and nods his head in approval. The Little Italy sandwich is huge, certainly big enough for two, it comes wrapped in butchers paper and cut in half. The bread is the perfect combo of crisp and tender, stacked with capicola, mortadella, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato, red onion, banana peppers and mayo it is quite a mouthful, a scrumptious one at that.We eat until we have polished off every last crumb, the meal yummy and satisfying. Be sure and check out their monthly dinner series, maybe we’ll see ya there! Rubbed is now closed but be sure and check out Ima, the new restaurant in the space.